Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cowboy Theme- Just in Time

Here are the embroideries I've done this past week. They'll be turned into various children's items and put on etsy as soon as they're finished. I had some trouble getting good photos so I'll have to re do them.

Cowgirl and cowboy kitties version 1 on linen/cotton:

Version two on vintage linen napkin:

Close ups of fireflies and French knots:

Banana cowboy on blue cotton:

Cowboy kitten on green cotton:

The big news here is that after two years of planning we're moving to Austin this summer. Joe got a job starting in mid-August. I'm relieved because this was a plan we came up with so that we could afford to buy a comfortable house in an area we have friends in, where I could continue to stay home with Bub for a while longer before returning to full time work, and where I don't have to deal with subway anxiety. I'm sad because I'll miss all of our friends and family who are here, and I'm scared because it's the unknown, even though I've moved to new cities several times in my adult life (two of those times being to Austin). This is the first time I brought two family members with me so I feel more responsibility and I can no longer toss everything into a Ryder truck (U-Haul sucks) and go.

I might even have a craft room one day :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Berries, teeth, diapers, kitten, skirts

The strawberries are here! I'm not talking about the giant tasteless supermarket variety of berries that are flown in from 3,000 miles away (picked last week). I'm talking about the tiny, dark, super sweet kind that were picked early in the morning and brought to the farmer's market. The real kind:

Also really good right now is the Superbuzzy fabric that arrived earlier after I stalked their site for days waiting for the new stock. Everything I got is so lovely that I can barely stand to part with it, but I have big plans for sales. Harlan likes it so much he won't even let me photograph it:

The only thing I need to actually do is make everything. Other than that I have to sell it. Both concepts are simple in nature, but Harlan was up every hour or so for the last three nights moaning and groaning with a fever, and now I'm exhausted. The daytimes are not much better and the culprit appears to be some new teeth making their way in. I spent Tuesday evening on the sewing machine zig-zagging away on the microterry diaper inserts that I needed to make rectangular in shape so that they would fit into the G-diaper linings. Did I mention the diaper system I ended up finding? A woman from the neighborhood whom I know told me about her ingenious cloth diapering system that does not use any horrid bulky pre folds. She puts terrycloth diaper inserts or doublers into the linings of her G-diaper covers. She also wraps a bio-degradable liner around the inserts so that if poop should occur the only labor involved on her part is sliding the liner into the toilet. This system is still a bit bulkier than disposables, but I do prefer it to shelling out money and going to Target every week for disposables. Also, it's the strangest thing, but there is no odor from the diaper can with the cloth diapers.

Last weekend we went to a wonderful birthday party for one year old Hayden. I made this Japanese kitty for her and I hope she doesn't mind the lopsided eyes. I want to enlarge the pattern and make some more to sell. On the business front I have been working on some embroideries (like the cowgirl kitty in the previous post) to make into small quilted wall hangings or pillows. I am still not sure which way to go with this because I don't have an idea of what people might rather buy. I do know that my appliques are on hold right now because I am just enjoying making small quantities of items that I can work on when I feel like it. It's not that the appliques are not fun to make, but I am easily sidetracked and due to feeling generally overwhelmed these days I am reluctant to invest time in larger plans.

I got this book from Amazon and I can't believe it took me this long to find it. The book explains how to custom make any basic skirt pattern for your specific measurements. There is a super easy to understand formula and diagram for how to create the pattern on paper or directly on fabric. Even someone who has never sewn on a machine before could figure out to make their own skirts. I'm afraid I may be even more sidetracked than usual when it comes to craftiness...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

From the stoop sale duvet comes...

The queen sized linen and cotton duvet that I scored a couple of weekends ago is coming in very handy. So far I used some for the convertable backpack I finally finished:

Here is the inside:

By the way if you want to pre-order the pattern for this bag you can do so on the designer's site here. The flowered fabric is Japanese canvas weight cotton and the orange button is a vintage one from France that I received from Charlotte in Sally Shim's Vintage Button Swap pt. 2. The first swap I also had a European swap partner. Fun.

I also cut a scrap to do this embroidery which is still a work in progress.

When it's finished I'll either use it to make a mini/doll quilt or a pillow, along with some vintage hankies. We'll have to see how much more time I am able to spend on it. Do you notice that the flower I started is blooming with French knots? Oh la la.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tales from the plagrounds

Harlan wakes up around 6:30 each day, and is rearing to go by about 7:30. He tells me he is ready to go to the playground by bringing me one of my shoes and slamming it against my foot while moaning. Sometimes he brings me his own shoe and performs the same routine. By about 8:30 I load him into his stroller, pack the bag, and gently push the whole load down the flight of steps onto the street while all the nine to fivers rush past me on their way to the subway. We walk in the opposite direction, over to one of many parks in the neighborhood. On any given day Harlan and I have visited a minimum of three parks city wide.

Conversation from Cuyler Gore park last week: A five year old boy is playing on the jungle gym with Harlan (after school) and Harlan toddles past him commenting, "Doo doo doo doo". The boy turns to me in awe and exclaims, "He said doo doo!" I told him that Harlan is only a baby and that he doesn't really know what doo doo means. The boy looks at Harlan and says, "You don't know what doo doo is little baby? It's brown, and it comes out your butt, and it's disgusting, and it goes in the toilet. There. Now you know what doo doo is."

Today in Manhattan: Union square park at 9:00 AM, I unload Harlan from his stroller and as he runs towards the slide I push the stroller, now draped with farmer's market goodies, next to two women sitting on a bench. One of them is Gwenyth. She is dressed like any other mom at the playground at 9:00 AM on a Monday morning, messy hair, no makeup, sunglasses, a flowing long cotton dress and flat sandals, coffee cup in hand. I look around for a toddling Apple to play with Harlan, but see only a storm of elementary school aged children running amok. Harlan plays alone on the mini jungle gym and eventually a couple of teachers gather up the class and form a line. Gwenyth goes with them and I realize that her "baby girl" is already school aged and she is with the class today for some reason. I suppose I need to keep up with celebrity news in order to be better informed about the ages of their offspring. Around noon in Tompkins Square Park I see my old friend Heidi and her sweet girl Beatrix who is running around barefoot with a ladybug ball (Beatrix, not Heidi). I brag to her of my star sighting and she says that in her neighborhood she sees Julianne Moore almost daily with her adorable son. She also once came across "SJP" at a water park on the west side. All the other moms were in their terry cloth sweats and suddenly SJP showed up in platform heels and a freaking Birkin bag (did I even spell that right?) I guess if you have a bag that cost several thousand dollars you don't mind if it gets schmutzed up at the water playground. Hmmm.

Last Saturday my good pal Ellen, her husband Ed and son Zack met up with me and some friends over in Prospect Park for a breakfast picnic. The allergies were fierce, but the grass was lush and filled with clovers and it was one of those mornings where everyone just feels that life is good:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Greetings earthlings

Forgive me for falling a bit off of the blogging wagon. As you can intuit from the wonderful mother's day card I awoke to this morning, I am a bit busy these days. One of the perks of marrying a man who draws comics is that I get really good, handmade cards each holiday.

Lately I am spending my free time working on the convertable backpack for my class which ends this Tuesday. I wasted a lot of time fretting about fabric choices (clearly a sign that I should stop buying fabric without specific projects in mind) and eventually ended up using simple Japanese blue and off-white floral print canvas (it looks just like this) with a cotton/linen lining and straps. The cotton/linen arrived in my happy little hands at a stoop sale last week when I scored a queen-sized duvet cover in perfect condition for ten bucks. I already have two vintage duvets and one from a Dwell sample sale so I really don't feel guilty scrapping this one to use for my many projects.

This morning I dropped Harlan off with my mother and went up to Daytona Trims in the garment district. Future Girl tipped me off about this gem of a store for buying acrylic felt. I ended up with a nice assortment
as well some cotton lace
and a buttload of ric rack:
and sumptuous* velvet ribbon: and a mutation of the two:
How genius is velvet ric rack?

So, now I own even more supplies and have an even longer to do list. Good thing summer is coming and Joe will be home all day to allow me a bit more time to make some stuff and bring home a little more bacon than I've been chewing on... Speaking of which, we will be going up to Canada for a week to Joe's family's lake house. I just discovered I have to move rather quickly on acquiring a passport for young Harlan, who does not want to sit still in front of a white background to have his photo taken. Instead I took a picture of him in his highchair yesterday morning and I plan on cropping it in Photoshop to put on white background. This plan is more feasable. How funny is it that he will seemingly be neckless?

Lately I have been looking at the recent keyword activity from statcounter to see what random phrases have been typed into google that have led people to my blog. These are my all time favorites: Red velvet cake Boynton Beach, Blouse with breasts showing through, and Ina Garten's hot gay friend.

* Sumptuous is a really vile word in my opinion, almost as bad as using delicious to describe a baby, but for some reason I felt compelled to use it in my description of this ribbon. I apologize if you felt temporarily nauseated.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tips of the trade

Here's a custom order I did tody for someone giving a gift. I am always unsure about my embroidered lettering in such confined spaces, but it's improving and I only do it when asked. I'm still working on the appliques and decided to make my smiling pears a pair:

I really love the 100% wool felt that I get at Brooklyn General and I just got an order for this specific onesie so I used the wool felt and then washed it and dried it in the dryer on high. As you can see with the super duper lens and high mega pixels of my camera, the wool got a bit fuzzy. I think it actually adds charm to the appliques because what's even cuter than a green smiling pair of pears? Fuzzy smiling pears. I doubt they would stand up to years and years of hight heat drying but considering the size is 3-6 months I don't think that will be an issue. My biggest obstacle right now (aside from lack of time to produce more samples) to launching the new line of appliqued clothing is literally purchasing the materials. I have to get to the garment district to buy some acrylic felt that I like the look of. Everything else that I have seen so far looked too cheap for my taste. The reason it's nearly impossible for me to perform this simple shopping expedition is that Harlan goes ballistic if I take him shopping. He screeches, throws his bottle or anything else I hand him for entertainment, and bucks and pops in his stroller to escape its confining straps. Not something I can bring along to jam-packed midtown any time soon.

Meanwhile, I signed up for a class over at Purl for my mother's day gift to myself from Harlan. I'm so glad he knew that what I wanted more than anything was a break that involved leaving himself and the borough of Brooklyn in order to do something fun all alone. In three classes I'm going to make a backpack that doubles as a tote. There are all kinds of sewing skills that I hope to learn (putting in a lining for one thing) and so far so good. I bought some lovely Japanese floral print for the body of the bag and patched together a couple of yards of various fabrics for the straps and lining. I can't wait to see how it comes together. The teacher turns out to be Lisel of Distressed. Lucky for me! She designed the tote and I already learned some great tricks from her last night that I hope to share later when I actually apply them to my bag. One of the other students in the class had a great tip for all of us: When tracing a pattern from (or another tissue one), use vellum instead of tissue paper. This way your copy will be much more durable and last longer. In addition, vellum pattern pieces are much easier to store (I always get fed up trying to refold my pattern pieces and stuff them back into the envelope) and less likely to fall apart if you want to pin them to yourself first.

More tips coming next week. In the meantime, I sat down today during my free time and grabbed my Tivo remote while working on the Sadie embroidery. After checking out my gal Rosie over on The View (I'm not ashamed, I love her) doing her hot topics, I checked out Martha's show from yesterday. She gave a tour of her new craft line over at Micheal's and I was drooling over the rotary cutter that attaches to the T-square topped quilter's ruler. There is a little edge along the side of the ruler that the cutter rests on and slides over so that you end up cutting your fabric in a super straight line at the edge of the ruler. I went over to Micheal's and could not find it for the life of me. They have her line separated into really obscure sections like celebrate, share, and cherish and inside each section is a specific project. I have no idea where the hell anything is. Horrible web design! Next I went straight to her site's new section of her products and found the cutter but not the specific ruler. At least I can count on her site to have excellent navigation and comprehensive sections. However, I find it very un-Martha for her site to be missing something she advertises on her show. As the public knows, and as I know personally from having friends working for her, she is not one to overlook details. I think this reputation of hers as being a perfectionist is really good PR, because it's one reason I may shell out the big bucks for some of her tools. I know they're not going to be crap. Let me know if any of you can find the special ruler anywhere.

Garbage update: Landlord apparently called my downstairs neighbor and apologized for cursing him out and holding him personally responsible for the overflowing torn up trash. He said he figured it must be someone else putting it there. Now if you recall, the reason it's there is that he DOESN'T TAKE IT OUT for weeks on end. Yesterday morning Joe took down a bag of our garbage and noticed two things: 1) Landlord had in fact taken out some trash and placed it on the corner for pick up. 2) The trashcan was popping and jumping. After he raised the lid a chihuahua sized rat lunged at him and scurried away inside Landlord's entryway. A pile of watery, decomposed garbage remains at the bottom of the trashcan.