7.31.2010

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!

7.20.2010

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.

7.12.2010

flea market finds - buttons

Last but not least are vintage buttons! I wasn't necessarily looking for buttons on this trip because I have so many already but I couldn't turn down a bargain. And many of these are the 7/8" and 1" sizes that I use for tissue cozies. I don't know why that size is so hard to find or maybe it's just that I use so many :)

vintage buttons

pierced flower buttons
I love this Ultra Kraft pierced flower design!

buttons
And these Lansing double scalloped-edge flowers!

buttons
And these unusual beige shank buttons with a triple pebbled design on the top.

My next big trip will be to the Madison-Bouckville antique show in upstate New York in August but I hope to do some scouting locally in the meantime. I'm still hunting for vintage white eyelet for my sachets.

7.11.2010

flea market finds - quilt stuff

Today I have a bunch of quilt-related things. I found a bag of these diamond-shaped quilt blocks and I'm not sure how I'll use them—as they were intended or for the fabric. I love the center bottom one and wish I had yards and yards of it!

quilt diamonds

I also found a bag of larger square blocks (about 4 inches) that were mostly three colorways of the same plaid. I think I like the red-pink-beige one best but they're all pretty.

red-blue-beige-pink colorway

yellow-blue-orange colorway

yellow-orange-brown colorway

And finally there are two Grandmother's Quilt Patterns from Daily News - New York's Picture Newspaper. Pilot Wheel and Garland of Leaves designs. No date on these but definitely older.

quilt pattern

quilt pattern

They're printed as a folder and there are several other patterns (one sheet each) tucked inside. Cool idea for packaging them.

Last up, probably tomorrow, are some of the buttons I found. Hope you all have a great Sunday! It's much cooler here today but I swore I wouldn't complain about it. I might even get some gardening in later this morning.

7.09.2010

flea market finds - fabric

I've been using more vintage fabric lately - some shops request only that - so one of the things on my list this past weekend was fabric. And I found some pretty ones, including a batch of already-cut quilt blocks that I'll show in another post.

vintage fabric: burgundy floral
This burgundy floral has the appearance of feedsack but is actually yardage — almost 6 yards worth!

vintage fabric: blue ovals
I love the print on this. From a distance it looked like little dragonflies but is actually a pattern of blue ovals and black atomic-looking things on a white background. It's a smallish piece, less than a yard.

vintage fabric: teacups and plates
And finally we have a soft cotton with little blue, navy, and red pieces of china—teacups, saucers, plates, and pitchers. Someone had made this into a tea towel with blue bound edges; that half fell off in the wash so I removed it and will use this for the fabric.

Still need to scan the quilt blocks so I'll show you those next. Hint: there are three colorways of the same plaid fabric and a bunch of 1930s-40s prints!

7.08.2010

flea market finds - pillowcases

Still hot but I'm tired of whining about it. We're closing up the house during the day to keep the cool inside, and eating cold suppers on the porch late after the sun has gone down. It gets cool enough to sleep at night, thank god.

I thought I'd start showing some of my flea market finds from last weekend - that's what you're really here for :)

First up are pillowcases...

pillowcases

This is a pair of heavy cotton (tag says utility muslin) pillowcases with white and deep aqua crochet edging. Notice that it's the exact color of my bedroom walls, so I'm keeping these. In fact, they're on my bed right now. I don't know what it is about vintage sheets and pillowcases but they just feel crisper and I seem to be sleeping better since I put them on. OK, maybe I'm imagining that. I got these for an unbelievable $6 - for the pair!

And then I found a mint condition baby pillowcase with the original tag still attached. This is from Madeira, an island off the coast of Africa that is actually part of Portugal and they're well-known for their embroidery artisans. Check out this site for some examples - gorgeous work! Nice heavy cotton again, with blue embroidered scalloped bottom edge and sweet little appliqued and embroidered pink and blue lambs.

baby pillowcase

applique

Tomorrow I'll show some of the cool fabrics I found!

7.06.2010

hot hot hot

You know when it's so hot that the thought of eating anything makes you feel a bit nauseous? That's what it's been like here the past few days. In the 90s with not a hint of movement in the air. It's going to be like this for the rest of the week but with high humidity, too. Great (said with sarcasm).

Our house does not have air-conditioning and that's usually OK. It didn't used to get this hot in the summer except maybe for a week or so in August. And the house is perfectly designed for air circulation—every window has it's opposite in a direct line across the house—front to back and side to side. If we open the windows at night the cool air flows through the house; then we close them up after the sun fully rises to keep the cool air inside. That works pretty well, although not enough so I can work in my studio which is an attic-like space directly under the roof. I can be pretty portable so I'll move to another room for a few days.

Here's a picture from the brunch I served on Sunday. Banana bread, cranberry-orange scones, and a big bowl of fruit salad. We have leftover fruit and I think I can manage to eat some of that today.

brunch

Will post pictures of my vintage finds from my Saturday trip to the flea market over the next few days. I hope to get some photographing done later today.

7.02.2010

whole lotta bakin' going on

I guess everyone's July 4th weekend is busy (at least those of you in the States, that is)—mine is no exception. Tomorrow is the flea market trip and we've been invited to our neighbor's barbecue/fireworks extravaganza later in the evening. On Sunday my friend Jenny is coming to visit with her little boy and I'm serving brunch.

So, today I'm taking a break from sewing to clean my house and do some baking (black bottom cupcakes to bring to the barbecue and our picnic tomorrow), and banana bread for breakfast on Sunday. I need to run to the grocery and pick up some things for our lunch and fruit for Sunday's fruit salad. Lots to do. So, if I don't get the chance to post again before Monday, have a great weekend!

Here's the yummy cupcake recipe—

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 large egg
1⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line muffin tins with fluted paper cups.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla and beat together until well blended.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt in a separate mixing bowl and beat well to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cup one-half full with chocolate batter and top with 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese filling (use 1⁄2 teaspoon for miniature cupcakes). Sprinkle the batter with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for miniature cupcakes and 25 to 30 minutes for regular cupcakes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen regular cupcakes, or 3-4 dozen miniature cupcakes.

7.01.2010

desperately seeking perfection

The other day someone asked me how I can part with my creations, that they're too pretty to sell. It happens a lot when you first start out making things. You fall in love with your own work and have trouble when it's time to send it on its way. You get over that pretty quickly, simply because you run out of space to keep it all. And the materials used to make them. Ask any quilter or sewer about their fabric stash and you'll see what I mean :)

And, no matter how perfect you think your first efforts are, you're going to get better. There isn't a single thing I make that hasn't evolved over time. I'm constantly seeking perfection (perhaps not desperately, but that did make a good headline). Not just in the finished product but in the process of making it. There will always be ways to work more smoothly and faster, and new and cheaper ways to source the materials used. You may not think about those things at first but you will.

I've been thinking a lot lately about college and some of the influences, inspiration, and life lessons I learned from my professors. On the first day of a ceramics course the professor was showing us how to use the potters wheel, and threw a perfect pot. And we all gasped when he smashed it flat after completing it. I can't remember the exact words he used but it was something to the effect that "If you can make something once, you can do it again, and even better the second time". He was also teaching us to not be afraid of the materials and the process, which seemed daunting at the time. It was a dramatic lesson and one I haven't forgotten.

But back to sending your babies out into the world. I feel that if you've found my website and are spending your hard-earned money to buy something I've made, then we have some kind of connection already. And I feel better sending my creations to their new home because I know you'll love and take good care of them. They're going to friends after all!