For the past 10 years or so, my two sisters, my niece, and my mom and I (and sometimes my aunt and cousin) have had a ritual: on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we spend the day shopping in one of the many quaint towns that dot the Ohio Valley (they all live in Northern Kentucky and I’m in Cincinnati). I know we’ve each been tempted over the years to suggest just meeting at the mall, but there’s something about walking a Main Street lined with antique shops and funky boutiques that just feels right. Basically, we created our own version of Small Business Saturday, before it was a thing!
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But it is a thing now, and I think it’s awesome. Like all of the localism movements, it’s just about supporting the people in your community. Malls and chain stores provide jobs and help the local economy too, so I’m not saying they’re bad or anything. But shopping at independently-owned stores, with their vintage charm and enticing shop windows, is a pretty perfect way to kick off the holiday season (it helps to be with funny ladies you really love, too, and to have a mother who says lots of silly things and makes everyone giggle).

This year, we decided to return to Milford, Ohio, a historic downtown district just a few miles from where I live. I’m not going to pretend that I looked up any history of Milford, but I know it’s really old. And I don’t need to read the history to see that it’s cute as a button, and full of some lovely shops.

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Our first stop was the Mercantile Mall, where I found some vintage ornaments and handkerchiefs (I always have my eye out for hankies), and a very cool reproduction of a 1931 McCall’s cover, framed and made into a clock (I can’t believe that I forgot to take a picture). My sister, Nancy, was on the fence about buying a necklace. But I reminded her that it was Small Business Saturday. “Well, my husband is a small business owner . . .” she said. And I reminded her that I was small business owner, too. So actually, if she didn’t buy the necklace, it was basically slapping us in the face (how’s that for spin?) She bought it though, and it looks great!

After a delicious lunch at Padrino (I had the Cortez pizza: goat cheese, red onions, bacon, pesto, and spinach—amazing!), we browsed the Main Street shops some more. I found feedsacks at Gayle’s Vintage, looked at the holiday decorations (like those candy canes above) at Primitive Gatherings, and picked up a few things at That Shop In Milford (including a vintage Richard Scarry Christmas book). I really wanted this book of Vogue magazine covers from 1900 - 1940, but I couldn't talk myself into the $40 (although I'm still thinking about it, and wondering how I can orchestrate things with my husband to make that book wind up under the Christmas tree . . .)



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Feedsacks at Gayle's Vintage.
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I feel that I am going to start compulsively buying owls very soon.
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My mom, browsing at Primitive Gatherings.
It was a great afternoon (it always is). American Express calls it Small Business Saturday; I call it quality time with my people, which just happens to boost the local economy. Good deal all around.
 
 
I finally put up my newest free pattern: The Ladies Who Lunch Clutch! I love the retro-ness of "ladies who lunch"--although I can assure you, I am in no way a lady who lunches (I usually just shove hummus in my mouth in between writing and editing projects). But it's a fun thought, nonetheless. The pattern is available as a Bonus Project, right here.
You might be interested to see my first attempt at making this clutch. I originally used fusible fleece (a favorite of mine), which made it too bunchy and difficult to smooth. Turning up the curved edges was sort of fun and funky, but it was also too uneven. I didn't do a very good job smoothing and aligning all the curves and corners. And it was a little overdone with the flower embellishment.
There was still something charming about that version. But it needed to be edited and remade (I used medium weight interfacing the second time around). I like my newer version better. It's often good to forget about something for a while, and then revisit. Anyway, download the pattern and see what you think! Email me a link to pictures if you make a version!
 
 
I have been remiss about blogging (and sewing)--mostly because I've been getting my new site set up and working on my marketing efforts for my copywriting business. I do have a fun new project that I'm going to be putting up here soon. (The tutorial is almost finished.) I also hope to bring you another Q&A and giveaway soon. (And, of course, I'm hard at work on Max's Batman costume for Halloween--pictures forthcoming!)

But, I do have an exciting announcement: I am now selling Sew Retro directly! I can't pretend that I'm even trying to compete with retailers. In order to not lose money, I have to charge the full cover price ($24.95), plus shipping ($5 to US; $10 to Canada; $20 international; I checked all the rates with the Post Office). So, if you're looking for the best price on the book, I can't give you that (although I may run discounts from time to time).

But, if you want to buy a signed copy--directly from me--then, this is a great option! It's more expensive, for sure. But there is a charm to buying directly from the author. And that's what I'm offering. I don't expect the books to start flying off the shelves. But I've got them, ready to personalize and ship, if anyone is interested! I still need to find a good place to promote it on this site, but for now, here is the link!

Thanks for your support!


 
 
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Hard to believe that a whole summer has whooshed by since my last visit to the Burlington Antiques Show, which I wrote about in April, right here. My sister, Laura, and I (along with Max, and my niece, Rachel) hit the Lawrenceburg, Indiana show a few weeks ago, but it was pouring rain, so was sort of a bust. Luckily, the weather held out for the show yesterday.
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I’ve been bringing Max to flea markets this summer, and he’s become quite the little shopper. Yesterday, he had the task (for a few minutes) of pulling the cart. He’s already a vintage market pro! (I bought that wooden basket that’s in the cart, which I’m going to plant with mums.)

He took some time off his cart-pulling duties to try on this old helmet (this is his mean face—and notice the fists!)
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And time to take a little rest on the ground.
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I was in that “I just don’t need any more stuff in my tiny house!” mode yesterday, so I was more looking than anything. I just let myself get drawn to the most interesting tables. For me, that means linens! Burlington always has so many fantastic linens, from hankies to quilts to tablecloths! But, for the moment, it’s more fun to dream than do (or buy).
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I also love retro glassware, and anything the color aqua (retro glassware that is aqua is the ultimate). I love the aqua of that old trunk too.
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I’ve written about this before, but something is happening with vintage orphan glassware. People are making the most inspiring, cool creations out of it. I’ll leave you with these awesome glass creations . . .
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First day of school: is there a sweeter concept than that? Especially after a long, hot summer. And an even longer Labor Day weekend.

I’ve accepted that I’m in a phase in my life where weekends just aren’t the leisure and loveliness they used to be. For example, 3-day weekends that alternate between so hot you can’t even go outside to freezing and raining, and involve a very busy 1-year-old, and a 3-year-old who still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of pooping in the toilet, really aren’t very fun.

So I was thrilled to go to bed last night, and know that today, we could start over! It did feel like a fresh start this morning, as Max headed off to preschool with daddy, with his backpack strapped on his back like he knew exactly what he was doing.
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Was I thinking: “ooh, my sweet little boy! I will miss him so much! How has he gotten so big, so fast?”

Um . . . no. I was thinking: “I am so glad I get to head upstairs and get back to work. And damn, that’s a good-looking backpack!”

It’s a pattern from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew. I am digging this book sooo much, and I’ve already got about 6 other projects dog-eared. Max zeroed in on this backpack immediately. There was no “hmm, well, maybe, but can you make it out of Scooby-Doo fabric?” It was: “I want THAT backpack, mommy!”
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I pretty much matched the colors of the pattern: I picked out a grey corduroy for the body, a blue with a subtle diagonal plaid for the front pocket, and a yellow with a small white dot for the beak and feet. I lined the whole thing with basic light blue cotton broadcloth. I had a hard time finding the right-size strap adjusters at Jo-Ann’s, so I ordered some from Hardware Elf (they came within just a few days).


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Overall, it’s really a fantastic pattern. There are a LOT of pieces (more than a dozen). As I was tracing the pieces and cutting them out, I began to wonder if I was in for something way more complicated than I anticipated. But it’s actually a very simple pattern, with very, very clear and smart directions. In fact, I learned a new way to make an outside pocket even cleaner at the top. The whole backpack is constructed beautifully—lined and reinforced in the right places. The directions for the zipper are good, although I sort of followed my own method (but don’t be intimidated if you’ve never done a big zipper—it’s super easy, I promise).

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I wish it were just slightly bigger (the preschool instructed us to make sure the kids’ backpacks were big enough for their “homework” folder—and this one is, but just barely).

Overall, I can’t recommend this pattern enough for a kid's backpack, whether you want to do the penguin, or leave off the beak and feet and pick out a snazzy fabric.

And now, I’m going to enjoy the remaining hours of peace before I hear little feet scampering back inside . . .


 
 
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My sister-in-law, Bobbie Jo, took this picture. Isn't she amazing?
Thanks to everyone who put up with my incessant Twitter posts about my Sew Retro Facebook “like” contest (I was trying to get up 300 people in the last week of August to give away a free book). I made it—340! The last 50 came last night after my writer friend, Kris Bordessa (thanks, Kris!) posted something on Attainable Sustainable’s page (you can also check out their site here—it’s pretty great).

The winner is Rachel Heiser, who I emailed through Facebook to let her know that she won. Congrats, Rachel!

It’s sort of obnoxious to ask people to “like” your page over and over again—I know this. But I set it as a challenge because I’ve been in a mini-funk these last few weeks, as I get ready for the next phase of my copywriting business. My coach, Darla LeDoux, is always taking about the power of setting an intention: specifically, when you state something clearly and boldly (without all of the qualifying language, like “well, maybe I might . . .” or “I mean, I might try . . .”), that energy becomes real and that thing becomes real and you find a way to make it happen.

I believe this, but I often don’t remember it. So, my little Facebook contest (“I WILL get 300 fans by August 31st!”) was one of a series of intention exercises for me.

Of course, you should have a purpose behind your intentions. So, for this one, my purpose is to share Sew Retro with readers, because I think it’s a fun book and I love the idea of people having a place to connect and comment on the book, or to comment on their own history of sewing. It goes to my larger mission of helping people connect through stories, which is what my copywriting business is about.

Intentions also help you stay on track. When I was struggling to get to my 300 fans, I clicked around on some other sewing Facebook pages. I saw, for example, Amy Butler’s page  had more than 12,000 “likes!” I mean, she is fabulous. Of course 12,000+ people like her on Facebook. But why don’t they like me? What’s wrong with me? And so begins the spiraling-down/comparison thinking. But, because I had set a specific intention, I could remind myself: I set an intention to get 300 likes, not 12,000. I set an intention to move from A to B, not A to W.

Putting an intention out there in the universe also gets good mojo on your side. People—random people or people you know—help you get there. For example, my friend Kris posting something is what got me those last 10 likes I needed (plus 40 more). I don’t even know Kris that well; we’ve met at writers' conferences. She doesn’t have any ulterior motive, other than just helping another writer because she can relate. It’s just about an energy exchange. That happens all of the time—if you just let it (and aren’t suspicious of it).

I think intention-setting can be a very powerful tool for anyone—whether you’re setting intentions around your parenting skills, your fabric business, your fitness, or just about anything. But—and this is important--your intentions can’t be vague, half-believed, or unstated.

For example, I have an income goal for this year, and I started to freak out that I wouldn’t reach it because I’ve been slow for a few weeks. So instead of being stressed and just saying things like “I need to be busier,” I added everything up that I’ve made (or is contracted) this year, and came up with the specific amount (literally, to the dollar) that I need to make for the remainder of the year. I wrote it down, said it aloud, and shared it with my accountability group. Most importantly, I believe it.

Do you have an intention for yourself or your business? Set one today!
 
 
First, don’t forget to tell your friends to head over to the Sew Retro Facebook page and click “Like.” As I posted about earlier this week, if I reach 300 fans by end of August, I’ll pick a fan at random and send them a signed copy of Sew Retro. I have 65 more to go as of this post!

Anyway . . . I don’t know about you, but after a crazy busy summer (and, thankfully, a more relaxing August), I’m ready to start the fall off with a bang. I’m ready to sew and make school clothes for Max (I just ordered the Asher Shirt from Sew Sweet Patterns and it’s moved to the top of my list!), leggings for Georgia’s chubby baby legs, Halloween costumes, and holiday gifts! I’m ready to find the coolest, most interesting new clients who love what they do as much as I love what I do. I’m ready to turn off the air conditioning, fill the containers up with mums, and let the first frost kill all of the mosquitoes. I’m ready for whatever is next!

Part of figuring out what’s next is seeing what everyone else is doing. On that note, have you seen Kickstarter.com?  A friend just told me about it last week and I checked it out. The concept is fantastic: creative-types propose projects in various areas, from fashion to film-making to baking (and a lot else) and people can pledge money to fund their projects.
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I could spend all day looking at the projects. But of course, I went to the fashion ones first. One that caught my eye is a proposal for a sewing pattern line by Christine Haynes (she wrote Chic & Simple Sewing, which I don’t have yet, but is on my list for sure!) Very impressed with her designs & passion!

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There are a lot more sewing ones, so check it out. (I plan to do some more browsing and make a pledge to some project by the end of the month!). There are so many great ideas! I absolutely love  these Jessica Swift patterned rain boots. 

Oh, and there’s a literary magazine about pies: PIECRUST Magazine. How great is that! It’s successfully funded, but still worth watching the video (check out the Amy Butler fabric apron).

I could list project after project. But here’s the bottom line: People are inspiring. They are so creative and ambitious, and that thread of creativity and ambition is always there, out there, ready for you to grab it. We think it has to "come" to us, to drop in from the sky because the planets are aligned. But in reality, you just have to grab it and go. And then just start.

 I hope you have been sufficiently inspired. Who’s ready for a great fall?
 
 
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I'm the first to admit that I don't exactly know what to do with Sew Retro's Facebook page. I have my own Facebook page, where I share pictures and random musings with friends and family. But it's mostly for personal use.

I started the Sew Retro page to connect with readers and sewers and fans of all things retro. I haven't done that great of a job building it out, but I'm trying to add more content now, like more project ideas, polls, videos, and interesting links (suggestions welcome!).

Every week, a few "likes" trickle in. Then today, it reached 200! I mean, it's not Nike or anything, but it's 200 people who like something about Sew Retro. And that's pretty cool.

You know what would be even cooler? 300!

Here is the deal: if I can get another 100 people to "like" Sew Retro's Facebook page by the end of August, I'll do a random drawing from all the page's fans for a signed copy of Sew Retro. If you win and you already have a book, you can give it as a gift! (If this content is successful, then I will start thinking much bigger, but 100 in 9 days seems safer.)

So, if you haven't liked the page yet, head over there and click "Like." And tell all of your friends!
 
 
Thanks to all who have been singing up for my newsletter over at my new site! The first edition will be coming out very soon, and then it will be bi-weekly.

If you follow that link above, you’ll see that you have the option to just sign up for the newsletter, or sign up to receive the newsletter, plus the first two chapters of my eBook, “Put Your Passion Into Words: How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Obstacles Standing in the Way of Writing Your Web Site” 
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I wrote this eBook for entrepreneurs (yes, selling on Etsy or trying to launch your own pattern line absolutely makes you an entrepreneur!) who are trying to get their web site finished, but are struggling because they just don’t know what to say. Believe me, if this sounds like you, you are not alone! I went to a networking event last night here in Cincinnati, and I talked to so many people who were struggling with getting their web sites up and running because they couldn’t get the copy written. So, take a look at the book and the first few chapters, and if you want more, it’s just one more click!

In other news, I’m making progress on Max’s penguin backpack (from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew). If I could get more than a 15-minute stretch to sew, I’m sure I could finish it!


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I’ve got two super exciting announcements, on two totally different topics (or are they . . .?).

Anyway, first, my new website is finally live! I love it so much, and I adore the design my friend Claudia did! That color is now called Judi Aqua.
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I’ll be sharing more about it in the coming weeks. I’ll still be blogging here for my crafty friends, but I’m also starting a newsletter (where craft-related stuff will certainly pop in from time to time). So, if you want to join my newsletter list and hear from me (either once a week, or once every other week—haven’t decided yet), then click through here, and use the signup box on the right. You can also download a few chapters of my eBook. No spam. No craziness. Just me, communicating with you.
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So, from one website announcement to another. Did you know that TODAY—August 12—is the very day, 160 years ago, that Isaac Singer was issued the patent for his sewing machine? Singer is celebrating their 160th anniversary all year-long, and today, they launched a brand new site: MySingerStory.com! Look at these beautiful (rotating) images from the site! (Many will look familiar to my readers, because Singer graciously let me use many of these in the pages of Sew Retro.)


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This site is so cool because not only can you share your own Singer memories (and read others’ stories), you can also search everything about your particular model, and find out information. Now, that part is not quite ready to go yet (should be ready next week), but there are stories there, and fun historical tidbits (some pulled from Sew Retro). The Singer folks also asked me to share my own story, which I’ve done.
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I know that you all will LOVE this site, and love all of the fun stuff Singer is doing this year to celebrate. In fact, I’ll be talking more about that as well!

So, is it coincidence that I’m launching my new site the same day Singer is launching theirs? Well, okay, yes. But, I'm starting to believe that coincidence is just the universe nudging us to look deeper at something. And here it is: Singer’s site is all about sharing your story. Helping clients connect by sharing their story is the focus of my new brand: Words That Connect. In fact, the guiding principle of my business is simply this:

Your story is your best thing.

Singer knows it, I know it, and I can’t wait to tell you more about why stories matter so much, in your life and in your business.

Have a great weekend!