More on modern and subversive embroidery.

I was so enamored with many of the hysterical counted cross stitch that I stumbled upon on Pinterest and mentioned in a previous post that I decided to ask a cooperative with which I work in India create a few machine embroidered ones for me on natural linen fabric rather than aida cloth. I could have cross stitched them myself, but the labor hours to create in quantity from hand would have made the sell price prohibitive. These are 10″ round on bamboo embroidery hoops with brass closures.

They arrived on Saturday via DHL. I showed them to a friend of mine who is, also, a tail end baby boomer. She was so on the fence about whether or not these can ever sell and if they cross over the line of social correctness, My thought is that these are benign compared with some of the potty-mouthed ones that I have seen.  I would love feedback.

Here we go!



Sincere Sustainability Statements

When I founded Fabricadabra in 2008, I knew that I wanted to work with small female cooperatives that paid living wages and empowered female craftspeople to financially care for their children, My reason was and is that these women are typically marginalized and  financially responsible for taking care of their own children and relatives’ children. I never drafted a sustainability statement. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

It has become de riguer  that every company outline what they do to preserve natural resources, give back to communities, close the loop and whatever else that they can state that seems thoughtful and enlightened about a sense of environmental stewardship. I read many of these sustainability statements and most seem hollow or contrived. The larger corporations hire Chief Sustainability Officers. Some are effectuating real change.

Target impressed we with its bold initiative to require that all of their suppliers remove questionable chemicals from personal care products and textiles by 2020. Soon after, other major corporations  put forth similar initiatives. Target has since adopted many other admirable goals related to sourcing and packaging. When large retailers force their suppliers to reformulate their products, it benefits everyone because the suppliers will  not carry one inventory for that one corporation and another for the rest. They will reformulate and distribute that reformulated product to all of their retailers.

Smaller companies can be more agile. I happened upon a company through a great blog named AOW Handmade  which connects global artisans with buyers. Annie Waterman highlighted an apparel company based in Australia that works with a group of female artisans in India. I was beyond impressed with the company’s heartfelt commitment to true humanitarianism. Most of these artisans are mothers and they can bring their children to work when there is no school. This is just one example of the thoughtfulness of Carlie Ballard.    In the drop down menu under ‘About Us’ there is a link to ‘Sustainability’.  It is mind blowing when compared with the now obligatory sustainability statements that we read on a regular basis. Here is the link.

Below is a copy and paste to the beginning of their sustainability statement. Read it in its entirety. It reinforced my belief in the goodness of womankind. I’ve heard the phrase “The Boy’s Club” for my entire life. Carlie Ballard makes me want to be part of its “Girl’s Club”. Beyond what you read below, they use only handwoven organic fabrics, mindful packaging, deadstock fabric and encourage minimizing laundering. This company gets sustainability and sisterhood right!


Carlie Ballard garments are made in a small workshop in Lucknow India. offering the dignity of employment, fair pay and excellent working conditions to a talented bunch of artisans. You can read all about our workshop partner here. In Australia it is called Zenana Women, but in India they had to use a more Indian name for business purposes which is Appropriate Improvements Fashion. Oh India! 
All of the profits from the workshop are dedicated to growing its capacity to employ, train and support the families of the women it has been established to assist.  
The team love to giggle at work, they gossip, eat cake, drink chai, listen to the radio, sing and share their stories like any other workplace. They work normal hours, have a weekend, have a lunch break and have a wonderful support network. 

Working Conditions at our Cut Make and Trim workshop:

  • 5 x 8-hour days a week for the standard salary, not 6 as is the norm. When a 6thday is worked they are paid overtime.
  • Flexible working hours, especially important to women with family obligations
  • Interest-free loans
  • Financial support for any training/education undertaken
  • Paid study leave
  • Literacy classes during working hours
  • Assistance and support with personal or family problems, including health problems, led from the top down by all-female management team
  • Children welcome after school, in school holidays or when ill
  • Encouraged to train to further their skills within the workshop

Menopause Mattress- Back to the Garden

Okay, let’s talk about it. I’m a Baby Boomer. I’ve been working two days a week at The Organic Mattress in Sudbury, MA for 10 years. Many women in my age range come in and express that they have trouble sleeping and ask if the mattresses overheat. I know why they ask this. Some women are more direct and just say, “I have hot flashes. I’m awake at all hours of the night. Does this mattress sleep hot?”

What often leads my peers to the gallery to explore organic mattresses is their dismay with all of the mystery ingredients that are now in conventional mattresses and the trendiness of sleep science and technology. What are these new ingredients and who has done the research?

Conventional mattresses are made with synthetic ingredients and we all know that synthetics do not breathe.  We can apply this through experience with apparel because we all know what it feels like to have polyester or vinyl next to our skin. It is suffocating. However, most people don’t think about this with conventional mattresses. Memory foam is the worst, even if you aren’t going through menopause. I hear this complaint from men and women of all ages. In an effort to counteract the problem with temperature regulation in synthetic mattresses, manufacturers are creating and patenting proprietary gel and bio-infused synthetic materials that they claim (through whose research I wonder)  wicks off moisture and adjusts body and mattress temperature to provide optimal sleep conditions. This trend alarms me. Try researching exactly what these materials are and they are all made with chemicals, still. If they just used natural ingredients, the problem would not exist.

The brands of mattresses that The Organic Mattress, Inc. carry  have organic cotton ticking and use wool as the natural flame retardant. Wool wicks off moisture and is a natural temperature regulator. For as long as men have worn suits to work, they still wear worsted wool in the Summer and aren’t overheating from it. It feels cool. The other ingredients in the organic mattresses are springs, e pocketed coils and/or all natural latex rubber. Women my age ask if they will overheat in natural latex rubber. No. It is not synthetic and it has holes. It breathes. The entire mattress breathes.

Natural fiber mattresses can cost more than synthetic fiber mattresses because natural ingredients are more expensive than synthetic ones. The advantages, however, far outweigh the expense. Your face and body aren’t absorbing chemicals all night, many of which have been associated with brain fog, ADD, Autism, thyroid disorder, lower sperm count, asthma …on and on. Chemical flame retardants are linked to physical and cognitive health problems. Natural latex rubber lasts far longer than synthetic foam. It breathes. Most “organic” or natural fiber mattresses have warranties of 15 years or longer. What our pores and bloodstreams absorb are every bit as serious as the foods that we ingest.

While I’m on my natural mattress throne, I would like to add a couple more comments about creating a better sleeping environment. Your pillow should not have sensors, monitors or play music. Don’t lay on a smart pillow and read a Kindle until you fall asleep. The fewer electronics that are in the bedroom, the better. EMF’s interfere with our brain wave patterns. Knock off all electronics a couple hours before trying to sleep. Blue light from electronics disturbs sleep. Choose natural fiber bedding accessories for airflow. Polyester sheets are increasingly popular due to their price points, but polyester doesn’t breathe.

Joni Mitchell did have it right and still has it right. We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Boho Themed Parties and Baby Nurseries

I didn’t know this was a trend. I went onto the internet to get inspiration for fringed fabric tassels and stumbled upon it. As a tail end Boomer, I don’t attend any weddings, showers or decorate baby nurseries. But, I wound up on Pinterest and was inundated with images of dream catchers and scrap fabric garland tassels in the setting of bridal showers, baby showers and nurseries. My reason for searching was that I am siting upon piles of fabric that need new life breathed into them. So, here you go. I must say that I truly love the tee-pee idea in a toddler’s room. I like that the room is light and bright, still providing stimulation. It is a refreshing change from choo-choo trains and lollipops. The hanging macrame bassinets outright scares me. It is very cute, but the chances that we take with plants shouldn’t be equal with those that we take with newborn babies. I would want that attached to a set of firm legs that meet the ground.

Living in New England and having had dreadful weather all winter and into Spring makes me long for any type of an outdoor celebration with flowers, plants and a meal. I’m craving a 70 degree day in our near future. I’ll sleep in a teepee if we get one, too.

Mystic Knotwork Rope Bracelets-Nostalgic

I stumbled upon their website through Martha Stewart’s ‘Made in America’ website and link to her ebay shop. We all wore these bracelets in the 1970’s where I was raised in Massachusetts. We didn’t live on Cape Cod, but everyone vacationed there. So, these bracelets were a symbol of our ties to Cape Cod, the ocean and New England nautical life. Back in the 70’s, they came in natural only. There were no dyed color options.

To see them again, see the colored options and to learn that they are made in Mystic CT is uplifting. They could easily come from China and be sold on Ali Express. I support the resurgence of  manufacturing products here in the States, despite my having supported the passing of NAFTA in the early 1990’s  and shortly after its passage in 1993. ( I am in the textile industry and witnessed the rapid shift to overseas manufacturing, closing of textile mills in the States and losses of jobs for some of my peers.)

What is delightful about these rope bracelets real people make by hand is that they ring in at $5-$7.95 each!!!!!!! They offer an array of rope knot products that they didn’t in the 1970’s. Door mats, coasters, key chains, dog toys, napkin rings, door stoppers, drawer pulls, necklaces, trendier bracelets and ornaments. However, the classic sailor bracelets appeal most to me. Take a look.


My favorite- Sailor bracelets in happy colors.

Pure Upholstery website is live!!!!

I am very happy to announce that my newest endeavor with The Organic Mattress, Inc. is a line of upholstered furniture that uses all natural and organic ingredients. Ingredients include natural latex rubber with no additives or chemicals, organic wool batting, eco needle punched wool, organic cotton canvas, VOC-free wood stains, solid hardwood frames, Greenguard Gold certified glue and upholstery fabrics that are either GOTS and/or Oeko-tex 100 certified.

We have been making the upholstered pieces since Spring 2017. However, we decided that the collection merits its own brand and website. Please check out the site and feel free to sing up for our newsletter- which you receive infrequently. We publish sale items and special savings news.

Meet the classic English Arm Loveseat: Chatham.

Please reach out if you are visiting Boston and would love to come to our 5,000 sq. ft. showroom that is shared with The Organic Mattress, Inc. We will treat you to an Uber ride to our showroom!

Cheeky cross stitched embroidery

It has been going on under my nose and away from my late boomer friendship circle. My nephew posted to Facebook an image that tickled my funny bone last weekend while grocery shopping with my husband.  I could not stop laughing. This is the image.


Tacky frame, boring font, 1980’s colors and hysterical words.

After putting away the groceries, I went onto my laptop and Googled images for “humorous embroidery”. Unbeknownst to me, the Gen Xers have picked up the embroidery hoop and needle and have put their own spin on it. I used to embroider in my teen years until about age 30. That was over 20 years ago. Most embroidery patterns where so bland, traditional and serious. So, I started this Irish Blessing in my mid 20’s, put it down for a year, all of the embroidery threads were tangled when I went back to it, had to order more from the manufacturer, began working on it again at age 30 and then out it back down. Many times I thought to just trash it, but I had logged over 1000 hours on this seemingly small counted cross stitch. (It is 20″ x 16″). I just pulled it out again and am going to finish it. But, it is so tame compared with what I am seeing on Google images.

donna embroidery

My decades old in process counted cross stitch.

Or, do I just ditch The Irish Blessing and get on with one more 2018 like these below?

dead to me embroidery

You’re dead to me cross stitch.


What’s wrong with your face cross stitch.


I scream. You scream. Police come. It’s awkward. cross stitch.

Any thoughts? What irreverent words would you like to cross stitch?

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