Sunday, May 30, 2010

Birdies and Owls, Hoot It Up...

Life is funny. Today I was in the garden, watering and contemplating this article. I was noticing how nature really lays on the color in the late spring. Rich Blues and Purples and the happiest Yellows and Oranges this side of a Canary, a true feast for the eyes. As I was filling up the birdbath I was surprised to find a Blue Robin's Egg lying in the water, perfect in every way no cracks or chips and blue as could be. I looked to the tree above and could not spy a nest. For me nothing is as engaging as a "Garden Mystery". I believe this must be my spring-time gift from the heavens! So sweet and so odd to find an egg lying in a half filled birdbath.

Birdie and garden prints are a mainstay at Mary Jo's Cloth. She always stocks a great collection of prints and patterns inspired by nature. If you log onto the website and put "Birds, Bugs & Butterflies" into the search bar 49 results appear! Most are 6.59 per yard. They are soooo sweet. I am not the only one who has noticed that Owls are very popular this year. Michelle Lamb, a trend spotter says "Owls can be drawn and printed in a real graphic way that can be used really well in fabrics and textiles. They are easy to carve and to etch. The owl is like the new bird -- a retro perspective on the bird trend." Keep your eyes open you will see Owl inspired items for sale in Giftstores, Boutiques and Antique Malls. At Mary Jo's we have Owl fabric in prints and patterns that are colorful, bright, modern and classic. Something for every owl lover. They would be especially fun in a pillow, Quilt or even a lining or an accent in a purse or tote bag. If you have a cabin, camp or vacation getaway in the woods or in the mountains, this would be a super hot pick for curtains, tablecloth or even a light quilt top for a bed.
Do you have a business that uses Mary Jo's Fabric? Dolls, Purses, Aprons, Totes, Costumes, Tablecloths, Napkins, Wedding Dresses, Quilts, Set Design or Interior Design? If you do we WANT to hear from you. Email us and remember to include your website/Blog, a brief note and a few photos. We would be happy to feature YOU in a future column. Thanks and enjoy the last moments of this special Memorial Day weekend, because as you know it is the kick off to Summer Fun!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilts for Healing...

This poignant "Quilts for Healing" project is an inspiration.
Cancer touches all of our lives sooner or later. Often times it strikes when we least expect it. How many times have you heard someone say, "a close friend or family member was diagnosed with the big "C"?". Scary stuff. How do we help or do something that can create community and make a difference? Judith House did just that. She had a vision.

Judy began quilting in 1986 and eventually taught and lectured on art quilting. Her work was recognized at local and nationwide quilt shows. When she died, she was leading a group of contemporary quilters who were creating quilts for donation to a local area hospital. On July 28, 2005 JUDITH A. HOUSE, a well-known quilt artist, died in her home under hospice care after a nine-year battle with breast and ovarian cancer.
A fantastic website, the "Healing Quilts in Medicine", is a tribute to the quilts inspired solely by the healing properties of the different components used in Cancer treatments. This is the vision of Judy House who died of breast cancer in July 2005. Judy said, "We are dedicated to projects that bring beauty and education through art quilts into hospitals".

Here are a few of Judy's inspiring words:
A dear friend of mine who lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer said, "Cancer equals WAITING". You are either waiting for doctors appointments, tests, results of those tests, treatments, and results of treatments. This is stressful time for the patient, their family members and friends. I would therefore like to provide them with something pleasant to look at and reflect on during those often-difficult moments.

In 2005, before Judy died, from Cancer, she organized a group of 37 art quilters to make art quilts based on the plants and animals used in chemotherapies. These quilts now hang in the oncology areas of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. You can view images of these quilts by going to the Walter Reed Quilt Gallery.

Since the Walter Reed project, a group of quilters from the Washington D.C. metro area have continued Judy's legacy and are involved in several healing quilt projects. We call ourselves Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends. We have been working with the Gifts of Art at the University of Michigan and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare to bring healing quilts to new venues.
Log onto, you will be delighted and inspired.

A Quilter named Lisa Ellis is the gal who hosts and maintains the online "Quilt Gallery" for this project. She shares her ideas and process for "Healing Quilts" with Quilt Guilds all around the country. Her work is amazing, log onto her website and see what you can do in your own community. What a wonderful world of sharing and caring!

Mary Jo's Cloth has many new fabrics and some of your old favorites that are waiting to become an inspirational quilt. Check out our website, click onto the "Quilting" for the widest selection of quilting favorites. Also always take a moment to look at the SALE page, always the best price on discontinued, remnants and overstocks.

Do you have a sewing project you would like to share? Now is the time, send us an email with a description and a few photos and you may be our next "Featured Article".
Thanks in advance, we always love to see what you are up to.
Enjoy this early summer day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Petunia is a Renaissance Woman...

It is almost the time of year to be thinking about the very special Shakespeare and Renaissance Faires that dot our country and the world during the summer season. Are you looking for the perfect fabric? Cottons, Muslins, Velvets and Tapestry style woven cloth. Wow, at Mary Jo's we have everything you may need for your authentic 1500-1600 costume. Remember we also carry all of the historic prints for your CWA costumes (1860's). Mary Jo has been supplying costume makers and fair participants with authentic styles of cloth for every costume need.
We recently received a note from a Gal who is wild for Mary Jo's and the selection of historic styled fabrics, read on.

Hi, my name is Kathleen Tronsor, and I have been working at Renaissance Faires as a performer since 1993. Last year I purchased 10 yards of 100% linen (upholstery), some dark green cotton, and some velvet from your store, and I thought you'd be interested in seeing how my project turned out.
I create a new costume every year for my character. And yes, I am one of those annoying folks who research every aspect of what a person in those times (I use 1533 as a base year) would have worn, what materials and colors they used, sewing techniques, accessories, etc.

At the North Carolina Renaissance Festival, our costumes have to be comfortable enough for a 21st century person who has to walk, run, dance, grovel and sing in our usual North Carolina weather -- changeable to say the least!
Add in the fact that "Petunia the Pink Pirate" is not exactly an historically-correct character, and you can see that I had both strict guidelines and vast amounts of lee-way when I designed this dress. Petunia would have "acquired" this dress from a wealthy woman, and she has discarded the petticoats, hoops and underskirt that the higher class lady would have worn.

This is a one-piece dress, based on a couple of designs from The Tudor Tailor, by Ninya Michaela and Jane Malcolm-Davies. The bodice is boned and laces up the front. The lacing is hidden by a boned panel that wraps across the front and buttons under the arm. In Tudor times, this would have been pinned with brass pins, but they also had maidservants who followed them around with extras, so I used buttons instead. This gives the bodice the smooth, laceless look, and also allows me to skip wearing a corset under the dress. Dark green velvet trims the front and the edges of the hanging sleeves, further accented with pearls and "gold" jewels. Pirate booty, of course!
The skirt is lined with dark green cotton, which is also turned up around the hem as a guard. Cotton is not an historic fabric, but was easier on the budget. The skirt is open down the front, and is cartridge pleated to the bottom of the bodice. There are three large inverted pleats at the center back. I also made several pairs of sleeves that tie over the hanging sleeves. These were all different patterns, stripes, brocades, etc., all with the same pink/green theme. Very easy to take off or slide on as the weather changed.

The hat is velvet, trimmed with jewels and feathers, and I wear black (cotton) bloomers, pink and green (cotton) stockings, and a pair of red (leather) boots under the skirt. The chemise is cut off short so as not to show under the split skirt, and is made from fine linen with redwork around all the seams and edges, done by hand.
The parts that show (hems, edges, applique, cartridge pleating, embroidery, etc.) were all sewn by hand. I used flexiboning in the bodice, and sewed them in using my 50+ year old machine. Long seams were also sewn using the machine.

The North Carolina Renaissance Festival runs on weekends from October 9th through November 21st, 2010. For more information, here's a link to their website
Kathleen Tronsor

Thank-you Kathleen for your inspiring story. You are a darling "Petunia the Pink Pirate". Readers, do you have some period costumes to share? Do you make costumes for others? We would love to feature you as a story on our blog. Please send photos and a few words today. Happy Spring and have fun creating!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Summer Curtains...

The answer is blowin' in the wind...
Walking into a room that is filled with fresh air, light with the curtains billowing from a slight spring breeze is perfection. The Lilacs in bloom outside your open window can fill a room with a scent that is heady sweet/spicy and sometimes so strong you never have to cut them and bring them indoors. It seems that when the birdies are chirping and the flowers are blooming, our personal worlds are filled with as many possibilities as the natural world. This is a magic time of year.

Now is the season to turn your eye towards your windows and the curtains or drapes that are covering them. Light white cotton catching a breeze, a voile or lace panel that diffuses the view, or even a new cool hip/modern colored pattern that is woven or printed are wonderful choices to catch the light and breezes of Summer. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider. What kind of views do your windows have? An easy idea for color continuity is to bring some of the colors from the outside view, inside. Do you have a mountain view or do you look out onto water? Do your windows look out into the garden or do you need to screen the view of a neighbors home.

The list is long, the solutions are many, however it can be a simple process. Look at the furniture in the room, the colors of the walls, then look outside and find the colors that tie it all together. Neutral White and Taupes or even the paler shades of Greens are perfect for creating a "together and cohesive look".

Here is the 411 on curtains. They are really not as expensive as Restoration Hardware or The Pottery Barn would have you believe. Did you know that you can buy Silk Duponi fabric that is a generous 54" for only 13.98 a yard? How about a fantastic Paisley or Toile for only 11.98-13.98 per yard? All this and more is available in our Drapery Department.
So, what is stopping you from living in an environment that is lovely and beautiful? It really does start in your own home and it is simple. The first step is easy, log on to today or pop into the store. You, as always, will be delighted with the selection and the prices.

Please send us photos of your Drapery Re-do's, we would love to feature them on our Community page or in an upcoming article.
Enjoy this beautiful, magical season, Spring is always so fleeting.