Sunday, April 7, 2013

Silk scarf from a sows ear?

I rediscovered this today while packing up the sewing room. It is a Jim Thompson Thai Silk scarf. It has never been worn. I can't remember who gave it to me though the list is very short.....What do you do with scarves exactly? I am always annoyed by them when they are around my neck; unnecessary adornments, slippery entanglements, needing a knot or special pin.
I can and do appreciate its beauty, its hand stitched rolled hem, the beautiful packaging. But passing it from one drawer to another, one moving box to the next. It has travelled with me, never leaving its envelope. Now where does it go? Storage, ebay, a "regift" ? ? ? 
Packing has never been an easy task for me. It forces me to look at the accumulations of my life and sort them into categories: keep, toss, donate. In my heart ofcourse it is all keep, in my head it is all donate. The reality is that most of what I surround myself with will be tossed. 
I hold on to memories so tightly and associate them with "things." Silly things, little notes, bejeweled clothespins, scouting projects, letters written by children, cards from my mother sent with encouraging words, photos of my Dad laughing, of my children playing, my sisters posing on the Maine sea shore. Snippets of life, of parties, of family, of success and of failure. All the layers of my life building up to this packing day.
Tears come to an end after a conversation denoucing my failure. A conversation of encouragement, of love, of faith; and I realize I am building a new foundation for the life I will have after we leave this house. A happy life.  An adventure full of love, family, laughter, music, sewing, and renovations! Home renovations and life renovations, all triggered by the rediscovery of a silk scarf.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Patent Pending!!

It is official, I have my provisional patent pending for what are now called "Toni's Comfort Tees"    , Necessity being the mother of invention, I constructed three of these using large mens tee shirts for fabric and made some post surgical undergarments for my Mom ~the original mother of invention!! Production will be starting soon and then hopefully some distribution to local cancer support groups. So much to do for such a little shirt!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just Faux Fun

My first faux painting was probably done at some point in junior high working on stage sets. But now, as an adult, (and an unemployed adult) I have tapped into my childhood resources and embraced my creativity as a source of income.   After being laid off from a corporate position, I worked at Gerardo's Italian Bakery for a bit. Taking over an unused corner of a local farm stand and turning it into an Italian haven of cookies and rum cakes we wanted to warm up the area. I volunteered my services and painted the back wall. One mildly distressed wall and one edge of cracked plaster. Not too bad. I was happy that my experiment worked out ok. The bakery expanded and soon my feature wall was stuck behind some shelves and a bread rack, but if you look closely you could see it peeking out.......

A year later, the owners of the farmstand asked if I would be interested in replicating the feature in the luncheon area. Why not?? So I started and before I was even half way done, the project was expanded to a second panel and then a third. Jamie jumped in to help. Another excellent day with him by my side!! We painted the back wall with crumbling plaster, exposed brick and a tiny vine breaking through to the warmth of the inside.
What a great way to spend the day, painting with someone you love, creating a fantasy for others to enjoy and being compensated for your time. Really? Can I just do this every day?
Before we started the wall looked like this: water stained plywood, a few rusty nails.....
Mid process Jamie is painting bricks......
When it was completed we achieved what we set out to do, made a fun wall that not so much copies exactly, but gives you an alternative to reality.

This left side wall and corner will be covered with shelves so we kept the detail here to a minimum. Rumor has it that the walls look better in person. If you would like to visit them, you may! Just go to Bolton Orchards at 125 Still River Road in Bolton MA.
Order up some lunch, sit and enjoy the view!

Friday, December 30, 2011

The gifts of Christmas

Standing, sitting, working together into the wee hours of the morning, my partner and I completed:

eight watercolor quilted placemats
seven matching bucket hats
four flannel pj pants
four Christmas stockings
four quilted placemats
three cotton Hawaiian shirts
one bow tie
one corduroy shirt
a lap quilt
and a three foot bolster for my bed

Understand also that there were no buttonholes on any of the shirts on Christmas morning, that the quilt was wrapped without binding and the cover for the bolster (a surprise!!!) was missing it's closure. Be assured that before the New Year the buttonholes will be in place and the bolster will be snuggled up against my pillows. The quilt was completed and has travelled into Boston to live happily on the futon.

New Years Resolution? Organize my sewing room and keep it organized and, try not to fall down any stairs.....and be patient.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I just take for granted that I will have the time. The time and the ability to accomplish what I need to before any event. Life always intervenes and yet I still seem to muddle through. So this Christmas with my job in flux and family needing extra care and support what do I do? I proclaim that all my gifts should be made. An easy feat under normal circumstances and thinking that the four day work week would work to my advantage, I plan and begin execution of six (O.K. seven) projects. Then the flying squirrels enter the picture. Nine in total, but I believe it was numbers seven and eight that caused me to rise in the middle of the night and track their movements. Unfortunately tracking their movements involved a flight of hardwood stairs and my back side.
Six hours in the ER, four x-rays and two CT scans later I was released. No work for a week. No sitting, little standing and definitely no right foot sewing machine pedal operation. My sewing schedule is off!!!!!
It's been six days since the fall. Six days of drug induced sleep, bizarre dreams and too many made for TV Christmas movies. Today I am going to experiment with my machine configuration. Standing like the factory workers from the 40's and sewing. If they could do it, I can do it!!  More later........

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Mom turns 80 this month!

My mom turns eighty this month. My brothers and sisters and I threw a party for her to celebrate.
It was a personal choice to speak or not at the party and I chose to remain silent. Not for lack of love or respect, but a personal choice ~ I'm a cryer and figured that the party would be better without tears!! There is so much to be thankful for when it comes to my mother. Everything I love started with her influence.
When someone asks me if I am a  'self-taught' seamstress, I say "No, my mother taught me!" My earliest memories are of sitting on her lap at the sewing machine with my hands resting on hers as she guided fabric under the needle. Listening to the sound of the heavy shears as they cut through the fabric on the dining room table, a sound that to this day fills me with anticipation of wonderful surprises. Those scissors did so much in her hands: made clothing, sliced pizza, trimmed bangs, made paper dolls, feather flowers, slip covers, Fourth of July floats and May Party dresses out of crepe paper. Sewing became the 'thing' that identified me.
As a young woman when it was time for introductions it would sound something like this: this is Lawrence he's an engineer, Lenny's a carpenter, Liz is the artist, Stephen is the musician, Michelle....likes to cook and Celeste is the baby. It is funny because for years I felt cheated as being the person who just liked to cook, but poor Celeste, really, just the baby?  So it seemed appropriate that for the birthday party I would make the cake. I do like to cook all sorts of things. So number two on my list of things my mother taught me to love is cooking.

When I moved to North Carolina a little magnet that read "Bloom where you are planted" was given to me by my mom and I hate to admit that I spent alot of time in front of that magnet praying to see the blossoms.....Another thing ~ patience.

But back to the party.....
Not to be outdone by the Royal family we all wore hats: big hats, little hats, serious and silly hats, headbands, crowns, flowers and fruit. Here is mine. A pincushion seemed appropriate and it was made like a slipcover to go over an existing straw hat. 

So to my parents I owe everything; my love and appreciation of music and gardening, of art and diversity, my inner strength, my faith and my love of family. Thank You Mom, Happy Birthday!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Has it really been a year?

Since last January I have sewn and worked; thought about coming and posting here many times. Never feeling that what I have to say is relevent and so letting it slip away. But today realizing that I haven't shared any projects for a year, I thought it was about time.

I designed and constructed 85 aprons for the bakery. Not exactly the most creative project, nor the easiest on my hands, but when you wear an apron for 10 hours a day, it's nice if it covers your entire chest and not just one side......I hope that the 'girls' are happy with them and appreciate the bias cut and full coverage.

Alterations kept me busy in the sewing room and reorganizing every so often keeps me on my toes.

Christmas projects started early and they included a vintage pattern flannel bed jacket, a set of John Deere satin PJ's, a number of fabric pieced ornaments, a fleece pullover, an asymetrical knit top, and sewing lessons for my love.

Next week end with the weather warming up, a trip to Marden's to see all the fabric I've been missing (and my big sister, who I've also been missing!!) It always gives my imagination a kick start to see new fabric and think about the possibilities. Maybe my sisters garden will be free of snow and we'll get to think of those planting possibilities as well! The smell of damp earth, of clean air and a good cup of coffee mixed in with a new bag of quilting fabric and great company. How could a weekend get any better?