(Life) Style Tips in January 2021

January Life Style Tips | Hedgefairy Tales

Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.

Charles M. Sheldon

Aaah, January, a month full of promise and promises alike, of good intentions and new beginnings. We love January here at Thistledown HQ (and I say we as if there was more to it than me on my cluttered desk) with its resolutions and the idea of a New Year, New Me. If you ever wanted to try being someone else, this might be the time – we’re still mostly in lockdown, home office, low live-action social contact, so why not take January as a month of becoming so you can burst out in Chrysalis (capital letters for capital concepts) later?
Cocoon yourself in blankets, neutral colours and soft layers, to dream of adventures – style and otherwise – to come.

Talking of hibernation, if you have trouble sleeping lately, try switching out your pillow to something harder or softer, put a lavender sachet into the cover – so it will be close enough to your nose to actually notice – or if all else fails maybe invest in a weighted blanket of about ten percent your own weight for an instant hug and comfortable weight without having to pile up ALL of the duvets.

January was a two-faced month, jangling like jester’s bells, crackling like snow crust, pure as any beginning, grim as an old man, mysteriously familiar yet unknown, like a word one can almost but not quite define.

Patricia Highsmith

January is as good as a time for tisanes as any, in this case steaming hot and maybe with some biscuits. Don’t just throw those unsightly packagings in a pile, though: Keep an eye out for pretty apothecary jars or old-fashioned tins and the thrift store or the cheap decor aisle of your choice, get a pack of craft paper stickers and a black pen and give your tea selection the makeover it so heartily deserves. If you feel fancy, try pretty cursive or blackletter and write down the Latin names of your dried leaves or the – arguable – very poetic names of pre-mixed infusions.

As much as we all love snacks with our tea many of us have “eat less sweets” on our list of resolutions every year, time and again, as dire a prospect as it may be. Try this approach instead of denying yourself the pleasure of sugary treats: Every time you feel tempted to buy sweets, look for an alternative option of the same kind, but twice the price. This way you might feel inclined to buy less sweets in general and you’re treating yourself to fancy ones if you do, that you might not even blindly scarf down as it might be the case with the cheap stuff. Win-win.

Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.

Karen Joy Fowler

Find or invest (or take out of storage) a sumptuous, huge shawl or scarf to wrap yourself up in and to protect your sensitive soul during this new beginning, the kind that reaches the tip of your nose when completely slung around your neck. It can be a cushy knit, a flowing pashmina or a big homespun weave that doubles as a blanket, but it should give you comfort and warmth, a cocoon you can take everywhere to spin yourself into when the world gets coarse and you feel like you should have a tiny haven of rest on the go.

Here’s last year’s January, just in case you want more, and July, for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere.

P.S.: Graphics used in the above collage are this New Year’s card (third from top) and the first two of these spoons from Graphics Fairy, the J (eighth row) from Pattern Maker Charts. The sticky tape is from Fuzzimo, the banner is mine and the font is DIY Tape by Ross Turnbull. While all these are free to use without credit I like sharing my sources so that others can use them, too.

Happy New

Happy New Year. 2020 was long enough (good riddance), and here we are with a completely fresh, new year, and with all the hope of not fucking it up that usually comes with that.

My resolutions this year are very personal or rather, very personal-growth related and mostly revolve around being nicer to myself, but at the same time, there are so many things I want to do, very concrete things that don’t feel like resolutions, though. And this is where one Day Zero Project comes into play once again. To explain,

It sounds a bit like something from a dystopian post-apocalyptic narrative concept. It’s not, though. It’s a bit like new year’s resolutions meets bucket list, but stretched over a slightly more realistic time span – about three years, give or take.

– me, on the last list I made

The latest iteration of the challenge here on the blog would have ended in December 2021 but after last year I felt like a fresh start. I need those sometimes. Sue me. And just like the last times I’ll put that last list here and comment on a few things. The new-and-improved-once-more list is here, of course. So, off to the review!

101 in 1001

Tally: 29/101. That’s over a quarter! Following comments in italics.

  1. Get my business license Still working on that one.
  2. Open an online shop Tied to the first. Still working on that one.
  3. Finish Uni before my 30th. Weeeell. In a way. I quit. It might sound harsh, but was and remains a really sane decision. There’s still a blog post about this sitting on my desktop that I wrote when I cut that tie over a year ago, maybe it’ll make it to the web some day, who knows.
  4. Manage Crow position in yoga. Nah.
  5. Practise yoga every day for one moon. I should really start doing yoga again…
  6. Meet my friends abroad in person. It was planned and payed for, alas, along came 2020.
  7. Go to Scotland
  8. Start drawing a webcomic. This made it to the new list. I think it’s been on there since the first incarnation…
  9. Go swimming 19 times 3/19. It would have been more without Corona, but let’s face it, I wouldn’t have made it to 19.
  10. Make 3 videos about Hanover -/3
  11. Visit Amsterdam. No. *cries in Dutch*
  12. “Win” Inktober I actually did that? If this point weren’t in yellow I wouldn’t even remember, but ’19 was far nicer to my spoons than ’20.
  13. Visit the Lüneburg Heath
  14. Make 9 videos about made-up subcultures -/9. Sadly no, but I made far fewer videos than I would have liked to, anyway.
  15. Go to the theatre, ballet or opera. This one made it to the new list, too.
  16. Cosplay
  17. Make an effort to learn about my city
  18. Go climbing or bouldering
  19. Visit France
  20. Get rid of another 111 things. I was really good at throwing out stuff in the last two years, but I also found a bunch of awesome new-to-me treasures, so…
  21. Take 19 outfit photos or film looks 4/19. No, but I still like the Valentine’s Day lookbook I made last year.
  22. Read all Borrower books. No, but we played the Small Folk RPG, which was almost as nice.
  23. Visit Japan. No. I think the essential message of “all my travel plans, realistic or not, were crushed by the ‘Rona” has gotten through by now.
  24. Make cocktail recipes for all Bastion spirits. I’ll drag that one with me from one list to the next until I finally do it.
  25. Hike through the Scottish midlands. See item 23.
  26. Sit in 3 more artist alleys 1/3. You know what, I’ll give myself that one, because if not for Covid this would have been completed. Look at me, being self-compassionate and everything!
  27. Visit 11 museums 4/11 (Roemer-Pelizäus Hildesheim, Stadtmuseum Hameln, August-Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover, Duckomenta at Landesmuseum Hannover). Ugh, I want the museums to be open again. How is it that big chain stores closed after cultural institutions that are almost empty anyway?
  28. Go to Drachenfest. See travel lamentations, item 23. I even already had my ticket.
  29. Explore abandoned Alpine villages in Italy. Once again, item 23.
  30. Dye with onion skins. I really oughta make a post about that sometime.
  31. Knit something. Nope.
  32. Lose another five kilos or so. I think weight goals are a bit weird, considering that I don’t even own scales…
  33. Dye with avocado again
  34. Sew something from a bought pattern. I bought pattern books and made something, I guess that counts. Yeah. It dows.
  35. Make something with Rowan berries
  36. Learn soldering
  37. Adapt a pastry recipe for vegetarians pescetarians. Did that for Yuletide and decided that I must make more pastries.
  38. Make and upload 9 Media Mukbangs -/9
  39. Crochet something. I think neither knitting nor crocheting are my kinds of needlecraft and that’s okay. I don’t have to do all the crafts.
  40. Get a new bowstring. Checked that one off at ConQuest.
  41. Get a new record player. I tried, but reading reviews was absurdly disheartening.
  42. Design and sew a themed collection of 9 pieces. The designing part comes with me for the new list, but I don’t have to make it.
  43. Floor-board the balcony. And then I had to take it all off again when our balconies were redone this winter. Not sure about where I’m going design-wise after that.
  44. Make bath bombs
  45. Make a calendar to print and sell. I so did not.
  46. Fill an entire sketchbook
  47. Finish playing 3 games (Deponia | Unavowed | Night in the Woods) All three of them were delightful in completely different ways.
  48. Take a goldsmithing class
  49. Visit 5 new cities or towns in Germany 4/5 (Hildesheim, Hamburg, Hameln, Wismar)
  50. Go to the Seaside
  51. Publish a zine
  52. Film a house tour
  53. Make ice cream
  54. Watch 3 black-and-white movies 2/3 (Bringing up Baby, One Two Three). I am now banned from picking out movies.
  55. Go to Tuesday / Saturday work by bike 11 times -/11 *hysterical laughter*
  56. Make a new Müllbarock crown and photoshoot it
  57. Visit a faerie festival. No. And even if I had planned it, actually, see item 23.
  58. Try rust dye. Not yet.
  59. Learn lino print cutting
  60. Get Meriastron team shirts or jackets. Nah, but one day, we will. When LARPs are a thing again.
  61. Make a quilt for myself
  62. Add 9 more plants to the herbarium -/9. I’m pretty sure I added some, but I don’t add dates so I can’t really say how many. But most probably less than nine.
  63. Make paste-ups
  64. Try 19 new recipes 12/19 (no-sugar brownies, peanut cheesecake, mini chocolate cakes, coffee chocolate cake, pumpkin salad, pumpkin marble cake, chestnut pasta sauce, espresso cupcakes, kale pasta sauce, chocolate chiffon cake, raspberry marble cake, fish pastry)
  65. Make 5 tutorials or patterns 2/5
  66. Go mushroom foraging. Twice, even!
  67. Get a tattoo gun. I did some research, though, and I think I’ll shy away from that one for a while, still. Again, I don’t have to do all the crafts.
  68. Re-design the blog. By now it’s time for a general social media re-design, but we’ll do that on the other list.
  69. Shoot a short film in a lost place
  70. Make jewellery from old cutlery
  71. Take part in MerMay. And just like with every other art challenge I posted less of it on my art insta account than prudent.
  72. Back a Kickstarter. And I’m super excited!
  73. Find a favourite non-chain coffee place in Hanover. Well, I kind of have one, but it’s pretty much impossible to get a seat there, so I’ll keep searching nevertheless.
  74. Shoot 9 rolls of film 1/9
  75. Sew a pair of non-drawstring pants
  76. Get or make a pair of aquatic fae latex ears. I’ve got my eyes set on a pair from a very specific maker and they happen to sell out within minutes, but I’ll keep trying in the next list!
  77. Dye with acorns
  78. Take time to celebrate Equinoxes, Solstices and Full Moons
  79. Re-upholster the sofa. Eh, we bought a new sofa instead.
  80. Go to a concert (LYDT Nov. 2019, Bielefeld)
  81. Build Fetch. This one continues well into the next list.
  82. Watch Wes Anderson’s entire filmography. *shrugs*
  83. Go see a live performance of the Nutcracker
  84. Borrow a cello and try playing. Playing more and maybe even taking a lesson or two is on the next list, too!
  85. Record 3 songs -/3. Overall, I made far less music than I would have liked to. Every time I touch an instrument my fingers and soul yearn for this to happen more often, but in the end the spoons that could go into music go into something else.
  86. Learn basic Dutch. Het is genoeg om en beetje conversatie te maken en om naar teen drama’s op Netflix te kijken, maar ik leer nog steeds.
  87. Try fire-pit pottery making. Alas, no.
  88. Draw 7 tarot or Lenormand cards. (Four of Pentacles, Four of Cups, Five of Wands, Two of Wands, The Moon, The Magician, Death)
  89. Learn to identify another 8 constellations -/8
  90. Build a pinhole camera and use it. I really wish I did this one and the next, but it wasn’t exactly one of my highest priorities, to be honest.
  91. Learn to develop photographs with household fluids
  92. Visit Edinburgh. No. Item 23. Ugh.
  93. Learn basic animation. This one made it to the new list, of course.
  94. Go dumpster diving again
  95. Find bones or antlers in the woods. One of the antlers is now part of our coat rack.
  96. Learn to use enamel powder
  97. Get a Lavender plant. Aaaand I killed it. I’m either not very good with lavender or the climate on my balcony is the wrong one.
  98. Watch 3 French films or series with original audio (subs are fine) 2/3
  99. Get my ear re-pierced. I absolutely love my new piercing studio, too.
  100. Get underwater footage of myself as a mermaid
  101. Make a new list. Obvs.

I’m pretty pleased with myself. I stopped referring to THE LIST for a while, and now that I looked it over again I found several items I hadn’t even checked off. Let’s see if the next one is even more done once the day comes!

Here’s to a new LIST and a happy 2021!

Cake & Costube | A “Get To Know Me” Type of Thing

Here’s the recipe for the cake. Scroll down for the raspberry alterations in yellow!

Script ↓

Hello Thistledown Gang, welcome back (if you’ve already been here, if not, it’s absolutely lovely to have you here, I hope you’ll stay)!

Today I’m going to try something new, answering the 20 questions of SewLoud’s Costume Quarantine Questionaire – while baking a cake. It’s going to be a variation on my grandmother’s marble cake recipe, but with raspberries instead of chocolate for a more spring-like twist. For someone like me who is mortally afraid of processed fruit, that’s quite the step… but anyway, on to the questionnaire!

1I don’t know about the first one anymore (okay, I do remember, but there aren’t any pictures), so I’ll just give you this here.

alt2This was one of my early medieval market-ren fair type of projects, and I was really proud of it. It’s mostly made from linen, so that’s at least partially historically accurate, but it had metal grommets at the side lacing and a huge hood… I just liked hoods. I still do.

alt1So here, have 19-year-old me, being really proud of her dress. I’m not completely ashamed to show this around the internet, really.

2This doublet I made for a LARP character.

doublet1

doublet2It’s not made after an extant garment, but the construction methods for both pattern and garment are fairly accurate. It’s also really flattering and aged really well.

3Right now the first thing that springs to mind is an Edwardian lawn or lingerie dress, you know, those airy, lacy white things. I’m also dreaming of an Edwardian working wardrobe and an s-bend corset, and maybe some men’s clothing because I need more trousers, and an Edwardian walking skirt… and maybe, one day, I’ll find my Worth Gown. Admittedly, I haven’t started looking in earnest yet.

4I really hate putting in zippers. Even with modern garments, if I have the choice to put in a zipper or make a row of buttonholes, I’d take the buttonholes.
And I love hand-sewing. It’s kind of relaxing. That’s actually how I catch up with YouTube, while hand-sewing.

5I’d rather sew wool. It’s easier to handle, it doesn’t fray as much, it’s easier to clean and overall less of a little bitch.

6I tend to see prompts as a welcome challenge, so I think I’d rather go to a themed event. I also love seeing what everyone else came up with, that’s why I love Inktober (and other drawing challenges and Instagram challenges and things like these in general) so much!

7I’d rather go to a big ball. Outside Corona, I go to a historical dancing class, and I just adore dancing. I even went to dancing school for traditional modern ballroom dancing as a teenager for a few terms and absolutely loved it, so this is a no-brainer for me. It’s also easier to play over my shyness and introversion at big events, especially if there’s music.

8Machine sewing might be really quick, but I can’t control it as well as my own fingers. Hand sewing might take longer but rarely (never) hits any technical roadblocks. I do like sewing with my hand-crank machine, so I think I’d go hand sewing – hand crank – electric machine, in that order.

9Well, I kind of cut off my hair only a few weeks ago, so right now I kind of depend on wigs as a mohawk is hardly fitting for most feminine (or masculine, at that) historical styles. If I still had long hair I’d prefer that – if you go back in this blog a few years, I still have hair long enough for a lot of historical updos, but these days are long gone. Own hair is much less fuss, you don’t have to store it and it’s easier to detangle, and you don’t have to put it on first. But aside from my everyday Histopunk style – taking what I like from different eras and mashing them together – I do like long hair for historically inspired attire, so I already ordered (and received) a wig. I’m a bit anxious to try it out, I don’t have any experience with lace-fronts so far, but as I can’t change my own hair’s length at will, this is where we’re at.

10Basically, all of my supply comes from the thrift store, and that doesn’t really count, so I’d like to refer you to the Costume Quarantine 20 Questions Playlist for suggestions about small businesses. Support them if you can!

11Aside from the usual big ones that everybody knows there are dozens of wonderful smaller channels I’d wholeheartedly recommend, and here are but five of them (again, there are more in the playlist!):

sewloudRobin of SewLoud originally started this Questionaire. She does 1830s, which makes her instantly incredibly cool, and I love her personality.

lizcapismLiza of LizCapism has by far not enough subscribers, and her 18th century stays video made me lose some of the anxiety I had about making stays myself sometime soon (-ish).

notyourmommashistoryCheyney of Not Your Momma’s History is a fantastic historical interpreter whose main topic is the more unsavoury parts of US history, and aside from this being a hugely important topic she presents it with such style and flair, I can’t but fangirl.

catscostumeryKat of Cat’s Costumery got me with her historybounding wardrobe videos.

fashionhistoryAmanda Halley of The Ultimate Fashion History is a lecturer at a fashion college in the US who her lectures to YouTube. About half of it is about contemporary fashion, but I don’t mind it – I really like listening to her while I hand-sew.

12I’d go with dusty, rose pinks and golden mustard yellows, they always make me smile.

13Sparkles.

14When I was fifteen I visited Bunratty Castle while travelling in Ireland with a youth group, and I’d really like to revisit the folk park with its turn-of-the-century village in costume, just to hang out there. I’d also like a costume trip with likeminded folks to Edinburgh – a trip I took when I was sixteen, and I’ve been wanting to return ever since.

15I think I’ll go with piña colada and mojito because I’m really basic that way (and I have not much of an idea about cocktails in the first place).

16All of them, because I just really like meeting kindred spirits.

17Liza from LizCapism made a really good point: With plain fabric, you can see every tiny error. Patterned fabrics don’t have this problem as much, and I really do like patterns better, so patterned it is.

18I have used patterns before, but only ones I had to enlarge by myself and then alter to fit me. I’ve never used a to-scale bought pattern so far, I still have to do that, and I’ve got to admit that the prospects frighten me a tiny little bit. I draft most of my patterns myself, so I’m going with that.

19I enjoy making Renaissance and early modern period – Baroque, basically – things most, although I could not tell you why. Maybe because that is where I have the most experience so far? As for wearing I prefer Edwardian times, I like the look and the styles work quite well with my body type – I’m fairly hourglass-shaped and already have a big bosom and bum, and that’s kind of fortunate there.

20Before I decided to go to uni I wanted to become a bookbinder. We had bookbinding classes at school and I really loved it, but in the end, I didn’t go through with it. It would have been quite hard to find a master with an open apprenticeship position who still did things the old-fashioned way, and I would have much more likely wound up in a large firm with a lot of modern machinery and not much soul, and I wasn’t there for that. But I did spend a lot of time in my school’s workshop, I just hung out there a lot and learned what I could (and I still enjoy making books when I have the chance).

I hope you enjoyed this questionnaire (may it be as a video or in writing and the cake, should you decide to make it. If you also answer these questions, let me know in the comments, I’d love to see your versions!

Thrift Fix: Horrid Nighty to Historybound Blouse

Scroll down for the script!

Hello Thistledown Gang,

Welcome back (if you’ve already been here, if not, hi, it’s absolutely lovely to have you here, I hope you’ll stay for a while!). Today I’m showing you what became of this massively unflattering nighty I found at the thrift shop quite a while ago. It was either too long or too short, it was too wide in the wrong places, and the sleeves weren’t only stretched out but also too short. But I did like the plaid and I did like the collar situation so I took it home anyway to see what potential it might still have.

First thing I did was to unpick that weird velvet bow in front – it didn’t open, and it didn’t even go all around the neck, it just sat there awkwardly, and that didn’t help either of us. It has since been used in another project, but the buttons went straight to the donation pile. The elastic at the sleeves was, as mentioned, horribly stretched and even sticky and didn’t spark joy at all, so of course, it had to go.

My next step was a tea bath as I didn’t want to keep the white bright like that but rather wanted something a bit muted. I use the cheapest black tea our supermarket has to offer with a generous dash of salt, and in this case, I let it all sit for half a day before rinsing it off.

I didn’t plan on keeping it as a dress, so I decided to shorten it and make it into a Turn-of-the-Century-inspired blouse instead. When I shorten pieces I simply put them on and haphazardly draw a chalk mark where it feels right. This might not be the most professional approach, but it usually works, and I’m not a professional anyway. I went for a rounded hem by adding about half a palm’s width to the center of the new hem and drawing over it. Of course, I saved the fabric that I cut off, it’s going to come in handy later in the video.

There are several ways to make a garment fit better, and I kind of prefer this one to normal darts. I pinch the excess fabric between thumb and forefinger on both sides, shift them until it looks symmetrical and decent and then pin it down, leaving pleats on the bottom and the top to spring open. It’s basically darts for lazy people, but for me it definitely works better, especially on loose tops. There might be an official name for this, but I haven’t looked for it yet. The shape it gives of reminds me of the blouses I see in pictures of the lower and lower-middle classes from the Victorian and Edwardian Era, and as that’s kind of the look I’m going for… This is of course sewn down. Cue my dear old Hertha, who as since departed into the higher planes for sewing machines what did their job fantastically well for over sixty years.

This was not waisted enough yet, but instead of repeating the pleat situation on the back, enter out good friend, the velvet ribbon. I just like velvet ribbons.

I determined the height for the ribbon by grabbing the side seams and drawing them back, marked the spot with a pin, and then trailed back to the pleat seam I made earlier. I picked that seam open again where I wanted the ribbon to sit, shoved it in there, and sewed over it again, which gathered the loose fabric in the back when tied. Later, after wearing the blouse a couple of times, I figured I wanted it to be even more waisted so I took in the sides, as well, but I didn’t catch that on video. Another time, maybe.

Remember those sleeves from the beginning that were too short? I live to roll my sleeves up, anyway, but if they are theoretically long, they should be, you know… long, so something had to be done about this.

I took some of the leftovers from the hem and cut cuffs out of them. At first, I thought that might be enough, alas, no. I couldn’t find the other half of the original fabric for the life of me, though, so I had to improvise, you’ll see that in a moment. Needless to say, I came across it two days ago in my cabbage patch, but eh, too late.

Oh, enter Effie, the latest addition to my sewing family! Works like a charm. These cuffs were actually the very first thing I sewed with her. My electric sewing machine is getting a check-up at the moment, which might be the absolute worst time for such a thing in the last few weeks because suddenly everyone is sewing masks and for this reason digging out old, neglected machines, but I’m glad that more people are discovering the magic of sewing (however dire the circumstances), and I’ve got Effie to help me so I’m delighted to wait a bit longer for the other to come back.

Anyway, back to those sleeves.

The fabric I used to lengthen the sleeves further is actually and old straining rag from onion skin dyeing. I figured the colour would work well with the velvet ribbon and the tiny bit of yellow in the plaid of the blouse. I made tape to stitch around the sleeve, and I’m sorry about the overexposure – that’s what you get for working with natural light for once.

Now, I’m a f***ing genius and absolutely didn’t remember that in order to be rolled up in spite of a tight-fitting cuff a shirt sleeve needs to be slit. Good thing I was wearing a shirt (that I shamelessly used as a model). It’s not like I never do that, I just sometimes really don’t brain so well. And so I had to cut open my beautiful, newly stitched tape – at that point, I was really happy that I hadn’t sewn it on by hand – and make more of it.

I stitched on the corners by hand, I just know that if I did that by machine it would never look halfway decent, and you can barely see the thread I used for the whip stitch. Corners are not exactly my favourite thing in the world to sew, and it was my very first time taping a cuff slit like this, but in the end it worked out well enough that I’m not ashamed to wear it in public, so that’s a win in my book.

I pinned on the plaid cuffs with two pleats (again, shamelessly copied from the shirt I was wearing) and sewed them down, which worked surprisingly well – one of the reasons why I really like hand sewing is that it’s so easy to control, but a hand crank sewing machine is a great compromise.

And that brings us to the end result! I’m not sure if I misplaced the footage or never made any, but I also sewed on a thinner velvet ribbon at the throat – it’s not quite as lemony in real life, but I couldn’t grade that colour right no matter how much I tried – and replaced the old buttons with laundry ones from the thrift shop – we’ll see how well they hold up. I of course also added buttons and buttonholes to the cuffs, and I unpicked the overlocking of the ruffles around the bib and the collar and hemmed them again by hand, and while that might not have been the sanest decision I ever made I think it paid off.

Overall I’m really pleased with the result. This was a slow fix, and it took me months to figure out what I wanted to do with the sleeves but now I’m quite happy with how they turned out, yellow stripe and all. I like how this blouse can vary from school marm to histopunk, and I hope you like it, too. If you enjoyed this video, I’d be delighted about a thumbs up or even one of these elusive comment thingies, and if you haven’t yet and subscribed I’d be close to fainting, but I honestly have too many things I want to do so I can’t do that right now. Have a lovely week, stay enchanted (and home, if you can), and I’ll see you all next time. Bye!