Sunday, April 27, 2008

Needle Books

My friend, Deb, who gave me the funny cards to sell, also has given me these needle books to put up on my etsy site.  I really love them, and I think it is a shame that businesses don't make useful things like these anymore.  Just like with those beautiful vintage flour sacks, needle books have long ago gone by the wayside.  But aren't they neat?  Little advertisements on your ever useful set of sewing needles.  I like this one for Society Snuff.  It's so fancy!  

This is another snuff company:

And here is the interior.  The packets that hold the needles and the threader are little works of art:

Tops also made these cute button cards.

Underneath the button card on the left, there
is a little calendar!  This one was dated from

Moore's Lumber company had a very simple needle card with just its logo on the front. I think this is a great graphic.  

Isn't it funny how these masculine products are advertised on ladies' needle books?

I love this one for Acme Markets.

And, of course, the piece de resistance is this one with the space ship and the women sewing on the cover. These women are featured in a number of different styles of needle books. One is called Sewing Susan, which I happen to have one of (someone gave it to me for obvious reasons!).

I am planning on listing these on my etsy site, so if you want to buy them, you can do so there.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Telephone + Closeness

In a previous post, I mentioned that my sewing club (who still needs a name... an idea is The Threadheads, but there has not been any agreement on that.  If someone has a good idea, let me know!) decided to do a sort of monthly art challenge.  Two words are selected out of a hat and we have to make something that utilizes fabric to express those words.  Last month, the words we chose were "telephone" and "closeness".  On Monday, we had our meeting and unveiled our creations.

First, Susan L. showed us her cell phone case that she made.  I took a photo of her using a telephone, and she Photoshopped it.  Then she printed the image onto a special fabric that you can run through your printer.  She sewed a cover for her cell phone, and then embroidered and beaded it.  Pretty cool, huh?

Rose took a pair of black vintage elbow length gloves and gave them a telephone motif. She made covered buttons that she embroidered numbers on, and turned a spaghetti strap into a coiled telephone cord.

These are beautiful!

Susan Skalak (yes, almost half the group is named Susan) is an engineer.  So, her take on the theme was to express sound waves and put it into a quilt.   Pretty impressive, I think.  Believe me, this is the last thing in the world I would have come up with!

Kate took the word "closeness" and used the sound to interpret into "clothes".  This darling pinafore is what she made.  And it even has telephone buttons on the front!  I love it.  And she made the box just for transporting it, but we decided that it sets off the pinafore beautifully.

Connie was not present at the meeting where we picked these words.  Thus, she thought we could use just one of the words in the project.  She chose "closeness" and expressed it in the form of this amazing turtle quilt (unfinished).  She and her youngest son are very fond of turtles, and she is making this quilt for him as a surprise.  It is really, really beautiful.  I love the barnacles on the turtle's back.

Lastly, my project did not have quite the level of sewing that the other women's did.  I had a couple of ideas for the project, including an 80's New Wave style t-shirt involving images of Blondie and the song Call Me.  It was turning into a disaster.  So, the morning before our meeting, I came up with this:

It is a very old telephone covered in plaid fabric and the note attached to it says:  "Sorry - no longer in business.  I've gone fishing in the nearest loch.  Alistair Brody."  Get it?  Closed = close.  Nearest loch = close Ness?  Get it?  Isn't that just hilarious????  Okay, so it was a bit of a stretch, but I was desperate.  Forgive me.

The two words selected for next month's project are "rain" and "winged".  Should be interesting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I have been hired to make juggling balls. Yep, that's right! A fellow in my county is an accomplished juggler. He gives lessons and sells juggling balls to his students. His wife used to make them for him, but now she has a new job keeping her busy. Since she doesn't have time to make them anymore, he has sought me out, accomplished seamstress that I am (actually, he bumped into me by accident). I agreed to try making the balls to see if it would be cost effective for both of us.

Basically, there are two strips of fabric that you line up like a T, with one strip perpendicular to the other, centered in the middle. Then you sew around the outside, turning the strips up at each edge till it makes a box. Luckily, he is going to turn them inside out and stuff them, so I don't have to worry about that.

So, here goes...


And another.... Not bad!

A few more, and now I have a nice little pile of juggling bags.  Now things are looking pretty good!

And again.... HUH?!!  What the?!  

Well, apparently, if the edges are not lined up exactly equal in the middle, this is the result. And it is a sorry sight.  Sigh.... this happened several times before I figured it out. Apparently, sewing juggling bags are not as easy as I thought.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Say What?!

On, you can post vintage items to sell as well as handmade items. A friend of mine, who is an expert yard saler, has supplied me with a few neat things to post to fill up my section of Vintage Items in my Etsy Shop. Among them were these greeting cards. I figure they are from the early 60's, and they are too hilarious. You really don't see them like this anymore!

Aaah, yes, Political Incorrectness at its finest:

Remember when they put "dunce caps" on kids? Well, I don't remember myself, because that was a little before my time, but I think they did it!

Feeling down in the dumps?

How about some pep pills?

Can you believe how mean this police officer is? She(?-- it's hard to tell with police dogs) won't let this other dog vandalize this fence!!!

Somebody snapped them up immediately when I posted them (now I wish I had priced them higher!!).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Giant Cushion

First I want to say something about my last post.  My sister said she liked the idea of making a quilt out of the old photo of my parents (the one to which I had added a photoshop filter) after I "challenged" her to do it.  She said, "I like the idea of the quilt throwdown."  Cracked me up. Is that something the folks in Quilting World say?  Kind of like a Quilt Rumble?  Maybe it's a tradition that the Jets and the Sharks started.  ha ha!  Anyhow, I will keep you posted.

Some friends of mine asked me to upholster a large cushion for a window seat they have in their house.  Although I don't usually do upholstery, I agreed to do this.  So they bring this cushion over, and it was gigantic!  Really humongous.  They had to special order the foam to fit the bench, and they actually had to glue two pieces together to get the right size!  Yikes.

I have reupholstered cushions before, but I did by taking apart the old fabric and trying to figure out how it was done.  My attempts have been pretty good in the past, but it always took me a loooong time.  This time, I was fortunate to have my studio partner, Susan L., help me. She worked for a while in a high end upholstery shop in Charlottesville, VA. She kindly walked me through all the steps, and I think it wound up looking pretty good! The fabric was pretty, and I had some red that contrasted nicely for piping. So here I am sewing that on.

Mission Piping Accomplished (doesn't it look nice?!):

The next step was to glue the batting onto the cushion.  I just discovered spray on glue!  Is there no end to the world of crafting supplies?  So, I sprayed the cushion and then put the batting on. Then I sat back and looked in horror at the miserable job I did.  It really couldn't have been more crooked.  It was a joke.  Fortunately, my sewing saviour, Susan, helped me set it right.  We trimmed it and sewed it on around the edges (that's Susan L. below).

Then I put this gianormous zipper on, which, luckily, went quite smoothly.  All done.  Except for wrassling that baby on to the cushion.  And, voila!  I breathed a huge sigh of relief when my friends picked it up and were happy with it.  

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Items Listed!

I just wanted to let you know that I listed a bunch of new stuff in my Etsy shop!  Check it out!

Photoshop for Textile Artists

I took a short class in Photoshop last month.  I realize that it barely scratched the surface of what one can do with that program, but it was amazing how much I learned in that short course.  One of the things I did was to work on this picture of my parents that was taken when they were dating.

I would place it to around 1954.  My father was a midshipman at the Naval Academy and my mother worked at a bank in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  They visited each other when they could, although neither one's parents approved.  My mother was a Good Catholic Girl and my father was a Good Greek Boy.  (Needless to say, neither of them fit into the other parent's expectations).

This picture was very grainy, and the color was faded.  It was scanned into the computer, and I tried to do with it what I could.  Really, there wasn't much that could be done, but I think I made it a little richer.

The fun came when I started messing with filters.  This effect is called Cut Out.  

My studio partner, Susan Leschke (who took the class with me), suggested that it would make a great fabric collage or quilt.  I agree.  However, quilts are not my thing.  They require far too much precision (although, this one looks like it would allow for some inaccuracy).  Therefore, I think I will pass this potential project on to my talented sister, Marianne.  She is a most excellent quilter and is the president of her area guild, The Cabin Branch Quilt Guild.  I will let you know if she takes on this project!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Like It Came From the Grave!!!!! or My First Foray into Costume Design

The building where my studio is also is home to a wonderful theater:  The Earl Hamner Theater (  This past fall, they put on a play called Poe and All That Jazz.  It was a story of Edgar Allen Poe and all the women in his life.  It starred one man and one woman.  The man played the character of Poe and the woman had the unenviable task of playing many women (although, if you are an actress, it probably would be pretty fun).  The theater folks asked me if I would like to make the dress for the play.  As being a costume designer has been my dream job for a very long time, I jumped at the chance.  The requirement was that it be historically accurate to 1805 and that it look like it was from a walking dead person.  Sort of like someone who came back from the dead.  Gosh, easy enough, right?  So, I bought a pattern online from a company that makes historically accurate patterns, and I made the dress.  It was pretty fun, and I think it turned out well:

(I hadn't added the buttons to the back when this photo was taken)

Then to make it look all creepy, I attacked the entire dress with a box cutter.  I sliced and ripped it to shreds.  I had a lot of friends suggest that it must have been sad to destroy my work, but I was kind of sick of the dress by then.  It actually felt kind of good.

Then to creep it to a new level, I painted the dress on all three layers (the top was a diaphanous type of polyester, the middle layer was a crepe polyester-- not terribly historically accurate, but cheap!-- and the bottom layer was cotton muslin) with watered down clay and acrylic paint.  It worked like a charm!  I went with this, on two artist friends suggestion, because polyester fabric will resist dying.  So this was really painting.  After the clay dried, I had to actually vacuum the dress, because the cast was choking on the dust during rehearsal!

I enjoyed that experience, and I certainly wouldn't mind doing something like that again.