December 16, 2014

Maid Marian Dress

Violet said she wanted to be Maid Marian for halloween. I said Yes, let's Make it!

I had previously tried to make a dress for Becky on the 1910s Tea Gown pattern from It used up a ton of fabric from the stash, in the form of a sea green grayish-blue length of fabric I had had for years, and the end of a bolt of white fabric originally bought for curtains. Both in a cotton/linen blend.

Unfortunately, the pattern just was not a good match for Becky's body, so all the pieces have been sitting in the cupboard. I thought this would be a good color scheme for a Maid Marian dress, and a way to use up much of the fabric from the chunks of the tea gown.

First, I made a sketch, and took some body measurements from the customer. Violet thought three decorative buttons on the front bodice would look good for final trim.

Next, I made up a rough pattern and a bodice muslin from the measurements.

This was adjusted until it looked reasonable, then taken apart and made into a pattern. I went with a princess seam design on top, with the seam delineating the border between green and white fabric in front. The bodice is fully lined with a white fabric version of the design. The sleeve pattern I just sketched up from measurements; it is very like the sleeve used in the Regency Girl's Dresses I've made before in both pattern and construction.

All parts were then cut in real fabric, with seam allowance added.

I started putting the pieces together.

For the skirt, I didn't bother with a pattern. I just made the pieces a bit longer than needed and as full as I could given the fabric pieces I had to work with. There is a partial coverage green overskirt, and a full white underskirt. I ended up hand hemming the green skirt, since I thought it would look significantly better.

The back closure is three buttons on the bodice, linked to a simple placket in the skirt sections. I need to overcast the inner edges of the placket; they started raveling a bit last time this garment was washed. Buttonholes were cranked out with the Greist on the Singer 99, how all our buttonholes are made these days.

I think the sleeves turned out well too, and I do like this color scheme and fabric.

My sister Annesly was up for a visit a few days before halloween. We love it when she comes to visit!

One of those days I took as vacation and we worked on costumes all day long. She took on the hairpiece project with Violet. It consists of a core of the white fabric formed into a head ring, spiral wrapped with a sea green strip. A length of silk gauze I had completed the look when knotted around the band.

It looked good when they were done with it. Violet wanted to use the library bag she made earlier this year for candy while trick-or-treating.

In action
Violet was very happy with this costume and couldn't believe how good it looked. I'm happy how it turned out, and also with how making it went so smoothly. That is not too common an experience for me on sewing projects I must admit!

She asked me to be Robin Hood when accompanying them on the trick-or-treat rounds. The last few years I have not had a costume at all; the kids' costumes seem to use up all the time and energy I have to spare. But Violet really wanted me to be Robin Hood, so I ordered some cheap green wool blend felt from Prairie Point Woolens, and quickly made myself up a robin hood-ish hat.

In case anyone is wondering, I made that plaster cast of my head when I lived in a garage in central square in my 20's, which perhaps I'll blog about another time.

The original purpose was to serve as a form for making technological attachments for myself, but now it sits on our bookshelf in the living room. Sometimes the kids color on it or talk to it as if it is me. It does come in handy for millinery.

The feather is from a bluebird. I borrowed it from the wind chimes the kids made last time we visited my mom in Oregon.

I made some little boot toppers from green felt, and glued more green felt around a hastily constructed arrow sheath.

Violet wore a stretch knit long sleeve shirt and thick tights under the dress to provide more warmth while outside at night in the fall new england weather. Fortunately it was not too cold. Here she is enjoying the spoils.

She has actually worn the dress on several occasions since halloween, which is gratifying. It is a nice dress, aside from being a good costume, and fits her well.

December 11, 2014

Attempts at a 50 year fence

Last year when we did our backyard renovation, I put a lot of energy (and cost) into the back fence. We are planning to espalier apple trees against the fence, and the 10-20 year life expectancy of even a pressure treated fence post did not seem compatible with this idea. Replacing an in ground 2.4m post with apples grown all onto the fence sounds difficult and probably damaging to the trees. Dwarf apple trees might last 50 years, so I began thinking about how to build a fence that would have a comparable life span, or at least make replacement of fence elements less disruptive.

December 5, 2014

Vampire cloak and waistcoat in cashmere and silk

Millie is really into vampires these days. She draws pictures of the whole family of her friends, but as vampires. If she draws a person in a picture, they will often have fangs. So for halloween, she drew a picture of the vampire outfit she wanted to wear.

November 24, 2014

25 Needle Felted Fairies and 2 Fabergé egg piñatas

The girls and Becky started thinking about the combined birthday party in August. The girls wanted to do a fairy theme.

November 18, 2014

Corona 5TE Typewriter

Becky and I were thinking about how to get the kids learning how to type. Of course we have our main computer, but it is often in use by adults. One of the main thing the kids have enjoyed doing on it so far has been to write text and print it out. The process of typing to printed output on the computer is not terribly direct, and there is the overhead of dealing with windows and desktop, etc. The idea of a typewriter came up: they can easily operate it themselves and they can have unfettered access. I was also moved by the idea of getting another functional antique machine into the house.

November 5, 2014

Cider 10: Ten years of Pedaling Malus into Cheer

We spent the weekend in Maine making cider for the tenth year running, with Ben Polito, his family, and the many other characters who have joined in the fun. Ben's blog post on this year is here.

November 4, 2014

At long last, a pair of high-waisted woolen trousers

I'm closing in on the last quarter of year 3 in the No Buying Clothes challenge, and my set of wearable clothing continues to diminish. I have been in dire need of trousers for almost two years, but recently my last two sets of frankenpants (made from sewn together pieces of about 5 pairs) have started to disintegrate beyond even my ability to wear them. They have numerous big rips and are about as thick as tissue paper in most places. I have to be very careful not to make sudden motions when I wear them. Luckily I have lost a little weight recently, which opened up some additional shirts from my old clothing archive, but did nothing to help with pants.

I have in fact been working on a pair of wool trousers for about two years now, and almost had them done last spring, just in time for the onset of hot weather. I couldn't imagine wearing spiffy wool pants around with my usual old t shirts, so I concluded I had to sew up a white dress shirt and suspenders to go with the pants. This of course delayed the project further, but now it is finally done. I just need to make about 5 more sets and my wardrobe will be in much better shape...

October 7, 2014

Building a CNC router with kids

Last summer, we prototyped a picket fence design, using traditional power and hand tools. Over the past year, we have done some renovation in the back yard, including having the landscapers take out the old fence and put in new fence posts. We left the fence itself as a family project to do over the course of another year or two.

The prospect of shaping the folded circular design from the prototype on the top of about 500 cedar fence pickets was enough to convince me we needed some automation to help. I must admit it didn't take a lot to convince me that what we really ought to do was build a CNC router. Of course the kids are not driving this project, but I have tried to involve them at every stage. I hope that it continues to provide them with an engaging way to explore software and machines.

September 24, 2014

Apple Saucing 2014

This year we made 30L of applesauce from 36kg of Macs over about 7 hours, using our own vintage Squeezo.

September 19, 2014

Two custom cedar storm doors

I needed two storm/screen doors for exterior entry doors at my house. Previously I had bought a custom spanish cedar door with matching storm unit from Vintage Doors, which was very nice but quite expensive. I got a quote from them for these two new storm doors for about $1600, which I felt was going to be painful to shell out. Pricing out two doors worth of 25mm spanish cedar at Anderson McQuaid indicated I would need maybe $300 worth of wood to do the project myself, and there are only a few joints to worry about, so I decided to just build them.