Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fabric of the Cosmos Skirt

Images from

We've been watching the Brian Greene, Fabric of the Cosmos, series on NOVA lately and have been completely fascinated. It's mind-blowing in the best way, and I want to watch episodes over and over again just to soak it all in. If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend checking out the PBS web site to watch online.

Fabric of the Cosmos Skirt - front

Of course, as he talks about the "Fabric" of the Cosmos, my brain instantly goes to textiles. I have some ideas for bigger, more complex projects on this subject, but was in need of some instant-ish gratification this week and decided to do a simple skirt to scratch the itch.

Fabric of the Cosmos Skirt - Back

This was one of those projects that comes together so seamlessly (pun intended) that you know it was meant to be. As soon as the idea popped in to my head, I could instantly put my hands on just about every material I'd need for the project and it came together very quickly.

Fabric of the Cosmos Skirt - Planets

For the base of the skirt, I wanted a fabric that resembles the weave used in the graphics in the Fabric of the Cosmos show. I happened to have this awesome Alexander Henry fabric that I got at the Stitch Lab ages ago that was perfect. It's a yummy, heavy fabric with a great cross-hatch print. From there, I pulled out my stash of hand-dyed fat quarters that I made in my surface design class with Kat. I was able to find pieces that resembled each planet (ok, ok, Jupiter is a tad ... psychedelic, but it works!) and did a quick applique. I embroidered the rings of Saturn, but getting the needle through the heavy fabric and the fusible webbing proved much tougher than I'd anticipated. Instead of stitching many rings, my fingers could only stand to stitch one.

Fabric of the Cosmos Skirt - with hand-dyed fabrics

I've lost count of how many of these simple, elastic-waist skirts from my Beginning I sewing class at the Stitch Lab I've made. My pattern from the class is starting to show its age, and needs to be re-drawn before I lose it completely. I love how easy it is to create a fun piece of clothing to wear. I may not have the sexiest wardrobe on the planet, but it is fun and personalized. I wear one of these skirts almost every single day, and I'm glad to have this latest geeky one to add to the rotation.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vintage Embroidery & Craft Goodies

Over the years, I've built up a nice stash of vintage craft books and magazines. I have a very hard time resisting them when I find them at garage sales and estate sales. I also have a severe weakness for vintage embroidery, crewel and cross-stitch kits and pieces. I've been meaning to share them here on the blog, and was even more motivated after a visit from Diane and Kristin a couple of weeks ago. Having a great stash of vintage craft magazines is fun and all, but it's fun times ten when you get to sit with some of you best crafty pals and read through them together.

Diane already posted about some of the needlework magazines, so I thought I'd share a couple of posts about a particularly awesome book of embroidery transfers I picked up at an estate sale, as well as some other vintage needlework magazines and some of the vintage stationery I've collected as well. Let's kick it off with the embroidery book, shall we?

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

My daughter actually found this book for me while we were at an estate sale recently. Initially, I almost didn't even thumb through it. It's a thick book of embroidery transfers, but the cover was a little too country kitchen for my taste, and I figured everything inside would be the same. I'm so glad I decided to actually look through it, because while there is a healthy dose of country geese inside, there are also dozens of kooky and cool designs.

The book is called the Keepsake Transfer Collection and boasts more than 1,000 iron on designs. And they aren't kidding - there are loads of great, unique images in this book - not just repeats of things that are slightly modified. You can find it on Amazon used here.

Here are some of my favorites from the book. You can see more over on my Flickr set.

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

There's a whole lot of win on this page. Giraffe on roller skates? Yes, please! I also love the wacky guy who serves as the test transfer.

  Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

Some designs are highly complex, while others are charmingly simple. I love this little popsicle dude.

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

The book is from the mid-80s (wait, can it still classify as "vintage?") so you know there are unicorns.

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

What up, bunny with a boom box!? Wait ... what's he doing with his other paw there ... ehhhnnn ...

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

I love this hot-air-balloon-that's-really-a-gumball-machine.

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

Who can resist this crafty basket? (or that wee raccoon above it)

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

There are a lot of kooky food designs in this book. Because everyone wants to embroider sardines ...

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

... and hot dogs with relish.

Estate Sale find - embroidery transfer book

After copious amounts of country kitchen designs, the book wraps up with pages and pages of really lovely floral designs that would be beautiful if worked in crewel or punch needle. I'm so glad my daughter convinced me to look through this book. In the end, I think I got it for less than a dollar, and have found it hugely inspiring and fun to flip through. I haven't tried ironing on any of the designs yet, but I have used my light box to transfer one and use it for punch needle embroidery (something I'll be sharing soon). Go grab a copy off Amazon and enjoy for yourself. You can also see a few more samples of the designs over on my Flickr set. More vintage craft/embroidery finds soon!