Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pet Peeves

I don’t get it, may I whine a little? 

You buy a craft kit, as you know, they are not inexpensive. You put hours of work into the project contained in the kit (your work is beautiful, by the way), now it is time to put all those beautifully crafted pieces together…

Whining starts here...So tell me, why do manufactures do this to us?

Exhibit #1 Christmas Around the World “Victorian Hearts” Counted Cross-Stitch Ornaments, designed by Bonnie Smith Disotell. Kit was made by Bucilla, who knows how many years ago.

The complete kit includes everything you need including the lace (lace may vary).
The Aida cloth is beautiful 100% cotton and high quality, the velvet ribbon and floss are top notch.

The  cross work design for the last one is complete, but not yet assembled:
The lace however came from the $1 (or Euro) store. 100% polyester, cheaply made and it shows. 
Applying this lace to this project completely cheapens all of that high quality materials and work put into the project.

Funny, the lace looks pretty good in the picture, but take my word for it is not worth sewing with. Ewwww.

Exhibit #2 Pattern unknown. Instructions and any other information missing from the project bag. The base is plastic with a grid holes, the ribbon appears to be silk, the embroidery thread is nice quality embroidery floss cotton.
The lace, not again! Cheap looking polyester edging. This time, the picture does not lie.
...Whining ends here...

Both of these projects are courtesy of my mother from her stash of UFOs. They are mine now as the counted cross stitch portion is complete. I do not do counted cross stitch as I can not count.

So here is the plan, the Christmas Around the World “Victorian Hearts” should look, well, Victorian. The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901). These laces might not be from that time frame, but they are close and a nice match to the rose heart.

 As for Exhibit #2 Pattern unknown,  I don't believe it needs a lace edging so instead the two finished pieces will be placed back to back and some sort of binding will be attached to finish them off. I am in search of a good match down in my sewing stash.

Stand by...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

It doesn't matter where I am in the world, when it comes to finding lace bits, buttons and otherwise vintage textiles, I seem to be able to find them.

A couple weeks ago a friend told me about an Estate Sale nearby. Included in the estate sale was  quilting fabric, and a lot of it. The owner of the house had been a quilter and had amassed quite the stash of fabric. Most of it was in fat quarter or half yard pieces.


Before heading down to the sewing room, I instead went to the dining room and went for a search of a linen closet. 

In the dining room I found a stack of vintage linens and doilies. Sifting though them I noticed that all of them were hand made. Here is a picture of what I found:
In the linen closet upstairs I found 3 pillow cases with pulled thread work:
On a lower shelf in the linen closet I found a dust ruffle, you know that fabric, meant to hide underneath of the bed. I fits a full size bed. like new condition.
Finally I had time for the sewing room. 

Ignoring the fabric, I found a bag of buttons. I picked this bag because of the little black buttons I use so much in crafting. 
They are hard to find and can be expensive, This bag had many of them and as it was stapled shut I could not open it to inspect further.

Once I got home and was able to open the bag, I found:
Coat buttons of various sorts:
Red Glass buttons:

Mother of Pearl plain and carved buttons!!!!:
And other assorted buttons that I might never use that happened to reside in the bag:
Last but no least, and nothing to do with sewing, I found a reindeer in the den. I saw someone make a pin cushion out of one similar to this one.
Making a pin cushion was what I though when I bought it, but after lighting it's candle I really like it just the way it is and so it will become part of my holiday decor. Living is so many places, I don't have much of that.

And speaking of holiday decor, my Christmas ornaments are done and mailed. I thought I was done with them and then decided that they needed just a little sparkle. I made a run to the craft store for some glitter glue.
Yes, Sparkle is every fairy's best friend. 

Now it is time to get back to sewing....

Friday, October 30, 2015

Portia Smallwood Whitley and the Broken Compote

Three countries in less than a year has taken a toll! Talk about busy! 

I am finally to the point of unpacking boxes.... of which there are many.

While unpacking I ran across a lid to a compote that was given to us years ago by my mother-in-law. She had cancer and before she died she divided up all of the family "silver" in writing, among the children. With each piece she wrote down who got it and the history of the piece if it was known. We were given the compote lid. 

I remember packing the lid, as well as what was once it's match, one with both base and lid, safely away in a box before we left for Europe. 

In the bottom of the box I  unpacked was a note from my Mother-in-law.  
The note said:
The clear glass top belonged to a Cabbage Rose patterned compote, the mate of which sits on our sideboard. there was a pair but Portia Smallwood Whitley (1853-1925) poured hot jelly into one of the dishes, breaking it. The top has been saved in case the other top gets broken or if a second compote is found at an antique store. Since it is a known pattern it does have some value.

Poor Portia Smallwood Whitley! To be remembered for breaking a compote! It must have been traumatic to say the least for the family for this tidbit of information to still be known today.

Years ago I searched for a mate to my lid, that was right after it was given to us. I figured the lid broke before the bottom did due to the design of the handle on the lid. If we were lucky, someday I would find one. I recall even searching the internet, but to no avail.

On a whim I took a break from unpacking boxes and googled Cabbage Rose Compote. Up came this photo below and description from de Young|Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 
There it is! And such a pretty picture too. You can read about it here. I learned that our compote was made by the Central Glass Company and that it is pressed non-lead glass. It was manufactured in 1870. This fits with Portia's lifetime.

Curious, I searched further on the Central Glass Company.  What I found was that the Central Glass Company was founded in Wheeling West Virginia in 1863. At one time it was one of the largest producers of glass items. These items were shipped world wide. They kept good records. The Cabbage Rose pattern is motif #140 which is how we know it was patterned in 1870. The tall compote with lid is just one of many glass objects that were made using this pattern by the Central Glass Company.

The next search was if there were any out there for sale. This time, right away I found one. I found a wonderful lady with an online antique glass shop named Phyllis Petcoff. She had a short footed compote base, a tall footed compote base and one lid. This fits my theory that the top would break before the base would. 

She was nice enough to sell me the tall footed compote base!

Now for the first time since Portia broke one some time before 1925, we have a beautiful matching set.

Portia Smallwood Whitley (1853-1925) may you rest in peace now (if you weren't already)

Phillis sent me information about  the Early American Pattern Glass Society. I am in the process of reading the contents of the website as there are couple other pieces we were given that I would love to know more about.

I would also like to know where one bought these. Were they expensive? Did you buy them at the local general store or 5 and 10 cent store? So many questions still remain.

Now I just have to figure where I will put them. On the fireplace mantel or maybe in the kitchen above the top of the cabinets. Now, just maybe, I will try my hand at making compote.




Friday, August 7, 2015

On the Road Again!

On the road (airplane really) again! As I get ready to move yet again, the bags are being packed, and truth be told, moving keeps one from collecting too much clutter. By the time it starts it is time to go, and frankly I am looking forward to a little flughafenbegrüβungsfreude (the delight of being greeted at the airport). Not that I have not enjoyed Berlin, its been really nice.  It is just that it is time to head off to the next adventure.


Some of the last finds should not surprise. Yes more buttons:
Fun vintage linens buttons:
 Vintage linens:
As I have not been here long, I was extremely touched when the woman who runs the Sew Creative group with the Berlin International Women's Club gave me a going away gift and thank you for all of the work I had done sewing items for the Björn Schulz Stiftung (Foundation) Before you see the gift and why she gave it to me, you should also learn a little more about the foundation.

The Björn Schulz Foundation offers help for cancer and chronically ill, as well as terminally ill children , adolescents and young adults. They offer help to the whole family. Services provided go beyond those offered by the national health system. You can read more about them here (Clearly in German)


For the past 6 months I have been participating in the sewing group where we have been making various items for either the need of the organization or for an upcoming bazaar they will be having where a table will be set up to sell various items. Since being here we have sewn breadbaskets, children's clothing, shopping bags, a little stuffed animal where the child can unzip a small pocket to tell it secrets and pains and then can zip it back up so that it remains a secret, and just lately sun pillows. The sun is on the corner of the foundation's logo. Here are just a couple of them made this last meeting:
Getting back to the gift...For the past 6 months I have been on S-Bahns, U-bahns, M-Bahns and busses going to different places in town. While other people listen to music, I sew. My crazy patch "kit" I take with me when I am on the go and it looks like this:
It was observed, more than once, that I work out of a plastic bag. I know, you would expect that I would have something fancy, but I do not. Well now I do!
Thank you Beatrix! The doily was made by Beatrix's mother years ago. When she died Beatrix ended up with a pile of the and had no idea what to do with them. Then I wandered into her life 6 months ago.

With no sewing machine now it has been hard to make anything big. I have been working on Christmas ornaments:
They are almost done but will most likely all be finished at the next place I call home.

I am barely keeping up with TAST with all of the preparation to move. I will fall behind this week with the move and will be way far behind by the time I can follow along again. But I will leave you with last week's stitch, the Feather stitch:

Not much show show yet, and it is a variation, but give it time, it will grow:
Or maybe not. Might I say I have never liked this stitch? I find it hard to start and once I start I can't wait to be done. That is a bad sign for any stitch. Instead of finishing the row doing the dreaded feather stitch, I got distracted with BUTTONS!
I was given a card of them by one of the ladies in my walking group. Very plain, Very Mother of Pearl. Way too much fun not to use. The flowers need petals and I don't like what I have so far. In the mean time I have several more places for buttons on this sections. The beautiful embroidered linen strip is from an old handkerchief. It was ripped on one side. At the thrift store check out, the man behind the counter gave it to me for free since it was damaged. they have no idea what I do with this stuff do they?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vintage Souvenirs

One of the things I love to find on my hunt for vintage lace bits and buttons are old souvenirs.  Souvenir in French means to remember. When we buy souvenirs it is to remember our trip or travels.

In years past, to buy handmade items with the name of the place visited was the norm. I have read accounts where some inhabitants of the towns made this type of thing as it gave them a means of employment. Now it is hard to find something not made in China. 

Unfortunately relegated to second hand shops and flea markets are some of those old souvenirs. Here are just a couple of the ones I have found lately in my wanderings through Berlins' second hand shops and flea markets, so sit back and enjoy the small tour.

A recently find was this red work souvenir. It shows the old castle in Heidelberg and is linen with cotton redwork embroidery. From the look of it, it once hung on a wall or over a small window:
 The words "Alt Heidelberg du Feine" comes from The Badnerlied (Song of the People of Baden Germany) is the unofficial hymn of the former state of Baden, now part of Baden-Württemberg.

The words were taken from a poem "The Trumpeteer of Säckingen", written around 1852 by Joseph Victor von Scheffel, who resided in Baden.

Verse 3 of the song:
Alt Heidelberg du feine,
du Stadt an Ehren reich
am Nekar und am Rheine,
keine and're kommt dir gleich

Old Heidelberg, you noble city
rich in honors
On the banks of the Neckar and on the Rhine,
You are without equal 

The things you learn when you find old linens...

Redwork like the above example were a very common purchase for a souvenir. In storage right now is a small collection of similar ones from Alsace I picked up when I lived in France. I have no pictures of them, but when I picked up the first two I thought how fun it would be to make something with a number of them if I was ever lucky enough to find more. I might now have enough of them.

Also common to purchase were handkerchiefs. Here is one from Kirchberg Austria in Tyrol. Tirol is a beautiful vacation spot in both winter and summer for tourists. 
This handkerchief is hand embroidered on a cotton fabric using what appears to be silk thread. The lace work is the type I have found that predates WWII.

Moving into France, Saint-Quentin is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.  One of the 10 Dioceses of Belgica, The town has been identified as the Augusta Veromanduorum of antiquity. The town was named after Saint Quentin, who is said to have been martyred there in the 3rd century. Of course there is a church and would be of interest as a tourist destination.
Notice here a date on the handkerchief of 1916. 
If any of you collect old lace, you can put a date on when the pattern of the edging lace now. The embroidery hand done in silk on a cotton fabric.

Lastly, I will point out the handkerchief in the back ground of the last two pictures. It is certainly from Belgium. I have seen these on my visits there in museums and for sale in shops. When they have been for sale, they have be very expensive.

The handkerchief is hand embroidered edging on English netting. The workmanship is stunning!
Lastly, no post would be complete right now without a look at last weeks TAST. We were asked to do the blanket stitch and so here, in blue, right up next to week 1's design is my rendition:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

TAST week 1

Pintangles has begun a re-run of the TAST (Take A Stitch Tuesday) challenge. You can read more about it here. I did not know about it the first time it ran, but since I am making my version of a "Peaches and Cream" crazy patch bed runner, ideas are always welcome. I had forgotten how hard it was sometimes to get ideas and inspiration for what to do next.

For the TAST challenge, this is week one and the stitch is the fly stitch. So much inspiration just this week alone. I was flooded on facebook with ideas. So many ideas what to choose? So many versions of what one can do with this stitch! So here is my version of it:
Do you see it? 
How about now?
It is the pale green stitch that makes up the base and outer area of the bud.  Ya I know, very subtle, but it is there! 

The little orange colored buttons are glass and vintage. The lace behind the stitching is left over from  The Second Filet Bag I finished earlier this year. Block number 3 is coming along nicely now. The tree is completed on the other side of the block and finally has some under growth:
The inspiration for this tree came from JennyPennyPoppy.

Here is her version:
She does beautiful work! 

I have to start block #4 soon. Here it is without anything added to it yet. It is waiting for an idea to come around.
I will be starting it soon.



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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Gifts from Karen

I had a comment from my last post that the box was pretty cool as well as the buttons. So much in agreement there. I was surprised to find I got the box as well as the contents of the box. I really was expecting the vendor to dump out the contents and to keep the box or at the very least, to ask for more money if I wanted the box.

Ya, it's cool and a keeper.

So talking about old things, I am in some groups here in Berlin and they have watched how I always have something in my hands that I am working on. I put out feelers to anyone who would listen that if they have vintage lace bits or buttons that I am interested. If they know of good second hand stores, Let me know. Karen stepped up and went through her mother-in-law's sewing and button box and came up with a wonderful box of Mother of Pearl buttons:
There are more then what is in this  box. I had already sorted the smaller ones out when I realized I needed to take a picture. She also gave me some buttons still on cards. Here is a picture she took of some of them:
Picture of buttons from Karen Axelrad
I did not get to keep the button card boards long, but I was given the buttons. She has a friend who makes art using these old cards. Click here to see pictures of one for her exhibitions. Very cool!

I carefully took the buttons off of the cards and made a .pdf of all of them for some project later. The card boards were then returned to Karen to pass on to her friend. The buttons were all mother of pearl and reside in my button stash. Notice the card with the man smoking a cigarette. How times have changed!

Other things from the mother-in-law's sewing box were these three things. A seam ripper, one of those things to pull snags to the back of a knit and the little barbell, I am not sure what the little barbell does:
I have seen them wrapped with lace, but I think it is some sort of repair device sort of like a sock egg. The wear on it says it was used. If any of you know, let me know. 

The last thing Karen gave me was a Nadel-Tönnchen:
A Nadel-Tönnchen is a needle keeper. On top is a hole and when rotated from the ZU (closed) position to one of the sizes a needle will come out the little hole. 

I, of course, loaded it up with needles to see how well it worked. For the record, it works so much better than the nasty plastic ones you get today.  Once full as I was testing it, a rusty old needle popped out along with those I had put in.

With very little research, I found one of these in a toy museum in Nuremberg. A nice wealth of information. It was manufactured between 1901 and 1920. The one in the museum is in much better condition, but mine works just fine. Here is the one from the museum. I had problems with the picture coming up. If you do too, click on the view icon at the bottom of where the picture should be and then the picture comes up in a new window.

Lastly, Karen's buttons could not remain long without me using a couple on one of the crazy patch blocks I am working on

I got the idea for sewing the buttons on from a couple vintage ones I have found. Normally I cut off the thread, but these I left until I could use the way they had sewn on the button.
Here is a close up on what I put on the crazy patch block.


So fun to use an old technique.