Monday, September 27, 2010

Sewing like Crazy

It's happened - finally. I have been thinking about it for months and months now - wondering when I was going to begin. This summer I bought a slightly used Pfaff machine from my friend Jenny Ryan of Felt Club - she was selling machines that had been used at the State Fair - how could I resist?
After a couple of years of having yards and yards of beautiful fabric sent to me by Moda, I became overwhelmed - can I mix collections - do the reds all work together ? So I decided to just begin with the scraps - the old hemp, nettle and linen that I have been collecting for the past decade - the remnants of past jobs.
No color, no real design, just texture and the beauty of the whole cloth are leading me into my very first real quilt....I think. Or's just me sewing nothing, just experimenting with the old fabric and trying to figure out what new sewing skills I can learn - all by myself. Either way - I can't stop. I find myself heading down to the garage (soon to be called the sewing room) to sit for an hour or two.
Do I prefer thread that matches the cloth or am I always going to use Gutterman Red 221? Why does that rotary blade have to be so damn sharp? Yikes - I've been nursing a deep knuckle cut since Sunday. I already have regrets - I wish I had invested in the 8" dress maker shears - instead of the featherweights. But no matter, I am a Gingher fan and I'll make do - I guess I should have mentioned to the woman at the counter that I am cutting through layers of old hemp sheets - not cotton.
Then, I ripped apart some old toile and redesigned it in small patches - and in doing so, I found a new craft. When I told all of this to JZ and Sofia and mentioned that I could go on like this - freestyle sewing forever - Sofia cooly said - "Yeah, so when you get bored - you'll try an actual pattern."
Oh - is that what happens?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Creative Connection and the Torse Bead

This past week I was in Minneapolis for the Creative Connection Event - organized by Jo Packham, Nancy Soriano and a handful of other talented people - Amy Butler was a keynote speaker as well as MaryJane Butters and Ree Drummond. There were hundreds of women from all over the United States that came to craft, shop, eat and learn about the creative side of business. I taught a couple of different classes - including a three-strand necklace workshop where I introduced my new favorite bead...the torse bead. Used as military adornment beads on epaulets during the French Revolution, torse, which means twist in French, are small 2mm gold plated beads with a nice size hole for beading. Marcia, of Tinsel Trading, laughed every time she was in the room and I introduced the petite bead to my class - I think she figured the beads were made in India last month - and I am getting all excited over nothing. But these little beads are a big deal - having survived the last 200 years - they are the perfect accent bead for vintage-inspired jewelry. I felt the same way about the Creative Connection - after spending the last twenty years working in a creative industry, like jewelry making, it is exciting to be a part of a community that is now celebrating the business of craft.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Troop of Winners

How could I resist choosing Elissa and her troop of Girl Scout Cadettes as the lucky recipients of our Craft Hope Giveaway? I was a Brownie and Girl Scout for many years - and remember all of the badges I earned - they were they beginning of my creative expression. Elissa - please send me your name and address and I will send off a copy of Craft Hope, the apron material and an extra bag of scraps for you and your girls to create with. The Girl Scout creed is: "Always leave a place cleaner than you found it." The Girl Scout motto is: "Always be prepared." The Girl Scout slogan is: "Do a good turn daily."
Thoughts we should still try to live by.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Craft Hope Giveaway

About a year ago, we were asked to design a project for Jade Sims book Craft Hope - Handmade Crafts for a Cause. Craft Hope is an organization that combines a love of crafting with a desire to help others. The hope is that the projects in this book will be made and donated to specific charities, to help make their mission a little bit easier.
Sewer extraordinaire Jody designed and made up this cute little apron using fabric from our first collection with Moda, Rouenneries. We chose The Food Project as a suitable charity for handmade aprons.The Food Project's mission is to grow a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system. The Food Project works with teens and thousands of volunteers on its farms to grow nearly a quarter-million pounds of food annually without pesticides and donates thousands of pounds of this food to local shelters.
If you would like to be the lucky winner of this wonderful book, as well as the Rouenneries material to make your own apron - please leave me a comment. Hopefully, once you see how easy the apron pattern is to sew, you will be game to make up a handful of aprons to send off to the Food Project - or a local charity of your choice. Merci!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cameo Love

A while back, my friend Pam was wearing a ring that I really liked - it was a polished cameo that had been worn for so long and rubbed so hard that the details were almost nonexistent. She told me how she had worn it for years and then one day she lost it. She really missed it. Then, as if it was meant to be, she found it - I can't remember how - maybe she saw a friend wearing it or maybe someone else found it and gave it back - somehow, the ring was returned to her. That's when I came into the story - I coveted Pam's cameo.
I decided to start looking for my own rubbed out angelskin cameo. I looked high and low and never really saw one that spoke to me. I saw Victorian cameos, Edwardian cameos - cameos carved in green lava, sardonyx, red coral and even tortoise shell - but I couldn't find my cameo.
Last week, my friend Penny came to the shop all a flutter with pictures of an angelskin cameo she had bought in England on her last trip - the trip where she went to see the quilt show at the V & A. I thought about my missing cameo - the one that I still hadn't found yet and decided I had better start looking again.
Friday, (trust me this story is going somewhere!) I went up to Summerland to visit my friend Cathy and before we even had a chance to sit and catch up about France, woad and family, she handed me a small box - and inside was an old cameo ring. Cathy had found a perfectly rubbed portrait set into pink gold - exactly what I was looking for. I'm not really a romantic and I don't believe too much in fate - but I think this was meant to be - I was meant to wear this old cameo and put some new life into it. So I'll rub it once in a while and make sure I leave my mark - and then pass it on to Sofia or someone who shares my cameo love. Merci Cathy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pressed Botanicals

Aren't they grand? I have picked up old pressed plants for years - the old ones - the one's that look as if they have been packed away forever - the flatter the better. The first book I bought - ten or twelve years ago - is filled with hundreds of pressed leontopodium alpinum - otherwise known as edelweiss. When I inquired how much the book was, the dealer asked "Do you know what this book is about?" - I nodded and looked at her like, yes - it's about pressed flowers. She was hesitant to sell it to someone who had no idea of what she was buying. Since then, I have learned that edelweiss blossoms were given as a token of brave nobility or courage to soldiers in the war. Someone must have been collecting them and pressed them for safekeeping. Edelweiss is also a highly protected species in many countries in Europe - so the gatherer must have been fairly brave to have collected so many.
This summer in Montpezat, at an evening vide grenier, I found another collection of old pressed plants - hidden underneath a pile of books - there were 50 or so handmade manila folders - each holding a couple pages of plants. Although mostly weeds and wildflowers - each is marked with their proper Latin name and a short note about where and when the plant was found. The book dates from 1902 and is still in almost perfect shape - save for a few bugs here and there - bugs that have been living for over a century...but that's a whole other story.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Letter to John Derian....

Dear John......
Haven't seen you in a while but popped into Target today and was, once again, excited and inspired, upon seeing your new line! Remember all the fun we used to have behind the curtain at the old French General? You always came to our soirees ready for a good time and were always the perfect gentleman. I am so happy that you have collaborated with Target to bring your beautiful designs to those of us who love your work! Keep up the good work and hope to see you again someday soon!


Kaari (Molly's sister!)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Repaired Quilt, 1880

Last spring, I bought an old French quilt from one of my textile dealers that was a real doozie - a beautiful floral printed linen which had darkened over the years from dust and dirt. Looking for an afternoon project, my sister, Lisa, an avid sewer and textile collector, and I decided to dig (or rip) a bit further into the quilt. We just had a feeling that there might be something underneath the 1880's floral that could be worth exploring. Dating old fabric and trying to figure out how fabric was printed is something we both enjoy - Saturday afternoon fun!
We started out with a seam ripper, carefully pulling apart the hand-sewn center seam - but eventually moved right to the scissors and simply slid them down the center as the fabric fell to each side.What we found underneath was exciting - even though it was much smellier and dirtier than the top layer: a much older, probably 1780-1800, madder printed quilt - with huge sections completely thread worn or missing altogether - leaving patches of the wool stuffing. We instantly knew why some dear soul had covered it with the floral linen - the original quilt was, literally, falling apart. Instead of recycling the quilt, someone repaired it - what a concept.
We decided to take the top piece off completely - which was a much bigger job than we had anticipated. Two hours later, and Lisa was saying to me - "Why are we doing this?" But once we started, we couldn't stop - the idea of having two pieces of fabric, when I thought I only had one, was just too exciting - almost like a twofer! This doesn't happen very often - but when it does - I feel like I am discovering some unknown source of history - a wisp of something that was once beautiful and functional - colors that were preserved because they had been covered for the past century.
Covered in dust, and who knows what else - we finally had the original quilt and the cover in two pieces. The floral linen will debut as part of our new collection for Moda, Pom Pom de Paris, and the original madder stripe quilt is carefully tucked away waiting for a new life.
My sister Lisa is visiting again this weekend, I'm looking forward to a little more textile trouble.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mrs. Smith's Velvet Heart

Please send along your shipping address and we will send out our Petite Coeur Kit. Thanks to everyone for playing!