Thursday, April 27, 2017

A New Sewing Room

Busy, busy, busy. 

Last year it was a remodel to the kitchen and laundry room. This year it is taking over the living/dining room combination and making it a sewing room. I should have done this years ago. We never used the room as it was painted a strange sort of dusty pink color and it was dark. The tree in the front of the house made it so very little light came in through the 3 windows.

The remodel began with the trimming of the tree in the front yard. The tree is 40 years old and had grown to having several branches that hung over the house. Not good in a storm. After the tree was professionally trimmed, two solar lights were installed to help bring light into the room.

This is as far as I got last year.

This year the room was emptied out and painting began. Bulking the color grey that everyone seems to be painting walls these days, a light green was chosen. I liked the one called "Positive Energy".

The old paint was a semi-gloss which from experience is hard to cover. I painted the hallway last year and it needed to be primed so that the color would not try to sneak through.
So here are some before pictures:
Here is the side closest to the kitchen.

The second side of the room. Notice the air intake that needs to be taken into account.

Here is the 3rd and 4th side of the room. The  4th side is mostly an opening to the entryway for the front door. We have never used the front door. The original furnace from 1968 was replaced 10 years ago, but before it was replaced it had left soot marks on the walls all over the house. Most walls in the house had been been cleaned and repainted, but this room remained original.

After scrubbing the walls here is the change a little bit of paint can make:

Here is the same view after painting:

Here is the first picture completed and some furniture added. I decided to use Kallax from IKEA. We have and IKEA in town and this furniture line makes for a nice work space.
I have left the bottom shelves open where the vent is to make sure I have good air flow. Then I turned my sights on to the window side. 

Plantation shutters were installed and I found a rug on line that matched the wall perfectly. I put wheels on the bottom of my work table shelves so that it could float in the room. Incidentally it is now the perfect height for a work table. The table top is  IKEA Bekant size 63"x31 1/2". Between the shelves and the table top are clear rubber bumpers. The bumpers hold the table top in place very nicely.

I am busy populating the room with all my sewing treasures and also sorting out the basement of all of my packed away sewing room. More on that later. Unfortunately all of this work has left me with very little time to sew. 

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.

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.