White on white.

I made cupcakes Tuesday night for my mother’s birthday, which was yesterday. I can’t find the recipe online, so to make your own batch of incredibly delicious vanilla cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting you’ll have to buy the June issue of Martha Stewart. I bought a copy for mum as part of her present and happened to, um, skim through it before giving it to her (the recipe page might be an teensy-weensy bit rumpled now).

As I was making the cupcakes, I noticed that the batter and frosting were the most beautiful shades of white on white. 

Vanilla cupcake batter.

One thing I really like about having a new camera is that I’m trying harder to see now. When you’re limited to the small viewspace inside your lens, you look harder at how things relate to each other. You think more about things like color, composition, and value – things that I forget about most of the time. I remember walking around Providence, RI, the day after discussing value (how light/dark something is) in one of my illustration classes and seeing the trees and houses and cars like I had been blind for years. Sometimes knowledge + understanding can give you new eyes.

Cream cheese + coconut frosting.

I guess this doesn’t really have anything to do with cupcakes anymore. I really enjoy that fact that making one thing acts as a trigger for all manner of ideas for unrelated things. From cupcake batter to white compositions to Mark Rothko paintings to home decor to that piece of furniture I didn’t buy at the Goodwill to the pillowcases I did to the idea I had for a new purse made from them to I should probably paint instead to I don’t paint enough anymore to what should I paint next…You get the idea. All while standing at the kitchen counter mixing flour and eggs and sugar.

Back to mother’s birthday, it would have been an entirely lovely event except that brother-in-Japan was missing. I coaxed some beautiful but rarely used china teacups and depression glass plates out of her cabinets and set them on a, old printed tablecloth. And I had the first red roses of the season, cut from the bushes in the yard.  

I hope she felt loved, because she is very much. Happy birthday again, mum!

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Some bibs + an experiment in Flickr.

Lately, any sort of holiday has seemed like a good opportunity to get more sewing done. Between Saturday and Memorial Day, I managed to finish 10 bibs + some new printed cards + something completely different (that I’ll show you when it’s done).

New vintage patchwork bibs.

I usually don’t get very excited about my own crafts, but I think that this batch of bibs turned out really well. Much better than the first ones.

The pink one.

I was able to conquer a few material + frustration issues, so these went together faster and look crisper. I also used some pieces of my favorite vintage fabrics, like the flower print in the center of this pink bib. It’s from an old apron that I found in a pile of scraps at an estate sale.

The pink one (detail).

Sir Speedy, my sewing machine, was unusually cooperative and all this was accomplished with a bare minimum of ripping out and re-doing. [My sewing has thus far involved an awful lot of ripping out, so this was a pleasant change.]

The red one.

This red bib (for a boy or a girl, I thought) is backed with the red/yellow/black plaid in the center, which I’ve realized that I need to start conserving. I found a good yard or two of the stuff at the Salvation Army, and it’s going fast.

Little bibs in a row.

Here they are lined up in a row so you can see some of the backing fabric. They’ll be for sale at the Farmer’s Market next Saturday, June 2.

In other news, the Gibbs family is thisclose to having internet at home, which means that I might post more often. Or not. It’s kind of nice to have blogging time limited to lunch so that it doesn’t take over. But, I think you’ll hear a lot more from husband when we can log on in our own living room.

Oh, I should also mention that I’m finally re-activating the ol’ Flickr page. I have almost come to the end of my free space on WordPress, so I’m going to start uploading most of my photos onto Flickr and linking to them here. I’m also hoping that this will pressure me to improve my photography. :) Flickr is a really, really great site, I’ve just been lazy. So please, pop on over and say hello.

Weekend sewing.

I have high hopes for my sewing productivity this weekend. Josh is working Friday and Saturday evenings, so it’s just me, my sewing machine, and some tv-on-dvd. (Oh, and the dog…sorry, Bean.)

I’ve already managed to take this pile of fabric

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and reduce it to this

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and this.

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(Those are bibs-in-progress, in case you can’t tell. 10 of ’em.)

In other random +  unrelated news, Josh and I have discovered that the Audian in Pullman shows $2 movies on Thursday nights. This is perfect because he works Fridays and Thursday is the new Friday. We saw Disturbia (= very scary remake of Rear Window) and Next (= pretty good Philip Dick) last night. It was $4 per person well spent, as we had an extremely good time.

I hope you have a good weekend! 

A pillowcase purse.

When I heard last week that a recent issue of Martha featured a tote made from a pillowcase, I got a really specific image in my mind of what it looked like. And then I actually saw the pattern – on Martha and as made by Three Pink Trees) – and found out that, while adorable, Martha’s idea wasn’t the same as mine. (Sometimes it’s really nice to know that you’ve got some originality left in you!)

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Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to try my idea out to see how it looks. I picked up this pillowcase during my last-and-greatest thrifting adventure and started chopping away on Tuesday night without a pattern.

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Because the pillowcase was soft and thin, I added a lining made from an old cotton/poly sheet.  I also included a pocket since (as I’ve said) I can’t stand a bag without a place to put my keys.

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My pattern also ties at the top, which is a look I’ve never tried before. I think it works well on a light weight summer bag.

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I tried to take a photo of the way the purse looks when worn, but this was the closest I could get. I’m really happy with it and will (hopefully) have a few for sale at the farmer’s market on June 2. I’m already searching for the perfect pillowcase to use for mine. :)

Some thrifting luck.

My mother and I meet for coffee after work on Tuesdays, and we usually head to one of the local thrift stores after we’ve chatted for a while. Yesterday we somewhat randomly decided to go the the larger of the 2 Pullman options (“Palouse Treasures,” located behind Dissmores). We were performing our usual amble around the first floor when my embroidery beeper went off in the direction of the “misc tablecloths” box, which had an awful lot of fabric tucked in clear plastic bags. I opened one up and stifled the urge to shriek.

Tableclothes? Nope.
Vintage pillowcase in perfect condition with intricate hand embroidery? Yep.
More than one? Yep.
Price? $2 each.

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There are times when I just can’t figure out why on earth someone has given something to the thrift store. It’s one thing if it’s an estate sale and cousin Billy didn’t look through the linen cupboard very carefully. But who in their right mind would pull these beauties of the closet, think “Huh, don’t need those anymore,” and stuff them in a bag headed for Palouse Treasures??

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The embroidery is impeccable (even the back side looks good!) and the edges have what looks like hand-crocheted trim all the way around.

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The cotton is unstained and softened from years of washing.

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In addition to the these (because when it rains it pours), I also picked up a couple of cute printed pillowcases and some lovely sheets to use for fabric.

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And a really adorable half apron.

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And a really cute vintage tv tray that I forgot to photograph.

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I’m thinking this ranks up there with the Great Palouse Thrifting Venture of 2006, when mum and I wandered into the community thrift store in Palouse right after someone brought in BOXES of vintage linens and tablecloths. The incredibly kind person running the store (who has not been there since) let us go in the back and rummage to our hearts’ delight. I only came away with one tablecloth that I gave as a wedding present, but mom got some real jewels for a couple of bucks.

I have to say that one of the reasons why I felt so lucky was that my mother was standing right next to me, admiring everything that I pulled out of the bin. My mother is the best thrifting buddy ever. I should have put up a nice mother’s day post about that, because I rarely – if ever – shop as well by myself as I do with her. Mom makes every good find seem better and every item returned to the shelves seem like something I really didn’t need anyway. The pillowcases probably wouldn’t have been there (or I would have just bought one and spent all night regretting it) if mom hadn’t been with me. :)

Tomorrow, I’ll have some pics of a really cute pillowcase purse that I put together last night when I should have been sewing bibs. (No, not those pillowcases…I’m going to save the embroidered ones for a) my children or b) a really extraordinary idea.) I think you’ll like it too.

P.S. Husband just posted a list that includes his recent thrifting luck. After weeks of lousy Goodwill shopping, he found 13 or 14 really good CDs for $2 each. As in, CDs that you would buy for $15 each and not feel bad about it. The lucky thrifting stars have been shining above the Gibbs’s apartment this week. 

It rained.

So, it rained on Saturday. The weather’s been lovely the last few weeks, and it was a little bit of a shock to step outside at 7 am to grey skies and a gentle sprinkling.  Fortunately, Abby’s brother lent her a tent and we decided to go for it anyway.

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I posted quite a few pictures here, so hop over and take a look if you’re interested in our setup and what we were selling. I managed finish all five oilcloth tote bags and a few new bibs.

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(Please ignore our unhappy-looking neighbors, who were quite cheerful in real life.)

In the future, I’m not sure we’ll bother to come to the market in the rain even though we have the tent. There just weren’t a whole lot of people milling around, and the ones that did show up wanted to grab their bread and vegetables and leave. Not that I blamed them.

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I’ve got a litte stash of sellable goods left over, so I think I’m going to take it a little slower over the next two weeks (our next market date is June 2) and not cram every evening with a new + complicated project. I’m thinking some new bibs, a couple of new fabric birdies, and some new printed cards ought to be about right. Oh, and I’ll have more sets of the fabric/printed bird notecards, which – randomly – have been very popular and sold out.

A note to those who’ve heard about the Moscow shooting incident: we don’t know any of the people involved, but we’re praying for their families and friends. Abby lives very close to the area where the shootings took place and we are so grateful that her family is safe. Josh and I live 8 or 10 blocks away and mysteriously did not hear the gunfire, so it was a huge shock to find out in church the next morning that a crazy man with a machine gun had been wandering around the streets of our nice little town.

1 down, 4 to go.

I heart oilcloth a little less today, having struggled with it a bit last night.

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I did manage to finish one bag, but four others are still in pieces. It would be kinda tempting to leave them that way, if this one wasn’t so cute (it looks much better in person than in these early morning backyard photos, by the way).

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My biggest problem is that the shiny side of oilcloth is really slippery. The masking tape helped keep the pieces together, but I still had to deal with the fact that the feed dogs on my sewing machine didn’t like to chug-chug the way they do with cotton.  More like chug-chug-whir-chug-whiiiir.

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But, I found that as long as I kept a good grip on the fabric I could pull it along fairly evenly. This is the guinea pig bag – which I like enough to keep, if no one buys it – and I think the others will turn out a little better.

I did remember to add two nice pockets on the inside, since I really despise carrying a tote bag full of miscellaneous shtuff and hearing your cell phone ring at the very bottom. (Josh bought me a new bag with pockets because he was tired of watching me rummage frantically during this precise scenario.)

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Sing & Shout Crafts will be at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow, and I’ll have (hopefully) five of these bags for sale for $25 each, along with four patchwork bibs, a couple of fabric birdies, and some cards.

I hope you have a good weekend!

I heart oilcloth.

I wish I had more fun photos to show you, but the truth is that the oilcloth tote bags are progressing rather slowly. I cleverly made the size of the bags a little too large for my cutting mat and it took a while to measure and cut everything. One dull rotary cutter +  some frustration + partial viewing of The Fountain later, the pieces are finally ready to sew.

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The cuteness factor is shaping up to be high. Very high, in a pink-40s-retro kind of way. The pink oilcoth underneath is the original print left over from my wedding reception, and I bought some pink gingham at La Bella Vita to use for accent and pockets.

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I bought some of the white flower print and the blue gingham as well, in case you’re not that into pink (I go through phases myself). The pieces look really cute mixed together and scattered around my dining room table.

I squeezed in a little sewing before I left this morning, and it was just long enough to come up with a new technique. One small frustration with oilcloth is that it’s a little skittery to sew on. I bought some tear-away stabilizer for the tricky parts, but I was having trouble getting two pieces of fabric to lie still on top of each other and not skew.

Enter: masking tape.

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Yup, I found that I can tape one piece to the other, sew my seam with no problems, and whip the tape off afterward with no sticky residue. It’s hard to get all the tape off if you sew over it, but if you just sew along the side it works like a charm.

I felt very please about this method and hope to use it to great effect tonight.

I heart oilcloth.

Baby Beck’s bib.

I gave away my first bib ‘n’ bird set at a baby shower last night.

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When he arrives in six weeks or so, little Beck Cummings will be the proud owner of green-birdy and a nice bib to drool all over. (Not that he’ll appreciate either for a while, of course.)

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The shower also featured this crafty + useful gift, made from soft flannel.

Tonight’s project is to continue working on some oilcloth tote bags. I’m finally dipping into the sizeable stash left over from my wedding, and the goal is to finish 4-5 before next Saturday’s market.  I’ve never sewed with the stuff before and am excited to see what it’s like – any tips??

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Marketing.

Sing & Shout Crafts made its first market appearance on Saturday, and it went great! You can find additional photos of our wares here; we had a lot of cute things in the morning that were gone by 10 or 10:30. 

 (If you’ve never met me, I’m the one with the green Illinoise shirt and I-woke-up-early hair.)

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I decided to take a mini-vacation from my day job on Friday to make stuff, and it was a good thing I did. I finished 6 patchwork bibs, our sign, and miscellaneous display props…at 3:30 am.  It’s been a long time since I stayed up that late. I wasn’t even sure that I could do it post-college, but the fact that I was sewing instead of writing a paper helped a lot. :)

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I was really, really happy with the bibs. They’ve got a front made with small pieces from my vintage fabric collection and they’re backed with soft vintage sheets. One girl told me that the pink one (above) was the cutest bib she’d ever seen. Hooray!

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The sign was made from another thrifted sheet.

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I decided that my suitcase needed some dividers, so I spent a while fiddling with cardboard and some old wallpaper I’d had for a while. They’re not the sturdiest, but the set-up is much better than the loose stacking method I used last fall. My cards are on the left and Laura‘s on the right. (Hers sold very well, and they’re even cuter in person.)

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We’ve decided that we need to get an umbrella as we were quite toasty by midmorning (we had planned to take shifts but ended up hanging out and talking). We had two babies with us who were quite well-behaved, given the noise and heat, and contributed significant cuteness to our table.

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We’ve decided to set up a table next Saturday (May 19) but will probably take a week’s break after that. I’m going to see if I can finish a few more bibs (only 1 left!), some new quail cards, and some oilcloth tote bags before then. I don’t think any of us was prepared to be so successful, so we’re each having our own little production crisis this week. If you need me, I’ll be sitting behind my sewing machine.