Archive | July 2009

Friday’s Favorites: Vintage Sewing Accessories

favorite sewing pretties

favorite sewing pretties

I love to sew and have been doing so every day of my life from the age of seven. My mother sewed all of our clothes, and I used to watch her at the kitchen table as she created these every day items on an old black singer sewing machine. I would remove the pins from each piece after she had sewn it, clip off the excess threads, and organize the pieces for the next stage of sewing. I started to make my own clothing when I was in the seventh grade.

Many of the sewing accessories from this group picture were handed down to me, and some I have acquired over the years at thrift or antique stores.

From left to right:

  • The felt dress is an etui that was purchased at a church auction by my father’s mother (my grandmother). She used it for many years, and when she passed away it was given to my mother.
  • The colorful metal piece is a thimble holder, this I found offered as a group of items on ebay, (along with a few of the other items shown here).
  • The wooden doll is a needle holder, her body lifts up and she dutifully holds your needles. A friend had given this to me when I was first married.
  • The wooden barrel behind her holds thimbles and was the part of the group I found on ebay.
  • The box of pins was found in a standing wooden sewing case that had belonged to my mother’s father, and was from my grandfather’s mother.
  • The sterling silver thimble on top had belonged to my mother’s mother. I am sure that my grandmother would not have approved that I drilled a hole in it and had worn it on a necklace! I have matured a little and hold it with respect, it now resides in an old tin along with the other treasures here.
  • The round tape measure was one of my earliest sewing accessories. I of course played with the button and pulled the tape out just to see it snap back. Luckily I didn’t ruin it and it is still functional.
  • The blue metal case is another thimble holder and the green case holds two wooden spools of thread. Both of these were from the group of items that I found on ebay.
  • The metal scissors are “oh so pretty” but they don’t cut worth a darn, I think the saying is that “they couldn’t cut hot butter”. The stork pair of scissors was a gift from my mom and dad, and the floral pair I found at a thrift store.

I just love to look at these items and imagine what project at hand each seamstress was working on; was it for something functional and necessary or was it created for the pure pleasure of sewing? I know that all of these items were treasured by the women whose legacy I have inherited. I salute every one of them and I am proud to keep that tradition alive, every day, one stitch at a time.

While you are happily stitching away, take a closer look at your sewing treasures, what memories do they hold for you? Enjoy your day! Christen

Ocean Rivers Bracelet 2: free form peyote

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

The bracelet above is the second sample of my Ocean Rivers Bracelet. The stitching technique is one that I developed using free-form peyote stitch on fabric.

Happy stitching, enjoy! Christen

Tea onTuesday

tea cup and flowers

tea cup and flowers

Today I am working on a few corsages, and playing with these pretty colors of tangerine, peach, fuchsia, and lemon…. the tea in the cup is mint.

I found this sweet little cup at the thrift store, it has images of a Royal Dalton tea set a with a menu posted to the side: “Salmon and cucumber and chives with egg mayonnaise on bagels”. Sounds good, I think that I will have that for lunch!

Join the rest of the ladies at tea and Happy day to you, say hello to a friend that you haven’t seen for awhile, cherish the friends that you have, smile! Christen

Junky Funky Flowers: Mixed Media Monday

Junky Funky Flowers

Junky Funky Flowers by Kevin and Christen Brown

This is my entry for Mixed Media Monday’s Charming Junk challenge.

I have been collecting pieces of this and that on “our walks” for years, and my husband dutifully will put these treasures in the pockets of his shorts until we get home, no matter how dirty or messy they may be. What a good guy!

He even carried the wood and metal umbrella that we now use in the garden, adorned with ribbons, to ward off the birds. He did draw the line with the crumpled rumpled bumper that I found, we had to come back with the truck for that.

It will take a trip around the neighborhood to collect enough bottle caps for one flower. My husband crimped the edges of each bottle cap, then poked a hole in the center with a nail and a hammer. I attached them with artistic wire and size 6 seed beads. Each one is backed with cardboard.

bottle cap flowers

bottle cap flowers

I stuck three vines of vintage glass leaves into the pot, that had belonged to Kevin’s grandmother. A few fuzzy bees also were included to fly around the flowers because they were kinda cute.

The tall vine is made from vintage stamen painted yellow and red. These are attached to a florist wire with millinery leaves along with vintage mercury beads left over from a Christmas garland. The shorter curved vines also have gold mercury glass beads, vintage nubby flowers and millinery leaves.

paper covered pot

paper covered pot

The flower pot was an old tin can that held stewed tomato’s. I bent it at the edges to form the sides, and for the first few days I left it this way. I had originally glued the hanger, which is a top from a soda pop can (also found on a walk), to the back of the tin can.

Kevin the Holder of Precious Junk

Kevin the Holder of Precious Junk

But alas, disaster struck when the glue didn’t stick and the whole thing fell off the nail on the wall!

So…. I decided to finish the pot with an old paper wrapper leftover from a raw sugar package. This I folded, trimmed and glued to form the correct shape. The hanger is now securely glued to the back of the pot with additional bits of paper and cardboard for stability.

Whew, all is right with the world, it is now much more secure and it looks better with the brown paper!

Happy treasure hunting, enjoy what you do and the time that you have to do it! Christen

PS: This challenge was postponed a week, due to Diane’s illness, (she is on the mend thankfully!), so I had a little extra time… I put together some of the more eclectic “finds” and created this pin of my “Junk man”!

Friday’s Favorites: Pansies

Bunch of Pansies!

Bunch of Pansies!

I have always loved flowers, real life ones, painted images and fabricated ones! Pansies though are amongst my favorites. I remember a faded picture that my grandmother had of a a group of pansies, it was so pretty and reminiscent of the Victorian Era.

Pansy Hankies

Pansy Hankies

This a group of hankies decorated with pansies. The top left has lavender colored organza pansies with hand embroidered details. The blue pansy, with four petals (oops) is a sheer metallic fabric with hand embroidered details. The bottom one is of course my current favorite with a myriad of crochet pansies, WOW!

There is a crochet doily at the top right of the large picture, which is made from a heavier weight cotton, with purple and white pansies.

The purse is a wool reticule, and is actually embroidered with thistles, but it was so pretty that I included it in the photograph.

millinery pansies

millinery pansies

These millinery pansies are made from a velvet material with painted details and fabric stamens. The yellow pansies are vintage, while the purple and yellow garlands are new.

The purple piece of fabric (shown in the large picture) covered in pansies is so pretty, I can’t cut it! So I just move it from project to project, and love it the way it is.

I have also included in the large photograph pansies that I have made from French wire ribbon and a vintage grosgrain ribbon (these all have button centers). The larger flowers are corsages while the smaller ones will find there way onto a neck-piece that I am making.

The two sweet little pins were given to me by a dear friend who new that I loved these flowers! I also have pansy stickers, pansy note cards, and a few other pansies that didn’t make it into the picture. I think that they were shy!

If you would like to read more about pansies I have found a blog that has a nice  history and some vintage photographs. I also found a delightful website with Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker- Pansy Fairy.

Enjoy, tell me about your favorite flowers! Christen

A-Musing Commentary- plastic bread ties

recycling bread ties

recycling plastic bread ties

I like to recycle, I love to find a purpose for something if it is no longer needed for it’s original purpose.

Plastic bread ties are a favorite of mine, especially for small beaded objects that have to be kept organized while continuing to create for a larger project.

As I was working on this project, a woman who shall not be named in order to protect the innocent, came into my work room. She gasped in dismay when she saw the price on the bread tie. She exclaimed “that is what those beaded grapes cost? $2.39!!!!!” as if that was over priced for the eight of them.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that if I sold them individually they would cost more than that per piece, each one takes about 25 minutes to make. If you calculate 25 minutes into an hourly job of $10.00 per hour they would cost $4.17 each. This does not include the price of the beads, thread or tools needed to work.

When people ask me why I don’t sell more pieces from my collection, this is a perfect example of why I don’t. It is very hard to translate the amount of time that it takes to create even that small collection of grapes into a monetary value that both parties can be happy with.

I continue to work with re-cycled objects either incorporating them into my pieces or using them for a new purpose. I can’t help to smile though whenever I see a group of beaded objects connected to a plastic bread tie that has a price!

Enjoy what you do, smile when you can, gently enlighten those without a clue and have a great day! Christen

Tea on Tuesday

Tea and flowers for Tuesday

Tea and flowers for Tuesday

Good morning ladies and of course any gentlemen that may be joining the Tea for Tuesday group.

Today I am serving “Perfect Peach” from one of my favorite tea pots that had belonged to my grandmother. It is a Limoge from the 1930’s, I just love the coloring!

The demi-tasse cup I am sipping from was found twenty years ago at a small antique store, again wonderful pattern and color. It is quite muggy already, so this is the perfect amount to start the day with!

The teaspoon is one of a set of eight Swedish sterling silver spoons with different flowers at the tip, and the embroidered napkin belonged to a friend.

While finishing up a button necklace and bracelet today, I decided to make a corsage from an old tie that was my dad’s. Kinda funky, probably from the 40’s, but the colors matched the buttons, and it will remind me of him when I wear it.

I found a lovely selection of Vintage Tea Sets on fliker and her blog Clara Bows shows more sets and hats that she sells. You should stop by if you have a chance!

Happy day to you! Please visit Kimmie and the rest of the ladies for tea today! Enjoy- Christen

No Time Like the Present- Mixed Media Monday challenge

No Time Like the Present

No Time Like the Present

This is my entry for Mixed Media Monday challenge “Play”. I really didn’t have the “time” this week to create something, or “play” much at all…. but it was an inviting theme that I wanted to try. This is a digital image that I created with a clock face, and an embroidery montage.

I took an Antique French clock face by barefootliam-stock that I found while searching for ideas for another project. It is really quite beautiful in itself, but the numbers were not all there or faded so I thought to knock out the background then add in my own numbers.

shabby vest

shabby vest

Then I decided that I didn’t just want to add a background with a flat color so I added a background that I had created from images of a vest that I had recycled with tons of embroidery that I had stitched a few months ago. I took several close-up pictures, then cropped them and arranged them into a montage, and just saved it for the right time.

I took a portion of this montage and used it for the background here. I used the eraser tool to knock out the numbers and as the image underneath started to appear I wanted to knock out more! I knocked out (or drew) informal lines and then knocked out dots all around. This was quite fun when it doesn’t have to be perfect!

I didn’t add numbers in after all because this piece is a representation of what you can do with a little time and imagination. And so I did get to “Play”, and it was great fun! Thank you again for another great challenge Diane!

Enjoy the day, and play while you can! Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Whistle Buttons

a collection of whistle buttons

a collection of whistle buttons

I love buttons, old, new, nice, not so nice, clean or grungy; with holes or with shanks; glass, rubber, celluloid, Bakelite, shell, composition, plastic, horn, or bone.

This is a collection of my favorite style of button, which are the whistle buttons. The construction is such that there is a large hole in the front and you can see the two or four holes through this that you use to sew them onto the garment.

This collection here pretty much runs the gamut on the type of materials that can be found with this style. Some of the fancier are of course the composition buttons that are inlaid with abalone or mother of pearl.

Here is a great blog Button Floozies. You will also find and interesting pdf to download on Piecework Magazine’s website, Great-Aunt Belle’s Buttons.

Happy day to you, have fun collecting, and enjoy what you do! Christen

Lothlorien Twilight: ABAA challenge

Lothlorien Twighlight

Lothlorien Twilight

This is my entry for a Dazzle of Dragonflies which was the challenge this month for Rosie and Linda’s Awfully Big Art Adventure. “Lothlorien” is where Galadriel lives in J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical world. The cloaks that she and her ladies made, that were given to the “Fellowship of the Ring” were said to have been made with a cloth that reflected the leaf, branch, water and stone of this realm. I felt that the colors that I chose for this piece reflected the same thing. Hopefully the magic will be reflected here too!

embroidered center

embroidered center

The background is a vintage embroidered silk purse, probably from China. The purse itself was too delicate to be used as such, so I have tried to preserve it’s beauty, and add it to my collection of art. Each piece of embroidery is comprised of single “Peking or Chinese Knot”, incredible in itself the work that went into each piece! These were each stitched separately then attached by hand to the brown silk. The rows of gold work that attached each design had come apart so I hand stitched these back in place first before I added in my own embellishments.

Then it was time to add in some of my own work. I beaded three dragonflies that have a dentalium shell body that is beaded and wings that are beaded. I made several sets of brick stitched leaves and interspersed them through the sections of flowers. I also beaded a few vines of brick stitched leaves.


embellished and beaded center

I hand stitched several butterflies from French wire ribbon, and added dentalium shell bodies which are beaded. I also made hand stitched flowers from grosgrain ribbon that I stitched with vintage celluloid button centers. I antiqued both the flowers and butterfly bodies with copper fabric paint.

Several more flowers were made from silk bias ribbon and vintage velvet ribbon. These have beaded centers and are interspersed between the butterflies and larger flowers.

I used many vintage buttons that I have collected over the years including carved Tahiti shell, “tinnies” and celluloid which were used around the outer edges. Several new dragonfly and butterfly buttons and charms were also found to complete the theme.

Full wall hanging

Full wall hanging

I had a wonderful time collecting all of these treasures, then finding a home for them to reside.

The last item I found at Maureen’s Vintage Acquisitions was the mini quilt hanger with the dragonfly on the top! Perfection!

I hope that you enjoy what you do, have fun today and do take a look at the other entries for this challenge, they are all unique and incredible!

Happy stitching, collecting and treasure what gifts you have! Christen