Saturday, June 13, 2015

Embarking on a new Adventure

Mademoiselle de la Croix needed a new covering.
June 11, twenty-fifteen

For my seventh birthday I received my first sewing machine and have been sporadically stitching up a storm since. Yes, sporadically. Its one of those things that happens when I become inspired by something I've seen but don't want to pay the exorbitant price.
Attempting to drape mademoiselle without damaging her original covering.
 OK so, I've never actually sewn clothes, unless it was a gathered skirt with an elastic waist or pantaloons, and have mostly made pillows, drapes, and little crafty things. If the truth be known I'm intimidated by the thought of sewing a zipper, attempting to make button holes, and where in the world to place a dart. Other than that I'm pretty comfortable sewing just about anything.
About a year ago I discovered costume blogs. Did you know there were such things in the blog world? Neither did I, but let me tell you, I was so excited to find this other realm that I became completely obsessed. I merrily hopped down one rabbit trail after the other in search of costume inspiration, and the more rabbit trails I hopped down the more excited I became. Finally I'd found that there are other people on this planet who enjoyed playing dress up as much as I.
Mademoiselle's original covering is coming apart at the seams so I added a bit of trim.
 About the same time I started volunteering at a local historic park and needed an appropriate costume to wear...that's when my research began!!  While looking on-line for patterns.

When Mademoiselle overheard me having a conversation about this new adventure she begged to be included. Of course I was hesitant at first, as she tends to be a costume hog and covets all my best pieces, however after much convincing on her part I agreed that she could come along for the ride...or more appropriately, the fittings.
Mademoiselle spied a piece of lace in my bin and thought it would look lovely around her neck.
We would have to start with a new covering since her old one was stained and embedded with rusty nails. And then there is the other problem...while she and I were born on the same year and are both the same size, as you and I well know, a size 10 then is not what it is now.
Do I expand her waist or diminish mine? This is a difficult question to answer so we will ignore it for the time being and carry on with our plans.
I have this gorgeous Edwardian blouse and once Mademoiselle's new covering was stitched together and sewn in place she insisted on trying it on. HA! it didn't fit her sorry Mademoiselle!
I bought it on a whim, knowing I would never be able to wear it but loved all its delicate details. The inside lining is made of the most fragile silk and is in terrible condition while the outer lace is perfect except for one spot on the neck and a few rust marks from the hooks.
It has a linen flounce around the lower edge.

Detail of the front yoke.

The sleeve has a slight curve to the lace.

So the two of us began our adventure and this is our current project. It's based on this pattern and for some insane reason I decided to do my own thing by reworking it. Uhm, not too smart on my part. I turned it into a wrap dress to eliminate the side zipper, which caused more problems than I ever imagined. Plus the pattern was too large and since I'm just learning to fit garments I had to modify it yet again, which explains the drawstring around the waist.

Am I done with the dress (or should I saw we)? Not quite, but we're almost there. I still have to make a belt, add some lace to the sleeves, and figure out what to do for the collar. For now the White Ladies Edwardian collar will suffice.

After so many years Mademoiselle was more than excited to have the stolen collar back from the White Lady, but why the two of them insist on wearing it backwards is beyond me. I guess it's because they can't see :-D.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wandering in the Desert

 June 3, 2015
When I was a child my family spent many weekends exploring old ghost towns, abandoned mine shafts (don't worry, it was only the men who explored those), and following dry washes in the desert. Those were lovely times, bouncing about on the backseat of the old English Land Rover, while trying to scale small rocky embankments blanketed with shifting sand.
 We made many discoveries on our weekend outings, but none as memorable as our recent trip to Castle Dome Museum near the foothills of Yuma, Arizona.

The museum consists of 23 buildings. Some original to the ghost town while others are reconstructions typical of the era. They appear to be haphazardly strewn about with little rhyme or reason, and yet there's a certain charm to each ones placement amongst the cactus and rugged desert landscape.
Many of the buildings serve as mini museums filled with beautiful old artifacts found while wandering in the desert.
One building in particular is the general store stocked with old canned goods, linens, and some of the latest fashions of the late nineteenth century, all faded and time worn.

As I stood there gazing into the display cases I imagined the women who would frequent the store each week to make their household purchases.
Would they have a child on one hip and another in tow?
Would they have a smile accompanied by a radiant glow?
Or would they be tired and bent from the heat of the desert sun.
 Perhaps there would be enough money left to buy a new pair of shoes for the baby or a bolt of fabric for a new dress or maybe a pitcher to hold wildflowers...
Or perhaps there would be nothing left at all.

As I walked out the door of the old general store I began to ponder how often I romanticize the past with all its beautiful architecture, clothing and customs. How easy it is to daydream of being a Victorian lady clothed in petticoats and flowing gowns. How I've often said, "Why did the Lord choose to place me here instead of there."
(And yet even as I think on those questions I know that this is where He has placed me
and that this is the time that He has appointed for me). 

We continued to explore the other buildings...a church... a diner...and a hotel that was found by the couple who own the museum. One morning as they were taking their daily walk they happened upon it sitting in the middle of nowhere. Since it belonged to no-one they took it apart board by board and relocated it to the museum. Who says you can't find anything wonderful while wandering in the desert.

After several hours of exploration the desert heat was becoming unbearable so we decided to drive back into town and leave the old ghost town behind, but hopefully we'll be back another day.