Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sewn: Mermaid Pouch

On one of the posts with zippered pouches, Cameron commented that she'd be interested in one if I ever got my hands on some mermaid fabric. Turns out, I had a yard of Heather Ross Underwater Sisters tucked away, and a brown zipper that matched perfectly. It's quilting cotton, which doesn't have the nice weight of the upholstery fabric that I think is just perfect for these pouches, so I decided to try fusible interfacing for the first time. Cameron also wondered if I'd be able to do a strap, so that was another new addition for me.

I think it came out adorable.

I fussy cut so one of those mermaids ended up on each side of the exterior pouch. The inside has the same fabric.

I continue to have issues getting the open sides of the zipper to meet perfectly on the side seam--they shift a bit. I wonder if this is because you have to sew the sides together with the zipper open? I wonder if there is a better way to keep those loose ends from sliding, if perhaps I have to pin the heck out of it right there, which is tough, because that's the thickest part of the seam (where the raw edges of the lining fabric and exterior fabric are piled up with the edges of the zipper--lots of layers) and because the zipper is hidden on the inside while I'm pinning. I'll have to think on that a bit. This pouch had even more going on right there because of the strap ends.

That little imperfection aside, I still think this little wristlet pouch is just too cute. And my zipper foot doesn't intimidate me at all anymore. Sheer repetition will make anything easier, eventually!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Snippets of Making

I've already started working on the list for next week's List-it Tuesday--the topic is "creative things I could do in 15 minutes or less," and since most of the creative things I do are slotted into small pockets of time, this is perfect. You don't have to make a colorful, artsy list to participate, either. You can post a hand-written list or type it right into the blog post. I'm guessing lots of people who visit this blog are familiar with the concept of making use of the odd quarter-hour here and there. Perhaps you'll join in next week?

And of course I mention this because it leads right into what I'm posting about--some snippets of making that I've been able to do lately; the fact that I've gotten some creative play recently is helping my mood tremendously. Sunday afternoon I got in some sewing, just two more zippered pouches that were already cut and pinned, but it's amazing how much just the act of sewing them up made me feel so much more like myself. One was for my daughter, the long-promised pencil pouch, and the other hasn't reached its destination yet, but I'll be sure to share some pictures of it when it does.

I also created a handmade card this week. I started by layering some collage and paint on a 9x12" piece of Bristol board. Then I cut it into four pieces and added to one of the pieces to make my card (not shown). Here are the other three pieces, waiting to be worked into at some point and turned into more cards.

Also this week I borrowed the Artist's Journal Workshop from the library. I saw Jodi's review and immediately requested it through inter-library loan. It's a fantastic, inspiring book. I would love to create spreads like the ones shown in the book. The thing with drawing, though, is you only get better at drawing by...drawing. So I've been trying to sit down and draw.

That's the spray bottle that I use for artsy/crafty things. It's usually on the ironing board or the art table, and last night it was on the art table, so I drew it. The bottom is off--that curve on the left? all wrong. But how do you get better at drawing? By drawing. And oooh, do you see the date stamp at the top right? I can't explain why I wanted one so badly, but I did, and it turns out they cost less than $5 at Staples. Satisfying a want for less than $5 is pretty sweet.

Feeling prickly is a fairly good indicator that something is out of whack, and what's been out of whack is filling my well with some creative time. So, into the tiny slots of time it goes--a quick sketch, a layer of paint, whatever I can manage. It's that important.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

List-It Tuesday: Nostalgia

It's List-It Tuesday, so here I am again with my list. This week's suggested topic was "things that make you nostalgic," which stumped me. So, like the good English major I used to be, I turned to the dictionary. The second definition, the one I incorporated into my list, is, I think, the one we all most associate with the word: "a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition." No wonder I was having trouble! My husband has described me as the least sentimental person he knows. (I will get back to that in a moment...)

The first definition of the word also shed some light for me. "The state of being homesick: HOMESICKNESS." When I was ten, I lived away from home for about six months or so. It was not a good situation. (Hello, understatement, and backstory! It's not coming, sorry.) At the beginning, I was excessively and sentimentally homesick; I can't even think about how excessively and sentimentally. I got over it, because it wasn't changing anything. As hard as I've thought about it, I can't remember ever being homesick in that way again, not at college, not traveling by myself, not at all that I can think of. Safe to say I detached.

The excessively sentimental side of me went underground, too. The items from my childhood that I've thrown out or let slip through my fingers--you'd be appalled. (When I got engaged I threw out an entire box of letters from old boyfriends. I figured it was wrong to keep them, and I've never missed them, although I didn't realize at the time that letter writing would basically become extinct, and quite soon. At the very least, they'd make excellent collage fodder now.) I know people who are sentimental about The house to which my firstborn came home from the hospital, where he took his first steps, was also filthy with lead paint, super duper tiny, and in a neighborhood where lawns were regularly sprayed with nasty chemicals. I was extremely happy to leave it. And while I do own special objects, I'm hard pressed to think of any loss of thing that would devastate me.

But I am sentimental about my children's childhoods...perhaps even excessively so. I've tucked away all manner of odd flotsam and jetsam, and they can decide, when they're older, if they want to keep any of it. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to take note of as many moments as I could, not just the highlight-reel moments but the everyday ones as well. While I danced with my first baby in the sling throughout the night in the dark living room of that old, small house, because he couldn't sleep otherwise for colic, I looked down at that sweet baby face and thought, I will remember this night, this song playing softly, this lullaby I sing to you, this beautiful, ordinary, just-us moment. Over and over and over I have repeated the attempt to cement a moment fast in my mind and my heart.

And thus, this week's list is more of a heart-wish than a list. I cannot be accused of living in the past, or even wanting to. But if I could jar up just one day from each year of each of my children's lives--if time travel existed, I'd visit them all again, even just briefly.

And see? I am sentimental, because just writing this post has made me tear up just a bit. And you? What makes you nostalgic?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

List-It Tuesday

About all I've been "creating" lately is lists, so when I saw Aimee was starting up List-It Tuesday again I figured that, at least, was something I could do. This week's theme is resolutions for the remainder of the year, but instead I decided to take a few minutes (stolen between supervising the bedtime routine and packing my son's lunch for the following day) to write down all the things I'd like to make, when I can re-work this crazy schedule and find the time.

You can click on that to make it big enough to read, I'm pretty sure. I scanned it, so the far left edge is a little blurry in spots. The stamps were an impulse buy at Target yesterday, and I am so bad at stamping alphabet stamps; I have to work on getting the pressure just right so I get a nice stamp of the letter but none of the edge. My list is not as gorgeous as Aimee's, but it is written down now, so when I get those precious itty chunks of time, I don't wander around going, What did I want to do again?

Where have my creative energies been going instead? Mostly in getting ready for my co-op classes and supporting my kids' project-based learning (here and here, and I'm not up to date on posting about it all yet). I think I'd be doing a little better if we could ease into the day, but with one in school, too, that's not possible. So I'm just hanging in until things even out, which I hope they do soon. Meanwhile, I have the goal of at least once a week producing a slightly prettier list than my usual scrawled-in-the-daily-planner type of list. Although, I think those workaday lists are pretty fascinating and just might share some of those, too!

Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm still trying to work on this schedule of mine. Meanwhile, all I have to show is that I've finally managed to hang the two paintings that came out of the Pages and Paint workshop that I actually wanted to frame. Both of these are hanging in rooms that don't get very much (or good) natural light, so the pictures are just so-so. Both were also painted on 6x6" flat gessobords, and I decided to frame them using Blick's gallery frames in the same size. I was just waiting until I had to place another order at Blick, and I just did, for the co-op art class that begins this week. (!yay!) These frames were each under $10 and I'm really happy with how the pieces look in them. I didn't cover them with the plastic front piece; I prefer these to be framed but still open.

This is the one I did using a sketch of my daughter playing at the beach, and it's hanging in her room now.

And this is my poetry quote (from Prufrock, of course). It's now hanging on my (still-unpainted) bedroom wall, where I can see it when I wake up.

You can see both of these paintings in much better light in photos from previous posts: beach and quote.

I've also finally gotten around to getting my birch trees ready for hanging. I always envisioned this hanging loosely, so I added casings at the top and bottom and bought some really beautiful oak dowels at the hardware store. I hemmed the sides, sewed the casings, and cut the dowels to size. The bottom one isn't meant to be seen--I may add a few stitches to hold it in there securely--it just adds weight so the fabric hangs nicely. The top one extends two inches out on either side, but you can't really see that, because my assistant (my younger son) has the dowel in a very firm grip, being very mindful that dropping mama's trees (which he likes very much) would get them dirty.

This isn't quite ready to hang--my original thought had been to gently carve into the top dowel near each edge, just deep enough so that some hanging wire or fishing line wouldn't slip out of it; I'd wrap the wire on each side, with some slack, and hang it from the middle. I still want to hang it that way, but I'm going to look for some finials or end caps that fit the ends, instead of carving indentations. I think it will give it a more finished look, and also make sure the wire or line doesn't slip off the ends. This requires another trip to the hardware store, so it may take a bit to finish this off completely, but I'm almost there. Another plus of hanging it this way is that it doesn't hide the back, which is just as interesting, in its own way, as the front.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sewn {Obsessively}: Zippered Pouches

I spent last week easing into the new schedule around here. It's not like I've been sleeping in all summer--my daughter made sure of that--but getting up, showered, packing lunch, and being outside with my oldest by 7:45 to wait for the bus (I hate waiting for the bus in my pajamas; I need to be showered and dressed first) took its toll last week while my body adjusted. One night, I lay down at 6:30 intending to rest my aching head for fifteen minutes. I woke up three hours later. It's hard to get any crafting done when you're unconscious during your crafting time!

Nonetheless, I made slow-but-sure progress, assembly-line style, with a dozen zippered pouches.

My present closet is pretty stocked now, wouldn't you say?! When I ordered the 8" zippers for my sons' pencil pouches, I added in ten white 5" zippers to make more of the smaller pouches using that great upholstery cotton, including the purple and green version I bought at the same time I bought the camo fabric for the pencil pouches. The purple and green pencil pouch is mine, for bringing supplies back and forth to the art class I'll be teaching at our homeschool co-op. I'll be making my daughter a pink pencil pouch, with a black zipper, so it wasn't included in this assembly line, which used white thread. Not shown is one more camo pencil pouch, which has already been mailed to my nephew, who had trouble finding non-girly pencil pouches to fulfill his school supply list. But that leaves ten small pouches for the present closet, and I adore them all.

As I said, these were sewn assembly-line style, with the last step being hand-sewing the turning opening in the lining. Up until this point I've just run them through the machine, but I had eleven to do, and my husband and college football were upstairs, while the sewing machine is downstairs. It's been a while since I sat and hand-sewed; it's so enjoyable. I'm feeling the need for some hand-sewing or embroidery projects soon.

I'm not quite sure I'm done with the zippered pouches yet. I'm still not perfect with the zippers. I'm much better at sewing them in, and a top-stitched zipper makes me nearly smug with satisfaction. I don't always sew the sides perfectly evenly though, which leaves a bit of a jog where the zipper ends don't meet quite exactly. So I suppose there is nothing to do but practice some more, yes?!

And...happy September! My anniversary AND my birthday fall in September, which I suppose will (maybe?) help take some of the sting out of the end of summer. It went too fast...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Up Next: Pink With Sparkles!

So, those of you who remember me from long ago, when I had two boy children and was sure I was a Boy Mama through and through and perhaps not at all cut out for being a Girl Mama, and then I found out I was having a girl child, and remember I said I wouldn't dress her all in pink and frou-frou until and unless she asked for pink or frou-frou?

Behold the yarn for my next knitting project:

That's Dream in Color Starry. The last time we visited the yarn store, my three-soon-to-be-four-year-old was just bowled over by the sparkly yarn. She has been for a while, actually, drawn to all the sparkly bits, some of which aren't anything I want to knit with. But when she admired this one, I told her we'd come back to get enough for a sweater (I wanted to figure out how much that would be exactly before buying it). After viewing some pattern choices, she settled on another Daisy Cardigan, because she has finally outgrown her first one (look at that adorable toddler--go click!!). We went back today, and I pulled all the colors with at least two skeins and from those she picked this pink sparkly yarn with hints of purple.

And you know what? I kind of like the pink sparkly yarn too. Look how far I've come!!