Archive for the 'Sewing' Category

Craft space in the making

“I wish I could make something everyday. Be it some beading, some sewing, some drawing, it doesn’t matter, I think it would be really nice to carve a little creative time in my daily schedule.”

I have been telling myself this for a few years now, and there are some times when I do manage to do exactly that. But some other time, I get in a boring daily rut, where I don’t even feel like taking any supplies out. Which is just so, so sad.

So, to counter the rut and not be able to give myself the “but-I-have-to-get-the-supplies-out-and-then-put-them-away-again” lame excuse, I have set a little craft table in the room where I have my work desk. On it, I put my sewing machine, little plastic drawers in which I can put any beadwork in the making, and other odds and ends that may come handy if I feel the crafty bug coming. And as it turns out, this simple setting has made quite a difference for me. Having a dedicated space, however small, is a really good way to actually make something. For me, not having to put everything away after each sitting is definitely a big plus…because when an unfinished project is put away in a box…well, it tends to stay there, in all its unfinished glory, forever for a very, very long time.

I just hanged some little plastic buckets just to hold some more odds and ends (namely rubber stamps and zippers). I’m testing them right now and if they seem to work for this space, I’ll probably buy a few more.

(oh, and I decided 2011 will be the year I teach myself some more sewing, so what you can see just in front of the sewing machine is a little evidence of that. I’ll post about it soon !)

Now, I’d like to find a (smart) way to store all things paper to have them ready to use, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ll figure it out though ! If some of you have any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them !

Pintuck pillows and what we put into handmade objects

I have a bookmark folder named “craft tutes to try”. It contains exactly that. And admittedly it is ever-growing. It almost took a life of its own, so much so that I had to subdivide it by crafts : paper craft, sewing, patchwork, crochet, etc. Just writing about it, my heart goes just a little faster. Sigh. Crafty goodness and possibilities all over the place !

So when my sweet mum got tired of her old, sad, forest green pillows, I knew I had just the right project on hand to free her couch from these floppy things nobody in the house dared to call pillows any more (just a little bit of drama thrown in for good measure).

To my (and the couch) rescue, came the talented Ellen of The Long Thread and her great pintuck pillow project. I unearthed some home decor fabric purchased a couple of years back…just because it was pretty (I do that sometimes, yes), and followed the well written instructions. Being a beginner at anything sewing, I was curious to see if I could come out with a decent result, and I think I did pretty well. It’s far from perfect, but I’m still happy with them ! Thank you Ellen !

I did one pillow exactly as suggested, and for the other one, I put more and more space between the pintucks, resulting in a slight gradation.

I sewed these pillows just a few days before leaving home and going back to Japan (I arrived a few days ago, still enjoying the jet lag induced  fuzziness). The last days home are always filled with mixed feelings. Somewhat happy to go back to my other home, but so very sad to leave my family and friends behind. Especially my mum, because I know her life is not so easy. So among others things, I made pillows for her. I hugged, cooked, talked, and made pillows. Because I thought it might cheer her up when she looks at them. Because they’re not store bought pillows, but handmade pillows, that I took the time to make especially for her, her couch, her living room. To bring just a little bonus hint of happiness. For me, that’s what the pillows, and handmade in general, is about. I do believe these objects we make with our hands, especially for those we love, have this very special added value. Something that says : I did it for you, because I think of you and you’re well worth the time and the effort, because you’re that special to me.

So, I’m going to stop there before I start crying in front of my computer screen 😉 , but these are my thoughts.  What about you ? What do you put in your handmade objects ?

Zippered pouch, boxy pouch

July flew by like it never even was there. What a strange feeling to realize that August is here. And that we’re ten days in it at that. But here we are. The heat has finally hit Kyoto full force, which let me with the urge to stay inside, turn some cooling tunes on, and stick my head in the fridge (which I actually do sometimes). I try to keep my use of air conditioning sensible, but it is a struggle of every instant (I like to be dramatic sometimes,  I do).
Anyway, though time has been playing its usual trick on me, life has kept on happening. Some good and not so good things on the job front, some good and not so good news from friends and family. All in all, it’s been a rich few weeks, challenging and motivating, with a hint of major self questioning thrown in for good measure.
But some sewing also happened. Some beading too, but the beading is still on its way, so I’ll come back to it when I actually have something to show !

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Back to the sewing : It seems a sudden need for pouches of various kind hit the house lately, and I decided to tackle it. The zippered pouch (above) has been requested by the Man of the house, and joins a few he already has. Once I started making them and he started using them, it seems he awoke to the infinite possibilities of  these little things .

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The envelope-type boxy pouch (for lack of a better name !) was made to accommodate a little appliance (like a mini laptop but that can only be used to enter text) I carry in my bag quite often. This pouch is fully lined and except for the flap is slightly padded (I used fusible quilt batting) to protect the little machine it was meant for.

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The outer fabrics for both pouches are from Ikea (insert big heart). The lining of the zipper pouch is a Japanese cotton I already used in this project. For the lining of the envelope pouch, I used a remnant of a Kaffe Fassett print I love, and for the back of the flap, a fabric from Ikea (the same as the outer fabric, but in a different color).
Sewing is still so new to me, I feel I’m learning many new things each time I make something. Which is really great !
I still have a few other pouch-like projects on the go that I hope to get done soon.

Beautiful day everyone !

Handmade greeting card – colors in a package

Mother’s Day is long gone in the States and in Japan as well, but not yet in France, where my sweet mum is (insert lots of hearts). It will be celebrated this Sunday, and I prepared a little package to send her way for this special day, since sadly I won’t be there in person.

A little while ago, I wrote about a simple and pretty bracelet I had beaded. I really loved the color palette and even thought for a few minutes about keeping it for myself… but stuck to the original plan and sent it to her. I also sent another beaded bracelet, quite similar to this one, because I know she’ll love the colors and wearability of it.

These two bracelets were safely nestled into a little zipper pouch, handmade too. The front side is the sweetest linen print, while the back is just plan linen. The lining is a very soft green cotton.

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But my package wouldn’t have been complete without a handmade greeting card ! I had a lot of ideas but decided to go with a style I’m not too familiar with. A lot of cutting (that, I’m used to !), corner-rounding, and gluing. I think my glue stick lost a lot of weight during the operation ! The flowers and the leaf motifs are hand carved eraser stamps that I made a few years ago and have been using since. I stamped the flowers in different shades of pink to give some depth to the “bouquet” and then used some color pencils to add more nuances here and there. I also used a little embossing (the transparent kind, with just a bit of sparkle inside. Love it).

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I wanted to keep the card simple. I don’t know if I really did, but as long as the recipient is happy, I’ll be happy too ! (picture of the card – courtesy of the outside wall of my apartment. Uhum.)

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If some of you are interested, I’ll upload the template for the card. Just let me know !

Have a good day !

Handmade Colorful Messenger bag !

December is here, with Christmas just ahead, and I am wondering : does time actually roll even faster during the holiday season ?! It sure feels this way as I’m getting ready to go back home next week.  I’m so excited ! I haven’t seen my folks in more than a year, so it’s going to be really nice to catch up and just be together !

Getting ready involves a lot of organizing, making, shopping, cleaning…and a few pep talks to myself : the idea of a few hundred tons  object actually flying…with me inside… is still a bit difficult to take in. Hum.

In the midst of all these preparations, the crafting frenzy is still well and alive, and a few projects are on the roll, while a few others have just been finished. One of those is a messenger bag…let me re-phrase this…one of those is my first attempt ever at a bag more complex than a tote !

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A few months ago, the Boyfriend and I went to Ikea in Kobe to pick up a few items for the apartment, and we both ended up buying fabric. How I love Ikea fabric lines ! The boyfriend picked up a colorful  mid-weight cotton he really liked, thinking he’ll eventually do something with it.

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Then a new crafty friend came to our house and the destiny of this colorful fabric was sealed : it was to become a bag. And my destiny was sealed too : I was to make the bag. The beginner seamstress in me got all excited : such a good opportunity to try something new !

The Boyfriend explained what kind of bag was on his mind and from there, I gathered the sewing and bag making information and material  I needed to dive right into the making/sewing  (check the links at the end of this post).

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Let me tell you that this bag was a bit of a stretch from my actual sewing ability ! From drawing the pattern, choosing the interfacing, putting the pieces together, top-stitching, adding the little magnetic snap closure, every step involved something new, and this was so.much.fun ! I took my time, went step by step, didn’t aim for perfect, and I really learned a lot. I guess there is nothing like actually trying  !

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So the result is here : a colorful messenger bag, fully lined, slightly padded, with an adjustable strap and a magnetic closure. Oh, and it goes with a zipper pouch made with the fabric remnants ! I think the Boyfriend is happy, and I sure am !

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Here is a list of the tutorials and how to’s I went through before making this bag :

– A nice and clear messenger bag tutorial here (I didn’t do exactly as in this tutorial, but it was a really good guideline to draw my own pattern and assemble the pieces)

– About interfacing : guide to choose the right interfacing for your project here

– To make fabric handles : here (see step 3 of the tutorial)

-To make an adjustable strap : very easy to follow instructions here

– To add a magnetic snap closure : clear instructions and helpful photos of the process here and here

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A few of the tutorials above come from Lisa of U-Handblog. She has many advices and tutorials on anything bag-related and her instructions are always very detailed and clear. Her “bag wisdom and tips” category is a must-read for anyone thinking about making a bag, and the many bag tutorials she wrote and shared are worse seeing.

The crafty blogosphere is such an amazing place. There are no other way to put it. So many people willing to share their knowledge, their experience, isn’t it just amazing ?! A big thank you to all of you  !

On to the next project !

Welcoming a new sewing partner !

She finally came !

I’ve been dreaming of welcoming one in the quiet of my little home for so long !

I can tell she’s still a bit shy but already fits perfectly in her new environment !

But first, let me put things in context here : my sewing experience have mostly been of the “sewing by hand” type. The few times I have actually made friend with a sewing machine, It involved a great deal of straight lines sewing (curtains, little pouches, tote bags, that kind of square-ish things !) on my mum’s old Singer (aka The Monster, meaning that in a very affectionate and loving way, after all, she literally guided my hand through my very first zipper !) What fun It was to actually make things with it !

But the time for goodbye came, and the Singer stayed in a corner of my parents house while I went back to my home in Japan, with the (not so) secret hope of having my own one day.

I planned It as a present to myself (a girl has to splurge sometimes), sort of a bribe really, for when I finish my PhD thesis. Well, the thesis got presented and at long last finished, and I still hesitated. “Isn’t there enough craft-related item around ?” “Will I really use It?” etc.

After all, I’m very much a beginner when it comes to machine-sewing…

But the anticipated thrill of making things with it and learning new tricks finally got me ! Yeah !

And last week, a very nice delivery man came and brought her into my life ! I have a secret fondness for delivery guys, they always bring so much joy. Literally !

I was so excited about the whole thing that I couldn’t bring myself to open the box for a few days. But when my heart rate around it became steady enough, I knew it was time.

So we got acquainted in the sweetest way one afternoon, I settled her on her little table. Sigh. This is good.

I made a few little things already, that I’ll share in my next posts !


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