west ocean city and assateague island

Friday, August 27, 2010

Just got back from another vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. This visit was completely different from the kid-oriented trip we took earlier in the season. We stayed in a condo in a wooded area west of ocean city, a 30 minute drive to the National Seashore on Assateague Island.
I took a sightseeing jaunt by myself early one morning because I was so intrigued with all the tumble-down old houses in the area. They look extra mysterious in the morning mist.
This is what it looks like 10 minutes west of all the hubbub on the main drag of Ocean City.
Country charm.
Spooky graveyard.
Not so successful business.
A stones throw from large, newly constructed homes are these modest 1930's & 40's homes. There is a certain beauty in the simplicity of them, mixed with decay. I like to imagine them in their heyday with fresh paint, gingham curtains, roses by the porch, and a well-tended vegetable garden out back. Most look unoccupied, then a sign of life... a face at the screen...
Oh, to be able to fix up one of these! The owners of this one gave up and put up a vinyl-sided modular home right next to it. The farms are limping along, gradually being bought up by developers.
The marshy bay side of Assateague Island. A world away from Ocean City proper.
Nothing more kid-friendly than a day collecting shells on the beach.
Fawns along the access road. The wildlife is used to cars and tourists. The kids were going berserk in the back seat at being so close to the deer and the famous wild ponies of Assateague.
Many times, we've seen the the ponies come down to the beach here, oblivious to the beach-goers, but this week they stayed hidden until we were driving out on the last day. My daughter & I have been working our way though Marguerite Henry's books about the ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague and it would have been quite the disappointment not to catch a glimpse. I recommend the books, by the way, for a 9 year-old audience. Written in the 1940's, they are somewhat dated now, but I get to do a rural Maryland accent.

Now back to work in the studio...

first blogiversary!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I just realized yesterday was my first "blogiversary"! I had a funny feeling today and went back to my first post to confirm it. Two years ago I didn't even know what a blog was, then I started sewing again and kept stumbling across these wonderful projects on other people's sites and  got swept up in it. When I started the blog I wasn't sure I'd have enough to talk about or the stamina to stick with it. I've never been able to keep a journal of any kind in the past, but here I am! It's turned out to be something enjoyable that I don't have to force myself to do, and it's been more personally beneficial than I expected. I've had my most productive year creatively than I've had in, oh, a decade. I've thought things through more and completed more projects than I would have otherwise. Following though with setting up my studio and opening the Etsy shop were biggies. And it looks like a few people are actually reading it which is rather nice, so thanks for stopping by!

exploring fabric row, philadelphia

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One day last week I went exploring on Fabric Row in the Queen Village neighborhood in southeast Philadelphia. Philly is so close to Wilmington, you'd think I'd go there more often than New York City, but so far I haven't. Me thinks that'll have to change.
Fabric Row is like a mini version of the NYC garment district. There are 18 or so shops (listed here) all concentrated on a few blocks of South 4th Street from South Street to Catharine Street.
     green=fabric row   blue=parking   orange= I95
 click on the map to enlarge
Coming from south of Philly, I take 95 north past the airport to the Washington Street exit near Penn's Landing. Follow Washington west to 5th street & turn right. Follow fifth up to Bainbrindge where all the parking is. It's angled metered parking, and on a weekday morning, it wasn't hard to get a spot. I had a finite number of quarters though, so I had to limit my stay to 1 1/2 hours which wasn't enough.

I've had success in the past at B. Wilk Fabrics at 618 4th Street when I was in the market for draperies, but they only do home furnishing fabrics. I wanted to get some classic men's shirtings like maybe some oxford cloth, chambray, or broadcloth. I tried Maxie's Daughter at 724 South 4th Street. Half the store is devoted to apparel fabrics: decent linens, wools and evening fabrics, but no shirtings. Eric, son of the owner, pointed out that "nobody makes their own shirts anymore". I suppose that's true, but I'm gonna make some.
 burn test at Jack B. Fabrics
Jack B. Fabrics at 748 South 4th Street had some shirtings. Yay! I found high quality 100% cotton blue oxford cloth and a sweet cotton lawn covered with tiny flower embroideries. I got the whole bolt of the lawn since I'm sure I'll never see it again. The owner waited on me and did a burn test to make sure the oxford cloth was 100% cotton. She said she's never quite sure since she buys her apparel fabrics from jobbers.
dupionis at Jack B. Fabrics
The majority of the Jack B. store is home furnishing fabrics, but they did have a nice selection of dupioni silks which can go either way.

I went in Kinkus Fabrics at 754 South 4th and didn't find what I needed either, but the kind person who waited on me was ever so knowledgeable and knew right where everything was. They had a lot of men's suitings and a tailor working out of the back. So old school- I love it!
Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet
A peek in Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet revealed a diverse inventory. I found some real camel hair and cashmere towards the back that reminded me I want to make a camel a-line inverted pleat skirt this fall. I didn't get the fabric though, because I'm too busy trying to get the shop ready for fall right now to work on it. Gotta stay disciplined.
 Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet
PA Fabric Outlet also had leather and the biggest selection of buttons on Fabric Row.

On the way back to the car I found some wide 100% cotton ($10/yd) chambray at A & J Fabrics at 757 South 4th Street. It was a clean and organized store compared to most of the others, but not the place to go for bargains necessarily. Most of their cottons were in the $14 range.

Bottom line: if you're looking for something specific, budget for more time and go in every single store on Fabric Row. With patience, you may find it.

humble flowers

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's not fall yet. But that's ok.
I was out in the garden today after ignoring it for a few weeks. Despite not watering, fertilizing, or weeding, the old standbys are in full bloom. I love the humble, sturdy varieties as much as the fragile short-lived ones because even with the sun beating down mercilessly, they don't let me down.
We have to have sunflowers outside the kitchen window every year. Makes me feel like I am in the south of France.
Echinacea. Getting a little bleached out, but still doing fine.
Coreopsis Moonbeam. I like the buttery shade of the Moonbeam hybrid.
Black-eyed susans are so carefree and bloom forever. Happy end of summer!

boot lust, fall 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Every year at this time I start wanting a new pair of boots. I usually get sticker shock and talk myself out of it, but I'm really tempted this year.
I just bought these for my daughter from Lands' End. She still lets me dress her for the most part, so I didn't even ask her if she liked them first. I do tend to be one of those moms who dresses her kids better than herself, so do I let a 9-year-old get away with looking better than me this fall?

These are real condenders. They are casual enough without having rubber soles and look like you could tuck skinny jeans into them.
I sure do love a classic equestrian riding boot as well.
I seem to be gravitating to Frye boots. I know I 'm dating myself, but I remember the Frye name being big when I was in high school in the 80's. They still make the boot everyone had back then. I never liked it, but I like all of these.
I remember these boots from high school also. Everyone had the moccasins with the beading on the front, but only the rebel types had these. I could see these now with leggings and a big comfy sweater lounging around the house. Price is right, anyway.
Perfect with a skirt or dress.

Very similar to the Born boot. Worn with an a-line camel wool skirt with a deep inverted pleat in the front: divine
I might even wear a plaid shirt if I had these.