Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Time in a Box

On Sunday Mr. Hunting Creek brought up a cardboard box full of patterns out of the depths of the garage (who KNOWS what else in in there) and asked if I still wanted them. In the box were the very patterns I had used in high school to make my dress for the Christmas Formal dance! The top I was wearing when I met him at college orientation! The pattern for my favorite outfit my freshman year in college! I did not even know that these patterns still existed. So YES, I did want them.
The Christmas formal dress was made of view A with the high neck (I was a modest girl), but the fluttery sleeves of view F. We were in Southern California, after all. I am still a sucker for fluttery sleeves, although I suspect I'm a teensy bit too old for them now. My dress was Christmasy-red and I made a shawl to go with it. I also had a purse and shoes dyed to match. I still have the purse.

Of course my daughter was very interested in these patterns from a historical, Mom-monitoring aspect. A couple of them she held up and said, "Mom, what were you thinking!", but most passed inspection. My son very nicely pointed out that I sure was skinny back then. Gee, thanks buddy, I know!
I loved this top with a passion; I still remember making it. It was made of cream colored eyelet with tea dyed lace inserts. I wore it all the time. I made another with pink ribbon inserts and dotted swiss, but I didn't like that one as much. Even then I liked to experiment with different embellishment ideas and see how they would work.

High school in Southern California in the seventies was very different than high school in Northern Virginia now. I love to tell my kids stories about how we wore shorts to school and swimsuits under our t-shirts so we could go to the beach after class. Much more fun than telling tall tales how we walked to school backwards ten miles barefoot in the snow to get to school. (I miss California!)
I can still amaze the kids with how far we've come, because when I was a freshman in high school, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. The prevailing wisdom was that wearing pants, jeans etc. would make us "wild". It was a far, far more sexist world back then, than we have now. Thank goodness for that.
Here is the outfit I wore when I was a freshman in college and dating Mr. Hunting

I made a couple of these tops, one in a flowered lawn with eyelet trim, and the other top out of white eyelet. (I still love eyelet. As the twig is bent...)
I made the short skirt of the flowered lawn and also had pants that went with both tops. I used to sew almost all of my clothes and tried to make coordinating outfits even then. My mother encouraged my sewing and would take me fabric shopping on weekends. She did not sew much herself but she was a fabric enabler. I know where I inherited my fabric stashing tendencies.
I mentioned to my daughter that McCalls 4133 was my favorite top of 1975, and I still loved it. She said, "Don't even THINK of making that now!" So bossy!
I bet she would not even recognize it if I made a 2009 incarnation.
Do you still have your old patterns?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the cutting table: T shirts

On the cutting table this week, T shirts for my sister and my daughter from Jennifer Stern's wonderful Tee Pattern, "The Tee". I loved the wonderful shirts that Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics made, and ordered the patterns to sell on Little Hunting Creek. (Plus Jennifer is super nice.)
Also I promised to finish a shirt for Mr. Hunting Creek, which is waiting for buttons and buttonholes.(The shirt; Mr. Hunting Creek is unequipped with buttonholes and buttons.) Now that it is supposed to get warm any second now, he is hinting that it would be nice to wear it sometime this year.

And I am finishing my UFOs from last summer. (Really! I swear!)
What's on your cutting table?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Just look at the images at this site and tell me that you aren't inspired. I think they'd make a wonderful quilt, but they are also just plain old amazing.

For my Mother's Day wish list (can we have wish lists for Mother's day? Like a Christmas List?) I'd like this cute book. I saw the doll on the cover and knew I had to make one for a doll collector I know and some bambini in the family too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This Should be A Dress Pattern

When I was scrolling through the new patterns, this one caught my eye. I called my daughter over.(She is the final arbiter of all fashions chez Hunting Creek. If she doesn't like it it doesn't get made) She agreed. McCalls 5851 should be a dress pattern, not a tunic.
Wouldn't it be nice in pique with pretty lace on top? Or in a pretty floral? Or in creamy white and even longer as a wedding dress, or any other summer color as a bridesmaid dress? Also I feel obligated to buy any halfway decent pattern that has separate pattern pieces for different bust cup sizes. This sort of gesture should be strongly encouraged.
She and I will make one (or more) for summer to test our theory.
What are you sewing for summer?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How did they make this?

Do you ever look at the new fashions and stop and say, "Hey, I could make that!" ?
The interesting looking cotton T shirt above could be yours for $345 from Net a Porter. They say, "McQ's black cotton T-shirt with wrap-around scarf will become your off-duty urban uniform. Wear it with love-worn jeans and a soft leather bag to strut downtown" I like the "love-worn"jeans" image. I wonder if mine are 'love-worn" enough. (I'm quirky, I actually prefer new, dark "unloved-worn" jeans.) Or we can figure out how they made it and design our own, with, dare I say, a few improvements.
The base part is easy, I would use my Pamela's Patterns The Perfect T-Shirt for the base shirt.
But how do you think they attached the scarf part? It is hard to tell from their picture. Do you think they just attached the scarf at the back neck and then let it fall freely to each side so one can swoop it about? If you have any ideas, please share, and we can save $345. (Also we can make ours in much prettier colors.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

What WON'T you Recycle?

Wow, we have lots of different responses to the whole "refashioning" issue. Some people are totally for it, saying "anything that gets people back into needle arts is a GOOD THING" and others say it reminds them of the bad old days, "unfortunate memories is of my grandmother fashioning clothes from flour sacks".

So what won't you recycle? People have strong feelings about this. It surprised me, but I suppose it shouldn't have. It is a very personal issue. We had a lively discussion at the dinner table last night. My daughter was against refashioning pillowcases, but said she had happily turned sheets into curtains for her apartment when she was in college. They were already hemmed!
Mr. Hunting Creek helpfully suggested making nighties out of used dryer sheets. I don't know about that idea. He reminded us that Scarlett O'Hara successfully made a gown out of her mother's draperies; an early example of successful refashioning.
Crazy quilts and scrap quilts were our grandmothers' methods for dealing with small pieces of fabric, old clothes and scraps.
As mentioned below, I won't refashion a pillowcase. I was strongly against cutting up old embroidered things - why? It really bothered me. The ones I inherited from my grandmother remind me of her. I can't cut them up; and they are too fragile now to even use as pillowcases. I still have them, too fragile to use(we used them for over 20 years) but I keep them with sweet smelling soap in the linen closet. They scent the other pillowcases and I think of my grandmother whenever I put the laundry away.
I would not re-use old underwear or pajamas. Old t shirts make great cleaning rags. Old sheets I use as dustclothes once their sheet days are done. When towels get raggedy they get assigned to car wash and dog bath duty. Old cloth diapers are famous for streak free window washing.
Old clothes get donated to the Salvation Army. I very seldom cut them up and turn them into anything else because I think someone else might enjoy them in one piece. I have a bunch of old suits that I never wear any more (I work at home now); a friend suggested Dress for Success or a battered women's shelter as a good home for these.
I have recovered pillows and I recovered my dining room chairs.
I have bought clothes from the second hand store for their buttons, and used the fabric from a old prom dress for Christmas angel dresses when I was in high school.
And like any mom, I have made Halloween costumes out of materials on hand. Not just to save money, but to make something unique. The kids still talk about the time we made a Darth Maul costume out of black lining fabric and an old turtleneck and some makeup. And won the Best costume prize!

So where do you draw the line? What WON'T you recycle?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Riches to Rags

Has it come to this? Are we now down to making our clothes out of pillowcases?
In the flyer sent to me (they want me to sell this book): In this unique book there are 28 projects to create from pillowcases just waiting to be given a fabulous new look. Is it a pillowcase or …a darling sundress? …a retro-chic, eco-friendly lunchbox? That's up to you, super-crafty sewer!
I don't know about you, fellow sewistas, but I draw the line right here. There will be no darling sundresses made out of pillowcases from the Little Hunting Creek Sewing cave.

Add this to The List of what I am Not Sewing this spring. Is this book a sign of the End Times? Or has this Recession gone on just a little too long? The only way to stop the madness is to dip into stash and a nice vintage pattern and make something luxurious!
Aux barricades!

Friday, April 3, 2009

What Not to Sew, April Edition

In the spirit one of my daughter's and my favorite shows, What Not to Wear, I thought I'd list what I am NOT sewing ( and maybe show what I might sew as well)
In a previous post, I indicated that I felt that caftans were innappropriate for modern life. They might be ok on the beach or lounging around the pool at the Beverly Wilshire, but they are not for me. Many readers wrote in and said that I needed to imagine the caftan on the beach in Mustique. I think it is perfectly appropriate there. But here at our pool on Little Hunting Creek I don't expect to see very many caftans. I usually wear a sarong as a pool cover up, and the other women here wear those, or wrap skirts, or similar pool wear.
I will not be making the oompa-loompa pants. At first I thought that these were a joke. When it became clear to me that they were not a joke, then I wondered, "what is Vogue thinking?" Maybe I just don't get it. Maybe other women want to look like extras in PeeWee Herman movies.

I like this dress instead. Sort of an anti-oompa loompa look. No one will think you're in an odd cult wearing this, which is always a fashion goal of mine.

I was intrigued by this dress, which Vogue rates as Advanced. It looks like an ordinary shirtdress, but it is Ralph Rucci, so who knows what secret voodoo couture techniques might be required. I have one of his shirt patterns, and I am working up the gumption to make it. I guess I just don't feel worthy.

I have this secret fear that I'd make the shirt and run into someone who knows her Ralph Rucci and she'd say something withering like, "oh did you make that yourself?"
in that condescending tone. Which is crazy, because no one I know would even be able to tell.
I won't be making these Vogue Woman pants. What's with the oompa loompa pants patterns?
They just look so HUGE. I am short and I feel like huge round baggy pants might not be my best look. They even make the model look fat, and we all know those girls haven't eaten in years.

I'm finishing up my UFOs before I start my summer sewing. In the great sewing room clean up I uncovered a few projects that missed their chance in the spotlight for last summer, so I thought I should give them a chance at life before this upcoming summer is over.

What are you NOT sewing this spring?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool

They're kidding us at Vogue, right? There is no other possible explanation.

I consulted my daughter as if I were planning on purchasing these patterns.
"What do you think?" I asked. "Those are HIDEOUS!", she cried. "You are NOT buying these!".
I rest my case.