Monday, October 10, 2011

new suzani rugs for land of Nod

My old favorite suzani flower design (which is available as ribbon in 3 colorways, and had an earlier incarnation as a right colored doormat for Crate & Barrel) has arrived at Land of Nod as a sweet floral wool rug.  It comes in pink or blue and has the charming name of Hello Mums (I love the copywriter for LON!), and in several sizes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Housewife for Monticello

I am happy to report that the sewing kits (housewives) I designed & made for Monticello are now available online: for the adult version with fine scissors (below) for the young adult version, with folding scissors.

Friday, August 26, 2011

travel pincushion

I have been fascinated recently with the idea of sewing kits.  I am more & more convinced that everyone should know how to sew, and  that everyone should certainly begin to re-value possessions enough to consider mending them.  I have made other needle books and sewing kits before. 

I just filled an order for 125 "housewife" sewing kits for the Monticello gift shop (yes, that Monticello) based on Martha Jefferson's daughter's pocket sewing kit.  The idea of a housewife was to carry your sewing kit with you on travels (I expect it got the name from soldiers carrying them into the battlefields, to take the place of their loving wives in mending their socks).  It is ingenious, a length of fabric with pockets into which fit your little necessities.  I put tiny embroidery scissors, buttons, small spools of thread, needle threader, and needles & pins in the ones I made. I was quite a production line with many steps, and I was proud in a Henry Ford kind of way to do hand crafted items on that level of production (and make any money at all!)  I made two versions, one in sober blue & white like the original, and one in kid-friendly colors.  All fabrics were reproductions from the same era as the original.  This project was so much fun!
the original Housewife, from Monticello's collections

my version of a housewife in child-friendly colors, all reproduction fabrics from the era.

Yesterday I was playing with some of those lovely little tins -- I had bought them to put beeswax-based salves in, another kind of hobby obsession I have, to make things that smell good -- and it occurred to me that they would be great for little pincushions with lids to carry around.  So here they are.  They are trimmed with my Quilting ribbon and the fabric inside is an early 19th century reproduction fabric, left over from making the housewives (thrift, of course, is a value too!).

three travel pincusions in 2" tins.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ribbon crazy quilt

Today I was sent a link to a delightful blog by Allison Aller, Allie's in Stitches, by my partner ribbon company, Renaissance Ribbons.  They commissioned Allie to make a crazy quilt using a variety of their ribbons and I spotted a great number of my own, along with their Kaffe Fassett ribbons and several other RR exclusives.  I wrote to Allie and asked her permission to link to her blog and use her photos, and she wrote a charming acceptance which I just had to quote here:

"Hi Laura!
How that great that you found this....
I've been a fan and user of your designs for years.  When I walked by RR's booth at Quilt Market I was stopped in my tracks...there were my beloved ribbons!  So I contacted Edith and begged her to let me use some of them in a quilt for her.  We settled on an orange/pink scheme, and I was in heaven working on it.
So yes indeed, you may link to this and use whatever photos you like.  I am attaching a pic of the quilt after I added a few more touches, though.  Take your pick!
And keep up your great work; you make many, many crazy quilters very happy.
My best,

p.s. I loved your ribbon dress... ;-)"
Oh gee!  so flattering.  You know, often when I pick up the phone and identify myself to someone calling about something on my website, I get this surprised and happy reaction that I answer my own phone.  "You mean this is THE Laura?"  Folks, this is a tiny world here.  I am not a corporation or even really a company, it is just me!  And Renaissance is around half a dozen lovely and knowable people too.  These connections between creative people are so meaningful and inspiring.  I am always so delighted to know that out in that great big world there, someone is familiar with -- and likes! and uses! -- something I have designed. 

And I like what Allie has done.  Here are some teaser photos, to see the whole project go to her blog, Allie's in Stitches
ribbons, coutesy Allison Aller

tutorial shot, courtesy Allison Aller
finished quilt, Renaissance 9 Patch by Allison Aller

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ribbon Cakes by Melissa Bickle

One of the best booths I saw at the Craft & Hobby Association trade show in July was Ribbon Rings.  The actual product being sold were called "ribbon tamers", clever devices for keeping ribbon samples straight and organized (I sure could have used them in the old days when I wholesaled my own ribbons!).  But the booth itself had these tremendously ornate cakes & cupcakes made of ribbon curls and furbelows.  Amazing!  I snapped some photos so here you see designer Melissa Bickle with some of the cakes (she is as pretty as the cakes), and then I found she wrote a book on how to make them, available at Amazon, called A Notion to Celebrate

Ribbon Cake and Ribbon Cupcakes by Ribbon Rings

Ribbon Wedding Cake

ribbon cupcakes and ribbon doughnuts

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Make the Ribbon Dress

I am not very adept at writing tutorials but if you will bear with me, I will show you a bit of how I constructed my ribbon dress in yesterday's post. A real apology: I have been between cameras, and these photos were taken with my not-very-smart phone.

I used the basic party dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams. I traced the bodice pattern pieces onto fusible interfacing, and placed each piece fusible side up on my ironing board (shown here covered with one of my old Crate & Barrel tea towels!).

Then I cut the ribbons for this piece carefully to a length about 1" wider than the widest part of this bodice, adding extra where necessary for complete whole flower motifs. This is where it gets tricky: I chose this ribbon becasue each repeat was square: i.e., each flower was as tall as it was wide, so when it is crossed perpendicular with a woven ribbon it will line up the pattern almost perfectly. I chose 3 colorways of the same ribbon (Lacy Flowers) as they all coordinated well, but you could also weave solid color ribbons in one direction and patterned ribbons in the other. I pinned each ribbon in place at its edge, straight into the ironing board.

By lifting up every other ribbon, I laid down the first row of weft ribbon. I pushed it hard up against the pins and made sure the flower motifs lined up.

I continued to weave in ribbon strips until the whole piece was woven, then I carefully pressed it with my iron, using the setting for polyester. You have to hold the iron in place in eavery spot for a few seconds so the fusible interfacing will bond to the ribbon.

Then I carefully turned it over and ironed it again to make sure it was fused, and then cut around the pattern shape. I took it over to the sewing machine and ran a basting stitch around the edge to hold the ribbons in place further. I repeated this process for each bodice section, and then sewed it together at the seams and clipped them and pressed them open.

The skirt looked easier to do: it was a full circle skirt, and I had an idea of radiating ribbon stripes stitched down to a fabric ground. I chose nylon netting as my under fabric, but that was a MISTAKE, I should have used something firmly woven and lightweight. The netting stretched out of shape and caused the ribbons to buckle. I lost count of the number of yards of ribbon I sewed down. I sewed most of them down the entire length, so I worked in groups, first laying out the reds like spokes of a wheel, then sewing, then adding color or pattern between all around & sewing down, etc. I probably would have done better to get more mathematical and stitch more pieces cut from the middle down and attach them first, then ending up with the ribbons running all the way down from the waist. It would have been less bulky at the top. But I have the temperament to think out sewing projects in my head, do minimal calculations, and then make it up as I go along!

I then constructed the dress, putting in a back zipper, cutting the hem evenly, and making a big frilly net petticoat to hold the skirt out.  Around the hem, to help it to stand out more fully, I sewwed a ribbon edging.   This is a cool thing about polyester: as this is a curved edge there is of course a differential in the lengths of the inner & outer curves.  So you press the top edge of the ribbon (before sewing it down) to make it shrink evenly along its lengthe, then sew the longer bottom edge in place aroudn the skirt edge, and then sew the upper edge in place.  You might still have to ease it a bit but the shrink-shaping works very well.

A beautiful friend modeled the dress for me but she won't let me show her face or her name, so thank you, Anonymous Lady! Soon we will have more photos of the dress to post online.

Thanks too to Renaissance Ribbons for donating the grosgrain and satin ribbons used in this project. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Craft and Hobby Association show, Chicago

In July I went up to Chicago to participate a bit in the huge trade show of the Craft and Hobby Association.  This is the group of manufacturers and vendors who supply the large (and small) craft stores with beads, glue, scrapbook papers, stickers, crafting tools, etc.  There is a place for designers in all of this and I went up to participate in the Designer's Showcase.  I also submitted a dress, made of ribbon and tulle, to the Crafty Couture exhibition, where better known craft project designers than I presented their ideas for dresses out of myriad kinds of craft supplies, largely paper and various embellishments.  There was one made of oilcloth & duct tape trimmed with a skirtful of bright scissors in holsters: somehow I missed photographing this! 

My dress, co-sponsored by Renaissance Ribbons, who produce all of my ribbons and sell them to the wholesale market, was made of a woven ribbon bodice and a tulle circle skirt with radiating sewn-down ribbon stripes.  I based it on the basic dress from the fabulous Party Dress Book, by Mary Adams.  I wove the entire bodice in a flat sheet with ribbons, then cut out the bodice pieces to sew together into this fitted little bustier.  The dimensions provided for the mannequin were miniscule but fortunately I have a good friend who is just that small, and she agreed to be my dress form as I made it.  It took YARDS of ribbon, and I didn't keep track of the quantity (!), though I did take photos along the way and will post them soon on this blog with a step-by-step.  I used the Lacy Flower ribbon, as it has a square repeat, which is essential if you want the pattern to work well in a woven design, and it comes in three colors which all coordinate well.  I supplemented the patterned ribbon with an array of Renaissance's beautiful grosgrains.

Below are some of the dresses on display, and the placards give the names of the creators andthe materials used.

So here is my dress, and a few of the others on display.  The color isn't great here as the light at these shows is ghastly!  Renaissance Ribbons now has the dress and will be photographing it in a much more flattering light soon, so watchthis space!

Monday, July 25, 2011

new dishtowels for Crate & Barrel

Seems a little early for fall -- it is still in the 90's every day! -- but Crate & Barrel has posted the new fall dishtowels by LFN Textiles.  Both are cotton prints in saturated colors.  Autumn Squash is the same design that won a Spoonflower fabric contest last fall (so you can buy yardage of it there if you like!), a great design of heirloom pumpkins and gourds.  Acorns is sprays of (still green!) oak leaves with little embroidered acorns.  Cute!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

House Beautiful

I want to share the latest press with you from this month's House Beautiful magazine -- featuring my Vegetables ribbon as sold at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, one of our best customers.  (Sadly, not available through their online shop, though you can find it at It is an honor to have my ribbons in their shop, known for cutting edge modern design icons --items must have a strong link to their collections or an exhibition to be sold there.  Fortunately for me I am well-represented in the collection of Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institution (whew!), as I have a jacquard weaving as well as the entire line of LFN Textiles ribbons as of 2005 in the permanent textile collection.  So I will wear this nice badge of "The Best" with honor & pride!

Monday, July 11, 2011

summery ribbons

A long hiatus since the last post, during which time studio work has been at a fever pitch.  I was delighted to receive Edith and Sheila from Renaissance Ribbons here at the New Harmony studio in late May, and we spent an intensely creative 36 hours together plotting new delights.  Trouble is of course I can't just show you what is in production as a result, but I can show you the pretty photo of recently arrived LFN Ribbons.
From the top, Teatime and Teatime Cakes ( which relate to the Tea Time bedding sets for Land of Nod), Tiny Veggies Aqua, Lacy Flower in aqua, red & blue.

Next week I am off to Chicago for the Craft & Hobby Association trade show, and will be exhibiting a dress made totally of ribbon, so watch this space! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eggemoggin Textile Studio

Back in the days when I wholesaled my own ribbon, I developed some wonderful friendships with my customers, who would call to placean order and then we would chat about sewing, design, textiles, trends, ideas.  I miss that, even though I am no marketing genius and was very happy to turn over the wholesale marketing of LFN Textiles Artists Ribbons to Renaissance Ribbons in 2007.

I got to know Chris Leith in that way.  Chris owns Eggemoggin Textile Studio in Sedgewick, Maine, and like me, she is primarily a handweaver.  Once she sent me a lovely little package with sea urchins, delicately wrapped in hand-dyed threads, which are on a shelf here in my studio to this day.  Studying them provided the basis for my various Sea Urchin patterns, which I sell over at Spoonflower.

Sea Urchin 6

Chris sent a newsletter out this morning, and she wrote that she is featuring a series of Garden Pillows each hand woven or hand-dyed, and all trimmed with my ribbons.  How delightful!  I love living in a world where we makers and designers and small businesses are all REAL people with names and personalities and ideas, with whom you can correspond.  Another reason it seems so silly to even think of shopping at places like Michael's and Joann Fabrics, where all is the same and no one knows your name.
Garden Series 1 pillow by Chris Leith, Eggemoggin Studio 2010
(note: Tree ribbon in this width is no longer available, it is now 1 7/8" wide)

Monday, May 16, 2011

ribbon and crochet

A while back, I spent a year researching crochet .  I was totally inspired by Sophie Digard's scarves (I own two! Lucky me!) and thought it would be great to be able to take off from her wonderful color blends and ring motifs.

I first tried actually crocheting and got several very cool books on Japanaese motif crochet.  Etsy sellers carry these wonderful Japanese books with such a different take on crochet,  I often look at Pomadour24's shop. 

So I spent that winter crocheting by the fire and quickly realized that -- although I pour plenty of time into weaving -- I simply don't have the time to get expert at this for my own purposes.  I hired out some crochet sample making from a lovely lady named Rose who I found on etsy, and sent thread & patterns back and forth to try color experiments.  That was fun but not getting  me where I wanted to be in terms of using crochet as a basis for textile design.

Finally I did what I have always done with my art: I drew what I cannot otherwise have.  I began drawing crochet doilies, and they morphed into all sorts of lovely designs, such as my Teatime Bedding set for Land of Nod.

I also designed a number of great Spoonflower fabrics based on doilies.

Meanwhile I was also paying attention to designing ribbons which referenced crochet.  Long ago I did a print ribbon,  How to Crochet. I also designed  How to Knit, which took off, as knitting was craft queen then, and I still sew knitting needle cases for the shop at the Cooper Hewitt Museum with that ribbon as trim.  (they also sell loads of LFN Ribbons there, and LFN Ribbons are proudly in their permanent collection).

Then I did Doilies for Renaissance Ribbons, based on lacy crochet doilies. 

And Fun Squares, aka Granny Squares (we sometimes name the same pattern differently!) inpired by Sophie Digard's lovely use of granny squares (above). 

And now we have Lacy Flowers coming out, based on a loose drawing of crochet flowers from the Japanese motif days.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Renaissance Ribbons at Quilt Market

LFN Textiles Artist's Ribbons will be well-represented by my wholesale partner Renaissance Ribbons at the upcoming Quilt Market, May 13-15 in Salt Lake City.  We will have loads of new designs by LFN Textiles, Kaffe Fassett, Sue Spargo and more designers.  See my new Teatime, Dessert, and Lacy Flowers ribbons there!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spoonflower and LFN

I was recently invited by Leesa Hubbell of Surface Design Association -- she edits the Newsblog -- to write about my experiences in designing for Spoonflower, the online fabric print-on-demand service.  The article went live today, so do check it out!   Leesa will be chairing a panel that I will pariticpate on, along with Dawn Zero Erickson, Mary Jaeger, and Janelle Torrence   at the 2011 SDA Conference in Minneapolis June 4-17.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Ribbons!

Oh, I have been waiting for this day.  One of the best parts of my job is when the designs finally lift out of the computer and the actual textile appears.  After much sampling and back-and-forth, it is so much fun to have physical, textured ribbon!  Not exactly in my hands yet but photographed and on the way, here are 5 new ribbons for spring from me, LFN Textiles, and my wholesale partner, Renaissance Ribbons.  I will post them on the website as soon as they arrive in the studio.  Until then start imagining what you will do with them!
Teatime, 7/8"

Desserts, 7/8"

Lacy Flowers, blue 1 1/2"

Lacy Flowers, red, 1 1/2"

Lacy Flowers, turquoise, 1 1/2"