Craft Calendar Update

My Paper Flower GardenI had written about my craft calendar a while back in the hopes of planning my projects for the year.  It wasn’t really a strict calendar, but mostly just something to work through as the year went on.  I had often been caught “unprepared” or lacking time to do the projects I had wanted to devote my attention to, so I started in April.  Below is a quick update, followed by a revised calendar.  This is mostly for my own personal list so that I can keep track, but it also shows how my crafting has gone to date.

April

• Get started on my fabric clutches. (Something I’m currently working on.) – I am proud to say I actually started working on this and managed to complete one tiny purse which I now use as a jewelry caddy in my bag.  It’s been a continuing learning process from me, and I’m hoping to get back to experimenting and trying to work things around in the fall.

•Create more pieces and post in the shop. (Ongoing)  – My personal trips to Fiji and Manila which meant preparing pieces to give away have greatly hampered posting in the shop, but I will keep on.

•Start taking sewing classes at Mood Fabrics.  – Enrolled, attended, and I am happy to report that I have a working tote courtesy of the class and can now operate a sewing machine without hurting myself.

May

•Get my tour guide license. (More on this later.) – I had hoped to work on this so that I can eventually offer “bead tours” in the stores here in my area.  To be able to operate legitimately, I have to pass an exam and acquire a tour guide license which I hope to work on before the year is over.  (That’s a more reasonable target for completion.)

•Start making pieces to wear and bring to Fiji. (Trip planned for end of June with bestfriend, Donna.)  – Done!

June

•Start planning my halloween costume, another paper fairy gown. – It’s August now and while I know I will be sewing part of the costume, I haven’t really sat down to sketch how my gown will look like.  I do intend to do a fairy or a queen costume again, and like last year, I intend to make it out of paper.  Son.

•Design my holiday card for the end of the year. (Need to determine materials.) – For years and years I made holiday cards until life caught up with me, and things became a bit tumultuous that I didn’t have the time to worry about making my own.  This year will be different.  I am hoping to come up with my preliminary ideas soon.

•Create pieces to bring home to Manila in late July or August. – Doing as in right now, and I’m leaving on Saturday.

•Launch bead tours. – Not until I get my tourguide license.

July

•Work on throw pillows (if the living room renovation has already started, if not, just make designs.)  – The living room renovation is hinged on several other things that haven’t yet come to pass so no, this hasn’t happened.

•Post a clutch for sale in the etsy shop. – It appears that I had greatly overestimated my abilities at making a purse so I will humbly admit that I am unable to peg a timetable as to when I will eventually get to sell one.  For now, I’m learning, creating, learning and trying to get better at this along the way.

•Launch first postcard set project. – I tried to do even just one postcard, but it appears that though it is advertised as being “easy,” getting my postcards printed is proving to be a little more difficult to do.  I am starting to work on it and will hopefully have my (first) set by the end of the year.

•Take photographs and source materials in the Philippines. – I’m due to be in Manila this August, so I will report on this upon my return towards the end of the month.  (Hope to feature some of my suppliers as well.)

With August here, following is my revised calendar taking the above into consideration.

August

  • Plan and start creating the halloween costume.  (I had made a plan to try to actually sew one instead of pinning one together like last year, even if it will be made of paper.)
  • Create paper boxes.
  • Rescheduled: Work on holiday card ideas.
  • New: Enroll in the next sewing class at Mood University. – I am so excited by this as the next class will see us working on a garment piece of our choice.  I had to forego the summer session because of the trip to Fiji but can’t wait until the fall when the next set of classes begin.

September

  • Work on Christmas decor.
  • Produce holiday cards.
  • Create gifts to give for the holidays.
  • Launch second first postcard set.
  • Stock up the shop and launch holiday promo.
  • Rescheduled: Get tourist guide license.
  • Continue working on purses.
  • Start working on halloween costume.

October

  • Finish holiday card.
  • Handmade gifts.
  • Put up my Christmas tree last week of October.
  • Launch bead tours.
  • Finish up halloween costume.

November

  • Mail out holiday cards.
  • Decorate tree first week, deck out the house.
  • Create wrappers for the holiday gifts.

December

  • Create and make gift packaging.  (Wrapper, embellishments, tags)

It is always good to see progress when we are working towards achieving a goal or set of goals as listed in my craft calendar.  I have long stopped trying to beat myself up over not being able to do more — the point is to be able to do something, no matter how small it may be.  Crafting is a passion that rides on my every day routine which is made up of being a mother, making a living and trying to go from day to day.  So I try not to be too rigid when it comes to this part of my world which has been a source of relaxation and a channel for the creative side of me.

I like that I was able to actually do some major projects like finishing a beginner sewing class and getting my shop going again.  Thanks to Etsy’s autorenewal for listings in my shop, I am able to make sure that my listings stay, instead of having to check on them manually when they expire like I used to.

I am getting more focused and organized now and hope to even be more focused and organized in the coming months and into the following year.

Getting there..

Tote happy

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the sixth and last class of Mood Fabrics‘ Beginner Adult Sewing Class.  I walked away with my own tote, and I proudly went around Manhattan carrying it a week later.  I feel brave enough now to think of other sewing projects apart from the usual mending and crafting I had in mind initially.  I am “sew” happy! Lol

While I had tweeted and instagrammed the weekly class on social media, I had really hoped to provide a more detailed post here.  Now that the tote is done, I have something to show for it.

Schedules are provided in the Mood U section of their website.  There are several schedules offered, but with a full time job that doesn’t see me leaving my desk until closer  to or after 6pm, the weekend classes were the most convenient.  You will be asked to commit to a 90-minute class for 6 weeks.  The good news is, should you find yourself unable to attend the class you signed up for in a particular week, you can arrange to switch to a class on a different schedule to keep up or catch up with the work.    The class proceeds at a very learner-friendly pace so you really don’t end up losing out on much if this happens.   It’s not one of those courses where missing one class would mean having to start from the beginning again.

While the class is free, they will require you to grab a sewing kit which costs $144. This includes the generic sewing notions you will need, as well as the pattern for the tote bag project and a sewing bible.

You will also have to purchase fabric for the project itself separately.  Depending on which one you choose, that can be another $20 or $50.  The good news is, class enrollment will entitle you to a 10% discount coupon on fabric if you choose to purchase your fabrics at Mood, but the coupon expires by the following class.

The class instructor is Benjamin Mach who heads Mood U in New York.  He is assisted by four others who roam the class ready to answer questions or assist you as needed.  On the first day of class, Ben asked us to introduce ourselves and tell the class why we were there.

It was a very interesting mix of men and women of all ages and persuasions.  Some came because a friend had invited them over like my friend, Willa.  There were a couple or two.  I heard my mother used to sew” and “I used to sew doll clothes as a child” quite a couple of times.  As for me, my reason for being there was that I have always been crafty and had wanted to start sewing but didn’t really know how to use an electric sewing machine.  I’ve also been continually frustrated by pieces of clothing that I love when it comes to one part but which are total disasters for my body type as a whole.  Can I put that sleeve on this blouse?  Can I fix up that sleeveless swing shirt with a lace sleeve, perhaps?  I figured that if I cannot find the correct fit, I might as well pull the piece together myself.

Mood U NYC sewing class

On a personal note, crafting to me has always been a continuous learning process.  It’s not about operating machines or just using materials– there is always a lot to be learned from people who are actually good at doing their thing and who impart that knowledge to others.  Videos are great, and I have a learned a lot off of YouTube and the many artists and teachers there.  However, actual hands on learning is still the best.  It gives me a chance to see the demonstration up close and ask questions and have my work critiqued by people who actually know what they are doing.

So I met my instructor and the class and we went through the contents of my sewing kit.  The plastic tote bag the kit comes in, by the way, is not sold separately and is reportedly quite a much sought after souvenir item from the store.  But back to the sewing kit.

Much of the contents of my kit are not alien to me, save for the awl (which I didn’t expect was used in sewing — but which I had encountered in jewelry making) .  Each piece was explained to us and the the fabric requirements of the project enumerated. Fabric swatches

For the tote, we needed a yard each of the outer fabric (self), a canvas layer to provide structure (no, we didn’t talk about interfacing but it essentially serves this purpose) and finally, the lining.  I chose to use canvas or a denim fabric for all three layers, and while it made my tote a bit weighty, it provided the “body” I was looking for.  We cut our pattern out of the sheet and were told to come back to class the following week with our fabric.
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You won’t believe how much time I actually spent trying to choose the fabric.  I browsed the home fabrics on the ground floor of Mood but found them a tad pricey for my taste, and as a crafter, I know better than to splurge on my first attempt at something I am still learning.  I hied off to one of my fabric suppliers on 39th street, Fabrics for Less, — now known as Chic Fabrics — where I was able to get some embroidered denim for $7 (!) a yard.  I had some leftover canvass freebie for the interfacing, and I chose another free scrap for the lining.

On Week 2, we were taught how to pin the pattern onto the fabric and cut them.  I’m not as brave as some who went straight to cutting without tracing the pattern onto the fabric.  I’m still quite the novice at this so I pinned it, traced the pattern and I cut.  There were essentially two pieces each of the self and the canvas and the lining, and what should’ve been four pieces of straps.  I only did 2.  But that’s another story.

I liked being able to bring my work home because it allowed me to work at my own pace and redo things if needed.  It took some getting used to using a sewing machine, so there were a lot of do overs for me with the “flatlining” which we did in Week 3, and the piecing together throughout the whole process.  While I could’ve done the project on my own, it helped to have the means to get a more knowledgeable opinion on how things were done from people who actually knew how to sew.

It was basically “basting” with the sewing machine to put the canvas and self together before joining the two sides.  (Or that’s my take on it.)  Each step was demo’ed by Ben from two screens projected on each side of the room, using a mini-version of the tote, after which we were given time to work on that part of the project we had on our plate for that particular lesson.

Doing the straps for me on Week 4 was rather challenging because I had misread the pattern and misunderstood the instructions, and was left with enough pieces for only one strap.  When I finally sat down at home to work on it, I completely messed up the first quartet of straps and ended up cutting a whole new set of pieces for the straps altogether.  It made for more practice with the sewing machine — which was good — and better-looking (read: Passable) straps for the final piece.

As Week 5 came, it was getting more and more exciting as I saw the bits and pieces making up my tote bag take form before my very eyes.  We were taught to piece together the body of the bag and to add the straps, as well as piece the lining.  This wasn’t quite as difficult as doing the straps, believe me.  Since the two sides of the tote were already flatlined, it was a matter of sewing those sides together into an almost whole.  “Almost,” because we were still left with the lining piece which was saved for last.

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On Week 6, we sewed the pockets onto the lining, and then the lining onto the now almost complete “tote”.  Voila!

Seeing my tote come together was a very fulfilling experience, given that I created it not without a half dozen or so do-overs and improvisation.  I’ve always enjoyed creating things and this was doubly rewarding because I was learning along the way.  While my sewing machine at home was different from the one we used in class (which was much fancier, of course!) —  learning the basics of sewing was quite the experience.  You can easily learn how to operate the sewing machine, but there are techniques and steps that you can only learn from a hands-0n class like the one offered by Mood U.

I highly recommend this class to both beginners and novice crafters who want to be able to create things with the use of sewing machines.  The next class is no longer free but I’m going to sign up for that in the fall.

Finished Product