Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rollie Pollie Organizer

My sewing hiatuses are more frequent and lengthy (except for some mending here and there). But sometimes I'm asked to make something on a deadline, and there's no sitting around with an "I'll get to it" attitude. And if it's a design I can really sink my teeth into, it reminds me all over again while I love taking needle to thread.

Every year around this time a friend of my sister runs a benefit in honor of her deceased mother (to see things I've made in previous years click here and here). Last weekend we went fabric shopping for anything I did not already have in my stash. I love going fabric shopping with my mom and sister as they both have a good eye for simple designs and colors, whereas I am much more obnoxious in my taste and that needs to be reined in at times. I love what Alicia came up with.

The design we settled  on is the fairly recently released Rollie Pollie Organizer by Sarah Gido at Cozy Nest Designs. There was a decent amount of cutting and fusing for this pattern (but if I had stopped and thought for two minutes read the directions fully I could have saved myself some time and work). So I did that the other night in the time between Jeopardy and Project Runway. Friday night and all day yesterday I worked on this pattern. It's not difficult, and is very well designed and the pattern very well written. But the first time you make something it generally takes longer. If/when I make this again I'll probably be able to do it in about half the time.

Ok, enough blather. Here's the finished organizer.

Isn't that fabric great? Another option was for a grommet hanger (instead of the d-ring) but I like the dangly aspect of the d-ring.

Looking at this side view, I'm realizing what a shoddy press job I did on those edges, so don't look too closely. I'll have to give it another go before my sister hands this over. But you get the general idea of what's supposed to be happening--

So what is this thing? Well, you give a tug to the hook-and-loop flap, and this opens up to a very nifty hanging organizer.

Due to my ridiculous tendency to hoard collect zippers I had several colors that worked well so that each pouch could be differentiated from the others. So this can hang up like this, with everything neatly contained, or you can remove the pouches through the magic of Velcro™.

I've pattern-tested for Sarah a few times, and her designs are well thought-out (and dang near ingenious), and the patterns clear and well-written. I used my seam ripper once during this whole project (and that was due to a seam not behaving and nothing to do with the pattern). That was kind of disappointing--I just replaced my seam ripper and I wanted to see if I could break my own record for dulling the blade.

I haven't gone fabric shopping in quite some time as I've destashed almost everything, and haven't had a project for which I'd need to buy fabric. Joann's has certainly stepped up their game a bit. It looks like they're actually paying attention to what the big designers are doing and what people are getting excited about and trying to follow suit (of course this means the prices have inched up as well). For the first time in a long time I left there thinking "Oh my goodness, I need to come up with projects to make--I saw so many cute things!" instead of feeling pretty much dead opposite.

Anyway, this organizer could be used for almost anything--travel items, craft supplies, knitting/crochet gadgets and tools, and so on. It looks nice and neat hanging up, but folds up nice as well, and is of a good boxy shape for packing (with a sturdy handle for carrying).

There is a lot of interfacing that goes into this to keep it sturdy and structured, and it uses more fabric than you'd think. But it also lends itself well to scrappy deliciousness. There are also three different sizes that can be made--I made the largest at about ten inches wide by about twenty-five inches tall when unfolded. I truly enjoyed making this project. Two things I would do different: I'd cut the binding strips a little thinner, and I'd play with Velcro™ placement a little bit so that it's more towards the edge of the flap instead of allowing it to stick out just a little bit (but that's just me being OCD about it, as this thing is wicked cute).

I've got a new bag for myself all set to be assembled--I'm only delaying this one as I haven't used most of the materials before and that makes me slightly nervous. I'm hoping it ends up looking as good as it does in my head.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: Brush Pen Lettering

I have really nice handwriting. I'm not bragging; it's just a simple fact of life. Seriously, though--handwriting was one of my favorite periods in third grade. I loved painstakingly making my letters as neatly as I could until it became second nature. I couldn't wait to get a checkbook, because I loved watching my mom write checks when we were in a store (let's not touch on the fact of where I thought the money that backed the check came from). Now it's rare that I write a check and handwriting isn't even taught anymore. Boo on that.

This is why I leapt at the chance to review Brush Pen Lettering by Grace Song. I have several different types of brush pens, plenty of paper, and the aforementioned nice handwriting (which apparently isn't necessary, but I just thought I'd mention it again).

In book stores and craft stores I frequently peruse the books on lettering, but none of them seem to contain what I'm looking for. Even the few online classes I've tried don't really have that 'thing' that makes it click. This one, though? Very comprehensive, chock full of techniques, tips, and ideas, and varying methods so you can find what works for you.

There are lots of options in the 'supplies' section--different styles, brands, and prices, that are widely available so unless you live on some remote outlying island at the tip of the Arctic circle, you should be able to easily acquire some affordable tools to get started. What I really liked about this part was that while she tells you what she likes to use, she emphasizes that it's key to find what works for you and what is comfortable for you. I have two different brands of brush pens, and one works so much better for me, while the other is kind I thought I was doing something wrong but sometimes it really does come down to the tools you're using.

All of the different types of strokes are explained, with plenty of tips on what to do to create them properly. There are also pages upon pages of drills for the different stroke combinations that come about. (If you really want to challenge yourself, try putting a phrase into a translation tool and writing that phrase in different languages--due to the non-English letter combinations you have to go slower and think of what you're doing the entire time).

While there are no tear-out sections in the book to practice on, there are different sized guide sheets (depending on your pen tip size) that you can copy or place tracing paper over.

My favorite section of the book was about all of the fun things you can do once you get the lettering down. I guess this would be the 'embellishment' section if it was a sewing book.


There is a nice troubleshooting section, and even directions for how to make your letters look like calligraphy when a brush pen just won't do.

There was one phrase in this book that made it 'click' for me. Previously I had thought that "I have nice handwriting; if I just change the pressure with this cute pen I can do this kind of lettering." No, it doesn't work like that, and I wasn't getting why. But the magic phrase in this book was "hand lettering is the art of drawing letters." And just like that I thought "Hot damn, there's the ticket. It's not writing; it's drawing." Now, I am by no means an artist at all (my sister Alicia got everyone's share of the art gene), but I can doodle just fine (sometime I'll have to show you the envelopes I've decorated while waiting on hold). So by telling myself to draw the letters instead of writing them my practice sheets didn't look too shabby. This is not easy for me as it does not come naturally to me (the way various needles and lengths of string do), but this book definitely makes it feel like an achievable goal.

So if handlettering is something you'd like to try, this book should definitely be on your list. You can find it here on Amazon (I'm not an affiliate so that's just a regular old link).

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


When I'm having a rough time, it's essential that I keep busy. Whether that is shopping with no intention of buying, baking, or cleaning, it helps to keep my mind off of whatever that thing is. This weekend it was organizing. I'm pretty sure most of you have heard of Marie Kondo's book 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.' I received it for my birthday, and started reading it recently. While I'm not exactly following her method, just reading about cleaning and organizing has made me quite gung ho in that endeavor. I've gone through clothes, papers, and miscellaneous things. Books are up next.

Another thing I was doing was organizing photos on my computer, and silly me forgot to share with you one last set of photos from our beach vacation a few weeks ago. One evening, after dinner, while others who are more athletically inclined were doing athletic things, my sister Rachel, A-train and I started looking for seashells. There weren't many large ones to be had, but if you crouched down low there were quite a good number of tiny shells.

We collected until our hands were full and went back up to the house. The next morning, while everyone was at the beach, I took a few minutes to play and sort and snap some photos.

My criteria for selection was that they be spiraled.

Rachel liked those that were so very seashelly.

A-train went straight for the shards, feeling each one to see if it was smooth enough to add to the collection. His little voice rang out on the beach "Feel how smooth this one is!!!" A sub-category for him was interesting striations (a.k.a. "these cool lines").

There were also a lot that had little holes drilled into them. I am on the dark side of my thirties, and I just realized that those holes are where birds peck into them to suck out the insides (right? Is that right? I have no idea--it just hit me and it sounds good).

We even had to take these sharp little suckers, because someone liked the "weird shapes."

I thought some looked like ruffled potato chips.

And some were in the 'miscellaneous' category that just looked interesting. I'm don't know what that one on the lower right is. It might be a piece of petrified wood (or bird droppings, if you're one of my nephews).

Rachel took these home as she had plans to make something out of these to help A-train remember his vacation (as I think he had more fun than all of us).

With all of my recent clearing and sorting, I feel like all of my things have gone from this--

--to this.

Ok, kids. I have to go saddle up for trivia night. I'm hoping my brain is clear enough to make those facts fly to the front of my brain and out of the tip of my pen with alarming accuracy.

Friday, August 4, 2017

I'm Stuck Behind Vern, Here....

When we went down the shore last week we did one thing that we always do--we went to Kelly's Old Barney restaurant for breakfast. It's a small weather-worn restaurant right at the tip of the Island, in the shadow of the Barnegat lighthouse. It was a beautiful morning, so we sat outside.

This was not without its issues. It wasn't the sun--there were umbrellas. It wasn't the temperature--it was perfect. It was the influx of sea birds, colliding with my brother's extreme fear of all things avian.

The birds were not so gutsy as to land on your table while you were eating (although, side note--one stole a sandwich right out of my mother's hand on the beach), but when a group left if the staff didn't clear things away quickly, they rushed in and stole what they could. One seagull flew away with a whole slice of toast, a few others had smaller bits. It reminded me of a scene from a movie but with people instead of birds (and whose name escapes me right now).

The seagulls are so used to people they even pose for photos for them.

There was some discussion over breakfast as to if we were going to climb the lighthouse. I was quite content with my feet on the ground, rooting on everyone else from below. But as we approached, I was overcome by what can only be described as insanity and decided to make the climb. It's not so high, right?

Soooo you know the Civil War general George Meade? My dad was telling us all about how he was the creator of the lighthouse and so on. Not even thinking that the Army Engineers out of West Point would have done such things (what? they did things other than fight?) I was quite surprised by this. We came upon the bronze bust right outside the lighthouse entrance--

--except Girl Genius here did not read that as Lt. General George Gordon Meade, but as Gordonmeade. See the difference? So later, when my sisters were talking about it with my dad I'm sitting there thinking "Wait....I didn't see the plaque for Meade regarding the lighthouse..." I won't tell you how long it took me (or maybe somebody had to tell me, I honestly don't remember) to realize how dumb I was (hey, I was on vacation. I didn't feel like doing thinking).

So everyone but my parents (who maintained all of their senses and reasonably sat on the benches to wait) headed into the lighthouse to what came to feel like certain death.

That spiral staircase had a climbing area half as wide as the photo shows, as it was split in half with a railing and the other half was roped off. So on a warm day, in an enclosed space, dozens of strangers were squeezing past each other, silently hoping "I hope I don't stink--it's hot in here" and also thinking "Seriously? You can't turn sideways and make this a little easier??" I know the staff must be trying to be helpful and motivational with signs like "Hey! Great job! Only 177 steps to go!" But it was not helpful. And I won't write here what I couldn't say there (because children).

After what felt like an extremely long time (but really wasn't), we emerged at the top of the lighthouse.

Did you ever read that book The Light Between Oceans? Or Anne's House of Dreams in the Green Gables series? Both have lighthouse keepers as characters. When reading these I thought that sounded so cool--living in a lighthouse???? But no. No. N-O. Granted I'll take the muscles and trimness, but I would like to not climb those steps to achieve it.

The thing about reaching the top is--you've got to come back down. Coming back down is actually more difficult. It's a little bit dizzying, and the space feels tighter. A-train was zooming along, with my sister saying "Both hands on the railings!! Go slow!!" I was at the rear of the line, behind my other sister, who was carefully placing one foot in front of the other. I told her she reminded me of Vern crossing the train bridge in Stand By Me, and she didn't miss a beat when she said "Oh no! I dropped the comb!" Emerging back into the sunshine was quite freeing. I'm not claustrophobic, but I know being a lighthouse keeper no longer sounds fun.

So that wasn't on my bucket list. I actually don't have a bucket list (I think they're too cliche). But I'm going to start one, and put that on it, so I can cross it right off. And then I'm going to add 'Don't be a cliche' so I can throw away the bucket list.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...