Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy holidays and thanks!

Here's what Blue Star Vermont aprons might look like underneath your Christmas tree. 

We know what is on this American Girl Doll's wish list – an apron, a quilted oven mitt and a girl with an apron to match!

We want to thank our family and friends who have been so good to us this year as we have given birth to Blue Star Vermont. There has been so much love and encouragement along the way through our computer meltdown moments, our late night rounds with Adobe photoshop and battles with learning to get a blog to work. There have been so many who tried on our aprons, held a camera, gave helpful feedback and shared our love for what we do. Special thanks to all our wonderful customers who bought our aprons and bibs. We hope we have helped all you apronistas stay a little cleaner, cook a little happier and have more fun in the kitchen.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ruffling on an Antique Sewing Machine.

Our vintage Deck of Card Aprons are embellished with loads of white ruffling which we make by hand. Our latest project has been learning how to do this using the ruffling attachment on Molly's antique treadle sewing machine which you can take a peak at in the photo here.  Isn't this machine a beauty?  No electricity for this machine. It is powered by Molly's feet. We love the steel engraving  illustrations in the instruction booklet that came with the machine. Any one else have a surviving and thriving treadle machine?

Here is Molly's very first attempt at using the ruffling attachment. It worked! The result: A heart apron made from 1940's tea apron pattern, with ruffling sewn on an antique treadle sewing machine. Truly a trip back in time.

Sewing Tip #1: Using Sewing Weights

We have loved finding antique patterns, holding the yellowed instruction pages, unfolding the tissue pattern pieces, and stepping into the lives of the women who held these patterns over fifty years ago. Each pattern we open is a chance to step back in time. Some of the patterns have been used. Many still have the original  factory folds. Because these pattern pieces are antiques, we treat them with the respect they deserve.

We carefully place the tissue pattern pieces on to paper to be traced. This roll of  tracing paper was upcycled  from Molly's other life as a physical therapist. Instead of  flattening and pinning the pattern pieces to hold them in place, we use pink sewing weights to secure them. We work then from our new traced pattern pieces rather than our antique pattern pieces for cutting out our fabrics. Molly learned about using sewing weights many years ago from a wonderful Thai woman. When Molly was buying silk for her wedding dress, this Thai seamstress passed on to Molly the tradition  in her family of using stones rather than pins to hold down and cut precious silks. Sewing weights are great to use instead of pinning for cutting out those special delicate fabrics that might show pin marks.

In this photo you can see the pattern pieces for this 1940's skirt are unmarked, unlike the pattern pieces we are so used to seeing on the market today. Little holes mark special placements.

Anyone have a sewing tip to share?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Portion of Apple Apron Sales to Go to VT Flood Relief

Hurricane Irene was kind to us. Our house was fine, power came back, the sewing machines are up and running. Fortunately our road (which you see in this photo) had at least one lane open all the way to my twin sister's house.

Many friends and neighbors were dealt a more serious blow. In the middle of those roiling waters, people faced incredible tests of strength and spirit. The stories are boundless.

One woman shared her story facing the Ottaquechee River in Woodstock.  She realized she had to evacuate, got in her car, tried to leave by one road and saw it was flooded. She tried the only other road, but the water rose up around her car. The engine stalled, and the waters began to carry her car into the raging river. The water rose up to the dashboard, and she was unable to open her doors. Luckily, she was able to open a window. She climbed out  the window as the car lodged on a tree. Looking up, she saw a high school boy at the river's edge. He had a rope tied around his waist. He in turn, was tied to his father further up the river bank who also tied to his mother beyond him. The woman reached for the boy and lost her footing. As she was falling into the river, he reached across the hood of the car, and he grabbed her wrists. The son with the father's and mother's strength together pulled her up to safety. If not for those hands, that raging river was ready to take her away.

We have all had moments someone reached out in some way and carried us to safety. Our experience may have been as dramatic as this, or perhaps more subtle. These experiences can change us forever.
The waters from Irene have receded, but our landscape has changed. Many people in Vermont are reeling from the effects. Like so many we want to reach out and help. We decided one way we can help is to donate 10% of the sale of all our apple aprons from now through Christmas to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.

The four aprons can be found here:
  • Vintage Apple Full Apron in Red
  • Vintage Apple Full Apron in Green
  • Vintage Apple Half Apron in Red
  • Vintage Apple Half Apron in Green

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Enjoying the Adventure

Blue StarVermont has begun quite a  technical ride. Lots of new words in our vocabulary:  link, tweet, twitter, tumblr, pins, links, Photoshop, sharpen, saturate. . . As we navigate all the technology involved in bringing our work out into the world, we have learned it is better to smile when the computer freezes at all the wrong moments. As a matter of fact, why not laugh? Well, laugh we did, when we tried to do a photo shoot for our vintage apple aprons. You can step behind the scene and watch our composure decompose in this clip.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First Try at a Raw Apple Pie

Molly wowed us with her raw apple pie straight out of the dehydrator. It tasted even better served up in our red apple swing apron.

This is her first attempt at a raw apple pie (from The Everything Raw Cookbook by M Snyder and N Faass) and it was a yummy success.

1/2 c raisins
1 1/2 c dates
3 c apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp salt ( I skipped this)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamon
2 Tbs. lemon juice


1. Soak the raisins and dates in water for 20 minutes to reconstitute.
2. To prepare the crust, process the almonds, salt (remember I skipped the salt) and 1 cup dates in a food processor until a batter is formed.  Press the batter into a 9" round pie pan.
3. To prepare the filling, blend together 1 cup apple, 1/2 cup dates, raisins, cinnamon, and cardamon (I didn't have any cardamon so I put in some pinches of nutmeg and allspice)  until smooth.
4. Process the remaining 2 cups of apples in a food processor with the lemon juice.  The apples should be chunky.  Add in the blended filling and briefly pulse until it is well mixed together.
5. Pour the filling into the pie crust.  Refrigerate or dehydrate for 2 hours and serve warm.  

 There wasn't even a crumb left.  

The Queen of Hearts

The first of our deck of cards aprons. It doesn’t get much curvier of flirtier than this. Enough coverage to be practical but way more fun than the average apron. See more about it at Our Shop.

Found: Deck of Cards Pattern for Full Aprons!

We were very pleased to find this tea apron pattern in a full apron for our deck of cards series. Yes, a full apron in each of the suits – hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. We loved opening this mail order pattern with its yellowed unprinted tissue paper pattern pieces. It was traveling back in time to life of the woman who made them perhaps to wear to her bridge club parties.

We have completed the heart, the spade and the diamond. The club apron will be released soon, so you can pick your favorite suit on www.bluestarvermont.etsy.com.

Fussing with the Ladies

We’ve had fun shooting photos of our newest mannequins. Here are the ladies getting ready for our photo shoot at the historic one room schoolhouse next door.

We love thinking about the children who gathered here so many years ago. This lovely brick building holds their memories. If we are not sewing, you can often find us here. We sit on the steps of the schoolhouse for long conversations, the final destination of our walks with my dog, Zephyr.

We want to share with you our Vermont view from the historic schoolhouse. We love it. 

Vintage Half Apron in Pink Zebra Stripe

Vintage Heart Apron in Zebra Stripe
We couldn't resist this pink zebra stripe. With loads of black and white dot ruffling, it is a sweet and sassy take  on our vintage heart half apron.

Found: Vintage Half Apron Pattern!

We found this gem of a 1940's mail order pattern for half aprons in each of the suits - hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds.  Women made them to wear to their bridge club gatherings.  Would you love to hear what they talked about over their bridge tables wearing those aprons?

Vintage Heart Apron
The heart half apron pattern won our hearts. We made it as sumptuous as it can be in an amazing Northcott 100% cotton quilting fabric that feels like silk. This apron is the dozen roses and the box of chocolates rolled into one, without the calories and it will never wilt! Exceptional as a shower gift, wedding gift, anniversary gift, for those falling in love or those hoping to fall in love. (It just might bring good luck) It celebrates Valentines Day all year long. I already have one set aside for my daughter’s trousseau.

Finished with a 100% cotton sateen waistband and ties, it doesn’t get silkier to the touch than this. This “Romancing the Rose” print is filled with gorgeous long stem red rose bouquets and love notes in gold lettering including: “Together forever,” “I love you”, “You are the one for me,” “My heart is Yours.” This apron is definitely over the top.