Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Music Of Your Life



A View Near Yachats, Oregon, Taken Yesterday

I wanted to pop in here a moment and thank Sugar Pie Farm House

for her excellent playbill, which has really helped me tackle some tedious jobs in the house today. Like the rest of us, she loves America and wants it to be what it used to be and what it is supposed to be. These songs are about the happy life in American culture, and include Bob Wills (yeah) which I personally had the privilege to hear live in concert when my children were little. In fact, the piano player, Al Stricklin, came to our house with his wife Betty, and sang to my little girl when she was sick, the song "San Antonio Rose." Later, we all walked to his house and he played the piano for us. I have been listening to this since I got started today and I'm still not tired of it.
Also, check out her link here http://cynthiascottagedesign.blogspot.com/ for more nice music, that bring back days of innocence and smiles and the good life in the good old USA. Don't forget to look at the Victorian things here http://oneshabbyoldhouse.blogspot.com/ which also have some good music for the day.

Although it looked like summer on the coast that day, it was freezing cold. I took off my coat to have my "picture took." For those of you who think I have poor grammar--that's an expression that has been in my family for a long time, and it comes from my southern heritage.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brown Paper Bag Gift

This one is so altered, you won't believe it came from one of those heavy grocery sacks. Click on the above photo for a larger view.


First make your pattern by folding a piece of heavy brown paper in half. Thin brown paper just won't work for this project, so if you don't have heavy paper bags, try something like the heavier paper of a flour bag or some other grocery item. You can even use a cereal box for the material, and it works just fine.


Open up your pattern and trace it again to make the back of the project. Glue around three sides, leaving the top open.


Cut a double thickness for the handle, and glue it in, anchoring the project with clothes pegs all around, til dry. White school glue will do. At this point, you can leave it "rustic" and decorate it with something more country-primitive. Rubber stamp a big image on the front or draw your own, adding someone's name, if you like.


This one is painted with craft paint from JoAnns or WalMart. Sometimes you can get it for as low as 50 cents. Tuck in some tissue gift wrap, or some fabric, and add your give-a-way. Add fabric trims or use your imagination with sequins and glitter.


You could make some writing paper by folding a piece of typing paper four ways, cutting, and decorating with rubber stamps.Add one of those glitter gel pens, and spray in some scent.Or, make it a bath gift with a bar of hand made soap or some colored soap from the dollar store, some lotion, a comb, a hair clip, or whatever you like. You can leave this project plain and simple, like this, or add a strip of glitter paper and some pleted crepe paper, as I have done.
I will add an inspirational talk in this section later. For an artist, you could put paints and brushes in it; a seamstress could have threads and seam tape, buttons and zippers, or just pieces of attractive fabric ironed and folded to look attractive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Round Altered Box/ Inspiration

The materials needed for this project are: round boxes from your grocery supply, fabric and fabric trims, or papers and trims. Clip your own art from old raised-embossed images on greeting cards. If you use white papers or fabric, you may have to paint the boxes with white crafting paint, or cover them first with white construction paper and white glue.

This baking powder box was just right to hold pens, scissors and pencils
Any round box will do for the "band box" or "hat box." These containers come in three sizes, so you can made a whole set, if you wish. Beginning at the opening of the box, cut down to a little less than half the height. Follow a line of printing or any kind of lines available on the box, to cut it all the way around. You can measure it if you want to, just by folding a piece of paper evenly, to the height you want, holding it up to the box, and making a line to cut, with a marker. I don't do that, but you might.
Don't forget to use your large hole puncher and punch one hole on each side, for the ribbon or string.


Then swirl white glue all over the box and paint it on evenly with a brush. If you will dampen the brush a little, it will paint more smoothly, but do not get it too wet. Glue fabric or papers on it, and trim the upper and lower edges with strips cut with shaped scissors, or rick rack or laces.

After you cover the box, remember to re-punch your holes, through the paper or fabric, so you can easily thread your string of pearls or rick-rack or ribbon, for the handle. Tie knots on the ribbon on the inside of the box. If you do not have ribbon, you can use string, yarn, or even a strip of fabric, for the handle.



These have a clear glitter-glue glaze on them.

To give these containers a protective finish, glaze the finished project with more white glue and a brush, glitter glue, decoupage glue. If you don't want to buy anything, find a craft glaze recipe with cornstarch, and paint that over the boxes. Let dry and see if it gives it a sheen.

The question is, what would you put in it? Perhaps you can make a hat small enough, as shown in the previous post.




Painting by Barbara Mock, from Lovely Whatevers

When "They" Try to Discourage You
Anything good, that is worthwhile, will have a certain element of discouragement. While we cannot help the normal feelings of discouragement that come from trying to make something work,--such as getting everything done within a day, or learning a new skill, or baking bread to perfection, there is a great deal that we can do to overcome the discouraging remarks made by others.

Commentator Adam Clark wrote:

"People of the world, generally ridicule those truths which they neither comprehend, nor love, and deride those who publish them; but a faithful minister of God, copying the examples of Christ, keeps on his way and does the work of his Lord and Master."

In the New Testament, the disciples of Christ were imprisoned for preaching.In prison, they sang. When they were released they were told to leave the city and not speak about it anymore. Their response was, "We must obey God, rather than man." Carry a song in your heart and sing it out load when some of these unfounded accusations and deductions are thrown your way. Singing used to be a way of life to help people get through difficult tasks. It has the ability to lift the heart.

Homemaking is challenging enough, without taking negative words seriously. If you take criticism to heart, this kind of thing can take all the fun out of being home and making it beautiful. That is why it is so important to put it in perspective. I can offer a few things that I have read recently, that might be of some help.

All discouragement should be overcome by focusing on the bright side. The words of a poem were written for this very reason:

"By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,
Who had no strength for the strife,
The world’s highway is cumbered to-day—
They make up the sum of life;"

(Ella Wheeler Wilcox) This stanza of the poem "Worthwhile" accurately describes those who would try to discourage you.

Some people will never be happy, no matter what you do. They will be unhappy if you succeed, and critical if you don't. Their comments can temporarily stun you. You might, for example, hear someone say that you aren't worth much, being a full time homemaker. Although you certainly know better than that, it might make you feel less than your best, which is the desired effect that "they" want.

There is a way to overcome the debilitating effect that these kinds of words have: simply use it as motivation for doing something greater. Immediately set to work to do something creative, or perfect your house keeping. Make an extra effort to give compliments and appreciation to your family members and those that do support you. Bring a little light into someone's life by creating a "care" package for them, filled with a little luxury to give a bright spot in their day. It is almost always a way to get rid of the sting of criticism.

There are several things a homemaker can be aware of that will help her face the opposition with confidence. Firstly, she can realize that when you are not following the crowd, there will always be ridicule and condemnation from others. They will "think it strange that you run not with them..." (1st Peter 4:4).

"They wonder and are astonished at you, that ye can renounce these gratifications of the flesh for a spiritual something, the good of which they cannot see. " (Adam Clark)

Your life will appear "strange" to some people who do not understand that one of the reasons you are not pursuing a career outside the home, is a spiritual one. It does not make sense to the materialistic world, that you would turn down money and become a guide and guard of your home.

The homemaker can know that scorn from others, is part of the territory. Many homemakers just love their families and their homes and want to be the best they can be, and do not expect to be challenged by objectors. They just want to be left alone. They want to get the job done as smoothly as possible. They don't want to debate or have conflict over it. There are those, however, who don't want to let you alone. They want to discourage you. If you will ignore it and move on, making more and more progress in your life, you will leave them behind. Years later, they will still be mocking, but you will have a clean house, good children, and a successful marriage. They will still be behind, with nothing to show for their time, still looking for something to gripe about.

The most effective treatment for discouragement is to sing, be busy, do something creative, and serve others. This is the way to live "outside of yourself." It shows a good example to the detractors in your life. Don't let them get you down. There is nothing wrong with you. It is "they" who are have a mental disorder.

You can take heart from the words of the apostle Paul, written to the Corinthians:

We are troubled on every side,--- yet not distressed;
We are perplexed, ---but not in despair;

Persecuted,--- but not forsaken;
Cast down,--- but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2nd Corinthians 4:8-10)
Remember that Christ was challenged on every side, and sometimes he didn't even answer the questions that were hurled at him.
If these critics are not doing a better job in their homes, there is no reason to listen to them. Have a look at their families. If they are people you wish to emulate in your life, or if you want to be like them, then, by all means, listen to them. If you want to be successful in business, you do not consult someone who cannot manage his own business. You go to someone who has been successful. If you want to have good success in the home, you do not listen to those who have not had success.

Some people want you to fail, because it makes them feel better in their own failure. Others may be jealous. Still, the homemaker can overcome it all if she will mind her business and be happy. If you are at a loss for words when asked a pointed question, which you do not want to discuss, you might take a cue from Anne, in "Persuasion." She answered Mr. Eliot's question by saying, "I haven't had much time to turn my mind to it yet." (I haven't had time to think about it). Some questions are calculated to create arguments. If you feel your answer to questions like, "Why are you giving up your degree to stay home" or "When are you going to get a real job?" will create strife, you can always indicated that: you have given up nothing and gained everything, and that you would get an outside job if you had time, when you are caught up with everything else, and if it wouldn't interfere with your home-life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brown Paper Bag Bonnet

It is hard to imagine this was made from a paper bag...


...but here is how to do it: Just trace a large dinner plate and a saucer or bowl that is smaller, on to one layer of a large, heavy brown paper bag.


Then, put the saucer inside the large circle and cut the circle out.


Put short pieces of masking tape inside the small circle of brown paper, leaving the sticky side facing the outside of the circle, like this. Masking tape is a paper-like tape that works best on brown paper.


Cut a long strip, about an inch or two deep, and attach i to the tape on the round circle, and cut it where it meets the end.

Put more tape inside the strip and attach the large circle--the one that has the hole in it. Do all the taping and attaching from the inside so that it will not show on the finished product. At this stage, you can either leave it brown and rustic looking and add appropriate trims, such as raffia straw, or you can...



Paint it with folk-art or any other craft paint (which sometimes is only about 33c a bottle) and cut a strip of fabric for a ribbon. Then cut another strip, fold it in half and role it up like a rose and attach with a large safety pin on the inside. Add stickers, and outline the edges with glitter glue. This makes a great centerpiece for a table.
This hat actually fits the head of a two year old. If you want to make an adult size one, just use your largest pizza pan, or bowl, and then try a cereal or soup bowl for the crown.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bringing Serenity to the Home


Camelia Rose Tea Room by Susan Rios, painting available here

Making the home a place of refuge and peace can be a special challenge at times. If you have a busy family and people are absorbed in their different interests, the house will not always be as orderly as you would like it to be. Over the years, I have observed some home makers who seemed to be able to control some of this chaos, and so, I will list some of the peculiar habits they had, which helped them get the serenity they needed at home.


*Make your entry way a priority in neatness and cleanliness. This puts you in the mood to enjoy your home.


*Never make a "dry-run" anywhere in the house. This means always have something to take to another are, and pick up things as you go along. It saves energy. You will not need a cleaning day if you clean-as-you-go.

*When you come in from any kind of trip outside the home, take a moment to put away your coat and purse, unpack your shopping items, make a cup of tea, and go through the house briefly to pick up things and put them away.


*Before bedtime, do a pick-up all around the house, as well. Though this is not deep cleaning, it clears clutter and creates a feeling of serenity.

*In the morning, before you begin your routine, go through the house again and deposit things where they belong.

*When seated, move your eyes around your room and mentally check things that need to be righted.

*Protect your home life from quarrels and criticism. Practice thinking on the bright side of everything.

*Plan a simple Afternoon Tea and invite someone to share it with. There are so many stimulating ideas you can get from having company, and the recipient appreciates it, too. Getting ready for a visit can really give your housekeeping and decorating a boost. It makes you think more about how things look. You can always come in the front door and imagine yourself being the visitor, seeing the lovely table setting, and feeling the atmosphere you have created.

*Use indirect lighting (side lamps, string of lights, candles) rather than overhead lighting. It makes the light less harsh.

*Tune in to some soothing music that you like. Whatever work you are doing will go faster without pressure.

*Put out a different color table cloth and protect it with clear plastic. If you do not have a table cloth, just use a few yards of fabric, and cover that with clear plastic. Add a centerpiece that co-ordinates with the color of fabric. Centerpieces can be anything from sea shells to florals to candles to decorative birdcages and birdbaths. Just look around and see what you have and you may be surprised what you can create.

*Collect some decorative things you do not want anymore, line a wicker basket with a pretty cloth, and create a gift for someone else.

*Deliberately spend one hour a day resting, or being still, laying back, going through favorite books, or reading stories you love.

*Set up a writing area with pretty papers, envelopes, pens, and address book, and catch up on correspondence. Instead of feeling pressured, enjoy it, in an artistic way. Here is a template to print out on cardstock. Cut it out and use it to trace around on nicer paper. The dotted lines are the fold lines. It is a letter and an envelope in one. You may have to cut your copy a little to make it fold right, as mine is just drawn freehand, by folding. I am not sure how to print out this template. You might try highlighting it and pasting it to another document. It is on a regular piece of typing paper, if you want to know the size. I will try to get it to print from the blog page when I get time today.
Write your message and use a few stickers to brighten up the letter. Fold the side flaps inside and put a line of white glue or use a glue-stick.

Seal the back with another sticker. These come from the Dollar Tree.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

April Victoria, 1990

Laura Ashley designs in 1990. You could get the patterns or buy them ready made at LauraAshley stores and catalogs. (Click picture for a detailed view)


As discussed in the previous post, the late 1980's and early 1990's were glory days for ladies clothing. For the first time in a hundred years, the dresses had quite a bit of yardage in them, with fuller skirts and longer hems. The variety of sleeves was interesting and endless. Collars, and interesting necklines abounded. Styles were not too tight.

The little- girl dresses that you see in the above picture, were also available in ladies sizes, and they looked good on everyone. It was a simple blouse with a collar, attached to a pleated or gathered skirt, which hung loosely at the waist, and yet did not look or feel frumpy. The cottons were very high quality. To own one of these garments was a thrill. The skirt, white blouse and sweater style was available in other colors. Some people called it the "Mommy Look" but I saw these styles worn to formal occasions. It was something you could wear at home, and still feel dressed up if you had to go somewhere.
The Victoria Magazine usually featured England in their spring issue. This issue featured a tour of Jane Austen's home.


Ads in this issue would inspire an artist. Notice the model near the window in her Victorian style dress, a very popular design at that time.


The models in this issue were very feminine.

Even the ads for home furnishings were pretty.


Photography for this issue was wonderful . Imagine taking hot tea in front of a window on a rainy afternoon.
The patterns below are shown in rather dull prints and colors, but in the stores they were of very good fabrics with irresistable florals and solids; bright, clear colors, and everyone that wore them felt glorified. Sewn, they were just as beautiful and they fit well. These patterns were made for WOVEN, natural fabrics, and I do not remember ever having to adjust them or measure or anything.



Saturday, April 04, 2009

What Women Are Saying About Clothing Today

Painting by George Frederick Kersting, c. 19th century


"And They Lived Happily Ever After"
by Maude Goodman, 1894




Folks, it is not just "me." I was sitting at a table today in a fabric store, along with some other women I did not even know. As we were all flipping through the pattern catalog, an older woman, who would be about 70, said quite audibly, "I wouldn't be caught dead in these designs!' She looked a little further in the pattern book and pointed to a dress and said, "Here's one that isn't even fit to be buried in!"
It is almost impossible to give a description of these styles that very few people can wear. In spite of their lack of real design, these garments are difficult to sew and do not fit well. I am talking about the patterns in Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, Burda and New Look, excepting, maybe, the historical costume sections. Some of the historical costumes were shown to be rather clownish.

Another woman there, was looking at doggie clothes in the pattern book and said, "They dress dogs better than they dress women!" She remarked about the patterns for little girls being "way out of line...in the 'strumpet' category, and lacking in innocent sweetness for little girls."

"This is TERRIBLE!" proclaimed another woman, quite audibly. "Who is doing this? What do they think we are? We used to be able to pick a pattern and sew a dress and it turned out beautifully. These patterns look awful. No wonder women do not want to sew!" The new designs and some of the fabrics they require, are just too ridiculous.

I had to agree. I was just surprised there were no political-correctness police standing by ready to nab them for daring to call the designs "stupid."There was a short period of time, between 1983 and 1993, when patterns could be sewn without any adjustment, and the fit was not too tight or too low. You could sew a Laura Ashley for a grandmother, a mother, a daughter and a grand daughter and it looked good on all of them! These are some of the designs I often show in old issues of "Victoria" magazine. It seems like some designers couldn't wait to get rid of these lovely fashions and force all the crazy styles on us today.

"They are made by designers that hate women or want them to look ugly!" proclaimed another of the older ladies.

As you see, it isn't just me. These women were even more forthright in proclaiming their disgust and outrage at the current pattern designs. I told them I often buy the costume patterns and just make them with slightly different sleeves and hems, in order to have something more structured. People cannot tell they are costumes when you use fresh cotton fabrics. They are "historically inspired," instead of being actual costumes.

Many of the patterns are made for stretchy fabrics. These fabrics are difficult to sew and to fit. All the women at the table agreed there was nothing fit to wear in the pattern books today.


One woman said that we were just going to have to buy 6 yards of fabric and simply wrap it around us the way we wanted to, so that we would not have to put up with low necklines and high hems. She said she had been to India and admired their saris. That reminded me of a Bollywood video I bought on Amazon, called "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (marketed as "Straight From the Heart" in the U.S.)*** I have to watch it a lot in order to count the many different color and design combinations of the Saris in the film. Though it is basically only a few pattern concepts, the designers managed to make many beautiful outfits from it. From a 6 yard piece of glorious fabric, the women in India manage to make it work in many different ways to create modesty and beauty!

Asian wraps and tops from Folkwear
We saw some wedding patterns that looked so ridiculous, it would make someone embarrassed to be getting married. I've had to look the other way when I saw some of the bridesmaids coming down the aisle. To be fair, it was not all their fault. The designs available to them are just so awful, that they thought they had little choice in the matter

I think women can do a lot to change things, just by rejecting these horrid styles and going back to beautiful, flowing clothing with lots of pretty details and trims. I was in a Ross department store and, hearing other women declare that it was like "twilight zone" with the styles to choose from, or hearing them remark that they were disgusted at the styles. I said that I was going to go back to the Victorian styles. I'm old enough now not to be affected by peer pressure, so I might as well do it. I don't have to work outside the home where someone would dictate to me what I have to wear, so I have the freedom to do it, and I will. I don't have anything to lose.

The best way to fire these designers and put the manufacturers of this trash out of business, is to ignore the styles and make your own or seek alternative, hand made clothing. Let all those horrid clothes sit on the shelf and go unsold. I doubt if they could even give it away to a poor country. Poor people don't want to look poor. I suggested in an earlier post, that women buy lengths of fabric, hem both ends and just use it for a wrap or shawl to put around skirts and blouses, if they can't find dresses they like.

There is a catalog called "Folkwear" which you can buy from Victorian Trading Company (which is also the one that produces Victorian Papers) . The Folkwear catalog features one traditional historic garment from each country of the world, from Tibet to Bulgaria. Some of the patterns are easy, and some harder to sew, depending on the kind of design of the garment. One day I am going to sew one of each and try them out to see their comfort level, as well as to see how they withstand the wear and tear of every day life. I don't think there are many patterns in this book that women could say were "disgusting" or "awful" or "horrid," the way they were at the fabric store today! When you see the cover of the Folkwear Catalog, don't be put off--that's an Edwardian petticoat. You can look inside the catalog here.



Garden Party Dress from Folkwear


***This is a nice, romantic movie that really does move the heart, which I will tell you more about later.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Frugal Craft That's Also Chic: Altered Box


This frame is made using a sheet from the luxury stack and some rose stickers, and then outlined with puff paint or glitter glue. To make it simpler and less messy, you can just cut fancy edging with decorative scissors, from glitter paper or other fancy papers, and stick on with glue.






This frame is made using fabric and padding, with sewing trims. It is not necessary to spend money on projects like this. Even if you do not sew, and have no trims or fabrics, you can often find things on discarded clothing or other things around the house.


The empty box, shown below, had a "window." You can make this frame from any box, however, and just trace a shape in the middle for the window.


There is also a stitched version of it, that is much easier, which I may show at a later time. I made this from an empty tea-light box, which had a little window in it.



I would really recommend trying the paper version if you want quick results.

The first thing you will need to do is cut off the front and back, which will be your two main pieces of the frame. Trim off all the little tabs. Cut out a piece that will work for the stand. You can see all those bits in the upper right corner, and the flat pieces below them. I want to also remind you that fabric scissors are usually never used on anything else, least of all paper, because it dulls them, so I show the fabric scissors on the left, and the paper-scissors on the right. You don't have to have special fabric scissors, you just have to choose which ones you want and not use them on paper, if you want to keep them sharp.





For a fabric project, trace the front and back cardboard on to a piece of felt, as you see on the left. Do not leave any margins or extra allowance, but cut to fit. Then trace on your fabric, but when you cut it out, leave about a half inch extra to wrap around the cardboard. When tracing the window area, cut into the corners, as I have shown, in the pink fabric. Here, I used a scrap of glittery fabric. Trace your box pieces on the wrong side of the fabric, with pencil, leaving the shiny side for the outside.



Scribble white glue all over one side of the cardboard pieces.




Lay the felt, which is your padding, on top of the glue and press it down to stick.




Turn it over and put the padded side on the wrong side of the fabric and pull the excess around, using clothes pegs to anchor it while it dries.



This project does have a drying period, so if you want quicker results and less frustration, just use a piece of luxury paper and some scrapbook embellishments.
Glue the seam allowance down and clip clothespins on it until it dries. You can set it in front of a heater for faster drying time, or put it outside in the sun.





Glue another piece on the backs of these padded pieces.


Glue three sides only. The un-glued side will be the place where you insert your picture. It is very important to make only a thin strip of glue. Now put both the front and back together, with padded sides facing you, and anchor with clothespins til dry.


Cut a piece of cardstock, trimming it to fit inside the open end, add stickers or a verse, and slip into the frame. Decorate the edges of the frame with trims from your sewing supplies, old buttons, and craft materials. Remember, when you press the top piece onto the bottom piece, that you may have to anchor it all down with clothespins until it dries. The clothespins will leave some marks but they will smooth out after awhile.

It is possible to earn a little money making things like this. I know a lady who had a tea party at her house, and she had a little shelf where she kept a few things like this, which she made to sell.


Scrap crafts and altered boxes make you look at ordinary things a little differently!

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