Monday, January 25, 2010

January Birthday Swap, part 3

A new bag design for a sweet birthday girl:

I used a fantastic reclaimed skirt for the outer fabric, and some cotton quilting fabric for the lining. I like this size -- about 10" by 13", and 4" deep.

Very roomy! And did you see the zipper pocket? A zipper pocket! I am so excited that I finally learned to insert one.

I did make a few design miscalculations in this bag, which I'll fix for the next time I make one. This bag was so easy and quick, I'll definitely be making more of these.

Now, I'm finishing a new man-bag design I've been working on. I hope to complete it tonight, and I'll be sure to share when I'm done -- if I can. My camera is on its last legs, and I'm hoping to squeeze a few more photos out of it before it completely dies. :(

PS. . . be sure to vote for your favorite January Design Challenge entry!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winter's wonders

We've been blessed with more snow this year than I've ever seen in a single year. Particularly odd for this region of Texas. I love to watch my little ones' awe, amazement and wonder at the quiet beauty of snow falling. I was inspired by them to create this simple embroidery piece.

I have entered this in the January Design Challenge for Etsy Texas Crafters. This piece is stitched on reclaimed linen, with new and rescued floss. I mostly used 3 strands, and split stitch and french knots. A tiny bit of crayon tinting was used on his cheeks.

Here's the link to the Design Challenge gallery, so you can see all the other members' amazing wintry submissions -- and vote for your favorite entry!

If you like this little design, and would like to stitch one up for yourself, please feel free to download yourself a free (and safe) copy. Be sure to share your creation with us by posting your link below!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Can this shack be saved?

I'm almost embarrassed to post these pictures, because this is just so. . . gross. It's a shack -- an ugly structure at the back of our property. Dangerous and snake-friendly. My first impulse is to tear this junker down. But, as I learned from the aviary experience, maybe I should contemplate a bit more before I rush in with the crowbar. What do you think?

Below, you can see that this shack is on pipe skids. Also, the wood has been chewed away in some spots, and the gypsum of the interior's drywall is exposed! (The previous owners had horses, and apparently were allowed to chew on everything.)


We do need a chicken coop -- soon, and a large-ish one. Can this wood, or parts of this structure, be saved and used for that purpose? So, my creative friends, what do you think? Salvageable? Not? Other?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January Birthday Swap, part 2

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! And I was doing so well. I suppose there wasn't much to post (or much to look at, anyway.) We were just busy -- I had a lovely birthday last week, a very sick baby this week, a clean barn yesterday. That's about it.

I do have something to share today -- I received a lovely package in the mail from timpani~jax for the January Birthday Swap! A bagful of new and vintage buttons. . . I can't wait to use them:

My partner made this lovely embroidered bird for me. . . so cute!

This little bird is already hanging in my sewing room -- it's perfect! Thank you so much, timpani~jax!

As for projects around here, I'm making my partner (timpani~jax) a tote bag, so I'll be showing that here in the next few days. I'm also working on a new bag design for a custom order; it's interesting. Definitely a learning process, and I've learned a new technique. More later!

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January Birthday Swap, part 1


I know I said I was done with swaps. I'm weak. I signed up for the January Birthday Swap. . . hey, my birthday is in January, so it's a legitimate reason for swapping. Isn't it?

It's a neat swap -- you post a wish list, and other crafters choose items from your list and make them for you. As a birthday girl, I'm only required to choose one item to craft (but I've already chosen 2! Shhhh!) I've finished the first project:


I used this amazing pattern for a crochet hook roll. I almost want to take up crochet so I can have one of these! Actually, I really do want to learn to crochet. I've been given lessons, but my poor brain just can't seem to retain any of them.

The hook roll has a flap to protect the hooks, and keep them from falling out. I used reclaimed fabric for the poppy lining, and some scrap fabric for the exterior. I made the mistake of using too thick of an interfacing, so it's a little too padded. I'll know better next time.

I liked this pattern because it had the little pockets for needles, scissors and lots of hooks. . . .


The pattern was very easy to follow, and I highly recommend it! Now, I just hope the birthday girl likes this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Love it or hate it, it's the last one

One last pincushion in this style. . . .

. . . with the storage jar beneath the skirt, and a needle-keeping removeable apron.

I'd like to try my hand at more soft sculpture or dolls some time, and greatly improve my techniques and skills. I just won't be making this particular one again. Thankfully.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My sewing room is finally unpacked AND clean!

A little tour of my little space (because someone asked!) We'll start at the doorway, and look to the left, then we'll turn right:

A rescued-from-the-trash wood hutch, some of my fabrics, thrift store storage cart, a hand-embroidered tunic of some kind (anyone know?) to disguise the hot water closet a little.

Blue thrift store chair, denims and WIPs below, black & whites and tans above, on found-wood shelves (collaged with vintage book ephemera.) I need to hide that breaker box!

Temporary window covering -- a vintage silk scarf my sister picked up in Hawaii, I think. The non-functioning bamboo shade was already here. . . I'll be replacing it soon with some fabric curtains.

My work surface is a large office desk, with drawers, picked up at an office liquidation sale for mega-cheap.

More found-wood, collaged shelves for khakis, corduroys and shipping supplies.

This spool organizer was found in one of our storage sheds -- it's a homemade piece.

An inspiration board made from an old cork board (also found in the storage shed) and covered with scrap batting and a skirt. A vintage thrift store scarf and hanky hang nearby.

This next area sits back in a darker recessed area (and is even more difficult to photograph.) The desk and credenza are also liquidation furniture. The credenza is crammed with teacher's manuals and homeschool books, and functions as a catch-all on top. The office chairs in the space are either hand-me-downs or liquidation pieces.

A project clipboard (reclaimed materials,) an embroidered art piece my sister made, Monkey 6's tiny outgrown glasses (the tiniest pair is only 4" wide,) and one of my children's crucifixes (we have several of these.)

I still need to make curtains like I mentioned above, and I definitely want to paint the walls. It's so hard to see in the photos, but the walls are a dull institution grey. Depressing! Also on the to-do list is installing a fold-down ironing board. There's a blank little space to the immediate left of the doorway, and that would be a perfect fit.

And that's it! I am just so happy that everything is finally all unpacked and clean. The shocker is that I've been keeping it clean. Those of you who have seen my work area in real life know what a huge accomplishment that is for me! Maybe that should be my new year's resolution. Thanks for looking!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A reprieve has been granted. . .

You didn't tear down the aviary yet, did you?

My sister was concerned. About an opportunity wasted, one that I obviously didn't even see. We discussed this bird cage at length. I saw ugly mesh, old wood, an eye sore in my front yard. She saw a sitting area, vines, flowers.

Ahhhh. . . I see it now. A gazebo-of-sorts. Painted white, hanging pots of flowers, mini-jar lights hanging and twinkling in the summer evenings. I can't believe I didn't see it sooner!

Most of the mesh will be removed (and used elsewhere on the property -- chicken coop?) although some will be left to host some creeping vines for shade and decoration. The brick floor needs some repair -- or a new surface. . . maybe a mosaic?

I'll keep you updated on this new project. Thank you SO much, sweet sister, for the intervention!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recycled compost bin

We have about a half-acre behind our home. Part of this area was once a horse pen (I assume) and is fenced, has a barn and storage shed, and is near the house and a water source. This land isn't run over with weeds, just some native grasses. I think this will be an ideal location for a garden come spring. I decided to build our compost bin in the southwest corner of this lot.

Also on our property, in the front yard, is this giant aviary-thing. I don't want this here. . . I'm envisioning a pretty garden, maybe a prayer garden, in its place. This thing needs to go.

To get an idea of the scale of this thing, my 15 year-old daughter, who is taller than me, posed next to it!

I decided to use parts of this bird cage monstrosity for the compost bin (and maybe later, for a chicken coop.) It's already framed, and wire mesh is attached -- perfect for the compost bin. Here are some of the inner doors we removed and are going to use for the bin:

Very simple construction. Four-inch wood screws were used to attach the doors together to form a square. I know it's not the recommended "one cubic yard"-sized bin, but it will work for now. We fashioned a tube of chicken wire for a ventilation/aeration tunnel. . . I read that it helps the matter decompose faster. The chicken wire was removed from the picket fence in the front yard. (Yikes!)

Lots of friendly support!

Done in less than half an hour! Removing the doors from the aviary is what took the most time. Now, to fill it up!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lost and found

A few years ago, I dabbled a bit in jewelry and beads. . . actually, that was what reignited my love for arts and crafts. I had lost that passion for many years. In 2007, we packed up our home in Texarkana, and moved to the Dallas area. My beads and findings were lost in the move.

Until today! I just unpacked a box marked "home decor" that had been packed since the Texarkana house, and look what was at the very bottom, wrapped in a nondescript plastic bag:

I made this gypsy ring for my sister-in-law for her birthday that year, and was planning to mail it to her right after the move. . . . It's FINALLY on its way, Sis!

Very excited to find these, and just had to share. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New bag design -- finally!


I've had this design in my head for months. OK, for over a year. Yeah, I'd say there's quite a backlog in there. I used a vintage wool skirt for this bag's exterior, and a beautiful handmade button from thebuttonshop, run by my lovely friend, Jenn. She's about to close up her shop... so if you want some for yourself, well, you know what to do!

I used Joel Dewberry's Aviary fabric for the interior. This was designed as a knitting project bag, so I made a tall pocket for knitting needles. There's another pocket for cell phone and wallet.

This bag is a little taller than my other totes, but a wee bit narrower.

The handles are reclaimed from a fancy-schmancy pair of velour pants. (pants!) I was happy with how the bag turned out -- pretty close to how I envisioned it. I will be making another one soon, a grey and red, and that one may end up in my shop eventually.

Speaking of my shop. . .

I can't believe I forgot to tell you! I'm throwing out the old, and bringing in the new. No more sachets, pincushions, or catnip mice! Sweatshop, begone! I'm going to be making bags only for now, and maybe some aprons and home decor items later on. Each piece will be listed as it's made -- no more made-when-ordered stuff. This new structuring is designed to allow me to be more creative, and most importantly, to be able to spend more time with my family. I'm very excited about this new arrangement, and really looking forward to this new year!