Parenting 70s style?

I understand that everyone’s experience is different, but I am getting a little tired of the proliferation of articles comparing childhood in the 70s to childhood today. Parenting blogs glorifying the disco decade and lamenting how horrible today’s kids are seem to be missing the point. The 70s were not some Garden of Eden for children, the same as children today are not all tiny megalomaniacs. If a contemporary parent allows their kids to slack on chores, dictate what the family does on the weekend, speak disrespectfully or demand expensive possessions, it’s not because the 70s were wonderful. It’s because the parent allows it, end of conversation. There were rude, entitled little assholes in the 70s, too.

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Super safe bike jump

Yes, my 70s childhood was great – we played outdoors, read books, made up games, rode bikes without helmets, and did our chores. With the exception of the bike helmet, my kid does the same things, plus she is smarter, has better opportunities, and can be expected to live a longer, healthier life. She can’t conceive of riding in a car without a seatbelt or attending a gathering where all the adults smoke in the house and around the kids.

The next time you are tempted to shout “This, right here!” after one of those “the 70s were wonderful” articles, just remember what we had to wear, disco music, there were 7 channels to watch, and Corinthian Leather hadn’t yet been exposed as plastic. We lived with the possibility of a Russian nuclear attack, soaring inflation and an evolution of the two income family as a requirement rather than an optional status. A cancer diagnosis was a death sentence, and gays and minorities were routinely discriminated against, harassed, and assaulted. It wasn’t a perfect world by any stretch. However, the values we learned in the 70s are no different from what parents today have the ability to teach their children, but in some cases, choose not to. It doesn’t have to do with the decade, but with individual parenting choices.

In 30 years, there will surely be articles lamenting the way midcentury children are being raised and comparing them with millennial children. Hindsight is not only human nature, it is also a romanticization of how things were. Let’s not fixate on how parenting happened circa 1975, but instead focus on what we parents can do today to raise our children to be good people. If that means letting them have the more expensive shoes or clothes, that’s your choice to make, but own it as YOUR CHOICE. Don’t blame trends, or parenting blogs, or even the good old days. You are the parent your child will blame while they are in therapy. You are the parent they will either emulate or do the opposite of when they are raising their own little people.

It is easy to get caught up in the parenting one-upmanship (and I guarantee our own parents struggled with these types of issues too, but they managed, even during the wasteland of no internet during the 70s and the yawning decades of no tech before that) but please, resist if $200 toddler sneakers aren’t the right choice for your family. Want them to appreciate their privileges? Make them work for them, volunteer at a shelter, mow the lawn, whatever is the right thing for your family. Choose to raise your kids with the values you want them to have. Just because you have internet doesn’t mean they get to use it 24/7/365. They will appreciate your efforts as adults when they are hearing from other parents about how spoiled and undisciplined, outspoken and rude children are becoming; they will have the secret weapon of good choices in their arsenal to raise your grandchildren to be good people.

Introducing Nobody

My husband and I have a funny fascination with Japanese and Korean pop music (aka J-pop and K-pop). I’m not really sure why we are drawn to these, but we also love some wonderful Japanese dramas and are watching a funny Korean show called You’re Beautiful (about a girl who poses as a boy to save her brother’s job in a boy band, what’s not to love??). This is on Netflix, btw. Our favorite Japanese drama was called Haru to Natsu, and chronicles the story of two sisters separated by the Pacific Ocean and recaps their lives after they are in their 70s. It was one of the most emotional programs we have ever watched in any language. If you can find this program, it’s well worth the subtitles!

As for the music, the melodies are catchy, sometimes to the point of ear worm level, and videos have high production values. Here are some of our recent favorites.

Nobody by the Wonder Girls

Bubble Pop by Hyuna

Sugar Rush by AKB48

Stereo Girl by Super Baby Face

Heavy Rotation by AKB48

I My Me Mine by 4minute

Troublemaker by Troublemaker (Hyuna and JS)

 

Fairies

Melody continues to be fascinated by fairies and fairy gardens. Our outdoor garden is going to be demolished this spring due to some construction we are planning (both yay and boo), so this past weekend she picked up all her various fairies, houses, bunnies, benches, etc. But not to fear! We stopped by M&M Nursery in Orange for some nice indoor plants and moved the fairies inside!

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Fairy magic

You can see in this overview shot that Melody selected a palm, an African violet, some pink leafy things and a small evergreen (?) thing. I am not exactly the right person for naming plants, haha, but I can assure you that these were all recommended as able to thrive indoors. There’s a lot of detail in this garden, so let’s zoom in.

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Details, details

From the right side you can see the pink leafy things a bit better, the kitty keeping watch by the front door of the house, and the mailbox just waiting for a note. The pink fairy is holding a picnic basket. Is she heading out to meet a friend? There is a beehive on the far side so the violets will be well pollinated, and beyond that a small fairy boy swings over the side of the planter. The pebble path has captured some of the sparkly jewels that fall from the fairies when they fly past.

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A hidden garden in the miniature garden

True to their natures, these bunnies got into the vegetable patch, but Mr Dog spied them and they are scurrying away!

The captivating thing about fairy gardens is that the imagination can do so much with these tiny figures. As she created this vignette, I was thinking back to a mermaid garden I imagined and I wonder if I will be able to create that at some point. Melody has two books on fairy gardening, but there are many on the market with hundreds of clever bits and bobs to display along side your plants. If you ever find yourself in Orange, stop by M&M Nursery on Tustin Ave. They have many beautiful fairy gardens that are thriving, magical and oh, so creative! If you don’t live locally, you can shop their online store too.

Girl Scouts: Money Management Game

Our troop has grown a little this year and we have several new members who have not sold Girl Scout Cookies before. They are excited and so enthusiastic! It has really inspired some of our continuing members to step up their game and try harder to achieve their goals.

As a leader, it isn’t always easy to teach or lead the girls to cookie sales success. Especially for Brownies, they are still in the realm of needing to be lead to their goals to some degree. They are not always good at math. They don’t always grasp what Cookie Share is or does. They sometimes forget that we raise money for fun AND to give back to others. For our first meeting covering cookies, I made them a poster to help with some of the information they need to remember. We plan to use this at our booth sales and show a bar chart of our troop goal achievement.

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For our second meeting, I wanted to be sure they knew their math and money management. It’s easy to get confused when giving out change or having to count money, so while a parent would be helping during individual or booth sales, it is important for the girls to know this information. Fortunately for us, cookies are priced at a good multiplication factor – $5 per package. I found a game online that I adapted for the girls.

Money DiceCookie Game 1

Each of these images was printed on card stock paper, then cut out and taped together to make a 2″ square die. For our troop we focused on the cookie die. I also provided play money for each girl consisting of 2 5s, 2 10s, and 1 20. Here’s how the game worked:

  • Each girl gets an envelope of play money with $50 in it
  • Girls pair up by two and each pair gets one die
  • One girl plays a customer, the other girl plays a Girl Scout, and they switch back and forth
  • The customer rolls the die which will tell her how many of which variety of cookies she will purchase. The Girl Scout will tell the customer how much she owes. The customer pays the Girl Scout
  • Switch sides and the second girl plays the customer while the first girl plays the Girl Scout. Repeat the rolling of the die as above
  • Continue until one of the girls has earned all the money, or one girl does not have enough money to pay for the cookies on her roll. Money can be intermingled in the girl’s envelopes
  • The girl with the most money wins

We played this as a tournament – we had five pairs of girls, then the winners played each other. The girls loved the dice and so they were given out as prizes at the end of the meeting along with the play money. The girls learned visual recognition of the cookie varieties as well as reinforced their knowledge of common pricing in a selling situation.

The game can be expanded for older girls to use more money and to keep track of the number and type of cookies “sold” during the game. I feel really good about this game! Feel free to download the images and use them yourself. I didn’t make up the game, but I did adapt what I found online into something my girls could work with, you can too!

Gift Review: The USA Time Line 4D Puzzle

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A gift under the tree this year, this is a review of the USA History Over Time 4D Cityscape Puzzle model 40008, available from multiple retailers, including the National Geographic online store and 4DCityscape.com. The puzzle is intriguing, offering to teach first the order of westward expansion, then the order of statehood, and finally the great national landmarks in their order of creation or inception. The puzzle was a gift to Melody, but with 806 pieces in the base layer, she became frustrated and I did most of that part. The instructions say to organize the pieces by color and then put them together in the various territorial expansion. However, with Mexico and Canada being the same dang color, that was tricky, and as we all know, puzzles don’t always lend themselves to good organization! The edge pieces along Canada and the Pacific and Atlantic were often difficult to determine if they really matched and we took those sections apart numerous times during the assembly. We ended up working West to East on the puzzle because that’s just how the pieces presented themselves. Ocean was difficult, but we muddled through. The base puzzle has several different sizes and shapes of pieces, from large cross-shaped pieces to your standard small connectors.

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Once completed however, the base layer is beautiful and interesting. I didn’t remember the Gadsden Purchase and had not known the bit of land above the Louisiana Purchase had been ceded by Great Britain. Had this been the complete puzzle, I would have been satisfied. It took three or four days of an hour here and an hour there to complete. But, once the base layer is complete, there is a second layer of foam pieces in the shapes of the states. Users are directed to assemble these in the order of statehood, but that really didn’t work for us. We just put them together. :-) Melody was very involved at this point and was insistent on doing the assembly. The foam pieces for the most part are very sturdy except for very small states, such as Maryland with its skinny portion around the Bay and Alaska’s finger. These pieces easily became bent. There are four call-out sections for Delaware, Rhode Island, South Manhattan and Washington DC. The foam pieces were slightly warped in some cases, the larger the piece the more warped it was. I’m looking at you, Texas.

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The next series of pieces were the plastic landmarks to be inserted into the foam pieces. I have two gripes about this sequence.

First, the pieces are formed on the sort of plastic rails you find in model kits, which is fine. They are numbered according to the landmark poster included with the puzzle. Still fine. However, the font is so tiny as to be nearly indecipherable, and in some cases was not etched on the outside edge but inside the piece. This led to us needing a flashlight to first see inside the tiny figures and then hunt for the numbers. They are also not in any sort of organized collection, and I couldn’t really figure out why some were silver, some matte brown and some a bronze color. Weird. The Statue of Liberty is the only item that shipped separately and green. It goes without saying that one of our most recognizable landmarks needs no special instructions.

My second gripe about this section is that the poster offers no help in finding the location of the various landmarks on the puzzle. Yes, they are numbered on the poster and on the piece, but there is no number on the puzzle. The foam pieces have “placeholder” blocks in a beige color that are to be popped out and the plastic item inserted in place. The placeholders sometimes have an obvious shape (L-shaped buildings and round auditoriums, for example), but they are not numbered or named. Let me tell you, one lighthouse looks a lot like another when all you see are round dots in a sea of foam puzzle pieces lol. We ended up having to google many of the landmarks just to find out what state to search. With 93 landmarks, this part of the puzzle was both very interesting and very tedious. First searching multiple plastic rails numerous times since the pieces are not organized by number, then looking them up on google, then having to actually take the puzzle apart, remove the placeholder block, insert the item, then put the puzzle back together was a process. We ended up pulling out the landmarks for 10 items in a row, then placing them before starting over with the next 10. We placed the landmark on its corresponding picture on the poster.

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You can see that the names of some of these locations are sometimes rather mundane. I can’t tell you how many Old Grist Mills there are on google. The more we handled the foam pieces, the less tidy they were going together again. Some of the small tabs became mashed and wouldn’t lock into place after a while. One item just did not fit into the allowed space and we ended up accidentally tearing the surface paper forcing it through the hole. One casualty of the process of breaking out the landmark pieces was the Las Vegas sign. It broke in half unfortunately.

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The puzzle instructions also indicated that once the foam layer was made, it should be tacked in place using two sided tape. However, I do not recommend this at that stage. It was far easier to push the landmark pieces up from the back side of the foam pieces than mash them down through the top side. Plus, removing the placeholder blocks was at times a struggle because even though they were laser cut, they still had to be dug out of the larger piece, and some of those spots were quite small. The most effective way to remove the placeholder block and insert the landmark was by holding the individual state in our hands. This necessitated the constant disassembly of the foam layer of the puzzle. The kit did include some double sided tape, but it was so dried out it just flaked off its sticker sheets. Oops.

Even with all these sorts of nit picky complaints, we enjoyed this puzzle quite a lot. There are other 4D puzzles available for major cities worldwide, such as London, Paris and Tokyo. I think if we were to take on one of those other puzzles we would apply our learnings from this kit and probably be more satisfied. So, if you attempt one of these 4D Cityscape puzzles, I recommend the following order of assembly:

  1. Assemble the base layer by color but do the edges last.
  2. Organize the foam layer by regions but only assemble the pieces in general sections.
  3. Break out the landmark pieces and organize them numerically.
  4. Insert all the landmark pieces and then assemble the foam pieces into the top layer.
  5. Stick the foam layer onto the base layer if desired.

Christmas Memories

Some years ago, my sister gave me a box of photos from our childhood. As the keeper of the photos, she had access to them and I didn’t have many in my possession, so this was a very sentimental gift. They are mostly from Christmas, and so what a great time to share these memories with you. Our “new” house was built in 1972. We moved in just a month before my 4th birthday, so I was always able to quickly figure how long we’d lived there by subtracting 4 from my age.

Every year on Christmas Eve, my mother would read to us from an original copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I have it now and although it has seen its years, it is still in great condition. The story goes that Grammie Hennie went over to Montgomery Ward (a long defunct department store) and picked up a handful of copies. They gave them away for free as a promotional item. I assume she gave one each to her kids, but I have no idea if any remain…Steve? Carey? Anyway, as the book became more fragile, we were more careful with it, one year Kathy even carried it on a really fancy pink tufted pillow that she had. :-) Today we use a reprint.

Somewhere, packed among my photo things, I have all the Christmas cards that my parents sent out every year from the time Kathy was 1 or 2 until she was 21. They are a fantastic study of clothing through the seventies and eighties! I’ll try to find those and share them as well. Until then, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, joy to all.

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Pattern Review: TV 447 1863 Sheer Dress

I have been sitting on this pattern for several years, all while sweltering in the summer heat. I purchased my fabric easily three years ago and have been wanting a sheer dress for probably five years. Summer in multiple layers of clothing is definitely more warm than it has to be! So, this past spring, I finally decided to just do it! I have researched various patterns available on the market, including some Big Three patterns, Peachtree Mercantile, and others, but I know that Truly Victorian makes beautiful, accurate, and easy to follow patterns, which is why I settled on this one.

Truly Victorian TV447 1863 Sheer Dress

Truly Victorian TV447 1863 Sheer Dress

I chose a lovely sheer cotton in blue and white stripes that I found on clearance at a chain store. I know of more than one person who has made a sheer of this fabric. Hopefully we won’t all be at the same event together!

Pretty pretty

Pretty pretty

The fabric is 54″ wide, but since at the time I didn’t know what pattern I would be using I purchased 10 yards. Lucky for me, this overestimation was a good one. The sleeves on this dress are full and wide, plus since my fabric was directional, I was able to cut the stripes going from shoulder to wrist. Anyway, before any of that, I calculated my measurements and pattern size following the instructions on the pattern. The thing about the TV patterns is they allow you to custom fit your garment before you even start sewing. And once you do that, you can easily make up a muslin for a better idea on fit.

Dark image of my muslin

Dark image of my muslin

Sorry this is not better quality, but almost all the mirrors in my house that are big enough are impacted by light diffusion. What I learned here is that the waist of the under bodice was a little too full but the bust was a pretty good fit. So I took in the darts a bit and retested it. I did not do this all by myself, by the way. I submitted my questions to the Civilian Civil War Closet group on Facebook for hints and help – there are clothing historians, professional seamstresses and experienced clothiers there who are willing to help for free. I just couldn’t overlook that knowledge base. I also asked my friend Shelley Peters for real world tips as she has made this pattern a lot. Had I needed it, the amazing Heather McNaughten at Truly Victorian would have helped too. As an aside, this just confirms for me that this community really wants its members to succeed!

Anyway, after the changes to the muslin, I traced that as my new under bodice pattern piece and went forth to sew! This is the first time I have made my own bias and bias piping, which was used on the neckline facing and armscyes. I found the instructions sufficient, but had used better instructions on a Simplicity costume pattern and did that instead. They just made a bit more sense to my thinking, the result is the same.

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Piped facing to finish the raw edges of the under bodice.

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Piped armscye

The construction of the garment is for the most part very easy. I found the TV method of inserting the sleeve into the armscye backwards to what I am used to so I just adapted and made notes on the pattern.

Hand buttonholes

Hand buttonholes

I sewed this in a combination of machine and hand sewing. My fabric was so very delicate that even though I have a high quality machine, it sometimes would bunch up in the feed dogs. I wound up hand sewing much of the finishing stitching, such as on the piped facings, and also hand sewed all the button holes. My reasoning here was twofold – I wanted historically accurate buttonholes and since the fabric was so delicate it was impossible for me to machine sew them to the standard I desired. I used silk thread for the buttonholes. The buttons are vintage shell buttons, much higher quality than the cheap flaked mother of pearl available these days. They were purchased through Farmhouse Fabrics.

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Sleeve band

For visual interest I cut the sleeve band on the bias. Maybe there is a chance of this stretching over time, but the band is so generous around the wrist that I don’t expect that to happen.

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Finished bodice

At this point, I went back to the Civilian Civil War Closet for help. The pattern does not include a collar pattern. I don’t care for my look without a collar, so I googled for tutorials. The best suggested laying the pattern pieces for the bodice front and back together as though they were sewn, then tracing the curve from center front to center back, next extending that to a simple collar width. I did that, but found mine to be fluttery and off. The amazing Liz Clark of the Sewing Academy helped me immensely with tips on how to correct this and redraft the collar. I’m delighted to say that I was successful!

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Finished collar

I added the fine tatted lace which I purchased at Farmhouse Fabrics.

Next, waistband finishing. Since my fabric is 54″ wide, I didn’t want to cut it down to  four 40″ panels to follow the TV skirt instructions. I retained the selvages as was done in historical garments, and used three panels instead of four. The skirt has a very deep pocket at the center left where the skirt pieces overlap with the waistband. Each panel was cut to the same length, but since your skirt front and skirt back are different lengths, there has to be a way to do this without cutting your fabric. Again, drawing on the Closet knowledge, I did as was suggested and folded over the waist edge of the fabric. This gave added stability to the fabric as well as achieving the lengths needed. The pattern instructions have you cut your fabric at the waist to the desired angle which will give you your length. I don’t recommend that on a sheer just because of the off chance of it tearing.

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Waist inside

You can see in this very amateurly photoshopped picture the angle of the folded-over fabric. This is center back where the skirt is a bit longer than in the front.

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Double box pleats

For the skirt attachment, the pattern gives you liberty to choose your preferred pleating or gathering method. Here I am showing you the double box pleats I used to pleat the skirt onto the waistband. Originally I had knife pleated the front and cartridge pleated the back, but I didn’t get enough fabric taken up in the front. So I went to the double box pleats in front and cartridge pleats in back. I’m quite happy with this look as it’s smooth and polished.

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Yes that hem is hand stitched

I wanted to make sure that the hem folded straight up so the lines didn’t go off kilter, so I ended up hand sewing the hem. I used a single thread and every fourth stitch went through all layers. Every 8th stitch was taken twice to keep the thread from coming undone if it were to break for any reason. If you kept up with my thinking on the skirt width, you will realize that’s a 178″ hem. It took me a couple hours to do it.

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Picture taken by an 8 year old

This is the finished dress, although it’s not the best picture of me lol. I’m looking down toward my daughter haha. Also, I realize that I must not have been laced as tightly in my corset as usual because I couldn’t fasten the waistband correctly. I wasn’t going to mess with it today and I’m certainly not taking the dress apart, so I’ll have to lace better next time.

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Side image

Here you can see the under sleeve just below my shoulder. This makes the dress very cool and airy. I had considered adding a silk stripe down the sleeve for interest, but I decided against it as it might weigh down the fabric. I may make a belt, as the silk I have is the exact color of the darkest stripe in the fabric.

You can also see the shadow of my petticoat under the skirt. I have an eyelet petticoat with two large pleats in it. This isn’t an historically accurate petticoat and someday I will make a plain cotton one, but for now this is quite pretty.

Overall I am thrilled with the result of the Truly Victorian TV447 Sheer Dress pattern. The instructions were easy, but true to the sewing techniques available to our ancestresses. It is not a pattern for a beginner, certainly, but if you have some knowledge of sewing, you can make this pattern truly customized to your preferences. If at times the instructions don’t make sense, just take them one sentence at a time. My mother told me when in doubt just do what the instructions say. These patterns will not take you down the wrong path, trust them and you will get something incredibly beautiful. And of course, email them, ask your friends who have made the pattern, or google for help. Truly Victorian patterns are very popular due to them being among the best on the market today, so lots of people make them! I am eager to wear this dress to one of our hottest events coming up soon, Huntington Beach Civil War Days.

Links & Resources

Truly Victorian

Farmhouse Fabrics

Civilian Civil War Closet

Sewing Academy

Huntington Beach Civil War Days