Monday, November 05, 2012

We're not into Halloween but.....

We're not into Halloween but we do like to dress up! Since we returned to CA, we've had the good fortune to attend the family Halloween party hosted at my cousins (maternal) house in West Sacramento. We had attended the first party oh, so long ago, left the State and returned last year for the 10th Anniversary of this entertaining, family gathering complete with great food - thanks J & M.
It's a lot of fun to see the creative costumes that arrive and as J so nicely states on the invite: "appropriate costume attire." This would hail back to the day when many of them didn't have kids yet and it could be a little crazy. :)

We weren't able to pull off our original idea last year as we were still 'fresh off the overseas flight' and I didn't have a sewing machine yet. So this year we proved that the Swiss Family Olson does indeed exist:

For the record:  I did not make Bart or Rachel's costumes.  I ordered them from an website as: 1) I was not about to make his Lederhosen 2) Bart's is a costume version since real Lederhosen, whether in Europe or the States, costs approximately $250 - $300 for the pants/shorts/hosen alone 3) Of course, I did not start working on any of this until October for to do so beforehand takes considerable foresight of which I'm lacking in this current season of life 4) Lack of foresight means no sleep if one is making three Dirndls vs two and 5) I only had trim for two dresses which I originally bought it in Germany with the girls in mind.   Oh - and these are pretty much standard German/Austrian folkwear which translates to the Swiss German just fine.

This was my dining room for the last part of October.  I have to admit, we spend good money on a table and chairs so that we can do school and sewing projects in this room.  I guess putting up a long folding table with padded, folding chairs and a tablecloth would have served just as well.  Don't tell Bart!  We need more people to come over for dinner........
Many thoughts flew through my head as this was the first time I was sewing a garment(s) in several years - last project was also a costume.  Sewing for the house or repairs/hems tend to be my regular projects.  I sewed my first garment (sewing lingo :)  ) in 3rd grade I believe.  A pair of ugly shorts with an elastic waistband.  But I wore them proudly.  During the eighties I sewed a lot.  Going to a school that required dresses everyday and a small clothing budget pushed me along.  Then college came and big shirts were the rage so my roommate and I would get clearance material and go to work - many times with buttons fastened underneath by safety pins because we were in too much a rush to do buttonholes.  Don't tell my mom!

I was lucky - my mom and I had the type of relationship that works well for teacher/student.  She was able to teach me to sew, ski, waterski and climb.  These are things I've not personally passed down to the girls because 'they don't listen to me.'  I've learned not to be frustrated or take it personally.  My mom at various points had teachers for my sisters on the above because they didn't want to learn from her either.

Recently, my sister Deb got a machine and while Mom was in HI for her grandchilren fix, she was teaching her to use it.  I'm told that I missed out on a lot of laughter and giggles.  As Mom relayed all the things Deb was finding out about using a machine, I thought of my 2 years in Home Economics and all the things that will not be taught to High Schoolers because in CA, these classes don't exist anymore.  Although I already knew how to sew, my teacher made a point to teach us the name of the machine parts and why certain stitches or techniques were used.  She also assured me that when I ironed the first seam of my Junior Banquet dress that I had not ruined it - it was red taffeta and taffeta "changes color" with heat and returns when cooled.  Oh - and the importance of proper iron temperatures with various fabrics.  Not that I melted a blouse in high school.  Not me.

Home Ec also taught me a lot about cooking.  Not that it taught me to be a good cook but the science of it.  For instance, why did those pumpkin blueberry muffins turn out flat and gooey?  Ah yes, seems the baking soda was forgotten.  And egg whites bind ingredients and ..... oh so many things.

Learning to read patterns was also great training for life in other areas:  reading directions for toy or furniture assembly.  Life necessities!

Here's a weird techy sewing thing that you won't care about if you don't sew:  the patterns I got for the Dirndls came with seam allowances that were between 1/4" and 1/2."  I had to really watch for which were which on different parts of the garment.  I was taught with a standard 5/8" seam allowance for everything unless specifically stated differently on the pattern.   Is it like this on all patterns now or just specialty?  Maybe I'll be inspired to sew something else and find out!

I took a picture of this because I found it amusing in my quirky little way.  I did not look at the supply requirements for the patterns and  realized I needed binding tape for the sleeve elastic of the blouses.  I was sure I had some somewhere and lo, and behold, dug some out of my stash.  As I unwrapped it, I wondered in looking at the packaging how old it was at a cost of $1.30.  The manufacturer's date on the back is ------1986!  So this is seam tape I bought with a discount coupon at the local fabric store around the block from the college dorms.  Waiting to be used all these years....
I also needed bias tape for the neck edging of the blouses. Ummmm, the bias tape I had was also from 1986. Being cotton, it was no longer white white and I found myself in the irritating predicament of making my own bias tape edging out of the blouse fabric so it would match.  I have never had to do that - ever!!!  Ta Da - it came out perfect.  Because of what I still remember from Home Ec and my Mom - grains, biases, nap, etc...  The pin cushion and seam ripper above - remnants of my early sewing purchases I've not lost.  The pin cushion is 30+ years old - a souvenir from our 8th grade class trip to San Francisco.  It's still in great shape and if you need one, they're still selling them in Chinatown.

Seewwww, that's what I've been doing lately.  Sorry, couldn't resist.

My mom will be happy to know that I did complete the topstiching on both Dirndles even though the goofy pattern didn't require it.  But I elected to machine hem vs hand.  And Kendra's is a bit loose on her as she continues to grow and grow and want to be able to wear it in the future.

So you will see the buttons.

With snaps underneath vs safety pins.

And no buttonholes.  Sorry Mom.


Josh said...

You all look fabulous! Great job on the dirndls, Susan!

Sarah said...

btw - that's not Josh, it's Sarah. Apparently he was logged in instead of me.

Olson Family said...

@ Sarah - My first reaction was "Josh D reads my blog??" That makes a lot more sense!:)

Judy said...

Impressive! We grew up learning the same things. My mom was a Home Ec major and taught us all that stuff. I actually called her the other day to ask her a food prep related question. I know I could Google it, but since my mom is 80, there probably aren't a lot of years left I can call my mom.
I haven't sewn a garment for something like 14 years. I made my daughter a lot of dresses. (I can do buttonhole! ;) ) I hope I can revive some garment sewing skills whenever those grandbabies might happen.

Makila said...

I am so impressed! I am impressed by your sewing skills but also impressed you remember all those things! I can't remember anything I learned in high school.