Friday, December 12, 2008

Make it Simple - 8 Times

I got an order for 8 Anne aprons from Genevieve at Jewelbox Home. They are a give-away for a contest she had on her site. I made the 8 apron bodies, then completed one apron - I wanted to be sure I had all of the measurements right before cutting out everything. Once that one was complete and looked good, I did the rest of the cutting for the 7 remaining aprons. Today I am working on assembling 3 more.

3 pockets embroidered and ready for ric-rac.

I glue baste my ric-rac with Fabri-tac - I find it much easier and more accurate than sewing.

Sewn, turned, and finger-pressed. Finger pressing is one of the secrets to smooth pockets, or anything else that is turned (sewn inside out and turned right side out).

Close-up of the finished pocket.

1 down, 7 to go!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New "Vintage" Sweater!

UPDATE: Free Pattern Here!! This fabulous sweater arrived in the mail yesterday. My mom saw the vintage pattern on Vintage Knitting and thought it would be perfect for me. I love it - thanks mom!

It was knit with Ultra Alpaca (fine) by Berroco. It's surprisingly soft and I can wear it right on my skin. (If anyone is interested in the pattern please leave a comment and I will get the info from Rhiannon at Vintage Knitting.)

My mom has made me so many beautiful sweaters. She loves a challenge and I know that the nut does not fall very far from the tree in that regard! Making something new is so much fun, the whole time I am wondering how it might come out and it just seems to drive the whole creative process.

Which leads me to the subject I am just getting around to confronting - I need a new project. I am still having fun making aprons but I haven't felt compelled to design any new ones in a long time. When I look at my fabric I don't feel very inspired - and buying new fabric at this point doesn't even tempt me.

That being said I have been feeling surprisingly hopeful about the future and certain that 2009 will bring the professional growth I have been working toward. Hopefully it will also bring some new ideas to keep my sewing machine whirring!

Monday, October 27, 2008

We Love to Mod Podge

Around our house, "mod podge" is a verb. We have mod podged all kinds of things. The pictures on this door come from a book called Moonlight in Duneland, a collection of posters from The South Shore Line. We had the book for a couple of years before inspiration struck. I do feel a little funny destroying books like this, but overall I think it's a good tradeoff - now we look at these prints every day!

These images come from a couple of women's magazines from 1967.

The images on the inside of the bathroom door came from a New York Times magazine supplement (Real Estate). Those are a great source for interesting images.

This is a vintage map/pictorial about the Grand Canyon.

My husband Marc did this one. He used old hand bills from an obscure movie called The Black Hand starring Gene Kelly. It reads One man against The Black Hand - the dreaded mafia band! - Sensational in his first great dramatic role. I'm not sure if he had any more. There's also the line Pack in Italian Patronage!

Someone asked me if we got copies of the hand bills - no, we didn't, we just used the originals.

No, I don't plan to mod podge the pool table! I just like to show it off. It's just opposite The Black Hand piece. It was my 40th birthday present to myself.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Closet Reveal

With Francesca coming to live with us next month, I've been working on consolidating Marc's closet with mine. As you can see in the "before" pic below, I had to move and get rid of a lot of clothing! I like the way this closet sharing has forced me to really think about what I actually wear. I moved some things down stairs, but mostly just got rid of a lot of stuff. It feels good!

I removed the door of the closet to make more room - what a difference! I then decided that a curtain would be perfect. Finally found a good use for this cute fabric.

I have had a lot of plaid in my wardrobe for years, this year I will actually be in style with it!

Marc favors vintage shirts. He has found most of them himself. The Hawaiian shirt was a great find - never been worn/washed. It looks great on him.

I figure the closet is a good place for my senior portrait - it's not something everyone needs to see!

Marc produced a piece about Dick Locher last year, Dick made him this cool illustration and I finally framed it.

I made a curtain out of some great green velvet. I was pretty embarrassed when I realized that some of my vintage pieces had sustained sun damage in the closet - doh!

Everyone loves the new closet, it even inspired Mae and Leo to clean their rooms and get rid of old stuff. We are still working on transforming Marc's den into Francesca's room - will post when there is progress!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Like to Make Things...

I made this doll house furniture about 7 years ago. There used to be 4 chairs, but I'm not sure where the other 3 are now. I photographed it this morning because I was putting a wider selection of art work together for a package I delivered to a local toy company that is looking for a graphic designer. I'm kind of a strange hybrid creative, and still trying to find a new place to fit in. I don't have the web skills that many graphic designers have (I did design Practically Necessary, but there is little coding involved, and a limited number of pages to negotiate). I love a new challenge, and to make things I have never made before.

This week I made a robe for Leo. His old robe was so outgrown, but he loves it so he was still wearing it. A robe is the kind of thing that it might be more cost effective to buy, but that is so personal I really wanted to make it for him. The materials and the pattern came to about $13 - when you add in a half day's labor, it definitely would have been cheaper to go to Kohls. When Leo tried it on and said "it's so great, AND it's handmade, I knew it was worth the time and effort.

I'm also working on an identity design for Unity Temple, a project I find rather daunting. Partly because I am a member, but mostly because it is such a beloved institution with a rich history that I am insecure about being able to create the appropriate design - the design that will express the correct aesthetic. I'll be going over my preliminary designs with my editor soon (my husband Marc) and hopefully will be ready to show something to my contact at UT soon.

How does this all add up? I'm not sure. I like to make things, I like a challenge, and I'm sometimes a little unsure about my abilities. Probably a description for many of us...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rotating and Managing the Textiles

I know it should be time to get rid of this cropped blouse...

Every year at this time I am struck by the importance of one of my biggest tasks: Managing the Textiles. It's time to go through the closets and move summer clothes down to the basement, and then move the fall and winter clothes up. I like to do it in 2-3 rounds, which makes it a more manageable task. I find that there are some warm weather clothes I like to have around a little longer than others (I probably won't wear my summer dresses anymore, but I keep the blouses upstairs longer). The same is true of the fall/winter clothes. I know many people hate this task, but I find it really satisfying.

Of course it's a difficult process to go through the clothes and make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. The old "have I worn this in the last 2 seasons?" rule doesn't always work for me. Being sort of a collector of vintage clothing I feel a special responsibility to some items, especially the home made items - vintage home-made is definitely my favorite kind of clothing. Oddly, I find it easier to get rid of items that I have made - probably because I'm getting rid of them because they were failures, and who wants to be reminded of that??

At this point in my life there is also the issue of "am I too old to wear this?" My cropped "Shapely" shirt with the tiny penguins on it (a favorite at July 4th) should probably be tossed, but I just can't bring myself to.

I love our clothing, and it's such an important part of managing the house that I take it pretty seriously - This year especially as we have to make room for Marc's 18 year old daughter Francesca, she is coming to live with us in November. She will be moving into Marc's den, which contains the closet shown below.

This is actually the way he keeps his closet right now. He claims it's because we are rearranging this room (it also holds one of our 2 computers). How he can keep a plant stand (and what a pathetic plant!) in front of his closet is a mystery to me, but I digress.

This is the closet that Marc and I will soon be sharing. As you can see, I am not ready for him to move in yet!

This is our basement storage. I made a huge "give away" pile and asked Marc to go through it with EXTREME PREJUDICE. He didn't keep a single item - and he took it all to the Brown Elephant. Hurray!

The lovely Francesca. Shown here fresh off the stage after starring in "High School Musical" last year. Mae was just a little impressed :) She has graduated from high school but will be taking a year off before starting college. It is sure to be an adventure for us...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amy's Apron

I finished "Amy's Apron" yesterday. It's the first full apron I have made from the "Pom's Farm" fabric. Everyone who voted chose "Pom's Farm" - so my decision was easy! I used part of the border for the pocket, and a red polka dot print for the bib lining.

Previously I used 3 large panels to make Mae's curtains. Most of the panels have some issues, but when used as curtains you can barely notice them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oh That's So Romantic!

Amy Dickinson and Bruno Schickel

I've been reading the Vows column of the New York Times every Sunday since it was still in the back of the Sports section. I always found it so delightful and unexpected in that location! It's still my favorite part of the Sunday paper (call me shallow, or romantic - I can take it).

Amy Dickinson replaced Ann Landers as the advice columnist for the Chicago Tribune in 2003, and I started reading her column soon after. She gives the most level headed and sane advice, I just love her attitude. Last year at a Christmas party I had the pleasure of meeting Amy, and we talked aprons, (of course!) I'm pretty sure she told me that she's a full apron type of gal, and I also remember that she was pretty petite. I haven't decided which apron to send her yet - either a full version of Pom's Farm (she's from the Finger Lakes town of Freeville NY), or the full version of Who's Counting? (she might appreciate the funny fabric). I'm still waiting to hear from my friend Peter Sagal (the Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me host) to get me her address, so I've got a little time to ponder. Read the Vows column featuring Amy and Bruno here.If you have an opinion about which apron to send, please let me know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mama Needs a Brand New Purse

My old Practically Necessary purse is looking a little shabby so I looked through my stash box for something new. I found the assembled Johnny Appleseed purse front and back, a strap, and a loop all made (there's something to be said for half-finished projects!). All I needed to do was make the lining (from the Pentwater chintz), the inside pocket, and finish assembling the pieces. I had a small piece of the fabric cut out and used it to cover a button for the closure.

Mae took this picture of me with my new purse (this one is called "Oh Johnny"). She said it looked best with me off center with the kitchen in the background. I told her to go ahead, I trust her art direction!

School started today - hurray!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Rose for Sarah

My cousin Rose ordered my last "Rose" apron for her friend Sarah who lives in Florida. My mom ordered the original "Rose" apron for Rose! I like to include a hankie in the pocket, which I refer to as "The Forgotten Textile". When it's a match like this one, I'm so pleased. I got a good stash of nice hankies at the thrift recently, so I'm pretty well set to include them in orders for the next few months.

Once the apron is neatly folded I wrap it in 2 pieces of tissue paper and tie it with ribbon. I usually include a Practically Necessary thank you note, but when the apron is a gift that I am sending directly I include a nice note with info about the apron and of course who it was sent by.

One of the details I wondered about when I started PN was the shipping. Did you know that the USPS will send you boxes for free? I order them in sets of 10-25. I use the 9 x 6.5 x 2 size boxes most often. I also print my labels out at home. I print them on paper and use spray glue to attach them, sticker paper is too expensive. When items are paid for on my paypal account it's especially easy, all of the address info is automatically in place and the payment for the shipping comes out of my paypal account.

I'll be sending Sarah's apron out tomorrow, in time for her birthday on August 31st. Happy birthday Sarah, and thank you Rose!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tree of Happiness Award

Catslye passed the baton of Happiness to me, giving me the opportunity to tell you 6 things that make me happy (and giving me the opportunity to stop and think about it, thank you Cat!)

1. Meaningful Work. This is so important to my sense of well being. My meaningful work this summer has been primarily taking care of my kids and it's been a terrific summer. However the fall will bring me back to the ranks of the employed, and I couldn't be happier.

2. My kids. My kids are a blast. Mae is so clever and funny, and I love her sense of fashion and self expression. Leo is my little dear heart, and usually knows when to say something really nice to his mama :)

3. My husband Marc. He is very supportive. He knows how to deliver constructive criticism. He's also a big fan of musical theater, just like my Dad - a nice feature.

4. My gal pals. They mean the world to me.

5. My parents. (I just realized that I need a pic of my Dad on flickr!) They have always been there for me and continue to be an important part of my life (and the life of my kids). UPDATE - just posted a great pic of my dad!

6. Derby Lite. Meeting this group of women has been such a great experience. I'm in the best shape of my adult life, and I have a whole new network of friends - fantastic.

Well what about sewing and Practically Necessary? Let's file that under meaningful work. I love to design new aprons, and make useful things. But the truth is, when push comes to shove (which thankfully has not happened!) I would choose graphic design over sewing. I really like to sew, I really LOVE to design.

That being said, here's my latest order - Florence. I got the vintage 70s fabric at the thrift store (15 yards, a bolts worth!) for about $10. It was my first experience buying fabric that I knew other people would like, that I didn't really like myself. Well, it's grown on me actually, but I wouldn't have bought it to make anything for myself.

I like the disappearing pocket on the bib:

I like the way the label goes with the fabric:

And I like the pretty orange button on the inner bib:

I'm passing the Tree of Happiness baton onto Sew Bettie at Craft Yourself Rich, she's a terrific crafter/blogger I met at the Constructor Craft Fair in Berwyn this spring. Run with it Bettie!

Friday, August 8, 2008

August Blog Catch-Up

I have felt truly "on vacation" for most of this summer. Especially since I found out that I will be going back to my most recent freelance job in September. The news came as quite a relief.

Me and the kids went to Pentwater, Michigan for a few days, this is the view down the pier. It's one of our favorite places, and it just doesn't feel like summer unless we get there at least once. Marc had to miss it, so we are hoping for a labor day weekend visit as well.

My mom and I got a chance to check out my favorite antique shop in Pentwater. I saw what I wanted to see in this pattern - a wrap around skirt with a cute top. I have been looking for a wrap skirt for a long time (why is that a hard thing to find?) What I didn't notice before I bought it is the size, one I had never seen before, an 8PT - the PT stands for Pre-Teen! Oh well, I still took it out and read the directions and looked at all the pattern pieces. I read patterns like some people read cookbooks. I just enjoy reading the directions - a little weird I know.

This might be the prettiest vintage fabric I have ever found (at the same antique store). The selvage reads "Madison Chintz" an exclusive vat colored screen print for C & T fabrics. I just love the combination of colors and floral shapes. I want to make a summer blouse out of it (there's about 3 yards).

Now onto the find of the day - the "Keep Slim" hankie. It was in a box of hankies that came from the collection of a woman with the initials A. S. There were many A hankies, and a wonderful selection, all beautiful and unused. I had decided to buy only one, and this was my favorite.

Mae took this of me at work soon after we returned home. I had an order for the Caroline full, and the Sour Cherries half apron in my in-box.