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.
..... 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!  :)


Sweater Knit Swing Cardi | Ottobre 02/2015 #13

Fabric purchased Friday afternoon.  Cardi began and completed Sunday afternoon.   Cardi worn Sunday night.  One of the fastest things I've ever made. 
Ottobre 02/2015 #13 Knit Cardigan has recently been made 3 times, with 3 different fabrics and now this unique sweater knit makes a 4th.  So to say I was familiar with the pattern would be an understatement.  No closures, no interfacing, front is simply turned back after being caught in the neckline seam that finishes it all off nicely, all pretty much sewn on the serger.  A nice quick 'n easy make.  Hmmmm, not sure why I traced a size 36 when I'm a size 38 in Ottobre, but that's okay as it fits me well.  It's always good to doublecheck sizing as I'm a size 36 in Burda, a 38 in Ottobre and a size 12 in the big 4. 
A friend and I made the trip to Williamston, SC Friday to All About Fabrics, for the open-only-once-a-month-to-the-public textile outlet mill where I always come home with lots of treasures.  There was no disappointment this time either!  Such FUN!  The minute I saw this chunky sweater knit fabric, I knew it had to be another Ottobre cardi.  Fabric cost @$7.50 a yard.
Guess one could say this is a t-n-t for me now.  Tried-n-True Pattern.  A couple of hours from cut to final seam and it was being worn.  And it's wonderful to (finally!) feel like there is a small arsenal of t-n-t patterns in my 'collection'.   This pattern has a nice 'swing' to it that is fun to wear, with a gentle taper from front to back with the back covering the backside well that also makes it a great layering piece when wearing leggings.  Wearing old Ottobre pants today with the Itch to Stitch Hepburn Turtleneck from last year.
Don't know why I've been struggling with my camera recently.  As I'm trying to show you the lovely back of my cardi, the silly camera focused on our distant mountain.  *sigh*
It's a little milder today and no rain.  Hope that means it'll soon be time to enjoy more walks in the woods.
Happy Sewing All!  :)


Basics | Ottobre 02/2015 no. 17 Jersey Top

Basics..... particularly exercise basics are soooooo boring aren't they?  In fact, they are so boring this post almost didn't get photographed and written because you know..... who wants to read about a humble t-shirt when there's so many pretty dresses floating about blogland.
The mission of this blog is to journal my makes, so to stay true to myself..... I present my new lowly t-shirt.
After posting a few recent (unblogged) t-shirts on IG, bemoaning the fact I hadn't found that 'perfect' one.....  @marjoriesews on Instagram  encouraged me to take a look at some of my Ottobre Design Woman patterns...... that there are some good basic t-shirt designs there.  And she's right.  Totally done with sewing a V-neck t-shirt..... this Ottobre Design Woman 02/2015 no. 17 Jersey Top, below, looked like it was just what I needed.  Reminded me of the (free) Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern from Maria Denmark with a few differences..... the neck is not a boatneck, the shoulders have a neat yoke type piece there instead of traditional shoulder seams and the armholes are bound as is the neckline.  And Ottobre usually fit me well.
To prove I'm on a basic t-shirt kick.... here's just one photo, below, of a bit of fabric purchased recently at Hobby Lobby when they were having a sale.  This is the blue, mid-way down that is a poly/rayon/spandex content with a 2-way stretch.  Only needing a yard, I think this was less than $5.00.  By the way.... I LOVE my local Hobby Lobby store!  The sales clerk in the fabric department recognizes me now and it's so nice to chat with her about what we are making as she cuts my fabric.  Kind of like the stores of long ago. 
Back to the pattern..... not really much to say except I am so glad I double-checked Ottobre's size chart before tracing the pattern as I'd forgotten I'm a 38 in Ottobre.  So this is a 38 with no modifications at all. 
Knit bindings always give me pause, and this top was no different.  So stressed!!!  Particularly with the armhole bindings.  After I sewed the last stitch on those I was so put out they were put aside to be ripped out and re-done next morning.  But by next morning I'd remembered that I've been learning about how we women sometimes put perfectionist burdens on ourselves and decided to let them be.  So glad because in actuality they look fine.
I really like the little shoulder yoke  piece.  Not wanting to break up the lovely blue, I used the same fabric there.  And by the way..... it was freezing outside when I took these photos and my arms are covered in goosebumps!   We've had rain, rain, and more rain lately which brought in cold weather  with blue-skies tempting outside photos regardless of the temps.
The back.  I wear leggings and a t-shirt to exercise at my local Y, and I usually like the t to cover the derriere.  So when I make this again I'll lengthen the hemline both front and back.  Wearing it with the Ottobre Leggings today.
Overall I like this top and think it will get lots of wear.
Thought it might be fun to share a little blast from the past here.  On IG recently, I think due to the Great British Sewing Bee highlighting the 1970s, we were asked to post photos of things we made from that era..... or things our mother made for us.  Well..... that's me in the floppy hat wearing a maxi dress my mother made for me driving my beautiful American Quarter Horse Poco who did a magnificent job pulling this little cart for a historical re-enactment c. 1976/1977 at Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama.  My sweet friend is sitting alongside.  I did not sew, nor had any interest in sewing back then..... because... ya' know.... horses!!  :)
Happy Sewing All!!  :)


An Easy Quilt Project for a Baby Girl

What a fun project this has been!!
In January 2019 I wrote of a baby quilt that was planned for the upcoming birth of a baby girl at my church and that'd I'd be using the Lattice Baby Quilt Tutorial from designer Amy Smart.  It's always a maker's prerogative to change her mind, right?!  So instead chose to go completely free-form following the encouragement of my quilting friend, D, who helped me.
D is a quilter friend who also attends the same church, so she graciously donated much of her time, and fabrics!, to collaborate on this project together.  Oh what fun we had!!  See that cute bunny print below.... that's hers.  Along with the pretty multi-colored polka dots and stripes, among others.
She brought over her stash of pinks and soft colored quilting cottons and it was such a blast to combine our prints to make this quilt.  Most of my fabrics were the Waverly quilting cotton from WalMart.  D's were the quilting designer brands.  They went together well.
I'd already gotten a jump start on cutting out my fabrics into 5" squares, still thinking I would be making the Lattice Quilt..... but after D got here, we decided we wanted this to be a fun, no-stress easy project, so she suggested putting the 5" squares together in rows divided by 2" sashing and borders so we wouldn't have to match any seam allowances or points.  GREAT idea!!
She brought along her really cool cutting template so while I was piecing the squares together in rows, she was cutting and prepping for me.  We spent maybe 3-4 hours that afternoon and when she left, the piecing was pretty much done.  I had some Fairfield cotton batting on hand, as well as Waverly white cotton large enough for the backing, so it didn't take too long to sandwich and pin everything together.  I deliberately pinned everything on an angle because I knew I'd be doing diagonal quilt lines.
And this is the very scientific, mathematical way the beginning quilting line was determined, below!  Ha!  Seriously..... it took me longer to figure out the quilting than it did to pin everything together because nothing lines up on a diagonal.  So I took some twine and taped it from one corner to another marking with a Frixion pen (disappearing ink when ironed) after checking all would disappear okay on my fabric first.  And that was my first quilting line.  With a 'guide' line in place it was only a matter of lining up my Bernina's walking foot quilting guide bar to sew 1" lines apart.  This took f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  I'd forgotten how long a repetitive process this is.
After it took so long to complete the diagonal quilting one way..... when it was finished the thought was entertained to run an opposite quilting line throughout the entire quilt and was thrilled when D said this one directional line would be fine.  Whew!!  And she was right..... !!  As you can see below, after the quilt was washed and dried an opposite, 1" diagonal quilting line(s) would've been too much.
Now it was time to sew on the binding I'd prepared earlier following my own post from 2013.  Only I think I cut this 2 1/2" wide per a Nancy Zieman Binding Technique.
I am super pleased with the binding on this quilt and think it may be my best finished product ever.
It was first sewn to the front then wrapped to the back and carefully pinned in place so when sewing 'in the ditch' from the front..... it would catch the back binding perfectly.
I always machine-stitch bindings on quilts I make as I do not have the patience, nor time, to hand-stitch them on.  This one looks pretty good.
All washed and dried, stitches checked and overall quilt checked for any problem areas before gifting out.  I like to do this as 1) the quilt looks so wrinkly, crinkly, comfy all washed and dried and 2) if there are any problems, I'd like to find them and not the quilt receiver.  After washing and drying the quilt measures 38" x 48".
Last and certainly not least..... D has an awesome embroidery machine so she designed and embroidered the quilt label that I sewed into one of the back corners.  Keeping all the names off for privacy concerns, but think you can get a feel for the beautiful job D did.  This thread just 'glowed' in a silky lovely way and it is really a lovely, lovely label.
One last look at the finished quilt ready to comfort a sweet baby girl.
Happy Sewing All!  :)