Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

I just finished Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.  It is a historical fiction account of the life of Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who used her dress making skills to buy her and her son's freedom. Those same skills eventually led to Washington, D. C. and the Lincoln White House where she served as Mrs. Lincoln's "modiste."  She not only made Mrs. Lincoln's dresses but would help to dress her for special events including her hair and accessories. She also became a good friend and confidant.

Jennifer Chiaverini is known for writing novels including historical events, quilters, quilts, and quilting.  I found it interesting that she was also drawn toward a historical figure who sews and who is the likely maker of what is known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt.  Elizabeth is thought to have made this quilt from the leftovers from the dresses she made for Mrs. Lincoln.

Madam Elizabeth Keckley was also known for her charitable endeavors and empathy for former slaves arriving in Washington, D.C. after the Emancipation Proclamation.  She lost her only son, who was fathered by a white man, in the Civil War.  He had signed up as a white man in Missouri during the early years and was killed in action in 1861.

Mrs. Lincoln was not Madam Keckley's only famous customer.  She also was the dressmaker for Varina Davis, First Lady of the South, and the wife of Robert E. Lee prior to the Secession.  During the 1860's she employed many seamstresses in her work shop.  Later in life she taught Sewing and Domestic Sciences at Wilberforce College.  Madam Keckley played a part in the Lincoln film produced by Steven Spielberg which was recently released.  This article tells more about the Costuming of the "Lincoln" film.

These figures can be found in the Lincoln Library and Museum.  I have read several biographies about Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln.  This book added great additional details and nuances.  I admire Elizabeth Keckley's skill with with a needle and thread and her determination to live an exemplary life.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Autumn Sewing

I finished a quilt that I pieced last summer.  It felt appropriate to do so as the colors matched the color palette I was seeing out my window.

Strong winds blew all the leaves off the trees in the front and then across the street into the neighbor's yard.  No more crunch time when I go out for the mail but I'll bet the yard guy will be glad to see those leaves gone.

The pattern for this quilt is Madeline, a Schnibbles pattern from Rosie and Co.

I made it from a charm pack (or two) of Dancing in the Rain by Laundry Basket.

I did very simple machine quilting.  This backing and stop border fabric is very subtle but has a cross weave of the colors in this fabric line.  I really like it.

Love the colors in this fabric line.

You may have noticed the rainbows dancing about.  Hubby has been working on a project.  Please enter into the crystal palace.  We are very Pollyanna-ish around here this week.

When the sun comes over the mountain or from behind a cloud,

we are dappled with dancing rainbows.  He is hoping all that color will help me manage winter because it is coming and soon.

This is my other fallish project.  Apples and more apples.

Aren't they the cutest?  I piece them up during the day and hand applique the stems and leaves at night in front of the TV.

Looks like there is a favorite flavor apple for everyone.

Still have about 20 more to go.  An apple or more a day I guess.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall and Berries at Thanksgiving Point

Earlier this month we paid a last visit to Thanksgiving Point Gardens which closes tomorrow.

My favorite part of visiting the garden is to see the changes from month to month.

This visit I studied all the berries.

So many shades of red.

And then a surprise.

Oranges. . .

and yellow.

Everything was so fallish.

But roses were still blooming in the rose garden . . .

while the trees turned colors in the background.

That cell phone lets him do business everywhere.

But I had a camera and much to see.




Mums the word in the Secret Garden.

It was definitely tulip bulb planting time.

I planted six dozen tulips myself later in the week, some at my sister Lynette's and a couple of dozen along the fireplace wall at the town house.

More Christmas looking berries.

Christ sculpture surrounded by sunflowers.

Twiggy berries.

As we walked toward the waterfalls, we spotted more autumn color. . .

with more to come.

We already have snow on the mountain tops.

From along the back side of the water falls.

Virginia creeper.

Pink columbines.

Love the texture.

Final orange berries, a ball of berries.

An array of mums.

Before leaving, we enjoyed our final lunch of 2013 at the Trellis Cafe.  Seriously, so good.  Sometimes I wish fall could last forever but then it wouldn't seem so sweet.