Sunday, March 23, 2014

my mother's daughter

After my father died, my mother started flipping houses, only we didn't know what to call it back then. She would buy a new house about once a year. The whole family, which consisted of me and 4 younger siblings, would participate in the complete overhaul of the new home after we moved in. As soon as it was perfect, we moved and did it again. My mother's real talent was, and still is, interior decorating.


This is my living room as it looks this morning. I am auditioning fabric for a window treatment.
Having a nicely decorated home is very important to me, but it sure does not come easily.
My sister inherited the skill, as did my daughter, but it skipped over me.

This is what I enjoy! And this is my sewing project for the weekend: it is an alteration for Howie's daughter who will participate in a very special wedding soon. When she sent me these cell phone pics, my initial reaction was, "Order a smaller size and come on over asap!"
 It is the Mirabelle dress from J. Crew.

When she arrived and slipped into the dress, I pulled it up enough to make it fit under the armpits, and attached binder clips to the shoulder seams. It fit perfectly! It will also be shortened by a couple inches. In the photo above, I have thread-traced the placement of the new shoulder seams. I will remove the cap sleeves first, alter and then assess whether the cap sleeves can go back on.

It is very possible I can have this finished by the end of the day so I can get my weekly little accomplishment boost. It makes my Monday mornings much happier to have a fresh little accomplishment under my belt.

Recently, I had the good fortune to get first hand knowledge about bigger projects:

Good old FaceBook - it's where you can get all the news!

Another peek at how I spent my Christmas vacation.
You can follow Claire Shaeffer on FaceBook if you'd like to stay in the loop on her projects.

Working on a big project helped me understand why we moved so much when I was growing up. Now I understand. My mother was decorating those houses to get her own accomplishment fix. Her creative process took about a year and she expressed herself in those houses. She never decorated them with beige-beige-beige in order to sell them. Oh no, my mother put her style and her creative frugality and her heart and soul into those houses. She knew how to make ugly look beautiful, without spending a lot of money. And she got validation when the houses sold fast. People raced to snap up her homes and they were simply clean and beautifully decorated. She never upgraded anything if it could be washed, painted or slipcovered. That was her full time job and she made good money doing it.

Now that I have worked on a book, which takes more than a weekend to finish, I understand. Now I get it. I always come back to this: creativity is a great comfort. It keeps a high-strung girl occupied. I never thought of my mother as high-strung, but I do think she got a lot of satisfaction from decorating all those many houses. It was a smart move.

That's my call.
Enjoy your weekend.
What are you working on?

updated: the alteration is finished. Hemmed by machine and  hand-sewn around neckline and armholes.

34 comments:

  1. Thanks for letting me know about the book and the editing:) -- that is so exciting -- I can't wait until it is finished . . . and that's amazing about your mother -- I wish I had those flipper skills.

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    1. thanks Pam, I am pretty excited about it too!

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  2. Congratulations on the book editing, what a fabulous job and right in your skill set! As a single mother (and broke) I flipped houses every year just like your mother. Now that I don't have to do it for a living, I do it because I like it. The best thing is when you make a living doing something you already love to do.

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    1. Carole, when you visited Baltimore and we talked about house-flipping, I was amazed at how similar your experience was. I am glad you still dabble in it!

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  3. I can't imagine moving that often but it seems to be pretty lucrative. We have a contractor friend who does it on Cape Cod and does VERY well. Kudos to your mom for making a living from what she loved and was so good at.

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    1. You know, I did sorta resent moving so often, but now that I understand why, I feel a lot better about it. Hmm, now I want to go to Cape Cod. I think I need a vacation!

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  4. The book sounds very interesting. I am in awe of people who can make their houses look stylish and decorated. We moved every year or two whilst I was growing up and the prevailing thought seemed to be - if the last people could live with it, we could too ;)

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  5. Flipping sounds like fun but not sure if I have the energy! What fun for you too to help on the book. I have the jacket book and will have the skirt one on my wish list.

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    1. Yes, I agree! I am sure I don't have the energy.

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  6. So happy for you that you got to work on the Claire Schaeffer book! That is soooooo cool!

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  7. Congrats on contributing to the success that Claire's book is bound to be! How exciting!

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  8. Congrats on getting to work on the book. Can't wait to add it to the collection.

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  9. Congratulations on editing the book! What a perfect job for you...and your stepdaughter is VERY lucky to have you work on her dress!

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    1. Thanks Margy, I like alterations (easier than a whole dress from scratch).

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  10. Dang! Another book I'm gonna have to buy? Thanks for telling us about it...looking forward to seeing it.

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  11. Congratulations on editing Claire Shaeffer's book! How cool :-)
    I'm impressed that your mother made money on the houses. I think what you said is key - don't replace anything you can paint over. I live in a 1960s-built house. I don't think the kitchen cupboards have ever been repainted (the doors I mean), as they're still that 60s blue similar to the publish button below. But they don't need it, so I'd rather sew. (We did eventually repaint the two storey high feature wall with 70s orange abstract shapes. It's probably cool again by now). Is there a word for what karen described, living with what the last people had?

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    1. ah ha ha, yes I bet your 70s orange abstract shapes are cool!

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  12. Wow--I imagine you and Claire were a great combo. Congratulations!

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  13. How exciting to be able to be an editor on Claire's new book. Congratulations!

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  14. Congratulations on such a fun project. Big, big accomplishment!!! Way to go.

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  15. thank you for the congratulations!
    I waited until it was "real" and going well before I wanted to say anything.

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  16. I tried to find her on Facebook but there were too many with that name and none that I could see that was her. Could you give us a link here and then I could like her.

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    1. Lorraine, here is a link to Claire's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/claire.shaeffer?fref=ts

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  17. Oh! I can't wait to get a hold of that book! Congrats on editing - how exciting. :)

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  18. What a fun and challenging project, both the book and dress and congratulations on both.

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  19. Congratulations. I am very happy for you. Btw your house looks lovely!

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