Sunday, February 14, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Peek Inside: Vintage Ric-Rac Gingham Apron

Kelly was wondering about a how-to on the pretty vintage ric-rac gingham apron shown in Miss Abigail's valentine set. She admired the vintage flair and thought it might be simple enough to make with a little direction. I didn't sew this apron, so I don't have a pattern to share. I thought I could at least take a few close up pictures and explain how I think one could re-create it.

This apron was actually a gift from one of the older ladies in the Stanley Homemaker's Club, of which Abigail and I are members. The Homemaker's Club was officially formed in 1942 as part of the old County Extension club program. We are no longer formally affiliated, but rather meet twice a month for tea and conversation. I love our "show & tell" meetings especially. Abigail was born into the club when most of the ladies were already grandmas and they spoil her flagrantly! Peggy is in her 80's now and this was once her apron, reportedly hand-made by a member of her family. It is probably between 45 to 60 years old. Gingham was especially popular in the 1950's as a domestic fabric. Aprons were often made with gingham and embellished with cross-stitch embroidery and ric-rac.

The half-apron is sewn on a machine, but the bottom hem and the ric-rac are sewn by hand. It is 35-inches wide and 20-inches long, with a deep 3-inch hem. Three rows of medium black ric-rac are offset with two rows of baby black ric-rac. You can see a tutorial of the technique used to apply the ric-rac in this tutorial I wrote about ric-rac pillowcases.

The body of the apron is not gathered to a waistband, but rather has four (.75-inch deep) pleats which narrows the waist to 20 inches. A simple rectangular facing (2.75 x 20-inches) finishes the back and creates a waistband for the apron. The pleats are about 3-inches tall. More ric-rack is applied to the waistband.

The ties measure 2.5 x 27 inches (narrowly hemmed) with the end turned up and tacked into a point. They are attached underneath the facing.

Finally, a pocket, measuring 5.5-inches wide by 5-inches deep is sewn on the right hand side of the apron. It is attached 3-inches down from the bottom of the waistband and 6.25-inches in from the right side hem. Because of the pleats, I'm sure the pocket was attached before the pleats were sewn.

 I agree with Kelly - the apron is darling, and could be re-created with just a little experience with sewing. I'm so pleased that Abigail has this in her hope chest, both to remember Peggy and to dress up a little when she feels like it.

P.S. Please remember that the measurements are finished measurements. One would need to add allowances for seams and hems.

BTW - How do you think ric-rac should be spelled? Rick-rack?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: How to Love Your House

Maybe you've heard people say "I love my house!" Did you ever wonder why? Our society places great value on decorating and remodeling and building equity in our home. People spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to make a home they can love.

I think what we are really looking for is comfort. Comfort is what we really fall in love with. When we enjoy comfort at home, time to relax in rooms that welcome us and work for us, we come to love the house because we love being at home. Comfort is an individual thing, but it is usually small things that bring home comfort.
  • a pretty edge on a face cloth
  • a favorite chair with a pillow for your back
  • souvenir magnets on the fridge
  • a fuzzy lap throw to snuggle under
  • homemade cookies in a cookie jar
  • a handmade picture frame with a photo of far-away family
  • a pretty set of sheets that feel just right
  • a hand-thrown flower pot your best friend made for you
  • somewhere to stash your keys
  • a favorite soup simmering on the stove
  • a bath towel that is just the right size
This feeling of comfort is the point of the hope chest. When you take a bit of time to prepare ahead those items that you know will bring comfort, you'll fall in love with your house, whatever or wherever it is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Peek Inside: Valentine's Day Kitchen Set

These are all the items we have in Miss Abigail's hope chest to celebrate Valentine's Day. This holiday has been a favorite for Abigail. I always made sugar cut-out cookies and Abigail would help me decorate them. The pretty vintage gingham apron was a gift from one of the club ladies to Abigail. It is a perfect cookie-baking apron. Miss Abigail made the cute stenciled hearts dishtowel a few years ago with a friend. You can read the "how-to" here.

We also crafted hand-made Valentines every year to give to friends and that was the most fun! We collected quite a lot of supplies for this project: stamps and stickers and specialty paper and ribbons and fancy scissors and templates. Once the scrapbooking craze hit the stores some years ago, we were truly in business. This activity has been so much fun and I will miss it intensely. I will pack up some of the tools and supplies in a pretty box for the hope chest, so that Abigail can continue this tradition with her own children. She will also be quite ready to bake the cookies!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sew on Saturday: Valentine Hand Towel

I quickly hand-stitched this holiday towel for the Valentine kitchen set this morning. I like the simple running stitch across the plain bands in the terry cloth. The trims for the heart came out of my scrap basket. While this towel is intended for the hope chest, I think it would be just as pretty as a guest towel in the powder room. Hmmm. A different motif maybe...I think I will make another one...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Web on Wednesday: Cherries Round-Up

photo courtesy of Nicola Pravato

I saw this darling pattern for crocheted cherries on Pinterest and wanted to share it in time for National Cherry Month. It would be so cute sewn onto a terry hand towel, or in the corner of a flour sack dishtowel, or on a pair of thick hot pads, or sewn onto a place mat and paired with red napkins. This cute motif has potential! Thanks to the very crafty Nicola Pravato and her blog, Next to Nicx for sharing a great pattern.

Cherries are ever so popular as a kitchen motif. I was wondering out loud to my husband why cherries would be celebrated in February. He laughed just a little and reminded me about the birthday of George Washington and the legend of the ill-fated cherry tree. Ah, now it makes sense! Here are several more links for cute projects around the web. Whatever you do, don't leave cherries out of your hope chest.

French-Knots: All Things Stitchy is a wonderful site featuring free vintage patterns for embroidery, quilting and crochet. This pattern is for embroidering a cluster of cherries. The design would be delightful on a flour-sack dishtowel with a pretty fabric border! Don't miss this site.

French-Knots: All Things Stitchy

Wouldn't this look cute as the cover of a recipe booklet for the hope chest? There are so many yummy recipes featuring cherries and I think it would be fun to make a collection for the hope chest. LeAnne Pugliese is a talented crafter who specializes in stamping and beautiful handmade cards. She has many more ideas at her blog Wee Inklings

Here is a pattern for a charming crocheted cherry pie pot holder by Miss Abigail really doesn't need many more pot holders in the hope chest, but this would still make a lovely gift, especially at a bridal shower, accompanied by my favorite recipe for cherry pie!

A blog called Arte & Ricamo offers this simple cherries cross stitch pattern, along with several other links for free patterns of cross stitch cherries. I could make two or three as decorative jar lid covers and put them with Abigail's canning tools in the hope chest. They would look just as nice on my own jars in the pantry.

Whatever else I might make with the cherry motif will certainly go well with this pretty oven mitt, already in the hope chest. I crocheted the fancy white open fan edging and attached it to the cuff with hand stitching.

I had so much fun surfing the web (and Pinterest) for fun cherry ideas for the hope chest. I started a new board called "Cherries" on Pinterest to collect them all. These five fun ideas could keep me busy for a while though. I do love cherries, don't you?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tutorial: Hand Embroidered Tea Towel

Here is another quick project for the hope chest. I hand embroidered a pretty border near the bottom of two gingham tea towels, using a woven variation of the super easy running stitch. To make a set for yourself or to use as a gift, you'll need the following materials:

I love the heavy Dunroven gingham plain weave hand towels. You can often buy these at quilt stores and they are very high quality towels - worthy of your hand embroidery. You will also need a skein of 6-strand cotton embroidery floss, a skein of perle cotton in a contrasting color, a crewel-style embroidery needle, and a blunt tapestry needle.

From the skein of embroidery floss, measure a length that is 2.75 times the width of the towel. Thread the crewel embroidery needle with all six strands of floss. Tie a knot in one end of the thread. Bring the needle up on the back side of the towel in the side hem near where you want to begin the border.

Bring the needle through to the front side of the towel in one corner of the gingham weave. Use a running stitch and follow along the edge of the gingham weave, taking a "bite" of two squares at one time.

When you reach the opposite side of the towel count up three squares and bring your needle through the side hem to the selected row. Use the running stitch to come back across the towel, BUT this time the stitches will be alternated (or stepped) with the row below. You'll have to create this stepped effect or the weaving won't work. Where the thread went under two squares on the previous row, the thread will be on top of those two squares on this row. This creates the alternate effect.

When you reach the beginning point, push the needle through to the back side of the towel. Take two or three small back stitches to secure the thread, then "lose" the thread in the hem and clip it off.

From the perle cotton, measure a long length of thread that is about 4 times the width of the towel. Thread the tapestry needle and tie a knot in the thread. As you did before, bring the needle up near where you need to begin and "lose" the knot in the side hem. You can see that I began my first stitch near the edge of the top running stitch. I slid the needle through that first running stitch, then took a small stitch near the lower edge to position my thread to pull up through the next running stitch on the bottom row.

Weave the thread through each running stitch, top and bottom, alternating rows and returning to catch the previous stitch.

When you reach the opposite side, push the needle to the back. As you did before, take 2 or 3 small backstitches to secure the thread and then "lose" the thread in the side hem. Clip it off.

The finished border.

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