Friday, September 19, 2014

Fabric Scraps

They're doing wonderful things with fabric scraps these days. Not me, but some people. I can't seem to get a handle on my scraps so I sure could use some ideas.

My scrap basket is actually made from scraps . . . . It's probably trying to tell me something. I often think of throwing them all out but can't do it. Maybe I need to find more ways to use them up.

For instance, I love this necklace from Anthropologie -

                                                         DIY Anthropologie Inspired Scarf Necklace. I'm thinking it might be interesting to do as a bracelet too.

Wonder if this would work with my Civil War repro scraps??  I guess you would just need to connect long strips, tie a few knots and voila! Fabric scraps necklace/scarf. 

                                                                Cute! The Life of a Cheap Chickadee: Fabric Scraps Necklace

Here are some colorful braided strips strung together and accented with a fabric flower. 

I'm guessing it would never look this good on me, however. I'd probably just look like someone dumped my basket of scraps on my head in a fabric bucket challenge . . . .

Burgundy upcycled multi-strand jersey fabric necklace

                        Etsy TheOffBeatArtisans YoYo Blossom neckpiece fabric necklace made from recycled fibers ADJUSTABLE - Stylehive

               Yoyo  necklace anyone?
                                        Coral pink multi-strand upcycled elastic jersey fabric necklace with removable brooch

                                                        African Fabric Knotted Bib Necklace by by paintedthreads2 on Etsy, $ SOLD

                                          Teething necklace for mom to wear and baby to chew on. Made out of vintage sheets

Apparently, this one is a baby teething necklace for mommy to wear. Glad I'm out of that phase . . . . Girl, make sure that doesn't bleed onto your white shirt when it gets wet. 

                                         Fall Fabric Necklace Project

             This one is even kind of cute. 

Upcycled infinity NECKLACE

Let me know if you've ever tried doing something like this with fabric strips and if it worked -  then maybe I'll try it too.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Civil War Dresses - Part 2

Here are the rest of the dresses from the recent Civil War women's clothing exhibit at the Lakes Region Historical Museum in Antioch, Illinois. Several people e-mailed me to ask if these were reproduction dresses. They were NOT. All were authentic period pieces dating from the 1850s - 1870s. 

The dresses were in remarkably good condition, although some were patched in places.   Still . . . . incredibly preserved.

A brilliant purple maternity gown. Love it. 

Purple, along with green, was often considered a "fugitive" color and faded to a soft brown over time, which explains the drab colors you see so often in antique quilts from this era. Do any of you with knowledge of fabric know why this dress would have retained  its color instead of fading as others did? (see below) I think I remember that it was made from wool instead of cotton or silk and I wondered if that had something to do with it, or - perhaps it was because it was so well preserved and kept away from light? I haven't a clue. 

Purple silk fabric faded to a brownish mauve.  

You can see the original brilliant purple color underneath the sleeve.

Another faded purple dress -

Here you can see the original color preserved under the layers of trim.

This one below was probably my favorite dress, made from a lovely gauzy material with several additional layers underneath the dress. What amazed me were the details  - tiny, tiny stitches all by hand; gathered stitches attaching the bodice to the skirt. Delicate, lace-trimmed removable sleeves. What an awful lot of work went into making these gowns.

Notice the tiny blue acorn buttons on the front of the bodice - how sweet.

Ladies boots. Such tiny feet!

Dress shoes

Those removable sleeves again.

Painted glass buttons on this dress front.

You can't see it very well in the photo but the mannequin and the lady in the photo are wearing the same "Medici" belt. 

Was this where Wonder Woman got the idea??

8 by 10 Civil War Photo Print Woman Lovely Dress, Cloak. Medici belt, nice hat

A display case showing a "huswife" needle case carried to war by a Civil War soldier. The note next to it read: 

 "Miss Amy Ingalls of Menominee, Mich, made this needle book just before I left for the war in Aug 1862. Was carried most 3 years. [signed] Homer Stevens"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Civil War Dresses, Part 1

Last weekend I attended one of the best local museum exhibits I've seen in a long time. The Lakes Region Historical  Society in Antioch, Illinois, had an exhibit on Civil War era dresses ranging from the 1850s through the 1870s. They were all absolutely stunning.

From fancy silk gowns  . . . 

. . . to cotton day dresses.

It was so much fun to see these up close and take notice of all of the hand stitching on the various garments. I took so many photos that this topic will be continued in part two, which I'll post in a couple of days. 

Civil War wrapper, worn exclusively at home, in the mornings.

Wrapper over a dressing gown

Love the strip cut on the bias for a little contrast. Today, we turn fabric under to hem a skirt. In those days, hems were bound by a long strip of fabric that could be removed and replaced if the hem wore out. 

I learned that some aprons were decorative and  also fashion accessories, instead of simple work aprons.

A young woman's fancy dance dress. It was inappropriate for a woman to show her arms before evening.

A wonderful display of an amazing collection.

I found out about the exhibit by chance, only one day before it ended. What luck. After I talked to the curator, she said the response had been great and they may extend it through this coming weekend, until Sept 7, 2014.  If you live in the northern Illinois or even southern Wisconsin area and love this time period, I urge you to go see it. Call first to make sure it's still open. Then grab a friend and make the drive (it took us an hour to get there). It is so worth it and you won't be disappointed. Make sure you take the informative "tour" given by curator Ainsley Brook Wonderling. The dresses are all a part of her extensive and beautiful collection of 19th century artifacts. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

My New Hot & Heavy Relationship

I'm  in love -  with my new iron.  It's a GE from the 1940s. Yes, it gets hot and heavy at times. Exactly what I was hoping for. I hope it lasts.

My other irons never did seem to heat up well enough or stay hot long enough. They don't have a sharp enough point for my small applique. And that auto shutoff . . . . for the birds. Absolutely hate it. Eight minutes is often not enough time for me to piece my block and then run back to the iron in time before it shuts off. I swear my latest Rowenta started to cool off after 5 or 6 minutes. Plus, it leaked. So, last week I went on a hunt to find a different one. Fed up with replacing irons that were not cheap on a regular basis I wanted to see if it really made a difference if I bought a cheap one. 

Quilters and irons - it's often a love-hate relationship and we're all looking for the perfect iron. I saw this cute retro Black and Decker iron and thought it would fit my needs. So cool and very inexpensive. Kind of like the one my mom had for years. I thought I'd found it, the perfect iron.

I really wanted to love this iron. It was so cheap. After I brought it home I couldn't wait to try it out. First thing that tipped me off that the relationship wasn't going to work out -  it did not glide smoothly. It stuck to my fabric. I tried a different fabric, then a different pressing surface. I let it cool off and then ran my hand across the bottom and found it was rough. The steam holes were slightly raised and catching on the fabric. Arrgh! Didn't think to check that before I bought it. Why would I? Who would make an iron that's rough on fabric? Couldn't believe it. And so darn retro-cute, too. 

A nice number of you commented on my Facebook page and gave me your opinions. I returned it the next day and then went to five different stores looking at numerous irons. None seemed to "fit." I kind of knew what I was looking for and simply cannot bring myself to spend $150 on an iron (plus, the checkbook reminded me that another college tuition check is due soon, so better not overspend right now). The vintage-looking iron still appealed to me and when Karen H. contacted me and said she loved her vintage iron, I took a chance. I buzzed over to my favorite antiques store and there it was. On sale too. $20.00 plus 20% off. I probably overpaid but I didn't care; my search was over.

You can see the thumb rest on the bakelite handle. It's comfortable.

My iron is in wonderful shape, almost like new. The '40s - '50s housewife who owned it either didn't iron much or took very good care of it. The dealer said he always checks out the appliances he sells and the electrical cord appears to be in great condition as well. The soleplate is flat (nice and smooth), so no steam, but I'll live. I can use a spray bottle if I need steam. And does it get HOT! I actually had to lower the setting from high so I didn't scorch anything. It's also very heavy and, as Sheri reminded me, the heavier irons almost do the work for you when pressing blocks. Best thing - NO auto shut off. Now, someone at my house was a little worried that this might get me into trouble but I'm willing to take that chance for an iron that stays hot. These irons remind me of the one my mom had for years and years. I don't remember her ever replacing one. They were just made to last in those days, I guess. AND, if I remember correctly while growing up, she did not burn the house down ONCE because she didn't have an auto shut off on her iron. (She scorched a few collars though, I think.) I promise to be careful.

This baby glides over fabric like you would not believe. I've only used it a couple of times but so far, so good. I'm now very intrigued by vintage irons. (Some of you may be interested in reading a blog I found on vintage irons.) I suspect that now, everywhere I go, I will look for an old iron to add to my collection. I would love to find one of these vintage Presto irons someday, just because it's such a pretty blue. And it looks so, so cool, doesn't it?



You'll remember that I already have a Singer vintage sewing machine. In 2012, after the drip coffee maker stopped working after only two years, I became angry. Instead of replacing it with yet another of the same I opted to buy a percolator coffee pot like the ones from the fifties (it's still going strong and the coffee tastes great and is HOT). Can a vintage waffle iron really be far behind? I should check the basement first - there may be one hidden there.



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