8.12.2019

Where to begin....

Hello sweet readers!  So much has happened since my last post from April it's hard to know where to begin.  I've been sick.  Very sick.  Mid-March I lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital via ambulance where I was diagnosed with the Strain A Flu with multiple viruses layered on top.  In my last post from April I really thought I was getting better..... but every day seemed to wake up to a new health problem eventually turning into bronchitis with probable pneumonia end of April. 
That was my first round of antibiotics and I was very grateful to feel well enough to attend my girl's Master's of Arts in Teaching graduation in May!!!   It seemed my strength was returning, though I'd lost so much weight the outfit I'd made for her graduation fell off of me, so instead wore my tried and true Ottobre ensemble.  But that was okay..... I was getting stronger......
..... strong enough to move to the city with my girl.  Just me and my girl.  Though the move actually took Three Men and a Truck.... and this truck was full!  No more woodland setting as we are in a lovely 3rd floor urban apartment with soaring ceilings and lots of natural light. 
Meanwhile I made Simplicity 2188 again out of a breezy crepe fabric from Hobby Lobby..... lengthened and curved the hem.  I did not think to size down and you see the top simply hangs on me here.  I've lost at least a full size all around.  Around this time I began losing my hair..... in clumps..... so much so that the glorious mane is gone.  I figured it was all the illness and stress taking its toll and the hair loss began to subside end of June.  I thought I was finally on the road to recovery and felt my strength continuing to return.  I was enjoying walks with my dog and daughter and be-still-my-heart.... our apartment is close enough to walk to the grocery store!!!  LOVE!!! 
The original Simplicity 2188 made in 2018 (below) can be found here .  Big difference in hair, no?.
End of July I woke up one Saturday morning and just knew something was wrong with crushing fatigue and labored breathing.  My daughter took me to our MD360..... a place to receive doctor care instead of being in an Emergency Room..... and was diagnosed with Bronchitis and pneumonia..... again.  Prescribed a 2nd round of antibiotics, in a different tier than the first and did not get better.  This time was able to see my primary care physician and my lungs were worse and I was now wheezing.  It was definitely pneumonia and not getting better.  She bumped me up to a higher tier of antibiotics at the highest strength, adding steroids on top of the mix.   I am finishing up those this week and can say I finally feel more like myself again..... and it feels GREAT!!!   It feels great to be able to breathe and get a good lungful of air again.... to not cough and hack all day/night...... it just feels great to feel better.  So much better that I felt like taking a few pictures this morning, taking advantage of some of the beautiful natural light pouring in from the sunroom to share with you my new dress.
Ever since I first made this sheath dress in 2018, I have loved it.  The flattering princess seams, neckline not too high, nor too low with an almost A-line 'skirt'..... this is the style that works best on my body shape. 
Ottobre 02/2015 no. 4 Sheath Dress
The original Ottobre sheath dress, below, along with its accompanying silk jacket made in 2018 can be read about here.  This is the outfit I wore to my daughter's graduation cermony. 
c. 2018
Purchased the quilting cotton fabric from Hobby Lobby last year specifically for this 'vision'.  The original dress is made of quilting cotton too and I like the structure cotton affords.  Both are lined with Bemberg lining..... soft as silk and gives the dress a beautiful shape when worn. But I felt the dress needed pockets and that's what I did here.... added pockets to the front princess seams in the skirt.
Proud of my pocket!!!  Love all the seamlines and decided to topstitch everything and everywhere.  Envisioning this dress with a denim jacket and think may add that to the queue.
Guess you can tell I did not iron it before wearing it this morning!!   Oh well.  Invisible zipper and can you believe after sewing the lining to the zip..... one of the last steps of construction..... I caught the lining in the zip as I was testing it out and tore a hole in the lining.  Got out the needle and thread and sewed the hole up as best I could.  So glad I am letting go of perfectionist tendencies as this didn't phase me at all.  It feel so nice to have a new dress to wear.
Before I go I wanted to also explain that when I first became ill in March..... not only this blog, and sewing in general..... but Instagram became overwhelming to me.  I deleted the app from my phone and stopped checking in.  It felt so odd..... missing the interaction with the sewing community there.... missing my sewing friends.... but felt I needed to concentrate on getting well.  I am sorry if it seemed I fell off the face of the earth.... in some ways it felt that way to me.  But I am doing so much better and 'life' is very good.  Melissa was hired as a 2nd grade teacher at the elementary school where she wanted to teach and this summer has been such a delight in helping her pull together her classroom.  She will be the BEST teacher.  See those pillows down there..... it was an honor to make those for her Reading Center for the kids to plop down on.  She chose the fabric and piping color and wanted the zippers nestled in the piping so nothing would scratch the kids.  Took me a little bit to figure that out.... but all-in-all a super easy, fun project.  She's got a fox rug ordered for this center area.
So as the old adage goes.... "the only thing constant in life is change" is quite true.  I am enjoying my new life and look forward to what the future holds.  Our apartment is close to a beautiful university complete with swans in the lake and a clock tower.  'Life' is good.
Happy Sewing All!!!  :)

4.02.2019

NewLook 6292 #2 | Tunic Top

Wanting a fresh new outfit to wear to the Biltmore on March 15, 2019.....
...... NewLook 6292 view D with view C long sleeves was cut out on March 11 and finished on March 14.  That's fast for me!!
The pattern was mostly chosen because I'd recently made it, below, and knew it'd fit and more importantly be long enough in the back to cover the derriere well with the new pair of leggings/skinny pants I also made specifically for the special day.  I wanted to be comfortable with all the walking, stair climbing and getting around the Biltmore Estate without worrying about uncomfortable clothing concerns.
This outfit was a great success on all accounts.  Decided to keep the hi/low hem thing going on even though I continue to not necessarily like this 'look' on me.
I just really wanted the coverage in the back.   Today I am also wearing the new leggings/skinny pants made specifically to go with this outfit.
It was unseasonably cold this morning!  Fabric came from my favorite only-open-once-a-month-to-the-public-textile outlet center and is some sort of lightweight polyester quite similar to the feel of the green/brown tunic fabric above.
Here, as at the Biltmore, I am wearing it with the white Itch to Stitch Hepburn Turtleneck made last year.  It was a cold day at the Biltmore, and it's a cold day today.  Also.... for some reason.... this placket turned out lower than the green/brown version and needs something underneath for modesty purposes.
Wanting to show you, below, how proud I am of not only centering the medallion design well, but cut and sewed the placket perfectly centered.
A little tricky process, I took a few photos during construction with the iphone to share a little of what I did.  Here I am beginning to line things up.  The instructions have you trace the placket sew lines and cut lines on the interfaced placket piece.  Here I am trying to find my center using the cutting mat.
Next I pinned the center cut line.  This would be the most critical point to line up.
Once I thought that was looking well..... I kept checking the pin points on the front and shifting things around in the back..... I added the pins to mark my sewing lines.  If you look carefully you'll see they are all pointing 'up'.  That's because I sewed this in 2 parts..... beginning at the neckline and sewing to the bottom of the placket, lock and snip threads.  Then sew the other line beginning at the neckline and sewing to the bottom of the placket, lock and snip threads.  This will keep the fabric from distorting while sewing.
One last check of the pins before sewing.  You can see the middle pins, marking the cut line, goes perfectly through the center of the medallion.  The other pins, marking the sew lines are centered on the medallion well.
One last look.    Hopefully I'll be posting about the little crossbody bag I made soon, as well as the leggings/skinny pants.
My current work in progress.....
  The skirt is done and fits p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y. 
..... and finished 2 home dec pillows one afternoon using leftover sweater fabric from the recent Ottobre cardi.....
 .....complete with invisible zippers.  Why have I not put invisible zippers in my home dec pillows before?!!!  Super easy!!
Hope it starts feeling more like Spring soon!  I've been down with the flu but am beginning to feel better now.
Happy Sewing All!  :)

3.16.2019

A Vanderbilt House Party 'The Gilded Age' exhibit | a magical day at Biltmore Estates

We have the great good fortune to live about an hour's drive from Asheville, North Carolina, where the magnificent Biltmore Estate is located.  Completed in 1895, George Vanderbilt's French Chateau spans @178,000 square feet and is furnished with the most opulent tapestries, furniture and artifacts he collected from all over the world.  But what I was interested in this day was to experience the embedded exhibit of garments recreated from the original garment, if available, and/or using historical photographs, paintings and sometimes newspaper clippings to glean information of the Vanderbilts, their family, guests' and servants' clothing.   'A Vanderbilt House Party The Gilded Age runs through May 2019' is worth the time and effort to visit.  I'll include links at the bottom of this post for those interested in learning more about the history of this grand home as well as how to purchase tickets.  Btw, this is not a sponsored post. :)
Edith Vanderbilt's Engagement Gown
George Vanderbilt's wife
Having honeymooned at the Biltmore Estate 12 years ago, how could one not fall in love with the history, architecture and stories this grand home holds.  When my husband asked what I wanted for my/our honeymoon 'momento', there was no hesitation to pick out 2 books detailing the construction and history of the house and family.  And I read and devoured them both!  There's not been an opportunity to return and time sort of moved on.
Winter Garden Ceiling
Until this current exhibit captured my attention.  A few weeks ago, at the Tuesday morning Ladies Bible Study I attend, the subject of Biltmore came up as some of the ladies had just been with their families.  This jarred my interest to the front of my mind (and mouth!) and before I knew what I was doing..... found myself asking one of my friends, who I knew used to sew her clothes, if she'd like to see this exhibit with me.  Out of the blue I hit her up with this.  Oh I felt so badly afterward because I kind of put her on the spot and she sort of "ummmed' about needing to check her schedule, that she was really busy right now, and not sure...... and...... you get the picture.
Edith and George
So imagine my complete surprise when earlier this week my friend texted that she had free Guest Passes that expired on Friday, she'd cleared her schedule and was I free to go.   Yes!!  Yes I was!!!  Oh great joy was had!!!
Meanwhile another NewLook 6292 tunic top had just been cut out and it was decided then and there, that this event was so very special, it deserved a new complete outfit to wear for that day.  And if that wasn't enough.... when the top and leggings/skinny pants were complete, I realized all my handbags are huge and I really needed a Crossbody type of bag because there's a LOT of walking at the Biltmore.  So..... I made a new Crossbody Bag.  Perfectly perfect.  Little did I know my outfit and bag would match Biltmore's Guide Book.   Anyway, I'll write a post of all these details at a later date as this one is all about the Biltmore. 
So the special day dawned gray and rainy.  Not a drizzly sort of rain..... but a downpour from the time we got in the car until we arrived.  It continued raining there and there's a lot of outdoor walking and standing in shuttle lines to get to the house.  Little did we know we'd picked one of the busiest days to visit with Biltmore expecting over 10,000 visitors in the home this day.  So there was much more organization and security all set up in tents outside, which was fine and no problem but all this to say..... we got drenched.  Not wanting to cart an umbrella all over, I wore my hooded black rtw raincoat, which was perfect, but did not want to take any personal photos.
Let's talk a little about the Exhibit.  Biltmore did a fabulous job of not only recreating the garments, but embedding them throughout the house on mannequins posed in realistic ways.
George & Edith Vanderbilt at the christening of their daughter Cornelia
They even customized the self-guided audio tour to include tidbits about the 'people' we were seeing..... almost as if we were a part of the gathering too.
Not much was spoken about the garments............
Isn't she adorable
....nor was it easy to see fine details in the subdued lighting..........
...but that became almost secondary as one was swept up in the moment, feeling the home brought to 'life' by this lovely Exhibit.
Edith Vanderbilt
We spent 4 hours in the home.
Mesmerized.....
..... transported back to another time.....
..... and way of life.
The rain ended and skies were blue when we completed the tour.
Bowling Alley - don't the red socks look fun!
We both very much enjoyed the self-guided audio tour.  One can take all the time one wants.  We'd put the earbuds in to listen to the commentary, then remove one so we could discuss each exhibit.
Swimming attire in the large indoor swimming pool
 that would've been filled with heated c-c-c-c-old mountain water
We both weren't too sure about this one, below.  A woman 'working out' in the Gymnasium?  But the short video at the end of the Exhibit assures one all is authentic and explains a little more how the garments were pulled together.
Gymnasium - Workout wear
We finished in the Banquet Hall and seems I took the most photographs here.
Banquet Hall
Loved this butterfly dress
So glad Biltmore allows photography now.  They only ask to not use the flash.
Banquet Hall

Banquet Hall set for dinner
See the mannequin in the balcony by the Pipe Organ?  She is representing a woman who is singing for the Vanderbilts and their guests during their dinner.
Massive Pipe Organ fills the balcony of the Banquet Hall

Gathering in the Banquet Hall

Grand Table in the Banquet Hall was set with the more
glorious fresh flower arrangements
Hard to see but the engraving in the Banquet Hall reads:  DA PACEM DOMINE IN DIEBUS NOSTRIS....
'Give peace in our time, O Lord'
that translates to:
Give peace in our time, O Lord.

I hope you might have enjoyed this blog post as it's a little different than what I usually share.  And if you are ever in the Western North Carolina area, whether this exhibit is still in place or not, the Biltmore Estate is a 'must see'.

Links to explore more about the Biltmore:
Behind the Scenes of the clothing Exhibit
Biltmore History from the Biltmore website
Biltmore History from Wikipedia
Biltmore Estate main website
How to purchase tickets..... be sure to include the audio tour in your visit

Next post will be outfit details.
Happy Sewing All!  :)