Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year resolutions, fabric records and new beginnings...

As the minutes are ticking away and before a New Year is ushered in, I thought about some goals for 2012.

Years ago when my kids were little, we would sit around the table after dinner with paper and pencil in hand and each of us would list three goals we wanted to accomplish in the coming year.  I would then take away the slips of paper, seal it in an envelope and put it away for safe keeping until the following year.  A few years ago I came across hidden secret goals (I guess we didn't open them one year and that tradition ended). The contents weren't shocking or earth breaking news; wanting to run faster, getting higher scores at a gym meet, or reading more.  Mine was about how many quilts I would finish. 

My goal this year is to be better organized, especially with my Etsy shop.  Better organization means a better shop. 

Thinking about goals and being organized reminded me of an estate sale I went to this past fall.   In a box filled with 1970'[s and 80's fabric was  a metal index card box.  Oh beating heart....are they treasured family recipes I can admire and adapt to my family?   How clever they were hidden in fabric to guard these family treasures.
I am going to digress a moment .... to ask you to admire my new cutting board Santa brought me! Okay, back to the box now.

So my jaw hung a little when I opened it up to reveal it was stuffed with receipts and index cards.

with all the seamstresses 1970's, 80's quilting cotton purchases recorded with amount and yardage.  I vaguely remember participating in the same activity and stopped when cotton soared to over $3 a yard.  Could you imagine COTTON at $3.00!  I then decided it was time not to have any evidence in the house of what I was spending on my "fabric habit". 

Fabric record keeping wasn't limited to this seamstress either.  At another sale, all the beautiful fine woven percale cotton yardage had sales slips tucked into each purchase or the original tags connected with a thread tack.
Beautiful organized fabrics from a well organized woman! 

Not only the sales receipt but a note to herself that she had washed the fabric and there was shrinkage.  The date was December 16, 1954 - 47 years ago - the fabric is as sweet as the day it was purchased.

I wonder if the fabric came from a household where sewing was done as a business and her accurate record keeping was a must with her potential customers?  Possible theory...or she was an economist tracking the home sewing industry - probably not. 

No mistake this fine percale is Quadriga Cloth produced by Ely and Walker.  These calicoes are making a comeback to the quilting scene with Barbara Brackman's line of prints called Old Fashioned Calicoes for Moda.  I remember these prints fondly as they were some of the first fabrics I used. 

Regardless, if these women could be organized, so can I.  Thank goodness January starts tomorrow and I can reform my ways, organize my sewing room and get working on a spread sheet. 

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The truth...

I am inclined to develop fictional novellas in my mind regarding the women whose quilt blocks or other sewing items are being sold at estate sales.  They are loved, kind, always lending a helping hand to a neighbor or family member.  The good deeds are endless and on the cusp of "Queen for a Day" material.  I've decided that as a creative person who spends hours sewing that I am projecting my wanna-be image  onto these women from the past. 

My fictional novella was tossed out the door this week when my husband brought home a pillowcase filled with crocheted items from his grandmother.  HIS GRANDMOTHER - a name over the years which was never synonymous with kind, loving - you get the picture.  His grandmother was a talented woman with the crochet hook?  Oh, let me explain.

My husband's grandmother is the smiling woman who is seated on the right - Helen Sloma Sedor (originally spelled Helene Sidor but the spelling changed to reflect her Americanization).  His Mom, Ann Sedor is the young girl standing on the left.  Ann was born in 1916, so I am guessing this photo was taken in the late 1920's.  Ann's Mom, Helen had eleven children,  nine who survived infancy.

Ann lived to the young age of 94 and her stories of her Mom don't match the face of this smiling woman!    There are accounts of her unfriendly behavior towards her daughter and son-in-laws (she refused to speak to them even after marriage), how children were babysat by tying them to the backyard tree and one of the saddest stories I learned from a next door neighbor.  He said his mother's clothes hanging on the line would  frequently be met with Helen's coal dust flying from her bucket.  He never understood why she always did this causing his mother more laundry to be rewashed. 

As you can see, no kind words have ever....yes ever, been spoken about this woman

And despite her pack with the devil or whatever was the source of her unhappiness, she married a man who my husband and mother-in-law, if not everyone who knew him, liked and admired.  My husband fondly recalls outings to the ball park and eating candy bars, having his grandfather cut his hair or holiday time when all the grandchildren were lined up and each given a dollar (which was big bucks back then and could buy some amazing toys at the five and dime.   

And, shocked as I am, she crocheted and she did it well. Colors were changed with ease with knots hidden and patterns were consistent. 

A ruffled crocheted pattern from the late 40's early 50's.

I'm not sure how functional this doily was, but it is colorful.

A favorite of many, the pineapple design in a dresser scarf.

Part of the pillowcase contents.

So I will wash these items of family history and put them aside.  The truth.....  she was not novella material, but oh she knew how to use a hook!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the tenth day of Christmas...

wait....hold it.  The SUN is out.  It is the 20th of December and the weather is gorgeous.  This means it is time for a road trip.  Only 24 miles away is MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora, New York.  Are you familiar with their pottery, furniture and checkered eclectic look?  May I just suggest that if you are ever in the area to go to the shop on Cayuga Lake and stay for a tour of the house.

Brick paved driveway up to the studio and storefront.  NO SNOW!!! 

The renovated farm house used for pictures for the catalogs and displaying new lines of pottery, tinware, coordinating home decorations and furniture. 

Glancing back at the lake from the grounds. Also this is the scene that is often painted on the furniture. 

Inside the store, displays fill the rooms.  Since it is almost Christmas,  holiday decorations fill the space.

From the Christmas tree honoring our pet pooches.

And now to just show a few pictures from inside the three story farm house.  My camera displayed this message:  "batteries exhausted".   Exhausted?  I knew I was snapping away, but please get a second wind, I have pictures to take :)

This is the breakfast room - one of my favorite spaces.

 Okay, so back home now and my offering for the 10th day of Christmas... true love gave to me
ten spools of vintage thread...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crochet these Gift Items in a hurry....

I just wanted to share this Lily booklet hidden in the box of crochet pieces I have in my sewing room. 

Don't hurry making these, just enjoy them and think about how you can adapt the design to a project you have in the making now.  File them away and enjoy the holiday season!

On the ninth day of Christmas... true love gave to me
nine vintage trims...

They come in different width, material, construction and hand created versus commercially produced.  Yet they all are vintage, beautiful and once served a purpose. No secret they were once treasured, or they would not have survived to be admired years later.

If you enjoy lace, I'll share with you a little book of wonder that I acquired this past summer.  It is 2" x 3" x 1".  Here it is:
It is something that would easy to glance over.  That is until you open it up and begin turning the pages:

For those with a passion for crochet or tatting, you will identify it immediately as a sample book.  This tiny little treasure has over 39 different worked designs pinned or thread tacked to the muslin pages. What a wonderful reference.  Family patterns, a design a good friend shared, or maybe a design found from a magazine article?  The history is lost, but the beauty remains.

Friday, December 16, 2011

On the eighth day of Christmas...

my true love gave to me...
eight vintage patterns...

and then suddenly the "uh oh" moment hit me
  there is a Christmas present I haven't made yet!!!!

I confess, I have been having too much fun this holiday season.  I've been baking since Thanksgiving and freezing everything to get ready to have all the family home.  Between my Etsy shop and putting thoughts down to share with you in this blog, as well as other work commitments, I'm not bored. 

Suddenly we're on the 8th day of Christmas....and while I was pulling out classic vintage patterns to share with you, I came across the last one - which should now be referred to as the "uh-oh" pattern:

 No big deal, just a simple apron.  And then it hit me:  I had promised my daughter I would make an apron for her fiance for Christmas.  How could I have forgotten?  Too many cookies?  Too many boxes of goodies to sort through for Etsy? 

My daughter suggested that her fiance should have his own apron because she was getting tired of sharing her frilly ones that I had made her for her birthday.  This was a moment where many of you who know me would have been proud that I had some filters.  What I wanted to tell her was that if your dad wanted to put on my aprons and go to the kitchen and cook I wouldn't care (as he does make a mean butternut squash dish.... mmmmmm).  She even was sweet enough to send me the links to a nice plaid fabric she thought would look nice because he loves plaid shirts.

It is amazing in the craziness of life when sudden inspiration comes from the least expected place.  Thank you to the blogger out there who wrote about the shirt aprons she had made.  I had never heard of them before, but one thing I did know, I had plaid shirts around the house my husband won't wear.
Considering my husband probably received this as a Christmas present years ago, how appropriate that it will be upcycled and find a new home.

I cut off the arms and shirt back and under the serger it goes.

I was able to get two nice size bias pieces for the ties from the shirt back.

In less than an hour it's finished!

wow....that was fun!  Perfect for the lover of plaid shirts!

I will definitely be looking at old shirts from the thrift shop with a new set of eyes.  Look at these aprons.  My mind is flooded with ideas for presents.  Off to sew now, but thanks again to bloggers out there sharing and giving inspiration to sew many of us.

ps.  About the "uh-oh" apron pattern.  Did you notice the man in the suit with the apron?  This pattern was printed in 1949.  I don't see him with a spatula, meat tenderizer, or something to signify he is wearing this apron because he knows his way around the kitchen.... no, he's reading from a piece of paper.  Wait, could he be reading the recipe or is it a list of chores?  What do you think she is saying to him?