Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Isn't That Pinteresting? - 6

My pin this week is central to the very theme if this blog!  It leads to a wonderful post by Sarah at The Fuzzy Square, where the author condenses a ton of great ideas for recycling and upcycling clothing onto one easy and inspirational page.

As you know, I do not like to see clothing and textiles go into land fills.  I much prefer that they be donated to others, or, if you're of a creative bent, upcycled into another garment.  I have (literally, I think) a ton of clothing I need to get serious about refurbishing.  If I run out of ideas, this pin will jump start my creative engines, and I hope it inspires yours as well!  What are your favorite upcycle ideas?

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Day Off

A day off has such potential doesn't it?  So little time and so much to do!  I have one today because I have to go to work this weekend :-(.  I'd like to be able to tell you I've been all kinds of productive, but I'm afraid that's not really true...

I had breakfast out as a special little treat to myself, then browsed an antique shop.  I had serious sticker shock there, so I went to Target to accomplish some weekly errands.  Then I did the week's laundry and worked on another of the laundry room curtains.

Love the burlap and the lace.  Like many of my projects, this one gets a little done on it whenever I get the chance... two valences to go.  I'm undecided on whether I should make cafe curtains to go on the bottoms of the windows, or remain au naturale.  

I'm trying to do some blog work, too, as you can see.  I actually learned how to get rid of the little borders around all the pictures on the blog here (Thank you!). That had been puzzling me.  And I created a new signature without the annoying white background.  I'm sprucing up the place for spring.  You see, I'm hoping to post much more frequently... and more pithily!  The slightly crazed ramblings of the frustrated and time crunched sewist!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Old Friends

Old friends, old friends

Sat on their park bench like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today?

Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

Time it was and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you

I’ve been quiet for the past week.  I’ve been attempting to come  to terms with a profound loss.

The friend with whom I have had the longest continuous bond in my life passed through the veil last week.  Her death was quite unexpected though she’d had end-stage renal disease for years.  She was on home hemodialysis, and waited hopefully for a transplant that never came.  Kathe was a well-respected member of the renal patient advocacy community, working most recently for the Northeast Kidney Foundation.  In the course of her work, and of her disease, she met hundreds of other kidney patients, spoke before the FDA, CMS, and many community and professional organizations, met with legislators, and travelled over the entire country in the service of others.  

When her disease started to get her down, she took a course in clowning, and Kismet the clown was born – Kismet brought joy and laughter to ill and well alike at children’s hospitals, nursing homes, and fundraising events.  In an article published (May 6th, 2013) in the national magazine Woman’s World about her clowning activities, Kathe was quoted as saying “Life is absolutely what we make of it.”  She made a whole lot out of it!  Here she is, as Kismet, with her friend, Sidney the Kidney.

Kathe and I met well over 40 years ago in Junior High School.  As teens, we were inseparable much of the time.  We walked to school together every day, slept over at one another’s homes, stayed up all night laughing and talking, dyed one another’s hair (hideously I’m afraid), made homemade tanning oil, read the same books, swooned over the same boys… the list goes on.  Upon graduation from high school, we headed off to the same college, albeit with different majors, and graduated the same year.  Even when our paths diverged, whenever we managed to get together, it was as though we had never been apart.  She was a bridesmaid at my first wedding, Godmother to my daughter, and there for the second wedding as well.  To say that I loved her would be an understatement.

She’s been mentioned indirectly on this blog a couple of times.  I once bought an antique bottle for her which had held a patent medicine “kidney cure”, and I had intended to give one of my little house quilts to her.   I will miss her so very much, as will her wonderful husband and her many, many other friends and acquaintances. 

If you are reading these words, please consider becoming an organ donor, and, if you are in a position to do so, donate to the kidney cause of your choice.  Many thanks, and if you knew Kathe, please feel free to post a memory in the comments.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Isn't that Pinteresting? - 5

As you've probably noticed by now, I pin a lot of vintage patterns to my Sew Inspired board.  Today's pin comes from the Etsy shop of CloesCloset - a very nifty shop filled with lovely patterns.

This one caught my eye for a number of reasons.  First, it just screams "mod" sixties!  While I think the maxi is probably a little much for today, I think a longer version of the mini would be great.  Also, the pattern would look nice on the body I have now (see my previous Pinteresting post here) as opposed to some fantasy version thereof.  Third, I know just the fabric I'd like to use for this! 

I'd love to see what you're pinning - post a link to your boards in the comments!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Puzzle Me This

Since acquiring my two wonderful vintage Singer sewing machines, I've been on a quest for accessories.  While trolling eBay, I came across a listing for two Singer puzzle boxes.
A Singer puzzle box is a neatly crafted box of feet and other accessories produced by the Singer Manufacturing Company during the 19th and 20th centuries. The box was invented in 1888 by John M. Griest, a Singer employee who was awarded US patent 397980 on February 19, 1889 for the design. 
The accessories stash into a fold out rectangular wooden box which is lined in velvet or felt (if the lining is still intact).  An alternate name for these is a "style box".  The boxes include attachments for hemming, braiding, underbraiding, tucking, shirring, binding, quilting and ruffling, along with screwdrivers and spare needles.  Mine are not in the most pristine condition, but I will continue to look for more of these fascinating treasures!

Now I just have to clean them up and learn how to use them!  Any tips?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Isn't that Pinteresting? - 4 - A Holy WOW

This pin is more than Pinteresting - it's a holy WOW!

Like most women, I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  I've been thin and not thin.  Right now I'm not thin.  Right now I am working on this.  I'm going to Pilates, I'm decreasing portions, I'm contemplating the diet that would be right for me.

Why am I going on about this?  Because despite knowing the above, I'm also not really in touch with what I look like. I mean, I know, but I don't know.  Maybe it's denial, maybe it's some other defense mechanism, but I "forget" what body it is that I'm really dressing.  I'm often disappointed in my sewing results, not because my garment did not turn out well, but because it does not look great ON ME.  The fantasy of what it will look like is WAY better than the reality.

This pin connects to  You are led through a body type assessment, complete with measurements, and voila! A 3-D body model of you is constructed!  "Fashion rules" for your body type can be downloaded, and examples of fashions which might work well for you body type appear in your virtual dressing room.  It really is quite awesome...

...and depressing.  I was shocked when I saw "me" in the same way I am shocked by photographs of me.  I hardly liked a thing that was suggested for me and my (current) shape.  I wanted to cry.  At the same time, it was a very potent reminder that if I want to wear the clothes I like, I need to get busy and lose some weight.  While I can't change the basic shape as much, I can take off some of the padding on it - it's just that simple.

I'm really glad I pinned this.  Perhaps it will help me avoid quite so many disappointing outcomes from my sewing... and help maintain my motivation to make change.  I recommend this totally free tool.  Let me know about your experiences with it!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Snake Oil

Snake oil!  The term "Patent Medicine" has been used frequently to describe drug compounds marketed (mostly) prior to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.  Perhaps "proprietary" is a little better term, because it denotes the the more common trademarking of  "secret (often old family) recipes".  I'm fascinated with this phenomenon, and I collect ephemera and memorabilia associated with the Lydia E Pinkham Medicine Company of Lynn, Massachusetts.  Lydia's medicines were marketed to women to cure all manner of "women's complaints".  Enterprising Lydia started out cooking each batch on her kitchen stove and sending her sons door to door with her brew.  Eventually her company became a booming concern in Lynn, selling throughout the country.

You had to love the elaborate and artistic marketing materials!  Trade cards with cherubic children, kittens, and smiling healthy people.  Not only are most of these concoctions laced with plenty of alcohol, but they often contained opium, heroin, morphine or cocaine.  They were marketed for people of all ages, including babies.

While browsing my favorite estate shop, I came across some sewing machine oil, which was being stored in a bottle which originally contained one of these magical elixirs.  The owner had taken care to scratch out the label, but the original label is still very readable.  Active ingredients?  Opium and alcohol...

So, of course, I brought it home!

Have you found anything fun lately?