Monday, August 6, 2012

Got 5 Hours? Have A New Top!

I took Sunday off from my regular work schedule.   It was heaven to wake up on my own schedule and not to chase off for someone else's purposes.  I wish I could say my alarm clock took the day off, too, but I regularly have three set to go off, every day of the week and one of them has been programmed to wake me at 5:20 every Saturday and every Sunday morning.  It's an older model and like a lot of us "older models," it's a bit set in its ways.  In spite of reprogramming, it went off at 5:20am anyway.  Ugh.

I went to church, came home, made a wild variation of chirashi sushi with brown rice, wild rice, red rice and... quinoa?  And then I made this:

Sorry the photo didn't come up well, but let me point out, this was an hour into this project.  It took me only 4.5 hours to make the entire thing, start to finish, including hand-sewing the sleeves and bottom hem.  I added a little belt to give it a high waist and wore it with a silver "bib" necklace and a pair of khakis for a cool summer outfit.

Having purchased the fabric (1 1/4 yards?) for about $20 total, I am feeling pretty good about the way I used my Sunday evening.  It was actually, dare I say, RESTFUL.  

I wore it to work on Monday:

If you want to try this, too, it's Butterick Pattern #5610.  Does NOT require extensive fabric, notions, time or skills.  You could still make this for the summer and have lots of time left for fun.

PS: First photograph: Yes, those are my toes.  WHO ELSE'S WOULD THEY BE?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tapestry Embroidered Christmas Tree Skirt

Mink. The most sensuous and luxurious of all the furs. Mmmm-mink! That's what sets this Christmas tree skirt apart. Well, mink with swirling embroidery, shimmering gold crystals, gold lamé and hand-quilting. It's for sale in my store.

Do you love traditional American decor? This beautiful luxury Christmas tree skirt is made of maroon taffeta, embroidered in gold, trimmed with beautiful soft "brown haze" coloured mink and accented with dozens and dozens of soft glimmering gold crystals.

I made this myself, starting off with beautiful gold tapestry embroidered fabric. It's maroon colored and satiny. I laid out a design to make the most of the beautiful swirling patterns in the embroidery and then dotting it with crystal after crystal, applied by hand all over the tree skirt. The crystals are a "soft yellow" that doesn't glare in the light. They sparkle softly, too.
I piped it in gold lamé, quilted it by hand and backed it with a soft neutral colored felt. Then I took it a step further and bound it at the edges with more gold lame.

The skirt is 60 inches from point to point. It is much more beautiful in person, but click on the photos twice to get a close up look at the handwork and crystals. I'm getting a little better at my photography, so you'll be able to tell a little better that this tree skirt will be the star of your holiday decor for many years to come. The last photo, if you click thru on it, shows the detail particularly well.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Etsy Sale: Red and White Toile with Black Mink Tree Skirt

Merry Christmas in September!

I posted the first of my Christmas Tree skirt creations on today. Whew! The photographing was almost as intricate (if more immediate) as the construction. But... done now. Here are some of the pictures. If you look closely at this one...

You can see the crystals. I still haven't figured out how to get them to sparkle on my camera, but I'm working on it.

This is a 54 inch tree skirt in red and white cotton toile, sprinkled with Swarovski crystals and trimmed all the way around in red velvet piping and luxurious, black long-haired real mink. It's one of a kind. I made just this one before moving on to the next. Each of these is unique and I think that's part of the fun.

I priced it at $450, which means I lose on my time, but I enjoyed making it. I enjoyed making all of these. I'm glad I'm done, but it was an interesting, if messy, summer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Final Touches

I'm putting final touches on some things I'm going to sell on

Here's one of my favorites...

I'm sure you can see why. It looks like a giant snowflake, doesn't it? Even more so, with the final touches. And snowflakes? They're so beautiful, delicate and perfect for a Christmas tree skirt.

Then there's this one: quilted indigo silk velvet.

Wow. It's so incredibly soft and luxurious in person. Could there be anything prettier? Oh right. Quilted indigo silk velvet with silver lame and trimmed in white fluffy stuff. I actually want to wrap up in this one or maybe recut the whole shebang into a pillow.

I've also got this one.

It's going to get a good bit prettier (a few "final touches" left to add) and yes, a big gold bow, too.

So... this is how I spent my spare time this summer. Each of these were each individually designed, unique and individual, cut specifically to make the most of the fabric and other design elements. Each was made, by hand, painstakingly put together for the maximum decorative impact and holiday "feel." I'm hoping they'll become heirlooms for the buyers; proud parts of their annual holiday traditions. So they are definitely BUILT TO LAST.

I'm going to post each of these on and then post the link here. And we'll see how that goes, I guess.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Detour with me for a moment. I bought these shoes.

Pretty hot, huh?

So hot that they were almost sold out and only available in half a size too small and a full size too big. Weird, how things work out like that, right? I crossed my fingers and bought both.

Turns out the only saying is true: I can only wear ONE pair of shoes at a time.
Which means one pair, size 10, is now available: $40.

If you're interested, email me: Washington, DC area only. Please bring your own little socks to use in trying them on.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red Velvet and... Skippy!

So here's the better news on that sad bit of red velvet:

The project recovered well. I hand-embroidered this (on a fresh piece of velvet) over the course of a couple of days and now, I genuinely prefer the hand-embroidered red velvet. The lettering is about the same size, but has a more intimate "Old Fashioned Family" feel to it, in my opinion. What do you think? The project is about two-thirds complete at this point and I'll post the update when it is up on

To use with the red velvet, I had a lovely silver fox coat.
Well, it was lovely when I started. I sliced it open at the hem and did a nosedive in. Here's what I found.

In case you can't tell, that's a dressmakers pin and a needle, still threaded, from the original maker. The furrier left her sharp tools in the coat!

This was a very high quality fur coat. The internal work showed a skilled furrier who knew what he (or she) was doing. Many furs are absolute works of art, with support stitching and needlework that compares favorably to fine tapestries. This one was very well done, but the woman who owned it wore it for years before letting it go to a Canadian reseller who offered it to me at a tidy price.

The lesson here: if you've ever wondered if your clothing is sticking it to you, the answer is, could be...

This was how it looked after I removed all lining, interfacing and hardware. It all came down to this pile of fluff. So soft. So luxurious. Beautiful stuff, fox is.

Next I want to show you this lovely jacket. It appears to be some sort of spotted sheep.

I refer to it as "Skippy the Goat Coat." Yeah, it's been in the work closet long enough to get a name. (It's so distinctive that I couldn't stop myself. I named it.) I thought long and hard about what best to do with Skippy. It was difficult because the person who sold "Skippy" used photoshop to change the color of the coat. (It's not as white as this photograph makes it appear.) I decided on two lovely pillows. As it happened, I got three.

I've photographed them on my overstuffed leather chair, but I've decided what is really needed is a nice cozy afghan to really set the scene. So I'm going to borrow one to put under the pillows and rephotograph them. Then I'll post them on I have to say, considering my thoughts on the seller's deceptive photos, these pillows are quite wonderful.

They look good, yes? They really are so soft and inviting. But I'm going to rephotograph and then invite them to go hang out in their wrappers on a storage shelf until needed again. Happy July Fourth!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Handmade means HANDS ON!

This is what happens when you don't take responsibility for your stuff.

Okay, perhaps not every time. But when you are making "handmade treasures," people deserve HAND-MADE.

To explain, since I'm making the odd-20-or-so items by hand this summer, I thought "Oh surely you want to have 'Merry Christmas!' embroidered professionally on them." I mean, each one of these buggers takes a couple of days to get together. Shouldn't I be entitled to a little help?

Turns out the original rule applies: if you want something done right, DO IT YOURSELF. Pitch in, roll up sleeves and do it yourself!

You might not be able to see it, but the machine operator pulled the velvet so hard, trying to avoid puckers, that... well, you can see it. That odd-shaded part to the right of "Christmas" is her palm print. She pulled so hard that the nap laid down.

Then she tried to restore the nap by putting water on the velvet.

For those of you interested, water and velvet do not mix. Steam? Perhaps, but only with a needle board.

The stretcher bars for the embroidery machine also laid down nap and thus we see the demise of velvet at $25 per yard.

I will tell you that the next piece of velvet, hand-embroidered in gold metallic thread, is flawless and without any problems in the nap. Not a finger or thumb (certainly not a full palm!) print on it. And it has now proceeded to the next step.

Wait and see! It's turning out beautifully!