I am beginning to think that the second weekend of June is marked for rain. For the second year in a row now, I have planned to host a Ladies Garden Tea, in our backyard, and though we have had sun in the days leading up to, and sun in the hours and days that follow, during the hours of the party itself, it has rained. We have decided that it will now be called simply, “The Ladies Tea”, and have given up on hoping that gardens will have anything to do with it at all!
I’m not too worried about it though, because this year we planned to host it indoors, and made our preparations accordingly, so there was no last minute scramble to move the party indoors when the day dawned with grey clouds. An added benefit of holding the party indoors, is that even if it doesn’t rain, you sometimes must contend with wind, sun in your eyes, sunburn, flies in the lemonade and mosquitoes that refuse to leave you alone. By setting up the party indoors, you avoid all these problems, and you can always open the windows to let the fresh air in (and the bugs out) 🙂
We changed things around this year, (because we were thinking ahead for once) and set up the sideboard and a table along the side of the living room, so the food and drinks would be close at hand. It worked so much better, rather than having the food in the kitchen like we did last year, as people didn’t have to break up the party in order to go in search of sweets. Last year we had so many leftovers of desserts that hardly even got touched, and this year we had very few leftovers. On second thought, maybe we should have the food in the kitchen again next year; I wouldn’t have minded a few leftovers. . . 😉
Since the party was supposed to be a Garden Tea, it had to have a summery and “gardeny” feeling to it. So, the morning of the party we went in search of flowers for bouquets. Last year we had peonies, but this year the season is late and so the peonies had not started to bloom. However, we managed to catch the very last of the dark purple lilacs. Two days before the party, I thought to myself, “The lilacs are still in bloom, and should stay so until the party”, but the very next day when I looked at them again, they had started to wilt, turn brown and fall off the hedges. Only one day before the party!!! We thought that we wouldn’t be able to get any for a bouquet, but fortunately the dark purple ones still had flowers. They were falling fast though, and if you even looked at the bouquet, I think that petals were dropping off. We got two lovely bouquets though, and paired the purple flowers with Caragana branches. Caragana is a rather strange bouquet material, but I love how sculptural and fluid the bouquets turned out to be, and yellow and purple is such a lovely colour combination. For the rest of the smaller bouquets, which we placed on the tables, we gathered wildflowers and weeds, and came up with enough material to make several miniature bouquets. All in all, the room did have a rather summery and festive feeling to it, despite the rain.
And of course, the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those who attended the party! There were sixteen of us, some of whom were new acquaintances who came with friends, and we all had a lovely afternoon of tea and sweets and conversation. I can’t wait for next year!
Do you enjoy tea parties? Have you ever hosted an event? And have you ever been rained out?
I saw a while ago that Victoria from Ruffles and Grace took part in a “Book Lover’s Tag”, and though I wasn’t personally tagged in it, it sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to join in as well. So read on, to find out some of my favourite books, reading habits, and what’s on my reading list.
1. Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. This one is a hefty piece of literature, at 826 pages and 2.5″ thick. I bought it two years ago, and had originally planned to read it aloud, (we started last summer, but then stopped only a few chapters in). I really do need to just start reading it again. I don’t particularly enjoy reading Dickens, as it’s so wordy, but I do always enjoy his stories. (And I really want to watch the movie, but I have to read the book first! I don’t know why, I just do.)
2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?
I often don’t use bookmarks- as I never seem to have one around when I need it, and sometimes I don’t even have a scrap of paper or other item that will serve as one. I never commit the grievous crime of dog-earing pages (never!!!) but I do often commit the less terrible crime of placing books upside down- though I promise it is only temporarily! I don’t leave books like that for days on end- only until I find something to mark my page. Often I simply take a mental note of which page or chapter I’m in. This sometimes has dubious results, because I can’t remember what page I was on, and I end up flipping pages to find my spot.
3. Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?
A biography of Jane Austen by David Cecil, called A Portrait of Jane Austen.
4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?
Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. I have read the few chapters that she wrote of it, and I really wish that she had been able to finish it, as her works are always so witty and entertaining.
5. Name an author who deserves more readership.
Lynn Austin. I just reread her book Hidden Places and I loved it all over again. Her stories have such great depth, and are woven with themes such as secrets and misunderstandings, and haunted pasts, which her characters are confronted with and brought forward into forgiveness and reconciliation.
6. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
As outlined in #2- a piece of random anything. . . . or not 🙂
7. Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?
I can stop anywhere, though I prefer to not stop at all and just read the entire book through. This doesn’t usually work though, because you know, life. . .
8. One book at a time or several?
I often dedicate myself to reading one novel at a time, as I don’t like interrupting the storyline, but I will have several non-fiction books going on at the same time. For example, right now I am reading The Greco-Roman World but, as it is a bit dry, I am breaking it up with other books. Since it is a history textbook, it doesn’t really matter if I read it through without interruption or not.
9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I’ve never understood why people skip ahead, because it wouldn’t make any sense- you would have isolated scenes with no context, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t know what had built up to that moment, and it would be confusing, I think. So definitely reading as I go along.
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I don’t purposely break the spine, but I don’t try to perfectly preserve the book either. My main concern is in reading it!
11. What books do you regret reading?
There are a couple of books I do regret reading, because I didn’t realize there would be inappropriate content, until suddenly I was right in the middle of those scenes. As it stands now, I read very few secular fiction books, because I don’t want to have to worry about what I might come across. Or I try to find reviews on the books before I read them.
12. On average, how many books do you read per year?
When I was in my teens. I used to read 50-70 books each year and I kept track of each book, but in the last few years I have slowed down a lot. Things get in the way- hobbies, the internet, being a grown up. . . So I would say that I probably read somewhere around 20-30 books a year now? Probably somewhere around two books each month- although this month I have already read or re-read five books, so maybe I’m picking up the pace again!
13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?
The Bible, because you can actually read it hundreds of times and never get tired of it. But, for books written by man, and not the Scriptures, which is what I’m sure this question is actually referring to, well there are just too many to choose from.
I have read Jane Eyre several times now, and there is just so much depth to that story. It is one of my all time favourite books; I admire the character of Jane, and I love the sections where she and Rochester have their discussions. I will definitely read it again.
Really, there are a lot of books that I read every few years, and the greatest thing about having poor reading comprehension (I’ve got to find the silver lining here) is that I can actually read a book several years later, and it’s all new to me. Seriously. I read Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie and I couldn’t remember if I had read it before or not- until I got the end!
14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?
I don’t tend to really learn lessons, as in “the moral of the story” from books, so for this I will choose a non-fiction book, which actually taught me something and that would be Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth Cline. I recommend this book to everyone.
15. What is the most recent book you’ve read?
I just finished re-reading Anna and Her Daughters by D.E Stevenson. I love this book, and have read it a few times now. It is such a lovely old novel from 1958 that we inherited from my Grandma, and it’s not really about Anna and her daughters, so much as it is about one particular daughter Jane, who is narrating the story. . . anyways it’s just a nice story, and it features an attic bedroom wallpapered with a pattern of birds, so really what’s not to love?
16. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?
‘”There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of the you are- as you used to call it in the Shadowlands- dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.’
These are the final paragraphs of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis from the Chronicles of Narnia. I read this book when I was a child, and this description of Heaven really just touched me, and I have never forgotten it all these years. (Though, yes, I did have to go look it up, as I am not able to quote it verbatim!)
17. How many books do you own?
Yikes, an estimate would be somewhere probably around 200? If I counted all of my sewing books, novels, fashion books, and my L.M Montgomery and Agatha Christie collections. . . And let’s not start on how many books my entire family owns, or we’ll be here all day. . .
18. In the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?
I can’t remember all of the books I’ve read in the past year. I did finally, after fours years on my list, get around to reading The Blue Castle by L.M Montgomery for the first time though. What was I waiting for!? This was a very good book. I always enjoy her books, and the soft and romantic world in which they abide.
So there you go. This was a fun post, and, if you want to take part in this book lover’s tag, consider yourself tagged!
What’s on your reading list right now? Have you read any of these books before? What are your favourite books? (if you can narrow it down!)
I think a common misconception about sewing your own clothes is that by sewing your own, you can achieve a perfect fit each time and you will end up with a closet full of clothes you love.
In theory that is true, but I think every seamstress has, at some point in their sewing life, sewn something that has turned out terribly wrong. A complete failure. A dud. The fit is off, it’s too small, it’s too big, it has wrinkles where there shouldn’t be any, the armholes gape, you loved the look of the pattern, but once you put on the finished garment, you realize that you don’t look quite like the model. . . I could go on.
Making your own clothing is incredibly satisfying, when you end up with a garment you love, but incredibly frustrating when it turns out badly. While making a muslin, or tried and true patterns are helpful, sometimes despite all of your careful preparation, you end up with something that doesn’t turn out like you thought it would. This recently finished dress (Vogue 8789) that I’m sharing today, is one such example of dress that went wrong, but I was able to salvage and make something new out of.
I sewed a dress out of this fabric four years ago, based off of a pattern I had made for another dress I have. I loved the other dress, and really liked the fit and style. It had a fitted waist, like Vogue 2962, but with a regular sleeved top, not a halter. It was, I thought, a tried and true pattern, so I decided to make another out of this striped cotton. However, when I finished the dress, the bodice ended up too wide, and the neckline gaped. It looked OK, when I stood still, but, as I don’t usually stand in one position all day, it was rather ill fitting and uncomfortable. I wore the dress two times, and then promptly removed it from my closet and threw it into the box of shame (aka- box of unfinished sewing projects) where it sat for four years. 🙁
This past October, when I took part in Slow Fashion October, I made a decision/ pledge to use up my stash and finish up my UFO sewing projects, before I started embarking on too many new projects and buying new fabric without any plan of what I was going to make with it. And, when I saw “The Vintage Fashion Challenge” prompt on Instagram for today was “Me Made Style”, I knew that it was finally time to tackle this dress. And, as I wanted to highlight the stripe design, I decided that it was a perfect time to try out Vogue 8789.
So how did I like this pattern? I did end up sizing down and that worked, although I think that if I ever make it again, I will actually size down once more, and do a full bust adjustment instead for a better fit. The muslin for this pattern worked out really nicely, but (again) when I sewed up the bodice there were many fit frustrations. I couldn’t get the darts to lie nicely, and they kept having bubbles on the ends of them that (to put it rather bluntly) were quite, um, nipply. I did so much research about darts, consulting sewing blogs and books and reading about how you need to keep them 1-2″ away from the bust apex, etc. but nothing was working. Finally, I read in one of Gertie’s old posts about using two small darts, rather than one large one, as a large dart will always end up being pointed. One of my sewing books recommends never doing a dart larger than 3/4″. So, I took out the dart, marked the apex and then drew two new 1/2″ darts, and the problem was instantly solved! If you have ever faced difficulty with pointy darts, I would definitely recommend using two small darts!
As for the rest of the dress, it went together quite well and I finished it up (even matching my centre back zipper perfectly). And they all lived happily ever after, right? Wrong! I tried the dress on, and it was too big! At this point, I despaired of ever having a striped dress, but I resolutely picked it out, and then refit the bodice, with my mom’s help. And then I sewed up the rest of it, and it was a success this time.
When I look at this dress, I see all of the problems with it. There are wrinkles on the back that shouldn’t be there. The skirt seam ended up being on the front. The waist seam over the zipper doesn’t match up exactly. But, overall, those are just nit picky complaints, and ultimately I have ended up with a dress that I love. I have worn it once already and I know that it is going to end up being a new favourite. I am also glad that I was able to save this dress, and make something “new” from it. So, the moral of the story is, when you turn out a new garment and it ends up being a failure, instead of despairing, see if you can turn it into something new. Although, maybe don’t wait for four years to do so 😉
Have you ever made a garment that was a complete failure? What did you do? Were you able to save it, and turn it into something new? Have you ever tried Vogue 8789?
For the majority of history, women have not carried purses or handbags wherever they have gone. In fact it’s only been the last hundred years or so, that women have done so and yet, for many of us, we can’t imagine leaving the house without our purse. I’m always curious as to what different people consider to be the “essentials”. I personally don’t like carrying too much around with me, as it is too heavy and cumbersome, but if I don’t bring some things with me, I always end up needing them. (Like bandages. Always bandages. . .)
This little purse I bought last year in England is small, yet mighty. It doesn’t look like it would be able to hold much, but it is actually like Mary Poppins’ bag. 😉 So here is what’s in my bag.
I find it hard to apply lipstick without a mirror as I always end up getting it crooked, so I like to carry around a neutral/tawny shade. I like it as it is light enough in colour to apply easily without being too obvious if I get it crooked, but it dresses up my look just a bit. 🙂
In a dry climate (hello, Alberta!) lotion is an absolute must! I always just grab some random lotion samples from hotels whenever I stay at one.
I got this cute little pill box at a vintage sale, and it is a pretty way to hold some painkillers.
Nail clippers, because NOTHING is worse than getting a snagged nail when you don’t have clippers with you.
I like to keep all these loose little items in a bag (and even better if it is a sparkly beaded fair trade bag), so they don’t get lost in the depths of my purse. Also, I switch purses with each outfit, and it is so much easier to just grab the bag and toss it into my new purse, rather than trying to rummage around and find each individual item.
I got this lipstick case many years ago from my aunt and I love it. I don’t carry lipstick in it, but rather my lip balm, since I started wearing it long before I wore lipstick. 😉 Also, it makes finding my lip balm easier. Because again, Alberta is dry. And lip balm is a necessary part of life.
A little compact mirror. Because apparently I need to see what I look like at all times. 😉
A little notebook made out of a greeting card with my initial on it, and a pen. Because even though my phone is great, sometimes you just need to write things down.
A cute little vintage mending kit. Yes, I have definitely used this before to save the day! And the scissors are invaluable.
Not pictured, because I found it afterwards, is a bandage. Because I am prone to getting inexplicable cuts and wounds, and always seem to need one. . .
Also not pictured, because it is ugly and broken, is my phone.
What essentials do you carry with you in your bag? Do you switch purses with each outfit, or do you have one purse that you always use? And have you ever been out and about and wished you had remembered to bring something with you?