Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
1x - About 20 years a go, after the love of her life died, my good friend Diane gave me a bag of his ties and asked me to make something for her. These ties told the story from their first date to wedding day and beyond. Once I had a clear direction, I got to work and cut two triangles from each tie with a matching one from black velvet. They were sewn together with a 1/4" seam allowance and bordered with more velvet. The pillow was soft and comforting thanks to the luxurious fabrics and the soft, even stuffing. It looked almost exactly like the one pictured above. I say almost because that picture is from the second time I worked on this pillow. . .
2x - Diane loved the first pillow and so did Louie, her adorable little poodle mix. This pillow was Louie's choose perch and it was especially nice since it came with tassels to chew. Diane asked me to fix it, so I took it apart completely and resewed it. This time I sewed a cotton backing to the patched portion of the pillow to make it more stable and added new tassels. The results are the pillow above.
3x - About 5 years later, I felt embarrassed as I saw the edges of the ties fraying, so once I had a plan, I got to work.
First I took apart the whole pillow.
Next I added woven fusible interfacing to the back of each tie piece and cut them out. This would keep the silk from stretching and give it some stability.
Each velvet piece was ironed, then each velvet and silk triangle was remarked and cut. ( I use water color pencils for marking. Lots of colors, mark well, will wash out and are less expensive than quilting marking tools.)
I "finished" each silk square by zig zagging around the edge of each to prevent it from fraying again. I used a very fine polyester thread so that it would not add much bulk to the edge.
I reassembled the top using the original picture as guide. The center patchwork was now 1/2 inch smaller on all sides due to the trimming. I cut down the cotton backing I had used before, added it again, and added the velvet border pieces and the tassels.
I love that Diane lives with and loves her pillow and that she shares with me if there is a problem so I can fix it if possible. It lets me stand behind my work, maintain my integrity, and helps me learn so I can apply the same techniques to future heirlooms. The pillow now measures 16"x 16". Mom kidded me that soon it will be a pincushion, but I like to think that I have now taken steps to make it last at least another 20 years (if Louie is kind!). The reality is, fabric will wear but that just becomes part of the story, doesn't it?
Have an heirloom that needs saving? Contact me and we will get started!
I was going to meet a client for the first time and needed to take along some samples. The only bag I had that would fit them was my gym bag. It served the purpose and
the meeting went well, but it made me start to think about how I want to present my business. That lead to designing and creating custom bags for this purpose.
My first inspiration was a patchwork bag that a friend at the Y carries. She had given me the pattern from www.aquiltersdream.com but I decided it wasn't quite right. It lead me to a search on Pinterest.
That is where I found this idea on cometoquilt.blogspot.com. Simple yet stylish, with a pocket in the front to hold my binder. I set to work creating a small and large bag. Because I was looking for inspiration vs. instruction, it did not matter that the instructions are written in Thai.
These bags, one spacious, one narrow, will allow me to professionally represent
my company while my samples travel in style.
Need a custom bag for your business? Let's talk!
Remember When... I did a favor?
My niece, Abby, has found her match in Adam. Their relationship has weathered many highs and lows in the 10 years they have been together, including: a 2 year long distance relationship, the loss of Adam's father, and 3 months backpacking through southern Asia. They developed a real knowledge and respect for each other and a strong, binding love. It was wonderful to hear that they had gotten engaged and I was so pleased when they accepted my offer to make their wedding favors.
In February 2019, Abby and her family came to visit. While here, Abby and I started to brainstorm ideas. When my first nephew was born, I started creating and buying a yearly Christmas ornament for the family, so Abby wanted me to make an ornament to honor their wedding.
Abby and her mother had found some ornaments online that were clay impressed with plants with a light stain similar to the ornaments above (from jewlerybymondaen on etsy.) I had not seen the actual idea, so I came with clay, a leaf cookie cutter and some thoughts as well. While sitting at her grandmother's kitchen table, we played with clay and plants until we settled on a design. I wish I had taken a picture of this because it would show how well we both saw the vision out of some bits of clay.
While discussing what type of clay to use, stoneware or porcelain, I retrieved this porcelain acorn by Margaret Furlong to show what porcelain would be like. When Abby said this was one of her favorite ornaments we decided to use porcelain and raise the design.
The goal was to make 170 ornaments made from two separate porcelain tiles shaped like leaves, joined by ribbon, (doubling the number of pieces.) The plants they choose were a palm from her bouquet and eucalyptus berries from Adam's boutonniere. The berries were easy to source at Floral Designs of Mount Joy, but their palms were too large so I purchased a miniature palm at a local greenhouse.
To produce that many tiles and to make them consistent, I would need to make molds. Each plant was pressed into spare clay. Unfortunately, despite being the perfect size, the palm did not leave a deep enough impression to work for the project.
So I tried a fern, which looked - wait for it - like a fern. Luckily I found an artificial palm at Joann's Fabrics which worked beautifully.
It was time to check in with Abby and Adam.
I realize how many times my ideas had to be reworked to get to the final project. I don't see any failure in that - simply learning. Doing custom work gives me the opportunity and freedom to learn as I go with the confidence that through collaboration and perseverance I will find the answers in the end to create something that will speak to the wishes of my client.
When I started Remember When Studio, I did not plan on offering my pottery or stained glass skills but this project has taught me to be open to using any gifts I have to benefit others. Need a personalized favor for your wedding or special event? We can talk about that.
Abby's thank you to their guests:
Ever since I can remember, my Aunt Jean has been creating beautiful, sentimental gifts for Gerdes family birthdays, holidays, and celebrations. Over the years she has made jewelry from my grandfather's cufflinks and teddy bears from his suits; custom clay portraits of beloved family pets, and personalized aprons for the time we spend baking together.
I treasure everything my Aunt Jean creates but I have always especially loved the ornaments she makes for our family every Christmas. Every year without fail, she crafts something special for us all to hang on our trees - an ornament that commemorates a significant moment from the year, imbued layers of symbolism and heartfelt detailing. I treasure these ornaments because collectively they tell a story of our family, a story we can look back on and celebrate each Christmas season.
So today, as our family grows, we’d like to share this tradition with each and every one of you. As a gesture of our gratitude for sharing in our wedding celebration today, we hope you will take one of these ornaments which my Aunt Jean has so lovingly made. The ornament’s botanical detailing is inspired by our wedding greenery (specifically the plants used in my bouquet and Adam’s boutonniere), and the overlapping leaves signify the coming together of two still unique and distinct lives.
It brings us so much joy to be able to celebrate with you all today, and it’s our hope that now, each December as you put up your tree, you’ll be reminded again of our gratitude
After teaching thousands of students, it is not surprising that
I was contacted by a former student to create an heirloom for her. Stacy had lost her son, Anthony, to the disease of addiction five years earlier and was ready to have something made from his favorite jacket. As we talked, I became more and more impressed with Stacy as she casually explained how she had taken her grief and channeled it into helping others battle this disease. She does not just talk but also walks alongside other families through the DSAA (Donegal Substance Abuse Alliance), and has become the first CFRS - certified family recovery specialist thru the PA Certification Board in Lancaster County.
I was humbled by this remarkable woman. As we started to talk about what she wanted to have done, she explained that she has a grandson who was too young to remember his father. Since Anthony loved monkeys, Stacy wanted two monkeys made from the jacket, one for her and one for her grandson. She planned to use her grandson's monkey to help tell Anthony's story when he was old enough to understand.
The first challenge I tackled was that I did not have a monkey pattern, and I also did not have a name for a monkey. My bears are Bearlooms, my rabbits are Harelooms - but what to call a monkey? Nothing was coming to mind until I decided to make my whole line of animals Carelooms!
My attention shifted to a pattern. Luckily I have friends who had monkeys who were willing to help with the design. I started by creating a pattern from Monk Monk Holland. From there, Otto Fry and Mr. Pirece helped me to alter the pattern until I was content with Remember When Studio's Monkey Careloom.
To test the pattern, I bought a jacket at a thrift shop and tested it out! This taught me that the arms needed to be narrower at the shoulder and, although I remembered the pocket for the Story Starter, I forgot the pocket for the heart in the front. It would also be helpful to revise the eyes so they stood out on a dark background. "Monkey" found a good home with my good friend Reese who adopted him on her 2nd birthday.
Next time at the thrift store, I looked for woven fabric and found this fabulous vintage girl's dress which resulted in a slimmer monkey. The fabric was reinforced with interfacing and the other alterations were made. The monkey Careloom was born!
Now I could start on the monkey's I had promised. Stacy had told me that she could not bear to wash the jacket, but was OK if I did. She also told me that it was OK if all the stains did not come out. That was great because after 2 days of soaking in Oxiclean, some did not.
The mix of the brown satin lining, the brown ribbing and the plaid outer fabric made adorable Carelooms. The white behind the eyes was Mr Pierce's suggestion and the long legs were a special request from Stacy. The stuffed felt heart is attached at the shoulder with the pull cord from the hood. It slips in to a special pocket in the chest, where hearts belong.
Stacy's Careloom has a special tattoo that came from the front of the jacket. Her grandson's Careloom is embroidered with "Stinky Butt," his father's pet name for him.
The Monkey careloom was born through trial and error and a little help from some friends. Have an idea for a Careloom of your own? Contact us and let the creative process begin!
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.