February 27, 2015

Three Wonderful Vintage Dresses

Here are three wonderful dresses from three very different eras of fashion.  I did minor repair work on all of them, nothing dazzling enough to blog about, but I think the dresses themselves are worthy of a few moments in the spotlight.

In chronological order:

#1 - c. 1910
Edwardian day dress.  If I had to pick a fashion era, I think I'd pick Edwardian.  These dresses and lovely detailing seem so feminine.  I love the double skirts, and the long lines seem very slimming.  This, of course, ignores the fact that for all their gracefulness, the extreme corset was the required undergarment, wasp waists and the s-curve body being the Thing.

This dress is made of a light and floaty striped cotton with black silk bands on the sleeves.  The silk bands were pretty tattered.  I replaced them, but after these photos were taken.

On Etsy, at Basya Berkman.

#2 - 1920s
Flapper brown silk dress with amazing buttons.  While the dresses of the '20s also have some really exciting detailing, I'm not as fond of the shapes.  They don't seem to do much for the female figure.  I know I'm not the first person to have than opinion.  That said, this dress is truly wonderful.

It's the buttons that are the best thing, I think.  They are gold filigree with a mirrored base showing through.  The dress had lost several buttons, but due to miraculous estate sale shopping, I had some on hand of the same style though a big larger.

On Etsy, at Basya Berkman.

#3 - 1960s
And finally, a stunning wedding gown and veil.  This is a princess-for-a-day wedding dress, with its lovely long train (which is removable for some great dancing at the reception) and matching long veil.

The dress just needed a good wash and a bit of mending on the bodice lining.  

On Etsy, at Basya Berkman.

I really enjoy doing repair work for my friend Julia - just look at all the pretties I get to play with!

February 23, 2015

Visit Ellen Anne Eddy

My quilting friend Ellen Anne Eddy has graciously posted a most lovely review of my book.

While you are at her website, be sure to take a walk through her colorful world.  Ellen calls what she does "thread magic" and that is such a perfect name!  You will find animals and plants executed in densely stitched, sparkling threads.

This quilt is called "Dancing in the Light."  It is 55" x 69".

Here's the materials list:  hand-dyed cotton, felt, lace, lame, direct appliqué, machine embroidered, quilted, polyester, metallic, nylon threads.  Ellen knows her fabrics and threads intimately!

Ellen is a busy person.  She makes her magical art, for which she has developed her own set of techniques.  She teaches and lectures and writes books and tutorials to share her unique style.  She hand dyes fabrics with dreamy swirls of color in combinations you won't find anywhere else.  All this is available at her website, and well-worth a look-see.  You'll meet a person who follows her heart and is a true artist.

And here's her most recent book.  It looks like lots of fun!

A couple of years ago, I made a cat quilt for a wedding gift using some of Ellen's fabrics.  Her bright colors were just what this quilt needed for the cats to look really dressed up.  You can see photos of all the cats at The Cats Go To A Wedding.  I also got to play in my button baskets a tiny bit, using them for the knots on the bow ties.

February 18, 2015

A Quilt Brought Back to Life

I've been drawn to red, green, and white appliqué quilts forever.  Here's one that was recently brought back to life by my friend Ann Fahl.  Here's how the quilt looked when Ann first started thinking about fixing it up.

Ann makes wonderful art quilts and has written several books, plus creating a pattern line and a DVD.  You can read more about her at her website and blog.  Lately, she has been very busy researching her family history and sharing new discoveries with family members.  This actually is a perfect segue to telling you about her red, green, and white quilt.

This is a family heirloom quilt, though there is not much specific known about its story.  The quilt has lived for many decades at the family home in Marion, Indiana.  Ann posits that the quilt may have been a payment from a tenant to her great-grandfather during the Depression when cash was short. It was probably made in the 1880s or so.

In addition to Ann's great-grandfather, Marie Webster also lived in Marion, Indiana.  Marie Webster is credited with writing the first book on quilt history.  She also designed patterns, and created a pioneering woman-run business, selling the patterns via mail order.  Her house is now a national historic landmark, and is the home of The Quilters Hall of Fame.

Here are before and after pictures of the fabric damage and the new work that Ann added to the quilt.

Ann's repair process is detailed in several blog posts:
the quilt's story
making templates and cutting
patching the background

She began work in September, 2013, and completed it all in January, 2015.  She stitched a description of the quilt and the work that she did to the back of the quilt.  That makes this labor of love a part of the entire family story that she is helping to preserve.  I think that's a great idea, and I recommend you take a look and keep it in mind as you care for your own heirlooms.

Here's the completed job - such a beautiful quilt!  Kudos to Ann!

February 12, 2015

Kate Greenaway and a Crazy Quilt

Another crazy quilt!  They certainly were all the rage with the Victorian ladies, and of course, still have many, many fans.  (Pun not intended, but left as written.)

As with all good crazies, this one has some unique and endearing embroidery details, and the scalloped edge is very special.  Having an embroidered date - 1883 - is always a big plus!  This is a family heirloom piece, though the precise history is not known.

Besides the date, this photo also shows a ceramic jar, a moon and stars, and a ladle.

What I find most historically interesting are the patches showing children at play.  There was an English author and illustrator who was very famous at the time this quilt was made named Kate Greenaway.  Sometimes her illustrations or style show up on crazy quilts.  This one has more of these little vignettes than I've ever seen.  They are quite adorable.


Another type of embellishment on this quilt are purchased and applied embroidered patches.  I've heard about these, but I don't think I've ever encountered any before.  They are pretty much like Scout badges in construction, and were glued on.  I know this, because some were coming loose.  I didn't re-glue, not wanting to damage the fabrics further, so stitched over and around them to hold in place.

Here are some other fun details.

From the household and the garden - tools and critters.  Many of these are sewn with
a single strand of thread.  This rake is just a bit over an inch long.

A painter's palette is a unique addition.  It's hard to see the design on the palette - it's a water bird, like an egret or heron, amongst the plants at the water's edge.

A pitcher, then a lighted candle in a heavy candlestick, 
and then a, hmmm, fan-broom-rake.  

A cross with flower vine.

A flat style fan.

And a folded style fan.
The pansy above the fan is another of the purchased embroidered patches.

And my favorites, some lovely china.  You've already seen a couple in the photos above.  
This lady loved her fancy china!

This teacup is about 2" x 2 1/2".

Here's a design that puzzles me, on the left, a crescent moon kind of filled with stars.  She embroidered it in a couple of places.  You'll see another one in the photo up above with the embroidered date.  I wonder if it's maybe a symbol used by some fraternal society (though I haven't found anything like it online) or if the quilter just enjoyed gazing at the night sky.

The border has a lovely scalloped edge.  The edges were left raw and buttonhole stitched.  The thread color changes every 5 scallops.  She used some really electric colors on this plum silk border!

And yes, the quilt is backed in this bright red!

The work I did on this quilt was entirely conservation, no patching.  I did a lot of couching across tattered silks to hold the threads and shreds in place, which you can see in a number of these photos.  As much as possible, I anchored the long thread in the edges of the patches, where doubled fabric and embroidery stitches were stronger, and put the little couching stitches into slits and between threads. 

February 2, 2015

My New Quilt-y Teapot

My wonderful friend Nancy unexpectedly gifted me with this wonderful teapot and cup combo.  Wooooo!!!!!

Nancy has an online shop called "Roses and Teacups" that carries all sorts of flowery, lacy, feminine delights.  Great gift shopping here, folks!   Jewelry, English bone china, stationery, and purses.  She also has super accessories for tea parties and weddings.  Silk velvet shawls!  Heirloom baby bonnets!  The list goes on and on.

Even better, Roses and Teacups loves to discover and promote independent women artists and made-in-America.  Super!

My lovely little pot was custom made for me by Cindy at Whimsical Bliss Studios to include quilt-y details in addition to the signature 3-D roses and dotted texturing.  Quilts and tea are two main focal points of my whole lifestyle!

Check out this link at Nancy's shop to see more wonderful pieces by Whimsical Bliss Studios.  Great name, isn't it?  I'm hoping she'll add this quilt-y design to her regular line.

I just couldn't be happier!