Friday, September 5, 2014

     Oh my goodness, I can't believe it has been so long since I was here. I am so sorry. I promise I did not disappear. Being a caretaker of a parent is so very rewarding, but also a lot of work. And he is my top priority for the time being. This leaves little room for the things I love. I have missed you all.
     I have to tell you about my new adventure for the holidays. I have always had a vision of a pop up shop during the special seasons of the year. It would be in a barn or a greenhouse or something really unusual and with ambiance. I would invite all sorts of talented artisans from the local area to participate. We would arrange the shop like a boutique with items from all artisans mixed in amongst each other. Not separate stalls for each. All sales would be through one POS system and checks would be cut once week for each person. I knew it would be a hit.
     Well I was notified of just that very thing happening here in town. Only it will be in a big storefront in our local mall. And the organizers are planning on arranging the shop just the way I would have, with antique furniture and props. I am so very excited. The organizers have done a fabulous job of laying this venture out and have most of the details already in the works. It will be just a two month commitment, November and December. And there is a level that I can choose where I will not have to put in work time. This was a big deciding factor, seeing how I cannot leave Dad alone. Of course I will try and arrange to be there once in a while for a little bit, because I don't want to miss out on all the fun.
     How can we go wrong; Christmas time in a mall right at a main entrance. If I can't sell my things there, I might as well give this business up. Heh! Now, the big challenge is to sew my little hands off in the next two months. I have shut off my custom work for the rest of the year. I will only work on things for my doll lady as I can. She is rarely in a big hurry, and is so patient with me. So, this will work out too. It will feel so great to be sewing the things I love once again.
      I will try and keep you updated on the progress and add some pictures. For now here is the info.
Shop 607
Oakdale Mall
Johnson City, Ny
November and December 2014

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas Memories

    Good morning everyone. I hope you are all well. This is the season where our busy lives become even busier with shopping and cooking and creating. We make list after list after list, being sure no detail is left out. Many of us creative creatures are peddling our wares at holiday shows, our hands busy as many hours as we can stay awake. In between we are making those special gifts for the ones we love.
    I really do love this season. I love to create and I love to give gifts. I love to bake. I love to make my wrappings as beautiful as the NYC store windows. And I love to entertain, where I can pull out all my fancy china and crystal. I love to adorn my home with greens and berries, to make it sparkle with twinkling lights. I use to live in an 8 room Victorian house, and every room, including the bathrooms were fully decorated. We had 2 or 3 trees each year, usually only one that was real. I would theme rooms, so that all the decorations would coordinate. The kitchen was usually gingerbread men. The living room was pinks and burgundies Victorian. I would use yardage of tulle to drape the tops of my curtains with nosegays or bells or wreaths at the corners. It was such fun.
    One year I had a tree trimming party. Everyone brought an ornament that meant something special to them. Then we had a delightful buffet and wonderful company. Now when I decorate my tree each year, as I unwrap each ornament, I can remember the person that gave it to me. I never rush when I decorate my tree. It is a trip down memory lane.
    Several years I hosted full blown Victorian parties. I would research authentic Victorian meals to add to my tables. The white china with the gold trim would come out. The crystal would be cleaned and the silver would be polished. The antique table cloth would be placed on the table, always risking it being ruined by a spill. I would look through books and magazines for centerpiece ideas and ways of displaying the many dishes of food I would serve. The first year was complete chaos, because as we all know, timing in the kitchen never ever works the way we want it to. Thank goodness for wonderful friends that love to cook. Each year I learned to do things easier and better. One year several of us dressed in Victorian clothing, just the women of course. A wonderfully creative friend whipped up a fabulous pink and black check taffeta Victorian gown for herself. She was the envy of all of us. I loved those parties.
    Several years I would host a cookie swap. Just a small gathering of us gals with either a light lunch or just desserts. Cookie swaps are fabulous. You figure out how many guests are coming. Then each guest ,plus yourself, makes one type of cookie. Depending on how many people are attending, you either make a half dozen or a whole dozen per person. Then you bag them up individually, some getting so very creative with their packaging. At the swap, each person shares what they have brought and you end up with a whole tray of assorted cookies for the holidays. It is a great time with friends and a great short cut to your holiday cookie baking.
 
    My Victorian parties were so formal, that they would be adult only. So for a few years I would host a families open house on a Sunday afternoon. A buffet would be layed out all afternoon as our friends and their children would come and go. I always had a favor for the children, either an ornament or some small trinket. One year I tried having the kids decorate cookies.

 
    All during the season, the carols and Christmas music would play in our house. My husband was such a clever man. He recorded all our records...you remember records right?...onto a VHS tape. Hhmmm do your remember VHS machines? Boy am I old, heh! Anyways, those tapes held a lot of info and we were able to record all our favorite albums in one continuous loop. Even the albums we loved as children. You never had to change records or tapes. It was wonderful.
    In between all my entertaining and planning and cooking, there was sewing and cutting and gluing. I use to make every single one of my gifts. Well, no that isn't true. There were a few men that a made gift just wasn't going to work. Men are the hardest to create a handmade gift for, don't you think? I would sew right up and past Christmas day. My neighbor's house was very close to ours on one side and she would say; "I went to bed Christmas Eve and you were sitting at the table sewing. And I would wake up Christmas morning and you were still at the table sewing." That would be me! I will even admit now, that sometimes I would be hand sewing in the car finishing up a gift for the person we were on our way to see. As my daughter got older, she swore "she" would "never" do that. She hated it. Well she now has 4 wonderful children and works a full time job, and yes, she is doing things last minute in the car. We say it is tradition, heh. 
    Another tradition with the women in our family use to be wrapping gifts on Christmas eve. Well, we all were so busy with other things that the wrapping would get left to last. My mom would stay up all night wrapping gifts. She would slip into bed just long enough for us kids to find her Christmas morning. That seemed to have carried down to myself and my sister and my daughter. And might even travel down to my granddaughter. Time will tell, she is only 14 right now. I remember all us kids gifts from Santa were always wrapped in the same paper every year. When I got older and was sent to the attic for something, I came across this huge roll of Christmas wrapping paper. Yup, you guessed it, it was Santa's wrapping paper. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. As us girls got older we would stay up with mom and do our wrapping together. This became quite an event. We had snacks and lots of wine. Yes, we had lots of laughs too....oh my lots of laughs. Dad would stay up for a while with us, but he was the smart one and decided sleep was more important. As each gift got wrapped it would find its way under the Christmas tree. By morning that tree was overflowing with gifts spilling out into the room. We would marvel at the sight, take a picture and "always" say, "we did too much again this year, next year we have to cut back".
 

    We all spent Christmas day together, so we all spent the night at Mom and Dads. Well at least until the families grew too big to have enough sleeping room. When Grammy Savage was alive she would spend the night at Mom and Dads. She would sleep on the couch in the living room where the tree stood. Well, she really didn't sleep either, she was up with us girls. But she would lay down so that the kids would find her first the next morning. We were allowed to gather our stockings filling over the tops from the stair railings and bring them to our rooms. This gave the adults time to open their eyes from the one hour sleep they had gotten and grab a cup of coffee before the mayhem started. But Grammy was a dear and usually let us curl up near her to share the little treasures that our stockings held. Sometimes those little gifts were more fun than the ones wrapped under the tree. And of course there was always lots of candy in the bottom of those stockings. I remember gold wrapped candy coins and candy canes. We had Hershey Kisses and later Hershey Hugs. No wonder Christmas morning was mayhem, we were all on sugar highs. We still all carry that tradition of overstuffed stockings filled with special little treasures. Great care is spent on finding just the right things. Of course you always got a toothbrush and deodorant and chap stick. Those were guaranteed. Oh and those great Lifesaver Storybooks, filled with 8 different rolls of Lifesavers.  

    Christmas would last forever. We had other families to visit, Grammies and aunts, brothers and sisters. More gifts and more wonderful food. And more traditions, like sitting at the kids table or wearing the special aprons. Traditions that we looked forward to becoming adults for like Boule (a wonderful white wine and Madeira marinated strawberries punch) and sitting at the grownup table. New traditions like Christmas brunch and Italian Christmas dinners. As children we had a whole week to look forward to of new toys and new clothes and new fun. As parents we had a whole week of taking a deep breath and a much needed rest and not worrying about messy houses.
    Many of the traditions carried over after we got married or moved out on our own. Many new traditions were added. As time passes, children move too far away, life changes. We hold onto our memories like precious treasure. The holidays don't feel like they use to, but that doesn't mean they aren't special anymore. It is up to each of us to take up the torch and create new memories for ourselves, our children and our friends. Christmas is about sharing; our love, our hearts, our food, our gifts. It is about being with others; family, friends, neighbors, strangers. It is about music and lights. It is about a feeling inside your heart. So please make some new traditions, share them with someone new, and let those lights shine brightly. Don't ever let anyone tarnish your tinsel.

 
All of you are very special to me.
Love,
Rebecca

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cleaning Out the Studio

     Good morning. I hope all of you are doing well and enjoying this glorious Fall season. A lot of the leaves have fallen here in Upstate NY, but there is a spot of color here and there up on the hill. I am just like a child though, stomping through the fallen leaves just to hear them crunch. The yard is getting prepped for winter. The vegetable garden has been pulled up and new areas have been turned over waiting for their furtilizing. The blueberry bushes finally got planted,  now to wrap them in mulch for their winter sleep. One more washing of the car and then I can tuck away the hoses. I am not quite ready to put away the deck furniture. We love to sit out there in the sunshine still, even if we have to wear a jacket. I do have to say that the heat has been put on in the mornings now and then, just to take the chill off. We love to be warm, but I'm not looking forward to the winter heating bills yet. Dad and I are betting when the first snow fall will be. We usually have something that sticks to the ground around Halloween and that is coming up fast.
     All of this is a sure sign that the holiday sewing season is well underway. The unfinished Summer projects are packed away, to be done another time. There are buckets of Christmas fabrics and patterns sitting beside the sewing table. New ideas and inspiration are jotted down on pieces of paper, just waiting to come to life. The three Etsy shops are beginning to bubble with activity, keeping me very busy.
     The Blowout Studio Cleaning Sale is still going on. Great items at fabulous prices are being added every day. I am cleaning out the old stock, samples, and singles to make room for a new product line. Everything listed at Simply Rebecca Studios is selling at Cost. I do hope you stop by. Here are some examples from the Studio.

 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/165607169/sale-holiday-fabric-gift-bags-snow-men?ref=shop_home_active



https://www.etsy.com/listing/164994457/baby-blue-felt-heart-shaped-sachet-sale?ref=shop_home_active


 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/164669598/childs-cotton-apron-country-cows-age-2?ref=shop_home_active

Well time to get back to the tasks at hand. I wish you a day filled with warmth and bright smiles. Be sure to tell someone today that they are special. We all like to know that we matter to someone.
 
Sending out big hugs to all my special friends out there. You are the best.
 
 
Rebecca

 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Big Sale

So sorry I have been gone so long. I have missed all of you.

 

I am working on a brand new line of product for Simply Rebecca Studios, and I am so very excited about it. It will be sold in the studio's Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/simplyrebeccastudios. I will post an announcement when it launches, with banners flying and bands playing.

But for now I am cleaning out the studio of samples, test pieces, singles, and back stock. I am holding a BlowOut DeStash Sale in the Etsy shop. Beginning Monday Oct 7th at 10:00 am EST everything will be sold at COST.

I am working feverishly getting things ready to post that morning. New items will be added daily until everything is GONE. These are all one of a kind items, brand new, not to be made again.

The shop accepts PayPal as well as Etsy Direct Checkout with all major credit cards. I also accept Etsy gift certificates. I look forward to seeing you all.





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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Santa in June

     I love working with my doll client. She hands me a base doll and a few guidelines, then lets me run with my creativity. This was how it was with my Santa doll. All she said is that he needed to be pink Victorian and handed me a piece of silk velvet. I will admit it took some thinking before it all started to fall into place. Also, I tend to continue designing as I am sewing. Something that slows the process down but always brings wonderful results. I am so very happy with this pink Santa.
    
 
He has a ceramic head, hands and boots. His body is mostly filled with soft white sand and poly fill up near the head. His arms and legs are stuffed full with the poly fill and stiff wire for bending and posing. I started out designing a pair of long johns for him, but then remembered that they wouldn't have had knits during the Victorian period. So, I opted for a Victorian man's cotton union suit, complete with the drop drawer opening in the back. Oh yes, details are very important.


union suit back
 
     His tunic was the next layer, which is made of the exact shade of pink jacquard as the velvet. We were lucky when we found that. It has long open sleeves and a high collar, all trimmed in pink vintage braid. The braid is 1940's / 1950's lingerie tape. I trimmed the bottom of the tunic with the braid as well. I wanted it to stand out a bit, so I added two layers of heavy fishing line inside the braid. It worked perfectly. The tie is silver cording with  1/8 inch pink satin ribbon twisted in, and pink tassels to finish it off.

      Then came the best part, the robe. The velvet was too soft on its own, so I layered thin cotton batting between the velvet and the lining. It made the robe soft and lush. By baste quilting the pieces together, it kept everything neat and all in one piece. I knew I wanted silver accents, so I embroidered snowflakes with pink pearls in the centers. The snowflakes are on the bottom, the sleeves and the back of the coat. It is trimmed with the same pink braid. I hunted for fur to use for trim and everything was too thick and long. Then I found the "minky" fabrics and it was perfect. It was soft with short pile. It also was very easy to work with. I actually used the wrong side of the fabric, because it was better. Then I hand sewed the silver braid all around the bottom and the sleeves.
 
 
      The creative brain kicked in again when I decided it needed a capelet. I also knew I wanted a hood, not a cap. If I attached all of that to the neck of the coat it would be very bulky, so I decided to put the hood on the capelet and make it a separate piece. It was a good decision. Like the coat, the capelet is lined and has cotton batting in between. There are a few snowflakes on the front of the caplet and it is trimmed in just the silver cord. The hood took some planning and designing. I could see what I wanted, but for some reason I couldn't get it on the tissue paper. Then one night it just happened. I love when it works like that. I made the point of the hood nice and long so that it could drape over to the front. The two pink tassels at the point finish it off nicely.
 
 
      Now it was time for the accessories. I had so many ideas swimming in my head. But, I knew I needed to stop at some point as everything I added was another expense. I had to remember that this needed to make a profit. As creative people we tend to forget that this is a business and we are suppose to make money. The garland he holds is very simple with just some dried baby's breath and a few pink pearls scattered throughout. The basket he holds is lined with the pink velvet and filled with a teddy bear, a red wire bicycle, a wooden drum and a trimmed tree. I trimmed the tree to match the outfit with the silver thread, the pink pearls and the satin bows. I attached the accessories with 1/4 inch elastic wrapped around his wrists.
 
 
      He is fabulous and my client fell in love with him. Yes, he took more time than he should. But he was so much fun to do. In fact I think I might make a few for Christmas presents this year. Or maybe even a few to sell. In retrospect, designing as you go along isn't as productive in a business sense. You should have a plan and stick to it. But, being creative is what I love and sometimes I am willing to sacrifice for the results. I guess I will never get rich this way. Although I can say that if I do make some to sell, I will be sure to make a profit. If anyone is interested in having one custom made, I would be happy to hear from you. Just email me at simplyrebeccastudios@yahoo.com and we can discuss the details.

 
Wishing you a fabulous day
Rebecca

Friday, May 24, 2013

Creating Art from Darkness-Making a Difference

     It has been a very busy few weeks here at the studio. I have been finishing up client projects and new ones are waiting on the worktable. My customers are a very eclectic group, bringing me all kinds of challenges. I love it. They range from the wedding party alterations, to draperies for a whole house, to doll bedding and clothing, to Star Wars attire for conventions. Add to that my own Simply Rebecca products, and I can be quite a busy gal. Though it can get chaotic at times, I love the variety. It never gets mundane and many times challenges me to step beyond my comfort zone. I truly love my job.
     I want to chat a little today on an story I just read. It touched my spirit. We all talk about where the world is going, the fear, the hunger, the disasters, the losses. Some of what we see and hear tears the heart right out of your chest. Most of us feel a stirring inside of wanting to do something to make it better, but have no idea how. It is so overwhelming. What can we possibly do to make a difference? I know because I have said those same words. I was always active in my community, joining women's organizations, raising monies to go help in some way. It gave me a feeling of belonging to those around me. But, over the years life took me away from that a bit. Helping others is incredibly soul healing. It fills you with energy you never thought you had.
     Well Jessica Mindich feels the same way. But, she has taken it one step further. "I grew up in a family that embodied the spirit that you had a responsibility to repair the world. And so I jumped, I walked, I ran to every 5K, everything, and that was how we grew up. And Jewelry for a Cause is an extension of that." Jewelry for a Cause creates jewelry for fundraising tools for not-for-profit organizations. She started the company five years ago out of her home in Connecticut, because she saw communities doing the same old fundraisers and people getting bored with them. We have all been there. How many magazines can we buy and how many chocolate bars can we eat, and how many candles can we burn. She creates beautiful jewelry for different causes, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities around the world to help promote awareness for issues such as breast cancer, Alzheimer's, and drinking water. "There isn't anything that we do that doesn't give back to a cause," Mindich says of her creations. "People were excited to wear what they believe, what they support on them. And these were inexpensive, they were eye-popping, and they had meaning behind them." Jewelry for a Cause also works with artisans from all over the world helping them to create sustainable lives for their families through their craft.

     Her latest project is incredibly inspiring. She is turning violence into beauty. It took her to the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Made from illegal guns and shell casings found at crime scenes, the Caliber Collection features 'bracelets that sparkle with hope'. While meeting with Mayor Cory Booker the idea came to her. She stood there looking at boxes of empty shell casings, realizing that those were bullets that had been fired in anger. The table piled with guns used in crimes were meant to do harm. They didn't want the bracelets to carry images of anger, just a simple piece of jewelry that was a symbol. The result is a series of pieces that "embody the gun’s transformation from a destructive weapon to a powerful symbol of renewal". They are pounded gold and silver hoop bracelets with serial numbers from the weapons. The sale of each bracelet is to help the Newark Police Department fund a gun buyback program. The mayor says, "I want them to go to the most profound purpose, which is peace. I wanted them to go to something that would help to reduce violence. Something that would help inspire peace and security."
     In April her efforts paid off with the first gun buyback in Newark since 2009. "I entirely funded a gun buyback in one of the top six most dangerous cities in America. We bought back 210 guns, eight of them were assault rifles, half of them were handguns. These are guns that are really out there doing the damage.”
     Mindich says, "It's my dream, my absolute dream to bring Caliber to cities across America. My desire that those cities are cities with the highest homicide rates because that's where you're going to have the highest number of illegal guns and make the biggest impact. I don't need chic bracelets from fancy cities. I want the bracelets inside to read cities like Flint, Michigan, and Oakland and New Orleans and places where guns are destroying their communities and as a result they can't rebuild their economy. That would be incredible."
    Reading this article brought goose bumps to my skin. It fueled the flame inside me. We all have talents that we can turn into something meaningful, something with purpose, something that will make a difference. No more sitting back talking about what is wrong. It doesn't matter how small the project is, or how much money it raises. Every little bit becomes a piece of a bigger picture. With each piece the puzzle become more complete. It is time to physically do something. Otherwise our words only become part of the breeze blowing past us.
     I applaud Jessica and those like her. It is time more of us create a caring society as we wish it would be, one neighborhood at a time. I know I will.
     Please take some time to visit Jessica's website and read the many articles written about her and her business. I hope that it will inspire you.

                                                Sending big hugs to all of you,

                                                         Rebecca

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sewing Machines

 
Sewing machine still life
by
Alf Caruana
  
     I am very passionate about sewing. It has been in my soul for over 40 years. It has seen me through happy times and very depressed times. It has taken me on wild adventures and soft wanderings. It has brought me peace and tranquility in very stressful times. I think if I had to give up everything but one, I would keep a sewing machine. (Or at least a needle and thread).
     I love the modern improvements to our present sewing machines. Sewing has become so much easier. The machine will sew buttonholes at a press of a button. They will sew the button on as well. Home sewers now can do their own embroidery by machine, lovely monograms, whole scenes with just a press of a button. The machines even thread their own needles and cut the threads. I could go on and on, it really is amazing. And then there are all the gadgets you can get to make your life as a seamstress easier. I have to keep telling myself to embrace those new gadgets and stop trying to make my life so difficult. There are pleaters, bias makers, bias cutters, gadgets to go over jean seams smoothly, rufflers just to name a very few.
 
Picture via Anjou Clothing
 
 
    But, I also love the antique machines. They were really works of art, beautifully trimmed in gold painted scroll work. Some were adorned with brass fittings and filigree. There were small ones and large ones and they all made items the woman needed in her life.
 
 
Winselmann Titan Saxony sewing machine
 

     The tables these machines sat on were beautiful as well, scrolled iron, heavy and strong. Sure they were slow, but they were methodical. The first being foot powered, a gentle rocking becoming a soft rhythm. Then came motors, still slow and steady, providing a low hum. The woman watching her beautiful fabric become a work of art. And the fabrics then were gorgeous. I had a friend that made her whole square dancing outfit on an antique treadle sewing machine. It was wonderful.
 
 
     Each improvement meant the woman could see results quicker. She could experiment more. And that has continued right up to today. I am amazed at how wonderful old world crafts have been taken into the modern world. Quilting comes to mind. Yes, we can still appreciate a well stitched quilt, all hand done in tiny even stitches. Those are priceless to me. But, I have seen some gorgeous creations at quilt shows done with computers and sewing machines. These are just as much quilts as the hand done ones. I am slow to come into the new world of machinery and gadgets. It isn't because I don't find them wonderful, it is because I haven't taken the time to try them. Perhaps one day, in my spare time (grin). But one thing is for sure, as long as we have a needle and some thread and a piece of material whether new or old rags; we can create. And with that creation we can find pride and solace.
     So whether it is with your hands, or a machine or a computer, or all three; keep creating. I promise to try new gadgets if you will and together we can hold onto our craft, the skill of sewing. And be sure to pass the treasure of sewing on.

Happy Sewing
 
Rebecca



Monday, April 8, 2013

A New Week - A New Start

     Happy Monday to all of you. I hope you had a great weekend and that you are well. I awoke to glorious sunshine and bright blue skies. That always makes me smile and sets me up for a fabulous day. I truly am a solar girl.
     Last week I spent Spring nesting. I had company coming for the weekend and needed a guest room. Sadly the guest room had become a storage room for all my treasures I have collected over many years. I can now say that it is now a wonderful guest room and I am thrilled to check that off my list. It was long over due. Moving boxes and totes and baskets filled with things of course required being organized. It also resulted in moving around other things in other rooms. Which led to transitioning my bedroom from Winter to Spring, making it light and fresh and airy. Now the house is clean and neat and tidy and fresh. It makes me smile, giving me a huge sense of accomplishment.

 
Now it is time to get back to business. I need to make up for those busy cleaning days. I have 5 little bitty naked ceramic dolls waiting to be clothed. Also have a wedding party coming this week for alterations. It will be nice to sit down at the sewing machine without too many interruptions. It is much easier to sew when you can follow the flow.


     Here are the pictures of the last set of dolls I completed for my client. It is funny, I never thought I would be sewing for dolls when I turned my sewing into a business. But it has been a fun and profitable side path. I will admit those little tiny armholes can be frustrating at times, but with a deep breath and patience they always turn out perfect. It is great too, that my client gives me freedom in dressing the dolls. We have worked together enough that she knows I am on the same thought process as she is. That is a good partnership and a big compliment.
 


 



Wishing you all a fabulous day!
 
Rebecca