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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Uncharted Water

Our lives are journeys, sometimes exciting and wonderful, sometimes ugly, always a trip into the unknown. As a child, you don't think about where you are headed. You climb into the front seat of the roller coaster, arms held high above your head and scream with pleasure and fear on the ride!

As a young adult, the journey is an adventure, something to anticipate: moving out of your childhood home, roommates, responsibilities, new jobs, relationships. And don't we always think we have an idea of what is coming? Sometimes we have a plan. Like me, many of us were winging it! No matter our approach, we are all traveling through uncharted water, dealing with life as it comes at us.

Even if we had a plan, our lives often (usually?) take a different course. A sister lost her husband in a climbing accident. Her life today is completely different than what she and Dave planned. She is back in college, navigating uncharted water.

Another friend's divorce moved her away from a job at her husband's company to one working with disabled children. She has embraced the changes in her life and made her journey a positive adventure. Last week at dinner, she talked about her current activities and future plans. Completely different from when we met over 15 years ago!

My friend Kim's life has taken an abrupt turn. Without warning, she is truly navigating uncharted water. This quilt will be along with her on the journey. Hang on, Kim. Remember that you are not alone. I hope that once in a while, you can release your grip on the rail, raise your hands high, and scream with pleasure.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

They're Cute, Right?

Disney wants us to think so! It would be unAmerican to dislike Meeko! Raccoons have been a big part of my life this summer. Our urban jungle has too many of them! We've seen as many as five adult raccoons hanging from our bird feeder. Yes, all at once. Yes, they destroyed it. The replacement bird feeder soon had this raccoon visitor.

Soft-hearted animal lovers, read no further. PETA, read no further. Spoiler: You won't like what you read. I rented a live animal trap and over the course of a week, caught 3 raccoons. They were picked up by the Nebraska Humane Society. I didn't ask what became of them. I'm pretty sure I know, and I'm ok with the world having 3 less raccoons. Anyone who is shocked and/or horrified: I TOLD you to quit reading. For the record: Casa de la Cruz does not have a catch and release policy for critters who a) come into the house or b) damage or destroy outside.

I posted a picture of one of the raccoons on Facebook, which generated lots of comments. There are two kinds of people in this world. People who think raccoons are "so cute and loveable and I want one" (think Meeko) and anyone who has encountered a real live raccoon and lived to tell about it. This picture shows why some of us are in the second group. Check out the teeth and claws on Raccoon #3:

And you are asking yourself, how does this relate to vintage anything? Thank goodness for fabric and patterns! When I found this cut and sew fabric panel (from the 1960s) this week, I decided to explore my stash of raccoon patterns.

I don't have a Care Bears Bright Heart Raccoon pattern. I did find Butterick 4779, Wrecker Raccoon, Kiddie Komforts 115 Raccoon Baby Quilt pattern and Simplicity 6053, Rick Raccoon from the Shirt Tales gang. All very cute, all very lovable, all very acceptable to both kinds of people in the world.

So if you must have a raccoon in your life, make it! BTW, we haven't seen any raccoons in the back yard for a few days. I don't think they are gone permanently, but I like them being scarce!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Legislative Ball Dress

Does this pattern say Legislative Ball to you? Maybe back in 1974......

When I pulled the pattern pieces out to check for completeness, I found some treasures. The former owner of this pattern, Carol Metzger, planned to make it and wear it to the Legislative Ball, Friday, June 28, 1974 at Currigan Hall (which was demolished in 2002) in Denver, Colorado. There was a note which told her to use this pattern, Simplicity 6390, View 3 (the long dress), made in a blue and white handkerchief cotton/poly blend print available from So-Fro Fabrics in Cinderella City. Lining was optional, but the dress was to be trimmed in red ric-rac, 1 inch or larger, available at Joslins, also in Cinderella City. The note warned her to arrive at 8 pm for the 9 pm start. I think she was part of a group of volunteers who were dressing alike in red, white and blue for the political soiree!

Mrs. Metzger bought the rick rack ($1.34 including tax) at Joslins (a Denver-based department store which eventually became Dillards) and tucked the receipt into her pattern envelope. She also went to So-Fro Fabrics and bought a $1 notion, 4 1/8 yard of fabric for $6.56, and 4 1/8 yard of a notion for $6.15. The first notion was probably a zipper, but what was this second notion? I think it was the optional lining fabric. She tucked her credit card receipt into the pattern envelope as well. Unlike today, when credit card numbers are blocked out when our receipt is printed, her hand-written receipt has her credit card number and her phone number.

I wonder if she had fun. I wonder if she and her husband danced the night away. I wonder if someone took pictures of her and others in their dresses. I wonder if she ever wore it again. I wonder what happened to it. I wonder who would answer if I called the phone number on her receipt.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Should Call Them "Marker" Bags

About two weeks ago, Becky H bought a pattern for crayon bags while we were on a shop hop. We got together last week to make the bags as Easter gifts for our grandchildren. I should call them marker bags instead of crayon bags, because I put washable Crayola © Markers in them. Whatever I call them, we had fun making them.

Choose fabrics: Zoe got frogs, Kyra got smiling suns, Cassady got pencils. Linings for all are a cute black bug fabric, which I bought for $2/yard at a quilt shop End of Year sale. That is "I'll take the rest of the bolt" pricing! Pockets and handles are bright checks for the girls and a red/blue plaid for Cassady.

Construction started at my house. We loaded the lining fabric on my Avante, layered batting and outer fabric and quilted. I did simple grids, Becky got fancy with curlicues! It took longer to load the machine than to quilt, but it is SO much faster than quilting on a DSM! (Have I said how much I love my Avante lately?)

We headed to Becky's house, where we cut and sewed. I realized how smart I had inadvertently been when choosing my pocket fabrics. Always choose fabrics with straight lines when you want to sew straight lines on them!! The original design has two rows of pockets on one side, to hold 5" crayons. I modified it for the longer markers and put one row of pockets on each side. And I cut the bag pieces 12" per side instead of 10½ and 11½ like the pattern said. Question: how many times would I have had to measure those pieces if I cut them as directed? Answer: every time I picked them up!! After we sewed the pockets (Becky had to mark hers), we serged each side of the bags. (Sidebar: I AM going to buy a serger soon!). Becky's bags, cut to pattern directions, were just a tad small for the coloring books she had.

We thought we would get them completed in one day, but at quitting time, we still had to make the handles, then attach them to the bags. No problem, just an hour's work tomorrow morning, then off to the post office.

Day 2: Easier said than done! I didn't like the directions given for the handles, but I followed them. I know faster and easier ways for next time! I broke two needles sewing through the thickness of the handles and the bags. Becky broke six. On the 3rd bag, I figured out a better way. When the bags were done, I pulled out the 20 marker sets and loaded up the bags. The plaid fabric pockets were on the small side, which meant the bag was distorted after all the markers were placed in the pockets. Remember to sew at least 3/4" pockets next time.....

Search for the blank books I want to put inside. One hour later, give up on finding the blank books. And I don't have anything else to put in the bags. Darn it. Take pictures. Write each child a quick note, print shipping labels, drop them at post office. (USPS assures me they were delivered on Saturday, BEFORE Easter!!)

Day 3: Printer needs cartridge replaced. Since I'm already down there, pull out everything to dust. Find the blank books. &%#*% Again! *#&($%($!!

Things to modify in pattern:
1. Cut bags square.
2. Choose pocket fabric with straight lines about 1" apart.
3. Make pockets longer for markers.
4. Make handles the simple way.
5. Sew handles onto bag BEFORE hemming top of bag.
6. Keep track of blank books.

I'll have to make more bags so I can use all the things I learned!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Hate Stuffed Animals!

Right up front: I've said it! I'm not a fan of stuffed animals. I've seen hundreds of them come and go through my house. Bears and horses and unicorns and monkeys and more bears and frogs and more bears. Build-A-Bears and Beanie Babies. More than I can count. And it seems that no matter how many go out the door, the number inside my house never seems to decrease. While I don't like the real thing, patterns for stuffed animals are a whole different animal (pun intended!). I can't pass up a pattern for a stuffed animal. It doesn't matter if the envelope is shredded, if some of the tissue patterns are missing, or even if I already have three copies. I love the patterns!

The first stuffed animal I sewed was an Eeyore in 4-H. I used McCall's 8087. Eeyore is long gone, but I still have the pattern. One that I don't want to sell!

I have a soft spot for teaching dolls. You know, those dolls that have a snap on one shoe and a shoelace on the other. Buttons and laces and zippers. I've got a small collection. Dapper Dan and Dressy Bessy. Raggedy Ann and Minnie Mouse. Ernie and a weird clown. A couple more generic dolls. They sit in a doll crib, ready to play with anyone who is attracted to them. Not that anyone does! I've never made a teaching doll, but if I wanted to make one, Simplicity 7401 from 1967 would be one I might use.

And there are patterns of bears and animals from books and cartoons and movies. Kermit the Frog, Paddington Bear, Sylvester and Tweety. If you want to add a stuffed animal to your house, make one of these! But PLEASE! Don't bring them to my house!

If you want to see the toy and stuffed animal patterns I have for sale Click Here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day Should Be in April

Friday? March? Really? The season isn't long enough already? Let's not wait for the first Monday in April. Next thing you know, they'll introduce some stupid rule to let another player hit for the pitcher. Oh. Yeah. That stupid DH rule.

Well. At least the Reds are playing at home. Some traditions haven't been throw out. Yet. Versus the Brewers. Not a made-for-tv matchup. I realize that. And the game isn't on ESPN. ESPN, you suck! Who cares about drawing a large audience? I'm a REDS FAN! And like the other five Reds fans in Nebraska, I can't see a Reds game on tv. EXCEPT ON OPENING DAY! Thanks, ESPN, for screwing up the entire start of the season for me. You suck!
I'm going to drown my baseball sorrows by watching a triple-header. And while I watch, I'm going to work on my Baseball Bucket List. The baseball Fan's Bucket List, 162 Things You Must See, Do, Get & Experience Before You Die, by Robert Santelli & Jenna Santelli. I know I can check off a bunch of them. I've seen Major League and The Natural, collected baseball cards, kept score, owned a glove. And more from the list. And today, I'm going to document those. I'm going to remember Pacific Coast League games and learning to keep score in high school. I'm going to make some plans to read some baseball books. I'm going to wallow in baseball, since I can't watch my beloved Reds play.

Play Ball!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Transfers and Toasters

Recent finds include DuBarry 1268B, which is a set of nautical themed transfers, Advance 722, Appliance Covers and Simplicity 2328, toys.

Nautical motifs in the ever popular red, white and blue combination carry a sporting note on bathing suits, blouses, beach ensembles, daytime frocks, accessories, and children's garments. They make a decorative design for pillow tops, drapes, etc. Doesn't that pattern description say it all? I want to wear a frock or a beach ensemble!

I love patterns for covering kitchen appliances! Never mind that I have never owned a rotisserie, I've always had a hand mixer because I yearn for a Kitchen Aid blender in a fabulous color and I buy potholders because I love their fabric, not because they match anything in my kitchen! Isn't the fabric fab?

I always save the best for last! According to the pattern, these are pillows, not toys. Simple to make playmate pillows! So cute! I may make a couple of these before I post this pattern for sale!

On Being Expensive

This past weekend, I spent quite a bit of time preparing a quote for Potential Client. The project was to make and quilt a quilt designed by Potential Client, plus write pattern instructions for said quilt. After I submitted my quote, I was told that it was four times their budgeted amount. There wasn't THAT much wiggle room, so we parted amicably, me thinking Potential Client's budget was unrealistic and Potential Client thinking I was too expensive.

Was I too expensive? I checked in with Experienced Quilter Friend to see if my estimation of time to piece a complicated block were within reason. It was. I reviewed my calculations. My time estimates are reasonable for sewing the quilt blocks. Ditto for assembling the top.

Quilting calculations are easy using my standard charges for custom quilting based on size of Potential Client's design.

Writing instructions for a pattern is HARD and time consuming. Don't think so? Here's what is involved: Write instructions. Edit for clarity and order. Edit for simplicity. Edit for spelling. Add illustrations? Check instructions (best done by someone OTHER than the writer!).

Here's what goes through my head to write instructions for a simple 9-patch: Start by choosing fabric. Nine patch is best with contrast, so a dark & a light. Let's see, I want it to be 9" finished. So each square has to be 3" in the finished block. Add seam allowances, which means they need to be cut 3.5". I need to show a block diagram. How do I draw that? Black & white will be ok. Maybe I can find a color image somewhere online. Ready to write?

1. Choose 2 fabrics, one dark, one light.
2. From dark fabric, cut five 3.5" squares.
3. From light fabric, cut four 3.5" squares.
4. Arrange squares as shown in diagram.
5. Sew, pressing toward dark fabric.

Writing and editing those 5 lines took me about 10 minutes. What you see is the final result, all cleaned up and ready to use. Are you ready to try writing instructions? Try this at home: Write instructions for sewing a Y-seam block. How long did it take you?

I expect to earn a reasonable wage for my time, based on my experience and skill level. I'm willing to ask for it. And I'm willing to walk away from jobs that don't reward me for what I bring.

I'm easy, but I'm not cheap. I don't think that's a bad thing. Rant over.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Extra Bits and Pieces

Vintage pattern collectors often find bits and pieces in the patterns. An extra tissue piece, unlabeled cut-offs from a skirt, cloth cut and pinned to a pattern piece. We always hope that our pattern is complete, but sometimes the extras are as much fun as the pattern! I love finding old newspaper with vintage patterns. Sometimes there is an entire page, usually the newspaper has been used to cut a pattern. If I'm lucky, the printed material on the newspaper is sewing or clothes or quilt related. If I'm really lucky, it is dated! I have a couple examples of these to share today.

A newspaper pattern is always fun to find tucked inside a pattern envelope. Sometimes they go with the pattern, sometimes they don't. This one didn't! Because the dates rarely are on these pieces, I find clues in the ads and stories. This bodice pattern has ads for summer clothes. Blouses for 57¢! Summer purses for 77¢! Did someone make a summer blouse?

My next newspaper lined the bottom of a box of vintage sewing items I found at a yard sale. The newspaper is The Columbus Ohio Citizen Journal, dated Jan 1, 1965. The front page of the two-page spread includes stories of Vietnam and the 1964 Men of the Year. Inside, more news, plus the tv guide (three channels!) listings for the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. AM Radio listings: Farm Time, Dick Clark. You could listen to Dateline RFD on WLW-700, Book in Review and Bookstall on WOSU-820.

I saved the best for last! The back is a full page Lazarus ad. Along with ads for lamp shades and original oil paintings was an ad for a White console sewing machine for $84. Make monthly payments of $5. The sewing machine was also available as a portable, complete with case for $64. A related ad for wool fabric with rayon-tricot bonded linings included line drawings of Vogue 1305 (dress), Vogue 6238 (jumper-skirt) and Vogue 1434 (suit). Lazarus, 5th floor.

I don't remember the patterns that came with these two newspaper pieces, but they evoke childhood memories of Lazarus, of 1965, watching the Rose Bowl Parade. What fun!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Big Football Game Mystery/Baby Quilt

A friend's link to a mystery quilt on (dare I use the trade-marked name?) Super Bowl Sunday grabbed my attention. It was supposed to be a table-topper. I decided to make it bigger so it could be a baby quilt and I chose to make it in red, blue and yellow. Red and Blue for the Kansas University parents. Yellow added because red and blue and yellow look really great together! Using just three fabrics is NOT in my comfort zone! Why use three when you have thirty? But I did!

I pieced the mystery on Sunday. If you take off your glasses and squint to blur your vision, can you see the football? The football should be easier to spot - can you see my mistake?

Not a big deal, certainly not worth the frog-stitching fixing the mistake would require!

I like baby quilts to be about 60 x 45". To make the table-topper bigger, piece a few more blocks, presto-chango - baby quilt! Not quite that easy, as the football in the center made that territory un-touchable! So my extra blocks were added to the top and bottom. Presto-chango - baby quilt!

Cute top, quilting to be done at a later time!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Vintage DellaJane...

One part of my sewing life is "new". I dye and sell DellaJane Hand Dyed fabric. I make quilts, mostly non-traditional. But I've always loved old things. Antique furniture. Old houses. Postcards and photos. And I especially love old sewing things. Vintage fabric! Quilts! And sewing patterns! I buy and sell and collect them. I'll be sharing pictures and stories about my vintage treasures on this blog. Please come back to visit and see what wonderful "new" finds I'm writing about.

The treasure I am sharing today came to me a couple weeks ago, when a friend gave me a large plastic tub of patterns from her mother-in-law's estate. She knew I liked "old patterns". Wow!

They are mostly mail order patterns, ordered from Grit, The Omaha World-Herald, Capper's Weekly, Hoard's Dairyman and the Sioux City Journal. Patterns from Kate Marchbanks, Anne Cabot, Vogart, Aunt Martha, Aunt Ellen, Carol Curtis, and more!

I can't wait to catalog them, scan the pattern covers and share them here. Do I start with the Spring 1952 issue of Vogart or the Work Basket from 1948? Maybe the Grandmothers Art Needlework catalog dated Fall, 1954. The undated items will require a little detective work. Is that postmark readable? You'll see more details of the items in the picture, along with other patterns from my collection. See you soon!