On My Inspiration Board: Calico Gowns

calico cover

It is hard to believe that a fabric which evokes simplicity, homey-ness, and (if you are me) Little House on the Prairie, has a very fascinating and international history.  Originating from Calicut, India, the fabric we know as calico gained popularity from it’s early 11th century birth and well into our modern age.  Known for a sold color on which a simply design repeats all over, calico has become a much used piece of fabric.


An example of an early calico fabric

Long used for a variety of sewing projects which ranged from dresses to quilts to kitchen linens, calico is easily one of the most widely used and widely appreciated fabrics around.  The other wonderful thing about calico is it’s very affordable price tag.  I love picking up yards of happy calico, even if I don’t have a particular project in mind, because of its versatility.  While not exactly known for it’s luxury, there are many examples of gowns constructed from calico.  In fact, Hollywood has some wonderfully fun samples of calico dresses, even if they aren’t completely accurate:


Little House on the Prairie


Jane Eyre, 2014

So with all these wonderful choices, I had a very fun time creating this month’s inspiration board!  I hope you enjoy!


Click HERE to visit my Pinterest Page for more examples.

Have a wonderful Monday,


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From My Sewing Table: October

Nothing is as invigorating to my spirit as falling leaves and crisp air.  It is truly intoxicating!  As much as my fellow neighbors and I have enjoyed the warm air, many will state that their most favorite time of year is the Fall.  Their only complaint is they they wished, as do I, that autumn would stay around a bit longer.

The fleeting nature of Fall led me to ponder the often fleeting nature of the upcoming holiday season.  Oh, I know that many of you cringe at the mere mention of the holidays, especially as it is still a fair amount of time away…. yet I am always rather disappointed when the season ends and I had not taken more time to savor and enjoy it.

Just like the leaves themselves, it is important to remember that this time, and therefore anytime is golden.  Maybe it has not been your best week, month, or maybe even year, but there are precious moments to be carved out of any situation.

I’ve begun embracing this mentality in numerous parts of my life…especially during those times that are out of my control.  Choosing to cherish the here and now is an active way to make both my life and my memories golden.  As the saying goes “the best things in life are free.”  So let those best things of family, friends, and that much needed down time, be golden!


A Few Upcoming Posts to Watch For This Month:

  • Hosting Autumn Supper Parties (1904)
  • The 1950’s Art of “Chicology”
  • My Top Sewing Must Haves
  • Sewing Tip Saturday (twice a month) for the month of October will focus on collars

October Inspiration

Inspiration Board: Sky Blue Gowns

On a summer trip I took with my dad years ago, we drove across the midwest on an adventure that took us through some pretty unique parts of the Great Plains.  But one thing I distinctly remember was how large and blue the sky was.  If any of you live near mountains, you, perhaps unknowingly, have become use to the close, almost comforting, feeling of the sky.  Your eye pleasantly rests upon hills, forests, and mountainsides on a daily basis.  Transplant that same person into the heart of the plains, where the sky is a giant expanse above you, and you are amazed at the realization that the curve you see isn’t a hill, but the earth, and that can be quite overwhelming.

That landscape was a unique freeing experience where nothing seemed to be in your way as you traveled mile upon mile.  But the sky…that sky was the bluest I think I have ever seen.  Not a baby blue, or a navy, but a true blue.  And that, in my humble opinion, is what a summer sky should look like.

Blue is a calming and flattering color.  It is amazing at how many women have blue in their wardrobe, in both the past and the present, and therefore we are so fortunate to have so many examples.  Despite the slight fading the years have brought on, many of these gowns are still stunners.

Therefore, in honor of summer, in honor of the sky, and in honor of those lucky midwesterners who get to enjoy that sapphire beauty, this month’s gown Inspiration Board is all about Sky Blue!



june blue

To see more, feel free to visit my Pinterest Board.

Designing and Decorating The Front Porch

Decorating and furnishing one’s front porch can be viewed, in my opinion, two different ways: coordinated and classic, or eclectic and refurbished. Both are modes in which the homeowner can portray not only their personal decorating style, but also can create an inviting space for family and friends. Mornings spent chatting with old friends, or afternoons enjoyed catching up on some reading or handwork, are all better enjoyed on a comfortable and colorfully decorated porch.

Read on for some advice in porch decorating from 1920’s experts:

“As you ring in the summer when the family living room is transferred out-of-doors, it means a great deal to have the outside so furnished that it is a pleasant place to spend one’s leisure hours. By furnished, I mean not so much the chairs, settees, or tables, but the accessories that go so far toward creating out-of-doors an atmosphere of sunny welcome both to the members of your family and to the guests who by chance come to visit your home.

Because color is so much a part of summer, it may be used more freely on porches and decks that would be possible indoors. Once you decide on a color scheme, be sure it is carried out in the rug as well as the materials used for cushions or chair upholstery. These materials should always be durable and sunfast, if possible; so you will find cretonne, gingham, chambray, and cotton duck fabrics best not only for their color choices, but also for the ease with which they can be laundered.

To carry out your plan of beautifying your outdoor living room, you must consider the furniture, too. The work of painting a chair is not all that difficult, so even if you have not had any previous experience, do not delay your first step for you will find this branch of reclaiming furniture truly fascinating. A miscellaneous collection of chairs, when painted all one color, are surprisingly improved, and when you finished the cushions of harmonizing colors, they will fully repay you by their appearance for the time you have spent on them. The list on this page provides ideas for colors to be used for your furniture as well as provides ideas for colors to be used for rugs, cushions, and upholstery. select a scheme that is harmonious with the color of your house if it is possible to do so. “

june porch colors

By Margaret Murrin – Inspiration, June/July, 1925

In the Kitchen: Colorful and Cool Desserts

Is it getting warm where you are?  It certainly is in the northeast of the U.S. and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I find myself craving watermelon, ice cream, and ice frappucinos most of the time.  I am a big believer that food, especially dessert, should reflect the weather and the temperature.

I have collected over the years quite a few vintage cookbooks from as early as 1896 to 1980.  They are my pride and joy and each one I find is a cherished addition to my collection.  When it came to deciding posts for this month, I was nervous that my cooking ability would inhibit the beauty that this month is all about.  Therefore, I decided to just share the recipe I was planning on making of Rainbow Meringue Torte  from one of my 1950’s cookbooks, with the hope that you all might try it yourselves…without letting my, perhaps, poor attempt stop you.

may recipe

So whether you are sitting out on a patio, front porch, or chilling in front of the AC, I hope all your desserts are delicious, cool, and beautiful.

Have a wonderful rest of May and I will see you all in June!


Source: Better Homes and Garden Holiday Cook Book

Look Well to This Day

may poem

The manipulation of time may be, in my opinion, the one power that every human would want.  To rewind to the good days, fast forward through the bad ones, change past mistakes or take missed opportunities would be a miraculous gift.  If you add in the fact that I am obsessed with history and the future becomes an unstoppable source of frustration.

Sometimes I think too much.  Well, most of the time I think too much, and I struggle with the overwhelming feeling of time slipping by and my life with it.  To try to compensate, I have made changes in my life both mental and physical.  There are so many things in my life that I have no control over, despite my, at times, desperate attempts.  But I know what I do like, what I want, need, wish and therefore all choices I make must be true to who I am.  Easier said then done?  Sometimes, but often, these choices are quite natural…therefore, easy.

I am a stubborn individual.  I have had to be at points in my life.  And one thing I refuse to do in my life is waste it.  I may be just a blip on the universal timeline, but I want to be the sparkliest, happiest blip you’ve ever seen.

How do you do that?  Take a look at the last stanza of this month’s poem.  “But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

Live beautifully today and one’s life can never be a waste.  Bad things are going to happen.  But how you respond to them puts you in control to make a happy life.


May you too be a sparkly blip in the world!!



In the Craft Room: Wrapping Paper Covered Books

Sometimes, I love the slightly worn look of books that I have gleaned from used book or antique stores.  Gently used edges, slightly ruffled bindings, and the faded artwork on the cover, all add to the charm of each book.  Yet, there are also several books with covers that… well let’s just say, have seen better days.  While the content inside may be timeless….many of the covers are not.  For such books in my library, I prefer to cover them in the nicest, prettiest, sturdiest wrapping paper I can find.  Not only does this help protect the cover and binding of these books, it also adds to the ambiance on my bookshelf.  Here is how I do it:

Start by placing your book to be covered on top of the wrapping paper.


Cut out a rectangle that is 3 ” longer on the top and bottom (6″ total) and 4-5″ wider on the sides with the book open (9-10″ total.)  Crease the top and bottom of the wrapping paper against the book.  Remove the book and press these creases firmly.


Starting on one side of the book, fold over the excess paper.  Crease the fold.



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HSM: War and Peace

With a theme like War and Peace it wasn’t hard to decide exactly what I wanted to make for this month’s Historical Sew Monthly Challenge…especially since it tied in perfectly with this month’s theme.  Enter my 1940’s House Dress.  Very simple, very sweet, and very satisfying.   After last month’s ordeal, I was very happy to find something less stressful.  For the past four weeks, I can’t stop my obsession with house dresses.  Any kind, from any era, I am head over heels in love.  While it did take me a while to settle myself on a style and look, I wasted no time in picking out the most cheery calico I could find!  Add this dress with my 1940’s Hair Turban and the look is complete!

I drafted this pattern out of two pieces then cut out the neckline facing and the lined sleeves.  The belt was made from the left over scraps.  I also added a little rick rack to the neckline and the edge of the pockets…that’s right, it has pockets!  While the first few stages remind me of a hospital gown, the outcome is just as simple and clean as I was hoping!

Challenge: War and Peace

Fabric: 3 yards of calico

Pattern: Self-drafted based off of other house dress of the time….although I did create a slimmer skirt.

Year: Mid 1940’s

Notions: 1 1/2 yard rickrack

How Historically Accurate is it?: Although the skirt could be made fuller, the overall look is very accurate.

Hours to Complete: 3 hours

Total Cost: $15

And now for the pictures….




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