ideas - inspiration - stuff

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

moorish costume

as i was cleaning out some closets recently, i came across a portfolio from my art school days: a study of the moorish costume in sketches and tea-stained collages with stamps, postcards and maps. with a shock i realized this was made 25 years ago, yikes... i often wonder what it would be like to go back to school and take the exact same classes again now.

Monday, January 28, 2013

more doilies

a doily (or doilie) is an ornamental mat, originally the name of a fabric made by doiley, a 17th century london draper. doily earlier meant "genteel, affordable woolens", evidently from the same source. this according to wikipedia. doilies are also among the most useless of decorative objects. but no more! i spent a weekend pinning a bunch of doilies onto a hanes boys' undershirt ($9.99 for a pack of 5), and then stitching them on by hand. louise is modeling.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

bib necklace

it's time to bring some bling to this dreary weather: gather a bunch of decorative stuff that is more or less in the same color family: chains, buttons, pendants, earrings that have lost their mate, sequins, rhinestones..... cut two pieces of fabric (a heavier ground works best) in a u-shape and stitch them together with the machine, right side out, leave the edges to fray. hand sew a piece of ribbon to either end, this will be the closure. then comes the fun part: attach all your stray bits & pieces with a glue gun, leaving no area uncovered. more is more!
this really works best when you limit yourself to a color or theme: i have made versions that are all-black mixed media, all mother of pearl buttons, i even made a stone version with small pebbles... you can also experiment with the width & shape of the bib, make it pointy in front, or make it more like a collar that wraps all around. experiment!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


after reading this awesome tutorial on how to cut t-shirt yarn, i just had to try it. as it turns out, one t-shirt is just enough yarn to crochet one potholder, which i then bordered with a single crochet stitch in a contrasting shade. a great recycling project for all those worn-out t-shirts.... and who could not use an extra potholder?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


as i was going through my growing stash of design books last weekend, i stumbled upon "labors of love" by by judith reiter weissman and wendy lavitt (1987 - wings books/random house), an absolutely fascinating exploration of american textiles and needlework from 1630 through 1930. such a wealth of material is covered in this book, it cannot be done justice with just one post. so i will start by just showing some examples of early nineteenth-century jacquard coverlets, often executed in indigo and white cotton/wool. these feel so current right now, it is amazing they are almost 2 centuries old.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I made these out of the much beloved striped t-shirts, now too small for my kids to wear. Cut
both front and back of t-shirt into equal length quarter inch wide strips, by following the "grain" of the jersey fabric (so cut from top to bottom, not from left to right). Gather all strips and fold over through the loop of the keychain hardware. Tie underneath with an extra fabric strip & make sure to double knot. Give your tassel a "haircut" to make sure all the strips are a similar length. There are so many fun uses for these:
- keychains
- attach to backpacks & purses
- turn into curtain tie-backs
- adorn roman shade pull cords
- identify suitcases
- wear one as a necklace
- border scarves with a bunch of small tassels

The second tassel was made with tiny strips of silk. The fraying is part of the undone look, embrace it! The third tassel was dip-dyed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

black and white

here is a new black-and-white version of the plastic bowl i made for easter last year: a great project to do with bored kids over this long holiday weekend and easy to do: coat the inside of an oven-safe bowl in cooking spray, put one layer of "melty beads" inside (stack them up the sides) and put in a 350 degree oven. check regularly (our bowl took about 20 minutes). contrary to what you may think, the melted plastic does not even smell that bad.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

meneer beer

as a child a had a gigantic blue-and-white stuffed bear. he was so huge, he took up most of my bed, but he slept with me every night. i think my parents still have him somewhere in the basement of our house. i was never into dolls, but bears are cool. my former employer - and renowned trend forecaster - li edelkoort called hers "meneer beer", that's "mister bear" in dutch. these creatures are loved to pieces by kids all over the world. the simplest ones are the best, such as these plain knitted ones from "the big book of soft toys" by mabst tyler (wolfe publishing ltd. 1972).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

thank you

a very big thank-you to british magazine "cloth" for writing such a lovely little blurb on this blog. what a nice way to start the new year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

buttons and shoelaces

my favorite new diy project: sew small mother-of-pearl buttons to vintage shoelaces. tie or tape shoelaces together. voila soufflé! mine is about 6 shoelaces long so i can double up on layers or wear it long.... and i do foresee the roaring twenties style long necklaces - a la great gatsby - making a comeback.


i saw this faux coral necklace at a flea market, picked it up and - before i could inquire about it - the sales lady enthusiastically exclaimed "100% genuine plastic!". sold! for $8...

Saturday, January 5, 2013


i went to the same catholic school in belgium from kindergarten through high school, so i wore the same navy blue school uniform for 16 straight years (no joke). you can see how the need for name tags in each item of clothing was very real, especially given that i had two sisters who are very close in age to me. these tags were typically woven in red and white, and are such a visual reminder of my childhood, i just had to share. my mom was nice enough to have similar ones made for my kids when they were born. :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

folk art

i was never really a big fan of americana, folk or tramp art.... until i found this book in a secondhand shop in the catskills last week: "patchwork folk art - using appliqué and quilting techniques" by janet bolton (sterling publishing, 1995). it takes it all back to the basics. no garish colors and cheap materials here, just pure naive artistry in tea-stained linens and cottons. gorgeous.