Friday, December 19, 2014

Schiaparelli Paper Dolls - Random Giveaway

I've been cleaning out lately and realize I have two copies of this totally fabulous Schiaparelli Fashion Review paper doll book.

Which means . . .

one of them can be yours.

Leave a comment below and I'll pick a random winner on Christmas Eve (mainly because I'm not going back to the post office until after the holiday).

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I mentioned a while back that Mario and I had done a weekend homesteading work shop at a friend's farm in upstate NY.

These are some of the goodies I brought home:  a bar of goat's milk soap (a recipe we made the last time I was there), a tin of herbal salve (made that afternoon under the maple tree in the front yard), a jar of sourdough starter, a baggie of spice mix and another of herbal toothpaste mix, two hanks of sheep's wool (not shown, but we learned how to wash, card and spin it into yarn), some dried red sumac berries (lost in a coat pocket somewhere, used as a cooking spice), and a rabbit skin.

Which is currently residing in my freezer.

There was a demo on how to turn a rabbit from, well, a bunny into something freezer-or-dinner-ready.  I was interested but not sure how I would handle it, but it was surprisingly bloodless and un-gross, and that white rabbit pelt was my gift for assisting with the processing of the second one.

(I give Mario points; he had no issues -- at least none that he mentioned -- about driving home with a fresh rabbit pelt in a plastic bag in the back seat, nor having it now hanging out in the freezer until I can get around to doing what needs to be done with it).

At some point, probably after the holidays are through, I'll thaw it out, rinse it in warm water and cure it according to the instructions I received that blustery October afternoon.

Fur-lined mittens, anyone?

The Last Bears of 2014

I finished my final two custom bears this weekend, in between a last minute show on Saturday evening and an all-day outdoor event on Sunday (8 1/2 hours in 40 degree weather, but it was worth it).

Both bears are dad-fabrics -- the one on the left was an argyle sweater vest and a plaid shirt.  His daughter (buying the bear for her mom) said her dad always wore vests, either sweater vests or button-up, and was there a way the bear could look like he was wearing one?  I couldn't figure out a way to use the sweater as both the body and the vest, and still get any decent use out of the plaid, so I used the solid sweater for the body, the argyle for the head and feet, and the bottom two buttons of the shirt as a "vest."  I cut the section off, pinned it to the front section of the body, cut it into a vest shape, stitched it, and then sewed the sides into the bear seams so the vest sits loose on the body when it was stuffed.

The second bear was a brown polo shirt and another plaid shirt.  This is to be a little girl gift for Christmas, thus the pink ribbon.  If it had been for an adult, I might have gone for a more restrained (and coordinating) color.  The polo fabric was not fun to work with.  Somehow it was more stretchy and uncooperative than actual sweater fabric, and had to be interfaced to make it work at all.

One bear shipped out today and the other was hand delivered.  The recipient of the delivered bear is planning to order one for herself after the New Year, but as of now, I'm letting the bear pattern sit for a while.

Actually, I took Monday off completely.  I slept in, had breakfast, read, took a nap, talked to the cats, took another nap . . . basically anything at all but sewing.

Looking forward to January.  I have a sewing project in mind for me.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Movie Night: Men of the Cloth

Months ago, long after I'd first started hearing about this film, I pre-ordered a DVD of Men of the Cloth.  It wasn't supposed to ship until sometime this fall, and I pretty much forgot about it.

Well, on Thursday it arrived in my mailbox, and I couldn't wait to watch.  Problem was: I had a huge order of Christmas stockings to finish off, two holiday parties to attend, and worst of all, the cupboards were bare (or at least what passes for bare in my house, which meant there were plenty of staples but we were out of Trader Joe's double roasted salsa and guacamole).

After we got home, Mario picked up the DVD and asked if I wanted to see it.  One of his grandfathers was a tailor and his dad worked as a cutter in a clothing factory, so even if he can't sew himself, he has a lot of familiarity with it -- and he's had to listen to me for the better part of 10 years.

Folks, this movie is absolutely fascinating.  It's pure porn for the sewing/tailoring enthusiast, it's a wonderful story of there older, traditional master tailors and one young man who turns away from his industrial design degree to apprentice as a tailor.  It shifts from New York to Italy to Philadelphia and back again, following the construction of one suit from the customer selecting the fabric to the same happy customer striding through NYC wearing his brand new suit (haven't we all wanted to leave a store wearing our new shoes or whatever?).

If you haven't seen this movie, you need to.  You can order the DVD here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

First Gift of the Season!

Yesterday was a busy one.

To backtrack, I had two shows last weekend.  One, on Saturday, was really slow (it rained, and even though Philadelphians should be able to tolerate weather -- it was 50 stinking degrees, after all -- they weren't coming out in it).  It was one of those sad days consisting mostly of vendors shopping from each other.

Sunday, on the other hand . . .  Sunday was five hours outside in mid-30 degree weather, and it passed in about an hour and a half.  It was that busy.

I also sold so much I officially don't have enough stock for this coming weekend.  Talk about first world problems!

So yesterday, I got up, made 15 Christmas stockings, did a 3 hour cashier shift at my local Arts League craft sale (almost no customers, lots of reading), went to Mario's office Christmas party, went to a holiday party at Philadelphia Independents, a local store that carries my work, did some food shopping at Trader Joe's and then came home and watched a movie.  (More on the movie later; I have a recommendation for everyone).

I met up with a crafting friend at Philadelphia Independents.  Danni Morinich doesn't sell through that shop (yet), but she will.  She brought some soap samples, and brought me a little present for encouraging her (otherwise known as being my usual pain-in-the-ass self).  Isn't it fabulous?  It completely covers my life at the moment -- teddy bear, scissors and sewing machine!

Here's a link to her Etsy shop and her wonderful soaps.  My favorite is Mrs. Patmore's Soap for Cooks.  How can you resist a Downton reference?  And I love Mrs. Patmore!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Clouds got in my way

Yesterday I woke up with a dark cloud.

You know the kind, the ones that arrive overnight, for no particular reason, and make all the lights in your brain dip down to resemble 20 watt bulbs.

I've got nothing to complain about right now, and I know it.  But when you wake up with a cloud like that, you can know that all you want, but you don't care.  Everything is crap.  By 9:00 a.m. I had already decided that I should stop sewing, my business sucked, I should go back to work full time, lose weight, exercise more, clean my house, do something that wasn't all about what I wanted to do.  In other words, change almost everything.

And all the while, the little rational voice in the back of my head was saying, "Look, you dumb bitch, you're good at sewing, you make stuff people want to buy, you don't need to go back to work full time, your house isn't that messy, and okay, you could drop 15 pounds but the world isn't going to end because of it."

But who listens when they're in that state?  Not me.

By the time Mario got home from work (and it says something for him, and the state of our relationship, that I had myself thoroughly convinced my life was shit but he never entered into it; at least I'd made one good choice, right?), I was over myself.  I told him I was in a rotten mood.  We had dinner, with wine, and when that didn't fix everything, he pulled up our newly acquired Netflix and turned on Love Actually, a movie I can't seem to watch often enough, and which almost always can pull me out of a mood.

It got me about 85% there, which is more than I'd expected.  I went to bed thinking that maybe the world wasn't coming to an end.

This morning, I had breakfast with a friend, which was good.  Then I took myself for a nice long walk down to our local cemetery, which is as close to getting out in nature as you'll find in West Philadelphia.  After my third circuit around the running path (walking; I was down, but not crazy), I felt pretty good.

Fresh air and exercise and getting away from the visible city always raise my spirits.  Seeing a juvenile redtail hawk, feeling it fly so close over my head that my hair ruffled in the breeze from its wings, was just a plus.

I'm back to what passes as normal now.  I think there were a lot of causes for my brief dip into the dumps: the unrelenting stream of negative news lately (though I try to limit my news intake, it's hard to do), the pressure of all my upcoming holiday shows and, although I was glad my temp job was done, probably also the disruption to my schedule after 4 months.  While I don't want to go into an office every day, I liked all my co-workers and I miss having people to talk to while I'm working.

Tonight was the opening party for my neighborhood craft show.  I went, I sold, I had wine.  I felt better.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Patchwork Christmas

I sent out a set of custom Christmas stockings the other day -- two were ones already finished and listed in my Etsy shop, and the other three were cut from a log cabin quilt I got online.

I love finding "cutter" quilts on Ebay -- since they're already damaged, I don't feel any guilt at all cutting them up and making them into something else; at least the undamaged parts get re-used this way.

The buyer, a wife and mother of three, asked if I could put names on the stockings, so I embroidered them on pieces of white linen and then hand-stitched the name tags on.  Three of the stockings were made to order, so I could have embroidered the names straight on, but the other two, being already constructed, would have been a lot harder to embroider, and I also liked the contrast of the white tag -- it would have been really hard to see the embroidery (or choose one color) against the different prints and colors of the log cabin quilt especially.

I still have a lot of the log cabin quilt left.  It may be stockings or it may be bears.  Or it may be a little of each.

And because I can't resist a bargain, I found another quilt on Ebay over the holiday weekend and it's in the hands of the USPS as I type this.