Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Something to Crow About...

All Dressed up for a Halloween Ball - Ornaments $10 ea.

We will be participating in Art Market in Salt Lake's Sugarhouse Park Garden Center this weekend, October 7,8. Many talented artisans will be selling their handmade goodies. Drop by our booth.

Apothecary Raven - Throw Pillow - $32

'I'm Watching'  - Twig Wreath - $28

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Is there anything more satisfying than this?
Home canning is something that makes me feel connected to the wonderful women in my family tree. My mom taught us to 'put up' fruit as children and it is still something we enjoy doing together. Last year, for one reason or another, we did not get to it and boy, did we miss those canned delectables through the winter. So, this year, we headed out to the farmer's market in September and snatched our box of pears - just a half bushel now since she lives alone any I'm almost an empty nester.

The peaches are another story. We are always tempted by the Albertas, Lemon Albertas, and other varieties but its the O Henrys we want. It took three trips to the market but they were worth the wait! They did not disappoint. My mom said it best after eating one, "Now, that's a peach!"
Canning them this morning was a real pleasure... no really! As my grandmother always said, "you have to wait 'til the first snow to open the fruit", but come this winter, they will be a little taste of fall.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Several years ago there was a spoof on the show Portlandia where everything in the shop had a bird on it. It was funny. But I must say that I really have loved a bird motif for a long, long time. I know it became a big trend awhile back but I still think birds make most things more fun. 

During last Christmas, my kids counted the number of birds represented through decorations. In just the living room, dining room and kitchen, I believe the count was over 100. Now, before you think I'm a little Alfred Hitchcock-ish, many of them were quite small and in groups. 

Maybe it is that they are a little mysterious to me, or perhaps its because they sing pretty songs outside my window, or that they bring a little spring in the dark of winter but for whatever reason,  'I love me some birds' ! 

So, just to bring a little hope of Spring, here are a few pics of bird items I've made lately for Plein Air. Many are for sale on the etsy site
or at local boutiques. 

-Enjoy and go ahead, 'put a bird on it'.

Monday, November 9, 2015

There are  four natural fibers used in textile production; wool, silk, cotton and flax (linen). Cotton and Linen are termed a cellulose fibers,as they come from plants. Wool and silk are protein fibers as they are derived from animals. Of all the natural fibers, wool is my favorite and with the chill in the air, arrives the season where it shines! Wool is absorbent, strong (unless you get it wet) and naturally warm. It is a great insulator because the natural crimp of the fiber allows them to hold together well and create air pockets. Just think of those cozy sheep!

Since before 10,000 BC, the tribes of northern Europe spun and wove wool into usable cloth. To spin it they drew the raw wool out with one hand, twisting it into a crude thread with the other. The resulting product was a thick and uneven. They later developed a spindle by fitting a stone or clay ring onto the end of a short stick. 

Much later, about 700 AD, the spinning wheel replaced the ring and stick method. The first loom for weaving consisted of a beam with lengths of yarn (called 'warp' yarns) hung and weighted on the bottoms by stones and the weft yarns (crosswise yarns) being threaded under and over the warp.

Knitting, which uses the technique of interlocking loops instead of  weaving over and under at right angels, seems to date to the 11th century. Most historians place the origin of knitting in Egypt with examples of colorful wool stockings dating between the 11th and 14th centuries.

Despite the development of mechanical and increasingly more elaborate looms over thousands of years, the basic principles of spinning and creating wool fiber into fabric have remained the same.

There are nearly one thousand million sheep in the world with over 200 varieties of fleece used for wool fabric production. I am very grateful to each one of them for producing such a fantastic and sustainable product!

I love working with wool. Because of it's unique molecular structure, it can be shaped and manipulated easily with heat and moisture. 
Here are some fun things created with wool for the upcoming season that will be available on our shopping site

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What's Up with Wreaths?

One sure sign of spring is the appearance of floral wreaths adorning the front doors of the homes in my neighborhood. I love seeing these winding, welcoming twigs and flowers and it has made me wonder why we do this. Of course, it is because we are so ready for the change of weather and are eager to spruce up our homes with sprigs of springtime, but what is the origin of this practice? 

The word wreath is from the old English word writha - to writhe or to twist, a thing bound around.
The modern custom of hanging wreaths on the outside of doors as a friendly greeting to our fellowmen is an ancient practice.

In ancient Greece and Rome, decorative head wreaths were used as a sign of victory and celebration and then hung on their walls. Pagans used them to celebrate Solstice. The use of evergreens for Christmas wreaths and other decorations probably began in northern Europe, Italy and Spain in the early 19th century. The Christmas Wreath symbolizes the strength of life overcoming the forces of darkness and winter. In early Europe, people hung wreaths on their doors to identify their home much like house numbers we use today, each house having different wreath made of flowers, grown by the home owner. In many cultures, the circle represents immortality, eternity. But not all wreaths are round. A wreath can take the shape of a square, or a heart, anything 'bound'.

Wreaths in all shapes, sizes, and materials can be a quick update to both outdoor and indoor spaces. They don't have to be seasonal, either. Use them as a splash of color on a mirror or on a closet door.

You can find these for purchase in our shop.

Preserved Boxwood Petite Wreath Hung on a Mirror adds color and interest indoors

Wool Poppies on a simple yarn-wrapped wire greets guests at the front door

This traditional Lavender Wreath is natural and inviting

So, join with your ancestors and hang a wreath to celebrate life!

Enjoy - 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Velvet Takes Center Stage

There are few fabrics that can match the elegant feel of velvet, and this fall it was all over the runway. Yay! I love velvet for many reasons. Obviously you can't match the soft hand, but what makes it such a fantastic textile to design with and to wear is its beautiful drape. When treated properly, velvet falls beautifully on the figure and gives an unmatchable fluidity. Of course the best effects are achieved by using silk velvet. A good rayon follows in close second.

        Nina Ricci, fall 2014, Vogue UK

Velvet is categorized as a pile fabric, meaning that it is woven with an extra set of yarns that are cut to create a 3-D effect. 
There are basically 3 types of 'velvets' used in apparel and their characteristic differences are primarily from the fiber content:

     Velvet - made from silk, rayon, or sometimes a blend, higher pile. This has a 'nap' which refers to the direction the yarns sit (think cat fur) and affects the way the light reflects. Crushed velvet is created from traditional velvet where the nap has been manipulated.  Crushed velvets may also be referred to as panne' velvets.
     Velveteen - made from an inclusion of cotton fibers. It has lower pile and less drape. This is the fabric often used in a tailored jacket.
     Stretch Velvet - this velvet is knitted, not woven, and of course, stretches. It can also be traditional in appearance or have the nap crushed. 

Many of the pieces this fall seem to pay homage to vintage designs from the glamorous 1930's, like this one from Hellesey - 

Hellessy RTW Fall 2014
                    Hellesey, fall 2014, photo Rodin Banica

Take a peek and compare these two historic pieces from 
Elsa Schiaparelli - 

    Elsa Schiaparelli, 1930's    

   Elsa Schiaparelli, 1930's  

More vintage inspiration from designers 
Elie Saab and Victor & Rolf - 

Elie Saab RTW Fall 2014

               Elie Saab, fall 2014, photo Giovanni Giannoni

Viktor & Rolf RTW Fall 2014
Viktor & Rolf, fall 2014, photo Giovanni Gionnoni


Don't forget the accessories. These pretty evening pumps by 
Christian Louboutin are made even more posh with the black velvet bows. 

So, get your glam on with a little (or a lot) of velvet this fall and enjoy one of the best textiles in history. 

- Janet


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tips on Purchasing a Wedding Gown

                                                                                                                           Photo credit, Christian Dior

I have been asked a lot lately for advice on wedding gown purchase and alterations so, I thought it might be helpful to post a bit on this topic. As a custom bridal gown designer for 30+ years, these are a few pointers that might be helpful:

1- Whether purchasing a ready-made, vintage, or a custom designed gown, set a budget! It is your money and your wedding. Decide ahead of time what you can comfortably spend. Do some internet research. Talk with your friends who may have recently married. There are many options and price ranges. 

2- Remember, quality is what you are looking for regardless of price. Quality in fabric, construction, details, fit. Ask someone who has experience with these issues to look at your options with you. Even paying someone knowledgeable to advise you can save you loads of frustration and money in the end.

3- When beginning the process of shopping for a wedding gown, try on as many as possible. I know many of the shops behave as if there is some obligation to buy after a session but remember, it is your decision which gown to buy and they are offering a service. Even with a scheduled appointment, there is no obligation to purchase from them. Be polite and let them know up front that you are in the beginning of your search and will be looking at many shops and gowns before making your choice.

4- Purchase a gown that fits the largest part of you best. It is always easier to take in than let out. Many dresses do not have enough seam allowance to let the seam out much. Also, many fabrics like satins and velvets will be left with permanent holes or marks from releasing the seam.

5- Be cautious about buying a gown that is more than one size too big. Altering past that can require an almost complete re-cut to hang properly and the cost may be more than your purchase price. 

6- If possible, have the alterationist look at the gown and assess any necessary alterations before you purchase it. Many brides purchase a used gown or sample thinking it is a fantastic bargain only to find the cost of alterations are more than the price of the dress. Don't go with the cheapest alteration, go with the person with the most experience. Get references.

7- A 'build-up', the taking of a sleeveless or strapless bustier gown and creating one with shoulders and sleeves, can be a complicated issue when it comes to fit. You cannot just add sleeves, for example, to most sleeveless dresses as the armhole is usually not out to the edge of the shoulder, causing the finished sleeve to lack enough ease to raise your arms. It must be done by someone with experience and skill. 

8- Bring all undergarments you will be wearing for your big day to the first fitting and every fitting afterward including your petticoat and shoes. A different bra can alter the bust fit by up to 1" or more and the shoe height is imperative to a good hem.

                                                                                                                         Vintage Dior Kitten Heels

9- Remember to calculate the cost of cleaning a sample or previously worn gown into the total cost of the wedding dress. 

10- Don't expect a quote over the phone. Not even the most experienced seamstress can see through the telephone. Make an appointment and get it seen before you even purchase it, if possible. You will then be able to make an informed decision.

Here are a few general costs you can expect to pay for gown alterations. They will vary depending on the type of fabric, complication of seaming, trim, etc. These are just for a ballpark estimate so you can be prepared:

   Hem - $50-$100 depending on layers and circumference
   Sleeve length - $40
   Bodice - from side seams, $30-50 -  from over bust seams, $60-$80
   Bustling up train - $25-$100 depending on how many points
   Build-up - $100-200
   Center back/zipper - $60-$100
   Cleaning - $100-$200

For tips on storing a wedding gown look at my post from last fall here .

Happy Shopping!