The Vegetarian Turkey: Killed it

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays, and one of the few American things that I would really miss in New Zealand.  To help me to feel at home, my lovely in-laws have thrown a Thanksgiving dinner every year since Mr D & I got married.  This year, since we finally have our own house (with a dining room even!) we got to host it ourselves.  Exciting!  The in-laws came up from Nelson, and MIL cooked with me, so we’re continuing the tradition of doing it together.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I was talking about the holiday with a friend from Scotland.  She asked if I make a vegetable turkey since I’m vegetarian (well, not actually vegetarian, just complicated).

“A vegetable turkey?  Like a tofurkey?”

“No.  Like this:”

Veggie Turkey Platter google search

She was joking.

But I instantly thought “OMG!  I want one!”

So I had lots of fun at the Sunday market buying vegetables, and just as much fun giggling and arranging them with MIL on Thanksgiving day, and despite the enormous potential for this idea to turn into a massive pinterest type fail, I think we did pretty well!

Veggie turkey platter


The only problem with creating an awesome turkey platter is that then you have to keep people from eating it until all of your guests have arrived and admired it.

Veggie turkey platter

It did go beautifully with beetroot-horseradish dip in the end though.

Veggie turkey platter

And now I have plans for an even better turkey next year…

The ‘Downs Self Adjusting Corset’

Sometimes having friends who point out things that you might be interested in is fabulous.  And sometimes it is…dangerous.

Like when you are just going along, minding your own business, not finding things that you don’t need to buy on Trademe, and then a friend emails you and says “Just saw this auction and thought of you!”  And the auction is corset advertising cards from the early 1880s.  And you say “thanks, but I really don’t need them”.  And you keep saying that.  And then somehow (you really can’t explain it, it was like an out of body experience) you end up buying them.

So now I am the proud/slightly ashamed owner of two ‘Downs Self Adjusting Corset’ trading cards from the early 1880s.

The first one features a fashionable (albeit slightly garishly clad) lass and her pug on a quest for a Downs self adjusting corset':

'Downs self adjusting corset' 1880s advertising cards

And the second one features a smug miss who has already achieved the goal (an accomplishment which has inexplicably earned her a pair of over-the-sleeve bracelets and an ermine trimmed robe – because this is 1880s advertising and nothing makes sense).

'Downs self adjusting corset' 1880s advertising cards


The backs of the cards are identical, and extol the virtues of the Downs Self-Adjusting Corset: its ‘scientific and sanitary principals’ and the way it combines ‘Beauty of form, COMFORT, HEALTH and DURABILITY’ (because logical capitalization and punctuation is another thing that doesn’t exist in 1880’s advertising).  Oooh, and it comes with optional shoulder straps and skirt supports!

'Downs self adjusting corset' 1880s advertising cards


I’ve done a bit of research, and while there isn’t much written on the Down’s corset, they did a lot of advertising in the 1880s, touting the corset as ‘The Best, most Healthful and Comfortable corset on the market” which “adapts itself to the various positions that the body assumes in stooping, sitting or reclining” and “gives perfect ease in all positions, affording great relief to the wearer.”  The magic construction that allowed this to happen?  “Silk elastic gores (covered with fine muslin) above and below a corded waistband.

In looking at the illustration of the corset, the elastic gores are quite visible, as is the shaped straight (rather than spoon) busk, the corded bust, and corded front panel, as well as the lines of boning on either side of the elastic panel.  It’s quite a clear illustration, and I think I shall have to give my own version of the Downs’ Self-Adjusting Corset a go!

'Downs self adjusting corset' 1880s advertising cards


If you are wondering about the trading cards themselves, they are quite small – 5″ high by 3″ wide, and have some pencil marks on the back.

I wonder how they got from Allen, Michigan to New Zealand?  Quite possibly the Trademe bought them on e-Bay recently, marked up the price and put them up for sale on Trademe – it happens.

I’m unlikely to ever own an original 19th century corset, but I’m enjoying adding these to my PD corset box, and building a little collection of corset paraphernalia!

The ‘Some Things Are Black & White’ Jacket


The Roll Collar Jacket

Back at February’s Fabric-a-Brac I found a length of fantastic heavy black and white basketweave cotton.  It immediately said “I would be perfect for a Roll Collar Jacket!”

And it would have been, except there wasn’t quite enough of it.  It’s the curse of Fabric-a-Brac.  You find the most amazing fabrics, as the most amazing prices and they are always 89.7% as long as they need to be for the project you want to make out of them.

But the fabric was SO perfect for the jacket, that I fiddled and fiddled and managed to get the jacket out of it by cutting the collar across the grainline (just to see if it would work), lining the collar in a different fabric, and by putting a seam across the upper back – which has actually turned into a pretty cool feature.

The Roll Collar Jacket

So I sewed, and then lost motivation, and stuck the jacket in my UFO pile for 5 months, and then fished it out and realised that all it needed was the last bit of hand-sewing on the lining (pink striped silk), and the buttons and domes on the front.

The Roll Collar Jacket

And that’s when I noticed that in switching the collars grainline I’d managed to cut and assemble it so the asymmetrical wrap of the collar was the wrong way around.


The Roll Collar Jacket

So take heart the next time you make your own sewing mistake: not only do really experienced sewers make REALLY DUMB MISTAKES, they even do it on their own patterns.

So now I have two options: wear the jacket with the wide ‘right’ collar end tucked under, and the ‘wrong’ point end out, or wear the jacket man-style, with the left wrapping over the right.

I’ve sewed on domes so I can try the first for now, but I’m not convinced by it.  The wider ‘right’ collar end is too bulky under the wrap, and the little pointy end flips up.

The Roll Collar Jacket


So I think I’ll just be wearing the collar with the wrap man-fashion – which is fine, because the whole left over right/right over left divide is so silly anyway.

The Roll Collar Jacket

Other than that, I’m thrilled to have the jacket finished – even if it is just in time for summer!  It goes beautifully with everything in my wardrobe.

The Roll Collar Jacket
And, of course, it’s always fantastic to have something off the PHd pile!

The Roll Collar Jacket

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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