Friday, January 29, 2010

Close Encounters

NOT my photo--I didn't have my camera on me.  Thanks Google Images.

My day was made today before it even really started.  I was running a bit late for work this morning, and I was really tired (fabulous late night chat with one of my oldest friends).  I was driving onto my work campus (I find it amusing when businesses have campuses), and a deer darted in front of my car. I hit the brakes, and then two more followed behind the first.  I watched them run across the expanse of grass in front of the building and thought that was it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one more, so I looked left and I saw all of these beautiful deer faces watching me and my car.  There must have been about a half dozen.  I drove by really slow, watching them as they stared at me.  They didn't move.  I started to drive faster (I was late after all), and they all just darted across the lawn.  I stopped again and just watched them go, saying a little prayer that they'd be safe (my company is situated very close to a crazy twelve-lane highway with a lot of wooded areas nearby).  I pulled into my spot with a silly grin on my face and felt really lucky that I got to see such a simple thing of beauty.  As I was walking towards the building I saw three more taking off after the others--they must have needed to work up the moxie to leave the woods.  Some woman was coming out of the building and looking at me being kind of silly--she was head down, bundled up, hurrying towards her car (it was about 10 degrees this morning), so she must have been floored as to why I was standing there smiling.  Normally I would have said "Hey, look, deer!" but I was selfish today...I kept that moment for myself.

In other news...I've been trying to perfect a certain kind of zipper technique for handbags (it's the kind that's in the green and red bag in my previous post), but I'm not totally chuffed with what I've done so far. I've used two different tutorials and both had their kinks.  The first one is really difficult to get the measurements right.  The other one I had to take apart the zipper. Yes, I had to defy zipper nature, remove the clamp and the zipper pull (while trying to keep the sharp pointy tool from puncturing my hand), and then do some sewing.  Then I had to put the zipper back together.  This. Was not fun.  And if my nephew had been over he'd have cleaned up on my cursing (I told him every time he heard me say a naughty word I'd pay him).  It looked ok, but I'm too lazy to do either of these techniques on a regular basis.  I decided to combine a few elements from a few different tutorials, and I think I'm ready to give it a shot doing this my own way.  We'll see... If it works out well I might do a tutorial on it.  That would be kind of neat, to post directions for something that others might look at.  I know I search for what others have done to make it easy on myself.  In this instance I feel there is no easy way to do this so maybe someone will like my technique and use it for their own work. 

And--my lovely sisters have decided to put their talents to good use.  They've started a blog and a youtube channel on makeup and makeup application techniques for the everyday woman.  A lot of people seem to think that the more you pay for makeup the better it looks.  That is untrue.  It's the skill of how you use it that can make it look so great (i.e. a great sewist can make a not-so-great fabric into something beautiful--it's making do with what you have.  The same goes for cosmetics).  Their mission is to show the average person with an average income how to make themselves look fabulous without breaking the bank.  Their blog is called Face the Day Makeup (listed in my Pop On Over list on the right-hand side); the youtube channel is the Face the Day Makeup channel.  I got the sewing and yarn crafting genes, they got the makeup and hair genes.  And they're gooooood at it.  So much so that when I need fancier makeup I have to hire one of them--when I put on eyeliner it looks like a duck got ahold of a crayon.  I'm not kidding.  Anyway, give them a look-see. 

I'm off to see if I can get past my zipper problem.  I won't be happy until I figure it out. I refuse to let something so silly get the best of me.  Later, taters.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Success is spelled z-i-p-p-e-r

I've sold quite a few bags lately, but one of the most frequent requests is for a zipper instead of a snap closure.  It'd be easy-peasy to just slap a zipper on there the way I would across the top of a change purse, but it wouldn't have the right look.  So I've been all over the web and the books in Barnes and Noble trying to find a way to install a recessed zipper (the kind that sits down from the top of the bag a little bit).  After reading a squillion-bajillion tutorials and sets of instructions I felt ready to tackle it.  I went reaaaaallllly sllloooow with everything--I tend to rush and it just leads to mistakes, so I forced myself to really think about what I was doing.  And things went well for a first attempt.  My measurements were a little off on the sides, but nothing that would affect the bag in any way.  I used some fabric I thought I wouldn't mind if I messed up on, but as I went along I was really hoping that it worked out well as I really do like it.  I was so into what I was doing that I had a party foul--I forgot to put the pockets on the inside.  She's got a nice squishy feel and the strap is comfy.  I popped her up for sale in the shop so we'll see.

I used Michael Miller's 'Secret Garden' fabric from the Mezzanine collection.  It felt funny to write that--usually I have to think of a fancy way to say "I got this at Joann's," but I love his fabric lines so I decided to splurge a bit.  I'm putting my leftovers into a scrap quilt--at these prices you have to use everything.

This is the zipper set down from the top of the bag.  I couldn't get the color just right but it's good enough.  Not too bad--usually my 'learning experiences' look a lot worse.

And I had a wee bit of the nerves yesterday afternoon.  And when I get that way the only thing that soothes them is something crafty.  I had a pattern laying around I've been anxious to try, so I figured I had just enough time to whip this up:

I ordered this fabric online and liked it a lot more once I saw it up close.  Of course it was sold out so I needed to put what little I had to good use.

It's a basic little purse with a strap that can tuck inside in case you're feeling like carrying a clutch.  This one will be up in the shop shortly.  It went together pretty quickly, which is something because I've never made this one before.  It has Timtex inside (I don't know if that means anything to anyone) so it has a nice stiff feel to it like something you might buy in a store.  The only goof I made on this one was that I put the piece of fabric on the inside that I wanted to show on the outside, but it's just a reminder to be more careful next time.

I've been high on inspiration but low on motivation lately.  Hopefully these few little bits of success will get me back in gear.  I have piles of fun fabrics and a big box of bag handles and other fun stuff to use.  I can actually open my own store right now, I believe--I really can't ignore a good sale. 

A few bits for thought:
1.  I'm not sure if it's just me, but the ladies figure skating is leaving something to be desired--I hope we get this together in the next few weeks because...
2.  I love the Olympics.  In a weird, inexplicable way.  I always have, and mostly the Winter Games.  Even the boring stuff that's not interesting to watch.  I like the different names with 47 consonants in them, and the different athlete bios they do--especially those from other countries.  But I think it's mostly because the world seems to be watching together--and I like things in unison.
3.  I saw the movie Legion last night.  Not my typical cinematic fare, but one of my resolutions was to step outside of my old self a bit--and it wasn't bad.  I rather enjoyed it.  It won't be winning any awards, but some of the dialogue was good and it kept you watching.  So yay for movies-I-wouldn't-normally-watch-but-am-glad-I-did.
4.  I'm ending on four.  Becuase it's not an even five or three...and I made that resolution :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Things and stuff

It's been a loooong week.  I've been thinking one day ahead so all week I wake up and think I'm one day closer to the weekend.  Work has been busy, which is preferable--usually it makes the day fly by.  The down side to a busy day is that at night I don't feel like doing much of anything but munching and watching TV.  I've got piles of yummy fabrics and new bits and bobs to use for creating bags, but I'm just too tired to pay attention.  BUT I've been soaking up the craftiness of some of my favorite bloggers, and now I have so many things I want to make I can't decide where to start.  Here's what I've been ogling this week:

Meream, at Bored and Crafty, came up with a fun little lovely  for her main squeeze for Valentine's Day.  Just like me she can only hold a surprise for a short while, so she's already given her love his giftie.  Pop on over to see her totally original idea (I couldn't get the photo to post here or I'd have shown it).  She's also got some really original ideas for bags for the, shall we say, muscially inclined?  Stuff I'd never be able to pull off without mucho curses.

Rae Hoekstra, at Made By Rae, came up with this bright bit of fun:
She has several more photos of her lovely creation over at her blog, along with oodles of other fun crafty stuff.  It reminds me of those bracelets that were popular when I was young, the ones where all of the hearts kind of interlocked with one another...kind of like this but with slightly different colors:
So of course I'm thinking of how to cut out a squillion hearts in a time efficient manner so I can make some felted heart garland...for no good reason, of course.  Because what fun would that be?

Lisa Lam, the genius behind u-handbag, had a giveaway for the bag below, as well as an announcement that she'll be selling kits with all of the goods included so you can make your own:
I like how it's very Mary Poppinsy.  It's got one of those nifty tubular frames inside so your goods stay secure and the bag holds much more than you'd think.  The fabric combo isn't normally something I'd come up with, but she tries out all kinds of combos that just work great together.  She's my go-to girl for figuring out bag making intricacies.  She's currently writing a book, and the day it becomes available I may go into shock if I don't get a copy right away.  She's that good. Of course I placed an order with her right away for those frames and a pattern so I can make my own.  She's in the UK, but it got here quick.  She totally understands the impatience of crafters waiting for the goods.  Can you tell I heart her? 

I hope these ladies don't mind me showing their work here--the photos belong to them so I tried to give proper credit.  Like anyone would ever confuse my hot messes of pictures with theirs...

And finally, it was a little pricey, but I caved and bought this today:

This is from the new Michael Miller fabric collection 'Gnomes.'  I tried to quell the desire, but was not successful.  Because when I travel start traveling, I'm seriously going to need a traveling gnome bag to accompany me.  Because that's how I roll...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Polka dots and potted plants

Meream tagged me (my first!) so I'm going to give this a go.  Before I start, I apologize for the quality of the photo.  Almost all of our photos are the good old-fashioned paper version (remember those?) and the scanner hasn't worked in aaaaaages, so I had to take a picture of a picture to have something to post.  It's not fabulous, but it'll serve it's purpose.

Anyway, the rules:
1. Post a picture from your childhood (less than 13 years old).
2. Write something about the picture.
3. Tag your friends and readers.

So, here's what I chose:

I'm five or six in this spectacular photograph.

Obviously (or I hope it's obvious) this was taken on Halloween.  My grandmother made this entire costume for me and I loved it.  It was very comfy (and roomy enough to wear normal clothing under--which my mom always made us wear under our costumes because Halloween aways seemed to be cold--without making you look puffy and misshapen).  I do believe both of my sisters wore this costume as well, but neither of them as well as I did.

A vivid memory for me revolves around this costume, and yet has little to do with it.  Being the odd duck that I was I used to like to wear my Halloween costumes around the house long after Halloween was over and done with....and I mean looooong after.  Like April.  One of my sisters was just under one, and my mom used to put her in one of those walkers that every kid used to have when they were learning to walk.  My mom had this big potted plant in the corner of our living room, and my sister used to like to toddle over to it and try to eat the dirt in the pot.  My mom left the room for a minute and told me to make sure my sister didn't get near the plant.  About a second after she left the room, my grandmother called and I answered the phone and sat there gabbing for a few minutes.  My grandma asked where my mom was, and I told her she was in the kitchen or something, and then she asked who was watching my sister. I distinctly remember saying to her "I am, but she's eating dirt right now" with nary a hint of alarm in my voice.  My grandma told me that I'd better go stop her and we hung up, at which point my mom came into the room.  She was not exactly pleased with me, so she sent me to my room.  And this was fine with me--because that's where my books, crayons, dolls, etc. were.  The amusing part? I was wearing this costume.  And when I think about it as though I were an invisible observer in the room the ridiculousness of it makes me laugh.

Unfortunately, I haven't been blogging long enough to have any bloggy friends to tag with this...but if you've stopped in and want to give it a shot leave me a comment so I can see what you come up with.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da... goes on.  Just like it always has...

Such a small matter for me to complain about....

I bought some loverly red plaid wool with the vision of a glorious messenger bag in my head.  I bought a pattern that I thought would be quick and easy.  And with both of those purchases, I bought a lesson as well.  The kind that you only get through hours of work, a sore neck, needle-stuck fingers, and a great big pile of nothing that makes you scoop it up to throw it away while your mother looks on and meekly says "Uh oh."  Yes, after five and a half hours of work I had nothing to show for it except a bag where the fabric refused to be part of a seam, and wacky measurements that didn't line up.  I stuffed it into the wastebasket and went to bed.  Then, a little while later, I started to feel bad. For the fabric (yes, I know--craaazy!)...but I kept thinking how I had treated this beautiful fabric so terribly when it wasn't ITS fault the pattern was crummy and my fingers just couldn't make it work.  So I got out of bed and rescued it and readied myself for one more go, older and wiser.  When I went to give it a second go tonight, I realized there was no way it would work with my already cut fabric, no matter how I tried to wiggle it all into place.  So, I decided to make myself a mini-tote (the only thing besides a wristlet I had enough fabric for.  Now that I'm thinking of it a wristlet would have been adorable....have to visit the wastebasket again).   So here are a few pics of the drama:

The wreck I tried to make work, but just could not

The miniature tote I ended up with.

I am keeping this as a reminder that no matter what the vision, no matter how much effort is poured into something, sometimes it just doesn't work out.  But you can keep working with what you have and still have something that's worth it.  And that no matter what your problem of the moment is, something is always worse.  Much, much Haiti, for example.  I was in bed listening to the radio and the reporter was talking about how thousands of Haitians went to church yesterday, and were raising their voices in prayer and song, praying for relief but also thanking God they were still alive.  And I felt really stupid.  Because I was upset that a bag I don't need wasn't working out on the new sewing machine I just bought myself (bought for no good reason other than I wanted it).

I made my donation to the Red Cross' Haitian relief fund, older, and wiser, and humbler.

My next post should be a little more light-hearted--I was tagged by Meream so I have to go find an old photo that fits the bill...  

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's not easy being green.....

Want to see the most awesome cookie jar ever?

There.  There it is.  A bright red handbag.  Love it!  It's actually too small to be a decent cookie jar, so maybe it's more of a candy jar kind of thing. I don't care--whatever it's supposed to be it's nifty.

Sooo....I love winter.  I love wearing cozy sweaters and drinking lots of hot beverages and knitting afghans that lay across my lap and keep me warm as I make them grow.  I don't even mind the snow--it makes the world pretty.  But today, I was getting ready for work and felt very m'eh about my wardrobe choices.  I wanted to be cozy but I felt the need for some funk.  So I donned these:                                      

My sister told me she would kill me if she saw me ever wear these in a season other than summer.  She would actually like to kill me any time I wear them. She haaaaates these shoes.  Last summer I was in Target and saw them--they were pretty cheap at $25, but I felt it would be too whimsical of a purchase.  A few weeks later I was in Target during my lunch break and thought that if they were still there (they had only had one pair in my size) I would buy them because obviously they were meant for me.  They were there and at half price (to which my sister said "Bee, things on clearance are there for a reason").  I snatched them up, and it took a lot for me not to put them on the second I got in my car (the fact that I had on a purple shirt helped--even I won't unmatch that much).  I'm pretty sure they have magic powers.  They're extremely comfortable and I feel like I float when I wear them.  I haven't had a bad day when I've worn these shoes. 

Not fun: making curtains.  Measure. Fold. Pin. Press. Measure. Fold. Pin. Press. Stitch. Repeat. At least I get something totally unique out of the process.

Fun:  Meream, over at Bored and Crafty gave me a little mention and a link on her blog because I sent her photos of an antique teapot I found (she collects novelty teapots and has a few I want to steal).  She's in the Philippines so that was kind of neat.  And a girl I work with makes cards and jewelry and has a blog to showcase her work (which is beautiful--so detailed!) and gave me a little shout there at Notions By Teres.  Check them out for some lovelies.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh. Em. Gee.

What a crazy first week of the new.  Work is always busy in January, but this past week was especially so, for some reason.  And I made a resolution (don't I always?) to be more rigorous about exercising.  I didn't do terrible. And after all the junk I inhaled throughout December it actually felt really good to get back to fruits and vegetables and eating lighter in general.  I had to cave and buy these lovely little bits when I saw them today (I'm a sucker for cuteness--see what I did there)?  A few are already missing, of course...I deserved a treat  :)

Anywho, I bought meself a new sewing machine. I love my old one--it was a Christmas present from my mom, and was ridiculously inexpensive, and she only bought it so I could sew linings into the knitted bags I was making at the time.  I don't think she had a clue how much that baby would pump out in a few short years. She (her name is Lola) still works great, and will be a better machine for when I'm piecing quilt blocks, but this new machine powers through layers like a hot knife through butter, which is better for bag-making.  A blog I follow did a review of this machine, and I had my eye on it before, so I figured I should just go for it.  I named this one Maggie.  Mostly I name them so when I'm getting frustrated I can yell at them like it's their fault (i.e. "Dammit, Lola.  Why can't you just flippin' do what I'm telling you to?").

In other news....I watched an episode of "Hoarders" the other night, and was overcome by an inexplicable feeling of having to get rid of things.  So I took a good, logical look at all my stuff, and got rid of a ton.  It's amazing how good it feels to just clear out things that have sat there collecting dust for years.  I'm too lazy to bother with ebay, so I boxed it up and am going to take it over to my church in a few weeks when the St. Vincent de Paul Society does their pick-up.

And since I've had a bag of fun fabric waiting for me to reform it, I of course did some sewing.  My grandma had this adorable little bag when we were out there over Christmas.  Here's a crappy picture of it (I didn't intend to show it here or I would have taken a better shot--I just needed shots to try to copy from):

I reeeeeallllly love the fabric but couldn't find anything comparable.

It's a cute little simple bag that she stashed her quilting supplies in, and it made me want to make a few.  They're already pushing Valentine fabric at Joann's, so I bought a few things along that line, but not really holiday-specific.  Here are the two I made:

These are for sale in my shop--link is at the right. Trust me - they're cuter in person.

The one on the left makes me think of cheesecake for some reason.  And the one on the right makes me think of milkshakes for obvious reasons.  They're pretty darn cute.  All of these fabrics did not want to become a tote bag as they fought me every step of the way.  I kept making one rookie mistake after another, and by the time all was said and done--I had a loverly headache.  I kind of don't want to sell these because I'm in love with them, but I have no practical use for them right now as I have about 500 bags already.  I made these on my new machine, so the stitching is really nice because all those layers weren't slipping around all over.

And now, my observations for the week:
1. In college, they told us that kids don't understand sarcasm until they're about 11.  Whoever originated that theory never met my nephew.
2.  No matter how hard I try not to, I will ALWAYS find the slowest line anywhere.
3.  Only in my yoga class do I have no balance.  I stomp around and look like an angry bull trying to pull off a tree pose (MODIFIED, at that), and yet when I show my brother what it is--no problem.
4.  I should be a crime solver. I'm pretty good at detectiving.  Or else this book I'm reading is written so I can solve it before the sheriff does and just feel good about myself.
5.  I couldn't leave it at 4--I needed a nice even 5th observation. I must have OCD or something.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Auld lang syne

"And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been." ~Unknown

I wish you a pleasant new year--the happy part is in your hands.


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