Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Apron Book is back!

I have been in love with vintage aprons since I first picked one up at a thrift store while in college (which yes, was like a million years ago). My collection now includes about 100 aprons from the 1930's through the 1960's. The one below is one of my favorites, I love the colors and pattern.

I've even made an apron or two, like this one using recycled vintage patchwork (and this guy was featured in Quilty magazine).

I also love to collect books about vintage aprons.

One of my top favorites is The Apron Book by EllynAnne Geisel published in 2006, a book that includes history with personal stories and instructions to make some of the most iconic styles of aprons to wear or to gift. It's the kind of book that you can pick up and read cover-to-cover, or read a bit here and there with a cup o' tea (and a cat).

I'm super excited that the book has just been reprinted! If you don't own The Apron Book and are interested in aprons, mid-century lifestyles, or vintage sewing, you are going to love this book.

In celebration of the new printing of the book, a series of podcasts is now available at The Apron Book Podcast page - each one focusing on how aprons continue to speak with stories of their own through the ages. Head on over and give each of the episodes a listen - especially good podcasting for sewing, or while waiting for your copy of the book to arrive.

Oh, and THIS! You could win your very own copy of The Apron Book along with an apron hand-crafted by the apron maven EllynAnne Geisel herself, plus a basket of sewing goodies from BERNINA by visiting the Tie One On Day post at the WeAllSew blog, and scroll down to the bottom of the post to read how to enter. The contest is open through November 22, so there's plenty of time to enter, good luck!

Friday, November 10, 2017

New Sewing Studio Tour!

I'm all moved in to my new space!

To celebrate, I'm sharing some of my favorite sewing room organization tips with a full tour of my space at BERNINA's WeAllSew blog today. Click here to read the article: Studio Tour with BERNINA Ambassador Erika Mulvenna! Yay!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Progress in the New Sewing Studio

Holy renovations friends! When I made my last post about our new house, I thought our remodel of the upstairs would be finished in July, and I imagined I'd be all moved into my new sewing studio by September. Well, you know, we had to wait for the flooring guys, then we had to wait for the painters, then we had to wait to have some new appliances installed...and...wait for furniture delivery...and...weeks turned into months. So here it is in October, and I'm still working on unpacking and getting settled in!

But I'm dying to share how things are shaping up, so I'm sneaking you in for a little peek. Come on in, let me show you around!

Best part of the new studio is finally finding room for some of my favorite stuff I've been carrying around for a long, long time. Like the blue Rickert-Ziebold poster from receiving the award on graduating with my Fiber Arts BFA oh, like 20 years ago. Yeah, I've had this poster rolled up in a tube for twenty years! Framed and now living on the North wall.

I hung a bit of clothesline over the ironing board on the West wall as a way to temporarily display blocks. These pretty leaves are vintage blocks I picked up second-hand several years ago. I forgot I even had them, but found these while sorting fabric scraps! Someday I will sew you all into a quilt my lovelies.

The WALL OF IRONS! I think I collected my first funky old iron in the early 1990's, about the same time I picked up my first vintage sewing machine. It looks like this built-in shelf was custom made to display these irons, right? When I first set them up I was ONE iron short of making this a perfect dozen. Luckily, I found the last iron at the local antique mall to complete the wall of irons!

Tom helped me to build my design wall, and it's hung opposite my sewing machine on the South wall. I can look at whatever I'm working on while I'm stitching. I think this will also be a good spot to photograph finished quilts with some better lighting in the room, too.

Those are some favorite show posters from my time in Springfield when the Sangamon Valley Roots Revival festival was in full swing - lots of good music! I totally forgot I had these posters, they've been rolled up since I move to Chicago like 12 years ago, good to see them framed. I love the bright colors.

This vintage wire dress form has snaps front and back, and you actually put it on and form it to your body! This lady holds all my old name tags and show badges from past events. One of my all-time favorites is the badge when I judged the Elvis tribute artist competition at the 9th Annual Midwest Tribute to the King. I was also a panel judge for a Central Illinois local municipal water supply conference where I "judged" glasses of water from different towns (not nearly as exciting as the Elvis gig). Oh, and I was a St. Patrick's Day Parade float judge in the capitol city, where I don't remember much because we had to be at the judges platform early and the beer was free. Good times.

And last but not least, my new home office lives on the East wall. I really worked hard on making these pieces fit in this space and still have room to work. I could have used more bookshelf space, but hey, I am a book nerd and will never have enough space for books!

Thanks for stopping by! I'm going to invite you back again when things are finalized. What you don't see in this visit is the pile of crap that I still need to find spaces for, I shoveled it into the closet. I would much rather have open spaces in this studio that clutter, bins, boxes, and Rubbermaid containers everywhere - so I am being very selective with trying to just keep what I need, or what has real value to me. Not as easy as it sounds, and I've parted with several things already.

Until next time - happy stitching!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Current BIG Project

I haven't been blogging at all lately about stuff I'm making. There's a good reason for that! My current project that I have been working on with my family since the spring is our "new" family home!

I say "new" in quotations because we've actually been living on the first floor for the past 6 years. And this home isn't at all new for Tom, who grew up in this house. We're the second generation of the Mulvenna family to live in the home since 1965.

It's a Chicago bungalow that was remodeled about 1950 into a two-flat. The upstairs was a second floor apartment where Tom's grandmother and aunt lived when he was growing up here. We moved into the empty first floor 6 years ago to help out Tom's aunt who was living alone on the second floor.

We're so incredibly happy to have purchased the home this spring, and I feel super lucky to live in a home with such amazing family history. I am a child of divorce, and was shuffled back-and-forth between family situations and houses my entire childhood, always wishing for one home to call my own. This is my dream come true, and it will be the best nest ever for our little family.

We've been busy remodeling the upstairs, and I'll take you on a little tour! It's still a construction zone, so keep an eye out later this summer for more pictures as work progresses. First thing was replacing all the windows on the second floor, and I can't tell you how much it improved the upstairs with more light!

New windows on the first floor will have to wait, we're doing a little at a time with this project (which will last for the rest of our lives, because nothing is ever finished when you own an old home, right?). Now let's go to the second floor!

There are two good sized bedrooms at the back of the house on the second floor, this one will be our master bedroom. Getting ready to finish the base trim and paint.

And this will be Fidget's room, it's the smaller of the two bedrooms but gets lots of great light! Can you guess what color she wants to paint her room? 

The little kitchen will become a laundry room. The washer/dryer/laundry sink will all fit where the big double-bowl and double-dish strainer sink was. I love this green tile, and we worked really hard to save it! I'm painting this room yellow, just like a 1950's kitchen, with white cabinets and appliances. 

I can't show you the upstairs bathroom yet, it's a total disaster area at the mo'! But let's move on to the last room on the second floor, my NEW SEWING ROOM!

Here's looking at the north end of the room. I'm thinking about a small sewing desk right under the windows for piecing and sewing. Lots of natural light!

This is the wall on the east side of the room. I've been using painter's tape to layout different configurations of bookshelves and desks in this section that will become my home office. The closet to the far left will be fabric storage, and the door next to that leads down to the first floor.

Here's a view of the south end of the room. Working on where to place my design wall with painter's tape. And I want that corner near the little window to have a few comfy chairs and a bookshelf as a reading nook.

And lastly, here is the west wall. Love those little built-ins! I am going to set up both a cutting table with storage here and another table for sewing. Not sure of the exact configuration yet, but it will be fun to work on furniture placement!

I have completely new goals as I'm designing this space. Take a look at my last two spaces and I'll show you what I mean.

In our previous house I had a small bedroom to use for sewing and a home office. It wasn't a very big room, but had lots of great light!

I didn't have a kid at the time, so everything was out where I could just grab it if I needed it - like scissors, pins, rulers, etc.

And I wasn't quilting yet. I was working full-time as a BERNINA Educator, and this served as a home-office and a place to create samples/classes/product trainings while working with the latest BERNINA products. So this space worked well for me at the time.

My most recent sewing room is in the basement of this house. 

It's totally funky, but functional. And since it's completely separate from our living quarters on the first floor, I had no worries about having easy access to tools like rotary cutters, pins, and needles.

However, the basement does get some water when it rains heavily, so I have to keep things unplugged and off the floor when I'm not working. I lost a desk and a few rugs to water in the basement in the past few years down here.

The new sewing space will not be separate from our living quarters, but will be a room we will walk through to get to our upstairs bedrooms, bathroom and laundry room. Plus I have a kid who is totally fidgety and always touches first to ask questions later! 

I am also now quilting regularly, and plan on continuing to quilt. I have plans for quilts to come, many quilts, so be prepared! Planning with all this in mind, the new sewing room will need to:
  • Allow for an easy route back and forth through the room without being blocked by furniture
  • Keep little or sharp things out of easy reach of little fidgety fingers
  • Organize notions and supplies so that they are accessible when I need them but not completely out in the open
  • Include a nice sized design wall for quilting
  • Include a nice size sewing table for quilting
  • Include a solid sewing desk for piecing/sewing that will allow for sewing with different types of machines (because you know I have a lot of them and love to use them!)
  • Include an area dedicated to pressing/ironing
  • Include a dedicated work area with desk/shelves
So far I have some of the larger needs covered, like designing the room to allow an easy path from the top of the stairs to the rest of the second floor without being blocked by furniture. I'll have to work on the smaller things, like finding places to store sharp and small objects but still have them accessible when I need them.

For the moment though, it's back to working on finishing up with baseboard trim, paint, and finally moving upstairs - hopefully by the end of August! Thanks for staying tuned until then!

Friday, June 9, 2017

300+ Years of Color Theory: Theory and Practice of Color

This book is included in a reading list on the history of Color Theory. Find the homepage for the series here.

Theory and Practice of Color: A Color Theory Based on Laws of Perception was originally published in 1975. I read the revised second edition published in 1983.

This is the final book in this reading list spanning over 300+ years of color theory! And it’s incredibly appropriate as this book is directly linked to the very first book in the list, Newton’s Opticks.

First, let me say that this book is totally amazing! It’s the most thorough book on the subject in this entire reading list as it includes the MOST up-to-date and scientifically correct information. In fact, THIS is the book that started the entire reading project! When I first found this book over a year ago, it blew my mind. The ideas were so different from what I was taught about color theory and what I thought I knew. That’s when I had the idea to go back and re-reading other color theory books that came before this one in order to try and better understand Gerritsen’s ideas.

And that brings us full circle all the way back to Newton. In his book Opticks, Newton describes his discovery of the visual spectrum, breaking white light into all the colors of the rainbow. Gerritsen explains how we see those colors and goes further to explain the one “true” color system based on how human beings are built to detect and perceive the visual spectrum.

Gerritsen has a masterful understanding of the long (and sometimes problematic) history of color theory going back even beyond Newton. He takes the first few chapters of his book to thoroughly review the human experience of color, how we have tried to explain and understand it, and how we’ve attempted to study and order colors through the ages.

Gerritsen’s theory is simple; humans are trichromats and perceive color through three different wavelength detectors. Short wavelength light detectors correspond to blue/violet light, medium wavelength detectors correspond to green light, and long wavelength detectors correspond to red light.

Therefore, to study color relationships the only true system to use is the one of human perception. Gerritsen’s color wheel not only represents the three primary colors of human vision (Red/Green/Blue) but also represents them alongside a color perception schema.

These little color perception illustrations represent how our trichromatic light receptors are being triggered to create the sensation of different colors.

For instance, look at the cyan blue section of the color above. The green and blue receptors are both triggered—therefore if your eye perceives short wavelengths of light (blue) and medium wavelengths (green) your brain reads this color as a bright cyan blue.

In addition to Gerritsen’s unique human perception color wheel, he further explains the differences between the Subtractive color system (AKA the Artist’s color wheel or RYB, the oldest system first recorded by J. C. LeBlon in 1720), the Additive color system (AKA the system of light or RGB), and the Partitive color system (AKA printer’s colors or CMY) with plenty of examples.

There are also excellent examples of color relationships in Gerritsen's book that have also been mentioned through countless of the other books in the reading list, such as simultaneous contrast, optical illusions of lines and colors, successive contrast, afterimages, and color constancy.

And, just as Newton tried to explain a series of other instances of colors perceived by humans in his book, Gerritsen also includes many of these same subjects like a reflection of light from different surfaces, interreflection, and interference. I haven’t checked, but I’m wondering if those mathematical equations worked out by Newton on angles of reflection and refraction have stood the test of time!

Gerritsen even includes at the very end of his book a short chapter on the Opponent theory, often referred to by earlier color theorists as the Psychological Colors. Cone opponent theory is something I'm still trying to wrap my mind around, and while I still don't totally get it, I appreciate the basics in Gerritsen's description and illustration.

As a companion to this book, Gerritsen has published a color workbook for students of color theory, Evolution in Color first published in 1982, which outlines the major color systems through human history. Gerritsen's comprehensive workbook includes illustrations of more than 50 historical color systems and allows you to punch out color chips to add to some of the pages.

I would recommend finding a copy of Theory and Practice of Color for any painter, quilter, designer or artist interested in learning more about color theory. Especially if you can also find a copy of Evolution in Color as a companion.

I hope you've enjoyed following along with my personal color theory reading project over the past year, I am a bit sad that I've reached the end. Theory and Practice of Color really is the last and most recent book of its kind—it includes everything scientists understand about optics and I can't see how it could be improved upon. It's been so motivating to finish one book while looking forward to reading the next one in the list, I kind of don't know what I'm going to read next! 


If you find any current books on the subject that you've read and enjoyed, or even if you think I might have missed reading a really important book along the way please leave a comment and let me know. And again, a big thank you for stopping by and visiting me at Miss Sews-it-all!