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Josephine Howland

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since Dec 08, 2015
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I am an old crone of a witch, with a degree in Fashion, living in the middle of the forest with a husband, two dogs and a cat. We try to grow our own food, can, freeze and dehydrate for winter eating. Both of us are now disabled, so with his lung trouble making it impossible to raise chickens and livestock, and last year I broke my hand, we have had a rough couple of years. We have 13 acres which I would love to see more food growing on.
White Mountains of New Hampshire zone 5
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Recent posts by Josephine Howland

It seems to me, that what we need to do is find a place and funding to hold a patternmaking, muslin making weeklong seminar. Post pandemic of course. Pearl Sutton, do you think so? We could also have knitting and crochet sessions. Or several shorter, smaller ones
more locally?
1 week ago
r.ranson, I agree finding natural fiber is very hard. There is a web store that sells natural linen in various weights. What I really miss is finding good wool fabric. I used to make myself wool skirts all the time in the 80s, now it seems to have disapeared.
1 week ago
I can do that. At least I could do that. I do have a degree in Fashion Design which includes pattern drafting, as well as being a third-generation dressmaker so my grandmother and mother taught me drafting. Of course, nowadays everything is done by CAD which is after my time. When I was a teen, my mother was a representative for a company called Dot patterns, There were sample shapes with numbers on them. You then took your measurement did some math and followed the lines out and made a dot. Connect the dots and you have a custom pattern to fit you. I still have a different version from the 70s. I'm planning on using it to make new slopers for myself as I have gained weight with age. I did see a Swedish company that still made something like it a few years back. Hold on while I do a google search. yes, I'm aware that you will not really be waiting. This would have been the set that my mom sold.   Ok on further searches, I found a copy of the book that you can download. You have to join the library, but they have a 14-day free trial. The key things that you could use though are the proper measuring ruler, I'll try the one that came with my other set. If it works I can try to replicate it for those interested. You should have a set of french curves as well.  These are all great 70s styles, but you can make some basic slopers from them and then adjust. As for all our physical issues, they would need to be custom adjusted having a friend would help. Meanwhile, if you're in New England we could make a plan. I do have a separate building for my sewing room, it's just rather a mess, due to deaths in the family leaving me with endless "stuff." Once that as cleaned up, I am thinking of offering sewing lessons there.
1 week ago
I really like the pulaski hoe/ax. We picked up two at a thrift shop a few years ago. One is even marked with WPA and the worker's name. They were used by the WPA workers during the depression doing trail work here in the White Mountains of NH. I also find many uses for my winged weeder. Not just for weeding, it also makes a fine shallow furrow for seed planting. We use it in our raised vegetable beds. We first use the handle to make where we want the row, then the tip and wings to make the furrows after the seeds are dropped, we can use the wings to cover the seeds.
3 weeks ago
Years ago I lived in Boston in a 130-year old Mansard roof house that had been split into two apartments. I first lived in the smaller 1st-floor apartment and rented out the larger apartment until I reached the financial point that I could switch out. The kitchens were huge! When I was getting ready to move upstairs, I began planning how I wanted the kitchen to work. I took a pad of graph paper, pencil, ruler, and eraser, and took an inventory of what I had in my current kitchen and what I wanted in the new kitchen. Having flunked housekeeping 101, I have learned that the key to having a clean house is to have a place for everything, then at least trying to keep everything in its place. I also had a catalog of cabinet sizes and their actual measurements. Keeping mind my inventory, I planned the kitchen so there was a place for everything close to where it would be used. Lots of drawers and pull out shelving. The ceilings were 11 feet tall so lots of room for extra tall cabinets and room for a step-stool. An extra tall pantry cabinet with pull-out drawers to reach into the back. By shortening the height of one window, I was able to add 5 feet of cabinet and counter space. I had just a few inches next to the stove, just enough to add a 9" undercabinet to hold baking trays upright. A corner cabinet that had an appliance garage under it. I added a plug inside the garage so that I could have my blender, toaster, etc. there, then just pull them out when needed, put back with the Tambor door shut they are hidden from view. I also made room for a stacking washer and dryer in a corner. By removing the original cabinets I was able to find a window (I could see from outside, but couldn't find from inside. Uncovering that window not only add light and air but a view of downtown Boston and the Prudential and John Hancock buildings. When finished, I had a wonderful, easy to work in kitchen. I really miss that house, but it was on a tiny postage stamp lot, and whereas now I have 13 acres in the forest. Tradeoffs

3 months ago
There is a wonderful castle build near Phoenix AZ Called the Mystery Castle. It was made of all recycled materials. and has a great story behind it. I was lucky to visit it when the builder's daughter was still alive. She was a lovely feisty woman. When she saw that I was using a cane at that time, she laughed and used her cane to try to have a bit of a sword fight with me. If you get the chance visit it. It is truly a work of art.
4 months ago
Welcome Phil, your socks look they would be great for those of us who have a 7-months-long winter.
5 months ago
My dream has been to build a dome home. I mean since high school, and I'm 62 now. The issue has always been money and physical strength. Maybe one day I will build a dome greenhouse. I have devoted many years to studying plans, but due to divorce, change in income, illness, etc. it just never happened. Now at 62, I find myself feeling like none of my dreams have or will come true. Sorry to sound depressed, but it is depressing. I do what I can. I can what I grow.
5 months ago

Catie George wrote:Thanks for the sewing resources. My mom took professional pattern making and sewing classes, so at one time I planned to sew a lot of my clothes, as she did when she was my age.  If working part time, or no longer working, i could see it making sense, but not, personally, now.

My biggest issue is time! Sewing is not hard, but it is fiddly, and quite time consuming to do well (especially when taught by a perfectionist who does everything the '9right' way). It's also not a hobby I really love.

From my experience:
Buying fabric, pattern, notions, driving, etc  =1.5 hrs.
Cutting out pattern = 1 hr (read instructions, mark cutting lines, cut, iron pattern pieces).
alter pattern =0.5-2 hrs.
prewash + iron fabric = 1.5 hrs.
layout and cut pattern, transfer pattern markings, etc = 1-2 hrs.
Sew long seams and iron flat=1.5 hr.
Sew fiddly bits (plackets, waistband, press and sew darts, pleats, etc)=2 -4hrs.
Install notions,  buttons, clasps, zippers, etc, = 1-2 hrs.

So about  10 hrs to 15.5 hrs, plus more time for my screw ups, etc. About 5+ hrs of screwups on my last project- (button holer not working and 1 way directional fabric that you can only see in strong light, and a lot of seam ripping..)

My last project took about 5 days of my Christmas break. Project before that 10 hrs and never finished. One before that (easy circle skirt) 2 weekends + 5 evenings.  Yes, you can save time by reusing patterns and buying the fabric and notions for multiple at once, but it's still a lot! I don't have 15 extra hours in a month to use for sewing at this point in my life.  

As for elastic... tried it. Looks awful added post construction, works great when integrated into the waistband.

As for purses... my mom's briefcase which she uses now as a massive purse is 30+ years old. Dragged everywhere, thick full grain leather. It has been repaired/reinforced professionally twice at the handles to reinforce it (gotta be 30 lbs, she carries another purse, 2 waterbottles, lunch, sunglasses, notebooks, keys, makeup, OTC meds, etc inside of her purse), and still has years of life left. Our firewood carrier is leather, 25+ years old, and looks nearly brand new.

I am a 3rd generation dressmaker. My grandmother helped me draft my first pattern when I was 8 years old. I don't do as much sewing as I did when I was younger. Your example is a reason why. It also highlights the issue my mother ( she passed away a little over a year ago at age 91)  and I have dealt with for many years. People expect to pay less for something custom made for them. I just don't get it. I have two pairs of jeans from Walmart that have lasted me probably 5 years. I am disabled and wasn't able to work for the last 6 years. I just started working part-time again. I work just 10-15 hours a week at a Tommy Hilfiger outlet store in NH, so we get a lot of Canadian shoppers. Their prices look high, but everything is always on sale, never full price. They also give us a generous 50% off any clothing we can wear to work. I've got jeans there for less than what I paid in Walmart. While the clothes are not made in the USA, they do care for their employees, such as making accommodations for those of us with disabilities. They also care about the employees of their suppliers. Their clothes are not made in horrible sweatshops (I'm sure they are still in large cheap factories, but at least not the horrible ones). As a dressmaker, I can tell you the quality of the stitching is much higher than many of the other stores I've shopped in.

5 months ago