Saturday, March 29, 2008

That must have been *some* muumuu

I heard a really fun little story on NPR this evening's All Things Considered. They asked listeners to submit stories of the strangest things they'd ever found when spring cleaning. One listener wrote in, describing what he and his family found when going through thousands of pictures six years after his father passed away. While they were going through the pictures, his Aunt Molly found one that caught her eye, and she said, "Oh, I really want to keep this one."

The reason? It was a picture of Aunt Molly from 30 years prior. In the picture, she was lounging by a pool. It was 1968. She was wearing a fabulous muumuu in the picture, and it just so happened that the day she found the photograph (in 1998) she was wearing the exact same muumuu.


Listening to her describe the dress is fantastic. She mentions its color (watermelon) and describes the beautiful embroidered details (be still my heart!). I would give anything to see that picture of her in the muumuu and a picture of her in it now. Can you imagine how fabulous it must be?

What garment do you own now that you can see yourself not only wearing, but still swooning over, in 30 years?

Give the spot a listen - it's short. If you go to the web site after this week, it might show up as an archived show, but for now all you have to do is click the Listen Here button. Enjoy!

The last bits of my vintage embroidery transfers

I'm going to try to stay off the computer this weekend so I can actually get some stitching of my own done, so I've decided to lump all the remaining vintage embroidery transfers in one post.

The first is from the same sheet that the Vespa was on. I like the car, but I especially like the little trees on either side of the car. I actually like them so much that I've also cut one out and set it up as its own transfer - I think it could be interesting in several different applications. This transfer was giving me fits on cleaning up and I finally had to throw my hands in the air, but it's still totally usable.

Next up is a group of simple squirrels. The squirrel came from a little booklet of transfers - the Needlewoman ones. What's hilarious about the booklet is that it has a woman on the cover in a little nightie with her stitching stuff. 'Cause, yeah ... that's how we all look when we stitch, right? It's a small, simple squirrel, so I decided to at least resize it and flip it a few different ways to make it more usable. The two facing each other are in honor of a hilarious Valentine's Day card that Leslie made. It had two squirrels facing each other just like the ones below, and inside it said, "What's up, SquirrelFriend!" So now, any time I see squirrels, I say in my head, "What's up, SquirrelFriend!" (seriously, in my head, it's really funny!)

Next I've got the partner to the fairy in an earlier post. I was finally able to get her cleaned up enough to post, and she's quite cute. I love the way her feet look, and I love the little roses all over her skirt.

Finally, one of my favorites- an Asian scene that's really, really pretty. There are so many great elements: the cherry blossoms, the water, the bird, the butterfly, the little pagoda - they'd each be fun to stitch on their own, and all together they make for a fantastic scene.

Enjoy! Thanks again to Floresita and Pip for putting on the week of vintage embroidery love. It's been fantastic to see all the great images and to connect with new folks!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Chirpy Chirp Chirp

I'm sitting here this fine spring morning, with windows and doors open, listening to the birds chirp up a storm outside. They're all noisy and chatty and squawky. Guess they're telling me to get on with posting more vintage embroidery designs (though the official week has ended over at Meet Me at Mikes, I jumped in late, so I'm just going to keep on posting). Enjoy these birds! More tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another chance to win a Sublime Stitching Craft Pad, and more vintange emrboidery goodness

Ooooooh y'all! Remember how much fun the Craft Pad giveaway was? If you were one of the close to 140 people who didn't win the drawing, here's your second chance! Chronicle Books is giving away TWO Sublime Stitching Craft Pads AND Two Origami Craft Pads! How cool is that!? Look back to the original post to hear my gushing love of the Sublime Stitching Craft Pad (I'm starting on a pillow case for my daughter with the horse pattern tonight!) and then check out Chronicle's Origami Craft Pad! When I was a kid, I learned how to fold a collared shirt with paper, and I thought I was too cool for school. My guess is that the Chronicle Origami Craft Pad has some way better designs than my late 80s creations. For. Sure. So get on over there, STAT, and win one! (and feel free to check out something high on my wish list...)

And more vintage embroidery goodness for you. This time, I'm going girlie with two designs. The first is a ballerina. I've never been a ballerina, or even had a desire to, but something about this image really struck me. I just love seeing her from behind. The second transfer is a charming little fairy. I love the delicate flower details on her hips and shoulders. So sweet. I actually have another fairy that goes with her, but I'm having trouble getting her cleaned up well enough to post.
I'll be the first to admit my transfers are no where near as cleaned up and pretty as Floresita's and others, but I haven't had time to pull them in to freehand to fully get them spiffed up. They are good enough, though, for carbon and lightbox transfers, so stitch on! More tomorrow ....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vespa. Period.

I mentioned Floresita's Vintage Embroidery week over at Meet Me at Mikes, and realized that I'd planned on playing along but hadn't posted anything yet. Have I mentioned how scatter-brained I am? It's bad.

I was determined to get my stack of transfers scanned and start cleaning them up tonight, and I'm happy to report that I actually succeeded in the first part of that. I'm still cleaning some of them up, but I do have a little goody to post tonight.

I'll preface this series of vintage embroidery transfer posts with the story of how I came to have them. I haven't really stepped in to the world of collecting vintage transfers yet. I've peeked at the ones on ebay a few times, and knew myself well enough to get the heck out of there before I spent time and money I didn't have. I kind of live vicariously through Floresita, and get my vintage fix from her.

That was until I saw someone post to the Flickr Emrboidery Group that they had some vintage transfers they were off-loading. I jumped at the opportunity, and man am I glad I did. She generously sent a stack of vintage beauties all the way from England! I almost fell out of my chair when I started going through them. Most of them are Needlewoman and Needlecraft from England. I haven't been able to research them much yet, but these little gems just make me giddy.

This first transfer comes from a large sheet of vintage cars. They are amazing, and I'd give anything to drive in any one of them. There are also some great trees and shrubs that show up in the "background" of some of the car images. I know trees and shrubs don't sound like a big deal, but they have some really interesting design elements and would be fun to stitch and include in other projects. They'll make an appearance in a later post. For tonight, I'm posting one of my favorites on this sheet - the Vespa. Simple and fun and cute. And there's something about how it says, "Vespa." - with a period - that I love.

Vespa. Period.

I'll be back with one or two more tomorrow as I play catch-up on the week of vintage embroidery transfers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sometimes all you need is a little group motivation

Sew Alongs are a great way to tackle projects that may seem daunting, to finish up something that's been sitting there, nagging at you, or just a fun way to connect with other crafters. I've never participated in one before, but I'm very tempted to hop in on Stacy's Sophia Sew Along. The Amy Butler Sophia pattern is absolutely gorgeous, and ever since I saw Sarah's take on the bag, I've been interested in making one.

I've also been incredibly intimidated, though. Piping! Shaping! Aye!

I don't know that I have it in me - especially since I haven't even finished my dress from back in February, and I'm slightly overwhelmed with all other aspects of life right now - but I can't wait to see what Stacy and the others create. Stacy just revealed her fabric choice, and I think it's going to make a killer Sophia bag. You should totally join in on the fun.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Week full of free embroidery patterns over at Meet Me at Mikes

Floresita hasn't mentioned it yet (that I've seen) but I saw that she's hosting an embroidery week at the Meet Me at Mikes blog. My daughter wants to move to Australia because of Bindi the Jungle Girl. Me? I want to go to Meet Me at Mikes. I doubt either of our dreams will come true any time soon, but until then we can just enjoy the MMAM blog and Floresita's embroidery week.
Floresita is hosting the week, and is posting from her vintage transfer collection every day. What's even cooler is that other people can join in, and will be linked in the blogroll. That means lots of folks will be posting free transfers this week. I'm looking forward to connecting with more stitchers and seeing some new designs. I'm also going to scan some vintage transfers I've had laying around "waiting to be scanned" for months. Seems like a good time to go ahead and get that done.


Letting you in on a little secret

It was exactly six months ago today that I and a handful of other folks got a personal message from KittyKill on Craftster, asking if we would be interested in participating in a surprise Tea Towel Tour. The surprise was that the towel would replace one that was "lost" earlier in the year, leaving Jenny Hart and her crew seriously disappointed.

I, of course, jumped on the opportunity. I'd missed out on the first tour, and I thought it would be a great treat to get in on this "secret" one. Plus, I'd get to stitch along with several folks whose work I admire greatly, and connect with loads of other embroiderers.

So six months to the day after that first personal message went out from Kitty Kill in Portland, OR, I hand delivered the Secret Tea Towel Tour towel to Jenny and the Sublime Stitching crew. We scheduled the towel to come to me last since I'm here in Austin, and I was able to work with Mary (Sublime Stitching General Manager and all around detail goddess) to get the hand off coordinated.

Visiting the Sublime headquarters was a dream come true, and Jenny, Mary, Jessica and Jordan were very excited to see the towel. Jenny was incredibly touched and examined every last bit of stitched work with sincere appreciation. It was so cool to be able to see her receive it, and I only wish that everyone who worked on the towel could have been there. They all did incredible work.

Jenny was so warm and welcoming and so much fun. She gave me a little tour of the place, showed me some top secret Sublime stuff that's in the works (just when you thought her stuff couldn't get any better ... just hold on.) and even let me visit her studio in her house where I got to see several of my favorite pieces of hers on display. She also showed off some great pieces of work that people have sent her or made for her or that just plain inspire her. It was great to see them all and hear their stories.

What fun! I'm still on an embroidery high, but I've got to pick up the kids. I'll post more pictures soon! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The brilliant (and hilarious) Amy Karol - how she does bias tape

The kids had Easter baskets full of Fraggle Rock DVDs and NASCAR cars this morning. I didn't have an Easter basket, and stealing jelly beans from theirs wasn't very satisfying. So I was very happy to find this little treat in my Google Reader this morning. I'll consider it my Easter goody.

When I took the Beginning I Sewing Series, Leslie had this great way to attach bias tape to the bottom of the skirt we made. (did I ever show a picture of that? I didn't, did I .... Well, it rocked. It's reversible! Two skirts in one! Less laundry! Victory!) I couldn't remember *exactly* how to do it, though. Fortunately, Amy Karol uses the same method, and she's made a hilarious tutorial video to explain how. I appreciate quirky senses of humor in folks like you can't imagine. So Amy's "real-time" tutorial (meaning she zips off camera for a moment to sew, which you hear in the background) that comes complete with her narrating via Popsicle sticks, is just about the most fantastic tutorial I've seen in a long time ... possibly ever. And aside from just being fun to watch, this really is a fantastic way to attach bias tape with really nice, clean results.

In other words, better than jelly beans and NASCAR. (but Fraggle Rock is kinda hard to beat ...)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The 'know how' look! It's what fellas like a girl to have!

Have I mentioned how much I love the Internet? I don't want to say I'm *addicted* because, really, I don't mind when I'm away from my computer (I kinda like it, actually) but if I'm working or just at home, the Internet provides me with all kinds of fun, interesting stuff.

Like this. Leslie sent this over the other day, and we included it in the Stitch Lab newsletter this week. It's a 1948 video from Simplicity patterns called, "A Pattern for Smartness" about sewing your own clothes so you can "look smart."

It's stunning in its vintange sewing goodness .... and a little bit frightening to remember how women used to be. It follows Betty as she explains how her Home Economics class changed her life by teaching her to sew her own clothes. Before you know it, there is a giant pattern envelope in the middle of Betty's room, and women come out from behind it and "give life" to the pattern. We follow Betty as she chooses fabrics, cuts the pattern pieces and ultimately puts together a very smart dress (that she points out can be jazzed up with some quick fashion accessory changes! Oooh!) Finally, Johnny, her boyfriend ... or friend who is a boy, tells her she and her home ec friends should put on a fashion show to raise money for equipment for the boys' basketball team. Of course! Why not! That's a swell idea! It's hilarious ... and a little scary.

I watched the whole thing and managed to jot down loads of funny lines that I loved ... and then accidentally deleted the text file with the notes. ooops. The website has some quotes listed, though:

"Your pattern catalog is a book of magic. For it transforms all who use it into creative artists. Yes, just as the portrait artist uses the paints and the brushes to express his impression of a personality, so you can use fabrics and lines and colors to express your own personality."

"A good pattern is one of a girl's best friends."

and the video ends with:
"Happy sewing to you all!"

Happy sewing, indeed!

The video is a little on the long side (about 19 min) but is so totally worth watching.

Speaking of the Stitch Lab Newsletter, we sent out a new schedule last night. If you're in Austin, do take a look and join us for some stitchy fun. And check it out! I'm on the schedule! I actually taught my first hand embroidery class last week at the Stitch Lab, and it was a total blast. I'll write more about that later, but I've got the teaching bug big time now. I taught high school for three years before I had kids, and while that was ... interesting ... I've got to say that it's loads more fun to teach something with which I am so in love to folks who are just as excited as me to be there. I'm teaching another hand embroidery class in June. Check it out and join me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My pathetic button collection

Step in to any craft room (or space) in the world, and you're likely to see some kind of button collection. Piled in jars, sorted nicely in tiny drawers, strung along strings in garland-like fashion - they are there. They permeate just about every crafter's supply collection.

Every crafter ... except me.

I have just about the most pathetic button "collection" of any crafter/sewer I know. And I use the word collection lightly. Quite frankly, my "collection" consists of a handful of plain buttons in a snack-sized plastic bag. They are the extras from random clothes I've had. They aren't colorful or vintage or special in any real way.

I actually never really got the whole button thing. I just didn't understand why people go so nuts over them and horde them in giant stashes. I guess they can be inexpensive, easy to store and fun to paw through, but still ... I was always a little too practical for all that.

That was until I saw Leslie's collection. Whoooooboy. It's extensive. It's full of vintage goodies. It's color-sorted into dozens of tiny drawers and mounted on the wall. It's a rainbow of delightful little circles (and other shapes!) of fun. And when I saw it, and started pawing through it, I began to understand the draw of these little decorative closures. I also can't help but fall in love with the random glimpses Diane has given of her collection. Looking in to the collections of two friends whom I admire so much really made me start to see what all the button fuss is all about.

I still haven't gotten the urge to get lost in Ebay searches, and I don't feel like my craft room is incomplete without jars of buttons on the shelves, but I have started exploring the button aisle of the fabric store a little bit. On a recent fabric store excursion, I got a little carried away. Back to the afford-ability factor, I kept saying, "ooooh! Only $1.20! Ooooh! Only $.90!" Before I knew it, I had more than $10 of "oooh, only-s" in my basket. (see the picture above) I don't even sew much with buttons, but I love looking at these little cards - they are fantastic inspiration.

And while I don't see myself turning into a huge button fanatic, I have at least started to understand the appeal.

(the "cool" buttons scattered throughout the post are Leslie's ... not mine ... sigh.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Winner update...

OK, maybe I spoke too soon ... I can't get an email through to the winner listed in the post below. If you are following up, please email me at averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com. If I haven't heard from you by Monday, March 10 (afternoon-ish), I'll draw another name.


And the winner is ....

Um ... WOW! Thanks so much for all the fun, enthusiastic responses to the giveaway. Welcome to all the folks who joined us from the link on the Craftzine blog! I hope you'll hang around past the winner announcement.

It was really interesting to read everyone's responses and hear the faves among you. It was also fun to connect with some friends from the Flickr Embroidery Group (one of my fave places to hang) and from even in the Austin area.

And, yes, the Craft Pad is as good as I went on about - even better. After I posted the review, I kept thinking of other things I could add. Let's just say the folks at Chronicle Books really know what they are doing, and partnered with Jenny Hart's fantastic designs, you end up with the perfect craft book. Not to mention, the book is insanely affordable. I don't think I mentioned that in the initial post. At $12.95, it's an incredible steal. It's so well designed and packaged, and the transfers, which you can use multiple times, will keep you busy for ages. So when it's released later this month, just buy it - you will absolutely not regret it.

Have I made you wait long enough? Oh fine! You know, when the contest started, I figured I'd do something all cute, and have my daughter help me draw a winner. I thought I'd have her write all the names on slips of paper and then jumble them up and draw a name. Uh ... yeah, I doubt she would have had the patience to write almost 140 names ... for sure. So I pulled them into a word document, checked all the necessities and put folks who linked to the contest down twice, numbered the whole bunch and then used a Random Number Generator to pick the winner.

Are you still with me? This giveaway stuff is complicated!

So, without any more stalling, our winner is Anonymous ... who had this to say:
My favorite one so far is the Winter Land. I love the little cuties for Christmas! You are so sweet to be having such a wonderful giveaway. I'm sure whoever receives this book will be thrilled!

Congrats! I hope you are thrilled! I'll be in touch to coordinate mailing.

Thanks again for all the great responses. Please do stick around for more crafty fun!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Almost forgot! I've been tagged....

With all the Craft Pad excitement, I almost forgot that Diane tagged me the other day! The only other meme I've done got me all nervous and feeling dorky. This one is the same! Argh!

But I'm going for it. And then I'm tagging seven more people, 'cause nothing soothes the fear of revealing seven random things about yourself than making other people join in the hell fun.

Seven Random Things ... in a Random Order

I have one older sister, and we are four years and four days apart. For most of my life, I thought all siblings were spaced that way: 3 years and 3 days, 3 years and 2 days, 10 years and 10 days. I just thought that you were how many ever years and that many days apart.

I went to Space Camp in 1987. Yes, it was a cool as you think it would be. They had french fries shaped like space shuttles.

I love to play Mah Jongg. My mom taught me about 8 years ago, and gave me my own set when I was pregnant with my daughter. I rarely get to play, but I love it when I do. I can literally sit and play for 6+ hours straight. It's something I'm really looking forward to doing when I'm in a retirement home some day. I'm gonna kick ass in the retirement home. I'm banking on that.

I used to want to get a tattoo of the Hang Ten feet on my hip. I don't know why, and I'm really, really glad I resisted that impulse.

I used to swear up and down and right and left that I was in no way crafty - that I was the opposite of crafty - that I would never be "that lady wandering the craft store aisles late at night." Yeah ... I'm so that person now. In the same vein, I'd like to say I'm not skinny or hot and will never be that skinny hot chick with nice clothes. Ever. (since I apparently turn into the opposite of what I think I'll become).

When I was in high school and college, I dreamed of moving off to New York City and working for Sassy magazine (I still have most of my old copies of Sassy). If I were to apply for this show, I'd ask to work for a magazine.

My husband and I have lyrics from The Cure "Love Song" engraved in our wedding bands. (go ahead and say it, we know we are dorks)

Whew. Got through it ... now who to pick ....

Kari - she makes me laugh on a daily basis, and I love her for that

Kritty - a pal from the Creative Mom Podcast circle who makes beautiful jewelry

Kellie - a friend from high school with whom I'd been out of touch until the first of this year. We found each other through Facebook and were over-the-top delighted to learn that we are both crafty as all get out. Her husband's blog is also HI-larious.

Stacy - I became a huge fan of her blog when I found it while researching for the Burda News Feed. Now she writes with me for them and she is awesome! It's been a blast getting to know her and working with her.

Gina - remember the I Love Lucy pillow from my embroidery post back in January? She's the genius behind it. Her blog has great daily themes that are loads of fun.

Amy - I met Amy through the Flickr Embroidery Group (dang, I love the Internet!). She does the most meticulous, perfect stitching, and she's even been doing the stitching for the samples on the Sublime Stitching Web site! She's awesome (and she has the most amazing tattoo on her arm - I'm so jealous.)

Sarah - Another pal from the Creative Mom Podcast Circle. I know I could never homeschool, but I love hearing about what cool things Sarah is doing with her kids. I like to live vicariously through her. She's become an amazing watercolor artist over the last year, and she's training for a half marathon in Budapest. Yeah, she's cool like that.

You guys are ON!

I'm all Stitcherpated: A review of The Sublime Stitching Craft Pad ... and my first giveaway!

As though the new Jenny Hart patterns weren't enough last month, the embroidery brilliance and goodness is continuing through to March. I've had a chance to get my stitchy paws on the soon-to-be-released Craft Pad, and it doesn't disappoint.

I've seen images of the Craft Pad for a while now, and was itching to get my hands on it (there's a horse transfer in there that is screaming to be stitched for my horse-crazy daughter). The pad is just that: a fun little pad in a fold over case, with tear away pages. Some have one large image, most have 2-5 smaller images, and there's a mix of old favorite Sublime patterns and some brand spankin' new ones that are drool-worthy.

The new ones that have me all stitcherpated: jellyfish (which feature great little details perfect for french knots, my fave), harps and shamrocks (which will be stitched up soon as a St. Patrick's Day gift for my mom), a chandelier (I'm not even a big chandelier-lover in real life, but seeing the possibility for them in stitch form ... I suddenly want them on EVERYTHING), bugs (praying mantis and flies - not creepy, they're cute!), and an assortment of fun science-y things. And then there are the birds. Oh, the birds! Flamingos, hummingbirds, some cute little love birds (on their own and in a gorgeous full-page, intricate design) - the birds are divine.

I'm always amazed at how inspired I get just seeing a batch of new images from Jenny. They are so fun and playful and beautiful and remind me why I love love love embroidery so much. What I love about the designs in the Craft Pad is that there are the usual assortment of some very simple, fun designs, but there are also a handful of some larger, more intricate ones. The cover design gives a little taste of what you can expect from these larger pieces. They get me excited, because there are all kinds of possibilities for various stitches in these designs. I can't wait to try one.

The pad format is a lot of fun, too. I love pad-based stuff. I think it goes back to my childhood obsession with Mad Libs. Speaking of .... crafty-themed Mad Libs would rock ... I need to make some of those ....

While the pad doesn't have the full stitch instructions like the Sublime Stitching book does (that's a must-have for new embroiderers) it does have great basic transfer and embroidery instructions. I don't know why, but I *still* read the instructions that come in the envelopes of my Sublime Stitching patterns, and I did the same with the Craft Pad. What is it about Jenny's writing that makes me continue to read the instructions when I'm already pretty well-versed in them?

Now that you are dying to get a copy of the Craft Pad for yourself, I'll bring up my very first blog giveaway. I'm so excited - I've been so lucky to receive so many gifts from the blogging community. Not just "things" but great friendships, inspiration and education. I'm so happy to start returning the favor, even in a small way.

So! I have one copy of the yet-to-be-released Sublime Stitching Craft Pad to give away to one lucky commenter. That's right. You can get it before it's even available for purchase (which, by the way, is March 13)

The Rules!
- leave a comment here with what you favorite Sublime Stitching pattern is (so far, 'cause I'm sure you'll have a new fave from the Craft Pad)
- spell out your email address in the comment
- You can enter twice if you put a link on your blog to this book review and leave the link to it in your comment.
- Sadly, I'm short on funds and can't cover international shipping. If you are an international reader and are willing to cover shipping, comment away!
- I'll close comments and pick a winner on Friday, March 7 at midnight Central Standard Time. I'll post the winner on my blog over the weekend.

Enjoy! Can't wait to see what SS patterns are your favorites!