Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review + Giveaway: Making Fabric Jewelry

If you are anything like me, dear reader, you have some fabric scraps in your stash.  Actually, you have a lot of fabric scraps.  Of course you also have a lot of buttons, trims, and beads too that you are saving for just the right project. Waste not, want not!  But truth is, those scraps and trims are mainly taking up space in your stash and collecting dust.  Right?

Well I have a suggestion for you.  Why not try making fabric jewelry?

Given the size of my fabric stash I was super excited when Lark Books sent me a review copy of the recently published Making Fabric Jewelry: 20+ Projects to Stitch, Fold, & Wear by jewelry expert Marthe Le Van:

Making Fabric Jewelry, Serendipity Handmade blog

As Martha states in her introduction, there has been a "revolution" in terms of the type of jewelry women are wearing these days, and I'm sure you've seen jewelry made of alternative materials like fabric and lace are very popular right now.  With the winter holidays not far away this book is perfect for your handmade gift-giving.

All twenty-three of the projects in Making Fabric Jewelry use fabric and a variety of other materials to create avant-garde adornments, like this dramatic Pleated Posy Necklace by designer Mieko Mintz:

The nontraditional projects in this book were designed by well-known fabric, fiber, and mixed-media artists. The basic premise of this book is that you're going to reuse and recycle items from your stash in order to make something new, and if you've read this blog for any length of time you know that this is a viewpoint I strongly endorse myself.

Another unique project that I liked is the Designer Label Brooch designed by Mavis Leahy, which is a unique way to recycle vintage clothing labels into a brand new accessory.  This project in particular gave me a couple of new ideas. First, if you already sew clothes with your own label, why not use this brooch as a unique way to promote your handmade business?  Another option is to use it as a fun name tag!

Designer Label Brooch, Making Fabric Jewelry, Serendipity Handmade blog

One of the strengths of Making Fabric Jewelry for novice sewists is that even if you don't know silk from cotton there are over twenty-five pages in the Basics section full of helpful information about fabric types, selecting the right fabrics, sewing notions, needlework, and using a sewing machine.  In addition, there are several pages of jewelry making help about findings, tools, and metalwork fundamentals like wire-wrapping.

There is a fun project in this book for beginning and experienced jewelry makers alike.  Some of the projects do require some jewelry-making experience, like the Lotus Choker and Earrings, or these Kaga Earrings by Miyuki Akai Cook that are made from vintage kimono silk (how cool is that?):

Kaga Earrings, Making Fabric Jewelry, Serendipity Handmade blog
Although the written project instructions are very good, some of the project photos are very small or have only a few photos to illustrate the project directions.  In my opinion, to take full advantage of this book you will need to have some basic sewing skills as well as some basic jewelry-making experience.

I would recommend this book for someone looking for new ways to use the extras in his or her stash, and especially for those already who both like to sew and make unique, editorial jewelry.  Most of the designs are definitely conversation starters!


Would you like your own copy of Making Fabric Jewelry?  Many thanks to Lark Books for offering an extra copy to giveaway to Serendipity Handmade readers.

All you have to do to enter is be a follower of this blog (new or old!) and enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.  There are several additional entry options too.

The winner will be announced on this post on Friday, September 7th.  Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided with a free review copy of this book but my opinions are my own!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Designed for Action

Summer is drawing to an (unofficial) close next week on Labor Day....

So let's enjoy a few more lazy days of summer in this fabulous fashion illustration spread from the Simplicity summer pattern book, 1952.

Designed for Action, Simplicity Summer 1952, Madison Avenue Monday, Serendipity Handmade

Designed for Action, Simplicity Summer 1952, Madison Avenue Monday, Serendipity Handmade

Designed for Action, Simplicity Summer 1952, Madison Avenue Monday, Serendipity Handmade

Designed for Action, Simplicity Summer 1952, Madison Avenue Monday, Serendipity Handmade

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sourcing Unique Craft Supplies: Daiso Japan

One of my new favorite places to go for fun and unique craft supplies that you can't get anywhere else is Daiso Japan:

Daiso is a huge chain of 100 Yen stores in Japan and they have recently opened a few stores here in Southern California.  You can think of them as the equivalent of our dollar or 99 cent stores and they sell just about everything from housewares, beauty items, toys, and food:

Best of all, most everything is only $1.50!  Which makes this an addictive place to shop (ok, so I've gone there three times since April).  And this is not a sponsored post in any way, shape, or form -- I truly love this chain and wanted to share my crafty finds with you.

I was super-excited when I found this cotton tatting / lace weight yarn (hard to find outside of specialty yarn stores):

And I picked up this pack of beautiful handmade paper:

I also bought several packages of Yuzen washi paper that has inspired me lately:

I have an number of little projects I'd like to try using the paper, including doing some origami (which I love but am not good at).  I decided to try making some washi paper push pins with Scrabble tiles similar to some pushpins I saw at Patchwork.

I found a package of Scrabble-like tiles at the big box craft store and decided to use those. I don't often show my craft failures on this blog but we all know that I'm not perfect.  I used Mod Podge to adhere the paper to the tiles but I did not account for two variables:  the craft tiles I bought are not smooth like Scrabble tiles and this washi paper is very thin!

So here is the current result with one layer of Mod Podge (sans push pin back):

Although I would prefer that the surface be smooth, I'm not completely opposed to the rough texture of the wood showing through. the paper.  I haven't decided whether I will add a layer of clear shellac or some dimensional resin to the top.  I'm still experimenting and will keep you posted.

If you don't have a Daiso near you can also purchase some of the items at their online store.  Happy shopping!  But try to control yourself....

Store images courtesy Daiso Japan.
This is not a sponsored post. I just really love this store.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Join the Jumbo Jet Set

Ok, I'm still trying to figure these "ensembles" out: are these cocktail outfits for your everyday woman or glittery chicken costumes for showgirls?

Can you tell me just where were the women of 1968 supposed to debut these "Insta-knits" made with "Jumbo Jet" knitting needles?

From McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring-Summer 1968

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dishes Men Like: a Mid-Century Cookbook

A friend gave me a small stack of retro and vintage cookbooks this summer because she knows that I collect them.  I set them on my cookbook shelf and forgot about them until this week when I took a look at the pamphlet-style Dishes Men Like, a cookbook published by Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce in 1952: 

Each of the 168 recipes uses Worchestershire sauce, and Lea & Perrins swears that the sauce is the "favorite of men in all parts of the country."  The subtitle on this book reads "new recipes and old favorites...easy to prepare...sure to please."  And with instructions like this:

this cookbook should have been a hit with men, right?

So I laughed out loud when I saw page after page after page of this:

Most of the recipes must have been terrible because the former owner has crossed most of them out!  Were these recipes not man-pleasing enough?  The only recipe on the page above that didn't get the axe was the recipe for Deviled Crackers, which are saltine crackers spread with butter (and Worchestershire sauce!) and baked in an oven.  Wow.

Some of the recipes sound less-than-appetizing though, so I don't blame the former owner for crossing them out.  Speedy Green Noodles De LuxeJellied Chicken Loaf.  Tuna Fondue anyone?

As I do the majority of the cooking in our household I just may whip up a Succulent Meat Pie or something and test it out on my husband.  I actually already have a bottle of Lea & Perrins in the fridge so I'm already prepared!

Dear readers, is there a recipe that you love to make for your family that is always a big hit?  Share it with us!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Every Girl Needs a Boye

As I'm in a crocheting mood this ad "spoke" to me today.   It's from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring 1978. The condition of the ad itself is not-so-great because it's actually from the back of the magazine -- my attempts at retouching it didn't really help. (smile)

I'm guessing that this ad campaign was popular throughout the 1970s (see this 1972 ad too).  Although I prefer Boye needles myself if a campaign like this was run today it would be a bit of a turn-off!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Crochet Scrubbie...because "Good Happens"

So I just finished this crocheted exfoliator/scrubbie today as a prototype project.  It's part a Red Heart set of free patterns called Spa Necessities.  It turned out alright, although it's a little plain-looking given the color and stitch pattern:

Spa Necessities Exfoliator / Scrubber at Serendipity Handmade

So why did I make this little project?   The Center for Living Peace and the Orange County Museum of Art is calling for donations to benefit the SASP (Survivors After Suicide) program at a local community health center.  Although it is really just a small gesture, perhaps having something made with love might remind those who just lost a loved one to take care of themselves and might help them cope with their grief and pain.

Project details:  although this project calls for Red Heart Eco-Cotton blend (75% cotton, 25% acrylic) I actually used Lion Brand Cotton in Natural (100% cotton) because I have a ton of it on hand, and it's good for kitchen and bath projects.  I might go pick up some of the Eco-Cotton or hunt through my stash for something similar just to see how the project works up.

I tried it out today -- it actually does make a nice exfoliator! And there is the added bonus of being able to wash it out quickly because it is already full of suds and hang it up to dry because of the little handles.  

Don't you just love the domain name for the Center for Living Peace?  It's  Yes!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Celebrating Three Years! Happy Blogoversary + GIVEAWAY

Wow -- three years! Serendipity Handmade is three today!

I can hardly believe that I am still blogging after three years (it seems like a long time!) and that so many people have come to visit and have appreciated the things I have had to share over the past few years.

And Serendipity Vintage is three years old today too.  I am so glad that I am still able to connect sewists and collectors around the world with those hard-to-find vintage patterns when so many of the friends I first met on Etsy and or in crafter's forums have had to close their shops. 

Before I get too sappy, I'll just say that I don't know exactly what the future holds, but I do know that I hope that both Serendipity Vintage and Serendipity Handmade will continue to grow.  I'd like to keep blogging and sharing my collections and creative pursuits with all of you.

Thanks for reading.  It means a lot to me.


As always, I have a birthday present for YOU!  

I've teamed up with my friend Becky Stancill, who not only has a delightfully wacky sense of humor and is a dedicated Serendipity Handmade reader, but happens to be the owner of Sew In Stitches on Etsy:

She is pictured with one of her fabulous 1940s style Gathering Apron, which is perfect for picking fruits and veggies in the garden, picking up after the kids, or as a handy catch-all as you go about your busy day:

Becky has a true love of vintage, and because we are Facebook friends I get to see how she incorporates vintage silhouettes and style into her wardrobe without looking like she is wearing a costume.  I decided to ask Becky a few questions so you could get to know her a little better!

Collette:  What is your favorite fashion era? 

Becky:  Ah, I love the classic lines of 50s and 60s clothing: simple styling, comfort. Think of June Cleaver's dresses, Laura Petrie's cute tops and pants, or Ava Gardner's safari wear in one of my favorite movies, "Mogambo."

Collette:  I agree -- I love Laura Petrie's (Mary Tyler Moore) clothes in the Dick Van Dyke show. So tell us about your personal style! 

Becky:  Most days you'll find me at home in super-comfy jammies, t-shirts, and shorts. But when I go out and about I like to think I pull together a classic look -- no flashy jewelry or super vivid prints for me. Classic cardigans, Peter Pan collars on cotton blouses, a-line skirts, boot cut jeans, and shirt dresses. I wear natural fibers as much as possible, like cotton and wool.

Collette:  What types of vintage goodies do you collect? 

I am what is politely referred to as a "pack rat." Lucky for me, six years ago I married Bill, who also has the same affliction!

I collect and actually use vintage embroidery and sewing patterns and sewing books. I'm currently on a mission to find all of Mary Brooks Picken's books and the 1952 Vogue New Book for Better Sewing. I have a respectable stash of vintage linens, some vintage dresses I love to wear and some fab vintage pins. A couple of my pins are from the mid-60's when my Daddy had a neat little gift shop.

Then of course there are my aprons! I do not know how many I have. I don't want to know! I inherited a whole bunch from my Great-Grandparent's home place and I have also made many aprons. I wear them too. Some of the old ones need repair as they have care worn holes. I just can't bring myself to put a needle to them yet.

Collette:  How was Sew In Stitches born?

My grandmother, who I called "Mama," was a big influence on me as I grew up. She lived next door. Mama always believed I could do anything, even when I doubted. I wanted to learn to sew and embroider and knit and do all sorts of crafty things. She helped me learn. Before I could even think about using a sewing machine I made things by hand. Back then fabric companies printed Barbie clothes that could be cut out and sewn:
My poor Barbies and their wardrobe malfunctions! I still have a couple of the dresses to remind me of Mama and her loving guidance. 

I tackled Vogue patterns early on and boy -- that was quite a baptism by fire. I loved the freedom of making my own clothes and accessories. I sewed for my kids, and while I was raising them, I also sewed for others. I worked for a couple of fabulous decorators making cushion covers, window treatments, bed skirts and duvet covers. I also altered clothes -- which I really don't enjoy -- but I met some great folks and it helped pay the bills.

When my daughter flew the coop for college I had more time on my hands and started daydreaming about owning a sewing shop. I would love to teach others, especially kids, to sew. In the meantime I decided to make and sell aprons. My daughter and one of her pals and I were out to eat one night. We had a huge case of the giggles. We started batting around name ideas for my shop, which soon became my online Etsy shop. Laughter led us to "Sew In Stitches," because we were "so in stitches." (I know...groan...!).

And I think my motto, "Modern Creations from Vintage Patterns," is pretty self-explanatory.

Becky's Reversible Market Tote
 Collette:  What inspires you?

Oh how I wish I had some lofty or esoteric answer like "I am inspired by the wonders of nature" or the like. Actually I just get ideas from everything! I usually see a fabric I like and it says "Hey, buy a yard of me for an apron." or "Wouldn't I make the cutest dress for you?" Doesn't fabric talk to you too? *wink*

I am persnickety about my stitches. It must look great! "It can be handmade but must not look homemade" is some of the best advice I ever received.

I watch way too much TV too. I'm hooked on the old shows from my youth so I'm always spotting an apron
or a dress on June Cleaver that I want to recreate. And old movies too! Lots and lots of inspiration there as well as online searches.

An online vintage pattern search is what inspired my Gathering Apron pattern. I saw a picture and searched for about two years for the apron pattern. One day I simply decided to give it a whirl and made my own pattern and surprised myself! I am sure Mama would not have been surprised.

Collette:  And neither are we! You are a truly creative woman.


So many thanks to Becky for offering my other Serendipity Handmade readers a delightful surprise on my blogoversary!  So how would you like to have this fabulous, handmade, rockabilly-inspired, full-size  "That's Alright Mama" Apron (in homage to Becky's Mama, and the late Elvis Presley):

And I'm also throwing in a $15 gift certificate to Serendipity Vintage for those of you who love to sew!
Serendipity Vintage
$15 Gift Certificate
All you have to do to enter is be a follower of this blog (new or old!) and enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.  There are a ton of additional entries too.  Won't you show Becky some love by visiting her shop and leaving a little comment???

The winner will be announced on this post on Saturday, August 18th.  Good luck!  And thanks again for being a Serendipity Handmade reader!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 6, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: How To Trim a Tan

What a great idea -- to sew a bikini using decorative ribbon trim -- courtesy of this ad for Conso trims from 1972.

There's been a few changes since 1972.  You can still buy Conso trim, though the Conso brand is limited to home decorative trims such as gimp.  Decorative ribbon trim is sold under the Wrights label, as Conso acquired Wrights in 2000.  Conso International (a.k.a Simplicity Creative Group) is also the owner of Boye needles and the Simplicity pattern brand.

From McCall's Pattern Fashions, Summer 1972.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Meet the Artist Giveaway: "Love Birds" Bracelet by Hephzi Creations

Allow me to introduce you to the lovely Angela Smith...

...owner and creative talent behind Hephzi Creations, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Patchwork Indie Festival in May.  Here's a little Q & A so you can get to know Angela better!

Collette:  Tell us a little about your background and how Hephzi Creations was born.

Angela: My passion and experience has caused me to birth my own business called, “Hephzi (pronounced hĕf'zĭ) Creations.” Before starting Hephzi I fell in love with the business world of finance and  accounting and became a successful Tax Account Manager with ADP a Fortune 500 company here in the U.S, as well as becoming the CFO of “A Company of Women.” This powerful nonprofit organization passionately supports and celebrates women.

Since the birth of my business women all around the world have been fallen in love with Hephzi Creations.  I am excited about Hephzi’s future and the women, whose lives will be powerfully and sweetly impacted by my jewelry and accessories.

Collette: What inspires you?

Angela: What inspires me? Women -- women of every age, every creed, every background!

I truly love vintage because of the rarity and the quality that you can find in made-in-the-USA products, thus representing how I see women.  I started with raw materials and re-purposed vintage jewelry.  I make pieces by hand. Each piece of jewelry is one-of-a-kind.  I am passionate about creating each and every delicate decoration as a priceless jewel to be worn with pride and honor.

Collette:  I love that you can wear one of your bracelets in several different ways to customize your look! I see that you also make more than just jewelry....

Angela:  Every bracelet I make comes with an extension that is elastic that can turn the bracelet into a necklace or headband.  They also can be worn around the brim of summer hats which looks amazing!

I also make sets, purses, and other fun items like this Vintage Bowling Ball Bag Purse.  So whatever a woman's preference of style -- vintage, classic, sophisticated, retro, glitzy glam, minimalist, earthy, whimsical, kitschy, cutesy -- Hephzi has your one of kind creation!


Dear readers, you are so, so lucky!  Many thanks to Angela for offering Serendipity Handmade readers a chance to win this beautiful Love Birds bracelet! 

It's super easy to enter...just be a follower of Serendipity Handmade blog (old or new!) in any way (GFC, email, Bloglovin', etc.).  This is the only mandatory entry.  Additional entries are optional (and there are a ton of different ways to get additional entries).

 Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below and the winner will be announced on this post on August 11, 2012.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway