Defending-the-stash bag

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

The other day I was going out to lunch and couldn't find a bag I wanted to take. It wasn't going to be a full day out so I didn't want to take a backpack, or even a messenger bag. And while I usually don't coordinate bags with outfits, I didn't have a bag that seemed right for a hot summer day. They all seemed kind of dark and barkclothy if you know what I mean.
So I had a rummage through my stash - you know the big stacks of hoarded fabric we sewers keep in various locations around the home - and found the perfect print that I had bought months ago. And whipped up a new handbag that seemed just right. I used the last scrap of the fabric to make a matching coin purse:So I'm just wondering, do any of you have stash guilt? Does it seem like you have too much, and do you wonder why are you buying more fabric when you already have lots you haven't used yet? Because if I didn't have all my fabric handy I wouldn't have found that perfect piece.
On the other hand my stash is still a little unwieldy so lately I've been trying to do more sewing and make some of the things I've always been meaning to make but was too busy. There's going to be some new things going into my etsy shop including some older bags getting sold (because my bag stash is a little excessive as well) and maybe even some fabric...


Nuigurumi style - small bear

>> Thursday, August 20, 2009

she's fairly small, the wooden chair shows the scale

I've had the Japanese craft book nuigurumi style (ISBN 4-05-604179-2) for ages. This one is really popular so I'm sure most of you have seen it before. I've been wanting to make the bear on page 8:

Well actually I wanted to make the cat, which is what I thought it was, until about halfway through sewing it up when I was looking at the ears and thought, "hey, this is a bear.." I was oddly disappointed but then again she's still really cute.
Note the ears: round = bear, pointy = cat. I see that now.

Lots of people have made these patterns but I haven't heard any specific comments about trying to follow the patterns in Japanese. So here are my tips. The first step was cutting out the pattern pieces and the bear pieces are on the same page as the bird pictured next to her. Bradley helped me out because he noticed the character for "bear" and "bird" on the instructions page so he pointed out which pieces were for which animal.
outside doing some sketching

The bear instructions have a photo of the bear at the top so you can see you're in the right place. Then the next point is, of course, to read right to left, so just notice the numbering of each step and follow that.

Along with the pieces for the body there are extra pieces for the clothes. In this case they are made up of rectangles - so there are no templates - you use the measurements given in the first column (far right) to cut out those pieces. Also the diagram shows the placement of each pattern piece on different pieces of fabric so that gives you extra clues about which piece is which but you can pretty much tell from the shapes. I couldn't find any reference to seam allowance so I cut the pieces assuming they included a seam allowance and sewed them up using 1/4" and it worked out fine.

There's a picture of a hand sewing needle on the instructions and I found that machine sewing was difficult with the small velvet pieces which shifted as I worked. So I decided to just sew the whole thing by hand and had good (albeit time consuming) results.

The little bag is my addition, as she needed somewhere to put her pencils..
p.s. Well I seem to be a regular on Apartment Therapy (this time asked by Beth). I was steeled for "how could you paint wood??" etc. but this time I got lots of nice comments. Yay!


Happy House books

>> Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recently I received the printed copies of a set of books I illustrated for a publisher called Happy House in South Korea. I loved this project so much, although I was a bit busy at the time and had only 2 weeks per book. It's hard managing your time as a freelancer, sometimes I have too much work and sometimes (like lately) too little. But receiving copies of books that I've illustrated always makes me happy.
For this series of educational books my favourite was called Bunny Buzz and the Ladybugs, how cute is that? On every page the bunny character plays with a bunch of ladybugs friends and we learn about the letter "U".
For my website books page I made a collage of some of my favourite illustrations from each book along with an image of the cover. This is the one for Bunny Buzz and the Ladybugs:
You can click on these pictures to see them larger. The other books that I illustrated were titled Baby Bears: Have you Seen?: Higher and Higher: and Faraway Land:Unfortunately you can't find these books at a bookstore since they're educational books sold directly to schools. I'm hoping someday I will illustrate a trade book - which is what they call the books you can buy at bookstores.

In the meantime my website is currently hosted by Yahoo Geocities which is closing. I need to move it in the next month or so, does anyone have any recommendations?


Ribbon rack

>> Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Here's a mini makeover that I think anyone could do in a day and create a pretty way to organize your ribbons in your craft room. I figure if things are handy (and easy to find) you're more likely to use them.
I found this spice rack at a local yard sale for 50 cents. The wood wasn't great, but I imagined it primed and painted white.

At first I wasn't sure what I would put on it, and when I tried some ribbon spools they looked like they would fall out. Then I realized, duh, that once the rack was on the wall it would prevent things from falling out the back. I placed the rack just above my thread rack, which is the next thing to get painted white. I don't want to be boring, but I just love how colours look against a white background.
I managed to fit almost all of my ribbon, except the yellow ones and my lace. I need another spice rack! As I've mentioned before (you can click on the "ribbons" label to see other posts on the subject) I usually wind the ribbons onto bits of cardboard rolls until I have a wooden spool free. It's a great way to use your old wooden spools once the thread is gone.


My studio

>> Friday, August 14, 2009

So I've taken to calling it my studio, but it's really a combination of crafts room and art studio. It feels like an incredible luxury to have my own workroom for sewing and painting. And it's pretty much done, I just need a new light fixture!

I bought a desk from craigslist to have a practical working surface. It's a really big heavy desk with lots of storage for only $20. Well it quickly became covered with a mish-mash of crafts supplies. You know how it is! So I decided I needed some open shelves.
Yesterday I finished making the shelves. There was lots of lumber left in our garage when we moved in and I asked Bradley to cut one big plank into three pieces. They were a bit rough, but after a quick sand to avoid the really splintery bits, I primed and painted and they were fine. The brackets are from IKEA.The shades for the window are also from IKEA. They're patterned panel curtains that I like for their lacy look. (inspired by Fieldguided's beautiful room with lace covered window) I had bought them for our old house bedroom but they didn't really work out there. So it was great to find the perfect spot in our new house.

So, the south wall has the desk and open shelves with a little bench under the window.The east wall has my two secretary desks. The desk on the right has crafts supplies and the one on the left has art supplies. It helps keep things organized so that I can actually find things.The north wall has my fabric cabinet with vintage tins on top with extra sewing notions.This room has a pretty decorative vent cover and lovely dark hardwood floors. So painting was the only thing I needed to do (again because of holes in the walls after electrical work). The walls are painted in CIL Wedding White, which I think is similar to Benjamin Moore's Swiss Coffee. It's a nice bright white. The shelves were painted to match the trim in Cloud White. Just for fun, I searched under "craft room" on Flickr and found lots of inspiring pictures. You can see my favourites here. I love the fact that I'm not the only one with boxes and baskets and jars and cabinets and shelves bursting with supplies. There's a comfortable solidarity in it.


Messy jobs

>> Thursday, August 06, 2009

So today I've been doing the messy jobs that come before decorating. We have nice old grates that cover our vents, but the one in the bedroom had peeling paint and looked a bit grim. So I decided to strip it so I could repaint it and make it look nice and smooth.

I always regretting stripping anything. It always looks much much worse after you start stripping. And of course the bottle (this kind is meant to be environmentally friendly) confidently tells you that this stripper can take away layers of paint and it will do all the work for you. But in truth it's usually a smelly, messy, tedious job.

Afterwards I'm usually very happy with the results and feel it was worth it. Sort of. But in this case after a few rounds of gooey paint scraping I decided to call it a day and clean up, do a little sanding and leave it at that.
In this case the results weren't great. Probably not much better than a bit of scraping and sanding would have been, but I'm done and have remembered why I probably won't do this again.
We've also made new baseboards, since we removed the wainscotting. I primed those earlier this week, and today they got their 1st coat of paint. The nice old style of baseboards in our house are plain with a bevelled edge at the top. We couldn't find them pre-made so we (ie. Bradley) made our own with planks of wood cut with a matching bevelled edge.

This grate will tidy up our bedroom, along with the baseboards. Taking out the wainscotting turned out to create a whole lot of work. Also, as I just discovered, my post was used on Apartment Therapy.

This time I didn't get asked and they really hated this one! In my defense I think it's one of those cases where a photo is a bit misleading. The wainscotting really wasn't nice, and everyone who visited the house agreed. The room still has nice character with the old trim and aforementioned pretty old grate. And you guys know I do appreciate old things...


WIP - Kitchen

>> Wednesday, August 05, 2009

So lately we've been doing lots of work on the house, mainly painting, and I've been trying out some new colours. When it came to the kitchen I wanted something very light. Our old kitchen had sliding doors out to the garden, as well as a large window and it was very bright. The new kitchen has a large window but only a single back door with a small window in it.

you can see the colour here, pretty subtle...

I liked the grey we used for the old kitchen, Benjamin Moore Titanium, but I wanted something that would work well with the blue in our living room. So I picked a very pale, bluish/greenish Benjamin Moore colour called Dewdrop. It has a sort of beach glass colour to it, but it's so pale it almost looks white. If you compare it to the trim you can see the colour. In the end I'm happy with it, it's subtle but my second choice was just a classic white kitchen so this has the same effect while having a hint of pretty colour.
Before and After

I wasn't planning to paint at all, the previous colour was a pale sandy-beige that was fine, but after doing the electrical work the walls were full of holes that we had to patch. Now I'm happy I did paint it as I love the way the kitchen feels now - more bright and airy, and it also feels more like ours. As you can see above, it's not much of a change but I like it!
When it does come time to renovate I'm not sure if we'll keep the original cabinets, probably we will but update the doors. I like the way they extend right up to the ceiling. The kitchen has a sort of 50s charm, but we could use more drawers and general storage. We would like to update the counter top, faucet, sink and add a tile backsplash. I do like the wood floor and it's larger than the galley kitchen we had before. Do I miss the renovated kitchen in our last house? I certainly do, but I still love our new house so it's ok!


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