Midyear start

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Here I am, yet again, attempting to jumpstart the craft blogging.  I’ve managed to get things rolling on the personal blog, but getting to this particular corner just now.  So where have I been with the crafting?  Now that I’ve come back, I’ve made a resolution to finish pending projects first before beginning any new ones.  I’ve started with the jewelry repair (easy!) and have gathered a few unfinished pieces.

I arrived from Manila 2 weeks ago, and I’m very proud of how I resisted the urge to shop for more beads and other jewelry supplies — keeping my purchases to a minimum.  Just more headpins and eyepins, essentially, and a very limited inventory of gemstones and gold filled findings.  I am not even asking for more for Angelo to bring as he returns this weekend.

I started straightening and organizing the headpins and eyepins already using my nylon jaw craft pliers.  I am hoping to find my digital caliper soon so I can figure out the gauge of the findings.  I buy the headpins from Wellmanson’s in Quiapo, and while I love shopping there, they don’t identify their findings by gauge.  So you are pretty much left on your own to figure it out.  Still, how can you beat 1000 pcs of 1.5 or 1.75 or 2″ headpins for under $2?  OF course, the catch is that you will have to straighten out most of the wires, so I am grateful for these jaw pliers.

After month after month of closing out sales from my favorite bead stores here in Manhattan, I have quite the stash to sort out and put away.  I had started doing this before I left, and it’s just easier for me to stop crafting altogether to focus on the organizing.  I’ve tried to pull together the loose stones into bins by kind, and just putting all the freshwater pearls together.  The metal components are a little more difficult to properly organize because I usually buy them in very small quantities.  That’s where I can use these bead organizers.
I have actually taken to labeling them, but I still end up intermixing the different components in one bin.  There are also certain items that need bigger storage, and I usually look at the small parts organizers found in the do-it-yourself or home improvement stores.  So I don’t really have a uniform storage unit for my components, but I confine myself to stackable or flat surface containers.  You will usually see piles upon piles of them on one corner of the room — or in my storage closet which is bursting at the seams.

My sewing adventures have also been put on hold because of my trip home.  I would have hated to be left leaving with an unfinished project.  I might not remember all the things that I should and not be able to finish the piece.  I have more than enough fabric to work with, and I hope to complete some light coats before autumn is upon us.

Of course, the very point of writing here again is because I want to chronicle my crafting journey for the remainder of the year.  Again, more for my benefit than anything else.  I have time and again attempted to plot a crafting calendar with no success.  The calendar was done, but I failed to follow through.  This time, I will post as I go along, and I’m already thinking that would actually see more crafting accomplished.

August is upon us and before you know it, the so-called “BER” months will be here, beginning with September. For us Filipinos, that signals the beginning of yet another season, and yet a different set of crafts altogether.

Here’s to a more productive second half of the year in crafting.

A Stitch at a time

I am a novice sewist.  I used to be afraid of the sewing machine way back when we first got introduced to each other in grade school.  It was a class we called “Work Education” which was a version of “Home Economics”, a class supposed to equip us with skills to be homemakers.

I didn’t do well in sewing.  My pajama project wasn’t even anything close to just tight.  It was totally askew and was beyond repair.  I was almost deathly afraid of how the needle rattled on with a menacing continuous growl to keep going.

Many years later, I have since become bestfriends with needles.  From elaborate cross stitch projects  to actually hand sewing my pant hems, I learned how to sew neatly, giving enough room for my thread to embrace the fabric without unsightly wrinkling.  I used needles extensively in various crafts, like hair ribbons I sewed together, and even in accessories — more so in pieces where I used fabric or ribbons.

After moving to New York from Manila in 2000, I found my crafting interests growing and I explored new ways to make things with my hands.  And then upon the prodding of friends, we enrolled at a sewing class at Mood U over at Mood Fabrics .  I originally went in hoping to learn basic sewing in my hopes to sew bags and clutches in particular.  Fittingly, the first project was a tote.

Spread out over 6 weeks, I worked on getting to know a sewing machine all over again.  I thought threading the machine would be difficult, but by the time I sat in front of the one we had in class, I learned how to do it and now I do it with no diagrams or prompts.  It’s been two years since that class, and I’ve enrolled in at least one other sewing class.  This time, we made a coat.  My end product was actually pretty decent, considering my skill level.

I have always believed that anything can be learned.  At the end of the day, it really boils down to wanting to learn and embracing the process.  One of my early intentions really was that I wanted to make my own clothes.  I have never been a single size all throughout, and some part or other would need alteration.  My curvy figure makes most tops pop in places they shouldn’t.  I thought that the best solution was to learn how to make my own.

I am still learning and have started creating.  I’ve sewn one fabulous evening or special occasion box pleated skirt.  It has required a few alterations, but I have been happy with my second piece.  Right now, I’ hoping to work on some simple pieces I can reproduce I different prints.  Or else patterns can be shortened or lengthened.

I am having fun with Mood Sewciety’s  free sewing patterns which you can find here.

My learning journey as a sewist continues – a stitch at a time.

Mood sewciety

So much for excitement

Well, I tried.

I know that’s not the best thing to write after three months of silence. But I’m hoping I’m back, more so since I’m creating again.

There were some sales in the shop which sparked renewed inspiration to create. I think I really should devote a day or part of a day in a regular rhythm — not necessarily weekly – to creating new pieces. Even just a few hours can yield several pieces like this weekend.

I normally find one or two patterns forming as I assemble a piece – variations coming eventually – and then I am off on a roll.

And there are projects cooking in my head which I have to avoid getting entangled in lest I lose focus. Right now, I’m trying to sew again for my own wardrobe. I have been working on some patterns, mostly free, which I got from Mood Sewciety of Mood Fabrics, the famed fabric store in NYC. As a novice sewist, this is a very good resource for someone like me who does it as a hobby and who needs more help in figuring out the sewing I want to do. It’s also a good reference for fashionistas in general out there, and an off kilter destination for tourists who are students of fashion or who are crafters. This deserves an entire blogpost altogether.

I have also discovered other free and pattern-for-sale resources which I will write about in a future post.

I’ve also been working on pressing some rose petals which are taking forever and a day to dry properly, but I am being patient with them because this is a special bunch. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the general humidity or the phase at which I started drying the roses. I have many pressed rose petals to work with but I don’t want to let this bunch go to waste.

Pressing rose petals
There is so much crochet inspiration but I don’t want to pick up my crochet hook and leave the work hanging. There is a project forming in my head which would require many little pieces to be put together, so I am just trying to see (1) if it’s a project I really want to undertake because I don’t want to end up with many little pieces and not see it through, and (2), do I have the time..

Decisions, decisions.

Let me go back to working on posting the dozen or so pieces I created offer the weekend. Visit my Pinterest boards or better yet, please visit the shop and pick a piece.. or two…

Almost Friday!

The “How” of Journaling

So excited to be working on my art journal!

And although it’s not just straight cutting and pasting for me, I find it a very relaxing exercise to actually piece together my layouts. Now, this is just how I do it. I am a strong believer in everyone having their own style in terms of journaling and every other craft. Even in make up. What works for one might not necessarily work for another – and that doesn’t mean that one method is better or one method is wrong and the other is right. Like they say, different strokes for different folks.

My first attempt at art journaling was a hodge podge of pages. Then I tried a composition notebook. It didn’t quite work out for me because you can’t really paint on that thin a sheet. Secondly, pasting layouts was a little cumbersome and made the notebook itself misshapen.

Then I heard about altered books. I picked one of the discarded books from my boss’s library, a business book that was a recent print. That was my first mistake. The newer publications, apparently, are now glued together and not sewn the old fashioned way. A third of the way through the book, it started to fall apart on me. My remedy was to actually put masking tape between pages – more so where I was either painting the entire layout (Which was most of the book), or where I needed to insert more than one sheet. (I will attempt to pull together a video to show how that book turned out.)

When I decided to “end” that book, I was at a loss for the medium of my next journal. Sketchbook? Plain journal? Discarded notebook? I still need to rebind the book but it was quite a fulfilling project and I wanted to do even better with the next one.

I actually started putting together discarded manila folders I had cut to size, but when I tried to “bind” pages together, It was turning out to be a little heavy. I wanted something that I could bring with me as I worked on it without having to carry a tome. That’s how I came upon the decision to piece together portions of the book as I went along, and then compile them all into a book when the time was right. (That means either when the year is over, or when the book is thick enough – whichever comes first.)

I wanted to be able to spend my lunch hour in some quiet corner just working on an entry. It was important to me that the journal was easy to take along. A junque journal seemed a good idea – but I still had to have a base-size. I had lots of paper choices, and I decided I would use some upcycled file tab dividers which I had cut to 7×11. (Had to trim off the tabs, and the side where the holes were.) I wasn’t planning on using these pages throughout, but I was pegging my book on that size. I could easily pull together writing pads, laid paper, manila folders, or any cardstock. As long as it came out to a 14×11 layout. The paperstock wasn’t too thin and not too heavy. More importantly, I could draw on it with a signpen and there was no bleed to the other side. I also think this paper is thick enough to absorb a good coating of acrylic paint and even watercolor if I choose to use it.

I connected the pages with another page folded in half. I could have kept the “connecting page” smaller, but I wanted the “thickening” to be well distributed.

It may seem like a lot of work, but I am quite happy with the choice and it’s really working out. I’ve event started working on a multi-page cut out spread where I’m using cardstock.

Untitled

It doesn’t really take much effort. 15-20 minutes a day is a good minimum. I don’t confine myself to doing a layout a day – I think that’s too much pressure for an activity that should be relaxing. Sometimes I get stuck on a layout and that’s just fine. And there are other times I find myself working on several layouts at the same time. For now, I’m happy that it’s taking shape. If it goes on in stops and starts, I’m fine with that. As long as I keep it and pick it up again eventually. And this time, I mean to.

Related Post: The “Why” of Journaling

Ear Candy

I’ve been trying to make more pieces for my Etsy shop in preparation for the holidays, and also because I’ve accumulated quite the supply stash that need to be converted to merchandise for sale. I must say I’ve been enjoying the creative streak and have started to experiment with new designs. So forget the long nights and the actual posting process (taking photos, editing, measuring and taking dimensions, pricing and then completing all the required info before hitting “publish”) — I’m on a roll!

I know that the lack of activity in the shop has been largely due to my own inactivity. An online business in any forum takes a lot of effort. Your social media presence has to be constant.

I’ve noticed a trend towards chunky earrings and I have had this series of porcelain beads I have been meaning to work on.

Available in my Etsy Store: Gothamchick.etsy.com

Below are just some of the other designs I’ve pulled together with an emphasis towards producing a single dangle design. Where as before, I would normally connect the gemstones as separate dangles for more movement, these pieces are chunkier and more “solid”. I’m still doing that but have produced a series of earrings like below.

Available at the shop: gothamchick.etsy.com

Both pairs used agate wavy ovals which were surprisingly light because of their thinness –paired with turquoise magnesite coin beads on the left, and onyx beads on the right.

It’s always a marvel when I see the difference between my pieces from way back when I started making jewelry for sale, and the ones I work on now. It shows me how my own style has evolved.

This really all began as a means for me to find an outlet of relaxation, then a means to make my own pieces and subsidize it. Some have egged me to do more in terms of selling in other channels, but this one store is already taking up a lot of my time and effort. I’m quite happy with it. In the long run, I think that’s what matters. I do it at the pace I can manage without the stress.

More items coming.. and free shipping for the holidays.. est h out for that.

Trying to get back to craft blogging

I haven’t really stopped crafting — I just haven’t been “here”.  So today I discovered (to my horror), that I haven’t posted since April.

Sad.

I know that I haven’t been able to devote as much time to crafting the last couple of months, but I never stopped.  The slow down was mostly vacation and family visiting and then vacation again.  Plus of course, there’s the daily distraction of work.  And motherhood.  And just life.

So what have I been up to?

FabricI’m still trying to sew.  I now have quite a fabric stash and have all these plans and patterns.  I’ve even taken to altering patterns and creating mock ups to ensure that they actually work on me.  Hopefully, the upcoming projects will help me to keep a sewing novice journal here.

I have immensely enjoyed learning.  (Thank you, YouTube!)  There are so many great teachers who so generously share their knowledge and skills in videos that can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour long.  And I have watched and watched.. when something stumps me, I google the topic and find myself watching the experts do it.

I have made Mood Sewciety an almost daily habit not just for the inspiration but for free patterns, and all those sewing tips and lectures.  One day soon, I’ll write about how Mood Fabrics here in Manhattan is my kind of sewing heaven — whether I need to do a quick drop in or when I spend an hour or so browsing and thinking and resisting the urge to splurge.

I have been working on keeping the shop going, and although I haven’t posted anything new in a while, I’ve noticed quite a bit of traffic with items or the shop being favorited by shoppers.  (I must be doing something right.)

Still, it’s been a while since my last sale.  My recent trip to Manila saw me shying away from more supplies shopping (for the first time!) — because I have been confronted by the reality that I have way too much at home that need to be converted to something wearable.  I did succumb to the urge during my short trip to Hong Kong — but I didn’t let myself get carried away.  I am proud of my restraint! LOL

I have started working earnestly to organize my supplies again.  While sorting through my bead organizers and supply bins, I’ve had a chance to reacquaint myself with stocks I had forgotten about.  At the same time, new ideas popped into my head about how I can utilize these supplies.  No goals for now.  I just want to get started with the crafting again.  Be it beads, or polymer clay, or maybe even fabric or notion based accessories — I’m itching to get creative again.

I’m recrafting a new home.  No, I didn’t move.  But yes, I’ve been changing things up at home to make it the home I am dreaming of for Angelo and I.  It’s been slow but things are changing.  Clutter from so many years ago have been cleared — and while half of that is up in the attic (where the piles have moved), I am happy with the way my world at home is changing visually.

I am hoping to create some photo art to bring our walls to life — and imbibe a sense of family around my son and I.  I want to reupholster our dining room chairs instead of buying new ones.  (Although maybe buying a new set might seem an easier “out”, I want to give this a shot and save some money along the way.)

I haven’t quite gotten to repainting.  I think that can wait for now.

With summer almost over, I can’t wait for the cooler climes of autumn when I can work on the attic as well.  Like I tell myself, one small corner at a time.

Sometimes we just need a little push to get our projects going again.  I’m hoping this one will get things rolling here, indeed.

Sewing away

I am hooked.  Or should I say fully stitched in.

A while back, I had taken the beginner and advanced sewing class over at  Mood U which gave me the basic skills to operate a sewing machine and pull together a fabric tote and a coat.  (Yes, a coat.)

So since then, I’ve managed to collect quite a stash of fabrics (a post or two coming on that), and have been mining the web for free patterns, sewing tutorials and ideas in general. For a novice sewer like me, all this feels like a kindergartner let loose on the playground during recess. There is just so much to learn and try.

I am a novice at this and thoroughly enjoying myself. How I envy all those seasoned seamstresses who impart their sewing knowledge as experts. But sewing, like most other skills, is learnable and doable. I have my sewing machine and an openness to learn that comes in handy when I start thinking of embarking on a project.

What encourages me is the dream to come up with wardrobe that fits me well, as I am not a perfect size anything. I’m one size from the waist up, and another from the hips down. While I would normally fit into a normal size, certain cuts become iffy. And there’s always the incentive of wearing something stylish without breaking the bank.

Being crafty like I am, I know I can do well in sewing if I put my mind (and heart) into it. Like most things we have to take time to learn, it takes practice and a lot of trial and error. But I’m loving it! My seam ripper is now my best friend. The web is my classroom. I keep getting ideas on how to make those patterns work for me.

I’m finishing up my first project based on a pattern that is one among many free patterns offered online. I will get to writing about that in time. Meanwhile, I’m back and hopefully will be here more, chronicling my sewing journey.