The Secret to Using USPS Regional Boxes

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There are a couple of things that you need to understand to to use Regional Boxes through USPS.com via Click-N-Ship.

  1. Ignore the term Regional. That was just a trick. Regional does not mean zone. It doesn’t mean anything to us.
  2. The cost is determined by the distance between your zip code and the destination zip code. That has to do with zone. You’ll be led to that area by Click-N-Ship.

Now here is the secret information that apparently they don’t want anyone to know. I don’t know who they are. They are not the post office employees. The post office employees would like to know, also.

You have to select that you want to use Regional Box A or B under the PREFERENCES tab or the boxes will not show up as an option. And, you have to change it if you want to use a different box.

These boxes ship Priority and the shipping rate is substantially less than the regular Priority Boxes that are not marked Regional Rate Box B, etc. (Order the Regional Boxes on the USPS website. There is no cost.)

I used Box B today and the cost was 10.66. If my items would have fitted into Box A, the cost would have been 8.15. To ship regular Priority (using their box or your box) would have cost 23.90. If you sell on eBay and ship 10 boxes a day that is a 133.00 savings (13.30 each) for your customers.

How to Clean Vintage Clothing

Have you ever wondered how vintage clothing dealers present such perfect examples of 100 year old clothing? I’ll share a wonderful stain remover recipe with you.

Stain Remover

One Cup of Cascade Dishwashing Powder  and Two Cups of BIZ to Five Gallons of Hot Water. Soak a minimum of three days.

If the textile is strong (like a 1940s tablecloth with no holes) wash in the washing machine. Delicate things without holes are washed using the Delicate Cycle. If there are holes or the fabric is very old like the clothing I’ve been working on and shown below, always wash by hand.

You must test before soaking to see if the color is colorfast. Antique reds are notorious for bleeding on to whatever they are next to when wet.

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This dress must have been purchased for a graduation or other special occasion. I love the kick pleat at the bottom with the lace insert.

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 How to Remove Old Stains from White Fabric

These beautiful dresses with the handmade lace had stains remaining on the bodice after the stain remover soak. It rarely happens that a stain doesn’t come out and I didn’t want to give up on these dresses. I thought a tiny drop of bleach on the stain might work, but it might damage the thread. I put a mixture of half water and half bleach in an eye dropper, immersed the dress in water with the stain area showing and dropped a drip of the bleach mixture on the stain. I thought, being in the water, the bleach would dispense immediately. And, it worked perfectly with the stain removed and handmade lace undamaged. Successful endeavor!

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This is a lady’s morning coat or, as we would call it, a bathrobe. All the lace is handmade. There are 40 crocheted buttons.

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 Does anyone know how to do the Toodle?

Four 1920s Beaded Blouses

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I also bought the four 1920’s Flapper Blouses with glass beads and that fabulous silk embroidery shown above. These silks are not colorfast and could only be rinsed in cold water – quickly. Because the silk was not colorfast, those with perspiration stains from dancing the Charleston, the Black Bottom and the Toodle were often ruined. They can be redyed now with a special silk dye that covers all the thread evenly. The dye costs between 2.50 – 5.00 a bottle.

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When wondering what I could do with several cartons of canning jars, I decided to make up some homemade clothing soap for the shop. It cleans well and is economical. It has sold well.

Homemade Laundry Soap

One Bar of Fels Naptha Soap, grated or pulverized in a blender or food processor, One Cup of Borax and One Cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. Use Two Tablespoons per Load. I think it does a good job of cleaning and I’ll never go back to commercial laundry soap. A lot of people like the smell and keep the lid off the jar. The washed clothes will have no scent except clean.

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Everyone is asking me how my flowers are growing so well on the north side at the entrance to my shop. I’ve had so many people ask to buy this cart or the flowers this summer. The answer to the exuberant blooming is…2 Tablespoons of Miracle Grow in the water every two weeks.

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This year, I didn’t pull out the clover that always seems to spring out of the potted soil. I think the clover is a cute addition.

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My sister sent me this picture last night to show me how she used old galvanized janitorial buckets on wheels as planters . I think that is a great idea for a home with a rustic, farm, cottage or country setting. Both of my sisters can think outside of the box.

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Here is one of Margaret’s design ideas. This is a stone baptismal bowl next to her front door. She walks out to her garden and picks flower heads to place in the water. Now why didn’t we think of that?

I still have many more vintage dresses to mend and wash. I was telling myself that I won’t buy anymore vintage clothing for sometime to come. Then, Saturday morning arrived, and as I opened the doors to the shop, I met a lovely couple who came in with armloads of vintage clothing. The clothing was custom-made for a famous (if you traveled in those circles and I wish I did!) Connecticut American folk art antique dealer, you know, the kind that deals in 100,000.00 increments?  The clothing was swathed in garment bags and is pristine.  Oh, my gosh, you wouldn’t believe the beautiful clothing! I’ll be selling vintage clothing on eBay and Etsy this fall. I hope their sale will pay the heating bill.

I had fun researching the life of the folk art dealer. She was the model for the cover of the June 28, 1947 cover of the Saturday Evening Post. The painting shows  the young antique dealer looking from the porch of her original shop in Connecticut at a brand new car while the older owners of the new car are looking in the window of the antique shop.

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 The grass is always greener!

Vintage Fan and the Violas

Hi! Can you come for a walk with me? I’m just walking around the block. I want to show you the Violas.

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First a short-cut down the path, past the old church and then into the neighborhood.

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I want to show you this old bed of Violas. At first, it is just a bunch of tiny flowers, but look closer.

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Aren’t they exquisite?

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Okay, Happy Face, we see you!

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Now a short walk home and back to work.

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The owner of this house, our village president, went to the trouble to find new roofing shingles that look like they are original. He also built a new garage that looks like it has been there for one hundred years.

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I am re-juvenating an early 1960’s aqua blue fan today. It is just for my own use in the kitchen. The top was rusty and it is too much trouble to try to match the paint and then cover all the knobs so they remain paint-free. I decided to sand off the rust and cover the box with a band of fabric. I cut this fabric, from the same era, with my pinking shears so it wouldn’t unravel. After spraying adhesive on the wrong side, I worked the fabric around the control knob and made a handle using the original twill handle inside to give it strength. These handles are screwed on which makes it easy.

Just click the picture to see close-up details.

 

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United Electric (Adrian, Michigan) began making the Eskimo line of fans some time around 1920. They can be easily found and I appreciate that the grills can be removed and washed under a faucet.

Aren’t those funny little Viola faces a joy to see in the spring? They are perennial and have recently been found to carry many important antibiotics.

Gift Wrapping Idea for Mailing a Small Present and a Snowy Road Trip with Janet

If you do a quick search on Google Images for vintage postcards, you’ll find hundreds from which to create a unique presentation package to send through the mail.  Print it on cardstock, wrap your small parcel,  and mail off the gift within a couple of minutes. I like the old style of embellishing letters and packages with the address incorporated into the design. My mom’s birthday present was on its way to Florida lickety-split. She is of French Canadian descent so I picked one that read Happy Birthday in French. I should have check the translation before picking a postcard. I thought I knew enough French to know that this read Happy Birthday. Well, I don’t and my message read: Happy New Year, Mom.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that one seller had a lot of postings on Craigslist, so I gave them a call and asked  if I could drive up and take a look at everything they were selling. On Monday night, my friend, Janet, and I drove to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The trip should have taken five hours round-trip. It took us ten hours. But after a grueling drive through blowing snow and icy highways, I bought home some lovely things for the shop. The seller had three nice vintage dresses which I wasn’t sure I wanted for the store because I don’t have a dressing room, so I offered to sell them for her on eBay and take a commission.

There is so much to admire about the clothing of this era, the design, the fabric, the beautiful tailoring. The quality is a testament to American manufacturing of that time. These dresses should be spectacular on a real body instead of the shapeless dress form. The black one in the middle is so Joan Crawford, isn’t it?

Repair a Wobbly Chair with Loose Rungs

A beginner’s tutorial…..

When a great chair comes your way, don’t discount it because it is wobbly or has loose rungs. Even missing rungs can easily be replaced if the part was a simple dowel. I’ll show you how to do it on this sweet child’s chair that I found at a recent auction. This is how I found it:

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All the chair parts are here except for the front rung. I like the distressed finish, the shape and the color. Usually, a chair like this can be won for just a few dollars. All I need to make the chair solid and strong again is: Elmer’s Glue, a damp cloth to wipe off excess glue, a couple of pieces of short dowel, a longer piece of dowel to replace the missing rung and some macrame cord. You will also need a 3/8″ spade bit and a drill if any of the holes has a broken off rung wedged inside or if the hole is filled with old glue. You will use the short pieces of dowel and the macrame cord over and over again on other projects once you see how easy it is to save a chair. Macrame cord can be found in craft shops or it can be purchased here.

Okay, let’s get to work.

IMG_0404The chair had piece of rung still adhering to the leg, so I used my 3/8″ spade bit in my drill to clean out the hole. Go slow so that you don’t go all the way through the chair leg! I’ve done that.

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Measure and cut the length of dowel you will need if you are replacing a missing rung. Then fill both holes with glue and insert the dowel.

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Wrap a length of macrame cord around the legs twice and tie the ends together. Position it so it is near the newly glued joints.

IMG_0410Stick one of the short pieces of dowel between the macrame cord and start to twist it around, using the short dowel piece as a tool. The tension tightens the newly glued legs like a vise.

IMG_0411Let one of the rungs act as a brace to hold the dowel securely.

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Next, I need to fix the long split in the seat of the chair so I ran a bead of Elmer’s Glue along the crack and let it run down into the crevice.

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To hold the two pieces of wood together while the glue dries, I’ve used the same technique as I did to hold the legs and rungs together. Just wrap the cord around the seat twice, insert another short piece of dowel and twist it over and under until the two pieces of wood are pressed together tightly. Just like this:

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The glue will squeeze out so just wipe off the excess with the damp cloth.

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Almost finished! Put some glue in the seat holes to put the back of the chair back in place

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and in the holes along the top rail. Insert the lower spindles into the seat first so that you can tap them in with a hammer if necessary. You’ve done it! It is now sturdy and strong. This technique works on any chair and lasts for many years.

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Create a Reusable Stencil for Decorating Vintage Painted Furniture

The Graphics Fairy web site is a free resource of over 4,000 vintage images for any creative work that you can dream up. Block Posters is the go-to spot for free image enlargements.

The Graphics Fairy has a dozen tutorials on how to transfer images using different methods. I wanted to make a stencil that I could use over and over and that was the one method I didn’t see listed.

I learned about Block Posters from my favorite blog q is for quandie  Wait till you see her sense of design. Stop over and look at her furniture to  get some good ideas for yourself. Her furniture sells in Minnesota if you are in her part of the world.

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I picked an image from The Graphics Fairy and printed it out easily on Blockposters.com to the size I needed for the dresser. I printed the design on  stiff cardstock and then cut out all the letters and designs with a stencil knife.

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A coat of  boiled linseed oil covers the cardstock paper making it strong and transparent. Wipe off the excess linseed oil and hang it up to dry overnight. Then tape both pages together.

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After the cutting, the rest was quick and easy. I measured the width of the top of the dresser using a flexible sewing tape measure, folded the tape measure in half to use as a guide and made a pencil mark to mark the center.  I did the same thing with the depth measurement, leaving a pencil mark to mark the depth center of the dresser top. Repeat the same  procedure to find the center of the stencil. When I had the center of the dresser top and the center of the stencil marked, I lined up the two little crossmarks on each (The boiled linseed oil makes the paper transparent.) and taped down the corners of the stencil. It is as simple as that.

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I used flat latex paint from a Martha Stewart tester jar and covered the cut-out completely with paint, dabbing it on as I went, using a small stiff brush.

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I may sand slightly over the stencil paint to fade it after it dries completely.

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This beautiful old dresser has dove-tailed joints, dust dividers between the drawers, and center rails so that the drawers always ride smoothly. Its veneer finished was so damaged that it couldn’t be saved. The secondary wood is white oak and the workmanship is a thing of art.  I think it is beautiful in a creamy white with glass knobs.

I got four pieces of furniture finished in my spare time during the two weeks of cold weather and felt good about that accomplishment. I’ve got to get down into the building basement next week and organize again. I sent two cartons of things to Purple Heart last week so I made a small start on it. Lots more to do and I can’t wait to get started.

Meanwhile, one of the cats, Emma, contemplates life.on the inside.

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Vintage Linen Bedding for 18″ (American Girl) Doll Bed

I like everything about vintage linens…the embroidery, the high-quality linen or cotton and the crochet-lace edges. A boxful often comes home with me from an auction. Inside, the handy work of American girls and women from the Victorian Era through the 1950’s continues to amaze me. Sometimes the workmanship is just passable, but I often find a treasure included, no doubt passed on from an earlier generation. After washing and ironing, I sell the best examples in my shop and keep all the ones that have defects, such as stains that cannot be removed. I’ve lived here for ten years and the pile is growing. All six drawers of this dresser and the suitcases are filled with vintage linens.

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If I’ve found a vintage or antique doll bed over the summer, I make new bedding for it using this supply. Christmas is a good season for shoppers looking for a gift for daughters, granddaughters and nieces with an American Girl doll. These 18″ dolls are just the right size for vintage doll beds which usually measure between 18-20 inches long. Some of my beds sold to women who collect dolls, too.

This year, I found only one doll bed, a typical 1940’s – 1950’s bed with a crib-style side that lowers. I painted it white, as the wood looked listless, using some left over Fine Paints of Europe enamel.
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I made the mattress from some high-density foam pieces that I had left over from furniture projects and covered it with some thick 1950’s pillow ticking fabric. You can see the ticking showing through the linen mattress cover.

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The top sheet is part of a tea towel. It worked out perfectly because I had just enough of the embroidered linen for the back of one of the pillow cases.

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A twin size Chenille Cinderella bedspread had just enough strong fabric left to make a doll-size blanket while pastel-colored crocheted scallops decorate the tea towel top sheet.

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I made linen-covered pillow forms in fun shapes to pal along with the embroidered pillow covers.  There were quite a few  petticoat ladies linens in the drawer.

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Embroidery motifs popular between the 1920’s and 1940’s are charming and I could have made the bedding using linens featuring butterflies, a favorite flower, Japanese lanterns or ladies’ fans, to name just a few.  Flower baskets were popular for decades, but particularly in the 1930’s. Below, you’ll see a few pieces of flower basket embroidery from my dresser drawers. Aren’t they pretty?

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