Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mirror Mirror On the Floor


It's that time of the year again! Yard sales and thrift store glut. Everyone is cleaning out their stuff - and everyone else wants to buy it.

Saturday I happened to pass a yard sale that produced some mighty sweet finds. 

I have no idea where the mirror is going. It needs a good cleaning and has no hooks, but I love the art deco wheat border.

I also picked up a few bottles for photo shoots. There was a whole box of antique bottles. I'm not sure how old Nehi soda is but the smaller one on the right was from a grocery company in Kansas City that closed in 1910.


And then there was a thrift store run on senior citizen discount day! Lots of 100% linen shirts to be de-boned and turned into reusable fabric.


But that meant I had to clean up. I spent the afternoon sorting out my hutch and folding all the fabric. The before photo isn't necessary. Just take half that fabric and wad it up into a giant mess so that it's falling out onto the floor. Yeah. It was bad.


But this is what my sewing table looks like right now. It's a bit of a mess but if you only see the cleaned up versions of sewing rooms, it's kind of a cheat, don't you think? 


My thrifting hunting list:

anything linen
embroidery hoops 
tape measures (I have a growing collection now)
vintage 100% cotton bed linens
ric rac
wool fabrics
vintage craft magazines (especially 1920s - 40s)

What do you look for when you go thrifting?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Eat. Drink. Stitch. Repeat.

Recently I bought a brand of spaghetti sauce whose jar was a bit squarish. Hmmm.....under the label the glass is molded to say "Atlas Mason" to mimic an antique look. I soaked the label off to find a gluey mess. How did I get that stuff off? 



Okay, I've tricked you a bit here. I wrote about the quick and easy way to get that label glue off in my new digital magazine Stitch Cafe.

Stitch Cafe came about because I had been putting out a small print craft magazine locally and decided it was time to bring it to the online world. It's more fun to share with everyone, right?

What's in it?

There are 
  • at least 4 sewing and embroidery projects and their templates, 
  • a recipe or two, 
  • articles and home life tips, 
  • and favorite craft blog links.
Some of the patterns will also be released separately in my Etsy shop, but some will be exclusive to the magazine.

4+ patterns and more for the price of 1 pattern? It's a no-brainer!


Issue 1 of Stitch Cafe includes two patterns that are mason jar related: a sewing caddy jar cozy and a mason jar applique tea towel. There is also a hoop art project and a crochet hook clutch pattern and more. 

If you haven't signed up for the weekly newsletter, sign up at the top right. You get new product announcements, discounts and offers, plus a list of crazy cool links to other artists, authors, and stitchers.

Stitch Cafe Issue 1 will be in my Etsy shop on July 3rd. 

OH! And don't forget to check the blog soon for an unveiling of my Christmas in July pattern sale (and a free tutorial or two on the blog).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The kid-safe lightening show


Woody Allen once said he was "at two" with nature. Though I have lived in a yurt in the desert and a quanset hut with outhouse in Alaska, people find it hard to believe that I'm more of an "indoorsy" gal.

Oh yes, you just give me central heat and air conditioning and I will never leave the house. 

Bugs have also never been big favorites of mine. But we've been discovering a load of interesting things that live on the property, bugs included.

The best part of the day has become dusk when the critters come out. We'll see opossums and woodchucks, bunnies and barn owls. But best of all are the fireflies.

The rise from the ground by the dozens and fly low to the ground signalling each other and rising slowly over the next hour or two until it is completely dark. It's magical.

And impossible to photograph. They blink by the dozens and the shot eludes me.

But the tiny flashes of light are indeed lightening bugs AKA fireflies. 




If you want to see an amazing show, check out this video of synchronous fireflies. 


These bugs don't bug me. They make me feel young.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Best $4 Craft Supply I Ever Bought


Tracing craft and embroidery patterns isn't too challenging, and we all have our methods. 

Being a make-do sort of gal, I've just used the window to trace out embroidery patterns. But my arms get tired, it's not always sunny out, and there sometimes isn't enough light even on a sunny day because of the awnings outside the windows. 


I was looking at some light boxes but they can be quite pricey and I get migraines when I'm looking into light for too long.

Then I saw it at the store. A clear plastic clipboard.

You should be jumping up and down shouting "Brilliant, Allison!"

Honestly, I have used this thing nearly every day for the last couple of weeks. Embroidery patterns and fabric clip to it solidly. It easily props up against my sewing machine or in my lap, and there's enough light behind it to trace out the design to the fabric. 

It's also perfect for tracing template pieces when I don't want to cut up a pattern in a magazine or something belonging to a friend.

I also discovered, a clip-on reading light clipped so the light is underneath turns it into an instant lightbox.

It's super portable and totally clear so the light comes through very well. 


It cost less than $4 and can be found at any discount department store like Target, Walmart, Kmart, Big W (Australia)....those sorts of shops.

I stitch in two different rooms of the house, but I also take projects to my parents when I go help them for a couple of days a week. For me, it's a simple solution that really works. It's probably the best $4 I ever spent on a craft supply.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I've missed you, World Wide Web-sters




Yes! It HAS been a really, really long time since I've blogged and shared.

Last fall, I had the chance to come visit my folks and with my parents getting older, hubby and I decided it would be best if I could stay around and help out.So I'm settled in a little house on the prairie - no kidding - in Kansas. The four room house was built in 1891 and has had a couple of rooms added since. There's a small Amish settlement just outside of town and a farmer's market on weekends.

There's a woodchuck living under the shed, and I've seen wild turkeys, armadillos, red squirrels, cardinals, blue jays, orioles, red-headed woodpeckers, and a small barn owl on the land.

My favorite are the fireflies that rise from their underground homes at dusk. It looks like the ground is sending sparks up, there are so many.


There are wonders on this almost acre, like this Victorian tin ceiling tile tacked to the side of the old shed.

Family has kept me busy. My dad got sick shortly after I arrived and my mom is glad to have a daughter nearby for help.

I have managed to keep meeting magazine project deadlines. In May, I started to create new patterns and projects for my Etsy shop and am happy to share them with you. 

Some have been made for the shop and some I designed for craft magazines and the rights have reverted back to me.


If you subscribe to the newsletter, check your email. The weekly newsletter is being revived from hibernation. 

Please enjoy a stroll through the Etsy shop, the free tutorials on the blog, and Embroidery School. It's nice to be settled and have the opportunity to hand-make and share lovely things again. 

Best of all, it's nice to be home enjoying the simple joy of family time.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Just off the hoop - just in time


Just in time for the November pattern bundle and Christmas embroidery. 

This was a lot of fun to stitch. I actually finished this project in about a day and a half.

It can be framed in the hoop but it would also look lovely in a picture frame. 

What's in your hoop for the holidays?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

SweaterDoll in Nepal

Where do SweaterDoll pattern samples go when they overflow in the sewing room?

Once I had a flash sale and sold a few of the dolls, and many are given away, but a whole bunch of them traveled to Nepal with the 108 Lives generosity program this year. 


108 Lives is a giving and service organization that promotes individuals to travel to Nepal to find actual people to help with medical costs and resources, clothing, education costs and access, and, of course, toys for the children.

This is a village called Phulping in one of the least developed districts of Nepal. The population there relies almost entirely on agriculture and live lives of self-reliance within family and community networks. 


There's nothing more gratifying than to see children enjoying play and imagination. Play gives children an opportunity to practice social skills and morays and safely express difficult emotions, such as grief and fear. 

One of my favorite studies on play was conducted by O. Fred Donaldson who wrote Playing By Heart. He had the chance to actually enter wolf environments and learn how they interact socially. He found play was the manner in which cubs learned socialization and social structure. It was highly physical and rough and tumble as you might imagine. 

Fred took this understanding back to children, mostly developmentally challenged, abandoned, or traumatized in some way. His sessions with them was considered therapy by professionals but to him it was just love. The children blossomed when played with - no words, just touch and tumbling and smiles and laughter. 

I had the great fortune to spend a week training with Fred back in the early 90s. It was a game changer. 

Toys made by hand are always such a heartfelt gift. It's a gift of time and love as much as the object itself. 

May you have years of gift-making ahead of you. It's a joy that is experienced in the planning, the making, the giving, and the playing.