Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five 'til Fifty!

I have been MIA in blog land this week, but with good reason. I was focusing on getting some things done for next week.

What is going on next week, you ask?

Five days of giveaways! I'm calling it Five 'til Fifty!, since I will be turning 50 on August 10th.

It's my way of giving back to all of you creative people who have inspired me and helped me learn through your amazing projects, tutorials, tips, information, and yes, even mistakes.

So, starting next Monday, I will have one giveaway per day Monday through Friday. All you have to do is leave a comment on the giveaway day to be entered for that day's giveaway. You don't have to follow, you don't have to blog about it (but feel free to do so if you feel like it). No hoops to jump through. Just say hi in the comments section and that's it. Come back each day to see the next giveaway, and leave a comment on that post if you want to be entered for it. One entry per person per day. Please include your email address in your comment if it's not available on your profile or if you're set to "no reply" or commenting anonymously.

You can comment on any or all of the giveaways through noon Central time on Sunday, August 8th. I'll post winners on Monday, August 9th. Then on August 10th...well, I'll be celebrating my 50th birthday!

Here is a sneak peak at Monday's giveaway:

And here's a peak at next Friday's:

So that's some of what I've been working on. And for you vintage lovers and collectors, there will be Pyrex...

I hope to see you back next week. It should be fun!

I'll be linking to Sew & Tell Friday at amylouwho. Can't wait to see what you've been up to!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mixed Bag

I did a little bit of this and a little bit of that this week, so it's a mixed bag for Sew & Tell Friday.

Starting with these little bags I sewed to hold the game pieces for my sister's project. The pieces are craft foam shapes and sticks. Not sure yet how they're used, but I'll find out when I play the game!

The double pinwheel string quilt came back from the longarm quilter this week, and I could just squeal with delight! (Thanks again, Sandy!) I cut, sewed, and pressed the binding strips and am planning to finish it up this weekend.

Today, I sewed the whirlygig Christmas quilt top together.

One good thing about tornado sirens (and we had not one but three today), when I go to the basement, my sewing room is there. I sewed rows together during the time I was waiting for the storms to blow over.

When this quilt is done being quilted--and I haven't quite figured out how I want to do that yet--it'll be bound with the dark salmon/red snowflake print from the 12 Joys of Christmas line by Sheri Berry.

That's the binding fabric here under this little fat quarter stack that also found its way into my shopping cart. I blame Elizabeth! Her ironing board cover from last week was just too cute! By the way, Elizabeth is having a 200th blog post giveaway, so be sure to check it out over at Such a Sew-and-Sew.

I've got plans for the Frolic fabric, which plans I'll talk about more next Friday. See, I've got a birthday coming up in August--one that ends in a big honkin' zero. Thought I might share the joy and give back in some small way to all of you who inspire me. Here are a couple quick peaks at what I've been working on for that so far.

Okay, enough for now. More details next week!

And be sure to visit amylouwho and the other linky peeps on Sew & Tell Friday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Royal Haeger Mauve Agate

Royal huh what? A royal mouthful, is what that is.

I am so glad for Vintage Thingie Thursday! Not only because I get to see all the fabulous thingies linked at Colorado Lady, but also because when else would I ever clean this stuff? I mean, I'm a good enough housekeeper, but you know sometimes you don't really clean all the gee-gaws on the shelf until you've got people coming over who might actually look at them, right?

Well, maybe that's just me, but regardless, welcome! I've dusted just for you!

You may recall that I have a fondness for mid-century art pottery, especially Royal Haeger. I've talked about it in more detail here, and specifically about the stylized work of designer Royal Hickman in the late '30s and '40s.

Today I pulled all the Royal Haeger pieces I have in the mauve agate glaze. It's kind of a pinky-blue-green mottled glaze, which colors might take you back to the 1980s, but the mauve agate glaze actually dates back some 40 years before that.

Here's a closeup of a three-tier block candle holder, which dates to around 1950. While I don't intend to decorate my house in these colors anytime soon (been there, done that), I do think they're beautiful here.

I found these two three-tier candle holders at a thrift store a few months ago, and I marched them immediately to the cash register before anyone could change the $1.99 price tag. They're worth about $20 to $40 apiece in a good market. The market is not so good at the moment, but if you're looking to start collecting this kind of stuff, now might be the time to start.

This monstrosity, otherwise known as "Sphere with Three Feather Plumes," or mold number R-281, is a planter. Sometimes I call it "the brain." It's about the size of your head, and the thing looks like it should have a pulse.

I found it listed as far back as the 1942 Haeger catalog. This was an eBay purchase, as were the rest of these. About 10 years ago, its value was in the $125 to $175 range. No, I did not pay that!

This is called a "Ruching Bowl," R-309, and is from the mid- to late '40s, as are the two tulip bud vases, R-496. The vases don't belong inside the bowl, of course, because that's where you would normally have your delicious ruchings (just kidding).

And I'm sure no one reading today cares about the mold numbers, but the Haeger aficionados who will Google this in the months to come might. And then again, they might not either, but I like to have my bases covered.

Unlike this woman, who apparently likes her bases uncovered.

This is one of the more interesting pieces in my collection, "Woman Riding Fish Flower Block," also known as "Nude on Fish Flower Frog," R-363. This piece is very characteristic of Royal Hickman's design style. I found this one, again, as far back as the 1942 catalog.

I'm no prude, but can you see yourself buying this in 1942? I can't, but maybe it was a popular gift item among husbands. "Honey, you mentioned you needed something for your flower arrangements. What do you think of this little number?"

Hey, who knows, that was before cable TV. I'm sure it was a conversation piece, anyhow.

If you'd like to see more information (and gorgeous photography) on Haeger pottery, these books are both wonderful references.

Thanks for visiting!

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Directly from our small town police beat:

Fraud - A 34-year-old man contacted police on Saturday at 1:40 p.m. and reported that he ordered a mail order bride named Natalia from Russia and she was supposed to arrive at his home in the 400 block of XYZ Street to marry him, but she did not show up.

The nerve! The wedding was supposed to be at 1:00, and now the ice sculptures have melted in the 90-degree heat and the string quartet has another gig at 2:00. Poor guy, now he's never going to see his return on investment for that augmentation surgery she said she needed to fit into her wedding gown.

Animal - A woman in the 100 block of XYZ Street reported Wednesday afternoon there were baby rabbits in her yard with no mother rabbit around to care for them. The woman asked police to do something, but was advised to let nature take its course.

I wonder if she worries about those lonely earthworms on the driveway too?

Breaking and Entering - On Thursday morning at 1:59 a.m., a 21-year-old woman reported a male subject attempted to break into her apartment on XYZ Drive through the patio door. The subject was chased away by the woman's boyfriend before entry could be gained. Two hours later, the boyfriend called police after locating the subject in the woods. An altercation ensued, and the boyfriend reported the subject was now likely to have some missing teeth and a broken nose.

Crime solved? = No. Ass kicked? = Affirmative.

All identities have been changed, except for that hussie Natalia, who totally deserves to be called out.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of Rocking and Rush

Friday night, I sewed. Saturday morning, I went on a garden tour. Saturday night, I watched the Rush documentary, all three hours, including special features.

As I write that, I wonder if it may seem strange to have such disparate yet equally enjoyable interests: Sewing, quilting, gardening--and hard rock.

Quilters are supposed to be nice ladies. Nice older ladies. Nice older ladies who hand-piece and cluck softly about why Florence wasn't in church on Sunday; she fell and broke her hip, poor dear. Let's make her a quilt and take turns bringing casseroles and homemade pie.

In other words, quilters sit in rockers; they don't rock.

Of course, that's a load of compost. We are as individual and unique as anyone else on the planet. But as humans, we like to put things in categories and slap on a label. Our brains seem to be wired that way, to sense patterns and make order from chaos. We create stereotypes.

So it can be surprising to find out a rock musician is an avid golfer (Alex Lifeson, guitarist for Rush). Or a collector of baseball memorabilia (Geddy Lee, bassist/singer for Rush). Or would rather bike to the next gig than ride in on the tour bus (Neil Peart, drummer).

As much as we like to put pegs into their matching holes, as much as we gravitate toward the familiar and routine, we also bristle at boring and predictable. We throw a pop of bright red into a black and white quilt. Take a previously untraveled back road to work. Listen to Rush.

I first heard Rush when my youngest brother became obsessed with the band as a teenager. He honed his guitar chops on albums like 2112 and Hemispheres. Rush music poured out of his bedroom across the hall to mine, and I became a fan as well. I was impressed by the musicianship of the power trio, fascinated by the ever-changing time signatures, the intellectualism of the lyrics--when we weren't laughing at them, that is.

There is unrest in the forest.
There is trouble with the trees,
for the maples want more sunshine
and the oaks ignore their pleas.

Sometimes my brother would demonstrate a few runs he'd learned, and I'd try to play them (very badly) on my acoustic guitar. Good times.

Rush was not your stereotypical rock band either, and that appealed to me. They didn't write the typical 3-minute radio song; they wrote the 10-minute "La Villa Strangiato." Geddy Lee sang in a high-pitched voice that sounded like he was being tortured with live voltage, and was likely to send your cat running for cover. And they were Canadian.

If you're a Rush fan--maybe even if you're not--Beyond the Lighted Stage is definitely worth watching. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Finally, an unexpected surprise. This 11-year-old Japanese girl is playing the Rush classic, "YYZ." (You can see Rush doing their own song here.) It apparently took her six months to arrange this on her keyboard. Amazing!

Rock on!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's in the Bag!

I had an unexpected "free day" today (yippee!), so I kept working on the game board case for my sister's school project. It's basically a quilted envelope style bag large enough to fit a game board she's designed that measures 12" x 18" folded. She also needed 14 pockets inside for the stacks of game cards, which are the size of a business card, one large pocket for her instruction book and a pocket to fit a kitchen timer used in the "lightning round" part of the game. (It's really a fun learning game for medical-type stuff. I hope to show you the whole thing when she's done, before she hands it in for her class at the end of July.)

I used stash/scrap fabric throughout, all Lantern Bloom by Laura Gunn, except the brown with the black swirls. No clue where I got that one, but I sure had a lot of it!

Here is the outside, pin-basted to the batting. I ditch-quilted the inner design and then straight-line quilted the rest of the bag, mostly vertical lines but some horizontally in the flap.

I drew the rows of pockets out on graph paper to make sure they'd all fit. Here they are sewn onto one of the inner lining pieces. Since I didn't have a pattern for this bag, just the dimensions of the board and the other elements she needed, I made it up as I went along, making sure to measure, measure, and measure some more. I found the design-as-you-go process pretty enjoyable, actually. Those purple things in the pockets are just cardstock cut to business card size so I could double check the fit.

For the kitchen timer pocket, I played around with folding the paper to make side gussets, because the timer is kind of thick. Then I translated that to fabric. It worked!

The most difficult thing was figuring out how to sew the lining to the bag so that when turned right side out, it would fold down inside the bag and the pockets would be going the right direction, etc. I actually had to make a mock-up on a small scale with some scraps and play around with that. I swear I used to be better at grasping spatial concepts with just a mental picture or glancing at a diagram, but now? Not so much. I haven't made any lined bags recently, so I felt like a total newb.

The moment of truth: Turning the bag...*drum roll*...*cymbal crash*. Yes!

Front with flap open:



So there it is! My sister was elated to see it this evening, and the stuff fit inside great! Now I just have to make a drawstring bag and another small pouch for the little game pieces--no big deal.

Now let's see what everyone else is up to on Sew & Tell Friday at amylouwho!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Found this walking stick at a craft fair on Sunday. I bought it for my dad, who was about to embark on a sightseeing trip out west. It's hand carved from black walnut.

The tree that the wood came from was taken down a few years ago right across from the park where the craft fair was being held, just a couple blocks from my house. I liked the local provenance. I also liked the duck shaped handle, and I knew Dad would too. I wish I'd had my camera with me on Sunday. In addition to an assortment of walking sticks, this man had beautifully carved ducks, etc., on which he had used colored stains, not paint, so the beauty of the wood shone through. I am constantly amazed by the talented artists in the local community. I bet you can think of several in your area as well.

Whirlygig Christmas blocks! I have all of them pieced and trimmed. Now I just have to play with the layout.

The upholstery fabric for the chairs was in at the fabric store, so I went and picked that up yesterday. While there, I noticed that quilting fabric was 50% off! How could I resist? I bought a few one-yard cuts.

These just say "summer" to me.

I was drawn to the bold graphics in these other fabrics. They're a bit migraine-inducing when stacked all together here, but I'm sure I'll find the right spot to use each of them, eventually.

Now I've got to turn my attention this week to the game case for my sister. Time to re-thread the machine and get hopping!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Whirlygig Christmas Blocks

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas in the sweltering heat of July? Well, I've done just that this week, as I've started to get things spinning on my whirlygig Christmas quilt.

I have about one-third of the blocks done for this quilt. After reading several tutorials on how to make these, I went with an excellent one by Penny at Sew Take a Hike that needs no template. I modified it to make a slightly bigger angle with the cut, and I'm orienting the whirly blades with the wide ends to the outside of the block.

I love the movement of this block. With this cute retro holiday fabric, I'm thinking of fresh snow swirling in the blustery air and ice skaters playing crack the whip! It's The Twelve Joys of Christmas, by Sheri Berry.

These blocks go together fast once the cutting is done. Easy chain-piecing!

That's my Sew & Tell for this week. Thanks for visiting, and have fun skating around to the other participants linked at amylouwho! Stay cool!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vintage Sewing Books

When I was thrift store shopping last weekend, I picked up a few more vintage sewing books to add to the library.

I bought the Singer book, copyright 1972, for the cover art alone, but there's a lot of good stuff inside as well.

And even though I've sewn for awhile, finding a proper fit is still my number one obstacle. I'm sure to gain some insight on the subject from these, especially Nancy Zieman's book (1989) and the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction (1966).

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing, 1949 edition, is a treasure trove of information written in a friendly, instructive way.

Click to enlarge the photos and read a little of the text to get an idea. Love the pictures and graphics!

The Complete Book of Sewing has been in my family since the year it was published in 1972. I was just starting to sew when my mother bought this book.

Although it has a wealth of information on the subject of sewing, I used to just love poring over its glossy pages of photos. So many great examples of '70s style, including fashions for the home. How about this mod sewing room?

It even covered a bit of quilting.

And then there's the fabric of the era. What goes around comes around, huh?

It's fun to look at the clothing styles some 38 years later.

The caption on the page below cracks me up:
Here are two delightful suggestions for choose-it-yourself sewing projects for beginners. A very young lady, left, might like to learn to sew a bibbed skirt like the ones worn by Scandinavian milkmaids. Young teens have a strong fashion sense, and the kicky shorts, below, might well lure them into learning to sew for themselves.

Well, those shorts are sure to lure something!

And apparently the milkmaid look was popular in adult fashion as well. Or you could call it the storybook look.

Little Miss Muffet?

Little Bo Peep?

Little Red -- whoa! I think we've entered a different kind of fantasy land with Greta Von Riding Crop here! Check out those over-the-knee red pleather boots! Ms. Von Riding Crop demands to know if you've been very, very bad...

But back in '72, I wanted to grow up to be one of these girls:

So, did I? *Snort* Hardly! But I have made quite a few friends laugh!

Hope you enjoyed a peek inside these retro sewing books today. Thanks for visiting, and be sure to read the other great Vintage Thingie Thursday tales linked at Colorado Lady!