Monday, April 21, 2014

Coming Soon

This Sunday, I'll be at the Second Annual Craft Fair and (Mostly) Native Plant Sale at Cynwyd Station Park just outside of Philadelphia.

This could be good.  This could be bad.

Hopefully, I will abide by my usual craft show rule of not shopping, at least until I've made a decent start on my day.

I fear, however, that all bets are off if the plant selection is tempting.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Can we all agree that Mother Nature has lost her mind?

I've started -- and stopped -- working on the garden so many times in the last few weeks I think that it doesn't believe I'm going to do anything this year.

Thankfully, yesterday and today proved the garden wrong, as it's now all cleaned up, half the potatoes are planted, all my seeds are finally out in their little greenhouses (inside the cold frame; I don't completely trust Ma yet not to freeze them), and I've pulled out everything that didn't survive the winter, which included an 8 year old rosemary, all my lavender, and two rose bushes.

Salad greens - safe from the frost in
their mini-greenhouse bottles
I'm mostly sorry about the lavender, but in a small garden, sacrifices have to be made.  I'll never be able to wedge in anything new if things don't leave occasionally.  This is giving me the opportunity to do a lot of rearranging, which is something I love.  My poor yard, which is only 20x20 (large for a city row home, but laughable by most garden standards), has been a weed lot when I bought it, a war zone when I tackled the running bamboo and ended up having half the topsoil removed in the process, a faux-Victorian rose garden (complete with gazebo), and it's been transitioning ever since toward small backyard farm.

I'm glad we got so much done this weekend, because it's going to be a busy one coming up.  I'm temping Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; Mario's birthday is also Thursday, so we have dinner plans, and Friday evening is the premiere of Sense and Sensibility at Hedgerow Theater.  A very good friend is playing Elinor, and I'm looking forward to seeing her, and also seeing a production I didn't have any part in costuming!

Sunday is another show, and I'd love to get a few more things done before then, but right now it's just fingers crossed; I don't know if it's actually going to happen.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hoodie Bear

I got a custom bear order recently. I’m really enjoying doing the custom bears – not only are the fabrics supplied, taking the color/fabric choices out of my hands, but I really like hearing the stories that go along with them. A lot of times they’re memorial bears, and I get to hear about the special people whose clothes I've been entrusted with.

This is one of those bears. The woman who purchased the bear did so for a friend's daughter, who recently had her first child. Her father passed a few months ago, and the woman supplied me with two of his hooded sweatshirts to combine into a bear for the new baby. She also included a small charm (which had belonged to the girl's mother) to stitch inside the bear. Inside the box with the hoodies was a copy of the funeral program, telling me more about the father, including the fact that he was in heaven, probably listening to Johnny Cash with his wife while wearing one of his favorite hoodies.

The buyer also mentioned the fact that he put smiley faces on everything, including his checks. I ended up using more of my vintage daisy trim to accent the bear's neck, instead of a ribbon, because I thought it worked better with the more masculine sweatshirt fabric, and also because the big daisies reminded me of smiley faces.

Once finished, the bear is being sent directly to the mom. The buyer enclosed a card for her, and I think when I wrap the package for shipment, I'll find a few smiley face stickers to put on the box.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Craft Show: Insurrection

Let me explain.

Yesterday's craft show at Lloyd Hall on Philadelphia's Boathouse Row was not exactly as planned - either by the organizers or the vendors.

There was never any clear information as to whether we'd be inside or out, but when yesterday dawned warm and sunny, outside was obviously the place to be.

Which is why, just as obviously, the organizers decided to keep the crafters indoors, in a big room used for basketball.  It's a great room, huge, with glass block windows facing the river that let in tons of light.  But all the people were outside.  There were hundreds of people outside.

About an hour in, during that uncomfortable period when the only customers are the vendors cruising each other's tables, we started talking about where we wanted to be.  One by one, we kept looking out the door at the crowds of runners, joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, couples, singles, families . . . and wanting to be out there, with them.

Suddenly, I'd had enough.  I started laying my display pieces flat on the table for easier movement, and when I looked up, there was a woman stepping briskly past, dragging her table behind her.

It was on.

Within fifteen minutes, we were all outside, ranged around the building, spaced between the trees on the sidewalk, in between the restroom doors (can't ignore us there!)

A little while later, the organizer came out and looked completely mystified at seeing us there.  He made a few noises about making us move back in, but when people said they'd go home before they'd go back inside, he went away.  Lucky man knew when he was beaten - earlier there'd been mutterings about glue guns.

It ended up being a gorgeous day, pretty profitable considering many of the people who were out there weren't dressed for shopping (hard to carry a wallet in a sports bra or a pair of bike shorts), but there were enough buyers to keep everyone happy and willing to come back.

If they ask us.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Ever since people found out that I recycle fabrics, I've come home to the occasional care package on my front porch.

It helps that I live on the same block as a really good thrift store.  They support my habit nicely, but it also works in the reverse -- friends who would normally donate to the store will leave their donations on my porch for me to pick through first, and then donate whatever is left that doesn't suit my needs.

These three dresses came from one of those care packages.  All of them were pillowcases - two yellow-and-white striped ones and a larger sham, striped on one side, the other with the really cool compass and ship images.

There were others, including some really, really large 1990s cabbage rose linens (think toddler-head-sized roses), which did make the journey to the store.  The nautical pillowcase went into the thrift bag, came out, went back in and was sitting there, waiting to be taken down the street when I sprinted down the steps and pulled it out, because I had just gotten the inspiration for the dress, and I was really hoping that Mario hadn't decided to help me out by getting rid of that bag for me.

The yellow striped dresses just feel like essence of summer.  I've had several yards of that daisy trim for the past couple of years.  I bought it to use on a dress for myself, and then I could never decide on a pattern (or use for the trim) that didn't look way too young and/or childish.

Considering how good it looks on these size 1 and 3 dresses, I think I was right to save it.  Much better for small people, right?

Show tomorrow.  Everything is packed up and ready in the hall downstairs, ready to load into the Outback in the morning.

More later.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make Do and Mend

Today I pitched a workshop idea to a local organization whose goal is to encourage making through doing.

I called it "Make Do and Mend," and what I proposed was to teach a 2 hour workshop showing people how easy it is to care for their own wardrobes, and to stop throwing away or donating perfectly good clothes because no one ever taught them how to sew on a button or tack up the hems in their pants.  This seems to cover about 80% of the population.

The class could also potentially cover zipper replacement (jeans would be difficult without more know-how on garment construction, but standard skirt/pants zips wouldn't be too hard), some refashioning tips such as shortening sleeves, reshaping skirts, etc.

The application asked what my experience was to teach the course, and I said that I make almost all my own clothes, I run a business using recycled fabrics and I've taught an abridged version of this at every office I've worked, though usually they would rather buy me coffee and have me sew on their buttons.

Waiting to see if they take me up on it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's that time

The scrap bag was beginning to overflow.

When that happens, I either sort through it and throw things away, or I make potholders.

Generally, I make potholders.

First, because I don’t like to throw anything away if I can help it, and second, because it’s always nice to have a lower priced item on the table at craft shows. I can keep prices low on these because it really is nothing but my time involved. And yes, my time is worth something, but the materials in this case were all left over from other projects. That and an 8” square of batting doesn’t take much out of me.

These fabrics practically jumped out of the scrap bag together, even though their original projects had nothing to do with each other. As I pulled them and laid them out on the table, I could see a vintage theme coming together. Think Depression-era kitchen – feed sacks and dress goods, all the bits left over from the household quilts coming together as potholders.

 I’m calling this group Americana, because it reminds me of picnics and summer and the colors lurking behind vintage black-and-white photographs.