Sunday, November 11, 2012

On the Road

      Blue Star Vermont is now taking our shop on the road! Yes, we have enjoyed packing up our shop to bring our aprons to craft fairs. It has been a great way to meet the wonderful people who buy our aprons. And the stories, so many stories... We had one woman at a show last weekend become very nostalgic looking at our swing skirt apron with the comes to a point hemline from our 1940's pattern. She said she fondly remembers her mother wearing that apron pattern. It was her “good” apron that she wore as her hostess apron. 
      Our craft fairs are one time where we, as twins, indulge in dressing alike and of course, wear our aprons. There are lots of double takes. But we were truly touched at one show when three different sets of adult women twins came to our booth beaming with smiles. Three set of twins at once! It is not often that we see adult women twins together because people's lives take them all across the country and miles away from each other. One set of the twins through adoption had been separated at birth and didn't know the other twin existed until well into adulthood. One twin lived in Hawaii and the other in Vermont. Reunited, they now live next door to each other in Vermont. We all loved sharing our favorite twin moments. I shared that Molly and I realized one day we both had randomly set up combination of numbers for our bank account pass code that were identical! One of the other set of twins had done the same thing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Slip-on Potholder

       I've always preferred to reach for an oven mitt rather than a potholder in my kitchen. But we've been asked for potholders to match our aprons enough times that I thought I would give them a try.
      I don't really like the idea of sewing all that bias tape trim that I see on most potholders, so I played around a bit with designing something different. I decided on a sandwich method of construction where I pile up the layers, sandwich them wrong side out, sew around the square and turn it right side out. No need for bias tape trim. But it seemed a little dull to me. How could I make it more interesting? With hand grips on the back! That way I can have fun adding other colors and fabrics (and the part of me that really wants to be able to slip my hand into an oven mitt for more protection and a better grip is happy.)   
 Here's my first go at a tutorial - sharing my slip-on potholders with you. These potholders make a wonderful, easy project for beginning sewers. I wish I had this project when I was introducing machine sewing to eighth graders at our Waldorf School. They are a marvelous way to put your fabric scraps to good use. Plus, they are a great gift for holiday giving, teacher gifts, hostess gifts, or maybe just a gift to yourself, replacing those grungy old potholders in your kitchen.

What you need:

  •  8” square fabric for the front
  •  8” square fabric for the back
  •  Two 8” squares of fabric for the hand grips
  • Two 8” squares of insulation. I use one layer of 100% cotton batting and a layer of Insul-bright. This is a heat resistant polyester layer available at Joanns. You could also use two layers of cotton batting or maybe repurpose heavy wool coats, old worn blankets, etc.
  •  4” of bias tape (stitched closed) or ribbon for the hanging

     Begin by cutting your six 8”squares. Using a cutting mat, a rotary cutter and a measuring grid, will make this part so much easier. If you have the material for more than one, it is easy to cut multiples. Once you have cut your pieces, you are almost half way finished.

       Next, the back. Take your two squares that will become your hand grips and fold them on the diagonal so they form two triangles. Press.

       Making your hand grips on the back. Lay your two folded triangle pieces onto the right side of your back square. Make sure the two folded ends meet along the diagonal of the square. Attach these two triangles to your back square using a basting stitch leaving a 1/4” seam allowance.

          Now to build your sandwich. First, the insulating layers. Think of these as the bread of your sandwich. Place your two layers of insulation side by side. (If you are using Insul-Bright, make sure the shinier, heat resistance side is facing up) You are ready for the innards. Take your top piece. Put a pin at the corner you want to be the top of the potholder where you want your hanging loop to be. Place your top fabric piece right side up on the Insul-Bright or cotton layer. Take your assembled square for your back and place it right side up on the other layer of insulation.

      Assembling your sandwich. Take both your top half and bottom half and sandwich them together with right sides facing each other in the middle. Make sure the diagonal opening for the hand grips lines up with the top. When you've built your sandwich, you should be looking at the two layers of batting on the outside of your sandwich. You may notice my little porcupine buddy watching out for me here. That little porcupine pincushion just may be my next tutorial.

      On to the sewing. Pin one side of your sandwich ending where you placed the pin for the top. Leaving a 3/8” seam allowance, sew one side of your sandwich ending with the pin for the top.

     Adding your hanging loop. Take your bias tape or ribbon for your hanging loop and fold it in half. Open up your sandwich and slide your folded hanging loop right up to the seam you just finished where you marked your top. Now close up your sandwich and securing the hanging loop with your seam, finish sewing the other three sides, leaving a 3 ½” inch opening in the middle of your last side for turning right side out.

     Trim the corners to reduce the bulk. You will be glad you did.

     The fun part - turn your potholder right side out through the 3 1/2” opening. When you have it right side out, you can stick your fingers into the corners to get them as sharp as you can. Sew an edge stitch all along the outside edge to give your potholder a nice finish and close up the opening.


    Sew one more layer of stitching ¾” from the outside edge. Voila! A lovely new potholder which looks so nice you just might have to hang it up by the loop for all to see. 

   The potholder I just finished matches my favorite aprons in the shop: the Reversible Apron in Everglades Stripes and the Vintage Apron in Everglades Stripes.  So now it is your turn. See what you can cook up at your sewing machine.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

For Children in the Kitchen

     The wooden kitchen made by Angel and Elves held a beloved place in our house when Liam was growing up. He became the baker, the chef, then the restauranteer during those many hours working away in front of that kitchen. Seeds got planted in front of that kitchen that he carries with him today as a student cooking gluten-free for himself at Brown University.

          Remembering the importance of kitchen play, we are happy to announce the arrival of our latest children's aprons, oven mitts and chef hats! What we love about this new apron is that even the youngest children can put it on and take it off by themselves, helping to build independence, self esteem and confidence. It has an elastic neck strap which slides over the head easily and a back strap which closes with velco. There are no ties to think about. The pattern is adapted from Meg McElwee's Child's Apron from her wonderful blog: We love this apron so much we are making it in four charming fabrics: Childs Apron in Green Apples, Childs Apron in Red Cherries, Childs Apron in Tie-Dye Print and Childs Apron in Pink Posies.


           I always had a step up stool next to the kitchen counter so Liam could join right with me in preparing food, cooking and baking. To help complete the cook's outfit are the necessary oven mitts. We now make oven mitts to match all of our aprons. Our child's mitts have the same  quilted shape and look as the oven mitts we make for Mom & Dad. We have scaled down our adult oven mitts (made from an antique pattern) to a size which comfortably fits young hands from age 3 up to 8 or maybe 9.
     We make two different versions of our mitts. One is quilted with a soft layer of 100% cotton batting, perfect for pretend play. For the young one ready to work with handling hot items in the kitchen with supervision, we also make this size child's mitt with an additional heat resistant layer of Insul-Bright just like our adult oven mitts.


     To top it all off, we had to make a chef hat. Isn't it wonderful how simply putting on a hat can transform us into a role? We make this hat in three different colors to coordinate with all our aprons: Childs Chef Hat in Green, Childs Chef Hat in Pink, and Childs Chef Hat in Yellow.
      Imagine your young one donning an apron, hat and a pair of oven mitts and becoming the baker or the chef.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mens Flame Aprons Have Arrived! And What About For the Women?

We have loved making our vintage aprons for women, but what about those wonderful men in the kitchen and at the grill? You have asked for it and now we have it. A Blue Star Vermont apron for men! We finally found an antique pattern and a fabric that we are excited about for those great guys. The pattern is a vintage 1950's “his and hers” pattern. It's a hoot. You can see the gentleman in the photo of the pattern smoking his pipe with the lovely lady looking quite demure. Can you believe the original pattern cost only $.25? Those were the days.

As for the fabric, we wanted it to be fun. Well, we found a great fabric in our flame print. Then to make this apron even better, why not make it reversible? It is practical. Two temperatures to choose from. There's a striking black background on one side with a fabulous flame pocket, or turn up the heat all the way with all that fire on the other side. No wonder Kate Payne in her blog: The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking called it our “Studly Man Apron.” Could this be the perfect apron for your favorite flame?
When Liam, our wonderful model for the Studly Man Apron, finished with the photographing, he said “How about a women's apron to match?” We could heat up the scene on that vintage “his and hers” pattern and send it spinning with our hot flame print on the woman's apron. Then I thought what about a flame image for the pocket? How could I make a pocket that looks like fire? Is it even possible to cut and sew points that will suggest flame in a pocket shape that will fit a hand slipping into it? Two weeks and about 16 tries later, I finally designed a  pocket shape that did it. The bold yellow flame pocket really lights up the apron.  This apron has it all: a great shape, a sweetheart neckline, and a flirty swing to the skirt. It is an apron for the woman who is really wants to get things sizzling in the kitchen.
      So now we have a "his and hers" apron set for the couple who is ready to have fun in the kitchen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy Hearts Day!

     We took a peak around our shop and tallied up nine aprons that feature hearts! From our vintage Queen of Hearts Full Apron, to our four Valentine Heart Half Aprons, and not to forget those wonderful heart pockets on our Red and Green Apple Full Aprons, our  Hibiscus Apron, and our Vintage Pink and Purple Flower Apron, the hearts definitely have it.
        Our Romancing the Rose Half Apron is the ultimate tribute to Valentines Day. This sumptuous apron 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 ---  perfect  to wear as you bake away or celebrate the day. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vintage Aprons for Vermont Flood Relief

The devastation from Hurricane Irene was incredible, but so were the heart opening miracles that came with that storm. One story came though the big, old, slow St. Bernard who hangs out every day at a general store down Route 106, not far from us. During the storm, this dog walked near the edge of a deep ravine where the heavy storms waters raged in the river below. His owners saw their beloved dog slip off that edge and fall 80 feet below into the roiling waters filled with felled trees, cars, trucks, and all the debris being carried off by the terrible storm. Their hearts were broken. There was absolutely nothing they could do. To everybody's amazement, two days later their wonderful old dog found his way back the many miles and with tail wagging, walked up to their front door. Anything is possible.

While we were selling our aprons at a local Christmas Craft Fair, a woman from Waterbury, Vermont approached our table and saw our sign explaining that we are donating a portion of the sale of all our apple aprons to the Vermont Flood Relief Effort ( see October 9). She started to tear up. She said she is one of those people who is being helped by that fund. Her home was devastated by Tropical Storm Irene. It was unlivable. Over the last months she has had so many people, from contractors to electricians, many complete strangers, who have reached out and offered help, worked on her house and given time and money. She didn't know what she would have done without that help. With tears on her face, she said she was so happy to be able to thank us for being part of that Vermont Flood Relief Effort.

We want to pass on a special thank you to all those who have purchased our apple aprons and supported our Vermont Flood Relief effort. (We've learned that many of you are especially partial to green apples.) We are so pleased with the response that we are continuing our donation into 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vintage Aprons for Dolls

     My twin sister and I have enjoyed researching and collecting antique apron patterns and bringing them back to life in our fabrics. One of our favorite patterns is a mail order pattern from the 1940's we call our “comes to a point” apron. Remember the days of those wonderful swingy skirts of the 40's and 50's? This apron pattern captures that skirt. With a lovely swing to the skirt, a hemline that dips to a point, and topped off with a sweetheart neckline, this apron is flattering to all shapes, sizes and curves.
     One morning I woke up with the idea that I could scale down our “comes to a point” pattern to fit our American Girl dolls and our Waldorf dolls. Working on pattern paper first, I made some adjustments, and tested out my pattern on scrap fabric. It fit the dolls nicely. I decided to sew two different fabrics together to make it reversible. Two different aprons at once! Adding a velcro tab on the back made this apron easy for even the littlest hands to put on and take off. Next was  choosing what fabrics would be the right scale pattern for this little  apron only 5" long.  I couldn't resist our pink leaves cotton print  and our kiwi and strawberry cotton which we enjoy in  our Mom-size aprons.  The dolls beamed with smiles when I put on their aprons.

It seemed our American Girl doll needed to have a bitty oven mitt to match. Not something that sort of looked like an oven mitt, but a real mitt. Yes, a mitt with cotton batting and quilting to give is some poof, just like the oven mitts that get used in the kitchen. As a little surprise, inside the mitt is a lining of delightful bright chartreuse.

I thought it would be fun for girls to have an apron to match their dolls. So the next step was scaling our Mom-size patterns to fit  girls. When I made this apron set for my niece, she and her doll danced around the room in it! So now Blue Star Vermont has aprons to match for all the girls in the family - for moms, for girls and for dolls.