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.

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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.

Hello, 2018!

I always greet the new year with optimism, because it always brings in a new beginning.  In my mind, no matter how chaotic or tumultuous or completely bland the year that just ended was, there is that forever hope of things getting better, more so as we restart the clock so to speak.

So happy new year.

I’ve been ramping up my creative streak of late and can happily report that I have managed to finish a winter hat, a pair of hand warmers (only because I don’t have an existing pair of the ones I did last year!) and my embroidered scarf is almost “almost there”.

My new slouchie beanieYet another slouchy beanie.  I have spools and spools of yarn that are begging to be knitted or crocheted, and in the midst of tidying up, I actually came across a few skeins of pompom yarn that I had meant to work with as an embellishment to a white or black slouchy beanie.  Even if it took forever and a day to decide between using black or white for the actual beanie, the process of actually crocheting the hat was rather easy because I worked with an existing pattern.  Then there was the actual figuring out of (1) how to incorporate the pompoms, and (2) the placement between stitches — or how close or far I would put them together.  But voila!

New hand warmersPink hand warmers.  When fall came, I actually couldn’t remember where I put my leather gloves.  I did find my hand warmers, but only one of each pair.  I could pretend I was being funky and wear a different pink on the left and another on the right.  Besides, does anyone really pay attention?  (Yes, they do.  I know because I do.)  And again, maybe because of last year’s practice but I nailed this one despite the unstitching every now and then because I was working freeform using the fan stitch.  (Not quite sure that’s what you call it.)

At first I thought 30 stitches for the actual cuff was too tight, but then again, crochet stitches actually stretch as you pull on it this way and that. It worked well enough because I meant for the warmers to reach up to just beyond my wrist, and not all the way up my arm. That’s another project maybe for another winter.

I know it’s February and I’m going to start drafting my next post the moment I hit send.. more, more, more!

Trying something new

One of my preferred ways to take a break during the day is to browse images of crafts that are currently in my line of sight . So I go to Polymer Clay Daily to see what new designs are up, browse Pinterest and occasionally find something new from the various artists I follow on Instagram.

Earlier this year, I bought scarves that were on sale for a future project. I had this idea of crocheting small pieces that I could put on the scarf as embellishment. I started crocheting and I put the little bits away, same with the scarf.

I had been browsing some gorgeous handmade crochet scarves and hand embroidered items by Sophie Digard, and I was suddenly struck by an itch to do hand embroidery. I already had the scarf, the yarn, and even the tapestry needle needed to make it work, so I thought I’d try freeform embroidery.

No sketches, no design.. I chose an initial pair of balls and a third skein. I didn’t even think about getting an embroidery hoop. I felt confident enough to fall back on my doodling repetitive designs that eventually came out to be my paper flower garden. I pulled the thread carefully and I was mindful of how the thread went this way or that at the back as well. I had to undo stitches a couple of times, but for the most part, I’ve just been going off and on and I must say I’ve been enjoying myself.

I am working both ends of a Calvin Klein wool blend scarf. I made sure it was made of hand washable fabric and I washed it before putting it away to make it craft ready for whatever it is I am going to do with it. I work the design on each end as I go, just so I don’t forget the stitch or the design I have in mind. I’m still a long way off to finishing it, but it’s been easy enough that I am actually seeing major progress.

The challenge is really thinking of the design elements, more than the actual stitching.  I’ve outgrown the tendency to stitch too tightly, and the stitches I’ve been using enable me to “correct” the tension as I move along.

Freeform Yarn Embroidery

But generally, I like how I’ve done so far, so much so that I am already thinking of the next scarf I will be embroidering.  No pressure on finishing this anytime soon as the temperatures in New York have actually gone up again.  Autumn can’t seem to make up its mind, and while we have experienced some “jacket weather”, we’re keeping it to the lighter scarves for now, so I have time.

Getting organized

Getting organized: headpinsI came back from Sydney midnight Saturday, so this weekend is my first full weekend home.  I jumped back into work the Monday after and tried my best to cope with the jetlag, surviving it by sheer will and a judicious use of caffeine.  Not too much, not too little.  

Despite the stopover in Manila before and after Sydney, I didn’t bring a ton of supplies back — just three bags of headpins I had requested my sister-in-law to grab for me last minute, because I didn’t really have time to do any shopping.  

Friday night, I psyched myself up that I would just stay home this weekend and allow my body to rest and recover.  I stopped short of making plans to go this way and that and instead allowed myself the chance to just chill.  I decided to organize my head pins and eye pins and I am almost done with the two bins I focused on.  That was my idea of relaxing.

I am focusing on two bins knowing I have at least two more still stashed away somewhere.  I have not had the chance to really get down to organizing them until now, and I think I should’ve dealt with this sooner.  This is what happens when your supplies accumulate through the years, more so when I end up bringing new bins home each time I travel from Manila, and the stash usually stays on those bins instead of landing with like findings.

At the start, I organized them simply as they came.  I love the 1000 pin packs I get from Wellmanson’s in Quiapo (back in Manila), but the packs usually come bent and misshapen, so storing them means taking the time to actually flatten out the pin  Then there are the packs I buy from Firemountain Gems which usually come in smaller batches because they are pricier.  I stash those in a bin with their tags so I know what gauge and size the pins are.  It also makes for easier reordering when I find my stocks running low.  

This time around, I think I have enough of each to actually classify them into gold plated, silver plated, antique bronze and “others”.  (The latter being copper and gun metal.). I keep the sterling silver and vermeil tucked away with some gemstones I have and I don’t have enough of those  to collect into a bin.  Strangely, just going through the two bins has inspired new creative ideas which I will hopefully get to do soon.  And like my bead bins, I actually have a few cups of headpins of all shapes and sizes to go through.   I don’t always get to put them back where they belong when I’m working on projects, so they tend to accumulate in other spaces.

I’m getting ready to start creating again in time for the holidays.  And I’m thinking of new items not just for the shop, but also to give as gifts.  Organizing my current supplies is a step towards a more efficient production line for the coming weeks.  Before you know it, the holidays will be here again.

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..

Craft bits

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I was cleaning up my desk at work (because yes, I do have a day job!) when I stumbled upon some craft projects I chose to do over a period of time, but which I had set aside for later.  Okay, I confess, I sort of forgot about them.  They’re the long term projects which were really more about stocking up for something bigger rather than being the project itself.  Like my pressed rose petals.

I had forgotten about my #PaperGarden of #doodledflowers until I stumbled upon them while cleaning up the other day. These #flowers are perfect for #spring #papercrafts. #crafts #craftproject #creating #personalart #embellishments #gothamhicksays #gothMy Paper Flower Garden.  Two years ago, I had thought to start a postcard project that would have meant sending out hand made postcards.  I am still seriously considering redoing this but there are a lot of things in the way.  I had created backgrounds or “blanks” to work on which had been piled together.  Part of the design were this doodled flowers which I have a ton of, both at work and at home– a bunch of colorful layered and doodled flowers I need to cut and draw further.  I am almost afraid to pick up a pen and start drawing again or even a pair of scissors to cut the ones that need cutting.I had found the whole exercise very calming way back when and I long for the repetitive and no-pressure doodling.  Then I remembered, I had cards to make which maybe I will make using these as embellishments.  That’s a new purpose for a project I had started with different intentions.

The only thing is that’s can get deeply engrossed and distracted by the project when I’m into it, but I’m trying to use my time wisely.

Bag idea book. I have always loved bags and a current interest is making fabric clutches.  I actually joined the sewing class at Mood University hoping to be able to sew one together using an electric sewing machine.  The idea has been brewing in my head for almost a year now but has been slow getting to fruition.  I stumbled upon a year old edition of Harper’s Bazaar (click here to subscribe) which was almost half riddled with bag ads.  I had actually started tearing off the pages when I realized that the whole magazine was seemingly dedicated to bags.  So I cut the pages clean with a xacto knife and put them aside to ringbind as a glossy idea bag of sorts.

The idea is to make this a notebook of sorts.  I haven’t quite gotten past the first few pages and am still trying to write around the blank spaces in the ads.  I have always found it helpful to have my ideas in writing.  It might and it might not work.  I might yet transfer selected clipped images into a real notebook in the end, but it’s something I’m working on.

Finally, my first attempt at a purse!  This actually came from a failed attempt at wrapping a plastic canvas “mold” with fabric and fleece interfacing.  It didn’t quite work, so I started to undo it and I was left with a cut piece of fabric with interfacing I couldn’t remove.  In the midst of experimenting and fiddling with my sewing machine (which is pictured on the left), I decided I would try to work on creating a mock purse, or a model, or prototype and just see if I can work this contraption the way I want to.  And voila!  It did work… but that’s another post altogether.

So I’ve been trying to do my own bit of crafting the last couple of weeks, but as always, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to do as much as I would want.  The sewing classes in Mood Fabrics have helped me to refocus on crafting and have sparked a new interest in exploring other channels of creativity. I try to do it a day at a time.  Like trying to keep this corner of my web presence going.. baby steps, I say.