Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Swishing my way out West

When Hank and I first started planning our vacation out West, it was clear that we had very different approaches to the 3000-mile trip out to Yellowstone and back.  He immediately pulled up Google maps, started plotting cities, researched attractions and calculated mileage.  I casually thumbed through my sewing patterns.  Hank anxiously gave the 1950 Chevy a thorough run-through, hoping she'd hold up for just one more roadtrip.  He changed the oil, checked the brakes, checked the suspension, double-checked his emergency toolbox and, just because he's that cautious sort, signed up for AAA.  I thrilled at finding the perfect piece of summer-weight wool.  Priorities, you know. 

When I think of Summer vacation , I immediately picture billowing, cotton sundresses and snappy playsuits in novelty prints.  But when I combine that image with Summer traveling, I cringe at the thought of ironing said cotton dresses with teeny hotel irons and flimsy boards (should you be *lucky* enough to even have one).  Such was my dilemma.  The South Dakota Badlands in August were sure to be hot, but once again, I opted for wool.  Hank looked up from under the hood of the Chevy just long enough to raise his greasy eyebrow at that decision, but I sewed on.   Ultimately I decided on two staple pieces on which to build my wardrobe:  an A-line skirt and a pair of pants. 

Considering that we were headed deep into Cowboy Country, I couldn't resist adding a little hee-haw flavor.

Let me say, Ladies, that every one of us needs - nay, deserves - at least one piece of fringed clothing in our closets!  No matter how many Main Streets we walked down; no matter how many national monuments we hiked up; no matter how bad my little toes were pinched (turns out I brought the wrong heels); that fringe added an electrical energy that kept me going.  Fringe is akin to hoop skirts or bustle dresses or crinolines.  If you've got something out there, it just begs to be swished.  Seriously, it was too much fun to swish and swoosh around for those nine days.  Really, you must try it.

To ground this conversation after all that heady, fringey talk, the skirt really isn't that difficult.  The fabric is a lightweight wool/poly blend.  I used a basic, four-panel pattern with a side, lapped zipper.  I added belt loops and should have added pockets.  I played with the fringe layout until I happened on something that I liked, then added two metal star buttons to the front. 

I was concerned that maybe the low dips in the fringe would accent my bum too much or make me look hippy, but then I've decided that it's perfect placement to allow for my holster.  Hank has recently taken up the craft of leather tooling and my list of requests gets longer every day.  I was very honored that his first bonafide project was a Willow Homestead belt, and I wore it proudly.  Even though under all the belt loops, it more closely reads "Wil Ow Ho Stead."

For the pants I again used a basic pattern, center back zip, belt loops, no pockets.  But oh, Lordy, that fringe!  I ran a single length into the outseam.  Simple, right?  But instantly I wanted to jump on a horse and do some death-defying trick riding.  Hoops of fire?  Sure!  Anyone got any tight ropes anywhere?  I considered hunting buffalo.  Hm, seems the herds aren't quite recovered yet.  How about rounding up some Bighorn Sheep?!  Let me get my crook!  I was invigorated.

But mostly I just swished.

Well needless to say, we are home and back into the routine.  As I expected, my perfect South Dakota wardrobe seems slightly out of place in rural Wisconsin.  Wish we had brought home a few of those prairie dogs...but I still wear both pieces quite often, basking in the post-vacation glow while I'm shopping for school supplies.  They've proven to be comfortable and easy to care for; both key points for a travel wardrobe.  And I suspect my fringe hasn't seen it's last wagon trail.  There were many attractions along the way for which our schedule did not allow, so we're planning to go back in the next couple of years.  And I have almost two yards of this wool stashed away with three more yards of fringe...

Happy Trails, Everyone!
Now go sew something swishy!


  1. i was wondering since your last post what´s about your cool clothes!
    the fringe placement on the skirt is just perfect! and the fit of the pants! you are one of the best and most creative seamstresses i know!!!!

    1. You are too generous, Beate. I'm blushing! I'll let you in on a leftovers are destined for a dirndl vest, trimmed with more fringe, of course. Can't wait!!

  2. Hi,

    I love the clothes you make and I really love the belt your Husband has made - wished I could have one. Unfortunately my Husband is not very crafty at all and even struggles with flat pack furniture!


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