Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sewing in the 40s.

I saw this fascinating video over at Lucky Lucille's earlier today. It's a Simplicity sewing video from the 40s and certain parts of it were really amusing.

For example, what is her boyfriend doing while she's having an awkwardly long monologue by the window? Why should the money raised from the home ec fashion show go to the basketball (I think it was basketball) team? Also, the acting is hilariously stiff.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. :)

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A stitched Fellowship.

I feel like this cross stitch piece has been a long time in the making, though I suppose it really hasn't. I bought the Fellowship of the Ring pattern about a year and a half ago. About that same time, someone gave me lots of Aida cloth and cross stitching supplies, and there was this one piece that was different. It was kind of a cream color but it was rough and spotted. I knew it would be perfect for the LOTR cross stitch, so I stuck a sticky note on it and set it aside.

Then Mom bought me this oval hoop (approx. 5" x 9") at a yard sale for me, because Hobby Lobby only carries huge oval hoops. I've kept it for months, planning on using it for this project if it was big enough.

When my computer crashed back in December, I lost all of the PDF patterns I'd bought (don't worry- since then I've learned my lesson about saving purchased patterns elsewhere!). I tend to print all of the patterns as I use them, so I still had all of the patterns I'd bought except for two, including this one. Thankfully, the shop owners graciously sent it to me again.

So finally, after all of that, I recently stitched up the Fellowship of the Ring.

It fit (just barely!) in the hoop, and I'm glad I saved the supplies for this project, because it worked out perfectly.

After months of being mostly focused on knitting, I didn't realize how much I missed embroidery!

I recently had to expand my embroidery wall...thankfully, one of my bedroom walls is super long and the perfect spot for the hoops. :) I have about 8 other hoops elsewhere in my room. Obviously the clock and the hoop with some of my brooches in it aren't embroidery, but they fit with the circle theme. :) I think that out of all of these, the boy and girl set towards the middle are my favorites. I  love those so much...they're so elegant and have a 20s/30s feel. {The patterns are from here.}

Until next time,

Monday, February 25, 2013

An eShakti dress review.

When I received an email from inviting me to choose an item from their spring line to review, I was a little torn. This is obviously not a fashion blog. The only time I post pictures of and talk about clothes is when I've sewn them myself.
But on the other hand, how could I resist a free dress from a website that offers so many pretty designs and customization? I couldn't. :)
{Let me just say that I've never actually purchased an eShakti dress. Several months ago I won one in a blog giveaway. I picked a red cotton dress, one with elastic smocking all around the waist. It looked cute enough on the site and by itself, but it wasn't flattering on me. I thought the elastic would make it more comfortable, but the dress was a bit stiff and awkward and had very poofy sleeves. I've worn it maybe once or twice under a cardigan, but that's it. So I was curious to see if another style dress would suit me better.}

After a day of deliberating over a few of my favorites, I chose a black and white printed, button-up shirtdress, made from polyester. I would have preferred cotton, of course, but this dress has gathers and pleats. And those two things tend to look awful on me, so I figured the softer, sheer fabric would make them less severe and more flattering. The full-skirted, 100% cotton dresses with pleats at the waist look adorable on the website, of course, but if you're like me and not thin like the dressform, they might not be so flattering in real life. :) I would link the dress here, but it seems to mysteriously have disappeared from the site?

I decided to enter my measurements so that it would be customized. I also swapped out the cap sleeves for slightly longer short sleeves (because I'm just not crazy about sleeveless or nearly sleeveless dresses). That's one of the really neat things about eShakti. Not only can you get your item custom made to your measurements, but with most of the dresses, you have options for what sleeve type and dress length you want. On certain dresses you can even opt to remove embellishments or the pockets (but who would want to take out the pockets?? As you can see from these pictures, they're perfect for those of us who never know what to do with their arms :).

Basically: I love the dress. I find it so much more flattering than the giveaway dress. The sleeves are the perfect length (great for warm weather and not bulky, so perfect for wearing under cardigans), I like the "shawl collar" because it reminds me of a Peter Pan collar, and I think the berry print is cute. There is a bit of elastic smocking on the sides of the waist (see below photo), which keeps the waist snug but comfortable and slightly stretchy. The main fabric is sheer but it's lined with black (all except the sleeves). I love the full skirt, and despite my prejudices against non-natural materials, the polyester does make the whole dress wonderfully light and floaty. :) And I love the huge pockets.

The length of this dress is supposed to be "below knee," and you put in your height to help them determine how long that is. I'm 5'8 and it hits me right at the knee. I wouldn't have minded if it was a couple of inches longer, especially since the last button is several inches above the hem. Still, that's just a personal preference and there's such a slight difference between "at knee" and "below knee" that I really can't complain. Also, the neckline was lower than I'm comfortable with so I'm wearing a camisole under it (I pretty much wear a cami under everything, year round, so that's no big deal).

It's still chilly, so I wore a cardigan over it to church yesterday.

Elastic smocking on the sides of the waistband:

Ever since I started sewing clothes over four years ago, I pay more attention to how things are made and the quality of store bought clothes. This eShakti dress seems to be well made. It's constructed with about the same quality of most of my purchased dresses (better quality than a few of them).

P.S. The dresses are made in India, which does bother me. I've read so much about bad factory working conditions lately that I'm paranoid about that! One of my goals this year is to not to buy any new store bought clothing (except jeans and camis). I don't want to support cheap clothing that's being produced in overseas factories by underaged and/or underpaid workers. After some research, a brief mention here is the only thing I can find about eShakti's Indian factories.

The dress came incredibly quickly. I requested it on February 13th, and it shipped less than a week later. The craziest part is this: the dress was shipped on the 19th and arrived on the 21st. I tracked it and watched it go from India to Germany to Ohio to here in Virginia in two days. I couldn't believe it. :) The dress came through DHL, packaged in a tiny box. It did have a bit of a strange smell at first, I think from the plastic it was wrapped in.

So my experience with eShakti was nothing but pleasant. Their prices seem reasonable for customized clothing (though still out of my price range), and I like that you have so many options. If you have a hard time finding modest dresses that are long enough, etc., eShakti definitely offers choices. Though I've read some negative things online about their customer service, my dress was exactly what I wanted and arrived very quickly. Thanks, eShakti, for the free dress! :) You can check out their new spring line here. By the way, until February 28th, you can get free customization. And if you're a new customer, you can get $25 off your first order. Edit: Or use this code to get 20% off your order through March 10th: SEWTECHNCL .  

Don't worry, you won't have to put up with my awkward posing and rambling "fashion" reviews anymore...I think I'll stick with book reviews for a while now. :) Thanks, Mom, for taking the photos even though it was really chilly outside. And I apologize for any fake cheesy grins that may be included in this post.

Until next time,

*Note: I received this dress for free from eShakti in order to honestly review it.*

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Project 360: Week 8

{49} A photo hastily snapped after a full day of babysitting. (What do you call it when the kids are school-aged instead of babies?)

{50} Fruit pizza.

{51} Moss close-up during my walk.

{52} Thursday started off pretty crummy, with my poor little VW being towed away to the shop. The day got better, though. I spent most of the afternoon sewing and it was also a really good mail day. I got my giveaway package from Cation Designs and a dress from eShakti (more on that later).

{53} Woke up Friday to a dusting of snow.

{54} Okay...I'll admit it. I think I'm ready for spring. :)

{55} Afternoon sun through the shade.

Until next time,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Literary heroines.

Kellie at Accordion to Kellie is hosting her yearly Literary Heroine Blog Party again! There are fun questions to answer and some incredible giveaways. I joined in last year, too, but I tried to mix up my answers a little bit this year. :)

The Questions
1. Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!
Hi, I'm Kristin! I'm a bookworm, a classic movie fanatic, and a period drama nerd. I love to make things: I sew, knit, embroider, and spin yarn. I watch too many musicals and listen to a lot of Sinatra.
2. What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 
A true heroine is godly, kind, clever, humble, loving, etc. But goodness, she can't be too perfect or we won't be able to stand her. :) She has to have some flaws that I can relate to, but she should be able to recognize them and hopefully move past them.
3. Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

 a) Elinor Dashwood {Sense and Sensibility}. I relate the most to her. We're both quiet introverts who need to open up with other people a little more. I, too, generally listen more than I talk. She's wiser than I am, though. and even though she'd rather stay behind the scenes, she'll step up and take charge when necessary.
b) Anne Elliot {Persuasion}. Have you read or watched Persuasion lately? I had forgotten how much poor Anne has to put up with! Her dad and sisters are awful...they take advantage of her and hardly even treat her like family. And she bears it all patiently, in a quiet sort of way. She allowed people to mislead her in the past, but she ends up being stronger and more confident in her own decisions.
c) Lucy Pevensie {The Chronicles of Narnia}. Lucy is brave, kind, honest, and funny. She has a childlike faith, even when she's all grown up. She trusts Aslan completely and she's joyful about life.
d) Hermione Granger {Harry Potter series}. I'm going to go out on a limb a bit here, but I consider Hermione a heroine. And I definitely relate to her. She's bookish (sound familiar?) and obsessed with good grades (I was the same way in school :). She's a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak. Plus, I definitely had the poofy hair thing going on when I was younger. I admire her because she's a really good friend and she's brave and incredibly clever.
4. Five of your favorite historical novels?
1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
2. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
3. Emma, by Jane Austen
4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
5. the Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
5. Out of those five books who is your favorite main character and why?
Mr. Darcy! Oh...this is a literary heroine blog party, you say? Sorry. :)

It's hard to pick just one, but probably Lizzy Bennet. She's witty, kind, loyal, and honest. She speaks her mind when necessary (I'm talking about you, Lady Catherine) and won't do the "proper" thing when she knows it isn't the right thing (I'm talking about you, Mr. Collins). She loves to laugh, especially at ridiculousness. She comes from a wonderfully kooky family. But she's not perfect. She's a bit judgemental and sometimes fails at accurately understanding people's character. :)
6. Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Mr. Collins. He's just awful. :) He's hilarious because he's so awkward and prideful and ridiculous. And slightly creepy.

7. If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?
My dream vacation, if money and time were no object, would be a tour of Europe. Most of the time would be spent in England (but France, Scotland, and Ireland would be nice, too). I would visit all of the places associated with my favorite books and movies. The country estates where my favorite Austen adaptations were filmed, Jane Austen's house, the pub where C.S. Lewis and the Inklings met, Platform 9 3/4, Beatrix Potter's home, etc. And I would visit all of the gorgeous places I've only seen pictures of- the Yorkshire moors, English gardens, castles, the Eiffel Tower, etc. I would see the Loch Ness Monster, of course. It would obviously be approx. a two month vacation. :)

 8. What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?
I am most fascinated with the 1920s through the early 60s, though I don't necessarily read a lot of novels set during that time. As far as books go, I read a lot of historical fiction set in Regency England and 1800s-early 1900s America. And of course I read classics which were actually written during that time.
9. You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of?
I would not accept the invitation, so none of the above. :) I hate being in the spotlight, and getting up in front of a large number of people is one of my least favorite things ever. {The only reason I got through my required college public speaking class with an A was because of my obsession with good grades...see above.}
10. If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?
Maybe Anne Elliot?
11. What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate?
I love it. A lot. If large amounts of it were good for you, I'd probably live on chocolate. Chocolate is the reason why I will never be skinny. {That and my disdain for any form of exercise except walking. Hey, it's the exercise of choice for Jane Austen heroines, too! :) }
12. Favorite author(s)?
Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis, because they wrote my absolute favorite books.

 13. Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land?
My journal, books, a camera, knitting supplies, and embroidery supplies. :)
14. In which century were most of the books you read written?
I really couldn't say! My reading taste is all over the place, from Austen to modern memoirs. But I actually probably read more modern books, even if they're historical fiction. So probably the 20th and 21st centuries.
15. In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is…
I don't know. I love Mr. Darcy, of course, but in real life I don't know if I would be best suited to a Darcyish person. I would probably be more drawn to a Captain Wentworth or a Mr. Knightley (but not one who was 17 years older than me. That doesn't bother me in the book or films because he doesn't seem that much older than her. But when I remember...good grief).
16. Describe your ideal dwelling place.
A typical old southern farmhouse. A long, tree-lined driveway. The house is two stories, with a wrap-around porch and a tin roof. There's a little orchard off to one side (I just love that most old farmhouses had an orchard), and a tire swing hanging from a tree in the front yard. Plenty of huge, ancient trees on the property. The inside would be vintage style, with a yellow and green kitchen and one of those gorgeous 50s dinette sets. There would be lots of old, mismatched furniture and the record player is in the living room. There's a library with a rolling ladder, and the entire house has lots of windows.

 17. Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.
I don't really have one (5 words!). I like to think I'm working towards a quirky Penelope style, except a little more vintagey.
18. Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name?
Maybe, but I can't really think of any at the moment. Oh...what about Sauron and Saruman in Lord of the Rings? They're two bad guys whose names are just too similar. As if LOTR wasn't complicated enough in the first place. :)
This wasn't the question, but glancing at my bookshelves, do you know what a really good name is? Matilda (of the Roald Dahl story). And Lemony Snicket. That's just perfection right there. If I was going to write books under a fake name and build a whole bizarre little world around that, I would choose Lemony Snicket. :)
19. In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...
I don't generally read a lot of literature with dastardly villains. :) So I'll stand by last year's choice of Mr. Brocklehurst, of Jane Eyre.
20. Three favorite nonfiction books?
At this exact moment, I'll go with a craft book: Harvesting Color, by Rebecca Burgess, and two memoirs that I really enjoyed: My Life in France, by Julia Child, and The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure.
21. Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?
Reading or watching a good summerish movie. And there should be ice cream involved, too.
22. Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character.
I've always thought cloches were pretty lovely...though not necessarily on me. Maybe that's because I'm secretly in love with 1920s fashion and forever bitter that I'll never be able to pull off wearing a drop waist. :)

And while searching for the above picture, I found this one. And it was so amazing that I had to include it. :)

23. Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
Gosh, I really don't know! The past year has been pretty uneventful for me personally. So I guess I'll have to go with the fact that I just hit 60 sales in my Etsy shop. That's pretty exciting. :)

24. Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Until next time,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Project 360: Week 7

{42} Me and my mom came across these while sorting through some old family photos.

{43} Organizing embroidery floss for a new project.

{44} Any guesses on what the new project is?

{45} Chocolate chip cookies and Penelope on Valentine's Day.

{46} My adorable cat, Jack. :)

{47} It should be obvious now. And yes, that is a faceless beard.

{48} I saw the end of the Tenth Doctor. And it was terribly sad and practically sob-inducing and full of false hope. It was different from what I thought it would be but at the same time exactly what I expected. And the four knocks? Oh, dear. What a shock of who was actually doing the knocking. The "reward" was pretty awesome though it only drew out the emotions as long as possible. And I feel like a traitor for thinking that I already like Number Eleven, even though I've only see him for approx. two minutes. Please tell me that's not wrong. :)

Until next time,

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter.

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame... and which brother to trust with her heart? {Description provided by publisher}

A couple of years ago, I read Julie Klassen's The Silent Governess and loved it. So when I saw that she was releasing a new book in January, I was really hoping it would be available to review...I knew I would read it either way.

The Tutor's Daughter feels like a mix of Jane Eyre and several of Jane Austen's novels. That's not to say it's not original...the author just borrows some of the best aspects of those stories. There's everything you need in a good Regency era novel: family secrets and drama, creepy nighttime happenings in an old house, prejudices, romance, snobbish rich people, wards, etc. And it all takes place in a wonderful setting.

The setting...oh my goodness. Between the gorgeous cover and the author's descriptions, I couldn't believe how clearly I was able to picture everything. And how could you not love a setting like this? The windy English coast full of rocks and cliffs and shipwrecks? It definitely added to the mysteriousness and danger of everything else that was happening in the story. Besides the setting, I can't remember the last time I felt like I could actually see scenes happening in a book I read (especially here with the two suspenseful scenes that happened in the harbor).

Because of some persistent hints toward the beginning of the book, I had correctly guessed about two of the major plot points. But it was still fascinating to get to the place where those things were revealed (because I wasn't absolutely sure that I was right :).

The characters were all interesting, especially as you're kept on your toes guessing who's bad and good and who's responsible for doing what. I could definitely relate to Emma, being somewhat of a type A/bookworm/control freak myself. :) I don't want to say too much about the other characters because I don't want to give anything away. But I will say that the romance was very swoon-worthy...a little bit of a reversed Persuasion going on with a hint of Pride and Prejudice.

Basically, I loved this book. Maybe even as much as The Silent Governess, though I would really need a reread to judge that. :) It took a couple of chapters to really get into it, but after that I couldn't put it down. And now I think I need to read all of Julie Klassen's other books as soon as possible. I already own The Girl in the Gatehouse, so maybe that one next?

Until next time,

*I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.*

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The single girl's guide to Valentine's Day.

I usually avoid posting on Valentine's Day, because I'm single and generally try to avoid negativity on my blog. :) But I'm making an exception this year. It seems like most of the blogs I read have been filled with pink and red and loveydoveyness over the past week. I figured maybe some readers might want a break from all of that. So welcome! :)

Valentine's Day is currently not my favorite. {But the embarrassing thing is that if I was in a relationship, I would probably love it.} Do we really need a special day to make single people feel lonely and left out? I know that's not the point of the holiday, but to be honest it feels like that to me most of the time.

Here's the thing. I'm nearly 22 and I've never really dated or been in a relationship. I've read all the Christian dating/courtship/preparing for marriage books. {By the way, it's incredibly ironic that the author of some of those books about being contentedly single got married at like 19. So I already have a couple of years on her. Does that make me more qualified to write a book? :) } I know that God sees the whole picture that I'm blind to right now and I trust Him.

But sometimes a girl gets lonely. Especially when she realizes that in approx. 4 years she will be considered a spinster by Jane Austen standards. {Even more alarming when she actually does spin yarn.}

So...I give you this guide for the single girl on Valentine's Day. :)

Step One: Watch this video and laugh. Because you know you've heard at least a few of these before.

Step Two: Eat large amounts of chocolate. Here's my favorite (easy) chocolate chip cookie recipe {I can't take credit for it...I found it somewhere online once}:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (though I end up using milk chocolate ones most of the time)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, stir in vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water- add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour and chocolate chips. Drop by large spoonfuls onto pans. Bake 12-13 minutes.

The recipe usually makes over 2 dozen for me, and they're huge and soft and awesome.

Step Three: Watch a good chick flick. These are some of my all-time favorites.

{Pride and Prejudice 2005, Emma 2009, Jane Eyre 2011, Persuasion 2007, Sense and Sensibility 2008, The Young Victoria, the first two Anne of Green Gables movies, Ever After, You've Got Mail, While You Were Sleeping, Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, Penelope, Leap Year, The Princess Diaries, In the Good Old Summertime (and The Shop Around the Corner), How to Steal a Million, Roman Holiday, Casablanca, and Sabrina}

Repeat steps 1 through 3 as needed. :) are you spending today? What's your favorite kind of candy and what's your favorite chick flick? Leave me a comment and let me know I'm not the only one throwing a little pity party. And just remember tomorrow is the best day of all...the day all of the candy gets marked down! :)

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Some crafty things.

Well, here's one 2013 resolution accomplished: knit myself a pair of socks. This crazy feeling of satisfaction is why I give myself a couple of easy goals every year to balance out the impossible ones. :)
They are ugly, I know (though not quite as mismatchy as my mom's). But that's okay, because they're comfortable. And ugly socks are easier to get away with than most other items of clothing. :)

Now that the socks are finished, I think I'm going to take a brief knitting break. With slightly warmer weather, I'm itching for embroidery now. I seriously need some mind-numbing cross stitch for a while. :) So I'm starting on a larger, nerdy project that I've been meaning to do for a couple of years.

I picked up this jersey knit at the store yesterday. Our Hobby Lobby doesn't often get stripey knits, and this is a spring fabric that will get gone quickly. So I bought a couple of yards for another Renfrew.

I really love that the cream stripes are lacey instead of just solid jersey.

And another special spring fabric...this lovely Paris print. I seriously can't resist Eiffel Tower fabric! :)

What have you been making lately?

Until next time,