Joseph, Gabriella, Julianna, James, and Elora

Joseph, Gabriella, Julianna, James, and Elora

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Done, done, finally done!

Two years ago I began working on a project for my little sister, Sophie. No, sorry, wait, this story begins way before that.

A long, long, LONG time ago in a galaxy far, far best friend Rachel and I lived in the same town. When we weren't playing horses - which was most of the time! - we played with her Felicity doll. Felicity, for those who don't know, was one of the American Girl dolls, each based on a fictional girl from a different period of American history. There was an was a series of books about each girl, and, for the lucky girl whose parents loved her (sorry, Mom, I guess there's still some latent bitterness there), you could purchase an 18 inch doll that you could dress in all her gorgeous costumes. Felicity was the colonial girl and she was our  favorite, mainly because (you guessed it) she was crazy about horses, and eventually ended up rescuing and owning her own beautiful copper colored horse Penny. I'm fairly certain Rachel and I both wanted to BE Felicity (when we weren't fighting over who got to marry Roy Rogers...two small hearts were broken the day we found out he was both already married AND old!) and wear her dresses and own her horse and live her exciting colonial life, which coincided with all the events leading up to the American War for Independence. (Too much back story? I apologize...I really AM getting to the point eventually...) Anyway, I desperately wanted my own Felicity doll, and her lovely dresses, and my very favorite was this blue dress she wears to the ball at the Governor's palace:

 (Gorgeous, right?)

So, fast forward about **** years, and Sophie, lucky girl, now has the American girl doll AND the coveted blue dress that I always dreamed about as a child! (Clearly we all know who the favorite child is in THIS family!;-) And I just happen to have some blue satin fabric the exact color of the Felicity dress...and so I decide to let my inner child live vicariously through my little sister. Thus, I promise to make Sophie her very own replica of Felicity's blue satin ball gown.

We find a pattern that is very similar and will require only a small amount of modification, then search the fabric stores for trimming similar to the Felicity dress. Cutting out the pattern and the fabric pieces is always my least favorite part of a sewing project! Finally we actually start sewing, a little bit at a time each time we get together. Slowly, slowly, the dress starts to take shape. Lining, interfacing, boning, satin, lace, muslin...this is the most complicated pattern I've ever attempted! The goal is to finish the dress in time for Sophie to wear it to the Regency Ball that is held every year in Albuquerque.

Then....we learn the sad news that there WILL be no Regency Ball this year! What? This certainly puts a damper on our enthusiasm. Now we are making a beautiful gown for...what? Interest wanes, and the project is shelved for months, maybe even an entire year. Sophie occasionally reminds me to work on it, and I get a little bit done here and there. The stupid zipper takes 3 attempts before going in right. (Oh, zippers, how I hate thee! Always have, always will...) Finally, the dress is complete except for the underskirt, the hem and a bit of detail work.

Then September 2012 arrives. Sophie reminds me about her unfinished dress...and I remember an upcoming date - September 19. Official Talk-like-a-pirate day! We examine a flyer that promises a dozen free Krispy Kreme donuts to any patron dressing like a pirate. I recall the similarities between Sophie's dress and the dress Elizabeth Swann wears in Pirates of the Carribean. 

And so we suddenly have a goal. Finish the dress before Sep 19! Wear the dress to Talk-like-a-pirate night and earn those donuts! One more long afternoon does it. Bam! Details finished. Bam! Hemmed. Bam! Underskirt made. (Yes, I know sewing machines don't go "bam." Unless there is something very wrong with them. That's just how I felt.) She dons the dress and...perfection.

The underskirt looks nearly white in these pictures, but it actually a pale blue.

Close up of the lace details:

The back:

My lovely little sister! It was definitely worth all the time and effort just to see her look so pretty and happy!

Someone get this lady a carriage. I'm pretty sure there's a ball somewhere she should be attending.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The leather jacket

My first year of college, my mom bought me a leather jacket for Christmas. It was a nice jacket, real leather, but not terribly fancy or expensive. It wasn't any of the "I'm rebellious" or "I'm a Goth" or "I ride motorcycles" styles of jacket or, even worse, the "I'm the kind of girl who rides on the backs of motorcycles wearing little else" kind of jacket. It was just a nice classic black leather jacket that goes with everything.  I loved that thing - I wore it everywhere, for everything - except maybe skiing, and that was just cause leather doesn't like snow. ;-) I wore it to school. I wore it on dates with Robert. I was wearing it the night he proposed to me. (Along with 2 sweaters because it was 2 days before Christmas, outdoors, on a bridge at the UNM duck pond, on the very coldest night of the year! But that's another story.) I wore it throughout our marriage and even, unbuttoned, while I was pregnant with our kids.

 It looked kind of like this...

And then, one sad, sad day, ten years later, came the Great Mold Incident of 2010. You all know the story - 100% contamination, with everything having to be either washed or tossed. Well, you can guess the rest. That poor faithful beloved leather jacket, which I had completely worn out, was determined to be not worth saving. Or rather, not worth the amount of money it would cost to have it dry cleaned, because it would literally be cheaper to buy a new one. So it got tossed...and tears were shed...and life went on until...winter arrived again. And suddenly, I had no jacket. I had two nice heavy wool dress coats, which worked for the very coldest days, and some sweaters, but nothing in between.

My mom, being the sweet and generous lady she is, offered to buy me another leather jacket for Christmas. This sounded like a great plan...until we actually tried to find the jacket. Me, being the boring, traditional, and stubbornly-change-resistant person I am, decided I wanted the exact same jacket. Or as close a facsimile as possible. In vain we hunted - regular stores, department stores, thrift stores, online. Nothing. There are a million and twelve leather jackets in the world - and none of them looked right to me. I tried - I really did. I tried to give the other jackets a chance, to broaden my horizons - but I just didn't like them! They were too modern, too trendy, too "fashionable." I wanted my jacket. Soft black leather. Hip length. Button-up front. Pockets and princess seams. Plain and comfortable and safe. Is this too much to ask? Apparently.
This is just ridiculous looking. Too "fashionable" for me!

Winter passed and still no jacket. Spring arrived and the search was abandoned. Summer's heat made us forget the very existence of jackets and cold and snow. And then came September first...and along with the start of school came the first hint of cool wind and yellow leaves that reminds us: Fall is on it's way. Fall...season of apples and leaves and delicious pumpkin baked goods and...jackets. Oh yeah, jackets.

The search resumes. Day 1 is not going well so far. I'll keep you posted.