Long time no post, I know! My apologies! I've been preoccupied with figuring out "adulting" as some like to call it. In reality I dislike that word a lot, but that's for another post.
Today I'm just going to write about why I haven't written lately! Does that make sense? It's been several months since I wrote a blog post and during that time I was pondering what projects I wanted to do. I started a blog last year that eventually fell through. It was super hard to keep up with, as my life was changing constantly. First I was living in Virginia, then the holidays, then I was studying all the time, and finally I got a job and graduated. Now my life has settled into a pattern again, and I want a project!
Blogging is great, but can feel a bit obsolete. Few people in my age range actually follow and read blogs anymore, myself included!
I've been working on a podcast with my friend for the past six months, and I've fallen in love with that format. (Quick plug for READ IT AGAIN RADIO SHOW) I started to think about starting my own podcast, and that's when I came up against these three questions. I realized that these are the questions that have been keeping me from investing in my Instagram, my blog, a podcast, etc.
What do I have to share? This is a hard one, because I have a lot of opinions. I think I have lots to share on a person-to-person, conversational level. But when it comes to putting myself out there I run into the big issue of "WHY?" Why should people listen to me? Am I actually doing something unique? What's the point?
What am I willing to share? This question is the hardest. Again, personally I am pretty open about my opinions. But generally, I don't love everyone knowing what I think/believe on a particular subject. I feel like in a place and time where people are judged very much on political beliefs rather than morals or character, it is vulnerable to put yourself out there. I try to live and let live, and I don't want someone to feel called out or accused because I say something publicly.
How much am I willing to invest/commit? All these projects are a lot of work, there is no way around that. None of them are fun all the time and when its something like a blog, where nobody is holding me accountable but myself, it can be very difficult to keep up with it.
So, yeah. Thats what's holding me back from keeping up with my blog, or starting a new project. Now that that's out there, I'm going to keep working on moving forward and starting that next big project. I wish you all luck in life and in all your creative endeavors!
I love me some peach pie! What's more summery than a fresh peach pie with cream? Well, lots of things. Ice tea, swimming, picnics, sunshine...But if you've been craving peach pie as much as I have, this one's for you.
Peaches and Cream Pie
-4 or 5 fresh peaches
-1/4 cup flour
-1tsp fresh lemon zest
-1/4 cup sugar
Slice your peaches and remove the skins and pits. Prepare your bottom crust in a regular 9inch pie pan. Stir in your flour, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, ginger, and sugar. Mix well and pour into your crust, smoothing out the top so that it is flat. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes until crust is browned and filling bubbles. Cool pie on counter and then in fridge.
Whip 1/2 pint of cream with a 1tbs of sugar and top the pie (now cold!) with it. Chill for a few minutes before serving.
I want more already!
If you want to be extra thrifty you can use the skins and pits to make peach ice tea, but that's a recipe for another day.
Hope your summer is sweet!
So the other day I found myself in one of those army surplus stores with some friends. I was keeping myself busy, rummaging through clearance, when I came across a pair of slacks. Think like, officer slacks but TINY. They were a super itchy polyester fabric, but they fit me perfectly! I didn't get a photo with them on, but you'll have to take my word for it.
I was really into how simple they were. I'd been searching all the stores for the past two months for a pair of slacks with no luck. Old Navy, Marshalls, Target, Salvation Army, Goodwill, NOTHING FIT!!!! I considered making some but I was dreading buying a pattern and having to make a mockup. Then in a stroke of luck, I walked into the army surplus store and found slacks that felt like they were made for me.
The other amazing thing about these pants is how adjustable they are. They were made to be altered!
The more people I talk to people the more I realize that department store clothes really don't fit anyone. They are poorly made and nobody ever seems to be comfortable in them. These pants were anything but that. I was intrigued by the construction of them, so I decided to tear them apart to find out more and create a pattern out of them.
I started by taking the crotch seam apart. I'd never made slacks before, but any time I've made pants I sew them like this:
- Side seam
The slacks were sewn in this order:
-Left pant leg inseam/outseam
-Right pant leg inseam/outseam
All the seams were left open and raw edges were serged. The construction was so simple I could probably whip up a pair of these in two hours.
Once I took them apart, I ironed all the pieces flat. Now I can use them any time I want to make new pants. I'm super excited to make a new pair of slacks! Do you think more clothes should be made simply, like these? I know I'm a big fan!
Last Saturday I spent five hours in the kitchen.
It was a warm day and I'd been promising my boyfriend sticky buns for several weeks. It was a warm day, everyone in the house was busy, the sun shone, and I felt very peaceful. Whenever I am baking or cooking for other people I always feel happy. With an apron on, wrist deep in soft, warm dough. The smell of cinnamon and yeast was in the air, mixed with the scent of the mint my little brother was picking and stuffing into his pockets for later. It was a lovely picture.
Recently I've been getting into cookbooks. I don't really enjoy following recipes, but I love stories about food. They are such vivid memories that paint bright, colorful pictures. The stories are relatable, mouth-watering, and inspiring. I like to read them and think about all the things I am going to bake in the future.
But anyway, the real reason I decided to sit down and write a blog post is because I love memories and I love sharing memories. So today I have a short memory for you.
On Sweet Dog Farm (where I lived as a little kid) we had two beautiful flowering cherry trees outside our house. Our favorite was right next to the house, outside my bedroom window. In the springtime the trees had the softest blossoms I've ever felt. They were pink like cherry blossoms, full as peonies, and soft as down. The blossoms were delicate and the petals would fall with the slightest breeze, creating a carpet of soft pink beneath it's branches.
We called it the Swinging Tree because of one sturdy branch which held a simple stick swing. The first swing was created from an old dog leash and a narrow branch. After that it went through many iterations. It was made from ropes, yarn (that didn't last long!), even old extension cords.
I used to sit on that swing for hours, all times of year. I'd be in my own little world, spinning the swing around and around until whatever rope was holding me up finally snapped. A few times I was so distracted by my imagination and my constant spinning that I smacked my head right into the tree trunk.
That one tree held our dreams and our imaginative play. It patiently carried our weight as we grew and it could tell stories of all the arguments we had and the games we created. It stood there through the years as its bark was worn smooth like polished mahogany. I remember running my hand over that smooth place, in awe of how soft and shiny it had become.
These days I see the soft pink blossoms or the pale, wrinkled leaves of a flowering cherry tree and I am brought right back to a place and time when things were much, much simpler.
Until next time!
A lot has happened recently and I figured since I've been getting more traffic on this blog I'd better give an update!
First of all, many of you will be disappointed to hear that I've put an indefinite pause on my Laura Ingalls Wilder project. Being able to work on this project was a huge blessing and I've enjoyed every moment. But after putting on several performances I found I didn't really want to put my energy into it anymore. It took me a little while to admit because I worked so hard on it, but my heart wasn't really in it anymore.
Who knows, maybe I'll come back to this project someday! But for now, my Laura Ingalls obsession will just be a hobby. However, I want to thank everyone who was so incredibly excited and supportive of me during the process. I was overwhelmed with the positive response I received along the way. Thank you!
Now, onto new business! I'm so excited to share that I will be interning at Old Sturbridge Village next summer AND doing seamstress work professionally. Between both of these things, I should be sufficiently busy! I will try to keep my blog updated with history, sewing, and other random moments, but I encourage you to follow my Instagram (@what.rosalie.sews) if you are looking for more frequent updates.
Until next time,
If you are unfamiliar with this issue here is what the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) put on their website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/clla
After several weeks of online discussion, I've decided to address this here on my blog. It is hotly debated in the Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW) communities and I have remained teetering on the edge since I first heard about it. As a long time Laura fan, her books bring a lot of nostalgia for me. I felt conflicted because I wouldn't want to see parents and teachers banning these books. They are beautiful books and they truly are a product of the time they were written in. Stories about self-reliance, hard work, the importance of family, and yes, unfortunately, colonization. But we can love and adore the Little House books while addressing the many problematic parts of them.
Taking LIW's name off of the award does not erase the history. This is the slippery slope argument: "If we take LIW's name off of a literary award are we blemishing her legacy and erasing her work from history? What's next?" LIW is a beloved author of many, many Americans. Taking her name off of one award isn't banning us from reading them. It isn't banning us from loving them just as we always do. It's reminding us that those are dated ideas and we should not be turning a blind eye to the fact that they existed and continued to exist. If we ignore them it allows for them to be perpetuated.
The ALSC says:
"We acknowledge that Wilder’s books not only hold a significant place in the history of children’s literature and continue to be read today, but that they have been and continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers on a personal level. We also acknowledge that they have been deeply painful to many readers, and have been across decades alongside their popularity. Both of these things are true. Neither the option to rename the award nor the option to sunset the award and establish a new award demands that anyone change their personal relationship with or feelings about Wilder’s books."
The award itself is a stamp of recognition. It is impossible to print a disclaimer on every book which holds the stamp. While taking LIW's name off of it gives many of us a knee-jerk reaction it's also the beginning of a conversation. From here we can discuss how to present them to children going forward. The books should serve as a platform for conversation as well as a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read.
I recently found THIS clip about dealing with racism in the books we love. Grace Lin says that we should treat these books like a racist relative. They aren't right, but we still love them. She says we should be keeping an ear out so that we can address the racism when it comes up, with children and with ourselves. I encourage you to watch the video yourself. She puts it clearly and beautifully in an easily approachable way.
I am sad to see Laura's name removed from the award. I love her dearly and it's hard to think about the complexities of something I love so much. That being said, I don't think it is wrong. As scholars of LIW we must step back and be willing to see the big picture. An 80+ year old book is going to be dated. Just look around and see how far we've come in science, law, and technology since the 1930s. The world has changed immensely, so it makes sense that the common idea of what is right and wrong has changed as well. We can still love and appreciate LIW's stories without ignoring the fact that they are racist.
I would like to begin by saying that a corset is a garment with structural integrity, and when you take away the boning and make it from muslin, you end up with a limp rag. I have many issues with mockups, including;
Luckily, I survived the ordeal with LOTS of starch (YAY FOR STARCH!). I make my own starch and it's the best thing since sliced bread. I don't use a recipe; I mix water and a little cornstarch (approximately 1tsp per cup of water. I eyeball it, so I couldn't say exactly) in a pot and cook it until the water goes from foggy to opaque. It's a very obvious shift: it bubbles sort of like a syrup, and is slightly thicker than water. If you dip a spoon into the mixture, it should coat the back. Obviously, you can always add more cornstarch if your starch isn't strong enough. But my small batch of starch is usually very strong. It's really incredible stuff. It makes the whole experience of sewing with plain weaves so much better and neater.
Anyway, I put the muslin together. The gores were a little tricky (maybe I can do a brief tutorial in the next post). I didn't understand the pattern directions, so I just sort of made it up as I went along. Luckily, they all turned out alright.
It was a train wreck, to put it lightly. Trying to fit the limp mockup was awful! I tried to use some crappy Jo-Anne's boning to give some support but it just made it worse, curling inwards and poking me. That stuff is awful! 10/10 would not recommend. I finished my work that evening by throwing it on the floor in defeat and taking this photo for my Instagram feed:
It stayed there, crumpled in a little ball for about a week while I pondered what to do (and by ponder, I mean procrastinated by making other fun things). But I finally came back to it, this time armed with starch. Oh, magical starch! I picked up the mockup, took my stray pins and boning out, and starched and ironed the hell out of that thing! Plus, I added a zipper at the front. I did this with my last corset and it worked very well. Unfortunately, the first time I worked on the mockup I had no zipper, which was part of my downfall. This time went swimmingly! I was able to put it on and fit it without too much trouble at all. And it looked gorgeous!
Now I'm just waiting on my fabric and busk so I can get started on the real thing. Fingers crossed that with a load of starch and some hard work, it will come out alright!
Until next time,
I bought this pattern to make my first Laura Ingalls Wilder dress. I was looking for something simple and straightforward that reflected certain details of the time period. The front draping, for example, and the tight fitted bodice.
I started with the bodice, as that is where the directions began. I am a DD or E cup, so I cut out the D cup pattern (the largest one). My mockup fit in the ok bust, but had WAY too much room in the body. I ended up taking material from every seam, and even reshaping the side seams slightly to fit my shape. After several hours of shaping and reshaping my mockup, I decided I was satisfied. One thing I learned while making this dress was that it was important to get it tight. I knew I wouldn't be satisfied if the bodice was baggy or wrinkled, so I made my mockup as snug as possible. Also, I did add boning in the end, which the instructions do not include, but I wanted.
The skirt (706) and the overskirt (707) were both quite simple. I absolutely loved the skirt pattern, even without the overskirt. It was full, gathered, slim at the waist with wide skirts, everything I wanted. I would probably use just the skirt pattern for another historical costume in the future.
I liked the overskirt alright, but I'm not a huge fan drape in front. I know it's typical of the era, but I am always stressed about it laying just right. Plus the apron in back isn't particularly bustle-y. Of course, I knew that from the beginning, but it was still a bit disappointing.
Overall, I was very pleased with this pattern. I would use it again and recommend it to people in the future. The instructions were clear, I didn't have to do much tweaking, and I loved how many historic details it included. See the finished dress HERE.
Pa assured her. "You've never failed anything you tried to do, have you?"
(These Happy Golden Years)
Last Monday (March 19th) I became Laura Ingalls for a half hour. I've been working on this project for almost a year now, but I feel like I've been working on it since I picked up the first Little House book. It was as if all my years of reading and studying this subject finally were coming together. And I was terrified.
I chose to perform for my homeschool co-op. This is a group of people who have known me for many years. In some ways this was great. It was all people who knew me very well and weren't going to be annoyed or unsupportive if I messed up. But it also made me more nervous because I knew every person in the room. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to stay in character when I looked at one of my friends, a parent, or a kid. Truthfully though, most of my worries were in the buildup. I'd put so much work into my costume and my research and now my vision was finally becoming real.
So here are a few things I learned:
My 1880s dress is complete!!! (See part one here) After I finished the mockup of the bodice, the process was rather straight forward. I cut the pieces out of my fabric, flatlined them, and sewed them all together. After I put the pieces together, I left it alone until I could finish the skirt. That way I could be sure that the bodice would fit over the skirt properly.
I cut out all the skirt pieces and sewed them together. It was pretty simple, almost all straight lines of sewing. The overskirt was the same, although the front draping was a little confusing at first. They are two different pieces, so they are put on separate.
After finishing the skirt (I left the hemming and adding ruffles until the end), I tried the whole thing on. My bodice didn't have sleeves yet, which made it easier to figure out where the bottom should lay. After I pinned it at my waist, I took it off and added the boning. My pattern didn't have instructions to add boning, but I decided to add it after doing some research. Most bodices from the time period were boned, and I know what a huge difference it makes in fit. I wanted to have a perfect fit for my bodice, that was my main goal. Nothing bothers me more than a victorian bodice with too much room (or the wrong shape)! So I ended up hunting the internet for what sort of boning would be best. I finally settled on German plastic boning, also called "artificial whalebone." (I was convinced mostly by this post) I used some leftover twill tape as boning channels and sewed it to my seam allowance. I will NOT be using twill tape again for boning. I forgot how much that stuff frays! Plus, it's too thick and too wide. My boning was floating around in it's channels and I had to add flossing, which I'm terrible at. Needless to say, the inside of this bodice it not pretty.
Next I added the collar and sleeves. the collar came out beautifully and the sleeves were not half bad either. I don't have a pressboard for sleeves, so that made them a good deal more challenging.
I did all my buttonholes by hand. It definitely took a lot longer, but I would have felt like a terrible cheater if I'd done them by machine. My buttonholes definitely need practice, the first few ones were very messy, but they all came out functional in the end. :)
Finally I sewed on the buttons, finished off the sleeves, and added the ruffles. It was complete!!!! I kind of can't believe it. I've been planning this dress for about a year now and it's finally done. I figured I only spent about 20-25 hours on it total. The sewing was all pretty straight forward, the bodice was definitely most challenging and took up over half of my total time spent on the project. That was mostly all the fitting and handwork I had to do on it though. Overall, it was an immensely fun project and I'm already dreaming up what I'm going to make next. ;)
My name is Rosalie Silliman, I'm a history enthusiast with a love for sewing and costumes.