Sunday, December 17, 2017

Of Pink Stripes and Old Pillowcase Lace.

Back in October we were coming up on my favorite event of the year. A private affair on a friend's farm with their collection of old buildings and equipment. It's a very low-key event meaning we can dress in whatever era we like. For me this means Edwardian.

Or in this year's case late "Teens." 

I had bought the material and patterns for the outfit I wanted to wear back in the spring and never got around to making them up.

The blouse is made with a "Repeated Original" pattern from Etsy. I really enjoyed this pattern, it didn't take much to ease it out to the right size and it came together beautifully! The main fabric is a pink and white striped, lightweight, shirting.

I then thought that perhaps it needed a bit of decoration. I came across a vintage pillowcase in my stash that was in pretty rough shape, but luckily, the lace work was still in good condition. Epiphany! Lace collar!

I had just enough to make both collar and "Yoke" pieces, with enough plain material left over to do the cuffs.

The skirt, I had made earlier in the year from "Past Patterns 9682" but it had needed some re-fitting. I seriously LOVED this skirt! I mean, how great is it that there are just two pieces (Plus the waistband) and it has POCKETS too!! All built in to those two pieces. Of course this meant it was a breeze to expand to my measurements. (In fact I added too much and had to take it back in) The fabric is a blend bottom-weight that I had bought at Jo-ann's so it has a bit of a stretch to it, which is a bit annoying, but not too bad.

All in all, this has become one of my favorite outfits! I can't wait to wear it again this summer, the fabric is so light and airy, and not to mention... POCKETS! I'd almost forgotten what a joy this convenience was! 

Until next time
(And a bonus picture of E-bug in his "Caleb" Overalls)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Projects Galore: Rocking Around

Sitting on our hearth is a little "Boyd's Bear" on a little ladder-back chair. When we moved the TV downstairs to the front parlor, I noticed that E-bug became fascinated with it! He loved to deposit poor "Pooh" (As he calls all bears) into the floor and sit on the chair himself.

This gave me an idea. As there once was a little blonde girl with a beloved little red rocking chair, I decided he needed one of his own!

Luckily, Joshua had a few child size rocking chairs in the attic, preserved from his childhood. This one just so happened to be yellow. Though the paint was in extremely rough shape, I just so happened to have an abundance of yellow paint left over from a certain little boy's nursery.

I scrubbed it down and gave it two good coats of yellow.

 Then I freehand drew a rudimentary fancy "G" (Our last initial) and four sail boats.

 I filled in with leftover paint from the Rocking Horse project. 

I had to buy a black paint pen, as none of the other methods I tried worked.... (I couldn't find my sharpie, and my old fashioned "Dip pen" would only ink perhaps 1/8' at a time...)

Total cost? $2!! (For the pen!)

I think he likes it! Don't you?


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Projects Galore: "Caleb" Overalls

Not my photo, property of the movie company
For years I have admired the costuming in the Glenn Close "Sarah; Plain and Tall" series. And now that I have a son I have especially drooled over the little boy "Caleb's" style. There was just something about the big "Blousy" Overalls that cried to be re-created.

Not my photo, found on pinterest

So I took to the internet.

Sadly, the amount of boys patterns, especially ones from the period, are extremely limited.

 This meant that I had to step out of my comfort zone into the world of drafting... 

I found THIS pattern in my stash, that I had used for E-bug a couple times, took some measurements, and set to work.

I used a beige linen blend that I had in stash, originally for a set of 1920's beach pajama pants that never got made,  and some white cotton as a lining.

I fully lined them for two reasons, we had had a bit of cool weather, so I was worried about warmth, and this linen was a tad rough, so I figured the cotton would be softer on toddler skin. (It ended up being rather opposite weather... but E-bug seemed to stay quite cool in these anyways)

Sadly I don't have any progress photos... But I ended up making them way too big, they looked like he could have fit several clowns and a set of bowling pins in them...

Back upstairs I went and brought them in on the back and the sides. And there we had it!

Overalls to match Caleb's... at least in style, and room to grow as there are at least two inches of strap left to move the buttons and a good inch and a half of hem to let down.

We wore them to an antiques sale at a local history Museum and all our outfits were very well received! (Especially Edmund and his wicker pram, which he absolutely loves!) 

Do pleas comment and let me know what you think!


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Projects Galore: Austrian Curtains

My next project has, once again, to do with the bedroom.

I have often watched period films set in Elegant homes and seen, what I believe are called "Austrian" Curtains, or "Balloon" curtains, including, though I cannot find a screenshot right now, Lucy Honeychurch's Room in the Pensione in the 1985 "A Room With a View."(Helena Bonham Carter.)
Photos are not mine, they are from Pinterest. click the pictures for the link.

I have long admired their elegance, and been searching for a way to incorporate them into our room. First off, they cannot be bought for less than a kidney, as they are rare and so have to be custom made usually out of silk tulle.

Sadly, this young family cannot afford $200+ a panel... So I turned to my sewing room.

Also, Since our new bed doesn't have a headboard, the clanging of the ancient Venetian blinds that were on there was seriously annoying!!

But how to do it? I long debated buying a bolt of some material or other, to have enough fabric to do it. I threw around the idea of linen, then went down to muslin, dabbled with satin or tulle, but all those options involved a lot of work and still $100+ in materials.

Then brilliance hit...

I bought four more cheap sheer panel curtains like we had "Draped" the room in.

I flat felled two of them together length-wise, and ironed a crease along the center.

Then came my handy dandy Ruffler foot that came with my Treadle.

I call these photos simply "Froth" Haha!

This process cut out all measuring, cutting, hemming, and well, most of the grunt work, and turned several days worth of trouble into just a few hours!

And voile!

The final result!

Eventually I can hand sew small rings on the back at intervals and turn them into shades that will raise, but right now I am seriously loving the color of the light that comes through them!

I will however be getting a matching set of red panels to go along the sides and hid the mild wonky-ness of them.

What do you think? leave me a comment and let me know!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Projects Galore: A Bit of Color

As I said in my last post, there's just something about cooler weather that's simply inspiring on all fronts. As the temperature dropped I decided to take care of something that had been bothering me.

I forgot to take my Christmas wreath off my front door when we packed things away last year... and there it stayed... until now!

I took to Pinterest looking for inspiration, ( You can see some of my thoughts HERE, if you dig a bit)

It was then to Hobby Lobby that I went. I decided I liked the simple grapevine wreath, and something with a touch of fall color, but wasn't overly screaming "Maple Leaves and Pumpkins!!"

I came out with a handful of things, made double, as My mom kept E-bug while I shopped, so I decided to make one for her as well.

It's hard to explain my creative process when it comes to flower arranging. It just sort of happens... A little of this here, some of that there, a pop of pizazz and Voile!

The final result!

I'm rather pleased if I do say so myself! 

And below is the only photo of the not quite duplicate I made for my mom.

I also just got commissioned to do another, so stay tuned!!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Projects Galore: Seabiscuit

There's just something about cooler weather that makes me come alive again. I jump back into the sewing room and creativity flies from my fingers!

So over the next few days I'll be posting a few things all about the new projects I'm working on, and completed.

For today's project meet Seabiscuit. So christened several years ago by my mother, just after I found him. I Purchased Seabiscuit at and antique sale for the great price of $15 intending for her to be used by a friend's daughter when she came to play. He saw several happy hours of play back then and has been gathering dust since.

I pulled him out of the moth balls when my son came along, and he was seen in several of E-bug's "Monthly" baby photos.
6 Months

11 months

But then one day I realized something. Just after bug started walking he grabbed hold of the seat and red paint flakes came away on his hands... And mama's danger warning went off! No more playing with Seabiscuit!

I recently decided to do something about it. I could put the little friend away, never to be used again, or I could paint it. And I suddenly hear antique collectors everywhere gasp in horror! I thought the same thing. Wouldn't it be sacrilege to cover up the original finish? Perhaps... but if it was only worth $15 to someone who knew what they were doing, then it was worth more to me to have my children able to play with it. So to Lowes I went.

Yesterday I took it out in the sun and set to work. And here's what he looks like now!

The face was made with a, now tattered, decal, so I painted the more faded side, and left the other mostly untouched. I'm not worried about lead paint with the decal so I'll leave it alone for now and someday, go in with smaller brushes to re-work the details. Until then, I simply used a sharpie to brighten the details.

And now for a few action shots of a boy and his pony! Be sure to check out Our New Facebook Page for a couple videos of E-bug's first few rides!!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Lady Anne

This summer has been a a pretty busy one, everything ended up going on hold. If you follow us on Facebook you'll remember that we tore out my bathroom. If you wondered why, here is the reason!

Help us welcome the S/V Lady Anne to the family! A hard won acquisition who is now floating in her own dock at a nearby marina.  She now has a new life, a new name, and a new family to enjoy her!

Below is my Husband's story on how she became ours. Enjoy! 


 Hello All!

So, my darling wife Megan has asked me to draft a post regarding our newest project…S/V Lady Anne.

As some of you might already know, I was, for a time, an officer in the Navy. While a midshipman at Annapolis, myself and two other friends devised a scheme to purchase a small sloop and live aboard her while going through flight school. Ultimately, this plan, though adventurous…proved illogical for three penniless young ensigns. Time passed, we went our separate ways, and sadly, in 2005, we lost one of our trio to a tragic aircraft incident.

Years went by, and I eventually returned from sea, settled in historic Harriman…and of course, met the love of my life.

About six months ago, I decided that the small fishing boat and motorcycle I never used had become monuments to vain attempts at combining my past with my present. What was needed was something epic…something that connected my love of the sea to the new adventure of marriage and fatherhood.
I had my crew…all I needed was the ship.

 After a lengthy search, I found a suitable Cal 2-25 sloop within my price range, called the owner, and set a meeting time to see the vessel. Unfortunately, it sold before I could arrive. However, the owner was gracious enough to assist me in continuing the search. The next craft I viewed was an older Catalina 22 at a private dock. Though a viable prospect, the owner wanted much more than it was worth, considering the amount of work that would’ve been required to restore it. Finally, one rainy day mid-summer, I drove to a marina on Watts Bar Lake to view a 36 foot boat being sold for the inconceivable sum of only $500…and found that to save it, would undoubtedly cost ten times that much.

Despairing, I had all but given up when an ad for a 1976 Chrysler Marine C22 appeared online. It had been “refitted” within the last five years, “dry” for at least one year, and according to the seller, was in tip-top condition. I drove into Knoxville and met what was soon to become my ship. We settled on a price, and I arranged to have the boat shipped to my marina…intending to launch within two weeks.

As any sailor can tell you…this is never, ever the case with older boats.

 Excited about my new acquisition, I offered Megan the honor of naming her. We originally opted for the Annie Laurie, after Megan’s famous Scottish ancestor…but soon found another boat was registered under the same name and still sailing in Halifax. I then suggested “Lady Anne” to honor both Lady Laurie, and our mutual love of Lucy Maude Montgomery. I also had fond memories of an old pirate film from the 1930’s where the hero’s (Randolph Scott) frigate was named “Lady Anne”.

Digging into my project, I discovered several series issues…including a fatal flaw hidden within the hardware supporting the 800 lb cast iron “swing keel”. The system involved metal plates that served as the only real load bearing for the keel, with two inch penetrations into the inner hull that once failed…would allow water to rush into the ship and ruin any good sailing day.

These plates were rusted away to the point of being unserviceable.

This repair, feared by many centerboard sailors, required a dry-dock, and fortunately for me, my father-in-law provided both the space and equipment (not to mention the expertise) to make the effort.

 The first step was removing the heavy keel itself, requiring that the boat be lifted onto stands we had to build to custom fit the hull. After several weeks, we lifted the boat onto her new temporary bed and set about lowering the monster hunk of iron. Ultimately, I had to saw through the stainless steel hinge pin…the keel dropping loudly into the cradle we had made for this express purpose.

 Once out, we could assess the true nature of the keel brackets…as you can see, they were virtually gone. Had I launched on these, there is every probability that we would have quickly taken on water.

Megan’s father had a friend who is a master of metal fabrication, and he was good enough to make the new parts in his shop (and teach a bit while he was at it).

We then began the task of re-fitting these to the boat. Since we opted for mild steel, I coated the parts in John Deer equipment paint before dry fitting for the new hardened stainless pin. Once seated with silicone, we raised the keel back into position (a frustrating four hour job) and were amazed when the pin slid home as planned. The hard part was done…

…or so we thought.

The next step was painting the boat. Now experts all have good advice, and one can easily spend several hundred dollars on the proper marine grade, anti-fouling paints. In general, this advice is mandatory, unless one wished to have problems later on (blistering, sea-life infestations, osmosis leaks, etc.). However, after doing some research, I determined that an alkyd enamel of industrial quality should be sufficient for use on a lake (baring zebra mussels) or at least if hauled out and cleaned at least once per year.

 I went with a fire engine red bottom, hunter green hull and gold racing stripe. This was to not only make the boat stand apart among a sea (no pun intended) of white and blue boats…but imitate colors of earlier wood hulled yachts.

The trouble was that a previous owner did follow the “advice”, and painted a hard ablative (translation…poisonous) bottom paint on. Prepping this surface required use of a full respirator, and again, I took the calculated risk of painting “hard over hard”, hoping that time and the elements wouldn’t remove my coat of enamel.

Once painted, the boat was now ready to be turned back into a sailing vessel. I had planned on doing very little with the mast…after all, it looked in good shape. However, the stock mast stepping (raising) system consisted of a rather sketchy broken aluminum wedge that did nothing more than level the mast as the shrouds were used to support it. This system, while common for the time, also makes raising or lowering the mast quite a hazardous enterprise. The common solution is installment of a “mast hinge”; essentially a giant hinge that allows the mast to pivot fully supported.

Again, I was fortunate to have fabrication support.

Fitting this hinge, aligning it and getting the mast up proved to be perhaps the hardest and most frustrating part of the entire project…but we eventually did it.

Now, we were ready to launch, right?


 It took another week of re-rigging the mainsheet, boom-vang, halyards and outhaul…going through the electrical system, installing a bilge pump and navigational instruments.

Even then, we were still some ways off from launching.

The 3,000 lb boat had to be replaced on her trailer, the outboard installed, and then transported nearly a hundred miles before launch.

The first “catch” was the ’93 Nissan 8 hp outboard that refused to even “crank”, let alone “fire”. After several days of troubleshooting, I took the block apart and found it to be full of sand.

Scratch one outboard.

 I ended up buying a (much too large) 15 hp short shaft (much too short) motor, we mounted it…and that would be our powerplant for launch.

The last touch was to place the handmade wood stern plate on.

Lady Anne was officially ready for the water.

On the appointed day, my father-in-law, father and close friend Matt all arrived to help. My mother-in-law and lovely bride (as well as “powder monkey” Edmund) rounded out the crew. After a couple of hours of mast raising, re-rigging and final adjustments, we judged it time, and I climbed into the cockpit.

Our marina is fabulous, and they have a boat ramp off the key, only about a quarter mile from my slip. Therefore, I was expecting a very easy transit to home berth. However, as per usual, “Murphy” showed up.

 First, the “new” outboard refused to start. After several test runs at home in the drum stand…she wouldn’t sputter to life. Frustrated, we tried everything until I finally got it to come to life, reluctantly. My father-in-law and Matt joined me onboard, and we glided out into the channel without any trouble.

At this point, I should share a word or two about my concerns at this moment.

For starters, though I have been a sailor for some time, it had been five years since my last sailboat…a much smaller, simpler 12 foot racer. It had been nearly twenty years since my last experience in a forty foot sloop. The vast majority of my experience had been on the bridge of large amphibious transport ships with a team of eight managing all of the tasks of shiphandling.

To say the least…I was concerned.

One of the first things they teach you about being at the helm of any vessel is that boats do not “steer” like a car. Over-steering can create oscillations in movement that can quickly lead to loss of control. Speed, which is vital for maintaining effective rudder control is easily bled off…particularly on vessels that are by necessity, underpowered…as is the case with a mid-size sloop. Without room to tack, raising the sails was an unlikely prospect, and provided I could make it to the pier…not pranging into it (or another boat) was a key consideration.

Lastly, I was concerned about depth under the keel.

The Chrysler 22, owing to its variable geometry centerboard, can float in extremely shallow water. However, I had charted some dangerous shoal water on several points of the short transit, and installed a Lowrance Hook 4X system to manage it.

Naturally, the Lowrance decided not to work this day.

All of these challenges aside, we made it around the peninsula and lined up for an approach to our slip on the leeward side of the finger piers. There was another sailboat tied up outboard of the pier, and a relatively new 26 foot boat opposite my slip. Because of these factors, I came in wide, slow, and ultimately…too wide, and too slow.

The boat lost steerageway and started to slip with wind and current.

 Now in these situations, power is your friend…again, the outboard decided to take a vacation.

Fighting the motor, and drifting ever closer to the sunken logs on the far end of the inlet; I finally got it to fire and pulled away from the water hazards. At this point, the logical step was to drive straight for the pier, bow on. However, I found that even at full throttle, I couldn’t get the bow over fast enough to thread the needle between what is called “advance and transfer”…nautical terms that essentially mean calculating your actual track over water. In short, if the boat is moving forward quickly under power, but laterally due to wind or current, you will not drive in a “straight” line.

In order to put my line of travel onto the slip, I needed to get the bow far over to starboard before slamming into the other finger pier only about 200 yards ahead…it simply wasn’t happening.

At that point, I decided to “prop walk” at slow speed. The propeller blades, turning clockwise, were slowly “pulling” the boat to starboard, and the boat was advancing slower in the forward direction. In this manner, I hoped to “hop” to the pier…slowly.

Ultimately, I found that the reverse gear (powered by 15 horses) was sufficient to “back” into the pier, close enough to get a line over.

We were there…it was done.

Over the next week, I de-bugged the electrical, fixed a few items that didn’t meet my approval, and was ready for the “maiden voyage”, solo, the following Saturday.

Again…that troublesome motor refused to start.

 I decided that after so much effort, a new outboard was worth the cost. I sourced a brand new, 6 hp, Tohatsu “Sail Pro” 4-stroke.

We’ll see this weekend, if newly powered, S/V Lady Anne will finally get under way…

…this time with my “First Mate” and best friend onboard.