Sunday, August 05, 2007

An unexpected trip

I have just returned from a trip to Indiana. My sister in law, Gay died suddenly last week. She had waged a ten year war with ovarian cancer. It was stage 4 when she was diagnosed, her doctors told her she had about 6 months to live. She did'nt accept that, she had too many things to do, too much life left to live. She and her family live in the mid west, we are in the northeast, so we didn't see each other often. We kept in touch mainly on the telephone and with email and letters but the times we spent together were always over far too soon. She was smart, funny, loving, kind and an eternal optimist. The world needs many more like her.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I've been stuck in an enormous rut lately making the same things over and over. While being successful and making lots of sales has always been one of my goals, it's not exactly why I started my Saltygal business. I started it because I loved thrifting old items and recycling them into something new and useful, especially fabrics. I had made and gifted just about everyone I knew with my projects so I decided to sell them.
I couldn't keep up with demand using my recycled fabrics, Finding and cutting them apart was time consuming. I started using new materials and slowly went from making one or two of a kind to wholesale manufacturing on a small scale. I am not complaining! My fabrics and supplies were taking over my limited space so I decided I needed to clear out some of the boxes of vintage garments I have amassed since moving here. I made a big dent in the wools this past winter turning them into pillows and handbags. I had stopped collecting silk shirts a while ago, so I was able to weed out all but the best into one small container. I have a particular weakness for vintage ties and slips. Something about those silky fabrics. I've saved far more ties than I've used. I can't bring myself to to cut into the pristine ones . I have well over 100 ( I'm afraid to count them all) Luckily they are small and easy to keep. I think one day I'll make an enormous coverlet or a mass of pillows with them .
The slips I'm ready to part with. I sold some on ebay. I have cut apart a few to reclaim the lace. The rest are just perfect for summer tops and dresses. Here are the first two. The yellow one was brand new with tags still on, from the seventies, rather lightweight. I took the skirt off and replaced it with a sheer print. I lined the the bodice with some of the fabric from the skirt.\ The turquoise one is older and had seen some wear. I had to reinforce the bodice, luckily I had some vintage rayon hem tape that was a very close match. I detached the bodice from the skirt and inserted a sheer print over skirt then reattached the bodice. I'm quite pleased with the end result. I also spent time making myself some pattern weights with some of my Japanese fabrics and kimono scraps. Now that I've had break from the production line, I can go back and sew without dread.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

All Ashore Ditty Bag

Barb aka Wolf Nanny has been an inspiration for me since I first found her blog and fabulous flicker photos. She is an incredibly talented writer and crafter and one of the best thrift hunters around. She started a new blog called the Purse Project and challenged anyone that's up it to join in and create purses according to a theme or material. It's not a competition, it's a fun way to stretch your imagination and skills. So this is my entry for the first challenge, which was to create a bag using a kitchen towel. I had purchased a vintage linen towel last year for just that purpose. Something always seemed to come up and I never got a chance to make that bag. If it weren't for this challenge it would probably still be sitting at the bottom of my vintage linen bin. The towel was a woven Irish linen that had seen better days. It had faded in places and was permanently stained in others. It had a compass rose on one half and a port side lantern on the other both framed in coils of 3 strand with signal flags on the borders. I decided to make a nautical style bag, but the fabric was not very strong so I used canvas for the bag making it with a big round bottom and using the the linen towel for outside pockets and trim on the inside pockets. I used red polypropylene"small stuff" for drawstrings on the inside and 3 strand cotton for the handles. I tied a stopper knot on the ends, seized, fringed , and then laced them through brass grommets. I embroidered over the faded compass rose in a simple satin stitch .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

group portrait

group portrait
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
the latest batch of owl pillows just before they head south . I'll miss them

ready to ship

ready to ship
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
I just finished my first reorder from the new account. Everything that could go wrong did and I thought I'd never get it done. I know how long it will take to make things. I figure that out when I price my items, but that is in an ideal world. I don't live in an ideal world. I will add another 20% on to my time estimate next time. I have three custom orders to finish tomorrow and then I am going to spend the rest of the week in my garden.We had warm weather for almost a week then 3 days of rain and now everything is just jumping out of the ground.I love spring! The etsy shop has been sadly neglected. I am so discouraged by the copy cats, the resellers and the manufactures selling their so called "handmade" items, it's just not fun anymore.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo

Hearts and Roses Jacket
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
I think Cinco de Mayo is destined to become of of those holiday that in the US everyone celebrates. Just as we are all a little bit Irish on St Patricks Day, we will all be a little bit Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. Tequila and tamales instead of whiskey and corned beef. I grew up in Southern California where Mexico's history was taught hand in hand with California's. I was in love with anything to do with the Missions and then later on the Aztecs. When I went to Middle School one of my best friends a had a painting of the Virgin de Guadalupe in her bedroom, it was the first time I had even seen her and I was smitten. She was so beautiful in her red dress with her turquoise veil of stars surrounded by flowers and golden rays. Everything about her was just so much more colorful and symbolic than the Virgin Mary in my church.
I celebrate Cinco de Mayo every year because there is a little bit of Mexico in me. Don't we all need more color and symbolism in our lives?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wish you were here

Wish you were here
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
The craft blog had an entry on pillows that told stories through needlework. My first true craft was embroidery which I learned from my Grandmother when I was 8. I embroidered pillowcases ,towels and mostly useless things like dresser scarves and arm chair covers, using Vogueart or aunt Martha transfers or pre printed linens from Woolworth's. I graduated to picture kits from Erica Wilson. In high school I made a tidy sum embroidering jeans and cotton shirts. I didn't sew much once I married and moved onto the boat concentrating on "marlinespike seamanship, - a kind of macrame on steroids. I made this pillow for my husband Don when we were courting. The center is a replica of post card I sent to him, complete with LOVE stamp.(I've blurred the address out to protect the Innocent) It has a map of Maui where we went on our first trip together, a feather because I collected feathers and on our first meeting , he bravely plucked some feathers from the bottom of macaw's cage , which was clearly marked 'Beware Bird Bites". There are windsurfers, a field of golden flowers with a butterfly , maile vines , shamrock, a heart with a lock and key and an aol symbol(we met on an aol message board.) It's not finished , but then neither are we:)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I have been sewing.....honest!

yo yo tote
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
I been sewing up a storm but my camera still hasn't arrived and I haven't been able to borrow a camera. My broken camera is still working , but I have not been able to get the settings right and the pictures are awful. My camera was shipped last week and I have a feeling it was on one of those trucks that got stuck in the big snowstorm that shut down the turnpike in PA. I thought for sure it would come yesterday but now I guess I'll have to wait until Tuesday since Monday is a holiday :(
I saw a bag shaped like this in a Japanese magazine and fell in love with it. When I had my boat I made lots of canvas buckets , so I started with that pattern and added the drawstring top . It looked too bare. I was going to add an applique but my * consultant * (aka daughter Naomi,) nixed the idea. Then I thought,, maybe some buttons? Believe it or not, I didn't have enough buttons to make a statement, so I decided on yo yos with buttons . I'm pretty happy with the way it came out and will post a better picture when the new camera arrives!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fabric fetish

I have been going mad for fabrics lately. I keep swearing I won't buy anything new and just *use what I have* but now is the time when new collections are coming out and I don't want to miss a thing! I have a particular weakness for Japanese fabric, both traditional and modern, with shipping they can easily cost double the price of domestic cottons. I am also enamored of reproductions of 30's 5o's and 70's fabrics. Then there is oilcloth Now that I have a $50 Teflon foot, sewing it is so much easier. I have a stack of bags ,bibs, chalkboards and mats all cut and ready to sew. I just have to sit down and do it!I have been too preoccupied with other things.

My camera has been broken for a while and I was trying to make do with my son's when his broke. Luckily it was still under warranty. I have been spending a great deal of time trying to figure out a way to justify buying a high quality digital when I have so many other expenses. The fact is I am lost without my camera , it's not good for my blog, my business, my far away family or my mental health. So i ordered a new camera for my son and I'll borrow it and hopefully by the time summer rolls around I'll have stashed away enough to buy that canon eos

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Todays haul

Today's haul
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
Today was the first estate sale I've been to this year. I went for the button collection . We had to wait over an hour ( in 23 degree weather) to get inside. They only let a few people in at once. I was number 65 and I thought for sure the buttons would be gone, but I got 2 huge jars and a bunch of other sewing things. I love old tools and supplies , Today's finds included a 6"embroidery hoop exactly like the one I learned on. It is really nice wood, so much smother than today's models with a thin strip of felt to help snug the fabric. No tightening hardware so it was easy to learn with and not get tangled. Another find was a sweet little pincushion to hang on the wall. I think that's a great idea and I'm going to hang mine is side my closet for safety pins and to put the pins I take out of my husband's new shirts. I think I'll make a few to gift to girlfriends.
The best find were the two giant jars of buttons from Victorian times up to now . While sorting through them I love to imagine the garments they were on and think about the people that wore them. These were the buttons of stylish people. The men wore white shirts and the women pretty dresses. There were few utilitarian buttons. No uniform buttons.There were lots of pearl shirt buttons and smooth colorful Bakelite, Glass , cut steels and rhinestones. Big fancy coat buttons,small figural plastics and big chunky Lucite. Unfortunately they had all been stored together and I had to throw out many of the celluloid, composition , fabric and 2 part buttons. If you have old buttons it is worth the trouble to separate them by material and keep like kinds together because some will disintegrate or rust when stored with others. This person had saved her extra fabric buttons, beautiful velvets, silks and crocheted buttons It was a shame to have to toss them. All but the most recent were rotting away , but you could see they were once beautiful. It took me all afternoon to sort them., my dwindling selection of red green, pink and pink replenished . My stock of black ,white, brown and grey now overflowing.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Alice's set

Alice's set
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
This order serves as a perfect example of the dangers of attention deficit crafting. I had an order for 2 sleeves from one of my favorite customers . She is a real peach and has sent business my way many times. I wanted to really make this set perfect. I made the outer sleeve and it fit like a glove. I started on the small sleeve. The small sleeve required extra padding so I used 2 layers of padding and was going to quilt it. I didn't want the quilting to detract from the fabric, so I hand quilted around each of the skulls.I wish it showed in the photo ( still using the broken canon) It came out really nice and I had a button that was a perfect match for the eyes on one of the skulls. I was ready to take the shot when I noticed I had made the sleeve with the skulls facing upside down. I had marked the fabric which side up in the interfacing but i used a fade away marker . I was distracted and left it on the table for a hour and when I came back, the marking had faded and I completely forgot that the fabric had an up and down. Well no problem I thought, I had plenty of the skull fabric. When I went to get more of the aqua ling I only had a small piece left. I dashed off to the fabric store, no more, I went to the next store none. So I came home and tore through my scrap bags and found another piece just the length I needed. I worked very carefully and got the bag out of it but what a waste of time and energy! I'll never use a fading marker for that again!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Button up your overcoat

Winter is finally here. Today the highest temp in my yard was 10. It was nice and sunny but with the wind it was brutal. Good time to stay inside and sew. I would love post a WIP but my camera is broken and I am waiting to see if I want to fix it or trash it. I bought this camera, a Nikon after my first digital; a Canon broke on a day just like today. My son was playing Hockey at the Larz Anderson Rink in Brookline. It's an outdoor rink on the top of a hill that gives a lovely view of Boston. I didn't want to leave the camera in my car so I kept it with me wrapped in a scarf and took loads of picture of the game and the view but the cold was too much and the screen froze. So take care of your digitals on a cold day.
I have a nice pile of things cut and ready to sew, headbands, oilcloth bags, and some jewelry pouches for Valentines Day . I am giving the Etsy Showcase ads another chance next week. I signed back on before I realized that they would be placing the ads on alternative sites instead of Boing Boing.
Time to sew. Hopefully I'll be back soon with some pics of the finished projects.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Well this is a bummer...

So I am finally able to post . I decide to clean up my blog and when I change the template and attempt to paste in all my links I find that the disk I copied to is corrupted . So new links a new page ( for now I like simple but it's a little stark . Then my camera breaks .Great

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'm in!

I have no idea how it happened but I can now access my blog again. First through flickr now the right way ! Hurrah! So to catch up ... I've been busy still mainly sewing. The warm winter has made it possible for me to continue working in my basement without having to stoke up the wood burning stove to keep cool. A small portable radiator found at the recycle center is very efficient and much cheaper to run than burning wood in our old stove. Our basement is insulated very well. My Hawaiian plants - banana,taro and sweet potato spend the winter there and it is only a lack of sunlight that gives the any stress.
My Etsy shop plods along . V2 is not what it was cracked up to be , and while it has some cool features, finding anything is like searching for a needle in a haystack. The search engine is primitive beyond belief. The influx of new vendors has lead to widespread abuse by resellers, importers and people who think they can list anything they like as long as they call it vintage. They are under staffed and over worked. There are people who have found a way to exploit the system, but without considerable effort on my part to bring business directly to my store, I am not gaining new business. In fact my views have dropped considerably. I took advantage of their first joint advertising campaign in December. It was to be on BoingBoing the blog that has brought me more business than any other source. I asked for 3 days in early December. I ended up with the 19,20 and 21st of December and in 3 days sold 4 items all to non paying buyers . I've never had a non paying buyer before. The new shopping cart system also has it's problems but I think they are one thing that can and will be fixed . I'm not so sure about the other problems.
So marketing was taking up so much of my time that I didn't have enough left to create new things and fell back on making the same old same old to keep the shop filled. Of course there are things I will always make and sell, but my idea notebook has grown dusty.
So this year I will focus on making new things. The best thing about etsy is that it's cheap to sell there. I can clean out my scrap bag once a month and make a batch of headbands and put them there and throw in all my prototypes but this year my main focus will be making new things, perfecting techniques and taking things from notebook to finished product on my own time.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Upcycle bb entry

Upcycle bb entry
Originally uploaded by Saltygal.
Wow! I think I finally figured out a way to get back into my blog through flicker ! I have had trouble ever since google came on scene. Anyway if this makes it you'll be seeing more posts from me.