Monday, December 30, 2013

Vintage Sewing Patterns and Neelde Packs

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I get my stitches removed from my foot surgery!  Yahoo - can hardly wait! Lovely, huh?

It's almost a new year, but it's always fun to look back.

A few weeks ago,  a friend of mine from my guild invited me over to her house to look through some fabrics, notions, etc. that she obtained from helping an older friend (102 years old) move from a house to a residential care center.  My friend, like many of us quilters , has more than enough fabric and 'stuff' and did not want to collect any more.  There was a lot of Tulle, some velvets and other fabrics, cool vintage patterns and needle packs, and lots of rick-rack.  It was fun looking through everything.  I graciously accepted all of it and donated most of the fabrics to our new, fledging drama program at school for costumes.

I love the old, vintage patterns. I guess I remember similar patterns sitting on my mom's sewing machine, when I'd hang out with her as a little one, while she was sewing.  Here's a couple I really liked in particular.

There was no date on this one, but there was an NRA logo on the left lower part.  I found an interesting website, that explained the NRA logo was not the National Rile Association, which was my first thought, but rather it stood for the National Recovery Administration which was  part of the New Deal under President Roosevelt. Patterns with this logo can be dated  to between 1933 and 1935.  Another interesting thing about this pattern, is that none of the pieces have any markings on them.  They are totally blank, so you need to guess which is the skirt front, back, etc.  All the instructions for cutting and sewing, few that there are, are printed on the back of the envelope.

This pattern is from 1931 and all the pieces are labeled and there is a separate instruction sheet.  Pretty snazzy jammies!

Below are some very cool needle packs, which it seemed were quite popular.

These two are from grocery stores. I found some offered on EBay that stated they were from the 1950's.  Both are from West Germany.

This beauty was in really good shape.  It was in a parchment paper envelope with a paper inside the booklet itself. It was made in Japan, probably in the 1950's, from what I can gather from visiting a variety of websites.  There are some of these that were made in Occupied Japan as well and are labeled as such.  Below is a picture of the inside as well.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip back in time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

My wish for everyone this Christmas is that you get to spend some time with family or friends that you love, can relax with, and really be yourself.  In addition I hope you get some time to be creative.  I'm  still embroidering Christmas gifts, which I guess I better finish today, and have had time for working in one of my sketchbooks, something I usually don't ever find time for.

Everyone has been so helpful to me as I recover from foot surgery done on the 16th.  I'm not used to, nor do I like, people doing everything for me.  I am much more comfortable  being the doer.  So thank you to all my friends for your good wishes, casseroles, phone calls, etc.  My husband has really stepped up to take over the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.  He's a great guy and I'm so lucky to have him.

I could show you a picture of my lovely black surgical boot, but I'm sure you've seen one before and you know what they say, "If you've seen one....."  Instead below is a picture of my favorite card received so far this Christmas, sent my my sister-in-law.  I believe they bought them in Africa, where they visited this past year, although there was nothing printed on the back of card to verify that.  I just loved the strong simplicity of the design incorporating fabric collage.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Foot Surgery and Almond Brittle

Today I am recuperating from having foot surgery yesterday.  I had a bunionectomy and had to get the 2nd toe straightened out.  The doctor shaved some bone off of the big toe and inserted it into the 2nd toe, after removing some scar tissue and cartilage there.  He also  removed a nerve between the 2nd and 3rd toe.  Sounds like fun, hey.  The surgery went very smooth and all the staff at Sierra Vista hospital were awesome. They really took great care of me.  My husband has been great too.  So I've been sitting with my foot up and putting ice on it.

Knowing this surgery was coming up., I did all my Christmas stuff earlier this year than ususal.  I must have made  about 8 batches of almond brittle to give to friends and relatives.  Everyone seems to love this stuff and it's easy to make.

Ingredients:  1 stick of butter (1/2 cup),  1 1/2 cups of raw almonds ( I get the ones at Trader Joe's for $5.99),  1 cup of sugar.

Put all the ingredients into  a heavy saucepan and turn up the heat between medium and high.  Stir often, towards the end you will need to stir constantly.  It will go through all sorts of changes in texture.  Turn up  heat a little higher after the butter is melted.  Be sure to use a metal spoon to stir it.  I once used one of the white plastic spoons and it melted into the brittle.  It looked like I had added macadamia nuts because of the white melted chunks.  We still laugh about that one. When it looks like carmel and it's starting to bubble, it is done.  Pour it onto a cookie sheet, spreading it out.  Let it cool and then break it up into delicious chunks of brittle.  Soak the pan and spoon in very hot water to clean it.  

Well, back to my other chair with more ice and some pain pills and taking it easy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Citrasolv Art

Today I was looking through my Citrasolv Experiments, some of which I printed on fabric.  It's a fun, kind of smelly process that allows you to dissolve and distort the ink from some glossy magazine pictures to create great textural papers.  For more info on the process go to  Once there go to their Artist Support section and scroll down to Artist Galleries.  Sarah Winkler,  who had a studio in Studios on the Park, Paso Robles,  was the first artist, whose work I saw utilized these textues in a fabulous way.  She gave a short workshop on how to create them using Citrasolv, which is a cleaning fluid, on National Geographic Magazine pages.  Basically, you brush or rub a rag saturated with the citrasolve over the page you desire and then close the magazine up for anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours, putting something heavy on it.   Then you have to dry and air out the papers.  Here's a link to a video about it,  Just google citrasolv transfers and there's lots of information out there about it.

Here's some papers I made.  I've transferred some of these to fabrics and am playing around with them. I love the abstract quality of them.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Victorian House Design

I can't show you what I've been working on this week because it's been making presents and I don't want any of my friends to see what they are getting for Christmas. So instead I'll tell you what I've been working on for school.

Every December in Paso Robles, the folks who live on Vine Street between 8th and 21st streets decorate their houses to the hilt for an event called Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase.  People are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate in front of the house they like best.  There are performances by local bands,  choirs and dance troupes in front of many of the houses, hayrides, food and beverage offerings. It's a wonderful event for the whole family. The  favorite of many of my students is the enactment of Scrooge, by a Paso Robles local, from the 2nd floor balcony of one of the beautifully decorated Victorians that line Vine Street.

I tie this community event into a project for my 8th grade students. Yesterday I went down Vine Street and a few others to take new pics of the houses.  I'm switching from showing my students the houses via an out-dated slide projector to a power point presentation, since I now have a slick document reader and projector in my classroom.

Here's pics of some of Paso's 'painted ladies', as Victorian houses are often called.

Students learn about Victorian houses and architectural elements as they draw a house from that era.   Then they transfer their drawing onto a piece of aluminum.  Next, they achieve more dimension through pressing in some areas and poof out others, working form both the front and the back.  Lastly, they coat the piece with black, permanent ink allowing it to dry then buffing up the top areas, leaving ink in the recessed ones.

The photos don't do justice to these pieces, due to reflection on them, but they are really fabulous.