Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Outside of the Box



    I love that phrase; Thinking Outside of the Box. When we are children we do this all the time. We don't know anything different. But as we get older we are molded and shaped into what we should be, how we should act, how we should look. It isn't meant to be mean or hateful, it is just how things progress. And as we become adults we add to shaping the box we live in and think in. We want to be like everyone else. We want to be thought of as part of the crowd, to fit in. We want to walk the straight and narrow. We don't want to upset the apple cart, it might get us into trouble. We want to do as we are told, because we might be rewarded. We don't like to question something, because they just might know better than I do. We follow patterns, and books, and guides.
    Don't get me wrong, boundaries are good and necessary. They give us a place to feel safe. But, they should be flexible boundaries with wavy lines. We should not be afraid to step outside those lines, to color outside those lines. Taking chances can be so very scarey, but so exhilerating as well. They don't have to be life threatening chances. They don't have to be big bold chances. They can be tiny ones like drinking from the milk carton, or eating the ice cream from the container. One of the first things I smiled at when I was on my own and my children all grown was that I could make a bowl of pudding and take a spoonful once in a while right out of the bowl. It was ok, because no one else was going to be eating it.
    We don't have to live inside the box when it comes to art and creativity. This is the best place to expand those wavy lines. We don't all like the same art, thank goodness. Some of us lean toward modern, clean, crisp lines. Some of us prefer the soft, fluffy, romantic style of shabby chic or country cottage. Some of use love the country, rustic look.  And some of us prefer the classic traditional styles. It is reflected in our clothes, our home decor, the art on our walls, and our creative soul. But that doesn't mean you can't step beyond and experience something new, even if it is for just a little while. Our tastes change as we age and as we meet new people in our lives. I remember being in high school and starting a hope chest. Does anyone do that anymore? Well I cut out pictures from magazines and catalogs of things I liked, styles I liked, what I would like in my home when I was on my own. I kept those pictures in a manilla envelope. When I got married I went through that envelope and found that I didn't like any of it anymore. I had gone from a country feel to a Victorian feel. Now, many years later, I find I just like the eclectic feel. A little bit of everything.

   Each of us is creative. Really, you are. Some can bake and cook, some can sew, some can write, some can lead, some can make beautiful gardens, and some can build. But we all have a creative gene in us. We need to let that creativity feed us, feed our souls. Once in a while we need to do something that makes us happy, connects us back to ourselves. It is necessary for growth. We need to remember what it was like when we were children and didn't know any better. When you do use that creativity next time, try "thinking outside the box". Try something new and fresh and maybe a little scarey. I am pretty sure it will make you smile.

Denim Planters "Jean-etically Modified Plants" by Tom Ballinger
Fourth of July outfits made from Duct Tape

Here are some ways people thought outside the box. I apologize in advance if I don't have credits with each picture, as some of them I have had for a very long time and don't remember where I found them.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


  Hi there. I am sorry I haven't been around for a few days. My goal in this blog is to write words of interest and not just chatter. Don't get me wrong, I love to chatter. But that is what Facebook is for and I would love for you to join me there. Here, I want to share my ideas and passions. I want to inspire others, to stir the creative soul inside all of us. I want to bring a smile to all of your faces or to give an "a-ha" moment. So, when the words don't come to me, I don't want to just sit and write fluff.

   I received a lovely email from a potential client through my Victorian Seamstress Etsy shop this morning. It was in regards to a custom made Victorian nightgown. So, today's post is about nightwear.
   I know that sleepwear is totally utilitarian. It covers us when we sleep to keep us warm or to give us modesty. But, we as women should see it as much more. It is another chance to feel feminine, pretty, luxurious. Laces, pin tucks, pleats, smocking, ruffles, appliques, quilting, embroidery, flowers, geometric, soft colors, bold colors, velvets, cottons, silks, even flannels can all create a feeling. Life is about feelings; emotional, spiritual, and physical. It is up to us to give those feelings as much punch as we can to know that we are alive.

Robe I made from a sari


   Let's talk about luxurious. When we say the word, we tend to think expensive, only for the rich, out of our reach. I think about a feeling...feeling luxurious. Different fabrics can do that, silks, satins, velvets, linens, furs, even good cottons. Now add beading, lace, ribbon, rhinestones. Or add heirloom stitching and pleating and tucks. Think about the Hollywood Silver Screen. The nightwear they wore in the movies was gorgeous; flowing and soft and sexy and feminine. It gave a feeling of luxury. Imagine a soft velvet robe, gently lined, with just two rhinestone buttons. Or imagine a pure white crisp cotton nightgown, covered in laces and pleating and ruffles. These both are luxurious. Then there is the simple silhouette of the thin strap slip nightgown, made out of charmeuse.  Luxury doesn't need to be expensive. It just needs to make you feel wonderful. And it most important, it needs to be quality.

The Victorian style offers so many options. It is the style I tend to go to most often, because I love this period. The embellishment techniques can fit into any era, actually. Pleating can be soft or crisp. Ribbons can be flowing or rigid with pleats. Gathering can add fullness or be made small to add shape. There is floral embroidery or classic monograms that can be added. Stripes can be smocked into a totally different design. It can be soft and floral or it can be bold and goth. Look at today's steam punk style.
Luxurious feeling flannel

   Nightwear doesn't need to be just something you toss on, just something you sleep in. It can express how you feel and who you are. Nightgowns, nightshirts, pajamas, teddies, chemises, shorty sets, peignoirs, robes, bed jackets; so many choices to fit every mood. We should feel wonderful no matter what time of day it is.
   Here is a bits-and-pieces vignette of  the nightwear I have made for various clients.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Valentine's Day

14 inch envelope style pillow with red crochet trim edging

Good morning everyone,
    I worked in retail management for many many years. One thing that you notice in retail is that you are always 2 seasons ahead. I'm not sure about being 2 seasons ahead, but I know for sure in business you need to be at least one season ahead. This is something I continue to struggle with. I want to buy my bathing suit when it is hot out, not in January. And I want to buy a coat when the cold sets in, not in July. But, I do know why things are done this way, and it is because you are suppose to be prepared. Preplanning is what it is all about, so that you are ready for when the cold strikes or the beach trip comes around.
    This is a year of changes for me and my business. So, when all the Christmas projects were done, I started right away on Valentine's Day. I was on a roll. I was so proud of myself. Here you will see the accomplishments waiting to have their finishing touches. Sadly I put them down to work on customer projects and here they sit. A look at the calendar says I am not ahead anymore for Valentine's day. In fact I am coming close to being behind. But, I am much better than I use to be and that is progress. Progress is a good thing. One day I will be right on target.
   Please enjoy my works in progress. All of them will be for sale in the Etsy shop soon. If you see something you like let me know, I will put your name on it.

  20 inch envelope style pillow with red piping edges

45 x 15 inch table runner with red print backing

38 x 12 inch table runner with red print backing and red piping edes


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Outside The Comfort Zone


Good morning,
   It is funny how different my client projects can be. I have two on the table right now, alterations on a beaded wedding dress and a complete outfit for a 16 inch boy doll. They are very different, but both require attention to details and both have no room for error.
   It is so easy to do the simple things, the things you are comfortable with. We don't hesitate to jump on those projects and complete them in no time. But when we are challenged, we tend to hesitate. We can question our abilities, or our skills; when we know for certain that we are good at what we do. We tend to procrastinate on getting started on the hard tasks, making them even harder by shortening the deadlines. The mind can be a terrible thing. It holds us back, makes us question, makes us afraid.
   We can be our worse enemy. We turn to others for reassurance and confirmation. Don't do that! Be strong, be sure. You are fabulous and you can do anything. No matter what you struggle with, you can get past it and find success, whether it is baking a beautiful cake, or making that untested fancy meal, or making a gorgeous gown, or planting your first flower, or building your first birdhouse. Whether it is writing a book or journal, or teaching a child, or making that first speech, or climbing that hill. You can do it, don't hesitate. The days are too short to waste them questioning and saying "what if". Take that first step and say instead "what now". The sense of accomplishment when a task is completed is a wonderful drug. It courses through your body like sunshine. A smile comes to your face and your eyes light up. Your body even stands straighter.Even if no one is looking, you will know. And you will feel good.
   Afraid of jumping off the cliff? Then take a little step, just a tiny one. Even that will be success and it will lead to many more I assure you. Don't be afraid to step outside that comfort circle. Break it open and turn it into a straight line. A line that heads off into infinite possibilities. I believe in you, now believe in yourself.
   Wishing you all a fabulous and successful day.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Working With Dolls

   Well I finished all three projects for my doll client and delivered them today. She loved them. Silly me, in my hurry to get them to her, I failed to take pictures. I am really sad about that, because I wanted to share with you. I made a log cabin square quilt for the iron work bed that looked really nice.  It actually was the second quilt. The plans for the first one were just too elaborate for such a tiny piece. My creative mind is always bigger than reality. Hopefully she will let me take pictures when I return in a couple weeks with my latest project.
   When I started this business, I never thought I would be doing doll things. It just never crossed my mind. I was more into children's clothing. And then I took a home decor side path with my pillows. My fabric gal is the one that asked me if I was interested in doing some side work and hooked me up with this lady that restores antique dolls and doll furniture. Side work is always a good thing, especially when it comes to paying the bills, so I met Julie. I love Julie, she works miracles with her dolls. She has such a fabulous talent of dressing them in the authentic period costumes, complete with antique fabrics, laces and ribbons. And she doesn't miss a detail. She makes her own leather shoes and her gorgeous period hats. Each doll has handmade panties. If the child would wear certain undergarments for the time, the doll has the undergarments. There are bow ties for the boys and brooches for the girls. I don't do the antique dolls yet, as I am in the intern stage. A lot of it I have just figured out. But even the newer dolls are required to be complete with every detail. Her house is decorated just like a cottage country magazine. I am always envious when I visit. There is always something new to look at hidden in a corner or a cabinet. We sit and drink tea as we discuss the next project and we visit. Her husband works on restoring the furniture and restrings the doll arms and legs. It is a family business that does very well. I was so surprised to see how big a business fixing dolls and dressing them really is. People will pay good money to have their grandmother's doll restored. Sentiment has no limits in the sense of value. So my side work is pretty steady. She tells me we have enough work for two lifetimes. I thought I would share a few photos of some past pieces I have done for her.
   I have a gypsy free spirit sense of life deep inside of me. This is not a bad thing, because it allows me to take a chance down that side path and see where it brings me. Some of the paths aren't right, and I accept that and move on. Some of them have been enlightening and fun. Some of them challenge me to the limit. Each of them have taught me lessons. And I know they tell me I shouldn't bounce around and settle for one or two categories to be successful. Perhaps they are right. But if we don't take those side roads or walk through those doors that open, how do we know we have found the right categories? The goal is to pay the bills, be creative, make people smile and just enjoy what I am doing. What a wonderful way to live life. Be sure to take a few chances and see what is around the corner. You just might be surprised.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Problems, Dilemas, Glitches, and Solutions

   Good morning and thank you for taking a moment out of your busy life to sit down with me. I know I love my moments reading the blogs that I follow. I think of them as my daily magazines where I can dream and slip into my creative space. I hope that I can do that for you here.
   I wanted to share pictures of my latest project, but I seem to be having trouble with photos in bloggerland. However, I can tell you about it. I am still working on my doll client's things. I had three to complete for the next appointment. Yesterday I finished a 6 inch girl doll made of china with long braids and painted boots. The dress I made was blue organza with a circle skirt. As those of you that sew know, organza can be tricky to work with. Now imagine working with it in miniature. I did end up doing half of my sewing by hand, as I had more control with the edges in the real tight areas. I finished the dress and was quite pleased with the outcome. But, when I put the whole outfit together, dress, antique petticoat, and panties that I had made; the dress no longer fit around the waist. There were just too many layers. Without the option of recutting the dress pieces, I decided to put the project down and walk away. Sometimes that is the only solution. I slept on the dilema, and the next day stared at the dress for a while. I finally resolved to tearing it apart and put the skirt and bodice back together. This time I lowered the waist line a little and voila it worked. Because the skirt was a circle, lowering the seam line gave me just enough more material to make the waist bigger. Easy solution. Now everything fits just fine.
   So many times in life we are faced with problems and dilemas. It is natural to want to find a quick fix or a short cut. In truth, the best solutions come when we begin again and take the longer path. The solution is stronger and cleaner when we do; and we are much more satisfied with the outcome. Then we can move onto to something new.
   I hope your day is filled with lots of good things and fewer dilemas. Please take the time to smile, it feeds the soul.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


    Although I still have my Christmas tree to take down, the holidays have come to an end. Now it is time to get back to business. Many of you have headed back to work today. I believe some have headed back to school today. I need to get back to sewing.
   Today's project is to finish up my doll client's things. The picture above is the little boy doll that I dressed for her before the holidays. He is only 4 inches tall. His shirt and pants are removable with little snaps.  The little tam hat just makes the whole outfit. Now I need to dress a little girl doll in blue organza and do the bedding for a great iron work doll bed. This doll bed even has the metal spring base for the mattress. I am thinking it needs a pretty pink and blue quilt with lace trimmed white dust ruffle. Then I will add lace trimmed batiste sheets and pillow case. And to finish the look I will add a few ruffly throw pillows. I will be sure to show you all pictures when it is completed.
   There is no doubt that winter has dug its heels in. It is very very cold here, temperature of 18F with windchill of 4F degrees. There is about a foot of snow on the ground, and big icicles are hanging from the gutters. Oh yes, and the heat has been running non stop. Soon we will start receiving planting catalogs in the mail and we can count down to spring. It is nice to always have something to look forward to.
    I hope you all have a wonderful day. Please stay warm and remember to make someone smile today.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Raising a glass to you and the new year. Wishing you a year filled with hope and dreams. A year filled with love and laughter. And a year that gives you peace and joy in your hearts. I look forward to sharing this wonderful year with you where ever the paths take us.