Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Travelling Companion

On my European travels last year I had a constant companion, yes another other than The Lumberjack. A companion that made me happy and was a true help along the way. A companion of the handmade kind, my CarryAll bag. I made it just before my trip and it occurred to me I never shared it with you.

When I was all done with the making and I looked upon my sweet new rather roomy CarryAll bag, it made me smile from ear to ear. It was all sorts of colorful with sunny details put on and a fine fit over my shoulder.

I used a vintage Japanese tablecloth for the main out side that had been a gift from my mother, it has a nice nubby texture and lovely design. For the rest I rummaged around in my scrap heap.

It has a handy pocket on the back side that kept all of my important papers safe and sound.

It did a bang up job through London and Paris, often put upon by heavy loads, abused by the Underground and escalators, kicked under cafe tables and mistreated in various ways. Though it may have got a little grubby along the way, it never failed me and still made me smile. I received many compliments and a few comments of "Well now, that's an um... interesting bag."

I used fusible fleece for the lining, then quilted it with lines of stitching to give it a bit of structure. And of course extra handy pockets for the inside.

Oh guess what?! You could make one too if you fancy. I used a downloadable pattern by Farbenmix which you can purchase HERE
There are two size variations and all sorts of room for modification and embellishment. I have always been happy with their patterns.

My CarryAll bag was the perfect travelling companion indeed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Introducing Mollie Makes HOME

Oh my! Big news from Mollie Makes Headquarters! I've just had a sneaky peek at Mollie Makes new Special Edition "Home" and it's a beauty. I am also quite happy to announce that it features one of my favorite Lola Nova projects from my book Simple Sewing with Lola Nova!

Here is what MM had to say about this lovely issue:

Homespun charm • Calm neutrals • Scandi whites • Retro brights

Bringing together the best creative homes from Mollie Makes magazine, we’ve packed 132 pages full of ways to achieve the look yourself, combining second-hand shop finds with quirky accessories. We show you how to make your own handcrafted quilts from vintage fabric finds, how to crochet a granny square cushion and throw, and easy-peasy potato print placemats. Plus expert advice and tips from our favourite designers.

It's on sale on 31 January, in print in the UK and digitally. I will be sure to keep you posted about it's US availability!

You can go get your own sneak peek HERE as well as pe-order your very own copy!

Copies of my book are available in my etsy shop HERE!

Happy week to all!

Friday, January 25, 2013

It is time to say so long old friend

Well, we knew this day would come.

It is time to say goodbye to "The Couch that Mocks Me". And even though I have mocked you right back and have moaned your awkward, unflattering ways... you have served us well and taken it all in good humor. Perhaps we were too hard on you, or it could just be your time. You were quite willing to be dressed up and down, and bravely went on, so thanks.

Though you may be propped up with books and bits of firewood, your bench gone all kerplonkety and difficult to sit upon, your mechanics falling to pieces, your inners flopping out... we will take our time saying goodbye as careful thought must be put into selecting your replacement.

Your January clothes a little plain, but that's ok.

So long old friend, you will mock me no more.

Tis just the tiniest bit sad, but I will be brave.

Have a lovely weekend all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


As a blogger, a maker and an observer, I take a lot of photos. A ridiculous amount sometimes. Very few of the photos I take actually make to my blog, or see the light of day ever again. I take a lot of photos so that I can get at least one or two that I am happy with. Or I just take photos of things that catch my eye, but don't necessarily "belong" anyplace. My image files are filled with Outtakes.

Sometimes these outtakes are images I truly like though. Like a picture taken during the process of making something, a pile of scraps that are destined for the rubbish bin. The above shot actually gave me an idea for another project.

Maybe a big mess gets in the shot. A tangled nest of brightly colored ribbons; the "before" pic so to speak, the "after" pic shows them all prettily organized (ok, it will show them all prettily organized when I finally get around to it).

Sometimes these Outtakes show the essence of something; a moment, a character, the truth. And so I have a real soft spot for some of them.

Like these photos of a model who is well and truly "Over It"!

Are your photo files full of Outtakes too?

Monday, January 21, 2013


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The red and the gray

It is a cold January day, as I look out my window I can see little flurries of snowflakes swirling to the ground. Alas, once they touch down they simply disappear, much to the disappointment of my girl and myself. Just enough of the white stuff for playing in and making a mini snow-person would be wonderful.

Instead I am inside playing with pots of paints and managing to avoid the laundry altogether.

It might be some time before I can set myself up with some screen printing equipment, so I'm going with what I have on hand. I'm taking some ideas from my sketchbook and bringing them to life.

Testing, testing... 1 2 3

Oh yes, I like that!

Some days it is good to simply enjoy the process, have fun with experimentation and not worry too much about the end result. You might be surprised where it leads you. In fact, I now have a completely new direction I am thinking of taking this experiment. How unexpectedly grand!

What are you up to today?
Is it hot or cold where you are?
Had any surprises lately?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Obsession

For my birthday The Engineer bought me a screen printing class, he knew that I had been wanting to take one for a while now. On Monday night I headed off to The Make House for my class with Nathan.

I took along a rendition of a Walter Crane illustration that I had done earlier, as well as a length of fabric to hopefully print my image on at the end of class.

So, here is what happened... I fell in love! Oh man, it was like magic. I had a feeling that I would really like the class and the art of screen printing since I have been working with fabric paint and hand cut stencils for quite a while. What I didn't know was that after getting home from the 4 1/2 hour class, I would be unable to sleep for all the ideas that kept leaping into my head and the excitement of possibility!

I loved all of the nuance involved in the process, the anticipation and the results (even the mistakes were fascinating). Nathan our instructor was great, it was obvious he really enjoys what he does and answered all of my questions - I had a lot of questions.

When the class was over I ended up with a couple of paper prints and my fabric print. It was so satisfying to have learned the basics of this art form.

This is something I want to pursue and I look forward to learning more, a lot more. So I have been busy making lists in my sketchbook and figuring out how many of my pennies I need to save up to set myself up with the equipment I need.

My tip for the week is GO! Take a class in something you have been wanting to find out about. Learn something new and have fun.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gretchen goes to Barbados - A Pattern Review

Ah, the first dress of the new year! For me this is the perfect way to start a fresh crafty year. Making a dress for my girl is one of my favorite things to do. I find that it centers me, inspires me and is ultimately very satisfying.

Just before the Holidays Pony girl and I were in my favorite local fabric shop, she pulled this pattern from the stacks and said, "Please Mama, will you make this?" How could I resist?
The pattern is "Gretchen" by Modkid.

I have seen Modkid patterns before, but never picked one up. When I use a pattern company that is new to me, I like to resist the urge to alter, modify and forge ahead in my own wild fashion. Instead I keep to the pattern faithfully (mostly) and carefully follow the pattern's own instructions so that I get a sense of the company overall. This makes it perfect for a review too!

First Impressions:
The Pattern Booklet is beautifully photographed with an "Inspiration Gallery" showing the variations and lovely fabric combos. The pattern itself is printed on good quality paper with clear cutting instructions.
I like a pattern that allows for a ton of variations, this pattern definitely fits the bill.

I decided to make view D without the bottom band. I do believe I must have been day dreaming about tropical locales and sunny beaches... perhaps The Caribbean with it's vibrant colors, maybe Barbados! I used Moda's Trade Winds fabric by Lily Ashbury, very bright and colorful! I decided to make the largest size 10. Pony Girl is an 8/9, but I like a little room to grow.

Work in Progress:
The instructions were very clear and thorough, illustrations of cutting lay out and sewing steps were helpful. There are a lot of pieces to this dress, so once I had them cut I kept them in organized piles for ease.

As I was working I found that the pattern drafting was excellent. Every piece came together perfectly and even the sleeve attachment was close to effortless - which is not often the case.

This is a straight forward pattern and quite simple really. There are no button holes, no zipper, and the block piecing makes it easy enough for a beginner with just a little experience.

The only things I did that were not a part of the original pattern instruction were 1. increase the width of the side ties to 1 1/2" and 2. top stitch around the neck opening. Purely for personal preference.

What I especially like about this pattern:
Cute! Endless variation possibilities.
The sleeve gathering on the long sleeve version, nice design detail.
Oversized pockets! You all know how much I love a handy dandy pocket.

Things to note:
There isn't any thing I dislike about this pattern, just some things to keep in mind.
Using quilting weight fabric as I did, makes this a pretty substantial garment due to the linings. For a more Summery dress, I think it would make up wonderfully in Seer Sucker or even a voile. This is a full cut dress, the waist is very wide and then cinches in with the side ties - this makes it easy to pull on and off over the head. The size 8 would have fit my girl much better in the shoulders and neckline, though I did find that the length on the size 10 to be just right. If you have a tallish girl (like I do) you might want to double check the length before cutting.

I often find that the back of a garment is my favorite, wonder why...

The Stats:
I spent a couple of hours tracing the pattern onto my own pattern paper and then cutting out the fabric.
All together the dress took about 5 hours of sewing time to complete.
Yes, I would make this dress again.

And most importantly, my girl loves it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

I am rather excited to welcome this new year in. So much to look forward to. So many things to do!

How about you? Are you excited too?

Happy 2013!