Art Star Crafts Bazaar

For those of you in Philadelphia this coming weekend, be sure to check out the 3rd Annual ART STAR CRAFT BAZAAR on Saturday from 11-7 and Sunday from 11-5 pm. (Click on the poster for more info and to see who'll be there.)

©2004 Art Star

Hosted by Art Star Gallery & Boutique and held in conjunction with the Northern Liberties Music Festival, the event features more than 50 artists, crafters, and designers who will be selling their wares along the Liberties Walk (1030-1040 N. 2nd Street) & down Bodine Street, meeting up at the annual Northern Liberties Music Festival in Liberty Lands Park.

I won’t be exhibiting but you can find some of my things at the Blossom Boutique booth. I’ll be delivering a bunch of stuff to them tomorrow—so much that it's more cost effective to not mail them. Road trip - yay!!! Besides pillows (of course), there will be tissue cozies, credit card wallets, vintage fabric covered buttons and feedsack towels—many of which are not to be found on my website. The weather is supposed to be good and it should be a great time.


And we’re off!

Ah, Memorial Day weekend. The start of summer and never mind that it doesn’t officially start until the middle of June. It is the official start of junking season. Yard and garage sales, auctions, estate and tag sales, the local flea market—all are fertile ground for finding treasures.

Magazines often publish a list of junking tips this time of year, and they bear repeating.

• Wear comfortable clothes—things you don’t mind getting dirty—because they will. Comfortable shoes, too—you’ll be walking a lot.
• Get there early if you want the best stuff. But go later to get the real bargains. Vendors would rather you take items home than have to repack them up to take home themselves. They’ll make deals to get you to do that.
• Bring cash. Would you take checks and credit cards at a garage sale? I didn’t think so. Small bills are appreciated, too.
• Bring bottled water and something to eat, especially if you’re trying to eat healthy. Yes, they serve food at flea markets, but it’s more the fried corndog variety than anything you’d want to eat regularly.
• If something “speaks” to you, just buy it. As Mary Randolph Carter says “ Don’t ask yourself ‘Do I have a place for this?”’ Room in your heart means there’s room in your house.” Don’t think you can go back and get it later because chances are it won’t be there.
• It’s OK to haggle for higher ticket items but don’t nickel and dime the small stuff. It’s insulting to the seller and doesn’t make you look too good either. You can often get a deal if you buy several things from the same seller.

To which I would add:

• Be sure to look down. I’ve found some of the best things underneath tables in boxes.
• Carry a big bag. I have a barkcloth tote bag that, I swear, is bottomless. Great for all the small things I tend to buy—like bags of buttons and linens.
• Don’t take things too seriously. Just because something is supposed to be used for a certain purpose doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and use it for something completely different. It’s supposed to be fun!

Unfortunately I had too much to do in my garden this weekend after the rain last week, so I didn’t hit the garage sales. But I did stop at a church tag sale on Saturday and found some amazing things. A bag full of knitting and needlework books and magazines from the 30s, 40s and 50s – for (can you believe it?) $1. I also found two of these plates for $2 each.

I don’t know much about china and bought them because they’re pretty (and I'm sure those smaller flowers are primroses). So imagine my surprise when I did a little research online and discovered that they’re Grindley china from England and are worth about $18 each. In perfect condition, which these are not. My point is that you should trust your gut. Buy what you like—you’ll figure out a use for it later. And happy hunting this summer!


Weekend Finds

I made a quick stop at the antique mall on Saturday and found a bunch of cool stuff at the button booth. Notice the square and diamond theme I've got going. Funny how that seems to happen.

And I scored a bunch of cool handkerchiefs for $1 each!

I've been reading a book from the library by Pat Long Gardner called Handkerchief Quilts and I'm getting ideas for how I might use some of the handkerchiefs I've collected to make small quilts. I sometimes make pillows with them but I like the idea of having a slightly larger (18 to 24 inches square) size to work with. Pat uses printed hankies from the 30s to 60s, placing each in the center and building outward with coordinating colors and patterns. Like this one called Shall We Dance?:

And this one by Tom Lamb called Marching Bear that uses a 1930s children's hanky:

Aren't they cool? And, with my funkier stash of fabrics and color sense, I think I can do some fun things with this idea. Can't wait to get started!


Scenes from the Scrap Bag

If you do any sewing, and especially of you do a lot of it, you end up with a bag full of scrap fabric - pieces too small for pillows or clothes or full-size projects of whatever it is that you make. That's fine when you're crafting for fun but it's another thing altogether when it's your business. It's wasteful and goes against my thrifty nature. But, what to do with them all?

I've been trying some patchworky pillows based on an idea I saw in an old Country Living magazine (the British one, not the American - it's much cooler). There's nothing new about the idea but I never thought of using bits of embroidery in amongst the fabric. I often find linens that are too damaged to use whole but have wonderful perfect bits, so this will be a great way to use them. Here's a very pink, vaguely rose-themed one I completed yesterday:

The squares are about 4 inches across and I've added some small buttons where the seams meet. This ought to work with even smaller patches—just more of them. Or maybe a border of small patches around a central image?

With some slightly larger pieces I made a bunch of tissue cozies with tab and vintage button closures...

And, also with larger pieces, a batch of sachet stacks. Basically these are small lavender-filled pillows, each one a little larger than the last, stacked up and tied with grosgrain ribbon...

Yes, I've had a productive week. What can I say - it's been raining just about nonstop. The sun popped out briefly this morning and I managed to get a small part of the yard mowed in between the grass drying and the rain starting again. Now it's thundering and the sky is that funny shade of greenish-gray. Better head back to the studio. I've barely made a dent in that box of scraps—let's see what else I can come up with :)


Pretty Ribbons

I discovered this website recently and thought I’d share. I love the clean look of the site and the fun sketchy drawings of ribbon jars. And the page where you can shop for ribbon by color. The drawings are grayscale and turn color when you mouse over them. Fun idea!

And how cool are these special collections?

Each themed collection is packaged in a new or vintage jar and comes with a hand-crafted numbered tag that lists the collection name and the total yards of ribbon and trim inside. The one pictured here (the monthly theme jar for April) is a vintage Ball canning jar and is packed with 15 yards of ribbon (satin, grosgrain, ric-rac and woven) in one and two-yard pieces—all in shades of spring green. Honestly, these are so pretty that I probably wouldn’t use the ribbon. I’d sit the jar on a shelf and just look at it :)

You can sign up to receive their monthly newsletter. And maybe, if you do something crafty with ribbon, even become a guest designer. Makes me want to do things with ribbon!

The Ribbon Jar



Originally uploaded by primrose_design.
We planted these last summer and they're looking pretty spectacular for their first year in bloom. All the flowers seem to be early this year, even though it's still very cold in the mornings.

Just thought I'd post a pretty picture today. I'm in the studio finishing up a batch of vintage eyelet sachets and working on a patchworky pillow - kind of a new design. So, more pics coming soon.


Studio Friday: Sounds

“What are the sounds in your studio?” Sit quietly and listen. I am sure you’ll be surprised at what you hear!”

My studio is a pretty quiet place. There’s the whirrr of the sewing machine, of course. And the occasional hiss of steam from the iron that stays plugged in most of the time. My red clock ticks softly.

The room I work in (which used to be a spare bedroom) is at the back of the house so I can faintly hear cars going by. Even though I’m in a rural area my house is right on the road. That’s typical of homes built before cars and mine dates to 1862. I usually walk down the driveway to get the mail from the mailbox across the road, but, when I have packages, the mailperson drives up and honks her horn so I can run down and sign for them.

When I have the windows open I can hear birds singing. My studio faces the woods in the back and the yard on the side and both are home to many species of birds. One (and I’m not sure what it is) has the most amazing long trill that’s just beautiful.

My cats often hang out with me—mostly sleeping but sometimes knocking buttons or spools of thread off my work table just for the thrill of it. But, when it’s time for their noon treats, they let me know by meowing loudly. I talk to them sometimes, too.

I’m probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t listen to music when I work. I was one of those kids that couldn’t do homework to music either – if that explains anything. I like quiet when I work—it helps me to stay focused. When I’m in my car? Now that’s a different story :)

More sounds here,


New tea towel designs!

I've been slipping up on my blog updating this past week. And I had such good intentions, too. It's just that it's been so beautiful outside and there's so much to do in the garden. Pruning raspberry bushes, cleaning up the herbs, dragging out the big pots that I plant morning glories in. We have 4.5 acres - half woods and half not - and there's always something that needs to be done.

But I managed to spend some time in the studio, too, and cranked out a dozen tea towels. These are a new style and have borders of authentic (1930s to 1960s) feedsack cotton and jumbo rickrack, which I've been able to find in cool colors like marigold, nile green, and geranium. I just love these old feedsack prints - and the originals are so much prettier than the reproductions. So colorful and modern in spite of their age.

The other style, which I'm still offering, have fruit print borders and embroidered anthropomorphic fruit motifs from vintage transfer patterns. Because of the embroidery (done by hand, of course) this style takes a lot longer. I have two more Sugar Plums in the works and just found more of the blueberry and strawberry fabrics on Ebay (yay!) so will be able to make more of those designs. Special order for now until I get caught up.

I also made two with a feedsack print of tiny tomatoes and green rickrack. The embroidery will be from another transfer pattern in the same style (same artist probably) of a tomato dancing with a green pepper. So fun! I promise to post pictures when it's done.

Happy May Day!