Thursday, January 19, 2017

Christmas Ornament Exchange results and a New Scarf

I thought I would show off this years Christmas ornaments I received in my yearly ornament exchange and some others. The blue on on the far left I made at my patchwork club in France. The three across the bottom that say Noel are inexpensive Chinese made ornaments I bought in France. I find ornaments with words other than English to be a rare find. I bought enough for everyone in my exchange. The Santa on the shelf was purchased at a Christmas market in Germany. The rest of the ornaments are from the exchange. 

As for the new scarf, last year one of my friends showed off some of the purchases she had made at Sewing at the Beach. Sewing at the Beach is an heirloom sewing retreat that takes place in mid-January every year.  I have never been, but I hear it is a lot of fun.

She had taken a class from an Australian woman by the name of Jan Kerton and had acquired a kit for a scarf. The scarf kit’s name is Acorn Scarf. I loved this kit so much I emailed Jan Kerton to see if I could buy a kit. As luck would have it, she was still in the United States and was able to mail it out to me. 

I had it in time to do the prep work making it my hand project that followed me to China. Then it followed me to France, twice. Then back to the US where the hand work was finally completed. It made a really nice travel project as everything was included. All I needed to do was hand sew and embroider it. The directions were easy to follow and the materials were high quality. Earlier this week I was able to machine sew it and complete it.
With the weather we are having in the south, I should get some wear out of it here this year. It will need to follow me back to France later this year as it is a very nice soft scarf.

While Sewing at the Beach 2017 was going on I texted a friend to see if Jan had any new kits and ended up buying a pillow kit. Her first kit was so much fun, I hope to be able to make the pillow kit one of my travel kits this year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Adieu France, Jusqu'à ce que nous nous retrouvons l'année prochaine

 It’s a sign, it must be time to go back to the United States…

I made one last stop at a thrift store the way home from the last meeting of the year for the quilt club in Luxembourg. I was sort of sad leaving that I almost did not stop. It was getting dark (ok like that happens at 4:30 pm) and it was foggy (pretty normal this time of year). But it was the last time this year I would be able to go to a really fun thrift shop. So I stopped.

The thrift shop has a small vintage linen section that I dig through when I visit. Sometimes it is a win and other times I end up with nothing. This was one of those times I ended up with a win.
The shop was crowded, it always is, and that is for two reasons:
1. It is only open on select days, 2 days a week
2. In that part of town, there is a need. 

I watched a single mom buy winter boots for her two children. I listened to the haggling going on about already low prices between the sales volunteer and a male customer about another pair of shoes for a child. I saw a lot of people with not much money and here I was indulging in my hobby. I was in the “fun” section and most everyone else was in the “need” section. It is the time of year. I watched 5 pair of winter boots head out the door while I was there. All of them for children. The vintage section has a common wall, a series of shelves really, with the shoes on those shelves and the stool to sit and try on the shoes in the corner between the two sections.

As I had been to this store just a couple of weeks ago, I was not expecting to find much. But, there were two button boxes that were in need of being sifted through. I had the time so I started sifting. Surprised, I had to ask the volunteer for a plastic bag to hold all of my finds.

Look:
It makes my heart sing. The beautifully carved mother of pearl is especially nice as is the little heart shaped lock. No key required to unlock it. Religious metals I can always find a use for.

Since I am on a search for utility buttons, of course,they were there:
Let’s explore these buttons for just a moment. 
I have found these buttons in black, white, red, many shades of blue going to grey, pink and a yellow/brown color. I have found them ranging in size from tiny 2 holes to large 4 holes. I have found that the colored ones are not as common as the white ones. In the above picture you can see how infrequent the colored ones really are. there were a lot of pink ones for some reason.
I the boxes there were some fun Celluloid or Bakelite buttons I am not sure and I need to test them to see which they are. I love the leaves.
Then there were metal buttons and more ornate glass buttons as well as  what looked like were once pearl earrings. 
I reject most of the metal buttons I find, but I smiled when I found the “sapeurs pompiers” or firefighters buttons. The other metal buttons are heavier and nicely made. Hopefully I can play with them later.  

This last fall during the trip I made to Provence, one of the dealers visited was very knowledgeable about old buttons. The insignia on the front of the buttons indicated what you were by profession. So if you were a butler at an estate your buttons on your uniform would be different from say, the footman. The seal on the buttons would be of the house/family you worked for.  I found a website that talks about buttons from a historical American viewpoint so you get the idea. Another website makes reproduction buttons. 

Honestly, I will never be an expert on old buttons. I found interesting to see and feel the old buttons while in Provence. If an old button fell in my lap I might buy it, but probably not as they are expensive from a dealer and I want something I can play with and use and not collect.

I know this is becoming a post about buttons, but I did find some not so vintage glass letters beads and I found some wooden letter block beads as well. 
There was a bag of smaller wood beads and a bag with 5 larger beads. In playing with them they spell the name Renie or Reine. Renie by the way is a common last name in the French department 54. I live in department 57 right next door. In a google search I found out that over  5% of people in department 54 have this as a last name. Reine is a popular woman's name for those women of a certain age. It means Queen. I wonder which it spelled?

My other find was a small pile of inexpensive jewelry:
I will leave you with some eye candy. Something I have been working on:
It started as an old machine made collar. I found it in Provence. It had some damage to some sections so I cut some of those parts off and repaired the others. It was then basted my project and out came my beads. 

Any time you see me work with pearls, let it be known they are off of old necklaces. I buy them broken or whole at the thrift stores. As they have been worn, you can see the quality (if it has any) before you buy. I have found the nicest pearl beads that way. I have 3 jars of them now thanks to Berlin and one of the thrift stores here near me. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Ornament 2016

If you have been reading this blog, you know that every year I participate in a Christmas ornament exchange within a yahoo group I am a member of. This year was no different and as usual, I had to plot and plan about what I was going to make.

It isn’t easy. Once I get an idea, I have to scrounge to make sure I have the proper pieces to make whatever it is I am going to do. Sometimes I get the idea from something that happens. Like in 2013 when I made this angel. 
I had bought some lace that turned out to be dry rotted and I wanted to figure out a way to use it. 

Or how about the year I found a Zweigart tablecloth in Germany that just said "cut me up and make me something!".

The last two years it has been about using things normally thrown out to make something. In this case it was the foil covers from yogurt containers:

But this year it is all about the buttons. Those utility ones I found in first Berlin and then here in France. I don’t know what it is about them, I just think they are too fun not to buy and play with. If needed I also had the standby mother-of-pearl buttons as well. For the top tie I needed some hemp.

Also this year was the year of the broken rosaries. In Provence I ran across so many broken rosaries that I had to buy a couple. Once I had them, what was I going to do with them?

Here is one of them. I separated the Our Father metal pieces from the Hail Mary beads.
The other broken rosary that needed to be used on the ornament was made up of just small metal beads no Our Father metals. The rosary had broken apart and the cross was missing. 

I have been collecting wool felt and have wanted to work with it. I found some nice ones at the quilt show in Saint Marie Aux Mines France earlier this year and I really wanted to play. 

I have a Pinterest board called Felt Fun where I collected, am still collecting, wool ornaments for inspiration. There are so many really neat ideas out there. Now how do I make an idea my own?

Finally I had the wool, the embroidery threads, some hemp thread, the buttons and the broken rosaries.

 Oh I almost forgot, it has to have some old lace bits. I had some that were crying to be cut up. 
The idea soon followed.

But there was a petite problem.  I had found some really nice ribbon that said Noel on it. The problem was that it is either lost or misplaced. Either way I can not find it. I have a friend here that owns a Bernina that has two styles of lettering. I ran out and bought some plain ribbon and as luck would have it, one of the two styles fit perfectly.
When I work on a project, I use a glasses case to store everything that I might need for the particular project. Since I had so many comments about the contents of my glasses case, I thought it fun to show it to you what it looked like at the height of working the ornaments:
It looks like a mess, but it is not. Here is another view:
Some buttons and pins, a couple imodiums left from travels in China as well as something for a headache. You never know when you will need them. A thimble comes in handy and the nail clippers are there rather than scissors when I am traveling by plane somewhere.

Well enough talk. Here are the ornaments. You can see where the Noel ribbon went as well as the rosary pieces. The ornament is one layer of wool felt and is two sided.
Here is the other side of the ornaments:

I made as many as I could until I needed to move on to something new. I found them really fun to make.

Here are two of them close up:




The deadline to mail them is 3 December. Mine are going to be late. I sent my group an email about this a couple weeks ago. The reason is I am concerned about them going over the pond after I had this happen to some of the buttons:
Oh not good! I am going to mail them in the US where they will have less handling as they get to each recipient. I never thought these buttons as fragile, but they are porcelain.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ok, Just One More...

I bought a crazy patch kit a couple years ago that came with no directions as to what one was supposed to make with it. As I recall it cost me $10 US.
I brought the kit to France thinking I would make a crazy patch bag out of it. 

I have pulled that kit out a couple to times but I just could not cut the wine bottle Fabric into pieces. After making the three bags earlier this week I realized I could make a really nice bag using the fabric. 

So here it is:
This bag has no outside pocket so as not to disrupt the bottle pattern. Both sides of the bag has upright bottles. The fabric was cut in half and one of the other fabrics included in the kit was added to the bottom of the bag.

Just a small aside: Years ago my dad went on a business trip. He was a banker and at conferences or trips of this sort he always ended up staying at the nicest hotels. As he packed he realized that all of the suitcases were being used by one of his children. We were all teenagers and were off somewhere with the bags. He packed in the only bag he could find. When he arrived at the hotel he was asked if he needed help with this bag. "No" he said, "I think I can handle it myself". He then put a large brown paper Piggly Wiggly bag with his belongings on the counter. (Pig as we called Piggly Wiggly was a grocery store). My dad always had a sense of humor.

On our last flight to Europe I used the last of the upgrade coupons I had received when I made the highest frequent flying status due to the flights I had to make from Europe when my dad was in the late stage of cancer. 

For that upgraded flight, my husband (DH) used a wrinkled thin cotton bag for his things he wanted to keep on him after he stored his carry on. Later he told me he got some funny looks from some of the others in business class when he pulled out this meager bag. I guess they were used to seeing Coach or Louis Vuitton. He said he felt like my dad and if he was ever going to save face he, he wanted the bag I was making. Good thing he spoke up, I might have given it away. He has learned to stake a claim on things if he wants them as I make them.

I reminded him that we were back in cattle class on the trip back to the states next month and no one in the back would notice the wrinkled thin cotton bag. He was quite insistent about this bag. It is, after all, much sturdier and attractive than the wrinkled cotton bag. 

Good thing he spoke up, I might have given it away. He has learned to stake a claim on things if he wants them as I make them.

One other thing I accomplished this week was that a friend in my Patchwork club asked me to do an entry in her friendship book. 

I had a week to figure out what to do.  The recipient likes bears. I have the pattern Ted & Dog Quilt. It is a pattern made up of redwork embroidery. Block 9 was the bear you see below.
I had a small piece of linen to sew the design on and it is glued to the page in the book. 
It turned out well.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Extra Fabric

I think I have mentioned before that I belong to the American Woman’s Club in Luxembourg. The club house is about an hour drive with traffic from where I live in France. 

I head up the quilting group. 

At the last meeting I went through some of the fabric on the shelf to figure out what to do with them. Someone had donated non cotton/quilt fabric.  There was a black fabric, 100% cotton but heavy in nature in the stack. It appears to have come from Ikea. We have one in Metz and one just over the Luxembourg border in Belgium. I took the fabric home with me to see if there was something, anything, I could do with it. 

Then I thought about the bag I made a couple years ago. You can read about it here:

By strategically cutting the fabric I was able to cut 3 bags. I used the directions from my old blog post but as I do not have a edging foot for the machine I am using here in France, I used a zipper foot. One needs to be a better sewer to do that. I tested first to see if it would work:

Satisfied with the look I made the bags. Oh it is dark here by 5 pm and does not get light until after 8 am right now. I do a lot of sewing in the dark these days.

So here are the finished 3:

Here one of them is hanging:

Now what to do with the bags?

As they came from the club they will go back to the club. They are nice grocery bags and plastic bags are getting scarce as they are beginning to be phased out in some countries in Europe. I always go shopping with my own bags rather than buy them at the stores anyway. Since coming back I have noticed that many stores are now charging 5 cents for a bag even outside of grocery stores.


I am hoping the club can used them. Many times they have raffles (tombolas) at the meeting and this would be a nice thing to put whatever is won in.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Making of a Vintage Box

Last week at my patchwork club we made boxes with using Timtex as the base. We were asked to bring the fabric of our choice for both the outer and inner fabrics, matching floss for sewing it together as well as anything else that we might want to add to our box.

I decided to use some of the fabric I had bought on my trip to Provence.  This one to be exact:
I am told it dates back to the 1800s. I have 4 pieces now, two wide, two narrow strips around 3 meters long. It unpicked a seam on the original two I bought, hence now 4 pieces. For whatever use the fabric originally had, there are holes left at one of the far ends of both of the narrower pieces.  This part of the fabric can be used for small things, by cutting around the holes so using it for this box was perfect. As I was cutting into the damaged area, I had no problem taking a pair so scissors to the fabric.

I have been collecting vintage buttons, lace bits and trinkets for years. I love to find broken just about anything, be it lace, or trinkets. Being broken gives me the ability to remodel whatever it is into something useful. I don't have much of my collection here and I dare say I have added to it somewhat since moving back to France. Here is what I have to work with:
I finally made it over to my favorite second hand store here in town. I love going there. It is so much fun to walk around among beautiful vintage things. Every visit is different. It much depends on what is donated to them. I have not been to this store for over 2 years. On this visit I found they had piles of old rosaries and religious medallions, vintage jewelry and boxes of threads as well as yarns and buttons. 

Not so usual, was a bin of old sewing and fashion magazines dating from the late 1930s through the early 1950s. 

In the back of the shop is a series of shelves with vintage sheets. Most have beautiful embroidery across the tops of them. To the right, a hanging rack with vintage clothing. Beyond that are European pillow cases with initials raised work. On lower tables there are displays of doilies and table linen. There are bins below labelled as to it's contents that you can dig through. In the middle of the room are two glass cases used to display vintage lace. The laces were wrapped onto card stock with the length and price noted on each card. 

On one wall, above the vintage sewing books were purses. As I walked around the room touching and feeling the textures of the linens, I noticed that purses were the most popular items being purchased.

I love walking through this room. There is something of a zen experience to it. Prices are fair and I have all the time I want to look around and touch things. I ended up buying several rosaries and many religious medallions. One in particular was rather ghoulish to me, but it needed to be added to my collections of Pope Metals. 

See the blue one in the above picture? It is a metal of Pope John  XXIII. He was pope until 1963. He was canonized alongside Pope John Paul II on 27 April 2014. You can read about him here:  Pope_John_XXIII   

On the back of the metal it says: Ex Indumentis or Second Class Relic. 
There is encased in the back what looks like a blood stained small piece of cloth.  So what is Ex Indumentis mean anyway? I looked it up.

There are categories of Relics of Christian Saint’s: the First Class, Second Class, Third Class and Fourth Class Relics.

A First class relics is the body or a portion of the body of a Saint (bone, flesh, or hair).  According to what I have read, these are considered so precious that they are rarely entrusted to individuals, but are placed in Faith Communities.

A Second Class Relic is an item or piece of an item used by the Saint while on the body (clothing, Mass vestments, etc). Second Class Relics are considered precious and are rarely entrusted to individuals, again being placed in Faith Communities.

A Third Class Relics typically fall into 2 categories. The first category is a piece of cloth touched by the Saint. The second category cloth that has been touched by the shrine of the saint. Third Class Relic is usually a piece of cloth, Third Class Relics may be given to individuals, and may be sold.

Fourth Class Relics are virtually the same as Third Class Relics and may be sold. 

I do not believe even with what it says that it is a Second Class Relic. I remember visiting my Grandmother  years ago and finding a card on the table with a splinter of wood laminated to it. The card claimed it was part of the Jesus' cross. When I questioned it my grandmother told me to let her have her beliefs and that she knew it was not real, but that did not stop her from believing.

Sorry Grandma, what I have is a cheaply made metal someone bought and hopefully believed, like my grandmother that it was a Second Class relic. I would think that Second Class Relics would come in a classier enclosure. This has all the look of made in China. I also found this article on the web: Ex Indumentis

So enough of Pope John XXIII, what about the box? Here is the model shown at our club:
Here is my version of the box:
In Provence we made bracelets.  Here again is my bracelet:
I have a small wrist and ended up with 3 pink beads left over. One of the other women in the group gave me hers so I had a total of 6 beads to play with. I used 4 of those for the bottom of my box. The glass buttons I bought in the US several years ago. The tassel came from my favorite second hand store years ago. I bought a bag of pearls and the tassel was included in the bag with pearls attached to it much like it is for the box closure. The pearls were hard to work with as they had a very small hole. Threading them was a challenge.  I am pleased with the result. The linen is fun to work with and it was nice to use some of those glass buttons out of my collection. 





Monday, October 10, 2016

A trip to Provence

Last week was spent flea marketing and antiquing in Provence. I paid too much and booked one of those week long trips where they take you around to a different flea markets or antique shops every day. Some days it was with private vendors who opened their door to us so that we could see and buy their wares. Other days it was flea markets and antique shops. On this trip there were 16 of us, all American, all of us with different crafting interests. Several painted, several worked with metal, one woman made fabulous dolls, some were just along for the ride and we had a writer. I was the only sewer that worked with lace bits. 

Here are a couple of pictures of the some of the places we went:


Lots of pretties would you not say? Don’t you want to buy it all? 

How were the prices? Basically all over the map. Some were reasonable some were, quite frankly expensive,  but those that were expensive were for a reason. Most of the time they had the items you don’t normally find elsewhere. The private sales were vetted dealers so they knew what they had so prices were premium.

Mid week, and yes we needed it, there was a day of rest where we all made a couple of craft projects. 

The first project was a trio of bracelets. Two were lockstep but for the third we were asked to make our bracelet our own by adding some of our finds in France. Knowing that we would be doing this, I brought some of my nicer religious metals from home so that I would not feel pressured to buy something, or more correctly pay too much for something I have similar already in my stash. So without further ado, here is my trio of bracelets.
The center metal I bought years ago. When I saw it, it quickly became a “need”. At the thrift shop I bought it here in town it was one of the more expensive metals I have ever bought. As I recall, I paid 15 euros for it. Since buying it I have seen the same metal at least 3 times in antique stores or flea markets. It must have been extremely common in it's day. In Provence I saw similar ones for much higher prices. I am so glad I brought it with me. Here is another picture of the bracelet:
The cross and the heart I found for 1 euro each at one of the flea markets. My favorite is the heart at the end on the right side. It is actually a slightly battered locket. I did not know that when I saw it. It was in a bag with several other strange odds and ends, vintage orphaned earrings and such. I could not open the bag to take a good look at it so I just bought the bag. The price was 2 euros for the bag. Once opened I realized how wonderful the locket was. It appears to be made of tin but I would have paid more than 2 euros for just that locket alone.

The second project was a wall handing or pillow. We were given most to the pieces to make what we want with it. Some women made wall hangings using glue to hold all the bits on the linen background. Mine will be a pillow when I complete it.
I have a bit more sewing to go to get it done. I want to add a couple of buttons as well. The utility glass buttons at the top are not sewn on. I will do that later.

So what did I find and buy besides a cross, and two hearts? 
Well, I bought some embroidered edging and linen bits:
When a linen sheet wore out, the owner normally ripped off the beautiful embroidered part, stored it away and then used the rest for something else. I found several examples of these on my trip that I bought. In the picture the C and M or W were once one sheet. Before WWI the looms were narrower so to make a larger sheet, two lengths of fabric were sewn together. As with most wars, technology improves so after the war looms were increased in size to make up to a queen/king size sheet.  In my case, the sheet piece was whipped stitched together between the letters in such a way that I could pick them apart.

On the tour at the first town we stopped on the first day, after the market, most of the woman went to lunch. I did not as I can't eat that much food in one day and had a small snack with me to hold me until the big dinner we were planning to have. I wanted to see the town so I took off walking. In the main square there was and antique shop so I stepped in. On a chair I saw this sheet.
As I looked at it and the price, the store owner came over to tell me it was being sold so inexpensively (10 euros) due to the condition of the middle of the sheet. The center of the sheet as you can see is threadbare and has ripped. The embroidery however is in beautiful condition and the fiber content appears to be a linen/cotton blend. I told him I had no problem with that. Rips give me permission to cut it up. 

I have my collection of beautiful hardly used linens I bought, collected and now use on my beds from the last time I lived in France. This time I am focusing on everything broken so that I have permission to cut things apart to make something. I am really thinking quilt, but we will see. 

I bought tons of lace bits and a couple of ribbons. I found some pretty, narrow ones that looked like they did not want to be left on the table at the flea market. 
The carved mother of pearl buttons were nice
 Enlarging the photo, notice the pin of the dapper looking gentleman. Now that was something I could not just walk past as well. The pin was broken, oh goody what project do you go in?

I have been thinking I might dye some of my linen sheets and here at the market I found that as well. The purple color coordinates with the thicker weave fabric above it. I am thinking carpet bag, but again we shall see. The purple fabric is linen and I love the art deco JB initials.
The one last purchase I made that I will show you is from the stop with a private vendor in Aix-en-Provence. Her family has manufacture gold and silver lace for generations but it is her dealing in vintage fabric that appealed to me. Her etsy shop is called Exquisite ThreadsFrom her I bought a quantity of linen dated from the 1800s.  She had two large pieces about 3 meters long each. In the picture you see 4 pieces and that is because each pieces was really 2 pieces that had been whip stitched together. I don't know what they were once sewn to but whatever it was included cotton batting. I picked the pieces apart, removed the bits of batting and loose threads and then washed dried and pressed all 4 pieces. I see a shirt or skirt out of this one and definitely some sort of bag.

What do you think I should make using them? These are pieces I would love to use and not have lay around in my stash