oh lordy, it’s been a while…

Well, I almost forgot I had this little blog here. I’ve been busy! Doing this:



This is an example of what is commonly known here as Ukrainian style egg art, although it’s practiced in lots of countries in eastern Europe besides Ukraine. In Slovakia, where my husband is from, these decorated eggs are known as “kraslice”. The eggs are blown, prepared, and then dyed with several layers of color using a beeswax-resist process very similar to batik on fabric. Then the dye is removed to reveal the jewel like colors underneath… the reveal is the best part of the entire process, because you never know exactly what you’re going to get, despite even the best efforts to anticipate the design layers and the combination of dye colors on top of each other.

You can check out more of my egg art at http://www.etsy.com/shop/rajilina, or on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/rajilina. I do sell these, but, just go there to see the fun colors and designs!


a new dress

With today, I’m starting a new dress project. I was lucky enough to get some gorgeous gold and black flocked taffeta at a “half off clearance sale” – you have to love those kind of sales – and it is an entire bolt, so I’ll have enough to do some experimentation; maybe enough to make two or three different styles using the same fabric. I usually get into the project better by starting with the easiest piece, so I’m constructing a simple underskirt out of black taffeta. The skirt is simple, but the trims will be very complicated and should really make it look very luxurious.

The problem with all of this is that I took my new Brother in to the service department for a look at the automatic needle threader which hasn’t been threading properly for a little while, and to keep working, I’ve had to go back to my very, very old New Home in the meantime. Boy – have I gotten used to the Brother! I keep reaching up to push the automatic thread cutter and it isn’t there! And although the old machine worked very well for me for a very long time, I realize now how clunky it sounded compared to my new machine. I also miss the stitches! All those 400+ stitches I had to choose from and now I have just a few. My Brother should be back from service in a week or two but it’s going to be a long week without her!

my crazy few months

It seems like an eon since I’ve been here. A crazy summer with more work than a sane person should have to handle got in the way of a lot of things I wanted to do, then losing my job in late September further complicated things. It’s been an adjustment, as anyone in this situation surely understands… but, I have a roof over my head, food on my table and the things that matter most in life have really been my rock in the last few weeks, so I can’t complain. I’m going to be OK. If anything, the door has been opened to a lot of possibilities that I hadn’t considered even a month ago. It started with my entry into the 2012 Utah State Fair… an 1870s Victorian Natural Form gown, which to my utter shock ended up winning the Grand Prize Best of Show in the Home Arts department. That sure gave me a big shot of confidence for being able to market my sewing and craft items on my Etsy storefront. I have also started some of the most creative work I’ve been able to do in the last 14 years… with something as simple as my resumé and mini-portfolio. The only one approving this is me, which is quite a change. I’ve got so much on my plate now, but the main difference is that it’s no longer stressful. It’s finally starting to be….. fun!

paper dolls

I’ve got the basic body for the 1911 Project paper dolls mostly complete… just need to do a little more rendering/painting to make her look a little more three-dimensional, add some more color, and fine tune with some crosshatching to mimic the period engraving look. Now to research the unmentionables she will wear, then work on the fashions! Here’s her lovely face:

doll head

Edwardian lady

new toys

I have been in the market for a graphics tablet at home for quite a while now, but just could not justify the cost. I’ve been watching prices for a while hoping to jump on a bargain when I see it. With the recent release of the new Wacom Intuos5, the Intuos4 is still available but at discounted prices as retailers close out old models to make room for the new. After reading about numerous driver problems with the 5, I decided to take a chance on the less expensive, closeout 4. I found a factory refurbished, even cheaper version of the 4, and with a cash back bonus balance on one of my credit cards, I was able to get this tablet at next to nothing compared to the price of a new 5. I decided on a small tablet, since it’s about the same size as my Air laptop and thus would be able to easily fit in the same bag for toting around. The tablet showed up on my doorstep a couple of days ago and I have been playing with it ever since. The only word I can use to describe this piece of electronic gadgetry is “addictive”…. holy cow! I am seriously surprised to learn what I’ve been missing. This thing is a dream to use, the learning curve is very small, and the results look like something straight out of my physical sketchbook, but with the added ability to layer, erase, move, and duplicate without destroying any of the parts of the artwork that I want to keep. The colors are endless, the brush styles numerous, and I have been enjoying being able to paint and draw again without all the mess and fuss of real paint and ink (which I still adore, but it’s just not as convenient or as portable). Here’s the tablet:


My new toy with my Macbook Air 11″

sewing the La Mode

A few weeks ago I ran across some information for a very interesting sewing project called the The 1912 Project: Sewing the La Mode. This website is dedicated to test sewing and producing for public use a series of period clothing patterns taken from the 1912 issues of La Mode Illustrée, which was one of the premier fashion magazines of its era. 1912 was particularly chosen by the project founders to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. These are the same the folks who run the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, a wonderful repository of vintage patterns available for checkout to the public for a modest fee; if you love to sew and love vintage/historical, and have never been to the VPLL, I highly suggest a visit. In any case, I felt some new enthusiasm for taking on another costuming project after reading about the group, so I contacted these folks to become involved. Well, things went from here to there, and now suddenly I discover myself to not only be sewing test patterns, but also to be one of a small group of Blog Editors for the site. One of my first tasks has been to create a set of paper dolls and blog badges based on the patterns being tested by site participants. I plan to start with the picture below, which is one of the test patterns currently available to project participants, as a base for the drawing of the female doll. I think she already has a PERFECT paper doll pose and not only that, she is a very sweet and attractive representation of the period. As I progress with the doll artwork, I will post updates to this blog.

Edwardian suit

The base for the upcoming paper doll project

the next banquet dress

I am working on a Victorian dress for this year’s round of SASS banquets. I’ve got to have this finished in a month and a half as we’re doing our first shoot the second week of June. This has actually been in the works since last fall, but the sewing room remodel project kind of upset the schedule. It’s taken me a while to get organized into the new space and figure out where I left off, and the dress is a little bit worse for wear from being moved around so many times with just pins holding everything together. The second problem is that I switched to my new sewing machine in the middle of it, so I’d say it’s not my best sewing effort since I have been trying to get used to the machine as I go. There are tension problems in a couple of places that I didn’t notice until it was all sewn up (fortunately, no where that stress will be an issue) and some of the spacing and stitch length isn’t right. However, I have learned that sewing is a process of flow…. and you have to go with the flow sometimes. 🙂

I had a bit different idea in mind when I started this dress, and after seeing the first few rounds of ruffles on the train, I decided to keep to the ruffle theme and so, box pleats which were going to be on the front turned into a tall ruffle instead. All of the ruffles are edged with handmade bias tape in a contrasting fabric to the main ruffle color. The colors are subtle and hard to see in the photograph although much more vibrant in person – for the pattern I have a striped silk taffeta in colors of peach, taupe, cream and golden yellow, while for the solid I have a silk taffeta in a plain golden yellow. This is a very different color choice for me as I usually tend to like darker, richer jewel colors, but it has been fun to work with. And I am loving silk taffeta…. this taffeta is SO crispy and nice and keeps whatever shape I make out of it.

So far I have just the underskirt finished. I am about 3/4 of the way done with a pannier overskirt using a Truly Victorian pattern, which I intend to drape differently via the use of ties than is indicated in the original pattern. I am as yet undecided about which bodice style to use. Is it a ball gown with a low neckline and short sleeves? A promenade dress? A dinner gown? ….


…and back to work!

Now that my studio is finished, I can get back to making things! This is a new creation I’m working on for my Etsy store. It is a Victorian style, high crowned hat in maroon velvet with Venice lace trims and different textures of feathers. I wanted to do something to add a little bit of subtle sparkle to it, but still keep it in a Victorian feel so I settled on these cut glass, jet black beads. I tried a couple of different ways of attaching them before I settled on the style shown below. I love this fringe because the points echo the triangular points pattern of the Venice lace that I’ve already attached below the hatband trim. I think I might also try to figure out something beaded for the back, or around the top of the crown. This would be a great hat for a Dickens Festival costume because of the rich red colors and thick wintery feel of the velvet fabric.

Beading the trim around the edge of the brim

back from the dead…

I’ve been offline for quite a while but there’s been a good reason for it… a home remodel of my sewing room, that turned out to be more work than either my husband or I had anticipated (well, aren’t they always more work than we think they will be?) I really truly had the best of intentions with this blog when I started it, but I’ve been documenting the house project rather loosely on my Facebook page instead of here because it just seems to be quicker to take the picture with the iPhone and do a fast upload and comment, when I am already there keeping up with my friend’s comings and goings. I don’t have a fancy digital camera so the pictures are crude in lighting and composition, but I’m glad I documented it anyway because the transformation of the sewing room was quite surprising to me at the end when I went back to those initial photos.

You can read more about the room here.

Room right after Formica countertops were installed