Saturday, August 28, 2010

Arsenic & Old Lace

A few months ago a coworker handed me a beautiful lace tablecloth. Not the itchy pretty lace (English?) but more of a crocheted lace. As I clapped my hands in excitement I thought "oooooh what could I make out of this??!!” Then she proceeded to tell me about how it was her mother's and she has a hard time getting rid of things her mother had given her (her mother is deceased). She explained that it was stained and assured me I could do what I wanted with it, she just didn’t want to throw it away.

When I look at old stained tablecloths, my mind spins in circles with a hundred questions. How did those stains get there? Whose was it and how did it happen? What were they doing (and could I have that dress?). What were they talking about? What was going on in their lives and what was the conversation like when this stain happened or that.

“Nobody knew who they were or what were they doing” (ok that will be my one & only Spinal Tap reference for this post).

I put the lace tablecloth in a safe place and have been thinking for months as to what to do with it. Should I try to wash the stains out and add it to the drawer full of table linens that I don’t use? Or should I cut it up and make something completely adorable. I do need an all purpose petticoat/slip. A little lace tablecloth inspiration (still don’t have my new sewing machine):

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coffee Date??

A few months ago I downloaded a free pattern  from burda called the “Coffee Date Dress”. It seemed easy enough and well, it was free. I had picked up a bolt of vintage corduroy fruit fabric while thrifting with cousin Lauren on her birthday earlier this year, and couldn’t wait to use it. It has blue watermelons and other “Strange Fruit” all over it AND I got about 8 yards for four bucks!! The original pattern has a ruffle that sort of crosses the front in a swirly sort of way and has options for sleeves. At the time I was working with a VERY old, VERY basic machine so I decided to keep it a simple summer dress. You know because simple summer dresses are made out of heavy corduroy (face-palm). I used the “remnant” end that was sort of dirty so I wouldn’t feel so bad if the dress turned out a total failure. Not bad for a first try, even if it is a little tight. I made a test-dress out of muslin and it was HUGE so I changed the seam allowance when I made the corduroy dress. Note to self: Don’t do that again (unless making the piece out of fabric that is similar to muslin-corduroy is NOT). Then to add insult to injury I left it in the dryer too long and shrunk it (but I got the stains out!).

The second time I tried making the dress I bought some oooober cute brown fabric with little paw prints all over it. The fabric was very light weight and sort of see through, so I decided to line the entire dress. Also, I learned from the fruit dress that I needed a longer bodice to avoid the baby doll look. Of course I decided that I, having no formal training what so ever, should do this my way instead of following the simple instructions. The result? A cute dress that is too short, too tight and too crooked to wear. Being a glass half full type of girl, I like to think that I now have an “incentive” dress. A few months at the gym might make this workable. Worse case scenario, I make a cute petticoat to go under to add some length.

This one is my favorite.
I’ve got tons of vintage fabrics but I’m always afraid to use them for fear I’ll mess up, which happens more often than not. Some of you facebook followers may remember the Grandma dot inspired 1-hour picnic dress? Disaster! Some day I’ll learn!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I once heard someone use the term “clothes line” living…

I once heard someone use the term “clothes line living” and I’ve been trying to put to words what that means to me.  I’m sitting here at my beat up 100+ year old writing desk looking passed the rusty 1880’s Acme claw foot dress form that stands in the corner.  Behind it, through the screen door that goes “whap” when it closes, I can see my clothes line that is sheltered by the back sleeping porch.  I’ve never slept on the sleeping porch, mostly do to the lack of screens but I do try to use the clothes line as much as possible.  I have a habit of washing my vintage or “dry clean only” clothes in the sink and hanging them on the line as I’m fortunate enough to have access to the same sleeping porch through my bathroom.  I’d like to think it will help my clothes last longer, but I’m not sure if that is just a myth I’ve made up in my head. 

This year has been extremely buggy in Wisconsin and our well fed mosquitoes look more like tiny humming birds.  Hence why I haven’t used the clothes line or the porch for that matter much this year.  Sometimes it’s just easier to move the wet clothes the eight inches to the dryer than haul them up the stairs to the clothes line.  It’s funny how moving wet clothes up a flight of stairs seems daunting (when I do happen to think of it).  I remember spending hours watching my granny wash her clothes in her old ringer washing machine.  Then I’d spend all afternoon running clothes up and down the basement steps (which led directly out to the yard) for her.  Since I was too short to reach the line itself, and too weak to carry hampers, she would have big baskets set up on the lawn for me to drop piles of heavy wet clothes into.  Every now & then she’d come up the old cement stairs and I’d run circles around her jabbering on about anything and everything while she moved down the line pinning her giant underpants to the line. She’d laugh and laugh…..

Granny always did (and still does) wash on Mondays.  I asked her once why Mondays and she said “Because that’s wash day” like its universal or something.  Over the years I’ve learned that if you ask any elderly person which day they do their laundry, 99% of the time they will tell you.  Monday.