This week has been steady rain, but last week, my wreath-making day was gorgeous.
Looks like I’m not the only one enjoying the woods. :)
I hope your weekend is filled with beautiful weather and the time and space to enjoy it.
Hi, guys! I just got this e-mail in my inbox saying I had been featured on Pattern Review. If you’ve never been to the site, it’s a great site with reviews on sewing patterns, machines, and so, so much more. I found my picture on the right hand side-bar. I’m the featured member of the day! I felt touched and also a little silly–I’ve only posted a few reviews. I have yet to enter any of their many contests or expand beyond a few pattern and book reviews. Time to up my game, I guess!
You may remember that I went to the Boston Pattern Review Day this past summer. It was so much fun and made me love the site even more. Since that day, I’ve made blog friends through Pattern Review (you’ll find a few of their blogs in the sidebar–Allspice Abounds and Thanks! I Made Them and Sew Can You), and read about a billion reviews on patterns before buying. Now that I have a smartphone, I’ve even looked up reviews while at the fabric store to make sure a certain pattern was really worth it. The founder, Deepika, is really nice, an amazing seamstress, and a great creator of not just a sewing resource, but a place that is also a community for many people.
It’s easy to join Pattern Review for free. If you are even considering sewing, I can’t recommend Pattern Review enough as a resource for you. No one is paying me to say this. It’s how I really feel. Thanks for letting me share my sewing excitement with you!
There are about a billion ways to make a wreath. It’s just a circle, after all, so it really depends on your own imagination. A few years ago, a lady at my church showed us a method for wreath-making that I’d like to share with you today.
Here are the supplies you will want to have:
Also, you should have some branches that you’ve cut. If you can’t work on the wreath the day you cut the branches, keep them outside (or in a cool place) in a bucket of water.
Here’s what you do:
1. Stretch out your hanger by pulling the bottom down.
2. Use your pliers to straighten out the bends and keep pulling and pushing on the wire until you have it more or less circular.
3. Tear your newspaper until the double pages are single (leave the single ones as they are) and fold them lengthwise two times to make long strips.
4. Wrap the folded strips of newspaper around the hanger, starting at the top and going around.
5. Use masking tape to secure the newspaper to the top of the hanger. It’s hard to see, but I was originally using off-white masking tape. I used that to secure the newspaper to the top of the hanger. I had to switch to blue because the off-white wasn’t peeling off the roll easily. It seems like a happy accident since the blue is so much easier to see.
6. Keep wrapping until you’ve gone all the way around. End by taping the last of the newspaper to the top of the circle.
7. Take a bunch of short branches and wrap floral wire around them to secure them. If your branches are too long, use your pruning shears or some tough scissors to trim them to the size you want. You don’t need to knot the wire in any way, just wrap right over the end.
8. Without cutting the wire, lay your group of branches on part of the wreath form you’ve made and continue to wrap the wire around the form and the branches a few times. I brought the wire from the inside of the wreath out, but however you find it most comfortable is what you should do.
9. Continue to make small bundles of branches and lay each new bunch over the ends of the last bunch. Hold the new bunch in place and wrap wire around it and the form. (You won’t be wrapping wire around each bunch before putting it on the form at this point–that was only for the first bunch.) Make sure not to cut the wire, just lay each new little bundle down and wrap.
10. Keep going until you are nearly back to your starting point.
11. Carefully cover up the place where you started. This takes a little bit of trial and error. I laid a bunch of branches over my starting point, but had to lift some of the pine needles up and wrap the wire under them so it would remain hidden. You can also wrap wire around and, as long as it’s not too tight, you can pull pine needles out of the wrapping to cover your wire. Cut the wire, leaving a little bit extra (maybe an inch or two). When I had finished, I tucked the extra wire under some other wire and twisted it around until it seemed secure.
12. Now you have a basic wreath. Time to add a little bit of interest.
13. Take a few berries or some pinecones or whatever you like the look of. Make a little bunch, wire them together like you did in Step 7 and, without cutting the wire, wrap it around the wreath while holding the bunch in place. Try placing it slightly under some of the pine needles so the wire doesn’t show. Secure the wire by wrapping it around itself like you did when you finished the wreath (just make it up until it feels secure). Use the hook from your hanger to hang it up.
Good job! You did it!
If you hang this wreath outside in the cold, it should stay nice and green for a long time. If it’s dry in your area, mist your wreath with water every day or two.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Last Thursday night we had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at our house called, among other things, “Potato and Pie Thanksgiving”. This is my husband’s dream menu for Thanksgiving, and I have to admit that it sounded pretty great to me, too. We had some friends over and each person was charged with bringing a potato-based dish and/or a pie. We also planned a prize for the most creative and delicious item. It was so much fun!
The dish that won was a potato dish that took the idea of scalloped potatoes one step further with a creamy sauce, kielbasa, and extra cheese. So good! Because this is a group of friends that we get together with to watch MacGyver and other ’80’s TV shows, the prize was a Swiss Army Knife, an important tool that our hero, MacGyver, is never without.
Since we were the hosts, we didn’t compete, but one of our potato dishes was quite popular all the same. I’d like to share it with you. It’s a recipe that is common at my husband’s family gatherings and is everything people like in a good holiday dish: fast, easy, and deliciously unhealthy. If you need a potato dish for your Thanksgiving feast, you might try out “Hobo Potatoes”.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients except the corn flakes and reserved butter together right in the pan. Mix corn flakes and the reserved butter together and spread on top of the mixture you just made. Bake the dish, uncovered, for one hour. Serve warm.
Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
Remember the t-shirt I made awhile back? Here’s a picture of it soon after it was finished:
The big questions with this shirt were: ‘Will the fabric still look nice after a fair amount of wear?’ (it was a bargain find at Joann Fabric) and ‘Will the beading, which was salvaged from a silk jacket, hold up to normal wear and machine washing?’ I wore it a few times and then threw it in the washer and held my breath.
Here is the result:
So, readers, what would you do? These are the options I can see:
I think I could go for anything other than the boring option because I probably won’t wear the shirt if it’s too plain. I don’t regret trying it, though. I love the look of the beading on the shirt and it’s very possible I’ll just sew the heck out of it to keep it on there. I also wanted a garment that could stand up to the washing machine. I did a whole semester of hand-washing everything in college and, while it was very nice and meditative at the time, that’s not something I want to fit into my life now. We’ll see. So…I do NOT concede defeat and declare this a craft fail. Game on, sewing conundrum!
Yesterday I took you on a tour of my trip to The Vintage Bazaar Holiday Jubilee. Here is Part 2 of that post, with more makers and vintage sellers to help you with your own Christmas shopping. Let’s get right to it!
When I was in high school, I came across a set of encyclopedias that were being thrown away and took one to make a hollow book. Working long and hard with my X-acto knife, I finally finished my project, but it was nowhere near as awesome as the books at Book End Designs. BookEndDesigns.etsy.com
Maybe vintage linens are your thing? You may like The Linens Lady www.facebook.com/TheLinensLady She had handkerchiefs, tea towels, table cloths, and aprons, all in wonderful condition.
Mill 77 www.mill77.com is a multi-dealer antiques and consignment space in Amesbury, MA. I loved looking at this booth with its array of interesting vintage items. I think I need to visit the store!
Across from Mill 77, I met Antoinette Indge of Cinderloop. www.cinderloop.com As a sewer, I was really impressed with her clothing. I’m pretty sure the pictures won’t do this one justice, either (If anyone has tips for shooting pictures indoors without natural light, I’d love to hear them.). Her work was really creative. Most of the clothing was shaped through artful gathers and beautiful stitches in just the right places. I’ve never seen clothing quite like it.
One of my favorite things about art is how it can be used to make us look at materials and other things in new ways. When I saw these clutches made from the same materials used for lobster bait bags, I thought they were so creative. They’re also easy to wash in your washing machine. You can’t beat that!
One of my favorite booths belonged to Katie Marie, artist, bookmaker, and owner of Lives and Letters. www.etsy.com/shop/livesandletters She is a lovely person and we had a nice, long chat about making things and, specifically, her own books. She upcycles old books and binds them into old/new journals. They come in various sizes and papers. She told me that if I was looking for something specific, say a journal with half graph paper and half blank paper, she can accommodate that. She chooses really interesting books as her covers and gives them new life.
Right next door to Katie was Jessica Kealty. www.kealthydesign.com She is an interior designer, but also sells goods from her travels. At this event, she was selling, among other things, Turkish towels. I’ve seen these in magazines, but never had the chance to feel them myself. They were lovely. The lady that I spoke with was telling me that people use them not only as towels, but also as shawls, scarves, and baby blankets.
All of these shops were located in the large, main tent at the Bazaar. There were also several greenhouses and a smaller tent with more vendors as well as a shop in a cute truck.
I found my friend Elizabeth Berthoud of sacAmain www.sacamain-shop.com in one of the greenhouses. (She was the one who generously donated the leather that I used to make the clutches for my friends.) I’m always impressed with the quality of her handbags and all the special touches she puts into them.
Last, but not least, I visited Laurel of Retromat Vintage. www.etsy.com/shop/RetromatVintage and www.RetromatVintage.com She was just as friendly and knowledgeable in person as I thought she would be. She had a really great array of vintage goods and clothing. In case you are wondering, I did try on the fur dress, and it fit…but it was a bit snug in the shoulder area, so I decided not to bring it home with me. :(
Between this event and the September one, I think I liked September’s better. There were more vendors since it could be held outdoors, and the entrance price was lower, but this was fun nevertheless. I found it very inspiring and I came away with new ideas…oh! and even a few Christmas gifts. :)
Last weekend, as I had hoped, I attended the Vintage Bazaar Holiday Jubilee. I’m happy to report that I got pictures and some contact information for you! Now you can come along via the internet and do a little Christmas shopping of your own (or at least file away some great ideas for later).
It was really fun to be a reporter for my own blog. I met a lot of great makers. In fact, I was doing such a good job of remembering to take pictures of my favorite booths, that I forgot to Christmas shop, and I had to do a second round after my “blog round”. While this bazaar was not as large as the September event, there were still many more vendors than those I photographed. I actually got to a point where I was tired of taking pictures and there were a few booths that I really should have captured but, as you’ll see, this post will have plenty of new finds for you even without the ones I missed (I actually broke it into two parts because it got lonngggg!). Let’s dive in!
Jess’ shop was filled with yarn, patterns, and the most wonderful tactile things. My knitting buddy and I always like to see the Jwrobel shop at craft shows. Her work is very high quality and has a distinctive beauty to it that makes it stand out. Plus, she’s nice. You can’t beat that.
Next up, Luksin. luksindesigns.com Sadly, my picture won’t do this shop justice, so you should check out her site if you are interested. The clothing at this booth has a great visual unity, and it’s super cool, and it’s soft. I’ve been looking online for fabric like her maxi skirt ever since the bazaar.
I also visited Selina Vaughan Studios. www.selinavaughan.etsy.com This is one of my favorite booths at Brimfield as well. This shop stocks very well-made bags created from vintage seed sacks as well as really eclectic jewelry.
After that, I visited Forestbound. www.forestbound.com Have you ever had a bunch of cool fabric scraps that you wanted to use, but didn’t know how? Well, Alice Saunders has the answer. Every bag was interesting and high-quality. I’m not a bag maker, but I found her booth inspirational.
Did you every have a spoon ring? Not So Flatware by Cassandra Mae takes that concept and expands it. www.NotSoFlatware.Etsy.com Each piece is unique. Cassie creates beautiful rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. She had a great set-up. Look at some of these displays. I kind of want the one below as my normal jewelry storage!
You know I love vintage, and there were plenty of 20th century antiques at this show. Scrapped and Found (find them on Facebook) had both antiques and fun things they had upcycled.
Need some jewelry for a friend or family member? Check out the cool offerings from Erin Nelson. www.freebird-designs.com
Upcycled Wool Mittens was a lovely booth to visit. Jean Roaf (email@example.com) makes all her mittens out of recycled sweaters and lines them with fleece. She also sews the cuffs on by hand to make them more comfortable and give them a flatter seam. These must be some of the warmest mittens I’ve ever tried on.
Tomorrow I’ll show you the rest of the booths that I photographed. Have a great weekend!
Inspired by the hope of a cheap burrito at Chipotle (only $3!), I created a Halloween costume again this year. Maybe you remember my fox costume from last year. This year, I was the (Mad) Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
All the elements of the outfit were items I already owned, with the exception of the bow tie, which was just a piece of fabric I folded up and tied and then tied around my neck, and the hat. I made the hat by looking at pictures of hats others had made, but I leaned most heavily on this tutorial. I didn’t follow every step, but if you ever want to make a high-quality, long-lasting Mad Hatter hat, Badia’s tutorial is the one to use. This pin from Pinterest also helped. I went for medium quality, but it turned out great and people easily figured out who I was. Also, I got a burrito from Chipotle for $3, so it was totally worth it.
This may sound extreme, but I am deep in the midst of Christmas present plans. For a few years now, inspired by my friend Audrey, I’ve made it my goal to have all of my Christmas presents bought by Thanksgiving. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I try to get everything I need bought by then, and spend the time until Christmas making the few presents I want to make. (It may surprise you to know that I make very few presents, despite the fact that about two weeks before Christmas I usually think of somewhere around one hundred things I could make. Then I get stressed out and don’t make any of them. Oh, well.) When I actually aim toward some version of this goal, I have a very enjoyable Christmas season. I love it.
My main regret for blog purposes was that I didn’t get contact information on each booth that I took pictures of. I hope to remedy that this time. Luckily Laurel of Retromat Vintage contacted me with her information and the exciting fact that she’ll be at the Holiday Jubilee. I hope to meet her and spend some time looking through her booth. She’s the one who had these fun items last time:
If you are in New England and would like to do some Christmas shopping of your own, here are the details:
November 7, 8 & 9th
November Show Hours:
**Early Bird Hours are 3pm to 5pm on Friday Nov. 7th**
General Daily Admission: $7
Early Bird & 3 day Weekend Passes: $18
The secret Christmas presents I have been working on for my two friends were safely delivered last weekend and, I think, well-received. I can FINALLY show you. I made each of them a leather clutch.
My take on my friend Audrey’s style is that she likes modern and slightly funky clothes, so I tried to echo that as I pieced the leather. Here is the final product:
In order to get this arrangement, I moved leather scraps around until I liked the look and then taped them together with Scotch tape until I could sew them. When I was ready to sew, I sewed right over the tape and removed it after I had sewn everything. I had to use tweezers to get the remaining tape out in a few spots, but it didn’t take too long.
My other friend Trisha has, in my mind, a clean and classic style. Here is what I made for her:
Audrey’s clutch is larger and the leather is thinner, making it more flexible. Hers is my favorite, and I had a hard time parting with it. ;0) Trisha’s clutch uses thicker layers that are doubled in some areas, which is why it needed the magnetic snap on the flap. I was afraid the flap wouldn’t stay closed without it.
Both clutches were made on my home sewing machine (an Elna 3005). The only special equipment I used was a leather needle. This is my first real attempt sewing leather (unless you count my awesome leather and double knit pants). I was inspired to try after doing a little bit of work for Elizabeth Berthoud of sacAmain. Her bags are amazing and super professional. She donated her leather scraps to me and made herself available if I had questions. I also discovered Arthur Porter on youtube, who has numerous videos about working with leather.
These projects were really fun and, since I’m the worst at shipping things out on time (yes, even when they are finished months in advance), I was glad to deliver them early. I could definitely see sewing more with leather in the future. Have you tried it? Do you plan to?
Have a happy Reformation Day! Oh, and I guess there’s Halloween, too. ;) I’m going to be the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. I’ll try to get some pictures for you.