In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to sew a few more things before we took our trip to San Diego to visit my husband's parents. Well, I only managed to sew one thing: this checkered tan smock dress made from one of my tried-and-true favorite patterns, Simplicity 9343 circa the 1990s. And I didn't even get these photos on the blog in a timely fashion either, for which I apologize. I feel like the explanation for my here-again, gone-again relationship to the blog this year is a bit lengthy and requires a blog post in itself, which I am working on and hope to post here soon. But the shorter explanation for my current disappearance from the internet is that Gia got sick again in July and I spent most of the month going to and from the animal hospital with her and managing a barrage of new medications to try to get her stable again. She is currently doing well, and recovering from the last of her infections. We are hoping that her current recovery will last a while, because the last three months have seen far more trouble than peace in her health.
Back to this dress: since I only sewed one thing for this trip, I'm glad that this is what I sewed! The fabric is a sheet that I found half off at Savers, one of our favorite local thrift stores, which means that the dress only cost me $2, as I already had interfacing and white thread in my sewing cabinet. Beyond being a thrifty make, it was a comfortable and lightweight choice for travelling, being in the car for long periods of time, and walking around in the dust and the heat. The long hem and sleeves kept me from worrying about sunburn, and the loose fit kept me from feeling too hot and confined. The only adjustment I made to the pattern is one that I've done on all my previous versions of the pattern: changing the elastic casing at the bottom of the sleeves for a narrow sleeve band that slips over my hands instead. I used the hem of the sheet for the hem of the dress, so it went together quite quickly and easily. This is a pattern that I would highly recommend to any beginner sewers looking for a manageable project that doesn't require fitting, darts, or closures, or for more advanced sewers looking for an easy summer dress that is extremely comfortable to wear.
I made a matching square kerchief out of a large scrap of the same gingham fabric so I can cover my neck while hiking or getting into the cooler weather of fall in another month or two. But I didn't bring it with me to the zoo, so it's not in any of these pictures. I mention it here because I think that making a matching kerchief, scarf, or bandanna is a useful way to use up some more fabric scraps. A lot of my 1970s patterns include a pattern for a shawl or kerchief---a useful addition. I wish that more modern patterns included those kinds of extras. Some of my vintage patterns also include extras like purse or pouch patterns, or ties and bows that can be tied at the collar or belted around the waist. Since our rats passed away earlier in the summer, I have to be more inventive about using our fabric scraps. I imagine that you'll see some posts about that in the future as I work my way through our scrap basket and come up with different uses for the ongoing problem of sewing project leftovers.
We did two exciting things on our trip to San Diego: we visited the art museum and saw a beautiful show of Spanish golden age artwork, and we visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which is the more distant partner of the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park. The Wild Animal Park is set much further back in the hills of rural San Diego County, and boasts a large "safari" area of the park where many species of African animals mingle together in a very extensive multi-acre enclosure that imitates their native savanna habitat as closely as possible, all the way down to the native African varieties of grass that are grown for the animals to eat. We had a really nice day there. Our favorite part of the park was the Australian section, where they had an enclosure you could enter to walk around with kangaroos, wallabies, and a variety of ducks. If the marsupials approached the path, you were allowed to reach out and pet them gently. There were a few babies there, and the smallest was aptly named Clementine (her mother's name was Orange). You can see her in the photo below. I wish that I could be so effortlessly good looking, and charming besides!
My husband took all of these lovely, amazing photos, except the ones of the two of us, which were kindly taken by my mother-in-law.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.