Friday, April 20, 2012

Wrap Dress from the January Issue of Sew Beautiful Magazine

This is, as far my memory tells me, the first project I have done from the Sew Beautiful magazine. The gorgeous little girl dresses in that publication always seem beyond my sewing skills. However, this particular pattern said something about "beginners" so I took courage and tried it out. The wrap dress struck me right away as a very unique design.
 The front of the dress
The bodice is one long piece, that wraps and ties in the front. No buttons, zippers, or side seams. I thought that seemed easy enough, however the construction was a bit different than what I was used to-- it was more delicate. It seemed to me that the dress was held together with trim and zig-zag stitching! Not the usual comfort of a 5/8 inch seam allowance that has to be finished-- the seams are right up to the lace and trim. It is an elegant way to sew, even if I wasn't using elegant, delicate material.
 This is the back of the dress-- on the right there is a large "buttonhole" where one end of the bodice is fed through, making the wrap. The dress material is cotton, with a matching grosgrain ribbon trim, and scalloped lace. Because I was using different colored materials, and not all white as the magazine example, I was dissatisfied with the result. I added more lace to the back to cover up the trim, so it looked more consistent.

The "new" back. 

 I would like to make this dress again, maybe even try an "everyday" play dress version, with a bit sturdier construction, maybe lining the bodice. Though I have been surprised at how "sturdy" this dress is-- again, I'm not used to such delicate sewing!

 This dress has a sort of twin-- an adult regency-style dress cobbled together from several patterns.
 The stripe is perfect for a regency gown, in my opinion. The same scalloped lace is used on this dress as the little one.

Here's a bonus for you! How to make your own child-sized dress form. I found the need to have a little form to display the girl's dress on, so I made my own. First I got the "volunteer" and traced around her on a paper bag. I then took that pattern, and folded it in half to trim it so both sides would be the same.
 Then I used it to cut out two piece of muslin, with a seam allowance added.
 Sew around, turn inside out, and stuff. Leave a bit of the bottom un-stuffed, about 3-4 inches, so you can make it so it sits flat.
The bottom is very un-scientific-- I gathered it and pulled it tight, then squashed it so it would be flat. If I was very clever, I could cut a cardboard shape and insert it to make it sturdy. If I was very, very clever, I could fashion a stand to put it on. However, I found that it sits just fine for a few photos being propped up on a stool.
Besides, it's easier to store without all that.

For the dress photo at the top of the post, I put it on top of a lamp for a stand!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to put a pillowcase on a king-sized pillow without choking yourself

I don't know about you, but the fastest way I know to put a pillow case on a pillow is to hold the pillow under your chin, and tug the pillowcase on, then let gravity drop the rest in. That works well for standard-sized pillows, but it is a pain when you try it on king-sized pillows. Here are a few photos for another way to put those extra-long pillowcases on extra-long pillows-- it isn't terribly fast but it takes out some of the struggle!

 First, lay the pillow down-- no tucking under the chin!
 1. Pull the pillowcase inside-out.
 2. place your hands inside the pillowcase, and grasp each corner from the inside.
 3. You'll end up with the pillowcase up your arms a bit. With your hands in each corner, grasp the corner of the pillow.
 4. Start scooting the pillowcase onto the pillow, pulling the pillow into the case at the same time.
 5. As you pull the pillow in, inch the pillowcase off of your arms and onto the pillow.
 As you see, it gets easier towards the end.
Now you can roll the rest up and get it all in. The more you do it, the faster you will get!

Joining the Homemaking Link-Up at Raising Homemakers.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A little Ancient History for you

We are reading Ancient History for school. The book we read seems to me to be written "in a nutshell" as it gets on with the story without too many explanations or details-- which is why it is great to have the Internet handy! We often go off on "rabbit trails" but that is the fun part of school at home, is it not? It takes the "dryness" out of history to take a little trail now and then!

Here is a recent subject which led us on some interesting trails: In Rome in the 300's BC there was an interesting character named Appius. At the time of history in which he lived, Rome had finally come to equality between the aristocracy and the plebeians in their political system-- the plebeians were "admitted practically to a full moiety of the high government offices."  (We looked up the term "moiety" here, It means 1. A half. 2. A part, portion, or share.)

But there was one class of people left out--those very bottom rung poor people who did not own property and therefore did not have a seat in the senate or a vote.  Sensing the discontent of this lower class, Appius, who was a "censor" at the time, took up their cause.
(A "censor", by the way, was an officer in Rome who was in charge of the census, some government finances, and also in charge of public morality-- from where we get the word "censorship.")

History is unsure whether Appius took up this cause with the motive of representing these poor people, or furthering his own career. He somehow managed to sign these lower people up as voters, and distributed them in different areas, which was enough to sway the votes of those areas in a certain direction. They were able to vote one of their people in for a life-long seat in the senate. Also Appius, who was serving an 18-month term in office (which was the legal length of time for that office) managed to stay in another 5 years. hmm.

Anyway, that extra illegal time in office enabled him to finish up his road system, which he called after himself-- the Appian Way (Via Appia).

Photo from:

The historian says that what was done by this man was "the inauguration of a real ochlocracy." This interesting turn of events led us to find out what the term "ochlocracy" meant. Basically it means mob rule, but Wikipedia had this interesting explanation:

Ochlocracy ("rule of the general populace") is democracy ("rule of the people") spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority" and the rule of passion over reason, just like oligocracy ("rule of a few") is aristocracy ("rule of the best") spoiled by corruption. Ochlocracy is synonymous in meaning and usage to the modern, informal term "Mobocracy," which emerged from a much more recent colloquial etymology.

Everyone got that?

Appius was apparently not very fond of the letter Z and did not want it in the Latin alphabet. I am not sure if it was because of him or not, but it did not enter into the alphabet until the AD's.
This interesting site also clued us in to why our G and C look kind of alike, and how the Y and Z came to be included as the last letters of the alphabet. Nothing like a little ancient grammar to round off the history lesson!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep

1 Cor. 15:20

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Beautiful Storage Boxes

During the Titus 2 classes hosted by Country Victorian, we have been listening to a lot of tips on organization. I thought I would show a collection of boxes that are used to help keep clutter down. Some are mine and some are my mother's. Though many are used for organization, I confess that use mine as great places to store "flotsam and jetsam" (you know, those little things that have nowhere to go?) as well as long term keep-sake and holiday storage. 

We are each building quite a collection! I love to go to TJMaxx and Michael's and look at the aisle of boxes, with matching journals, stationery and other things. It is as tempting as chocolate to buy some-- many a time I have had to use all my will power to resist them. So I began asking for these box sets for birthdays and anniversaries.

Here's a closer look at some. There are a few styles here-- first off the suitcases.

 This cute pink one is perfect for storing little baby girl mementos inside-- the wee shoes and "first" clothing that are outgrown so quickly-- along with a rose-scented sachet.

 These two suitcases are sewing themed. You would think I would store sewing things in them, but they are being used for books, papers, cd's, etc.
They are so pretty to look at:)

 Here are two more with bamboo handles. These are empties just waiting for the next pile of orphaned stuff.
 Here is a set of three.

Next up are stackable boxes with lids:
 These are have a velvet finish.
 These tie with ribbons-- they are great for stationery storage.

 These have a magnetic closure to the lid. I bought these to store children's drawings in; the top one is about letter-paper size, and the bottom big enough for large sketch/watercolor paper size.
Somehow, though, they ended up with paper dolls and letters inside;)

 These two are made of tin.

Then there are the boxes that look like books. Here are the "spines" of some:

 Here they are on the other side, they are just as decorative. This side is easier for opening. They can be stacked or set upright like books.

 This one holds something sentimental.
 This one houses a bouquet of dried flowers. It was the perfect place to store them, so they would not gather dust laying around, and they are rather fragile.

Then there are the boxes with more substantial "hardware" and those nifty metal plates to put labels for organization and identification (I should do that, shouldn't I?). A lot of photo boxes are like this, though mine are bigger than photo boxes:
 I've given this one as a gift to start another member of the family on their own box collection!
 I just loved the print on this one.
 It houses fabric squares for quilting projects.

And these textured graduated boxes house sewing notions. I should label them, shouldn't I?

Lastly there are the hatboxes:
 I should store hats in it, I know... but right now it is perfect for Christmas decorations!

Here are a few hat-box shaped boxes that came from other places than the aisles full of fancy matching sets:
 These graduated tins were found at the dollar store.

 These two are good-quality boxes that are just packaging, one for a corsage and one for a tea-cup. They can also be used for little things like hair accessories and little bits of craft items, so take a good look at your packaging before you throw it away!

Years ago, I tried to find storage boxes that were consistently sized, and cover them myself with wrapping paper, contact paper, or fabric. Above is one I have left, it was a free box from the Avon lady, who always had some she wanted to get rid of. They have been used a lot and so they did not last very long-- shipping boxes are strong but they do "soften" over time and use. These also are rather large boxes, so they are great for bigger items, though if you do not line them they are probably not good for long-term storage.

The nice thing about my "birthday" boxes is that they do not have to be hidden away in the attic or under the bed.  I am happy collecting the pretty boxes that are not only useful, but can be stacked and displayed in any room, and add to the beauty of the home.