You know you’re a sewing geek when you get excited by unusual uses of rickrack (alternately called rick rack, ric rac, waved braid, zigzag braid, snake braid or corrugated braid depending on the time period). You may remember the lemonade apron I did last summer where I braided two colors together. I had seen that technique, wanted to try it, and loved the result.

I’ve been seeing another rickrack technique lately that I find fascinating - the combination of rickrack and crochet. Apparently this was very popular in the late 1800s to early 1900s when it was used to trim handkerchiefs, lingerie, pillowcases, towel ends, and clothing.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

variegated pink, blue, and white crochet encasing white rick rack used to trim a baby pillowcase

golden yellow braid with white crochet - I purchased this as is and I assume it was meant to be sewn onto fabric as a trim.

Unfortunately, I never learned how to crochet so will have to wait until I learn to try this out for myself. When my grandmother offered to teach me I thought crochet and knitting were too “old-lady”. If I’d only known how hip they would be now! I hear there’s a new yarn shop in town, and I’m going to check out their class schedule. Maybe it’s not too late after all!

This is another cool use of rickrack—to simulate ruffles on a dancer’s skirt. These are from a square dance-themed tablecloth with motifs in each corner.




And another easy idea - sewing one braid atop another:



It's always interesting to see where artists work and what inspires them, so I thought I'd share some photos of my workspace. I'm lucky to have a spare bedroom upstairs in my house so I can have space that's all mine. I can be as messy as I like (and I am) and just close the door at the end of the day. The room is about 15 feet square and has a nice-sized closet where I keep finished pillows and storage bins filled with buttons, trims, and patterns.

I bought some funky window shades with stripes and polkadots (what a surprise that I'd choose that design!) and painted the walls a bright cantaloupy-orange to match. The room can be kind of dark when it's not sunny so this brightened it up a lot. When the sun does shine, it really glows. It's one of those colors that just makes you happy when you look at it.

My sewing table is next to a window that looks out on the back yard. I have my funny Anne Taintor calender on the wall and a cool picture of my Mom (who, back in the day, was no slouch at sewing herself). On the right you can just glimpse a section of the quilt top that I bought last fall at a nearby antique mall (full of incredible 1940s fabrics). It's really huge and takes up the whole wall!

I have a drawing table in the corner that I use as a desk of sorts. My computer space is downstairs off the living room, so this area is more for doing paperwork, designing, and updating the notebooks I keep for inspiration.

I store fabric on shelves along one wall and in an old armoire, mostly grouped by color. I really try to stay organized but my careful system gets messed up when I'm busy. When it gets bad enough that I can't find things any more, I spend a day cleaning and reorganizing. This may look neat at the moment but you're not seeing the pile of fabric on the floor!

When I'm working, my two cats love to hang out with me. I sometimes call them my studio assistants, but they really do no work at all. When they're not busy knocking buttons off my work table or playing with spools of thread they're asleep in the vintage crib I bought to display baby things at craft shows. Maybe someday I'll get it away from them so I can do just that :)