Friday, July 13, 2012

Dress Forms for Statement or Display

The gallery (Eclectics, in Kansas City, MO) where I'm a member needed a dress form for displaying jewelry, etc. but we didn't want to spend the big bucks required to buy a vintage seamstress body. Then I found a pattern for making one on Etsy! Thanks to Jackie at 4myfavoritethings shop on Etsy for their great pattern.

My first one was made from burlap, for displaying gallery items. I've been branching out since then.
Upholstery fabrics work well, but so does any fabric when lined with something sturdy such as canvas.
Found a big piece of black lace left over from some past project - it's very dramatic.
This denim one was made from a worn out pair of Dale's jeans. The waistband became the bottom trim and a couple pockets (front and back) add interest.
 I even saved the tiny red Levi's tag and added it into a seam on the front, along with a little lace trim.
I have ideas for a steampunk one, and someone wants one to match her black, green, white and red dining room decor! Think I'll list a couple on Etsy and see if anyone wants one ready-made.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bridal Garter from Heirloom Fabrics

My first nephew to get married is tying the knot next weekend in Milwaukee. I promised to make his bride a garter to wear, using some bits of crocheted lace and tatting my sister had collected from one (or more) of our grandmothers' sewing bags.

Now my style is usually "shabby chic", asymetrical, rough-edged and intentionally non-traditional. This bride is both dainty and traditional and I have no idea if she will like what I came up with.
It's not as collage-like as I would normally do, but it is also not as dainty as many bridal garters!
Fabrics used were:
  • cream bridal satin from Grandma Ruth Baumgarten's wedding dress (scraps remain from when it was deconstructed to make Laura Fisk Roose's wedding dress in, I don't ever throw fabric away, especially if it has history!)
  • Purple and black silk brocade with Chinese medallion pattern (purchased in Hawaii, 1976) in honor of Angela's time spent in China.
  • Plum polyester (from my stash - who knows what I bought it for? - hope it matches)
  • vintage handmade heirloom laces (see below)
  • 3 satin-covered buttons from Grandma Ruth's wedding dress 
Tatted lace - possibly made by Laura Baumgarten, sister in law of Great Grandma Minnie Baumgarten. This may have been found in her sewing box. We do know Grandma didn't do tatting but she may have been given pieces by one of her relatives.

 Crocheted lace - possibly made by Great Grandma Minnie Baumgarten.
Crocheted lace (pillowcase edging) - probably made by Great Grandma Laura Krumm.
 Tatted lace medallions - possibly made by Laura Baumgarten, sister in law of Great Grandma Minnie Baumgarten.

So, we'll see if it matches - she does have another one already, that she can use to toss!

I'd wear it for a photo, but don't think it would help you. You'll have to imagine it on a young leg until after the wedding.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Family Favorite Footstool Tutorial

So, last week my mom visited and together we worked on a project: recreating a footstool made from reclaimed materials. This is a new one we made for my son's family.

My grandmother (and her sisters) made these stools in 1950s from 48oz juice cans, old socks, cardboard and old fabrics (sweatshirts, worn-out quilts, upholstery scraps and heavy cord).

 We deconstructed a worn one, used the pieces for patterns and recovered it, then made two more.
 (and YES, I totally saved the two pieces of worn-out hand-quilted quilt pieces that were inside!!!)
I'm not sure what this will be used for, but it's a precious scrap of the past. How old and ragged must the quilt have been for Grandma Krumm to cut it up for padding inside a footstool? How many people slept under it's warmth before that? Who hand-stitched the pieces together? (It was quilted by machine - with simple parallel rows - nothing fancy, but very even, tiny stitches.) Just how old is it?

According to the Singer website, the sewing machine was invented in 1851 and serial numbers started being issued in 1871. Grandma was married in the 19-teens so by 1955, quilts she made early in her marriage could easily have been worn out. And I know she went to some type of sewing school for a while, so she may have gotten her sewing machine in the early 1900s. (That's another topic - I have a notebook she used, with drawings of pattern pieces, instructions, and class notes.)

I hope to put together a tutorial for making this little beauties....which I'll post here. Leave a comment if you are interested.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


So many blessings in May. The bluebirds are back, setting up housekeeping for a 2nd clutch of babies. Dale and I went to our nephew Luke's high school graduation, with my mom. She spent an afternoon making her famous homemade doughnuts.

Yes. They were THAT good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bluebirds 2012

Bluebirds finally nested in our yard this year! Hurrah! They have been such fun to watch.

Last week, the first babies fledged and it has seemed quiet without them. Mr. Bluebird has been ever watchful, using the feeder hooks to perch with a good "lookout's" view of the yard. In the mornings, he would latch onto the screen on our dining room windows, looking in at us and out over the birdhouse.

When the babies started sticking their heads out the door, we knew they were about ready to fly away....

...even so, when the babies fledged and everyone left, we missed them.

Two days go, we noticed the randy local sparrows visiting the bluebird I "locked the door" with a small strip of duct tape to keep them from squatting since we were hopeful Mr and Mrs Bluebird would return.

This morning, while drinking my coffee, I heard a small "thup" and there was Mr. B, attached to our window screen. I ran down to remove the tape from the birdhouse door! I could just hear him - "Why was our house closed? We've only been gone a week..."

So far, we've seen Mr. B and a juvenile. Hopefully Mrs. B will soon be back to re-feather the nest for the next brood.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Black and White Obsession

Black and white. It must be the colorless Midwest pseudo-winter we've had....but black and white seed beads are my current obsession. That and big, statement necklaces that cover the throat and upper chest  in bling!

SO, just how many black and white seed beads do I need? My favorite online bead suppliers (Bello Modo and Charlenes Beads) probably think I'm nuts. But their great "no minimum order" policies make it easy to go online and find the exact next size bead I want!!

 How many are out there? Lots - more than I have already purchased, but I have some cool ones.
I'll admit, the differences are subtle. But when focused on creating a round peyote-stitched medallion that looks good, lays flat and stays round, the beads make a huge difference.
Here are the current pieces piling up, waiting to be joined together into a black and white statement bib necklace. Here is the first one. see on Pinterest
For the detailed minded, note that the medallions are all a little bit different, except for 3 black on white starbursts and 3 spirals that are almost the same. Hence the spiral rope and the spiral sterling wire hook. Yay! It's a theme!

I should also  note that the whites are not all the same - some are WHITE shiny opaque and some are WHITE OPAL GILT LINED - which lends a slight goldish glint to the whole piece.

It' was my first time making spiral rope (so easy, so versatile - genius! Thank you whoever first figured this out!). BUT they don't tell you exactly  HOW to attach the spiral rope - which is woven with a single continuous thread - to a large piece or to a clasp. So I made up my own way....
and clasp

Strong. Reinforced. and Scaled appropriately. Guess I'd better write THAT out so I don't forget what I did.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Black and White

Like most everyone, I love color. And normally my beadwork reflects my color bead stash certainly does! I buy seed beads primary because the colors attract me - only rarely for a specific pattern. As a result, my library of seed bead sizes and colors is dominated by jewel tones, AB finishes, charlottes, greens, blues and bronzes. Sure, there is the occasional matte finish or opaque red or transparent yellow, but you will look long and hard to find many pastel beads, or lavender or orange.
But, I do have various black and white when I decided to experiment with my published peyote bracelet pattern by working a stripe into the design, I chose black and white beads.

Actually the first striped version was an attempt at an all-black bracelet for a friend and golly! It was very hard to see where I was. See what I mean???

The striped weave is mostly size 15/0 hex and 15/0 rounds. It looks great, sparkles nicely. Can you believe it wasn't what my friend had in mind, so she sent it back? But took so long to make I cannot bear to sell it and it now lives in my private collection.

So this time I used black and white beads...and I love the way it turned out! And it WAS a lot easier to see the pattern.
 Since the stripe pattern is so angular, I opted not to use my usual beaded toggle, but added a slide tube clasp, attaching with the same 15/0s used in the bracelet.
Now I think it's time to do more experimenting with black and white beads. Just ordered more from my favorite bead suppliers -- Bello Modo (free shipping!) and Charlenes Beads (hard to find colors, half kilo and kilo packages).