Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heather Ross fans, listen up!!!

After reading this post over at True Up last year, I thought I would never get to make an announcement like this.


I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Heather's blog tonight.

Is it too early to call this the fabric story of the year???

Heather Ross
announced today that there will be a sequel to her uber-popular Far Far Away line of fabrics for Kokka.

(The following images are pictures from her fantastic blog, which if you aren't currently reading on a regular basis you really should be as it is more often hilarious-er than anything else out there...)

I'm not sure, but I assume that these, too, will be printed on double-gauze, and if you haven't dipped your toe in the delicious pool of fabulousness that is double-gauze, what are you waiting for?

These fabrics build upon the original Far Far Away colors so the possibilities for mixing and matching will be great.

Needless to say, I am thrilled with these prints and think they are gorgeous.

Not just the colors (which seem a hint more "grown up" than the first line), but the designs as well.

I can't wait to see more of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, even the Lilies-of-the-Valley have me all aflutter!

I think it is a safe assumption that we will be carrying the entire line, which is due out in the Spring (but, don't be surprised or disappointed if it's more like early Summer).

Heather also hinted that she has good news about some of her older, discontinued lines as well.

2010, it is only January and you have been so good to me!



PS ... While perusing the Kokka site this evening, I noticed that some of the original Far Far Away prints have been discontinued (ack!). We currently have most of these in stock, so you may want to get them while you can!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guns, Wedding Gowns and Cold Beer

I went to Hussey's today and tried on my very first dress.

It was funny.

I don't think I'm a "wedding dress" wedding dress kind of gal.

I will probably get my dress from the parties/bridesmaid section of J. Crew.

Trying on a wedding dress at Hussey's is something every Maine gal should do, though.

Their slogan is "Guns, Wedding Gowns and Cold Beer."

Check that off the list.

Afterwards Ollie and I each got a red hot dog and ate it in the car in the parking lot while Reuben drooled and was all up in our business.

It was a pretty good day.



Monday, January 25, 2010

I didn't even buy any cookies...

Good evening from a dark and stormy Midcoast Maine,

This afternoon we had some little visitors at the shop.

The Girl Scouts from Edgecomb Eddy School came over to make Valentines Totes with Yo Yo and button flower embellishments.

They were all so cute.

And so patient.

Here's a little Girl Scout equation for you:

11 girls + 3 machines + 1 me + 1 mom + 0 malfunctions= we were very lucky.

Thanks ladies: come back anytime!

(Just bring me some Thin Mints, mmmkay?)



P.S. Don't they look proud? I was proud.

Friday, January 22, 2010

COCO don't GOGO!!!


I don't usually stay up this late but I've been watching Conan O'Brien these last couple of nights and I've never laughed so hard in my whole life.

So long, farewell, CoCo!!!


Rhea at Alewives

Wednesday, January 20, 2010



(My fascinator comb arrived today... I don't know if I'm more excited about the actual comb itself or about the fabric bag it came in!)



(The stash and a sneak peek at a very special La La Log Cabin that I will tell you all about la la later...)



(It's the Sexy Hexy quilt from Amy Butler. Jessie's working on this one and there will very shortly be kits available and a class offered, too!)


:: Summary::

Inside there has been a lot of sewing and outside there has been a lot of snowing.

Wherever you are and whatever the weather is like, have a great day!



Monday, January 18, 2010

La La Log Cabins

The Improv movement is super-white-hot in the quilting world right now (as evidenced here, here and here).

After Denyse's workshop at Alewives last Summer, I came away so inspired, so jazzed to create, that I explored the style and eventually that led me to create my own take on Improv.

Improv most likely had its roots born out of necessity, like these ladies, and it really hasn't changed all that much over the years.

And while it may seem silly to hold a "class" or develop a "pattern" or set of "instructions" for Improv, here's a little food for thought...

Improv doesn't mean that there are no rules: it means that you make your own rules.

(Whoa, man!)

So I did, and that is how the La La Log Cabin was born.

Here are some pictures from our very own La La Log Cabin class.

We have been meeting on Sunday afternoons for a couple of weeks now: whooping it up and having a great time.

Just look at the celebrations and improvisations going on in these quilts and you can see why I I get so excited by this style...

Here's Chris's quilt and a detail shot below:

Don't you just love that little birdy?

And this is Francesca's quilt...

I love how the Polka Dots are having their way with this quilt, giving it an old fashioned charm and a new-fangled chic at the same time... here's a detail shot:

Where'd you get all those cool fabrics, Francesca???

And here is Julie's quilt so far...

Up close it looks like this:

Bonjour, little Owls!

I love how these guys are peeking out at you, wondering what you are up to.

Here are some more quilts from the class...

Donna's quilt: (a future present for her present Grandson)

Anne's quilt: (Gotta love those birds in the centers!)

Susan's quilt: (This reminds me of Freddy Moran)

Meredith's quilt: and wait, who's that? Why, it's Meredith!

And Kelly's quilt: (love, love, LOVE this color combo)

So, those are the La La Log Cabins

(And that's with two people's quilts missing!)

I chose to call them La La Log Cabins because Cha Cha Chinese Coins was already taken, as was Oh Oh Ohio Star.

(That's a little quilting joke.)

Improv is definitely not for everybody -it gets some STRONG reactions from people- but it is most definitely for me.

What do YOU think?



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Harnessing the power of the Craft Swap

Hello everybody...

I am so excited to announce the date for the 2010 Mid Winter's Craft Swap:

This time, the Swap will be on Friday, February 26th and will start at 6:00 sharp, so show up early if you want to get some munching done and get the best "Swapping Seats."

There will be no Sewing Lounge that night and we should all start planning and executing our crafts NOW, because February 26th is just 6 short weeks away.

I can't think of a better way to while away a Winter's night.

And speaking of such things, for some time now I have been very pleasantly surprised by the popularity of the Craft Swap and wanting to somehow "harness" that power and do something good for the community.

I think the time has come to put that plan into action, and tonight I cannot think of a more worthy cause than the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Not only do I wish to help because of the magnitude of this disaster, but because I feel I have a special connection to Haiti and a bit of a "legacy" to carry on...

Here's the reason why:

Betty Mahan, the lady who used to own the house that Oliver, Reuben and I now occupy, was known locally as the "Haiti Lady."

I met her eleven years ago during my first Summer working at Alewives and she was unlike anybody else.

Not only was she uber-stylish, smart and full of personality, she was also a lady of great faith and a humanitarian.

Every year she made trips to Haiti and brought back handmade cards, jewelry, and other crafts that she sold locally to benefit the people of Haiti.

Ironically, Betty Mahan passed away just a few short months ago at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She was a grand person.

We still have some of her belongings in our home and many of them are treasures she brought back with her from one of her trips.

If she were still here, she would probably be in Haiti right now, and I know she would want me to help in any way I could.

And while I may not be in a position to go to Haiti myself, I am in a position to "harness the power of the Craft Swap."

While the Craft Swap will always be free and open to those who would like to participate, anyone who is planning on coming to the Craft Swap, if you are in a position to donate, you are officially asked to do so and the proceeds will be sent to the Red Cross.

So, there you have it: the Mid Winter's Craft Swap will be here before you know it and while we are all having a good time stealing from each other (always encouraged by me), we can also feel good about doing something to help those who need it most.

I've already seen similar blog posts harnessing the power of "Craftivism" to help the people of Haiti.

Isn't it wonderful that crafting can help change the world?

Who woulda thunk it?

(Betty Mahan would have thunk it, that's who.)

Thanks so much and I hope to see you there: let's have us some good, clean fun and see what we can do together.


Rhea at Alewives

The customers at Alewives have an excellent track record for coming through in the clutch: during our 2009 Holiday food drive, we were able to donate over 200 lbs. (!!!) of non-perishable food items to our local food pantry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A bit of silliness

So, this is what I am loving right now:

• Buying Japanese pattern books from Pomadour's Craft Cafe on Etsy.

This is my latest acquisition.

There is a good chance that I will probably never make anything from it and I have this suspicion that even if I did these would probably not look the same on me as on this lanky young Japanese specimen, but what are you gonna do?

• I love the two little blond girls on Katiedid's blog, and I think when I am ready for kids that I will put in an order for two just like them.

I can get them an agent and they can pay their own way through college.

• Ready for another round of Heather's Vintage Swap (yay!!!)

• Waiting like a spider to catch one of these original oil paintings from JanetHillStudio on Etsy.

I bought a print of this painting a little while ago and I love, love, love it, but I have never been able to catch an original painting in time and I don't even know how much they go for, which is probably just as well because I suspect I may not be able to afford one.

I think I have a tea-towel fetish that apparently extends to oil paintings.

(By the way, tell me I am not the only gal with a thang for tea towels.)

• Trying to decide if I like or dislike the new trend of calling people who sew "sewists."

Are we doing this to avoid calling people sewers?

As in, there are rats in the sewers?

Give us some credit: I think we can tell the difference!

And I've noticed some places are doing the same thing with the word "Stockist."

As in, someone who "stocks" a certain brand of fabrics is called a "Stockist."

Because calling them a "Stocker" would just be weird.

• We have locked in Miss Blue Bird Baby herself to do the photography at our wedding.

(That's what I call a total snag.)

• Any day now the new Kokka fabrics will arrive at the shop and you will see me do the Happy Dance.

I had to talk about the shop somewhere in there...

Looks like I did it just in the nick of time, because now I am off to make some Bearnaise sauce.

Just to be clear, Bearnaise sauce is not made from actual bears.

Maybe we should start spelling it "BAYRnaise" sauce to avoid confusion...

(wink, wink).


Rhea at Alewives

Monday, January 11, 2010



Have just ordered this from Anthropologie as hair decoration for the wedding...

Whadaya think???

My hairdresser Natasha said she "saw me in feathers..."

This comes in white, too, but who wants to wear white at a wedding?

I need a little CUH-lah!!!

I mean, if you can't pull something like this off at your own wedding then when can you, I ask?

Plus, is this not Carrie Bradshaw-esque?

And we just got these patterns in today at the shop...

What a sweet little project.

I like to call these types of patterns "Palette Cleansers."

It's like a little fabric sorbet in between bigger projects.

Wouldn't a Smarty Girl bag be sooo cute in this fabric?

Consider your palette cleansed!



Sunday, January 10, 2010

New in the Shop

A lot of you have asked if we carry any organic fabrics at the shop...

For a while now we have been carrying the organic Oasis canvas from Marcus Brothers, the organic terry cloth from Michael Miller and the sustainably printed vegetable dye woodblock prints from Andover.

Unfortunately, most of these are not online (yet) but we are working on it.

Aaand, a lot of you want to have your cake and eat it, too...


...Meaning you want to do what's good for the environment but get a cute little contemporary print at the same time.

Well, I am so pleased to announce that the online shop (and the real-life shop) now has an "organic" section.

In addition to the items mentioned above, we are now carrying the "My Happy Garden" collection of 100% certified organic cotton from Cloud9Fabrics.

And these are online!

How cute are those little flowers?

(I know!)

You can feel good about buying these guys: you are not only supporting the environment (organic!), but supporting an independent company (Cloud9!) and supporting a small business (Us!) and getting cute fabric to boot (You!).

I can think of lots and lots to do with these cuties... and there will be more designs coming in March when Cloud9 releases its newest collection, "Beyond the Sea."

The two collections will even work well together...

(Always a smart move, I think).

Bobby Darin eat your heart out!



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My First Recipe

Interested in a quick-and-easy, delicious-yet-nutritious recipe?

Ollie and I are big fans of what we like to call "Rice Bowls."

They only take about a half an hour from start to finish (that's my inner Rachael Ray coming out) and they go reeeaaallly well with a glass of Merlot, which I like to begin consuming while I'm cooking (that's my inner Julia coming out).

Here's what you'll need:

• 1 (or 2 if you are really hungry) package of Rice Pilaf (or your favorite rice-y type thing... I like to use the Wild Mushroom flavor Rice Pilaf by Near East)

• 1 container of Goat Cheese crumbles

• 1 package of Spring Mix lettuces (sometimes I like to mix it up and use Arugula)

• 1 tomato

• 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (you could just as easily use shrimp or grilled steak or whatever protein is looking particularly scrumptious that day)

• Fresh Dill ( or basil, or chives, again you can use whatever looks scrumptious)

• Balsamic Vinaigrette

• Olive Oil

Here's what to do:

• Timing is everything, here: First, I start the rice going.

• Next, I cube the chicken and throw it in the pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe some garlic..., whatever strikes my fancy.

• While the chicken is cooking, I take out two bowls and I cover the bottom of the bowls with about a handful of Spring Mix lettuce.

• Chop up the tomatoes and set aside.

• Once the rice is done, spoon a handful into the bowl, right on top of the lettuce. The hot rice will wilt the lettuce and make it nice and mushy, with just a lil' bit of snap left to it.

• Toss some of the Goat Cheese crumbles on top of the rice. This will melt the Goat Cheese and it will mix in with the rice and make a delicious binder.

• Next, toss in some tomatoes.

• Toss some chopped dill on top of the tomatoes.

• Last, after draining the chicken, place some of the cooked chicken on top of the tomatoes and drizzle some Balsamic Vinaigrette over the whole thing.

• Mix the bowl and help yourself!

It's good, right???

There are so many ways to mix this up, but the basic idea is that the hot rice and chicken melt the yummy goat cheese and wilts the lettuce. The Goat Cheese and the Balsamic Vinaigrette make the whole thing a little tangy and it all makes a big bowl of yummy.

Again, I must reiterate how well this goes with a glass of Merlot.

Grab some dark chocolate for dessert, put a good movie on and you are in good shape.

(Good for your heart!)

Bon Appetit!


Rhea at Alewives

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thank you kindly!!!

Whoa, Nelly.

I am so pleased to say that I no longer need any samples sewn: everything is accounted for.

Thanks so much to everybody for getting in touch with me (and in such a timely manner!)

It has been really neat to converse with some of my blog readers and I am very much looking forward to showcasing your handiwork at the shop and getting to know you a little bit more.

If you weren't able to get a sample, please just keep doing what you're doing and read my blog because if this little "experiment" goes well (as I fully expect it to) I will surely be doing it again.

Everybody wanted those Turtles!

I wish I had more Turtle samples to sew-up, but alas, the task can only fall on one of you and that one of you is my good friend and old customer Michaela.

Michaela used to live in Maine but she now lives in Detroit.

I hope those Turtles make it back alive!

Just kidding: that is the same joke I made to Michaela when she moved to Detroit.

According to her it is a very safe and lovely place, so there ya go.

No offense, Detroit-ians... I love ya!


Rhea at Alewives

PS: Thanks again to everybody who e-mailed me: I am still a little overwhelmed to get such a good response to my "Call to Arms."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Free fabric, anyone?

Did I get your attention???

Now, before you get too excited, here's the deal:

I am looking for a few good "sewists."

I would love to have some new samples made up for the shop, but us gals are (happily) sooo busy that I am reaching out to our customers to make these samples up for me.

Here's how it will work and how you can get your free fabric:

1) Send me an e-mail at (if you are not a local) or visit me at the shop (if you are a local).

2) Let me know which sample you would like to sew for me.

3) I provide you with the pattern and supplies, including my choice of fabrics. It's for the store, you see, so I have to get the most mileage out of these samples and therefore have to put a lot of thought into which fabrics get used (And you thought it was all fun and games!).

4) You sew the sample for me and keep track of your hours.

5) When the sample is completed, fill out a questionnaire for me (including questions such as what you liked/disliked about the pattern, modifications you made, errors you discovered, trouble-shooting and overall impression/rating of the pattern).

6) Return the questionnaire to me, along with the finished sample and the pattern.

7) I will compensate you for the cost of shipping (if necessary) and for your time spent making the sample with a gift certificate to the store at a rate of $10 an hour. For example, if you spend 10 hours working on a sample, you will get a $100 gift cetificate.

8) The gift certificate can be used in our online store and in the "real" shop, but can only be used towards fabric. To sweeten the pot, you will also get 10% off your fabric, so your gift certificate will get you 10% further than cold hard cash would. Aaand, you get to keep all of the scraps! Everybody wins, n'est-ce pas?

Sound like something you want to do?

Here are some of the samples I need sewn up (click on their links to see a description of each project):

The Liverpool Dress
(our shop mannequin was just telling me the other day how she has nothing to wear, so I thought we might whip this up for her. Intermediate level. Skills needed include covering buttons and making buttonholes, sewing curves, etc.)

The Sweet Harmony Handbag and Tote (She needs a bag, too. Can't say that I blame her. Intermediate level. Skills needed include sewing gentle curves and covering/inserting piping, which is actually very easy and fun.)

The Weekender Travel Bag (Yes, we already have two of these at the shop, but after telling people about a jillion times a day that we no longer have the fabric they were made from, it occurred to me that it might be time for a new one. Plus then I get to take the old ones home! This one is best suited to advanced levels, I would say. Skills needed include inserting a zipper, covering/inserting piping, patience...)

Sewing Basket and Cover (Great for anyone who likes working with Bali Pops... and this is a no-sewing project! Good for any skill level)

Anna Maria Horner's Multi Tasker Tote ( I saw this one on her blog made up in laminates, and we have some kick-butt laminates at the shop now, so that is probably what I will have this one made up in. Intermediate level. Skills needed will include sewing a curve, gathering, and probably working with laminate.).

Heather Bailey's Happy Stacker Ring Toy
( I cannot believe how many of these patterns we have sold withOUT a sample. Just think how many we will sell with a sample: mwa ha ha... Intermediate level. Skills needed will include sewing a curve. I think this project is realatively easy and could probably even be done without a machine by hand, if you felt so inclined.)

Henrietta Turtle ( I would want four or five or these made up: a "herd" of turtles, if you will, and I have the feeling that they go together pretty quickly... intermediate level. Skills needed will include sewing a curve, and this may be a good candidate for anyone who likes to sew by hand as well.)

There are more samples I would like sewn up, but we will start with these for now and I will see how the response is.

Once again, if you would like to take me up on this offer, send me an e-mail (, let me know which project you would like to take on, and we will take it from there.

Hope to hear from you soon!


Rhea at Alewives

Friday, January 1, 2010

Brand New Addiction!

2010 has been good so far!

Maybe I am slow to catch on, but did you know that Marimekko has a blog?

This blog is so inspiring with lots of great posts.

They show behind-the-scenes action, Marimekko fabrics put to great use in people's homes and studios, great project ideas and sneak peeks at upcoming lines.

I suggest subscribing, tout de suite!

(I do apologize if you lose hours of your life combing through the archives.)

Favorite finds so far?

The free Desktop Calendar, Tea Towel Art and the Fabric Wall Hanging How To.

Did you know that this fabric was used for the curtains in Carrie Bradshaw's apartment on "Sex and the City?"

I recognized it immediately!

But then, later on, when she painted her apartment blue in the movie, she redecorated with curtains made from this fabric:

What can I say, the gal's got great taste!

Now that I have my new kitchen table I am seeing a quick and easy table coth in this fabric and a series of wall hangings in this fabric in my future.

But, of course, the beauty of Marimekko is that you could do that the other way around and it would be just as effective.

A lot of people come into the shop and they ask me why the Marimekkos are so expensive compared to the other fabrics.

If you take a look at this post you see all of the work that goes into a Marimekko fabric.

They are also printed on wider yardage, so you are getting more fabric than you regularly would.

And of course, they are an independent company shipping out of Finland with several decades worth of design sensibility under their belt.

And if you think about it, Marimekko fabrics are actually quite a deal.

You just have to use them differently than other fabrics.

These are fabrics where the printed design is the star of the show and (in my humble opinion) they are best showcased in simpler projects.

You are not going to cut them up into tiny little pieces and make a quilt from them.

Their giant, graphic prints make them natural choices for crafting tablecloths and wall hangings and whole cloth quilts.

These projects are quick and easy and you often don't need much more than a yard.

Where else could you get customized tablecloths or wall hangings or bedding for around $40.00???

And even if you are not in the market for a new tablecloth or wall hanging or whole cloth quilt, you could always use a half yard or even a fat quarter and make something very simple, like a pillow or a tote.

Who wouldn't love a simple tote with one of these striking prints?

I know I would.

And I'm thinking Carrie Bradshaw would, too.

(Maybe in the new movie.)