Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tour My Sewing Room

Thank you for coming on the house tour.  Would you like to see my sewing room?  Yes, this is where all the quilts you see were made. 

When we agreed to be on the house tour, I thought the historical society was interested only in the first floor of the house.  But then two ladies from the committee came to see the house (to be sure it is not a house of horrors, we joked), saw all the quilts, and thought people would enjoy seeing the bedrooms and sewing room.  "Of course, you'll have to clean up," said one, looking at all the stuff on the sewing room floor (aka my organization system). 

View from the doorway.  Sewing room doubles as a guest room.
There is a trundle bed under the day bed.
It took some work to get it all cleaned up.  Still, some tubs of fabric and works in progress were stashed in Miss Main Street's off-limits bedroom.

Bookshelf storage unit behind me as I sew, holds my quilt book collection, patterns in one drawer, rulers and templates in another.  The lower cabinet on the left holds part of my Christmas fabric stash.
Wall to my left while I sew with All Dressed Up on display.  I can put a piece of flannel over the rod and call it a design wall.  To the left of the quilt is the small closet (a downside of old houses is the small closets); it holds more fabric stash. 


My sewing machine, Bernina Q440.

Tools at hand while I sew.  The onyx bowl holds pins.  A small basket, out of picture to the right, holds scraps for leaders and enders.  The Shaker work tray is handy for carrying hand sewing supplies to another room.
Thanks for coming.  Now, I need to get back to work on this quilt!

Monday, October 27, 2014

House of Quilts

My house here on Main Street was built in 1911-1917 in a style known as American Foursquare.  (Our's is a modified version.)  We've lived here 17 years and have done lots of work on the house, modernizing essentials like heating and plumbing and making it more comfortable for us as a family home.

About a year ago, we got a call from the local historical society, asking if we would allow our house to be on their biannual house tour.  We agreed, because we have enjoyed touring the other houses in past years and because we thought it would give us a deadline to work towards for the projects we'd been meaning to get to.  It did serve that purpose and that's the major reason I have not been quilting as much the last few months. 

Come on it!  You've just entered the front door.

The tour was Sunday and it was really fun. Of course, we spent most of Saturday cleaning and de-cluttering - my home has never been so clean and tidy! On Sunday afternoon, we had about 350 people through the house. Fortunately, the traffic was pretty evenly spread out over the four hours of the tour so it was never too crowded.

West end of living room; notice quilts on back of both chairs.
People were so complimentary about the house and gushed over all my quilts on display.  Two ladies came up to me and one said, "Oh, you're the owner?  We already decided we hate you, you are too talented!"  (She said this with a laugh, the real life equivalent of LOL.)

West end of sunroom, with another quilt on a chair. 
The weather was perfect, no rain or wet to be tracked in the house (my nightmare).  I vacuumed the house Saturday night.  After the tour, I noticed a few bits of leaf here and there so vacuumed again.  It is amazing what 350 will track in, all unseen.  I have a bagless vacuum and the dirt cannister was completely full!  That was the only yuck factor is the whole process. 

Quilts on chair and couch in sunroom, the TV end of the room.
Dillie the Corgi wondering what is going on.
Miss Main Street did not like the idea of her bedroom being "on display" so we kept the door closed and used the room as a stash spot for a few items, plus the dogs in their crates.  They were very good and mostly quiet.  Of course, they were incensed that they had not been allowed to attend the party!

Quilt hanging in kitchen in my seasonal rotation quilt holder.
Flower arrangement courtesy of local garden club.

The biggest job in getting ready was the redecoration of our dining room.  Fortunately, everything came together in plenty of time. 

East end of dining room; you can see me reflected in the mirror.
Our kitchen is not an "eat in" except for breakfast or when I am home alone for lunch; we eat in our dining room every evening so it gets a lot of wear.  I was ready for a design upgrade and am happy with the result (I bought most of the furniture at Ethan Allen). 

This cabinet could be holding quilts!  But for now it displays china and crystal.

The dining room is the only room without any quilts, at least, so far!  Instead, it has boat pictures.  Mr. Main Street's father and grandfather were both professional yachtsmen; we have lots of inherited boat pictures and model ships.  They are significant to Mr. Main Street so I worked them into the decor. 

We added a couple of upholstered chairs to the dining room, to use as host and hostess chairs when we entertain and are seating more than six at the table.  This does not happen often because we have a small family and tend to entertain more informally than a seated dinner. 

Barrister bookcase from 1911 belonged to my grandfather. It holds cookbooks now.
The tour included my sewing room.  Come back tomorrow for a once-in-a-lifetime view of it clean!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

For Fans of Downton Abbey

My mother is visiting me, a good excuse for the two of us to take a trip to Winterthur to see a special exhibit called Costumes of Downton Abbey.  (Winterthur was the home of Henry Francis du Pont and holds his vast collection of American furniture and other decorative arts.  Henry was a descendant of the founder of DuPont Chemical; money was no object for him.)

The special exhbit of costumes from the TV drama Downton Abbey was very interesting, especially for those who sew.  The costume designer copied some original dresses from the era (1912-1924 so far), used vintage fabric and embroidery fragments in some cases (augmented with new fabric), but had to reimagine some designs to be more suitable for TV. 

The two dresses below were worn by Sybil and Mary for the garden party scene at the end of Season 1. 

This dress is really a harem pants style jumpsuit, worn by Sybil as evening dress to shocking effect on her family during Season 1.  The bodice was made from antique embroidered lace.  It tore or split in several places during the filming and had to be hand stitched to repair it.  You can see the repairs up close but they don't show up on television.

This is one of Lady Cora's evening dresses.  It was inspired by a length of jet and pearl embroidery that had formed a center vertical panel down the front of a vintage evening gown.  The original panel was re-worked to form the bodice of the dress and new fabric was embroidered in a coordinating design for the skirt of the dress. It was worn with a coat, as shown.

The costume crew has only seven weeks to assemble all the costumes for a season of filming.  Many have hand embroidery or other embellishments. Some costumes are re-used, just as real people would wear clothing multiple times.  The costumes below were worn by Mary and Matthew for the proposal scene out in front of Downton Abbey.  The wanted a simple dress for Mary that would not distract from the scene.  The dark red dress had beading along the neckline and on the edge of every other flounce. 

Some costumes for the servant characters were included in the exhibit, making quite a contrast.  This is Mrs. Patmore's dress and apron (the cook).

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey and have a chance to see this exhibit, by all means go!  I enjoyed it very much.  And Season 5 premieres Jan. 4!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Still Here!

I did not intend to take such a long break from blogging, but the truth is that there is not much quilting going on here on Main Street.  I am continuing to work on Modern Herringbone but have not progressed to the point where a status update is in order.  I interrupted that project this weekend to finish a few smaller tasks.

First, I pieced the backing for my Double Wedding Ring, so I can get it off the quilter. 

I'm using the large floral print from Paris Flea Market.  I bought 10 yards just for this purpose when it went on sale; the back used up a little over 8 yards so I still have some left.
My second task was to make the binding for this quilt, Christmas Crossroads.  I began this quilt about 10 months ago and finished the piecing early this year.  Even the quilting was completed months ago.  Time to stop procrastinating and get the binding on so we can use this this Christmas.  

After consideration, I decided to use the red.  It is a subtle stripe and I used a little of it in the body of the quilt.  There is more green than red in the pieced sections; the red binding gives it some "pop."

I plan to be back soon.