Monday, May 14, 2018

Tulip Festival 2018

Hello! The local tulip festival has just ended, so now it's time to show off some scenes from this big annual event. Although a myriad of activities take place during the festival, all my photos are from the three parades: Volksparade (open to anyone in Dutch costume), Kinderparade (local schoolchildren march in Dutch costume while using props with Dutch themes) and Muziekparade (emphasis on marching bands; the biggest parade of the three).

So here goes!

Street scrubbers in action.

Yes, there's even Dutch costumes for dogs! 

The Holland High School marching band struts down the street in wooden shoes. 

From the Kinderparade:

A "Dutch Art" theme: the sunflowers represent Van Gogh's famous painting.

This class is carrying banners from two of the 11 towns on the 11 Town ice skating race. 

And lastly, from the Muziekparade:

Our vantage point for watching the Muziekparade is along one of the city's "Tulip Lanes" (miles of tulips planted along select streets), so these beauties were right in front of my curbside seat. Nice!

A magnificent set of Clydesdales from the folks at Employment Express.

Always a crowd-pleaser: the Petoskey Steel Drum Band! 

Another crowd-pleaser: one of several old cars that appeared in this parade. 

And speaking of older vehicles, this cart-like wagon was recently restored in time to be pulled in the parade. The Holland Furnace Company was an early sponsor of the Tulip Festival.

I believe this was a new entry in the parade: Sam the Wheeler. Somehow, this guy flipped up and down on this contraption as it moved down the streets of the parade route. Don't know how he managed to avoid falling off! This was pretty cool to see.

More views of the local high school marching band:

The color guard, in Dutch costumes - and wooden shoes, of course!

Another view of the marching band. By now (they're in all three parades), I imagine they're a little tired of marching in wooden shoes. 

Well, like I said, now the Tulip Festival is all over, so they can put away their wooden shoes - until next year!




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Made It: A Crafting Failure - And A Save

Hello! The local tulip festival begins at the end of this week, so I wanted to create a garment honoring that flower by using this thrifted pattern:

A trio of floral designs for sweatshirt applique. The tulip pattern is on the right. This "It's Bloomin'" pattern (#133) is from the Bloomin' Minds company out of Iowa. Would have cost me $7.50 from their website, but I paid a quarter for it. The original purchaser had selected this pattern from The Pattern Hutch in Pigeon Forge, TN.

This time of year, it took some doing to find a plain sweatshirt at the thrift stores - the few I came across were either zip-up or had designs on the front. But finally I found what I wanted, in a pretty sky-blue color to boot. I thought that would look especially nice for springtime.

The applique is worked by cutting the pattern pieces from fabrics, then affixing the fabric pieces to each other with fusible interfacing. The five panels that result are fused onto the sweatshirt, and lastly, the edges of all fabric pieces are finished off with blanket stitching. 

It took a little time to pick out the fabrics I wanted to use for the petals, leaves and background, but finally I was pleased with my choices. So I grabbed my fusible interfacing and ironed away. 

And that's where my crafting failure was! Not thinking, I grabbed a type of fusible interfacing that was too heavy for this project once all the layers of fabrics were fused together. When it came time for blanket stitching, I could only get my needle in the outer edges of the whole design. And as far as putting the sweatshirt on my body - well, I tried that to see how it would hang. Of course, the stiffness of the appliqued panel resulted in that part of the sweatshirt not draping well at all. Definitely not the look I wanted!

So, a waste of nice color-coordinating fabrics, a pretty sweatshirt color and my time? It would appear so, but then it hit me: I could use the stiffness of that appliqued panel to my advantage and turn it into a Tulip Festival wall hanging! All I had to do was cut out the panel and sew a backing onto it.
Decided to make things easy by using the sweatshirt for the backing. I just cut off the panel and the back of the sweatshirt together, then blanket-stitched the edges closed. I left a small part near the top of the short sides unstitched. I slit those parts open, slid a dowel through, adding a matching cord, and voila: my wall hanging was done. 
Here's out it turned out:

And a close-up:

Like I'd said, I thought I'd done a nice job in selecting the fabric colors for this project, so I'm glad I was able to turn my crafting failure into a save!


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Back To The 1960's: Bridal Shower Gifting

Hello! A bridal shower is being held in a couple of weeks for my nephew's fiancee. Since the event is several hundred miles away, I'm not attending, but I did send out a gift. 

Now, the gift itself is present-day, chosen from the happy couple's wedding registry. But I went back to the 1960's with vintage wrapping paper and a greeting card with a detail from the same decade. (I think. I couldn't find dates for either item.)

First, the card:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • piece of pastel floral print card stock
  • piece of blue art paper
  • front of vintage bridal shower invitation card, from an unopened pack found at an antique store
  • floral ribbon trim affixed to front of card
A close-up of the bride:

A sweet rendering, I thought. 

I went through my modest collection of vintage wrapping paper, which I'd purchased at estate sales or thrift stores. And as luck would have it, I found a package of unopened bridal shower wrapping paper in colors close to those of the vintage bridal shower invitation!

This wrapping paper was produced by American Greetings. 

Here's how my greeting card and the paper looked together:

A close match, I think!

Oh, and here's a better look at the wrapping paper design:

I have to admit, it did give me pause to think how my present will look at the bridal shower, surrounded by gifts covered with, well, more current wrapping paper. I won't be there to see the juxtaposition, but wondered if the bride-to-be would puzzle at the unusual appearance. So, along with offering my congratulations inside the card, I added that I like to use vintage things whenever I can. 

And yes, if that means going back to the 1960's for a bridal shower gift, then that's what I did!



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Thrifty Acres: Springtime, As Seen In 1975

Hello! Spring always seems to take its time in arriving in my neck of the woods (West Michigan), and that's been even more true this year. But finally, we've seemed to turn the corner and warmer weather will be sticking around. So, let's celebrate spring with this:

The Spring/Summer 1975 issue of Ladies' Home Journal needle&craft, a fun thrift store purchase. Many craft magazines from this era show off projects that look strange to me today, but this magazine didn't have much of those. I didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed. :)

This  hand-knit "Long column of a cardigan" would still look good today, I think.

And check out this dapper gentleman:

"Abstract chevrons patterned on sparkling white make this V-neck pullover a sure winner." Nice!

And then there's this stunner:

The accompanying copy explains that the designer "...was challenged by the idea of pulling scraps of yarn together to make a cohesive project. The result: this free-spirited sweater." I'd say that the designer succeeded admirably, though I suppose it helped that she obviously had quite the supply of yarn scraps.

Are you thinking of some new shoes for the warmer weather? Then you ought to look at these:

For our fancy footwear, the top view shows decoupaged roses on the base of the clogs, with embroidered ribbon on the tops. The bottom view features a geometric needlepoint design. All you need, besides the time to make these designs, are "order-by-mail wooden clog soles." I wondered if these soles are still available, so I checked online. I learned that I could indeed, buy this item, but the makers are all overseas. I'd have to pay international shipping, so no fancy footwear for me! Seems like a fun idea though. 

Yes, making that needlepoint design for a pair of shoes would have taken time, but I doubt it would have taken as long as it would have to create this:

The description of the ensemble: "Clever combination of patchwork and crochet makes this blouse and skirt a true work of art....Crocheted pinwheels in DMC cotton are inserted into the fabric after the blouse and skirt are separately sewn." So, first you have to make the patchwork sections, and sew these to the other sections to make the garments. Then you have to crochet the circles, cut away corresponding fabric where the crochet work will go on the skirt and blouse, and lastly, sew the crocheted circles in. Whew! I guess when you were finally done, you did, indeed, have a "true work of art"!

But then again, who am I to talk about time-consuming sewing, when after all I recently showed off a quilt I'd made that looks a lot like this:

Yes, it's another yo-yo quilt! It looks nice, but barely covers the top of the bed. Mine has more of an overhang, and I think it looks better that way. 

In 1975, the US was gearing up for the 1976 Bicentennial, so on offer was an embroidery transfer for embroidering George and Martha Washington. Not sure how close the designer came to capturing their likenesses, but hey, she tried. 

More adventures in embroidery:

A set of colorful alphabet sampler pillows.

A close-up:

Nice work! These pillows were suggested for a child's room, but after doing all that stitching, I don't think I'd want to put these where kids could get at them. 

Embroidery not your thing? Well, then how about:

A stained glass flower necklace? Yes, I said necklace! Forget what I said about not wanting kids around hand-embroidered pillows - I wouldn't trust myself to wear something like this! Probably no less than five minutes around my neck, and I'd accidentally break it somehow. 

Here's another glass project:

And it's fitting for today being Earth Day, since the project features decorative painting on reused glass bottles. Similar glass-painting projects still show up from time to time in 21st craft magazines. 

Sure, those 21st craft magazines are fun to read, but give me some of their vintage cousins too. They can be even more fun to read!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Made It: Yo Yo Quilt

Hello! In 1998 I bought a machine-sewn, patchwork-style comforter at a department store. I really liked the colors, so when the patches began coming loose at the seams, I sewed on coordinating fabric pieces to cover the gaps. But over time too many seams became loose and patching was no longer feasible. 

I made do with the quilt my late mother had made me decades ago. But it dated from my dorm room days, so was sized for a single bed. It barely covered our double bed, so I began thinking of making a quilt. I'm not into intricate quilting patterns, though, so it would have to be something simple. 

An older craft book from a thrift store gave directions for making a yo yo quilt, and it sounded like something I could handle. I looked up some online info on this type of handiwork and thought the examples I saw were charming. From articles such as this one, I learned that yo yo quilts were popular in the 1930's and 1940's.

I had plenty of scrap fabrics, so I already had a head start on the supplies needed. But I bought a yo yo maker (as seen here) to make the job go faster.  

In the context of quilting, what is a yo yo? It's a fabric circle  with a gathered stitch edge that, when pulled, turns the circle into a smaller puffy round. The rounds are then tacked together to form quilts and pillow tops, and can also be used to trim pillowcases, purses and other items. They can be strung together to make toys, or sewn together to make garlands or Christmas ornaments too. 

I think that yo yo makers are fairly new; before then, the circles were cut out with a template, the raw edges were turned under, and then a gathering stitch was sewn around that turned-under edge. There's no way I would have considered making a yo yo like that when yo yo makers are now available. Not only does this tool eliminate the need for using a template, but it also eliminates the need for turning over the raw edge as a separate step. And the yo yo maker has slots for placing the gathering stitches, which makes that step a no-brainer. So all in all, a big improvement!(The only real disadvantage is that you're limited to the sizes the yo yo makers create.)

This is not to say that crafting the number of yo yo's needed for a double bed quilt was a quick and easy project. It was probably around five years ago that I started making them. I'd work on them in spurts, mostly during the winter months, but also when we went out of town for vacations. Making yo yo's was a very portable project.

I loved working with my fabric scraps (and admittedly, used the project as a excuse to buy appealing remnants at thrift stores and garage sales). But there were times I got sick of making yo yo's, so I'd set aside my efforts for months at a time. Yeah, there was a lot of stopping and starting, and occasionally I wondered why I'd even begun the thing. But since I'd already started, I figured I might as well finish. 

Eventually I deemed that my multitude of yo yo's was enough, so I began tacking them together. This was more tedious than making the yo yo's, but it was fun to randomly match them as I sewed. 

And how many did I sew together to make my quilt? It's 36 yo yo's wide and 40 yo yo's long, so yep, that equals 1,440 yo yo's! Insane, right?

Well, I finally got the quilt done, so here's some pics of how it looks on the bed:

Some close-ups of fabrics I used:

A colorful conglomerate.

I think the quilt looks very nice on our bed! We bought that bed  back in 1988. At that time, the antique store owner told us she thought it dated from the 1920's. So, perhaps at one time the bed had had another yo yo quilt on it. I'd like to think so!

By the way, yo yo quilts don't have backing fabrics as pieced quilts do. The craft book that inspired my quilt did suggest a backing as an option though. In that case, the yo yo's were to be tacked onto the backing while they are being tacked to each other. 

I thought I'd already done enough sewing, so I just placed a white sheet over the blankets, and then laid the quilt over the sheet. The white shows off the many colors of the many yo yo's to their full effect. 

I'm glad I didn't give up on this project at the times I was tempted to do so. But I have to say, I'm glad it's done! Now, what to make with the fabric scraps I have left? I recently came across another quilt pattern that looks simple...


Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Biggest Bunny Of Them All!

Hello! I was out of town for the Easter weekend, so I didn't get around to posting some photos of what might be the biggest bunny of them all:

Above, a solid chocolate Easter bunny, created by the folks at Purity Candy, near Allenwood, PA. This photo was taken on March 18th. 

This bunny may not look like much, but the sign below indicates otherwise:

It's a "75 lb. Decorated Milk Chocolate Rabbit", you see, and was priced at $399.99. Hey, at least they weren't charging 400 bucks for it! Although I didn't measure the rabbit, it was probably about as tall as a young child.

But lest you didn't want to spend quite that much on one chocolate bunny, a smaller version was also available. Didn't get the price on this one, but it was still was an impressive size. Visible behind this display of Easter goodies is the workroom where many other chocolate bunnies were lined up and ready to be packaged. 
Like I'd said, the above bunny was impressive. However, I was aiming for the best, so I jokingly told my husband to buy the 75 pounder for me for Easter. Alas, Easter Sunday came and went, with no sign of that monster rabbit. 

We couldn't help but wonder if the rabbit ever did get sold, and if not, what its fate would be. Sold or unsold, it was still quite a sight to see, and I salute Purity Candy for making it! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Cleveland Candyland!

Hello! The last full day of a recent trip found us in the Cleveland area. From a December stay at the same hotel (Embassy Suites, Independence, Ohio), I knew we weren't far from a candy warehouse-type business that's open to the public. We didn't have time to visit that store then, so I decided we'd do so this time.

Above, the entrance to b.a. Sweetie candy company. It doesn't look like much, but the brochure says: "Largest candy store in North America. 40,000 square foot of fun!"

The brochure also adds: "From all the old time favorites to the new kids crazes." That phrase "...all the old time favorites" is what lured me to the store. I'd read some online reviews of the place, many of which sang hosannas to seeing the favorite candies of their youths again. 

I also thought it'd be fun to see some "old time favorites" again and that it was! I spotted Indianhead pumpkin seeds (super-salty, they were), those wax bottles with the flavored liquid inside, and those weird flying-saucer things that tasted like styrofoam and have little candy balls inside. I also saw some other old favorites, like candy necklaces and candy cigarettes. I almost felt I was once again in the dime stores of my childhood, D&C and McClellan (later changed to McCrory).

Want to refill your Pez container with only one particular flavor? You can do that; individual flavors are sold by the pound. In fact, that seemed to be a strong point of b.a. Sweeties - many types of candies were sold by the flavor. This is obviously a bonus if you have a weakness for one candy flavor - mine is grape - or if you want to represent your school or wedding colors in candy dishes or favor bags.

Many candies are sold individually, but if you want to load up on a favorite, you can buy large bags as well. I think those bags were in the three-pound range. 

I say "I think" because the place was so big, it was a bit overwhelming. Also, I didn't have as much time to look around as I would have liked, since I was with my husband. He has the habit of rushing me through stores. Next time I'll have to go by myself! 

A few other highlights of the store, again including a couple of quotes from the store's brochure:
  • "Choose from 300 types of glass bottle Soda Pop. Most made with PURE CANE SUGAR!" A quick glance of this section revealed some old-timey brands as well as some unusual flavors. 
  • "Over 800 bins of bulk candy starting at only $2.99 per pound."
  • There's also "Sweeties Soda Shoppe", which sells a number of ice cream treats. They make their own ice cream. 
Alas, I didn't see the large bulk candy area until near the end of our shopping trip, as this section was in the opposite end from the entrance. My husband was getting anxious to go, so I only glanced through the row of bins to see what candies were available. 

Now, it's true that many of the candies sold at b.a Sweeties, even some of the retro ones, can be found in the usual businesses where candy is retailed. For instance, when I told a fried that I got a few strings of grape Zotz, she commented that a local candy store sells them as well. Indeed, they do - I stopped in there yesterday while on an errand and saw grape Zotz - at twice the price per string I'd paid at b.a. Sweeties. 

I almost bought a 3lb bag of grape Zotz at b.a. Sweeties - or I could have forced my husband to wait a little while longer while I scooped some out from the bulk bin area. I thought I was being so good by only sticking to a couple of strings. Now I kind of wish I'd bought that mega-sized bag of them. 

Oh well, there's always online ordering! The b.a. Sweetie website is here.   Once you go to the site, there's a link to their online store. 

But if you want to see more candy than you ever imagined under one roof, you ought to check out the warehouse store if you're ever in the Cleveland area.