on the road again

Maps printed - check
Cat sitter arranged for - check
Digital camera batteries charged - check
Bags packed - almost

Tomorrow is day one of the first real vacation I've taken in about five years. Since we bought our house actually. Because you know how that is—every free bit of time or money goes into the house. But, freelance work is going well, all my current projects are up to date, and I can afford to take a few days off.

This trip will involve delivery of pillows to shops, afternoon tea, flea market adventures, scenic drives, and dinner and lodging at an old inn that's been in operation since the 1700s. So I hope to have lots of fun posts and pics for next week. I always bring my digital camera on trips but often get so caught up in just being where I'm going that I forget to take pictures. I'll try to do a better job of it this time.

I've been seriously neglecting blogging lately and hope to get back to normal in September, including more Stitch School. Thanks to all of you who've stuck with me during my unplanned hiatus. Hope you all have a great weekend!


Road Trip: Bouckville Antique Show

The sun finally came out and I was able to photograph some of my vintage finds from the show last weekend! I'm going to go with what I originally wrote on Sunday even though it's now days later—

Boy do my feet hurt today! You don’t realize how big a space this show takes up until you’ve been walking around for 4 hours and come to realize that you still haven’t visited every booth let alone every row of booths. Yes, it’s that big! And at some point in the day you go on overload and run out of money anyway.

For me it was a vintage fabric kind of day and I found some beautiful barkcloth (which I’m starting to like again), feedsacks, and floral cottons. Here’s a sneak peek at a few of them.

bark cloth
Barkcloth curtains—very 50s glam!

bark cloth
Doesn't this barkcloth have the best colors? I think I may redecorate my house based solely on this fabric!

vintage fabric
Vintage cotton with daisies.I actually have a feedsack in this pattern but the background is orange.

This is a tablecloth and it has great colors, too—very fruity and bright.

baby sacque
I bought this sweet flannel baby sacque embroidered with kittens from a woman who could have been Cate Blanchett's twin sister. I swear, she looked just like her.

quilt top
Another of those 1930s quilt tops that I seem to be finding lately. Bright colors set off by a black background and three colorways of the same fabric. I’m not so crazy about the gold border fabric (plus it isn't cotton) so I’ll probably replace that.

And my most fun find was this stamped for embroidery towel with a little black girl pushing a grocery basket with a watermelon. Not very PC, I know, but this is from the 40s so you have to consider the times. You’re supposed to do French knots for her hair but I may try bullion stitch (one we haven’t done yet on Stitch School) for a little more texture.

little girl

Right before we left I finally found Emily Lewis’s booth and stopped in to say hello. Emily was featured on Vintage Indie last week and we both advertise there so I had to go introduce myself. And she’s just as sweet as the wonderful little cakes she crafts from vintage chenille and trimmings. Don’t they look good enough to eat? Her biz is called Crazy Cakes and you can find her online at Etsy and read about her adventures on her blog Now What is She Making?.

I also met a seller from Pennsylvania who has a 14,000 square foot warehouse full of vintage fabric that she’s invited me to visit. I bought three gorgeous feedsacks from her at the show so I can just imagine what she’s got. Better start saving my pennies now!

So, it was a good day for me. I spent too much money but I’ll have materials to work with all next winter!

Next years show is August 16-17 so mark your calendars and consider making the trip if you live within driving distance. Even if you don't buy a thing (if that's possible) it's very inspiring to see the huge variety of antiques that are out there.


vintage sewing patterns

I've found a great source for vintage sewing patterns—Out of the Ashes Collectibles! Sheila Savell, who started out selling on eBay six years ago, now has an online home for her collection of 6500+ (wow!) patterns.

All are original out-of-print or discontinued patterns from the 1930s to present day—some old, some new (including old store stock). There are also pattern books for sewing, knitting, and crochet. All of which could be a little overwhelming to look through but she's set up several ways to search for exactly what you want. Sheila lists items every day so you never know what you'll find.

And she's very generously offered a 10% discount to my readers. Just enter code PRIMROSE when you check out and the discount will be applied. I ordered a very cool 1970s needlepoint pattern and a child's apron pattern a few days—can't wait to see them in person!

Sorry for the delay with my Bouckville trip post. It's been rainy and cold here for days and too dark to get good photos. I really need to find a better method for taking pictures because this happens all through the winter, too.


we're off

It's bright and early on a Saturday morning—we'll maybe not so bright just yet. But early—definitely. We're off to the Bouckville antiques show about 2 hours north of here and I'm excited to see what goodies I'll find! The show is set up in a huge open field with tents in the middle and rows of booths all around them. Hundreds of dealers so I've got my comfy walking shoes on. And a sweater since it's going to be cool this year. And that sounds better than the rain we had two years ago and the near 100% humidity last year.

I'll report on my finds next week.

For now I'll leave you with a pretty picture of my Casa Blanca lilies. If you want a spectacular perennial for your garden—one with flowers the size of lunch plates—this is it. And I wish you could smell them—not too sweet and kind of cinnamony-spicy.

casa blanca lilies


nursery rhyme patterns

After showing you those cute redwork nursery rhyme blocks a few days ago I've had several queries about whether I embroidered them myself or could offer the patterns along with the others on my website. First off, I bought them already completed on Ebay a couple of years ago and I only have four. I've always suspected there were more in the set and that's why I didn't trace them for patterns like I usually do. I try to always offer a complete set and, in fact, have several partially complete sets of patterns that I'm waiting to find the missing pieces for.

Rhyme Land Quilt

The pattern is called Rhyme Land Quilt, was designed by Ruby Short McKim, and was originally printed in the Free Press Prairie Farmer newspaper in 1935. There are 28 blocks—See Saw Margery Daw, Humpty Dumpty, Mother Goose, Wee Willie Winkie, Barber Shave, Rock A Bye Baby, Banbury Cross, Bo Peep, Tom The Piper's Son, Hey Diddle Diddle, Bobby Shafto, Mary and Her Lamb, Rain Go Away, Polly Kettle, Boy Blue, Curly Locks, Mother Hubbard, Miss Muffet, Simple Simon, Tommy Tucker, Jack Be Nimble, 'Bye Baby Bunting, Old King Cole, Queen of Hearts, Peter's Wife, Twinkle Star, Lucy Locket, Jack Fell Down. Here’s a web page that shows all the designs, many on their original newspaper pages.

You can sometimes find copies of the pattern on Ebay and one of my readers notified me that the link I originally listed here is no longer active. So, I did a little googling and found several options for purchasing this pattern. If you don't mind buying from a Canadian seller, you can use this listing on Ebay Canada.

You can purchase them in book form with original published text, instructions, and illustrations and remastered patterns for $20 here at the McKim Studios web site. You want item #QS207.

Also available at Dottie Mae's Costumes for $11.95. She provides a pdf order form that you'll need to fax or mail. She also has reprints of the complete set of Kansas City Star quilt patterns published from 1928 to 1961 and lots of books of redwork and applique patterns published in the 20s and 30s.


redwork embroidery

Redwork is an embroidery technique that uses outline stitch in just one color—red. And it’s the darkish red called “turkey red” that you’ll see most often.

The patterns are usually simple ones and depict animals, children’s toys, or nursery rhyme characters. Designs were often traced or stamped onto squares of muslin and then combined into a quilt after the embroidery was complete.


I found a set of these squares featuring traditional English nursery rhymes at an antique mall and plan to make them up into pillows. I had already added some red polkadot sashing but only recently found a fabric I liked to complete them (you know how you picture something in your mind’s eye, then you can’t find anything that works – hate that!)


This is a closeup of a floral design on a vintage tea towel from my collection...


And a heron (or perhaps a stork?) with a spider in his beak...



While there are lots of patterns out there specifically for redwork, you can take any embroidery pattern and make it into redwork—just use red floss to complete your design!

If you'd like to read more about redwork embroidery, here are a few links you might find interesting:
A Redwork Embroidery Primer
Redwork Embroidery History: From Tea Towels to Quilts


busy bee

I'm having a hard time keeping up with blogging as you've probably noticed if you stop by on a regular basis. I've been slacking off on Stitch School and not because I've run out of stitches either. I've gotten so incredibly busy with another large graphic design project (an 84-page catalog!) and several wholesale orders for things I don't have in inventory (that figures, right?) Some of my blog friends are taking the month of August off or cutting back for the summer. I promise not to do that but I may be posting less than normal. When you freelance you have to take the work when it comes. I know this winter there will be weeks when I have nothing and I'll have lots of time for blogging then :)

My illustrator friend Rocky was visiting this week from Brooklyn and we worked on her website most of the day Monday and Tuesday. In between watching the broad-winged hawks that live in our woods. The parents appear to be teaching the young one to hunt and the air is filled with the sounds of their calling to one another. When the sun is just coming up they all sit in a tree warming themselves and fluffing their tail feathers. This same pair of hawks nests here every year but this is the first time they've been this close to the house or allowed us to see so much of their daily activity. It's really fascinating and, since Rocky likes birds, the timing was perfect.

I'll be heading up to the Madison-Bouckville Antiques Show later this month (August 18th) and will definitely report on the treasures I find. And I'm planning an extended road trip through CT, MA, and NY for the first week of September, with a stop at the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market (my first time). I'm excited to hit some new places. So, don't worry if I seem to come and go. I have plenty of Stitch School posts left to do and lots of great ideas for things to talk about.