Historic downtown Bedford, Pennsylvania is full of unique shops, but Mary’s Quilt Shop is a sewist’s one-of-kind dream destination.  The shop is in this beautiful blue newly restored 1813 Federal style building.  I had read that their specialty is antique quilts and vintage reproduction fabric.  As I stepped inside, I was immediately greeted by a friendly employee and when I told her a bit about myself, she quickly took me to meet Mary Koval, the owner and renowned quilt expert. 

Mary was setting up in the back workroom for a group of ladies who were on their way, but she gladly spent some time explaining that she designs antique reproduction fabric that she uses to assemble quilt exhibits for museums and other venues all over the world. She is a lecturer on many quilt topics and is a leading source for many quilting publications. 

The walls of the shop display beautiful antique and reproduction quilts, the fabrics are smartly arranged and each corner of the store is filled with eye-catching displays.

While I was looking at fabric, David showed Mary a picture of the Lackey women working on Esther Jean Lackey’s mother’s unfinished quilt last Thanksgiving.  Mary commented that her upstairs quilters’ retreat quarters would be a perfect place for a ladies reunion quilting party.  It turns out the upstairs floors of the building have been beautifully remodeled into a common area, state of the art kitchen and bedrooms for 16.   With a huge sewing room down the hall, it makes for a perfect sewing getaway destination.  And with all the cute shops in town to explore, and the restaurants within walking distance, I am already hoping to plan an event with friends or family. 

Of course, I announced that I did I not need any fabric when I arrived, but I couldn’t resist a few cute antique patterns like these –

Back in March, I got an Etsy Conversation notification from another Northeast Ohio entrepreneur who encouraged me to view her Kickstarter video and then get back to her if I was interested in sewing aprons for her soon-to-hit-the-streets vintage trailer bakery!  I know a great idea when I see one, and by the end of that day, I had a new business associate and friend, Shannon Keiber!  We worked together to select fabrics to compliment her logo and color scheme, I placed a huge fabric order and she gave me a down payment on 10 aprons that would be worn by her and her sales helpers, as well as be given out as rewards to her Kickstarter backers. 

We selected an adorable Tossed Trailers print fabric from Timeless Treasures for the apron skirts.  The pink background coordinates perfectly with the flowers in her Floured Apron logo.  The gingham in the logo is reflected in the bright blue Riley Blake fabric I ordered for the apron bodices and adjustable neck strap and ties.  Shannon liked the idea of using teal ric rac for accenting the deep functional pockets and apron waistlines.   Reminded of the old adage, “measure twice – cut once”, I measured about five times and did all sorts of mind-numbing calculations before I cut into the fabrics.  My other challenge was printing a simple black version of her  logo onto white fabric for a colorfast image that would withstand washings. 

Shannon understands branding and marketing.  She brings the knowledge she gained over twenty some years in corporate America together with her love for baking together in her new business venture.  Her Kickstarter goals were met, her custom vintage style trailer was built, and she is making her dreams come true by delivering “Homemade baked goods, straight from the heart!”  She uses high quality, local ingredients and bakes cupcakes, brownies, cookies, pies and breakfast pastries that are simple, beautiful and above all, delicious!

And, Shannon really loves aprons.  Check our her three part series from her blog here.  I was so pleased when she told me she had chosen me to make her aprons because she loved the many aprons I have available in my Etsy shop. After I had the 10 aprons made, we decided on a Starbucks about half way between our two homes as a meeting place.  I recognized her immediately because she was carrying a box of cupcakes (for me!).   

I felt an instant kinship with Shannon.  We sat over coffee and talked about our upcoming markets, problems with establishing fair pricing that also yielded profits, and the things that keep us awake at night. At that point, her trailer, which she named Rosie, was not finished.  She had debut dates lined up and I promised to keep in touch for progress updates.

I have to sing the praises of her product.  These chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache icing and fresh raspberries did not last long at our house, and even made a great breakfast the next morning with coffee in my new Floured Apron mug.

Since our first meeting, we have kept in touch.   The Floured Apron was a hit at its Cleveland Flea debut, made a local television morning show appearance, and I hear a Cleveland Magazine feature is upcoming.  Shannon said there has been enough interest in her apron that she would like to sell them, along with a few of my other aprons.

Just yesterday, I surprised Shannon at Aurora Farms where she was parked selling coffee, cupcakes, brownies and cookies.  I brought her an armload of aprons for her holiday weekend vending events.  And I finally got to see Rosie!  Bright blue and shiny white – you won’t be able to miss her this summer.



And as of today – there are aprons for sale!  Unfloured, one of a kind aprons, handmade and straight from the heart! 

My Year in Etsy – A to Z

January 5th, 2015 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life - (0 Comments)

The past year – 2014 – was a big one for my Etsy shop – Linda’s Other Life.  I went beyond baby steps to realize how much fun managing my shop like a business and treating sewing like a job could be.  I decided to compile my progress A – Z as a way of motivating myself to be even better in the new year.

A – Aprons         Vintage feed sacks, oilcloth, Christmas aprons, many custom orders

B – Burlap          Table runners, embroidered VW bus pillows, my first wedding order, fish shaped perch pillows

C – CLE               Local stores, even the CLE Clothing Co., starting carrying candles, key fobs and hand sewn items

D – David           Because D is always for David, and it was his idea (inspired by Bono) for me to make this list

E – Etsy              Little did I know when I opened my shop two years ago that Etsy would open so many doors for me

F – Fabric           I’m obsessed with fabric!  I dream of fabric!  I have too much fabric and I don’t see it as a problem.

G – GBT              Girl’s Best Friend in Lakewood has become a new best friend and creative partner in retail

H – Hangers      I have actually gotten rid of clothes from my closet just so I could steal the hangers for aprons!

I – Intuition       I am learning to trust my intuition – about what will sell, about how to design, about styles and colors

J – Joann’s         I love going to Joann Fabrics!  I can spend too much time and money there.  I am there too often.

K – Keepsake     I have reconstructed keepsake items for customers and sewn items I hope will become keepsakes

L – LOL               My “brand” is truly becoming my “other life” and life is good

M – Mess            My sewing room is frequently messier than my desk at school used to be and I am fine with that

N – Network       I am enjoying networking with people at craft fairs  and making connections with retailers

O – Oilcloth        Fun and easy to sew, colorful oilcloth is one of my new obsessions

P – Pandora        My sewing music easily changes with my moods and Pandora makes it easy

Q – Quilt Shops  New Quilt Shops in every town we visited this year.  Favorites are always Amish country, OH

R – Repurposed  I love repurposing fabric!  Feed sacks, old pieces of lace and trim, burlap bags, vintage fabrics

S – Salty               Salty Not Sweet in CLE has been good to me and even led to an airport retail opportunity

T – Tables            Table runners, placemats, pub mats – everyone has a table that needs dressing up

U – USPS             Our jolly postman frequently trades postmarked packages from the box for fabric deliveries

V – Vacation        I actually allow myself  “vacation” days from time to time and have enjoyed taking the holidays off

W – Wonder Fair   An in-home craft show was the best – and most profitable – idea of the year!

X – Xtras             I try to make my Etsy packages special by including little extras – candy, buttons, gift tags, etc.

Y – Yarn               I stitched some sayings in yarn on burlap to make some pretty cool pillows this year

Z – Zero               Pleasant year end surprise – cash to spend to bring my profit back to zero!


Time to start over!


I am a bit of a sucker for any book with an Emily Dickinson epigraph. The title of McBride’s debut novel comes from these lines,
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies –
which aptly introduce this novel in four voices. Set in Las Vegas, the story is narrated by Avis, Luis, Bashkim and Roberta. They all have separate and complicated lives that converge when an act of violence propels them into the same conflict arena. According to the author’s note, the plot was reimagined from an unbelievably sad headline news story. I’m not a fan of this sort of literary conceit. However, McBride’s theme is genuine and is summed up by Avis in one of her later sections with these lines – “It all matters. . . . What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.”

My mother-in-law, Grandma Lackey, is a keeper. Almost everything in her home has a story – the furniture, the dishes, the bedding, the nick nacks. Even her canning jars have a genealogy. So, last summer, when it was time to gather my husband’s siblings together for a good barn cleaning, the stories began to surface along with the contents of every box.

Many of the boxes had come from her mother’s farm. Some contents had not seen the light of day for decades. And although it was hot, and the aim was to get rid of some things, Grandma Lackey sat in the center of the barn and directed.

In the end it was as much a redistribution of goods than a “cleaning”. We all went home with a trunk load of goodies. My inheritance was a pile of unwashed feed sacks and dish towels. Everyone assured me I could “do something” with them.

The pile sat in our garage until a few weeks ago, when I decided to throw them all in the wash and see what happened. Many were still stained and some had “age spots” that wouldn’t budge, but some offered definite potential for farm style aprons.

For the first apron, I took the printed sections of a Morton Salt sack to use as pockets on a striped utility apron. The striped fabric came from a pile of home decorating IKEA fabric that my son gave me for my birthday a few years back. It is very functional with the large pocket across the bottom. But, I saved the best part of the salt sack – the circular section – for a girlier apron.

I appliquéd the design onto a French blue damask fabric and put a light pleat on each side and then made a bottom ruffle and long sash ties from a bright red smaller damask print cotton.

On to the next sack! This was getting fun! The second Morton sack in good condition was laid out a little differently. I wanted to maintain the striping on either side of the salt emblem, so I went with another full apron style – this time using another IKEA utility weight fabric in classic red and white checks. I added a D-ring to the neck strap to make this one a little more adjustable.

The next sack presented double the possibilities. An elongated seed sack from the Coloumus, Ohio Livingston True Blue Seed Company featured the same design inverted on either end of the bag. A little research into the a Livingston Seed Company convinced me that although there were a little spots on this bag, it was a special Ohio treasure. Alexander W. Livingston (1821-1898) improved and stabilized the wild tomato for commercial use. Livingston’s True Blue Seeds were nationally recognized as highest quality. I wanted to use the whole bag, and cut it down the center, giving me two identical bags which would become center pockets on high quality cream linen apron fronts. To compliment the French blue of the Livingston emblem, I used more of the damask fabric for a bottom ruffle and long side ties that could wrap around for a front bow. Finally, I decided to used a bit of the valuable Cath Kidston fabric that I brought home from our trip to a England this fall. When I discovered my first Cath Kidston store, my husband couldn’t get me out of the place. I was thrilled to discover that her gorgeous floral prints could be purchased, and I brought home a little bundle of fat quarters and some tiny cloth covered buttons to match. This apron project seemed the perfect place to showcase these beautiful feminine prints. I made two florets from the Cath Kidston fabric, and one to pick up the blue from the ruffle and sashes, and sewed a button in the center of each flower.

Next up, a faded but still readable Domino Cane Sugar sack. This sack has horizontal red and blue stripes stripes on top and button, but as I carried it around Joann Fabrics, I was drawn to a light peachy print and complimentary light blue floral for this full length bib style apron. I made a small ruffle from the blue to attach to the base of the bag before sewing it to the peach skirt as a center pocket. The arm edges of the blue bib encase the continuous neck and side sides in this adjustable apron. Another fabric flower of the two cotton prints pops with the addition of a third bright coral fabric. This one turned out soft, feminine and functional.

I had used up most of the unstained, readable bags, but I still had a pile of nice linen tea towels. After some trial and error, I decided to use a full horizontal towel, rounded on the sides to accommodate a full blue and red ruffle around. I decided to add a pocket of the same fabric and trimmed the pocket with a length of antique red and blue print seam binding inherit from my grandmother that I have been saving for a special project. My grandmother taught me to sew – both on a machine and to make fancy hand embroidery stitches by hand. I lined the towel with 100% linen to give it a little more stability.

I call these Lackey Sack aprons to honor the legacy of my husband’s ancestors who have farmed in Ohio for five generations. In fact, these feed sacks originated on Lackey Road in Delaware County where my mother-in-law raised chickens!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a review of the quirkiest and most refreshing love story I have fallen for in a while. Don Tillman is a genetics professor with autistic behaviors that have made it difficult for him to find a mate. He has developed The Wife Project, a multi-page questionnaire which should help those like him to filter out incompatible companions – ones who drink, smoke, show up late, mess the place up and bring chaos into calm spaces. Along comes Rosie Jarman, a disorganized bartender full of flaws who is searching for her biological father. Rosie and Don should be oil and water but she is able to switch his focus from finding a wife to finding her father, which results in The Father Project. One thing leads to another in this mad-cap, love-affirming novel. Simsion is an Australian author and I first saw this book on display in England where I learned that it was first written as a screenplay and the movie is set to film next year. You can even take the online quiz to see whether you are a Rosie or a Don. I was lucky enough to get an advance readers copy and I have already given it away. Give yourself a Valentine’s Day reading gift – it will delight!

As an Etsy seller, I have had opportunities over the last year to make custom items for buyers all over the country.  Through the conversation strands that Etsy provides, buyers can express special needs and propose an item that they would like to purchase.  Through these conversations I have “met” some interesting people – some with very specific requests.  The most interesting conversation was started by a buyer who had recently purchased two of my laminated cotton baby bibs. He was very happy with the quality of the bibs, especially the binding and neck ties.  Apparently, he is not a fan of the velcro baby bibs he had been seeing in stores.  He and his wife are expecting their first baby this winter, and he liked the old fashioned style of my bibs.  In fact, he liked them so much that he proposed a project for me.  Apparently, his family had an heirloom baby bib that had been worn by many cousins over the years.  The bib lived at Grandma’s house, but according to him – kids used to fight over the opportunity to wear the bib.  Unfortunately, when he and his wife got the bib out to have ready for their baby, the ties and some of the backing had frayed and disintegrated to such an extent that the bib was not usable.  He wondered whether I could refurbish the bib if he sent it to me. 

I never saw myself in the business of heirloom bib reconstruction, but when he sent a picture of this lovely old flowered bib,  I fell in love with the story.  The bib arrived in the mail with a return postage envelope and I set out to resurrect the family favorite.   The bib was a very lightweight flowered vinyl.  I decided to rip off the old white binding and replace it with bright orange bias tape.  To give the bib more stability and lasting power, I chose to back it with orange terry cloth.  The crumb catcher pocket got a fresh lining of orange gingham oilcloth.
The bib turned out great!  The buyer loved it and promised to send pictures of his child wearing the bib someday.  But when I had the bib all deconstructed, I had made a paper pattern of it.  I really liked the coverall design which makes the bib very functional.  It is large enough to fit a toddler and would even make a good art smock. 

This random customer inspired me to create an apron from this pattern from some laminated cotton I bought a while back and hadn’t used yet. It turned out so cute, but I had no idea what it would look like on a real baby. So – bring in friend with baby! I got baby Holden to model the bib on his first birthday.

He wasn’t very pleased with sitting still for photos, but the bib clearly fits him with plenty of room to grow. His mom likes the way the bib covers his pant legs when he is sitting. We tried the bib on Holden’s brother, Finn, who is five, and although it was a little tight through the arms, it still fit a five year old. I think this pattern is a keeper!

Back in the 1980s, I was a young mother trying to stitch together a few dollars for Christmas shopping. I had a connection that made it possible for me to sell my Christmas tree skirts, fabric baskets and stuffed Christmas trees at a little pop-up holiday shop in Parmatown Mall. So I sewed – and sewed – and sold!

This fall, when I was going through my old patterns looking for the beloved stuffed pumpkin pattern, I came across this gem!

Imagine my glee, digging in to the pattern envelope only to discover the only pieces missing were the ones for the stuffed Christmas tree. I had made so many red and green trees, it probably wore out from overuse. So I began to research, and quickly learned (through the beauty of Google images) that the same pattern has been re-released. Gone are the 80s muted tones on the pattern envelope. Everything old is new again!

This year, I have been stitching trees in fabrics that I never would have imagined back then – black and white, polka dots, chevron stripes and BURLAP?

The basement looks like a little lumpy forest, the sewing room is covered in burlap dust and am once again selling trees.

Call it vintage. Call it nostalgia. Ask around. If you don’t still have one of these trees among your holiday decorations, I’m sure you know someone who does. I got rid of my old tree, but my cousin says she still has hers. All I know is when I see one of these huggable trees, as soft as Santa’s lap, I remember Christmas past.

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

August 14th, 2013 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life - (0 Comments)
I loved Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin and was really looking forward to TransAtlantic, which has the same sort of interconnected story lines – this time about three memorable journeys in three distinctly different time periods.  Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown flew the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic carrying mail in 1919.  Frederick Douglass visited Dublin in 1845 to rally people around the Abolitionist cause.  And George Mitchell traveled to Belfast in 1998 to participate in peace talks in bitter Northern Ireland.  Interlaced with the stories of these men are the women whose secondary roles become primary in the latter portion of the book.  An Irish housemaid from the Douglass section becomes the mother of Emily and grandmother of Lottie who write about and photograph the Alcock and Brown flight and supply a piece of iconic mail that is the focus of the final section of the novel.  The symbolic unopened letter is passed from on generation to the next.  McCann writes, “We seldom know what echo our actions will find, but our stories will most certainly outlast us.” TransAtlantic is a lushly poetic novel and McCann a master of spinning an engaging historical novel.

I completely swore off my no purchasing of new hardcover books promise to get my hands on a copy of Khaled Hosseini’s new novel.  Of course, I have been a huge fan of The Kite Runner – teaching it for the last 6 years or so of AP English – and its sister novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Of course, when your expectations are that high, you run the risk of being disappointed.  As soon as I finished the lovely, spell-binding opening parable, a presumed bedtime story told by a father to his son and daughter, Abdullah and Pari, I knew the author’s poetic style would still hold me in rapture.  I read the whole book in a few days, and hesitated to see it end, although the first half of the book is the best, by far.  Each chapter reads like a novella.  I found it hard to put a chapter down once I started, partly because the chapters jump so drastically in time and setting – Afghanistan, San Francisco, Paris and Greece.  Although the brother and sister of the opening chapter knit the whole book together, there are almost too many peripheral characters and I sometimes had a difficult time remembering who was who or how they figured into the whole.  Without criticizing the mechanics of the novel, which were sometimes clunkier than Hosseini’s previous two, I would highlight the positives.  This book has little of the violence and heart-break of the other novels.  Yes – it is sad and I had tears in my eyes more than once, but this is a redemptive sibling story.  It is about loss and separation – and of course the ravishing effects of war.  But is isn’t the gut wrenching sort of story that was Amir’s or Mariam and Laila’s.  The book encompasses a long stretch of time, generations of tragedy and recovery, and in the end, it sang of hope.