Friday, September 28, 2012

The original farm chicks

My mother and her two sisters grew up in Oklahoma on a very humble farm. They learned how to cook and sew, how to bale hay and milk cows, how to scrimp and save, how to love and live. They grew up in the 40’s and 50’s when everyone wore hand-me-downs, everyone walked a mile to school, and most people had a party line.
Today, hand-me-downs are trendy retro clothes from a second hand store. Walking is done for exercise on a treadmill. I suppose a party line is now pretty much Facebook. Today, everything is easier, everything is immediate and everything is accessible. It is better? Well, in some ways, yes, but when you look at these photos I challenge you to know a better life than you’ll see in the happy faces of these little farm girls.
They didn’t have much, but they had kittens to play with, open fields to run through and creeks to wade in. Life was hard in a way we don’t know now, but it was simpler, slower and I believe in some ways more satisfying than most of us find in our lives today.
Above, mom with kitten in hand, which was most of the time, I think.
I have designed a little collection called Chick-a-Doodle-Doo that has been directly influenced by these farm girls. It’s got icons from their farm: red from the checkered apron, chicks from the chicken coop, and flowers from the open fields surrounding their farmhouse. There is a quick story to the red checkered apron—their aunt (who lived on the same farmland) would occasionally get frustrated with the girls (mostly my mom and her younger sister, I think) and threaten to “turn them over her checkered apron” and I think you probably know what that means. I’m pretty sure the threat was usually about as far as it would go.
Here is the complete collection above of my farmland chicks. Click on it to enlarge.
These farm girls grew up when hankies were a part of the daily wardrobe. Please, can’t they be again? Well, I’m doing my part to revive them anyway.
I don’t have many photos to share with Aunt Judy in them, Mom’s younger sister, as most are with her older sister, Aunt Donna. However, I do have this rare studio portrait of the three girls. 

I also have this darling photo of Aunt Judy’s granddaughter, sporting apron and headscarf, baking in the kitchen, much like her great-grandmother did years ago in the Oklahoma farmhouse. I think this little chick-a-doodle-doo is just too cute and as sweet as they come. :) And now she is the youngest family member to influence my art.
Whether you grew up in the last century, or are growing up in this one, remember your past fondly and take pieces of it to use in the recipe you make for your future and the future of your children. Simplify, slow down, and become more satisfied with the life you have today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sew we’re a couple of featherweights

For the first time in my life I have sewn something from an actual pattern, with the help of daughter, Shelby. We took this project on during the summer, or I should say, Shelby took this project on by helping me learn to sew. (Thank you Shel, forever a wonderful memory for this mom:)

I had just received the Alpine Wonderland fabric (my Christmas collection for this season with Riley Blake Designs) and wanted to make something with it before the holiday season arrived. We used the berry print in red and aqua (red for me, aqua for Shelby). I just love this little print because it’s so versatile, sweet for winter, yet fitting for the summer berry picking season. So . . . we picked it!

We had also just found a vintage 50’s dress pattern at an estate sale for all of 25 cents, the perfect size, and not yet used. This pattern was made before printing was added to patterns, so Shelby researched how to cut and work from a pattern of that era, and simple simon, figured it right out. She is my go to girl for researching, following patterns and directions, and completing a task. Any task, I believe :)

I have two retro sewing machines, so it was time to pull them out for the task at hand. One of them is just like my mom’s machine from my childhood, a machine I love, because it’s full of childhood memories, and the machine she taught me to sew on. But I also love it because it’s just so tiny and so darn cute. It is the Singer Featherweight, circa 1970. My Featherweight came from a thrift store a few years ago. I was delighted when I found it for $12.98 complete with storage case, attachments and instruction book (I’m pretty sure I got a great deal on that one:).

The other machine was a gift from my dear husband right after Shelby was born. He must have thought I would be sewing a lot for a new baby girl. :) It is a beautiful sewing machine, an aqua Fleetwood, circa 1950’s. Both machines worked beautifully humming along as we sewed the pieces into dresses.

Once the main pieces were sewn together, Shelby helped me put in the zipper. Okay, truth is she sewed the zipper in for me. We finished the remaining touches and completed the ensemble with our signature crop sweaters. I don’t think I need to tell you who’s who in the photo above.

What a fun summer project to get to do with my daughter. I may never get a pattern out and complete a dress again, or I might. I think I will leave most of the sewing projects up to Shelby and all of you other great seamstresses. But I will always keep this new vintage dress and wear it with pride, remembering the wonderful time I had learning from my daughter how to follow in her stitches. Thank you Shelby. :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sending love with just a click

My daughter has just become a student abroad and I am trying to cope. Fortunately, today we can send messages immediately, get updates daily, and still get excited about packages arriving via snail mail. What a country! That is, a country to country!

My daughter is doing her part by keeping a blog of weekly activities, photos, and updates. It’s great to see the photos and read the stories. I think the year will go much faster knowing a bit about her daily life as the months go by.

Well, I have to do my part too, and as you all know, doing my part usually has more to do with illustration than it does with words. My part will mostly consist of e-cards and sending packages. Since she’s already been gone almost a week, there’s no time to waste. It’s time make sure she knows she’s missed at home, and loved, of course. This year might be long, it might even be hard at times, but it will always be shared with just a click of the mouse and a peek inside the mailbox. So, we’ll share the love long distance style!
Here is a clue to the country she is in and the language she is studying. Keep in mind, I am not the one learning spanish as a second language, and have to depend on google translate to help me get my message out, since I do not hablar en español. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Woodland Tails for your new little critter

Oh, the joy and help of Pinterest and Facebook and my magical box with internet lead me to a site my daughter is always checking in on to find the latest cute clothes and accessories. The site is the online shop, Ruche. She loves many of the clothes on the site, of course because they have a retro twist. I think very cute, love them too!

Well, now we have another reason to love the clothes from Ruche because daughter, via niece found my Woodland Tails baby boy and girl footie union suits on the site and now available to all. The outfits are named Woodland Friends Footie in Green and  Woodland Friends Footie in Pink.
Here is a larger photo of the Woodland Tails boy outfit.
Here is a larger photo of the Woodland Tails girl outfit.

I have a sample of the boy outfit and it is too cute, but have not yet seen the girl-ware. The outfit is a 3-6 month size and measures about 20-21 inches from heel to neck. So, for the larger newborn, it might fit from hospital to home and until about three months. :) 

Now it’s time to get your new little critters clothed in the hip style of Ruche and Sheri!