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!

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.

This week brought another retail opportunity my way at Wholly Craft! in Columbus, Ohio. Since I had never been there and found their website and store front so appealing, we decided to stop and personally drop off a pile of my Ohio chalk cloth and burlap mats for sale.

I wasn’t able to meet the owner, Olivera Bratich, on this visit, but before we were even in the door, I was impressed with the charming window displays, especially the sewing machine!

The shop is chock full of wares that are interestingly displayed and somewhat commonly grouped. Lots of jewelry, tee shirts, hand sewn items and gifts sporting Ohio logos. This would be a great place to find a present for that hard-to-please friend or check off lots of people on your Christmas list.

Floor to ceiling displays, lots of super bright paint, and great old wood floors add to the character of the place which is 1000 square feet and features work from over 200 crafty vendors – many of them from Ohio. I really like the fact that they include info about their vendors on their website under the tab Crafty Comrades.

Wholly Craft also offers classes and a Supply Closet where crafters can pay what they wish for scraps of fabric and other odds and ends left behind by crafters who actually have the discipline to clean and get rid of stuff. Imagine! I can’t wait to return to this unique shop.

Cleveland Pride – Update

May 4th, 2013 | Posted by Lackey in My Latest Project - (0 Comments)

One month ago, I posted this Cleveland Pride article and I have great news to add. The CLE chalk cloth and Burlap Pub Mats are for sale at Salty Not Sweet Boutique near the West Side Market. Salty is chock full of awesome gifts made by local artists.

I took a stack of 10 and dropped them off on Wednesday. Several are made from new burlap, but I am more excited about the ones made from repurposed coffee sacks that we picked up last weekend at The Depot at Gibson Mill last weekend in Charlotte, NC. I bought two of these large burlap bags and cut them into squares for the pub mats and love the look – and the idea of repurposing.

April 3, 2013

Spring is slowly crawling into Cleveland, Ohio. Yesterday morning, snow fell pretty aggressively and then melted when the sun appeared in the afternoon. Still temperatures didn’t make it out of the thirties. Hardly baseball weather, although the Cleveland Indians opened last night out of town with a 4-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. That win and a promise that temperatures will be in the fifties later in the week fill Clevelanders with hope – hope for late blooming spring flowers and a winning season.

I have been thinking about creating a pride of Cleveland creation for a few weeks, and came up with this State of Ohio shaped, CLE monogrammed chalk cloth and burlap pub mat. With enough room to write Go Tribe, Go Browns, Go Cavs – or Welcome Home, Happy Birthday or Break a Leg – this placemat highlights the city I have called home my whole life.

The news is good for Cleveland. Yesterday this article, Why You Should be Hot for Cleveland was posted several times by friends of mine on Facebook. I should add, these friends are in their 20s and one has moved from the southern suburb where he grew up, into a new town home near the city. My niece, another 20-something, recently moved into an apartment in an old bank building in Ohio City. Cleveland is hip again! Young people have discovered downtown hot spots new and old. On a recent Saturday – when temperatures were teasingly springlike – we met friends at the West Side Market and it was packed with shoppers. On the street, people were spilling out onto the sidewalks in front of Great Lakes Brewing Company and Market Garden Brewery. A new hostel has opened near the market with shared and private rooms, wi-fi, and bike rental. Restaurants and local businesses are bringing people my age back downtown, and teenagers like my daughter, who took public transportation to her first St. Patrick’s Day Parade with friends, are discovering the city on their own terms.

I ran my first photos of this project past my son, who left home for a job in the South a few years ago. He gave it two thumbs up. Anything with an outline of the State of Ohio on it is cool, he said. I can eventually make OSU, OU or Cincy versions if I want, but for now, I’m proud of CLE – even if the sun isn’t shining today.

What’s Glamping? According to the Urban Dictionary it is glamorous camping or luxury camping – and it is quite the rage. According to the Glamping Hub website, where you can select a destination and book a trip, “Glamping is a growing global phenomenon that combines camping with the luxury and amenities of a home or hotel. Also called boutique camping, luxury camping, posh camping or comfy camping, glamping allows travelers to experience nature without the hassle of finding camp space, carrying their tents, and erecting and taking down their own tents.” At Glamping Hub travelers can search by type of accommodation – yurt, safari tent, camper, treehouse – or even igloo.

Not ready to book a trip but interested in browsing? Loads of Pinterest boards are labeled Glamping and are filled with images of colorful, hip new ways to get outdoors. So I decided to add the word “Glamping” to my search item tags on Etsy and it has given my picnic basket totes some extra views.

Last year, on spring break in Charlotte, NC. I bought the first two vintage picnic baskets at an antique store. That was the beginning of it all. Since writing about upcycling vintage picnic baskets for wedding gifts last summer, I have made and gifted four lovely oilcloth picnic basket liner totes individually made and measured to fit old wooden picnic baskets. Filled with colorful plates and napkins, plastic cutlery, wine, crackers, snacks – even bug spray and wet wipes, these baskets make a perfect gift.

Aqua Oranges Oilcloth picnic basket tote

Every picnic basket is a little big different, so I have altered sizes and pocket placements a bit. Every basket liner has silverware slots, and ample side pockets for picnic supplies. There is also a coordinating elastic loop on one end to keep that sleeve of red solo cups together!

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

This one is made from bright aqua and oranges print oilcloth and lined with orange gingham. It looks like a summer day!

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

I’ve added a layer of stabilizer in the bottom of the basket construction so that it will support a full picnic worth of fixings.

Another classy combination of oilcloth is black and white damask toile print and black and white gingham.

Black and White Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

This one was made to fit a slightly larger vintage basket. Since I have been sewing liners on my new sewing machine – which does not have a free arm – I have changed the way I sew the basket and liner together but I am very pleased with the clean line and strap attachment.

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote


I was glad for a chilly, but sunny day this week so that we could take the baskets to the park for pictures. I had previously photographed this blue cherries and checks print basket liner at home, but I need to get it out in the sun for a photo shoot to really show it off.

Blue Cherries and Checks Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

All three of these liners are for sale at my Etsy store. I have an idea or two for future Glamping products for my shop. Stay tuned as summer approaches and the glampers hit the road!

Cyber Monday Sale Starts Now!

November 25th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in My Latest Project - (0 Comments)

I am giving 10% off through midnight on Monday night at my Etsy shop


Sales are going really well!

Dear Santa Placemat

November 6th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life | My Latest Project - (0 Comments)

Dear Santa,

All I ever want for Christmas is a great crafting idea – something I can make for all of my friends and family that will bring squeals of joy upon opening. This might be it! Except that my children are grown, and most of my friends no longer have small children (although a few have grandchildren), so it is up to them to help me spread the word.

You may remember, Santa, that I was raised by a woman who would take me shopping – a lot, actually – and usually say, when I found something nifty and cute, “I could make that for so much less”. She steered me away from many purchases, and only a few times did she try to fulfill the promise of making one for less.

You also know, Santa, that I have been watching Shark Tank lately. People and their creative ideas fascinate me. I have always been one to see some clever Christmas decoration and wonder why I hadn’t thought of that idea first and made obscene amounts of money on it. I obsess over DIY blogs and crafting websites looking for inspiration.

So last week, in my sewing room while Sandy howled outside, I tried to think of what chalk cloth shape I could put on a placemat similar to the chalk cloth pumpkin placemat I made for a friend’s grandchild. When he first got to make faces on it he said, “This makes my life better!”. Making a kid’s life better is a goal. So I tried a snowman shape – it has possibilities. And then I got nostalgic.

I loved Christmas time when my kids were little. My mother was the unchallenged queen of Christmas cookies throughout my childhood and I tried to pass on the Christmas cookie traditions to my children.

My mom and her loaded plate of cookie creations

Part of the thrill of baking cookies with the kids, was anticipating which cookies would be perfect enough to leave out with the note for Santa on Christmas Eve. Usually the cookies they chose were the hand-rolled cut out sugar cookies – most likely overly decorated with colored sugar and Christmas Jimmies!

My kids – about 1997

Clearly, I had made them crafty Christmas cookie baking aprons back in the days of puffy paint and iron on fabric transfers. These aprons still come out of the Christmas boxes from the basement each year. They bring back memories of a deliciously scented kitchen and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” blaring on the radio.

So, Santa, these placemats I’ve created will give a new generation of kids a Christmas tradition. When it comes time to start making “Wish Lists” – they can be “Wish List” placemats – a handy place to jot down the ever changing list of presents a child desires.

And on Christmas Eve, year after precious year, it can be the “Dear Santa Placemat” left out with the milk and cookies (and Cheese!?).

If I were a young mom today, I would take lots of photographs and create a digital library of Notes to Santa over the years. Mostly, if I were a young mom today, I would cherish the joy of Christmas that beams on the faces of children.

Chalk Cloth Table Runner

October 6th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life | My Latest Project | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The teacher in me still loves writing in chalk! And chalk cloth is a versatile fiber-backed surface you can write on and wipe clean. I had seen several table settings with a runner of chalk cloth that got me to designing a fabric and chalk cloth runner that is seasonal, reversible and functional. The first edition is perfect for fall entertaining.

What a great way to label dips, cheeses or desserts on a buffet. And when a piece of chalk is left out on the table, guests can add their creativity, too.

I am planning to make one for every season, but I’m also thinking of trying sports team fabrics, wedding and shower fabrics as well as versions for children’s parties.

So far I have 4 designs for fall – including a bright Halloween polka dot.

Thinking ahead, I have two holiday designs. I couldn’t pass up the the sparkly cactus Feliz Navidad print. Holiday taco buffet, anyone?

First Foray into Retail – LOL for Sale

October 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life | My Latest Project - (0 Comments)

I went retail today!!! While visiting my favorite hair salon – Charles Moscarino Salon in Strongsville – to get my pink hair extension for Breast Cancer Awareness, I dropped off a basket of my pretty little oilcloth clutches for them to display and sell.

This should help me see which styles are popular before I go full-Etsy later this fall.

And the hair – pretty cool!

The Oilcloth Clutch

September 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in My Latest Project - (0 Comments)

The Fall Style Magazine from The New York Times had a full page of clutches and a headline that suggested the evening bag is out – the clutch is in.

I experimented with a variation of a pattern I have used in the past for a simple zippered pouch with a contrasting lining and accents. The oilcloth variety is sleek and kind of chic! My daughter requested black with cheetah print which I decorated with an oilcloth flower and hand-sewn button.

Two more combinations also turned out cute as can be. The black and white one I took as a clutch to a recent wedding and got loads of compliments.