Dressing Downton Exhibit

edith-flapperAnother dress exhibit came to town! Am I a lucky girl or what? This time, the exhibit was at the Taft Museum of Art in downtown Cincinnati, and it was titled Dressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times. Because it was all clothing from the television show Downton Abbey. Yay!

I loved Downton Abbey when it first came out—that first season rocked. But I have to admit that I lost interest after (spoiler!) Cousin Matthew died. However, I did continue to keep loose tabs on the story lines—and the costumes.

So it was still pretty exciting to see the clothing up close, along with, in many cases, still photographs of the actors wearing the costumes.

The majority of the pieces were in the main exhibit space, where the photographs could be posted. But ten more outfits were scattered throughout the rooms of the museum, placing them in context in the Taft home. The peach dress, worn by Lady Edith, at the top of this post, was displayed in the Taft Music Room.

dowager-purple-fabricThe first dress I saw was this one worn by the Dowager Countess. The fabric and trim are exquisite.

mary-riding-coatIt soon became clear that I loved all of Lady Mary’s coats. This is her riding coat from the first season.

mary-red-coatSorry for the bad photo of this one, but I had to show it. Look at the placement of those buttons!

mrs-hughes-keysThis is Mrs. Hughes’ uniform. The keys on her belt were the only “accessory” she was allowed to wear.

matthew-bootsHere are Cousin Matthew’s boots as part of his military uniform. I love all the buckles.

edith-jacketNext was Lady Edith’s bicycle riding outfit (you can kind of see the still photo behind the mannequin). I really dig the pocket detail on the jacket. And in the background are clothes worn by Lady Sybil and Branson, back in his chauffeur days.

cora-embroideryHere is a beautifully embroidered piece that Cora wore.

edith-embroideryAnd speaking of embroidery, here’s a piece worn by Lady Edith. The thread colors look so pretty on the darker fabric.

There were 36 pieces in the exhibit, including evening wear worn by Lord Grantham and some of the later pieces worn by Rose. I’d tell all my Cincinnati friends to check it out, but I saw it on one of its last days here in the city. The tour has been going since February 2015, and it looks like it’ll keep going until January 2018. Check out the full Dressing Downton tour here.

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Remaining Hive Blocks

Snowball finishedThe Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Swap continued over the summer, and in fact, at tonight’s meeting we hand off the last of the blocks for this session. I’m going to miss making these blocks each month. Each one was an interesting challenge and opened my eyes to new techniques and block styles. Here’s a rundown of the last three blocks I worked on.

Wanta Fanta Block

Becky found this block on the Blossom Heart Quilts blog. Becky provided the white fabric and asked us to use a different fabric print for each of the other pieces, for a completely scrappy look. The block is composed of four small blocks, two of which are pieced and two of which are paper-pieced.

Snowball2

Snowball1

When you put the four blocks together, they form the block at the top of this post. And when you put more of those blocks together, you get a cool curved effect even though all the blocks are made with straight lines.

Unfortunately, to get that effect, your piecing needs to be pretty accurate. Mine was not on the first try.

Snowball error

I fixed that oops. It’s still not perfect, but hopefully it will work well enough.

Four-Pointed Star

4_pointed-star-shona

Next up is the Four-Pointed Star Shona asked us to make. She asked that we use a printed fabric as the background and a solid fabric for the star. It’s an improvisational block, so the instructions were pretty loose. Each quarter of the block has two rectangles that are placed at an angle to create halves of two different points.

4_pointed-star-detail

My greatest challenge for this one was figuring out where to place the rectangles so all the background fabric pieces ended up right-reading. That did make my brain hurt a bit.

18 Half-Square Triangles

Finally, for this month, Jeanie asked us just to make 18 half-square triangles using a print fabric and a contrasting solid. She even provided instructions for a quick method to make them.

18hst_1

Cut 9-inch squares from each fabric. Draw horizontal and vertical lines at 3 inches and 6 inches.

18hst_2

Then draw horizontal lines in one direction through all the squares.

18hst_3

Layer the two fabrics right sides together. Then sew 1/4 inch from the diagonal lines, sewing on each side of the lines.

18hst_4

Cut on the horizontal and vertical lines (top row). Then cut on the diagonal lines and press open. Each square results in two half-square triangles.

18hst_5

And that results in 18 half-square triangles! Jeanie then asked us to trim these to 2.5 inches. For some reason, I have trouble with half-square triangles, and for most methods I have to cut my fabric larger to begin with in order to get the correct size finished pieces. But I was able to trim all of these to the right size with no problem!

You can catch up on my other Hive activity here, here, here, and here. There’s talk of starting a new Bee Hive Swap in January, and if that happens, I am in!

Patchwork: The Game

patchwork_box-coverGreg and I were recently in the market for a new game to play after dinner. Rack-O and Yahtzee were getting old, so we went online for recommendations for two-person games. And it was then that we discovered Patchwork.

Given my affinity for quilting, the game seemed worth trying, but the reviews were all very positive as well. So we ordered it off Amazon and gave it a try.

It is dorktastic—super dorky, no doubt, but also really fun and challenging. I love it. And not just because the person who last used a needle gets to go first (did I mention it was dorky?).

patchwork_gamestartThe goal is to earn buttons—the currency of the game—in order to purchase fabric pieces to fill your quilt board. At the start of the game, each players gets five buttons.

patchwork_pieceshapesThe fabric pieces are similar to those in Tetris or Blokus, so part of the challenge is to purchase the pieces that fit together most efficiently to fill your board.

patchwork_gameboardThe players take turns moving around the game board. If you land on a space that touches a button, you get a button payout, earning more buttons for purchasing fabric pieces. If you land on a space that touches a leather patch, you get that patch to fill in a single space on your quilt board. Disclaimer: I do not approve of the use of leather patches on actual quilts. Or the use of buttons, for that matter.

patchwork_myfinalboardAt the end of this particular game, this is what my board looked like. I had earned a lot of buttons along the way, but I also had a lot of empty spaces. You need to deduct two points for each empty space, so I had a big deduction in this game.

patchwork_gregboardGreg, on the other hand, had very few empty spaces (in fact, I’m guessing this was a record for us). He ended up winning the game by ten points/buttons.

The game goes very quickly—usually about 20 minutes. I like that there’s a lot of different things to consider as you play. It really does take some strategy to figure out how to earn the most buttons and get the pieces you need for your board. And there’s an element of luck to it, too, because only certain pieces are available for you to purchase on each turn.

Even if you’re not a quilter, I highly recommend Patchwork as a fun, two-person game. If you’re not a quilter, though, I’m not sure who would go first, but I’m sure you’ll figure something out.