Historical Sewing|Chemise and Drawers

As I explained in my first historical sewing post, this skill is something I have wanted to learn for very long time. I had done a preview of the mid-1800’s styled chemise and drawers a couple weeks ago and wanted to wait to give the project revue until I had worn the clothing a couple times and tested the strength of the stitching.

Now that that is done, I can give a truthful analysis of the pattern, the technique, and the practicality of this project.

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To begin my historical sewing endeavors, it seemed logical to start from the inside and work out. So the first piece I made was a chemise, or lightweight under dress similar to and often used as a night gown.

I used the Simplicity Pattern 9769 as a basis for both the chemise and drawers. A couple modifications were made to the design due to personal preference. I used a lightweight, soft, off-white muslin. The entirety of the project is hand-stitched.

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Full front view

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Front drawstring adjustable neckline with overlap

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gathered banded, gusseted sleeves

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Back view

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The drawers I made are split, as is consistent with the time era. They are trimmed, at the bottom of the legs, with cream lace that I found at a thrift store. It was a bit of a challenge attaching the lace because it was about a centimeter short and getting the hem even was rather tricky. But overall, the fit was rather comfortable, and the chemise tucks in rather nicely to preserve modesty.

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Full side view

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Front view, gathered waist

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Lace trimming

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Un-tied drawstring back closure

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Inside back view of front waistband detailing

I was very nervous to start an entirely hand sewn article. However, it was a relatively simple pattern that didn’t take as much time as I thought it would. I probably spent about 10 hours max on both pieces. I used double thread for most of the seam work and it seems to be quite durable, I’ve slept in the chemise and there has been no fraying, ripping, or feeling it would fall apart. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.

If you are interested in completing this project for yourself, or would like to commission a set, let me know and I can share more details regarding these garments:)

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“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…”

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3

Literary Heroine Blog Party

For a couple years now, I’ve been wanting to participate in the
Literary Heroine Blog Party.
I finally found the courage to join in:)
Click the picture to visit Kellie’s blog!
AnneLHBP2013
~ The Questions ~
1.   Introduce yourself! Divulge your life’s vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

Hi! I’m Kelsey:) I love life! God has given us a beautiful world to experience our ups, downs, and in-betweens. I am a stay at home daughter currently pursuing a higher education degree in Electrical Engineering. I greatly enjoy reading, writing, and being creative. Sewing, crocheting, knitting, and experimenting in the kitchen make me happy when I’m not enjoying the wonders of science and of our amazing Earth.

2.   What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?

A true hero (a woman is a hero as the word hero is actually gender neutral) is someone who is willing to stand for truth and light. She has the courage and the moral fiber to fight for what is right regardless of the trials ahead of her. She defends the weak and succors those in need. She knows her place but isn’t afraid to challenge authority if she knows that she has something unique to contribute to the cause of the righteous.

3. Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

Eowyn of Rohan (The Lord of the Rings)

Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series)

Kendra Sorenson (Fablehaven series)

4.  Five of your favorite historical novels?

The Chromicles of Narnia (I know that is more than one but they are each equally wonderful), Great Expectations, Anne of Green Gables, Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, The Once and Future King

5.  Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why?

My favorite major character, out of the five listed above, is Anne Shirley. I love her spirit, tenacity, and abounding imagination.

6.   Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Now, I understand this question is asking for favorite secondary character, but I would much rather share my second favorite major character.  Lucy Pevensie isn’t afraid of being honest and no matter what she faces, she doesn’t ever lose her faith. Even when her brother and sister and cousin doubt her, she is strong and brave and true.

7.   If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to – and what would you plan to do there?

There are several places that I would love to visit. There are two major ones that I wold consider my dream. The first dream vacation I would take would be to tour the villages and old kingdoms of Arthurian legend. The second wuld be a full tour of each of the American Civil War battle fields.

8.   What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?

I greatly enjoy reading about medieval, 18th, 19th, and early to mid 20th cultures.

9.   You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of?

Yes, I have been asked to perform harp for the last three Decembers at a Christmas festival in our area.

10.   If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?

I would love to be Anne Shirley or Eowyn of Rohan or Kendra Soreson.

11.  Favorite author(s)?

Jane Austin

Charles Dickens

CS Lewis

JRR Tolkein

David Eddings

12.   In which century were most of the books you read written?

They are written in many different centuries and worlds:)

13.   In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is…

King Arthur of Camelot or Samwise Gamgee (one for the real world and one for fantasy)

14.   In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is…

Sauron

15.   Describe your ideal dwelling place.

I enjoy where I live. I think it would be nice to have a lovely, cozy, fireplace again though

16.   Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.

My style is comprised of whatever suits my mood ranging from fantasy princess to chic & classic to tomboyish.

17.   Three favorite Non-fiction books?

The Bible

The Book of Mormon

Modern Essentials (essential oils guide book)

oh and the Little House series (more than three but I needed to throw in a fun one! at least I didn’t say a textbook lol)

18.   Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?

Outside with my siblings playing with the horses or sheep. I love trail rides:)

19.   Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat – in such a way as will best portray your true character.

dream hat? I wear different hats for different occasions…I like my black stetson for dressing up, but I like my straw hat for sunny days, I appreciate my riding helmet, but I also like my ball cap for working in, and I LOVE little handmade, lightweight, knit hats for keeping my head covered and warm while still looking classy. I collect hats so it’s hard to pick just one 😉

20.   Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.

The adventures with sheep, pheasants, kittens, horses, 4-H, school, and adjusting to a new lifestyle

21.   Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

~Luke 15:7 KJV

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Historical Sewing

chemise

Stock-Image-Separator-GraphicsFairy21For many years now, I have had dreams of being a talented seamstress. I have been sewing almost my entire life, but it has only been in the last couple of years that I have really gotten excited about improving and making beautiful articles. The more I have been getting excited about sewing, the more I’ve yearned to learn about Civil War Era costuming.

As of this week, I can finally say that I am a beginning costumer. After almost two years of procrastinating, for fear for messing up, I took the plunge. I can’t wait to share the details of my first project once it is completely finished. Until then, this teaser will have to suffice.

God bless you in your endeavors today!

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How To | Crochet| Chain Stitch

Now that we have a basic knowledge of what crochet is, and now that we know how to read those pesky labels, let’s start crocheting!

For this first exercise, you will need a standard size H/8-5.00mm crochet hook.

You will also need medium weight acrylic yarn. I do not recommend using expensive yarn, for people who are just beginning. Get the cheap stuff and figure out how to make this work for you before you go buy expensive yarn. You will be less worried about mistakes using cheap, general, run of the mill, acrylic than you would be on yarns that are softer, fuzzier, finer, and over all more difficult to work with. You want yarn that is simple to pull knots out of and won’t make you feel guilty if you end up cutting knots out.

The Chain Stitch:

Before we can make those classic afghans, or the cute little baby hats, or intricate lace, we need to start with the simplest, and most widely used stitch in all of crochet. This is generally the foundation for almost ALL projects. There are one or two other methods for starting projects, but those are slightly more complicated and not as important to learn for beginners. Now I say this stitch is simple because it is only intimidating before you get the hang of it. It’s not complex in the way of other stitches, but it can be tricky to those who cannot see the way the yarn interlocks. If you struggle with this stitch, the only way to improve is to practice, stare at it, practice, stare at it some more, and practice until you can make a large chain by feel, with you eyes closed.

The first step is to set up your yarn. start with a slip knot. 

The next step is to set up your hands. put the slip knot on the crochet hook and pull tight. Hold the crochet hook like a pencil with the hook facing the ground

To start the chain stitch, wrap the yarn over the top of the hook (as shown above) and pull the wrap through the slip knot.

Repeat this until you have the desired number of chains for your project. This is a great exercise for beginners to practice. it gives you a good feel for the rest of the craft.

If you have never crocheted before, I hope this helps!
 Remember Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes improvement:)

How to Read Yarn Labels

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Before you begin in your crocheting, knitting, or general yarn usage endeavors, it is helpful to understand how to read the symbols on yarn packaging.

standards-yarnweight

Many people just find yarn they like and go for it. To their dismay, their projects end up ripped out, too small, knotted up, too large, disproportionate, they shrink in the wash, or they felt up and they hours of intricate detail work becomes matted and fuzzy. To avoid this, read the labels, and follow the gauge on the pattern.

Generally, crafters know that a big thick fuzzy yarn isn’t going to be used in a tiny, intricately delicate doily, conversely, a thin light fingerling yarn wouldn’t be used to make a big, bulky, fluffy stuffed animal.

However, there is a gray area in between the two extremes. Yarn companies understand that every skein is different and that the same general type of yarn has certain qualities which make it favorable for different projects and unsuitable for others.

Below are some links to help you understand the different symbols on the bands.

I hope these links give you a better understanding of how to read your yarn label before we begin our projects together:)

God Bless you!
“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.”
  ~*~* Proverbs 31:13*~*~

The (not so) Lost Art of Crochet

Crochet: n. a fabric that is created with yarn and a hooked needle.

The origins of crochet are unknown. However, it became very popular in 19th century England. Since then, crochet has become one of the crucial elements of every picturesque ideal of mothers, grandmothers, and homemakers across the European and Western cultures. For many people, “crochet is that thing my grandma does in her rocking chair”. This nostalgic image is instantly heartwarming. Although crochet is often associated with granny, homemade quilts, pies cooling on the counter, and a roaring fire in the fireplace, it has also become very popular with the trendy chic youth. Crochet styles have evolved from necessity, to the afghans and winter wear given as gifts from grandma to intricate dolls to elaborate forms of modern artists around the world.

This year I will be publishing a new series on this blog about the art of crochet. I will cover techniques, tips, ideas, easy projects, and much more. So find a nice H-8 afghan hook and some basic yarn and come back soon for fun tutorials on the not so lost art of crochet!

The (once) Lost Art of Food Preservation

Ah Fall.
Some of the traditions that are popular this time of year include trips to family farms, pumpkin carving, leaf pile jumping, book reading, cooking, football watching, friendship building, the list goes on. However, for me, one of the most iconic pictures of late summer and fall is the expansive amount of food preservation- canning, dehydrating, freezing, etc. I love the smell of cooked jam or smoked fish wafting through the house and through the windows. Especially in this season when the air is brisk, the trees are losing their golden leaves, the constant sound of rain, and comfort is found in the soft light and the warm smell of hot food in the ever busy kitchen.

The wonderful thing about home preserved food is that if it is done correctly, there is no flavor to match it. Nothing beats the taste of home canned peaches, tomatoes, and green beans- home dried mushrooms, peppers, and sweet potato fries- or home smoked pork, salmon, and brisket.

There was once a time in this country when people were encouraged to grow and store their own foods. They were encouraged to learn how to cook and preserve produce and how to be prosperous by their own means. And before the times of the mid 1900s, most people lived off of food that they procured themselves. It has only been in the last century that people have lost almost complete contact with their food sources.

But that hasn’t changed the way a child feels when they open up a jar of mom’s or grandma’s strawberry jam and put it on a nice warm piece of toast. The jam makes the toast automatically better, yes. But it’s knowing that the jam was made for them, by someone they love, that it is all the more sweeter.

Food preservation isn’t just about saving food- it’s about saving the heart of what makes people feel good. You can’t explain to someone the sound of opening a jar of homemade pickles. The lid on that jar has such a different one than the lid from the one you buy at the store. And if you get the right recipe, there is nothing that tastes better.

The best resource for beginning to advanced canning recipes is the Ball website: freshpreserving.com

If you go to the website and are completely overwhelmed by all the high tech canning supplies, take a deep breath. It’s not as scary as it looks, and you don’t need all the gadgetry to be effective in your purpose. Quality is important. But it also doesn’t need to be shiny and digital to serve its function.

For those of you who are starting out, start with easy recipes such as peaches, salsa, pears, cooked jams, etc. Then progress to the more advanced levels such as pressure canning or fermented pickles or non-pectin jellies.

For those of you who are getting into pressure canning, remember to breathe. It is extremely important that your equipment is in working order, and that you have the ability to meticulously monitor the pressure. If the pressure is too low, your food isn’t safe, if it is too high, everything in moderate proximity isn’t safe.
Make sure that your gauges are checked by those who know what they are doing- a great resource is your county Extension office. Search: “your county here 4H” online, call their office, and ask if they will check the gauge on your pressure-canner. Many Extension offices will do this for free and they will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have.

It is more important that you ask a question if you have ANY doubt, than it is to assume you have the answer. Remember that when you are preserving food, yes it is fun, but it is also something than can have adverse effects if done incorrectly or unsafely.

Note: There are many options when canning. But it is very important that unless you are beyond expert level in this delicate art, that you stick to the tried and true Ball Blue Book recipes and do not alter them. When you do not take every precaution, altering recipes alters pH levels and can lead to spoilage, botulism, and other issues creating food that is EXTREMELY unsafe to consume.

HOWEVER. Do not let these concerns stop you from learning this valuable skill. Canning is incredibly fun and something that the entire family gets to enjoy! So long as you follow the rules and play it safe, then the benefit from this activity is superb. Once you get the hang of it, preserving food becomes a fun tradition that kids never forget!
And who doesn’t like the taste of their favorite home canned fruit?

As always, comment below if you have any questions or would like more information on this topic.

The Lost Art of Traditional Table Etiquette in the Home

The Art of Table Etiquette has been something that isn’t necessarily lost. Restaurants, hotels, formal occasions, etc have kept the art of setting a table alive and well. However, in the everyday, etiquette seems to be something of a time forgotten. Children were once responsible for setting the places at the table almost every day- now if you ask most children, they don’t know how. similarly, many of the niceties, that were once a display of courtesy and respect, have been replaced with brash and unrefined behavior in everyday living. Maybe if we start with learning and practicing good table manners, we might start to see a difference in the rest of our manners.
A great resource for etiquette and manners is linked below:



The top ten table manners listed on the website is shown below:

1. Chew with your mouth closed.
2. Avoid slurping, smacking, and blowing your nose.
3. Don’t use your utensils like a shovel or as if you’ve just stabbed the food you’re about to eat.
4. Don’t pick your teeth at the table.
5. Remember to use your napkin at all times.
6. Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink. (The exception is if you’re choking.)
7. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
8. Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses.)
9. Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
10. Always say ‘excuse me’ whenever you leave the table.

Table Setting:
One of the key points in table etiquette is behavior. But it is also important that the table is set appropriate to the occasion. 
Below is a link to the three levels of table setting- basic, informal, and formal:
The pictures below are from the website linked above. For more information on each setting, click the link!

Everyday Setting:
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Semi-Formal/ Informal Setting:
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Formal Setting:
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I hope that this provides some insight into dining etiquette! Remember that it is important for us to always try to be our best selves. Yes, it is exhausting at times, but it is always worth it to error on the side of gentility rather than unintentionally offend. Just as with the other topics in the “Lost Arts” series, let’s bring back table manners into a more common place in society! Who knows what a little politeness might do for the world? Pleasant manners, lively conversation, and a sweet spirit have done many a heart good. Sometimes it is the simple gestures that can change a mood. Let us remember that and keep it with us as we go through out our everyday tasks.


The Beehive Challenge

Today, September 23rd, 2014 marks the start of a new approach for this small little blog. Today is the launch of something that has been in the works for quite a while, but it has never felt right to start until today.

And now for a drum roll please!!!!

I Introduce to You!
 (linked above)

This idea has been something that I’ve been toying with for quite a while. A couple years ago, the LDS church came out a publication recognizing 100 years of Girls’ Camp. In this publication, they listed some of the goals that girls of the early 1920  accomplished through the Beehive Girls Program (similar to the original design of Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls).

Girls would learn skills in any area that interested them and would come together to discuss what they learned, share their knowledge, delight in the joys of womanhood (WO-MAN-HO), and fellowship together to give praise to the Lord.

As the times changed, so did the program. Eventually it was no longer relevant to the needs of the girls in the world and so it became a memory to the few left who participated. The program was replaced by the Personal Progress program (which most LDS ladies today have grown up with). Personal Progress has also taken many forms. Today it focuses mainly on finding your relationship with God and making your own path to Him through the of learning life skills and offering service to others. Where this Program is wonderful and commendable in its own right, there seems to be something in regards to the completeness and well rounded person that is idealized in the goals of the Beehive Girls. Where Personal Progress is a wonderful tool (I encourage mothers, daughters, grandmothers, wives, etc. to look at the lessons and continue to work on new goals as it truly does have a way of focusing our lives around our Lord), there is something lacking in the general gaining of life skills that are of a more practical and self-sufficient nature in the adult world.

The goal of this challenge is to be an aid used for learning skills that have been forgotten through the last century. The tasks set in this challenge are not meant to be a hindrance or distraction from anything of the busy lives of women today, but rather a tool to help guide a restoration of practical skills. Although some of the skills listed in the book are dated (most people don’t need to know how to drive a team of horses, or have a need to kill dozens of house flies because they are ever present), there is still much we can learn from the skills that these young women once learned. Wouldn’t it be nice to know which how to dress wounds and clean bandages? Wouldn’t it be easier to understand babies if you knew what each cry meant? Wouldn’t knowing how to sew save you tons of money by mending an article that ripped or a child outgrew rather than going to buy a new one when it is perfectly salvageable?

That is the purpose of this challenge- to see how much you can learn.

If our call as women is to be as the one described in Proverbs 31, then let us take the challenge and mark how we can improve our world. Confidence grows when people are enabled. What better way to grow your confidence than to be well rounded and capable?

“Strength and Honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come”
~ Proverbs 31:25 KJV

May the Lord Bless you today.

The Lost Art of Handsewing/ Embroidery

It feels as though many of the old art forms are starting to become more and more popular as the world becomes more and more gloomy. People are searching for cheap and beautiful methods to pass time and still be productive.
One of these amazing crafts is hand-sewing and embroidery. I posted a snowflake tutorial a while back, so let’s look at some more year-round embroidery ideas.

My favorite technique is called Needle painting. The purpose is to use a variety of stitches to make the image you are portraying seem as real as possible. I still have a long way to go, but I will share my journey as I improve, as well as some helpful hints on techniques.
To start off, here are some of my favorite designs from over the last couple years.

beginning stages of a sunflower. 
This was a fun sampler I found online.
There are so many fantastic resources for patterns and techniques.
If you check out the hand-sewing section of the resources page blog, 
you will see some of my favorite links to instructional and inspirational sites.
I hope this has peaked your interest in hand sewing and embellishment!