Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Colonial Style Bonnets

Today I thought I would share with you a few colonial style bonnets I have been making. I got the idea while doing research for my, "Dutch Colonial Dress." I knew I didn't have access nor could I afford, some of the wonderful bonnets I was seeing online, so I pondered a bit what I should do?! While looking at a museum site in the Netherlands I came across this wonderful picture of a lace cap-back and it reminded me of an old cut work antimacassar set, I had in my linens and lace stash. I decided to fish them out and use them for making a bonnet. Here is the lovely lace piece that started it all.
This lovely cap-back was made in the 18th century and is made of bobbin lace. Isn't it a lovely delicate piece?! The detail is so fine and beautiful.
I wish I had taken photo's of the separate pieces of this antimacassar set, so you could see how the back bonnet piece resembled the cap-back above, but I got all excited and started sewing these pieces together and forgot to make a record first. My pieces probably date circa 1900s - 19 teens.
This bonnet was made with the two small pieces that would have normally gone on the arms of a chair, and the back piece that you are seeing here, would have gone on the head rest. I had to add a small length of linen to my cap-back, to make it cover my neck, so I added a bit of linen tea towel that had become too ragged for use. It was a piece hand hemmed by grt. grandma, Anne Krout, or one of her sisters, or possibly even her mother. The poor center of the tea towel was mere shreds, but the ends were good, so I thought up-cycling it was a nice way to use it.
 All of the embroidery and cut work on this linen was already done, so when I sewed it together I just had to match the soft grey thread. Gathering the fabric to make the proper shape was a breeze, because they were already pretty much exactly as I needed them to be. A few hours work and I had the prettiest little colonial bonnet you could ever hope to see and since my frontier persona is Dutch, a people who loved all types of fine needlework and embroidery, it is very authentic to the period.
 Here you can see that all the edges of the linen were finished in this lovely grey thread and all I had to do was join the two short pieces in the center to make the front brim of my bonnet.

This second bonnet is of a much simpler style and was made from a piece of machine made Irish lace dating circa 1900 - 1920's. The size of the piece, which was a rectangle the size of a large place mat, rather determined its design.
 As you can see here I merely pinched it in place, gathered it and whip stitched it down. This was a commonly made bonnet for maids, servants, or some of the poorer classes, and would have been made from scraps or recycled lace tablecloths or even runners.
 In this view you can see that I have chosen to leave the edges ragged just as I found them on this scrap.
This style of bonnet is something I would teach sewers to make if they wanted a quick bonnet for any frontier or colonial re-enactment, as it is the simplest. Just rummage through your lace stash for a bit of old table runner or place mat. Snip, drape, pinch, and stitch, and quick as a wink, you have a  bonnet.
This final lovely bonnet, I just finished, is made of two pieces of Italian knot-weave lace, stitched together with matching thread. This lace dates from 1910 - 1920's and is very fine needlework, done by a very skilled hand.
The piece's were two rectangular doilies that had been used under table lamps for years before being put into a box. For all of that they were in excellent condition and took very little effort to shape into a bonnet. The only extra needlework was tucking the point at the back underneath and securing it in place. A bit of blue ribbon woven through the lace finished it nicely and allowed for gathering in back and securing the bonnet at the neck.
These bonnets look very sweet and I think grt. grandma would be happy to see her old linens and laces turned into something usable as well as beautiful. I think bringing these lovely laces back out where they can be seen is so much better than stuffing them in a box, for the next generation to figure out. In designing these bonnets I have not cut or destroyed the original piece, so if in future someone wants to, they can disassemble them and return them to their original shape. I myself however think they look much lovelier as colonial bonnets don't you?! I hope this inspires you to go for a rummage through your old laces and see what lovely things you can create.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Missing My Son Matthew

Matthew I know it’s been a while,
and every day I miss your smile.
Since you’ve been gone it’s hard for me,
to know just what I ought to be.
You loved so much to play with me,
that day as a pirate by the sea.
With tricorn hat and velvet vest,
you really looked your very best.
It was such joy to watch you play,
at being a pirate that special day.
The many folks, you made them smile,
you took their pictures with such style.
They really felt blessed as they walked away,
for having met you that sunny day.
You dressed like your brother and his best friend,
I never wanted the day to end.
For it was the best day I ever had,
the memories of which make me glad and sad.
Glad for the memories but sad today,
for it marks the day that you went away.
But I will recall it no matter the years,
and try to keep smiling through falling tears.

I miss you so much!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Baby Quilts And Other Treasures

Hello everybody, I am finally back. I have been gone a while because my computer decided to blow herself to doll rags, so it was wait for parts and a rebuild by Andrew. She is up an running and purring like a satisfied kitten who got all the cream.

Today I wanted to share with you a number of baby quilts and throws that I found while helping my husband clean up our store room, otherwise known as our conex. This is a beaut of a shipping container we used to move here to Hawaii's Whole Acre, and it works swell as a storage unit, all 8' x 40' of it. Among the many boxes, I found a huge one stuffed to the gunnels with blankets, I had completely forgotten about. It was like finding a box full of memories, so I thought I would share them today here with you.

This first quilted blanket is sized more like a decorative banner and has loops on the back for hanging. These are sold by a friend of mine at the Maku'u Market. She is Filipino and has people in the Philippine's who make them for her. Andrew saw this, one year when we came on vacation, so I bought it for him.
Here is a nice shot of the back. I think the stitching is really nice. The applique style is very reminiscent of the early American quilts and makes me wonder if they too were taught by missionaries to the Philippine's, as were the ladies of the Hawaiian Islands?
Here is a close up of the stitching on the back. I love how they have echoed the shape of the turtle's.

This quilt was made in summer of 1975 by my grandmother, Edna Emogene Larson-Genson, and is more the size of a lap throw than a full sized quilt. She made it before I went off to Idaho to school. It is made of fleece square's in pink, blue, and yellow, and is tied instead of quilted. I wonder if she made it on her treadle sewing machine before grandpa bought her a new one? At the time this quilt was made they were living in the Presby's Mansion Museum in Goldendale, Washington, for they were caretakers there. Grandma used to make quilts, which were sold in the museum to tourists who toured through the old house, and grandpa used to guide them, telling made up yarns the whole way. When I called him on it, he just said, "Why not?! It makes it far more interesting for them," then he laughed. He was always full of it and you could never trust him to tell the truth about anything.
Here is a closeup of the 4" blocks and acrylic yarn. Unfortunately they didn't have the wonderful wool yarns you can get today. The sound of acrylic yarn being knitted, used to really set my teeth on edge. It made a weird scritching sound, which is one of the reasons I hated to knit, that and my very large hands, which are better suited for tools not so small in size as knitting needles.
Here is a look at the back of the quilt, you can just see the stripes showing through, which were an old wool blanket grandma used instead of batting on the inside. The back fabric is a light cream color with pink and blue flowers. Very like depression fabric as thin as cheese cloth. As grandma worked for the Dorcas Society, this may have come from her fabric stash, thus the fabric could be much older than 1975.
One of the seams of the quilt failed, but I have never repaired it, so you can see the wool blanket inside the quilt. This must have been a very pretty wool blanket, for it is striped in pink, cream, and green stripes. You can also see she hand stitched the boarder of the quilt.
 This next quilt is a crib quilt I made in 1985 for my son, Andrew. I would have loved to put his sister, Yvonne's quilt up here too, as is was a lovely one in pink, tho not this complex. I gave it to her to use for her own children, so I no longer have it in my collection.
Andrews quilt was made using cloth from my scrap box, which were mostly fabrics from my clothes I had made in high school. The blue square's were a pajama fabric given me by my high school sewing teacher, Mrs. Stacey Miracle in 1977-78, as a gift for all the hard work I had done for her in her classroom, and for my excellent grades in her advanced sewing and tailoring class.
I made patterns from a cute little coloring book that I bought called, Bialosky Bear. It was full of cute bears doing different activities, and simply perfect for making into a quilt. It was the very first applique quilt I had ever attempted and I would certainly do it much differently now. We were very limited in our funds in those days, so I had to make do with what I had. That blue fabric was just too light to work well without puckering and this was the days before, "wonder under." I think the bears are darling.
 These two little bears sweaters were not made of clothing scraps, but were made of some upholstery scraps I had in my stash. Sadly it looks like the bugs may have found the one little fellows britches so I will have to make some repairs.
 This little fellow reminds me of all those times I spent turning the crank on our ice cream maker as a kid.

Here is a look at the quilt from the back. It was backed with soft acrylic fabric, which was a popular fabric for children's pj's at the time. Aside from the puckering issues, I think it turned out pretty well.

 This final baby quilt is that of my son, Matthews. By the time your third child comes along you just haven't the time nor the energy to make complicated quilts, at least I didn't. Also by this time, 1986, you could buy these sweet pre-printed and quilted fabric pieces, that all they needed was a bias tape boarder sewn on to complete them. For a mother in need of cute quick baby blankets, this was really great. I made up a number of these as gifts too. I loved the Care Bears when they came out, which were a series of lovely plush toys, so when I saw this fabric I just had to have it, for my newest baby.
Here is the back, and an up close look at the binding on the edge. I have no doubt they still have things like this you can buy today, for there will always be a need for easy sew projects like this one. It is not a new idea however, for even in the 1800's you could get fabric that was printed to look like quilt blocks, so you could just stitch the layers together and make a fast utility quilt.

All in all, tho it was hard work, I am very happy my husband had me help him clean up the store room or who knows how long these pretty blankets would have languished in there?!