Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Embroidering with Vintage Emphemera

Vintage ephemera is so charming -- postcards, trade cards, adverts, magazines.  And I have a LOT of it.  It is interesting and fun to see what was popular 100 years ago.  But I sometimes think I should use my collection more in crafting, rather than just enjoying the colorful art and illustration.

I have a few sets of these sweet Arm & Hammer "Useful Birds of America" cards from a century ago.  This is Bullock's Oriole, a bird I have never seen (their range is West of the Mississippi).  But I thought it might make a colorful, embroidered brooch.

I scanned and printed several cards onto a Printed Treasures Printer Fabric Sheet by Prym Dritz.  (Note: these fabric sheets are a bit expensive, but you can also make fabric that will run through your printer using 8 1/2 x 11" freezer paper adhered to a fabric appropriate for crafting -- I have used this method with good results.  Click here for link.)  I used colored pencils to enhance some of the areas that wouldn't be over embroidered, such as the blue sky and the branch and leaves.
Because I wanted to save space and print several pictures onto the fabric, there isn't much space around each picture to hoop the fabric for embroidering.  So, I left the paper on the back of the printed fabric.  I lightly penciled an oval around the selected bird, the size of the pin I wanted to make.  Here is the embroidery started.  I used one strand of six-strand embroidery floss.  Most of the stitches I used were long & short, with a few French knots.

The penciled oval frame was embroidered with a small chain stitch.  The finished embroidery, front and back:
Cut the paper away outside the stitched oval.
Trim the fabric about 1/2" beyond the frame.  Run a doubled gathering thread 1/8 " from edge of trimmed fabric.  Cut two pieces of thin cardboard the shape of your oval pin. 
On one piece of cardboard lightly glue a small oval of thin batting.  On top of that lightly glue a second piece of thin batting, cut the size of the cardboard.
Insert batting-covered cardboard inside embroidery and pull up gathers tightly.
With Beacon FabricTac glue pinback to the second piece of cardboard.  Mark a small scrap of Ultrasuede where the hinge and hook will come through the Ultrasuede.  Cut two small slits where the marks were made.
Using Beacon FabricTac, cover cardboard and flat part of pinback.  Press Ultrasuede firmly onto the cardboard.
When glue is thoroughly dry, trim Ultrasuede.  I also like to color the edge of the cardboard oval.  This may be a little ocd tidy.
Place the embroidery face down on a towel.  Spread glue on back of the Ultrasuede oval.  Press it down really hard on the back of the embroidered piece.  Really hard.  You want the edges of both pieces to firmly adhere to each other.  That is why I use a towel, so the embroidery will not flatten under pressure. 
Here is the finished embroidery.  I think it came out fairly well, for a first attempt.   The pin measures 1 3/4" wide.
Some more birds from the set: 


Friday, September 12, 2014

When Bad Things Happen to Good Things

Martha used to be my Queen of Crafts.  Her television show, the old one, featured classy, useful and fun demonstrations on cooking, gardening, collecting, and crafting.  (I learned how to wire a lamp on her show!)  The magazine had beautiful photography and was full of creative ideas for making home a colorful and comfortable place for me and my family. 

Well, I know Martha doesn't care about me anymore.  It's not personal, it's my age bracket.  You have to keep reaching for that younger audience, I understand.  But Beauty and Style pages?, there are so many other "women's" magazines that provide this kind of information.

Lately, the articles and ideas in Martha's magazine just haven't inspired me like they used to.  In the past I could always count on the "Good Things" section in each issue for quick and clever craft projects.  Ok, occasionally they didn't hit the mark as being especially clever.  But in the most recent issue one of the Good Things has kind of taken a plunge over the edge, and become a very Silly Thing.  I speak of the rock star necklaces. 

Firstly, the photograph in the magazine does not show the necklaces actually being worn, so of course the photographer has styled them to look attractive.  I couldn't tell from the photograph or instructions what size the rocks might be.  But, gee, I love to collect rocks when I am traveling (never from any place where collecting is not allowed).  So, although skeptical, I thought to give it a try.

I used a pretty variegated embroidery thread to wrap around the small stone:

The thread kept wanting to come away from the stone.  Gluing neatly is not easy. 

But I give it a go....
More secure if wrapped horizontally, but not so pretty: 
Now I'm being silly (but it's a silly idea!).  What about all those larger, pretty stones one picks up while traveling, beachcombing, hiking?  I used Paracord for this one. 
Here is what a friend of Mom's did with a pretty rock she found on the beach -- polished and glued it to a silver bail, then attached to a silver chain.  Classy.
I really miss the Martha of ten years ago, when she and her editors published the best magazine on the market for living the creative life.  Where did all those excellent craft, collecting, gardening, food, photography, etc. editors go?  Sigh.  If I want a really good home/living magazine these days, I drive 70 miles to Memphis and buy a magazine from France, Marie Claire Idees.  Sadly, I cannot read French, but the excellent photography tells the whole story, and Google translate can help with the recipes!


There are many tutorials and patterns in previous blog posts, but it isn't always easy to find them.  So here is a list and links to various older posts which contain tutorials and free patterns.  And hopefully more to come.  I'm also going to put a 'gadget' on the right with direct links to various tutorials and patterns.

I-Pad or Keyboard Cover -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Apps  A sewing project for dressing your electronics for success! 

Fabric Yo-Yo Valentine Pin  -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Art%20Vending%20Machine  (Scroll down through this long post for the yo-yo pin pattern and directions.)

Easy Coiled Basket -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Basketry  There is a link in the post to my two page Google Document with step-by-step photos and directions for an easy coiled basket made with clothesline and yarn. 

Beaded Button Brooches -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Beaded%20Button%20Brooches   Instructions, diagrams, button suggestions, sample pictures.  Follow the directions to link to my Flickr Photostream for a 3-page handout of instructions, plus diagrams for many beaded edging stitches, or just click right here. 

Felted Beads, Tubular and Spherical -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Beads%20%28felted%29  Achieve perfect spherocity (?) using an old tea strainer to wet felt a round bead!

Felted Headband -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Felted%20Headband  Note of apology -- I consider this project only mildly successful!

Beaded Row Counter -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Beaded%20Row%20Counter  Cute idea, and instructions, for creating a piece of 'jewelry' that helps you count rows of knitting. 

Lulu's Christmas Corsage and Felt Stocking Brooches -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Christmas%20Craft  Lulu's Christmas Corsage is more idea than instructions, but there are some good ideas, including making a tiny birch bark bird silhouette.  The felt stocking brooches are small and colorful, and about 20 of them decorated the Christmas lapels of nursing home residents several years ago. 

Crazy Quilted Velvet Beret -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Crazy%20Quilting  This tutorial includes instructions and tips for designing and piecing, crazy quilt style, for those who aren't quite comfortable with the improvisational nature of the technique!  Plus directions for putting the beret together.  But the beret pattern itself is not included.  Patterns for berets are readily available. 

How-To Display a Special Hat Collection: Dressing Up Styrofoam Head Mannequins --   http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Display%20Tips  Start with inexpensive Styrofoam head mannequins and dress them up to display your special hat collection.

Miss Hickory Doll -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Miss%20Hickory%20Doll
Miss Hickory, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey. This charming book, about an independent minded little doll made from a hickory nut and applewood twig, was a Newberry Award Winner in the late 1940's.  Instructions and patterns for Miss Hickory adaptation in 4 parts. 

Needle Felted Tiny Dog -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Felted%20Toys  Inspired by Gretel Parker's article in Mollie Makes, Kathy shows how she made her dog, Sadie, with plenty of photos and instructions.

Blocking a Baby Sweater -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Knitting%20Tips  Scroll past the knitting pattern links to see Kathy's tips for blocking little sweaters.)

'Lulu's Garden' Fascinator  http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Millinery  These four posts include ideas and tips for making a 'scenic' fascinator, and also include directions for making the two tiny dolls that inhabit the garden hat. 

Felt Flowers for a Fascinator -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Felt%20Flowers  A mini tutorial on making flowers from three small pieces of felt.  From a Mollie Makes kit, for a necklace, but I chose to make something very different.

Pin Weaving -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Pin%20Weaving  This post will get you started in designing a small pin-woven necklace or purse.  Follow the links for further directions and inspiration. 

Old Fashioned 3-D Valentine -- http://emmamyrtle.blogspot.com/search/label/Valentines  Make a vintage valentine for your mother, aunt, sister, friend.  Simplified directions, but plan to spend a few hours creating yours.  It helps to have LOTS of paper craft supplies -- stickers, doilies, tissue paper, cardstock, bits of lace, poems, alphabet stickers, glitter, and ephemera. 

Friday, June 20, 2014


I may have several thousand buttons.  (Should I admit to that?)  I have my mother's button tin, which she used to bring out on rainy days when we were kids.  She would have us sort and string the matching buttons together.  Mostly utilitarian buttons, but there are some little gems in the tin, too.  Of course, I have collected many more over the years.  I love diminutives, colorful vintage, and any button that sparkles.

I could just look at my pretty buttons, but I do sometimes feel that I must make crafty things with them!  I have made and wear several button bracelets, some with all white, black, and clear buttons,  and some with mixed colors.

The bracelets are easy to make.  I like to double the braided elastic (3/8" wide).  Each button, or stack of buttons, need to be sewn individually to the elastic.  (I use Nymo beading thread.)  You can add beads as you are attaching the buttons.  Knot the end of the thread leaving about a 3" tail beyond the knot.  Sew through the stack of buttons several times.  Make a couple square knots inside the bracelet, with the two remaining tails of thread.

I like to cover the stitches and knots with little pieces of lace or Ultrasuede, using Beacon Fabri-tac glue. 
The wide bracelet has the tiniest, cutest, donkey button (lower middle):

Cat button bracelet and Mac, the Best Cat Ever.
Vintage cat button. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dorset Buttons on the Go!

I can't stop making Dorset Buttons.  There are so many colorful threads to try!  I needed something small to fit in my purse -- for trips in the car, intermission during a performance, or just waiting in line somewhere.  Here is what I came up with.

Wow, I only had one empty tin of those 'Curiously Strong Peppermints.'  Guess I'd better start eating them again.  I decoupaged a piece of wrapping paper to the lid.  (To do this, you don't need to cut the wrapping paper exactly the same size, just use a scrap that is larger than the top of the tin.)  Brush the decoupage medium on the top of the tin, place the paper on it, then apply more medium on top of the paper.  Squeeze out the bubbles as much as possible.  When the paper is completely dry (wait a day), use an emery board to trim the paper all around the top edge.  Works perfectly.

Here is the tin with enough supplies to make several Dorset buttons!

Yes, you can really fit all this stuff in the tin:  several empty plastic rings, four floss holders with various threads on them, several buttons finished or in progress, an emery board cut to fit (sometimes the plastic rings have to be smoothed along the mold lines), a glass vial that holds tapestry needles, and a pair of fold-up scissors.

I love my on-the-go Dorset Button Kit!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

See us on Etsy!

We opened an Etsy shop!

It has taken us a few weeks to get it ready, but it's been a really fun and interesting process.  We're starting small, and we haven't got all the kinks worked out, but we've learned a few things along the way that we thought were worth sharing.  And, within 12 hours of opening we had our first sale - whoopie!

We had a good reason for opening the shop - we decided that we had amassed too much crafty goodness!  We love our stash, but we just have too much.  We kept thinking - wouldn't a craft swap store, a place were you could sell craft supplies that are great but just aren't getting used  - be a fab idea?  If only there were such a store...ok, we'll open one then!  And we thought it would be wonderful to have a place to share our creative efforts - patterns and kits and the like that we created.

So, What's in a Name

Milleseme et Mercerie.  What does this mean?  Why did we choose it?

This picture was taken last summer - towards the end of a fabulous trip we took to England and Paris.  This picture, in fact, was taken in Paris, on the Pont Alexandre III:

So, Mom likes Paris - and French!  We liked the notion of a Mercantile, or a Dry Goods Store, and we liked the notion of Notions.  We love things that have a vintage feel - and are actually vintage. We spent a few days tossing around words and ideas, and then came up with the idea of putting these words into Google Translate (total aside - as a teacher with a HIGH population of ELL students I found this invaluable!) and our store name was born - a vintage haberdashery!

Detour to Paris

Speaking of fabulous haberdasheries, if you are ever in Paris, we STRONGLY recommend you go here: 


Why didn't I take any pictures in this store?!?  Oh, I know...because I was too astounded by the store to do anything but SHOP!!!  Here are some of the goodies:

There is so much more...they also sell their yarn by weight - I love that!  The interior of the store is lined mountains of yarn, bolts of beautiful fabric, baskets, glass bottles, and wooden cabinets full of buttons, feathers, felt and findings.  GO!!!

Back to our shop!

We are slowly building up our inventory - by combing through our stash and saying - oh, someone else will love this!  Each entry takes a bit of time - the pictures have to be just so, and the wording as well.  We are practicing our Search Engine Optimization - choosing the best search terms so that people can find our shop.  As it turns out, when Google sends it's little search bots out into the ether, they only look at the first 40 characters of a listing.  Who knew?  As it turns out, Tim Adam knew! We've read his book on opening an Etsy shop and we found it very useful.  If Etsy selling is in your future, I would recommend reading it.  Did I mention that we made a sale in less than 12 hours?

Here is a sampling of some of our current inventory.  Please check back from time to time, and see if we've added something new that just HAS to come live at your house - until you turn it into something beautiful!