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

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Color inspirations

#ColorInspiration #sarisilkribbon #upcycling #fiberart #crafting #magenta #fuschia #fuschiapink #purple #createI have an off-again-on-again regular post in the other blog where I write about my personal and non-crafty pursuits.  It’s called the “Friday Five,” and two Fridays ago, I wrote as one of the 5 tasks I hoped to focus on for the weekend, was to write five topics I had hoped to write about there and here.  Surprisingly, I came up with the five topics faster for this corner of the web.  They are all in draft form, and this was one of them.

I derive my color inspirations from the every day.  I am usually very conservative with my own choices personally except for my favorite fuschia pink.  I wear it in the loudest to the mutest iteration of the color — but fuschia was never really meant to be ‘muted’ in any sense.

I like browsing magazines to look at color combinations not just in the articles and shopping guides, but more so in the ads.  As someone who spent the earlier part of her professional career in advertising, I have learned a lot about the science of color and how it is used to shape the reader or viewer’s perspective.  From the perspective of the audience, we think it’s all random or meant to be “just aesthetically pleasing”.  The truth is, it’s meant to drive a certain impulse or stir up something in our thought process.

If it’s a product, we’re being told to buy.  If it’s a service, we’re being asked to trust the brand and choose it.

I am just an ordinary working mom.  But color plays a part in my day even when I choose to wear all black.  I find that black helps me to look professional with the least effort, but I always try to make something pop out by wearing a statement accessory with either a brighter color or a telling ensemble.

When I walk around, I am conscious of the color people wear.  I had so wanted to stop this lady wearing a fuschia pink sweater under a violet coat.  She didn’t look like a fashionista with her regular hair and make up — but she made a statement with her color combo.

I always make it a point to stop and tell the women with pink or green or purple hair how I love their hair color.  I think anyone who can pull off any of the non-traditional hair color should be admired for their courage to be different.  It takes personality to do that, and not all of us have the wherewithal to do it.

I look at the shop windows I pass and try to see the almost immaculately white ensemble with the bouquets of dried flowers hanging in a repetitive pattern.  Ideas are all around us — and while they may influence us, what we do with these ideas is genuinely us.

Where do you get your color inspiration?

 

Getting “Etsy-organized”

It has been slower than I had hoped it to be but I’m trying to get the store up and running. I have been gathering pieces whose listings have expired and renewing them with a few tweaks. As time goes by, I’ve noticed how Etsy itself has changed a lot since I was last active two years ago. (Yes, it’s been that long.)

For one, the listing numbers seem to have disappeared altogether which is probably the reason why a lot of sellers now have reference codes in the listing title. With the restocking of the store, that isn’t a problem for me since I can easily edit the listing as I publish them again. It also helps me to organize my goods in a fashion that makes sense to me. I’ve had it happen twice that I couldn’t ship out immediately because I ended up misplacing the piece I sold. Hopefully, that will be prevented by a simple alpha-numeric reference coding system I’m going to be using.

So six listings are up and I hope to add another three later today. If I can sustain this, I should have a not-so-sparse inventory by the time Mother’s Day comes around this May. Please visit the store !

Trying to stir the creativity within

Trying to stir up the creative juices againI’m trying to jumpstart my creativity again. These days, I see my tools and my supplies and all I can think of is “putting them away”. Packing them up. Hiding them from sight.

I’m hoping Instagram will help inspire me.  Look for me there as GOTHAMCHICK.  

I’m trying to grab inspiration from my artistic muses like Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.  Maybe I’ll even start art journaling again.  Julie is such an inspiration to me not just as an artist but as a person.  She has gotten to a very good place where I hope to find myself in as well soon.

The shop has been on vacation. I’m trying to push myself to start again.  I have so many things I can create with right now I don’t even have to buy any additional supplies to start anew.  Oh, okay — have to get with the packaging again.  I had started with handmade boxes but now realize that perhaps regular boxes are the way to go.  It took me so much time and effort to create the packaging that it robbed me of time to create.  More on that later.

I want to be able to sort my things and get rid of those things I don’t need.  I have taken to getting rid of five things at any given time, whether I’m ruffling through the contents of my purse (Are you like me who keeps every receipt thinking they might be good for something like a refund later?)

I want to get organized.

Let’s see where the weekend leads me.  I wanted to at least open my altered book and either start a new entry or just get to the pages I’ve already created and start writing on them.  That might get me started.

Artist Trading Card Megaswaps

I participated in two megaswaps in the last few weeks where we made artist trading cards or ATCs with a “catch” where a component of the ATC was handmade by us. All my ATCs have been sent but uploading has taken me a bit of time, but better late than never.

megaswapcatchusa

For the megaswap above, I used some dried paper towels I had used to wipe off spray ink one time I was creating backgrounds for some doodled maps I was making. I also used pressed flowers I had done myself of peonies, roses and hydrangeas.

ATCmegaswapwithaCatchIntl.jpg

This second set was done using my favorite background method whereby I paint the actual background. I cut some flowers using my Spellbinder Grand Calibur which I hand-painted as well.

I kept some extras of both sets, but my favorite are these two:

ATCMegaswapwithacatch3USA11Keeper03

My new toy: Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine


I am all excited about my new “toy”, a birthday gift of sorts to myself. I got this Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine which I found to be cheapest at Amazon. I have used it only a bit since I got it but the possibilities are endless.  It took me a while to decide which machine I would get as my first die cutter, considering the various offerings in the market.  I definitely didn’t want anything electronic.  First there was the price factor (too prohibitive) and then there was the possibility that it wouldn’t work for me and I would end up having to buy something else.  I saw the Grand Calbur at work firsthand so I was leaning towards it from the start.


What’s a die cutter without the dies?  I had bought the Spellbinders Mega Dies, Rose Creations and have been having a grand time  learning about my new toy and figuring out possibilities.  I am already excitedly planning my niece, Andreanna Lux’s invitation for her first birthday, and that’s not until September! Ha!  I like this set because it gives you a choice of making the bigger blossoms or sticking to the smaller dies.  I like them all!

The machine came with plates that you use to sandwich the dies depending on what you’re tryig to do (emboss or cut), and I think it’ll be a good idea to have sticker labels on the machine itself telling me which plates go in when.

I also tried embossing some paper with one of my new folders, Ecstasy Crafts Embossing Folder -Flowers, but I think I made the mistake of using the wrong set of plates and I heard some resistance when I let the “sandwich” through.  It looks like it didn’t damage the cutter so I’m good.  It gave me a chance to use some of the paper stock I had bought from The Paper Cut when I went to the Allentown Rubber Stamp & Paper Crafts Fair last April 13.

Allentown Rubber Stamping & Paper Crafts Fair - The Paper Cut

I hope to post more regularly here and give a progress report on my craft experiments. My big swaps from Swap-bot are almost done, and I’ve resolved to take a swap break for a bit as I’ve been creatively taxed from all the creating.

More handmade cards coming!