Dark Days

Just when I thought I was coming off the flip side of stress, my Mom has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She came home a week ago on hospice, so I’ve been there pretty much 24/7 since. She likely only has a few days left, so please excuse my absence whilst I deal with not only the care of my mom and the emotions involved in losing her, but the administrative stuff like closing accounts and emptying her apartment. As Betty Draper said in the last episode of Mad Men (paraphrasing): things happen very quickly when someone dies. You have to be ready.

See you soon.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Today’s Flight of Ideas

Here’s a stream of consciousness from me, given the events of the past two weeks.

We have a baby! Complicated delivery and a NICU stay, but mom and baby are home and doing great. If you want to see how it went with the big sisters when he got home, check out this video. Prepare yourself, it is the cutest thing you might ever see. And yes, his face is VERY bruised. He came out upside down.

I’m recovering from my third COVID shot. Since I have lymphoma, I have to get three full shots instead of just a booster, plus I got my flu shot at the same time. Historically, vaccines have knocked me down for several days since lymphoma came to visit, but my first two COVID vaccines did nothing. I also didn’t develop antibodies, because of my cancer treatment. Now that I’m done with treatment, it could be that the reason I’ve had a fever for three days is because it’s working, or it could just be a reaction to the flu shot. Please do not use this as a reason not to be vaccinated. I don’t have a fever today, but still feel like I’ve been run over. It’ll get better.

Here’s my favorite playlist. It’s a wonderful list made by the creator of the My Octopus Teacher score which, if I haven’t mentioned it before, is absolutely phenomenal. It’s my go-to relaxation music.

Vogue S-4866, 1948.

And this pattern. I told it this week, but just realized how much the lady in the front looks like my mom when she was young. Make the hair auburn and it could be her. She is still beautiful at 88. She would’ve been 15 in 1948.

That’s all for now. More later, when I’m feeling better.

1950s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Still Waiting

Simplicity 3464. ©3464

Still no baby. Lots of contractions that my daughter ignores, but no baby yet. I’m convinced she will be in denial until he’s born on their family room floor, with the 3 year old and 18 month old sisters cheering her on. I suppose it’s just as well that he hasn’t hatched yet, as he still has no name. They can’t come to an agreement on a name, so it’ll be interesting to see what he ends up with. My daughter suggested Dawson — her husband hates it, and her 3 year old heard it as Dolphin (her current passion), so I just call him Baby Dolphin. If you have suggestions for an Irish or Scottish name, drop it in the comments. Their last name starts with an O, so that can complicate things a bit. I suggested Christian this week, but apparently my daughter knew a guy in college named Christian who was a raging alcoholic, so I’m not going to make any other suggestions.

Meantime, I came across this pattern in my stash. It’ll be listed in the shop soon, so I stole the picture from the Vintage Pattern Wiki. I think it’s wonderful. I’m not a fan of the tight maternity clothes these days, though I’m not sure my daughter even owns any maternity clothes. Being an archaeologist, she lives in leggings and sweatshirts, so I think she just guys a larger size than usual. I know she doesn’t wear the typical maternity stuff, which I am thankful for.

When I was having babies (wow, that makes me sound old), I wore smock tops. The eighties and nineties still welcomed them, and I thought they were comfortable. My shorts didn’t have the panel on them, but were super comfortable with an elastic waistband. They were so comfortable, in fact, that my ex husband would wear them when I turned my back. You wouldn’t have known they were maternity to look at them, so it wasn’t as weird as it sounds, though yeah, he was weird anyway.

But look at this suit. I’m not convinced about buttons on the back of the skirt, because it always looks so uncomfortable. Pretty, but uncomfortable. But at least it appears that the buttons stop before the derriere, so at least you’re not sitting on them. The top is what is so special though. That wider Peter Pan collar and those amazing cuffs — I die. I also like wide sleeves and generally push up long sleeves because I hate things being tight, so I think that helps this style to appeal to me. They suggest novelty braid at the collar and cuffs, but I’d do it in velvet or velveteen. The blue they show is gorgeous, but I think I’d like it in navy as well.

And those gloves complete the look so beautifully. It’s my goal that, before I die, I will own a pair of Cornelia James gloves. They are SO expensive and I might have to keep them under glass, but I covet them so much. I don’t see any that would work they way I’d wear them with this, but I’m putting this out there in case Santa wants to know what I want. I’d get a pair of dove gray with the lighter blue, or taupe to wear with the navy. But then again, I guess it doesn’t matter what I think, as my baby days are long gone, thank heavens.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

“Help”, She Cries Out Plaintively

McCall’s 8876. ©1967.

I was listing this maternity pattern in the Etsy shop yesterday, whilst I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. You see, I have a daughter who is pregnant. As in, VERY pregnant, and at that stage where she is ready to go any day (due the end of November-ish) and is miserable. As in, TOTALLY miserable.

I will preface this by saying how very, very much I love my daughter. I love her to pieces, actually. She is the middle child and only daughter, and she is a huge piece of my heart. But my Lord, does that girl make me insane at times. To be honest, she always has, and she knows it, because she didn’t sleep thru the night until she was almost four, never napped, and spent a lot of time screaming, all the way into teenagerhood and beyond. She is beautiful and brilliant, and the best mommy ever (we can’t figure it out, given her hatred of literally everyone for years. We are sure her husband is the one to credit for calming her down), but my gosh does she lose her mind when she is pregnant.

She hates the medical community so much. Never trusts them. Hates going to the doctor and generally feels that the medical community is ignorant. Remember, I have forty years of experience as a nurse, and her father was a nurse as well, so it’s not like she wasn’t surrounded by it growing up. I’m not sure why she hates the medical community so much, except for the fact that she had three sets of tubes in her ears in childhood, so literally every time she saw a doctor she had an ear infection and they were hurting her. She also hates medical insurance (which, to be fair, most Americans do, because it’s terrible here), and her insurance is terrible. When she had her second baby, her bill was hundreds of dollars more than her first one, despite the fact that she was in the hospital a day less, so this doesn’t help her argument about how useless insurance is. I know, without it she’d really be lost, but if we have insurance, we expect stuff to be paid, when in reality the scam that is American healthcare means that insurance companies exist in order to find ways not to cover you.

So yesterday, when she’d been without sleep and was exhausted, I suggested that perhaps the contractions she has been having are, in fact, early labor. She hadn’t timed them so she didn’t know, and thought maybe she’d call the doctor. I told her they’d just send her to the hospital to be checked, which she didn’t want to do, because she’d get billed hundreds of dollars unless they kept her, and she was sure they wouldn’t. So she called the doctor, and they told her “just what I knew they would tell me” – probably because it was exactly what her mother the OB nurse had already said. She of course refused to go in, so she timed her contractions instead. I asked how far apart they were. “They’re not regular.” I asked again, how far apart? “They’re not regular.” ::sigh:: “What is the longest interval you have gone between contractions?” “Eleven minutes. Three minutes. Six minutes. Two minutes.” So, I told her, she could be in early labor. Then I got eleventy thousand reasons why she’s not in labor. I offered to bring the girls home with me so she could rest. No, she’d be fine, she said.

Three hours after I got home, she texted and said she was six minutes apart, and to keep my phone nearby in case I needed to come get the girls. Dear Lord in heaven, why can’t she listen to me? Why? Because the last baby she had, she was admitted to the hospital at 11:30pm, and because she was admitted half an hour before midnight, insurance counted it as a full day and she had to go home a day earlier than she should have had to. Yes, I know this makes no sense because she hates the healthcare community, but once she’s at the hospital, she wants every minute she’s entitled to, so she is not going to go the hospital until after midnight. I’m telling you, I do not drink enough for this.

So today she is contracting but not as much. Still in denial that it’s early labor or that she will have the baby before mid-month at least, even though she was told she could go anytime last week at her appointment. Her labors are fast, but darned if she will go to the hospital until the last minute, so I’m convinced that she is destined to have the baby in the middle of the living room floor at this point, because no matter when he decides to appear, she is not going in until she is 100 percent positive that they will keep her.

I swear she has lost her mind. Meantime, she’s not sleeping and is terribly uncomfortable and is in denial that she can go into labor because she wants her husband to be off work for Thanksgiving, and he only has two weeks off after the baby is born. She is all. over. the. place.

So dear Lord, save me from the pregnant daughter and PLEASE let her go into labor soon, because I can’t deal with this level of crazy on top of caring for my mom and my husband.

Pattern available in the Etsy shop here.

1950s fashion, Hollywood, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

I’m Baaaaaack

Simplicity 1889. 1957.

We are back from our tour of the South. After nine days of being gone, it was good to get home. I call it a tour of the South, but really we just went to a condo on Pawley’s Island in South Carolina and parked it. With my husband’s mobility issues and COVID, we don’t go out much, but we were on the water and the weather was perfect, and that’s enough for me. We did get out to eat a couple of times in places with open seating areas, so it was nice to pretend that everything is normal for a while. But now we are home and it’s back to COVID reality again. Blah.

I did get out to my favorite antique store down there, which I always know is chock full of fun stuff, especially patterns. Got to turn it into a work trip, after all, so I went out most days at least browsing, plus picked up a great load of patterns from someone on Facebook Marketplace, so I came home with a couple hundred more patterns, including this lovely.

I thought at first this was sixties, but it’s actually 1957. You didn’t see as many cape patterns in the 50s as in the 60s and 70s. Of course there were plenty in the 20s and even thirties too, but the 50s had more capelets, and earlier in the era, so this one is interesting to me. We like to go to Scottish festivals in non-COVID times, so I’m really wanting to get a cloak a la Outlander style. Claire wears so many fantastic capes and cloaks in that show — I haven’t seen the latest season, so don’t ruin anything for me. Here’s one of my favorites:

Caitriona Balfe as Claire, in Outlander. Photo: Starz.

That yellow is just wonderful and puts her squarely in the center of the action, as Claire is always wont to be. The details in the costuming in this show are just amazing. But for the Simplicity pattern, I’d go with the pilgrim collar mid length one. I’ve always loved pilgrim collars. They just say luxury to me. I love red, of course, so red would be fine, as would a soft blue. Unless someone wants to make me a real full length hooded cloak a la Claire, which I’d of course be fine with too.

sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

My New Reading List

I finished Jane Eye. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a page turner of a book that kept me from sleeping, but this one was definitely that. Given the fact that I’ve never seen any of the movies associated with it, I had zero idea of how it ended. Wow. What a book. I’ll definitely be keeping it so that I can read it again. I wish I was more of a pensive, watchful Jane Eyre type, but I’m more of a Lizzie Bennet type.

That being said yes, I also finished Pride and Prejudice, and now I am more than a little bitter that no one pushed it on me sooner. Given that I’ve always been a voracious reader, I’m not sure how I didn’t. Being married to someone 18 years older than me gives me a different view of the world, and though I grew up watching old movies, I am realizing now how many I didn’t see, and the same is true for books. Hence, why I am visiting the classics. Pride and Prejudice is the only book in my fifty some years of life that I finished, an immediately wanted to reread. It is just. that. good.

It’s also the only book I’ve ever read on a Kindle. I’ve tried before, but found that I just like having the pages in my hand. I’m a bit sorry that I don’t have an actual copy of the book, because I’d love to easily revisit some passages, but given that the Kindle I have is a first generation, I don’t know if I can do it, and if I can, haven’t figured out how. I will definitely be buying a beautifully bound copy of Pride and Prejudice, so that I can share it with the grandgirls some day.

I’ve seen the Kiera Knightley version of P&P, but not the Colin First one. It’s on my list, but I find it really hard to sit down to watch movies or series, unless I’m watching them with my husband (who probably would balk at watching a period drama like this). I love the Kiera Knightley version, but have heard that Colin Firth’s is the preferred one. I also love Rosamund Pike, and can’t imagine anyone else playing Jane, so there’s that.

We’re off on a LONG awaited vacation next week (don’t worry, it’s very low contact, but I need to get out of here for a break), and I’m taking Gone With the Wind with me. I’ve read it before when I was younger but want to revisit it whilst we are in the South. I’ll probably download another Jane Austen book on the Kindle as well. Which would you recommend?

I leave you with my favorite moment from Pride & Prejudice — the harried craziness when Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy return to the Bennet house. Notice the incredible detail of Mrs Bennet’s gown, which is lost except in closeup. The costumes here are amazing, and rightfully garnered an Oscar nomination. But this scene? It cracks me up every time.


I Need a Do Over

The Stolen Lady, by Laura Morelli. Now available at

I bought a new book for my mom for Christmas. We are both voracious readers, with Mom devouring a book every couple of days, even at the age of 88. I am slower these days, because of the eye problems I developed after my spinal tumor. Nonetheless, I’m really excited about this one. It’s called The Stolen Lady, and it’s by Laura Morelli, an art historian. At the center of the story is the Mona Lisa, which I’ve felt a connection with ever since I found out about her. As a kid, I thought it was cool that she had part of my name (Lisa), and I set a goal that one day, I would see her in person.

Fast forward to my twenties. I was engaged, and we decided that we would take the trip of our lives — one that we probably couldn’t do once we had kids. After much discussion, we decided to spend three weeks in France. We had a lot of ideas of what we wanted to do whilst we were there, but at the top of my list was the Mona Lisa, followed by Versailles. I would finally get my chance to see the mysterious lady.

Our wedding happened, despite totalling my brand new car the day before, having to change the location and time the day before, my dress getting lost two days before, our passports getting lost in the mail two weeks before, and many other hints that God threw my way and that I promptly ignored. Off we flew to Paris.

I’ll save you the story of how I thought we were being kidnapped by a terrorist and how I thought we’d end up on CNN, and tell you that we finally made our way to the Louvre. My moment had arrived, after a lifetime of waiting. I was so excited to be at the Louvre. I can’t even begin to explain how I felt as we made our way into the museum. My elation didn’t last long, as my new husband began to have what I recognize now as a panic attack.

We were in an area that had a lot, as in dozens, of religious paintings. He began to question why there were no windows in there. Then he began to ask why all the paintings looked like. Then he began to complain. Then he decided that we needed to get out of there. NOW. I promptly responded that I was not going to leave until I saw the Mona Lisa, because I was in Paris and it was my life goal, and he was just going to have to deal with his complaints. And complain, he did. Over and over and over, as I followed the little signs with arrows that said Mona Lisa.

We finally entered a large room, having skipped everything that we had passed since that fateful room of religious paintings. The room was packed, mostly with women who appeared to be Italian, exclaiming loudly and pushing toward the front. I had no idea what was going on, but I was gonna make it to the front and see my girl. I pushed my way up front, and was standing there next to my husband, completely having a moment. You know, that kind of moment where the planets align, the clouds open up, angels sing and all is right with the world? Yes. That kind of moment. And then it happened.

“So,” says the husband, “what’s the big deal with this painting?”

I did one of those slow pivots, my mouth dropping open, staring at him incredulously, and wondering what the heck was wrong with him. “It’s the MONA LISA,” I said. I mean, what else did I need to say? We were standing in front of probably the most iconic painting in the history of paint, and my husband, a future (house) painter, said probably the stupidest thing I will ever hear in my lifetime. “SO?”, he said. “I don’t get it.”

And that, dear friends, is when my bubble burst. The magic disappeared. We left the Louvre without seeing anything else, and never went back. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say much to him the rest of the day. And Versailles? Well, he threw a little fit about wanting to stop to eat after we got off the train, and we missed the last tour of the day. I was NOT a happy camper. We agreed to go back to Paris for our twenty fifth anniversary, and I vowed to spend three days wandering the Louvre without him. He was fine with that.

Fast forward twenty four years. I was in the middle of a messy divorce from said husband (c’mon, you’re not really surprised, are you?), and our youngest got the opportunity to go to Europe with his high school class. He paid for the majority of the trip by working at Colts games, but I paid for the side trip to Versailles. I told him yes, I was living vicariously through him, but doggone it, I now had missed two opportunities to see the Louvre and Versailles, so he was gonna do it for me. “But what if I don’t want to go,” he joked (he’s a sweetheart. He really was joking.) I promptly responded that if he came home and hadn’t been to Versailles, I was cutting him out of my will.

He came home and told me that something had happened — I don’t remember what — and he hadn’t gotten to go to Versailles. It really wasn’t his fault. But he did see the Mona Lisa, and even though he himself didn’t really grasp that moment like I did, I at least knew I had done my part in trying to connect with her again.

One day, I will go back for my three days alone in the Louvre. I don’t know when, but it will happen, along with a side trip to Giverny, and the Dior Museum, and the beaches of Normandy, and a channel crossing to go to the V&A. Everyone has to have goals in life. But meantime, I will spend a nice winter night curled up under the blankets with my girl, via The Stolen Lady.

Purchase here. No, I don’t get any kickback. You just need the book.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

It’s FALL!

Vogue 1234, 1990s.

I hate summer with the fire of 1000 suns. Seriously. I have zero tolerance for any kind of heat. I’d say that it’s since my lymphoma showed up, but that’s not true. I’ve always hated summer. I grew up in Missouri, where the asphalt bubbled up under our feet because it was so hot outside. We, of course, ran around barefoot, burning our feet as we went.

We would occasionally try to go into the house, where we could take refuge in the one air conditioner we owned, which was in the living room. As soon as Mom saw us inside, she would shoo us back out, where we’d stay until dark. She doesn’t remember now how she tormented us into staying out in the heat, but we didn’t grow up any worse for the wear, so there’s that. I hated the heat then, I hate it even more now.

I love winter clothes. I love sweaters, and boots, and all the accoutrements. They are so much more creative than summer clothes. I absolutely LOVE coats — Kate Middleton’s coat game is like no other — but I rarely wear one. We actually figured out last year that it’s been at least three years since I’ve actually put a coat on. I carry one, just in case of car trouble, but I would melt if I actually wore it. I’m that warm blooded.

I do wear a light jacket, like a light fleece or something like that. I’d love to have this jacket, designed by Bill Blass (who was also from Indiana). I just love the unexpected shape, the sleeves, and the lines of it. Combine it with the skirt and you get an Edwardian/Equestrian/Lady Mary vibe that I am all about. Plus, it pairs well with boots, which are my real love.

What do you think? Do you like winter? Have a coat you love? Or are you waiting for summer, complaining bitterly whilst under three blankets, with a cup of hot cocoa?

Pattern is available in the Etsy shop, here.

1950s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Fabulous Friday (or, It’s Friday Somewhere)

McCalls 1954.

OK, so it’s not Friday here in the US, but as Jimmy Buffet says (or my version of it), it’s Friday somewhere. Actually probably not, but it’s been a crazy week. I’ve been driving my dear husband to cardiac rehab twice a week, because he’s not allowed to drive till late October. They play some pretty righteous 80’s tunes while I’m in there, so it’s fun to sit there and wait, listening to Prince and the club music of my day, while reading Jane Eyre. But let’s get on with the pretty.

Isn’t this little girls’ dress just lovely? I think it’s probably my all time favorite girls dress, in over twenty years of selling patterns. I’d make it without the lace, but I think it’s perfect otherwise. That little drawstring bag is the perfect addition to the look. It’s size 4, and I could see my granddaughter really loving this, since she loves to wear her Elsa and Anna outfits anywhere she goes. What do you think?

Have a great Friday, Saturday, or whatever day you’d like for it to be. Enjoy the weekend!

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Call the Pelisse

I’m reading some classic books right now, because there are so many I’ve never read. I started Pride and Prejudice, loaned it to my mom (who didn’t like it and returned it without finishing it), started Jane Eyre (which she gave to me – no word on how she liked it), so now I have both going. I find it hard to restart a book once I put it down, so I’m going to finish Jane Eyre before going back to Pride and Prejudice.

I know the story of Pride & Prejudice, having seen the Kiera Knightley version of the movie. I love it, though I know, everyone says to watch the Colin Firth version. I’ll get there eventually, but I’m not much of a TV/movie person, except when hubby and I watch our British TV at night. I can’t get him on board with period dramas, so it’ll be a while. But I digress.

I know nothing of Jane Eyre, except that it’s about an orphan. I’m learning so much though. I’m still in the early part of the book. Jane just left for school, and the book mentions that she went to the gatehouse wearing her pelisse. What the heck is that? I had no idea, but now I have a name for the wonderful garment I’ve always seen and loved (including in Pride & Prejudice). Here it is.

Pelisse, circa 1809. Photo: V & A Museum, London.

Basically, it’s a dress that’s like a coat. It was of the Regency era, and was often worn for walking. See some worn here, in the Colin First Pride & Prejudice version.

I have always been in love with these, but never knew what they were called. Now I really want one, but being a fluffy middle aged woman, I doubt it would be very flattering. But I still want one. And though as a fair redhead, I’m not much for blue, I really want one in a powder blue, like the one on the left.

The thing that makes this funny is that I haven’t worn a coat in over three years. I’m SO warm blooded — probably why I hate summer so much — that it’s very unusual to see me wearing anything more than a light jacket, even when it’s freezing outside. I carry a coat in my car in case I get stuck in the winter, but I never, ever wear it. I’m the one you’ll see driving in gloves with no coat, because my hands get cold, but the rest of me doesn’t. But seriously, I want a pelisse, please.