Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Quest for Tidy Continues

I think I neglected to mention here that my Etsy shop will be taking a summer vacation. My sewing machine desperately needs a tune-up and I'm looking forward to spending time with my family, including my husband, Chris, who is finishing up a 2 1/2 month gig at the Old Globe Theatres in San Diego. I'll reopen my shop in July with a (hopefully) re-energized machine and brain.

One thing I'm doing during my hiatus is my on-going quest to tidy my work space. I've seen so many inspiring studios on other blogs, including Jenn Maruska's recent studio updates, that I've been anxious to get mine in order. And yesterday, I got a terrific book, "Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space" by Lois Hallock from the library.

It is filled chock-a-block with ideas but one really stood out: "Keep all thread, machine feet, pins, and scissors nearby." By "nearby" she means within 16 inches when you are seated and I had my supplies strewn across my long sewing table. So last night, in a fit of mad organizing, I cleaned out the top drawer of a filing cabinet I use as a cutting station and filled it with my bag making supplies. Here's the result:

Everything at my finger-tips!

I wish I'd had the forethought to take a "Before" picture, but just imagine ugly stacks of random paper and unused hanging files and you'll have it. The beauty of this drawer is that it pulls out, making it so efficient to get stuff and then stow away.

I love this little area with my snap whackers (I use a quarter for an anvil since I think my original anvil ended up in a wristlet I sent to Michigan), wallet innards, marking tools, extra machine needles and my glassbeach labels by RohmCustom. On the right is a lovely bowl made of wire from Africa that my dear mother-in-law gave me years ago.

I'm seriously crushing over my new drawer. I'm very pleased with the improvements I've made in my studio so far. I haven't made anything prettier, yet, but I've made some things tidier!

ps. I posted the first pic on flickr with some more notes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Brains of Others

I've been buzzing around my studio finishing up some custom orders. I love how custom orders stretch my brain. Other people have ideas about fabrics that I mentally tagged for something else and, voilà, there is something new and unexpected! Here are some nifty ideas from the brains of others.

First, a fused shopping tote for my friend, Steph. This bag was inspired by the
"One Small Change" series on Steph's blog. I used the Fusing Plastic Bags Tutorial from the Etsy Labs Blog. I was so excited to find bags with trees for the exterior!

Next is a Handbag/Passport Wallet in Spumoni that I sent off yesterday. It's so fun to see fabrics that I envisioned in a smaller medium get to spread out and be grand.

Do you have any nifty ideas from the brains of others?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why My Dad Is Cool

Happy Father's Day!

In honor of my dad and my husband, I offer the following essay:

Why My Dad is Cool

1. His fertile imagination

My dad was always willing to tell my sister and me stories. We especially loved the on-going series of “Elfie and Elferina and the Ogre Who Could Not Count.” He also created a running cast of characters that would visit us, including “Mr. Figaro,” a strangely asian Norwegian man who would come and play the accordion at our birthday parties. The best, however, was “Percy the Pumpkin Man” who would visit our front porch every Halloween. My dad would rig up his old squirrel fur coat with gloves and fishing line and an archaic microphone system behind a pumpkin head. You had to chat with Percy before you could get any candy. Dad is a professional story-teller now, so lots of kids get to hear his stories.

2. His creativity

My dad is an amazing artist. Pictionary is an adventure with him because he likes to add shading to his drawings. He is also a master of the ditto, a sadly lost art. For those of you who remember dittos, my dad could do FOUR COLOR dittos!

3. His love of language

Dad just retired after 40 years as an English professor. He taught me about the nuance and intricacies of language for which I’ll always be grateful. He also tried his hardest to teach me to be a good speller, but, alas, spell-check is still my best friend. He’s one of the official judges for the National Spelling Bee, so he is on TV once a year! It’s a big deal at our house for the kidlings to watch for DoGoong (Chinese for maternal grandfather).


Why My Husband Is Cool
(as dictated by my daughters and annotated by me)

1. Because he builds.

Some of the birthday attractions my husband and his friends have built:

a 13’ pirate ship
a castle with a dungeon, waterfall, bridge and climbing wall
a working carousel

Some of the things for Halloween my husband and and his crew have created:
A scary Hell-Tube
A huge aquarium scene with an 8’ jellyfish
Skeleton Theatre

2. Because he makes things sound scary and makes things sound nice

Chris is a composer and sound designer for theatre and is the Resident Sound Designer for the Seattle Children’s Theatre-absolutely perfect for the kidlings. They get see the sets getting built, meet the actors and see some darn fine theatre.

3. He has a studio

We and the above-mentioned crew built a recording studio in the basement. The kidlings love to go and play around with equipment and all the instruments down there. I particularly like the isolation booth because I can send them there and get a little peace and quiet.

4. He hugs


So I feel quite blessed to have 2 such remarkable men in my life. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy and Chris!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fabric Bonanza!

Yesterday I braved the pouring Seattle rain to buy some fabric at a yearly sale a lovely lady in my neighborhood holds. She is a fabric rep and every year she sells off her samples for $4.00 a pound! Looky-look at what some of what I bought!

The samples aren't that big and lots of the fabrics are discontinued, but I have plans to start making limited edition items for my shop and these samples will be perfect! While it makes better business sense to make lots of the same items, it's more fun to play around with new fabric whenever possible. My little samples just upped my chances for new fabric frolics without emptying my pockets (too much).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Crafty Saturday-Fun With Koolaid

I've been itching to try my hand at dying wool and felting . So last Saturday, the kidlings and I tried dying wool with Koolaid. It was lots of fun and very cool. We adapted these instructions from with great success. Here are our supplies:

After soaking the wool in warm soapy water and getting kind of sticky mixing the Kool-Aid, we plunked our wool into the dye baths:

So bright!

We microwaved each dye bath in 2 minute increments. The purple and green took about 6 minutes each, the red took about 8 minutes. We knew we were done when the bath water was clear:

We let the wool cool a little bit and then took it out to dry.

Next time we'll use gloves

And here's the final product:

Next up: Felting!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bon Voyage!

Today I'm shipping off the first round of Passport Wallets I've been listing in my shop. These were adapted from the pattern I designed for Adorn Magazine. They've been a kick to sew and, because I tend to be anthropomorphic about my stuff, I dreamed up little scenarios of the places these wallets would visit.

These guys have also been make some guest appearances. One turned up in an Etsy travel-themed treasury:

And another was featured on yesterday's Indie Diner!

Bon Voyage, my little passport-carrying friends. Travel safe and be well!

ps I just have to add one more treasury by Analiese because it is such a gorgeous list!

Monday, June 11, 2007

But Wait, There's More!!!

Today has been the best feedback day! Here are some more wonderful feedback pics:

These are from Freckled Nest who has a terrific blog. Check out her post about her pie!

Thanks you guys!

Best. Feedback. Ever.

So, if you've hung out at Etsy for a while, you probably know that you can include an appreciation picture when you leave feedback for something you've bought or sold. Look at this happifying pic I woke up to this morning:

It's my good pal, Liz, with one of my wristlets. As a seller, I couldn't ask for better feedback! (Isn't she adorable?)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

More Cockle Warming

I hope I'm never so jaded that the sight of a little gold star next to an Etsy Treasury doesn't give me a flutter of excitement, but some of my things were recently in two treasuries that gave me the happy-sniffles.

First was another bloggie friend treasury by my friend, Steph. While we've been in a treasury together, this time she listed me among her blog pals. Aren't friends fun?

The other was a treasury made by JPATpurses, a bag-maker extraordinaire. I'm thrilled to have one of my bags on a list that includes so many of my Etsy bag-maker idols.

Because I have no idea how to make this treasury clickable, here's a list of these bag makers for you to check out: jpatpurses, BlackBags, blissbyheather, bagladiesinpa, blissful, jennalou06, BananaShowcase, MadBags, thefunkybaglady, jcasa, and ChicBoutique.

ps. wikipedia tells me that "cockles" refers to the ventricles of your heart. Just another little bit of trivia for you to store away!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meet the Maker-Plumm

Welcome to the inaugural entry of my “Meet the Maker” feature! Today’s interview is with Amanda of Plumm. I’ve long admired the clean lines and details of Amanda’s bags. I find her blog insightful and full of a bag-lover’s eye candy. Thank you, Amanda, for agreeing to be my first interview!


1) Tell me about the first bag you ever made.

The first bag I made I called the "Gumdrop". It was a cotton candy pink number with cute grosgrain ribbon handles. It was a Christmas gift for my little Niece. I have known how to sew since middle school, but had only done pretty basic curtains, pillow covers, simple alterations, etc. But, when I couldn't find the perfect little girly bag for my niece I was inspired to take things to the next level. I just did a few sketches, sat down at the sewing machine and made a purse. I realized pretty quickly that I just intuitively knew how to do it...I have been making purses as often as possible since that day!

Lucia by Plumm
2) What is something you look forward to in your creative process?

Without exception my favorite moment in creating my bags is the moment I get to 'flip it'. Meaning when I have finished all of the wrong side stitching, attached the liner to the exterior, and can finally turn it right side out to reveal my finished purse. I almost always work straight through from finalized sketch to finished bag without really stopping...the flipping is when I see how well the picture in my head was brought
through to reality. Sometimes I am disappointed, sometimes very pleasantly surprised, but always very excited to see what I've got!

3) What is something you dread in your creative process?

Cutting! Arg. I definitely don't love cutting layers and layers
of the same shape....not fun. When I am doing the initial cutting for a new design I don't really mind it because it still feels creative...It's the repetitive cutting of making my established patterns that can get tedious. Oddly enough I never mind sewing the bags I've made over and over...just the cutting.

4) What role does Plumm play in your life?

Plumm is a beautiful sidetrack, a consuming distraction, a constant companion. My mind really is a constant creative force. Plumm is where I focus the majority of my creative energy. Although I do paint my kitchen cabinets a different color every year or so. I am just obsessed with color and line. I need to see my ideas come to life one way or another...If I can't sew I start to color with the kids crayons, or dream up a new paint scheme for one of our rooms.

5) Corollary: How do you balance Plumm and the rest of your life?

I think about new designs, fabrics, and color combos constantly...but I am a stay at home mom to a couple of very active preschool aged boys. This makes it a challenge to get much time to work through my visions. I am pretty much limited to when they are asleep. I am constantly working to maintain the balance between my mommy responsibilities and my need to create...I find myself having to hold back quite a bit right now because the kids need me a lot of the time. As they transition into school I see Plumm growing quite a bit. I really intend to dedicate those hours to creating....we'll see!

Kristen by Plumm
6) What are some things of note about the rest of your life?

I am married to amazing person...he is a mechanical engineer by day and a Kick a$$ wood turner by night. His Etsy shop is called 'Form'. Being married to someone who is also obsessed with creating makes my life all the better. We feed of each other's creativity and passion.

We have two boys. Luke, 3, who is homemade and Zakai, 2, who we adopted from Taiwan about a year ago. Both of them are truly special beings. We are blessed.

I also have had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 9 months old. Because of this I have a bunch of fused joints in my hands and arms. I am on a pretty effective new medication right now so every thing is just peachy...3 cheers for medical research!

7) What is your favorite tool in your studio?

My sewing machine, hands down!!! It's nothing fancy but it allows me to take flat rolls of fabric and turn them into these beautiful, useful objects...That's pretty amazing.

8) Any hints about your next creation?

Hmm...Well my sketch book is filling up with wrap skirts right now. I was given a Serger for my 30th birthday (thanks Mom) and as soon as I learn to use it I hope to begin stocking the Plumm shop with some fabulous clothes. I have so many's really just a matter of finding time.

All photos courtesy of Plumm.

A New Feature On Its Way!

I’m so excited to introduce a new blog feature: “Meet the Maker”! I will periodically post interviews with other bag makers that I admire. My first interview is with Amanda of Plumm and it will be posted…well, in about five minutes.

Here’s a little background:

I fully admit to having a competitive streak (see Geller, Monica v. Pictionary). While I want everyone to one day carry one of my things, I realize that nobody has just one purse so there is room for all of us bag-makers to rule the world. Etsy’s “Bags and Purses” category has been a constant source of artistic inspiration for me and there are some bag-makers that give me a frisson of excitement whenever they list something new. I love learning about artists’ creative processes and these interviews give me a chance to have a small peek into the brains of other bag designers. I hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I do!

Monday, June 04, 2007

MAUVEalicious Treasury

Yay, I'm in another Etsy treasury! As always, I'm so pleased to have one of my bags amongst such prettiness. Thanks again, bellarosebyliz!

And isn't "mauve" a fun word? To satisfy my idle curiosity, here is what wikipedia told me about the derivation of "mauve":

"Mauve was first named in 1856. Chemist William Henry Perkin, then eighteen, was attempting to create artificial quinine. An unexpected residue caught his eye, which turned out to be the first aniline dye—specifically, mauveine, sometimes called aniline purple. Perkin was so successful in recommending his discovery to the dyestuffs industry that his biography by Simon Garfield is titled Mauve."

Now you have a little nugget of knowledge to use next time you play "Trivial Pursuit"!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My Crafting Needs A Soundtrack

My husband gave me a super MP3 player for my birthday and I've had a lovely time filling it with songs from the late 80's. However, I've discovered I can't really use it when I'm crafting because I've either

1) come too close to cutting the cord in half with my rotary cutter or

2) I've been startled out of my chair one too many times by a family member looking for clean socks.

Instead, I've had some of my favorite DVDs playing in the background while I sew and I've come to the sad, sad conclusion that I watch the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" mini-series far too often. I really have to branch out. And yet I'm drawn to Colin Firth's yummy sternness and Jennifer Ehle's adorable archness. And I'm not the only one who loves Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"-I was delighted to find these Elizabeth Bennet Ear Bobs in the shop of my blog pal, Steph:

But enough is enough. So, I beg you, please help me with suggestions of other DVDs to update the soundtrack in my studio!