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Monday, June 28, 2010

Embroidery hoop framing tutorial

This was originally posted on my Polka and Bloom blog. Yup! Polka and Bloom now has its own website, with a blog and everything! :-)

This is what you will need:
Your embroidered piece
A hoop which will fit your embroidery
Felt in the same colour as your embroidered cloth (or as close as possible)
Heavy card stock. I used acid free watercolour paper

Glue that dries clear. I used a gel glue, which worked really well
Embroidery thread in the same colour as your cloth + needle

Cut a circle of felt and one of the card stock, they should be the size of the inside of the inner hoop.

Put your cloth on top of the inner hoop and move it around until it is perfectly positioned. Then slide the outer hoop on top.

Remove both hoops and now you have an imprint of how to position the cloth. This is handy, because depending on the glue you are using you will probably have to be quick once you  have applied the glue to the hoops.

Which is the next step. No picture of that (sorry), but there was no time what with the glue drying and stuff.

This is what you do: apply glue to the outside of the inner hoop, then place your cloth on top, using the imprint as a guide. Then apply glue to the inside of the outer hoop and slide it in place over the cloth and inner hoop. Tighten the screw slightly and then pull the cloth taut as you go around the hoop. Once the cloth is evenly taut, tighten the screw properly.

Your cloth and hoop combo should now look something like this.

Your cloth is hopefully quite a bit wider than the hoop, if it isn't you may be slightly buggered. Anyway. Cut the cloth into a circle that is about 5cm/2" wider than the hoop.

Then place the felt circle inside the hoop. There is no need to sew or glue it into place. It is there to protect the stitches and make everything look neat. Especially if your cloth is light.

Now thread your needle with a length of thread that is the size of the circumference of the hoop + 15cm/6". Gather the edge like you would if you were making a yoyo. You want the stitches to be as even as you can and also quite close together, so you get a neat end result.

Which hopefully looks something like this. Pull the thread tight and finish by making a couple of knots in the fabric. The thread/fabric should be so tight that the fabric 'hovers' slightly in the middle, not touching the felt.

Now apply glue to your card stock, be quite generous, but not to the point of soaking the card stock! Also apply some glue to the fabric. Not a lot, just enough to add a bit of extra bonding with the card stock.

Place the card circle in the hoop and press it down firmly all over.

Place something heavy on top. Preferably something that has a flat bottom and covers most of the inside of the hoop. Leave like this for about half an hour, then remove the heavy weight and leave to dry completely.

My set up here is not quite ideal, would have been better if the diameter had been a bit wider. But hey, you work with what you've got, eh?

Tie a nice piece of ribbon or string to the closure of the hoop and hang on your wall.

If you want to be able to remove your embroidered cloth from the hoop at some point, skip any steps to do with glue. In stead of finishing it off with card stock, you can stitch a second felt circle onto the 'yoyo' of the back.

Also, it may be a good idea to wrap the inner hoop in fabric strips like bias binding or similar, which will protect the cloth from wear to some extent. It will add bulk to the ensemble,  though.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stringy turquoise

Some old bracelets. Do you think I like turquoise..? ;-)

Look how stretched out the elastic has become on most of them. In some cases it seems almost brittle. Weird, huh? And how can they become stretched like that when I haven't used them in ages? Also weird..

I am going to cut them up and reuse the beads. But what kind of elastic do I need? Is there a special jewellery/bracelet elastic? Any DIY jewellery experts outthere?

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

I heart Green Day

This is where we spent last Satuday evening: Green Day concert at Wembley Stadium. It was Amazing! No, sorry, gotta put that in all caps: AMAZING!! And to think I almost didn't go! One of the best concerts I have ever been to - it even tops most of the R.E.M. concerts I have had the pleasure of attending!

There were two supporting acts; Frank Turner whom neither of us had about before and Joan Jett (please be aware that the JJ website plays loud rock music when it loads!). Whom we had heard of before, well, we knew one of her songs, 'I Love Rock'n'Roll'. We both agreed that it would have been better if there had been just one opening act: Frank Turner. Joan Jett seems kinda dated and all the songs were sort of samey-samey.

Frank Turner on the other hand - pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that we have bought one of his cds. I am listening to it as I write this! Makes a change from listening to Green Day almost constantly since the concert...

I fear I have got a slight case of bandcrush, if you know what I mean. Or maybe it is just a Billie Joe crush.. Oh deary me.

Ahem. Anyway. The concert. Did I mention that it was Amazing?!

Before the band came on stage there was a 'drunk' pink bunny running around on stage. I am not sure what the heck that was about, but it was pretty funny! Then GD came on and Armstrong told everyone to stand up - which was great because, well, it's a friggin' rock concert so why the hell would you be sitting down all the time? Yeah, that means you, guy in seat in front of me, why did you seem so unenthusiastic?!

Not only was the music excellent, but it was a friggin' great show too. I have seen 'great showman' used to describe Armstrong and I would definitely agree with that. But the other two main band members' personalities absolutely come through as well. And one thing that really struck me is how they all seemed to really be enjoying themselves. It wasn't 'just another gig'. Which makes the audience feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

D'you know, I am actually finding it a bit hard to describe it all, it was all so great; the lights, the screens, the dragging people up on stage and and and. All I really want to say is: WOOO!! Green Day!! Wooooo!!! Yeah!!!

If you fancy reading a review of the concert which is a lot more eloquent than mine, and has some really great photos, follow this link. :-)

PS: Yes, those are earplugs. I can recommend wearing earplugs at concerts. If they are good earplugs, they will shot out all the noise but still let you hear the music. The music actually sounded better with the earplugs in because all the background noise was removed. Seriously. After concerts my ears are usually ringing or buzzing, but not this time. And I don't care how much Tony laughed at me every time I put them in! ;-)

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting to know you - Jacque Lynn Davis

Happy Friday, everyone! It's another interview with a very talented lady! Jacque Lynn does some of the most amazing and inspiring embroidery I have seen in quite a while! I strongly encourage you to head over to her Flickr page and take a look. And that's all I am going to say - I hope you enjoy this interview with a inspiring lady! Thank you, Jacque Lynn!

Your name
Jacque Lynn Davis
The best place to see the things I've made recently and get any of my free embroidery, origami or paper toys patterns is at Flickr: jaquedavis

Where in the world are you?
I live in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, with my family. I am a blood bank specialist in an inner-city hospital there.

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I love to draw digitally and have been for about 12 years. I use an electronic pen and tablet. (WACOM) I draw on the tablet and the design shows up on screen. I start with a blank digital canvas in a software program called Painter IX - a pixel program, and occasionally in Xara Xtreme - a vector program. The Painter IX program has a huge variety of brushes that mimic the appearance of paint, chalk, oil pastels, watercolors, and pens. It is so amazingly fun, and because there is such a variety of brush effects, my digital drawings range vastly in appearance.

Besides drawing digitally, I also knit, sew, embroiderer, create paper toys and origami designs, and love sending mail art.

In the past few months I have been doing lots of freeform or doodle embroidery.

Who or what inspires you?
I get inspiration from many sources. The internet makes the sources very accessible. I love the art of Matisse, Kandinsky, Liechtenstein, Calder and often get library books about art masters. Also, I find artist on flickr or other web sites that just grab my attention. A few of the artist I love are:

Jelene Morris - Rik Catlow - Charles Kaufman - Cynthia Korzekwa - Edward Gorey - Takashi Iwasa - Mamie Joe

When I really really need an art fix I watch the PBS television show, Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations.

The show interviews Outsider and Visionary Artists, people who create because they have such a passion to, that they can't imagine not creating. Every show is a delight, the art that people make well into their 70's and 80's is amazing.

When / how did you learn?
I learned SO much as a kid from my Mom, sewing, knitting, embroidery. Both of my parents were very supportive of any art or craft I wanted to try. I'm still learning. I just learned a new embroidery stitch last week, from watching a Mary Corbet's videos on the web.

And I remember the day I came across Matt Hawkin's paper toys.  I stopped everything to make one of his paper toys, and then spent the next year learning to draw and design my own. I see so many different kinds of crafts or art on the internet; I use so many for inspiration.

Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand?
Ummmm? 'Can't imagine not.

What is your craft "philosophy"?
After years of doing my jobs and errands first and art second, I've switched it around, and am so happy.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
This goes back to my Mom. When I was learning to sew, I'd mess something up ( I once put a sleeve in upside down ). She'd point out that I was just too tired to be sewing. Darn, she was right, that would make me even madder. But I really learned, if I'm goofing up, or things really aren't working out -- probably I am too tired. The same thing goes with drawing, it will be 3 hours after I should have gone to bed, and I will be trying to fix something in a drawing, and finally I'll realize that I'm just too tired to see the fix. Usually the next day things will fall together much better.

Talk a little more about your freeform embroidery
I picked embroidery up again in 2007 and did lots of pot holders and pillows. I drew a number of my own patterns to look like the 1930's and 40's kitschy embroidered towels and they are available free on my Flickr site. Then in 2008 and 2009 I made a lot of cloth dolls from recycled upholstery fabric. Stitching the faces was fun, but I was getting tired of sewing up all those dolls.

I really felt like I was searching for my next direction when I saw on the internet the embroidery art of Takashi Iwasa. AMAZING! It was like opening a door for me. Abstract Embroidery! I wanted to make my abstract embroidery unplanned, so I stitch without drawing a pattern. I start with a large stitched element and then add on more and more where ever I feel the picture needs it.

The delightful thing about freeform embroidery is that I can work on black cloth, because I don't draw any pattern. It is so much fun, and fast. It's all about what I want to put in next, and nothing about what I have to finish up.

Is your art/ craft a business as well? Any advice on running an arty/ crafty business?
Well, I've had some great experiences, and a horrible experience selling my digital art. One coffee shop sold my art, taking no commission at all, but then they changed owners and weren't interested in continuing. I then found a newly opened home decor shop 5 blocks from my house, it seemed perfect, until the owner closed up shop and disappeared owing me the commission for 40 of my matted, framed pieces of digital art he had sold. I was so mad, I even drew a digital picture wishing a POX on him.  ( It made me feel a little better)

Right now I'm not selling anything, I'm just making whatever I want. I do send mail art, it's fun and easy. I just google "mail art calls" and pick out any that seem fun. I also love participating in the free art exhibits and giveaway by the Flickr group "It's Yours, Take it" . It's a group of artists that host street art exhibits in their community and ask others to mail art to them to give away at the exhibit.

Fondest craft-related memory?
10 years old happily gluing glitter on Styrofoam Christmas Ornaments. THANKS MOM!

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
Let's see, most of the dinning room, any and all of the kitchen, a good deal of the living room, supplies in all of the basement - I promise, I don't have craft stuff in my daughters' rooms. Anyone that knows my girls, knows it's 'cause you can't even walk through their rooms.

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?

No, all my drawings are done directly into the computer. The other day I did need to sketch something on paper, I made a mistake, and I actually felt the fingers on my left hand try to hit the "Control" "Z" keys (that's "undo" on the computer) - gosh, it doesn't work on paper.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Threads of contentment

Fresh supplies. That's all it takes to make me feel all happy inside. What can I say, I'm a simple gal. :-)

What's your simple pleasure?

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tutorial: Buttonholes on sewing machine

Hey! When I was making the shirt for Tony, one of the things that I wondered about the most was, how the heck do you make buttonholes on the sewing machine?! I had several phone calls with my mum asking her about the buttonholes and every time she more or less said "gee, I don't know, you just have to try it and practice". Dang! What?! Is there no Magic Buttonhole Trick?!

Nope, there isn't and you know why? Because it is really simple! If I can do it, you most certainly can too! There are just a few steps to it and it's nothing to be scared of (I was, a little, I admit it!).

This tutorial is for a basic sewing machine, so if you have a fancy one that's more like a computer and does most of the work for you, some things may be different. Just saying.

This is what you need:
Measuring tape
Seam ripper
A fabric marker (I used a pencil because it had the best contrast with the fabric)
Fabric -do practice on some scraps before you start making buttonholes on your garments or bags or whatever.
Sewing machine with all its parafernalia: thread, bobbin; and you don't need to change the foot!

Ok, here we go:
On your machine you should have some dials that look something like this. You want to pay attention to the sections marked by the green lines. See how those symbols in red kinda look like buttonholes? That's because they are all about buttonholes!

The dial on the right-hand side determine the length of the stitching of the buttonhole. If you have a small button, you want the stitching to be fairly small, but bigger for a larger button. Play with the settings until it looks the way you want.

The dial on the left-hand side tells the machine what side of the buttonhole you're sewing. You should have 3 red rectangles because one of the settings does 2 sides.

First, measure the diameter of your button. Ok, you've got a number. But how big does the buttonhole have to be? There probably is a buttonhole formula somewhere, but I just measure the thickness of the button and add that number to the diameter twice.

So I guess we can make up our own formula right here. D = diameter, T = thickness, B = buttonhole. So, B = D + (2xT). It's a starting point anyway!

And it may not always hold true, so really you should do a buttonhole test for each button you are making a buttonhole for!

Ok, so now you know how long your buttonhole is going to be. Mark it on your fabric, like in the picture. Kinda like a capitalised I.. Then mark a dot 1-2 millimetres to the left of the line at the top. This is where you insert the needle.

Although, if it is a big button, with a big buttonhole and bigger stitching, you may want to move it a bit further to the left.

Great, we're ready stitch. Insert the needle. Then have a look at the dials (in the picture above and) on your machine. Turn the dial to the first position, marked with 1. And sew from the top to the bottom of the line.

This is the result you should be seeing. But without moving the foot. And possibly not with two different thread colours..

Now turn the same dial to the middle position, the one marked with 2 and 4. It will sew in one place. So sew a few stitches. They will be the one end of the buttonhole.

This is what you should be seeing. Again, you don't need to move the foot.

Now turn your dial to the position on the right, the one marked with 3. And sew. It will automagically sew backwards!

When you get to the other end, turn the dial back to the 2-4 position and sew a few stitches to finish the buttonhole.

This is what you should be seeing . Again, maybe not in multi colour and maybe a bit straighter.. But you get the idea.

And that is basically your buttonhole done. There's just one minor detail: the hole itself!

Get your seam ripper and insert it at one end of the buttonhole. Without picking up any of the stitching! And then you simply rip the fabric to make the hole. Don't do it all in one go, a few millimetres at a time.

And if you're worried that you may have made the buttonhole a little too big, start the ripping 1 or 2 millimetres inside the buttonhole.

Test the buttonhole and maybe trim off the loose threads inside it. And that's it!

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Stitching Borders and Beyond

There are details about a giveaway at the end of the post! Giveaway is closed now, thank you!


I am really (Really REALLY) excited to tell you about this:

I made another ebook. With more embroidery! Yes! Here, look! This is the frontpage:

Golly, it has been a long time in the making, but that is another story in itself! Let's talk about the book instead.

As you can probably tell, it is called Stitching Borders and Beyond. It had a few titles before that. Among them was 'Bob'. But it was suggested to me that that probably wasn't the best title.. ;-)

So, Bob Stitching Borders is a collection of 12 stitches, some are border-type stitches and a few are isolated stitches. I want more people to use these stitches instead of always defaulting to the usual suspects - I am guilty of this too! So much so that I used a few of them in the patterns in the ebook. Such is my addiction to French knot et al!

But the patterns!
Those are just some of them! There are 10 in all. And I gave them all titles, just because I could.

The book is available in the shop and will be on Etsy too very soon.

Would you like to read a few more details about the book, see some more pictures and ohhhhh maybe download a taster of the book? Taster with instructions for the Maidenhair stitch which I have used in two of the above images, and the pattern for the one in the bottom picture! Then pop over to the new polkaandbloom.com website and have a look!

Oh and there's more! If you would like to win a copy of Stitching Borders, leave a comment on this blog post. If you tweet about this post (using the #stitchbob tag so I can find the tweets) gives you another lot in the pot.

I'll pick a winner on Saturday morning, so you have the rest of the week! Thank you for entering, comments are now closed!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

It's a sneak peek!

All will be revealed on Monday. On Sunday for the newsletter subscribers! With a special offer. Oh yes.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this. I hope you will pop in and share in my excitement too! :-)

And I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fox. Ræv. Renard.

Happy Thursday!

Have you signed up for the Polka & Bloom newsletter yet? You can use the form over there in the sidebar. I am working working working on a project which I am almost ready to reveal and the newsletter folks will get the scoop on it! It is of course embroidery related and that's about all that I am prepared to say right now. ;-)

And look who came to visit this morning! We've seen foxes on the 'green' infront of the flats before, but usually at night. But this one was in broad daylight and there were some people fairly nearby the fox, and it didn't seem to bother it at all.

Sniffing the grass. Sniff, sniff, sniff.

And even more sniffing. Errr, no, that pile of dirt behind the fox is not the work of some super mole!

I guess Foxy found a place to mark his/her territory! ;-)

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flattr - support content with micropayments

Thank you all for your sweet comments about Tony's shirt! I think I forgot to mention (not that anyone has asked, but I thought I'd just say it anyway) that Tony picked the fabric for it himself. Isn't that cool? HE is so cool. Oh yes!

Ok, now on to the actual subject of this post-

Have you heard of Flattr? This is their own short explanation of what it is:
Flattr is a social micropayment platform that lets you show love for the things you like. Help support the people you like and enable them to continue with what they do. Add your own things to Flattr and receive appreciation from others.
It is a way to earn a little bit of money from blogging (for example). Yes, I know, not everyone wants to make money from their blog - that's cool too. But that's a different discussion altogether.

So, you can earn a little money. How? Well, you have to sign up for a (free) account and add some buttons to your blog/site/individual blog posts. You have to add some funds to your account and also add an amount to it each month.

See there in the picture, there's a Flattr button at the bottom of the post.

Once you are all set up you simply surf the interwebs like normal. But, if you come across a post you think is really ace, and you want to support that blogger, and the post has a Flattr button, you click on the button! And then that person will get a portion of the amount you are giving out in a particular month. The more things you Flattr, the smaller portions each person gets. But they all still get something!

And of course, it goes the other way too: if other Flattr users see your post and like it, they will click your button and you will get a share of the amount they are giving that month. This is the key to Flattr - you have to give to receive.

I really like this idea! Not so much because you can make a lot of money from it - but because it is saying to other people that 1) you appreciate their work and 2) you want to support it even if you can only afford a little bit.

Not everyone, and certainly not crafters I suspect(!), can afford to buy a lot of beautiful handmade things all the time. But most people 'waste' money on stuff like magazines or Starbucks coffee, so wouldn't it be wonderful if we could support our favourite makers/crafters/writers with just a little bit too?

But the system needs lots of people to have a real effect. Which is why I think you should sign up with Flattr! They are in Beta still, but it shouldn't take more than a couple of days to get your invitation.

There is so much amazing content out there, which people create and share for everyone to enjoy. All those tutorials and free patterns and whatnot - they take time and effort. Wouldn't it be wonderful to give something back to them? To say "this is great! I learnt something. Please make some more. I support you!"

I think it is really important to support each other in any way we can. With comments, yes! Nice emails, yes! But, if we are able to, also with a bit of money. 

If you do sign up to Flattr, do come back here and leave a comment - I would love to spread my Flattr love with you. :-)

If you would like to see more about Flattr - visit their website or have a look at this video.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

It's a shirt and I made it!

I would not call myself an advanced sewer (sewist? what's the right word?), but I think I have just climbed up a few rungs on the sewing ladder. I made this shirt for Tony. That's where the scraps from last week came from. It is the first garment I have ever made all by myself. I have made a blouse for myself, but my mum basically did all the 'difficult' bits, I just did the sewing together!

But this shirt; 100% solo project. I started by taking apart one of his old shirts, making notes on it as I went along, like what is the sleeve doing and where. How wide is the seam, is it double-folded etc etc. Then I made a paper copy of each shirt part, transferring all those notes to the paper. And then I cut fabric to make a muslin version.

Sewing the muslin taught me so much about what order to sew things together: I did some of it in the wrong order - but that just meant I knew how to do it for the Real Thing.

The original shirt was a long sleeve shirt, but because Tony wanted a short sleeve shirt I had to figure out how to alter that. Luckily, he had a short sleeve one that he wanted to get rid of, so I used the sleeve from that to make a template. I didn't try it out on the muslin version first. I just measured the sleeve and the armscye, extending the latter to fit. Luckily, it did! That was a bit nerve-wrecking!

Oh the things I have learnt! And most of it without swearing too much! I had never done a single buttonhole, so there was another thing to learn. I am glad to say that that was really easy - the machine basically does it for you!

By golly, I am so proud of myself. I got my sewing machine about 4 years ago. Before then I couldn't even thread a sewing machine. Seriously, I am not kidding (When I do kid, you'll know it by my use of the word "bazinga.") My mum tried showing me So Many Times and it never stuck!

If I can get to this point in four years, basically winging it all the way, you really, really can too! You just need patience, perserverance and determination. And maybe an assortment of swear words!

So. Can I get a Hell Yeah?! And maybe a Woop-Woop?! ;-)

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting to know you - Molly de Aguiar

It's another interview with someone creative! Molly has a really great blog called Charlotte's Fancy. It has become one of my favourite blogs lately - there is just so much fun and colour, you can't help but be inspired! So, once you've been inspired by the interview, head over to visit Molly at her blog. Thank you, Molly! :-)

Your name
Molly de Aguiar

Where in the world are you? 
I live in Highland Park, New Jersey, which is a sweet little town where you can walk to the grocery store and post office and bank and toy store, and yet it’s only a 45 minute drive to New York City and an hour drive to Philadelphia.

I write a blog called Charlotte’s Fancy, about ”favorite things, family life and fun projects.”

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I’m a mom to two girls (Elena, 9, Rosa, 6); a blogger who’s passionate about design, stationery, easy crafts, and all things handmade; and a professional in the field of philanthropy.  

I feature easy crafts on Charlotte’s Fancy once a week (on Mondays). I mostly stick to kid crafts because I want my girls to enjoy making things with their hands, but also because I’m a frustrated artist – I can imagine what I want to make better than I can execute it! So, I stick to the simple projects, but I also try to bring a little bit of design aesthetic to it.

I had to learn some graphic design in college (when I thought I wanted to go into advertising), and so I’ve used those skills over the years for lots of different professional and personal (print) projects: annual reports, brochures, newsletters, and lots and lots of party invitations. I know enough to do some fun stuff, but not enough to be a professional designer. I think the graphic design skills help inform the crafts I do, the layout of Charlotte’s Fancy, and the kid parties I’ve put together over the years.

When I am not featuring my own easy crafts, I like to showcase really fabulous handmade artists on Charlotte’s Fancy.

Who or what inspires you?
That list is pretty long, but I think first and foremost, I am a paper junkie. I have a huge box of stationery for thank you notes, birthday cards, Valentines, Christmas cards, etc. From there, it’s only a small leap to wrapping paper, ribbon, colorful pens, tags, twine, rick rack, fabric and everything that goes with packaging pretty gifts. 

I am also inspired by colors – especially bright, colorful, cheerful colors. I will never get sick of yellows and aquas and lime greens and pinks and oranges and – well, you get the picture. Most of my crafts tend to be colorful.

When / how did you learn?
Frankly, I should be a lot more talented than I am. My paternal grandmother was an amazing seamstress. My maternal grandmother sewed the most meticulous quilts and also did a lot of needlepoint. I learned not all that long ago that it was my mom who taught my grandmother how to sew quilts and not the other way around, so, it goes without saying that my mom is pretty amazing with a needle and thread too. She does everything by hand. My sewing skills are remedial, at best, although when I young, I dabbled in sewing, needlepoint, embroidery and a little bit of cross stitch.

Here’s what I am pretty good at, though:  I can figure out how things are made (ok, how *simple* things are made), and then make my own version, putting my own spin on it.

Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand?

I think there’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment in making things with your own hands – especially when it turns out like you wanted it to, or better. I want my girls to feel that excitement too, and I want them to learn to be confident in their creativity – because no matter what they decide to do for a living, being creative will serve them well.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
Hm. For me personally, I suppose it’s ”keep it simple.” I don’t venture into difficult territory, because I don’t feel like I have the time or patience to take on big, challenging, crafty projects.

Fondest craft-related memory?
When I was a kid, I had a couple of craft books that I loved. One was a book called Steven Caney’s Kid’s America, and it had all kinds of activities, games and crafts in it that I loved to try out. I remember trying to make my own ink from walnuts (I lived on a farm, and we actually had a walnut tree, but it was the wrong season when I tried this, so the ink didn’t turn out). We also had this crazy 70s craft book called the SUPER BOOK OF THINGS TO MAKE AND DO (the title was in all caps like that), which my sister still has. I don’t remember if I actually made anything from that book, but I remember poring over the pages of it over and over again.

Have you always made 'stuff'?
Yeah, I have. When I was a kid, I dabbled in all kinds of crafts, but I really concentrated my efforts on making newsletters and ’zines – and I was always trying to get my mom to buy subscriptions. My father was a writer and my mother, when I was young, worked for a direct mail firm doing newsletter subscription fulfillment, so I took my cue from them and made my own newsletters. 

Periodically, I dream about writing my own ’zine as an adult. I’m enamored with online magazines – I love that they aren’t burdened by the traditional publishing costs and that all you need is an abundance of creativity and a little bit of design skill. 

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?

I do a lot of quiet brainstorming – a lot of free association – particularly on my way to and from work. I tend to think and craft in a collage style – I pull bits and pieces of inspiration from a lot of different places (books, blogs, magazines, etc.) and put it all together in one project.
 How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
I get really annoyed with myself when I can’t make something that looks so simple. There are crafts in children’s craft books that I have not been able to make! When I made these wooden puppet spoons recently, I repainted the face of the man with the mustache three or four times before I was satisfied with it. Sometimes I just give up – I can think of at least three crafts I tried to do for Charlotte’s Fancy that I had to give up on.  I am pretty picky about how I want things to turn out (I think most people are, right?)

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?

For kids, I’m a fan of all of the Usborne ”Make and Do” activity books – there are lots of them, like ”Mermaid Things to Make and Do” and ”Fairy Things to Make an Do” and ”Monster Things to Make and Do.” The illustrations are really adorable and the crafts are fun and easy and creative. I also really like Todd Oldham’s ”Kid Made Modern,” which has excellent ideas and is beautiful to look at.

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?

I pretty much do everything at my dining room table – it’s a big table and it’s got the best light in the house for when I want to take photographs of my crafts.
 Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
I don’t – I guess Charlotte’s Fancy is my journal, of sorts.

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
I never intended to do my own crafts on Charlotte’s Fancy, but I think, at some point, I felt the need to create original content, rather than curating other people’s work. I also wanted to challenge myself to set aside time to for creative pursuits – because it’s so easy to get caught up in housework and errands and other chores and not protect the time to be creative. By instituting a regularly scheduled day on Charlotte’s Fancy for crafts, the internet keeps me honest – it forces me to keep my commitment to creativity. 

I’ve had a little bit of success getting my crafts featured in other places (One Pretty Thing, The Crafty Crow, Craft Gossip, and recently on CRAFT), which is something so thrilling and that I never would have imagined. So the internet inspires me to keep dreaming up new, interesting projects to make and hopefully continue to get featured on these crafty blogs I admire so much.
Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
I would never characterize myself as a person who makes art and I don’t think I would call myself a true crafter either. The crafts I do are basically the kinds of things lots of moms out there do with their kids. Really, I’m just trying to find creative outlets, and making crafts for Charlotte’s Fancy is one of them. I am constantly amazed by all the real crafters out there who make such unique and beautifully crafted items.

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or even skill, what would it be?
Well, this isn’t particularly ambitious, but I wish I could convince myself to put the time and effort into learning how to sew well. I would love to be able to sew anything I wanted – from kids’ clothes to quilts to elaborate costumes. Can you just wave a magic wand over me and make that happen, please?

Instead, I make my nine year old take sewing lessons and live vicariously through her. (But she’ll thank me later). 

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Random crochet picture

The crocheting isn't random, though. Just the picture. :-) The crochet project is too big to be random. So big, in fact, that I try not to think about the End Result too much - one step at a time!

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Where has all the crafty gone?

Actually, there has been lots of measuring, marking, folding, pinning, basting sewing going on. I have been so occupied with it that the dining room table is full of fabric and other mess is piling up on other flat surfaces - it's a miracle I can pull myself away long enough to pull together dinner for us!

But now I am almost at the end of it and very soon I can show you what I have been making. My mum will be so proud of me. Oh yes.

And - Happy June! Can you believe it is here already?!

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