Sunday, November 30, 2014

Elisabethe in the 1830s

     Just a few pictures of Elisabethe's new 1830s dress that I mentioned in my last post. It was sewn by her big sister, Kate, out of a pima cotton check that we had from a previous project of mine that went awry. Though I detest sewing pima (and she did too) it does make a nice crisp skirt with lots of natural oomph. Coupled with a few petticoats to give it a nice bell shape and the look is perfectly lovely!

     She is thrilled with it, naturally, and would wear it daily if we let her. I love that about her, she loves and appreciates beautiful things just as she should. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Dress in the 1830s Style

      Canning season is mostly over, I ended up with about 50 less jars than I thought I would since I never made applesauce, so we totaled out around 450 jars. After the weight of preserving is lifted then the I-Need-To-Sew-Clothes-Again urge hits, and off we go.

    The girls do keep a running list of whose turn it is to have a dress sewn next and as Elisabethe had her turn skipped a while back it was her turn. Katie took it upon herself to sew an 1830s masterpiece for her, replete with uber puffed sleeves, I couldn't be happier with it. One evening a week or so ago I began to think of all of the dresses that I've sewn through the years for the 6 girls and so we sat down one evening and tallied the number, we ended up at over 90 and are still occasionally adding to the list as our memory gets jogged. But we also noticed that some of the girls have fewer dresses still in their possession than others, I'm trying to remedy that as nobody wants to be the lone girl with 3 dresses when her sisters have 3x that number.

     I've had this fabric for years and have loved it since I bought it, but as it was only 4 yards my options were limited. After ruminating for a while it decided that it wanted to be a fan front, I promptly messed that up and it quickly decided that it would rather be styled into an 1830s bit of loveliness. 

     After her dress was complete I made up a bodiced petticoat based on this illustration from an 1860s Peterson's Magazine. The bodice and yoke are a light weight cotton and the skirt is a much heavier cotton that I hemmed with a "fancy" machine stitch. It gives a nice oomph to her skirts which I love. I basted some 100% cotton lace into the neckline as I love the look that gives; it wouldn't be terribly practical if she were to wear this garment everyday as the lace couldn't take the frequent washings required, but for this project it was perfect. 

     The only thing remaining was to whip up a diminutive pair of pantalettes. I put 3 half-inch tucks in each leg for pretty and truly the sight of them peeking out from beneath her skirts makes me smile. This is such a beautiful, elegant way for a little girl to dress!

     I've decided to begin a new tradition of having a 5x7 framed and hung on the wall every time one of the girls gets a new dress. I wish I had begun this years ago, but since I didn't I will start today. The picture above is the one that I chose to commemorate Magdalena's Thanksgiving Dress for 2014. 

     Too much cuteness is tiring, apparently. 

     Happiest of Thanksgivings from our family to yours! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Plugging Away At My Eulogy

 Autumn is having an impromptu meeting with Winter right now in my yard. The sky is pale faced and looks a bit sickly, as though it wishes to put this meeting off for a future date. But it is not to be, snow is hurtling to the ground, not in gentle flakes but in hard bits that sting.

      Today was a good day to make cranberry sauce, so that's what I did. We love homemade cranberry sauce so I'll make one more batch for a total of 14 pints or so. If you'd like to try it you combine 3 12 ounce bags of washed cranberries with 6 shredded Granny Smith apples, skins included but not seeds. Add 6 cups sugar and 4 1/2 cups water, boil for 15 minutes or until berries pop and it looks thick. Remove from heat and let cool, if it's thick enough to suit you then jar it up and process for 15 minutes, if it isn't thick enough then boil it a bit longer.

     Lately I've felt the need to make soap again so I've made 2 batches so far, the first was pine tar soap and this last batch was made with comfrey tea and a bit of cinnamon. I like soap making to be an economical venture so I tend not to use expensive oils or much fragrance, fresh soapy clean is perfume enough to satisfy me. I want to get a few more molds and then make enough soap to last until Spring, that's my goal anyway, unless life has other ideas.

    This is one of my canning shelves, the jams, pickles, fruits and sauces are all elsewhere. With the chili that I canned yesterday and the cranberry sauce today I have around 425 jars filled. I do have beans soaking now in preparation for canning them tomorrow and pickles are brining so we'll process those on Saturday..... that will give me about 443 jars. I still have applesauce to do and a few other little things, I think I'll get to 500 jars or thereabouts.

     I read a quote from an elderly lady written around the turn of the century and she said that if a woman saw all the dishes that she would have to wash in her lifetime she'd lay down and die right then. So much of a woman's work is used up, or eaten up, or goes unnoticed as anything extraordinary, but the quilts she had sewn were different. They would be kept and cherished as something that Aunt Jane had made. Aunt Jane was writing her eulogy, though I doubt she thought of it that way. I think of that. What will my children remember about me? That I spent a lot of time on facebook? That I valued forgotten skills? That I sewed their clothes and mended socks? Or that I couldn't make crisp pickles to save my life? Everything I spend time on tattles on what I really value, both good and bad.

     It's so easy to get caught up in comparisons, to think that somebody else's life is perfect or pretty close. And it's easy to think "well, I'd do thus and so if only..." I'd like to encourage not to wait one more day to start writing the eulogy that you want remembered. You probably can't jump right into your dream life, I know that I didn't, but begin to build it one baby step at a time. Your dream life won't be mine, but the important thing is that it be what you want it to be. Perfection is overrated, allow yourself the privilege of learning and doing and making mistakes. Life is but a vapor and passes so quickly, to be able to die well with as few regrets as possible takes effort. Monumental effort, for nothing worthwhile is ever easy. If I've ever encouraged you or influenced you, let it be in that.