Whimsical Windows

IMG_8609.1There’s a lot of fabric in an old bed sheet. And, depending on the sheet, good fabric, quality fabric. Perfect for curtains. Yesterday afternoon and evening, I sewed and hung curtains for the two living room windows in the homesteader cabin, from sheets we found while cleaning up the place. Until yesterday, we’d been using blankets (and these sheets actually), draped over the curtain rods to keep the warmth in and the dark out. But simple white curtains are so much homier and more beautiful, and are a lot better at diffusing the light.

IMG_8612.1I’ve always loved the look of glass sparkling in sunlight – Old jars and bottles and prisms, anything to add a little simplistic sparkle and shine. So, naturally, old insulators catch my attention. A little touch of rustic whimsy.

Laura Elizabeth

Soon to come…

The weather has conspired against me for the past two and a half weeks. For two and a half weeks, I’ve been saying that I’d get pictures on the next nice day. And that next nice day has really not come yet. For two and a half weeks, we’ve had rain, then snow, then melting snow, then rain, then snow again, then rain, and more rain.

So my precious dolls have been kept safe inside, which means I have yet to get pictures of my doll clothes which will soon be for sale on my Etsy shop. It is currently inactive, but it will be called HomesteadNotions.

However…I do have a preview of the doll outfits! Minus the little items to go with the dresses, this is what I’ve been doing in my free time for the past couple of weeks!

The patterns are from Simplicity, American Girl, and Heritage Doll Fashions. The two Regency dresses were made from the same pattern, which I tweaked a bit for the plaid one, to give it a gathered bodice and short sleeves. The two Colonial dresses were made from another pattern, which I tweaked in both to have growth stripes in the skirt; I also added pin tucks to the bodice of the brown dress.

I didn’t realize how much I missed sewing until I started doing it again!

Laura Elizabeth

Winter in May

DSCN0198.1The snow fell thick and heavy today, and our springtime world was transformed into a winter fit for greeting cards and calendar pictures. Sarah and I both got off work because of hazardous road conditions, and consequently spent our day in various quiet tasks and occupations…because, as Anna said “There’s just not much to do,” meaning, when it is snowing a gale outside. When it is snowing slush and turning the ground into a slippery, sloppy mess, I’m thankful to have “nothing to do” that forces me to be out in it, getting soaked to the skin!


The Miner’s Cabin, in spite of somewhat outdated insulating techniques, was my haunt for much of the day, since my sewing machines are out there. They are competing with the yet-to-be-sorted family items, such as Grandma and Grandpa’s travel souvenirs and miscellaneous household items, but it is a better sewing room than I could find anywhere else at this time! A little space heater doesn’t exactly keep it warm, but it takes the edge of the chill. DSCN0182.1Oh, for the day when we can have a fire in the stove! But there is some maintenance to be done on the chimney yet, which will probably have to wait until this coming fall. It will be ready by winter! Hopefully, however, I’ll get some blankets hung up over the bedroom door and the lean-to door, to keep the heat in the living room. In spite of the mess, it really is a lovely place to sew.

DSCN0233.1Coveting the photo opportunities, Sarah and I took a short excursion in the jeep, with the dog as a tag-along. The view from Highway 40 was beautiful and haunting. Distant familiar hills were lost entirely in the snow. The black of the trees had turned grey under the blanket of snow and ice. Green grass poked up through the snow, the only indication that it is springtime, and not early January! It was an odd sight, seeing a cheery red tulip covered in white, or seeing the young crabapple leaves frozen stiff.

DSCN0223.1By this evening, we’d gotten a good seven or eight inches of snow, I’m sure, and we expect snow all night. The snow is so wet and heavy, the trees are simply covered with it and bend under the weight. Hopefully the damage will be minimal, but for now it is enchanting. Trees have a nasty habit of taking out sections of fencing, and the cattle are supposed to arrive in less than a month, if all goes as planned! Too dry, too wet, not enough grass, crushed fence, cows too hot, cows too cold…I guess there’s always something. Maybe it is the promise of daily variety, the very real sense of risk, that play a role keeping ranchers coming back to ranching. I had one tell me he almost quits every week. But he doesn’t.

DSCN0241.1Thank God for a warm, snug home. It is shamefully easy to forget daily blessings, but when the weather is inclement and snow is piling deep, I realize what a true blessing it is to have a roof over my head, a source of heat, and a bed with warm blankets at the end of the day.

Laura Elizabeth


A day at the Mercantile

DSCN0113.2It really is a great deal. For one job, I get paid to ride horses, and for the other job, I get paid to play with fabric all day. There’s been a learning curve for both jobs, but each is going well in its own way.

DSCN0097.1The Hill City Mercantile is a relatively recent addition to Hill City Main Street, and is a beautiful renovation job on a building from the early 1900s. Pam and Gary, the owners, have done a marvelous job on the interior of the building, and it is just a gorgeous workplace. Sliding doors and exposed brick give the shop an industrial flair, and the warm, bright lighting sure brings out the colors in the fabric. It is an eye-catching interior!


I’ve been sewing since I was about ten, and on and off over the past few years I had tossed around the idea of working in a fabric store–What I perfect fit it is! It might be a little difficult to hang on to my paychecks, but hopefully I’ll have sufficient self-control. Everything seems to suggest projects to me, whether it be clothing for me, clothing to sell, doll clothes, pillowcases and bedding, curtains…DSCN0098.1I especially like the Kansas Troubles line of fabric, a gorgeous collection of antique-looking prints. One of the fabrics looks like how I’ve always imagined Caroline Ingalls’ delaine dress to have looked. Green with little red berries on it. I know it was wool and not cotton, but I still think it must have looked something like our cotton print!


Today, I was given the management of remnants and fat quarters, both of which give me a little bit of artistic license as far as arranging the fabrics goes. Both jobs can be mindless activities, which is sometimes exactly what I like. I enjoy having my hands busy so my imagination is free to explore. And there’s something satisfying about baskets full of organized remnants at the end of the day. I’m afraid it is the remnants that get me–That little $2 or $4 price tag is so tempting! And what better for dolls’ clothes than small pieces of beautiful cotton!

Laura Elizabeth

Working on the Miner’s Cabin

DSCN1245.1Now that we’re getting settled in to our new home, now that we’ve gotten the log cabin organized and looking like a home, Sarah and I have been able to spend some time in the Miner’s Cabin getting it ready for residents. The beautiful old shack has been used as a storage cabin for the past fifteen or more years, and my goal is to get it back to roughly how I remember it being, back when I was little. Add a little pure imagination, some historical instinct, and I’m hoping it will be a lively, beautiful little place.

DSCN0177.1When Dad was in his early twenties and working on the Burlington-Northern Railroad, he lived in this old shack, and even through the winter–So rest your minds, it is livable. In spite of there being no plumbing. It needs new wiring and the wood burning stove needs maintenance, but the roof is new and the structure itself is surprisingly weather-tight.

DSCN0172.1My project this afternoon was to get my sewing cabinet set up. The cabin has three rooms–A living room, a bedroom, and a lean-to. The lean-to is where I am hoping my sewing things will get to live. Although it is a little hard to see in the picture, there is a glass-front cabinet against the wall to the left. DSCN0079.1About two weeks ago, Mom, Sarah and I boxed up all the old jars (you’d be amazed how many there were!), and separated the keepers from the pitchers–Or, rather, the ones useful for canning from the ones we probably wouldn’t want to use for canning. Of the ones we wouldn’t use, I confiscated some and now can use them for sewing organization!  With all the extra jars cleared out or put to use, and with the interior dusted and wiped down with oil soap, it works nicely as storage space for sewing notions.

DSCN0074.1The shelves are the perfect depth for my overlock thread, as well as my normal sewing machine thread. There is an old spice rack and a curio shelf that I’m hoping to put to use for sewing supplies as well. DSCN1243.1Jars and baskets help organize buttons, sewing needles, machine needles, thread, sewing tools, and ribbon and trim. I’m looking forward to getting my sewing table set up, a gift from a dear woman back in Champaign for whom I did quite a bit of sewing work, and being able to sew away out here!

Such a cozy little cabin–A cozy cabin needs people to live in it.

Laura Elizabeth

Sew, a Needle Pulling Thread

DSCN0277.1While in college, I (obviously) had relatively little time to devote to non-college pursuits. That’s as it should be, I suppose, but I’m rediscovering some of those interests that either were put on hold or put off all together while I was getting my undergraduate degree. The past few weeks (and months), I’ve gotten out my crochet hooks, bought yarn, and whipped up some various projects, while most recently I’ve turned my attention to smaller items. For instance, this shawl I actually just finished crocheting to be the size for an American Girl doll. Those who know me well would know that I have a weakness for American Girl dolls, and this shawl looks quite beautiful on my Felicity doll. While I don’t have a picture of the shawl on Felicity, here is a picture of the almost-finished garment. The fabric with it will turn into doll dresses. I made a pattern from a store-bought doll dress, but I have yet to find a good place for my sewing machines, so my sewing is still somewhat on hold.

DSCN0003.1It turns out the Black Hills area is quite an artsy community, with lots of participation in what might be termed “traditional” or “folk” arts. Yesterday, Mom and I went to the Black Hills Fiber Arts Fair, where I visited with a number of women who are skilled weavers, spinners, dyers, and some who raise their own fiber animals (someday!). I got a ten minute lesson on using the drop spindle from the “Godmother of Drop Spindles” (as her colleagues dubbed her), and promptly purchased a kit. 4629024Even though it isn’t very good, the finished thread is so pretty! This is another one of those interests I’ve had for what seems like eternity, ever since I read Little House in the Highlands. Martha, Laura Ingalls’ great grandmother, is given a drop spindle and some wool. The part of the book where she is learning to spin used to fascinate me.

DSCN0005.1There were so many vendors and so many beautiful products–Hand-spun yarns, woven shawls, dyed fabrics, beautifully carved spindles, etc. With a few more doll-sized projects in mind (other shawls, which will hopefully be sold eventually), I gave myself a budget and found some beautiful 100% wool yarns. Unfortunate, the hand-spun yarns were a little outside my price range, but these were beautiful. Can’t wait to see what the projects look like when they’re finished!

Laura Elizabeth