Friday, September 30, 2011

Inspiration Ain't Great? Collaborate!

For those of you who follow this blog more than casually (hi, Mom), you may have noticed that not much has been going on over here lately.

I've got to admit . . . I've been a bit burned out on creating since I finished up my last project.  Maybe it's the change in seasons.  Or perhaps that I've become a lot more mobile since we went down to one car as I shuttle around to preschool, dance class, and Mr. Skooks' workplace throughout the week.  Whatever it is, it's been sapping my mojo . . . and the lack of creative pursuits has been gnawing at the back of my brain.

My poor sewing room is looking a little neglected lately . . . everything is not even cleaned up and put away from the beach bag bonanza.  That is NOT like me, as I know it saps my desire to start new projects when stuff is all tossed around and haphazard in there.

The Sewing Room is a Mess

I had this discussion with Mr. Skooks' mom recently about creative ruts (she's an artist so she gets this better than most), and she encouraged me to just do something small and simple . . . maybe something for my house or something.  You know, just for fun.  No pressure of a deadline.  No pressure of perfection.

I talked to Mr. Skooks about it later and he said the exact same thing.  (Did I mention Mr. Skooks is an artist as well?)

So here I was in the rut, and letting myself get all caught up in the whole BUT WHAT SIMPLE THING CAN I MAKE feeling.  Still pressuring myself for something great.  Or at least blog-worthy.   I guess I figure if you're going to come on over here to read what I've written, I ought to at least make it worth reading.  It was at this moment that I noticed Little Miss doing what she ALWAYS does.  Grabbing a piece of paper and a pen and just going for it.

The girl is crazy with the drawing.  I'm not trying to brag about my four year old, but I'm actually really impressed with her artistic sensibilities at this young age.  I think back to my drawings at that age and I don't recall them being so detailed or involved . . . almost all of her art tells a story of some kind.

Some very good friends of ours are expecting their first baby in the next month or so.  We're going to a baby shower to celebrate this fact at the end of the week and Little Miss became inspired the other day that we should make something for the baby.  She was set on making a blanket for the baby (she REALLY wants to sew on my machine).  I was amenable to this on some levels, but she was set on designing the blanket herself.  And as I've mentioned . . . she loves her some detail.

Bird with Nest Sketchup by Little Miss
This is the least detailed she would allow it to be . . . I told her mutliple times "please keep it simple!!" and this is what I got.

It became clear that this was not going to be something I could easily achieve while still making it baby safe (especially as she was determined that the nest have all the little "sticks" in there since "gee, mom . .  that's what nests are made of after all", so we compromised and I told her we could hoop it and make some fiber art for the baby's nursery wall.

She was STOKED, let me tell you.  In the spirit of keeping it simple and making it something that she would largely be able to help with, I decided to just use felt and used her drawing as a pattern of sorts to make sure it was HER art going up there.  I was just there to facilitate and help with the detail work.

I cut the kinda teeny pieces out of felt and she decided how they should be arranged.  I had her glue them down with some Sobo (would NOT recommend that btw, but it's all I had handy) onto a scrap piece of fabric (actually left over bits from her very first nursery curtains that I made for her room almost 5 years ago!).  After they dried, I did some very easy stitching to bring out the details in the bird and the nest.  Those little curvy lines around the eggs?  Oh, you know I asked Little Miss . . . they're wiggling because they're about to hatch. ;)

I Love You Baby Hoop

I had her write the phrase of her choosing (I helped with the spelling, but she did all the writing) . . . which I then faithfully added to the hoop using my handy transfer pen and stitched up.

The back of this thing was a hot mess . . . for reals.  I have never claimed to be an embroider-er (have I?), and I wasn't going for perfection here . . . CLEARLY:

Hot Mess on the Back

In an effort to clean it up a bit, I decided to try something I have (gasp!) never used . . . a hot glue gun.  I know, WHAT?  But really . . . I only recently came to purchase one, then didn't need it for the project I bought it for, and since then it had just taken up residence on a shelf still in the blister pack.

Hoop Backing Part 1
Here's what it looked like after I initiated Phase One of Cover that Mess Up.  Better, but still kinda janky.

Hoop Backing Part 2
And here it is after Phase 2.  Umm . . . yes.  I am Skooks.  I have a glue gun, and I'm not afraid to use it completely unaware of how to use it.  Oh well . . . the way I see it, this is a project from a 4 year old, so the cover up job on the back matches.  That's it.

And because I'm a glutton for glue gun punishment and burned fingers, I decided to add some ribbon around the outer edge of the hoop:
Ribbon Siding
Thankfully, that part came out a bit better than the backing did.  Le sigh.

Oh well . . . the important thing is that Little Miss was SO happy to make something for the baby and can't wait until she can hand it over in person.

Little Miss Shows Off Her Creation

It's not our first artistic collaboration, and it won't be our last . . . but I really love it and now kind of wish we could keep it!

Bird with Nest Sketchup by Little MissI Love You Baby Hoop

Oh well.  At least I've got one foot out of the rut.  :) 


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Custom Order: Fancy Beach Bags

Seems like an odd time of the season as the weather is turning decidedly fall-ish around here, to post about beach bags, but last week that was the project I finished.  I was excited to try a pattern (the Nikki Tote Bag pattern from Paisley Pear Quilts) that I had gotten awhile back but hadn't had a chance to make yet.  The good news is, I really love the pattern and will definitely use it to make more bags in the future.  Maybe even one for myself!  (The pattern is really diverse . . . I think it made for some super chic beach bags, but I could see this being used as a regular everyday bag for those people who generally need to have a lot on hand - - moms of all stripes come to mind . . . and would also make a terrifically cute diaper bag!  It is written to have 3 internal pockets, which I realized after making it up were the perfect size for wallet, sunglasses, and sunscreen.)

Oh . . . do pardon the photos.  I didn't have a chance to take proper ones before the bags were picked up from my house.  Actually, I wasn't even home when they were picked up so Mr. Skooks grabbed some shots for me quick so at least I'd have some record of them.  The focus fabrics were picked out by the buyer, and I just went with my gut for the rest.  All I had to go on was, "Beachy . . . and FUN."  :)

The first one was done in an Alexander Henry print: Jardin de San Marcos in Blue.

I decided to pull out that deep purple and used Kona's Bright Periwinkle for the handles.  I went with a lovely shade of blue (Kona Peacock) for the lining and pockets. 

The second one was done in Robert Kaufman's Vera's Garden Tropical Floral:

For this one I went with Kona Canary for the handles and Kona Papaya for the lining and pockets.

Here's how they turned out:
Fancy Pants Beach Bags

One aspect not written into the pattern that I was asked to add was a zipper.  I consulted with the pattern author who couldn't remember if it was a 16 or 18" zipper that was needed, but she helped me figure out where/how to insert it.  (I love patronizing Etsy pattern writer's for just this very reason - - thank you, Michelle!)  The only issue I ran into was one that I will never run into again . . . that is, I have taken a solemn vow to never buy a Coats and Clark zipper again.  NEVER EVER.  For real.  Talk about a crap product.  Nothing like making a gorgeous bag and putting a piece of crap zipper in to just ruin the whole effect.  Shoddy.  So what if I can get them locally at JoAnn and use a coupon?  NOT WORTH IT.
Jardin Bag Inside Split Pocket
Exhibit A: Crap Zipper . . . all that work and it barely functions.

Veras Garden Inside Pockets
Exhibit B: FANTASTIC Zipper . . . totally worth the extra effort to add it.

For the second one I patronized my new BFF in zipper-land, Jennie over at Zipit.  I've bought from her shop in the past . . . her zips are THE BEST and because she's just across the lake from me,  they ship super fast even without expediting.  Hurray!  YKK saved me on that second bag, truly.  For future reference, you need a 16" non-separating NON Coats and Clark NON crap-o-la zipper to get a good result on this bag.  Trust me, it's like a night and day difference and has a huge impact on the final product.
Veras Garden Zipper Closure
Veras Garden Front
Despite the zipper, I think I liked this one the best:
Jardin Bag Front
Beachy . . . and fun?  I think I got this one.  :)

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