winding down

I don't know where this holiday season went - or this entire year for that matter - I just know that it happened much too quickly. We spent a quiet Christmas at home, much needed after the last minute rush of orders and post office runs, gift wrapping, tree decorating, and cookie baking. We're going out to dinner with friends tonight with drinks and gift exchange at our house beforehand. A nice way to finish out the year. We stopped going out on New Year's Eve years ago—honestly I'd rather sleep :)

It was a bit slow this year for Primrose Design and holiday orders were off a bit - I'm sure due to the economy. But I did pick up a few wholesale accounts this past year and hope to continue with that in the coming year. I got two catalog requests for shops in Mississippi and Texas this week so that gives me hope! And the shops where I sell now continue to be good venues for me.

I'll be working on cutting expenses, too, and switching web hosts will be part of that. I'm not looking forward to moving all the files (800-something at last count) but I can save a lot by doing it. The site will likely be kind of wonky while the switch is happening but I'll let you know ahead of time.

And I'll be moving some of my vintage things over to my Etsy shop to try for a wider audience. And unloading some things I've bought but don't plan to use. Part of my cleaning-up-the-studio efforts, which I'm also working on this week.

Since I haven't posted for two weeks I never said happy holidays (I never got to the Christmas cards either) so I'll send you best wishes now for the coming year. Happy New Year!


gifts for expectant parents

This will be my last gift idea post since my cutoff date for holiday shipping is Wednesday. That's not to say that, if you order later and I ship Priority, that it won't get there in time for Christmas. But, I've had two packages arrive this past week and both took exactly five days, and that was with Priority shipping. So, I think they're running a bit slow this year.

I have some great vintage things for babies and expectant parents who are planning a vintage look for their nursery. I always have the duck diaper pins available but I still have some of the even rarer bunny diaper pins in yellow, light blue, and mint green. $4.50 for a package of four.

bunny diaper pins

This sweet yellow flannel bib has an embroidered white duckling with purple bow and flowers. $7.50

embroidered duck bib

A set of eight vintage birth announcement cards (with envelopes) feature a red-haired baby boy in a sailboat with a rabbit and a bluebird and two little ducks swimming nearby. So cute. $4

birth announcements

This vintage white flannel kimono or sacque (a long robe that's open in front and ties at the neck) has a sweet jumping dog and duck toy embroidered in pink and blue with pink trim and satin ribbon bow. $18

flannel sacque

If this isn't too much cuteness for you, you'll find more items in the Kid Stuff section, including a vintage strip-pieced quilt, more bibs, an embroidered Bambi crib sheet, and a ceramic duck planter that would make a super cute holder for Q-tips.

Don't forget the discount! Receive 20% off your Primrose Design order by entering discount code HOLIDAY when you check out. For guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas (in the U.S. only) please order by December 15th. Offer expires at midnight December 31, 2010.


gifts for vintage fashionistas

I have several vintage purses and bags in the Accessories section of my website that might be the perfect thing for the vintage-loving fashionista or collector of vintage accessories on your shopping list. The first two are black with multicolored faux needlepoint and gold-toned metal hardware.

vintage bag
Black Tapestry Purse, $9

vintage faux needlepoint bag
Faux Needlepoint Purse, $18

The second two feature beading. The white on white bag, which can be used either as a clutch or a handbag (there's a chain that tucks inside out of the way), has tubular beads positioned to form diamond shapes in amongst the circular beads. The other has bright blue beads attached as the bag was crocheted. Both of these have gold-toned hardware as well.

vintage beaded bag
Vintage Beaded Purse, $10

vintage beaded bag
Blue Beaded Crocheted Purse, $15

Don't forget the discount! Receive 20% off your Primrose Design order by entering discount code HOLIDAY when you check out. For guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas (in the U.S. only) please order by December 15th. Offer expires at midnight December 31, 2010.


gift ideas for students

For the student on your list, how about a pretty notebook cover? These come with a marbled composition notebook tucked inside, and when they fill that up with class notes, they can slip out the old book and add a new one. It ties closed so they can fill it with loose papers and notes and it will all stay together.

Covered Notebook
Covered Notebook, $20

A key fob always comes in handy and these make great stocking stuffers. I love the bright colors of the fabrics and can always find my keys, even when they're buried in my overstuffed handbag. Yes, I do test all my products :)

Key Fob
Key fob, $6.50

When I was in college and headed out to party, carrying a handbag was too bulky and too much trouble. I would have loved a mini wallet to slip into my pocket. It's just big enough to hold an I.D. or drivers license, and a credit card or small amount of cash. I don't know how many times I washed my driver's license (paper back then) accidentally when I left it in my pocket after coming home late.

Mini Wallet
Mini wallet, $10

Receive 20% off your Primrose Design order by entering discount code HOLIDAY when you check out. For guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas (in the U.S. only) please order by December 15th. Offer expires at midnight December 31, 2010.


gift ideas for knitters

My website has gotten so big that many people don't know that I sell all sorts of vintage things in addition to my handcrafted items. One of those items are vintage pattern books for knitting and crochet. There are books for beginning knitters, and books with patterns that are advanced enough for experienced knitters. Everything from sweaters for babies to socks and mittens for adults.

Knitting Pattern Book
Vintage 1950 Bear Brand Baby Book, $8.50

Knitting Pattern Book
Vintage 1941 Socks and Mittens for the Family, $6

I also sell vintage buttons, and some of the ornate metal buttons just cry out for a sweater to embellish.

Silver Flower Buttons
Silver Flower Buttons, $4.50 for three

Receive 20% off your Primrose Design order by entering discount code HOLIDAY when you check out. For guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas (in the U.S. only) please order by December 15th. Offer expires at midnight December 31, 2010.


gift ideas for cooks

I thought I'd do a few posts with gift ideas from my shop, and while I was thinking of ideas, realized that I have an awful lot of things for people who like to cook. Maybe it's because I do, too! I'm making stock today from the leftover turkey we had a few days ago (we went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving but made our own turkey afterward) and making decisions about which Christmas cookies I'll be making this year.

Vintage Aprons
Vintage holiday apron with poinsettias, $15

How about a vintage apron for the cook on your gift list? I have lots of pretty ones, and a few with Christmas themes, too. Buy a vintage apron and you'll receive a package of my vintage-inspired recipe cards for free!

Vintage-Inspired Recipe Cards
Vintage-inspired recipe cards, $4.50 (free with apron purchase)

I still have lots of the patchwork pot holders that I've been making this year, several with food themes—like carrots, peas, and grapes.

Grapes Pot Holder
Grapes patchwork pot holder, $12 (or two for $20)

Tea towels always come in handy in the kitchen, and I sell two styles—one with vintage fabric and rick rack trim, the other with vintage fabric, rick rack, and embroidery. The designs, which come from vintage transfer patterns, are hand-embroidered by me in colors to coordinate with the fabrics used.

Vintage Feedsack Tea Towel
Tea towel embellished with vintage feedsack fabric and rick rack, $18

Receive 20% off your Primrose Design order by entering discount code HOLIDAY when you check out. For guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas (in the U.S. only) please order by December 15th. Offer expires at midnight December 31, 2010.


birds of a feather

Or perhaps that should be accessories of a fabric? New this holiday in the Primrose Design shop are matching sets of accessories—all from the same fabric and made with coordinating buttons, zippers, and webbing.

handbag accessory set

I made these at the request of a shop owner, but realized that it made perfect sense because customers often buy two items in the same fabric to give together as gifts. I just expanded the idea a bit to include four items—a mini wallet, zippered bag, tissue cozy, and key fob. This may be too matchy-matchy for some buyers, but, hopefully, will appeal to others. I've pretty much given up on trying to predict what will sell and what won't :)

There are five sets listed on my site at $27 per set (20% off the retail price of the items sold separately) and seven more will be at Green Being in Scranton in time for First Friday on December 3rd. If they all sell within the next week, I'll make more.

Also, a special deal on my site—Buy a vintage apron and receive a free package of my vintage-inspired recipe cards.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been working flat-out, completing custom and wholesale orders, and getting ready for the holidays. Business was very slow during the summer months so I'm thrilled that things have picked up. Even if I am crazy busy :)


it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Inspired Ideas - The Christmas Issue
The Christmas issue of Amy Powers' Inspired Ideas is out and you can view it here. There's a Primrose Design project for an embellished holiday apron on pages 144-147. Once again, I'm honored to be included among such illustrious crafters as Charlotte Lyons, Jenny B. Harris, and Mary Engelbreit! It truly is a gorgeous magazine and I was thrilled to be asked to contribute!


see you Saturday

I know most of my blog readers aren't local but, if you are, please stop by and say hello. This event is a great opportunity to both support the library and get some of your holiday shopping done (and wrapped!). There's a bake sale and you can even listen to live jazz from 1-3. Hope to see you there.



Last Saturday we drove about 2 hours to an antique mall, one we've been to before with mixed results. As you know, hunting for vintage treasure is one part hard work and another part luck. No amount of hunting will turn up something that isn't there. But, this time, I got lucky!

When I first spotted the two bags of fabric scraps I thought "1940s". I didn't even examine them that carefully—they looked good, the price was right, and into my basket they went. It wasn't until I got home later that evening and took them out of the bags that I realized I was off by about a decade. They're 1930s for sure. There's something about the designs from this era that I love. The florals, which can sometimes be too sweet in other time periods, usually have something geometric to jazz them up.

Like yellow roses with little black rectangles and dots—

1930s cotton print

Or this orange floral with big yellow diamonds in the background—

1930s cotton print

The woman who saved these scraps had such similar tastes as myself that I love everything in these scrap bags! I wish I could show them all to you, but I'll limit myself to the very best ones. Most of these examples are fairly small scraps but there are some that are quite large—plenty of fabric to work with!

1930s cotton print
Love the colors on this one!

1930s cotton print
If I had yards and yards of this I could make all my fruit pot holders with this fabric on the back!

1930s cotton print

1930s cotton print
Navy blue floral

She really liked oranges, yellows, blues, and reds. One bag had lots of blue fabrics; the other was more orange and yellow. I wonder if there were more bags of different colors that someone grabbed before I got there!


meet Billy and Frisky

I absolutely love vintage children's illustration. There's something about the lack of color (or use of limited color, called two-color printing) and emphasis on beautiful black and white line work that is charming. So, I'm always picking up children's books while searching for vintage textiles.

Halloween Fun cover

The Billy and Frisky Stories follow the adventures of Billy Rabbit and Frisky Squirrel, two animal friends who try to make sense of the world around them just as children do. This edition, published in 1936 by Houghton Mifflin Company, is called Halloween Fun and Other Stories and is written by Julia Letheld Hahn and illustrated by Heman Fay, Jr.

billy and frisky

I love how animated and real these characters seem, even though they're drawn with just a few simple lines. The second color—green on some pages, orange on others—helps to shape the backgrounds. Here are a few of my favorite illustrations:

billy and frisky

Hope you all had a great Halloween!



I actually think adults celebrating Halloween is kind of silly; at least the sudden emphasis on Halloween decorating in shelter magazines is a bit over the top. I never look forward to the October issues any more. But, that's just me. And it is a holiday so a good reason to have a sale.

Halloween Sale at Primrose Design

This sale is for the Primrose Design website only and you have to spend more than $10. I'll be away on Saturday so all orders received over the weekend will ship on Monday. And don't worry, I'll explain who Billy and Frisky are in another post :)


show recap

I don't know why I always forget to take photos at my shows—I guess I'm too busy with other things. These were taken as I was closing down and finally remembered that I hadn't taken any.

key fobs
Key fobs on my vintage carousel rack

The show went pretty well. It was a gorgeous day and I'm surprised that more people weren't out and about. But I did make a few sales, including a pillow! And I did need to restock the shelves with Primrose products so, all-in-all, it was a productive trip.

Primrose pillows
A sofa filled with Primrose Design pillows

I had a long table upstairs, which is where the retail location of Tea Street Vintage resides, and had a great time chatting with Emily Caretti about vintage clothing. If you can't make it to the retail shop you'll find some great vintage things at her Etsy shop, also called Tea Street Vintage.

Tea Street Vintage
Tea Street Vintage, upstairs at Hello Bluebird

Next up is the Abington Community Library Holiday Marketplace on Saturday, November 13th, from 10-4. This is a benefit for the library, and includes a basket raffle of goodies donated by local businesses and a Teen Leadership Committee bake sale.

In case you haven't heard, the new Pennsylvania budget has reduced library funding a further 8.4% after last year's cut of 27.9%. The major component of the new cut is a 9% reduction in subsidies for public libraries. With the poor economic climate, libraries are busier than ever, and they really need your support. Personally I use this library weekly—I can't tell you the last time I bought a book.


trunk show

handmade harvest at hello bluebird

I hope you'll join me this Saturday at a special Primrose Design trunk show at Hello Bluebird in West Reading, Pennsylvania—if you live close enough, that is. It's part of Handmade Harvest and I'll be there from 12 to 5 pm with lots of new pillows and more goodies from my entire line, including a few things that are not currently sold in the shop (key fobs and vintage button hairpins). There will be a few other artists on hand and it's a great opportunity to do a little early holiday shopping!

So, I'm busy this week getting ready for the show. And trying to finish some custom handkerchief pillows. And write directions for a holiday project for Inspired Ideas. And complete questions for an interview to appear on a well-known fabric blog. Yes, I have more than I can handle this week. And when that's all over I have a local craft show to prepare for; details to come.

Hello Bluebird, 609 Penn Avenue, West Reading, PA 19611


weekend away

I spent Friday night and most of Saturday traveling around the Phoenixville and Skippack areas of southeastern Pennsylvania. Friday night just happened to be Phoenixville's First Friday event but was also their yearly Octoberfest so all the shops were open late, the restaurants were full, the bars were hopping. Not quite my kind of scene but that's OK—it was fun. We ate dinner at a newish bistro whose menu sounded good but was a bit disappointing in person. The better meal was breakfast the next morning at Irish Joe's Cafe, an old-fashioned diner/lunch counter type place with the very best pancakes I've ever had. Orange-cranberry-pecan and the size of small plates—two of them. This was a special but the menu features an oatmeal-raisin version that I'm sure are just as good. As for shops, Hipster Home was fun and I got a pretty striped scarf and some woven-together-button napkin rings on sale there. You know how I love things made from buttons! If you love jewelry and unusual gifts, be sure to check out Diving Cat Studio and Gallery.

napkin ring
Hipster Home button napkin rings

Straw, twig, and leaf bird from Diving Cat Studio

After our pancake breakfast on Saturday we headed north to Skippack. We arrived to find ourselves in the middle of Skippack Days, a town-wide festival and craft show. Along with the many shops that line the main street, there were hundreds of craft and food booths in every available space. I have to say that, after a while, most of the crafts started looking the same to me. Everyone seemed to be doing the same beaded jewelry, baby burp cloths, primitive bird houses, tie-dyed t-shirts (surely these aren't back in style again?). The booths that really stood out, and the ones I actually went into, were the ones that offered a unique twist on the usual fare. I wish there had been more of them. My one purchase of the day (besides a replacement for my 9 inch cake pan at the cookware store) was a gorgeous crocheted silver wire and pearl bracelet made by Jayne Stilley of Jeanne de Jeanne. I'm partial to pearls and silver but all of her work, especially her necklaces, was just stunning.

Jeanne de Jeanne crocheted silver wire and pearl bracelet

We had a wonderful lunch on the patio at Brasserie 73, very French cafe. Grilled chicken with sliced Granny Smith apples, field greens, and toasted walnut mayo on a baguette. So yummy. Will definitely be back for dinner - hopefully we can snag one of the tables near the fireplace!


inspired indeed

inspiredideas I'd like to direct you to a new online publication called Amy Powers' Inspired Ideas—it's truly gorgeous. You may know Amy already from her Inspire Co. blog and you'll probably recognize many, if not all, of the contributors. I didn't actually contribute a project but I did donate one of my embroidery patterns for use in Piper Wise's article about adding color to embroidery (page 26-28). And I have an ad on page 22, which you'll want to see if you're thinking of ordering embroidery patterns anytime soon (hint—there's a buy one get one free offer)!

You'll also find projects for rick rack flowers, embroidered blocks, pom pom sheep (so cute), and a kitty cat treat bag for Halloween, to name just a few.

So, head on over and show your support for Amy's new project. I promise you're going to love it!


meet bella


A few days after we said goodbye to Little Bear another cat appeared at our door. It seems that our area is a prime dumping ground for unwanted cats. It's not too far from the city and it looks more country than it actually is. And everyone knows that cats can fend for themselves in the wild, right? Even ones who've been fixed and declawed and have never hunted a day in their lives. Don't get me started :)

Anyway, being all set up with food and water dishes and bags of food, I started feeding her. Look at that face—how could I not? But she wasn't eating much and seemed kind of sick - maybe a respiratory infection? I took her to our vet, not only to check that out but to see how old she was. Well, she's five or six months old and did have an infection. Which antibiotics cleared up just fine.

Obviously, she can't come inside with my two indoor cats, but we'll set up the winter shelter we made for Little Bear and see what happens. If we have a really bad winter I can move her into the garage.

We've named her Bella because of her tiny vampire-like bottom teeth. Unfortunately, you can't see them in the picture here. Bella, like Bela Lugosi with a nod to Kristin Stewart's Twilight character Bella. And she's crazy with kitten energy so very rarely sits still long to take her picture. I only got this one because she just woke up from a nap. Five seconds later she was careening (that's really the only word that fits) across the patio to chase some birds. Unfortunately, she's gotten quite good at catching them. And I'm not too happy about that. Still, she's a cat and that's what cats do.


summer in a jar

I had plans to do some sewing today - there's a pile of tissue cozies and mini wallets on my work table that really need to get finished. But, it seems that I never got out of the kitchen. Although our vegetable garden is winding down we're still on overload with tomatoes and beets. Really, I got sick of looking at them all piled up on the counters and table. So, the beets got roasted in the oven, sliced, and topped with an orange sauce. Then bagged up for the freezer.

home canned salsa

And the tomatoes got turned into homemade salsa. This is the first time I tried salsa but it couldn't be easier. I used the Salsa Verde recipe on the Ball canning website and substituted red for green tomatoes. Ball makes salsa seasoning mixes, too, but I had a bunch of hot peppers here and I wanted to have some control over the taste (we like it spicy with lots of cilantro).

So, I peeled and seeded tomatoes, chopped red onions, and serrano and jalapeno peppers. Squeezed limes, chopped cilantro. Washed canning jars. Found the canning pot in the basement. Waited for the water to boil (I know better than to watch it). And finally got five jars of salsa cooling on my counter. And I'm happy to report that the lids popped so I'm positive they sealed. Yeah, canning is a lot of work. When I said the recipe was easy, I meant it, but the canning part takes some effort. Luckily, I have the supplies on hand since I've done a lot of canning in the past.

Can't wait to open these up in the middle of winter for a little taste of summer!


shop locally

Last week I delivered a new batch of products to Green Being in Scranton—a few pillows (including the cute dog pillow shown here), lots of tissue cozies, mini wallets, pot holders, and some of the new key fobs. Just in time for the new Marywood and University of Scranton students arriving to start classes. And just in time for First Friday on Friday night!

Monday, Monday

First Friday art walks are held on the first Friday of each month at galleries and businesses around downtown Scranton. They all stay open late and showcase local art, photography, music, performance art - you never know what you'll find! Be sure to check out the local restaurants and clubs, too—make a night of it!

vintage fabric key fob

It's tough out there for small businesses these days and I think we should all make an effort to support local artists and keep things in our own neighborhoods when we can. Buy great produce from local farms at the farmer's market (we still have lovely peaches at ours, and the apples are just starting to come in—smells like fall). Attend local functions like First Fridays (or whatever local events your town or city sponsors). Buy gifts at local independent retailers like Green Being, especially if you're looking for something unique, handcrafted, or one-of-a-kind.

My friend Alex, who owns Hello Bluebird, wrote a blog post a few days ago with a love letter to her customers that is so timely and important. She says what I'm trying to say here but much better than I ever could. Read it here.


shop update

My computer class is finally over so I'm now able to devote all my time to sewing and restocking my website and retail accounts! I've just added six new covered notebooks to the website—lots of crazy floral combinations and my favorite polka dots. I'll add more in a couple of weeks but most of the ones I just completed are already spoken for.

covered notebook

I'm also introducing a new product - vintage fabric key fobs. I know—everyone in the world makes these but I'm hoping that my use of fun vintage fabrics will set mine apart from the crowd. These may not sell so well on my website but they'll be great for craft shows and some of the shops I sell with have expressed an interest so we'll see. I think they'll be great low-cost stocking stuffers for the upcoming holidays. You may not be thinking of holiday shopping just yet but you can bet that I am!

key fob



Thanks for all your kind words about Little Bear. It hasn't quite sunk in that she's gone because I still look for her, then remember that I'm not going to find her. She had a habit of taking off for periods of time - a few days sometimes - we said she'd gone walkabout.

Last weekend's show went OK - not great, but I did sell some things. It was really more of a church bazaar with one tent of crafts and the person in charge told me afterward that people just weren't buying. That tells me I should probably skip the local show I did last year - the one where I barely made back my booth fee. Maybe things will pick up as we get closer to the holidays - it's still early (said with fingers crossed).

I'm still taking my class on Wednesdays - two more sessions to go!

Other than that I'm working on a new batch of pillows, and more hanky sachets, and then I have a custom order for three handkerchief pillows to get started on. I love doing custom orders! Will post pictures soon.


rest in peace

little bear

I've mentioned at least once over the past year and a half that we've been feeding a stray cat. I named her Little Bear because we do have black bears here, and she looked like a miniature version of one. My husband called her Waddles because she did get kind of fat after a while. What was I going to do—let her starve?

She showed up one day last spring and decided to stay. I patiently picked ticks out of her coat and we nursed her through a bad bite that got infected. For the winter we made her a shelter because we couldn't let her inside the house. Let's just say that my two cats don't take kindly to strangers. We did the best we could for her.

She died last night and we found her along the side of the road this morning. She was always so good about crossing the road—I don't know what happened this time. Trucks and cars fly along our road, even though it's posted at 40 mph—I'm sure it was someone going too fast.

So rest in peace, Little Bear. I'm going to miss your funny face looking in the window at me every morning while you patiently waited to be fed.


catching up

I'm participating in the 18th Annual Our Lady of Snows/Church of St. Benedict Country Bazaar next weekend and I've been sewing, organizing, and tagging items like crazy. I'll drop off my things on Thursday afternoon and the show will take place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 6 to 11pm. It's located on the grounds of St. Benedict's outside of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, in case you're close enough to check it out. It's a group booth and I may not actually be there during the show, although I did offer to fill in if they run short of helpers. I'm thinking of doing another show next month as well - will let you know about that as we get closer.

And, in an effort to update my computer skills a bit, I'm taking a class in InDesign at the University of Scranton for four Wednesdays in a row. You'll only have heard of this program if you work in design or publishing—it's pretty much for creating publications and advertising. I've always used QuarkXPress but InDesign is the current thing and I need to know how to use it for freelance work and possibly full-time work in the future. I forgot how tiring it is to sit in a classroom for seven hours. And, there are only two students so half the questions the teacher throws out are directed to me :)

Our vegetable garden has been producing like crazy, too. I've eaten so many green beans in the past two weeks that I'm starting to feel a little green myself. I can highly recommend this salad recipe if you're experiencing a green bean surplus—it calls for three pounds of them (but you can cut it in half or quarters). Next up will be beets and corn so I'd better get out the cookbooks again!


Vintage Alphabet Party - L and M

L is for Lawn, the fabric that's used for my favorite vintage handkerchiefs. The name is derived from "Laon", the city in France known for it's production of lawn, and it's a lightweight, sheer, and slightly crisp cotton that is usually white but can also be dyed or printed. It was used a lot for blouses, dresses, nightgowns, children's clothing, and handkerchiefs. 

lawn handkerchief

lawn handkerchief

I particularly like the small-scale floral prints. I have five or six of these in my personal collection—i.e. they won't get cut up for sachets any time soon :)

lawn handkerchief

lawn handkerchief

And M is for Monograms, also found most commonly on handkerchiefs (but also dinner napkins, towels, and pillowcases). Following are two from my collection. And I did a Stitch School post about monograms with lots of great examples of embroidery styles used—you'll find that here.

monogram hanky - H

monogram hanky - J

v_alphabetJoin us for more L and M Vintage Alphabet Party posts here.