Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nautical Project - Part Deux

I had a fair amount of nautical fabric left, and really no idea what I'd do with the little pieces. I imagined that I could cut some more squares and make another pillow, but I didn't want our small apartment inundated with nautical throw pillows, and I wanted to avoid turning into a one-trick pony. I got a few sewing books around Christmas as gifts and I decided to flip through them and see if there were any patchwork ideas contained within them. I found one in Anna Marie Horner's book Seams to Me.

I decided that some lucky kid would love a For Kicks Patchwork Ball. It seemed easy enough...just cut out the shapes according to the patterns contained within the pattern pouch of this colorful and easy-to-use spiral bound book. So I set out and cut the necessary pentagons and hexagons in the three nautical fabrics. I pulled out my sewing machine and set to work.

The sewing was fast going for this ball; mostly a bunch of straight or "modified L" stitches. I have to admit that I did not cut, nor did I sew, this perfectly but the fabric and layout was forgiving. The directions were easy and intuitive, so I wasn't overwhelmed. I took a few breaks because I haven't perfected my sewing posture, and my lower back was achy.

Once all the pieces were assembled, I began to stuff the ball, but I found that I had used most of my stuffing for the pillows I made for Em. So while my "final product" looks kind of deflated, trust that I will both fully stuff my patchwork ball AND sew it up neatly and hand it over to the closest little (or big...Em's vying for it) kid available.

ETA: A great link to more of Anna Marie Horner's stuff!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Great Fabric Hunt

Now that I'm hyperfocused on my sewing machine, and I've already completed one major project, I'm on the hunt for some really awesome fabrics to play around with and perhaps expand my oh ginger line of products. I've had two fabulous crafty ideas this week, which I'm going to keep to myself until they actually come to fruition. But I'm confident that I can make a few things for friends and family out of neat fabrics. I'm considering making a few pillows for my brother's fancy NYC apartment out of this fabric (from ReproDepot).

Now THAT'S Queering Domesticity!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Depression Cooking

Not sure if you noticed, but the economy is in the crapper. I've been fortunate in that, thus far, things haven't hit me (or us) too hard. There are the standard cut-backs at work: no increases until 2010, no cost of living increases, limited professional development opportunities, etc. But overall, Em and I have been blessed that our jobs and our livelihood aren't in grave danger of being ripped out from under us. That being said, and as my last post can attest, being frugal and saving money where you can is always a good idea...whether you're in the midst of a personal financial crisis or just trying to think about where your life will be more than two weeks out. If I can make two pillows with an estimated total cost of $1, I imagine there are a host of other things that we can all do to cut spending and still feel like we're living a full and rich life.

In comes Clara Cannucciari, a 93 year-old grandma and great-grandma from Chicago who, with her family, faced the Great Depression head on. She's worked with someone to set up a YouTube account, Facebook page (just search her name) and has taken the web by storm. In her quick and entertaining tutorials (I'm particularly fond of the way she says "potaytoh"), Clara shows us how to cook filling meals (I'm not going to say they're healthy, because hot dogs and potatoes aren't necessarily artery-friendly) on a tight budget just like she did with her family during the hard times. I think that her lessons can serve to help us all see how we are spending our food budgets and how we could better extend the life of the food we buy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

In which I finally get back to my roots...

My mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas. I had so many great intentions of using it between then and now, but I haven't had the time. Also, when I was younger and learning how to sew, I had the hardest time threading the damn machine. My confidence issues were definitely a hurdle to leap over as well. She's purty.

So last night I stocked up on a few essentials and set to work. I dismantled some boxer shorts Em had picked up because they had awesome nautical designs on them (Em loves nautical stuff). I managed to keep most of the fabric; I removed the elastic waistbands, seams and little notches of fabric that I knew I couldn't use. The fabric was neatly folded and ready for the morning.

This morning I carefully cut 3.5" squares in each of the designs. I laid them out in a pattern that was simple yet pleasing to what I considered to be Em's aesthetic.

Then, I carefully sewed the squares together, ironed the seams flat, and sewed more squares together. I had some navy blue fine-wale corduroy in my sewing stash, so I cut 1.5" strips to create a border for my quick-quilted design. I used a large piece of the corduroy for the back. I sewed the entire pillow together, stuffed it with poly-fill and sewed it shut! I am SO PROUD of my final creation.

I know that nautical/quilted stuff isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I know Em will LOVE it sitting over in the Em Nook of the apartment, and I am so glad that sewing came back to me quickly and instinctively. I imagine this will be a beautiful relationship!

The best part: When I called my Mom and asked what she thought, she said it was beautiful and that my Nanny (my Mom's mother; part of the crafty ancestry) was smiling down from Heaven with pride. And honestly, that makes it all worth it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"I think I just found a dangerous place."

That's what I just said to Em, upon discovering HeyYoYo via Etsy's Storque blog. Currently the proprietor of HeyYoYo has 111 tempting and outrageously awesome vintage and vintage-inspired novelty items for sale, including cupcake liners, sprinkles and toppers.

There is really no way for me to adequately link to all the incredible amazingness that is this shop, but I will give you a small taste. Friends and loved ones...BEWARE! If you ask me to make you baked treats for a celebratory occasion, one of these might be on top of it or wrapped around it!

What I'm listening to...

A few weeks ago I was internet surfing, as the wild and crazy kids call it, and somehow stumbled upon what I thought was just a fun and perky French girl with a sound that's kind of a throwback to Amelie-esque music. I call it "jollily walking down a Parisienne boulevard with a baguette" music.

Who I heard? Cœur de Pirate, of course (in fact, they're from Montreal). Most of what is available about this group is in French, and while I'm a big fan of Babelfish, I think that copying and pasting full paragraphs will only lead to dumbfoundedness and not provide any clarity about the group. What I can say is that it's fronted by the sweetest looking little songbird Béatrice Martin, and the pure piano and symphonic sounds are delightful. When I Babelfished some of her lyrics, I discovered that they were much more complex than the music behind them would suggest, which kind of makes her stuff even more wonderful.

So, head on over to Grosse Boîte/Dare to Care Records and my new ami Michaël will ship out one of their lovely CDs for the nominal price of $15. Not only does buying the CD directly help the artist, but you won't find it on iTunes anyway. Au revoir!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Etsy Find: catsmiaow

I've developed an increasing fondness for birds of late, and I found this one particularly sweet.

Pretty Little Fings 4 THE WIN!

Just a quick THANK YOU to my crafty friend Pang of Pretty Little Fings! I got a most amazing Valentine's Day box in the mail and I cannot thank her enough. I feel so blessed to know a fantastic group of crafters, and it seems that these folks really understand what craft means! Thank you Pang. You're the best!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A present to myself.

I have this habit of putting things into my Etsy cart and deliberating for days and weeks over them. Whether I'm shopping for beads or findings or even just something fun and cute, I can never allow myself to just hit "pay now" when I have the funds available. I don't know if it's guilt or self-torment, but I'm just generally reticent about spending money on something until I'm 1000% sure I want it. Conversely, send me into Target and I could justify almost anything I put into my cart (except this). I don't get it.

Nevertheless, I've had the same item in my cart for a few weeks now, and whenever it sells I go back and add its replacement. I decided, though, that my desk at work hasn't really changed since I started here four years ago, and it is high time I treat myself to new decor. Theoretically I could've been inspired by this IKEA hack, or all the cute stuff I see everywhere that I talk myself out of because I don't have any room left. So anyway, I ordered this print FINALLY and I'm so happy because it's freakin' adorable. I will consider this my inspiration for a desk renovation in the next month or so. Anything to make things a little more chipper during the busiest season of my work year, I say.

$20 at dazeychic over on Etsy.

Next on my list, birdie with a french fry!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Target: A Time Warp

So my BFF and I were wandering, aimlessly, around Target for about 16 hours yesterday. What started out as a quick trip for underpants and socks turned into a world tour of the best store ever. We walked through every department, but the pièce de résistance was not the adorable baby clothes department, the ridiculous knee socks for grown ladies, the make up aisles that we spent close to an hour in (four aisles, mind you, not a massive department). No no, it was in the clearance section for women's clothes. Amid the sweaters, blouses and tank tops I found the most RIDICULOUS shirt I have ever seen. I have never, ever seen anything like it since I started purchasing my own clothing. It was crazy. If I was attending or hosting an '80s themed party in the near future, I would've purchased it. But otherwise, it really needed to be buried in a time capsule. Naturally, I took a picture of it just for you!

Pardon the poor quality; I only had my Blackberry.
It has WINGS. And can you see that? It's a zipper with two pulls, stretched
from one side to the other, that meet as close to your collar as you'd like. Detail?

This concludes this edition of The Oh Hell No files.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Love Letter Paper Cranes

In October I hosted a baby shower for a dear lady and friend. That dear lady and friend had the baby on Wednesday and before my first visit with the baby, I had to make sure I finished a project I initiated at the baby shower. Recently, a coworker made a large batch of paper cranes and nested them all around our cubicles. I thought it would be a great idea to use the paper crane, which is a symbol of peace and longevity, as a vehicle through which loved ones could transmit good wishes and love to the new baby. So I had folks write "love notes" on the blank side of some lovely origami paper, and then I brought them home with me to carefully fold into paper cranes.

I put it to the side for a while, but finally took the project out to finish it last night before I visited the new little one. I folded the cranes carefully, tucking the sweet notes inside for the baby to read later on in his life, and then proceeded to turn them into dangling features of a mobile. I'm really really pleased with the final result. It's probably something I'm going to do for my 30th birthday...have origami paper available for people to write me notes of good fortune or love, and then I'll fold them up and hang the mobile in the corner of my crafty nook or bedroom. It's a truly awesome feeling to know that you have tangible evidence of the love of friends and family, so I'm sure that this will be a treasure of the baby and his parents into the future.

The supplies for this project were awesomely inexpensive, too. I bought a spool of clear thread for about $1, used an embroidery needle I had in my sewing box, 14 teeny-tiny seed beads, some hot glue and two simple dowel rods from the craft store. I also purchased a pack of origami paper for about $3-$4, and had a few pens available for the notes. All in all, I estimate that I spent maybe $5 total on this project. But OH the memories! Check out the pictures!

Also, I took some scrap corduroy and cut a big blue heart, attached it to a onesie I had and did a quick blanket stitch around the edge in a contrasting blue. I wish I had some fray check around, but since babies grow at the speed of light, I'm sure that a few washings won't hurt it too much. Soon enough he'll be too big for it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Valentine's Day Sale & Special @ oh ginger

I wouldn't be my true lovey-dovey self (ha ha ha...that's an exaggeration, I fully admit it) if I didn't extend a little love to my nearest and dearest fans this Valentine's Day season. As I've said before, Valentine's Day is the one day each year when everyone is granted a special dispensation to love cheesily and in bright pink and red. And I kind of feel like the most important love we should celebrate on this day, which commemorates a miniature diapered adult shooting arrows into butts, is the love we have for ourselves. Yeah, I said it.

So here's your chance, ladies and gents, to love yourselves AND buy some fantastic jewelry. I'm offering a 30% off discount to anyone who shops at oh ginger between today and February 11th (that's next Wednesday). Pick out your favorite danglies, proceed to checkout but don't pay quite yet! I'll send you a revised invoice with the discounted price and you can pay me using that.

The incentive, really though, is not the discount. See, the gift of song is more precious and inspiring than any felt bead on an antiqued brass chain. And because I know that, and I have an iTunes library that exceeds 7,000 songs, I said to myself, "UM, why the hell can't I make all of these fabulous people a mix tape [CD] that will last forever and ever?!" So, get this, I DID. And with your purchase at oh ginger, you'll receive a complimentary copy of my special edition oh ginger mix, honey baby sweetie sugarpie. That pretty red image is the cover, a'course!

Here's an idea of what you'll find in my shop:

If you don't like danglies, or don't have the cash to purchase anything right now, but still want this sweet-ass mix to call your own, just shoot me an e-mail and we'll make special arrangements for you. Yes, I'm the Love Doctor, and you've got a fever.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pretty Little Fings!!

Welcome to Day 1 of my attempt at more attentive and focused blogging. Hooray!

We begin this journey with a tale about a new friend, a new colleague and a restored sense of childlike glee. I think craft makers and lovers alike were bummed out at the prospect of the CPSIA being enacted and how it would limit our access to toys of all varieties...including the kinds that grown ups love. But fortunately they've postponed enacting the CPSIA for a while, so we're all safe to stock up on all of the stuff we love.

Naturally, I have a personal favorite. Her name is Pang of Pretty Little Fings (blog/Etsy shop)! While she doesn't really market her crafty wares as kid toys, I think there's a natural appeal. And I have to admit that I originally traded a loverly necklace I made for a plush to give my goddaughter, but that really didn't work. I love my stuffed owl too much! Pang makes a variety of felt and fleece stuffed and stitched products, with a heavy focus on owls and cute things with wings! She also does a fair amount of anthropomorphic stuffed delights, including bacon and drumsticks, and has even participated in some artsy events with her mixed-media delights. She is really amazingly creative, folks.

This post is also a way for me to introduce that plush I couldn't give away. Introducing FRENCHIE!

She's my craft desk supervisor, as you can see. She's perched in the corner of my crafty nook and she has helped, and will continue to help me, keep making amazing crafty delights. If the image of Frenchie is not enough to sway you, I suggest you check out the rest of her family.

Meet Pang and a whole punch of other fantastic crafters this Sunday in DC at Crafts & Kisses. Click on the image for more info!

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