illustration: petite pansies

My addition to Illustration Friday's "Garden" topic this week.

Most of us recognize the humble little pansy flower. They come in a variety of colors and add some gorgeous speckles of contrast to our gardens. But there's actually a lot more to know about pansies, much of which goes back centuries and has the potential to tickle your inspiration. 

Folk names for this little beauty include kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate, love-in-idelness, garden violet, and my personal favorite, heart's ease. But the word pansy means "thought" in French. This is probably why in the Language of Flowers it means "think of me" and/or "happy memories". It's also probably why some folks think gazing upon pansies are good for calming racing thoughts and quelling anxieties.

According to ancient myth, the god Eros accidentally shot one of his arrows into a pansy flower, causing it to "smile" as well as a flower can. And little Pansy has been smiling ever since... poor dear... in love with Love himself.

Did you know that you can actually eat pansy flowers? Some people even sugar them and include them in salads or garnish drinks with them. Of course, Martha has the low down on that.

No matter what pansies mean to you... whether you keep them in your garden, eat them off the side of your mint julep glass, or whatever... they're gorgeous little things that add authentic beauty to the everyday. And sometimes that means everything.

vintage floral fantasy

Do you dig on retro and vintage-inspired patterns as much as I do? The header image for LOL is a vintage napkin found at the VOA and the large image above is a detail of a vintage pillowcase (also found at the VOA).

My thrifting addiction aside, I recently discovered some awesome retro motifs from top designers on - where the three smaller images above come from. There are also some great finds that pull from vintage looks on Spoonflower. All of them are gorgeous and inspiring! However, a seamstress I am not. I'm more the designery type.

So if you're like me, this is how I handle my desire for vintage patterns on a dime without needing to sew anything.

1. Vintage Pillowcases. 
They're already sewn, ready to use, and perfect for mixing and matching. You can check Etsy's vintage section or (do what I usually do) scavenge thrift stores, the VOA, Goodwill, and hit garage sales.

2. Vintage Sheets.
I've actually made curtains out of vintage flat sheets and some fabric glue. They're already hemmed at the bottom. All you have to do is glue up a little rod pocket at the top and you're ready to go. I found a pair of matching lovelies at the VOA for a couple of bucks each. These also make great fabric stash additions if you're a sewing genius.

3. Misc. Vintage Linens like Tablecloths, Napkins, etc.
It's pretty self-explanatory, but just about any vintage linen will work. If you can sew, you can turn them into anything you like. If you don't sew, you can fabric glue them into anything you like. Or you can just drape them over a table, spice up the back of an average, boring chair... whatever. The possibilities are endless.

You could even frame some retro-chic napkins behind glass or stretch them over a canvas frame for instant, ready-to-hang art. Or cut out your favorite sections, blooms, bouquets, etc. then grab some spray starch and stick them to your walls. I haven't yet done it myself, but I hear the starch will keep your fabric (or paper) adhered to the wall and wash off easy later. I'm sure the all-knowing Google can tell us more.

The number one rule to remember is that it's not hard and it should be fun. If it's hard or not fun... come back to it later or find some alternatives. Life's too short. :)