When BoPeep from Pasturelands, Wisconsin burst onto Sew Retro recently, I was fascinated by her blog and wanted the community to get to know her a little better. She graciously permitted me to pester her with questions and her answers reveal BoPeep is funny, charming, and capable of rocking a skirt on a haywagon…
How long have you been sewing and why do you do it?
I grew up wearing homemade clothes. Mom taught me to sew when I was about 10 years old. Many, many Barbie clothes later, I was ready to tackle “real people” clothes. I sewed through high school and college but didn’t get into vintage sewing until after I was married. I was given my grandmother’s 1947 Singer and all her patterns. I use that Singer for everything.
I sew because I love creating something fun but useful (hot pads, clothespin bags, cowgirl costumes) Also, I’ve become very picky. I rarely buy clothes off the rack. I’ve come to appreciate a dress with darts that line up where they’re supposed to and pants that curve properly over the hip (my hip, not the standardized 5’8” girl’s hip). I tend to perfect a pattern and duplicate it in every fabric and print possible. Case in point, I have two wide-leg pants, two cigarette pants and three pairs of shorts all using the same pattern.
How did you get into vintage? What came first…the cars or the appliances?
Definitely the cars! My husband is a hotrodder, and we still own the 1950 Chevy that he bought 15 years ago while we were dating. This summer I bought a 1950 Ford, and my husband was gracious enough to spray pink metalflake on the roof for me (yay!).
One of my winter projects is to sew up a matching pink interior. Our hotrodding lifestyle slowly spilled over into our everyday lives. Our farmhouse was built around 1900, and I’ve decorated it in a 1940s style, right down to the 1947 Frigidaire and match-light gas stove (now if only I could find a vintage dishwasher!).
You’ve scored some incredible vintage finds like your 1939 Electrolux. What’s the vintage scene like in Wisconsin?
Surprisingly, pretty good for a bunch of dairy farmers! We’re very lucky to have great traditional hotrod shows here, like the Symco Shakedown and the Hunnert Heads’ Up. Traditional hotrodders build their cars, drive them and live the lifestyle.
Over the past few years, more girls have been coming to the shows, dressing vintage and breathing life into a scene that was previously all grease and gears. In fact, my friend and I started a group called Hometown Victory Girls. We’re a social group for girls of any age that want to revive the domestic skills their grandmothers took for granted. We get together to not only talk sewing, hair and makeup, but also gardening, canning and how to make your own toilet bowl cleaner.
It’s not often I get to meet a shepherdess. Tell us a little bit about the life…
Oh, it’s so glamorous, I can’t begin to explain! Well, first I get to haul lots of hay (which we cut, rake, bale and put up) and lots of water (which is loads of fun in the winter when it has a 2-inch layer of ice on top). I shovel a lot of used hay (if you know what I mean) and deal with a lot of used wool (which is actually the fun part).
My husband and I started raising sheep about 10 years ago. Our Shetlands are a small breed but big on fiber. Hubby is my General Laborer, doing all the shearing and hoof-trimming, and I am the General Cuddlerer (is that a word?), handling all the newborn lambs and passing out the treats with a good dose of affection. In short, the sheep like me better.
…and do you really put entire fleeces in the washing machine?
Yes, an entire fleece can be washed in your washing machine, as long as you do not agitate it (making a ginormous, felted dog bed). The result will be clean, loose fiber ready to spin. I clean all my fleeces and send them out to a fiber mill for carding. I learned to spin in high school and after amassing piles of yarn, I decided it was time to learn to knit! I actually prefer crocheting though because I feel comfortable enough to forgo patterns and just experiment (sort of like my cooking, much to the chagrin of my family).
What tips can you give us for working with wool?
Make sure the weight of the fabric is suited to the design of the clothing. Last year I made a four-gore skirt in a large green and white houndstooth plaid. Nice heavy fabric but with a loose weave so it still had great drape, like wearing a blanket. But I quickly learned how loose woven wool succumbs to the forces of gravity when cut on the bias. Sadly that skirt (which I failed to line) stretched so badly that it is now deemed “play clothes” (worn only around the house).
What’s your favorite outfit that you’ve made?
Can I pick two? My favorite summer dress is a 1950s pink wiggle dress made from Advance 7942, a Susy Perette design.
It was made from a thrifted duvet cover and was a lesson in ‘nip and tuck’ to get the many seams curved in all the right places.
A half inch here and there makes a big difference! But it fits like a dream!
My favorite winter outfit is a two-piece wool suit made from Butterick 5499. I bought Pendleton wool at an outlet store for $12/yd!
The outfit is fully lined and was my first attempt at serious tailoring.
I redesigned the neckline though to accommodate a vintage rabbit fur collar from my husband’s grandmother. Paired with gloves and a hat, I feel so polished. I have plans to make more!
If you’d like to nominate another member of Sew Retro to be featured, drop me an email.