Monday, December 31, 2007

Hand Pieced Doll Quilt - Vacation Project #2

I went home (Saginaw, Michigan) for a holiday visit - and I made it two days before I had to rush to Joanne and buy some fabric - I just had to MAKE something! My mom does not have a sewing machine so I pieced it by hand - something I loved to do when I had hours of free time (B.C.) I used flannel rather than batting and I machine quilted it. I took it over to Piper's house last night, her Mom Sara just bought a doll bed at a church sale, so my timing was really good!

Detail of Piper's Doll Quilt. I used a few of my fancy stitches to quilt the solid squares.

The pillow-ticking print was the first fabric I found at Joanne - I picked the other prints to go with it, but it ended up as the backing only - too busy to really go with the other fabrics. I embroidered Piper's initials on the back.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Vacation Project #1

I started this capelet on Christmas Eve. The plaid fabric is from an extra large men's Pendleton shirt I thrifted last year. I used McCalls # M5006 view G. I had hoped to make the whole front out of the plaid, but I just didn't have enough so I used the gold velvet I had in my stash for both the sides and back (the fabric I used to make this hat). The pattern called for a ribbon tie, but I substituted a button with a tab. I used some of my Chinese lantern lining fabric for the lining, and I thought it needed interfacing so I used white flannel for that purpose.

My husband Marc thought is was goofy right off and just kept looking at me funny while I was working on it - he's usually a good judge so I was unsure of myself until I wore it on a visit home. It was a good traveling garment: it kept me comfortable on the train ride from Chicago to Ann Arbor (and back again), and I got a lot of compliments - one man on the train said "what is that you're wearing - what do you call it? - I love it!" After all of the positive feedback I got from Wardrobe Remix, I think Marc just doesn't get it!

Crown button from my mom's button stash.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Custom Kitty Complete!

I finished the Custom Kitty-Kitty on Friday morning. Delivering the finished product is one of my favorite things! Tracey (the client) is so excited to give it to her sister in-law Sharon for her birthday. Sharon's birthday is New Years Eve. I hope she likes it! The pictures I took of the back didn't come out, but this one has black ties to go with the waistband. The waistband has one of my Viking decorative stitches at the top. The kitty faces are lined in black and white gingham.

Each one of my aprons comes with a tag with it's story and care instructions, see the Kitty-Kitty tag below. (Click on the image to
see it full size).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Custom Kitty-Kitty

I'm making a custom apron for the sister in-law of a woman I work with named Tracey. Tracey liked my Kitty-Kitty apron but she wondered if I could customize the pockets to look like her sister in-law's cats. I made simple appliques of the cats orange splotches and then embroidered the faces. Next I lined the pockets with an extra piece of creamed colored fabric because I wanted to face them with black and white gingham. I'm pretty pleased with my progress so far. The red fabric will be the body of the apron, and it will have a black waistband with red topstitching. Tracey and I will collaborate on the name and the story of the apron - that's always part of the fun, and a big part of what makes a custom apron special.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It Was A Very Good Year (1965)

I just finished this one of a kind apron. The pockets are made from a vintage Vera linen calendar. It was unfinished on the rack when I had my sale last week, but it sold to a gal named Marian who I met at a house sale this summer. Marian had a bag of notions in her hand and when I asked her where she found them she handed them to me and told me I could have them! When we met later in line we chatted a little I told her about my apron business. She saw the article about me in the Wednesday journal and came by the sale with her daughter Rosie. Marian bought 2 of my one of a kinds, and Rosie bought 2 holiday aprons. It really made my day! I am off to deliver "1965" this afternoon.

The back view. I like to use contrasting ties whenever possible.

I cut the calendar in half to create 2 roomy pockets.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Puglyfeet's Purchase!

One of my flickr friends, Puglyfeet, posted about my change purses in her blog - unfortunately they were sold out at the time, so she couldn't order one. I made a bunch in preparation for my sale but only sold one so I put them up in my etsy shop and sent her a note to let her know I had posted some more. When I checked in with my shop just a little while later, she and her boyfriend had bought them all! I posted a few more the next day, and they snapped those up too! It's going to be a Practically Necessary Christmas for Puglyfeet's friends and family!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Finding Inspiration in Laura Ingalls Wilder

I just read "These Happy Golden Years" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It tells the story of Laura's teen years, her first time teaching, and her courtship with Almanzo. There are so many passages in the book about sewing, and the many wonderful clothes that Laura made for herself. The descriptions are fantastic, and really make me want to go on a pilgrimage to the various Ingalls Wilder museums. I immediately followed with "The First Four Years", the story of her first years as a married woman. What a wonderful book. The manuscript was found with her papers after her death and wasn't published until 1971 (28 years after Those Happy Golden Years). How wonderful it must have been for the people who had read her books and thought they had read them all!

I think I have found the story for my next narrative quilt. It's just starting to form in my mind. I think I will focus on her life from 13-20. Beginning with the trip to the Shores of Silver Lake. I have some ideas for images to include - but no real plan yet. Just the thought that the story is interesting enough to me, and full of enough imagery to justify making a quilt from it - I'm excited by that alone!

Pa bought the sewing machine as a surprise for Ma (and all his girls).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mae's Busy Weekend

Mae made 3 softies from Therese Laskey's book Softies this weekend. She made the Treeling yesterday, and the Lonely Dollop and the Cross pin cushion today (I love her use of color on that one!) We highly recommend the book - the directions are clear, and the projects are super-cute. I searched the internet for wool felt and found Colonial Crafts - their 12x18 pieces 20% wool and 80% rayon, and are $1.25 a piece. Well worth it when you compare it to acrylic craft felt. Mae had cut out a couple of leaves from some craft felt and brought them over to me with a leaf cut from the wool felt and said "we can't use this - look how thin it is!" The colors are rich and they make softies with really nice body. I hope she makes the whale next!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Craft Sale Update

My first craft sale went pretty well. It was a long day, sitting there behind that table from 10-4 was a little more than I bargained for. Many thanks to my friends who stopped by, it made all the difference. Kerri, the first person to purchase "Cockadoodle" bought the 3 remaining wishing well change purses. The wristlets were a hit too - good thing I made 3 more on Saturday!

Afterward we went out to our favorite Italian Restuarant - Ambrogio's. It's in the 6700 block of Belmont in Chicago. Great food, a real family restaurant (with a bar), but cash only - you'll need to remember that if you go (there's a sign on the front door in case you forget!)

At the craft sale I decided there is enough interest to have an open house at my studio (our living room!) the Saturday before Thanksgiving - that was a good day for me last year. If you are in the area (email me for specifics), I hope you'll stop by - November 18th from 11-3.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Craft Sale Tomorrow!

I'm participating in the Oak Park Women's Exchange Art & Craft Fair at OPRF high school. The school is at 201 N. Scoville in Oak Park. I will have many new apron styles (including the one above, called "April" - thanks to Mae for the name!) I have a lot more full styles this year - including "Florence", which was designed for people who like to bake (and appreciate 70s kitchen textiles - check out that print!)

It has a small pocket, and a divided pocket on the body - with a slot for a spoon. I also have a mother daughter set of my skull apron Callie.

I have a Christmas apron this year - Noelle seemed like a good name for that one!

You can see more pictures on my flickr page. If you are in the area, I hope you'll stop by and see me at the Craft Fair at 201 N. Scoville in Oak Park tomorrow. It runs from 10-4, and there is a $3 entry fee - which I will take off your order if you mention this offer on my blog!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We Love Halloween!

I had to miss the school parade this year - working freelance and just can't justify a day with no pay! I did get to take Mae and her friends trick-or-treating. (Leo went with his friend Craig). I made Leo's costume this weekend, and gave him a mohawk last night. Marc is responsible for the simple but effective make-up job. By 6pm all of our candy is gone - a typical Halloween night!

Mae took care of her costume this year. She found the perfect boots at the thrift store - and we got the white blouse there too. She did her hair, make-up and styling. Go Mae!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hat #2 on Girl #1

Bethany's hat size is a full inch smaller than mine, so Mae is my model for her finished hat. She chose the pagoda print for the lining. I'm very happy with the way it came out. I gather the sides of the hat, but not on the front panel - this keeps it looking smooth. I also line the band with the lining fabric, rather than the hat fabric. I find this makes the hat more comfortable.

Mae will be 10 tomorrow - I can hardly believe that it's been 10 years since she was born! She was a sweet easy baby, and her first 2 weeks are still the happiest days I have ever spent. I know there is a little bit of rose colored glass viewing going on - but I really was hormonally over the moon. I remember where I was (walking her in Lincoln Square, our old neighborhood) when I realized that the extreme happiness was fading into regular life. Regular life has been pretty good to me since then too...

Monday, October 15, 2007

My First Commissioned Hat!

I finished Beckress' hat this weekend. I'm really happy with the way it came out. I had never used twill for one of my hats, but it's not so different from the fabrics I have worked with. Because of the relative firmness of twill, it has a less "floppy" look, for this reason I didn't use any topstitching - I liked the tailored look, and was afraid the topstitching would distract from the clean lines. I posted 2 ribbon choices on flickr - B chose the polka dots, my preference too. I am sending it off to tomorrow, and will anxiously await word - I hope
she likes it!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Practically Necessary Woven Labels

A lot of people have asked me about my labels lately. I ordered them from Cruz Label in LA. When I started building my business last year I was able to do much of the work: I designed the logo, built the website, and obviously create the product. I felt that the look of the label was critical - I take so much pride in my sewing that I wanted a label that reflected that. That's a long way of saying that they weren't cheap - they cost more than than my precious sewing machine!

The process went like this: Cruz will send you a sample card with all of the different weaves and styles they offer. I chose one and then sent them an Illustrator file and specified PMS (pantone matching system) colors. Cruz will give you a woven "proof" to make sure it's just right. My first try with colors was a little off (the cream had a green cast) and I tried another color. That color was just right - I got exactly what I wanted and I am still thrilled with them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Best Work

This is my best hat yet. The fabric (a wool linen blend) is perfect for a hat - it has body and a nice drape. It has good shape and takes to pressing beautifully. I am especially pleased with the interior on this one. It's my bird fabric again, with some wonderful plaid ribbon trimmed with red ric-rac (Vogue Fabric). When you make something from fabric you have never worked with you never know how it's going to turn out. This wool made a beautiful vest and hat, but the skirt pattern I chose was not so successful. It fits in with my "2 out of 3" ratio for success. For every 2 successful garments, there is usually 1 failure. I take these failures more in stride than I used to, I figure it's just par for the course. Usually I let myself think that it might work out afterall, that when I wear it I'll see that I was wrong - but this almost never really happens. The skirt is on my in progress rack (unhemmed), and I am still hopeful that when I hem it and put it on it will look better than I remembered. We'll just see about that...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Vintage Lining/Hats in Progress

I finally made it to Vogue Fabrics to get the twill for the custom hats I am making. I took samples of the vintage lining fabric I will be using so I could coordinate the ribbon bands, and to show my fabric guy. He figures they are from the late 50s, early 60s (the realism of the art combined with the colors) and was impressed - exactly the reaction I was hoping for! I found these 2 lining fabrics together at a thrift store in Evanston - about 5 yards of each for $12 total. I did use a good bit of the birds as the back for the vest shown above. I still have about 2 yards of that one. The pagoda print is still at about 4 yards. I pay as much attention to the inside of the hats I make as I do the outside, so I love to find vintage linings. I am looking forward to finishing these 2 hats (hopefully by Friday), I will post before I ship!

Here's the front of the vest in case you were curious!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Back to Work

I think I'd better blog about something other than a change purse (it's been a few, I know) I have two hat orders right now, I'm glad to say that I just solved one issue I have had with a few of my hats - the amateurish looking brims. With my latest hat I made a corded bias strip and inserted it in the brim. I'm really satisfied with the results.

I'm back to work, not quite full-time, but 9-3 with almost an hour of commuting on either side is pretty close. I really like having a day job and we can't afford for me to be out of work any longer anyway. I have to be very disciplined to get my sewing done. Getting the two hat orders will certainly keep me on task! Many thanks to Bitter Betty and Becktress for placing orders - and helping me get over my concerns about making hats for people other than myself. Results coming soon!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Now I've Got It

My friend Molly wanted a change purse, but she wanted it a little larger, about 7"x 5". Something she could put in a larger purse to hold her cards, keys, and change. She had a small zippered bag but was always digging around for the change. I offered to make a little pocket but she thought maybe a divider would work better. Great Idea! I have been wanting the same kind of thing for my big work bag, so the next one is for me. Funny how it works like that sometimes.

The divider is the red and white gingham, it's a little over half the height of the bag. My flickr friend Mindy clued me into splityarn's tutorial for a zippered wristlet that solves the problem of the hand finished lining. I figured there must be one out there somewhere - thanks splityarn!

Molly picked the fabric because it reminds her of our 70s midwestern childhood, which was a very snowy time and place. She even picked the area of the fabric, chosen for the ice skater and the child pulling a sled. The fabric has a half a dozen other scenes that can be pulled out - the little yellow house is one, and another features horses pulling a wagon full or riders. You can see more of my scenic barkcloth here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Fun!

Mindy, one of my flickr friends, made this adorable change purse using my tutorial. I love that she used a metal zipper, and how adorable is that ticking fabric?

I have become pretty dependent on the support and inspiration I find at flickr. The internet is full of blogs and sites that celebrate snarkiness - I love that the flickr groups that I am a part of are celebrate kindness and a simple desire to share each others lives through our images. When I found "New Vintage Wardrobe" - a group of people who sew clothing from vintage patterns, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I knew there must have been other people who liked to do that, but to be able to see their creations and share in their success is so much fun! "Aprons In Public" (now called Apron Outfits) inspired me to go out in public like this. Even the fashion celebration of "Wardrobe Remix" has a policy of "say something nice or move on".

Need more kindness in your life? get to flickr and feel the love!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There Must Be A Better Way...

After my trip to TDO for zippers yesterday I made another change purse (a belated birthday present for my horse-loving sister Sue). I was determined to come up with a simpler way to insert the lining. I applied the 2 lining pieces to the zipper underside BEFORE I applied the 2 purse pieces to the top of the zipper. Then leaving the zipper open I stitched it together and turned it through the hole. It worked fine except that I put my finger through the zipper when I turned the top right corner and had to work it back together and stitch over the corner. What do you think of being able to see the unfinished seams on the bottom and sides? I'm a little fanatical about unfinished seams, but the labor or applying the lining (especially many times over since I plan to sell them) in the traditional hand-sewn manner made me want to find another way. Now of course I am wondering if I should adjust my tutorial, or add another one, I am leaning toward adding another one.

Here you can see the unfinished seams.

Incidentally today is my last day free from employment. I start with a new company tomorrow (doing the same type of job I have done for about 10 years - textbook design). I am looking forward to going back to work - to the routine. I work from 9-3 which is pretty much perfect (having Friday off would be perfect... someday) I will be able to ride my bike to the train until the weather turns, then I will need to walk, which will take about 20 minutes.

I am going out with my girlfriends tonight - a nice way to celebrate the start of something new, and the end of a summer I will never forget.

UPDATE: My feedback from various sources has been pretty much universal distaste over having to see an unfinished seam!! I appreciate the feedback and ultimately tend to agree...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wishing Well Change Purse

Feeling bad after not winning some barkcloth fabric that I really wanted (to make it worse I was bidding for myself and for Claire at Needlebook, we were going to share), I was looking through the scenic fabric in my collection trying to come up with my next project.

When I noticed the well on one of the fabrics I realized what I needed to make. Earlier in the day I ran into a friend who told me that her daughter needed surgery, so I made this change purse for her as a way to say that I was wishing her and her family well.

There are 5 more of these available, so If you are interested in wishing someone well in this way, you can visit my etsy shop.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Connections, Contacts, and Cows

Yesterday I got an inquiry from Julia at the Indiana Beef Cattle Association about one of my farmscene purses (pictured below) and it got me thinking about one of the scraps I had left from my Johnny Appleseed scenic fabric and about the fact that I have been wanting to create a tutorial to show people how easy it is to make a zippered changepurse. Which leads me to my thoughts about how I love the give and take from my various friends and contacts about my sewing business. Amber from Multi-tasking Moms originally requested one of my aprons in exchange for an ad on her blog for a contest she was having (I said yes), and also ended up buying a couple of custom made purses from me (see them below). When she requested a zippered changepurse my first thought was "well I've never done that before, I guess I'll have to learn how!" I don't think I would have done it if she hadn't requested it, and now I love making the changepurses, my daughter Mae has made one and I can see that they are a really nice addition to the purses in my collection - thanks Amber!

Back to Julia at the Beef Council - because she contacted me with a specific interest in cows I remembered the scrap of fabric I had, and I finally shot the pictures for the tutorial I have been meaning to make - thanks Julia!

Let's hear it for connections, contacts, and yes, cows.

Tutorial coming soon!

The farmscene purse that caught Julia's eye.

Amber's purse #1

Amber's purse #2, a gift for her mom who has a honey business.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Emily Likes Her Boots

Emily returned to me via the postal service on Friday. I'm so happy to have her back! She is showing you the boots I made for her while she was gone.

I had to freshen up her face. When I made her I used the transfer that came with the pattern, and added to it with prismacolor pencils. It had worn off considerably so I just redrew it. She is the perfect doll, homemade, soft and pretty - but not so fancy that she needs to just sit on a shelf. She sits on my bedside table next to Raggedy Ann.

This is Emily's favorite quilt. I made this in the b.c. days when I had time to hand piece as well as hand quilt. I really like making doll quilts - they suit my love of making something and moving on to the next thing - boy I love to start new projects!