Friday, March 25, 2011


The past three weeks have found me down with the "crud".  Last Saturday (two weeks in), a short, quick trip in the car turned into an episode of frantically finding a place to pull over to "settle" a severely upset stomach, and I realized it was probably more than just sinus problems.  Needing an entire day to settle the stomach after that, but ending up in pretty much the same condition upon entering the car Sunday morning, I drug myself to a Quick Care, where I was diagnosed with not only the inner ear infection that I knew I had at that point, but a sinus infection AND, acute bronchitis.

Haven't felt much like doing anything more than sitting around coughing into my sleeve, but did manage to squeeze in a few hours of sewing time, here and there...just enough to finish up two birthday bags for some pretty great friends, to end off the month of March.  Lacking any sun outside this morning, and fighting hellacious gale force winds, I was forced to resort to pictures on the dining room table...bad lighting, but I did want to snap a few.  This big bag went to Colleen M...ever our eclectic, bohemian friend.  She has a color pallet that would make most people's hair stand on end...and she can make it work like no other.  Orange, purple and lime green - that's our Myler Colleen, and she delights us to no end!
Orange brocade home dec fabric (custom free-motion quilted); soft purple velveteen; the requisite lime green thrown in, for good measure; and finished off with a large, celluloid, antique coat button - you will see her coming a mile off, but this is SO her.  I would actually carry this one myself.
The second bag went to delightful, spunky, "Zumba Chica" Pat.  I figured Pat could shake the bag right along with everything of my favorite patterns for a fun, flirty summer bag, with lots and lots of ruffles.  Pat loves red, coupled with black, and she also has a thing for ROOSTERS - how lucky was I to dig through "the stash" and come up with a color combination that featured those three elements (strange though it may seem), with a little white and gold thrown in for good measure?!  LOVE the base fabric used on this - black with red embroidery.
The lining even got the rooster treatment, with a large pocket for all her girly things; hanging from big bamboo handles, it's a shaker and a mover...just like Pat.

If you ever see something here you might like, but can't find it in the etsy shop (I am trying to get back to my sewing roots this year, and am working towards actually getting a few bags back in the store), just drop me a line.  I always welcome custom orders.

And because that fluffy, flirty, shaky purse (and Pat's Zumba) got me thinking of it (and just to make myself feel better)...Harry Belafonte, and clips from one of my favorite movies...what could be better, besides Bobby Flay?  Shake something up this weekend! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


One of the prettiest embellishments I can add to a handmade bag, is also one of the simplest to do.  I thought I'd throw together a quick tutorial on how it's done, as I've been asked so many times...these can be done with just about any ribbon (or fabric) of your choosing:  good ol' standard ribbon with a finished edge; bias cut silks (the brown one is a soft, silk ribbon, while the beautiful silk plaid that was bought as ribbon, is heavier in weight and I am convinced the same could be achieved with silk fabric, cut on the bias at home) that can be frayed along the edge; or fabric strips - torn or cut to desired width.
Materials needed for this project include:  RIBBON, or fabric strips (approx. 32 to 36"), of choice;  HEAVY THREAD (I like the Dual Duty XP Heavy, by Coats and Clark...a little lighter than upholstery thread, but heavier than hand quilting threads) in a neutral color; SEWING NEEDLE (I love the size 13 quilt basting needles, as they are long enough to gather lots of ribbon in one shot on, and have a larger eye, making them easier to thread in my declining eyesight years); CRINOLINE (or base material of your choosing...crinoline can be found in most fabric stores that sell bridal notions); BUTTONS OR BEADS for center embellishment; and SCISSORS.  For finishing off the backs, you will need PIN BACKS (available at most craft stores, in a variety of sizes); FELT (I like to use wool felt, usually felted/washed for that thick, crinkly effect, but regular felt will work just fine); and HOT GLUE.
Ahhhhhhh, bias cut silks...not always easy to find, but I have a wonderful source, and now you can, too!  Carole at The Ribbon Store, is a long time friend and carries some of the most beautiful ribbons you've ever seen - new and vintage!  Don't see what you want - just drop her a line.  The beauty of the bias cut silks is that they can be frayed along the edges, for a feathery look.  The same can be achieved with cotton fabrics that can be torn into strips.  However, the rosettes look just as fabulous with straight edge ribbons.  To fray the edge of a silk, bias cut, simply drag a pair of scissors gently down the edge, as if you were curling ribbon for a package.
A 2" wide ribbon, will give you a 4" diameter finished rosette.  This brown silk is actually a 2-1/2" ribbon that was turned up onto itself to give me a 2" wide ribbon, and providing a ruffled center effect at the same time.  NOTE: YOU WILL WANT TO MAKE YOUR STITCHES 1/4" APART (and they don't have to be perfect). This is an old habit that is hard to break for those of us used to small, neat stitches used in quilting and embroidery work. The reason for this is that looser stitches will gather more material far more compactly than tiny stitches do - take my word for it...don't believe me? Try it.

Knot a single length of thread (about 36" should do all of your gathering, forming and embellishing) and take a stitch at the upper edge of one end (the gathered edge will be your center...something to take into consideration if working with a two-toned ribbon).  Take a few "anchoring" stitches over the edge to make sure your knot doesn't pull through the ribbon as you are working.  You will be working in a "running", or "gathering" stitch...simply put, in and out.  Working from your top edge down, towards the bottom of the ribbon, you will gently curve your stitches into a rounded edge, and continue along the length of the ribbon.  On a finished edge ribbon, you can stitch within about 1/8" - on anything with a frayed edge, you will want to stay about 1/4" from the edge (the photo above has both edge types going on).
Gather along the long edge, pulling gathers as you go.
As you approach the opposite end of your ribbon, you will want to do another rounded corner, and continue up to the top edge of your ribbon.  Make sure your ribbon is gathered evenly, and anchor off your stitching, without cutting your thread.
At this point, you will have gathered your ribbon to where it can be arranged something like this.  Overlap so that your short ends lay one on top of the other, about 1" (or whatever is pleasing to can also use a longer ribbon to do this, and curl it onto itself a few times, for a much fuller rosette).  Cut yourself a piece of crinoline for backing (a square about 3" X 3" should do you - excess will be trimmed), and lay your rosette atop it.  You will start taking anchoring stitches up and down, from ribbon through crinoline and back, to hold it in place.  Stitches should fall in between the folds, as you work around center.
Overlapped ends...
Use as many (or as few) stitches as you feel you need to secure the rosette into place - it's not going to be pretty, but it's not going to show, either.  Do not cut your thread yet...
Now's the point where you will want to add a center, and/or any other embellishment you may want.  Buttons, beads, buckles, lace, more ribbon...let your imagination take over, or keep it as simple as you wish.  When you've finished, you can finally knot that thread.
Trim your crinoline, making sure not to cut stitches or ribbon.
Gather your pin base and felt.  Cut a circle from your felt (these were cut at 2-1/2" in diameter).  I like to hand stitch my pin backs to the felt, but you are welcome to simply hot glue them in place.
Heat up your glue gun and, being careful not to burn yourself (famous last words, each and EVERY time I use that thing), apply glue around the back of the felt, and center this on the back of your rosette.
Yes, my old work horse glue gun is seriously 29 years old - I believe it was one of the first that Black and Decker manufactured for crafting.  It is the original model where you have to press the glue sticks in with your thumb, which forces the melted glue out of the end.  It has seen better days but is still the best one I own...and most dangerous, too.
Easy peasy - that's it, in a nutshell.  Pretty on bags and sweaters, alike...or anything else you can think up (I say as I am looking at my large male dog laying here, under my feet).  The three pictured in the first photo are available in the Etsy shop now.  Happy St. Patrick's Day - hope the rest of your week is magically delicious!

Monday, March 14, 2011


A HUGE thank you, and a tip of the sunglasses, to our "hostess with the mostest" this weekend...Jackie, for having a 46th birthday...and her husband Charles In Charge, for treating "The Girls" to a fabulous dinner at Claim Jumper.  And then, for treating us to an even fabulouser (yeah, made up!) evening at Green Valley Ranch Casino, with Huey Lewis and The News...the boys can STILL rock the house!  What a GREAT evening we had!
Jackie got some beautiful gifts - yes, she is apparently loved by ALL who know her.  Wanted to share the new bag I made her - the fabric was SO yummy - heavy, but soft, home dec chenille - quilt batted and free-motion quilted.  The last bag I made her survived an entire year of wear, and I'm hoping this one does, too.
Detailing included the quilting, and this huge, crochet covered antique coat button.  Happy Birthday, dear's to another 46, and here's to me being around to see it!  Thanks for everything, Charlie - had the most FABULOUSO time!  You ROCK!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I was gifted with a little something the other day that prompted this post (that, and "Vintage Thingie Thursday" at The Colorado Lady), and renewed my interest in finishing up a long-shelved project. A grand art retreat, "Art and Soul", was held in Las Vegas last week...while I did not attend, I had a few lucky friends who did...lucky, and extremely thoughtful.  Colleen (La Dee Dah Day) brought me a handmade replica of the antique China head dolls popular in the mid to late 1800s. I don't know that Colleen knew I loved these dolls and have been gathering them for some time, but her addition to my collection stands head and shoulders above the other diminutive ones and, henceforth, shall be referred to as "The Boss", in Colleen's honor - that's her in the center. The rest are antique, and include a male doll that oddly resembles Abe Lincoln.
Blue eyes; amber eyes; raven black hair; rouged cheeks; and red, bow shaped lips...each one slightly different from the next, dependant upon the individual artist's hand.  Check out the cheeks on the tiny charmer in the lower right picture.  These range in size from 2-5/8" to 1-1/2" tall.  All waiting for renewed's about time they were taken from their shoebox home - this is the year, thanks to The Boss, and "The Boss", for renewing the spark of interest I've long had for these tiny treasures.
Which brings me to The Sisters.  These three surely need some tender loving care - they came to me very time worn (and mouse chewed) - but I probably love them the most.  I acquired them a few years back, from an eBay seller who had purchased a property that had an old barn on it.  As they were clearing the barn they had come across these three dolls, laying together on the wooden floorboards...placed carefully, way in the back of an overhead loft.  The seller did not want them and did not take the time with photographs, to my advantage (oh, I love when that happens).  They were kept as the set they were found in, thankfully, and I got them for a song.
Identical in size (their bodies are approx. 12 inches from head to toe - the heads are 2-5/8" tall)...were these, perhaps, the beloved playthings of three little sisters?  I do wish I knew the whole story, but my imagination has had a hey-day on its own, in any event.
This sad girl is a little worse for the wear than the other two...her poor neck has been broken but she puts on a brave face. Her feet and hands also have not fared so well over time, but replacement parts have been purchased, and I hope to have her feeling more like her old self, soon.
Stuffed with the original excelsior, I have left them as they came to me (including the years of dirt on their lovely faces), until I could research enough to do a proper (or reasonable) restoration, fairly accurately. One body has been removed already, to use as a pattern - yes, this is the year!
The original clothing must have been beautiful.  The one remaining dress, almost intact, shows some remarkable detailing of a pleated bustle, and tiny silk bands around the waist and wrists.
And this dress must have made quite the fashion statement...fleur de lis are still plentiful among the tattered remnants.  Yes, my mind wanders, wondering about the little girls that loved these, long ago.  And yes, they will be sitting on a shelf anew (gifts of the littler ones to loved ones, perhaps, but The Sisters will stay together, with me), by the end of this year - this IS the year!
And I leave you with this...the "Odd Man Out".  This one is unlike any of the others I have seen, or have in my possession...a male doll of the same age, given to me in a box of antique treasures, by another friend.  His name is Abe...he might just have to be finished along with the girls, but it's gonna' take a little more research on his account, I'm afraid.  This might just be his lucky year, too!  Be sure to drop by and check out the wonderful posts at Vintage Thingie Thursday.  Thanks for providing me a New Year's Resolution, Boss!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Busy...too Busy to have posted recently, But seemingly doing not much of anything at the same time.  I gathered everything I had going this past week, and was amazed at how many B's there were to start the month of March off.  This is the Busiest Birthday month for and friends, alike...9, in all.  1) Happy Birthday (the BIG 5-0) to my Brother, Arvid, who is holding his first grandbaby, Brooke.  Here's to another 50!;  2) Me, my folks, and Arvid, when he was a Baby and looked like a sister  And, if anyone is doing the math about now, yes, I am older, But only By 7 months;  3) Birthday names on the calendar...a few can't be seen, but they are there, and;  4) I Baked you Birthday cookies tonight - I know it's not a cake, But I'm not sending them anyway!

1) I finished a commissioned, Brown and Black leopardskin fabric Bag this week, for a friend, with;  2) A silk, Bias-cut, handmade, flower Brooch with a Beautiful Black, vintage glass Button in the center - yummy colors and oh, so soft;  3) Mulled over more Black, antique Buttons and Buckles - put them Back in the Bucket;  4) Beaded with a friend.

Received two gifts this from myself, and one from my friend, Jackie.  1) Bought myself a Butterscotch Bakelite Bangle Bracelet, to go with my growing collection, paired with a Beautiful copper and Beveled glass Bauble (this was the "Jackie gift"), with the phrase "Believe in Yourself" on one side, along with four, tiny Bronze rhinestones;  2) The reverse side of the Bauble has a Beautiful crowned heart - lovely, and fit for a queen - thank you from the Bottom of my heart, Jackie;  3) BANGLES - lots and lots of Beautiful, Bright, lucite and rhinestone Bangles - earrings, too!  Went to the ASD trade show with Wendy and couldn't resist the temptation of color for summer, and;  4) a Boxwood Bead in the shape of a rhino...someone knows who it is for - act surprised when you get it, Barb.  I needed an extra picture!

1) A vintage, marcasite cross pendant/Brooch in the shape of a Bow, for a rosary in the planning stages for my daughter, and last But not least;  2) A vintage, rhinestone Bird Brooch (on an antique Bluebird Button card) - another thoughtful and Beloved gift from Jackie on a recent antiquing junket through town.  I slipped a small set of cut glass salt and pepper shakers, for her new kitchen, into her Bag...she did the same to me with the Beautiful Bird.  Boy, oh Boy!

Heading off to Bed - Best weekend wishes to all - kisses on your Birthday faces at tomorrow's party - Be happy - Be safe - Be and let Be - Be fabulous!