Make a Baby Receiving/Swaddling Blanket

My ‘go-to’ baby gift is the receiving blanket and it is  always one that I make.  It satisfies three gift giving rules:

  • Need–every baby needs more than one
  • Use–it will get used
  • Love–made with

The blanket also has many lifetimes as it morphs into a blanky, binky, Gee Gee, and then finds its way to the Baby Doll wardrobe.  The favorite ones even get saved, no matter how matted, tattered, to be brought out again for visiting Grands, “Here’s Momma’s/Dada’s”.

Receiving/Swaddle Blanket

Receiving/Swaddle Blanket

Before I began having a gift stash of blankets, the baby gift I bought was outgrown before a) I got around to shopping (Babies always wear 3 month size for the first year, right?) and, b) found the address and wrapping paper, and a card, and a shipping box and got to the post office.

Happy Camper at 4 months

Happy Camper at 4 months

My first Grand exhibited colic at 3 weeks and the pitiful rag masquerading as a receiving blanket sent home by the hospital was so inadequate on several levels.  Mainly, it was too small (probably 36″ x 30″) for even a newborn.  And once the baby begins to grow out of the fetal position, a larger blanket is needed.  As you can see from the above picture, E-Bear is perfectly content to be swaddled, firm around the upper body and looser around the lower body.  Keeping the arms confined is important as muscle spasms will cause the arms to jerk, fling and wake the baby.

My children never had colic other than for a night or two so never swaddled them, although my mother was suitably appalled.  My recollection of receiving blankets from the 60’s is a 3-pack flimsy flannel that drastically shrank, faded and pilled when just getting near water.  I used them for burp cloths and the girls later adopted them for their dolls, eventually they became dust cloths (how archaic is that!).

Once I saw the need for a receiving/swaddling blanket, I knew I could make them for less, with quality fabrics, and in personally selected, attractive colors/designs.

My fabric of choice is 100% flannel, although knits and gauze are also used.  Most mothers prefer all natural fibers so I stay away from synthetic fibers.

Flannel is a hard-working fabric.

  • It’s durable.
  • It’s washable.
  • It’s absorbent.
  • It’s comfortable.
  • It breathes so is warm without being hot.

The blankets are quick and easy to make, actually a great learning-to-sew project.  Learning anything is more fun if the end result is a useable product.  Everyone is bound to need a baby gift at some point.  And, if you don’t sew, and not interested in learning, that’s OK too; they are available on Etsy.

The instructions are for two blankets  The first blanket is the learning project; the second one is to perfect just learned skills…’practice makes perfect!’  And, now you have an extra blanket for that unexpected baby gift.


Receiving/Swaddling Blanket How-to


  • 2.75 yds** of 45″ wide 100% cotton flannel for two blankets,
  • finished size about 44″ X 44″
  • coordinating/matching thread


  • sewing machine
  • iron and ironing board
  • hem gauge

1.  Fold fabric in half lengthwise; snip through selvedge about 1/2″ and tear the rest of the way.  Trim any loose threads resulting from the tear on both pieces.  Prewash* per washing instructions for the fabric  to preshrink and to wash out any manufacturing products. I know you are loath to wash and lose that nice firm manufactured finish, but do you really want unknown chemicals on you or a baby?  Plus, washing softens the fabric and fluffs flannel’s appealing nap.

Another benefit is that washing and drying will shrink the torn edges back into shape as tearing will slightly stretch the fabric.  So why tear?  Because it is quick and easy and a ‘tear’ is always along one of the woven threads, thus the blanket piece will be on-grain and the fabric ‘square’.  Note:  fabric will never be ‘square’ like a piece of paper because of it’s flexibility/stretchability; the goal is to get it as close as possible.

Drying tip:  cotton flannel can wrinkle into a balled mess in the dryer.  I never dry flannel (or kitchen towels, placemats).  I shake the item and air-dry by hanging over a horizontal kitchen cupboard drawer pull, at which point, I tug the edges taut to straighten the edges.

2.  Hem both selvedges by folding and pressing the edges to the wrong side about 1/2″.

3.  Hem crosswise edges (torn edges) by folding and pressing 3/8″ to wrong side.  Fold again another 3/8″ encasing the raw edges.  Selvedges do not need to be double folded as they don’t ravel.

Using hem gauge

Using hem gauge

Use the gauge’s tab (blue) to push against the fold and nudge to the correct width.  I leave iron on hem while positioning the next fold–about 3-4″ at a time.

Pressed blanket hems; Selvedge at top; cross grain at right

Pressed blanket hems;
Selvedge at top; cross grain at right

Notice in the above photo how the cross grain hem extends beyond the adjoining edge.  This is due to a property of weaving that causes the cross grain to have more stretch/flexibility and the action of folding and pressing stretches the hem.  Not attractive and a sign of a BEGINNER; horrors!  Never fear, the next step is Corners, easy enough for a sewer with a learning permit.

4.  Mitered Corners Step 1  Open out pressed hems at each corner.  Note the selvedge has fuzzy threads; not to worry, the selvedge will not ravel and it’s a perk for a soft, appealing texture for babies.  Also note how the corner is not a perfect 90 degrees due to the stretching of the grain.  The mitered corner will alleviate this problem.

Step 1 Mitered Corner

Step 1 Mitered Corner

5.  Mitered Corners Step 2  Fold corner diagonally matching pressed lines (see arrows)

Step 2 Mitered Corner

Step 2 Mitered Corner

6.  Mitered Corners Step 3  Refold hems to original position forming point at corner.  Press and repeat on other corners.  Once you have done several mitered corners, you will be proficient enough to fold each corner while sewing the hem; stitch to within 3-4″ of the corner, fold and finger press the miter and continue stitching the hems in place.

Step 4 Mitered Corner

Step 3 Mitered Corner

Finished Mitered Corner

Finished Mitered Corner

7.  Machine stitch hem from wrong side using the stitch guides on the pressure plate.

Tip:  even though the hems are carefully measured, just following the fold may not make for a nice straight stitch line from the right side.

Machine Stitch Hem

Machine Stitch Hem

Now finish by sewing on one or more ribbon tags; babies/kids love the texture and the youngest baby will amaze you at how they search for a favorite.  Save tons of money by making the small square ‘blankies’ with multiple ribbon tags.  Good way to use up ribbon odds and ends too.

Ribbon tag

Ribbon tag

I used to just serge blanket edges as it is so quick and easy, but then decided it really looked ‘cheap’.  It may take a bit longer (this took me about 45 minutes, including time to set up and thread machine and clear off the ironing board) but, to me, a much more satisfying, professional result.  What do you think?

Hems--folded vs serged

Hems–folded vs serged



 A swaddle wrap graphic #


Wrap a Swaddle Blanket

# Courtesy of



*Final words:  Prewash is really an oxymoron as the prefix ‘pre’ means before.  So you are washing before washing??????  However, it is an accepted term in the sewing world and just means to wash away manufacturing residue and preshrink (there’s that oxymoron again why not just shrink something; oh well…) the fabric.  Fabrics will shrink during laundry, especially cotton fabrics.  This is why I recommend buying extra fabric to make 2-44-45″ X 44-45″ blankets.

**Here’s the math:

  • 1.25 yds of 45″ wide fabric is needed to make a square 45″ blanket.
  • Twice 1.25 = 2.5 + .25 = 2.75 yds; the extra .25 yd is shrinkage allowance

Hems will decrease the actual size but the result is a nearly square blanket; I don’t get hung up on whether the completed blanket is 44″ X 44″ or 44.5″ X 44″, or…And, neither should you.



baby baby baby baby baby

baby baby baby baby baby

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A Book Review–The Lost Art of Dress–The Women Who Once Made America Stylish

Book Cover

The perfect Mother’s Day Gift.

The Lost Art of Dress–The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski.

What a book it is; 288 pages, illustrations, 33 pages of notes and 15 pages of index.   This is a textbook, history book, reference book; not the casual read one would expect.  Don’t be put off by it’s textbook format as it is so much more.  The Lost Art of Dress is a fascinating, readable, intellectual treatise on women’s dress in America.  I recommend it as an enjoyable, educational summer read.

Linda Przybyszewski, the author, is associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.  She is also a dressmaker, she comes from a family of dressmakers, and a fashion connoisseur.

This is a book about ‘former’ American fashion style:  what it was and is, how America got it, and how we might have it again.  And, oh yes, why we need it.   It is also a comprehensive history of the women (Linda calls them Dress Doctors) who started the movement and why they ended  up in Home Economics at colleges and the USDA when they really wanted careers in the Sciences.  A great plus for the book, in my opinion, is that it documents  woman’s struggle for equality, long before women won the  vote.

You might expect this book to promote a return to an earlier age of American dress.            So it does, but acknowledges 21st century  lifestyle changes.  Let’s admit it, Americans are slobs, e.g., sweatshirts and flip flops to the office?  No wonder businesses institute dress codes. We have swung to the opposite end of the continuum and now need to get to somewhere in the middle.  Linda suggests we do that by finding current day Dress Doctors to show us the way.

Happily, Linda’s Dress Doctors are not as rigid as my encounters at the College of Home Economics, University of MN.  I graduated in 1963, and even then, jeans and pants were acceptable college attire.  BUT, not at the College of Home Economics.  We were required to wear skirts even though we changed before and after class as tromping across snow-covered campus just wasn’t comfortable or practical.

During student teaching, we were advised to wear hats and gloves when making home visits, a part of the home economics secondary school curriculum at that time.  This was common church attire in both rural and city communities but not professional attire by any means, especially for a school teacher.

And we were also coached to respond to an offer of coffee (on these home visits) with, “Thank you, a glass of water will be just fine.”  I Kid You Not!  Would I make something like that up?  Have no idea what that was all about:  Keep us humble?  We weren’t entitled to anything better than water????

Ms. Przybyszewski makes a point of acknowledging she set out to make this book enjoyable reading for anyone, not just college professors.  She has succeeded admirably.

There were times when I hooted, although I must confess, a lot of the humor is of the Insider variety–Insiders being sewists, home economists, fashionistas.  An example from the very first chapter refers to a woman who wrote to a farm journal editor in 1857,  arguing that women needed sewing machines as much as men needed farm machinery; this after said editor wished he had never written about sewing machines because he was inundated with letters asking for more.  Linda’s aside wonders if the woman’s husband “had been acting mulish about such a purchase.”

I sadly chuckled as 150+ years later, wives are still facing opposition about the high price of sewing machines and ,”Why do you need a new machine, that one works just fine.”  This, when a new boat shows up in the garage every two years and displaces a car–guess whose car!  I speak from experience.

Another part I particularly enjoyed was the history of home economists (I am one) .  These were women, often with chemistry college degrees, with nowhere to use them–a woman in a laboratory?  Horrors!

According to Ms. Przybyszewski, land-grant colleges provided a home for these scientists in the Home Economics departments,  By 1911, the USDA expanded to include homemaking.  Then WWI created a need for scientific knowledge of fiber and food.

In 1923, home economists got their own bureau at the USDA.  Finally, women college graduates had a place to go.  But it wasn’t a bed of roses as it was often suggested that… “‘girl chemists’ learn to type instead of aiming for jobs in laboratories.”

That condition strikes a cord with me as by 1959, the year I graduated from high school, career opportunities for women hadn’t changed all that much.  My high school counselor had these ‘job’ suggestions:  nurse, teacher, secretary.  The unspoken was marriage or factory work at the local 3M plant.  Note the word choice of Job vs Career.  There was a certain denigrating connotation to the word ‘job’ as it related to women.

Ms. Przybyszewski makes a point of showing how other women forged their own path with considerable strength and purpose.  A leader was Ellen Swallow Richards who graduated from Vassar in 1870 with a chemistry degree only to find no one would hire a woman chemist.  Am guessing the ‘chemist’ appendage was irrelevant as women just didn’t work outside of the home.  With that door closed, Ms Richards applied to MIT and became the first woman to earn a degree at MIT but was again stymied when she was not allowed to earn a doctorate.  So she taught and specialized in sanitation and in 1908 formed the American Home Economics Association.  Ms Richards is a perfect example of what women always do–when one door closes, open another

The following quote from the book is illustrative of the bumps home economists faced as they designed their career.

“The bureau’s Food and Nutrition Division tended to get more press coverage than Textiles and Clothing–which makes sense, since botulism can kill you, while an ugly dress only makes you wish you were dead…”–also a telling criticism of the importance of clothing, fashion.

But home economists forged ahead and used a new invention to calculate how much labor was saved by a sewing machine.  The answer:  using a treadle machine used six times more energy than hand sewing but produced 14 times more work, and an electric machine produced 16 times more work with no more energy than hand sewing.  Bet that woman from 1857 wished she had those statistics to justify a sewing machine.

As to the importance of dress,  Ms. Przybyszewski relates the story of a woman Doctor who, in 1918, sought help as people did not respect her intelligence due to her poor dress and she had no knowledge of appropriate wardrobe.  This woman exhibited her intelligence by recognizing the problem and seeking professional help–problem solved.

Chapter 2:  Art:  Principles for Beauty is a review of how and when standards for appropriate dress were developed in America.  Ms. Przybyszewski goes back to sumptuary laws of Renaissance Europe that provided a way to recognize social class based on dress–particularly whores.  Seems to me that in the 21st century, dress rules have gone amok as the whore is eagerly emulated in dress and manner, e.g., entertainers, street style.

In any case, save this chapter for the art principles espoused by the Dress Doctors.  Most of the art principles come from Art in Every Day Life, by Harriet and Vetta Goldstein, The Goldsteins.  This was the Bible for home economics classes.

The brief biography of the eccentric Sisters is not to be missed as well as the history of how The Goldsteins, Frank Lloyd Wright, modern furniture, Shakers, etc., all came together in the early 20th century to link design and ideals.

As a student in Home Economics Education at the University of MN in the early ’60s, I was introduced to The Goldsteins (they are still referred to with great reverence and with capital letters) in the required Intro to Related Art I & II . Although The Goldsteins had retired in 1949, the final 1954 edition, was the text book.  Every text book on dress since has borrowed from Art in Every Day Life.

The book is still available on Amazon.  Apparently a new book is available for $2432.64, used at $7.00.  I’m madly digging through boxes of books (never unpacked from last move) for my copy.  Haven’t found it yet, but did find several yearbooks and at least 10 dictionaries; two were 8″ thick and weigh several pounds.  They now have nice homes at the local library, probably in the book sale.

In 1976, The Goldsteins were honored with the founding of the Goldstein Museum of Design, its mission to support teaching and research on campus; additionally the museum fulfills a vital public outreach function through exhibitions, publications, off-site programs and community partnerships.

The following chapters continue the saga:

  • Chapter 3  Occasions:  The Duty and Pleasure of Dress
  • Chapter 4  Thrift:  Much for Little
  • Chapter 5  Revolt:  The Fall of the Dress Doctors
  • Chapter 6  Aftermath:  Tyrannies of Age and Size

The last chapter is a waggish review of patterns,–the skirt made from ties collected from men the wearer slept with, the dish towel dress (luckily I missed that one)–age appropriate dress and what was deemed age appropriate (at one time, only after age 25 were ‘sophisticated styles’ appropriate), and sizing, which apparently varies depending on the garment cost–the more expensive, the smaller the size.

The Epilogue:  Legacies

Here is hope for the future and affirmation of my passion of all things fiber.


Dedication page

Dedication page

The Lost Art of Dress–The Women Who Once Made America Stylish

Copyright 2014 by Linda Przybyszewski

Published by Basic Books, New York, NY







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Making Seed Tape

Remember seeing a Pinterest DIY on seed tape and having used the retail seed tape, know it is one of the myriad ‘greatest thing since sliced bread’!   Unfortunately, seed tape is not available in a lot of seed varieties and it is expensive.  Also, you need to plan ahead if you will be buying it, as it needs to be ordered–have never seen it in a retail store.

After months of Winter (through April) and a cold, wet May, it is now Summer and planting needs to be done like Right Now!  Had the seeds (bought on an optimistic March day) and with a vague recollection of the Pin, set to work.





These are the tools/equipment I used:

  • large flat pan
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • tweezer
  • toilet paper


  • place toilet paper in pan and spray with water
  • place seeds on paper, spacing according to packet directions, on half the paper
  • fold paper over seed and spray again.
  • allow to dry

Once dry, use at once or store in a moisture-proof container.  This is where a reuse of the silicon pouches found in purchased items makes sense, as wet tape will allow the seeds to sprout, and eventually  mildew–not pretty, and all that hard work for naught.

When I was done, I looked up the Pin and found I had the basic premise correct but hadn’t used the flour paste, nor measured, marked, cut, etc.  The measuring and marking is, in my opinion, overkill as the sewist I am can automatically gauge inches, even the standard 5/8″ seam allowance (have checked my ‘eyeballing’ ability and it is amazingly accurate; bet any sewist has developed this ability).

That being said, the flour paste may be a good idea if storing the seed tape.  Am thinking the paste may protect from inadvertent moisture/sprouting.

Am off to the garden to plant the seed tape; tear apart on the toilet paper perforations or cut in sizes to fit your planting space.  Check my Facebook page for updates.

Here is the link to the blog the Pin is based on if you would like the excellent original instructions.




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Issey Miyake Part I

Every Spring I sort through my clothes for donate and consign candidates.  The Spring Cleaning coordinates well with Herberger’s Goodwill Sale (Herberger’s is a Midwest department store under the Bon-Ton umbrella) as every donation garners a 20% coupon for the Spring sale event.  After many years of doing this, I can report that the clothes collection is finally down to a manageable size; manageable is defined as ‘fits in all closets and drawers with nothing in tubs on highest shelf in garage’.

This year I rediscovered three Issey Miyake blouses made from V2056.  V2056 is from 1984/1985, one of the first Miyake patterns.  In 1984, Vogue launched ‘Individualist’ patterns and Issey Miyake was a part of this designer group.  I was immediately taken with the Issey designs and have a large selection.  The Individualist patterns are now highly prized and sold on Etsy, eBay, vintage patterns sites, etc.  Googling ‘Issey Miyake Vogue Patterns‘ brings up images of all the patterns mixed in with Issey’s couture and RTW.

Another site is Miyake Maniacs with photos of all Miyake Vogue patterns published through 2000.  Unfortunately, the site is inundated with pop-ups and the promised ability to access pattern number and date is not available.





The first version was made in 1985 for my daughter–see the 25″ waist note above; not quite Scarlet O’Hara measurement but more reasonable and no corset enhancement!  The dressform doesn’t even have that small a waist circumference so the bottom button is open on photo below.   Another note about the dressform:  the shoulders are broad but this pattern and 1985 is suitable for shoulder pads.  In fact, the lamé blouse does have soft shoulder pads.



The blouse only has three pieces; cut two of #1.  CF has attached facing and is on crossgrain; CB is on bias hence the interesting back view.  Have no clue how/if this could be altered; I avoided the issue by buying two patterns in needed sizes.

The other pattern pieces are for the skirt and shorts.  Made the skirt out of a Leiter’s Designer Fabric (out of business) with a woven-in plaid (sorry, garment no longer available); worked well even though plaids are not recommended.

The shorts pattern is back in style and reminds me of Peter Pilott0 2014 collection, especially some shorts from the Target collection.

V2056 Cotton Damask

V2056 Cotton Damask

V2056 Cotton Damask Back

V2056 Cotton Damask Back

V2056 Cotton Damask Back

V2056 Cotton Damask Back









The blouse above is a hefty cotton damask, also from Leiter’s Designer Fabrics.  Unfortunately, photographing it is a challenge above and beyond my limited editing skills.  It looks like a wrinkled mess but, trust me, it looks just fine in real time.  Due to the complicated construction, this is a difficult piece to iron.

The next version was made for myself out of a rayon challis with a coordinating print as a scarf.  Here you can see the interesting bias centerback.  The challis drapes beautifully and can even be worn under a loose jacket.  Please be amazed at the matched paisley motif at CB neck; I know I am!

V2056 Rayon Challis

V2056 Rayon Challis

V2056 Rayon Challis Back View

V2056 Rayon Challis Back View

V2056 with coordinating scarf

V2056 with coordinating scarf

The final version is in a lamé that is quite crisp but also works well.

V2056 Lamé

V2056 Lamé

V2056 Lamé Back

V2056 Lamé Back

V2056 Lamé Side

V2056 Lamé Side

A fashion note:  the full sleeves disguise a sway back (which I have) and the high-hip length does not emphasize a full-hip figure.

Now that I review this pattern, believe I have a knit in my stash that would work beautifully.

Would like to hear from other “Miyake Maniacs”, especially if you have sewn this particular pattern.


Related Sites:

The Concepts and Work of Issey Miyake

Vintage Fashion Guild

Hello Miyake Maniacs


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Honey Bon-Bons in St Paul

An April weekend in St. Paul, MN, has been an annual event for the past 20 + years,  ever since the American Craft Council moved a craft show to the River Centre in St. Paul.

For the first time, a stay at the St. Paul Hotel kept us downtown for the entire weekend so we had time to explore more than just the ACC Show.  Google turned up Cathedral of St Paul and Minnesota History Center.  But we were interested in shopping–something within walking distance of the hotel.  This led us to Mademoiselle Miel at 342 Kellogg Boulevard W., the kitchen/workroom for very delectable honey chocolates.

Honey BonBons with 23k edible gold leaf

Honey BonBons with 23k edible gold leaf

The honey is gathered from hives located on rooftops all over St Paul from bees who collect nectar from parks and flower pots around the city.

In the kitchen, the honey is transformed into a creamy filling and covered with Italian chocolate and edible gold leaf–very elegant.  There are several fruit and herb flavors but the most popular are honey and the smoked honey with Laphroaig scotch–perfect finish to any meal.

The bon-bons are available at several retail stores throughout the Twin Cities.  However,  a visit to the workroom is where you will meet the delightful Mademoiselle Miel and sample the honey products. You will be charmed and entertained by Mademoiselle Miel (she is from WI) and learn from this beekeeper and chocolatier.

Welcomed by Mademoiselle Miel

Welcomed by Mademoiselle Miel





Mademoiselle Miel

Mademoiselle Miel

The workroom at 342 Kellogg Blvd W is open only on Friday’s from 3:00 – 9:00 PM.  It is on the right side of Kellogg when heading East into downtown St. Paul.  The closest parking is up the hill in The Cathedral parking lot, or call ahead for a parking pass.

If you park at the Cathedral, be sure to tour this crown jewel in the St. Paul skyline.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral


St Paul skyline from The Cathedral

St Paul skyline from The Cathedral

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World’s Largest Garage Sale–Textile Center of MN

 April 12, 2014


Success is mine!  Have gone through–that means have actually ‘touched’–every single piece of fabric in my stash and have three tubs ready to donate to the World’s Largest Garage Sale, an annual fund raiser for The Textile Center of MN, in St. Paul MN.

Sewists of all categories clean out their stash and donate so expect wonderful treasures from:  sewers, felters, knitters, dye-ers, quilters, beaders….

For $25, shop before the crowd (and there will be one) on Friday night from 6:30 – 8:00 PM.

Saturday’s sale is from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM; admission is $1.

Here is what I am bringing–this year.  There is plenty more that will probably go next year.  I need to let go in baby steps.

Get there early, be prepared to stand in line, and enjoy.  Know you will score some fantastic items.

Needlepoint bookmarks from London--10 years ago so well aged.

Needlepoint bookmarks from London–10 years ago so well aged.

a 5.5 yard piece of brown wool tweed, a 1.5 yd wool/poly tricotine, huge hunk of felted wool jersey + much more

a 1 5/8 yard piece of black wool tweed, a 1.5 yd wool/poly tricotine, huge hunk of felted wool jersey + much more


odds and ends

odds and ends

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Palm Springs Modernism Week Home Tour El Rancho Vista Estates

One of the last 2014 Modernism Week events was a Sunday morning home tour of ten homes in El Rancho Vista Estates.  The homes were open for tours and all offered snacks and beverages–most of the alcoholic variety.  I declined the Bloody Mary at the first house as figured I might be stumbling down the streets on the rest of the tour.  But it was a nice, welcoming touch and very MCM.  Have forgotten how much cocktails were a part of daily life 50 years ago.  One of the homes had three different bar areas featuring vintage liquor and mixes.  My fave from the era were/are the ice cream drinks:   Grasshopper, Pink Alexander, always served with huge dollops of whipped cream and two hazelnuts.  Hazelnuts were a treat as remember them only available at Christmas.  But I digress…El Rancho brocjure

El Rancho Vista, at E Vista Chino and Via Roberto Miguel, is the first residential subdivision by Wexler and Harrison, dating from late ’50s. The neighborhood is a collection of approximately 75 single-family homes located northeast of the Palm Springs International Airport.

They were designed as vacation homes so the homes were really bare bones:

  • Square footage in the 1500 + or – range
  • Large lots to include swimming pool
  • Small kitchens
  • Three bedrooms–small
  • Walled yards
  • No insulation
  • Polished concrete floors

“Variations on several open plan layouts include flat roofs, butterfly roofs, and the down-turned eave, which became something of a signature in later Harrison projects.  Other character-defining details include now classic mid-century architectural elements like decorative concrete block walls and floor-to-ceiling glass walls oriented to spectacular mountain views that enhance indoor/outdoor living.”  El Rancho Vista Estates (1960, Wexler & Harrison)

Many of the homes on the tour are investment properties and are available for rental.  These homes are beautifully updated with minimalist decor, i.e., no books, magazine, clutter.  A couple of the homes are owner-occupied exhibiting a realistic ‘lived-in’ ambience.

Street view of San Jacinto Mtns.  Note utility pole: Electrical lines are still above ground

Street view of San Jacinto Mtns. Note utility pole: Electrical lines are still above ground


Remodeled Kitchen. What you see is what you get in counter space.
The bar does help out in that respect.


Owner lives here so looks like a ‘regular’ home


Side yard softened by grasses in front of block wall


Typical drive/sidewalk treatment


Minimalist landscaping. Just rake it


Note the updated flooring. Believe it is tile


This is a rental home so very minimalist furnishings,
Note the updated floor


Clerestory windows


Original polished concrete floor, cracks and all


Updated with hanging fireplace


Close-up of hanging fireplace


Original concrete floors. See crack in lower right; that is what concrete does, so live with it.


Updated kitchen; wall has been removed behind new island


Upgraded to reflect MCM decorating


Draperies are probably consistent with MCM but not it’s best moment. Certainly not one to repeat.


Family room that is actually lived in. Note updated ceiling lights


Authentic MCM Bar set up on a side board.
Note the Pucci-inspired ice bucket.


Bedroom off back yard. Note floor-to-ceiling sliding doors


Updated kitchen with floating glass topped island. Island is probably not original.
Note how tiny, but it was designed as a vacation home.


Interesting exterior.
Not on tour but guess the grey/black wall (topped with white lattice)
encloses a patio and adds privacy from street


Pierced block privacy screen outside the floor to ceiling windows.
Note the bottom casement windows. Desert air cools at night and is heavier that hot air, hence bottom opening windows.


Outrageous updated shower


MBR off back yard/pool


Owner live-in home


Pool and yard of the last house on the tour. Tables were set up in the shade to serve food which was included in the tour. However, most of the other homes offered refreshments too, so you didn’t need breakfast before the tour.


Beautiful pool and view, enhanced (?) by utility lines.
Never noticed utility lines/poles until editing photos.


Bar at last house serving Dirty Cosmo’s, Margheritas and water.


Another original concrete floor. This is the one thing rarely updated. If it’s not broke…

  20140223_110027 20140223_110030

Related Articles:

El Rancho Vista Estates

celebrity homes in Vista Las Palmas walking tour

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Facebook Rant, Rant, Rant…Can’t Use/Find ‘Like’

Just spent way too much time–AGAIN–on Facebook trying to use my business page.  So why am I wasting so much time on a clearly frustrating, poorly run website?  Because the Powers that Be (who are they???) have decreed a FB Business Page is The Way to promote your business.  It is easy enough to set up, a Pain to use

FB policy is only ONE account, but a business page can be set up under the original account.  Countless FB users face a similar dilemma–how to use a business page set up under a personal page.  One way around this policy is to set up a separate account, a No No at FB.  In fact, if another account is set up under another name, FB can/will cut off all accounts.  Apparently, FB spends money looking for sinners but none on customer service per their disclaimer.   Anyone out there every received a reply from FB?  Please let me know so I can submit to  Guinness World Records.

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 11.05.55 AM

I’m not the only one with this problem, witness Google search.

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 11.58.59 AMThis is what FB Help says:  Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 10.43.21 AMWas this answer helpful?

NO!  Can’t Like if there is no ‘Like’ button.

You will notice a Friend Request was sent, but was sent from my personal page as, when using Business Page, the options below do not appear. Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 12.05.14 PMI finally resorted to sending a FB message with my business page address; how 20th century.

How to set up a FB business page:

  • Click on everything across the top of the FB site until you find Create a page.
  • Choose an appropriate icon
  • Follow instructions

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 12.13.26 PMThat’s the easy part; using the Page is the issue.
Even more frustrating is that some times things work and sometimes they don’t.  Can change within minutes/seconds.

This is a roadblock today; the link Get Started is not working so can’t use the FB community help.

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 10.51.04 AMYou’d think a company with a market value over $1 Billion (yes, that’s a ‘B’) could/would/should have a well functioning website both for the user and the customer.  Because, if I can’t use a business page effectively, customers can’t use it, and that defeats FB reason to exist–Sales.  I can and will go online elsewhere .

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 12.23.03 PMYeah, FB is snickering as the door slams behind me and larger $ sale businesses fill the gap.  Then again, perhaps FB is not the place for small businesses.

What do you think?

Read more:

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Claire B Shaeffer– The Queen of Chanel Couture

Meet Claire Shaeffer, the Queen of Couture, especially Chanel.  Claire turned to couture sewing after abandoning her first love, The Circus.  Like many of us, sewing was/is a way for Claire to wear couture fashion that fits and makes financial sense.

Claire, Oscar & Libby

Claire, Oscar & Libby

I met Claire at the first American Sewing Guild conference in San Francisco back in the late ’80s. Over the succeeding years, have followed Claire (even to London on a ‘London Couture Lovers Tour’), her classes, booksVogue patterns, articles in Threads MagazineVogue Pattern Magazine.


Just a few of Claire’s 15+ books

So, when in Palm Springs, CA, last month, stopped by for a visit with Claire at her home and was happy to meet the dogs, Oscar and Libby, Louise, who helps with the couture collection, and view another of Claire’s passions–Art.


Like Lewis Carroll’s Walrus, we talked of many things:

        • Lagerfield’s successor: “Karl doesn’t like to let go.”
        • Number of garments in collection:  2000+; Louise helps with the accession listing process.
        • Plans for the collection:  will go to Stephen’s College, Fashion Department in Columbia, MO.  “I know members of the faculty; the Fashion Design program is very good and they have an excellent placement record of graduates.”
        • The French Greeting Kiss–is it on both cheeks? Right then Left? Air kiss? “Usually; R; Yes.”
        • Mme Pouzieux:  Has she been replaced? “Not that I know of.”
        • Did you ever pursue a circus career?  “No, marriage, children, life got in the way and had a car accident that required spinal fusion.”
        • Where do you get garments?  “Online auctions, brokers, vintage stores, eBay.”
        • Do you blog, a website?  “No.  But do follow blogs.  A recent blog discovery is A Little Sewing.”  And do occasionally participate on Artisan Square, a sewing discussion site.”
        • How do you know if a garment is an original or a copy?  “That can be difficult as copies were welcomed during Coco’s day and made in NYC.  Also, labels are often missing.  Marlene Dietrich removed all the labels for one reason or another; the Berlin Museum has a bag of her couture labels.”
        • What is your next book?  “The Couture Skirt: Sewing Secrets from a Chanel Collector out Spring 2014.”
        • You don’t strike me a as a dog person.  “Both Oscar and Libby are from the Humane Society.  Libby is a drop-out from Guide Dog School.”  FYI:  Oscar and Libby are typical dogs who jump, beg under the table, and don’t always ‘hear’ commands; I could have played with them all day.
        • Next magazine article:  “Proposed for Threads–comparing Chanel originals with copies.”
        • Latest trip:  “Returned from Birthday Trip to Australia (Feb 2014) and off to London.”
        • What did you do/see in Australia?  “Went to the Opera and bought Aboriginal art to add to existing from a previous trip.”
        • “You should really interview Allen; he was my Paris guide for many years and is now in the States–Louisiana, I think.  Will get you his contact info.”  Thanx Claire, would love to.
        • “Do you know Hazel Matthys?  She is from MN.  You’d like her.”  Nope, don’t know Hazel but will Google her.
        • Next class:  “Chanel Jacket, May 11-16, 2014.  Couture Dressmaking Secrets, May 17-22, 2014.”  Click on link for details.
        • Thanx for having me Claire; could have spent the whole day with you.
Chanel Skirt.  Pleated waistband

Chanel Skirt. Ecru pleated out.

Detail Chanel Skirt from upcoming book

Chanel Skirt

Double back zipper opening

Double back zipper opening

The Collection

The Collection

Louise with accession information attached to garment

Louise with accession information attached to garment

Mobile from American artist
Mobile from American artist
Son's are included here. Can you guess which?

Son’s are included here.
Can you guess which?

Aboriginal art just arrived from Australia

Aboriginal art just arrived from Australia

Jason Wu

Jason Wu, Claire and Libby

Jason Wu hook closure

Jason Wu hook closure

Yves St Laurent

Yves St Laurent

The two C's Claire & Carol.

The two C’s
Claire & Carol.

Related Links:

Claire Shaeffer Couture Classes

Everything Just So

Claire Shaeffer Demystifies Couture

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Claire Shaeffer Couture Classes

Claire’s newest classes are scheduled for May, 2014.

Claire hosts the classes in Palm Springs, CA., a perfectly wonderful City offering lots to do, see, shop, and eat.


Palms, Mountains, Flowers in Palm Springs

These are five day workshops with a Meet and Greet at 5:00 PM the day before.

May 11-16

Chanel Jacket

May 17-22

Couture DressMaking Secrets.  Class is based on Vogue dress pattern 8786 and will cover the how-to’s and why-for’s of underlining, neckline finishes, floating seams and more…

Contact Claire for details.

Vogue 8786

Vogue 8786

Vogue 8786


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