Part Three of the 40’s Sew Along

Fabric: Vintage Rayon from Bruce at the Alameda Flea market
Vogue 2322
Interfacing, 1 bakelite belt buckle and 1 yard belting, zipper from stash
Time to complete:
4 hours
First worn:
March 2013
Wear again?

Grab a cup of tea or coffee, this is going to be a long one… : )

First the pattern – easy peasy! The only change I made to it is putting the zipper up the center back since I have a well know dislike of those side zips. Someone asked why they used short zippers on the side and sometimes another short zipper at the top of the back, why not one long zip like they do now. Trust! My grandmother says they just didn’t trust them yet, it wasn’t until the 50’s that the center back and longer zippers came into fashion. It wasn’t until the 60’s that nylon or plastic zippers were produced making them lighter weight and less prone to breaking. I do distinctly remember they were touted as being “heal-able” so if you popped it you had a decent chance of being able to unzip and re-zip.

So just because I can the zipper is up the center back. I don’t have to dislocate my arm to get my dress on : )

Next was trying to find somewhere period-appropriate to photograph this dress in. A short trip to Alameda, on the opposite side of the island from where we go to the flea market, was our destination…

The USS Hornet!

 It only took 16 months to build her in Newport News, Virginia in 1942/43 and a quarter of the construction crew were women. Although she was attacked 59 times she was never hit by a torpedo, kamikaze or or exploding bomb. She served 15 months straight in the front areas of the Pacific as WELL as picked up the astronauts of Apollo 11 (yes, THOSE astronauts!) and Apollo 12. She was a busy lady : )

Now she is a floating museum and National Historic Landmark. What a perfect place for a 40’s challenge, don’t you think?

I wanted to be as authentic as possible so I had a local hairdresser style my hair first thing. Thank you Jill : ) She did beautiful Victory rolls and the key was spraying the living CRAP out of them!! Which was a really good thing since I picked up my daughter afterwards, we went to lunch and then she got her hair cut before we headed to the Hornet. Once there the wind picked up as you can see by the first picture – I was trying to angle myself so I could still see and not look like I was flashing the world : )

You can see the entire skyline of San Francisco off the end of the ship : ) That’s the Bay bridge over my shoulders with the city on the left side.

The flag was pretty much straight out, so it was brisk : )

We took these photos on the landing area. The overall length of the ship is 894 feet and the landing area takes up about half that, seems big walking on it but when you think that they land planes there it shrinks quickly.

My daughter actually lay down on the ground to get this shot : ) Isn’t she a great daughter? You can see a plane on the right just in front of the control tower or “Island”. It’s pretty big but at this angle it looks small.

Now we’re on the OTHER end of the ship, in front of one of several aircraft on display. I liked the grin painted on it and you can see the Island a little better. The wind had died down a little so the dress wasn’t whipping around as wildly. You’ll notice I have different shoes on from the first photo. I REALLY wanted to wear the vintage red strappy sandals but something about the placement of the straps had me taking a step, step OUCH, step OUCH…so the ones I wore to board came back out of the bag. I feel a little dowdy for some reason but at least I could move.

Brittany said other people were surreptitiously taking my picture. If they’d asked I would have smiled for and at them : ) There is one dork picture I’ll include at the end…

Next to the Hornet, lined up CLOSE, are three more ships. There are actually half a dozen other ships in the immediate area but these three are literally as close as you could possibly get them.

Before we head down a deck I had Brittany get a shot of the shirts and vests:

Yes, we started at the purple end : ) When Jim was in the Navy he was a “purple shirt” (fuel) and everytime we watch “Top Gun” I tease him that we see not one purple shirt in the movie. Lots of green (catapult and arresting gear), yellow (aircraft handlers) and red (fire & ammunition guys). Blue are the guys that do the heavy lifting, the grunt work. They work under the yellow guys. It’s a pretty rainbow : )

So down we go to the Hanger Deck. They have tons of exhibits from planes to helicopters to Nasa “stuff” including a flight simulator that all the 9-14 year old boys were dying to try. Both Brittany and I knew better : ) “Star Tours” at Disneyland does me in, a flight simulator just might kill me.

We found another grinning plane and then headed out to the fantail.

I finally gave in to the wind and put on a sweater. The curl is mostly gone out of the back of my hair but the Victory rolls are holding up like champs!

Back inside we had our choice of dozens of exhibits. They had a landing capsule from one of the Apollo missions as well as the Airstream that the astronauts were quarantined in once they returned from space! Complete with 60’s gold upholstered seats they only quarantined three Apollo missions, 11, 12 and 13. They figured out the threat of “moon germs” wasn’t what they thought and discontinued the practice. As we walked into the Apollo exhibit there was a small group of Boy Scouts watching the footage of the landing on the moon. I walked past them and said to Brittany “I watched that live!” and felt really, really old.

We also poked our heads into the exhibit honoring Japanese Americans and their contribution to the war. It made me incredibly sad. One of my dad’s best friends was interred for several years, met his wife in camp. There was a box on display that a gentleman had made from scrap wood as a present to the woman he would marry. This country did a bad, bad thing that I’m still not sure has been rectified.

Just outside the Japanese exhibit is a bike, an unusual bike : )

No note, no explanation, just a two seater, three wheeled WINGED bike : ) I’ll need to take my dad and find someone who can tell me what this bike was used for!

Out front the sun came out and the sweater came off. I borrowed Brittany’s red glasses to go with the red of my red accessories!

The ONE thing I forgot in the car were the bakelite earrings so we did a couple quick pics before heading back to Oakland.

Mena pose : )

I also want to point out that I actually had time to do my nails this week : ) I don’t use much nail polish anymore trying to get away from toxic chemicals. I found a company that makes “3 free” nailpolish, leaving out the formaldehyde, tuolene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). The very prettty red I have is called “Wild Rooster” and I have to say as far as wear goes it wears just the same as the toxic stuff! You can’t mix brands so if you like a top coat just buy theirs. You can find them here. Yes, they’re a little more than the polishes you might pick up at CVS but look at it this way – they weren’t tested on bunnies so no one died, they’re considered vegan AND they won’t add to your worries of “am I going to get cancer from this”. Win!!

On our way home I put back on the outfit I had spent most of the day in, my “bonus” outfit for the week:

Trying to overcome my it-looks-like-PJ’s phobia I made another shirt. I LOVE the fabric –

I paired the shirt with my pants from my Rosie the Riveter outfit and my vintage blue & white saddle shoes. I wanted to do some sort of Victory garden photoshoot but honestly we were SO tired after traipsing all over a big ship that it was all I could do just to get Brittany home…after we spent some time looking for gnomes.

Yes, gnomes.

Someone has been painting gnomes and mushrooms on scraps of wood and attaching them to power poles all over Oakland. Because the poles are owned by PG&E they got snippy about artwork on their poles and announced they were “removing the gnomes”. Well, that stirred up quite a fuss! Seems the residents of the neighborhoods in which the gnomes now reside LIKED the gnomes so they starting voicing their opinion to those who make decisions at PG&E. Executives backed down and said they’d leave the gnomes alone.

Brittany sees them all the time but I had only read about them. She said there were lots on one street, a street full of artists and galleries so we drove by. We had to park and walk the entire length before we found gnomes! We saw the screws that once held them to the poles but no gnomes : (

He really is only about 4″ total but has the power to make you smile : )

No mushrooms but you get the gist. Cute huh?

Phew. What a day!

As promised (for Vickie), an outtake:

One hair flew across my face and into my eye. Ouch : )

After spending all day Saturday running around I stayed home all day Sunday (except for two trips to the hardware store for wood and dirt!) and dug in the dirt. One of the things I wanted to do this year was try some new stuff in the garden. I finally found my Thai pink tomato seeds on Amazon (as Crystal says they have frickin’  EVERYTHING!) so I’ve started some of those along with Kirin black tomatos, Batwing pumpkins, Tiger striped melons, Dill’s Atlantic giant pumpkins and garbanzo beans. That’s the new and different stuff : )

Because we lost Prudence (one of our chickens) and the little hummer guy this week we buried them together and then planted a red climbing rose on top. I planted some garlic cloves around the rose bush and threw some nasturtium seeds in with the poppies Sue gave me a couple months ago. I figure if I keep planting seeds something is bound to grow! I’m hoping for an AWESOME garden in a few months : )

The one project that is dragging on and on is the back deck. We’re still replacing boards and painting. I laughed today when I looked at it and said “All the work we’ve put in and it’s going to look just like it did a month ago, without the holes and rot.” Such little baby steps forward…

P.S. There are some more photos from the day on my Instagram account : )

Part Two of the 40’s Sew Along

Fabric: Turquoise/red cotton from JoAnn’s
DuBarry 5090
Interfacing, 5 buttons for blouse and 8 for skirt, 1 bakelite belt buckle and 1 yard belting from stash, 2 packages pre-made piping from stash
Time to complete:
6 hours
First worn:
March 2013
Wear again?
$17.97 for fabric + $6.22 for buttons so $24.19 total


Here is my inspiration shot:

This is the lovely Sydney Ballesteros, she of the Golden Girl of the West blog. I’ve been inspired by her before, most notably last year when we did our Mixed-prints challenge at Sew Weekly. I loved the polka dotted goodness of this dress, along with the piping that made it “pop” and her shoes. I debated for a WEEK about dress vs. separates and finally decided I’d get more wear out of separates.

The blouse part of the DuBarry pattern was missing a few pieces so I ended up using my old standby, New York 1779.  I did try replicating the curve of the collar but honestly, I was still stuck in the “Must Get It All Done This Weekend” mode and didn’t have the patience to work piping around those curves. When I got the facings on and put the shirt on the mannequin it reminded me of men’s PJ’s : ( I kept going because I loved the fabric and hoped that the skirt would tone down the PJ-like feel but I seriously stumbled for a moment.

My daughter and I took these photos at a local monument to War Heroes.

It was originally dedicated to those who died in World War One but in 1954 it was amended to include those in World War Two and the Korean conflict.

It just seemed fitting.

The plaques behind me are the names of those who died (on the right) and the communities from which they came (on the left).

It was a blustery day : ) I had tried to do my hair in a 40’s style but the wind wasn’t cooperating!

My Victory rolls fell down a little and while I liked the polka dotty clips I felt a little Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane“, my daughter just laughed at me : )

The first two buttons down the front of the skirt are functional, the rest are sewn through all layers. I’ve tried wearing button-up-the-front skirts and dresses for years and I always rip out the bottom buttons. I didn’t even bother making buttonholes for the other 6 buttons! If I were the very precise and remarkable Laura Mae I would do bound buttonholes all around, used or not : ) Seriously, she is amazing.

I pulled out a pair of shiny red shoes I found at Target last year, my button bracelet and a pair of red bakelite cherry earrings to up the red-goodness factor and off we went.

Normally, when we do a photoshoot, we go for about 100 photos to get 4-5 good ones. Sometimes the difference between one I like and one that makes me look like a dork is 2 seconds:

So just for Vickie (because we started including our outtakes last year!), here is the dork one : )

I had every intention of getting this post up last night and had even started it earlier in the day so that when I posted my pics to the 40’s Sew Along Flickr site I’d have this all ready to go. Then the real world stepped in and I spent several hours trying to save an Anna’s Hummingbird last night:


Jim had found him in the street last night, unable to fly. While trying to keep out dog away from it he scooped it up and brought it home. The poor thing was exhausted so we let him rest for a while and then I made sugar water and got him to take 2 mls by small syringe. By 9 pm he was bright and perky, comfortable resting in my hand unless he had to poop. Then he moved quickly away, did his business and came right back : ) He sat on the back of my hand as I typed this, moving when he got too warm to the desk top where I grabbed my camera and took this photo of him. (You can see more photos on my Instagram) I snuggled him for another hour, fed him a bit more and put him in a cage in my sewing room to be safe and warm through the night.

He died before dawn. I’ve sat at my desk all morning in tears. At least he wasn’t stepped on, or a cat toy, or died cold in the rain. Whatever the issue was (injury or illness) he died in comfort. That’s the tough part of animal rescue. I know I’ll outlive all the animals I help but it doesn’t make it any easier. There was no sewing last night so my “extra” week is slipping away but that’s ok.

Part One of the 40’s Sew Along

Fabric: Green/purple cotton from Stone Mountain
Shirt – New York Pattern 1779
Interfacing and 5 buttons for blouse
Time to complete:
2 hours
First worn:
For St.Patrick’s day
Wear again? Yes

This will be a quickie post, think of it as a warm-up.

Somehow I managed to convince myself that I had one week to get my 40’s pieces done AS WELL as my Bowie outfit for Ms. Tempest. All week long I thought I had to have the 40’s photos done this weekend so I could get Bowie photographed Friday afternoon and have everything turned in on time.

During a conversation Sunday afternoon I mentioned the I was unavailable next Saturday since we’re doing the St. Baldrick’s event and Brittany said “No, St. Baldrick’s is in two weeks, on the 30th.” The lightbulb that went off felt more like an anvil. I took a breath, reconsidered what I was doing and slowed w a y  d o w n…

Needless to say, plans shifted : ) But I really wanted to make this blouse for St. Patrick’s day and am VERY pleased it is done!

The skirt I’m wearing was part of my “Plums, Pomegranates and Persimmons” outfit last fall. It is a 30’s pattern, has no darts in the front and took maybe an hour to make. It is SUPER comfy AND I can ride my bike in it, which means I can wear it to work : )

Isn’t the print cute? I thought so…twice. Apparently I forgot I fell in love with another color version of it for the Gatsby Picnic. Doh!

I’d like to point out the shoes – I found them at a thrift store yesterday for $4.50. They are modern but I loved the brown trim on the green suede and the heel was not only a good shape but good height. I feel pretty cha-cha : )

So now that I have an “extra” week I’ll be able to finish the other pieces, even the one on my “would be nice to…” list! AND we’ve got a special photo session planned that is SO appropriate to the era and theme of the 40’s Sew Along. Awesome stuff ahead indeed!!

Kazz the Spazz!

The Facts
: Four different African prints
Pattern: Simplicity 7082 and Vogue 2128
Notions: Not a one : )
Year: Modern
Time to complete: Literally weeks and weeks
First worn: February & March 2013
Wear again? Yes

Total Cost: $50.00 give or take








Yes, there are three patterns shown here but I only used two. My ORIGINAL idea was to make the shirt on the left, Vogue 2056. I made it when these patterns were brand new, late 80’s, and LOVE the origami-like folds and asymmetry, two things that strongly remind me of Kazz.

I had this all planned – go to Stone Mountain and Daughter the first week of February, buy really cool African fabrics as it was the beginning of Black History Month and the selection should be grand and then make really cool stuff : ) I get to Stone Mountain to discover they had 5 pieces of fabric. Five. When I inquired as to the collection the very nice lady apologized profusely and said their shipments had been help up in Mali! Seems that the fabric distribution goes through Mali and the fighting had interrupted little things like fabric export. I went to three other stores with minimal success – I managed to score the purple jacket fabric and red head wrap fabric at Discount Fabrics but they only had 7 or 8 more fabrics than Stone Mountain did.

A couple of weeks later they received their shipment so I ran in, fell in love with the red you see here and cut it out, only to shudder at the outcome.

It started off well and good, there are only three pieces to contend with along with a puzzling set of “match this set of dots to this set”. When I finally got it “right” I put it on and the phone rang. The 80’s were calling and it was an unpleasant conversation. It might have “looked” ok to an outsider but I felt like I was trying to re-create my youth and that was uncomfortable. I wrestled with the blouse for THREE DAYS and finally called it quits. I didn’t want to buy any more fabric since it was tough enough just to get what I have here.

By this time I’m running at least 2 weeks behind and feeling less than good. It’s one thing to blow your own timelines but I’ve got three others coming up fast and feeling overwhelmed : ( Let’s just say it was a dark week.

I took a deep breath, dug out the wrap top pattern and just pushed through. I then called my daughter for photo assistance. She found THIS amazing graffiti mural!

So here we are, on a Sunday morning, in a parking lot in Oakland. I was just in awe of the art behind me!

I wanted something to reflect the artistic spirit that is Kazz. I tied on my headwrap (surprisingly comfy) and posed with pride.

The jacket is really a big rectangle with sleeves. In the last few years I’ve seen tons of sweaters with this similar cut but in 1989 it was pretty ‘cutting’ edge. Kazz is sewing a lot of stuff inspired by the 80’s right now, go check out her blog : )

The pattern is also for knits but this is clearly not a knit. Instead of bands at the bottom I faced all the hems with a lime green print.

And in the grand Kazz tradition I piled on my bakelite bracelets, my huge red ring and some black earrings. The day was BRIGHT so the glasses stayed on : )

People walking by looked at us strangely and hurried on. Ah well.

I was glad I wore my red boots, the “stuff” on the ground was a little questionable : )

This is the center part of the mural. Brittany said when it was first complete the woman was holding a spray paint can but there was some concern as to the message so they painted a water bottle over it.

To the left of the figures is a veggie garden…

…and just above the corn are the credits. The website talks about their different projects – “Oakland, California – Broadway @ 21st Street in Downtown a collaboration with local youth programs that create urban arts and urban gardens. The mural portrays everyday ways that young people in Oakland are choosing healthy alternatives and decisions that protect and conserve water”

The beaver made us laugh : )

You can check this amazing non-profit out here.

Now check out Lee!! She made a Kazz outfit too!!!

I remember she used this fabric in a Sew Weekly challenge last year and I really liked that incarnation but I LOVE this one!

It’s simple, it’s swingy and it is Lee : ) From her blog:

“Kazz’s broad spectrum of talents and prolific production of awesome garments, including her recent foray into lingerie, could be a little, um, too impressive, especially in the past energy-sapping week I’ve had.  Very little time to myself lately, frigid late February. . . I’ll snap out of it.  In the meantime, I prefer to focus on the empowering Kazz takeaway:  Do your own thing.  Pump up the volume in terms of fantasy and attitude.  Challenge yourself.  If all you can manage to sew is a rectangle, make it high impact and strut that dresstangle, babe.”

Strut indeed.

Now for slightly boring stuff.

One of the items on my list of “things to do” this year was get the strawberry plants planted. I finally did : )

Amazingly the chickens aren’t interested one whit about what’s going on in the pot. One other item on my list was to get the back porch cleaned off and fixed up.

Oh. My. Goodness. That opened a can of worms. It started with a can of free stain, moved onto a few deck boards needing replacing (a known issue) and has ended up with an almost complete re-build AND a replacement gas line. Sigh…

So just for giggles (and the desperate need to complete SOMETHING)  I submitted a couple of my projects to the Mary Jane Farmgirl connection for my badges. What is Mary Jane? Check her out here. I can explain it more if people want me to, but for now I wanted to get this very late post up : ) Think of it like Girl Scout badges for adults with a farm twist and you’re getting there.

They accepted my work for the Apron badge and sent me a lovely certificate of completion-

My goal was to do 6-8 badges this year, I think I’m up to three and have two more in the final stages. Slowly things are getting done, I just feel like I’ve been walking in molasses.

I’m participating in two other sewing challenges this month, the 1940’s Sew for Victory challenge over at Rochelle and Lucille’s page as well as Tempest’s David Bowie challenge. If you’ve never met Rochelle check her out at Lucky Lucille. Her Lucille looks a lot like Chloe here : )

Now that daylight savings time is here it’s lighter later and life is getting better : ) If I’m going to get these challenges met I’ve got to sew like the wind!

Plaid, buttons and 200,000 fortune cookies

The Facts
:Vintage 36″ wide cotton plaid from Alameda flea market
Pattern: Vogue 8811
Notions: A zipper and a button from stash
Year: 1940
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: February 2013
Wear again? Already have!

Total Cost: $24.00

First up is the plaid! I found the fabric I used for this dress at the Alameda flea market a couple of months ago. We have a favorite seller who has all sorts of eclectic “stuff”, anything from buttons to charms to paper goods, fabrics, trims and an assortment of stuff that changes month to month. One month Angie beat me to a piece of vintage rayon with a green print, the next month I found this plaid. My original intention was to make a couple of 49er jackets:

 But then the siren’s call of Vogue 8811 became too much and I succumbed : ) It also didn’t hurt that I just discovered Rochelle’s blog Lucky Lucille WITH her Sew for Victory challenge and am I IN!! I LOVE the forties styles, I’ve got half a dozen patterns in my “Make this soon” box so in a fit of inspiration I pulled out the fabric, got this puppy cut out and in a few hours voila! Une robe de finition! (A finished dress!)

(Oh, and the dog…my goodness! Her Lucille looks so MUCH like my Chloe!! I emailed her and we had a lovely conversation about our shared love of our girls!! Not to mention vintage patterns and fashions…)

The only thing I changed about the pattern was the way the skirt was cut – the pattern is a lovely partial circle skirt but I wanted to use that plaid to its best effect so I matched it down the center to form a chevron. It’s not an “even” plaid, it isn’t the same left to right so I had to be careful. Because the fabric was only 39″ wide I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to end up piecing things and it all worked out great.

I ended up doing a very impromptu photo session with my daughter in the Art Gallery at Mills College. She needed some equipment for a project, I needed some photos so first thing on a Sunday morning I got dressed, loaded the car and headed into the wilds of Oakland : ) I thought we’d just use outside locales to keep it fast and easy but she suggested we look at the latest installation that involved 200,000 fortune cookies!

 According to Brittany there is a spiral cardboard center structure that helps the cookies stay in place. They aren’t glued or lacquered in any way and she said at first the smell permeated the entire building. Now there is just a faint sweet background smell that isn’t at all overwhelming and kind of charming.

The mountain of cookies without me : )

There is a wall of paintings, various version of the cookies. I have to say I like them very much. On the opening night of the show the artist had done some small canvases that were for sale. Now I wish I had been there and bought one : )

 There are several other installations in this exhibit, I have plans to go back but the link to the Mills site has some much nicer photographs : )

The jacket I’m wearing in the first pic is one I found at Rockridge Rags a few years ago. It’s fifties, wool, had 4 different kinds buttons (and yes, they button to form a pyramid) and a couple tears in the lining. It was also $18 and 30% off so how could I resist? I repaired the lining, changed out the buttons and now everytime I wear it people ask about it. One of these days I’ll have to travel to the wall o’ wool at Britex to see if I can find something fabulous for a skirt! 

 And now, onto buttons!! Button, button, whose got the button? No, not the sewing kind but the “I’m working on this fun challenge” kind. In the last week I’ve been able to snag a few buttons that you can now see on my right side bar. Not only did I have to learn how to upload them but also learned a *little* about how they’re constructed.

As a result of all this great poking around I’m now doing the aforementioned Sew for Victory challenge (this weeks outfit is just the warm-up, I have a few other pieces planned!), Tempest’s David Bowie challenge in March, the current Mad Men challenge by Julia Bobbin in March/April but I’m also keeping somewhat current with my own set of challenges, the current one being my Kazz-inspired outfit.

Phew! Fun stuff : ) Let me just say this – I KNOW I work best with light and sun. November to March is never my best time for creativity. I get up at 5am to be out the door, on my bike to BART at 6am. The sun is just rising as we head under the bay into San Francisco and I’m fine with that. I’m an early riser and can literally get more done by 11 am than many people do all day. By the time I’m back home at night and walked the dogs the sun is setting and all I want to do is curl up on the couch. In a week the whole daylight savings time thing kicks in/out and we spring FORWARD, meaning it will be darker in the morning for a while but LIGHTER when I get home so I get more done! Thank goodness!!

 I also figured out how to link up my Instagram account with this blog, am working on my Twitter account and just started adding photos to Flickr. This whole technology thing can get overwhelming…but is still so much fun!

How about you? Are you affected by the seasons changes? And does anyone else find all this technology overwhelming at times or did I just come late to the party?