Tuesday, 31 January 2012

From this...

to this...

An overflowing box of ancient envelopes from my stash, originally found via Freecycle from an office that was closing down, recently became slightly less of a box full of lovely little matchbook notes to go in with my orders as a little thank you.

While it might seem like a lot of work for not much reward, in fact something I'm just going to give away, the repetitive action of slicing away on the guillotine gave me some time to think.  I'd been thinking of something to put on the walls in my craft room, and for a long time I've wanted to work on a project that commemorates the 9 different flats and 4 different houses I've lived in.  In the hours that I spent making up 60 little booklets, I came up with a great idea.  It's just perfect, honestly.  I can't wait to start work on it so I can show you.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Seen around Glasgow

These gorgeous stained glass windows on Bath Street instantly transported me back to a different time, such detailed and long-lasting work. 

I love having my new little camera with me all the time, it lets me share little details of my day like this.  I wonder what will happen when the building has new owners or tenants.  I think it's a shame that the adjacent dance studio has changed the windows a little, but at least they aren't lost for ever.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Speaking of books...

I’ve just finished making a project from a newish craft book that was passed my way by Marceline, of Asking for Trouble.  When I reviewed a few of my craft books for Issue 1 of my Answers on a Postcard Zine, a comment I received was that people don’t tend to review craft books by making some of the projects and giving a commentary, but that would be the most helpful thing for a potential buyer of said craft book.  So with this in mind, I found a project I’d really like to work on and here’s how I got on.

The book I used was State of Craft, and for starters I tried the oversized beanbag pattern by Custom Made, using some lovely floral fabric kindly given to me by Sarah from Sarey Poppins, ooh a couple of years ago!  I didn't like the original plan to have a big flappy bit outside of the actual beanbag, so I reinforced the edges of my fabric to begin with instead, as part of a longer process to help strengthen the seams.
Preventing fraying on the edges with a zig zag stitch, recommended in the pattern

I had a few problems with the description of how to put in a concealed zip, I just couldn't get it through my head with the instructions given, but I found a tutorial online to help me instead.  I didn't need to use my zipper foot (which was fortunate as it seems to have disappeared), because the zip was pretty snug and flat so I had no problems with getting close enough to it.

Double-reinforcements for the edges with zig zag stitches on top of the original straight stitches

I thought the diagrams were really helpful but sometimes I couldn't see how the numbers on the pictures actually matched up to the narrative, which was frustrating.  I read the pattern about four times before I just went for it, and it didn't fill me with confidence before I started as I just couldn't envisage the mechanics of what went where, but this is my usual problem with patterns and trying to visualise something on paper in 3D.

So in the end, I did a reasonably good job, mainly down to being really careful about drawing lines to sew along in tailor's chalk before I started.  I find these bit so tedious but it's so worth it. 

I'll be attempting another couple of projects before I pass the book on to another crafty friend who'd like a go at the beanbag for her little girl.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I totally altered the size of the beanbag, too, to toddler size for Amelia.  Now to eBay, to order some beans to fill it!

p.s. I finished One Day and was disappointed by the fact that every single character was pretty unsympathetic, and as soon as they got their acts together - BOOM deus ex machina and radical/cop-out ending (which my mum tells me the Americans wanted the writer to ditch for the film - reassuring as it wasn't just me then).

Monday, 23 January 2012

What's on my kindle?

Disclaimer:  I'm linking to Amazon a  little bit, further below.  They aren't referral links, for the record.
One Day, via amazon.co.uk
This is also the year of reading a lot more.  I used to be a bit of a voracious reader, but with one thing and another (okay, doing an MSc, running a business as well as a full time job, having a baby that could never sleep or be quiet, now a toddler that can't sit still) I haven’t read anything that requires a massive amount of attention span for a couple of years.  Now things are calming down a little and I have my lovely commute and my new kindle, I really have no excuse.  So far this year I’ve read The Help, World War Z and I’m now 14% through One Day.  One Day feels a little close to home, what with a student flatshare on Rankeillor Street, a joint honours degree in English and something else, and scruffy northern lass/over-privileged public schoolboy protagonists (in my experience, you can pretty much put all the students in Edinburgh into one of two camps – hardworking overachieving state school kids from Scotland or the North of England who couldn’t go to Oxbridge because they needed to work part time to pay their way through university, or Oxbridge rejects from public schools who simply cannot comprehend why someone with four grade A A Levels would work on a checkout on weekends when they could be at the polo, and cry when Daddy cuts their clothing allowance).  Seriously, I saw a 18 year old girl during Fresher’s Week a few years ago striding through the New Town with a genuine Dior Saddlebag.  Two fairly senior members of the royal family were in my year (one on my course) and Prince William had nights out in Edinburgh most weekends.  I knew a lot of girls called Antonia, Clemmy and Tiggy, but not many called Joanne, Sharon or Lindsay.  I had to show someone how to MAKE A BED because she’d never done it for herself before.  I only really speak regularly to one person I knew at university now, and we became friends working at Sainsburys, it was just coincidence we were both in the same year and based around George Square.  I think I’ll make a note to myself to watch the film as well, I’m sure it’ll make me feel nostalgic. I think the one thing that everyone who goes to Edinburgh to study comes away with is a deep love of the city, and I'm just grateful I get to spend a couple of days every month there for work.

Dior Gaucho Saddlebag, via www.purses.com (of course!)
Next on the reading list are some of the real actual books that I have on my bookcase to read once (or re-read one last time) then pass on.  I’m trying to reduce my book clutter along with everything else.  Then I want to have a go at the books on the BBC best 100 books list that I didn’t have to read while I was studying literature.  Because it was voted on by the public, it’s not too skewed towards the dustier classics, and you can kind of tell which ones were voted for by people of different ages and so on.  Whether I can force myself to read any Jacqueline Wilson or Terry Pratchett remains to be seen...  In fact, I may work my way through the top 200 as there are a lot more books in the second half that are more my kind of thing.

Friday, 20 January 2012

My moonlit commute

The drive from my house to drop Amelia off in the morning... I wasn't driving, by the way!

You can see the Wallace monument on the right, and on the whitish blob higher up on the landscape to the left is Stirling Castle (centred directly over the silver car immediately in front of us).  I never used to be a morning person, but with views like this on my way to work, I could get to like it.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What's on sale?

Now added to the sale in my Girl Industries shop....

Buttons!  Envelope seals!  Zines!  Go on, treat yourself :-)
While you’re in the mood for shopping, check out Pushpin Publishing, where there are loads of fab new zines to choose from. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Getting organised in January

Calendar by 505 designs, at www.505design.etsy.com

What is it about January, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by stuff, emails, things to do?  I love a blank calendar and a year filled with possibilities, and I’m trying to reflect some of that in my home, my craft room , my shop and even my email inbox.  I’ve decided to put just about everything in my shop on sale, really clear the decks for the new year and some new ideas.  Of course, with the limited amount of time I have to work on my Girl Industries line, my new collection won’t be ready until Easter or thereabouts, but that works fine for me.

Like most people, we’re really watching our pennies here as well.  I’m undergoing the somewhat never-ending task of unsubscribing from a lot of the retail emails that I’ve signed up for in the vain hope of getting a deal.  Except it’s not a deal if you don’t really need it, so goodbye!  I’m also shopping from the freezer this month in another decks-clearing attempt, with the by-product of saving money, too.

Another two-for-the-price-of-one deal that helps me get organised and costs me absolutely nothing is this gorgeous and fully customisable calendar from 505 designs.  I have one copy at work so I can keep track of roughly where I’m meant to be, and another in my craft room so I can keep an eye on all the various goals I’ve made for myself this year.  I can’t help but be a little cynical – we’ll see how this lasts into April when I’m back at work 5 days a week – but for now, I feel a lot more like I’m on the straight and narrow after all the chaos and tiredness of December.  And I can’t wait to show you some sneak peeks of new products, too!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Fabric clearout

I've been going through my fabric stock and making tough decisions on what needs to go.  I went through a bit of a phase of buying designer fabrics last year and still haven't worked out what to make with them, so I'm passing them on to someone who'll make better use. I've put them all up for auction over on eBay, so click on the link if you'd like to browse.  I treated myself to a new tiny camera in the sales so I'm hoping to at least recoup my costs for that!

Here are some terribly-aligned photos of the fabrics on offer (20 minutes of faffing in blogger is my limit for one day!)

I'm hoping to add lots more of bits and pieces from around the house in our usual post-Christmas clear-out over the next couple of weeks - let's see if I manage to get that done on top of everything else I need to do *groan*. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

New lavender cats

Having run out of my original gingham check fabric (as seen above), there's only one blue lavender cat left in my Etsy shop. 

You can buy new blue cats (those ones down there) exclusively from Ethics Girls, and here's a massive stack I'm currently working on to replenish my stock.

Today's my second day back to the day job since the long holidays, and it's so satisfying to sew new little faces on as I whizz through the countryside on the train. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Today I'm mostly working on...

Turning these pre-cut envelope shapes

 into the finished article...

... which you can find in the Girl Industries Etsy shop - with only one set left in the oriental gold colour way (the stack in the top left of the first picture) and gold swirl, which is coming very soon!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Tutorial: a quick way to upcycle your Christmas Cards

So it's time to take down the Christmas cards, update my address book, upcycle what I can and recycle the rest.

I'm a bit of a clipboard fan (my day job involves a lot of clipboard-related activity, like risk assessment, quality assurance and report writing), and I've had this small acrylic version for ages.  I have a feeling it came from muji, but it could be from Paperchase.  In the past I've used it as a frame to hang pretty postcards and greeting cards in my bedroom and study, but for a little while now it's been hanging around in our living room with a hotel room notepad in its little grip.

The notepad ran out over Christmas, so I decided to replenish it with the blank insides of our Christmas cards. 

First of all, I measured up the free space on top of the clipboard.  10 x 14cm, if you're interested.   Then I got to work with my trusty guillotine and had a few zen moments of calm, straightforward, repetition.

I've hung up the finished article in our kitchen, and popped the unusable clippings/written on bits in the compost bin.  I couldn't decide which image to have on the back - as we'll probably use the notepad for shopping lists, this 'Eat Drink and Be Merry' print seemed apt.  But I also love the detail and hard work that's gone into this tapestry representation of the nativity scene, too. 

If you'd like to do something similar, but don't have a little clipboard like mine - consider hole-punching the top of the used cards and using bookbinder rings (like these, available in my shop) to keep all the pieces coralled.   The beauty of doing it this way is that you can use pieces of varying sizes, as long as the holes line up.

What do you do with your old Christmas cards?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Just found another three!

In the spirit of getting things done in 2012, I opened my lavender box to this sight...

Which means I have not one but FOUR lavender cats left in this colourway.  For now, anyway....

New cats in new colour combinations coming soon, too! A photo of completed cats will be on its way just as soon as I've stitched 'em up.

A productive and happy new year, everyone :)