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1  Do You Love Butter? The Bluebird's Buttercup Purse in Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General by LRShimer on: October 20, 2012 10:48:02 AM
Back in the 1920's, when my mother was a little girl, there was  a game amongst her friends in regards to buttercups. They tickled each other under the chin with the bright yellow flowers and giggled "Do you love butter?", then checked to see if any pollen had stuck to their little chum's chin. My mother, not being a sentimentalist, recounts this activity with a curling lip. The fact that she still recalls it, tells it's own story.

I happen to love the buttercup purse pattern by Made by Rae (http://www.made-by-rae.com/2009/02/free-buttercup-bag-sewing-pattern/ ) . I first  discovered it on this forum, where it's quite popular. It's a free, easily downloadable purse pattern, with the caveat that it's not to be used to create items for sale. I've probably made close to ten of these winsome bags by now in a variety of sizes. Wonder what you'd find stuck on the bottom of my chin?



The basic pattern produces a rather small pocket-sized purse (which also made it perfect for a child, and I've made one for a little girl). But that's just the right size to hang across my chest to hold my iPod, keys and reading glasses and accompany me on a walk or when I'm attending to domestic activities. Essentially I use it to replace a pocket and it keeps my pants pockets from wearing out. I don't think the original pattern includes a long handle, but mine always do. I've started interfacing those handles with Peltex interfacing for a really sturdy strap.

However quite often, as in the case of this bluebird buttercup above, I enlarge the pattern for a regular purse-sized bag.

Techniques:

After downloading the pattern (it's only a couple of pages) and stapling or taping them together, I photocopy them at a couple of different sizes. I think 129% is the biggest my local copy store goes, so sometimes I've enlarged an enlargement. I also like to simply extend the bottom of the little purse to make it deeper.

This buttercup purse is a recreation of one I made from the same quilting-cotton fabric last January. I loved the bird embellished fabric so much that I pretty much wore it out. I didn't line much more than the top pieces and it didn't stand up to the weight of the items I put in. So I started over with fresh fabric.

This time through I stabilized the buttercup's bird fabric not only with fusible quilt batting on both the outer and lining layers, but also with a layer of crinoline on the inside of the outside pieces. I also did some simple quilting on the outside layer.

I found the lovely vintage tatting at the nearby De Anza Flea Market. It just happened to be the same width as the front yoke! I loved the fact that I already had a purpose for this embellishment when I found it. How often does that happen?

This buttercup is really standing up to the service I expect of her.

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2  I'm getting good regular wear out of this Vogue dress in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by LRShimer on: August 22, 2012 05:28:12 PM
I like this pattern, Vogue pattern v8810,  because it's neither juvenile nor matronly. Also because I can wear it on my cruiser bike with the bottom button unbuttoned.



I like that it shows off my legs, though it's not super short like dresses I wore in my teens (Hey, I loved those dresses and I give you permission to wear yours as short as you want, no matter what age you are!).

It's flattering.

It works for summer as a light dress and also looks good with a tee shirt underneath for fall/winter in my temperate climate. I have a similarly colored turtleneck for or occasionally cooler times, so for me this is a year round garment.

It sewed up in reasonable time.

I added pockets - which I cannot live without - and eliminated the waist casing with tie, because it's not a look I like. I will always belt it.
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3  Retro Polka Dots: Why I Don't Love Lucy in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by LRShimer on: June 18, 2012 10:40:57 AM


(Just want the pattern info? See "*Bare Bones Sewing Basics" Below)

 Im a brand new convert when it comes to these retro-style spots, but I also knew there was some vaguely uncomfortable memory, that I associated them with. When I put on my new sleeveless tee, with its draped neckline,  I really liked what I saw in the mirror. The wisps of what I disliked were the the shades of a far-from-favorite old television show, in those vibrant polka dots.

Though Ive come to love that tee shirt, what I still dont love is the I Love Lucy television show, because Lucille Ball's portrayal of Lucy Ricardo was no role model for a budding, mid-twentieth century, feminist kid. In my modern-woman household, those polka dots represented some pretty old ideas of woman's place in our society. And they were ideas we were still fighting through in the sixties. In my mind, those old-style feminine behavior patterns were linked with images of the ubiquitous polka-dot dresses* that Lucy wore on the show.

Im the first to admit there are things to admire about the television and movie comedienne whose career in film, television, stage and radio spanned a period of over forty years. No pawn for the film moguls, Lucille Ball was a hard-working woman, driven to succeed on her own terms. For those of you gals who werent around in the fifties and sixties, I can tell you that wasnt an absolutely stellar time to stand up for yourself if you were born female.

Lucy made the most of her unusual looks. Instead of fitting into a standard style, she created her own. Her personal-style sense back then, is an example for us sewists who are always working to create fashions that make the most of what we were born with.

Besides that she was the first obviously pregnant woman on television. Before that, maternity was considered not very nice. Children were great, but the evidence of where they came from, and the affects of gestation on the body of a stylish woman, were something that weren't on display on the box.

My problem with the show is Lucy Ricardo's relationship with her husband. As a television star, Ms. Ball was in the role-model business, and the model of married womanhood that she represented was one that made irrational, dependent, subterfuge looked cute. Lucy, as the center point of the show, was always doing something silly because, apparently, she didnt have any wits. The show made it clear that husbands really adored a lack of brain in their women. Cute, huh?

Almost as cute as the fact that Lucy needed to wheedle money out of her man whenever she went beyond the financial parameters he laid out. Another great life lesson for the sixties-era female, particularly those like more than a few of the adult women in my extended family and town, who were married to somebody who were physically or emotional controlling.

Theres also nothing cute about fooling your spouse to get what you want (instead of discussing important issues and finding ways to compromise on the priorities for a joint partnership) Pretty much every episode played up this amusing angle.

So what does Lucys story leave me with?  

Just fashion.

The women I see around me these days have come far enough from the dependent, ditsy, second class role that we saw on the screen back then, that we can begin to have a little fun with Lucy's style.

Nowadays, when I think of Lucille Ball, I'm just going to see spots - polka dotted spots that is.

*Bare Bones Sewing Basics:
McCalls pattern, M6078. I fashioned view B, a sleeveless tee with stitched front pleats, neck drape and shaped sides. Material was a cotton interlock from Fabric.com.



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4  Caps Off: Chewing a Bun with Tuppence in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by LRShimer on: June 10, 2012 10:17:35 PM
My all-time favorite Agatha Christie book is the first Tommy and Tuppence story, The Secret Adversary.* So you can just imagine my pleasure when I had a chance to travel back through time recently to chew a bun with that romantic young girl. It was, of course, shortly after the war (WWI that is) and Tuppence was still pretty down on her luck. I mean, you could tell by the hole in her stockings, the one she had darned a good few times. Still, the plucky girl filled me in on some big plans she's been making with her old chum, Tommy Beresford. Golly, I hope something comes of them.

In case you're wondering, my time portal was an old blue willow tea cup that belonged to my grandmother. You've heard of reading tea leaves I'm sure. I've found that reading them through grandpa's old magnifying glass, provided exactly the second necessary ingredient to assist me in heading back to the time just after what was then referred to as the Great War.

When I popped-off back home I recalled that I'd been particularly struck by Tuppence's rakish close-fitting cloche hat. Those of you who've followed her other adventures, as penned by Mrs. Christie, probably recall that Tuppence was extremely partial to hats. I'm not a slavish follower of historical fashion, preferring to take my inspiration from styles of the times I visit, and apply them to my modern life style. However as good hat  is as important to me as the next plucky dame. As a regular hiker and walker I always need something to keep the sun out of my eyes and protect my skin. I found the pattern for the low-browed, cloche style cap I used, in the first One Yard Wonders book (my public library has both the first and second volume) and it worked like a charm. I particularly liked the fact that the author directed me in the techniques for measuring my head and indicated how much to add for those of us who tend to tuck up our hair. As a hiker, that's particularly important. I have quite a large head and can never find hats that fit, except for adjustable baseball-style caps. They can usually be made to fit, but they don't offer a great deal of protection. This one does. I think I've worn it every single day since I first finished it, about two months ago.

Bare Bones Basics: I made the cap in a simple 100% cotten denim with a faint etched print of roses. The pattern indicated that I should form the band out of  three strips (lined with 3 more strips). After sewing two strips together the cap was plenty long enough. Maybe that's because I made the top of the cap good and wide. I used a total of 4 strips outside and in. The main circle/top of the hat is also self-fabric lined. I hand-stiched the circle on top to the bands. I used Peltex interfacing for the brim, which is also self-fabric lined/backed. The project didn't take a great deal of time, though I spent some careful time double checking my measurements and calculations when I first planned the project.

All I can say is that I love it and it works great. I plan to make another soon.

* Though I'm also quite partial to other Tommy and Tuppence books, my second favorite Christie is her autobiography.
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5  Scheherazade's Peacock Purse in Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General by LRShimer on: June 03, 2012 01:59:07 PM
I hope you can see the photo by following this link.



As a newbie, apparently I cannot post a photo until after I've posted 10 times.  
...
Do you recall that it was Scherazade's own idea to be married to the shahryar who was infamous for having already married and beheaded a 1001 wives? To my mind the man sounds like a power-mad brute, but Scherazade saw him as a challenge. She believed that he was just one crazy, mixed-up dude who, having been betrayed by one woman, had gone mad by love. Her plan was to keep him entertained by telling him story after story. Of course she told him that the stories were for her little sister, Dinazade. As the light of morning broke after a dramatic story filled night, Scherazade always managed to leave her most recent story hanging. Her version of story-telling therapy worked. After a thousand and one stories, the shahryar was cured. The couple went on to a happy life together.

Who'd a thunk it? Well, I guess marriage is always a chancy business.

I can fit four dvd boxes to go back to the library in my bag. I like to envision Scherazade, perhaps with help from Dinazade, packing her toothbrush and nightie in a bag much like mine, when she went off to take her chances on marriage. When I walk off to the library, or downtown to buy a box of bandaids with my Scherazade-inspired purse over my shoulder, the beautiful Rimsky-Korsakov symphony runs through my head.

Sewing Details: I finished creating Scheherazade's peacock purse last week. Bare Bones: It's made using a "Vintage HotPatterns Hangbag Heaven Nairobi Handbag" pattern. The material is designed by Iman Home Fabrics and is called "Punjab Peacock Radicchio". I bought my fabric on line. I'm not sure if I managed to cut it out of the half a yard the pattern suggests, because I had bought two half yard pieces. I sewed a simple tote for my daughter out of some of it. Also I wanted to have a lot of peacock eyes nicely displayed so I'm sure I used more fabric than I normally would, laying out the pattern pieces just so.

I also quilted, in the ditch, along the seam lines, using scraps of some type of cotton heirloom quilt type batting that I happened to have on time. It gives it a nice shape and heft. The lining is a jade green poly/satin I recycled from an old bridesmaid dress I found for free. Instead of the pocket included in the pattern, I cut off a small poofy sleeve from the dress and stitched it down inside. The sleeve had elastic at top and bottom. It works great as an inner pocket.
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