Finding nice vintage fabrics is a challenge. Finding two of the same pattern in different colorways is a miracle!

gray-green-red colorway
Gray, green, red, black and white

blue-red-yellow colorway
Red, yellow, blue, navy and white

And, no, I didn't find them together. One was an Ebay purchase and I can't remember where I found the other. I thought at first it might be feedsack but the fabric is much too light in weight—definitely not sturdy enough to have been filled with grain or flour.


pods from outer space

Can anyone help me out with identifying this plant?


I found lots of them growing on the edges of my yard. The plant is a single very thin vine with corkscrew tendrils that wrap around anything near it—trees, blackberry bushes, tall weeds. And the seed pods look like something from a science fiction movie. They're quite heavy for the size of the plant's stem and hang straight down. And they look fuzzy from a distance but are covered with green spikes. The seeds inside are suspended in a greenish goo and are about the size and shape of pumpkin seeds. In the young pods they're white; in the more mature ones they're brown like this:

pod : opened

I'm quite sure they're something I don't want growing in my yard because I can see them taking over (that science fiction movie thing again). I just want to know what they are. Anyone?


Thanks to K who identified this as Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata). You can see more photos here.


not quite chicken scratch

This is the last of my finds from last weekend's trip to Kutztown.


The seller who I bought this from had two and the first was traditional chicken scratch made into a pillow top (another idea for using this style of embroidery) with a ruffled edge. Nice but nothing you hadn't seen before. The one I bought had that little something extra. More like a lot extra!


The small crosses have a twisted thread which is a great variation of the traditional double cross stitch. To do this variation, make your cross first, then the straight line from left to right. Then, when making the final stitch from top to bottom, loop your thread over the center of the crossed threads and the left-to-right thread.


There are also great examples of the ribbed spider's web stitch using twenty threads and skewed into a spiral. This is done a little differently than the spider web stitch. Instead of simply passing under and over the cross threads, the threads get wrapped over each cross thread, forming a raised tube. It could be straight but, in this example, it's twisted to form a spiral. Will have to try this to figure out exactly how it was done.


The spiral designs alternate with woven crosses, also done over twenty base threads. In this design the thread is woven in four sections back and forth over the five threads in each corner.


All done in ivory-colored lightweight wool on a heavyweight red gingham background. It looks just like lace from a distance. I can't even imagine how long it took to make this—the work is flawless. I'll probably frame this piece because it really does deserve to be preserved and, because the threads sit on the surface, it could easily get snagged.

Updated to add the size of this piece, which I should have stated before because it has so much going on in a not-very-large space. It's just 18 inches square and each spiral block is 1.75 inches across!


unusual apron pocket

The apron itself is very simple—just plain solid yellow cotton—but the pockets are amazing.

apron pocket

Blue and yellow binding strips form a lattice. Yellow binding holds it all together along the outside edges where it's sewn to the apron body.

apron pocket closeup

I can't quite figure out how this was sewn since the stitching runs over areas that are open underneath. Any thoughts, dear readers? Would it help to see the back side of it? No matter how it was sewn, it's really pretty and unusual.

You could use the same basic idea to sew the strips onto a background fabric—creating a three-dimensional lattice. And then add appliqued or fabric flowers on top. I'm envisioning a pillow here if you couldn't tell :)

Updated to add a link to a photo of the back side.


more feedsacks

It's been a feedsack kind of summer for me. I keep finding really pretty ones in patterns I haven't seen before and for reasonable prices, too. These are from my trip to Kutztown on Saturday.

The dark lines on this are actually a very dark blue, not black as I originally thought.

So much going on with this one; I love the contrast between the geometric background and the bright red-orange daisies on top.

I love the bright colors on this but the pattern is kind of a mess; it's a smallish piece and I'll cut it up for bags or tissue cozies.

Otherwise it was a pretty miserable day. It rained all the way there and most of the way back and my eyes were so stressed from driving in all that mist and water that I had to take a nap when I got home. But it was fun being back in Kutztown again and visiting some of the same vendors who were selling at the farmer's market when I went to college there many years ago. Most things were different on the main street, although a few shops were still there. A friend's house at the top of the hill is now a used book store which is sort of funny. She and her roommates were all big readers and their rooms sort of resembled a used book store when they lived there. Overflowing shelves and books piled up here and there. Hee :)

I found a few very cool needlework/sewing-related things that I'll show you in the next couple of posts. Stay tuned!


crazy for carrots

My latest pillow, just added to the website—

Crazy for Carrots pillow

This uses, as it's central motif, one of the quilt blocks from that batch I won on Ebay this spring. I already had the carrot fabric left over from an earlier project so I embroidered the bunny in colors to match. And added a few details to jazz it up a little—orange and white polka dot fabric and four vintage white flower-shaped buttons in the corners, and some lime green rick rack around the edges of the block. Isn't he cute with his little plaid jacket and bunch of carrots?

embroidery detail

I have a few more of these blocks but no more carrot fabric so the next usage will be entirely different. And that's OK. I'd get bored doing the same thing over and over.

I found some great fabrics, including a few feedsacks, yesterday in Kutztown and will show you pictures after I get them ironed and photographed.


summer coat

When we find vintage things in our travels we don't often get to know who owned them or their history or even anything about them. Once in a while there's something to give us a clue.

gray coat buttons

I found this at a local antique shop the other day. I didn't buy it because I loved the buttons—they're only ordinary gray coat buttons—but for the note that was attached. The woman who owned them took the time to add a hand-written note when she tied the buttons together with black thread. We don't know if she then put it into her sewing box or button jar or whether it was passed down to her child or grandchild. Or how it found it's way to this particular shop. But we do know that she had a gray summer coat that she took apart. And was probably one of those super organized people that drive us crazy :)

I'm heading out in a short while to spend the day flea marketing in Kutztown. Who knows what treasures I'll find?


chicken scratch sunsuit

chicken scratch embroidery

Rebecca sent me this photo of her daughter Elizabeth in a sunsuit that she made from purple gingham and embroidered with white chicken scratch embroidery (using my Stitch School lesson found here) all around the collar. Most people seem to use chicken scratch designs on aprons and I wanted to show you how pretty it looks on other items, too. She said it took a long time to cover the area but it was pretty simple to do otherwise. And she was pleased enough with the results to use it again in the future.

I apologize if you were looking for the link to this stitch in my sidebar. Not sure how it happened but it disappeared from the list. It's back now and thanks Rebecca for letting me know it wasn't there. And for sharing the photo of your finished project with us!



Some photos from Hello Bluebird's grand opening yesterday evening. I had to leave around seven because I had a two-hour drive home but there was a line at the checkout when I left. And lots of happy faces.

ringing up sales

That's Alex ringing up one of the many sales that occurred during the opening. In spite of major internet problems all day and countless hours on the phone with support, it miraculously came back online in time for the opening. Good thing I arrived early so I could help with hanging artwork and arranging flowers!


The shop is full of major cuteness and I overheard lots of customers talking about how much there was to see. Seriously, I could have bought one of everything! I thought these stuffed penguins were especially cute. They're made by Emily Davis of MIAOW from tweeds and wools and she makes little birds and whales, too.


This is the wall of cards, prints, and framed artwork next to the front door. I love the contrast of red door against blue wall, don't you?

tree bag

And I had to buy this cute little bag made by Brooke Harlan of Brookiellen Designs. Because who could resist the fabric—little fruit trees—love it!

There are more photos on my Flickr page here. Congratulations to Alex on her new venture!

Updated to add a link for the fabrics—Timeless Treasures Apple. There's even one called Orchard Owls!


summer's gone

For the second morning in a row it's been in the low 40s when I got up. It's really starting to feel like fall. Although it isn't officially fall until later in the month, Labor Day weekend seems to signal the start. Where did the summer go? That's the worst thing, I think, about getting older—time just keeps speeding up. And it becomes clearer that you'll never do everything you want to in your lifetime. Did I also mention that I get a little depressed this time of year :)

Remember the fawn who was hidden in our yard this spring? I saw her this morning and she's grown up into a beautiful deer. Her mother's color has changed completely to brown but she's still lighter in color with some spots present. A large number of fawns never make it to adulthood so I'm happy that she did. Although I'll still complain when they're munching on my vegetable garden and perennials!

The vegetable garden is winding down. We had to destroy all our tomato plants due to blight—a highly infectious fungal infection and cause of the infamous Irish Potato Famine. Yes, it also attacks tomatoes. It was just too wet this year and the problem spread like crazy throughout our whole area so it's hard to find tomatoes, even at the farmers market. That probably means I won't be doing any canning unless I can buy some out of area. It's probably a miracle but our potatoes seem to be unaffected.

We still have gorgeous baby cantaloupes but, unless it warms up again, they're not going to mature. Again, too much rain, not enough heat. Gardening can be very frustrating—if you don't already know that.

I'm cleaning up my studio today, doing some ironing, and finishing up a batch of hanky sachets. Here's one from the previous batch that you'll find at GreenBeing in Scranton.

vintage hanky sachet