Repurposed Pioneer Shirt

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Chapter 8

This wasn’t an assignment in the Prairie Primer, but I like to ad lib.  We didn’t want to grow germs and bacteria and disgusting things, but we love sewing and creating to help relive those days.

We read Laura’s description of the shanty camp at Silver Lake.

p. 75 “The teams were coming into camp.  In a long, dark, snakelike line as they came over the prairie, horses plodding side by side in their harness, and men marching, bareheaded and bare-armed, brown-skinned in their striped blue-and-white shirts and gray shirts and plain blue shirts, and all of them were singing the same song.”

It spurred us on to finish a project we’d been planning.

During Christmas vacation, I was minding my own business, blog-hopping and wasting a lot of time, when I found a great tutorial by Whitney at Home Delicious for making a Pioneer Shirt. Since the neighborhood kids know they will be playing “Old Fashioned,” as they call it, when they come over to our home, we like to have clothes available for all ages and sizes.

We immediately dashed out to Value Village to look for men’s button down shirts.

I was shocked that they were $7.  Are you kidding?  I can get new ones at Target for that price on sale or clearance.

We were mighty determined, so kept scanning through the racks until we found one for $3. Of course, all my coupons had recently expired, so I was feeling totally guilty about spending money for items NOT on sale or clearance WITHOUT a coupon. We had to buy some books, too.  (VV gives you a coupon for each donation.)

Then I told myself to build a bridge and get over it because I wasn’t going to put us in the Poor House for one rash purchase.

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Yes, I’m still in my pj’s.  It’s a Monday, the first full day of our first full week after a wonderful holiday break, and I didn’t want to throw myself too fully into the routine, I might throw my back out.

You’ll be happy to know my student was showered and dressed early in the morning, like a good student in the Gifted and Talented Program should be. At this rate, she’ll probably be the Valedictorian, but ya’ never know.

When the 80’s were around, and these shirts were totally in style with the sockless loafers, my little sis Angie called them “C’mere shirts.”  When I asked her why, she showed me the little loop along the back yoke of the shirts.  She said, “See, ya’ pull here and say ‘c’mere!’”

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Of course, we’re multi-tasking, because we’re women.  We’re watching the movie Miracle Worker about Helen Keller, because we’re learning also about blindness.

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Beka cut off the collar of the c’mere shirt.  It won’t unravel.  Using the Ginghers her daddy didn’t use to cut carpeting, snip close to the edge without cutting the band. This is the pair he bought to replace the pair he used to cut carpeting. 

They’re amazing scissors, since they can cut through carpeting.  They’re just not that amazing after you cut through carpeting. Another pair was ruined when an offspring who still hasn’t confessed,  tried to cut a wire coat hanger, ya’ know the old kind that were made out of really thick, nice metal strands?  But, we won’t talk about that pair, either.

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Cut  with your surviving scissors across the placket 8 – 12 inches down from the collar. (That’s the side with the buttons.)   For a smaller shirt we used about 8 inches, just before the fourth button.

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Turn the shirt inside out and put the two seams together to sew. If you’re all fussy, you can iron the seam flat, or just leave it like I did.  It’s just gunna’ be thrown into the dress-up box.

Beka was a little frustrated because her seam wasn’t perfectly straight.  I turned it right side out and showed her it didn’t show. At all.  There are times when we’re sewing that perfection doesn’t matter, just gittin’ ‘er dun matters. This was one of those times. I praised her, showed her how even the crookedest place in the seam DIDN’T show, so she should be satisfied.

I  buttoned the three remaining buttons to line it up correctly.

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I placed the placket over the seam and eased it where I wanted it. I sewed a square pattern with an X in the middle. (This was the only part I sewed.)

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Since we had just cut the placket and sewed it down on the outside, we finished the edge with Fray Check.  It’s kinda’ like fixing a run in your nylons with clear fingernail polish.  It works great on ribbons and other things you wanna’ cut but don’t want them to unravel.

When your Fray Check is older than your child, and it has hardened inside the nozzle, then that said child squeezes and squeezes and squeezes, until it bursts the clump through the nozzle, there could be an accidental SQUIRT and a huge blurb comes out.  Maybe that could happen. If it does happen, reassure that child, again, NO WORRIES, be happy, because Fray Check is our friend.  It dries clear and you can’t see it, but it might be a little stiff.

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Of course, we took the extra buttons off the shirt and saved them for the button jar.  Ya’ never know when we want to make another Button String.

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We weren’t sure about the sleeves and wondered how we could change them to be more pioneery, but at this point, we were content.  It was dun.  D-U-N dun.

Of course, we’ll be on the look-out for some inexpensive shirts, preferably without the front pocket, to make a few more Pioneer Shirts.

If there’s one thing we’re learning through Laura Ingalls’ books, it’s much easier to PLAY pioneer than to LIVE like a pioneer.

‘Cuz if you were a pioneer wearing this shirt, you’d be milking cows, twisting hay for firewood,  breaking sod, making homemade pies, cooking dinner over buffalo pies and all kinds of exciting things.

We just dress-up, read Laura’s books, research pioneery things on our technology and dream about The Old Fashioned Days.

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A Trip to the General Store

It’s hard to fathom not shopping at Target once a week. 

OK, maybe sometimes we end up going once a day,  but only when I’m trying to plan something and am really scatterbrained. Like when I go to the grocery store to get milk,
come home with a Jeep load of groceries, but end up going BACK for milk.

It is unfathomable to think in Little House in the Big Woods Laura and Mary had never seen a town before.  In Little House on the Prairie, Pa goes into town once.

Once.

The family stays home. I can’t imagine going a whole year without going to a store. I can’t imagine not replenishing your pantry when you need to.

But, my imagination could make a store for the Ingalls family. Just in case Pa forgot something and Ma needed to go, we put it next to their house.The pretend world I’m creating for her is much easier than her real world.

We started this project last year while playing and learning through “The Olden Days”
but couldn’t finish. 
Since we’re using The Prairie Primer this year, fun projects are easier to fit into school.

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Although I didn’t have the Gramma and Grandpa growing up,  they were a fun, inexpensive find on Etsy from the Chicken Coop Stamper. I spent less money to bring age and wisdom to my pretend world  than I would to buy a new Barbie at Target.

They will have dual roles in the Ingalls lives, portraying the grandparents left behind in Wisconsin, and the store owners for whatever town the Ingalls currently live in.

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Sara Jane Benson is trading eggs for yard goods today. She is another doll from the Sunshine Family mold that actually came dressed in prairie attire. She was found in the Etsy shop Days Gone By Treasures.

 The store is actually an old wooden crate I had with a hinged lid that used to hold embalming fluid.  EW gross, I know!  Beka hasn’t noticed the lettering on the side, so I didn’t bring it to her attention.

We had a blast scouring the house for things that would work. I love miniatures, so had some from my childhood and some from a printer’s shelf display. 

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At the thrift store the other day, we found four more dolls from the Sunshine Family, so bought them for extras.  We’ll have an adult Laura and Almonzo. I have NEVER found them at the thrift store, so to finding  many in one day, was better than that dream where you’re picking up money off the street. Oh, you heard me squealing in excitement?  I’ll try to keep it down next time.

We just needed an older gentleman sitting by the fire playing checkers. The game board was copied off from Jim’s Printable Minis, Mod Podged onto cardboard and set on a baby food jar.

Jim offers vintage maps, Christmas cards, important looking documents (we printed one up for Pa for homesteading since he had trouble with the government, we needed to make his next move official), labels for canned food, Confederate and American money, newspapers, and periodicals.  I love that Jim offers a variety of sizes/scales depending on which dolls you’re playing and learning with.

My public library allows me 25 free colored copies a week, so I printed many things on my last trip to the library. It saves money and the quality is better.

We have a pile of little projects to work on now in those free moments when the rains are starting to look dreary.

The shop counter was a wooden box that candy came in years ago, of course I squirreled it away for the right day, and just added a shelf with balsa wood.

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See the little peg shelf?  Beka made it. When she  found these candles in some stash I had, she immediately knew they needed to hang up in the store.

We decided with so many projects to create, we couldn’t wait on the menfolk in the house to come home and drill and cut for us.  My Honey-Do list for the house is long enough without adding a bunch of craft work to it.  I wouldn’t want my husband to come home at the end of the day and hand me a list of things I have to do for him, so I try to keep his list as short as possible. We took out the tools and started experimenting.

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She cut a strip of balsa wood and cut four pegs from a skewer. She was NOT interested in measuring, so I let her eyeball it. I don’t have to cram a math lesson in everywhere, although my logic was saying, “This would be a perfect place to use a ruler and division!”
My heart knew too much “school” would take the fun out of it.

She found the correct size drill bit by trial and error on a scrap piece of wood. After drilling four holes, she put a dab of glue and  a peg in each hole.

At this point she was a little bored, so asked me to stain it while she went to play. We hung it up with poster putty.

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Thin strips of balsa wood were cut with an exacto knife and a metal ruler. I scratched the snot out of my cutting board. Not sure what real crafters do, but I think I need to buy a new one for the kitchen. My favorite vintage color is Minwax gunstock.
Beka cut little strips of calico to wrap around the boards.

When Beka decided we needed to tie up packages with brown paper and string, we found a cap to a hair spray bottle, added a pretty blue button with two holes for the lid, wound some fine string around a piece of dowel to completely cover it, popped in it, and we had string on the counter.

We’re working on a wooden structure to hold a roll of brown paper.

As we add to our General Store, my goal is to teach Rebekah to be creative and use what we have.  If she dreams of something she wants in the store, I want to see if we can make it first.  Some day, we’ll make a trip to Hobby Lobby, but I want to start with homemade.  I want her to have the thrill of learning to use the tools and materials on hand to create something she imagined in her mind.

Even though the world we’re making isn’t big enough to live in, someday she’ll have her own home. I want her to be like the previous generations of American women, including her own ancestors,  who had the needed skills and pioneer spirit  to make wherever she’s living a HOME.