Saturday, January 26, 2013

Forging Ahead - An 18th Century Military Neckstock

         Upon realizing that I would ruin the surprise if I posted pictures of my nephew's red and black baby quilt, I decided to go with a different bit of unfinished business; a new neckstock for my darling, patient husband.

          To paraphrase Ralphie in A Christmas Story;  Neckstock? What's a neckstock? It's the forerunner to that wonderful fashion accessory, the necktie. All the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries!

          We began doing 18th century re-enacting about 7 years ago, and I have made most of our clothes since then. However, Bob's neckstock is a pitiful little off -the-rack strip of black cotton and two back ties that we are constantly losing. It also scrunches down into a thin little strip when he wears it, and doesn't look that good. Besides, his friend E has a really nice one with the period correct military buckle to hook it together in the back (to make it even more uncomfortable) and he likes to have whatever E has. I decided he had worn that little sad one long enough!

             I got a piece of black handkerchief linen, ordered the appropriate buckle from Smiling Fox Forge and decided to wing it. Based on some extant garments I have seen, as well as many photographs of same, I believe that there was a lot of winging it that went on with sewing in the past when there were no patterns and no written directions, and maybe you couldn't read them if there were. So I grabbed my fabric and started pleating. I wanted stacked pleats - very crisp. No.1 is a bad picture of a bad idea. I thought I would try it without any stitches to hold the pleats. I worked on it and worked on it - pleated, repleated, pinned, repinned -then I put it on the desk and ran away.

              Finally, after walking past it numerous times, it became clear that it must be done a different way in order to actually accomplish the look I wanted . So, in need of a project to sit in front of the TV with, and to allay any guilt at Bob's not having a proper neckstock, I took it apart and started over. This time, I took my time, marked everything, folded and pressed, and ran a running stitch along the lines to make the pleats, sizing the pleats to hide the stitching once they were pressed down into place. See picture 5, below.

              This has turned out to be a good idea, and now all that needs to happen is for me to make the tabs with the handsewn buttonholes for the buckle posts, interface the fabric and stitch the back closed. Then Bob will literally be able to hold his head high among the other re-enactors wandering the grounds of public parks and historic homes.

Thanks for checking in with me!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Backing up a bit

    The thing that prompted me to come up with this idea for a blog was a decision one day to try to clear out some things in what I call my "playroom".

     Among the items I found that day was a bag of yarn and instructions for a simple yet very nice knitted scarf. Several months ago on an Afternoon of Great Indulgence, I had visited the one remaining local yarn shop here in Louisville with my daughter and our friend, R. R and I had spotted a lovely store sample of this very scarf and fell in liking-a- lot with it. Actually, it must have been love, because the yarn was pricey but OMG it was such a great scarf! And the colors were so pretty! only took two skeins, and we were in that state of I - will- if -you- will that sometimes happens when shopping in a group. So we did. R went home and made hers. I put mine in the playroom. Under something.

    A week or so ago when I found it I decided to tackle it. R had told me that she had wished that the ties were a little longer, that it didn't seem like there was enough yarn to make it as long as the one in the store. I had already gotten halfway though the darn thing when I remembered this- too far to rip or put down. It turned out that while the sign at the yarn shop had indicated that it took  two skeins, the yardage required by the instructions indicated three. I needed another skein. The shop is pretty far away , so I ordered the extra online; got it, wound it, knitted it - done! Based on my friend's comments, I did lengthen the ties by about 9 rows.Another one bites the dust!

    The yarn is "Seduce" by Berroco, a blend of  Rayon, linen, silk and nylon, in jade. It's all done in garter stitch, which is lovely in its simplicity.The scarf feels wonderful and drapes beautifully, as evidenced by the pictures of Teddy and my antique clock wearing it. My hair was wet, and I wasn't wearing any makeup when I was taking the pictures, so they are standing in for me. It's a little distressing to realize that the clock and I are somewhat the same shape.

    Side note: the white background? A UFO - an 18th c. shirt that I started and then discovered that the material had weird rust marks on it. So this one is not my fault and doesn't really count, right?
      And Teddy is a project I actually completed in a timely manner back when I had time to do things like make Teddy bears just because. Like when I was about 22. Does that make him an antique, too?

All the best,


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Clash of Projects

Before I post on the current unfinished business (which is another baby quilt), let me state  that I am only an occasional quilter. I do like to make them for babies, and the one I am posting about today is for my nephew and his wife, whose baby is due way sooner than I remembered. Thus, I am scrambling to get it cut out and out together. It has a sports theme (the University of Louisville and the Philadelphia Eagles, my nephew's favorite teams), which I cannot readily relate to but which they requested and which will provide nice bold colors for a baby's room.  U of L is black and red, hence the two fabrics you see in the picture.

However, after I had washed the pieces and went to iron them, I realized I had another UFO on the ironing board. - A needlepoint pillow I have had for years, and  finally finished stitching several months ago. I had come across it while going through some bags the other day, and decided to go ahead and block it so that I could finish it.It's been on the board for a few days. It's a reproduction of a Persian miniature painting. Luckily, it will still match my living room, since my color sense seems to have remained the same over time. So I had to take it off in order to press the quilt fabric. Now it's in the queue.

Here is the printed fabric that I have for the baby quilt for my nephew. It will be the first of the Unfinished Business that is completed, because that baby is due soon. You can see that I have the red squares cut, and the basic plan graphed out. I will be doing a tied quilt, because it's fast, and I like the way they look.

Back to work now - ready to eliminate one thing from the stack!

See you soon,


Thursday, January 17, 2013

So, Here's a good place to Start

        Talk about unfinished business! About 24 years ago, my friend Sarah (amazing seamstress) and I decided to take a quilt piecing class. The project was a wall hanging. Great! not too big - easy to complete - (haha).  We had a blast doing the hand piecing and all the cutting. I even used some fabric (the dark red that you see) that I had used to make a maternity dress that I wore while pregnant with my second child.  I got the piecing done - just needed to quilt it! I would use the wall hanging for her room. Cute, and not too baby-ey.

        Well, taking care of two kids, and then a third, kind of got in the way of that. One day when Evie was no longer a baby, I came across my "Project". Okay then, I'll turn it into a twin bed sized quilt! I'll just add onto the wall hanging until it's big enough! So - I got out what remained of the dress fabric, and found some coordinating fabrics and added the triangular border you can see in the picture. Of course, that wasn't large enough NOR was it the right shape. I would have to keep adding. No problem. And I still had that maternity dress that I could cut up! Now, let's just put it this in this bag, and I'll get to it later...

        24 years later, this project's time may finally have come.  My daughter is now expecting a baby of her own (my first grandchild ) and I think I will finish it as it is, and it will be a blanket for the new baby. My daughter likes vintage things, so we're good there. I just hope the fabric holds up after all these years. And if I don't get it done right away, no worries. I still have that dress in case I need the fabric - it can become a twin sized bed quilt!