I wish I was the Sugar Plum Fairy.

It feels like Friday, which is a very sneaky thing for a Thursday to do.

A little shout out to any West Michigan Rosewood Buttons readers. Perhaps you would like to take a short jaunt over to West Michigan Weekly, a blog full of mitten travels such as a trip to the GR Ballet and awesome giveaways, such as a wine tasting for six... a.k.a. "the work blog."

P.S. My AT&T saga still unfolds like a prickly sweater. Shall the Internet ever come?


Is it?

And the first rude sketch the world had seen
was a joy to his mighty heart,
till the Devil whispered behind the leaves,
"It's pretty, but is it Art?"
Rudyard Kipling

I came across this quote on The Pine River Review and also wanted to share. Meanwhile, I've been stood up twice by AT&T and am still without the Internet. Damn them.


How movie posters should be.

Aren't these delicious? Every now and again, we're treated to a set of posters that are more than a Photoshopped image of an actor or actress (not to minimize the skills needed for a well done Photoshop job), and it is like a treat to the eye. Already looking forward to the new film by Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky, I was simply tickled when I saw the posters for Black Swan. Deranged ballerinas running around paranoid in feathers and tutus? I'm in.

Number three is my favorite. If the movie lives up to my expectations, I'd be willing to track down a copy of it for my wall. Number two is lovely as well.


Open for Business

Come one, come all, to the wonderful, whimsical world of Rosewood Buttons on Etsy!

My Etsy shop is open, featuring a few circular brick stitch pieces, the beginning of a lovely selection of handcrafted items. I'm thrilled to say that things are finally up and running, as it was very intimidating thing. In addition to a sling of things on the Etsy to-do start-up list, selling items online feels somewhat exposing. A silly thing to hear from somebody who blogs, I know.

The photography aspect ran parallel to the cooling Michigan weather. Winter has certainly awoken and stretched its arms, casting chilling air, icy temperatures, and quickly darkening evenings. None of these things make for smooth photoshoots. Neither does the presence of a quite adorable beagle.

 Hey, Rufus! We're trying to do a photoshoot here!

Please take a moment to stop by and tell me what you think!


Welcome to the 21st Century

One may notice that my posting can be a little willy nilly, and for that I offer apologies. I often make my way through the day with frequent blog-thoughts popping into my head. "Oh!" I say to myself, "I should post a picture of this fabulous Art Nouveau chocolate tin I just got," or "Shannon! What a lovely little crafting moment you just had. Post it!" (I may actually talk to myself. Maybe I should get a pet: a goldfish named George.)

Why don't I follow through on all my blogging whims, one might ask. Well, I'm about 15 years behind the rest of the world and don't have the Internet at home, so I have to sneak in a bit of lunch time blogging here or at-the-boyfriend's blogging there. This shall all change in one short week.

Yes, yes, my appointment has been made for early Tuesday next. I will finally have the Internet!

{Internet dance, Internet dance, Internet dance}

Let the countdown begin!


A few of my favorite things...

Ah, Thanksgiving: the time of year to gorge on copious amounts turkey and spinach pies, debate with your brother over who inherits the prized 1920s family dictionary, and dine with the oh so whimsical bird silverware.

I love this silverware.

My parents are a pair of talented trash pickers. I recall moments of driving down the streets of Detroit with Mom as a little girl, rain whipping at the windshield as the wipers swish and swash, when she would swerve to curb, slam on the breaks, and say "Hurry. Grab that chair and throw it in the car." How embarrassing it was, though I appreciate my parents' hunting skills and refinishing know-how now that I'm an adult.

The greatest find of them all came when I was a freshly born babe. My father, as the story is told, was making the trek to work, when he spotted a promising pile of garbage. With a few spare moments on his hands, he stopped, only to find a flat, black box. It was the days when he was an avid chess player (I too would belong the chess club not seven years later. I also collected stamps...), and he so hoped it to be a lovely set. Much to his surprise, it was a rather absurd looking set of flatware.

Family tradition was born that day. Each year at Thanksgiving, the set is taken down from the shelf, its heavy silver polished, and each piece set according to proper etiquette (I earned that badge in the Girl Scouts and can say that I set a mean table. Have I ever mentioned my Super Nerd status?).

This year, as always, the "turkey" silverware was set, and we began to ponder its origins. A little Google searching, and I came across this:
Jezzine Ware Ornate Flatware designed and manufactured by the S & S Haddad Company of Lebanon. The cutlery is so well regarded that it has been presented to dignitaries all over the world, a tradition that began in the 18th century with a gift of Jezzine cutlery to Sultans of Oman. The handles are carved from African buffalo horn in a "Firebird" or "Phoenix" pattern with inlaid stones and metals.
What?! Our little trash pickin' set of Thanksgiving flatware is the same as those given to the Sultans of Oman! I don't know who they are, but it surely sounds prestigious. Wouldn't you agree? Why would one just toss this out with the coffee grounds?

How silly some people are.

Meanwhile, we still haven't finalized the dictionary debate.


An art nouveau fantasy...

I spent the last two days traveling for my day job, and one of my stops was an amazing 1905 bed and breakfast in Ludington, Michigan. The Cartier Mansion was spellbinding with 98% of its floors, walls, furniture, fixtures being original. Imagine my sheer ecstasy when I walked into the library and saw this:

Shut up! Shut. Up. The art history nerd in me was shining, still is shining. This is pure, classic art nouveau, hand painted at the turn of the century. This is a perfect example of Alphonse Mucha's style, the father of art nouveau (which, coincidentally, I was just discussing fervently not three nights ago), a perfect example from when it was reaching its zenith. The 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris burst art nouveau onto the world scene. This is when it was happening!

I have this delicious fantasy that Mucha needed a break from Paris and his Sarah Bernhardt posters and retreated to the quiet lakeside town of Ludington on Michigan's west coast. He ran into the worldly Cartier family, constructing their masterpiece of a home. The Cartiers said "Hey, Alphonse, why not just do a little diddy in our library?" Then this master of design shrugged his shoulders and said sure, as he did not want to get rusty during his retreat...

There's an utterly dorky smile on my face right now. Over the past few years, I've become a Mucha/art nouveau superfan. I even painted a copy of his 1896 Summer for my dad for Christmas last year. Oh, her look is entirely mischievous. I just want to climb in all his paintings and roll around in them.

Actually, that's my response to a lot of things.



With the past few months being entirely dedicated to one project (I'll have complete photos of the AB gown soon), I find myself absolutely refreshed with a new slew of ideas on the drawing board. Namely, the next batch of creations is going to my upcoming (oh gasp, I shan't say it, oh yes, I will) Etsy site. Gah! Rosewood Buttons on Etsy! I'm so excited and well on my way to having things up and running by Thanksgiving.

With all of the positive feedback I received while sporting my circular brick stitch cuff, (I seriously got stopped on the street dozens of times) I'm going to start with a series of dizzying circles. Stay tuned for the madness!



Does this photograph capture the ghost of Anne Boleyn stopping in for a visit on Halloween night?


Project 7: Anne Boleyn Gown

The day has finally come, and I'm sitting here in my full Anne Boleyn regalia. Of course, I have misplaced my camera, hence the lack of recent posts. Thus far in my day, I have learned the following things:
  1. It's hard to eat oatmeal with trumpet sleeves.
  2. Wheely office chairs and full skirts do not mix.
  3. You feel awesome when you're dressed up as Anne Boleyn.
I can't believe it's done!


Playing Catch Up

I took yesterday afternoon off from work, namely to spend it sitting at the tire store for three hours while they searched for the proper replacement for my flat. I did, however, get what seemed like a bonus hour of afternoon time which I lent to beginning Tudors Season Four marathon. The final season, which came out on DVD Tuesday and is essentially the reason I got a flat tire as I cut the curb too tightly in my excitement to enter the Best Buy parking lot, has been outstanding thus far. Season Three, with the absence of my favorite queen, Anne Boleyn (I'm sure you all guessed that one), seemed sparse, boring, and too full of blood and guts. Do I watch for the blood and guts? No, though I have enjoyed the war bits thus far this season. It certainly has kept me captivated.

How far did I get in the first sitting, you ask? Oh, just through episode nine.

Yes, I watched nine episodes in one night. Sweet biscuits, what is wrong with me? That leaves the finale for me to enjoy tonight, with its much talked about revisits from wives one through three. So excited.

At least I can say that I finished my underskirt while watching. See, I was still productive.


Project 7: Anne Boleyn Gown - Part Six - French Hood

Hello, blog. It feels so good to sit here with Rosewood Buttons after a short hiatus. My calendar has been filled with jury duty, training our new PR girl at work, and a weekend trade show that was about as exciting as a trip to the dentist. While I have been unable to write, I have been busy with the Anne Boleyn costume, keeping right on track with the nearing Halloween deadline. The French hood is, do do dooo, finished! As is the immensely important "B" necklace. This leaves the kirtle and foresleeves, which the fabrics were purchased for this week.

Now I present to you:

How to Make a French Hood: a Tutorial
1. The shape of the paste, the crescent that defines the headpiece, is vastly personal, as it must fit your head's size and shape. It is best to use a scrap piece of fabric to trace your pattern on so that you may make the necessary adjustments, whether it be wider, longer on the sides, a bit shorter at the crown, or anything that suits your fancy. My goal was to get the shape and length as close to Anne's portrait as I could.

2. Using your adjusted pattern, trace your front and back fabrics with a quarter inch seam allowance. I chose the trumpet sleeve fabric for the front and black silk for the back.

3. Trace your pattern onto buckram or another sturdy base fabric. I found an incredibly stiff felt to use that worked amazingly.

4. Carefully bend a piece of wire around the outside of the base. These two components will give the paste its lift and form. Stitch the wire into place and gently shape the piece to your liking.

5. Pin the front and back fabrics right sides together, carefully securing a length of ribbon on the back, bottom corners. These will tie the piece in place beneath your hair. Stitch along the outside seams, leaving the bottom edge open. Clip corners and flip right-side out, slipping the fabric over the form and pinning in place. Close the bottom seam by hand.

6. Once the paste is covered, it's time to decorate, or add the "billaments." I opted for two rows of faux pearls, mimicking Anne Boleyn's French hood.

7. The crepine: after hemming the edge, accordion pleat wired, gold ribbon, an inch wide, basting as you go to hold in place. This thread will be removed from the final piece.

8. Securely stitch the hemmed edge to the corner of the paste. Continue along the length of the ribbon, stitching the top of each pleat to the base. Cut and hem ribbon at the opposite corner and remove basting thread.

9. Voila! Your hood is complete (well, technically you would have the veil, which is the actual "hood" portion of the French hood, but I'm not going to wear one, so as far as this tutorial is concerned, your piece is done. Congrats!).

And for your general viewing pleasure, the "B" necklace:


French Hoods

After a bout of distraction with the Glee season premiere and the Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook last night (is it too early to decorate for Halloween? No, I think not), I was able to settle in and start constructing the French hood for my Anne Boleyn gown. The pattern I'm using for the dress, Simplicity 2589, includes the hood, but I’m just not a fan of it. It generalizes the parts of the hood, which went through several transformations throughout its time, and the style of this particular pattern is not exactly what I have in mind when I think “Anne Boleyn.” So, I’m winging it.

I’m taking pictures as I go and should have a tutorial of some sort by next week at the latest, in case you want to jump on the headdress bandwagon of the sixteenth century. Meanwhile, let’s discuss the French hood just a bit.

The French hood is recognized by its rounded, crescent shape, compared to the roof-like angles of the English or gable hood. It has been called the mini-skirt of its day, as it shows off several inches of the wearer’s tresses along the hairline. Scandalous indeed! Tradition has it that the ever-fashionable Anne Boleyn introduced this variety of headdress to England upon her return from France. It’s lovely to think so, but period portraits show plenty of other English ladies sporting this style, even Katherine of Aragon. It was, however, Anne’s preferred style, and she certainly did help its popularity during her short reign.

The French hood consists of five parts: the coif, crepine, paste, veil (the actual ‘hood’), and billaments.

The coif was a simple linen cap worn as the base layer. It was usually white, though some examples of red coifs can be found. It was tied under the chin but may have also been pinned on, as evidence of chin ties is absent in some portraits, such as Anne’s. In fact, in Anne’s most famous portrait, one can’t see the coif at all. It usually peaks out on the sides in a curved fashion around the ears.

The crepine refers to the pleated linen or silk, usually white or gold, along the base of the hair. It is unsure as to whether this is actually attached to the coif or not.

The paste is the crescent one sees. It was made of rich fabrics of white, black, or one corresponding to the gown, placed over stiffened buckram and wire. It has been proposed, however, that it was actually far straighter in shape, the curve resulting from the piece piling against braided hair pinned at the crown of the head.

The veil is nearly always black wool, silk, velvet, or satin, reaching somewhere between the shoulder blades to the waist.

Billaments are simply the decorative elements. Metalwork, jewels, pearls: they range from the extravagant to the simple.

For Sarah Lorraine's amazing article on the construction of the French hood, go here. You won't be disappointed. If you are interested in purchasing a beautiful French hood, go to The Anne Boleyn Files. Gorgeous!

A Collection of French Hood Portraits
Anne of Brittany

Anne Boleyn

Katherine of  Aragon

Princess Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

Princess Margaret Tudor

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth Seymour-Cromwell (sometimes Catherine Howard)


Project 8: Dress Revenge

 2008: The dress in question, in its original, infuriating state.

It stems from 12 years of wearing a school uniform, I’m sure, but no matter how I fight it, I have a conniption when I find myself wearing the same thing as somebody else. I simply cannot help it. This is why I started sewing, why I started beading, why I stopped shopping at Target and Old Navy for anything other than a basic.

The gem of my matching-outfit crown came two years ago. My mom had bought the above Mossimo sundress from Target, but didn’t like the way it fit her, so to me it was passed. I was oblivious to its popularity until I wore it a month later to the Wheatland Music Festival.

Wheatland is a bluegrass extravaganza in mid-Michigan that my family has been attending for the past 14 years. An unusually high concentration of hippie hopefuls crowd into a huge wheat field for three days of fiddles, clogging, and outright debauchery. It is a breeding ground for Target sundresses.

It was Saturday of the 2008 Wheatland festivities, and I was merrily frolicking without a care in the world, my blue sundress on. Then I spotted it: the same dress. I fought my fit-habits and pushed forward. There were thousands of people. It was bound to happen.

Then I saw it again.

And again.

Yes it was spotted three times in one hour and has been seen at every Wheatland since. I threw up my hands in defeat and walked back to the campsite to change into a homemade dress, knowing that I was at last safe.

The infamous blue sundress still haunted me years later, as my family and friends enjoyed revisiting the incident, teasing me about changing my outfit, as I repeatedly saw it elsewhere. It sat hanging in my closet reminding me of that moment when I was bested. I needed my revenge.

And revenge I had.

Who knew it would feel so good?

The complete hoopin' ensemble.

The halter altered.

This year’s Wheatland Music Festival was this past weekend, September 10 – 12. Last Tuesday, I settled in and altered the dress. I removed 17.5 inches from the bottom, making it knee length. From this, I was able to add four triangular inserts to the skirt, making it fuller and flowy. I also added a few inches of pleated fabric to the halter straps, stitching them down to a far more comfortable position.

While the weather left something to be desired, Friday was momentarily sunny enough for me to debut my revenge. Take that, Target!

And now for a slew of other Wheatland pictures.

Jameson thought she was tough enough for any kind of weather. "Bring it," she said.

 While the sun was out, layers were needed and winter hats made their appearance.

Good bye sunny skies!

Then the cruel temperatures dipped deeper.

And the rains came.

We had to find new ways to entertain ourselves.

On the third day, the waters receded and the sun emerged.
(Please note Jameson's Target sundress, third in from the left.
Yes, she too saw repeats. Bah! Will the madness never end?)


Fabric Store Discord

It's nearly time to start the french hood for the A.B. gown, and this meant a trip to my local fabric store for some trim at lunch today, an act I always delight in. I found my way to the notions and selected two: one a gold braid, the other a thin gold piping. Well, much to my joy, the latter was on sale for a whopping twenty cents a yard. Are you kidding me? Twenty cents? Sweet Jesus! I upped my yardage from three to five at the last minute. Hey, hey big spenda'!

This is where things get iffy. Apparently, somebody at the store made a mistake because that particular cord was discontinued and should have been thrown away. Yes, I'll repeat. Thrown. Away. The entire, FULL spool of trim should have gone to the trash, and now she didn't know how to ring me up.

I would have blamed it all on shotty hearing had I not just had a conversation with my aunt on Sunday where she recalled the tales of her employment at a fabric store that went out of business. What did they do with all those glorious things? All the patterns? Legally, they had to throw them in the dumpster. That's not to say employees didn't leave work only to return and do some dumpster diving, but still.

In whose mind is it okay to just discard perfectly good, beautiful items? Who made this policy? Is there somebody out there in the textile/sewing business that would care to explain this to me because I'm fairly disgusted right now. This is what is wrong with the world. It's wasteful. It's gross.

I should have bought the whole damn spool.


A stitch in time...

"From the manner in which a woman draws her
thread at every stitch of her needlework,
any other woman can surmise her thoughts."

Honore de Balzac

During a weekend visit celebrating my brother's upcoming birthday, I inherited three sewing trinkets, including an antique silver thimble and tracer, once belonging to my Great Great Aunt Hilda. They are simply divine. The pin is one of the most delightful accessories I've come across, and I'm wearing it on my hat as I type.  Thank you, Aunt Shelia!


Project 7: Anne Boleyn Gown - Part Five

Last night, the Anne Boleyn gown reached an important benchmark. Several yards of fabric were pleated, gathered, basted and finally sewn into place, giving the dress a sense of completeness. Don't get me wrong, there are still hours of work ahead of me to complete the overall costume: hemming, fore sleeves, french hood, kirtle, possible farthingale (hrm?)... but it feels like a gown now. I can walk around and not get poked by pins. I can twirl frivolously, flaring the luxurious silk all about. At this point, when I slip it on, I can feel my inner Anne Boleyn coming out. Sass, intellect, sensuality, strength. I like it.


Project 7: Anne Boleyn Gown - Part Four

Anyone want to take a bet on how many parts
this project will have? My estimate is ten. 
The Anne Boleyn gown continues its momentum, with embellishments adorning the neckline. Stitching away in the car only resulted in one major needle wound and subsequent bruise, one that caused a dozen or so inquiries. "My, Shannon! However did you get that bruise?" Oh, well, you see, I really enjoy Tudor history and...
 The matching skirt silk is loosely wrapped around me
for photo purposes, but I was thrilled with how it looked
when I saw the two pieces together.

Up close and personal... 
The front stretch across the bodice alternates royal purple and black Swarovski crystals on gold florets, playing off the purple lining. The pattern of four-pearl clusters is based off of Jane Seymour's Holbein portrait.
Seeing Red: Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour,
sports an excellent example of 16th century dress. 
Of course, it is interesting to note that her bedazzled neckline is actually the peek-a-boo kirtle and not her gown, but we're fibbing just a bit with our historical accuracy. This may lead you to notice that I took out the white ribbon across the front of the neckline, my version of a mock-kirtle. It simply wasn't right. I'll have to try something else.

Another change in The Plan is opting out of using gold ribbon around the neckline. I decided that one) my florets were too lovely to blend in with a golden background, and two) it seemed to keep more with the period style without. I'll still be able to use the ribbon as part of the French hood.
Sound the trumpet {sleeves}!
One little detail that tickles me is the trio of florets holding the trumpet sleeves folded in place. I believe there may be a few more future appearances. The gold florets were actually purchased as part of a chain, jump rings linking each together. They were indeed the perfect setting for the crystals.

Stay tuned for Part Five: pleating, ruffling, and attaching the skirt.