A Negligee of two straight lengths of 36-inch-wide material

We have photos!

And we have a negligee!!

We just don’t have photos of me IN the negligee : ( I lost one days worth of photos, nothing I can’t replace and honestly I just wasn’t that happy with what I had so the loss is very minor.

“This graceful garment saves time as well as cloth. There is almost no cutting to do.” This is true.

“Just fold the material crosswise in the center and cut the round neck a little lower in the front than the back as I have shown at A.” I cut a slit in the fabric, I measured to the center of the cloth and cut about 4″ in each direction. I then cut a slit down what would become my center front and tried it on. It is very easy to cut the hole TOO BIG so be cautious! I then cut my oval, tried it on to make sure and moved to the next step…

“Then straighten the ends of the goods and hem them as at B and C.” Yes, I hemmed. For some crazy reason (I think I was watching “Mad Men”) I did a beautiful hand hem.

Before I went any further I added a band of trim to the left side of the garment. This fabric only had the pretty band you see on the outside edges on one side of the fabric. I seriously considered leaving things as they were and just having the trim on the one side but the Sheldon side of my brain won the argument about things being equal so trim was added. Now it looks balanced and “normal”, not “arty”.

“Measure down 16 inches from the fold (i.e shoulder ‘seam’) and six inches from the edges as at D and E, and mark these points with pins. Have both layers of the material machine hemstitched together from the points D and E to the bottom of the garment.” Easy peasy, self explanatory, this is what makes the side seams. The next step, on the other hand, caused a bit of angst.

“Also have the neck edge picoted.” I know what a picot edge is but how do I do it here? I’ll save you an hour or two of agony and research on this. The short answer is you just ZIG ZAG the darn thing! The picot refers to the point the stitching makes, like this:

I turned the neck edge under once, zig zagged, and then turned it under again and zig zagged again. Done. It may not be as peaked as per the definition but it’s done (Done is Beautiful!) and it encloses those pesky cut edges. This fabric frays as you look at it, let alone work with it!

“Clip the center of the hemstitching at a low waistline and run a ribbon belt through the slit thus made as shown at F.”

Because of the aforementioned fraying issue I decided to make a buttonhole on each side:

I also did a semi-fancy stitch for those side seams instead of a standard hem stitch. Do what makes you happy, considering this negligee has two hems, a picot’d neck edge and two seams you don’t have a whole lot of sewing to worry about : ) I turned under the selvage edges because they weren’t pretty but if you have decent looking selvages you don’t have to hem the sides!

I didn’t use ribbon for the tie, the fabric I cut off the hem I made into a belt placing the border at the ends of the ties:

I accessorized my outfit with an Indian necklace:

The back is just as lovely as the front:

The only other difference between my version and the pattern is my fabric width. I didn’t cut it down any (it was 42″ wide) and then I added the 2 1/2″ border on the one side. It hangs a little lower on the arm than the one in the photo but I’m fine with that. Do I care for this on me? Not really. It’s comfy but it is, in reality, a 70’s caftan in my mind : ) I have plans to take more photos this weekend when we do hair and make-up so I PROMISE to revisit this!

The Pattern: A Negligee of two straight lengths of 36-inch-wide material
Rayon Indian-inspired sari cloth
Ease of Instructions:
Easy once I figured out exactly how to do picot edging
Effectiveness (1-10):
I’ll give this a 7. Because this so strongly reminds me of caftans a family friend wore in the 70’s I’m going to need to do the whole make-up/hair routine to change my outlook.
Notions: Just thread.
Hours to complete:
If I include the hours spent researching picoting I’ll put this at 3.
Total cost:

Here is a sneak peak to an upcoming dress:

This amazing piece of fabric was a REMNANT I bought at least 15 years ago, it came beaded and everything!! There was *just enough* to make one of the Ruth Wyeth Spears dresses (with some fiddling) AND do a pretty nifty Miss Fisher-inspired accessory. We’re on a roll now : )


An update and a change

Hello fellow Sewists, Sewcialists et al…

You’ll notice there are no pictures with this post. All of my photos are currently residing somewhere “safe”.  I’m not sure where that is at the moment. Our computer died Tuesday, just about the time my bike was stolen from the BART station, it was one of those days….

Since then parts have been replaced in the computer but we’re still awaiting more, and I’ve fixed up my other bike so I can at least get to work but nothing is really working well right now : (

To that end, I’m extending the challenge end date to 8/3, to give any and all of us a breather and time to finish our creations. I have SO MUCH STUFF that is done, just needs photos and words! I haven’t taken many photos because I can’t upload OR edit them since the laptop I’m currently, and finally, using to even make this update doesn’t have anything on it! No photo files, no photoshop, and until an hour ago a limitied ability to even get on the internet. Oh, and there is no chocolate in the house. The horror….

So take a breath and keep your fingers crossed that the new mother board works. the memory is still intact, that 6 years of photos still exist and that I get some chocolate soon : ) Cheers!



Undergarments : )

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start…

For the purposes of this project I chose to use Reconstructing History’s 1920’s corset pattern. You can check out their different 20’s undergarment choices here. They have a Brassieres and Bandeaux pattern that I briefly considered but I chose the corset pattern because, if we’re going to be honest here, boobs. Unlike todays fashions the whole point of the 20’s undergarments was to smash the boobs, get them DOWN not up and perky like the scoops-of-ice-cream look of today. I was intrigued by the notes, Kass has done a wonderful job explaining what they’ve done and why and bases her work on real vintage garments and research.

Here’s the garment I made:


It actually fits the way it should (at least according to the description of the pattern), does what it says it will AND is comfortable!

“The corset in the 1920’s (sometimes also called a ‘corselette’) was a very different thing from the whaleboned waist-cinchers that came before it. Longer, unboned and constructed from sturdy fabric or elastic, the purpose of the 1920’s corset was not to compress the waist or lift the bust, but to flatten the bust and control the hips. It was actually intended to hide the waist. More what we’d call a girdle than a corset at all, this is the garment that more zaftig women wore under their garments in the 1920’s to help them imitate the boyish figure of the flappers.” (from the pattern notes, thanks to Reconstructing History for permission to re-print).  I would say Zaftig is a good descriptor of my body type : )

I will admit to some skepticism : ) I have spent my WHOLE life trying to keep my boobs in the “right” place. My biggest concern wearing this is under-boob sweat but you know what? I’ll deal with it. Is that TMI? Sorry but hey, we’re almost all girls here (I think) so I’m just trying to keep it real.

To start, you NEED to take your measurements. Don’t know how or what/where? Check this out:

I’ve scanned pages from Butterick’s “Art of Dressmaking” from 1927. If you’re going to sew something from the era why not do it like they did back then, especially if you have that info? Fortunately, in this case, we do measurements today about the same as in 1927 but look at the illustrations, including the hair styles : )

Once I had my measurements I followed the directions in the Reconstructing History pattern to the letter. I initially made a muslin of this pattern, enough to make sure it was going to work. I used a nice cotton sateen for the finished corset and decided to leave out the 3 pieces of horizontal boning. I have plans to make another corset, in black this time, and try out the boning.

I showed my grandmother this pattern. She shook her head, “No, mama didn’t wear anything like that. She wore what we now call a teddy. I don’t remember seeing anything like that but I was so young.” I asked her about the inset elastic panels (those triangular pieces) and she didn’t remember seeing anything like those either but again, she wasn’t really paying attention : )

I used a cotton sateen with a little bit of lycra in it for those insets. It was the exact same color as the corset fabric so it all blends. Are those insets necessary? Depends on the size of your behind : ) Mine is relatively small so they give me a little room for movement, if I were built like a certain reality star whose initials are KK I would probably need bigger triangles but that’s what the muslin is for! You could also use something like a power mesh if you really wanted binding power but again, that’s not one of my issues so this works just fine.

All of the seams are flat felled. Aren’t they pretty?

The edges are all bound with double fold bias tape. I had a package of the narrow stuff in my stash. If I didn’t have anything that matched I would take the time to make some.

Once the seams were all flat felled and the rest of the edges bound it came time to sew on all those hooks and eyes. I briefly considered using hook-n-eye tape but no, the point was to make as authentic a garment as I had patience for so I sucked it up and pulled out my box of hooks-n-eyes. I didn’t have enough of the size smaller so I used some fairly substantial hooks and I can tell you unequivocally that this is a really, REALLY good thing! Trying to do this myself, and having to reach around my own chest, made the larger hooks SO much easier to deal with! But what would be the most period-appropriate methods? Back to “Art of Dressmaking”…

Yes, I did do the extra line of stitching 3/8″ from the edge. BEST IDEA in this whole process! It gave me a line to follow. I didn’t have enough extra fabric on the hook side to fold back over the hooks so I pulled out some twill tape and hand stitched that over the hooks so things would look good and nothing would poke me.

Here is the before, when all the hooks and eyes are stitched on but before the twill tape goes on.

And here is the after, the twill tape is on and all you see is the actual hook part, the rest is nicely enclosed. The sewing-on of the hooks and eyes took almost two full episodes of “Mad Men”, the twill tape took most of a third. I didn’t hurry and had some cat assistance which, as you know, always adds to the process. There also might have been home made Limoncello involved…

Here is a SUPER UP CLOSE shot of the finished hook and eye action –

With an embarrassing amount of cat hair. Sorry : ) But check out the tiny stitches that finish off the placket there on the left! I’m also glad I used the larger, sturdier hooks and eyes so that they’ll last longer. We used to use the small ones in costuming and most of them rotted out within a year. I hate redoing stuff like that, seems like such a waste of time, so I starting using the larger sized ones. The big thing that does them in is sweat.  I was worried that these might show through to the outer garment but so far so good!

The Pattern: Reconstructing History 1234 – Ladies 1920’s Corset
Cotton Sateen with cotton/lycra insets
Ease of Instructions:
Easy, just pay attention to the directions and do as they say
Effectiveness (1-10):
I’ll give this a 9.5. I haven’t had time to REALLY road test it but so far I’m quite happy with it.
Notions: Thread, 14 sets of hooks and eyes, 1/2 yard twill tape, 1 package bias tape
Hours to complete: 4, but most of that was spent doing hand work
Total cost:
About $8, all the notions were in my stash as was the cotton/lycra inset fabric, all I bought was the sateen.

This is a REALLY nice pattern, if you’re thinking of trying it go ahead : ) I’m going to try another pattern or two of theirs but so far I’m happy with this. I did the downloadable version since it was a little less expensive and I don’t mind taping pieces together.

When I started this journey I promised that you could make a basic 20’s dress using a free pattern.  Click here to get the free pattern : )

Recognize it? Yep, it’s our friend at Colette Patterns, the Sorbetto. You can use any basic top pattern if you have one that fits, but if you need a nice silhouette that comes in a variety of sizes this just might work for you. In the next post I’ll show you the very, very simple way to “make it work” : ) Then you, too, can cut out your dress like our lovely lady above is doing. That’s a pretty nice cutting table isn’t it?! It’s just missing a cat…

In my last post I had a picture of some very pretty tilework – that is what covers the Opera House : ) Something like 1,050,000 tiles, which were made in Sweden, cover the “sails”. And the shape of the Opera House and those sails? Inspired by peeling an orange.

More hats! More pics!

This, so far, is my favorite hat pattern! I’ve made three…

I think the grey/green is my favorite of the bunch…

And the black/burgundy is close behind….

Isn’t that back cute?

The white is just plain classy!

How do we make this lovely? It is so EASY you might make three yourself : )

“First make your pattern for the brim by tracing along the dotted lines in the sketch. (Or just make another copy of the directions like I did.) The line marked A on the pattern is placed on a fold of the felt in cutting. (That’s the piece that looks like a smile). The center of the crown is a circle of the material cut nine inches in diameter.”

Here’s my experiment with THAT particular number – a nine inch top crown is LARGE. My head isn’t, even with a wig on. Just for the sake of trying the pattern as is I cut my first crown a little over 8 inches in diameter. When stitched the top crown measured 7 3/8 inches. BIG. But not so big that if my hair were up or under a wig the hat would be small/tight. The white top crown is cut at 7 1/2 inches and stitched finishes at 6 3/4 inches. It’s a little snug but would stay on in windy weather. The final hat, the grey one, is probably the best fit with the crown cut at 8 inches and finished at 7 1/4 inches. Seems perfect there and remember, my head is technically 21 1/2 inches around.

“The side portion of the crown is a straight band cut four inches wide. It’s length is your head measurement plus four inches for the box plait.” If I cut my side crown according to these directions it would have been WAY too small! Remember, you need to use the size of your head measured around your ears, which in my case is a tad over 23 inches so the side crown band on my grey hat measures 29 inches and if I did this again I’d probably cut a 30 or 31 inch side crown. Why? Deeper plait/pleat. It’s just my personal preference for a slightly deeper pleat than I have but that’s me. It works out fine anyway.

“The bow is made of two strips of the felt cut two and a half inches wide and nine inches long.” Yes. This measurement is just fine.

“The best results will be obtained if the side portion of the crown is held slightly full in sewing it to the center part. This stitching is shown at B in the sketch.” In other words she wants you to ease the side crown slightly as you stitch it to the top crown (circular) piece. She leaves a couple bits of information out here that I played with to get it right. See the seam on the right side pleat? She never tells you where the join in the side crown pieces should go. I tried hiding in in the pleat on the black and that didn’t work. It makes a lump that is unattractive and no amount of ironing made it go completely away. Do it this way, with the seam at the very center back.

“The brim is sewn to the crown with stitches that do not go through to the right side as shown at C.” You can see the brim attached to the side crown but no stitches. It’s pretty easy to do with the felt : )

“Next the hat is turned and the two sections of the bow shown at D and E are tacked in place. The plait is then firmly sewn over them and your hat is complete.” Almost.

At the very center I stitched the two edges of each pleat together. I purposely stitched this in black so you could see it at the top here:

And because the hat is on a table that the cats can hop up on look who came to supervise:

Stuart. Something about that wool felt attracts him like catnip on a new scratch pad.

He wasn’t impressed with the photography process.

…and decided it was time for a bath.

Really? You want to do WHAT?

I love the white hat : )

The Pattern: Felt Hat
Wool/Rayon felt
Ease of Instructions:
Easy if incomplete but nothing that can’t be easily figured out.
Effectiveness (1-10):
I’ll give this a 9. My favorite so far!
Just thread.
Hours to complete:
One and a half the first time, 45 minutes for the last.
Total cost:
About $3 each.

Now some cool stuff from the Miss Fisher exhibit-

One of Dot’s hats, the trim is vintage on modern straw.

An inspiration board at the exhibit. I used to do these on occasion. They’re like vintage Pinterest : ) Check out the sketch of the Harlequin coat sitting on the desk.

Shoes. Sigh. From Venice but we couldn’t see any other label. Stunning.

More shoes. I mean, how awesome can they be???

Can you guess what this is? (Hint – not from the Miss Fisher exhibit but VERY Australian!)

This was one of my favorite people. Totally random, walking up these steps (all 84 of them!) to go back to my hotel the second day in Australia and here’s a guy hand feeding a cat. Turns out he is a city worker (hence the bright green, orange trimmed shirt) who has been feeding feral cats for several years. This particular girl once had an owner but was left behind. This man gets up every morning at 4 am to come down and feed her breakfast before he goes to work, then stops back by around 2 to give her dinner. He’s feeding her steak right now, “I used to give her kangaroo but one day she stopped eating it so it’s steak for my girl.”

He adores her and she comes for him when he calls. He’s thought about taking her home but has no outdoor area other than a balcony and he doesn’t think her free spirit would be happy with just a balcony. He asked me what we do with feral cats in America so I told him about our TNR programs. He said if I ever wanted to come talk to the Sydney group that takes care of the cats to let him know, he likes our program better. One of these days I’ll go back and stop by to see if he’s still there : )

The hand belongs to the lovely Trish and she’s about to open her kitchen window for a visiting kookaburra. He shows up every day around 5 pm and knocks on the window with his beak! Trish keeps some sausage or other meat in the fridge just for him : ) She opens the window, puts a couple of bites on the ledge where he picks up what he can and flies into the neighbors tree to eat his prize. If all goes well he brings back his mate –

And once their kid showed up, but he was pretty skittish so the only photos I had were really blurry.

The sewing of actual garments is moving along slowly. Very, very slowly. All plans I had for spending most of the holiday weekend in front of my sewing machine were shot when Amelia showed up early  Friday afternoon with a large wound on her backside, complete with bugs that start with an “M”. I had to run her to the emergency clinic, and I don’t know how anyone else operates but even if I’m not there I can’t concentrate. I worry, I “what if” REALLY well. They cleaned her up as best could be done and she’ll have surgery soon to close the wound. Combine that with sewage backing up into the tub and kitchen sink and you start to get a picture of just how pretty my last week has been : )

The one piece of GOOD news in amongst all that is my vet has been invited to a 20’s theme party that is dress-up required AND she’s asked me to go with her! Now I get to make someone else something fun AND we’ll do full hair, makeup and accessories! PHOTOS!! There will be lots of photos!

See all that purple? That is actually a square tablecloth I made some years ago using the Indian-inspired fabrics from Joann’s. It is getting a new life. I’ve discovered it really does take 3 tries to get these patterns looking the way Ruth Wyatt Spears intended in her drawings. That’s why my hat collection has suddenly grown and why my dining room (which I have almost finished painting) looks like an Indian fabric bazaar. The first 2 capes are almost done and all I can say is…they’re different : )

Miss Fisher hats

 How about some eye candy? Imagine walking into an historical house and seeing a dining room table FULL of glorious Miss Fisher hats? Not hats that look like Miss Fisher hats but the REAL things!

That is exactly what Trish from Quiet Vintage Sewing and I did : ) As part of my Australian tour (sounds so much more grand to say “tour” than “trip” doesn’t it?) I was able to not only meet, and stay with, the amazing Trish but we were able to ohhh and ahhh over the lovely Miss Fisher creations at the Government House in Parramatta! THANK YOU Trish, for an absolutely AMAZING time!!

We discovered that we could get INCHES away from all the exhibits. They had some mirrors down on the floor immediately around mannequins and asked that you not step on the mirrors, and they didn’t want any flash photography, but other than that we could step around, photograph, whisper and in general just take our time. We took many photos of EVERYTHING : ) I figured there would be a catalog at the end (there was) but turns out our photos, sans flash and all, were as good or better than the official ones AND our cell phones took better photos than the ‘big’ camera Trish brought (only because we’re both pretty newbie with using fancy stuff). Hey, those cell phone are pretty darn handy for many, many things that have nothing to do with making a phone call.

OK, to the hats… (The descriptions below each one are from the show catalog.)

Remarkably, this amazing number was one Aunt Prudence wore in Season 1 Episode 10 – Death by Miss Adventure.

Mid-grey felt cloche with felt and bugle bead detail.

Lilac Afternoon Tea hat Season 1 Episode 2 – Murder on the Ballarat Train

The straw was dyed to match Phryne’s lilac afternoon tea frock. The burgundy flowers tie into the color of the Hispano-Suiza, the feather are original period feathers and the trim was found in a New Zealand antique store.

Pink Afternoon Tea hat Season 1 Episode 1 – Cocaine Blues

Pink straw hat with vintage feathers and dusty pink organza petals. All components of this hat were hand dyed and then antique feathers were added. This hat is worn by Phryne when she goes to visit Lydia Andrews and meets Detective Inspector Jack Robinson for the first time.

Leopard Print hat Season 2 Episode 8 – The Blood of Juana the Mad

Cream leopard print hat with feather-corded detail. The base of this hat was sourced from America (going to have to figure out where THIS one came from!) and the feathers were from a millinery supplier in London.

Entering the Docks hat Season 1 Episode 4 – Death at Victoria Docks

White felt hat with icy grey silk velvet swirl detail.

White felt with Bronze Motif Season 1 Episode 1 – Cocaine Blues

Cream felt hat with bronze period flower motifs, and hand painted ‘pearlised’ beads.

Blue felt Day hat Season 1 Episode 1 – Cocaine Blues

Navy hat with navy and white felt diamonds. This blue felt day hat has overlapping diamonds, which creates amazing texture and was taken from Marion’s own collection.

Red Felt hat Season 1 Episode 5 – Raisins and Almonds

Red felt with black and cream felt circles. This one was a favorite of both Trish and myself. I see a version of this in my near future : )

Spanish hat Season 2 Episode 1 – Murder Most Scandalous

A traditional Spanish hat with wide rim, this piece helped create Phryne’s undercover Spanish character ‘Lulu Loreta’.

Pink Day hat Season 2 Episode 8 – The Blood of Juana the Mad

Deep pink felt hat was sourced from the USA and utilizes a combination of antique and modern feathers.

A rack of “stuff”, mainly pieces of fabrics used as inspiration. What IS here, that made my heart go pitty-pat, is the outfit Phryne wore in Season 1 Episode 9 Queen of the Flowers. Made from a burgundy silk sari it is stunning. And just hanging here, on this rack, in this room where no one is really looking….so I pick it up and all the while Trish is nervously looking about… : ) It gives me all NEW inspiration for lovely things to make with saris.

Interspersed between posts on items I’ve made from the Ruth Wyeth Spears patterns I’ll post about my adventures in Australia. I’ve MANY MANY photos from the trip, all on my phone which takes a little bit of maneuvering to get onto the computer and into a post. I’ve shown you just a few of the hats on exhibit, there were 31 in total including a few of Dot’s, one other of Aunt Prudence’s and the hat Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan wears. Would you like to see more?

I will be posting pics of the dresses on display as I get to making my own creations. One thing I do want to mention – all the furs we saw, including trims and hats, are FAKE! I can’t speak for everything they use on the show, because there is a lot of vintage stuff out there, but I was VERY impressed that she uses as much fake fur as she does!

See all that fur? Fake!!

Just because I’m me and I was in Australia I have pics of animals, shocker I know : ) Trish once wrote about a mynah bird that got into her house and in his terror to get back out made a pretty good mess! I was entranced. Birds that we consider ‘exotics’ here in America literally come up to her kitchen windows for snacks. See?

These are Rainbow Lorikeets. They just showed up one afternoon while we were chatting over tea so Trish opens the window and puts out a small container of sugar water for them. They spent the next half hour chattering away drinking the water. It was fabulous : )

This is NOT a pic from Australia, this is my new sewing room assistant. His name is (I kid you not) Fifi and he is a recent rescue. We’re still waiting on his test results but so far he’s moved right in, likes hanging out on the table while I sew and is MUCH better behaved than most of my cats! We think his owner died and the people taking care of her estate wanted nothing to do with him and a dog brother. A small group of us responded to their craigslist post “Come get these two or they go to the shelter”. There was no love lost between people and cat, which is probably good for the cat. Once we know he is healthy and gets up to date shots he’ll go up for adoption. Anyone want a to adopt a sweet cat?

A Firefly party

Once upon a time there was a girl named Alana.

And she loved a show called “Firefly”. As in LOVED. So we, her friends, set out to surprise her for her birthday this year.

First we had to watch the show, which isn’t hard considering there are 14 episodes and the movie “Serenity”. If you want to read a basic synopsis you can go here.

Then we had to debate whether we should surprise her with EVERYTHING or just the theme of the party. We went with the latter because our dear friend hates surprises. I know, but she does so we respect that.

So we planned for several months, and had her hubbie Charles in on the secret, which was REALLY hard for him but he didn’t blab! Here we are walking down the driveway, she knows there is a party but not the theme. I greeted her with the ‘Jayne’ hat (“A man walks down the street wearing a hat like this, you know he’s not afraid of anything”) and holding a parasol (it was sunny and a reference to Kaylee.)

By the time she saw the people and the lanterns she was shaking, so then we had to show her each and every element. First up is Kaylee kooler. Others have done strawberry punch (strawberries were highly prized on the show) but since Alana is allergic we used Pomegranate Limeade. Yum! The flower lights around the jug are a reference to the flower lights in Kaylee’s room.

The Caprese salad was a nod to the tomatos Mal was eating in one episode. We thought Caprese was MUCH more interesting than just plain sliced tomatos : )

The dinosaurs you see on the tables are a nod to Wash’s dinos.

La Piece de Resistance, the Kaylee cake! There is almost 3 pounds of fondant here : ) But I HAD to make this after seeing Kaylee in this dress:

The cake has the same purse!

There are Ice Planets. They are problematic.

I made rice krispie treat balls instead of popcorn balls. And to make sure the rice krispies stayed on the string I first tied the strings around caramels, then wrapped the molten rice krispies around the caramels. Prize inside like a tootsie pop : )The doctor’s “mostly protein” cake, in reality chocolate.

Now you can see why the chunky candles….

We had shu mai coming out our ears – shrimp, edemame, and pork. Steamed buns and the most amazing watermelon salad that I need to get Vikki’s recipe for.

Lychee nuts had to do in place of hodgeberries.

There were parasols everywhere and I did NOT paint any to look exactly like Kaylee’s, there are just so many hours in a day.

One co-conspirator : ) Vikki dressed like Kaylee, wearing her son’s paint ball vest and stuffing it with tools.

And the other….Sue let us all invade her glorious home and garden : )

And then Alana’s friend Michael showed up with THE most amazing cheesecake…

Just amazing.

The Kaylee cake cut. It has mango butter cream frosting with sliced mangos between the layers. When Kaylee sees the buffet table at the fancy dress ball Mal has taken her to she says “I wonder if they have mangos…” so it only seemed appropriate.

There was a piñata, made to look like a Reever ship. Alana wouldn’t let anyone hit it : ) Yes, it was originally an ice cream cone piñata but there is a definite LACK of space ship anything at party stores (what is UP with that??) so I made do with an ice cream cone on its side. LOTS of silver spray paint, tied on a few old dolls of my daughters that I found in the garage and added some t-p tubes at the back and we were good to go. It  needed to be splattered with some red paint (for the blood, ya know…reevers…) but I couldn’t find any : ( It is STUFFED with about 5 pounds of candy and  assorted toys but Charlie just slung it over his shoulder like a purse and they took it home to “save it”.

We DID manage to surprise her in all the best ways. Good food, good people and lots of laughter.

Heh, heh, heh… : )

 Thanks to Mark Anenberg for many of these lovely pictures, including the parasols that is now top of my page and the lanterns that grace the background.

A HUGE thank you to the lovely lady who came up with these ideas to begin with – Nikki at Tikkido.com. I just realized that the computer I finalized this post on dropped the final paragraph (that I am now adding) that gave her the credit for HER ideas! Sorry Nikki and THANK YOU!!!

The “crocodile teeth” hat and a hat for Halloween

This, so far, is my third favorite hat pattern. It needs some fiddling, as you’ll soon see, but it has SO much potential! Let your imagination run wild with color choices, you’re really only limited by the colors your store chooses to stock but I’ve also found a little workaround on that too : ) Let’s go step by step on this one:

“You will need three-eighths of a yard of each color of felt”

I bought one-quarter yard pieces and fit everything just fine. The wool felt is 36″ wide so even cutting a 6″ x 22″ piece you have plenty for the 7 1/2 ” top crown. The directions say cut a 7″ crown but I learned from the last hat that I needed a little more around, even with a 21 1/2″ head because we traditionally measure our heads ABOVE our ears and for hats like these we need to take into account our ears AND hair. When I measure loosely around my ears and hair (if I choose to put it up or wear a Miss Fisher wig) I measure out at 23 1/2″! MEASURE YOUR HEAD AGAIN before you make a hat and then have to give it away to a small child.

“As shown in the diagram there are two dark strips and one light strip of felt for the side portion of the hat. They are cut six inches wide and as long as your head size measurement.”

Be SURE to add for ears, hair BUT NOT seam allowance! The first time around I did the 7 1/2″ crown top and 23″ side panels. The why will become apparent soon.

“The top of the hat is a circle of the lighter material cut seven inches in diameter.”

Do whatever color you want : )

You can see I did. Ever since I found THIS pattern I’ve loved the red/green color combo:

Now comes the tricky part, the part I haven’t mastered yet: “When you have notched the edges of the side strips…” so I’m going to skip ahead and come back to that part later. Let’s just say I did that and move on.

“…pin one of the dark ones to the circular top piece, letting the ends of the strip EXACTLY MEET and arranging the slight fullness evenly around the center piece.” In case you missed me doing this yesterday just go back and read the last post. It’s such a boring step that I’m not going to repeat pictures of it every time : )

“Sew the strip to the center piece as at A, holding the fullness in as you sew. Catch the ends together with small horizontal stitches as at B.”

Can you see the stitches? They blend into the felt pretty well but you can see the felt edges just meet, no overlap, and I stitched them together. Notice the “teeth” cut into my green felt : )

“Now sew the light strip in place half way between the top and bottom of the first strip at at C.”

Lighter green strip sewn onto dark green but not side stitched yet.

“Then sew the third strip exactly over the second one as at D. Join the ends of these strips as you did the first one.”

Looking rather plant-like here…

All seams have been stitched closed. My mother would say it is “very theatrical.” Has she MET me??? : )

“Turn the hat right side out and fold back the various layers as at E, F and G. Cut the strap trim and the felt buckle. Arrange the trimming to cover the joinings in the side sections.”

Ta Da!!

It reminds me of crocodile teeth, I don’t know why (makes me think of Peter Pan and Captain Hook)  but I still like it. What REALLY needs to happen is a re-cut of the “teeth”. I tried another version here:

Heh, heh….

I am not usually one for the black/orange combo but as I was digging through my boxes o’ stuff I found a piece of orange BAMBOO felt that I bought at Stone Mountain way back when I was working on the City challenge for Sew Weekly. I had some grand scheme to make a Golden Gate bridge sort of vest-thingy with it but scrapped the idea. This is by far the softest, nicest felt EVER. It’s a little thinner than the wool/rayon felt and not nearly as stiff which is why I used it as the middle layer. That and orange next to my face is a bad idea.

The changes I made to the Halloween hat was cut the top crown 8″ in diameter and the side pieces 24″. I trimmed off a tiny bit of each side piece once they were sewn on so the pieces wouldn’t overlap but I’d rather trim than re-cut the entire panel because it was too small/tight. I cut the zig-zags further apart and shorter but I’m not happy with them yet. The good thing is I have some depth to play with. When I get it right I’ll definitely post the dimensions.

I didn’t use a self-cut felt buckle, I dug through my bags of buckles and used vintage bakelite because why not : )

The biggest reason to cut your side panels larger than you might think necessary is that by the time you fold all those layers of felt up you’ve got 4 layers of felt wrapped around your head and those 4 layers take up space! I don’t think I’d use the bamboo felt as the lower piece, I don’t know how well it would wear but who knows, if I see a yummy color that I MUST have I’ll give it a try.

On the green hat I added the strap after the hat was sewn together, the Halloween hat I stitched it in with the first layer. It sits down pretty low on the head and face, lower than the drawing shows and yes, you could cut the bands down to 5″ wide and it would be fine. Might have to try that in the future…

The Pattern: The Smart Little Hat

Fabric: Wool/Rayon  and Bamboo felt

Ease of Instructions: Very easy, my only issue is she doesn’t include any dimensions in regard to the “teeth”

Effectiveness (1-10): I’ll give this an 8. It might be nice to try a version that uses narrower side panels.

Notions: Optional buckles, easy to change out.

Hours to complete: An hour and a half for the first one, one hour for the second.

Total cost: Had the dark grey and orange felt leftover from a Sew Weekly challenge, bought some black but since I bought the end of the bolt I paid less than $8 for two yards, so maybe $3.

The first of many hats

Hats, hats, hats…I’ve been a hat-making machine lately! Why make one when you can make ten or so?

This was NOT my first hat but right now it’s my favorite. I’ve discovered that the directions don’t *quite* tell you enough details so I’ll do my best to fill in. At the end of each I’ll rank the pattern so YOU can decide on whether you’d like to try one!

First up – I’m using the wool blend felt you can now get at Joann’s. It runs $10.99 per yard and is 35% wool, 65% rayon. They technically carry a 100% wool felt but in my area finding that is as likely as finding a clerk that knows how to sew. Seriously. The store nearest to me is DREADFUL which is why, at the beginning of the year, I made a vow to go there as LITTLE as possible. I’ve been three times in 6 months where I used to go once or twice a week. But I had no appropriate felt for this project so up I went.

Second – when I went to cut this out the cutting chart shows FIVE side crown pieces but if you do simple math you’ll see that you only need FOUR pieces, two of each color. Ruth even says “The side crown is made of two sections of the light material and two sections of the dark, each section cut six inches wide and seven inches deep.” Why she drew five is a mystery.  “The brim is of the light felt and cut three and one half inches wide and 27 inches long, one end slashed diagonally, and the other slit so that the diagonal end may be slipped through it. These dimensions are for a 22″ head size. They may be easily altered to fit the head that is larger or smaller.”

If you need help figuring out how to cut a 7″ circle check out Kathleen’s videos here. I ended up cutting mine 7 1/4″ in diameter and I’ll explain why in a bit. Here are all my cut pieces:

“Join the side sections of the crown as at A.” I used a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Stitched the final seam and then pinned the side crown to the top crown. Stuart was not amused that I was using HIS ironing board.

“Pin side crown to center arranging the slight fullness evenly. Hold this fullness in as you sew the side crown to the center as at B.”

What you hope to have is a side crown that is SLIGHTLY larger than the top crown so you have to do a *little* bit of easing. Just a LITTLE. Why? Because our heads are round bobbly objects with ears on the side. Trust me here, this works.

Stuart is still not amused.

“The turn crown to right side and join brim to it as at C holding the brim portion slightly full as you sew.”

In other words you want a little fullness as you stitch the brim on as well. Again, ears. And hair. If the hat pieces were straight we’d have a hard time clearing the ears and hair.

Now here’s where the directions end and the hat still needs finishing! I pulled some ribbons out and decided a pop of red on the inside would make me happy. I top stitched it through all the layers and then turned it inside.

I rolled the ribbon in about 3/8″, pinned and then hand stitched. You don’t need to be super careful since stitches won’t show but don’t stitch through the outer grey band!

Stuart has decided what I’m doing is really, really boring and has fallen asleep. Like babies and dogs we don’t disturb sleeping kitties.

“Arrange creases in crown and tack them invisibly.”

I couldn’t figure out how to do more than one and be happy with it so one it is.

“Add jewel pin if desired.”

Maybe later.

Frankly, it is ADORABLE!

Here’s the deal with the measurements – the pattern states this is for a 22″ inch head. Mine is 21 1/2″. I wanted a little more ease so I did a slightly smaller seam allowance (I think 3/8″ was standard at the time) along with the bigger top crown and am quite happy with it.

I haven’t had time to do the kind of photoshoots I want to do to really give these creations their due but if I wait until I have time on the weekends I’ll burn out. For now I’ve got the hat(s) on my hat form but I PROMISE a full-on photo soon!!

I’ve devised this little chart as a way to keep track of how well each of these patterns makes up:

The Pattern: A Two Toned Felt Hat

Fabric: Wool/Rayon felt

Ease of Instructions: Easy if slightly incomplete and that picture of pieces you need to cut can throw you off if you’re not paying attention

Effectiveness (1-10): I’ll give this an 8.5. It’s a little boxy but still adorable.

Notions: Found grosgrain, possible buckle or pin to come.

Hours to complete: ONE!

Total cost: Had the dark grey felt from a Sew Weekly challenge so I only had to buy the light grey felt – ~$3.50

Next up – Crocodile teeth and a hat for Halloween…


The Art of the 20’s Dress is here!!

So I went to Australia….

And I saw a TON of cool stuff, and hung out with cool people, and did a bunch of cool things. All of that will be shared soon : ) But I think it’s time now to get our Miss Fisher on and sew some 20’s things, don’t you??!!!!

 Here we go – buttons, buttons, I’ve got buttons, because we all like buttons:

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<div align="center"><a href="http://loransworld.com/?p=1424" target="_blank" ><img src="http://loransworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/20ssewalong-200.jpg" alt="20’s Sew Along" width="200" height="176" longdesc="http://loransworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/20ssewalong-200.jpg" /></a> </div>

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Here are the “rules”:

1) You must have fun.

2)This is a non-competitive sewing “challenge” inspired by the looks of the beloved show “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”.  It is meant to broaden horizons and give anyone who has EVER wanted to try the 20’s styles a chance to try something new. In MY case it’s because I’m short, busty and curvy, not at all like the waifs of the era. I am GOING to tackle this decade and own it : )

3) Use anything, any pattern, any photo you like for inspiration. The 20’s has a range of styles that might surprise you. I’ve posted many, many inspirational pieces here and you can find more on The Midvale Cottage Post. I’ve got some other links I’ll include in future posts but there is no shortage of information out there!

4) I made a Flickr account! Just go here to join and upload your ideas, your inspirations and even your questions! I’m going to learn how to make a nifty end-of-challenge video like Rochelle does with her Sew for Victory challenges AND even have a couple of give-aways!

5) HAVE FUN! You can even do a dress in the spirit of Mayhem if you’re so moved. You’ve got until July 20th to make the dress of your dreams, or a hat, or a shawl… Just do something : )

Have I missed anything? Probably. This is what I’m starting with – hats. Yes, hats. Why hats? Well…my original plan was to start with the underwear and work my way out. Only problem with that is hand work – I’ve made a couple undergarments but they need dozens of small hook-n-eyes sewn on so they’re wearable. Last weekend, just BEFORE I was to sit down to finish everything and then do photos, I did THE STUPIDEST thing you can with a cat, I put my hand through the bars of a carrier to “comfort” one of our foster kitties as she went to her new home. She bit me. Duh. Now I can’t hand sew until my index finger (it just HAD to be the index finger, right?) heals. I can barely type, which is a BIG part of my job so work has been interesting the last few days. Ouch. So hats it is : ) But you’ll like these I promise.


I’ll be posting pics of the things Trish from Quiet Vintage Sewing and I saw at the exhibit and found op shopping. That woman can SHOP! I had the BEST time hanging out with someone who loves vintage and knows where to find it. Because of her I had to buy a second suitcase to get everything home… It was WONDERFUL!

Stay tuned : )

Where does your donation go?

I recently wrote a paper for my course work that looked at the fundraising machines known as the Humane Society of the United States and PeTA. The assignment was to compare how they raised money and how successful they were. I didn’t feel like just looking at the fundraising tools and income those generated was sufficient, I wanted to delve a little deeper into what they DID with the money.

I’m putting the paper here since several people have asked to read it and this is a good central area to post in. Keep in mind we were limited on word count – in the future I may write an expanded version because there is a LOT more to say!

“Select two large animal welfare organizations and analyze their approach to fundraising or marketing. Discuss the pros and cons of the approach and how it does or doesn’t lead to the organization’s overall effectiveness. This paper should not be shorter than 600 words nor exceed 1,800 words.” I’ve included the original ads so you judge the effectiveness of them yourself.

HSUS – How successful/effective they are depends on your definition of success. Their ads are often compelling:

Sad puppy face, please for money, makes its point simply and boom, you’re done. Or this one:

Very sad kitty face, don’t you want to be a hero?

 How about this one:

Rescue Animals NOW!! (dot org) – if you go to RescueAnimalsNow.org you’re taken straight here:

Pretty clever, eh?

Just how good? In 2012 (the last year I could get their income tax forms) they raked in $112,833,027 in gifts, grants, contributions and membership fees. Since 2008 they’ve brought in $510,470,513, including the $50,000 ‘grant’ in 2009 from the Philadelphia Eagles for partnering with Michael Vick and saying he’s ‘reformed’. Half a billion dollars in 5 years is GOOD. That’s a lot of $19-a-month-to-save-the-sad-puppy-mill-puppies gifts, in fact 92.49% of the monies raised in 2013 was through public supported gifts etc.

If I’m going to support an organization, one of the first places I start with is Charity Navigator. What grade did HSUS get in 2011 (the last year they have info on) Oh…not so good, only around a C. So I read all 133 pages of IRS Form 990 because, you know, I’m a curious girl. Now I claim NO sort of accounting skills, no financial guru-type stuff, and the unfortunate timing of this module meant I couldn’t ask any of my tax pro friends because it’s THAT time of year. I’m all on my own here and I have to say it was FASCINATING stuff. All those puppy ads work miracles!  Let’s just pass right over the amount they pay in salaries ($32, 499, 673), or what they paid lobbyists ($2,438,529) and head straight to Advertising and Promotion – $15,009,718. Direct Response Costs came to $9,823,229. I started to lose track of the commas.


The bottom line End of Year Assets were $195,410,586. Cool huh? But what do they BUY with all of that? The REALLY interesting stuff is on the Activities Outside the United States pages – some areas scored some pretty decent grants, like Sub-Saharan Africa got $40,332 for a rabies and vaccine campaign and a rural neutering program. The Middle East and North Africa weren’t nearly as lucky, they only received $2,800 for stray animal project development. The BIG score was Central America and the Caribbean, $25,678,184! What for, you might ask? A natural disaster, something like another oil spill? Nope, Cayman Islands hedge funds. They actually put more into their executive pensions in 2009 ($2,592,272) than into supporting pet shelters ($976,775).


But let’s come back to the United States. National Outdoor Sports raised $35,801,399, kept $1,890,820 and sent $33,910,579 to the HSUS. How nice! Those cars you can donate? They brought in $399,498 so that’s good.  Under fundraising activities:

“The HSUS and its affiliated entities rely on a substantial and longstanding program of direct mail fundraising to support the full range of activities they undertake….direct mail fundraising helps create greater awareness of our campaigns and our concern, and has allowed us to build a constituency of supporters unmatched in the humane field…To complement direct mail, the HSUS relies on larger individual gifts solicited by regional fundraisers, planned giving, foundation grants, telephone solicitation, workplace giving, bequests, and most recently direct response television announcements.”
This is my all-time favorite ad:

This plea for funds came out just after Wayne Pacelle said the dogs should be KILLED “Officials from our organization have examined some of these dogs and, generally speaking, they are some of the most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country” How much money did any of the rescues that eventually took all but one of the dogs receive from HSUS? Not a penny. The bill came to slightly over $900,000 to rehab and pay for sanctuary care and that came from Vick’s estate NOT the HSUS.

The other delightful item of note here is the “The HSUS….is now overseeing the care of the 52 pitbulls seized from Vick’s property…” Bullshit. They DID NOT oversee anything except the perception of themselves in the media, and not all the dogs seized from Vick were pitbulls, so if you can’t get some very basic facts straight what ELSE is being spun?
Since I seem to like numbers here are some others – HSUS fundraised for helping animals displaced after Katrina to the tune of $34 million. To date only $7 million can be accounted for, spent assisting a handful or organization. The HSUS DOES have the  caveat on SOME of their fundraising literature “to support all our vital animal protection
programs” or something of that ilk but $28 million went elsewhere and I’m guessing the donors might want an explanation. The same tactics were used to raise funds after Hurricane Sandy, this time $1.9 million was raised and to date only 20% has been disbursed to organizations directly involved with Sandy. Gotta wonder if Mr. Pacelle isn’t a friend of Chris Christie since they seem to have the same sensibilities when it comes to relief aid.
Is the organization effective? Maybe. Do the raise a lot of money? Yes. Do the raise
awareness? To some degree. While researching them I reads LOTS of articles on Humane Watch. That is not to say I believe everything THEY say. I like to think I have better critical thinking skills than that but they did have some good points. They are, in many ways, just as crazy as HSUS and PeTA, just in a different way. They do point out that the HSUS VP, Joe Maxwell, owns Heritage Acres, a pork processing plant that was suspended by the USDA for violations of the humane slaughter/treatment regulations in 2009. For an organization that promotes a vegan lifestyle (HSUS) this might seemingly present a conundrum, “Do as I say not as I do” seems to be the message. I have no problem if they want to promote a vegan agenda, but then use farm animals to raise your funds. Using the cute and fluffy kitties and puppies is disingenuous.

They spent a lot of time during the BP oil spill talking about “gearing up” and  getting “ready to act” without doing a SINGLE thing to help out; no rolling up of sleeves, no writing of a large check (or small for that matter) to build or support a wildlife rehab facility, which they could EASILY do!

The real question is – What are they going to do for “all the helpless little puppies, kittens, dogs and cats”? Less than 1% of what they took in in 2012 went to any sort of animal shelter in this country. One Percent.

Yes, the lobby, they raise money, and the gnash their teeth over the fate of farm animals. The do some good undercover work but when you call the new media to splash tapes of your latest investigation all over the 10 o’clock news report BEFORE you call the local authorities you’re grandstanding and have lost sight of your mission.


Having to spend some time on their website was akin to falling into a pool filled with fecal matter. Compared to HSUS they are small change. They “only” bring in $30 million a year, give or take a million or two. Their 990 was ‘only’ 53 pages long and MUCH less involved than the HSUS return. While Mr. Pacelle pulled in around $400,000 (according to these documents) Ms. Newkirk only took home around $40,000. Interestingly the VP made around $85,000 and an Assistant Secretary took home a healthy $125,000. Quite a few sections are blacked out, but I can clearly see $879,418 in Federated campaigns, $720,910 in Fundraising events and $31,851,917 in “other contributions, gifts, grants and similar amounts”. The Public Support percentage for 2012 is 88%. “Campaigns involve renowned celebrities, extensive media attention, interactive social networking, web site features and blogs that reach millions of viewers, and public service announcements, which are typically placed for free in high-exposure outlets.” They spent $5,538,763 on postage, printing and direct mail on things like this:

I appreciate the message but using some blonde bimbo with most of her cleavage showing manages to piss off my feminist sensibilities. As one reviewer put it “I’m sure the nurses greatly appreciated having their profession reduced to cosplay titty porn.” This was sent to the Texas Heart Institute. Effectiveness? On a scale of 1-10 I’ll give it a -2.

As a fan of Chloris Leachman, cabbage and dresses made from natural products I really, really like this ad.  It will at least get you to their website, which seems to be the primary place for fundraising. THIS would make me want to see what else they have to say. Effectiveness? Around an 8.

Another ad that made me say “Seriously??!” Originally installed near a beach in Florida it was eventually pulled because of complaints. How much do you think THAT brought in? Effectiveness: – 1

PeTA claims 3 million members and supporters; 4500 members belong to the Augustus club, an arm of the fundraising section where people can pledge future funds through wills and trusts. They currently have just over $200,000 in endowment funds. “Permanently restricted new assets are comprised of four separate endowment funds. Under the terms of the first endowment fund, 20% of the ordinary earnings from investments are permanently restricted while 35% are available for unrestricted use and the remaining 45% are donated to other organizations. Earnings on the second, third and fourth endowment fund are unrestricted.”

Since we’re discussing effectiveness let’s look at my favorite chart:

This compares all the shelters in the area with PeTA’s shelter. Cat save rate – 9.21 %

9.21% means it doesn’t matter how many naked celebrities you have on bill boards, it doesn’t matter who thinks you’re top notch enough to leave you a legacy in their will, it doesn’t matter what you proselytize, you have FAILED at any mission you pretend is important to you.

THIS ad was pulled in Europe for being disrespectful and is NOT politically acceptable. If you use PeTA’s thinking (which is fairly reprehensible), comparing animals with humans, they fail yet again. It is estimated 1.3 people were sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi’s killed and estimated 1.1 million. Cats in PeTA’s shelter fare worse today than humans did in Auschwitz. That may be tacky, and I certainly mean no disrespect to Holocaust survivors, I grew up around them as well as survivors of Japanese internment camps BUT for an agency that promotes veganism and animal ‘rights’ and has made comparisons of animals in the farming industry to Holocaust survivors they have a convenient disconnect in understanding their OWN actions.

Effectiveness? Zero. Less than zero. Maybe -30.

I understand this project was to look at how money is raised. But unless you follow the money trail AFTER it is in an account to see who, what, where, when and why it is spent the actual fundraising isn’t the whole story, it’s only the beginning.  Neither agency is trustworthy and needs a complete management overhaul. I’m going to take a shower now and hug each and every one of my animals.