Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vintage Bikini Fabric Sachets

When I was in high school in the 70s (San Clemente High class of '73) I worked part-time for Sunflower Swimwear, sewing bikinis and beach wear. At the end of each work week the pattern cutter would leave leftover stacks of small fabric squares on the edge of the table. We could take all we wanted. In a short amount of time I had managed to collect thousands of squares.

Recently, while looking through some old sewing stuff in the garage, I came across them and knew that the now "vintage" fabric would be perfect for Sew Eco Chic.

In the early years of saving them, I did create many treasures, including patchwork curtains for my boyfriend's VW bus and a quilt to name a few. Yet, nothing remains today from those early projects besides the memories.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Saved How Much?

On a recent excursion to my local craft stores (JO-ANN and Michaels), I had two interesting things happen, one at each store.

In the days when I received the Sunday paper, I always saved the flyers for both stores, just for their coupons. But now I print them online. Both stores coupons have some small print, but I have never read it in full. Does anyone? I did know that the coupon could not be used for anything already on sale

Michaels was the first stop. I had no real reason to go there - I just figured I would stop in to see what was new and use the 40% off coupon. I selected a book and a rubber stamp. Neither were advertised as being on sale. When I got to the check out and handed the cashier my coupon, she informed me, "Coupons are not good on books, it is in the small print" - oh well, I really wanted to get the book. The stamp was on sale, but I really wanted it too. I spent almost $30 and left with my coupon in hand.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Scrap Potholders

My daughter's friend came over tonight to show us an old pot holder she found and asked if we could try to reproduce it with fabric scraps. So, just in time for the holidays, we've made eco-friendly pot holders and trivets out of our scrap pieces of apron fabrics!

These can be customized to fit any one's color scheme, and they're are a great way to save  bits of fabric from a sad demise. 

If you've got any old clothes, quilted place mats, or fabrics that you don't use anymore but can't seem to part with, I think you should send them to us so we can transform your nostalgia into something you can use everyday.  

My daughter had a favorite skirt that no longer fit . . . she loved it so much had it for so long. She'd clean her closet and put it in a thrift store pile, and take it out and put back in the closet. When we made these pot holders tonight, she realized a way she could put the skirt to good use and know it's still in her life!  She agrees it's silly, but it is really hard for her to throw out clothes. Can you guess which fabric was from the skirt?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall Aprons

I love the Fall . . . even in Southern California where it is a subtle change.  We know we have some of our hottest weather to come, with the Santa Ana Winds (and dang fire danger!) but we still get in the autumn mood.
My fabric stash (which consists of mens shirts and ladies skirts) is overflowing with the colors and patterns for fall: browns, rusts, olive greens, deep plums, golds, and lots of plaid. Since they are some of my favorite colors all year, it is no wonder that I found so many choices to put together the autumn aprons.

I am showing a few pics from the fall apron collection taken at the Beck Estate (La Vigne Grove.) We were there along with Lilygirl Jewelry designers: Denise and Lori . . . and Lori's dog, Lily!
Joel Navarro from Imulsion Imagery Studio was on hand to shoot for us. We were all very excited to be working with a pro. Joel shoots many types of events, including weddings. We highly recommend him!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I love NY...

I do love New York . . . but thrift shopping in the big apple recently proved frustrating. Before I left home I mapped out my route for a morning of NY thrifting. I did find three or four shops on 23rd Street near Lexington. What a major disappointment they turned out to be! The prices here are crazy. A long sleeve man's dress shirt was $12.99! Ditto for a girls skirt. And I thought the prices in Southern California had become outrageous. Oh well, I guess for now I will stick with going to flea markets when in NY . . . I just need to be there over the weekend.

Photo I took of the view from the balcony of a client's Upper East Side Condo

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sew Eco Chic is...

Sew Eco Chic is the clothing line we started while we were re-branding our 5 year old retail store. Sadly, At Home on Main Street closed due to the declining economy in 2009, but we still make fabulous items using re-cycled clothing, accessories and other sustainable materials. Currently I focus on sewing aprons. My main source for materials are men's shirts, women's skirts and accessories like belts, ties and lace. They've proved to be the most popular category in the line because size is not an issue.

After collecting my finds, I bring them home and wash everything in luxury laundry soap.  My favorite is The Good Home Pure Grass scented detergent.  

Then I mix and match the shirts with the skirts as the first step in creating an apron. I have two sewing dress forms, making the designing phase much easier. For me, designing aprons is a lot like the process of selecting materials when I design a room. I might choose a floral, a plaid, and a solid to create an apron that has a lot of interest.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Sewing Class

My daughter and a friend signed-up for a 6-week summer course in beginning sewing through a local college. I decided to sign-up too, just for fun.

On the first night of class (held once a week) my machine would not turn on (see July 3rd blog). I finally picked up my machine the day after the last class. The shop honored the warranty -- which was right at the 2-year expiration date -- so I was thankful for that.

I learned during the class that if you have been sewing for a long time, it is not easy to take a class with a teacher who has been sewing even longer. I tried to help Tracy and her friend when they needed advice -- but no matter what I suggested, the teacher had another way to do it. That was fine. There are many ways to do something (and one way is not the only way, or the right way) but it became a laughing matter whenever one of the girls asked for my help and I hesitated -- I didn't want to get them in trouble!

In the end, the girls liked some of my techniques better. They even want to come over for a sewing night.

So, what did I learn during the summer class? That even though I don't know it all, I know enough to teach someone how to sew. And, good teachers may disagree on technique. I didn't want to be an old dog that couldn't learn a new trick . . . but I came to the conclusion that my old tricks worked fine!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Returning to my First Love

It's not like I ever really left, but I did take many long, long breaks from my first love: Sewing. And great sewing is all about great machines that work well and are dependable. Today I own one sewing machine and two sergers...

But, it all started with the Sears Kenmore sewing machine my mother bought me when I was around 10. My mom didn't sew, but she could tell that I was in love with the idea. I spent so much time with an older friend (who had a machine) that she knew if she wanted me around our house I needed a machine of my own. It seems that I had that Kenmore forever -- it was an okay machine, but I really wanted something that did more! 

Fast foward about 24 years. My husband, Michael, was leaving the Air Force and on his last trip to England he bought me a new Pfaff from the base exchange at Mildenhall. It was their top-of-the-line (the Creative 1471) and a great machine that I loved to sew with.  Fast forward another 20 years (are you counting?  I'm in my mid-50's).  The 1471 - was and is - a great machine...but now it belongs to my daughter Tracy. It was time for me to get a new model. 

I selected another Pfaff after doing some research. I have had the new machine a little over two years.  The other day it would not turn on.  Seems something was wrong with the electrical cord (I hoped that was all it was). It was something much more...and of course, the warranty for the motor and electrical was just for two years!  There was an additional 19 year warranty for other stuff.  What other stuff???  The machine is in the shop and the owner says he will do his best to fix it under the warranty.  Doesn't it seem they put something internal in the machines -- a signal goes off that says, "the two year warranty is up so let's break down now."   I have lost a bit of faith in the Pfaff name and I will have to wait and see how things turn out.

Over the years I have sewn many types of items.  From my own wedding dress - to clothes for my kids - to duvet covers and roman shades for my home.  I've made countless pillow covers and curtains and too many clothes that didn't fit me properly.  I quit sewing for a while but I am back in a big way.  It feels great to be in love again with something I let go of.