Category Archives: Field Trips

Brimfield! May 2022

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Brimfield!  May 2022

Last Friday I went to the Brimfield antique fair in Brimfield, Massachusetts after a few years off. Like so many things that we didn’t do during the last few years, the time off made it feel a bit strange and outside the realm of my normal routine, like I had to break the ice all over again. But with the company of my best Brimfield buddy, Jo-Alice, we travelled old roads again and went to this, one of our favorite events, and it was just as great as ever.

I took a few pictures for you so you could get a sense of the experience, too. Check it out!

Vintage Clothes

There are always so many vintage clothes to see at Brimfield. You can find them scattered throughout the various fields, but there’s always a huge tent at the Mahogany Ridge field. (Here’s a link to a map of the fields I mention.)

Brimfield!  May 2022

I found some real treasures there. Vintage clothes rarely fit me, but I like to take pictures of ideas I could use in my own sewing, or just things that look interesting.

Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022
That embroidery is so beautiful!
Brimfield!  May 2022
Make your own wedding veil!

Brimfield Barn also has an area with some beautiful vintage clothes.

Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022
Even the underwear is beautiful!
Brimfield!  May 2022
Baby clothes that look like they were batch dyed. Pretty!
Brimfield!  May 2022

There were lots of other good finds scattered throughout Brimfield, too. Check out this wool jacket.

Brimfield!  May 2022

The pockets were pretty cool.

Brimfield!  May 2022
Now I want pockets like this!
Brimfield!  May 2022

Kitchen Items

I always love to look at all the kitchen tools and dishes because so many of them are still useable in a modern kitchen, and my favorite things to find at Brimfield are the things I can use. Even those that are more display items are often really beautiful. For instance, check out this hand-crank whisk. It seems like an early version of a Kitchen-Aid.

Brimfield!  May 2022
The gear on it is so beautiful.
Brimfield!  May 2022
These cups remind me of some my grandparents had when I was growing up.
Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022
This booth had some of the most amazing salt and pepper shakers. I think the windmill and the lawnmower were my favorites. The windmill also had a space for sugar, and turning the blades of the windmill made the salt and pepper shakers pop up.

Sewing Tools

There are a lot less sewing tools, patterns, and machines than I would have expected at Brimfield–I’m struck by this every year–but I suppose it’s not surprising. We live in a big country and while there are numerous devoted sewing people out there, it’s not a huge percentage of the population.

After years of sewing and antiquing, I have seen a lot of what is out there, but at J & J Promotions (another of the fields), I ran across a booth that had incredibly beautiful sewing tools, many of which I had never seen before. This booth, in a tent with several others, was run by The Freeman Family, and I had the best time talking to Vickie about what the different tools were used for. Many of them were for fine needlework beyond what I will probably ever do, but some of them were gorgeous versions of commonly used tools.

Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022
Look at those embroidery scissors!

One of my favorite things about Brimfield is learning about tools and other things that I never knew existed. The dealers know so much, and while there have been times when I haven’t felt like chatting, I usually really enjoy asking questions about the unique and wonderful things they are selling. It adds so much to the experience of being at Brimfield.

Other Interesting Finds

Some stuff at Brimfield is just weird. And that’s part of the fun.

Brimfield!  May 2022
Somebody forgot to brush!
Brimfield!  May 2022
A three-piece kayak! The last piece was stored inside the front piece. Clever!
Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022
Brimfield!  May 2022

My Treasures

I came home with a few treasures. I always keep a list of things to look for for myself, the house, friends, and family. I really love finding gifts for antique-loving family members. This time I got those beautiful embroidery scissors I showed you above (a birthday gift for someone who doesn’t read my blog), the steel pennies above for my husband (one is also a gift for someone who doesn’t read this blog), as well as:

Brimfield!  May 2022

some small Wiss scissors and a brass (I think?) thimble–it’s the style of thimble with no end on it. You use the sides to push the needle through. I bought these together for $5 total. I really don’t need more scissors, but I do love good ones, and I seem to unintentionally be starting a collection of Wiss scissors. Whoops! Haha.

The thimble was great because it actually fit me, and as soon as I put it on, I could feel that there was a right way to wear it. Whoever had used it before had used it enough that it started to form to their finger, and you can feel that when you wear it. I love that.

Brimfield!  May 2022

I got this bag for my husband, but it wasn’t quite the right shape for him, so now it’s MIIINNNEEEE! Yay! It’s perfect for me.

And, here are my favorite things that I got:

Brimfield!  May 2022

A pair of turquoise earrings, and a turquoise ring. I got them at different places, but I have enjoyed wearing them together. One of my big goals was to find a silver ring with a big, semi-precious stone in it. This one is just right and fits several of my fingers depending on if it is humid or not outside. I really enjoy looking at turquoise jewelry, although I rarely buy any, so it was great to find two good deals on these.

It was so good to break the ice and get back to Brimfield, but what made it even better was spending the whole day with Jo-Alice. I have done Brimfield alone, and I love it, but it’s even better when you can go with a friend who is a good match for your pace and shopping style.

One of the things that I noticed at one point is how Brimfield really turns the normal ideas of what is valuable upside-down. We were in a booth looking at some completely torn up jeans, but they had been hung up like a work of art. Nearby, there were some jeans for sale that had been beautifully mended. There are a lot of things you can find at an antique fair that in normal daily life get forgotten or overlooked, but in that context are treated as treasures and valued for the work that went into their creation and the potential for work or beauty they still hold. As a maker and as a Christian, those themes of finding beauty in the broken and overlooked are ones that I hold dear, so it was cool to see them played out here, too. Sometimes the things that get cast aside have more value than we realize if we have eyes to see. I love that.

At the end of the day, we were sweaty and tired from walking on and off for nine hours, but we had a wonderful time, ate like Hobbits, and talked the day away. If you get the chance to go to Brimfield or a local antique fair, I highly recommend it.

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Field Trip: Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

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Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

This month’s outside photography post is coming to you a little earlier than usual because…I still don’t have pictures of my latest sewing project. Sigh. Due to various factors, the pants have needed a few repairs already, and that’s held things up. Hopefully all will be ready soon! I do, however, have pictures of an interesting hike I went on with my family recently.

The North Shore of Massachusetts is filled with all sorts of cool nooks and crannies where you can hike, walk, and explore. Each town has spaces large and small, and it’s easy to live in the area for a long time and still find new places you have never seen. Last weekend, my family and I decided to check out Dogtown in Gloucester.

Dogtown, originally known as The Commons and founded in 1693, was once an inland settlement in Gloucester. The story is that since many of the women who lived there kept dogs around for protection while their husbands were off fighting in the Revolutionary War, the settlement became known as Dogtown. Over time, residents moved more toward the coast and, eventually, Dogtown was abandoned. The woods grew up where the settlement had been, and now it is filled with trails, both wide and narrow, that you can explore. You can still find numbered cellar holes from the old houses, as well as about three dozen rocks that were carved with various sayings during the Great Depression. These rocks, today known as Babson Boulders, were commissioned by Roger Babson, founder of Babson College, in order to provide work for Finnish quarry workers who needed income during the Great Depression. (All this information comes from the Essex National Heritage Area website. Read more here.)

We wanted to stick to some easier trails and check out some of the carved rocks, so we chose to walk Dogtown Road and the Babson Boulder Trail (you can find some trail maps on the Historic Ipswich website here). Dogtown Road is a broad, unpaved road that is easy to walk. We completely missed the initial turn for the Babson Boulder Trail, but since our route was a big loop, it didn’t really matter–we just did the walk in the opposite direction of what we had planned. This turned out to be a great thing because after walking awhile through beautiful woods, it became a treasure hunt as we started to spot some of the carved rocks. Once we turned onto the Babson Boulder Trail near Dogtown Square, the path became a more narrow woods path, rather than a wide road.

Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

We found about a dozen of the rocks, including a few that didn’t really have sayings, so much, but were still fun to find (Moraine, D.T. Sq., and To Rockport, which I don’t have a good picture of).

Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

We also decided to see if we could find mushrooms in every color of the rainbow, and we almost managed it! We found them in every color except blue, although our purple one looks a little blue in these pictures.

Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

It was a beautiful walk, but it did take a little longer than we had anticipated. We’re not the fastest walkers, but my husband had estimated it would take us about 40 minutes. It was more like two hours. Oops. I thought it was fun, but we did get a little hangry by the end, and it was a bit long for the kids, even though it wasn’t hard walking. No regrets on going, though! And I would definitely explore more in that area. There were a lot of Babson Boulders we never found, and we didn’t really try to find the numbered cellar holes, although we passed a few, so there’s always that, too.

If you decide to check out Dogtown, make sure to bring a map and maybe a compass–there’s lots to explore.

Field Trip in April: Tip Top Tulips!

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Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!

Spring moves pretty slowly in New England, but it really is here, and with it comes the flowers. Blue skies may be fickle and fleeting, but you can tell everything is coming back to life. It’s so exciting. This month, I went on a field trip (two, actually) to Tip Top Tulips in Ipswich, MA, a place where you can ‘tip-toe through the tulips’ and pick your own bouquet!

I was pretty excited to discover this place. Tip Top Tulips is new this year and has two fields. There is a small field with no entry fee where tulips are $1 a stem. You can keep the bulbs if they come up when you pick the flowers or not–your choice. They may not grow next year, but I kept ours. We’ll put them in the garden in the fall and see what happens.

Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!
The small tulip field just after it opened.

My kids and I checked this out last week. It was a fun way to pick a bouquet. I gave each of them a budget and turned them loose. The farmers were very helpful and friendly, and we had a great time.

There is also a large tulip field in a different part of Ipswich where admission is $10. Tickets can be purchased on their website. Tulips are also $1 per stem here and you can keep the bulbs if you like.

On Thursday, I went back with a friend to check out the large field. We spent over an hour walking through trying to pick out our favorite flowers.

Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!
Thanks to the cloudy day, we had the whole field to ourselves a good part of the time. The misty skies were really beautiful.

My plans to only pick five dissolved and I came away with twice as many.

Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!
I even wore the wooden shoes my parents got me on a visit to the Netherlands when I was a child. They were awesome and still fit! My feet stayed dry and they were easy to walk around the field in.
Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!

There were some really interesting tulip varieties.

Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!
Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!
Field Trip in April:  Tip Top Tulips!

My friend and I had a great time. We sort of forgot to catch up because we spent all of our time exclaiming over the tulips. It was such a nice pick-me-up during COVID, you know? I’m not sure how long they will be open, but if you are near Ipswich and you like tulips, it’s a fun outdoor activity, whether you choose the large or small field.

Sounds like there are plans for a sunflower field in August and a dahlia field in the fall. Fun!

The Brimfield Report: May 2019

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The Brimfield Report: May 2019

Sorry to have missed you all last week.  I like to post at 8:00AM Eastern Standard Time (US) every Friday, but Flickr, where I keep my pictures for my posts, had a few glitches last week.  It seemed better to save this post as my “outside” photography post for May instead of trying to get it out then.  That’s a definite benefit of not monetizing your blog/hobby—you get to stick to your own time schedule!  This week, we’re talking Brimfield!!!!

Have you heard about the Brimfield Antique Flea Market?  It’s the largest outdoor antiques flea market in the US, and it’s so much fun.  Whenever possible, I try to go once a year.  (You can find my past posts here:  2014, 2015, 2016, 2018.)  It’s helpful that there are three “shows” every year, stretching from a Tuesday to a Sunday in May, July, and September.  These shows turn the small town of Brimfield, MA into a very full town for each of those weeks.  The whole, big show is actually a mile-long strip of road with smaller fields stretching back on either side.

Brimfield Antique Show!

Each field has its own flavor and dealers typically set up in the same spot if they are regulars, so you can often find your favorites again and again.  Oddly enough, my friend and I noticed that a lot of the specific dealers we normally see weren’t there this time.  Was it because they came earlier in the week and didn’t stay until Saturday?  Was it some weird fluke?  Or has something at Brimfield changed this year?  Mysterious!  I plan to ask around at my local flea market to see what I can find out.  We also saw a new field or two that we didn’t fully check out.  I think one of the bigger fields may have gotten divided and perhaps another was added at the end of the row.

Brimfield Antique Show!

I keep notes from year to year in a notebook and store dealers’ business cards in a little accordion file organized by field so that I can find my favorites again the next time I come.  If there is something specific that the dealer sold that I was interested in, I’ll write that on their business card.  All the fields have unique names, like New England Motel, one of my favorites.

Brimfield Antique Show!

My other favorite field is The Meadows, but I also really like Mahogany Ridge, Quaker Acres, Brimfield Barn, Central Park, and Hertan’s.

I love a good treasure hunt, whether for information, foraged plants, or antiques, which is why Brimfield is one of my favorite events.  I like to show up around sun-up or a little after, and walk until everything closes in the late afternoon, stopping now and then for a meal or a snack.  I keep a shopping list and save my Christmas money in a “Brimfield Fund” so that I can buy fun and useful vintage items as well as gifts.

This year I probably bought less than I ever have, but I went with my Best Brimfield Buddy, and we walked all day, checking everything out.  I found gifts for my kids, some jewelry for me, and an enamel bucket to use when gardening.  My favorite things to look for are:

clothes and jewelry,

Brimfield Antique Show!

sewing (and maybe knitting) items,

Brimfield Antique Show!

gardening supplies and plants,

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

and kitchen and decor items.

Brimfield Antique Show!

I rarely spend much, but you could furnish a pretty amazing house if you had an unlimited budget and an empty house.

I could go on, but how about some pictures instead?

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

(I didn’t buy this antique sewing machine, but it was SO FASCINATING!  And beautiful!)

Brimfield Antique Show!

This was at Jim Nardone’s booth in Quaker Acres.  He had tools and a few sewing machines.  Sadly, he doesn’t have a website on his card, but if this is the machine you have been looking for, I do have his e-mail address.

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

Here’s where to find those extra mannequin legs you’ve been looking for!

Brimfield Antique Show!

Maybe I should have gotten this to hold my fabric scraps…

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

 

And here is my food recommendation for you, because if you’re walking all day, you can eat whatever you want!  Faddy’s Doughnuts!

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

Behold the most amazing Boston Cream doughnut I have ever had, made fresh for me while I waited.  I had to stop and really focus on eating this so as not to wasted this amazing experience.

Brimfield Antique Show!

And that’s my May 2019 Brimfield round-up.  Have you been?  Do you have any tips or favorite fields?  Share in the comments!  Also, let me know if you have any other favorite antique shows.  If it wasn’t so far away, I would love to go to Round Top in Texas!

The Brimfield Report: July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

And I’m back!  After taking a little more than a month off of blogging, it’s time to get back to it, and first up is a report on my trip to Brimfield Antique Show in mid-July.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Brimfield, it’s a small town in western Massachusetts that hosts the largest outdoor antique show in the US three times a year (May, July, and September) for about a week (Tuesday-Sunday).  I love antiquing, and while I don’t get to go every year, I make it for a day when I can.  The show (which is really a collection of different fields) stretches out on either side of a one-mile strip of road.  You never know what you will find, from sought-after antiques (and new things that play well with antiques), to repurposed items, to raw materials to make your own upcycled creations.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I love antiquing.  A full day of wandering through the fields with a friend or by myself is one of my favorite kinds of days.  This July, my best Brimfield buddy Jo-Alice (of Hillcraft Designs) and I managed to get away for the day.  We left before the sun was up, drove out to western MA, and got walking!  Each show has its own flavor, and July tends to have fewer vendors and fewer customers, because it can be the hottest weather (although sometimes September is pretty toasty, too).  Having said that, though, there is still A LOT to take in.  A few of my favorite vendors weren’t around, but despite that, we walked from about 7 A.M. to maybe 4:30 P.M. and found plenty to look at.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

No, that didn’t come home with me.  That dress form made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I always go with a list of things I’m looking for for our house, my sewing practice, as gifts, or just fun things like jewelry and plants.  I save some of my Christmas money toward this end, and don’t usually spend much, but always have a great time.  Anything I don’t spend, I roll over for next year.  I only get things I can use, because our apartment is small, and we don’t have wall or shelf space for knick-knacks.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

Storage items are always useful finds!  I didn’t find any affordable pattern storage boxes, though.  I’m not willing to pay a lot for those.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

Hm.  Maybe I should have gotten this sign.  😉

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

Health fads of the past…

I didn’t find quite as much as usual this time, but I still came away with some good finds:  deadstock top sheets with a great border print.  These were unused and unopened and are 100% cotton.  I think they’ll make a great maxi dress.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I found a sparkly necklace and this cute chocolate tin for gifts, but…bonus!  It was filled with sewing odds and ends for me!

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

We needed some enamel ware for camping.  Check!

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

I also thought I would try out this folding drying rack for holding patterns that have been cut out but aren’t sewn yet.  Right now I drape them over my husband’s chair and, while he’s very patient, I bet he would like his chair back.

The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

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The Brimfield Report:  July 2018 (Better late than never!)

My favorite jewelry lady and plant lady weren’t in attendance, so no treasures from them this time.  Not a huge haul, but a good one, nonetheless.  Next year, if I get a chance to go, I’ll reevaluate this year’s list and roll anything over that I am still looking for.

After a day full of walking and looking (and eating second-breakfast and a delicious lunch of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), my friend and went to Cracker Barrel for dinner since it’s on our way home.  What a great end to the day, and a wonderful chance to hang out with a dear friend!

If you get a chance to visit Brimfield, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t bring your young children.  If you plan to make a full day of this, it’s a lot of walking and can get long and hot.  Can you do it with kids?  Definitely.  Will you (and they) enjoy it?  Probably not.
  • Bring cash.
  • Wear good shoes.
  • Park in the middle so you can drop things off in your car as you go back and forth.
  • Write down the fields your favorite vendors are in.  After walking for a while, things start to look the same and the paths through the fields are sometimes curvy, which can make remembering exactly where you found that perfect item a little tricky when you are tired.  My current favorite fields?  New England Motel and Quaker Acres.
  • Pack a cooler filled with water and leave it in your car.  Plan to take a midday break with some water and a snack as you drop off your purchases so you can get that second wind to keep going!
  • Wear sunscreen and be prepared for varying weather.
  • Have fun and chat up the vendors.  They are usually really friendly, really interesting, and great to learn from (whether you want to know the history of your latest find, its provenance, or the psychology of Brimfield).

 

Do you have a favorite antique fair where you live?  Have any tips to share or recommendations for fun flea markets/fairs to visit?  Leave them in the comments!

Field Trip: The Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

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Field Trip:  The Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

I went on a field trip last week to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see Georgia O’Keeffe:  Art, Image, Style.  I heard this exhibit was coming way back in May on the Thread Cult podcast.  It was exciting because the exhibit isn’t just about her paintings, but also contains her clothing, some of which she sewed.  I had a free pass to the museum and I saved it just for this show.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Georgia O’Keeffe is not one of my favorite painters, but having studied art, and now applying my artistic side through making clothing for myself, this exhibit sounded exciting to me.  I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  I loved it.  The funny thing is, it wasn’t the paintings that I loved or her exact clothing style.  I loved seeing the two together with images of her by various photographers, seeing her tiny, tiny stitches, seeing how she created her own style.  I’ve never read a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, so I don’t know what her personality was like, but going through the exhibit gave me a sense of someone who found out what she liked and quietly went with it (feel free to set me straight in the comments if she was loud and dramatic or something).

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Because sewing has become my own form of creative expression, I was moved to see how she created her own style that exemplified who she was…and she did it at an amazingly high skill level.  The miniscule and beautiful stitches, pintucks, and mending on her clothing was wonderful to me.  She sewed her clothing by hand!

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

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Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

These tiny lines in the fabric are pintucks–small folds of fabric that she created and stitched down by hand.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Garments shown above are all believed to have been sewn by Georgia O’Keeffe.  These pictures really cannot convey the beautiful and precise hand stitches she used.

The exhibit was divided into two parts–before she went to New Mexico and after.  Sewing wasn’t her main mode of expression, and as she went on in her career, she started to have others make her clothing, but even when she wasn’t sewing for herself, she used her apparel to express who she was.  It wasn’t a loud explosion of color or attention-grabbing fashion.  She quietly found her style and stayed with it, but when you see her fashion choices in the time after she began visiting New Mexico, things start to feel very contemporary.  Some of the clothing she was choosing then is what people wear every day now.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

These garments weren’t sewn by Georgia O’Keeffe.  The styles are still in vogue today.

It wasn’t about being sexy, grabbing attention, or screaming at other people to follow her.  It was just about what she liked.  And you know what?  We are following her.  The show ends with a recent Dior fashion show that has numerous elements obviously inspired by O’Keeffe.

There is something really compelling about someone who quietly does their thing.  I’m tired of the loud and blustery.  I’ve done it, but I think I respect this more.  Even if my take on this show isn’t a clear and accurate picture of who she was, it certainly caused me to think.  It’s ok to carve out a unique path in fashion and in art.  It doesn’t have to be overly sexualized, because we’re more than that as people.  It doesn’t have to be loud to be compelling.  It doesn’t have to be in-your-face to make a difference.  Sometimes quiet diligence is what prevails.

This exhibit is showing through April 1, 2018.  You can see more pictures of the exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum’s website as well as on my Flickr page.

Recommendations

  • The Peabody Essex Museum has an excellent gift shop.  They have all sorts goods related generally to art and specifically to their exhibits, currently including black hats as that was a distinctive item of apparel that O’Keeffe adopted in her New Mexico years.  I found my own black hat that really felt like me.  Fashion and art take courage because both involve putting yourself out there.  I’m going to wear this until it doesn’t feel awkward any more, because I LOVE it.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

  • O’Keeffe was influenced by the writing and art of Arthur Wesley Dow, which reminded me of how much I love his work.  Some of his landscape paintings and his use of color really stop me in my tracks.
  • Since we were talking about fashion, I really like some of Dansko’s ankle boots lately.  Comfortable and good-looking!

Field Trip: Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

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Hi, everyone!  I hope you had a good July.  It’s been good to have a blogging break, and it’s good to be back.  Despite my break from blogging, I haven’t taken much of a break from sewing…except for during the road trip we took out to the Midwest.  We visited family and friends in Michigan, which was really nice.  My Mom is a long-time quilter (and an apparel sewer before that), and we often make the rounds of the fabric stores where she lives.  We didn’t have quite as much time to do that this time, so instead, she took me on a little field trip to learn about Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana, where she has been helping out as a quilting mentor.  I thought I would share our trip with you.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved is located in downtown South Bend.  Here is what they say about themselves:  “Sew Loved welcomes all women to our Center.  Our mission is to teach sewing and quilting to underserved women and teen girls in the South Bend, IN area.  We provide a positive ‘hands on’ program for women to learn and practice a variety of life-enhancing skills, nurturing each woman’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Our sewing, quilting and other programs are offered free of charge.”

I had an opportunity to meet Vicki Miles, the director, as well as a few of the ladies who were at work organizing supplies or working on quilts.  Sew Loved is a nonprofit organization that uses sewing to empower women, teach new skills, and form community through sewing.  I was really impressed by Vicki’s dedication to the organization as well as how deeply she had thought through the best ways to serve the women who participate.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

It was really fun to see the new space they had just moved into.  They are still organizing and sorting through donations, but what organizing they have had a chance to do is really impressive!

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

I got to look around at all the quilts, including several from “ugly fabric” challenges, and talk with Linda, a woman who has 30 years of apparel sewing experience, but has recently fallen in love with quilting (you can be sure I took the opportunity to ask her all my apparel questions!).

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

(The two quilts below are from the “ugly fabric” challenge, where two participants used the same fabrics that they thought were ugly to make two completely different quilts.)

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Linda also showed me their mid-arm quilting machine, which was really cool and something I hadn’t seen before, as well as the new lighting system that one of the ladies’ husbands had installed.  It’s amazing what a big difference a simple change like good lighting can make!

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Linda had made a number of the quilts hanging on the walls.  She also showed us some of the quilt tops she had recently finished, which were amazing.  When you talk with Linda about quilts, you hear an artist talking back to you.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

I also met Janet who finished her very first quilt while we were there!  The women in the program make a table topper they can keep as their first project, followed by two quilts for donation.  The fourth project is a quilt of any size that they can keep if they choose to.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

It was heartwarming to see some of the fabric donations, many sent by husbands whose fabric-loving wives had passed away.  Many people had spent large amounts of time organizing and systematizing all the donations so quilters could easily find what they were looking for to achieve their creative visions.

Next year Sew Loved will be partnering with The Crossing School for at-risk youth to teach a sewing class for girls, and they are currently writing a grant in the hopes of getting enough matching machines so that everyone will be on the same page equipment-wise. (UPDATE:  Since I began writing this, they have met their funding goal for these machines, thanks to donors and generous discounts from the company they are buying the machines from!)

My Mom (who is also a mentor at Sew Loved) showed me the Christmas Trees that they make as a fundraiser for the organization.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved sells the trees at various craft fairs and other events as a way to raise money for the organization.  These ones have been assembled but are still waiting to be decorated.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

All equipment and supplies at Sew Loved are free for participants to use, which translates into a lot of hard work for Vicki tracking down donations and supplies.  She definitely seems up to the task, however.  I got the impression that Vicki was a force to be reckoned with in the best possible way–the way that means she is fiercely loyal and devoted to the ladies she works with and the organization as a whole.  She also has some seriously amazing quilting skills!  She showed me some of her quilts in progress…and they were mind-blowing!  Clearly, she knows her stuff.

Despite my trip to the Midwest being light on fabric shopping (only a visit to Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI), this trip to Sew Loved helped prevent any sewing withdrawal I was in danger of.  😉  If you find yourself cleaning out your fabric stash or sewing supplies, and want to make a donation, they accept 100% cotton quilting fabrics (fat quarter size or larger), Christmas fabrics for their annual fund-raising project, sewing machines in working order, sewing/quilting tools, or monetary (tax-deductible) donations for overhead expenses.  If you happen to be in the area, you can get involved as a participant in their sessions or as a sewing mentor and friend.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Here is all the contact info:

Sew Loved

Women’s Center

103 W Wayne St., Suite 400

South Bend, IN 46601

 

Mailing address:

1320 De Luna Way

South Bend, IN 46614

 

Website:  www.sew-loved.org

Facebook:  facebook.com/sewlovedinc

Vicki Miles, Director:  vicki@sew-loved.org

Phone number:  574-329-2639

The Brimfield Report: May 2016

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It’s Brimfield time again!  I love Brimfield!  What is it?  The Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA is the largest outdoor antique market in the United States.  It happens three times a year in May, July, and September from a Tuesday to a Sunday.  Usually my wonderful husband takes a day off to watch the kids so I can get up long before the crack of dawn to head out there for a full day of antiquing.  I love it!

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Unlike some people who go to Brimfield, I’m not a serious collector of anything.  I keep a list throughout the year of antiques I’d love to find, but I’m usually looking for things that are maybe mid-century, on the smaller side, and something I can use.  I save up Christmas and other money, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent it all.  I love to look at everything, hunt for treasures and gifts, and get lessons in both history and the psychology of Brimfield.  It’s never dull.  I walk all day, and then I enjoy some good food.

This year, for the first time, one of my friends was a vendor.  Laurel’s business is called Retromat Vintage and she sells vintage clothing as well as other things that are interesting and cool.  Here a just a few pictures of some of her goods.

Brimfield Antique Show

I vote for bringing gloves back.

Brimfield Antique Show

Or how about hats?

I got the chance to work for her for about 20 or 30 minutes and, despite my nervousness, it went well.  She gave me some sewing goodies that I wanted in return…and a lobster roll.

Brimfield Antique Show

I felt richly rewarded for my minimal work!  Thanks, Laurel!  Laurel also gave me this Necchi-Elna catalogue, which was fun to look through since I have a much-loved Elna.  I had no idea they were one company at some point.

Brimfield Antique Show

The pattern was a freebie from another vendor.  It has no instructions, but I’m working on tracking those down…

I also got to see my friend Maggie from my favorite fabric store in NH, and we had some fun checking out the vintage sewing goodies.

My strategy this time, since I wanted to be available to Laurel if she needed me, was to hit my favorite fields first, and then walk through whatever other fields I could get to.  All the fields have interesting names.  Because I love to delve into whatever I am really interested in, I started a notebook to record favorite fields (currently New England Motel, Quaker Acres, and The Meadows), notes to remember, etc.  Inside I have directions to Brimfield, a page for each field with notes, general notes about where I like to park (in the middle), and my wish lists for the current year and years past.

Also included are a few Bingo lists I’ve made.  My husband created Brimfield Bingo when we went together one year:  think of the craziest things you can (because you never know what you might find at Brimfield), and then check them off if/when you find them.  While I didn’t play Bingo this year, here are a few of the weirder things I saw:

Brimfield Antique Show

In case you lose an eye…

Brimfield Antique Show

or become a cook in a giant’s kitchen.

My notebook started to get so full of vendor cards, that Scott got me a little accordion file so I can keep track of which vendors are in which fields.  Yes.  We ARE cool.

Brimfield Antique Show

Want to see what else I got?

Brimfield Antique Show

Owl scissors!  At $2 apiece, I wish I had bought a bunch more for gifts.  Maybe next time.

Brimfield Antique Show

A sleeve board for pressing sleeves.  Don’t worry–I’ll clean it up before using it on my sewing projects.

I also got some fun jewelry:

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

And I got some gifts, some of which have to remain secret, but here’s one that doesn’t:

Brimfield Antique Show

And finally, here are some pictures of things I saw as I walked around.

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

A Singer Featherweight sewing machine complete with case!

Brimfield Antique Show

Not everything is antique–some things are upcycled from antiques or are handmade goods like these jeans or supplies for making other things like the yarn below.

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

It was a great Brimfield, I have to say.  I had a lot of fun looking for treasures and hanging out with Maggie and Laurel.  If you’ve gone to Brimfield, I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, or favorites.

For posts on Brimfields past, see these links:  2014 and 2015.

 

Field Trip: Native Fashion Now at the Peabody Essex Museum

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Let’s go on a little field trip, shall we?

Earlier this month I visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see Native Fashion Now.  The show runs from November 21, 2015-March 6, 2016.  If you plan to see it, check with your library to find out if they offer passes that will discount or eliminate the admission cost for you.

The show covers a wide range of designers.  Some are using traditional techniques, materials, and imagery in completely new ways and others focus on preserving tradition.  There are also questions within the exhibit about cultural appropriation.

Here are some of the pieces I found most interesting.  When possible, I’ll have the artist’s card describing the work below each picture.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

The ones below were some of my favorites.  I liked the surface treatment of the fabric and the use of imagery on these dresses.  It was something I hadn’t seen before.  They made me rethink the idea of vintage dresses (even though these weren’t vintage when they were made).

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

I loved the level of detail in each little figure or image on this belt as well as the variety of materials that were used.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

The way these three designers used their materials of choice so creatively was really inspiring.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

I really loved this dress.  It isn’t by a native designer (it’s by Isaac Mizrahi).  At this point, the exhibit brings up the issue of cultural appropriation.  It gave me a lot to think about.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Here is an Iris Apfel ensemble.  If you’ve seen the documentary about her, you’ll know that she donated a good amount of her clothing collection to the Peabody Essex Museum.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Can you imagine the amount of work it took to create these boots?

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

This sign explains both the Iris Apfel ensemble and the boots.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

This artist extended native imagery beyond fashion into an area that has a lot of cross-pollination with street style:  skateboarding.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking exhibit.  It gave me new ideas and broadened my understanding of fashion.

Before we go, let’s have some recommendations.  THIS IS FUN NOW!

  • Have you ever read the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith?  It’s what my mystery-loving friend describes as a “cozy”.  It’s not gross, graphic, or terrifying, but focuses on the work and relationships between several recurring characters.  Mma Ramotswe solves mysteries in Botswana with her faithful and opinionated assistant Mma Makutsi.  There are a number of books in the series, so if you like it, you’ll have plenty to read.
  • Smoked paprika.  It’s good.  Try it on eggs.
  • I found this on the Closet Case Files blog, and I had to repost it.  It’s all about activewear…and how inactive we often are when we’re wearing it.  This is your dose of humor for the week:

Field Trip: Denver, Colorado

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My latest field trip is way outside my normal stomping grounds!  Earlier this month, my husband and I took a trip to Denver, Colorado for a wedding.  We almost never get away just the two of us, and definitely not to far-away places, so this was a pretty big deal!  We had such a great time at the wedding and a lot of fun exploring Denver and the surrounding area.

Of course there was sewing involved.  I used the wedding as a chance to challenge myself to come up with a creative outfit.  In the end, I took apart a bridesmaid dress that I had in storage and turned it into a skirt (which involved a lot more work that I thought it would!).  I also made a button down shirt with a pattern that I had been planning to try out (Butterick 5526).  This included making a broad back adjustment to the pattern before I cut it out (hopefully more on that in a future blog post).  After that, it was all about finding great colors to finish things off.  Here’s my final ensemble:

Fancy Wedding Clothes!

Wedding clothes!

I found the sweater on sale at J.Crew, and the earrings and bobby pin (which are harder so see, but they had gorgeous Swarovski crystals) on clearance at TJ Maxx.  I already had the tights, which was a good thing because white tights for women are harder to find that I thought!

Also…check out these shoes!

Fancy Wedding Clothes!

Thank you, Boden sale (and Christmas money!).  I had been saving up for some black heels, but in the end, the fancy shoes won out.

All of the colors together just made me so happy!  I love color!  This wasn’t anywhere near my original outfit ideas, but I’m so happy with how it all turned out.  It was so comfortable, and I know I’ll wear all the pieces again, both together and separately (actually, I’m wearing the shirt and earrings as I type).

The wedding and reception took place in a really cute barn outside of Denver.  The bride was gorgeous and everything was so beautiful.  Lots of our friends were there, and we all had a great time.

When we weren’t at the wedding, we explored the cute mountain town of Evergreen.  I have to recommend The Muddy Buck coffee shop if you are ever there.  I didn’t get any good pictures of it, but here are a few of Evergreen:

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

My friend and I kept saying we couldn’t believe it was a real town.  It was so cute.  We felt like we were at a theme park or something.  The only thing I didn’t like was the curvy mountain roads!  They were good highways, but they are so curvy and very dark when the sun is down.

I also got a good (luckily not first-hand) education while in Colorado:

Colorado

Colorado

After spending some time in more mountainous areas, we took a day to head into Denver and explore there.  The bride’s parents had given us a bunch of fun recommendations of things to try in the area, and one of them was the Denver Biscuit Co.  I highly recommend this one.

Denver Biscuit Co.

I ordered the DBC Club.  Delicious.

We also spent a little lot of time in Fancy Tiger Crafts!!!!

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

When I got there, it was even bigger better than I had imagined!

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

And, I must say, their sales staff is just lovely!  I admitted to one of the ladies that I was kind of freaking out inside with excitement.  She said she felt the same way for the first month when she started working there.  🙂  Everyone was very friendly and really helpful.

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

During this next paragraph, you should read between the lines that MY HUSBAND IS AWESOME.  I was in Fancy Tiger Crafts for 2.5 hours.  Yes.  It’s true.  There was JUST. SO. MUCH.  I couldn’t make a decision.  I knew I wanted a few crafty badges (like Girl Scout badges for crafters), and I decided to get Deer and Doe’s Datura Blouse pattern…but then I got stuck.  I had fabric money, but what to spend it on?  They say that beggars can’t be choosers, but I say that when you are on a budget, every purchase has to count.  I didn’t want to buy something I wouldn’t use or wear.  Choice overload.

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

It was at this point that my husband gently suggested that we might want to go over to the Denver Biscuit Co. (before they closed), get some lunch, and come back afterward.

It was just what I needed.  Food and a little time to think.  When we went back, I found four fabrics to make up two Datura Blouses and with some help on the yardage calculations from the lovely Jaime herself, I was out of there in 15 minutes.

Lesson learned.  Sometimes you need to take a step back when you get overwhelmed to give yourself time to think.

Want to see what I got?

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

I also picked up two knitting badges for some friends.  I’m hoping this loot will serve me well when summer sewing fever hits.

Believe it or not, we even had time to do a little more exploring after that!

Denver, Colorado

Other fun highlights from the trip included pizza at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs and Evergreen, Tattered Cover Book Store, Revampt, and the mountains!

Colorado

Colorado

These pictures don’t even begin to do them justice.

It was a great trip and a real blessing to be at such a special wedding with so many friends.

Next time (hopefully):  the nitty gritty on sewing Butterick 5526.