Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sew Many Gift Sacks!

So, I actually managed to whip up 14 gift sacks for Christmas!  I was not sure if I could be completed in time, but I paced myself and churned out several each day. I was very pleased with the result, as were the recipients.

I wanted to take photos of them in action -- all lined up in their glory and filled to the brim with goodies on Christmas day, but there was far too much excitement (as well as far too many little hands) about.  The task of capturing an image became apologies in the delay of presentation.

The reason for the sacks? Well, traditional stocking just do not work in my family. We tried hanging stockings, but the weight of the contents would simply send them crashing to the floor from their hooks.  So, we opted to lay stockings out on the floor for to remedy this issue. The trouble with this was that the "goodies" rarely fit completely into the stockings, and once 1 or 2 folks deposited their gifts, they were already brimming over. So now we were faced with little piles of gifts scattered about. We eventually started to use paper Christmas gift bags to contain everything, but I wanted to create something a bit more unique, stylish and personal...hence the sacks!

Each bag took up less than a half metre of felt and fabric. The embellishments were laid out and stitched on before assembly. I opted for trees or poinsettias for the women, snowmen for the children, and mittens for the men (I even made it so that you can slip a gift card in the mittens).  Satin ribbon finished off the ladies sacks, while gromets and cotton string tied off the men's.

These were quite simple to make, just a rectangular shape with side and bottom gussets--like a paper shopping bag.  I added some sparkly snowflakes to each (which was just plastic confetti, secured with a bead in the centre). I opted to line each one with a complimenting fabric to add a bit more body to the finished product, as felt alone would stretch and lose shape under the wear and tear of heavy contents or the rough handling of little hands. Hey, after the effort put into these, I wanted to get at least a few years of holiday use.

I hope this inspires you to create your own. Happy sewing!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love my Lug!

So, I got this mini duffle bag from Lug as a generous stocking stuffer from my older sister.  I love it! Rather, it was love at first sight.  I generally don't care for larger bags of any sort and I am quite tired of the oversized, slouchy bags that every girl seems to be toting about town.

I have been looking for a decent bag for which to carry my belongings. As it stands right now, I have a fair sized tote that I use to carry my wallet, keys, phone, etc...  I also have a lunch bag that I carry to work 99% of the time. Finally, I may carry a pair of shoes to change into once I arrive at work (no teetering down the sidewalks in high heels for sir!). If I am lucky, the shoes are small enough to fit into my purse, but those occurences are rare. Most of the time, I feel a bag lady, with so many different parcels hanging from my body. It is frustrating, awkward and makes it tricky to manouver when the subway train is crowded.  If I can sprint a fair distance without dropping any personal belongings or worrying about anything falling out of my bag, I am happy. I like to be contained.

Enter the Lug Tugboat mini duffel (shown above). I received one in pink, and I love it! It will hold all of my usual gear (previously noted) with room to spare and I don't look weighted down. The size is is just right and it does not overwhelm me. This is an important design feature to someone who has a small frame.

I had heard of Lug before, as I recall coming across some luggage straps that I purchased at a local bookstore... maybe 3 or 4 years ago. To some of you, this is not a rare new find at all and it is old news.  I guess for me it is a re-intorduction to the brand. It seems that since my last encounter, they have blossomed into a neat little offering of totes, duffels and travel accessories.  They seem to be a happy little company, with offices in Toronto and Dallas.

This is essentially what I have been looking for. Clean lines, easy to care for fabric (nylon that wipes clean--snow, rain? Bring it!), plenty of space to stay organized.  On my wish list? The RT Puddle Jumper (above) in rose pink (of course), and another Tugboat mini duffle in grass green or chocolate brown (can't decide on the colour...maybe both?).  I will use one for work, one for Boot Camp/yoga, and one for my GO Train travels.  For those of you that fear saturated or vibrant colours, they do offer more subdued options such as gray, teal, black and navy.  Check out their product offering and company info here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Made With Love...soon to be cherished

So, here is it is. Halle's quilt all finished and pretty!  The little madame will be receiving this on the upcoming weekend for her 3rd birthday. I am actually a bit surprised as how quickly it all came together. I would say that it took just shy of 8 hours to complete, working on it bit by bit a few nights a week. Mind you, it could have been completed in about 6 1/2 hours, had I moved a little faster and turned off the television.

The Tina Givens fat quarter bundles that I purchased online from Pink Panda Fabrics were even prettier than I had anticipated. I do have enough fabric left over to whip up a matching pillow sham. (We will see if I can manage to complete that in time).  Instead of traditional binding on the edges, I opted for eyelet trim for that extra sweetness.  This is for a sweet, tiny lady afterall. I really hope that Halle likes it and that it becomes worn in from many nights of story reading and dolly snuggling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Project of the Month: Personalized Holiday Gift Tags

I know, I know… I actually owe you 2 projects at this point! My attempts to deliver the November project had failed miserably. The month of November actually flew by incredibly fast, or so it seemed. I got caught up trying to do too much at home as well as dealing with several other issues. As a result, several things fell by the way-side (including my ability to blog). It’s all good now, and we can return to our regularly scheduled programming!

So here it is, the December projects (yes projects), of the month. I will provide the second project as a separate post, just to keep things neat. The first project is rather simple and is timely, as the holiday season is upon us.

Personalized Holiday Gift Tags
You will need:

  • Decorative rubber stamps (with ornate or abstract motifs, borders or patterns)
  • Alphabet rubber stamps (this is optional, as the letters can be hand drawn if you are so inclined)
  • Ink Pads (in at least 2 colours, one vibrant such as red or green and one basic, such as black. I recommend pigment ink pads, as opposed to water based ink. The result is vibrant colour and less streaky imprints).
  • Card stock or large pre-made tags
  • Scissors or Exacto knife
  • Ruler
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Glitter (optional- but fun & pretty!)
  • Craft glue
  • Fine paint brush
  • Hole punch

Step 1:
Determine the size of your gift tags. For the sake of this exercise, I opted for a 2.5” x 3.5” tag. Measure and cut out your desired size tag in cardstock or use your pre-made tag. If creating your own from cardstock, take a moment to punch a hole at the top of the tag, as this will be used for inserting the ribbon or twine.

Step 2:
Using your lightest coloured ink pad, load your decorative stamp with colour. (It is best to try our a few test imprints on scrap paper to ensure that you are loading a proper amount of ink.) Place your stamp in the centre of the tag, pressing firmly to ensure a solid imprint. Set aside and allow the ink to dry for a few moments.

Step 3:
Load your alphabet stamp with your dark ink colour and imprint directly in the centre of the previous decorative motif. Allow to dry. If you do not have alphabet stamps, you can hand draw your letters, or trace fonts printed from your computer.

Step 4:
Now is the time to add embellishments. Using a fine paint brush, apply tiny dollops of craft glue to any desired areas of your print. This can be applied along swirly lines, on the edges of the letters, whatever you wish. Carefully sprinkle coordinating glitter over these glued areas. Shake off the excess set aside to dry.

Step 5:
Once all ink, glue and glitter has had time to dry thoroughly, shake off excess glitter.  Insert ribbon or twine into to punched hole. Affix to your gift and enjoy!

I love making these gift tags, as they allow for a more personal touch. If you have multiple recipients with the same initial, you can colour code them, or as I do, use upper case for the adults and lower case for the children. These can also be hung on the holiday tree as keepsake ornaments (especially if made out of balsa wood)

-Add a layer of decorative paper that is slightly wider in dimensions to the back of the tag. This will create a pretty border around the edges.
-Affix eyelets to the ribbon holes for a more clean, professional presentation.
-Use various shapes for your tags (circles, squares, oval, etc…)


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pretty Pages... Part 2

But wait, there's more!  I gushed about how in love I am with my collection of clothbound classic books a few months back. Well, Coralie Bickford-Smith has done it again! She has designed beautiful covers for 10 more literary classics.  

These were available to order in Canada just this past October. It seems that Chapters only has 6 of the 10 titles available... so I will have to keep an close eye out for the remaining 4. Not only are these books that everyone should have in their library (and read at least once), they are also just gorgeous little works of art to have on display in your home.

So pretty...

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Want That!

The school-aged version of myself would have thought she had died and gone to heaven had she received this set of 500 Coloured Pencils! From as early as I can remember, I loved to doodle, sketch, paint…create! My parents can verify that while my siblings were running wild in the park, I was tucked away in a corner, fist full of crayons, drawing for hours on end. I still have this love of art and I occasionally make time for some creative bliss .

I thought I had hit pay-dirt when I received a Crayola Fun Caddy when I was about 7 years old! As a teen, I graduated to Prismacolour pencils, and during my years of post secondary education, I treated myself to the best quality pencils and markers that I could afford.

These 500 Coloured Pencils from Felissimo, are available through Social Designer. These are on my wish list (as in, I really have to believe that wishes do come true to ever expect to receive this as a gift!) One day, maybe one day…I will suck it up and treat myself to a subscription to collect all 500. Yes, this is only available through subscription, at a cost of $33 USD a month for 20 months. You receive 25 colours with each delivery. For details, click here.

Each hue has an inventive name like clown cheeks, apple jam and Kierkegaard. You can even purchase cool storage units to display your collection in all of it’s glory. I picture these on display in my eventual sewing studio/craft room. Oh, how pretty!

So here goes... "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Made With Love

For some time now, I have been very interested in giving handmade gifts for the holidays. This year, I have taken my first attempt in doing so. I can only manage this for one person (maybe two), this year. I have to take baby steps. If I start earlier next year, I should be able to have something for everyone with minimal stress and effort.

I wanted to make something lovely and sentimental for my soon-to-be 3-year-old niece, Halle. She is a funny, snuggly, little girlie-girl. She likes collecting like items, and toting them around the house. A bit of a pack-rat in training! She is often seen herding all of her stuffed animals, or gathering every single crayon in sight. Most of all, she likes her blankets, the more the better! Whether watching her favourite children’s program, or sitting in between mommy and daddy for quiet time, she is almost always tucked under a blanket…or two. So, I thought I would make her a little lap quilt for her snuggly moments and nap time.

I fell in love with the Tina Givens Fairy Tip-toes fabric. I did not want to make a quilt with such soft pastel and baby-like fabrics that she would soon grow out of the design. I wanted this to be something that she could grow with and easily have on her bed well into her 7th, 8th or 9th year. I loved the colour palette of this collection. Lucky for me, one of my favourite online fabric retailers carries some of the Fairy Tip-toes collection. I ordered a couple of fat quarters sets from Pink Panda Fabrics for an awesome price. It arrived super-fast and could not wait to get started.

I decided to go with a simple brick pattern layout for the design of my quilt. Not because I am too lazy, but because I am not a quilter, period. I did not want to risk wasting any fabric or running out of time. I was looking for the least amount of grief, but still allowing for a lovely result. It was all about simplicity. This is only my second quilt, after all (which reminds me, I really have to finish the one that I had started back in the Summer time). It is my goal to eventually become skilled at more complex designs, but that little adventure will be kept for another blog post.

I moved through the assembly quite quickly, cutting out my blocks and piecing them in one night. Last night, I had actually attached my batting and backing fabric. Tonight, binding... I plan to give this to Halle for her 3rd birthday, which is coming up in a matter of days. I will be sure to share photos of the little madame with her new quilt.
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