Sunday, December 1, 2013

Down and Dirty Sewing, Anyone?

The house is quiet. The turkey has been turned into the most comforting soup. Snow is falling once again and all of our guests have headed back home. I've known for the past 2 weeks that my grandaughter was working on a special school project and needed my help. Of course, Grandma acquiesced. Now did I procrastinate a bit? Well, yeah, I did. But I had to deal with all the Thanksgiving dinner, tons of overnight guests issues. And we won't even talk about how  my oven died the night before. I know it's hard to believe that can happen but it did. I told my daughter that I had all day Sunday to make this simple little project and would mail it out overnite on Monday morning. Deadline met!

DGD Sophie, third grade, is doing a special class project on Ellis Island and immigration. She need to find a family relative who came in on Ellis Island if at all possible, and become that person for the day. Luckily, two years ago, when DSIL was laid off he researched all the family genealogy and we had a real great great grandmother who came over from Belgium as a teen. Can't beat that Ancestry.com! Anyhoo, Sophie had to do the research on the era, clothing, etc. Thanks to the internet you can see above actual Belgian immigrant children from the 1880s. I also was provided with this pic:
Sophie and Mom decided she would wear a dress I had already made her out of grey fabric and "old fashioned" to quote Sophie. (eye roll) She needed Bunbun to make the pinafore like you see on the girls in the pic above and a kerchief. Piece of cake - one pinafore coming right up.
I used some washed muslin that I didn't iron too much. We were going for reality here.I used the bodice and sleeve cap of Simplicity 3859 and rounded up the neckline. No facings were used  but the neck and armholes were attached to bias strips, turned and topstitched and the bias cut back to about 3/8ths inch - good enough for a one time modeling job.
Since I doubted the existence of buttonholes at this time I used two ties in the back to keep the thing together. 
The original immigrant image at the top shows all wearing their kerchiefs which Sophie felt she needed for authenticity. So triangle of dark depressing grey print and we are done! One Ellis Island, 1880s immigrant child from Belgium hopping off the boat! Whew!


She will get dressed up in her outfit Friday and wear it to school. There she will get "processed" just as if she just got off the boat. I think it will be a wonderful learning experience. I do know one thing. It sure isn't a project like any I had in third grade. Heck, in third grade I didn't even have projects. But what really really mystifies me in all of this is what do kids from Asia or Africa do? And what about kids without sewing at the last minute capable grandmas?  Oy...

I can't wait to start on a couple of projects for myself.It's been a while and it did feel good to get back at the machine today despite the type of project this was.  I have been asked to do some home dec sewing for DD "as a Christmas gift". Not sure that gift is getting done before Christmas!......Bunny


22 comments:

  1. Nice work, Bunny! My niece had a very similar project a few weeks ago, but she's in high school in Utah. I'm the family "historian" and I have to agree, Ancestry.com is pretty awesome! Glad you survived the holiday under the oven-less circumstances!

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    1. Walmart bailed us out of our ovenless Thankgsgiving with their 29.95 turkey roaster! It definitely saved the day.

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  2. great little project and well done for meeting the deadline. Seems ages since I did any serious sewing too, so feel your pain, but we just have so much to do, so I think it will not be until after Christmas holidays or the new year now for me.

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    1. Heavens, you just got married and moved into a new home. You definitely have lots to do! It will happen when the time is right.

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  3. I helped my granddaughter sew an outfit to dress as one of the Boston Tea Party rebels who dressed as native Americans to throw tea in the harbor. It was a great project to teach her to use the machine.
    My DIL asked me to knit her a fair isle tree skirt! I politely declined but did sew a reversible tartan circle. Those that don't sew or knit have no idea of the amount of time involved in some requests.

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    1. Knit a fair isle tree skirt?!?! Oh My Goodness. People just have no clue, really. I'm proud of you for politely saying no. Sometimes you just have to. But at least she got a tree skirt.

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    2. Yes, my brother once mentioned that I should make a quilt out of his son's baseball shirt. I politely ignored that one.

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  4. That is a wonderful project Bunny. Happy Sewing!

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  5. my children's paternal great grandparents come off a boat from Belgium into Canada just after the war (II) as teens. Super cool story!

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  6. Great costume, and what an interesting project. I always enjoy a chance to sew fast and dirty! My mom wore aprons like that as a child in Germany in the '40s (something to do with washing only the aprons and keeping the few dresses clean I think). My grandma wore kerchiefs until she passed in 1986. Thanks for the memories!

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  7. Grandma to the rescue! I hope they take some photos to preserve the memory of this project. I think it is a great idea on the teacher's part...nothing like hands on learning to imprint history, or any subject for that matter.
    I bet that little pinafore could work later on as part of a Halloween costume or perhaps a bit part in a play. Would you believe I STILL have the little apron my Mom made for me to wear in an elementary school play? I was Peter Rabbit's Mother & I had one line..."Oh Peter, you MUST do it!" Something about him not wanting to hide eggs that year.
    Thanks for jogging that ancient memory from almost 50 yrs ago!

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    1. There will definitely be pics taken and sent to Grandma.

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  8. As the gamer children say: Achievement unlocked! Extra lives awarded to you!

    Usually I am cranking out an article of clothing from a book or video game on the fast and dirty program (with last minute "can you make it a hoodie?" changes) for my Blond Son. I ripped and stitched a wimple on a gal for Romeo and Juliet last spring in the lobby during rehearsals; hemmed it too. I'm probably better at fast and dirty costumes than heirloom work; I'm getting sloppy, but my stitches don't show. Just don't look inside.

    But this weekend, I started making Blond Son a plaid vest. "A real one, just like this one" (indicating a vintage vest he's been sporting all eighth grade). With matching plaid on the four functional pocket welts. So today I am a surgeon rather than a rally car mechanic. And no, I will not make it a hoodie. Ew.

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    1. Oh boy, I wish my son had ever asked me to make him a "real" vest. I'd have been so thrilled. I was always sewing for the girls, but son was in t-shirts and jeans throughout his teens, so he got nothing home sewn. Last thing I made for him was pj's when he was 10. I have promised him a quilt, though.

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  9. Good work on the fast! I, too, often wonder about how some of these busy working parents, many with no crafting skills at all, handle these projects. I watched many coworkers struggle with these things. They managed, just not the way I would have done it. And I bet a lot of those African American children did not want to dress as an ancestor, and their parents didn't care for it at all.

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  10. When I saw your comment on the subjects: "I wonder what parents do who can't sew?" "And what about the children whose ancestors are not European, coming over on a boat?" These were my thoughts exactly. Even still, it's a great learning experience for the kids that will definitely leave history imprinted on their minds. Great job on the double-quick sewing!

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  11. Lovely work on the costume, Bunny! Your (lucky to have you) GD must be very happy!

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  12. I think that the teacher, who made the assignment, needs to expand her/his perspective about immigrants to this country...and to adjust the expectations of the project such as giving the option of presenting a poster with illustrations / photos instead of dressing like an ancestor. KUDOS on the pinafore, etc.! Grandmothers are treasures to admire!

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  13. Adorable, she's so lucky to have you to sew for her. My own mother came over on a boat, so if my GD has a similar assignment, it will be clothes from the 30's. This reminds me of the time I made over a witch costume into a pilgrim costume for my daughter in kindergarten, complete with wimple and apron. But the day of the program I got sprayed with Jet Fuel (I was a petroleum chemist in those days) and couldn't attend as I stunk to high heaven!

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    1. Sophie spent the day as Marie Hubert, an ancestor that came over in her teens and moved to a tenement in New Bedford, Mass. to work in the textile mills, all pretty amazing.

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