Thursday, August 25, 2011

Of Hail, Colors and… my favorite subject

I will start out with my favorite subject, London. This is another Shameless Granny picture-sharing moment.  The pix are from Tuesday, when London (DGD) was over to hang out for the day.

We discovered that London loved watermelon.  When she saw one on the kitchen counter, she cried “WawaMELon!!” and jumped up and down.  She was NOT happy that she had to wait until after her nap in the afternoon, but thank goodness it’s easy to distract an almost-two year old.  (She will be two on August 31).

The only pic I snapped BEFORE I realized she needed a bib!

London eats watermelon like a Big Girl

Looking and laughing at Grandpa (PAPA)

“Papa" eats watermelon too!
“Dammy" never touches the stuff...

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The picture below was taken a few days ago.  We were having a perfectly beautiful, hot day and my fabulous rose bush was blooming its brains out again.  And then the hail struck and ruined it all. Sometimes Mother Nature can be a b****.

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And finally, I thought I’d share with you Pantone’s predicted hot colors for Fall 2011.  For the most part, I really like the pallette.  The bamboo could go, IMHO.  And why is Quarry in there? I get the icy blender Orchid Hush (sort of),  but Quarry?  Just asking….  Pantone says

                      Orchid Hush, a unique tone of gray with complex orchid 
                      undertones, blends well with any other color in the palette. 
                      Quarry, a reliable medium gray, remains, as always, 
                      a practical, dependable staple.

Is Quarry a “staple” in your wardrobe? Tell me what you think about these colors!  And if you would like to visit Pantone’s site, you can visit it here.

And now, back to the sweat shop making purses!

Cathy maroon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Boho Bags Done

There’s no getting around it: I am letting too many things distract me from sewing as much as I should be to complete my purses.  Silly things, unimportant things….. like sleep, Bruce (just kidding!), eating, my job, laundry and watching The Tudors on Showtime (Wow, the costumes/clothing and jewelry for that show are amazing!)  But I digress…

I have finished two more purses (actually I have a few inches of trim to finish sewing down on one, but I can do that in a few minutes).  They are definitely fancier, more Bohemian than the one I did last week.

The brown, gold and red fabric in this purse was the one I really wanted to get my hands on and work with.  I almost hope this purse doesn’t sell, because I love the warm, rich colors so much.    I used the same pattern as the last (black and tan) one.   

This time I crazy pieced the flap and used the focal fabric intact for the front body.  These pictures don’t do it justice; the colors are so rich and vibrant (and the fabric so luxurious) in person.  And that shiny gold patch on the flap only looks that way in the photo - in real life it recedes and behaves itself.

On this one I added some of my dyed lace from my Etsy shop in addition to some really wide lace that I found at a yard sale.  The lace was from an old tablecloth.  I used exactly one third of it (5 scallops) on this purse, and have enough to use on two more purses.

The front faux “buckle” is really part of an earring (meaning I have one more to use elsewhere) with a touch of gathered silk velvet inside.   Gerry sent me the delicious red trim that I put around the purse edge.  I also auditioned it on the flap, but it was toooo much red.

I had no problems with layering or thicknesses this time.  The lining fabric was a bit more substantial, and the back fabric didn’t need interfacing.

Next I wanted to do a pink and green one.  On this one, the fabric for the strap and the bullion fringe came from a thrift store valance I bought last week for $2.50.  I have enough fabric to do two more straps and enough fringe to do one more purse.  I should’ve bought all three valance pieces; I bet it won’t still be there when I go back tomorrow.

The embroidered roses came from a bit of a valance that Gerry shared with me when I visited with her last February.  That faux clasp is another…. you guessed it… earring.

I did lots more trims and layering this time, which is easy with invisible thread (even though it took me awhile to get the hang of managing it in my sewing machine).

This (below) is the back.  I bought the tapestry fabric years ago from a local interior design store. They had a sale once where they were selling remnants for $5/yard.  They’ve never repeated it.  And they have been “going out of business” for 18 months now.  I stop by periodically to see if they have any unwanted fabric sample books or any remnants to sell, but I am always turned away.   But I can wait … someday they really will be closing those doors….    muahahahaha…..

This purse is larger; a basic slouch style with no flap.  Instead, I thought this heavy embroidered piece would make an interesting “flap”.   Half is sewn to the back (see above) and the other half, weighted with the earring, folds over the front.   Lazy woman’s purse flap!  ;-)

One of the things I did this weekend was to go through all my home dec fabrics - particularly those that are to be focal fabrics for upcoming purses.  I sorted them and added supporting fabrics and trims so I could make sure to get the most mileage out of what I have.   I have them stacked, and now that I have three purses under my belt (so to speak) in two different sizes and styles, I think I am ready to assembly line them. The size and style of the purse will be dependent on the size of the fabric sample or piece I have for the focal part.  Or it may depend on my mood, hehehe.  Whatever.

I am really loving these two particular groupings, but sometimes they come together totally different than I expect.

I am trying to concentrate more on the darker, brighter colors for autumn. I will save the lighter colors for the, uh, “Spring Show” (wink).

In the meantime, I have also been making zipper flowers, which I will make into little brooches to pin on the aprons (or sell individually) at the boutique.    And later this week I will put it ALL down and work on a crazy quilt block for Cathy L - her English Garden block.  More about that next time.

Cathy maroon

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Boho Bag is Done

I am going to call this my Henry Ford Boho Bag.  Henry developed the assembly line, and that’s all I could think of as I was making this first prototype; how can I break this down into manageable steps, assembly-line style?  The boutique I am making these for begins in 22 days.  But who’s counting?

This is how it finished out.  Basically, black and gold/tan with some off-white laces. The big vintage button with rhinestones that I wanted to feature on the center came apart (stone from setting) as I was applying it. It can be glued (thank goodness for E6000) and used later, but it missed the boat for this first experimental purse. And these pictures tell me that the button needs some black lace around it to soften the transition to the almost-white lace.

Inside lining is patterned satin. The portion under the flap is intentionally VERY simple. All trims were machine sewn with invisible thread.

The outer trim of the bag is three layers, although the lace part doesn’t show much on the front. The fringe trim and beaded trim are edged with a small hand-dyed venice lace trim.

On the back, the larger lace trim shows.  All trims were added AFTER the purse was assembled.  I sewed the purse with wrong (lined) sides together because everything was so thick that I knew that turning edges to the inside would not be pretty. Therefore, the raw edges are between the front and back trims, which was a decent solution for this purse, but something that needs to be addressed in future assemblies.

The vintage black velvet strips cover raw edges and meet at the back center, where they are tied and left to dangle.

Lessons I Learned  /Changes I Will Make:

1.  The piecing onto a fusible background is great.  I match up edges as well as possible, but gaps are covered by lace/gimp/trim that are stitched on later by machine.  
2.  The fabric used for the back of the purse is mid-weight home decorator fabric and does not need to be stabilized, just lined.  I will save a layer there.
3.  I need to use a bit sturdier lining to avoid such a contrast in fabric weights between the outside and the lining.  Tone down the weights on the outside, beef up the lining weights.  I need to be able to stitch right sides together and turn (“birth”) the purse through an opening.  (I hope this makes sense to you experienced seamstresses).
4.   Add trims to the outer bag edges AFTER purse is constructed.  There are too many layers to try to keep straight if you baste them to the inside before stitching and turning.  God Bless Invisible Thread.  I believe adding one layer of trim around the flap will be fine if added before stitching/turning.
5.   Deal with purse handles BEFORE stitching and turning, not after.  I need to get creative, like dear Gerry (see her awesome bag here).
6.  GET WILD.  This purse is too tame.  I’m thinking too much like a Utahn instead of a Californian. I just realized I have lived more of my life here in Utah than I did in California.  Your condolences are noted..... LOL  :-)  Seriously, I need to use bigger and bolder laces, trims, and colors.   Maybe I should just go smoke some marijuana and see what happens.  JUST KIDDING!  (just wanted to see if you were still reading, LOL).

I have started the second and third purses and will have some results to show before the weekend.  At least that’s the plan.

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My stitching time has recently been curtailed because we had a yard (tag) sale a couple weekends ago and then a booth at a flea market this past weekend.  Whew!  I love it - our quantity of Junque is much lighter and our wallets a bit heavier.  We were really busy, even with our makeshift display.

I got rid of sold  all my lower-end laces and many of my lower-end vintage linens.  So now I can focus on listing the nicer things to sell online.  And the fabric.  I sold a lot of fabric, which is great because fabrics are generally heavy and a hard sell (postage-wise) on Etsy or Ebay.

See that bright blue, red, yellow fabric next to Raggedy Ann (below)?  It’s less than a half yard and I never really “saw” it until I hung it there.  I kept looking at it, drawn to it.... and after a couple hours had to take it down and hide it away so it wouldn’t sell.  And I only did that with 3 or 4 things, LOL.  :-)   I sold most of the vintage clothes I had, too.   Bruce sold lots of his old radio and electronic parts and old cameras.  It was a great, fun day, but hot and very physically taxing.  We may do this one more time in October.  If we lose our sanity again.

And then yesterday (Tuesday) we had DGD London all day - until her dad got home from work at 8pm.  These pictures are from last week.  She discovered that my sideboard (where linens are stored) had a great hiding compartment.

Hehe ....  Hi Dammy!  (her way of saying “Grammy”).

Let’s just use this vintage hand-crocheted tablecloth for a stepping stone ...

And so, I am back to the madness.........  thanks for stopping by!!

Cathy maroon

Saturday, August 13, 2011

So Much to Catch Up On!

I’ve been a lousy blogger this month, but if you are as busy as I am in the summertime, I bet you haven’t even noticed!  Blogging seems to take a back seat when there are family get-togethers and vacations and all sorts of adventures in nice weather!
A Magnolia Pearl Handbag

Where to start???

We currently have Boho Fever at Crazy Quilting International.  Boho is a style popularized by Robyn Brown of Magnolia Pearl.  It’s a bohemian, hippy style - lots of lace, vintage fabrics (think carpetbags), trims and tassels.  It fits so well with the whole crazy quilting thing.   Pat Winter started earlier this summer with her boho bags, then Gerry did too when Susie went to visit her (and the barn).  They have all taken embellishment to the Nth degree, and each of their purses is nothing short of amazing.

So, last week I was accepted into a local boutique (one of the larger ones in the state, actually).  And it is in 5 weeks (or maybe 4 as I write this). Short notice to come up with “crazy quilt purses, farm girl aprons and wall hangings”.  Since the acceptance rate versus rejection rate is 1:5, I made it in by virtue of the fact that CQ is still a relative rarity in the boutique circuit.  It will be unique.

My mission, therefore, is to turn the Boho style into a QUICK CQ purse.  I would like to have between 18-25 purses made by Labor Day. Impossible? Probably, but I will get close.   Let me tell you about my preparation and my plan.

Although I did not begin with dyeing lace, I thought the pictures of the dyed lace in the evening sun were lovely, so I`ll show those as I blather on talk about my plan.  In my stash, I have collected a lot of home decorator fabrics over the years: tapestries, velvets, floral jacquards - lots of mid-weight variety and colors.  

To supplement it, I visited a couple local upscale furniture stores last week and was able to gather another couple bags of free fabric samples from discontinued fabric lines.

THAT’s when I dyed the lace.  Like a scavenger, I raided all my thick (and some thin too) laces. Anything that was too white got a little soak in a dye bath. While they were drying, I ran over to JoAnn’s fabrics to stock up on fusible fleece.  The fusible fleece I bought is very thin and supple, but adds a definite strength and stabilizing factor to the focal fabrics.

While I was at JoAnn’s, I picked up some trims that were on closeout, which I also used a discount coupon on.  Plus, they will give you a discount on the last portion on a bolt if you take it, so that was my very lucky night!!

And Gerry came to the rescue to fill in some holes in my colorways for me. We send each other “Care Packages” whenever one of us puts out an SOS to the other!  :-)  Thank you Gerry, they are lovely!

Lastly, I pulled all my supplementary fabrics (velvet, brocade, corduroy - yes, corduroy) and thinner laces, trims, etc, and sorted them by colorway.

Laces ready for action...

 Oooh, I see a couple pink bags in my near future!!

Some beaded home dec trims.  Glad I stocked up when they were on sale a couple years ago...

So, my first purse is basically a black and gold colorway.  There was one rose print tapestry sample fabric in that color, and I had just enough black trims to go with it.  Also, I figured if I messed it up too bad and couldn’t sell it, that would be a good color combo for yours truly.  Hehe. There is a method to my madness.

All I have left to do is tack on some velvet trim to the back and attach th=e//=/9  (that was my cat Boomer stepping on the keys.... he wants attention)... where was I?  Oh yeah, I still need to attach the strap.  I’m a little worried about that because the purse is so thick.  Should’ve done it in a prior step, but I was figuring out all the other stuff.   I might have saved myself a lot of grief, to say nothing of a couple hours time, if I had used a commercial pattern, but REALLY!  Who does that?

Here’s a sneak peek of one corner of the front flap.

And here is a sneak peek  of the back.  That’s the velvet I still have to attach.  When I post the completed pictures, I will explain what I did (in exchange for some honest comments and suggestions!!).

And finally, a picture of a little goldfinch I snapped through the front window this morning.  We have had a lot of smaller birds this year, which is delightful.  Probably because all those darn magpies and scrub jays have stayed away.

Now, I’m off to pay attention to that cat.  If I don’t I’ll be sorry at 3:00 a.m.

Cathy maroon

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer at the Farm

Summertime at Wheeler Farm, where I work part-time as a bookkeeper, is always a “happening” time.  Families come and visit in droves - who doesn’t love to see the animals?  Summer camp is going.  The lawns and newly-remodeled Activity Barn are in high demand for family reunions, weddings and receptions and parties of all kinds.  There are festivals, farmers’ markets, 5-K runs.  Whew!

And when our family comes to visit from out-of-state, the farm is a must-see for children and adults alike.  Recently Bruce’s daughter Emily with hubby Chad and our sweet grandchildren Deacon (3) and Abbie (1 1/2) visited.

Deacon, Emily, Chad & Abbie

Deacon wonders about the hole in the outhouse!

It’s fun looking at the cows ...

.... until the wind shifts...

Deacon walks like Grandpa

Monkey see, monkey do

Abbie and her dad check out the horses

Deacon likes the kids (baby goats)

Deacon threw a stick into the raging creek

The water level of the creek above (photo taken in the afternoon of June 30, 2011) was just a wee bit higher than the photo of the same place I took in the morning a year and three weeks earlier on June 8, 2010 (below).

Meet Norman, our new Jersey calf (a bull) born in June this year.  Isn’t he cute??

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One of the ladies in CQI had to drop out of the English Garden II Round Robin (hope your hand feels better soon, Ritva!).  Since I was the “angel” for the RR, I will get to step in and finish a block for Cathy Labath.  These lovely blocks just arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and I am looking forward to stitching on one.  They are up on my design board now, and I am just waiting for them to talk to me!  :-)


Cathy maroon