50 Days

Photo: Something big is on the horizon. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is soaring into theaters in 50 DAYS!



My family is unfortunately coping with a very difficult time right now and there has been no time to spend either sewing or doing much writing. So with nothing new to share but bad news, I thought I would instead give you a peek into one of my favorite hobbies.  Archery!

Testing draw weight at the ren fair.

Testing draw weight at the ren fair.

 When my brother and I were little we would take sticks from the back yard and make them into bows with strings made from our mom’s crocheting yarn. More sticks made arrows and we would happily run around our back yard shooting imagined enemies.

Robin Hood was my hero growing up, until the first Lord of the Rings film came out and Legolas’s archery skills blew me away.

   (Not that I don’t still love Robin Hood. If anyone knows of a book that twists the RH legend and places him as the villain then tell me IMMEDIATELY because I want to read it. If it doesn’t exist then it needs to be written. Now.)

     When I was sixteen my dad bought me what is arguably one of my most prized possessions. A six-foot, ash longbow.

American Flatbow (left) and English Longbow (right)

American Flatbow (left) and English Longbow (right)

Sorry, it’s not the best picture but it’s pretty hard to take a good photo of something that’s taller than you with no help!  The longbow was handmade by Bill Darr at Whipperwill Archery http://www.whipperwilarchery.com/.  It is a beautiful piece and I would buy from them again.

The Flatbow belonged to my grandfather and I believe is at least, if not more than, sixty years old. I refinished it (it was pretty beat up) and bought it a new string. Due to its age and draw weight (it’s 30-35 pounds and too light for me) I rarely shoot it, but it CAN be shot.

As you can see, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to bows, I just really dislike the look of the modern compound bows.



A straight on shot of a bull’s eye.

I’m not the best shot in the world (obviously I only took pictures of boast-worthy shots) but I hit what I want to hit. And seriously, drawing faces on balloons and shooting them is probably the best therapy/anger managment available.

Gowns of Halloweens Past

Is it Halloween yet? No, don’t answer that, you’ll just depress me.  It’s only April and I’m already busy planning Halloween.  We picked our theme two years ago (you read that right, we usually figure out decoration themes a year or more in advance), and I’m 90% sure I have my costume planned (not telling!). Now I just have to wait.

     To tide me over I thought I’d post a review of my last two Halloween costumes. Last year we chose ‘Haunted Faery Tale’ as or theme and the year before that was ‘Wrecked Pirate Ship’.   My costume and the decorated foyer are featured below. 

The Pirate Ballgown.

The Pirate Ballgown.

We covered the walls with black plastic tablecloths then ripped cardboard into planks and painted them to give them a wood texture. Then we glued plastic crabs all over and draped some tattered fabric. With dim, green lighting and a wrecked-ship sound effect CD it looked amazing.

My costume for that year was based on Georgian ball gowns but given a pirate flare.

Here’s a different angle, from when I wore it to a pirate fest, sadly I have no close ups.

(Historical costumers, please forgive the horrible silhouette, I could not even properly lace the gown, much less wear stays, because I had to go straight to a performance after the Pirate Fest)

Second Wearing at Haunted Pirate Fest.

Second Wearing at Haunted Pirate Fest.

The second costume I want to share with you is from our Haunted Faery Tale party, I went for a generic Evil Queen look.

Evil Queen.

Evil Queen.

 Please excuse my vanity, this was the best picture of the dress but the weird face I’m making . . . not so much.  For this dress, I took inspiration from my favorite costume designer, Colleen Atwood ( Sweeney Todd, Snow White and the Huntsman, to name a few of her movies). She frequently uses the opening pattern on the front of the bodice.

Hope you enjoyed looking at my work, I have a huge backlog of costumes that will eventually be posted (except I’m getting distracted by new ones, begging to be sewn). Happy weekend.

Titanic Exhibit

I figured I would save my review of the South Florida Science Museum’s Titanic Artifact Exhibit for April 14.  Having been a Titanic enthusiast for as long as I can remember, (well before I saw the movie, thank you very much) I truly enjoyed the exhibit. For the protection of the delicate artifacts, we could not use a camera but I’ve found several pictures online from the exhibit.

An exhibit to remember

 Above is their recreation of a first class room.

And the third class.

As a note of interest to South Florida natives, they had a small exhibit on Madeleine Astor and John Ryerson, Titanic survivors who lived and died in Palm Beach.

And, of course, they had a gift shop.

My mom bought herself a gorgeous tea cup. They had replicas from all classes but we thought the third class ones were the prettiest.

Replica of a third class tea cup and saucer.

Replica of a third class tea cup and saucer.



My loot. The book is very enjoyable, not quite the in-depth research I was hoping for but it has a lot of first-hand anecdotes that really let you look into the individual stories that make this event so memorable. 

And this little oddity, a tooth paste holder. It’s hard to envision tooth paste coming any differently then what we know now. Apparently, they found so many of these jars in the wreck that experts think they were provided in bulk by the ship. This jar, a replica of the ones displayed in the exhibit, is advertising itself as cherry flavored. Ewwwwwww.


Tooth paste holder.

Tooth paste holder.

 As an Irish Dancer, I was tickled when I walked into the first corridor of the exhibit and found that they were playing the Countess Cathleen slip jig from Riverdance. It actually fit the beginning of the exhibit very well, so hopeful and lively.

How to Train Your Fan Girl.

I have a little confession.


I mean serious, obsessive, lip-sync-every-line, want-all-the-merchandise love. I even love the spin-off series, I was afraid to watch it at first because how good could it be, right? I will never lose faith again, the series is AMAZING. I’ve seen every episode of Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk repeatedly and now I am anxiously waiting the premiere of HTTYD 2 and the third season Dragon Masters.  And the soundtrack? My god the soundtrack.

This long-winded, fan-girling post is in honor of the release of the final trailer for HTTYD2 which arrives in theaters June 13. Approximately 63 days and 6 hours from now.  In celebration, I’m posting a sneak peek of my Berkian warrior costume.

Embroidery detail for Berkian Warrior costume.

Embroidery detail for Berkian Warrior costume.

Inspired by traditional Viking embroidery, this dragon was my first venture into hand embroidering. I really don’t have the patience to do anything fancy but I confess to being very pleased with the results.

If you still doubt how much I adore HTTYD then allow me to introduce Hiccup, my darling monster of a guinea pig.


"My name's Hiccup, great name I know . . ."

“My name’s Hiccup, great name I know . . .”

He’s got his helmet and is ready to fight dragons.

If you haven’t seen the newest trailer yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OH_HLY2Mzk

Arsenic Bustle Dress Research

Come June, I will be heading up to Willimantic Connecticut to visit my Aunt and enjoy their annual ‘Victorian Days’ event.  That means I finally have a reason to make the bustle dress I’ve been dreaming of for four years. If the event were closer, I would probably make several gowns. Unfortunately, we’re heading up on the train and my mother keeps stressing me to ‘pack light’.

     What is this Light Packing she speaks of?

     Despite the fact that one cannot pack light when attending a Victorian event, I will do my best. I’m considering a dress based on the natural form era, cutting out the need to pack a bustle and petticoats. I will make a day jacket/bodice and possibly an evening bodice and I will build the corset into these so I don’t have to bring another piece.

Below are my inspiration pictures.


I believe this is an extant gown from 1885, (the second bustle era)

(Side note: the second bustle era is known for its love of asymmetrical designs, featured in the dress above. Part of me thinks its adorable, but the other part of me wants to rip the dress apart and FIX IT.)June fashions, 1876 England, The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine

The Lady in green is almost wearing what I want, sort of a combination of this and the blue extant dress above. Even the fabric is similar to the green stripped fabric I have.

And this is where the Arsenic comes in.

Victorians were notorious for poisoning themselves with arsenic, it was used in a green dye that was then used in wallpaper, household items, and dresses. If you had a green dress, chances were you were wearing arsenic. And not just wearing it but killing yourself and everyone around you. 


“Examining the ballgown worn by one London society hostess, a doctor found 60 grains of Scheele’s Green per square yard – enough to kill 12 people. More alarmingly still, it was so loosely bound into the fabric that even the gentlest waltz could send it billowing out in a cloud of poisonous dust.

‘Well may the fascinating wearer of such a gown be called drop-dead gorgeous,’ he said. ‘She carries in her skirts poison enough to slay the whole of the admirers she may meet within half-a-dozen ballrooms.'”

For more information on this please read this article, it’s long but definitely worth the read!
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1245809/Found-wallpapers-dresses-libido-pills-Arsenic-Victorian-Viagra-poisoned-Britain.html#ixzz2yJG2aHzE