Sunday, January 31, 2010

Patterns, and Fabric and Projects, oh my!

A few weeks ago my sister and I spent some girl-time at a fantastic shop a few minutes north called The Rabbit's Lair. It's heaven on earth for anyone with a fabric addiction. They sell bolts and bolts and fat quarters and skinny eighths and all manner of patterns and what nots... it's just divine.

Most days I'm all about vintage fabrics rescued from obscurity in the thrift store shelves or auction tables, but I have to admit that I was all gaga over the stuff in the shop. I have a new project to work on this spring and picked up some things to use. A local children's boutique called Terra Tots has asked me to bring in a few examples of tunics I have in mind to make, so I thought the bright fabrics I picked up there would be perfect. The idea is to make them reversible, and they would be great over jeans or leggings with pretty much any kind of shirt underneath.

I've been keeping an eye out for a pattern for a tunic that will give me a jumping off point for what I want to do, and found these. The one on the left is what I had seen in my head - with the ties on the sides. But I also just LOVE the little blouse in that middle one. How adorable would that be made out of vintage bedsheets? Now I need to learn how to alter patterns... I smell a new sewing book (or three) on my horizon.

Here are my thoughts on the pieces to put together... and a couple I bought just because I love them.Disregard the tiny wrinkles... if you want to see ironed fabric, go here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh how I love a good thrift day.

My sister and I spent a great day recently hitting up some flea market/thrift stores and found some amazing goodies. Last Sunday, we spent a lot less time at Goodwill, but still came away with some cuteness. Just thought I'd share.

A sweet little decorative plate... and I love Colorado.

And a dinner-sized one from Georgia. Georgia is way too hot in the summer.
(Cue flashback to time spent at Fort Gordon in July)

Two little berry bowls. So darling!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Preserving a Husband

One of the things I brought home from my mom's house was an accordion file full of recipe cards and clippings from magazines. I went through them tonight with plans to make a few (or more than a few) and also to create a cookbook out of them to give to family members.

The file apparently belonged to my grandmother, since most of the handwritten cards were in her handwriting. But there were a few that were either written by others, or had "from ______" on them. My aunts, my mom, our great aunts, great grandmother, cousins and great cousins and people we called our cousins just because several generations ago someone in their family married someone in ours... neighbors and friends. It's really a great little treasure.

But I had to share this recipe that was in the "Miscellaneous" section. I believe it came out of a magazine published by the local electrical co-op. I think you'll enjoy it.

Preserving a Husband
Be careful of your selection.  Do not choose too young.  When once selected, give your entire thought to preparation for domestic use.  Some insist on keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them in hot water.  This makes them sour, hard, and sometimes bitter.  Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience, well-sweetened with love, and seasoned with kisses.  Wrap them in a mantle of charity.  Keep them warm with a steady fire of domestic decoration and serve with peaches and cream.  Thus prepared, they will keep for years.

I love the "poor varieties" comment... I've known a few of those.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


My sister and I spent about five hours at my mom's house this afternoon going through her office. Last week we spent about seven hours, and got all the bedrooms, her bathroom and the living room done. Comparitively, it seems like we didn't accomplish as much today, but given the volume of stuff packed into her office, we actually did.

Going through mom's stuff is really making me look around at my own things with a more critical eye. I have a lot of things - things I like to look at, that mean something to me, or both. And I have those books, lists, magazine pages... little stashes of things that I want to do something with... or that I think will have some purpose at some point. But as I clean mom's house, I'm finding it easier to clean my own. I've loaded several bags of stuff in my car to get rid of over the last week, just because I don't know why I have it. I really want to have things in my house that I'll use, or that means something very special to me. Now, there are things I have because they just make me happy to have them, but I'm finding it way easier to get rid of those things lately.I can have things that make me happy, AND that I'll use. It's just a new way of looking at stuff.

At mom's there were shelves full of books, magazine boxes full of magazines, files of important stuff and non-important stuff and way too many office supplies! We filled a couple of boxes with stuff to keep, made a pile of stuff for our brothers to decide on, filled a couple of bags full of trash and a box full of stuff to shred, and the stuff we're going to sell was left on the bookshelves. Not bad, really. There are a few boxes of things that we'll have to go through slowly with a bottle or two of wine, but that will be left for another day.

Some cool finds:
a great little envelope full of pictures of mom during the time she was a Tupperware Lady, most of which I'd never seen before;
five or six diaries and journals belonging to mom;
notes and letters we'd given mom over the years that she kept;
several lists of mom's belongings that she assigned beneficiaries to... most of which we agree with. :)

We also found a certificate that mom got from her flight school when she made her first solo flight on July 11, 1990. We decided that we should get our brothers to join us on July 11 this year, the 20th anniversary of that flight, to take her ashes up in a plane to... what? Distribute? Sprinkle? Dump? What do you call it??? Wouldn't that be perfect? We think so.

We kept finding piles of newspaper articles on gardening, magazine pages with photos that mom had written notes next to.. "these stairs"... "cabinet doors"... "fireplace mantle".  Mom loved visual inspiration, and I've inherited her tendency to keep those bits and pieces. She also had a few little notebooks with sketches and notes in them that detailed ideas she had probably seen in a magazine, or on a t.v. show... or maybe they were just her own ideas. Oh, and books with little sticky notes on her favorite pages. Yes, it's genetic, I'm sure of it. So, I loaded up a couple of tote bags with her decorating books, and one of her file folders labeled "Craft Projects". I figured I would go through them before putting them on the estate sale shelves... a little more visual inspiration is always welcome.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Warm Thoughts and Inventory

Okay, I had the great idea of posting this pic of my homemade bunting made for a craft fair last fall, in hopes of sharing warm fuzzy thoughts when it's about 4 degrees outside. Then, I remembered that at said craft fair my sister and I were freezing our booties off every morning because it was around 35 degrees. It was NOT, however, 4 degrees. So, comparatively, it was WARM.

I'm enjoying a little break this month from the constant pressure of making sure I have inventory ready for the next craft show/market/promotion on Etsy... it's allowing me some thinking time to consider how better to brand myself this coming year, and what items I need to focus on making. One of my frustrations with myself is that I have 847 different ideas flying around in my head on any given day. But of course I don't have the time to spend on 847 different ideas. Knowing I don't have the time frustrates me and makes it hard to focus, and then I don't know where to start. So, I have to narrow it down a little.

The branding thing is difficult for me. I'm far too fickle when it comes to my shop's banner designs. And my color favorites change with the seasons. But I am going to get a stamp made based on a screenprinted business card my brother made for me last year. I'll use it with some washable ink to label my items, and scan it into the computer to use on my banner. If the name/font stays consistent, maybe a quarterly color and image tweak will not be a big deal.

I think my 2010 shop inventory will look like this:
Market bags - made from repurposed vintage bed and table linens.
Tote bags - sturdier fabrics like curtains and upholstery remnants, with appliques and other decoration.
Hip bags - for the fall and winter only, made with repurposed sweaters.
Aprons - hobby aprons made from canvas and vintage decorator fabrics with appliques and pockets

I'm cutting out the drink coasters because there are nicer ones on Etsy and they're a pain to make. I may make some lapel pins up and list them to see if they get noticed... they sell well at the fairs, but haven't tried them on Etsy. I'm also going to make some repurposed t-shirt scarves and kids' tunics, but am going to sell them in local boutiques. I made my neice some cute-as-a-button hats for her American Girl dolls out of scrap wool from my repurposed sweaters... but see, that's another project.

Now I'm just rambling...
What are you going to work on this year? Are you focusing on any new items for your shops, or just reworking what you've got?