Finally sewing again…

It’s been about a week, but I was so proud of the dress I made for O’s birthday this year, I just had to share it. For her 5th birthday, she wanted a new birthday dress. I don’t know, maybe the last one I made is getting a little small…?

O's Birthday Dress (2yrs)

O’s First Birthday Dress (2 yrs)

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Still going strong 3 years later…

Anyway, I was happy to oblige. As you know, I’m a huge fan of Amanda Blake Soule and her blog, SouleMama. Trust me when I tell you: a craftier, more thoughtful-gift-giving mama you will never find. In need of the perfect crafty gift for my little one, I headed straight over for a bit of inspiration. I was drawn to a pattern very similar to the one I made in 2012: Geranium by Made by Rae. I like that the pattern comes in 18 months all the way to size 12 and has a few variations {sleeve options, gathers or pleats, etc.} which means I can essentially sew the same dress for the next 6 or 7 years! I’d say it was totally worth the price.

I stopped in at The Stitchin’ Post to inquire about where to find the best fabrics for sewing such a dress, and the proprietress, Erin, directed me to The Quiltery in nearby Fairfield, VA. The Quiltery is fully-stocked with so much fabric your jaw will drop. They have a huge selection of Civil War reprints, at least 100 different batiks, plus doo-dads and what-nots enough to sew anything your heart desires. They have sewing clubs and quilting competitions and all kinds of great things happening all the time. After about an hour, I picked out a few options, coming back again and again to the 1930s reprints in the back room, and finally settling on the very first fabric I’d picked up.

You know a dress was meant to be when you get home and, realizing you need four matching buttons, you reach for your grandma’s old jar of {almost completely white and ivory} buttons and find FOUR vintage purple buttons that are a) just the right size and b) exactly the right shade of lavender. Good looking out, Gurn. 🙂

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Now, Amanda has, at least once, made two of these dresses {TWO} in one day {in ONE day}, but it took me two and a half days – I cut everything out during the kids rests on Day One, and sewed it all together on Day Two then re-vistited The Stichin’ Post for a quick tutorial in button-hole-making and sewed on the buttons on Day Three. In my defense – the dress was meant to be a surprise so I could only work on it during kid-free {read: sleeping} time. I was up very, very late the night before O’s big day, but I think it was well worth it. Don’t you?

The birthday girl!

The birthday girl!

PS – waiting a week to post this means I can tell you that she did in fact wear the dress for 4 days straight. ❤

{OvO}

Ladies Homestead Gathering THIS WEEK!

The Rockbridge County Chapter of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering is getting together THIS WEEK at OUR FARM to discuss water bath and pressure canning! The group will be preparing some canned peaches to take home, so if you plan to join us, make sure you bring a 16oz Ball brand canning jar with a NEW lid and a ring. The chapter will provide the peaches, the canners, etc.

Please come whether you have canning experience or not! We’d love to have you!

Thursday, July 16
Meet & Greet at 6:30pm

Discussion and Canning Demo 7pm

Come early for a tour of the farm!

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Farm History :: Part 2

Recently, the kids and I (and my cousin and her family) visited the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. The FCM is a living history museum, with exhibits that showcase the lives pre-Americans were living in Africa, Germany, England and Ireland. You can visit an African village made of clay, an English smallholding complete with a small herd of Cotswald sheep, an Irish village with a forge, linen loom and pigs, and finally, a rather large German estate with Red Devon cattle. Then, through the magic of modern technology, you are transported to a village made up of early American settlements, including one representing the Eastern Woodland Indians (not a specific tribe). I am eager to explore the 1740’s American settlement more as it is likely similar to what was built on our land when Rockbridge County was first settled in the mid-1700’s.

1740's Frontier Farmhouse

1740’s Frontier Farmhouse

I started my search for the history of the farm at the county’s government website and found this:

Rockbridge County was formed in 1778 and named after the Natural Bridge of Virginia, a natural historic wonder located in the southern part of the County. Two-thirds of the County’s 607 square miles came from Botetourt County to the south and the remainder from Augusta County to the north.

The inducement to settle the Rockbridge/Augusta area was provided in 1736, when Benjamin Borden received a Crown Grant of 100,000 acres with the stipulation that he would settle a hundred families [here]. Scotch-Irish [sic] and German pioneers soon migrated south along the Indian Road from Pennsylvania to settle in the area. Read more…

I did some more digging and was excited to learn the Logan family was a part of the initial Borden Grant filing. Unfortunately, the land {John} Logan settled in 1752 was a bit north of here, in the Walker’s Creek area. And while it appears his brother, David Logan, was already here as early as 1740, I have not found a map or any details showing that land. I have found evidence that his son, future General Benjamin Logan sold “800 acres on Kerr Creek” at some point. Our farm is not far from Kerrs Creek, but 800 acres…? If it was sold, then who bought it?

There is a large homestead between ours and Kerrs Creek which I believe to be the site of the Kerrs Creek Massacres, during which a Jane “Jennie” {Logan} McKee was killed, but I haven’t been able to connect her to either John or David Logan. Jane was born in 1713. John in 1703, David in 1706, and their third brother William was born in 1710. That would make her a cousin {?} but so far I have not been able to trace her family tree.

The previous owner of this home was able to trace the deed records back to 1825, so my hope is that between those records, the history of the county moving forward from 1740, and a conversation with a Logan still living nearby, I can figure out who and when this land was settled. Stay tuned! {OvO}

Farm History :: Part 1

When we were looking at the farm, the previous owner shared a lot of information with us about the history of the place. He told me that while this home has been here “since the 1800’s” there was a home here before that – which was burned in a fire. My number one itchiest question is –

Exactly when was the first home built on this land?

Once I figure out the answer to that one, I should have the answer to question numbers two and three – by whom and where exactly? Was it on this same homesite, or somewhere else? There is a spot labeled, “old home site” on the plat map that is at the very tippity top of our property line – who lived there and when?

After the family that farmed the land for generations (the Logans), the farm was used as an “artist community” (not a commune….?) and possibly a silk screen operation known as Inky Press in the 1960’s and 70’s. The property changed hands in 1984 and again in the late 1990’s, before finding its way to us in 2014. Since moving here I have spoken to the just previous owner extensively, the brothers who have been cutting hay off the pasture for nearly 20 years, and a woman who stayed in our rental cottage in the 1980’s. And fortunately, there is one living descendant of the Logan family living not far from here (he grew up on the farm); I hope to reach out to him this spring to collect his history. Along the way I have asked everyone who has photos or stories of the place to share them with me but so far, this is all I have found:

The farmhouse circa 1984

The farmhouse circa 1984

She’s come a long way, eh?

The farmhouse circa 2014

The farmhouse circa 2014