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Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Morning Inspiration/Silver Screen to Mainstream

After so many months of not blogging as I would like, it has been difficult for me to get back in the groove :( Great intentions, but... 
Let's see what this week holds, fingers crossed :)

This past week I did something completely new for me, I took a weaving class! A few weeks ago, I taught 2 classes at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference. I had a blast. I taught an all day class on seam finishes and stabilizing fabric. I also taught a class on working with rectangles to create lovely garments. Handweaving is something I've known about, but had not really been exposed to. The more I talked to the ladies, the more intrigued I became. The thought of being able to create my own fabric, wow!!!, the possibilities!!!

When I got home, I googled weaving guilds in the Chicago area and I was pleasantly surprised when the The Chicago Weaving School popped up. The school is only about 2 miles from my house. I knew it was there, but had completely forgotten about it. As I looked through the list of classes, I saw that there was a 2 hour introductory class. That sounded like a great way to get a taste, and decide if I would like to pursue it further. Last Wednesday evening I attended the class, and here's what I made!



I just love it! The woven portion is just a little over 24"long. Not long enough for a scarf, I could make it into a bag, but I have decided to just use it on my dining room table. That way I get to look at it everyday :)

So, guess what?!! I signed up for the 4 week class. The class meets once a week on Monday's from 10-2, so 4 hours. I can't wait to see what I do over the 4 week period!!! If that goes well, there is an 8 week class :/ 

This past week, I also went with a friend to the Chicago History Museum to see their current exhibit, Silver Screen to Mainstream: American Fashion in the 1930s and 40s. What a lovely exhibit! It's rather small, especially in comparison to the Dior exhibit. What I loved is that I really absorbed what I saw since it wasn't so overwhelming. The exhibit will be up until January 21, 2020, so if by chance you are going to be in Chicago over the holidays, by all means, see the exhibit! And by the way, the museum is free on Tuesdays!!!   

I always love sharing what I have enjoyed, so I thought I would share a few of the pieces that I especially found interesting.

I loved this gown! 

Such a lovely back. While I was viewing the exhibit, there was a group of ladies who were talking about prom dresses of today, and how the young women could take a little inspiration from these lovely pieces. My prom dress actually looked a lot like this this gown.


The belt is just amazing!


Another gorgeous piece.


The rhinestone pins at the neckline are just the perfect touch.


Such a simple and yet, intricate piece. 


So beautifully embroidered.


This gown made me think of the Dior gown that was designed for Nicole Kidman. I wonder if this is where the inspiration came from??? 


Simply elegant.


The cut and construction of this whimsical dress is beautiful.


And I loved how they copied the print with the pins on the belt!


Love the pleating on the sleeves.


There was a section of "house dresses." I loved how they took a pattern, made it up, and then turned it inside out.  


Here's the pattern that was used.


This gown was by far my favorite of the entire collection.


So simple, and yet intricate.


The back.


You can see in the picture below how the front was sewn to the opposite side of the dress. I would love to do this!!!


I'm off to my studio. I am going to spend an hour cleaning before I allow myself to dig into a new project. Sadly, I let my goal of cleaning my studio slip by. But, I am coming back to it, and that's a good thing :)
Have a wonderfully productive week!
Rhonda 
      



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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Closet Case Ebony Wardrobe

This past weekend was rather eventful for me as I turned over the reins of presidency for the Haute Couture Club of Chicago. It was a wonderful 3 years, but time to step down. 

A few weeks ago, I received a message from the loveliest lady, Julie of Sew Chica Sew. Sadly, she is no longer blogging, but she does post her beautiful garments on Instagram. She told me that she was going to be in Chicago, and asked if I might have time for tea. I told her that this past weekend was actually the June Banquet for the Haute Couture Club, and asked her if she might like to come. It was such a delight to meet her. The dress she is wearing is entitled, "The Dragon Dress" as it has 2 fabulous dragons that showcase the bodice. Julie is so inventive with her wardrobe. Be sure to check out her feed on Instagram. I think you will fall in love with her!


Here I am saying my goodbyes as president :)


There's a line in the movie, "Working Girl" where Melanie Griffith is asked what she will do now that she has lost her job. She replied, "oh, I'll travel, redecorate the country house." This is one of my favorite movies, BTW :) So, what am I looking forward to now that I am no longer the president? I'm looking forward to just being a participating member. 

Last January, Closet Case Patterns had a fabulous year-end/beginning of the year sale on their patterns. I succumbed and bought a few. The Ebony T-Shirt Dress has become a favorite! Below is the first that I made. Such a fun print. I call it my "Another Face In the Crowd" dress.  


Here I am in the dress. So easy to wear as it swooshes about the body. 


I loved the first so much that I just had to make another. I decided to use the scooped neckline on the lemon dress.


Then I made the raglan sleeve tunic version.


I had a very busy day, out at the airport, and then a visit with my mom. I was comfortable all day long!


I decided to do 1 last version and that's the cropped top. I still need to hem it and add the neckline trim. I made the top out of a black slinky knit and I plan to wear it with a fun black and white pencil skirt. Should be finished soon! 

If you are looking for a top, or dress that's super easy to wear this summer, you might want to give the Ebony pattern a try. I have just about worn my out!

One last thing before I go...
Yesterday I shared the story of Berkley's adventures at daycare. It occurred to me that there's a great moral to that story. Because of Berkley's size, he was placed with the small dogs. In his mind, he is not a small dog, and was very happy once he was with the big dogs. Sometimes others look at us and make assumptions about us based on our gender, our size, our ethnicity, our age, our education, and the list can go on and on. The assumptions of others are just that, their assumptions. Thankfully, Berkley had me on his side, and too, I didn't just accept where he had been placed. I ASKED for what I felt he wanted. Remember, so often, we have not because we ask not.
Hope you've had a wonderful day :)
 Rhonda



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Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Morning Inspiration/Whimsy

Happy Monday!!!
I've been away from blogging for the last couple of weeks. I'm fine :), just had a number of things on my plate, so I decided to give myself a break. 

A couple of weeks ago, I shared that I would be taking Berkley to his initial daycare evaluation. He really doesn't need daycare, but I felt it would be good for socialization. I find it interesting how something so unrelated can spur long forgotten memories. 

Berkley is not a large dog, only 25 pounds, so they decided to put him in the room with the other small dogs. They put him down, and he proceeded to sit at the door...for the entire 2 hours that he was there! The facility has a camera in the room so the owner can watch if they like. I stayed for about 30 minutes to see how he was doing. As I watched, I remembered being a child of maybe 3. Every Sunday morning as we would drive to church, I would get "the talk," "now, you aren't going into the Sunday School room and stand at the door and cry today, right? You are going to go in and you will enjoy being with the other children." I would agree, and then as soon as I would walk in the door, the tears would begin to stream down my face. My mother would leave me, the teacher would come over and invite me to join in, I refused. Just like Berkley, I would stand at the door until my mother came back to pick me up. My favorite days were when she would let me go with her to her Sunday School class. I always carried a purse, and in it I would pack crayons, and sheets that I had torn from a coloring book. I would happily sit beside her and color, quite content that I wasn't where I didn't want to be.

I was told that Berkley's behavior is normal, and they felt that in time, he would warm up to the other dogs. I took him back last week, the same thing happened. I noticed that the little dogs just sat around, but in the big dog room, they were running and playing, much more similar to Berkley's personality. So I asked if he could be moved. He went into the big dog room, his tail immediately began to wag, and within just a few minutes, he was running around with the other dogs. Problem solved. He thinks he is a big dog ;)

I have lots to share and will do so over the next few days, but I just couldn't let another Monday pass without some sort of inspiration. I found this designer on Pinterest. Her name is Svetlana Pintel, and you can find her website HERE. True enough, the clothes are not for everyone, but they are so very whimsical. While the whimsy may not be for everyone, I think there is some inspiration that can be pulled from the pieces. 









These were just a few of my favorites. You can see more on her website.

While you may not want a mushroom, or watermelon dress, I think the pieces are great inspiration for those of you who sew for children. 

Have a wonderful week! 
Rhonda



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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

While cleaning my attic, I came across this piece that I wrote a number of years ago for Mother's Day. I know that it's a little late for Mother's Day, but I hope that if anyone is struggling, my little story might help you find peace. 


A while back, I had the opportunity to wander the back roads of East Texas. As I drove along, I realized that I was driving the exact same red dirt roads that my great-great-grandmother traveled in 1896 when she moved her family from Florida to Texas. She had recently lost her husband, had very little money, but heard that land was available in Texas. So, she packed her wagon, tied the cow to the back, hitched up her horses, and she and her 4 children began their journey.

A few years later, her daughter, Fannie Anderson married Mr. Youngblood. He had lost his wife and was left with 5 young children. Fannie took on the task of raising those children and went on to have 8 of her own, one of which was my grandmother. Her home was quite simple, but all were welcome, and it was always full of people and laughter.

As a child, I would be so delighted when I knew that we would be going to the country. The bedrooms of my great-grandmother's house were not heated. In fact, I can remember icicles hanging in the corners of the room on cold winter nights. But, this didn't bother me! The mattresses were made of feathers, plucked from my great-grandmother's geese. When it was time for bed, my father would throw me into the air, and I would squeal with glee as I landed in what seemed like the perfect cloud. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt safe, nestled between my parents and covered with piles of my great-grandmother's handmade quilts.

In the morning, I would awaken to the sound of her stoking a big wood stove that sat in the corner of her kitchen. I would carefully crawl out of the bed, pull on my shoes, grab a jacket, and head out to help her gather eggs. Breakfast was never just breakfast, but a feast! Her biscuits were the size of saucers, and literally melted in your mouth.

On Sundays, we were off to church. In my memory, Sundays in the country were always sunny. We would sing about heaven's streets of gold, and of how we would one day be reunited with all those we loved. My great-grandmother had an intense love for the Lord. I can remember tears welling in her eyes as she sang. She made me want to know that same passion.

I never knew my grandmother. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1940 when my mother was only 5 months old. Her name was Lilly, and she was as beautiful as the Easter flower whose name she bore. Realizing that she would not be able to care for a baby while she underwent treatment, she entrusted my mother to her sister-in-law, and best friend, Elvera. Lilly was an extremely brave and courageous woman, choosing experimental measures in the hope that her life would be saved. The night before she died, Lilly called Elvera and asked her to dress my mother in a dusty rose outfit that Elvera had made for her. She also asked if by chance she had any of my great-grandmother's homemade sausage. She did. So Elvera fried the sausage, made biscuits, dressed my mother and made her way to the hospital. Lilly told Elvera that she was tired , and could no longer fight. She asked Elvera to take my mother and raise her as her own. Elvera left the hospital that night with this precious, sleeping child in her arms. She had not been able to have children of her own. She looked down at the sleeping child grateful, and yet heartbroken that her dream came at such a great cost.

Many years later, at about the age of 4, while sitting at Elvera's white enameled-topped kitchen table, I told her that I could not wait to have grandchildren of my own. Thinking that I did not understand, she explained that I would have to have children first. I told her that I understood, and then said, " I just can't wait to have someone love me as much as I love you." Lilly had chosen well. 

My mother continued the legacy of brave and courageous women. In 1969 we lived in rural Mississippi where my father was the pastor of a small country church. The schools, and the town for that matter were still segregated. The federal government finally stepped in and forced the the schools to integrate. The white community quickly rallied to build a so called "private school." The church told my parents that they would pay for my brother and me to attend. My mother said, "No! I will not teach my children to fear or hate others." Years later, my mother told me that when the first day of school rolled around, she so hoped that she had made the right decision. She did, and I will forever be grateful for the experience and the lesson that I learned.

I always assumed that I would one day have a family of my own. Years of struggling to have a child, to no avail brought me to a point that I questioned my own existence. My heartbreak lead me to talk to the priest at our church. He told me that I have the heart of a mother, but it was up to me to figure out how this should happen. Some weeks later, I came across a small ad in our neighborhood newsletter, asking for people to consider hosting foreign exchange students. After a lot of thought, I told my husband that I didn't need to have a baby, I just needed to feel that I had made a difference in a child's life. He liked the idea of hosting foreign students. That first year we went from having no children to having 2 teenagers, a girl from Spain, and a boy from Germany. We went on to host 11 more students, 13 in total.

The year that we hosted our first students, I decided to learn to fly. In the years that have followed, I have had some of the most amazing opportunities. I joined a group that partnered with the Chicago chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, and through this organization, I have flown and introduced over 350 children to aviation. Most of these children have been from Chicago's poorest neighborhoods.

I have wondered why, why didn't I have the opportunity of having my own family? One day, through tears I prayed and said, "Lord, I only asked for 1 child, but you gave me none." As quickly as I said this, I heard in my soul, "yes, but I have trusted with hundreds." At that moment I realized that I have been a mother to so many, not a traditional mother, but still a mother. I've loved, I've taught, I've disciplined, and I've protected. By letting go of how I thought my life should be, and allowing God's dream for my life to to take place, I have experienced a life that I could not have imagined.         



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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Collar Drafting Tutorials

A few weeks ago, I taught a class on drafting collars. I had such a wonderful time. It's always nice to see faces light up and realize that a basic pattern can be changed so easily. But, I realized that I have not made it easy to find the tutorials. At the moment, I am having a difficult time trying to find how to add a new tab to the navigation bar, but it is coming, hopefully, later today. In the meantime, here are the collars with links to the tutorials. Tomorrow I will be adding a tutorial on how to draft a hood. Then on Thursday, I will do the full drafting tutorial of the jacket I made HERE. 

The Mandarin Collar is a wonderful collar that can easily be drafted. It's a great collar that adds a little interest to the neck. You can find the tutorial HERE


The collar below is the Revere Collar. A very easy collar to draft. It looks a little more complicated as I added the bias trim around the collar and down the front of the blouse. You can find the tutorial for this collar HERE


The Peter Pan Collar. In the post that I did yesterday, the free Mary Quant dress pattern had 2 variations of the Peter Pan collar, one with a rounded edge, the other with a point. Both drafted the exact same way. You can find the tutorial on drafting the Peter Pan Collar HERE


The Sailor Collar is such a great collar for summer. It looks great on a dress, a tunic top, as well as a hoodie. You can find the tutorial HERE



I did 2 versions of the Shawl Collar. The collar below is the narrow version. The narrowness of the collar has nothing to do with how big the collar is in front, but how it lays on the back neck. Below is the Narrow Shawl Collar. You can find the tutorial HERE.  


Below is the wide version of the Shawl Collar. You can find this tutorial HERE.


Here's a picture of me in the dress. I absolutely love wearing this dress in the summer. Just throw it on and go!



The Raised Neckline. While this is not a traditional collar, it gives the appearance of a collar. Very dramatic, and quite lovely. You can find the tutorial HERE. This is by far one of my favorite necklines.


As soon as I can figure out how to add the new tab to the header bar at the top of the blog page, the tutorials will be all the easier to find. Technology :/

By the way, if by chance you do download the Mary Quant dress, any of these collars can be applied to that pattern. So play around and have some fun!

I am off to take Mr. Berkley for his initiation visit for daycare. He really doesn't need actual daycare, but I am doing it because he is such a social boy and I think he will have a blast playing with the other dogs. Gracie is at a point in her life that she would rather be left alone :( I'll try to take a few pictures and share with you. 

Cute story;
My husband thought that Berkley was going to daycare yesterday. He came home, found Berkley here, and I was gone. He told me that he asked Berkley, "why are you here? Did you get kicked out of daycare?" :) Hopefully all will go well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Rhonda



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Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Morning Inspiration/Mary Quant

What a whirlwind of a weekend! Every year, our neighborhood association sponsors a neighborhood wide garage sale. They do all of the advertising, and all we have to do is sign up, and then begin the major task of cleaning out and setting up. 

A while back, I had cleaned out my closet. Rather than box it all up and send it off to the resale shop, I decided to put it all in the garage sale. It was a roaring success! One little gal came in, tried on a jacket that I made some time ago. It was absolutely adorable on her, and I thought for sure that she would buy it. Her boyfriend put the kibosh on it. I'm so very happy as when I saw it on her, I regretted that I had put it out. But, that's the only piece that will make it back into the collection :) Now I need to make something fun to wear it with. It's very Mary Quant, clean lines, and a flower power print. 

With all the excitement surrounding the Dior exhibit, I had no idea that the V&A Museum is hosting an exhibit on Mary Quant. A friend of mine sent me a video link from Facebook. Sadly, I was unable to find a YouTube link to the video, so I can't share it here. But...I did find a lovely Vlog on YouTube, Stitchless TV. Here's the video she did on the exhibit;



As I watched the video, I thought of Chanel and how she liberated women. Mary Quant took Chanel's idea a step forward. After all the constraining styles of the 1940s and 1950s, she was truly a breath of fresh air. And, that's in more ways than one, women could actually breathe again!!!

Below are pieces from the collection. If you look closely, each is the same basic pattern with slight variations.
 

Now for a sweet surprise. In conjunction with the Mary Quant exhibit, the V&A made a Mary Quant pattern available...
FOR FREE!!!


It's her signature basic style, but with a keyhole opening at the neckline. 


You can find the downloadable pattern, as well as 3 sew along videos HERE. This is the perfect throw it on and go style for summer.

If by chance you are anywhere near London, the exhibit runs through February of 2020. Oh how I would love to go!!!

Have a wonderful week, and make a Mary Quant dress!!! :)
Rhonda



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Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Few Fashion Show Pics

I'm so excited!!! We're supposed to have our first truly warm day here in Chicago, 77 degrees. Rain is in the forecast...again :/ Oh well, the blooming trees, tulips, and daffodils have all been spectacular.

I met a friend for lunch yesterday. She took a few pictures of some of my pieces that I had in the annual Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show. Our professional pictures have not yet come back, so until then, I thought I would share my friend's pictures just to give you an idea of the day. More will come :)

This is the Style Arc Grace Trans-Seasonal Jacket that I shared with you HERE. I wore the jacket with my Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans. The bag is my Poppins Bag. I also made a coordinating umbrella. 



I made an umbrella last year, and loved how it turned out. You can see that post HERE. Now that I have a new bag, I thought a matching umbrella would be nice too. 


I lined the umbrella with a remnant that picked up all the colors in the bag.


I made this jacket some time ago. It is the Sewaholic Robson Coat. The coat was made for the Sews News sew along. You can see all of those posts HERE. I had not finished putting in the buttonholes, and the jacket had languished in the closet for all this time. So, I decided to get it out, finish it, and put it in the show. I have since worn it 3 times!!!  


This dress was made last December. It's the Pattern Union Sumekko Dress. I blogged about it HERE. Absolutely love this pattern. It only has 1 seam!!! The pattern comes with 3 different stencils that you can then use to paint on your fabric. I have that on my list for this summer.


Once the professional pictures have been made available, I'll share my complete collection of garments that I had in the show. If by chance you would like to attend the show, it's always the 1st Sunday of  May, so mark your calendars for next year!

Having a closet of wonderful me made outfits is just the best! :)
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Rhonda



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