Thursday, January 31, 2013

Creative Ruts

January has been full of trying new things and while it's been absolutely amazing, with newness comes fear. All month I have been working on four brand-spanking-new designs. And learning Photoshop/Illustrator. And restarting my blog. Lots of new. Lots of scary.

It is easy to be discouraged when something you were so excited for promptly fails. Or if you've completely hit a wall and the sheet in front of you remains blank. As an example, my first envelope clutch was horrible. It was wonky. It was flimsy. The snap was already ripping the fabric. WHY. Deep breath. It's important to know when to walk away. When I've reached a point in my frustration that I know nothing I attempt will be positive, it's time to try something else. Read a book. Get outside. Knit. Play piano. I have way too many hobbies. There are plenty of things to do to get me back in a good mood. And when I returned to the clutch the next day I saw it, as predicted, with new perspective.

So I attempted clutch #2 and it owns. It just owns. I made some minor adjustments and that was all it took. Confidence restored. The Failed Clutch was reincarnated as a wristlet. Chalk it all down to learning. (Plus these new bad boys will be in the shop this weekend :O)

When I came across this phenomenal infographic by Islam Abudaoud, I realized I had done several of these suggestions over the past week. I have not curled up with the dictionary, but I have allowed myself to make mistakes. I know to not force myself when I've reached a dead end, to take a step back to gain perspective, to talk to friends etc. This is something I will refer back to whenever I need a kick in the pants to keep going because, in the end, it's all supposed to be fun!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Knitted Cowls: A Love Story

This past Christmas, I wanted to do more handmade gifts. I always say I am going to do this but then life gets away from you and you're left with abandoned supplies, unfinished scarves and broken dreams. Since I was on a clutch-making rampage at the time, a bunch of people got those, but I wanted to knit a cowl for my mom.

I used this pattern and it came out beautifully. I've never used Bernat Roving yarn before but it quickly became a favourite. And buying my first pair of circular needles was awesome until I realized I bought too-long ones so knitting in the round as instructed wasn't an option. But I do love how knitting on the subway is no longer a hazardous activity. :)

I enjoyed this pattern so much that I immediately made another one for my friend in "Royal". Then another for myself. This time in Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick in "Butterscotch". Selfies ensued.

Cozy happiness.

And, eff it, after an impromptu post-work Mary Maxim trip I bought yarn and promptly started my fourth with Bernat Roving "Low Tide". Absolutely beautiful. But I did a basket weave knit stitch this time.

Yes, I am in love.

First attempt at the basket weave!

The number of knitters and crocheters at work has grown exponentially over the past while so it is always a good idea to have a project on hand for lunchtime knitting sessions. Now that I have exhausted the cowls, headbands are next!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Antique Sewing Machine

Over the winter holidays, my mom and I pulled out her old Singer sewing machine to play with. I was almost as excited about this prospect as I was for the holidays themselves! The sewing machine was my mother's grandmother's so we estimate that it's at least 75 years old. It's electric, but instead of a pedal it has a lever that hangs down from the table that you nudge to the right with your thigh. A weird adjustment but you get used to it quickly enough.

The lever is very easy to set off by accident!

It was a lot smaller than I was expecting. And heavy.

This machine is in such lovely condition.

With no real project in mind, we tried out as many of the attachments as we could. The gathering foot was by far the most impressive. It lifts your fabric and aggressively tucks it into ruffles while you sew. Very neat, if a little intimidating. We couldn't get the binding foot to behave, and had some difficulty finding the right tension. It doesn't help that none of the knobs are labeled!

The gathering foot is the scary-looking one on the right!

These are the cutest bobbins I've ever seen.

Overall the Singer is in excellent condition and it was a super fun experience to work with a machine so different from what I'm used to! There's a chance that it might get its own table in my mom's craft room instead of hiding in the closet. If that's the case, I'll definitely be getting some more practice in…and maybe posting some projects! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Paint Chip Art

Yay! I've been wanting to do something paint-chip related for a while so when I had some friends over for a crafty date, it was the perfect excuse to start. It's cheap, easy to customize, and it satisfies my need to cut + paste things to other things.

The colours I had didn't successfully lend themselves to the intended ombre concept so I went rogue. But whatever! It's done, it matches my things, it's on the wall.

Cut cut cut cut cut

So it started out ombre-ish…

Somewhere along the line I panicked.

Went from ombre chevron to weirdo herringbone?
The colours really are perfect :)

Sooo…not exactly what I had in mind…a little gappy in some places…but heck, I'll take it. I have tons of chips left if I want to try something else :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stocking up for Winter Hibernation

The prospect of shopping for sewing supplies is the best way to get overly excited. Too often I become overwhelmed on Queen West and then come home with awesome stuff that's not remotely suited for the projects I set out to make in the first place; my shopping list long forgotten in my purse. Not this time! I set out to find very specific pieces for some new designs and found everything on my list and made zero frivolous purchases. This will likely never happen again. SPOILS:

A sampling of the thingamabobs I picked up :)

My friend Michelle and I took a sewing course last year at The Make Den (which was pretty fantastic, btw!!) and our instructor basically saved my life when she told us there was a store in the fashion district that had "all the zippers ever". Other stores I've been to are either way too expensive (with limited metal zippers *cough* FABRICLAND), or they keep the selection behind the cash which stresses me out to no end because then you're harassing the cashier to help you browse. No fun.

Leather & Sewing Supply Depot is a godsend. They have literally everything you could possibly need to make not just bags but anything! There are walls of buckles, grommets, studs, clasps, hooks, elastic, leather, buttons, trim, snaps, and the zipper section resembles Ollivander's. SOLD.

The zippers choose you.

The other half of my hoarding happened at Len's Mill at Dufferin and Orfus. Their Toronto location just opened in August and I cannot stay away from this store. It's a 15 minute walk from Yorkdale Station and I tend to pick coldest, dreariest days to go but it's always always worth it. They just have so much fun stuff and I have gotten 90% of my fabric from their phenomenal tapestry and upholstery section. Here are my recent acquisitions:

Also, so much chevron! Might have to go back for these guys…

Mmm... Future tote bag?

Soon I'll be posting pictures of brand-new designs. Until then, happy crafting!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Year, New Goals, New (Old) Blog


It has quite literally been years since I have posted but I am hoping this year will bring more time dedicated to this space! Sooo…what is new with you? A couple months ago, I did something I have wanted to do for a looong time. I opened an Etsy store!

Well, to be fair, the store was technically opened in January 2011, but I was making crochet PDF patterns then. Unfortunately, my motivation wore thin on that project and I put my shop in vacation mode for several months until I finally had an idea I could run with.

Right now, my shop has a focus on clutches and pouches made with tapestry fabrics:

There has been a steep learning curve, let me tell ya. Not only do you have to settle on a consistent image/brand, but there are a lot of behind-the-scenes aspects that I had to pick up on the fly. For example, product photography, photoshoppin', Canada Post-in', bookkeepin', (reasonable) goal settin' etc etc. Lots of things that take away from the actual sewin'! Not that I haven't loved every minute of it!

After discussions with awesome friends, I have tons of inspiration for new designs for the New Year! I even have set the ominous goal of doing a craft show or two. Imagine…selling to actual humans! What are your crafty New Year's resolutions?