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In Which I Talk About Summer

26 Jul

Hullo folks! How is it that the end of Summer approaches? I mean, didn’t it just start? And since I haven’t posted much about it yet, I thought I’d share some photographic highlights of my Summer thus far.

This photo sort of summarizes summer for me:

Feet on Dash

Feet on Dash

This Summer has seen its fair share of driving! Since we live in the country now, it means lots of treks to town for various sundries. I love driving in nice weather with the windows down and something like the Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979″ playing on the radio with my feet up on the dash. It’s bliss folks! Please note my moccasins which I picked up on a 4th of July trip to visit my Aunt in Oklahoma. Yet another “vintagey” item to cross of the wishlist!

Speaking of my trip to Oklahoma, the above kicks were not the only wonderful thing that I got on this trip. While in my Aunt’s antique filled basement she showed me what can only be described as THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SEWING MACHINE ON EARTH. I’m serious peeps, look at it:

SAMSUNGThis my friends is a Singer 185J. I believe this one was made in the early ’60s based on my research of its serial number. But ohmygoodness, that COLOR! Isn’t it glorious?? I guess I made such a fuss about how lovely this machine was because my amazingly generous Aunt gifted it to me. So I now have a new favorite sewing machine. She’s not fancy, she does just a straight stitch but oh my, what a nice stitch she does.

Also, the food this Summer has been spectacular. We signed up for a CSA this year from an organic farm which just so happens to be right down the road from us and we are weekly gifted with a share of the bounty. The below represents one weeks worth of food.

SAMSUNGIt’s been so much fun figuring out what to make every week in order to use up the stuff we get in the box. Though we didn’t sign up for the fruit share we’ve been gifted occasionally with lovely berries. Which I then turn into things like jams and tarts.

SAMSUNGThis particular tart is from The River Cottage Everyday Food Cookbook which is just wonderful. If you ever have a chance to pick it up, please do so!

We also had hay made on our property. Our maybe three acres of grass produced 220 bales of hay so now our barn is nicely stocked for the Winter. Which I hope comes very late this year.


I’ll leave you with the final joy of the summer, and that is our sheep. They are such lovely creatures. Unfortunately we lost one, our dear Hemingway, but I suppose that death is a part of life and that is something I’ll need to learn here on the farm.

SAMSUNGThis Summer has also seen an uptick in crafty pursuits on my part so stay tuned for future posts about sewing and the like. Hope you are all enjoying your Summers as well.


This n’ That

13 Sep

Folks I apologize for the disjointed turn this ol’ blog has taken of late. I’m sure things will settle down after the move (two weeks ’till closing, squee!!!) but for now here are some pictures of bits and bobs.

This little guy is Karl. Karl Marx. It’s sort of an inside joke but he’s a real love. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that he will be living with us for the long term. We’ve now rescued him from his original owners twice after they’d decided both times that they just couldn’t keep him and that putting him in the woods was the way to go. I know, heartless. He seems to like us, well me, quite a bit, which is very smart on his part. He enjoys a good purr and is still very playful. He has one serious draw back though, and that is that he likes to play with yarn. Our other cat largely ignores yarn so this is going to take some getting used to on my part.

Speaking of yarn, I’ve been a knitting fool lately. I made this darling baby hat for a coworker (haha, underneath the hat you can see my issues of Hobby Farms Magazine, Mother Earth News, and my Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog. Wonder what’s on my mind lately?).

This is the Aviatrix pattern. I crocheted the simple rose because it really looked like it needed some embellishment. I used a pink glass button for the chin strap. I can’t wait to give it to the Mom to be!

I also made these a while back but was surprised to find that they were not blogged.

Aren’t these the coolest? I wish I could say that they were destined to grace my little hannie-poos this fall, but I gifted them to my dear friend (who blogged them here) as I know she could put them to good use.

In sewing news I finished my daughter’s quilt and started one that will grace my bed. I’m really loving how with quilting, you don’t have to worry about fitting, though I will say I do miss making garments. On that topic, I’m excited to say that I’ll be meeting the lovely Gail when I travel to Chicago and she has graciously offered to go on a fabric store crawl with me. I’ll do a post soon with the patterns that I’ve chosen to buy fabric for!

Until next time!




7 Sep

Chicago Skyline 1930

Peeps, I’m so excited because my work is sending me to Chicago in a few weeks for some training. This city has been on my “to visit” list ever since I moved to the Midwest a year ago. I’m writing this for any suggestions of places I should eat, places I should visit, and, probably most importantly, places I can shop for fabric and yarn ;)

Thanks in advance for your tips!


I’ll Be Back Soon

31 Jul

Interesting things are in the works here at Eileen’s Basement, which may or may not lead to me actually having a basement of my own. Squee! More details as I get them but apologies for the unintended and unannounced bloggy break. Hope ya’ll are doing great!


Previously Unblogged- A Series of Garments

3 Jul

Well hello there! Did you all enjoy your weekend? Ours was good; we were pretty lucky and escaped much of the damage caused by the land hurricane  that ripped through the Midwest and East. Only one small tree fell over in our immediate neighborhood and we were lucky to keep our power on throughout, unlike an unlucky co-worker of mine whose power was out from Friday through Sunday! I had just staked my tomatoes with real stakes versus the previously used sticks that I found in the “woods” behind our house, so thankfully our plants made it through the amazingly strong winds that we had. One thing is for sure: I need an emergency kit and I need a plan because we are woefully unprepared for such a thing, were it to happen again.

Well enough of all that! This weekend also saw us taking a jaunt to Indianapolis, Indiana to visit the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. I bring this up because I wanted to show you what I wore to the big city.

Ack! My Midriff’s out!

I made this dress in March of 2010  out of a vintage rayon (my guess is that it’s 1940s as the hand is GLORIOUS) that I scored from ebay. This was when I was still living in Florida so a dress like this can be worn in March! I remember I actually debuted it by going to my knitting group and heading straight from there to go swing dancing with Casey! Ah, good times!

I used this McCalls pattern which I bought for a song on ebay as well. I’m still seriously floored that I only paid about $5 for this, including shipping!

I opted for the version without the bow tie back. I think it looks much cleaner without. I didn’t make any special adjustments to the dress that I remember, though wearing it now I realize that I should pick apart the waist seam and raise the waistline a bit as it has only recently come to my attention that I’m short waisted!

It was only after pulling this out of the closet that I realized that I have a lot of things that I’ve made over the years that have not been featured in blogland so I thought I’d start a little series to give these clothes some much needed attention. I also like to see how vintage pattern drawings translate into actual dresses so I’ll be including the snapshots of the actual patterns used to make the dresses.

I must now away to work some more on my July the Fourth dress! I’m hoping I can beat the clock since I don’t need it until we head out to view fireworks! I’ve done much of the bodice and am hoping that it is smooth sailing from here on out. I’ve been listening to the book “My Week With Marilyn” which I can stream through my local library. Isn’t technology grand?!

Until we meet again,



1 Jun

So I got a phone call today from the Historical Society that was putting on the Victorian Ball aaaaaand . . . it’s cancelled. :( Should I finish the dress? Or should I go sew a frivolous Forties sundress because it would cheer me up? Guess I have myself one fancy Hallowe’en costume this year!

What would you do?


Pretty Pattern Sunday #26

20 May

I grew up in a farming town in the San Joaquin valley in California. From an early age, Mexican culture has been an influential part of my life. Cinco de Mayo was celebrated almost on par with federal holidays in my hometown. Celebrations included traditional foods (nom!), dancing and dress. I’ll never forget the time in fifth grade I volunteered to learn the traditional Mexican hat dance with others in my class. I was so excited to wear the crisp white ruffled top with the multi-tiered, gathered and embellished skirt. What fun it was to dip and swirl, all while waving the ruffles in the skirt along in time to the music!

When I was older I moved to San Antonio, Texas where again, Mexican culture was a pervasive part of everyday life. I loved to go to the shops at El Mercado which were full of pinatas, sugar skulls, bright pottery, santos, and beautifully embroidered tops. I’d eat lunch at Mi Tierra and stop for horchata and a churro on my way back to the car. Ah, good times.

This blouse is a great example of Mexican influence on mainstream fashion of last century. These patterns in my collection are some of my most treasured and the ones I most want to make!

Living now in the Midwest, I feel a sense of nostalgia for the culture that has been a huge part of my life. Recent posts from Vixen Vintage and Johanna Ost of the vintage Southwest have added to my sense of nostalgia as I loved every photograph in their posts which capture perfectly a certain time and place in history.

What culture has had a major influence in your life?


It’s a Rambling Sort of Post

19 May

Pshew, what a week! I feel like up ’til now, I’ve had nary a moment to sit down and write. At work I’ve been attending a “Seminar for New Managers” which was surprisingly eye-opening. One of the things we were made to do was come up with a vision statement for our lives. Once I’d articulated this, I wasn’t too surprised to find that in taking this job, I’ve moved away from what I see as my life’s work and it forced me to set goals to work towards to get back on the right track.

Yet Another Daphne and Delilah

I think for the most part, my life is in good balance. However, I crave a job where I feel like I’m helping others,particularly the young, and while, in some small way, I’m helping a very select few in the current job I’m in, I’m not serving the cause for the greater good necessarily. Anyway, it’s something to work towards. One of my favorite lines in a song from my current favorite band The Avett Brothers is “Decide what to be and go be it” and is exactly what I need to do, now that I’ve decided. Ha ha, I don’t think my work had intended for me to come to this conclusion, but I’m very grateful nonetheless.

Kai-Mei Socks

Otherwise, once I got home, I worked non-stop on the corset. Wow, what a beast that has been! Of course, I had to make it harder on myself by completely changing the pattern which was supposed to be a single layer corset but I turned into a double layer for more firmness. I also have a tendency to read instructions, only to completely disregard or forget what I’d learned later! Because of this, I inserted the “pips” side of my busk in incorrectly and had to rip out all the tiny sewing machine stitches to get to it, cut another frontspiece for the busk and reinsert it. Finally, I found out that a grommet setting tool would set me back $20 when I’ve spent a goodly amount on this costume already and decided to use my eyelet pliers and place eyelets there instead. It’s serving its purpose, but the backside of the eyelets are now catching on the laces and I’m ardently hoping they hold out long enough for the ball.

Shaelyn Shawl

I’ve since finished the corset and gave myself a day off from sewing to regather my strength and fortitude because I’m really going to need it for the dress! I’ve finally settled on a bodice and skirt pattern from the Truly Victorian pattern company. I decided to figure out how I’m going to embellish it before I get to sewing as I don’t want anything up in the air later down the line. So today means a trip to Joanns to buy embellishments and interlining.

Sorry for the rambling post friends, it’s been that sort of week, but I intend to write up a few posts so I’m more “regular” next week! Have a great day and weekend!


P.S. There has been a lot of knitting of little things around here recently, the pictures of which I’ve inserted into this post. The links for the patterns are here, here, and here.

Thrifty Advice

12 May

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I love me some thrift store shopping. I don’t know what I love more, the thrill of the hunt or saving some major bucks. I love thrifting so much it’s come to the point that I hardly set foot in a mall anymore unless I have to and the only thing I really buy new is underthings, socks, and shoes. I’m so cheap thrifty that I even tend to scoff at thrift store prices higher than $5!

Now I’ve been thrifting since the time I could drive myself to thrift shops, some fifteen years ago (eep!), largely because my Mom refused to set foot in them. Growing up, she told me, she had to shop in them for clothes and that memory always put her off thrift shops. In the mid nineties, when I began going to thrift stores, it was not an uncommon occurrence for me to find great items from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It’s hard to believe now, but I actually favored the ultra mod clothes of the ’60s and the hippie style of the ’70s over the feminine clothes of the ’50s. Ah if only I could talk to the me of then!

Nowadays, it’s not so easy to find great vintage items but it’s not impossible. I thought I would provide some tips for savvy thrifting. The pictures you’ll see in this post are a result of the amazing thrift store haul I had yesterday!

Tip#1 Take your time.

Stainless Steel “Little Brown Jug” Paid: $4 Retails for $60!

This may seem like common sense, but I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve taken friends thrifting only to be rushed by them to move on to something else when I still wanted to shop. I’d say at the very least, allot yourself an hour to really dig through the racks to find the hidden treasures. It’s not uncommon for me to spend at least two hours in a thrift store!

Tip #2 Be willing to dig

Sweet little cotton nightgown detail

This tip goes hand in hand with taking your time. Go to the rack of choice, and literally flip through all the items! Usually thrift store racks are pretty crowded with items and “the good stuff” can easily be buried in amongst the rabble.

Beautifully detailed slip

Yesterday I found a great haul of vintage slips and nightgowns that were hidden in the pyjamas rack with flannel nighties and the like. I actually ended up putting a few slips back for other folks to enjoy!

Detail of a sweet cotton and lace slip

Tip#3 Have a plan

Cool ’50s(?) apron

This tip has two parts: have a plan for how you’re going to tackle the store. For me, I always start in housewares. Not so long ago, I used to go to housewares last. Well this cost me an amazing $10 vintage Singer sewing machine, in its original wooden case! Ever since then, I head straight to the housewares. I then go to linens to search for fabric and other household linens.

Detail of a dishcloth find

From there I head to the dishes section and on to clothes starting with whatever rack suits what I’m particularly interested in that day.

Early 19th Century Ohio pottery maker plate. I’m still researching this find.

The second part of this tip is to have a plan for what you are interested in. If, like me, you don’t want to potentially miss amazing vintage sewing machines, you’ll head to housewares first. However, depending on what you’re searching for that day, and if you’re low on time, have a plan of attack to search for just those items that are at the top of your list. I usually have a running list in my head of things I want to find, though it usually seems like when I’m looking for something specific, I can’t find it!

Amazing Dritz sewing basket!

Tip#4 Educate yourself

Glorious scarves!

If you are interested in vintage clothing, head to your local library and check out books on vintage clothes! Read them, or at least look at the pictures to get an idea of the construction and silhouettes of differing time periods. If it’s glassware, furniture, early housewares or toys that have your fancy, check out books on that. Read blogs that are dedicated to the items you’re interested in. Learn about early construction techniques, vintage clothing labels, and early textiles. This will help you identify the real vintage items from those that are vintage throwbacks . . . though you may not care if you like the piece enough! Learn to identify quality fabrics, for example, I can spot wool on a rack from ten feet away! Buying quality items ensures that those pieces you do buy will last you for a long time with proper care and feeding.

Tip #5 Have Fun!

Detail of the apron fabric

This is the simplest tip of all. Just have fun with it. If you don’t expect too much, you won’t be let down and when you do find amazing things, you’ll be elated! Take a like-minded buddy with you as those are some of the most fun trips of all, even if you do end up trying to out-spot items from one another!

Well I hope you enjoyed reading my tips for thrifting. Did I not have an unusually amazing haul yesterday?! I’m still amazed!

One last thing, don’t forget to enter my giveaway, as there is still plenty of time!

Be thrifty friends,


They Grow So Fast

4 May

Peeps, not too long ago, I showed you a picture of my future garden. Well take a gander at these babies today!

What you’re seeing there is a couple of tomatoes, peppers, ground cherries, jalapenos and some very tiny budding lavender! Huzzah!

This one is yet more peppers, and some delicious basil thrown in for good measure. I can’t wait until everything is big enough to eat! This weekend we’re going to start building a raised bed on the very small plot of earth that we do have next to our patio. I need to buy containers for the plants that will not be placed in the raised bed.

Other than that, I think I’ll be finishing the fitting on my corset as my coutil has just arrived in the mail. I still need to do first fitting sans bones and then second fitting with bones.

Anyone else out there doing some gardening this weekend? How about corset building?