Inspiration - Hansel & Gretel tote

>> Sunday, April 30, 2006

Well I'll say I was inspired by this cute bag, but it's probably more accurate to say I was coveting it and just had to copy the style using my new Hansel & Gretel fabric (which came from Heather thank you!)

My version has denim on the bottom half, and the top half is the Hansel & Gretel fabric with interfacing because it's quite a light cotton fabric. The inside is turquoise corduroy and the handles are dark brown corduroy. Other than that it's pretty plain with no extra pockets or anything. But I really liked how it turned out!
Nico has so many wonderful bags and pouches, I found her Flickr page recently and was so inspired by all her great ideas and the fabulous fabrics she uses for her creations.

And while I'm 'fessing up to recent copy-cat behaviour, I also copied a shopper that comes in a pouch that I received as a birthday present recently. I just wanted to make my own in one of my favourite vintage fabrics. I also made the little pouch it fits into once you fold it up. I made a small strap from a ribbon with a snap. It's so that you can attach the pouch to the main shopping bag while you're using it so that the little pouch doesn't get lost. I love this ribbon - it was from a swap with Ronize Aline - thank you!These projects were part of a last minute "use what you have" effort. The material all came from swaps, thrifting - and in the case of the denim - an old pair of jeans.


Illustration Friday - topic: robot

>> Wednesday, April 26, 2006

*click on the image to see it larger*

Well I don't usually say this, but I think this one kind of speaks for itself. I will mention that he can only knit rectangles.

This is the original sketch, before I decided to show him knitting. Please note his more casual stance, lacking the hint of effort and concentration he has in the knitting version. A carefree robot, ready to do some simple clamping.
And this is the inked version before I added the watercolour:Ahh robots. This one is dedicated to Bradley, because he loves robots more than anyone.

p.s. I just noticed he looks a little bit like a Cyberman...that wasn't intentional...too much Dr. Who I guess.


Catching up with swaps

I've had a few swaps on the go in the past few weeks and I've been a bit slow about getting the packages ready. Being sick for a week has put me even farther behind, but I'm finally feeling better so I think I can catch up soon.

I just finished a package tonight going to Heather in Japan. I liked some of her fabric and she offered to swap. We decided I would send her a needle book, but of course I've added in some extras and so did she. This is the fabric she sent me, I originally noticed the red Japanese floral, but now the Hansel and Gretel one is my favourite. It's just so sweet. I've been seeing other people make things with these storybook fabrics and now I have some!She also sent these extra cute things - the flat candy has a Thumbelina picture on the front - I recognized it because she is carried on the back of a swallow and that's the part I illustrated myself. And I love the little gift envelope - it has a card inside and a pretty crocheted flower on the outside.
She also sent some cute stationary and I noticed that it actually matches a tin pencil case that my friend Ben gave me as a Christmas present. So I took a picture with the stationary Heather sent and the tin that Ben gave me. The tin has a tray in it that lifts out so you can organize your pencils and other art supplies. I guess having pancakes and muffins with happy faces is popular in Japan - the home of so many cute things. I love the stationary kit!Thank you Heather, for such a nice package - I can't wait to make something with the Hansel and Gretel fabric!

Of course I can't show what I'm sending - it has to be a surprise, but I will give you a sneak peek of the needlebook - Heather liked the gnome needlebook I made, and thought having a house on hers would be nice.


Small tins and kits - 3rd collection

>> Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I often see small tins at flea markets and I like to buy them if I really like the graphics or lettering. Like the large tins, I try to find a use for them rather than just having them on a shelf, but I will admit I have acquired a bit of a collection. Oddly enough the tin shown above was included in an old sewing box full of odds and ends. I like it because it's really tiny and I like the lettering and cross-hatching pattern. I think the picture below shows almost all of my small tins. I will show close-ups of my favourites!Of course my favourite tins are related to sewing. This blue floral tin was for pins and was still full of them. My girlfriend told me that her mother who still lives in Turkey has this same kind of tin for her pins! I just love this one, the light blue with red and white flowers is so pretty.This box was full of mending floss for darning one's stockings. I probably won't be darning any stockings, but now that I think of it this might have been handy for darning that rabbit. A couple of people asked me about darning, I guess it's interesting and nostalgic because most people don't do it anymore so maybe I will show a how-to sometime. It's really quite easy.The spools are tiny, and they actually curve out in the middle - to seem fuller I guess. This box was $10, I thought it was worth it since it had all the spools and most of the thread still on them.I also love to make kits from small tins, this is one of my favourite things to take with me on holidays. Of course I don't want to spend my whole time doing crafts...but there's always some times when you're lying around and a little beading or knitting is nice to have handy. I remember seeing a picture on Flickr of a girl on a beach and she had a crafts kit with her and was absorbed in making something. And I thought, "yay, I'm not the only person who takes crafts to a beach!" This is a bead kit I made. A friend of mine gave me the little jars - they're used for specimens in labs.This next one isn't vintage at all, it's a new paintbox made by Windsor & Newton but it's done in an old-fashioned style. I couldn't find it here in Canada, I ordered in online from an arts supplies store in the UK. It's metal, and there is room for water in the bottom half which is an attached flask. The lid becomes a little water trough to put the water into when you're painting, and it hooks onto the side. There's a loop at the bottom to put your thumb through. The inside of the lid is white for mixing colours and the pans of paint are removable so you switch around the colours. I've made a little legend of the colours as I did with my large everyday paintbox. My plan is to try some en plein air painting this summer.
And last but not least, this tin was from our last Sunday market trip. My friend wanted it too but she let me buy it (it was $5). I had seen this type of tin on a previous trip to the market and I liked the penguin and wanted it. But it turned out to be full of old pen nibs, oddly enough, and was a bit too expensive. Not that I don't like old pen nibs... hmm... maybe I should have bought it then... Flea market regrets are the worst because you know you can't go back for things later. In any case, it seemed fitting to find a cough pastilles tin this week since I had a bad cold.
I guess penguins are a good spokesperson for cough pastilles because they are quite hardy and can resist the cold. I just loved March of the Penguins.


Buttons - 2nd collection

>> Monday, April 24, 2006

Well you've already seen most of my button "collection" - mainly those charming buttons that came from Montréal, so I will just show you the ones I got yesterday at the Sunday market. There was a seller there who had several mason jars full of buttons - and the best part is that there seemed to be a lot in my favourite colours of light blues and reds.

The picture at the top of those post shows the jars after I sorted out my favourite buttons - they were originally full. I also took closeup pictures of some of my favourites so you can see them better. Here are my favourite blue buttons:I really like simple geometric patterns, particularly flowers or simple radiating lines. And I love turquoise. And favourite reds (with some stray colours thrown in):
It seems to be more common to find black, white and brown buttons since I guess those are common clothing colours. I like these too, these were my favourites:Here are some up close - I love the clear patterned ones. Some of the white and tan coloured ones look like shells, and I like the big black one that has white "stitching" around the edge.I don't know why, but buttons just look so tempting in mason jars - I can rarely resist them. The hard part was narrowing it down to two jars. These ones were all $6 or $7 per jar, which I was happy with, particularly once I sorted through them and found so many I liked. I like the lids of the jars too, they're glass and have a nice star pattern on them. My friend bought two jars as well, and we had the idea to do some swapping, but it's harder than you might think. Mainly because our taste is similar so we like and dislike the same ones. We spent some time sorting out our favourite buttons in a Starbucks afterwards, and I finished sorting mine at home. I have a bad cough/cold so it was a nice, slightly hypnotic, way to spend a quiet evening.


Peek Frean tins - 1st collection

>> Sunday, April 23, 2006

I don't really think of myself as a collector. When I go to flea markets I look for things that I think are beautiful or useful but preferably both. I know when I get a little thrill that I've found something I really want to take home. Sometimes it's disappointing when I find something that I think is beautiful and it turns out it's a special kind of collectible I hadn't known about and therefore too expensive for me. I usually want to use the things I find, rather than display them, and I'm not looking to complete a set, or find things that are rare and worth a lot of money. So I'm not that kind of collector, but I do tend to find things of a certain kind and I sometimes inadvertently start a collection of sorts.

Today I went to the Sunday market at St. Lawrence with a girlfriend and found lots of things I really like. I've decided to group them and show them as collections with similar things I've found previously. Otherwise I would have too many pictures in one post! So the first "collection" is of Peek Frean cookie tins from England in the 50s/60s? I'm not quite sure. I keep finding ones with beautiful blue and green colours, which match the colours in our place and I can't resist them.

It started with this floral tin, I found it at Goodwill for $1. I love the colours and the flowers on the tin, and I also thought it was a nice useful size for crafts supplies. I was so smitten with the tin I couldn't believe it was going for $1 and felt like I needed to dash over to the cashier before they realized their mistake. I put all my balls of size 8 pearl cotton and some beads into it (for miniature bead knitting) and I carried it with me on trips. The tins are great for that because the lid can also be used as a tray so you can sort out beads and buttons etc. on it without them getting scattered and lost. Incidentally, I saw this tin in the movie The Magdalene Sisters. The nun had it in her office. Gosh that movie was sad (but beautiful).The second tin I found was from the Sunday market. It had a blue kingfisher bird on it and I was told it was quite collectible. That's when I realized that people collect Peek Frean tins, but I just liked the pictures on them. So that one cost more, I think around $12.The next Peek Frean tin I found at the Sunday market had butterflies. At this point I had the tins stacked together with a variety of crafts supplies in them.This Peek Frean tin with fish on it was full of marbles when I found it at the market, but the seller agreed to just sell the tin. I think that one was $10. So since I had a few tins by then I was able to sort out my crafts supplies by type. One tin now has ribbons in it, one has buttons, one has trim like binding and rick-rack, etc.And finally, here is the new addition from today. It goes to show that I don't start a collection for its own sake because it isn't a Peek Frean tin at all. But the graphic style is similar. I like the way the lid indents on this and I like the decoration around the rim which you can see more clearly in the second picture. This one was $10. (I don't know why I keep telling you the prices, but I started that up so I'll carry on.)On this visit to the Sunday market I also found a lot of buttons but I will save that for the next post!


Illustration Friday - topic: spotted

>> Thursday, April 20, 2006

*click on the pictures to see them larger*

This is my last minute picture for Illustration Friday, the topic was "spotted". I decided to do a sample that could be for a children's magazine such as Chirp. The idea is to "spot the dots".

In other illustration news, I'm now on a new website dedicated to a small group of children's illustrators, called The site was whipped up in no time by the talented Holli, I was so impressed!

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, I had a lovely time working on my "spotted" sketch. And here's a picture of the children's stamps that came all the way from Britain. Please note that the very hungry caterpillar has managed to eat some of his own stamp. Seeing Paddington made me nostalgic, Beatrix Potter is my hero, and of course who doesn't love the fabulous Quentin Blake?


Birthday treats

>> Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Today is my birthday! I had a lovely morning opening up birthday presents from Bradley. There were lots of nice things, such as a necklace, blue floral umbrella from the Gap, and lovely stamps from Britain illustrated by famous children's book illustrators. But the main highlight were lots and lots of fabric pieces. He gave me 70 small squares of 20s and 30s reproduction fabric, and some packages of solid colour quilting squares, and 1/2 yards of three patterns. He actually started giving me little batches of the squares as a pre-birthday treat for each of the nine days before my birthday.

I'm going to show you my 36 favourite patterns. I love monochromatic colour schemes, so I've organized them a little bit along those lines. These yellow ones are my favourites. It's hard to see but the one on the top right is made up of tiny little squares. It's quite busy but will be very nice on something very small. I adore the ones on the top left and bottom right - the picture is a little bit blurry so it doesn't show them off to full effect.
Did I say the yellows are my favourites? Hmm. Maybe these are my favourites. The top right is so cute, it's apples and letters. I like red.Here are some nice greens.I love these blues. My favourites are on the bottom row. In case you're wondering the bottom right pattern is of kittens who have lost their mittens.
Here's a pinwheel showing some more of my favourites. I like to look at patterns I might not usually choose and imagine a project they would be good for. Two sewers I really admire who combine fabrics wonderfully are Alison (malisonian) and Rina (three green apples). Be sure to visit their etsy shops too: malisonian and three green apples! I like to go to Flickr and etsy to get inspiration for new projects. And finally here are the three fabrics that are 1/2 yards. Bradley knew I liked the one in the middle but he chose the other two himself. I think the one on the bottom is so cool - I can't wait to make something from it!p.s. yes, that's a picture of me at the top of the post. And regarding the fabrics, I am reminded of the time I asked my 5-year old nephew which of the animals we had just seen at the zoo was his favourite. He looked at me as if I was a little nutty and replied that ALL the animals were his favourites.


Orange twist

>> Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This is a find from my favourite store at St. Lawrence market. I bought a vintage sewing grab bag, and I had so much fun going through it I decided to take some pictures and show you everything.

First of all, I think you all know by now I love vintage sewing things. Whenever I go to flea markets or antique stores that's what I'm looking out for. Along the way I often find other things, but it's the vintage sewing things that really thrill me. One of my favourite aspects is imagining that at some point the odd little things I find were actually common. Some things are more unusual and I wonder if they just didn't become popular. I also like to actually use these things, not just collect them, so in short, a grab bag of vintage sewing things is hard for me to resist!

Here's a picture of the bag itself, imagine me turning it around and trying to peek inside to see what there might be. Then realizing that they probably wouldn't care if I just opened it up and had a look, so I did. Of course I didn't see everything until later, but enough so I was sure I would like to take it home.There were a few varieties of ribbon trim, the wide ones are meant to trim the edges of blankets. There's also some bias tape and binding. And some very pretty lace and tatting.There were lots of wooden spools of thread - always welcome, and two special ones. The first special one was a big old spool of black thread with lettering printed on the spool itself, and the second was the half spool pictured at the top of this post, with orange "twist"! It reminds me of Beatrix Potter's The Tailor of Gloucester. At the end of the story the coat is found that was embroidered by the mice, but there is a note pinned on an unfinished bit saying "no more twist" in "little teeny weeny writing".Then there were some handy notions, such as a blue marking pencil to replace my old one which is almost used up. Also miscellaneous snaps and buttons and a little red metal buckle. I'm not sure about the ornate little metal thing in the centre, it seems to be for winding leftover bits of thread on.Then a whimsical item, a set of clogs, one with a yellow thimble in it and the other with a tiny gingham covered pincushion set inside it.And an old Chinese pincushion. They still make these now, but they're brightly coloured nowadays. I like the gold brocade fabric.And my favourite item of all, a little wooden sewing machine needle case. There are little slots for the needles, and someone has written "TOP" on the lid of the case.And finally, the pretty yellow flower buttons that first caught my eye.


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