Organizing My Sewing Stuff: A Blend of Gran’s Vintage & My Semi-New

I inherited my Gran’s sewing box years ago, and believe it or not, left everything in it. I’ve used a few things over the years, but have always just left it the way Gran had it. Well, maybe not exactly the way she had it… it’s a lot less orderly now!

And if you think this is bad, here’s a peek at the mish-mash of my own sewing box!

Enter the little red vintage tool box that inspired me to take charge of all this chaos.

Yes, this was a thrifting find from the other day, and for some reason I saw it becoming part of my sewing mix… even though this is what it looked like inside.

Some soaking, Goo-Gone, lots of elbow grease and a little steel wool took care of this, and then I lined the bottom with rubber shelf liner and red felt.

It’s actually this I was more worried about!

Sorting and organizing all the random contents of my sewing stuff along with my grandmother’s to become one! Eeeek. And getting better systems in place to boot.

My thread and bobbins were a tangled mess.

The idea behind this thread/bobbin caddy isn’t so bad, but it’s one of those organizers that doesn’t really work. I’ve moved my bobbins to this little case instead…

I still have to decide on storage for my thread. Do you have any favorite solutions to share?

And buttons. Who saves them in all these packages, anyway?

Well, that would be me! I’ve now sorted my buttons and separated them into little jars of darks, whites, metallics, mixed colours, and kid inspired!

My Gran made her own dresses, and she loooooved rick rack, seam binding and elastic. I wrote about a quilt she made here.

Did you notice the vintage labels with their vintage prices?

I corralled all the rick rack and seam binding into a small box, and placed it with the rest of my craft supplies.

No need for this factory supply to be kept in my sewing box, right?

I did put all Gran’s elastic into a pretty little box, and it along with some other things you saw on the table now live in the bottom of my sewing box.

I also sorted and organized more things from the table into the top tray of my sewing box, and this is what lives there now.

The pink seamstress tape belonged to my Gran along with the very burnished thimble beside it. The tape is only in feet and inches, and it’s so old I’m afraid it might crack and break if I handle it too much. I have two of my own, but there’s no way I want to part with Gran’s, so it gets to take up a cubby of its own! Hey, do you know of any DIY ideas where I could showcase this special tape instead?

Remember all those envelopes containing spare buttons? Here’s how I used some of them for my larger needles and pins.

They’re now tucked down a side compartment in one of the trays in the top of my sewing box.

And by now I bet you’re wondering where on earth the little red tool kit comes in.

Well, tools of course!

Between my Gran and I, we had a few tools of the sewing trade…

Believe it or not, the wooden handled tracing wheel, seam guide, and large seam ripper were mine in high school! Never mind, never mind – I said my stuff was ‘semi-new’!

Here’s something of Grannie’s I never had! A scissors sharpener.

Do they even make these anymore? The scissors you see are mine… would you dare use them to cut paper? No, my family doesn’t either 😉

Anyway, I thought the little red tool box would be perfect for our sewing tools!

I slipped the sharp objects into the little leather pouch on the right, just to protect them and the red paint that’s still in tact!

Everything fit perfectly.

And the lid even closed! 🙂

My Gran’s sewing box is empty now, and all our sewing things combined. You see, I have to do some minor repairs to it, because the screws that hold the hinges in place are really loose, and the drawers are pretty shaky when they’re pulled open.

In the meantime I will just enjoy it for the beautiful piece that it is. Well used, and well loved!

Do you craft or sew? What kind of organizational strategies do you use for all the ‘stuff’ that goes with it? Oh, and if you noticed the old Aspirin bottle in the first photo, pop by next week… I’ll show you some of the other treasures that kind of go with it!

So happy to be featured over at Junkin Joe’s! Thank you, Andrea 🙂


Published in the Home section of Savvy Stories over at Savvy Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller. Please link and credit if you choose to use!

Thrifting: What Story Hangs Here?

Another treasure seeking adventure…

This time I came across a whole collection of vintage wooden hangers, some marked, and some designed without a name!

I thought it would be fun to peek inside a few historical closets, and get a glimpse of what these hangers might have seen.


My Dad was born in Trail, so let’s start here!


Lauriente’s general merchant store (building to the left) was built in 1904 by Camille Lauriente, an Italian immigrant who arrived in Trail at the turn of the century. Lauriente’s clothing store is said to be the first brick building built in the Trail area.


These front steps were made of marble tile, and constructed as steadfast as the business itself, which was in operation for 70 years! No wonder a Lauriente hanger still remains! The Laurientes were a large family, and a colourful piece of Trail’s history. You will find the Lauriente name weaving through the Kootenay area still today.


Did you know there were two Hotel Vancouver’s prior to the one that stands today?

Vancouver Skyscrapers

Yes, the predecessors were located a block away from where the Hotel Vancouver now sits. The building you see here was the second hotel, and was built in 1916 by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It became a troop barracks during World War II, but was demolished in 1949 under the ownership of the Canadian National Railway (CNR). Construction of the new hotel was halted for many years as a result of the Depression, but in 1937 was finally completed and opened its doors in 1939 becoming an icon in the city with its dramatic Chateau roof.

Vancouver Skyscrapers

Interesting facts:

  1. The CPR built Chateau style hotels in most major cities across the country.
  2. Vancouver zoning regulations required setbacks at the 10th and 15th floors, which you can see in this photo.
  3. A ghost lives here! Yes, known as the Lady in Red and thought to be the ghost of socialite, Jennie Pearl Cox… read more here!


Given the enormity of the Canadian railway system in our history, I was thrilled to find a connection in the hanger collection. Do you think this hanger might trace back to here…

Rail Archive

 Or do you think it’s more likely to have traveled here?


Regardless of when or where this vintage wooden hanger hung a coat, it’s safe to say it played a role in time for what has become a rich piece of our Canadian tapestry.


John Bulloch, an Irish immigrant to Canada, formed his business, Bulloch Tailors, in the Depression era, and was known for ‘CASH only’ sales, no credit, no trade!

Bulloch Tailors/Peter Bulloch

Bulloch was also known for his outrageous ads, often offending special interest groups by the tone and message of his adverts. In fact, according to his son Peter Bulloch, editorial advertising is credited to John Bulloch!

Bulloch Tailors specializes in custom made suits for men, and in their words, ‘Custom Tailors to Gentlemen’. Read more here.

Bulloch Tailors/Peter Bulloch

Interesting Facts:

  1. John Bulloch made full 5-piece made-to-measure uniforms for the Canadian officers during the war. But he didn’t make just any uniform. These uniforms were the best quality money could buy, and cost $200 – the same amount the government gave each officer for their military uniform! In this way John Bulloch did his part for the war effort, and at the same time created a following of satisfied officers who would in all probability stay with him after the war. Smart.
  2. Smart? Definitely. Read more here on how John Bulloch secured enough gold braid for the uniforms he tailored at a time when gold braid was in high demand, but a serious shortage was developing!

John Bulloch, Bulloch Tailors Ltd. Another iconic name in our Canadian history.

HILTON HOTELS, hotels ‘Around the World’

Well now. A Hilton hanger. And we all know Hilton stands for, ‘Hotels around the World’! Who knew a Hilton hanger would show up in the mix?

Back in 1925 Conrad Hilton opened the high-rise Dallas Hilton, the first hotel to carry the Hilton name.

Hilton Worldwide on Pinterest

What’s so interesting about this particular building is, since air conditioning hadn’t yet been invented, the building was designed so that no guest rooms faced the western sun. Instead, the elevators, laundry chutes, airshafts, and other non-customer facilities were placed on that side of the building. Conrad Hilton Sr. didn’t miss a beat, and if you watched Mad Men, you will see his son, Conrad Hilton Jr.’s character portrayed in a way that shows the Hilton legacy didn’t get there by chance!

From vintage wooden hangers to a glimpse into the closets where they came from…

I hope you enjoyed my take on how thrifting can turn a moment in time into a piece of history, and in this case, a hanger to hang it on!

It’s all about the stories, wouldn’t you agree?

Thank you for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller unless otherwise stated.

Thrifting… Lamp It Up!

Featured by

 Thank you so much, Heather!


I haven’t had a chance to get my thrift on since before the Holidays. Can you feel my pain? Well, finally that all changed 🙂 A few friends and I hit the trail to look for treasures just waiting to be found! Did you catch my last post? I’ve been doing the January declutter, so today a bag of donations came with me. Donations out, new treasures in!

Something in this pic caught my eye…

Way up on the top shelf…

See them? Yes, the lamps!

I wandered around the store asking myself if I liked them as much as I thought I did, or was I just falling into the gold trap. I sent a phone pic to my hubs, and I badgered my friends, too.

In the end these gold gems came home with me 🙂

And their sad, mismatched shades were promptly removed!

My hubs loves them, and my daughter only likes the gold teardrop section. She thinks I should paint all the wood black. How about you?

I’ve done a little research, and the best fit I could find was this MCM lamp by designer, Tony Paul on eBay.

Danish Modern MCM Lamp c1950s - eBay


According to the ad, this one is a Danish modern brass & walnut lamp, c. 1950s. And I say, with a much softer sheen to the brass! Is it just me, or does this wood look like teak to you?

Now I’m trying to decide on a shade. I love this shallow drum, but somehow don’t think that would look right on my new finds. What kind of shade would you pick?

I know I weighed in with you on my Murano glass lamp here

And I did find a white drum, which I’ve been living with and trying to decide whether or not I’ll gold leaf the inside…

Now that you see the white shade on this lamp, what would you do? And do you think the shade is too top-heavy for this lamp?

Can I have your first born, too? No, changed my mind on that!

I’m dying to hear what you think!

I was featured over at Junkin Joe’s!

Why not pop over to see the other great finds 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller unless otherwise stated.

Thrifting to Paperwhites

Paperwhites from Home Depot

In all the years I’ve been decking out our home for the Holidays, one thing I’ve never tried is Paperwhites! Can you believe that? Last year my friend Meesh from I Dream of Chairs got me thinking about it… but that’s all I did, was ‘think’ about it! So this year after seeing more Paperwhites in the works on different blogs and good ol’ Pinterest, I decided to hop on the PaperwhiteNarcissus bus!

I picked up my bulbs at Home Depot.

Paperwhites from Home Depot

And then headed off on a thrifting expedition for a great pot to put them in!

Here, they’re in my new gold lacquered tray from Pier 1! A big thank you to Nicole from Nicole Scott Designs for the heads up on where to buy the tray!

For my Paperwhites’ pot I had a tarnished silver ‘something’ in mind, but in my hunt I discovered very few options. I thought about buying a stainless pot and DIYing it to look tarnished, but even that idea was easier thought up than executed!

So I picked up this brass urn instead. It had a few scuff marks, and some buildup of who knows what.

Aged Brass Urn

I thought about painting it, but decided to give it a scrub with Barkeepers Friend.

Barkeeper's Friend on Brass

I ended up resorting to toxic Brasso, because the grime wasn’t giving in without a fight. I thought about trying Ketchup, or a Ketchup and Vinegar paste, but I’ve only read about that remedy – have you ever tried it? Did it work???

Even with the Brasso, I still had to use a lot of elbow grease! But finally the little urn came clean 🙂

Brass Urn after Polishing

Is it just me, or do you have a hard time photographing shiny brass, too? Honestly, it’s like taking a photograph of a mirror!

Anyway, onto planting up the Paperwhites…

At first I was going to put a pot inside the urn, but decided to build up a bit of drainage and just put the dirt right in instead. I cut a small container down to size and set it into the very bottom of the urn. Then I filled the bottom with little rocks from the Dollar Store.

I cut the bottom out of a plastic plant pot, and set it upside-down over the rocks. I thought this would help the drainage by keeping the dirt up off the rocks a little bit.

Remember my Grunge One & Two pumpkins? Well, I reused some of the dirt from them, and just topped it up.

Paperwhite Bulbs in Dirt

I wasn’t sure how deep to plant the bulbs because of my drainage experiment, so just went by different images I’ve seen. How deep do you plant your Paperwhites? Do you think I should add a bit more dirt, or will my bulbs become too moist?

Next, according to Pam’s tutorial from Simple Details, I watered with luke warm water, and placed the urn in this dark cupboard…

Where it shall stay for about a week, until the bulbs begin to shoot. They are going to shoot, right?

I thought about trying the rocks and water in a clear container method for growing Paperwhites, but decided to save that for another time. Or… I might try that with an Amaryllis instead!

I would like to give Shauna from Satori Design for Living a special shout out for her Holiday countdown series. Without it I might not have realized it was time to stop ‘thinking’ about Paperwhites, and actually start ‘growing’ them if was going to give them a try this year! If you need a little prodding to stay organized coming into the Holidays this year, pop on over to Shauna’s blog. I bet there’s something in her series that will land on your ‘to do before it’s too late’ list!

Do you grow Paperwhites for the Holidays? How about Amaryllis? What are your tips and tricks for success? ‘Cause we all know, the jury’s out on my success for the time being!

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Photographs by Sheila Zeller

Treasure Seeking in a Thrifty Kind of Way!

Last week my treasure hunting created a mystery with the large vintage shortening bin I picked up at a garage sale. And Andrea was super sweet in featuring it this week! Thank you so much for the feature, Andrea!

Well my mystery is no closer to being solved, but this week you might think I was becoming a tin collector!

Here’s what came home with me from a little treasure hunting excursion 🙂

That’s right. A vintage Empress jam can, c. 1940s-50s! That’s the tin collecting part, but I’m not actually ‘collecting’ tins… yet!  😉

I came home with this great little vintage piece. Love the old cardboard luggage, though this one might have been a briefcase!

This old glass bottle was also part of the mix. The glass at the bottom is super thick, and poured on an angle.

I don’t know what it was used for, but I thought it was kind of cool. I also liked this wine carafe because of its shape. Most the ones you find are round from bottom to top.

So these are my treasure finds this week! A little vintage and a lot of loooove!

When I bought the jam tin, the cashier asked me what I planned to do with it. I told her it might hold pens and pencils on my desk! What would you do with it?

Today I’m heading back over to the Junkin Joe Linky Party, ’cause the last one was just way too much fun! I hope you pop over and check out all the other vintage treasures, projects and thrifty finds!

And here’s a special shout out toAndrea at The Cottage Market for hosting! Thank you, Andrea!!!

Thank you for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller; please link and credit if you choose to use!

Simply Spectacular… Totally Affordable!

Adding a little touch to your space doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming…

Have you got a second?



Hydrangeas picked fresh from my Dad’s garden…

Displayed in a vinaigrette bottle thrifted for $1.00.

Simple, affordable style.

Created in minutes, enjoyed for days!

How about you? What’s your favorite way to add a dash of style to your home?

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that bring the greatest pleasure. I walked around my Dad’s yard with him while he cut some of his flowers for me. We wandered and chatted, and like always, bantered a bit, too. 😉 When I got home, putting the flowers into vases was a nice extension of the time we spent together. And now as I enjoy them, these moments are imprinted with this little added touch of simple, affordable style!


All Photos by Sheila Zeller

DIY: Zipping Up A Lamp Shade, Painting It With Colour!

Small Plastic Tie Strap Lamp Shade

I picked up a little glazed ceramic lamp base at the thrift store not too long ago, but had no idea what to do for a shade. Knew I wanted to DIY something, but not sure what.

And then I came across a tutorial by Courtney over at A Little Glass Box. A very cool idea that I hadn’t seen before.

First, I had to buy a cheapo shade, because I needed the frame to work with.

Home Trends Lamp Shade

And I knew from my DIY skeleton lamp shade that finding a thrifted shade to fit a small lamp was harder than you’d think. So I didn’t take the time to try and thrift one, but popped into Wal-Mart instead.

Even though the shade looks a little top heavy, I knew it wouldn’t be once it was taken apart.

And that’s because the bottom ring was only attached to the fabric, not the actual frame. I was going for a drum shape, so losing the bottom ring was exactly what needed to happen.

Can you see a drum evolving from this frame?

Frame of table lamp shade

No, not so much?

Next was cutting 1/4″ wire mesh to size for the new shade…

1/4" wire mesh

And attaching it to the frame with small plastic zip straps, to form the drum shape.

DIY Lamp Shade with Wire Mesh

And now the fun begins. Have you guessed how this shade is being created yet?

Here’s a peak…

Small Plastic Tie Strap Lamp Shade

That’s right. Staggered layers of zip straps will be used to fill in the mesh and create the shade! Crazy, I know.

You actually want to attach straps in every mesh square of the bottom row, and the very top row. It’s all the rows in between that are staggered.

Check out the layer of white!

White Zip Strap & Wire Mesh Lamp Shade

Looks kind of funky, don’t you think?

I really liked the layered colours of Courtney’s lamp in the tutorial, so I wanted to layer colours into my shade, too. But it meant spray painting zip straps!

So I figured out how many I would need in each colour, and counted them out. Yes, seriously, I did!

Zip Straps and Spray Paint

Did I mention, I bought a bag of 1000 small zip straps? And in total I used 575 of them, give or take a few!

I couldn’t figure out a fast and easy system to spray these puppies, so I just resorted to threading them – One. By. One. – 😐  onto fishing line, and then sprayed away, trying to cover both sides of the straps!


Make sure you spray the straps ahead of time, because they definitely need to dry overnight, and the longer they dry, the better. Otherwise the paint will rub and flake off too much when you’re attaching the straps to the mesh.

Here’s the colour layering in action.

DIY Lamp Shade with Zip Straps

One thing to keep in mind is not to pull the straps too tight. The ones you see sticking out have deliberately been pulled tight to anchor the mesh to the frame, but they were only temporary until they could be replaced with the blue straps.

Are you feel’n it yet?

Here’s a look at the finished shade…

DIY Zip Strap Lamp Shade

I know it looks a little ‘Dr. Seuss’, but hang on… you haven’t seen it turned on yet!

I used a small 60w clear bulb…

DIY Zip Strap Lamp Shade



And was blown away by how different this little lamp looks when it’s on!

I love the shadows it casts…

And check out the reflection on the lamp base.

Doesn’t it remind you of a White Sea Anemone in an ocean of blue?

Here’s one more look back at the lamp and shade in its ‘Before’ state…

Martha Stewart Lamp Shade

And the ‘After’ of the total shade makeover!

What do you think of my little Crazy for Colour project? Would you zip up 575+ straps to make one of these shades, too?

Today I’m joining in the party fun, and linking my project up here…

I want to thank these awesome ladies for being such great hosts!



Such a fun project! And so many more to do 🙂 Why not pop on over and check out all the other projects, too? Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to do up your own crazy colour project… or maybe it’s just a crazy project. Seriously, zip straps turned into a lamp shade? Who knew???


All Photos by Sheila Zeller

Since We’re On A Lighting Roll…

I’ve had this little project brewing and semi-complete for a while now. But the hold-up in finishing was finding a shade that would work. It’ll all make sense. Trust me.

First, here’s the lamp I found thrifting.

Round Base Lamp

I bet you’re wishing this find was yours. I know you do! Don’t you just love the sombrero scale of the shade?

Here’s a close-up of the base.

Diamond Design in Lamp Base

A little grimy, and in need of some TLC scrubbing.

Just the job for Bar Keepers Friend. Have you ever used this before?

Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleaner

I was introduced to it by Lisa from Lisa Goulet Design in this post… thank you for the introduction, Lisa!

Here’s a quick ‘Before’ and ‘After’…

Cleaning With Bar Keepers Friend

Sure took the tarnish off.

But I had to get into the grooves with a Q-tip.

Removing Tarnish from Metal Lamp

Can you see the difference between the pattern on the left vs. the right? I didn’t want to emphasize the pattern, even though the black in the grooves was intentional.

After the lamp base was completely cleaned, check out the golden hue it took on.

Tarnish Removed from Metal Lamp

Here’s another look at it.

Bar Keepers Friend on Metal Lamp Base

And this is how the lamp was left since the beginning of March, but only because finding a shade was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Fast forward to last week, and here’s what I found just on spec at Liquidation World.

A pretty little cotton shade…

White Cotton Lamp Shade

And the scale is good.

Metal Lamp & White Cotton Shade

Perfect for what I have in mind!

Here’s what I did next.

Frame inside Cotton Lamp Shade

Gasp! Ruin a perfectly good shade?

You bet, and I blacken the frame, too!

Painting Wire Frame of Lamp Shade

You see I wanted to try a skeleton shade. Do you remember when I featured skeleton shades in this post?

What I didn’t anticipate was how tough finding an inexpensive shade with the right center piece and all the wire sections would be. Trust me, I looked!

Want to see how the lamp turned out?

First, a little look back…


Round Base Lamp - Metal

Remember the sombrero?

Well here’s the skeleton shade in place of the sombrero!


Skeleton Lamp Shade on Metal Lamp

Kind of fun, right?

We replaced the socket piece with one that had a tri-light switch, but couldn’t find a clear tri-light bulb in this round shape. We ended up putting in a 40 watt bulb, and it’s plenty bright…

As you can see here.

Skeleton Lamp Shade on Metal Lamp

Round 40 watt bulb in Skeleton Lamp Shade

Round 40 watt bulb in Skeleton Lamp Shade

Skeleton Lamp Shade on Metal Lamp


Skeleton Lamp Shade on Metal Lamp

What do you think? Is a skeleton shade for you?

I was inspired by a few blogs that I read, and some photos on Pinterest. This project was all about trying something new, and the key was to keep the costs down… but also just to have fun. By thrifting and being thrifty this project only cost $15 and it really was fun!

Thanks for stopping by!

Signature 100x47 b&w

Photographs by Sheila Zeller. Please link and credit if you choose to use!