Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Shabby Chic Bulletin Board

Last summer my daughter and I repainted all her bedroom furniture to bring her bedroom to a shabby chic look. However I've just noticed I am quite a bit behind on a few other projects that were done before the painting. While I made the duvet cover (which was my last post) I also redecorated her bulletin board.

Bulletin Board (left) Duvet Cover (right)

When I first bought this typical framed corkboard, I bought some gerbera daisies in hot pinks, purple and yellows which were so trendy at the time and glued them to the perimeter. I ripped all of them off. Then I cut a piece of extra fabric left from the duvet cover to fit inside the frame. I stapled that to the corkboard.   
Then I glued woven burlap trim inside the frame. When that was dry I glued beads of faux pearls to the edge of that. Finally I made a bow with some ribbon that I've had in my stash for years for a finishing touch.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


For her birthday my daughter found out she has been accepted by George Mason University! She will major in English and minor in history with the intent to get an education degree. In Virginia the only way to get an education degree is at graduate school.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On the Revealing of Names

I have been asked before why I do not specifically state the names of the interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg. In the beginning I didn't share names, because I didn't know anyone. Then we kept going and going, every month and sometimes several times a month after we first moved here in 2009. Many of the interpreters started recognizing us and called us "friends." Then they seemed to become like family because they were so warm and friendly.  They are such wonderful people who know their history and who engage the guests in such fun and pleasing manners.

By then I felt it was wrong to specifically state names on my blog because I thought that was too personal, so I've tried to create an aura for others to draw them into the historical experience. I didn't want my readers to think of Colonial Williamsburg as a modern location with modern people acting like people of the past. Instead my goal was to transport my readers to the 18th century through our meetings with first person interpreters. When we've met with third person interpreters, I tried to stay on topic with our 18th century theme all with the goal to draw them in to the dream to visit Colonial Williamsburg for themselves.
Shortly after we moved here I was contacted by one of the higher-ups at Colonial Williamsburg who had heard about me and my blog. She enthusiastically wanted to meet me and we became friends. She loved my blog since I was always sharing about our visits to Colonial Williamsburg, so she was always recommending it to others to read who wanted to learn more about the Colonial Williamsburg experience.
However, my friend told me to keep on doing as I had been doing, to NOT share anyone's names specifically. The reason for her and the foundation was to protect their privacy, which I totally got. When we first moved here I told my children that if we ever saw the interpreters off duty, we were to politely acknowledge them but we were not to take up their time. They need time away from us, the guests, so they can just enjoy being with their family, their friends, and just being themselves. Now that I've been to Colonial Williamsburg with my kids while wearing historic clothing, I get this even more.  As much fun it has been to be mistaken for a Colonial Williamsburg employee (we always state that we are simply guests), as happy as we are to pose for pictures (because guests are geeked out to actually see a family on the streets and we totally get that) at the end of the day we are exhausted and ready to hang up our 18th century personas and be non-entities and sort of zone out.  =) I'm sure the employees can often magnify that feeling by 10! =)  Then we are usually ready to start afresh the next day journeying about the 18th century in period clothing as I'm sure the interpreters are as well! =)
Along the way, I have become facebook friends with some of the employees. Because I care about their space so much, I don't send out friend requests.  Well, actually I did send one then retracted it later in great guilt because I didn't know if they really wanted that or not. =) However I have always merrily and cheerfully obliged any CW friend requests that have come my way and I totally geeked out and told the family...guess who????? Yep, totally geeked out about that, but even on facebook I try not to take up their time. I save my many questions for when they are on duty and in the appropriate setting. =) I'm always full of questions and I also simply enjoy listening to their dialogues and their answers to many  other great questions. I really enjoy being around them and so does the rest of my family.  No vacation is complete without being around their greatness.
We don't get to attend as often as we used to, which makes  me quite sad. We are in a very busy season of life now that my kids are in college.  However every once in a while we are able to pop in and enjoy a few programs and trades where we  meet these incredible interpreters who bring the past to life. Huzzah to them!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hoping to Convince Colonial Williamsburg to Reinstate the Playbooth Theater and Actors

One of my family's favorite vacation destinations, as many know, has been Colonial Williamsburg, where we can leave behind the 21st century to enter the 18th century cultural experience of food, music, theater, revolution, gardening, art, politics, trades, livestock...and more. One of my family's favorite activities has been terminated today...namely the Playbooth Theater program and the 4 wonderful actors who incredibly brought the merriment of 18th century theater to life.

This was not a Playbooth Theater program, but he was one of the Playbooth Theater Players. When they weren't on stage they'd often be found on the streets entertaining guests, and he was often playing his fife. On this fine day, he joined my son in a bit of fife playing. My son is self-taught and fife playing is a hobby. This quite unexpected experience was definitely a special memory proving that Colonial Williamsburg is indeed, a living history museum. You never know what is going to happen, because the interpreters are so excellent at their craft, that they can entertain guests at the spur of the moment without a script! Definitely impromptu!  

Here he is in one of many Playbooth Theater presentations that is scripted! In fact, this is a popular play that was often performed in the 18th century. I don't remember what this particular one was. One of the many things I loved about the Playbooth Theater is that they had a grand repertoire of popular plays and readings from Shakespeare to David Garrick to Cato and everyother other known playwrite of the time. One never knew which pieces they'd put together for a particular program each day. Also they strongly encouraged and expected us to act like a noisy 18th century audience yelling, "boo," "hiss," "huzzah," even "encore!" The best ones were the encores, where they would truly repeat any scene we'd yell encore for! Even two or three times!   

Here he is dressed in a most silly sort of style as a fop! Whenever we engaged with him off stage, we always talked about fascinating historical subjects. Whatever we happened to mention, he'd smile and say, "Oh I was just reading about that..." and then he'd discourse in great depth about the correlation between ______________ and theater and politics of the time or whatever.  One time the key component was about coinage! Many times I went to the Actor's Trunk program to specifically ask him questions about different types of dramatic movements throughout the course of history to help us in various homeschool history presentations. He was a wealth of information! He'd even often discourse great dramas that we  had recently read in our literature studies with my daughter!

This grand gent always called my son "general" since my son often wore his Lafayette coat in the winter! Whenever he saw us he always asked about us!

She was wonderful and always gave us much information, even as we slowly walked upon a very hot and very sunny summery street.

Oh and he always made us laugh! Not only that, we learned a great deal about the history of theater throughout the colonies in greater detail than usual from him. I had asked about it during an audience warm-up before one of the Playbooth Theater programs began. This might seem to be an odd question to most CW guests, but this was prompted by a history book that fell into my lap which said that early American colonists had no interest in music or theater. Well I knew that was wrong so I had to share that piece of information with the Playbooth Theater Players! I was told to burn the book! Most gladly, sire! lol  

Don't their expressions say it all? =)

Here are a few posts I have written about their wonderful work over the years that we have enjoyed and how it has influenced us and our homeschool:

The Taming of the Shrew

The Playbooth Theater and Rehearsal

The Actors' Trunk

Greek Masks

Discussing Cato

Commedia dell'Arte

Fops, Rogues, and Villains

18th Century Theater, Music, and Dance in Virginia and the Colonies

Sadly, we don't get to attend CW as often as we used to. My kids are now in college which limits our visits. However we continue to be huge fans of all those who bring history to life in the historic area and we do come when we can. To lose the Playbooth Theater is to rip out a vibrant part of the living history museum known as Colonial Williamsburg.  Also these actors have so woven themselves into our lives, into our beings, into our homeschool, that they have made us feel like family, although in truth we only know each other as guests and interpreters. Yet they have always warmly received us, merrily engaged us,  and poignantly worked their way into our hearts through what they did best...act in a most proper 18th century way. How can we return cheerfully, knowing that a gaping hole has been left in the 18th century CW offerings? CW won't be as lively as it once was.    

If you are also one of the many fans of the Playbooth Theater, many of us are signing a petition:

Additionally I am sure that a letter to the president is warranted.

Monday, March 16, 2015

World War II Army Air Corps Coat

My son has recently aquired an authentic WWII Army Air Corps coat that once belonged to a tech sergeant from the 2nd Air Force. He showed it off for pictures during spring break. This coat is enormously heavy! It was great getting a close look at the fabulous details of the construction methods.











I love this button detail. Here's the front of the coat...


...and here is the other side. A metal ring is on the other side to secure the button and keep it from popping off. My son's buttons are always popping off on his 18th century attire. I'm always sewing them back on, so we could definitely appreciate this!


Lots of flat felled seams...


Close-up of a flat felled seam.


This wool coat is definitely toasty in the cold weather!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Duffel Bags for Laundry in the College Dorm

It has been a busy two weeks of fun...two busy spring breaks with two different college kids who attend two different colleges who observe spring breaks on two different weeks! Whew! Couldn't we have enjoyed each other all together at once? Well, schoolwork still reigned rather paramount though we did find bits and pieces of fun. In between the fun moments I kept busy. Therefore I have lots of blogging to catch up on though we were never able to do anything significantly fun. My son kept teasing me with promises of teaching me how to swing dance, but school duties overcame even that bit of fun, though we did watch some movies and do a few other family things together.
First up is where I left off with my son's quilt. I had wanted to sew a sailboat pillow for him in red, white and blue to coordinate with the quilt. I thought it would be fun laying on his bed near his window that looks out on "Lake Bob," which is the campus nickname for the campus pond. However he had no interest in going nautical, even though the look would continue with the Americana patriotic theme.  Instead, he had other plans for me.
"Mom, could you sew some duffel bags for me to pre-sort my laundry at college?" Hmmm, didn't I try to buy some for him at Target last summer? Yes, but it didn't seem as important then as it does now.  Years ago, when my kids were born, I had bought different laundry baskets and taught  my family to presort laundry so I could more efficiently throw loads into the machine as needed, without dumping the entire batch of  laundry onto the floor to sort. Even on vacation I have differently patterned duffel bags for presorting as we go. It makes it so much easier when we come home to do the largest load first or as needed when we are on the road.
Now my son envisioned duffel bags far different from the ones I had made for vacation. Those are merely traditional two dimensional bags. He envisioned three dimensional bags that he could set in his closet and toss clothes in through the week, then grab for the laundry which is conveniently next door to his room.
Three dimensional duffel bags? I was envisioning tote bags, which I had never made before.  I asked for measurements, because I knew he had specifics on that too. I went to the fabric store where I found some blue and white 100% cotton ticking, determined to keep with the Americana patriotic theme (and sneakily be a bit nautical too!)
I confess I don't always prewash fabric. When I do I rarely find a difference, but I did prewash this ticking and I'm glad I did. We lost a few inches in the laundry! 


With my son's diagram of how he wanted the now slightly less than 4 yards of fabric cut and then sewed together, I laid everything out and got to work!


After everything was cut out I created all my casings.


I chose two panels to sew eyelets...


I hand stitched the eyelets with some leftover buttonhole twist that I had. The color was a perfect match. 


I had enough fabric to make 2 duffel bags, so I set each of the panels aside to complete sets so I wouldn't get them mixed up.


Here is duffel bag #1.The center will be the bottom. So far two opposite sides are sewn on.


Adding a third side...


...until finally I have all four sides sewn to the bottom. Then I sewed the sides to each other, and threaded the cording through the casing as far as it would go until I ran into the seams. Then I threaded the cording to the outside of the casing, then on the other side of the seam I wove it back in. (I had added other eyelets for this that I never got pictures of.) I liked this effect a lot! I had had such a busy week, that I did most of the sewing for these the day before he left to go back to college. This project took about 1 full day for two duffel bags. 


Of course these do not stand up pefectly, but it was good enough for my son. Here are two of them, ready to go back to college with his new quilt. 


Project-3D Duffel Bags
Pattern-self-drafted from my son's sketch
Fabric-blue and white 100% cotton ticking
Notions-thread, cording (I recommend a thinner corder than I used, but he's pleased with the thick cording)
Time to Sew-1 full day for 2 tote bags

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Red, White, Blue Lightening Streak Quilt

When my son was graduating from homeschool last spring, I told him I'd sew a  new quilt for him to use on his dorm bed. Alas, the summer was so busy with numerous graduation details, such as formalizing the homeschool highschool transcript, and preparing for college for two kids, that I never started the quilt. Thus, my son took his star quilt to college. Every time I walked by his room and saw his empty bed, devoid of even a quilt, I was quite sad.  Then when my son came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he kept dragging his quilt back and forth between home and college. That might not seem like much, but he has lots of stuff to pack and the quilt is just one more thing. I was determined to sew the new quilt for college, so the star quilt could stay home.
We agreed on a pattern my son liked last summer. He likes rather intricate designs, which tend to be my nemesis. I found a quilt pattern which had lots of energy and movement, yet looked quite easy. I showed it to my son and he liked it a lot.  In November I bought all my fabrics and supplies at Suzie's Quilt Shop, partly because JoAnns and Hancock did not have any of the solid red, white and blue fabrics I needed. I was rather surprised by that, so Suzie got my business! It turned out to be a win/win, because Suzie is quite friendly and I found out she attends the church where my next door neighbor pastors!
After Thanksgiving I started rotary cutting the strips I would need. They look quite even, thanks to my new handy gadget which I blogged about here.  Here they look quite patriotic...


although here I began to think I might be making a candy cane quilt! It was early December!


Finally all my strips were cut and sewn together. That's when I began to get nervous!


The cutting of triangles with bias edges, and joining those bias edges made me so nervous, that I broke my rule of no chemicals and I used a bit of stabilizer to help. For more on that story, read this.


Cutting the stripes into triangles went amazingly well. However I somehow got confused flipping my ruler to cut the proper size triangle so they came out larger. I reasoned that perhaps they could easily be squared after joining them to the candy cane triangles. At least I hoped so, because my shoulder was killing me from all of the rotary cutting and I didn't want to rotary cut anymore. Furthermore  my brand new blade was already dull. Read more about that and how I fixed it here. When I went to the next step, I saw that my biggest trouble was matching the angles. I carefully ripped this out and tried again...  


...this time carefully measuring and pinning...


I pinned and sewed all of these together...then I suddenly fell sick. The day before I got sick I had picked up my son at college to come home for Christmas. I had felt so well and had so much fun! The next day while quilting I simply wore out...and started coughing, coughing, coughing. Thus began a long bout with a massive coughing cold, which at some point became bronchitis. My coughing meds put me to sleep so well, that I slept through most of Christmas.      


I had done some Christmas shopping long before Christmas for everyone, but this quilt was my son's main Christmas present. The day before Christmas I had my son haul all the gift bags and tissue paper upstairs to where I store the presents. I sat on a stool and barely endured stuffing gift bags and tagging them, I felt so awful. By then I was on a z-pack but it wasn't kicking in as quickly as it had in the past. Also I felt so many gifts were missing but I had no recollection of where they could possibly be. However I found this gorgeous box to present the quilt pieces I had so far accomplished. This is what  my son opened on Christmas Day.


In January I started feeling about 50% better.  I sat and carefully marked and pinned pieces. That was a couple of months ago so now I don't remember the details I had meant to share about pinning these pieces...










Finally February came and I was about 75% better. Here are all of the blocks finally  laid out! However this is for a twin quilt and my son has an extra long twin bed! 

I had bits and pieces of blocks left over. Let's see...hmmm. I found this extra completed block. That is what I had planned for the extra long twin. Just two more blocks are needed. Do I have enough bits and pieces to make them?


Oh no! I am short two bits to finish the blocks. My side was still quite sore from all the coughing in December and January. I did not feel like rotary cutting and sewing strips and cutting triangles, but I had to finish this quilt and I was near the end.


Here is a trial run to measure how much more I would need for the borders. 





How about the joining of these two borders on the angled seam? If I had tried to do that it could never happen!



Now that I had the borders done and the quilt sandwich made I determined to thread baste the quilt, even though I had a fusible batting in the quilt sandwich. Read about my decision here




For the hand quilting I decided to feature the zig zag. I stitched it in white in the seamlines of the red and white zig zags. Then I repeated it in blue in the field of blue. It's subtle but is quilt nice. By then I ran out of time. I was determined to conquer, and I'm glad I did, because I can't believe how busy I've been since!

 I finished the final stitch minutes before I left the house to bring my son home for Spring Break. I laid the quilt on his bed for him to see when he came home. I felt sort of bad about the quilt. I have a few puckers where places did not match, so I set them where he would have his pillows. Also everything shrunk from all the quilting! Oh well. I'm exhausted, and I know this will be used a lot as a cover while sleeping. Also he sits on his bed a lot at home, so I assume he does the same at college. I'm sure this will be worn out by the end of college years and will have been thrown into the laundry a few times. The laundry process alone will likely shrink the fabric a bit, which is fine with me. I love the old fashioned look when 100% cotton quilts pucker after the laundry. That might hide my own puckering mistakes! 

I had hoped to sew a boat pillow, which I thought would be a fun reference to "Lake Bob" outside his dorm window by his bed. Alas, he is not interested in the pillow. However he is interested in duffel bags. Our interpretation of duffel bags are two different things. I planned on making drawstring two-dimensional duffel bags. Easy! He actually prefers tote bags that are three dimensional. They were a first for me and returned with him to college tonight. He loves them! Stay tuned for details on those...