black thoughts

I've never been one to enjoy shopping on Black Friday. I hate crowds, dislike traffic, and I don't think there are any bargains that you won't find better deals on closer to Christmas. I really hate that the holidays have become so commercial. So, I stay home. Today I'm trying to decide if I should make the trip to Joann Fabrics because they have flannel on sale for $1.49/yard. That's what I use to line the fabric-covered notebooks and it's a huge savings off the usual $4.99/yard. But it's just today.

I need to pick up a few groceries for dinner, too, but I could go to the small store close to my house rather than the big one near the mall. Did I mention that I hate traffic? Hmmm.

fabric-covered notebook
The fabrics are from Stonehill Collection by Donna Wilder for Fabric Traditions. Love these colors!

For those of you who were asking about those fabric-covered notebooks, I added a dozen new ones to my website this morning. And I've decided to put the holiday-themed tissue cozies in my Etsy shop and hope to do that later today. And look for more of the vintage buttons grab bags, too. They would make great little stocking stuffers for your crafty friends.


slightly torrid

That's a quote from "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House", one of my favorite movies ever. Myrna Loy plays wife to ad man Cary Grant and when they finally move into that dream house, their daughter accidentally discovers her mother's diary from college in one of the boxes. She reads it and declares it "slightly torrid." The movie is full of funny lines in the style of dry humor that I particularly like, but you can rent it and see for yourself.

The point of this is that "slightly torrid" is a good way to describe a new embroidery pattern that I've just listed. The originals are a set of pillowcases from the early 1960s with ready-for-bed kitties perched on crescent moons surrounded by stars to depict the night sky.


The male, dressed in a night shirt and cap, holds a candle and the word "Able" is spelled out above his head. The female, looking very come-hither in an off-the-shoulder nightgown, rose, and cigarette holder has the word "Willing". Cute and silly and just a little risque—at least it was at that time.


I've wanted to trace this pattern for years but I only had the female pillowcase. I made a pillow from it and foolishly didn't make a scan of the piece before embroidering it. Then I found the male pillowcase but it was poorly embroidered. I can sometimes trace a pattern from a finished piece but it's more difficult. I started but wasn't happy with how it was coming along.

sexy kitty pillow

Last month I found the complete set—not yet started and with the original printed instructions. Yay! So here they are. The pattern, called Bedtime Cats, is available as a PDF or printed pattern. Also just listed is Lovely Lilacs, a pattern with a selection of lilac sprays for use on towels and a tablecloth/napkin set.

I'll make pillows again from the originals and now you can, too. Won't they look great in a vintage-style bedroom?


German glass buttons

People sometimes email me to ask about buttons—if I know who manufactured them or how old they are? I hate to disappoint but I usually can't tell, especially if the buttons are loose (i.e. not on their original cards). Carded buttons sometimes provide clues, although even they can be vague. Some don't have the manufacturer, some don't have a price. One sure identifier is when the card is labeled Made in Germany - US-Zone.

If you remember from high school history class, Germany was divided into four administrative zones after World War II, one for each of the allied powers. Germans were prohibited from exporting products during this time but the U.S. allowed the export of some items, including buttons, as long as they were labeled US Zone. I believe the U.S. was importing many of their buttons by this time so not being able to get buttons from Germany would have been a real problem in the clothing industry. Any buttons labeled this way can be dated to a pretty narrow time period—1945 to 1949.

Hand-painted white glass hearts from the US Zone.


it's beginning to look a lot like...

...Christmas. In my studio, that is!

holiday tissue cozies
Tissue cozies waiting for buttons.

I don't usually make things especially for Christmas, or any holiday for that matter. I tried it with pillows my first year but only sold a few and was stuck with them until the following year. They didn't sell then either and I said "never again."

But, this year I had a few requests from shop owners for holiday-themed tissue cozies, so I took the plunge. I bought six of the prettiest prints I could find (why are holiday prints so awful?) and made up four of each. Luckily I had a lot of red and green buttons and some pearl ones for the blue snowflake print.

It's hard to tell from the photo but the snowflakes are printed in silver.

While I was shopping for fabric I fell in love with this cute snowman print. Not my usual thing at all but there's something adorable about him. I have zippers in that darker blue color so I'll make a few zippered bags from this fabric.

snowman fabric

My friend Jenny had a great idea for using the zippered bags and she bought a bunch of them from me earlier this fall. Put a gift card inside, wrap it up, and you've got a dual-purpose gift for the holidays. Sounds like a plan!


I spent a nice afternoon yesterday in West Reading. Delivered a bunch of stuff to Hello Bluebird, including eight of the fabric-covered notebooks, more pillows, wallets, and sachets. Had a nice sushi lunch at Go Fish and followed up with a yummy cup of hot chocolate at Haute Chocolate Cafe. Thanks, Alex, for the recommendations - we loved them!

I'll have those notebooks up on my website soon. I have just three left but I bought a huge batch of fabrics last week, many from the same fabric group—Stonehill Collection, which is an exclusive to Joann Fabrics. The colors are gorgeous and the fabrics are designed to coordinate with each other, so I have lots of fun combinations to choose from. But, not to worry, there will be some vintage fabric options, too!



Thanks for all your kind words in comments to yesterday's post. I ended up going to bed really early Saturday night because I was so tired after the show, but I woke up to three orders, got two more on Sunday, and shipped three more packages this morning. So, I know it isn't a matter of people not liking my things. They just seem to live in places like California and Texas!

The area where I live is tough. The malls are packed every weekend but small independent stores, not so much. And that's why, as much as I'd love to open my own shop, I hesitate to do it. It would look great—sort of an extended version of my craft booth—and I have so many craft-making friends with businesses that I know I could pack it full with cool things to buy. But would anyone here buy it? I just don't know how to get people to appreciate handmade things, and the effort that goes into making them. With the continued economic problems that's a harder sell than usual.

Didn't mean to ramble on about that but what I wanted to say was that I did meet some great people at the show. The booth next to me was a jewelry designer from a local bead store and she said I should stop by to talk about consigning some of my small accessories. I heard about some of the local shows that will be good for next year. For example, the library I go to is having an Artisans Market this Friday night and all day Saturday. I'm too late for this year but they tell me they're planning to do it again. And I talked to another local woman with a shop and I'm meeting with her on Friday and probably doing a local show sponsored by her shop in December.

So, even if you don't make a lot of sales at a show, you just might make some valuable contacts along the way. And I think it's good to get out and become part of the local craft community. Maybe together we can spread the word about how great handmade crafts are!


craft show report

I know you're all dying to know how it went and I have good and bad news. The good news is that my booth went together with only a minor hitch or two. The vintage folding table that I had under the window in my studio—the one that supports both of my cats who love to sleep there in the sun every morning—broke as soon as I tried to open it up. So, I hauled it home and borrowed a table from my hallway. And I was against a wall—sort of. The show was held in a gym so the wall behind me was padded and striped white and blue, but I was able to hang my flower banner across the back.

Here's the 8' back table that I rented from the school, complete with polka dot table toppers and products galore.

tea towels
I hung embroidered tea towels from a vintage quilt rack that I painted off white and stacked towels without embroidery below.

mini wallets
Mini wallets were arranged on long plastic trays that I got from Target; they matched the fabric just about perfectly.

There are lots more pictures on my Flickr page.

Now for the bad news. Attendance was way down this year and people just weren't buying. I made just three sales and two of those were to other vendors. I'm trying not to take this personally because I got lots of compliments about my things. A very nice man who made handmade jewelry heard it was my first show and stopped by to tell me to not be discouraged. He didn't have any sales either, although that may have been due to the fact that 27 of the 83 vendors were jewelry, and not all of it handmade.

So, I learned that I can make my booth look just like I'd pictured it in my head. It was a great ego boost to hear how much people liked my work. I did make back my booth fee - barely. Will I do this show again? Maybe. But, it hasn't made me give up just yet. I'm about to sign up for another show the first weekend in December so I'll have more craft show adventures to tell you about soon!


crazy busy

I've mentioned before that I'm vending at the AHEA Harvest Craft Show on Saturday, and I've been so busy getting ready. Every morning I make a new list of things to do and then check off as I go down the list. Since I haven't done this show before, there's a lot I don't know — like whether I'll be against a wall and not need risers after all. Whether I'll be able to use my flower banner or not. Luckily I can start setting up tomorrow night and can make some last minute decisions on fixtures and props. As far as product goes I'm all done except for the finishing touches on an embroidered tea towel. It's been a busy month!

a new product created for the show—fabric-covered notebooks

My camera batteries are charging as we speak, so I promise to take pictures of my booth. I know I always love to see what other crafters are doing - so many creative display ideas! Mine will be a mix of vintage (circular button rack, painted wood towel rack, baskets and bowls) and modern (lime green trays from Target!). I'll finally get to put some of the props I've been collecting for years to use!

So wish me luck and, if you're able to attend the show, stop by and say hello.


hen party

Speaking of birds, I recently listed a new embroidery pattern on my website. Called Gossip Girls, it's a design taken from a vintage stamped-for-embroidery clothespin apron, and it features two hens—one in a polka dot bonnet, the other in an apron—gossiping over a fence. Such a cute design and one I hadn't seen before. Eventually I'll get to embroidering the original apron (found on Ebay) but I traced the pattern right away!

gossip girls

I've also added the option of purchasing my patterns as PDFs instead of printed copies. It's always been a problem for international customers to order patterns because the shipping can be outrageously high—often more than the pattern itself. It also solves the problem of being able to use the patterns over again—you can just print out a new copy. All you need to view and print the files is Adobe Acrobat Reader and you can download it for free here if you don't already have it on your computer.

Being able to offer PDF patterns also solves a huge problem for me, one that's prevented me from selling some of the larger designs. I'm only able to print 8 1/2 x 11 sheets on my printer and some patterns are larger than that (this new chicken one, for example, is 8.5" x 12"). For my own use I can print them in sections and tape them together but I can't sell and ship them like that. The customer, having the pdf in hand, can print out a new copy whenever she needs it. And with the option of printing the designs larger or smaller, depending on your project.

So, look for more larger designs soon. In the meantime check out the other great patterns I have for sale. If you like chickens, you'll love #VP103 Poultry Diner!