August 26, 2015

Photographs, Embroidery, and Everything

Last week I had a great walk-and-talk in the woods with my good friend Rin.  We talked about "life, the universe, and everything" (as we like to say at my house, hearkening back to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). 

And I took pictures.  Lots of pictures.  For the last year I've been keeping what I call a photo diary, taking photos (mostly) every day that are either lovely or meaningful to the day's activities or hopefully both.  It's an exercise in mindfulness, being present.

I love this color combination.  Well, green is my favorite color to begin with.  The addition of yellow and purple is vibrant, even in the shade.

Then later that day, I did some more embroidering on my long-term tablecloth project, and lo and behold, the colors are.......

It's cutwork embroidery, started by my mother-in-law.  My husband thinks she probably made a dozen of these for family and friends.  I brought it home when we closed out my in-laws' apartment, and have been working on it off and on for the last few years.  I wonder if she started making this one with me in mind.  The colors certainly suit my tastes!  In any case, I am very grateful to have it, and to be sewing on it. 

Posts about the progress of the tablecloth are at:  June 2012 and April 2014

And here are a few other woodsy photos.
spring green leaves in late August

caterpillar traversing the leaf litter

reflection alá Monet

the heron, owning it all

August 24, 2015

Sharing Some Fun Blogging

Stephanie Ann, over at her blog World Turn'd Upside Down, posted two really fun items last week.
Stephanie Ann is a re-enactor, historian, crafter, and cook whose blog has tons of great info on all these things, well worth a visit.

One -
Her new 1940s dress.
Photo: World Turn'd Upside Down
I just love the 40s styling.  It has some pretty detailed patterning and extra seams, but the end result is much more exciting than shaping the look just with basic darts.  (Be sure to scroll down to the end of the post.  Stephanie has included links to other folks who've used the same pattern, so you can see it in a variety of fabrics.)

I'm reminded of a dress I mended for Basya Berkman not long ago.  It's a 1930s-40s rayon.  I don't have photos of the whole dress yet, but here are a couple of construction details.  And I just love the fabric.  (You can see from the seam allowances along the zipper how much it's faded over the years.  I think I like it both ways, new and aged.)

August 20, 2015

Yep, I'm Crowing - Publicity Came Looking For Me

They say that the best kind of publicity is a free write-up, and they say that it doesn't matter what the reporter actually says as long as she spells your name right.  Well, I'm sailing along with both of those today, and what she said was pretty nice, too!

I just got written up in an article in Crain's Chicago Business!  I am happy to say that I'm one of only seven "old-school artisans" in the piece.

The Fixers: Meet the Area's Top Artisans and Restorers

August 17, 2015

Mending a 1950s Party Dress

A lovely 1950s vintage, pink lace party dress....

....with a huge rip in the pleated net skirt panel.  It's this pleated panel that gives the dress its special styling.  (I stuck a piece of blue fabric underneath so the net shows better in the photos.)  One side of the net was torn more or less horizontally and about 18" up from the hem.

August 10, 2015

One of Those Amazing Coincidences

So, the other day, my husband and I were at the bank to sign some papers on a financial thingy.  We were ushered into a conference room and ---

The very first thing I saw was the chairs.  The chairs!  I whipped out my camera and took a couple of pictures.

For the last few years, I've been working on a series of quilts called "Something From Nothing", my own personal challenge project using decorator fabric samples. 

And........  The chairs are upholstered in one of the fabrics I used in one of the quilts!  Such fun!

The quilt is called "Something From Nothing -- Off Center".  It's 27" x 35".

In keeping with the challenge I set myself for this series, I used all the colorways of this pattern that I had, and I designed the quilt to relate to the pattern.  The appliqued rings and dots are all made with other circle prints, all from the stash of decorator samples.  The dots and the buttons I added are the same size as the design elements in the print.

Those chairs made my day, for sure!

For more on this series of quilts check out these previous posts:
--  the story of how the series came about
-- photos of some recently completed quilts
-- descriptions of the design process and step-by-step photos for two of the larger and more complex quilts - Something From Nothing -- Cleopatra's Fan and Something From Nothing -- What the Birds See

August 3, 2015

History Comes to Life on a Quilt - Part 4

Part 4.  A Window on Life in 1897

(Part 1 tells the background of a quilt inscribed with many names, and how I started my search for the details of its history.  Part 2 details some of the interesting family stories.  Part 3 tells a long story about three intertwined families.)

In general, I'm noticing that many households included more than our typical nuclear families.  It becomes clear pretty quickly that most families took in extended family members when the need arose, single or widowed aunts and uncles and parents, for example.  Many households took in boarders, and many hired servants, often recently arrived from Ireland, especially during the early childbearing years.  Hardly anyone lived alone.