Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Briar Rose Vintage KAL: Seaming

Hey knit-alongers! We've reached the last instructional post!

My last topic before the official end date tomorrow is about seaming. Call it seaming, call it sewing up, call it a pain in the butt. Unless you're knitting a completely seamless sweater, you're going to have to face this step.

Once you've blocked your Briar Rose pieces, you'll have a nice little pile of flat pieces of knitting that look an awful lot nicer than they did before blocking. To  prove it, here's the before and after.

Before blocking...

After blocking!

Much better, right?

If you're new to sweater knitting it's good to say this right now: there is no one right way to sew up your knitting! You have a few options, and you'll have to decide which method you prefer. Most patterns, vintage and modern, will simply say something like "set in sleeves, sew up side seams". Not very helpful.

There are at least three ways to sew up your knitting: using mattress stitch, backstitching, or using a crochet slip stitch.

Each method has its own pros and cons.

Backstitch seam

I personally rarely use the backstitching method unless it's a really small area (like a pleat in a sleeve cap), because it's an enormous, huge pain in the rear to unpick if you find you've sewn it goofy, which is easy to do because you work it with the right sides together, so you're looking at the wrong sides. On the plus side it's very sturdy, and that's about all I can say for it. If I need to sew something more than an inch or two long, I don't use it.

Mattress stitch seam

Mattress stitch is my preferred method for sewing up seams. It's easy to work, and you get to look at the right sides of your work the entire time, so if you screw something up you can tell right away. It's also relatively easy to unpick if you do make a mistake. One of the cons is that it's not really advisable to pull the same length of yarn in and out and in and out of your stitches over and over again, so it's often recommended to use shorter lengths of yarn. Say, one length from the bottom of your sleeve to the top, then another from the top around back to the bottom. So you end up having to weave in a lot more ends. You can work mattress stitch on vertical to vertical stitches, vertical to horizontal, etc. It makes a nice, neat invisible seam.

Slip stitch crochet seam

You don't really need to know how to crochet to work a slip stitch crochet seam. It produces a similar seam to mattress stitch from the public side, but is worked with the right sides facing so you're working looking at the wrong sides. However unlike backstitching, you can more easily see what you're doing. As well, it's the easiest of all three techniques to unpick. In fact, you just give the working yarn a tug and can rip back as many stitches as you need. It also has the added benefit of working from the ball of yarn directly rather than having to cut a length, so you can go around an entire seam and only have to weave in the beginning and end. Personally though, I find it slower going than mattress stitch. For Briar Rose, I opted for a slip stitch crochet seam for all my seams.

Seaming / sewing up your pieces

If you knit your Briar Rose seamless up to the armholes, you won't have to sew up your side seams. If you knit your shoulders with a three-needle bind off, you won't have to sew up your shoulders, either. That was the position I was in with my Briar Rose. I had to sew up my sleeves, set them in, then sew on the pocket.

I first sewed up the underarm seam of my two sleeves. Like I said I used a slip stitch crochet seam. I lined up my pieces with the right sides facing and starting at one end, inserted my hook through the edge stitch on both sides, made a loop on the hook...

Then I pulled it through both layers of the fabric and then pulled the loop through the one already on the hook (shown with the blue arrow)...

If you have a hard time telling where to put your crochet hook, look for the first "real" stitch at the selvedge. On the far side piece, I've shown this with blue arrows in the photo below.

Keep doing this all along the length of the sleeve, being sure to not pull too tightly so you don't pucker your seam. When you're at the end, simply cut your tail (with enough length to weave the end in) and pull it up through the last loop just like you would with knitting.

 And it'll look like this when you're done...

Setting your sleeves in isn't really any more tricky, even though for a long time I thought it was. It's really just as easy as any other seam, but takes a bit more setup. The goal is to make sure you set your sleeve in evenly, distributing any ease along the way. The best way to do this is to strategically clip your two pieces of knitting together in several places (kind of like pinning together pieces in sewing). My absolute favorite setting in sleeve tutorial is here, and she beautifully shows you how to clip together your pieces in preparation for setting in your sleeve. She used mattress stitch, but I'll show you how it looks when you work a slip stitch crochet seam, since it'll be inside out and look a little different.

You'll want to clip together your pieces at the top of the shoulders, bottom at the armpit, and several places in-between. Approximately where the blue stars are in the below photo...

I like to clip the bottom, then the top center shoulder and the sides of the shoulder bind off, too, like this...

I use Knit Clips (which sadly are not manufactured any longer), but safety pins or stitch markers that close work just as well. It'll look like this when you're done.

I personally like to sew my sleeve seam first, then set in my sleeve, starting at the armpit and working my way up and over and back around to the armpit. Just work slowly, and you'll find it's not that daunting of a task with the clips helping keep you on track because you work in small manageable areas. It's easy to tell if you're taking in too much ease on one side than the other if you suddenly find one side before you get to the next clip is shorter than the other side. If so, rip back a little bit and try again. If you need to work in any ease, take two stitches on one side and one on the other.

Pretty soon you'll have an entire set in sleeve...

The last thing to note about setting in sleeves is that sometimes, depending upon what method you select, you might find the head of the sleeve cap at the shoulder kind of pulls into the shoulder of the body. Don't be disappointed if you try your sweater on and see that this is the case. I find this can happen with a slip stitch crochet seam (and also if you work a top down seamless sleeve cap). So after I'm done I wet just the top of the shoulders under the faucet, pin them out to block them to the right shape and wait until it's totally dry, as if I was blocking a larger piece.

All that's left is the pocket! And that's easy. I lined mine up how I wanted it, then pinned it with straight pins. Then I simply sewed in and out along the outermost edge formed by the single crochet edging.

And that's it! Just make sure to leave the top open since it's a pocket (I almost forgot!). I sewed a little bit into the top edge of both sides for stability.

Remember how we estimated yardage, way back in February before casting on? And how I said I liked to over-estimate so I didn't have to sweat it in the end? If I wasn't in that habit I would have cut it really close. I had a skein leftover, but look how much I would have had left if I hadn't over-estimated.

And folks... that's it! Tomorrow I'll show off my finished sweater, and invite you to post links to yours. I hope you've enjoyed my very first knit-along!!

Shall we all meet again on another vintage knitting project later this year? :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Briar Rose Vintage KAL: Blocking your sweater

Hi everyone! Can you believe we're almost officially done with the knit-along??

It was so interesting reading everyone's thoughts about A Stitch in Time Vol. 2 and your next knitting projects. And I know there are several of you out there who aren't knitters yet but I can tell you're leaning in that direction... c'mon! You know you want to learn! :)

Today is my second-to-last instructional post for the knit-along. I can't believe it's almost June 1st. We started back on March 15th. That sounds so long ago! I can't believe how time as flown by. Now, I know that not everyone is nearing the finish line just yet, although there are already a few fantastic finished sweaters in the Flickr group pool. I'd like to do a round-up post of as many finished sweaters as possible, but I think I'm going to wait at least a few weeks after the official cast off date of June 1st to give more people a chance to catch up. Does that sound reasonable to everyone? Please let me know if you'd be willing to let me post one or two photos from your finished sweater on my blog. You can either leave a comment and let me know, or email me at tasha {at} bygumbygolly {dot} com. I may be knocking on some of your virtual doors, too, to ask. Every one I've seen so far has been gorgeous!

Anyway, onto today's topic: blocking.

Thoughts on blocking

Many of you will already know how to block a sweater, so you won't need any suggestions from me on how to do that. But for those of you who have never blocked anything, or never blocked a sweater, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the subject.

Blocking can be kind of like magic. You take a piece of knitting that might be lumpy and wrinkly from sitting in your knitting bag for weeks or months at a time and turn it into a piece of art. Okay, maybe it's not that dramatic, but it sure can make the difference between a polished piece an an unpolished one. (And when you're talking about colorwork like intarsia or fair isle it is absolutely essential, and in those cases blocking really is magic.)

Everyone blocks a little bit differently. Some people steam block, or block by spritzing their pieces with a water bottle and pinning them out that way. I don't do either of those things. I wet block my sweater pieces, meaning I soak them in soapy water, wring the pieces out, and then block the damp pieces. Why? Because I like to treat the pieces of my knitting like I'll be treating the finished sweater, and I hand wash all of my handknit sweaters, even if I'm using superwash yarn. It's just my personal preference. If I had my own washing machine with a gentle cycle or no agitator I might think differently, but I don't. So I hand wash.

Don't be scared by how your pieces look

When you finish knitting all the pieces of your sweater you might look at them and think, "Wow, those look a bit crappy." And they kind of do, don't they?

But that's okay, that's just what they look like. The edges curl in because of the stockinette and they're a bit wrinkled. Depending on how your swatch behaved, the pieces might not even be the right size yet. If you're a new sweater knitter don't be scared by this stage. It'll take some work to get the pieces looking right, and that's why we block.

How I block my sweater pieces

As I said, I wet block my pieces. It's so easy! I fill up my sink with lukewarm water and a bit of gentle soap. You can use something specifically for knits like Soak or just a bit of your normal laundry detergent. Then I plop my pieces in the sink and make sure that they're completely covered with water. (Most of  the bubbles disappeared by the time I took the photo.)

I set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and go about other business for awhile. I periodically pass by the sink and move the pieces around. If you're using a non-superwash wool (i.e. one that may felt) be very careful moving your pieces around as you don't want to accidentally felt them during the blocking process! But this time I'm using a cotton blend, so I squished them several times just to make sure they got thoroughly soaked through.

After the timer goes off I drain the sink, rinse the pieces and squeeze all the moisture I can out of them by hand. Then I put them on an old towel, being careful not to let them stretch out of shape as I move them. They'll look pretty gnarly at this stage.

Not much like pieces of a sweater, huh? Don't worry, we're getting there. I then lay the pieces out on the towel (no real precision necessary) and roll them up.

Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze to get out all the excess moisture you can. Then you're ready to block.

I use blocking mats and rust-free pins, but you can use those foam mats they make for kids to play on, or a towel stretched out on a bed that no one plans to sleep in that night. (It can take 24 hours or more for things to dry, depending on your weather and climate.)

Lay your pieces out on the mat and begin pinning them to the dimensions you planned. It's going to take some time, so be patient.

This part is important, and I think sometimes forgotten. Block with a tape measure!

It's easy to block something smaller or bigger than you planned simply on accident. Knitting is stretchy, and while you know you'll be able to block your pieces to the size you planned because you knit a gauge swatch, if you don't pay attention you might stretch the knitting too much or not stretch it enough and you'll be disappointed with the fit. All that could have been avoided if you just measured key locations. I usually measure the following when I block: bust, waist, length to armhole, across the shoulders, width and length of sleeves.

If you know that your finished sweater is supposed to be 38" total, that means your front and back pieces should be 19" wide at the widest part (just before the armhole bind off). If you know it's supposed to be 14" from the cast on edge to the armhole bind off, make sure it's really 14". If you accidentally stretched it to 15", you can easily prod things back into place with your hands (I like to use two open hands laid on the knitting to do this). Don't be afraid to spend some time with the pieces to get them to the right shape. You will be much happier with the fit of your sweater in the long run if you spend the extra time with your pieces while blocking them!

Make sure to use a tape measure when you block your sleeve pieces, too. I like to block my sleeve pieces next to each other so I can easily eyeball them to make sure they're the same height. Because ribbing tends to stretch out easily, I like to shove it in as close as I can while blocking.

Pin around all the curves and anywhere you have a stockinette edge, because those will curl in and you want them to be as flat as possible for seaming.

Once you're done poking and prodding and pinning everything in place, all you have left to do is wait for the pieces to dry completely (and I mean completely!) and then sew them all together. Yay! Sewing up will be my last topic to cover for the knit-along.

I still can't believe we're almost done, can you??

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Stitch in Time Vol. 2

I'm not sure why I waited so long (oh yes, I kept forgetting!) but I finally pre-ordered A Stitch in Time, Volume 2. I am so excited for this book!

Susan Crawford (who blogs at Just Call Me Ruby) and Jane Crawford also put out A Stitch in Time, Volume 1, which includes dozens of vintage knitting patterns, re-worked slightly for different sizes (since we know most vintage knitting patterns only come in one size) and minor tweaks, but staying true to the original patterns. And Susan also wrote Vintage Gifts to Knit, a book of her own vintage-inspired knitting patterns. That's the book my Perfect Christmas Jumper came from.

I sometimes feel like the crafty blogosphere is chock full of sewists who are enthusiastic about vintage sewing, but those interested in vintage knitting are a little fewer and further between. That's one of the reasons I started the Briar Rose Vintage Knit-along, and I'll probably continue with other vintage knit-alongs in the future. And that's also one of the reasons why I love Susan's books, because not only do they appeal to us vintage-obsessed knitters in the crowd, but as I've seen, they've appealed to knitters who typically look to more modern styles as their influence, too.

Here's a few preview photos that they've published from the book. This pattern is called the Jan Sweater (Ravelry pattern page) and was originally published in 1938. Look at the chevroning on the front and the back!

© Arbour House Publishing

© Arbour House Publishing

This is knit in fingering weight, and I'm loving it in light yellow just as shown (though I'm lacking the enviable platinum hair of the model, lol). I'm thinking a cotton blend for summer, like KnitPicks Comfy in Semolina, or Brown Sheep Cotton Fine in Sunflower Gold or Buttercream. I have narrow shoulders so I imagine if I knit this, I would alter the boatneck slightly.

There's also Gathered Neckline With Bow (Ravelry pattern page). Isn't it gorgeous? (As an aside, I discovered through Ravelry sometime ago that this model is a knitter!)

© Arbour House Publishing

I love that the bow is a wearably small size, and like the little picot detail on the sleeves, bow and neckband. This one is actually knit in laceweight, and  would be beautiful with a subtly variegated hand-dyed yarn. (It's funny that I wrote this, because I thought of that and only then went to see what yarn was used. Turns out it's from British indie dyer, Posh Yarns.) This could layer nicely under a cardigan, don't you think? I think both of these patterns would be suitable for beginning sweater knitters, too!

Here's the cool thing I discovered when I pre-ordered the book: you get a copy of the Jan Sweater as a .pdf!

Anyway, I can't wait for this Volume 2 to be released. I've thumbed through Volume 1 so many times I can't even count. It's a fantastic resource with a wealth of information and tips inside, and I think it's wonderful that they included the original vintage patterns alongside their revisions of them. Due to my own distractions I have yet to complete anything from the book, however, though I might have cast on a little something Thursday evening before I'd quite completed Briar Rose...

The pattern is It Cannot Fail to Please (Ravelry pattern page). Don't you just love the names of some vintage patterns (well, the ones that aren't like "No. 45 with Long Sleeves")? I really wanted to use this yarn from my stash, Cascade Ultra Pima, a DK weight cotton, but I also really wanted to knit this pattern, which called for fingering weight. I swatched, did some math, and I'm off and sailing with my modified gauge. I'll talk about that more the further I get into the project, but if you'd like, you can follow along on my Ravelry project page.

Any other vintage knits on your needles, or that you're planning? Do share!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our wedding invitations

I'm so excited to share this post with you!

Mel and I have been furiously making plans for our wedding and the first family party that we'll be having. When I announced our engagement, I mentioned we would probably end up doing a very small ceremony, with the bigger events being family parties in each location where we have a lot of family, and that's exactly what we're going to do. We're trying to keep everything as casual and low-key as possible, and that's all working out just fine.

Once we conferred with several important attendees on a date for the party, my mind went into overdrive to design an invitation. We had just under two months before the party date. Designing something for yourself, your own harshest critic, on a really strict deadline? Not easy.

But somehow, just before VLV I hatched the perfect idea for the invite. I knew it was going to take some work. The time frame was going to be tight: we get home from VLV on a Thursday. We go to work Friday. We go out to Mel's parents' house on Saturday to discuss party plans (since they are hosting the party) and completely firm up the date. Sunday we start taking photos for the invites, I design the invite, and I send it to Moo to get printed on postcards by Monday night.

It sounded crazy. No way could I whip up an invite in Photoshop in one day. I am not a graphic designer by trade and though I've had lots and lots of experience designing things over the years, it usually takes me a little while until I get into a rhythm with a project. One day to find the rhythm and get it all done? Yeah right.

And what if the photos came out crappy? Or the lighting was bad? That's a problem I have a lot in our condo, which is where we were planning on taking the photos because we needed a solid-colored background and didn't have enough time to inquire around for alternate locations, and no time to even get to and from an alternate location with me still having time every other waking moment of the day to design, anyway. There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong.

But you know what? It went off like clockwork. Mel's photos came out great. I managed to design an invitation that we are still both giddy about and that everyone so far has loved. My hair didn't dry after setting it a bit too late on Sunday, but that was no matter as I set up the tripod after work on Monday, worked on my photo that evening and submitted the design to Moo before my self-imposed deadline. The cards even came 4 days early so we got them in the mail sooner than we planned, stuffed in brown postcard-sized envelopes with National Park stamps. And the invites looked freaking amazing. It was meant to be!

While I have you on the edge of your seat, I'll first run through my inspiration for our wedding invitations. Though technically, these aren't wedding invitations, they are invitations to the party, the first of which will be held the day after the wedding. We'll reuse the design, altering time and location information on the front and back for the other parties later in the year. (Moo will print runs as small as 20 postcards, which is perfect.)

I wanted the invitation to look like an old west show poster. Great fonts, somewhat sensational writing style, the whole bit. Something like this...

Or this...


No small order. We also wanted to slip in a little reference to our favorite postcard. Our friend Jen sent us this vintage postcard after the first time she went camping with us a couple of years ago. She replaced the name on the front with our names, as you can see.

And last but not least, we were inspired by this particular photo of everyone's favorite vintage Western couple, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I loved how they were standing back to back, giving each other a sly little eye. And I just love Roy and Dale, anyway.


I also wanted the photos to look a bit like hand-colored vintage photos, to be more in keeping with the idea for the rest of the invite.

And this is what I came up with! First, the photos we took.

This is Mel's original photo (well, after Photoshopping out a light switch and nails in the wall). Before...

And after...

My before...

And my after...

And the grand finale, the front of our finished invitation! (Last names blurred. :) Hopefully this won't be a letdown after my big buildup, hee hee!

Isn't that so us?? It feels great to have designed something I am truly 100% happy with, for such a special occasionour special occasion! :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Briar Rose Vintage KAL: A few more tips

I've been following our Flickr group discussions carefully, and there are 3 topics I thought would be important for me to touch on here for everyone to read.

Working decreases on purl rows

I may have touched on this elsewhere, but I wanted to mention it here too. In the pattern as written, it tells you to start off the armhole decreases as follows:

k2tog each end of the next 4 rows

Either this is an editing mistake, or they assumed that you would understand that on the purl rows, you would actually p2tog. Either way, the general rule is work knit-oriented decreases on knit rows, and purl-oriented ones on purl rows.

Now this is an area that I'm usually fairly anal-retentive about, as you'll know from when I touched on mirrored increases earlier in the KAL. But I didn't talk about decreases. Here's how I work them when I have to do decreases on both sides of a piece, like for the armholes on the back of a sweater.

When the right side (RS) is facing me, I knit two stitches, then work a SSK decrease, which slants to the left, and will follow the slope of the decrease of the armhole. I knit across the row in pattern until I have 4 stitches left. I work a k2tog decrease, then knit the last 2 sts. This slants that decrease to the right, following the slope of the decrease of that armhole.

When I need to work decreases on the purl side as well, I want those decreases to be facing the same way as the decreases on the knit row, right? On the edge where I worked a k2tog, I work a p2tog. From the right side (RS) of the piece, they will look exactly the same. Then on the edge where I worked a SSK, I work a p2tog tbl (purl 2 together through the back loop, which is shown here). How do I keep track? Well I just remember those plain k2tog and p2tog stack up on the same side, and remember the "weird" ones are on the other side. Not very scientific. ;) But if you're ever in doubt, just turn your work to the RS and take a look and see if the decreases are slanting in the same direction.

The pocket

I wasn't initially planning to cover much about the pocket because it's fairly straightforward. However, Ingrid and Liz discovered that the pocket, worked to the size according to the pattern, comes out a bit bigger than pictured in the pattern. My mistake for making an assumption when I hadn't yet knit the pocket myself! :)

The pattern as written:
Using larger needles, cast on 27 sts.
1st row - K.
2nd row - K twice into first st, k11, k3tog, k11, k twice into last st.
Repeat the last 2 rows until side measures 3". Cast off.

[From the "Make Up" section]
Sew on collar and pocket, working 1 row of D.C. around pocket.

Here's the first thing to clarify that I didn't notice was in the pattern until the Flickr discussion: double crochet in Australia and the UK is single crochet in the United States (here is a comparison chart). So when you work a crochet border on your pocket, work it in single crochet (video here), those of you in the U.S.! While the pattern doesn't specify, you're going to want to work in a crochet hook as close to the same size diameter as the needle size you used to knit the pocket. If you used 3mm needles to knit the pocket, try and use a crochet hook close to 3mm as you can. In the U.S. there's no 3mm hook, so you'd want to go the next size up, which would be D, or work with a smaller hook but work pretty loosely to make up the difference.

Don't have any crochet hooks close to the size of your knitting needle, don't feel like getting one or don't know how to crochet (though it's a very useful craft to learn)? That's okay, too. There's no rule that says you must crochet a border on the pocket! You can go ahead and sew the pocket on as-is if you'd like.

Now here's the second thing to clarify about the pocket: if you work it in the same size needle as the body, and work to 3" along the side edge, you may discover it seems a little big. There are several ways to fix this.

You can try going down a needle size (I tend to for garter stitch, anyway, and did so for my collar) to make it a bit smaller overall.

To make it less tall, don't work until the sides are 3", but try a little bit shorter, like 2 or 2.5".

You can also cast on less stitches, making sure the final number of stitches is still an odd number like the original pattern. So instead of casting on 27 and working every other row like this:

2nd row (and every even row) - K twice into first st, k11, k3tog, k11, k twice into last st.

You could instead do something like cast on 23 sts (not 27), and work every other row like this:

2nd row (and ever even row) - K twice into first st, k9, k3tog, k9, k twice into last st.

It changes the pattern very little, but it will keep the same dimension, just cutting a few stitches from each side.

And that brings us to the last thing to clarify about the pocket: K twice into the first st is just a form of increasing one stitch, like knitting into the front and back of a stitch (KFB). You can choose whatever type of increase you'd prefer. If you plan on omitting the crochet border, I would recommend making sure your increase is at least 1, if not 2, stitches in from the edge, because it will make it a bit easier to seam. This is usually how increases are done on something that's going to be seamed, like the side seam increases/decreases of a sweater or armhole decreases when you set in a sleeve.

The button placket / button bands

Barbara brought this to my attention in the Flickr group. The pattern as written tells you to separate the front into two halves to create the button placket up the center front when your armhole shaping is complete. I didn't actually think of this during my own knitting as I had planned the length of my own button placket from the top down.

That's after 16 rows, according to the pattern. At the pattern's row gauge of 8.5 rows per inch, that's only 1.88" up from the armhole BO row. That's kind of low, if you ask me, when you consider the fact that you start the neckline BO at 5.5". That button placket doesn't exactly look 3.62" long, nor does it look like it starts at the end of the armhole decreases, does it?

I would recommend working maybe another inch after your armhole shaping. I worked until 2.75" from the initial armhole BO row, then I split for the two halves of the front. (Note: I worked to an armhole depth of 7.5".) See how what I did more closely mimics the original pattern than what it tells you to do?

How did I arrive on 2.75"? I had already decided that I would start the neckline BO at 5.75", and I wanted my button placket to be 3" long. In hindsight, I probably would have lowered the neckline another .5" or so, as mine is a little tighter than I wanted it, but I can likely block that out.

Hope these tips help you. This has been one of the really fun parts of this knit-along, getting to learn from each other's knitting experiences!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Non-camping weekend activities

This weekend we were supposed to go camping in Wisconsin with our friends, but the weather had other plans.

Now, we are not lightweights. We've camped in the rain. We've camped in the cold. We've camped in a bazillion percent humidity, with mosquitoes biting everything that wasn't covered with a layer of bug spray. We can make almost anything work. So before our trip, we stalked the weather forecasts. It was looking rather grim all week but we kept hoping for a change. However, on Friday the forecast for the weekend was supposed to be in the low 50s (as the high) and 80% chance of rain with 15-20 MPH winds. So sadly, we made the call to cancel our trip. (Which is a good thing in the end, because the weather turned out to be closer to the high 40s with constant drizzle, wind and fog. Because yes, I checked, just to make sure it was as miserable as we thought it would be.) I was seriously bummed because I was really looking forward to it, but the good news is we have another camping trip planned at the end of the month. Hopefully the weather will cooperate!

Instead, we spent the day with our friends who we would have been camping with. We passed on the Vintage Bazaar because for some reason none of us were feeling it that day—ever just have one of those days? We decided to hit a couple of antique malls in the suburbs and have lunch (I had a fried green tomato sandwich, yum!). Actually, we only intended to go to one place originally, but I mixed up the name and Googled the wrong place. It turned out to be a happy accident, and was only 5 minutes from the place I was actually trying to find.

First, I spied an entire row of wonderful aprons...

Look at the yellow one with the woman with the basked on her head, or the floral rick rack trimmed one in the middle, or the red gingham one with a diamond pattern to the right of that, or the one on the far right with the light green bottom, black rick rack and pocket. So many lovely aprons all in one place! None came home with me, however, because as much as I love aprons like that, I don't find them practical so I stick to the kind that tie around your neck.

But we did find an awesome apron for Mel...

(In case you're wondering why there are two cast iron skillets on the stove, we made Huevos Rancheros for dinner the night before. One pan for eggs, one for tortillas.)

I found a rather un-PC vintage embroidery transfer...

One of the antique malls had oodles and oodles of vintage buttons, so many I couldn't even go through them all. I did pick up a few sets of buttons, still on the cards. 

While I was deep in some tubs of buttons, Mel brought something over to show me...

A vintage tooled leather purse in perfect condition! I've been looking for a purse just like this for awhile, but I've had a hard time finding one I like that you carry over your arm instead of over your shoulder, let alone one in good condition. In fact this one was in such good condition I actually wondered if it was really vintage! Even the inside looked as good as new. But the age of the zippers was the first giveaway that it was indeed an old purse. And the second was a piece of paper slipped inside. You can see it in there in that back pocket...

Isn't this neat? An old advertisement for the brand! I love how the woman is shown in gloves...

And it sure is a dandy purse, isn't it?

The last find was a great vintage dress. But before I show you the outside of the dress, I wanted to show you sewists two features of the inside of this dress that I found interesting. The neckline facing has an unhemmed lining that was sewn into the seam but not to the facing. I'm not sure what kind of fabric this is, but it's slightly stiff and basically a loose woven mesh...

And then even more stiff was a lining under the peplum. It's similar to the lining under the facing, but white and a bit more stiff, also unhemmed, and about 3/4 the length of the peplum itself...

Interesting construction, huh?

And now you can see the dress! It's handmade, with a straight skirt and peplum all the way around. A little fancier style than I usually go for, but it was $30, in excellent condition, and I always have a soft spot for handmade vintage clothing. And did I mention it was a perfect fit, a fact I didn't discover until I got it home and tried it on?

That's the new purse to show you the scale. It's a really nice size, isn't it? It'll hold quite a bit, unlike so many of my other vintage purses. And in case you're curious, those are 1940s pee wee cowboy boots I'm wearing, and I'm probably wearing them for our wedding. (More on that another day soon!)

But enough about the accessories, isn't the dress great? I wouldn't say it takes the place of roasting marshmallows by a campfire in the woods and sleeping in a tent under the stars, but I'll take it!
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