cute baby stuff

One of my readers emailed me to say (nicely) that it's not fair of me to mention my cute Ebay embroidery finds without showing pictures. LOL! It's true that I often show the finished items but some people don't want to wait that long.

I've bought two kits for baby things in the last month that are going to be so cool when finished. This first one is a 4 piece baby layette that has a blanket, kimono, sacque, and bib—all in white flannel trimmed with bright yellow binding and featuring cats to be embroidered. Unbelieveably, no one bid against me on this. Maybe they were scared off by the few stains mentioned by the seller, but the kit was in a sealed package and I figured it was a combination of dust and sunlight and they'd wash out easily. It's always a bit risky to buy a stamped-for-embroidery project with stains because you can't wash it until after the embroidery is done. I once had a seller at a show tell me that wasn't true—that the stamping doesn't really wash out—but don't you believe it... it will.

The other kit I bought is also for baby and it has a top sheet and matching pillowcase, both in white cotton and stamped with a mama bird pulling her baby in a little wagon. The motifs on these are so small and the lines so fine that the instructions call for a single strand of embroidery floss. I've started this project and work in small doses because it make my eyes tired!

I don't know who made these kits, although they're obviously the same manufacturer. The instructions on the back call for O.N.T. 6 strand embroidery cotton—maybe that's a clue. I just love them, though. And they'll make super cute baby gifts, and easy ones, too. As it says on the package "Nothing to do but simple embroidery."

And since it's Halloween tonight...


Mondays are for washing

I've always been fascinated by the idea of day-of-the-week towels, or D.O.W. as they're often called. Did women really change their towels every morning?

Each towel depicts a household chore and the day of the week that corresponded to that particular chore rarely varied. The day for baking sometimes switches with shopping (Thursdays and Saturdays seem to be interchangeable) and perhaps that was a regional variation. But Sundays are always go to church or rest. And Mondays are always wash day.

Wash Day

Was there a rule that you had to do your chores on exactly those days? Who decided that? And were you considered a rebel if you mixed up the order? I could picture myself as a frustrated housewife getting some small satisfaction out of using a Saturday towel on Tuesday. So, there!

It just seems so silly. But the designs are wonderful. One of the new pillows I've just completed uses a Monday towel that features a cute kitty sorting her laundry—rather messily. When I found the laundry-themed fabric I just knew it would be perfect for this pillow.

laundry-themed fabric

Since I had to embroider this anyway I could work with colors to match. And remember those vintage French buttons I bought a couple of years ago from an Ebay seller in Paris? The blue and white ones look kind of like the soap bubbles in the fabric. How cute is that?

soap bubble buttons

Happy Monday! And you do have laundry to do, don't you?


before there was television

I'm sure you've heard of hope or wedding chests (also called glory boxes in the UK and Australia)—all the linens and household goods that girls were expected to have (and often make themselves) before they got married. I found this list of hope chest items in the January 1926 issue of Needlecraft Magazine and it makes me tired just reading it. Even though girls started on these items as soon as they were skilled enough at embroidery and sewing to do it, and there was no television, it's an exhaustive list of items.

"I found the following hope chest list very satisfactory for my own little home: Eight sheets, eight pairs of pillowcases, four sheet-shams, four comforts, two pairs of double blankets, three pairs of pillows, two white tablecloths, two dozen white napkins, two Japanese luncheon-cloths, two dozen napkins to match, one between-meal centerpiece, four miscellaneous centerpieces, two buffet-scarfs or sets, four dresser-scarfs or sets, two machine-scarfs, two library-scarfs, one centerpiece and piano scarf, five cushions, three dozen dish towels, eighteen each of hand-towels and washcloths, one dozen bath towels, six holders for kitchen use, laundry—bag, combing—jacket and kimono, one each, three envelope-chemises, four camisoles, six petticoats, silk and washable, five each of nightgowns, house-dresses and bungalow aprons, and six slip-on aprons. This list was intended for four rooms and sleeping-porch, and is ample. It may, of course, be taken from or added to as required, but in a general way is very good."—Mrs. M. L. K., California

Now, imagine having to wash and iron all these things without modern washing machines and electric steam irons. Yikes!


embroidery tutorials

The Renaissance Store has a two-part tutorial on Viking embroidery by Gael Stirler, originally published in their newsletter—

Part 1
Part 2

This store is a great place to find costumes (or patterns if you want to sew your own) for medieval and renaissance gowns that are perfect for attending Renaissance Faires or for Halloween costumes. Long story, but I once dressed as a Celtic priestess for a Renaissance-themed party, and I found a number of accessories here. And lots of information as well.


new embroidery patterns

I've just added three new embroidery patterns, for a total of seventeen so far.

VP115, which I'm calling Lil' Angels, has 12 designs of little boys and girls. They don't have wings but are posed on clouds with stars sprinkled around. Plus, some of them are doing household chores! If your kids did that you'd think they were angels, too :)

VP116 is an older pattern, probably from the 1940s. Four cute designs, also of boys and girls. There's a girl feeding a lamb from a baby bottle, a boy watering flowers, a boy eating an ice cream cone (and just look at the expression on the cat), and a girl with a puppy on a leash. I especially love these!

VP117 are quilt blocks with fruits (peaches, plums, cherries, pears) and flowers (wild rose, tulip, morning glory, poppy).

I expect to add more to my offerings this winter when I'm stuck at home with nothing to do (hah!) but trace patterns. It's quite a lot of work but I'm too much of a perfectionist to settle for simply scanning them. I've been buying some of the cutest stamped projects lately on Ebay—many of them for baby things. So look for the cuteness to continue.


still here

Two magazines designed and shipped to the printer; one 84-page catalog three-quarters done; 34 tissue cozies made; 30 sachets made; 18 pillows sewn (including the cute 12 inch square ones I mentioned a few weeks ago and shown below); hundreds of product photos taken; many changes on the web site which is being stocked in time for the holidays. Only 8 weeks away (eeek!) And no time for blogging. By the time I get a chance to sit down in the evening it's all I can do to eat something for dinner, watch a few minutes of tv, and collapse into bed with a book that stays open for, like, 10 minutes. I'm so looking forward to a break, and maybe (fingers crossed), getting back to normal.

Back to the pillows for a minute. What I thought would be a challenge turned out not to be so. I found that I had lots of linens with small motifs that were perfect for these and I was able to use some of the smaller buttons that I had stashed away. These were done for a shop in California and I found out today that they arrived safely. So, if you're anywhere near Cotati, stop in to Cotati Clothing and check them out. They specialize in new and recycled clothing and accessories but also have a fair trade gift and boutique section.

little pillows

And they have some of my sachets, too...

turquoise stripe sachet

After a quick trip to Joann's for pillow inserts this afternoon I'm headed back to the studio to finish up some of those pillows. I hope to have them listed by the end of this week. And then get more vintage buttons, trims, and patterns up. See, it just never ends :)

Cotati Clothing, 8200 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati, CA 94931


Road Trip: Weil Antique Center

For the second year, the Weil Antique Center has featured a special sale during the second week of October with most dealers offering 10 to 40% off their regular prices. And, if you're on their mailing list, they send you a postcard that's good for an additional 5% off everything that costs more than $15. And that makes October a great time to stop by. Housed in an old factory, there are 150 booths and it's a great place to find what are called "smalls" in the antique business. Small things like jewelry, linens, china, purses, and vintage toys. But don't worry—there's plenty of big stuff, too!

I bought too much stuff to show in one blog post, so check back after I get more things photographed. But I wanted to show you my coolest find from the trip. I paid $5 for a box of vintage flash cards!

flash cards

You may have seen these around lately. The Sundance catalog is selling them framed with the words forming funny sayings. Like (picture these as stacked cards)...



Too funny. And, at $150 to $225, out of my price range. My cards are mostly nouns so they don't lend themselves to making phrases or sayings quite as easily. But mine have pictures and theirs don't. So there! Here are a few quick attempts :)



I'll show more of my finds in a few days!

Weil Antique Center, 2200 31st Street SW, Allentown, PA 18103


vintage magazines

Remember last spring when Irene asked about how to do the lazy daisy stitch with two colors? And I said that it must have been done with two needles. I was looking through some copies of Needlecraft Magazine that I found at the flea market yesterday (more about these in a minute) and found a reader comment about this subject. Here's what Mrs. W.C. from New Hampshire had to say:

" When desiring to hold down the tips of lazy-daisy petals with another color, instead of using two needles. I make the tiny holding-stitches first, all around the flower, then the other can easily be brought up and slipped in under."

So, now we know another way to do this without juggling two needles!

Now, about the magazines. If you ever come across these in your travels, and can find them at a good price (these were $4 each—which is incredibly cheap for their age), don't pass them up. Not only are they full of vintage patterns for embroidery, sewing, and crochet, but they're a unique slice of life from the period. And the ads are hysterical—like this one for "educated" canaries.


The issues I found yesterday are from 1926, 1929, and 1930, so lots of cool art deco-inspired designs. I'll see what else I can find in them to post about. I know there are pages of gorgeous dress designs in the fashion sections!