the two oldest are going to be in their high school's production of "Bah, Humbug" this saturday, a fund raiser for their spring musical of "Thoroughly Modern Millie'. tashi will be wearing the 1840s dress i made for her in august.
i have been wanting to make one for lexi too, and this is the perfect opportunity for it to be used. it will be her hand made christmas gift from me. a crazy time of year to be working on it, but i am enjoying it!
i love working with the intricately printed fabric, and discovering the ingenious and beautiful way that dresses were made in this era. with this dress i learned an amazing way of installing hooks and eyes:
it was difficult to photograph it so they could be seen... the hooks were sewn to the lining, and then pushed through the "fashion" fabric. the bases of the eyes are hidden between fabric and lining. so the sewing and the bases of the hooks and eyes are hidden away.
now for my mistake....not really "the" mistake, just one of many, but the most serious.
something about the bodice was bothering me, and for a while i didn't know what it was. can you see it?
look at the sleeves. they are cut on the bias, and this fabric, that i love, has a diagonal, or bias print. i cut one sleeve with the stripes running in one direction, and the other sleeve running in the other. i just finished removing and replacing the offending sleeve (barely had enough fabric left on the bolt - phew!), and now both sleeves run lengthwise like the one on the right. with the bodice complete, i am cartridge pleating the skirt so it can be attached. i love the cartridge pleating. it can be seen on the skirt of tashi's dress. it is a lot like hanging curtains.
during my studies of 1800s clothing over the last year, i have realized that although i have always idealized civil war era dresses as the loveliest, they really are surpassed by the grace and elegance of the 1840s fashions, which are also more flattering to the figure (especially a teenage figure).
armed with much inspiration and courage from my friend mary (one of several dear mary friends) and her 1840s sewing expertise, i have completed my first really big 1840s sewing endeavor: a gown for tashi. i cut it out and started on it in may or june, but set it aside as the summer became busier. and i questioned my fabric choice that i had originally belabored - although i loved it, it didn't really seem to match tashi and here serene personality. then a few weeks ago our artist friend michael bedard asked tashi to pose as sarah granger kimball for a painting, or series of paintings he is planning based on the beginnings of the relief society in nauvoo. sarah was well educated and cultured and married one of the wealthiest men in nauvoo - and i had the inspiration for finishing the gown that fit her (sarah's) personality. it's as authentic as i could make it without time to sew entirely by hand. it came together smoothly and was a joy to work on. serpentine stripes were the height of fashion in the 1840s. the fabrics were sophisticated and colorful, and intricately detailed then, not plain and drab as we are prone to imagine.
this was my first experience with cartridge pleating a skirt and stitching each little pleat to the waistband, stiffened with horsehair braid, by hand. the bodice is fully lined and full of boning.
these photos were taken during the practice photo shoot, there have been two more since. her ringlets weren't holding (we were copying the hairstyle from a portrait of sarah granger kimball.) we got better at managing the ringlets in subsequent shoots.
the photos were taken at the sarah granger kimball home. this first painting is planned to be sarah enjoying the flowers in her beautiful gardens.
brock is in japan on this 4th of july. this is the 20th 4th of july of our marriage, and for at least 13 of those, one or both of us has been in japan....a strange tradition for an american holiday. i woke up to pouring rain, and thought - no! not on the 4th of july! but a more comforting thought followed - little man's t-ball game will be cancelled, and the older girls and i won't have to juggle the question of who will watch the shop, who will work the t-ball concession stand, and who will watch the game and the little ones.
when brock is in japan, we all wax more nostalgic for everything japanese. impossible to believe it's been over 2 years now since we left, and i have found myself wondering this week for the first time since that move, if and when we will ever move back again. last night i was up late talking with my oldest girls (who spent the vast majority of their lives in japan - all of our children have, except grace). tashi was saying how she hated it when people asked her which she liked better, japan or the u.s.... so of course i had to ask....i had to know! she gave me an icy look. but eventually admitted that she didn't know which she liked better.....she liked both countries in different ways. we all agreed. then lexi asked if i had read her facebook status from a few days ago. i hadn't. i am not making time for facebook of late. she asked me to come over to the computer and read it. too tired, i asked her to read it aloud. no! that would be weird!.... according to her. eventually i made my way to the computer on my way to bed, and this is what i read:
....after posting this, it occurred to me how this statement much, much truer for our japanese children.....
oddly enough, after taking the leap and making my first article of clothing by hand (see last post), i enjoy sewing more than ever. it has freed me somehow, and i see sewing very differently. i have been sewing since i was about 5, begging my mom for embroidery projects like hers and making my grandma an apron completely by myself when i was 7. i was a 4-H sewer through my growing up years, and then majored in clothing and textiles at BYU, where i sewed, and sewed, and sewed some more (quite tragic that the department no longer exists there). i have always felt compelled to sew and create with my hands. after over 30 years of sewing, everything is new, because of my 1800s hand sewing adventures. i feel empowered, enabled. i understand pattern making better, and i have all kinds of new construction ideas.
i'm making mia's cap by machine, because i have so many projects i want to try, that i unfortunately can't do them all by hand. hers still needs a "frill" (ruffle) and chin strap. the background quilt is circa 1860 - 1880, one of my most favorites in my collection. you can't see it well i this photo, but many of the 8-pointed star blocks are signed.
now i am working on a dress for mia, using the patterns and directions in my 1838 "workwoman's guide" just as with the pantaloons and caps. this is a fun adventure too. if you have ever sewn a sleeve, you may be as surprised as i am to see how i was instructed to make these sleeves. they are a complete circle, with a hole cut in the center for the arm band, and the underarm edge trimmed slightly. the photo below shows one sleeve as it was cut, and one sleeve gathered to the bodice.
if you are my friend on facebook, you may have had the time and interest to read this already, or not - which i completely understand. this is a "note" which is circulating on facebook, and i enjoyed the challenge of coming up with 25 items to post.
1. I have put off making this list for a very long time.
2. I LOVE living in Nauvoo.
3. My favorite thing in the world is being married to Brock, second favorite is being a mommy to my kids.
4. I have lived in Japan 3 different times, for a total of almost 12 years, but am still not fluent in Japanese. My two oldest caucasian daughters can speak, read & write Japanese almost natively. My Japanese children can't.
5. I LOVE babies, and want to have more....will I ever stop feeling that way? 14 years of infertility can do that to a person. But I have always loved babies. My favorite job ever was working as a nurses' aid in a newborn nursery.
6. I am emotional and very passionate...about almost everything.
7. I don't get very excited about food....so you would think that I would be thinner.
8. I have been to nine countries, one territory and one protectorate, but never to Hawaii, and I have been to thirty-nine states, but never to Florida, Alaska, (or Hawaii)
9. Two of my brothers married girls named Nancy.
10. I have an addiction to chocolate, and it's not a good thing (explains number 7)
11. I love yoga
12. I love to read, but am a very picky reader...it needs to be intelligently written, great plot, believable characters, uplifting, and clean.
13. I love history, antiques, and quilting...so antique quilts are a passion.
14. I have a degree from BYU in a department that no longer exists: clothing & textiles.
15. I don't really like ice cream. really.
16. I can be very competitive, but I don't enjoy participating in or watching competitive sports.
17. I have felt a connection/fascination with Japan since I was about 5 years old, and always wanted a Japanese baby. Now I have two.
18. I have over 40 cousins on each side of my family...for a total of over 80. Second cousins are innumerable, but I am in touch with many.
19. Both of my grandmothers are on facebook.
20. I am very driven...to the point of being unhealthy (explains the need for number 11). I am learning not to be.
21. 4 of my 5 children are extremely intense.....must get it from Brock ;)
I am an oldest child, so is Brock. Alexa is obviously oldest, and after an 8 year space, Mia basically is too. Noah is an oldest boy. So, 5 people in our family have oldest personalities....yikes! It explains a lot. Gracie is just intense because she wants to be. Tashi has a big job balancing the rest of us out.
22. I prefer humid over dry climates and love a change in seasons. But I did love living in Phoenix. I have loved everywhere we have lived.
23. I am a runner, but no good at sports - I am completely pathetic at volleyball.
24. I play the piano, but can't sing.
25. My newest passion is studying and re-creating 1840s clothing.
in the past week six of us have had stomach flu, two have had croup, one has had a bad cold, three have had headache & fever, and several have had three of the above. the only one who escaped stomach flu (lexi) had the bad cold. i think we are all feeling better, except baby whose croup is lingering. we had a few scary nights with her. now she is just scaring us with her grumpiness.... she is also getting her four eye teeth, and has never handled teething well.
in addition to feeling mostly better, there is more cause for celebration. the flag is done!
one month, about 70 hours of sewing, and approximately 12,000 hand stitches later.
it is roughly 4' x 6' and has 26 stars. michigan was the most recent state addition in 1841. the star arrangement (upside down star, with the stars getting progressively smaller) is based on a flag made in the era. only the number of stars was prescribed at this time. the arrangement was up to personal preference.... until the beginning of the 1900s! the rope was hand made at the nauvoo family living center, then singed by candle and lightly waxed (also by candle). for more info on this flag, cick on "the flag" above.
as i was signing and dating it yesterday, i realized that i had completed it on presidents day. completley unintentional, but significant to me.
today is the 200th anniversary of his birth.
tonight lexi & i are going to a birthday party for him and a celebration of "quilting in the time of lincoln" at the carthage library.
today as i drove to do my weekly shopping, across the river into iowa, several road signs on the illinois side of the mississippi told me to "Love the Land of Lincoln". i do. i really do. i am currently reading this book, a christmas gift, and loving it:
"The Case of Abraham Lincoln" by Julie Fenster. it is an excellently researched and very interestingly told story of a murder case that lincoln becme involved in as a lawyeram and the 1856 elections. i highly recommend it, especially if you are a fan of history and abrah lincoln. the only thing better than being in nauvoo, illinois today, would be to be in springfield, illinois.
the morning of february 4th was cold, very cold, about 12 degrees F, cold enough to postpone the re-enactment of the nauvoo exodus from 8:00 (when we showed up) to 9:30 in hopes that it would be a little warmer.
a little warmer......
that is a great idea....if only the early saints could have postponed their exodus..... it didn't feel right to me to be able to postpone ours.
in spite of our late start, it was a day we will remember. we began by enjoying hot chocolate and tasty treats the the family living center, then headed out into the elements. we had three small children (7 years, 4 years, & 20 months) bundled with layers and layers of long johns, jackets, and coats. and we were all cold. very cold. when it was all over, 1 1/2 hours later, we got into our car, equipped with heater, drove home in warmth, relaxed in our (warm) home, ate yummy (warm) food, and i even crawled into my cozy (warm) bed and fell asleep for 3 hours! (whew! that 1 1/2 hours in a cold wagon was exhausting!)
in contrast, our forebears left with children bundled against the cold, but no high tech coat or glove insulation, no cars with heaters, no yummy food or easy way of heating it up, no warm cozy beds, no way to escape the elements, no hope for warmth at all until spring/summer, and no hope for warm homes and cozy beds until they reached their destination and built them. something like 17 women gave birth on the banks of the mississippi that first night. the temperatures dropped to 30 below within the week. incredible. unbelievable. i can't even begin to imagine giving birth in that kind of cold, and trying to keep the baby warm. it makes me want to cry. and i did shed tears as i tried to keep gracie (who didn't want to keep her mittens on, but then cried & cried because her hands were so cold) warm, and i tried to imagine knowing that we wouldn't be warm again for months. it is not a wonder that so many died. it is rather a miracle that so many lived. i asked mia & noah (when they were complaining about the cold) how they would feel if they couldn't go home and get warm. mia said with her typical bluntness, "i would want to die." and i agreed. honestly. at the time, we were very near the memorial buit for those who died crossing the plains. it was a very poignant experience, and reminds me of this poignant experience, which i relived on a jog yesterday morning.
the temple looking down on horses & wagons waiting to depart
wagons ready to roll
re-enactors passing the seveties hall on parley street (the trail of tears/hope)
oxen watching the wagons pass, near the seventies hall
at the frozen mississippi
hyrum (a friend), mia, and gracie waiting to begin. they are wearing cards (you can see hyrum's) that say "remember, oh remember" and have names and information representing people who left nauvoo on the first day of the exodus.
this is what the ground looked like where there wasn't pavement....corn husks frozen into the mud. bleak & unfriendly.
i love all things vintage, and i have completely fallen in love with vintage valentines....so sweet, so simple, so innocent (usually, except when, surprise! they're not!). i recently found a precious group of 40 valentines on ebay that had belonged to a brother & sister: jean & harold nightingale.
if the sweet little pictures and sentiments on the fronts aren't enough, the adorable "to & froms", carefully written in cursive with pencil make these valentiens even more precious.
"To Harold Nightingale, From Junior Miller"
"Olive from Pearl Gischman"
To Maple, From Viola Bomaugh"
three years ago i found a ownderful piece of fabric at the tokyo great international quilt festival (lexi, tashi, & i so missed being there this year at the end of january...but brock surprised us by attending while he was htere on business and bringing us back some surprises) that was printed with darling vintage valentines in red on white. it was my inspiration for making this little "drunkard's path" valentine's quilt:
one of my favorite little poems on it says, "I'm not your valentine, but gee! The whole world knows I want to be!" this year i found a valentine with that same message inside, and so cute on the front!:
i made the quilt in the background of this photo last valentine's day.