Tuesday, 25 September 2012


I always love the part, in any Laura Ingalls book, when the family moves into a new home, and Ma places the china shepherdess on a shelf. 


‘Well’, Pa said at the table. ‘We’re settled at last on our homestead claim.’

‘Yes,’ said Ma. ‘All but one thing. Mercy, what a day this has been. I didn’t get time to drive the nail for the bracket."

‘I’ll tend to it, Caroline, as soon as I drink my tea,’ Pa said.

He took the hammer from his toolbox under the bed, and drove a nail into the wall between the table and the whatnot. ‘Now bring on your bracket and the china shepherdess!’ he said.


I think in a million ways, the pioneers had Martha Stewart and a host of other home economic experts beat, on the domestic goddess front.

Think about it. They were the ultimate do-it-yourselfers. Look at the tools they worked with, the things they made – just to keep their families clothed, fed and alive.

But they did all this without their lives becoming utilitarian. Their belongings don’t have a painful sort of simplicity or starkness. In a lot of ways, I think they found the wonderful place where beauty meets necessity.


Says Ma; "I am going to put up the little shepherdess just as soon as the roof is finished over our heads."


Need and aesthetic right on each other’s heels. Usefulness and thrift balanced with the art, to make a house a true home. And the idea that domesticity brings the most joy, when it is necessary, making comfort in chaos.

They were on to something, those pioneers.





Many thanks to sweet Kate, for teaching us all about pioneer life!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Summer Sewing

I don't know what it is about me and summer. All winter long I complain and shiver - hoping for the sunny days...but when they come, I feel like I'm  always looking the wrong way. While other  people are swimming and eating soft-serve ice-cream -  I find myself hunched over my sewing machine in the heat, spinster bun firmly in place. It might be kind of sad, except it is so clearly my choice.

I've been sewing clothes this summer, exploring the world of textile beyond cotton, and I have to say...I've been enjoying myself! I'm  not going to lie and say that sewing clothing is always 'easy-peasy'...that you can turn out flawless items with a little on-line help. Or that the results are better than you could buy. I'm  not oblivious to the quirks of a homemade garment. Really. I won't be offended if you ask me, "Did you make that?

BUT! There is extreme satisfaction in making something you can wear. So...really. You should try it!

Here are some links to free on-line patterns, and pictures to urge you onward.

At least I really hope they do!


Pro: The simplest, fastest skirt I've ever made.  Truly.

Con: Elastic waist. It always needs a belt.


Pro: Pockets!

Con: A little bulky around the waist

Pro: Funky - and the tutorial allows you to create a skirt to your preferred length.

Con: Nothing - except perhaps the gathering involved.


Pro: Simple. The 3' elastic waist is a great idea and very comfortable.

Con: Depending on the material you use, the long seams can pucker. It also takes quite a bit of little by little altering to make it fit just right.

Pro: Easiest tutorial ever! And a joy to pick out the fabric!!

Con: If you choose satin material...bring some patience to the project as well! Also - this project may ellicit sniggers comments from  family members.


What do you think? Let me know if you try any of these projects yourself!