Monday, August 31, 2009

My to-do list

From time to time I get these fantastic ideas for projects, things to read or just new learnings in general. Sadly, if I fail to make note of these bright ideas quickly, they are inevitably forgotten and go to waste. It is not until an occasion arises that one of these past ideas pop up, and of course I curse myself for not following through when I originally had the idea.

Fortunately, I have adopted the habit of leaving a pen and notebook around the house, or I carry little jot-pads in my purse. My ideas tend to strike at the most random of times (while washing dishes, eating breakfast, or while riding transit on my way home). I feel compelled to write out my ideas before they fall out of my head, including illustrations where necessary. Sometimes I look back on my notes and see well thought-out plans with several details. Other times, I review illustration after illustration with words hysterically scrawled and underlined, outlining my plans.

I have compiled a list of 8 things, in no particular order, that I wish to accomplish in exactly one year from tomorrow. Why September 1st? No real reason other than the fact that this idea to document a to-do list had struck me at this very moment. I also wanted to give myself a measurable time limit in which to accomplish these things. My list is as follows:

1. Make a sock monkey! (just because)
2. Learn to knit.

3. Have a tea party (yes, with all the fancy petit fours and little sandwhiches. Fancy hats are optional.)
4. Sew 4 dresses (one for each season)
5. Make several fabric party garlands (which will look lovely at my tea party)
6. Make 4 quilts (some to keep, some to give away)
7. Open an Etsy shop (finally)
8. Post a D.I.Y project every month for the next year.

Of course, I will be sure to refer back to this list often when I have accomplished a task. I think this is plenty to keep busy with for the next little while. I will post pictures to keep you updated on my attempts to complete this list in its entirety. Please stay tuned.

Cloth, Paper, Scissors!

You may remember this sad, neglected little fabric pile from an earler post a few weeks back. Aside from whipping up a few aprons, I still have not played around with it too much...until recently.
I've been meaning to make a quilt for some time. I typically make garments and accessories, not home decor items. I am a novice quilter, and by no means was I about to tackle a king or queen sized beast just yet. This will be my first quilt ever, so I am just going for simplicity and ease at this point. The log cabin, window pane, pin-wheel and other traditional patterns just don't do it for me. They never did. I can't put my finger on it, but there is just something about those designs that repel me, even if trendier fabrics are used.  Sorry purists!
What I love however, is the Amy Butler quilt patterns. Yes, some of her patterns do employ a touch of the traditional designs, but she mixes it up ever so slightly. I am just in love with her projects (craft or sewing).  I was inspired by her Lotus Brick Path pattern (shown here) and decided to create my own version of it, using my own dimensions and supply of fabric. At the moment, I am cash-strapped so I cannot afford to buy Amy Butler fabrics. Should this project turn out however, I will most definitely make a substantial purchase. There are far more challenging patterns than this, and I plan to tackle the Belle Quilt as well as the Nigella Quilt in future.

 Most of the fabrics that I happen to have are Sandi Henderson, Robert Kaufman and some unidentified remnants that I had laying about. I plan to make this a 5'x5' or 6'x6' square--not overly large but not so small that it becomes a useless throw-rug of an item. I intend to use it as a lap blanket for when I am watching tv, curled up with a book or taking a cat nap.  A matching cushion may materialize as well...
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tea for Two- the results

I finally tackled the porcelain painting kit that I had been sitting on for a while. Here are the results--my first scratch at this sort of project. I am not overly fussed with it, but it's a start. I am still figuring out my technique with the paint.

I was inspired by a scrap of fabric that I had laying about after making aprons the other week. I decided to try out the design on the teapot. This is my interpretation of the Sandi Henderson Farmer's Market Petal Party print. The dish was inspired by some Amy Butler rubber stamps that I own. I've always liked the fern pattern and wanted to see how it looked on the edges of a plate. It reminds be of thyme sprigs. I had intended to create a matched set between the 2 pieces, but I was too curious and wanted to see how each design would come out.  Not bad, but I don't feel that it reflects my style as well as it could.

I am thinking that a bold graphic treatment, (perhaps in one colour), would look better. I was considering doing a cherry blossom motif (typical of me), but I am now considering many other things.  We will see what develops. I happen to have a few more vessels to practice on.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tea for Two

I've had this porcelain painting kit for quite some time now. I've just never been able get around to using it. Every time I pull it out, I decide that if I am going to paint porcelain, then I am going to paint large quantities of it in one go. I had anticipated visiting my local dollar store or close-out section of Home Sense to pick up some inexpensive plain mugs, dishes and teapots to practice on. What I love about this paint is that you apply it to already glazed dinnerware, bake in the oven and you're done!

I've decided to stop procrastinating and just give it a whirl. I think this teapot could use a few pretty touches. Maybe a chic floral motif? Truth be told, I just want something pretty to steep my tea in. If this endeavour is successful and I am happy with the results (or if I simply become addicted, as I often do when I begin any sort of craft), I may create some little sets of dessert plates to give away as hostess gifts. Come to think of it, I can even use plain 4"x4" tiles from my local hardware store to decorate and use as coasters... Oooh, I can even sew coordinating fabric napkins to complete the package! (Do you see how my mind works?) The possibilities are endless!

And away I go!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pretty Pages

This past winter I came across a gorgeous set of Penguin Classics books at my local Chapters Indigo bookstore. I was actually looking for an add-on to a Valentine's Day gift, and these caught my eye. I was spellbound by the beautifully designed book covers. They were so prettily merchandised on a table top, looking like little jewels. I could not stop looking at them and wanted to snap up the whole set then and there. I must have spent a good 10 minutes peering at each book cover. Unfortunately, funds were severely limited and I had to take in last glances and walk on by.

These were designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, a book cover designer at Penguin UK. The titles included in this beautifully designed series include:
Madame Bovary
Great Expectations
Wuthering Heights
Sense and Sensibility
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Pride and Prejudice
Crime and Punishment
Jane Eyre
The Picture of Dorian Gray

My train ride home was interesting. I attempted to get on with my day and began thinking of the usual chores and errands for the week; laundry, dishes, ironing...books. Groceries, dentist, dry cleaner...BOOKS! By they time I had arrived home, I found myself still enamoured (more like obsessed) with these books. Sure, I already own several of the titles, but I just had to have these. This set had to grace the shelves of my library. I had enough will power to delay the purchase for a while. However, about a month later, I had searched online and was pleased to see that Chapters still had all but one title in stock. I happily ordered the lot and simply picked up the the outstanding title at a later date. I am now on the hunt for bookplates worthy enough to ahere to the inside cover of each book

Lovely, aren't they? I am happy to have made this purchase when I did, as these have been sold out for a while now. Is it a tad excessive to now own multiple copies of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility? I think not.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A is for Apron

So, I was a tad distracted this past weekend. That said, my sewing machine was left to wait another day. I had anticipated having a very dull and quiet weekend, that was not the case however.

This past Monday, I finally settled myself down to begin a project, still not knowing exactly what I would produce. I stared at my fabric pile a number of times hoping that it would make a suggestion, but it lay mute. I did notice a fair amount of 1/2 and 1/4 yards laying about. (I am generally not a fan of randomly cutting up my fabric supply unless I have a specific pattern or idea in mind. No one likes waste!) So I asked myself, "what can I make with these left over remnants?" As I held up a piece of fabric to my waist I thought of what a neat little skirt it would make for a child or perhaps an apron... Aprons! That's the answer!

I love aprons, and I've developed a bit of a collection over the past few years. I think I may own well over 20. It all began with a gorgeous apron that I saw at Anthropologie. I had no real use for it at the time, I just had to have it. It was pretty much downhill from there. I've picked up a few at antique markets and purchased some from the odd retailer. I even have plans for some vintage pillow cases that my finance gave me. (What a lovely second life they will have).

You may think, "Aprons! Who wears aprons anymore?" Well, I wear aprons. They make me feel domestic and industrious. It is not to say that I aspire to be a Suzy-homemaker type, that is not the case. But when I must be a domestic gal, I will do it in style. Whenever I bake something, I feel compelled to put one on, as if in some way, the whole get-up will yield better results. I find that I mix batter with a bit of flair. I suddenly want to do something fancy with the tenderloin and veggies... you get my drift. Aprons also make for a great fashion statement and turn an otherwise unflattering laundry day outfit into a chic ensemble.

A snip here, a press there, stitch, stitch, stitch and 90 minutes later, I had produced 4 nifty little numbers. I am quite happy with the results. I didn't want to just attach a waistband to a flat rectangle of fabric. Where is the fun in that? I wanted to get a bit more fancy (which is typical of me). My favourite so far is the lovely green and white apron, as I seem to have developed an obsession with the colour lately (but that is another blog entry). Though I do have a soft spot for each one. I plan to make more and give them away as gifts, perhaps making some matching tea towels and oven mitts. These lovelies above will be posted on my Burda Style page.

Note the presence of ruffles and pleats... Which got me thinking, these look like fancy little skirts...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ooooh! Shiny...

Something shiny has caught this little birds eye! So, I've been on the hunt for the odd vintage sewing machine for a while. The trouble is, when you do find one on the web or through any re-seller, they are often in questionable condition. This could vary from missing too many parts or are somewhat damaged enough that you have to service it. Also, everyone's interpretation of "like new" and "mint condition" varies widely. You truly get what you pay for.

I came across the Keeler Sales website this past Spring. This chap in Florida, Greg Keeler, once repaired sewing machines a number of years ago. He also happened to learn automobile painting and detailing from a friend a during this time. He has since retired from the repair business and now applies the learned auto detailing techniques to refurbishing his accumulated supply of Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machines. Beautiful, lovely stuff! You can buy directly from him, or send your Featherweight to him to work his magic on for a fraction of the cost.

Above is an image of the very machine that I am saving up for. Pretty, isn't she? I love the super-shiny paint job and the decals. I am thrilled that it is fully serviced and comes complete with all of the parts, as well as a carrying case. If you require or want extra parts, there are many to choose from that can be purchased separately. There are also a slew of colours to choose from, which is fantastic! Not only will you have a vintage machine, but in the colour of your choice. In my past searches, it can be pretty hit and miss with other re-sellers of this particular product.

Yes, the price is a bit steep, but I feel it is worth the investment. I am saving my pennies as we speak. I have already imagined it's new home, perched on a beautiful vintage tabletop in my eventual sewing room. My other machines will become quite jealous of the attention awarded to this little jewel. I think we will be so very happy together.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thanks, Burda Style!

So, I posted a few images of a craft apron and tote that I made with my niece in July. We made it for her to use in her summer school Fashion Design course. I posted it on Burda Style today and it was selected as a "Featured Project" this afternoon.


reference materials for a creative block

90% of what I create truly comes from my imagination. I have been able to cook up some pretty neat little things. When I find that I am stumped for ideas, I turn to my trusty library of sewing and crafting books.

Here is a small sampling of my sewing/crafting book collection, (note the frequency of Amy Butler titles). There are a number of projects that I have been meaning to try out. Often times, I start with an idea and it then morphs into something else. On occasion, I find myself with a greater than expected end result. I have posted some of these "on a whim" projects on my Burda Style account. Feel free to take a peek.

Let's see what we come up with this weekend...

feeling crafty

I really have so much to do in the way of errands and chores, but I feel compelled to "make something" instead.

I am convinced that my sewing machine is crying for attention and whimpers each time I walk by. Also, this sad little stack of fabric (one of many) feels that it is not living up to it's full potential.

What to make?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

hmm.... what to do?

So, I've started this blog as a way of tracking my progress through (finally) opening up an etsy shop, my sewing escapades, sticking to a workout schedule and meandering through life in general. I would like to have interesting topics posted here in the coming weeks. I hope to inspire you, spark your interest and develop a dedicated following in the not so distant future.

Check back soon for updates!

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