Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another swing dress!

I finished sewing my second swing dress over a month ago. But the first time I wore it, it rained all day and I couldn't get pictures. I wore it again last week so finally, here it is. :)
I kept all of the alterations I used in the first swing dress. So this time around was really quite easy, after I got around the awfully boring task of basting underlining to the real fabric and then overcasting all the raw edges before I started.
I used 100% rayon fabric that I got on sale at a long time ago. It's heavier and not as sheer as the rayon challis I used last time. It's supposed to be blue, but in every light it looks black. At first I thought it looked much too similar to the fabric used in my last swing dress, but the colors are definitely softer and not as contrasty.
This dress is constructed exactly like the first one. The only difference is I didn't add a button on the overlapping part of the bodice. A brooch didn't look quite right there for me, either, so I just sewed it up by hand to make the neckline higher.
Speaking of brooches, I'm so excited that I finally have a dress that this brooch looks right on! I got this one at an antique store months ago but it's heavy and most of my summer shirts couldn't hold it up. But it looks perfect with this dress. :) It's one of my favorites.

I think this pattern is the most flattering dress pattern I've ever used. I know that of the dresses I've made, these two are my favorites and the ones I feel most comfortable in.
Sometimes I also think it looks a bit like a grandma dress. {I'm surprisingly okay with that. :)} I don't know why...I guess the fabric or the sleeves or something. Especially when I wear it a brooch on it. Brooches make me think of Granny. She was a Pentecostal Holiness girl and didn't believe in wearing jewelry. But she always wore a brooch and a wristwatch. She didn't even wear a wedding band, but always a brooch to church and out and about. :)
{When the Dark Shadows movie was coming out in theaters, my parents were talking about how their mothers used to watch the soap opera on TV. The fact that Granny watched any soap opera, much less one involving vampires and ghosty things, blew my mind. And made me smile. :) }
Here's a picture of her in the 40s wearing a dress that looks similar in style to this even looks like it could have been made from rayon!
I underlined with broadcloth that matches the blue part of the flowers in the fabric, hoping it would make the dress look more navy instead of black. Didn't work...oh, well. :)

It feels nice to see my pile of fall fabric growing a bit smaller as I check something else off the sewing list. :)

Until next time,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guilty pleasures.

I know that I have interests, hobbies, and likes that are strange by the world's standards. I'm twenty-one years old and like to spend my time knitting, listening to Sinatra, and watching old movies. I hate cell phones and I have a large amount of songs from animated Disney movies on my iPod. I'm okay with that. :)
But sometimes there are things that even might have a hard time admitting that I like. I'll call them guilty pleasures, but I don't really feel guilty about them. Just slightly embarrassed. I wrote about two of them before, and here are some more I've been reminded of lately.

Full House. I love this show in all of its glorious cheesiness. I remember watching this as a kid, and when I was a teenager (which sounds fun to say because now I am oh-so-much older than "teenagers" :) I bought the whole series on DVD. I actually started watching the series over again last night, because it had been on my mind with the 25th anniversary being over the weekend.
I love watching D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle growing up through the show. I love Uncle Jesse and that he's obsessed with Elvis. I even love Joey's jokes that aren't really that funny. I love the theme song (What ever happened to predictability? The milk man, the paper boy, evening T.V.?). And I love that awful music that plays during every episode as one of the adults (usually Danny, but it varies) has a heart-to-heart with one of the kids.
I liked that the episode plots were a mix of far-fetched and everyday happenings. In the episodes where something big almost happened, like when someone nearly moved out or the family almost sold their house and everyone would have been split up, everything works out in the end. Things are predictable. And as someone who has a hard time with change, I appreciated that as a kid. Still do, even if it is unrealistic. :)


Boy Meets World. I remember watching this one as a kid, too. I came across some reruns on TV while we were on vacation last year and decided to watch the whole show through Netflix. I ended up loving it more than I thought I would, so now I'm slowly collecting the seasons.

I had forgotten how hilarious this show was (of course it might just be my child of the 90s sense of humor). I honestly laughed until I cried during so many episodes. Especially Eric. Oh my. Pretty boy, goofy, generally good-hearted, empty-headed Eric. He definitely makes me laugh {the Feeny call?}. And the very last episode. Did you see that one? Just rip my heart out, Mr. Feeny. The goodbye scene in the classroom with the gang and Mr. Feeny has to be the best finale of a TV show I've ever seen.

While You Were Sleeping. A fairly recent discovery for me...I love this movie. I know, it's cheesy and the plot is highly improbable and maybe I'm a sappy, hopeless romantic. And at first I couldn't get past the idea of seeing a romantic comedy starring the guy who plays Kat's dad in Casper. :) But I'm over that now. There's a bit of language and stuff, but like You've Got Mail, I've seen it several times now so I know when to mute. Mostly it's just funny and sweet.

I love the dinner table scene where there are like three conversations going on at once, and everyone is oblivious to the chaos (that bit definitely has a classic movie comedy feel to it). It also takes place around Christmas time, which automatically makes me like a film even more. You know how a movie can just feel so comfortable, cozy, and familiar? That's how I feel about While You Were Sleeping. Every time I finish watching it I immediately want to start it over again.

What are some shows or movies that you feel the slightest bit embarrassed about loving? :)

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blue floral shirt.

I finished this shirt a couple of weeks ago, but I'm just getting around to posting about it. :)

It's very similar to my red retro blouse. Based on Simplicity 2447, but heavily altered. I kept the same alterations for this version, except for two things: a real collar instead of just a neckband, and no elastic at the bottoms of the sleeves. Because it turns out that slightly too-tight elastic right at your elbows is extremely obnoxious and uncomfortable. Who knew, right?

The bottom of the sleeve was too wide without elastic and looked strange. So I had to go in and add a small dart right at the elbow.

Also, this shirt is made from printed cotton. It's a lot more comfortable (and hopefully much more durable) than the cheapo fabric I used on the last one (polyester shirting).

The above photo shows me trying in vain to show the sleeves. Also, the fit might look a little weird because in that one, I'm pulling at the hem of my unfortunate nervous habit of mine. :)

I'm hoping to make a few more of these in cotton, because I wear shirts like this really often. I'd like to make some in a slightly bigger print, because from a distance this one looks solid light blue. And I should try some more shorter sleeves with a cuff or maybe real buttons instead of pearl snaps.

Anyway, I've had this fabric since I finished my first one back in April, so it's nice to finally get it used up. Also, it means another project is marked off my fall sewing list!

Until next time,

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Something about this time of the year makes me strangely nostalgic and sentimental. I want to read the books that I read over and over again in elementary school, the ones that have stuck with me all these years.

I still think the prologue to Tuck Everlasting is beautiful, and "sunsets smeared with too much color" is one of the best lines in a book ever.

{However, I find the Disney movie adaptation a lot cheesier than I did at twelve when we took a field trip to see it in theaters. And I'm not smitten with the scrawny movie-Jesse anymore, though me and all the girls in my class were at the time.}

At this time of year, more than usual, I want to watch cheesy 90s TV that I grew up with and still love: Full House and Boy Meets World, mainly. I want to watch movies from the 90s because they feel comfortable and familiar and remind me of my childhood. Movies like Matilda and The Little Rascals and romantic comedies that I didn't discover until the past year or so, like You've Got Mail and While You Were Sleeping.

I've been wanting to watch home videos. So I have been, working my way through the dusty stack of VHS tapes in my room and faithfully rewinding each one as I finish (don't you miss that? :). Sometimes they make me feel so young, like I'm still a kid. But sometimes they make me feel old, much older than I am.

Some things are the same way they were in 1994. Same blue carpets in the bedrooms, same red handled, child-sized spoon and fork in the kitchen drawer. I'm still obsessed with Disney- back then, the majority of my clothes and birthday/Christmas gifts featured Belle or Snow White or Jasmine or Ariel or Pocahontas. I still talk fast and loud when I get excited about something.

Thankfully, my high-pitched, three-year-old's screeching has long disappeared (I seriously don't know how my family endured birthday parties). But so has that lovely complete lack of self-consciousness that young kids have...back when you never worried about what others thought of you. Oh, and I tend to avoid attention now instead of seeking it (I think I had a hard time adjusting to having a baby brother :).

I love that home videos remind me of things I was too young to remember or might otherwise forget. Like how my Granny used to laugh when she got really tickled about something. Like the time that she and my aunt took up for me when I, as a toddler, tried to kiss and stick my fingers on the cake we had at a 4th of July party. Or how I got the Belle and Beast figures in my sewing room for Christmas when I was three. Or how there always seemed to be country music playing in the background in our house. Or that my parents took me to Natural Bridge, a place I still love to visit, for the first time when I was just over a year old. And a thousand other little memories.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The Bible is full of miracles, and of course, I believe that every single one of them really happened, from the parting of the Red Sea to the many people Jesus healed. I've heard of miracles happening to people during my life, and maybe even witnessed a few in a small way. But I'll admit that I can be skeptical when a story of a miraculous event comes through word of mouth, passed from person to person. I also tend to be skeptical when it comes to huge, flashy healing services where dozens or hundreds of people claim to experience miracles in a short amount of time. {The older I get, the less I'm impressed with flashy and noisy experiences and the more I value quiet and humble and genuine things.} 

So I was intrigued by this book: Miracles, by Tim Stafford. And it turned out to be a really interesting read. The author covers a lot in this book...everything from why people doubt miraculous stories to the history of miracles to what to think when miracles don't happen {or maybe I should say, when miracles don't happen in the timing we want. He says that miracles are a taste of what's to come. Some miracles and healings might not happen on earth, but they'll all be accomplished in heaven}.

I think he has a great attitude about all of the issues covered. We should keep our eyes open and believe that miracles can happen and do happen. But we should also realize that they shouldn't draw attention to themselves but instead to God and His power. Miracles shouldn't be our complete focus.

I liked the recap of the miracles in the Old and New Testaments. I had never realized before that most of the ones that are written about in the Old Testament were public miracles...ones that were actually witnessed by thousands of people, not just carried by word of mouth. But in the New Testament, things shift toward miracles being for a smaller audience, usually a handful of people seeing Jesus heal someone. And if you remember, several times he instructed the healed person not to spread the news. I also thought it was interesting when the author pointed out that the majority of miracles written about in the Bible happened in two periods that cover only about 7% of the two thousand years or so total. During the rest of the time, either there weren't an awful lot of miracles or they just weren't recorded.

I really enjoyed reading Miracles. If this is an issue you've been thinking about lately, you should definitely check it out (whether you're a bit of a skeptic or not, or somewhere in between).

Until next time,

{I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. I apologize for being a bit late with my review!}

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Civil War stitches.

I noticed last week that I took a lot of pictures of textile related items in the museums: quilts, flags, embroidery, etc. I guess I'm drawn to that kind of thing because that's what I do. :) So here are a few more photos that wouldn't fit into the last post.

The above quilt featured important events from the Civil War. Pretty neat! And the below patchwork quilt belonged to Stonewall Jackson's family, I believe (though I could be wrong about that). Sorry for the glass glare.

The embroidery on the pouch is inside the heart and says: My (heart) is true to Dixie.

Above is an incredibly well-preserved uniform, below- not so much. I'm just amazed that any sort of fabric or clothing can remain intact for this many years.

Loved the embroidery on the handmade flags. Apparently sometimes women used fabric from their wedding clothes to make flags.

And this is the silent witness doll.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Appomattox, Virginia.

Last week, my parents and I took a day trip to Appomattox. They had both been once on field trips in elementary school, but I had never been before. Which is a bit crazy, considering that it's an important historical place that's only about an hour and a half from us.
It was a lovely day and I learned so much. It's been years since I've taken US History, but if you were like me, you grew up thinking that Lee's surrender to Grant (signaling the end of the Civil War) took place in a court house at Appomattox. Not exactly. {P.S. I love history so this was interesting to me, but if it bores you, feel free to skip down to the pictures of pretty historical buildings. :)}
Everything started off as a little village called Clover Hill. It was later renamed Appomattox Court House (yes, that was the name of the whole settlement, not just the actual courthouse. Confusing). That's where the surrender took place. Not in a courthouse, but in a residential home in the village called Appomattox Court House. More on that later. Years later, the village was moved to be closer to the railroad, and that's where the town of Appomattox, Virginia is today.
Our first stop was at the Appomattox County Historical Museum. {Well, technically it was at the visitor's center because we got a little turned around with our Mapquest directions.} The museum is housed in what used to be the jail.

There were several rooms packed with little things from the 1800s. You could step inside the cells, which was pretty neat. The cell doors were unbelievably heavy!

A family lived here in the jail...I suppose it was the sheriff and his family, though I can't remember. The bedrooms were on the second floor, along with several more cells. I don't think I would have liked sleeping in a room next door to the cells or raising children there. :) Like the guide said, it was a small county and it was probably a very rare day that they had enough prisoners to fill the upstairs cells, but still.

The upstairs was one tiny room, which was the children's playroom.

The next stop, after lunch, was the Museum of the Confederacy, which is outside of the town and close to the historical park.

This is a very new, high tech museum. There are videos you can watch and interactive exhibits and basically tons of information everywhere. You could spend half a day in here, but we had to rush a bit because we wanted to have enough time at the historical park before they closed.

There's a cool blogger connection here...the dress in the display below was made by Atlanta at The Story of a Seamstress. You can read more about it here.

This is General Lee's sword that he had in Appomattox on the day of the's also featured in the portrait of him that you can see behind the exhibit.

There was a wall of faces exhibit where you could choose a picture of someone and read about them. There was a picture of an African American lady holding a white infant...I picked it and it turned out that she was from the little town not twenty miles from my home. She was born a slave, but became a successful midwife and nurse to black and white families (she also had quite a few children of her own). I love living in an area so full of history.

We stopped and listened to a man who was talking about medical issues and disease during the Civil War. There were some curved needles on his table exactly like the ones used in Cranford (of course I would see something that reminded me of a BBC mini series :). We also learned that practically two-thirds of the soldier deaths during the war were not from battle wounds but from diseases. I had no idea!

Finally, we headed to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. It was such a gorgeous place.


There are beautiful historical buildings everywhere, most of them original ones that are over 150 years old. A store, tavern, lawyer's offices, etc. You can at least step inside most of them (only a few aren't open to the public), and there are several that you can walk all the way through.

This is the McLean House, the spot where the surrender took place. Unfortunately, this is the most famous and important building on the whole site, but it's not original. It's reconstructed, which I didn't realize until nearly the end of the day and which I found disappointing. :) In the 1890s, some bright people had the idea to dismantle the house, carry it to Washington, D.C., and make it into a war museum. It never happened. So the building was reconstructed on the original foundation in the 40s.

{The McLean family had actually moved from Manassas in part to get away from the war. And then the end of it happened in their parlor.}

They've made the room look exactly like it would have, but the furniture and all are replicas, too (the originals are in other museums, I think). Like I said, I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't standing in the exact room that General Lee and General Grant stood in. I'm a nerd like that. :)


Have I mentioned how gorgeous this place is?

Keeping with the terms of the surrender, two portable printing presses were set up in the tavern to print parole passes so the Confederate soldiers could get safely home.

Never thought I'd see my mom in jail. :) {This is the rebuilt jail from the late 1860s- the first one was wooden and burned down.}

On the way out, we stopped at the small Confederate cemetery, which has the graves of nineteen soldiers (one Union and the rest Confederate) killed in the last days of fighting in Appomattox. It was a nice way to end the day.

I'm usually so caught up in the 20s-60s that I don't spend much time thinking about the 1800s. So this trip was really eye-opening for me. I really did learn a lot. And I'm so proud to have been born in a state that is full of fascinating history. Seriously...Virginia is an awesome place. :)

I loved learning things I had never known. I loved seeing places I've only read about in history books. I loved walking on the same ground that Confederate and Union soldiers walked on. And I loved it when the guides refer to the the Confederates as "us" or "we."

I'm not advocating slavery. I never, ever think it's okay to believe you can "own" another human being. But the south was also fighting for good things, like the fact that it's dangerous when the federal government gets too much power. And North or South, Union or Confederate, my day in Appomattox gave me a whole new respect for people who are willing to fight and die for what they believe in.

One other, slightly more trivial, thing that stood out to me from our trip was realizing that there are many other people who want to preserve history. I recently mentioned my tendency to hoard little bits of my life, even though they might seem mundane and won't be historically important. Well, I'm not the only one. :) You wouldn't believe the things that Civil War soldiers kept as "souvenirs." It was one of my favorite parts of the whole day. Some examples:

Lee borrowed a pencil to make a correction to the terms of surrender (Grant had accidentally left out a word or something). Someone kept the stubby pencil- it's on display in one of the museums. There was a rumor going around amongst the soldiers at one point that the surrender had taken place under an apple tree there in the village. Well, the soldiers basically hacked the tree to bits, scrambling to keep a piece of it, a piece of history. They cut pieces from flags of the opposing side. One soldier took a doll from the parlor where the surrender occurred (the doll belonged to Lula McLean, a daughter of the family that lived there) and kept it in his family for over a hundred years (you can read the story about "the Silent Witness" here).

I just think it's fascinating that those men knew they were witnessing history and wanted to keep a little piece of it. And now, a hundred and fifty years later, we go to museums to see those little pieces for ourselves. :)

{Sorry this post was so long. I'm incapable of just posting pictures...I have to tell the stories behind them, too.}

Until next time,