Monday, February 16, 2009

ribbon remnants

One of the more popular items on my website is the ribbon remnant bag. For $20 you get a quart-size ziplock bag of ribbon scraps; some are pretty small (around 2" square) but they range up to 1/2 or 3/4 of a yard. The tiny bits, I worry, might exasperate some people, but in reality, like my mother did, I tend to save ANYTHING that might be useful, and I already know how useful those bits are! I posted earlier about using a wood-burning tool to cut ribbon so that the ends don't ravel: this makes it into charming little appliques. To wit, here are some things I have used ribbon appliques on. Many of the items were purchased at places like Target: I am determined to make ribbons that blend across the marketplace and can go on anything. Since they are polyester, they are washable. When sewing doesn't work, a hot-melt glue gun is great! (see "Glue Gun Decor" by Marian McEvoy -- and now you can get at at Amazon for 52 cents, the wonderful thing about waiting a couple of years to buy a book!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

where I work

I was writing to someone today describing the wonderful place where I live & work and I thought, I should post this on the blog. So here is my beautiful studio building in New Harmony. I am smack dab in the middle of Main Street, and my studio comprises the second floor of what is actually two buildings.

The building on the left houses the gallery shop of the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art. I sold ribbon here long before I moved to New Harmony: I was bemused by the number of people, who when seeing my ribbons, would comment "you know, I bought some of these ribbons in a small town in Indiana ..."

The building on the right ensconces the venerable Main Cafe, which has been noted in a column by Jane & Michael Stern (who write about good regional food on the road). They are open from 5:30 am to 1:00 pm: how's that for a working day? I smell bacon & eggs all day upstairs.

Crate & Barrel Time

I have five new products online now at Crate & Barrel!
Tulip cocktail napkins
Wildflower Doormat
Garden Harvest Embroidered Towel
Allium Waffle Embroidered Towel
Stones Pillow
And for the bargain-minded among you, here are some LFN sale items

Stones Pillow
Auricula Towels
Arbor Towels
Teapot towels (embroidered)
Teapot towels (print)
Fruit compote towels
Quinlan Apron. Potholder & Mitt:

Monday, February 2, 2009

ribbon trimmed linens

I posted my sister Cathy's tips about sewing with my ribbons a few weeks ago; she has made many things with them, trimming towels and pillowcases and placemats. Here are a couple more tips:

My ribbons are almost all polyester, which is, sigh, a plastic. The upside of this is that they are amazingly durable! and also that plastic MELTS at certain temperatures. I have a little wood burner tool which has been essential to making things with ribbon: it looks like a pen, has a variety of tips, and is available at crafts stores for under $10 (unless you get the fancy kits, which are overrated). I use a long, conical pointed tip, and a steel straightedge, to cut the ribbon when I don't want the ends to ravel. You need to do this on a metal surface (I use a sheet of craft aluminum, but before I found that I was using the removable base of a cake pan). The tool has to be very hot, and do watch your fingers! And don't inhale while you do it, as the fumes of burning polyester can't be good for you!

The other issue with this melting point is that if you iron over ribbon, you must use a low heat setting. Otherwise the heat of the iron will make the ribbon shrink, and if it is already sewn down, that makes for serious puckering. You can pre-shrink it by ironing it first, and then sewing it down, if it is going on 100% cotton or linen that you know will have to be ironed.

OK, with that, onto the linens! I used to buy white cotton pillowcases wholesale, sew ribbon along their hems, and sell them in pairs at bazaars. Lovely gifts. Sometimes, like my sister does, I would make the pillowcases from scratch; this is great for gifts, and you can choose from so many wonderful fabrics that way, but tends to get expensive if you want to re-sell them. I also would buy wholesale linen fingertip towels and sew ribbon on the hems, package them in cello bags and re-sell at wholesale along with the ribbons (when I was still wholesaling ribbon). For some reason a linen guest towel commands a higher price than a pillowcase or a kitchen towel.

One of these days, when I get further into web design (I do it all myself) I will include these ribbon ideas on my website. Until then, here's my blog!

photo: Kelly McKaig illustration: Anna Brewer