Sunday, February 5, 2017

What Would Mary Wear?

I'm very saddened by the recent death of entertainment icon Mary Tyler Moore.  When I went to college, I enjoyed having cable TV for the first time (my parents were too cheap to ever pay for it, can you imagine that?  Yes, I grew up having only 4 channels!) and I made the most of the opportunity to watch The Mary Tyler Moore show almost every night on Nick at Nite (when I should have been studying or sleeping).  I had some vague memories of it from when I was a small child, but since it ended in 1977 I didn't really have the chance to appreciate it.  But as an 18 year old, I loved it.  I loved Mary's apartment, the fact that she was a strong, single gal, and I loved the seventies styles she wore with such aplomb.  So as I was sorting through some of my vintage pattern stash, I selected several that I thought only Mary Richards could do true justice for.  So I thought I would share a small, lighthearted tribute to the effervescent gal who really could, and did, turn the world on with her smile:

Simplicity #6842, copyright 1966:  Mary would have rocked any of the versions of this sweet  mod dress, perfect for one of her many disastrous dates.


McCall's #9332, copyright 1968: This falls in line with the simple lines from the early years of the series, similar to the pleated skirt Mary wears in the first episode during her interview with Mr. Grant, when he accuses her of having spunk--which, of course, she did!


Simplicity #9889, copyright 1972:  Young contemporary fashion perfect for the career woman of the 1970s, similar to much of Mary's wardrobe in the newsroom.


Simplicity #8092, copyright 1969: Mary could wear this to work and then out on the town, with or without the jacket.


Simplicity #6621: Copyright 1974, this is similar to the pantsuits Mary wears during the later years of the series, after she's moved into her fancier apartment.  Her style evolves from the first season to the last, just as Mary does.  But she is always the same in essentials: spunky, strong, sweet, caring, and yes, still single.  I'm so glad the writers didn't marry Mary off.


Thank you, Mary Tyler Moore--thanks for the laughs, the memories, for all the laughter and tears you provided to generations throughout your career.  You will be greatly missed by your fans.






Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kitchy Kitchen Prints

I'm a sucker, or rather a collector, of novelty fabrics.  It started with typewriter prints, then eyeglasses, then sewing prints, and my latest favorite is kitchen prints--perfect for making aprons, something else I love.  Thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.  Apparently, Michael Miller Fabrics shares my obsession with nostalgic kitchen images, because all three of the prints you're about to see are from MM Fabrics.  And they're all fabulous! 

First up is this happy print, Fifties Kitchen, seen here sewn up in (what else?) my favorite flapper apron: 
It was that happy little stove that drew me in; it reminds me of the stove in my Grandma Sayers' kitchen, the stove upon which she cooked all sorts of delicious meals.  She was a wonderful cook and also a wonderful seamstress!  I still have the Barbie clothes she made me when I was little.  Of course I still have them--who gets rid of their Barbie stuff?!  Anyway, this print is so cheerful and happy and that's how I feel when I look at it.  Which is the whole point, right? 

Coming in a close second, is Kitchenette--with a different, but equally wonderful vintage vibe: 
Did I have a conversation with myself about "how many kitchen fabrics does one really need"?  Well, yes, but it was a short conversation.  As you can see, these prints are so different that they really can't be compared.  So obviously I needed both of them.  (This apron is available in my etsy shop in case you are interested.) 

Last, but not least, is "Home Ec."  Which is how I still refer to what is now called "Family and Consumer Science" at our local high school.  It was, it is and it always will be home ec to me.  Check this out: 
I haven't quite decided what to make from this yet.  I'm considering kitchen curtains or a table runner.  In the meantime, I enjoy looking at it.  It's good to let ideas stew for a while.  

Thanks for looking, hope you've enjoyed.  For your own shopping information, I have purchased my yardage of these prints from various etsy sellers that I can't quite remember--but a quick etsy search should get you what you want if you need some of these prints for your own collection.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pretty Flowered Aprons

Sewing is one of my greatest joys during the bleak winter months.  I HATE winter; truly, I detest cold.  My body recoils from it and mostly what I want to do is sit in front of the fire under warm blankets and watch TV (which means I fall asleep in about fifteen minutes.)  However, my sewing room is cozy and a wonderful retreat from the cold world outside.  And because this January has been particularly harsh, disheartening, and sad....I need to spend as much time sewing as possible.  Here are a couple of aprons I've made recently:

I used this 1944 pattern, Simplicity #1162, with a some slight changes:

As you can see, I substituted a much more utilitarian neck strap than what the pattern shows; as adorable as that bow is, I felt like it would get in my way and bother me--because aprons are made to be worn!  A big floppy bow really isn't my style.  Also, I'm horrible at making or even tying bows, so my fear was that I couldn't actually create a pretty one.  The floral print fabric is certainly pretty enough on it's own anyway. Instead of an embroidery transfer as shown on the pattern, I added some decorative stitching at the top of the bib, waistband, and on each pocket.  I also put on two pockets instead of just one.  This pretty fabric is from Joann's; I've noticed that in the last year or so, Joann's selection of cottons has greatly improved.  Their "premium" or "artist's" brands are entirely comparable to quilt shop fabrics.  A closer view of the decorative stitching detail:
I love this little scallop stitch; most of my sewing is done on my Singer, but I also have a Brother LX2500, which is a very handy little machine that has a good variety of stitch patterns to choose from and this one is my favorite.

Initially, my plan was to make this apron from one of the vintage feedsack fabrics I found at an estate sale last fall, but there wasn't quite enough.  Instead, I returned to my trusty flapper apron for the feedsack fabric:

I say this is feedsack fabric because that's what I think it is; I can't be entirely sure.  The big blue pockets are leftovers I've had for a couple of years.  Again, I like pockets on my aprons!  This one will be available on my etsy shop very soon.

And one more feedsack flapper, another print from the same estate sale (nothing better than buying a whole bunch of fabric at once!):

This one is already available in my shop, in case you are in need of an apron.  It's hard to tell in this photo, but this one has a large pocket in the middle--it's the same fabric as the rest of the apron so it blends right in.
Thanks for looking!




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell 2016

Once again I remember I have a blog.

I haven't shared any quilts for a long time...because I haven't made too many recently!  I made two quilts this year; rather, I finished one that I started in 2015 and I made just one quilt from start to finish in 2016.  They both stayed in my sewing room closet for a few months.  And then....I took them to be quilted on a real longarm quilting machine.

What a difference that longarm makes!

The first one is the one I started in 2015 and then finished this spring. It is my third (and final?) black and white quilt.   Obviously I added in a bit of red on this one and love how it looks.  This has long been one of my favorite color combinations.
I don't have the measurements for this one handy...it's what I like to call a "large throw" size.  I sized it so it would be just the right size for me.  I'm very average height, about five foot six, so it's approximately that long.  Here's a closeup of the quilting:
So much better than plain old straight-line quilting!

Next up, the Wild Horses quilt.  Named after one of my favorite songs.  Yes, sometimes quilts need names. Some of you may recognize those Cotton + Steel prints, designed by the fabulous Melody Miller (see my post about my typewriter quilt from 2013).


Doesn't that look lovely?  Serendipity gave me the ideal craft-show spot to display a quilt earlier this month at Lucky Star Market in Ames.  We were in a new location this year (ISU Research Park) and I got a fabulous booth location!  As luck would have it, I had some quilts to sell....here's a closeup of the quilting:

My photos may not do the quilting justice, but my fellow quilters will understand the huge difference between longarm quilting and quilting it on a regular sewing machine.  I'm hooked.  I'm hoping to make more quilts in the new year!  And that's as close to a resolution as I am going to get.

Thanks for following along with my sporadic posts.  For those of you I have met in person at markets & events, thank you for your support of my little handmade business.  Online readers and etsy customers, many thanks to you as well.  I look forward to more handmade projects and vintage finds in the new year.  In light of many events that have occurred in 2016, I find it more important than ever to carve out a happy place for oneself amidst all the bad stuff in the "real world."  May you find your happiness in 2017.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Estate sale treasure: patterns!

I've been so busy enjoying the last days of summer break, I've neglected the blog lately.  This morning I went to an estate sale in nearby Pleasantville and scored some sweet vintage patterns!  They were sold as a lot (39 in all), an I scooped them up after looking at just a few.  Lots of goodies in the box so thought I would share:

Most were from the early 1970s and in excellent condition:


There was even a fun his & hers necktie pattern, copyright 1972:

I was more than happy with the 70s patterns, but lo and behold, there were two extra-special treats nestled in the box:
This "housedress" pattern is circa 1948.  I've never seen it before so even more fun!  Forties patterns are getting a bit more scarce, so this was a great find.  Almost as good as...
This darling DuBarry pattern is copyright 1940.  I was thrilled to find it because I haven't had any DuBarry patterns in my collection yet.  The instructions are missing, but all the pattern pieces are present.  This is a "housecoat" or "housedress" if you can believe that?  Today, when people find it acceptable to go out in public in their pajamas, this is almost formalwear!

All of the above patterns are (or will be very soon) available in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Window Work

Last week a good friend who is also an amazing artist generously shared some of her window collection with me.  They are some of the best salvaged windows I've come across and very inspiring so thought I'd share:
I love old-fashioned windows with panes like this one.  The moment I saw this window I knew what I would do with it--and I love that quick flash of inspiration.  The lovely pink floral background is a lotka paper that I've also been using in some journals and it is a dream to work with.  I think it sets off this window perfectly. This window measures 24 inches wide by 23.75 inches long.

Next up is likely the largest window I've ever done, at 57" tall and 23.75' wide.

Love the black window frame--not something you come across too often!  I think it's perfect with the book pages background.  Very happy with how both of these turned out!

On a side note, I'm often asked what kind of glue I use on these window collages.  I've used a few different kinds but a couple of years ago I discovered Martha Stewart Decoupage Glue at Michael's and it is my favorite.  Easy to apply and dries nice and clear without brushstrokes.  Gel medium and Mod Podge also work fine, but I love Martha's glue best!

Both of these will be available in my booth this Saturday morning at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market.  You can find me on 4th Street north of Court Avenue;if you're there, stop by and say hello!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Forties Finds: More Vintage Pattern Loveliness

Hello!  Blogging definitely takes a backseat in the summer, but a few sweet patterns from the 1940s that recently found their way into my hands inspired me to share.  These are harder to come by and so therefore all the more precious.  Here's one that would be perfect for summer:
This is Simplicity 2511, copyright 1948.  The envelope has long since come apart, but the illustration is still beautiful.  I love version 1, don't you?  So sweet and flattering.  Amazingly, this pattern is complete and the tissue is in great condition, despite the poor condition of the envelope.

Next, Simplicity 3088, copyright 1949.  The "one-piece dress" would be nice for summer; I love sleeveless when it's hot.  Notice the pin-tuck front on the bodice.  I can't imagine sewing that, but it sure is pretty!  I was surprised at the good condition of this pattern, despite it's age.  A lucky find!


Last, Simplicity 3087, also copyright 1949; a classic, chic look--the bolero jacket and pencil skirt.  Version 2 looks like something that Joan Crawford would have worn.

As you see, all three of these are Simplicity patterns--those seem to be the most abundant of old patterns available online.  My only complaint about them is that Simplicity didn't always include a copyright date on their patterns until later on.  However, that information is usually available on the vintage pattern wiki, and I'm getting pretty good at guessing the date within a year or two just by looking at the original price and the company logo.

These three are all available in my etsy shop if you're a fan of 40s fashions!