Category Archives: The Handcrafted Wardrobe

Halloween

Two bundt cakes stack bottom to bottom sort of make for a pumpkin shaped pumpkin cake.  We used carrot juice to color the icing and matcha green tea to tint the marzipan.

They were adorable, carving a pumpkin together.  She sings happy birthday to the pumpkin every time we light a jack ‘o lantern.

Elijah has started making Halloween costumes for his friends as well.  This is Gandolf the Grey’s staff….

and Gimli’s helmet…

A motley crew…

Indiana Jones

The Dread Pirate Roberts, a.k.a. Wesley

And my darling Anne-girl.

It was really nice of our neighbor’s black cat to drop by on Halloween for ambience.

Anne of Green Gables dress details:

I started with the geranium dress pattern.  I used the bodice extension and sash straight from the expansion pack.  I took the straight sleeve from the expansion pack and modified it for the oh-so-important puffs using this tutorial.  I made the sleeves first and she came in to kiss her puffs several times each day.  I took the hem band from the pack and made it 1 1/2 times longer and used that to craft the ruffle at the bottom.  The collar is an actual hand-pieced, antique collar.  After some repairs I added a button and bound button loop so it could be worn, but still remain a separate piece.  The rest is just trim.

   It is brown of course.  Because Mathew bought Anne a brown dress with puffed sleeves.  Mairi Rose was so offended when he gave her a blue dress in the movie!  This was hands-down one of my all-time favorite costumes.  I couldn’t stop watching her in it.  She’s like a china doll.  And that she picked Anne?  Oh my, well this mama heart couldn’t be happier!

This littlest one was seriously too excited to stand still for a picture.  All of these rather poor ones were taken in rapid succession over the course of like 45 seconds, which was way, way longer than she wanted to spend on it.  Which explains why you can’t really tell what her dress looks like in any of the pictures.  I’ll have to get a better picture of it at some point.  She informed me that she plans on wearing it everywhere so I should have plenty of opportunities!

Ever since we were matryoshkas together two years ago, Seraphina is convinced that we require coordinating costumes, which is how I ended up as a Mama Kitty last year.  And really now, how long is this last baby of mine going to want her mama to wear a matching costume?  Not very long at all.  So I humor her.  This year I was informed that herself, myself, Unicorn, and her doll Milky were all to be princesses for Halloween.  Sometimes I humor her a lot.  I asked her if it wouldn’t make more sense for me to be the queen and she assured me it would not.  I was the mama princess and her, Milky and Unicorn where the baby princesses.  End of story.  Yes ma’am.

Seraphina’s dress is also a geranium, with the gathered sleeves from the expansion pack.  The only modification I made was to add three large, lace trimmed ruffles in tiers down the skirt.  I was also told that her dress must be pink.  I had other ideas in mind, but set myself the challenge of making it entirely from what I had around the house.  Adjustments were made and this is the result.  She seems happy with it!

My dress is a heavily, heavily modified Darling Ranges dress, altered to the point of no longer being recognizable as such.  Mine was a freebie sew as well.  I found the material at our local fabric swap.  Since I was taking the time to sew it, and I happen to really need clothing, I was trying to make something that she would consider a princess dress, but that I could get away with for everyday wear.  I’m not 100% sure that I’ve made a success of it, it’s awfully red for one thing, but I’m going to see how it works out.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: The Etta Dress

Funny story: As alluded to, two or three months ago I tried making a big deal of getting all purdied up for Steve’s birthday.  We were planning to go on a date, just the two of us. I quietly worked on a new dress to wear, in a style he would appreciate, as a surprise. I thought it was a sweet idea, but suspected he might be less thrilled when he found out that Seraphina has been telling everyone we know about daddy having a “secret dress”.

It turns out he just laughed.  Which I knew he would.  But the story is funnier the other way.

So, I do this thing sometimes….just because we are totally weird…where I randomly surprise Steve for special occasions by dressing up in the style of a different era, complete with hair, make-up, etc.  And I direct your attention to our ’50′s Valentine’s day (yikes.  Kind of wishing I hadn’t looked.  4 years and baby #5 had some serious impact!).  No idea where this started or why (actually, after re-reading that post, I think it started then!  The blog is educational!).  Like I said, we’re just kind of weird that way.  In honor of his birthday this year, I went with the decade in which he was born.  I was going for a Joan from Mad Men kind of thing, but Christina Hendricks I ain’t!  What I am is a middle aged mother of five, so you basically get what you get.

Sewing a fitted dress when you are nowhere near an average size and shape??  Holy moly.  I shortened the bodice, the skirt and the sleeves….brought in the waist, let out the high hip, brought in the low hip….did a full bust adjustment…a slight sway back adjustment (should have done more!)…made it narrower through the shoulders…lowered the neckline by two inches when one of my two muslins felt too choke-y* and correspondingly altered the collar.  And probably other things that I can’t think of because I’m blocking out the trauma.

*Just for clarification, I don’t think this is a flaw in the pattern, it’s just that people with a history of breathing problems (me) tend to get freaked out by anything too close to their throat.

My darts are all….I don’t know…awful.  Yup, that’s the word.  Terrible, atrocious and mortifying would all fit as well.  Even though I know how to sew darts properly and I swear I did them the “right” way.  Somehow they are still totally wrong.  I want to blame the fabric, but I’m not sure that’s fair.  And I don’t like where they hit.  I think I should have altered that, but I double checked pictures of the pattern and that is where they are supposed to be.  Side note: I seriously, seriously, seriously need a pressing ham if I’m going to insist on continuing to make women’s dresses.  Seriously.  An invisible zipper foot would be good too.

I felt the fabric would be just perfect.  I was wrong.  It’s a stretch sateen….which quite predictably shows and amplifies every little flaw, both in my figure and sewing ability.   The dress looks ok (and only ok) if I am standing still having just straightened it, but the moment I move at all it shifts and bunches and clumps-clings in funny and awkward ways.  This is probably evident from the photos above.

So much work for something so horribly disappointing!  I think I’ll be sticking with super simple sewing for a while now.

But yes, he liked it.  Though I suspect he wasn’t actually looking at the darts, so I’m not sure how much his opinion should really count for.  Just sayin’.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Decluttering Craft Areas

A little update on the 2017 decluttering challenge: I’ve been at it for just about four weeks now and so far I’ve rid our home of 741 items.  I am serious about this.  Conversely in that same time I did come home with a couple of new things.  Circumstances considered, I was very well behaved.  The first series of temptations came during an outing to a rare and used bookstore where everything was being sold for next to nothing.  The second was a craft swap where everything was available for literally nothing.  Books and craft supplies.   My kryptonite.

A hundred and six year old first edition copy of a book that I thought might make a pleasant family read aloud, two children’s magazines from 1937 and 1944 respectively, that have the sweetest illustrations and which I intend to tuck into Mairi’s Easter basket and two old knitting magazines.  Including the six or so books that Mairi, Galen, and Seraphina picked out, we spent $12.

I came home with a few things from the sewing and knitting exchange as well.  There was an entire room full of free sewing and knitting supplies people!  I’m only human.  Still, I dropped off three boxes worth of donations and everything I came home with fit in my handbag.  Not such a bad exchange.

The two designs above are from Bear Brand Campus Knits Vol. 335, cira 1947.  The patterns have rather humorous names such as “Beau Catcher” (Steve checked it out and found the bait inferior).  These two above are “Art Appreciation” and “Collegiate” and I can’t decide which I’d rather grace my needles.

I started sifting through craft supplies before I was truly ready because of the swap.  It’s really an emotional process, much like sorting through sentimental items.  I’m afraid this is one area where I’m guilty of keeping every last thing, just in case.  It’s comforting to me to feel that in lean times I could make whatever might be needed.  But I want to live with more freedom now, not stockpiling for a future which may or may not come.  I’ve started looking at certain fabrics and telling myself that I’ve made my dress or blouse or whatever from it and now I can let what’s left move on to someone else.  It has already served it’s purpose for me.  I don’t have to use up every last scrap.  I’m trying to think less in terms of what I could use, as just about everything falls into that category, and more what I genuinely think I will use.  And perhaps more importantly, what I want to use.

What about you?  Do you have experience with decluttering craft supplies or trying to keep a more minimalist craft set up?

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: take 2, a belated post

Trying again here!  And special thanks to Elijah for humoring me with more pictures.

Details: Cindersmoke Shawl in Cascade 220 from dear Corina.

I just finished reading Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties.  I found the last section, regarding relationships, the most useful.  Though what I could really use right now is resources on parenting chronically ill children.  So if anyone has suggestions there, please pass them along.

In her chapter about what she terms “Meltdown Mode”, she talks about how she could handle a seemingly endless barge of medical interventions, pain, and life threatening emergencies with grace and aplomb, only to break down, crying hysterically upon finding the wrong type of salad dressing in her take out bag.  On top of everything else to have some basic simple thing go wrong…you think, “I can’t even have this work out?!?”  It feels like a slap in the face.  I get it.  I’ve thought it.  I’ve done it.

And we all of us have our different break-down issues.  She goes on to say that her chronically ill father tends to lose it over waiting in lines or vague and confusing instruction manuals.  For me, I’ve come to see that clothing is a falling apart issue for me.  It’s hard enough to have the energy to get out the door, factor in corralling and organizing five children, and then to be faced with having nothing to wear that fits right or is comfortable or appropriate as well?  Too much.  I think that was kind of what I was trying to say with this post.  And why this project, which may seem frivolous and silly to some, is so important to me.

A very happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US.  And I hope that all of you, everywhere, have a great many things to be happy for today. love, Melody

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: all a blur

I had planned to share my new shawl today.  But the auto focus on my camera has been broken for months now, leaving me entirely dependent on others for pictures of myself.  Clearly, or not so clearly as the case may be, low-light, late in a very windy day, did not make for ideal conditions for an amateur photographer.  This was the very best of the three photos taken.  I’ll try again soon.

Last week I bought myself two new pairs of leggings.  I feel guilty about it, because I don’t think I should be spending the money right now, but also so relieved!  I’m covered, with bottoms anyway, and it just takes away a level of stress.  I now have the yoga pants, my grey luna’s (the blue linen ones are too light weight for our current season), the two new leggings- one grey and one black, and my olive velour leggings.  That feels like enough.  I can work with that.

Part of the idea behind having a capsule wardrobe isn’t just having a minimalist wardrobe, it’s also about having enough.  It’s a balancing act.  I think one of the keys to a handcrafted wardrobe is prioritizing.  Some day I would like to make all of my own clothing, but right now, that’s not practical.  Investing in a couple of basic pieces that I can easily find ready made, that fit and work exactly as I need them to, makes sense.  And it leaves me the freedom to concentrate on the sorts of things that are difficult to impossible to find or very expensive.  Which also happen to be the sorts of things that I derive more pleasure from making.  I can buy a pair of black leggings with ease.  A linen nursing dress or very specific style of wool sweater?  Not so much.

What are making versus buying priorities for you?

I’m not going to bother with the link up for a bit.  If people would like to share, feel free to leave links in the comments!

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Refashion 2

First off, I know I’ve fallen behind on answering comments lately.  I’ve tired to catch up over the last couple of days, so if you are waiting for a response from me, it may be there now!  Also, if there is something I’ve missed that you need or want an answer to, just let me know.  We are back in family health crisis mode, so I am not around as much as usual, but I’m happy to answer as I can. 

Remember this ill fitting sweater with multiple holes?

I did a bit of altering and reshaping…

Oh, for goodness sakes, stand up straight woman! Honestly!

I think it actually needs to be shorter to work right over that dress above.  I considered turning it into a cropped sweater for just that sort of purpose, but never did pull the trigger on that.  It works better with other outfits, like over this sleeveless dress with a more streamlined skirt…

But that’s the only picture I have of that combo, titled “blurry ghost picture” and taken in the bathroom at the kid’s dance studio between ballet and modern, when I realized I didn’t have anything to post about on Monday.  As it turns out it didn’t matter because I didn’t have any time to post anyway.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Off Track

My heart isn’t really in a true Handcrafted Wardrobe post tonight.  My mind it too full of other things, flitting about, unable to settle.  I do have some finished projects, but no pictures, getting photos of myself being rather a bother and a chore at times.  I have been pondering cold weather needs and adding to my cool weather capsule wardrobe mood board.  I’ve been comparing what I’ve made so far to what I’ve dreamed up with that board to see if I’m keeping on track, and I don’t believe I am.  I’ve been teasing out silhouettes in my mind of a Thanksgiving dress in vintage floral print on a deep wine ground.  Then I think, oh slippers for the baby!  And is there enough of that crimson wool for a bonnet as well? Is that costume plan foolhardy or does it truly stand a chance?   And when will I find the time to make it?  Is my lesson plan for the week full enough??  And off I go again…

This weekend was supposed to be devoted to sewing for children, but ended up being all about cooking instead.  We had our first little snow squall, the fire burned without end and the wind howled and howled.  Even now it continues to whip around the eaves and thrash the trees about.

Both our pork and beef arrived this week.  A whole pig and whole cow respectively, except for the bits of pork that are still being smoked.  As a former long time vegetarian, I am still not entirely comfortable with eating meat, though I make a good show of it.  This, I at least believe, is the best way of going about it.  Local, free-range, grass-fed meat from a small family farm.  The price per pound works out to be around the equivalent of inexpensive cuts of conventional meat, only we get all of the cuts down to expensive roasts and porterhouse steaks, along with the reassurance of a good, healthy life for the animal involved and nutritionally superior food for our family.  But it does require freezer space!  Which was on the tricky side and lead to a frozen harvest cook-a-thon.  I made a huge pot of beef stew with all sorts of autumnal root veggies, turned some summer squash puree into a dairy-free cheese and baked a strawberry crisp, using home-made coconut butter as the topping, as per this recipe.  We had the fresh pork chops Saturday night, cooked with onions and pineapple sage and served with orange and yellow chard.  I grew pineapple sage for the first time this year and I find the scent intoxicating.  It has somehow managed to escape harm despite all of our recent frosts and brilliant scarlet flowers are just beginning to peep out of their buds.  I have delusions of somehow finding a way to winter it over in the garden, though I know the thing is impossible.  Perhaps I’ll dig it up and see how it fares inside.

I still have some thawed chard that I think I’ll turn into creamed chard and a couple of jars of shredded zucchini that I haven’t decided what to do with. We also spent almost an entire day rendering lard, which was a first for me.  Eight whole quarts full! I’ve never even cooked with lard before. And maybe, just maybe I’ll finally sew up that skirt full of pins by my side.

Has the season scattered your focus as well?  Do you find a discrepancy between what you like and the items that you make, buy and wear?  This has always been true for me and I’ve been trying to correct it, but apparently without much success.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Herringbone Lunas

Teenage photographers, in the rain, using a camera without auto focus…  It’s kind of a miracle there are pictures at all.  It really would have been too much to ask that all of the pictures actually be in focus or that I don’t have a funny look on my face, etc.

More Luna Pants.  I didn’t have a chance to talk about my last pair.  My biggest regret with them was that I didn’t have enough of the linen left for the pockets and I used muslin, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, but there are flashes of white from the pockets when I move and it looks funny.  I didn’t make that mistake with this pair, which are of a very thick cotton flannel shirting in a herringbone pattern.

I wanted wool trousers, but cotton was a more affordable option.  The linen ones are better for in-between seasons, but these will actually provide a decent level of warmth on chilly days.

In a nutshell: I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole jogger pant trend thing- style wise.  But I really like Rae’s patterns.  And from the perspectives of comfort and ease of sewing, it was clear these would be a good match.  And they are- both comfortable and easy to make.  The fit is good.  I love the pockets. I don’t have a lot of tops that work well with them.

What have you been working on?

 

 

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Sick Sewing Day

There is something soul-satisfying about matching the right outfit to the occasion, isn’t there?  A quick pic between sneezes here.  I did promise you real life with this project!  Not exactly high fashion, but probably at least a step up from answering the door in my pajamas (even if having my hands in my pockets like this makes my hips look funny).  And very, very comfortable.  Which in a day of discomfort is the highest of priorities.

Yes, there is a new pair of pants in my life.  I had a box up in the attic with some fabric in it.  Mostly little bits of some favorite fabrics that I wanted to keep for a quilt sometime in the undefined future, but also two larger lengths of fabric from my mother-in-law, that I thought might work as dresses for the girls.  I was surprised to also find a pair of regular women’s XL yoga pants that I must have gotten during one of my pregnancies and never gotten around to hemming.  These are them, reshaped.  There was also a length of black jersey and some navy stretch terry, but I haven’t yet determined if there is enough of either to be of use in the pants department.  But hey, I’ve just doubled the number of pants I own!  It’s a start anyway.

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