Thursday, October 8, 2015

Just in case....

If you are at the last SAGA Retreat of 2015 in Valley Forge that is great!

But, just supposing you have forgotten something you need for class? Well, it just happens that right across the road from the DoubleTree Hotel is a sewing shop! Yes, directly across the road-Steve’s Sewing and Vacuum (Details at the end of this blog post). Of course, you do not need to have forgotten something to visit the shop, after all, it is just across the road and you need to get out of the hotel at least once, right?

Then, should you have won too many raffle baskets on Saturday evening and are wondering how best to get them home, there is a FedEx office a short walk from the hotel.  The office is open from Noon until 6 pm on Sunday-how convenient is that? (Details at the end of this post)

Steve’s Sewing and Vacuum

Steve's Sewing Vacuum and Quilting of King of Prussia offers over 3000 bolts of quality fabrics, perfect for quilting or garment sewing. Steve's services all brands of sewing, embroidery, and serger machines and sells quality Bernina, Baby Lock, and Janome machines.


268 W. DeKalb Pike (202)
King of Prussia, PA 19406

PH: 610-768-9453
PH: 800-585-9453

Store Hours:
Monday – Friday: 10am-9pm
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12noon-5pm
FedEx Office Print & Ship Center
99 Town Center Rd
King Of Prussia, PA 19406
(610) 962-0444
Cross W. Dekalb Pike (Route 202) and head east (away from the mall) to Town Center Road. FedEx is a block down on the right.
Store Hours:
Mon-Fri 7:30 am-9:00 pm
Sat     8:00 am -6:00 pm
Sun 12:00 pm- 6:00 pm

Monday, October 5, 2015

A little reminder.....

......of things you might find useful to take if you are heading off to the last SAGA Retreat of 2015 in Valley Forge.

-Basic Sewing Supplies

-Special class requirements (any pre-class homework?)
-Artisan Card
-Address labels for your raffle tickets (or I have some you can use!)
-Kit Fees-cash or cheques made payable to the teacher
-Pens and pencils
-Name tag holder

-Tote Bag

If you are taking a machine class:
-Sewing Machine- with foot pedal; power cords; presser feet; bobbins etc.
-Cart to help transport the machine

Your Mystery of the Five Diamonds smocked insert for Barbara Meger to see and sign your Artisan card!

Any Wee Care items for donation to local area hospitals.

Raffle Basket-if your chapter has one to donate or you have a personal one, don't forget to pack it!

Table favours-if your chapter made them don't forget to bring them! (Everyone loves seeing what goodies they have to take home with them!)

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Man, a car and lace

So, can you imagine where I saw lace being used on a car? Yes, you did read that correctly-lace and car in the same sentence! I was at the weekly car show held at a local diner, here in Connecticut during August and came across lace. There amongst the vintage cars, hot rods, gleaming engines, tyres and testosterone was one special car that caught my eye.

Lace had been used to decorate the car! How? Well the owner used panels of lace and sprayed paint over them. The image it created is the decoration on his car. Talking to him, Eddie said he obtained the lace from a local petticoat manufacturer for $3 and used each panel twice, as the paint made the lace too stiff to use after that. He was very surprised to have someone actually know what he used to make the decoration on the paint job of the body work.

Eddie has owned the car since he was in high school and it is tricked out with lots of fun features that make it a little unique to say the least (the seats fold down to make a bed; there is a drinks cabinet in the back, plus over 200 lights, dice used everywhere).  Eddie calls his car 'Earth Angel'.
All I can say is -
Summer days, drifting away,
To uh, oh those summer nights...
Tell me more, tell me more!
Like does he have a car?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Byssus-Silk from the Sea

Silk is usually made from the cocoons spun by silkworms - but did you know that there is another, much rarer, cloth known as sea silk or byssus, which comes from a clam? A lady called Chiara Vigo is thought to be the only person left who can harvest it, spin it and make it shine like gold. Chiara lives on the Sardinian island of Sant’Antioco in the Mediterranean. A sign on her door says that nothing in her home is for sale.

Byssus, which is mentioned on the Rosetta stone and said to have been found in the tombs of pharaohs and some believe this was the cloth God told Moses to lay on the first altar. It was the finest fabric known to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and one of its remarkable properties is the way it shines when exposed to the sun, once it has been treated with lemon juice and spices.

The raw material used to make the silk comes from the glistening aquamarine waters that surround the island. Every spring Vigo goes diving to cut the solidified saliva of a large clam, known in Latin as Pinna Nobilis. Chiara dives in the early morning so she does not attract too much attention and she has company, as the Italian Coast Guard accompany her. The clam is a protected species. It takes 300-400 dives to gather 200 grammes of the material needed to make the silk!

So, if nothing is for sale, what does the lady do with the silk and the fabric she weaves from it? She gives it to those in need who call on her- couples who have recently married; women who want children as Byssus is believed to bring good fortune and fertility. Most of her visitors are Italian. If she is given a christening gown, she will use the silk to embroider on to it.

Years ago a factory was set up to weave the silk and it ran out of business in three months. It seems you cannot profit from the making of this silk on a large scale and something bad has always happened to those who have tried in the past.

Harvesting and weaving the silk has been a family tradition and Chiara was taught by her grandmother, who in turn was taught by her mother and so on for generations. There are a few other women in Apulia (the heel of Italy) who can weave the silk, but none can make it shine or dye it with the traditional colours as Chiara can. And Chiara is the only person who harvests byssus- the silk of the sea.

To read more about this incredible material please visit the BBC Magazine website

Photo from the BBC Magazine website.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Displaying Vintage Linens

Do you have a collection of vintage linens? You know the sort of thing, it may be hankies; hand towels, doilies or pieces of lace. Maybe you collect one specific type of linen or maybe your collection spans many areas. Whatever you collect, do you display them or keep them stored away somewhere?

I fall into the category of a collector of miscellaneous items. My collection contains something of everything and it is hard to know how to display them so that I might enjoy and be inspired by them, but at the same time keep them away from sunlight and dust.

Somewhere along journey looking for the ideal solution I decided that acid free clear storage pages from the office supply shop and binders was the way to go. This system affords me easy access to look at my pieces; a way to categorize the items and keeps them away from sunlight and dust.  The system also allows for easy expansion- just buy another binder and more clear pages!

I also acquired or rescued several beautifully embroidered collars. A couple of which were actually uncut. One of these even has some writing on waste area of fabric which I think is the name of the person who either embroidered or ordered it. It is very faint and illegible, which is unfortunate. These collars are so pretty that I decided to frame them and that decision made, I went with glass back and front so it is easy to see both sides of the pieces. These frames are displayed on a shelf in my spare bedroom, which is first and foremost a sewing room which I let overnight guests use to sleep in!

I still have linens and lace pieces stored in a cupboard. Pieces I hope to use to make something with one day and pieces for trimming that special piece. The pieces that are on display or in my storage folders are the crème de la crème items!

So how do you store your special collections? I would love to know. I am always looking for a better or alternative way to preserve my pieces and also have them easily to hand for inspiration.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Things to do in Valley Forge

The last SAGA Retreat in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania will soon be here and if while you are there you want to do something other than stitch, then the following will be of interest. There are many places from shopping malls to historical areas and local neighbourhoods and city centres to explore. It might be an idea to stay a little longer as the area is especially pretty and colourful in the autumn.

King of Prussia Mall (
The hotel is located just down the road from the largest mall in the United States, The King of Prussia Mall. You can shop in over 400 American and European retailers including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor, along with a collection of luxury shops. The mall is only a short distance away and is easily accessible from the hotel. Enjoy a nice walk or take the hotel courtesy shuttle directly to the mall complex. Details on the shuttle service are available at the hotel front desk.

Mall Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Premium Outlets (
Just 18 miles from the hotel are the Philadelphia outlets, so if you have access to a car an easy drive. The outlets are located in Limerick, Pennsylvania and has 150 outlet stores, including names like, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, J.Crew, Nike, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Coach, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Sony, Tommy Hilfiger and more.

Philadelphia Premium Outlets Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 10am – 7pm

Valley Forge Historic National Park (
Nearby Valley Forge Historic National Park is a great destination for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike. Valley Forge National Historical Park is known for its role in the American Revolution. The park pays tribute to the ability of Americans to pull together and overcome adversity during extraordinary times. The Valley Forge National Historical Park is accessible in many ways. Formal tours are available by a themed trolley, bicycle or by foot. It is open from dawn to dusk year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Visitor Center and other park buildings are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The City of Philadephia (
Of course there is always the city of Philly to visit too! There are so many things to do that it is easier to visit their website to find out more, but of course some of the most popular are:

Reading Terminal Market- Established in 1892 at 12th and Arch Streets, it is the nations oldest continuously operating farmer’s market. A food lovers paradise, it is the place to shop for all local produce such as meats, cheeses and desserts.

The Liberty Bell Center-where you can learn everything about the Bell from fact to fiction! Do you know where the Bell was made?*

Philadelphia Museum of Art- the third largest art museum in the country.

Independence Hall-In the summer of 1776, 56 men gathered and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, creating one unified nation.

The Betsy Ross House- Of course you should visit the home of the lady who stitched the first Stars and Stripes flag! The home is also a museum alive with the sights and sounds of the 18th century.

You can also visit the local countryside and this link will take you to the website for the area:
*Cast at London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the bell arrived in Philadelphia in August 1752. Because the metal was too brittle, it cracked during a test strike and had to be recast twice. The final version—made of 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver—weighed around 2,080 pounds and measured 12 feet in circumference around the lip and 3 feet from lip to crown. No one really knows when the final version cracked but there are many theories!
Editors Note:
Some of the photos used in this blog were from the Visit Philadelphia website, Press pages.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

One Stitch at a Time.......

Don't you think those words say a lot?

'One Stitch at a Time.....'

I am sure like me, you have one or two (or more) projects on the go at one time and sometimes think you will never get to the end of them? Or maybe you have one really big project, like a christening gown, first birthday dress, SAGA class project-you get the idea.

But really, what does it take to get the project finished? Just 'One Stitch at a Time' !

The person who lives at this house in Lambertsville, New Jersey must think that too as they have those words stitched on a chair back and painted on a door sign!