Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dollhouses and stuff

We have been busy around here... Between Z's party (pics to come) and my packing up more than 25 5+lb boxes of fabric scraps for my free fabric friends... I haven't been the crazy blogger I normally am... But I have been having some creative fun... Today, for Teacher Appreciation week, we brought succulents from our yard for each teacher...(my friend Kimberley gave me the best one a year ago that I often give clippings out from)... So there were potting projects, and
some sewing projects (also to come), and the above painting project that the kids did... After last week's découpage birdhouse, I was feeling a little guilty about not letting Mimi do the bulk of the proect herself, so I bought her this unfinished CD holder/dollhouse to paint. The project was a hit and Ze Artiste promptly requested his own to paint. (for his cars to live in) I did the tree on the side of Mimi's house, and the flower stems, but she drew the flowers... And Ze Artiste's abstract 2 handed painting was amazing to witness. He was all about mixing paints... Sister, not so much...

I love seeing their individual talents come alive.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No Sew Duct Tape basket

Since I never do anything just once... I think I have mentioned - or have I just said it out loud and not blogged it? - that it usually takes me making around 5 of something before I feel like I really have a grip on it... so here is No Sew Duct Tape Fabric project #2.
So fun. I'm using it to store my journal and pen collection right now.

though you'll have to look here for the tutorial... a quick explanation... cut the fabric to the sizes that you want for your project with a little bit for seam allowances. Turn the fabric face down and give it sturdiness by duct taping over the entire back of the piece you want to use. We only have red tape around here (it figures, doesn't it)... but any color will do. when you want to join 2 pieces, prepare them with the tape, then staple them together as if you were "sewing" a seam - only you're stapling it... then fold the seam over to one side and tape it down, covering the staples.
Construct as desired!
I'm not sure HOW sturdy my basket handle is, but I'm testing it out around here.
These are really fun. I made this one on the front porch last week while the kids threw wet sponge balls at each other in the front yard on a particularly hot day.

Brass Tags

Here's another shot of the brass tags.
complete with my new favorite saying...
Here they are on etsy...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Today's task... New baby ideas

Whenever I take dinner to families with new babies, I like to do put it into a reusable grocery bag for them to keep - no new momma should have to figure out whose bowl/bag etc is whose... Just getting dressed is hard enough!
I also like to include a handmade gift. Today's package includes chicken tacos, fruit salad, Spanish rice and a baby swaddle blanket. My babies were huge and when they came home from the hospital already didn't fit all the cute swaddle blankets we'd been given... A friend gave me one of these and I called her up begging for more. She obliged and then began making them for me to give as gifts... And now I do the same... Just get cute flannel and serge (if you have a serger; the edges are the key to being good swaddlers). I make them 36"x36" and sometimes larger - much bigger than your standard swaddle blanket on the market. :)
If you aren't so inclined to make them, I make them and sell them on etsy too... For cheap enough that you can stash a few and stick them into your next homemade meal delivery.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chillin with the birds

Other than the fact that I'm a little scared of birds, this is a
pretty great place for some quiet thinking today...
(Kenneth Hahn state park... 10 minutes from my house... In the middle
of LA)

Free fabric giveaway ~ shipment 1

Here goes the first shipment... Many more still waiting to be
posted... You are having fun with this! I'm so happy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Update

You all have been snatching these up faster than I can list them.
Due to the amount of orders coming in for these, I need to add a small (I promise) handling fee to cover the time I'm spending filling all these orders.
(it will be $3 per box - as I need to cut, fill and ship each box... I'm also doing my best to assure you get a great variety in each one which takes a little coordination)
I'm so super happy that you love them... let's keep the fabric joy going...
I have 4 more listed at the original (no handling fee) cost. After that... they'll be just a teensy bit more.

Happy Earth Day!

In the spirit of recycling today... I am kicking off a new special to last the next few days.
If you pay for the shipping of a flat rate priority box (i.e. $10.35)... I will fill it with quality craft worthy Libby Dibby scraps for you to enjoy. My guesstimate is that you'll be getting about 5lbs or more of amazing fun patterned cotton.

click here... to partake!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

brass tags anyone?

I found an inexpensive way to get gold toned tags made...
the image doesn't show the pretty shine that this has (I scanned it and the light is harsh)
but you get the picture...
Would you be interested in something like this? They're a little bigger than the others - 1" diameter.
and they'd cost $13

Duct tape purse (only classy)

The design director and I had some quiet project time to try out a fun idea I read about here... A duct tape purse... Sturdy, fast, fun. And with endless design options... Though we played it straight this first time.

Scrappy birdhouse

The design director has heard me talking about covering this birdhouse with fabric for a while now and couldn't wait any longer. Nothing like a nagging preschooler to help you not procrastinate... So she started in on it yesterday with Momma's help... Some scraps and watered down Elmer's glue. I modpodged it overnight, just to be sure... But I love it. And she loves it too, I was going to take a photo this morning, but couldn't find the birdhouse because she had stashed it in her room, so I had to wait till preschool was out to ask her where it was.

Matching dresses - a generation ago

My sister found the old pic of mom and us and the dresses she made...
I went and found my copy, too.
how cute is this?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Matching outfits

Once upon a time, my mom (I'll look for a photo) made matching dresses for my baby sister, me, and herself... We have a photo taken and I have always admired that photo with this feeling that said, "I'll never be able to do that". But this morning, on the way to church, we got this photo... (and yes, I am wearing my new grey shirt and pocket skirt)
Mimi had that great dress last summer, but it's too small now, so I made her two new ones this week... The shorts for Z are super long in hopes he can wear them for a long time. Cousin Ryan has a matching pair as does another buddy, Christian...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Million Trees LA

So today we got our free tree! And it's so pretty!
Million Trees LA is an organization that counts the tree canopy in Los Angeles, and a recent survey noted that LA has well below the national average of tree canopy (no joke, no wonder it's not so pretty!) We've been doing our part around here at the house, we've planted 4 trees in 2009 already - and today's new tree is tree #5. I love trees. Always have.
And today's happy new member came with lots of family fun.
It was a surprise that the guys came with the tree to plant it, and since the kids and I were home, it was really a serendipitous event. Z got to help dig the hole and we watched as they planted our pretty new friend.
Our street is nice, but I've heard in the past that it had a nice canopy of trees that have since died. It's nice to at least do our part to help them come back.
(We got our other trees from J's new favorite site, Fast Growing Trees.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dollar Store Crafts

I have a new favorite site! This is super fun and great inspiration for all of us DIYers.
Check out this link for an awesome tutorial on making fused plastic (grocery sacks, etc) backpacks. I saw in the comments section that someone used the same process to make lunch sacks... how fun is that?

Coffee, history, oatmeal and quiet

My breakfast at the LA Farmers Market. All by myself. I'm loving it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My first blouse... I actually followed a pattern!

The girl who can't follow instructions finally worked it out! I finished this blouse last night (had started it before we got sick) and I am proud to say it's my first time following a pattern from
start to finish... I like it. I'd seen the pattern sewn up on flickr and asked the seamstress where she got the pattern (Simplicity 3887)... Then bought some cheap fabric... Ahem. $1 a yard to practice on and here we go! I think next time I will make it a size smaller. Pattern sizes are so confusing!
However, I'm pleased, and this confirms my resolution that I will be sewing my own Easter dress next year. (Every Easter Sunday, I wake up, get the kids dressed in their new Easter clothes and then stand half dressed in front of my closet for half an hour trying to find something "springy". I tend to wear dark, vibrant colors like red, coral, grass green and brown.) This past Sunday I vowed I'd get good enough at sewing by next Easter to make my own dress from fabric by one of my many favorite designers... I'll likely shop at Quilt Home  or sew, mama, sew.
Zuma wanted to say hi this morning. She is shy about photos, but thought youd like to see her back and scooted into the shot at my feet.
And the skirt? I tried a quasi-version of the Oliver+S "Lazy Days" pattern- sized up for a momma, but it's not super flattering. I'm thinking it's a house skirt. (i.e. The pocket)
Oh, and not that you can see it here, but last night's other project was dyeing my hair all by myself. The color ended up darker than I want, so I will wait a few weeks and try again, but it went okay for my first try... (thanks AnnaKatherine, for helping me work up the nerve! I love bloggy friends)
Happy Tuesday!
(oh, and yes, it's even happier today... I've not mentioned it here, but my dad -who is a huge inspiration to me and the one who nicknamed me Libby Dibby... Has been fighting prostate cancer for the past 4 years. Last night he got news that confirms via bloodtest that his cancer is pretty much gone. Today is a great day.)

Happy Easter, from us

Our only real Easter pic as a family... snapped on our way into church... 
we hope your Easter was filled with resurrection and life.
(and yes, that is the "But Seriously" skirt... I hadn't ever worn that side out, I loved it!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sweet Spring

We celebrated our Resurrection Weekend with family.
A photo of the fam to follow when I get one, but for the time being, here are my 2 favorite pics from the weekend... one is of the cousins before their egg hunt at Meema's house on Easter Sunday. The other is of me, "Auntie Lala", holding the littlest niece, Violet. My favorite part is how happy she looks. I think it's the biggest compliment that I could receive.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tote Bag Tutorial

Okay – the long awaited tutorial!
Amy's bag- short straps, exterior pockets, ribbon trimming the open top

What you need to do to begin:
Decide the length (L) and width (W) of your tote.
Decide if you want pockets or details. (maybe try that 1 or 2 totes in… you’ll get it better, if you try it most simply, first)
Pick your fabric and straps.
Decide if you want to hem your tote’s top edge with bias tape (see below) or just have a simple hemmed edge.

Ok. So you want a tote that is L” long and W” wide.
You need to cut 2 pieces of fabric (one for each side) that are L plus 2” long and W plus 1” wide (example. For a 12L”x10W” tote, I would cut 2 pieces that are 14”x11”)

Now is where you would add in the decorative elements. 1- add pockets for either the interior or exterior of the bag. 2 – Add decorative elements, ribbons, appliqué, etc.

If you’re not doing decorative elements, or if you’ve already done them…
1. place the two rectangles together – right sides facing in.
2. sew around the sides and bottom of the bag, leaving the top open. A ¼” or ½” seam allowance is good. I have a serger and like to serge the edges together for a clean line. Sometimes, I go back over the bags here and topstitch the seams for a more finished look, but again, that’s preference.
3. Add gussets. (this part IS optional, but I’ve found it adds a lot of class) This is the hardest part to explain. I found this great description online of how to make one. I hope a photo will help, but basically, try doing this as you read the instructions and see if it makes sense… hold the sewn bag (still inside out) upside down. Put one of your hands into the bag all the way to one of the corners at what will be the bottom of the bag. If your fingers are all together in a point, you can use your other hand to pinch the bag so that you have flattened the bag in a perpendicular angle to the seams you just made.
(Your bottom and side seam should be in line with each other, kind of stacked on one another) Take your inside hand now to the outside of the project, and flatten what you’ve pinched into a triangle. For your first one, measure about 1” in from the point and sew a straight line across this measurement. (You can cut the remainder off with pinking shears or serge it, like I do) Repeat the same on the other corner.
4. Trim the scraps and turn the bag right side out.
5. Decide if you will hem the top of the bag or turn it in/out… One of my favorite things to use for the top edges is Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape. It’s so easy! Just cover your raw, folded, hemmed edge (or serged, as I like to do) – with the bias tape - There is one side that is shorter than the other and this is for a reason… place the shorter side on the outside (pretty side) of your bag so that the wider side is on the interior of your bag. Now, when you sew the tape to your bag for a nice clean look from the outside – you will for sure be catching the inside bias tape, even if you wobble a little…. Simply genius!
a. Sometimes here is also where I like to leave a raw serged edge, or if the fabric has a cool “wrong side” I will fold it over so that it kind of trims itself. see Aunt Shirley's bag (again, preference)

The first thing to do is to decide how long you want your straps to be. Do you want them to be shoulder straps? How many do you want – one or two? Are they long enough to hold over your elbow, or just carry with your hand? Decide the length.
I do one of two things for my totes… I either stack 2-3 layers of said length grosgrain ribbon and sew them together with two straight running stitches down the length…. Or I take scraps and fold them many times over until I have a nice hefty strap at the width I want – and then I do two straight stitches down the length. It’s a preference thing.
Aunt Shirley's bag- one long strap, interior pocket, self-folded top trimmed with ribbon, button closure

Now I measure (or just eyeball) where I want the straps to be. I mark, pin, or just remember where that is and begin to sew the straps on, one at a time. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Here is where some creativity can come in. Do you want to show the edges of the ribbon? (I always singe the grosgrain’s edges over a candle’s heat to stop fraying) Do you want to hide the stitching with a cute button? Do you want the straps inside or outside?Mom's bags- short straps, button closures, exterior pockets, ribbon trimming the serged top

And the finishing touches are simple. Maybe you want a button and loop closure at the top. Maybe a snap? That’s up to you. And once you’ve made a zillion of these, I’m sure you’ll have tried every possible way. I’d love to see your totes, so if you use my tutorial, please post a link to where I can see your projects!
Amy R.'s bag- medium straps, exterior and interior pockets, raw serged topNancy's bag- short straps, ribbon trimmed top, button closure

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Couch Love

It's done! Couch #2 finally has happy patchworked cushion covers to match it's counterpart.
It was hanging over my head forever, and I am happy to say I am done. (My mom said, "well, now you can work on the main framework" NOT YET! I have to work up more nerve!)
Anyhow - these cushions turned out so much nicer than the first two. I'm really pleased.
I finished the final touches on them tonight while J was taking Zuma on a walk before bed. When he came in, he found me with his camera - attempting to get a decent photo. (not easy at night) He set me straight, helped me get these, which make me super happy and as we were messing with the flash, we started playing with his iPhone and got this last shot. (Ignore my hideous fleece pants, I love them)

Happy Birthday, Aunt Shirley!

My dad's Aunt Shirley is the only person left in her generation in my family. All of my amazing grandparents passed away a number of years ago... but Aunt Shirley, my paternal grandfather (Papa Lew)'s eldest sister is the remaining matriarch of the family.  We don't see her much as my dad relocated to LA before I was born and the rest of the family is on the East Coast... (Brooklyn and Boca!)... but we did fly out 2 years ago for her 100th birthday celebration. Aunt Shirley turned 102 this week!
Dad flew out to be with her on her birthday, which was really special, but wasting away here in pneumonia-ville - we were even a little late with her gift and card. 
Which left me with the question, "What do you give to a 102 year old for her birthday?" And as I thought about it... and packed the box, otherwise filled with drawings of balloons and cousins from the Design Director, a homemade lavender eye pillow, and a card... I decided.... Aunt Shirley gets a new bag. I mean every girl - age 2 or 102 likes a new bag, right?
So here is the bag that I made for my Great Aunt Shirley. (tutorial in the works tonight!)  I thought about ease and springtime and hoped that perhaps she could use it to carry a nice book or letters to some windows to read... Though I know you won't be reading this blog, Aunt Shirley, I hope you love the bag and I hope you know it was made with love for you and all you are.

Today's inspiration: Fresh Air

I love fresh air. I love 60 degrees and partly cloudy (big lofty clouds!) I love sun and shade shadows dancing over my day. Thank you, Lord, for fresh air. It does a million things to me, both inside and out... All of which I need right about now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New vintage pants for Mimi

The Design Director got these pants when she woke up this morning. Tori is moving across country and downsizing her vintage fabric stash, so we've been gifted with yards and yards of new inspiration... The Design Director loves yellow, and claimed this fabric instantly, so I was happy to oblige-complete with ric-rac trim. I love seeing her in this style.

Home Tour

I love seeing into the lives of blog-writers. It's fun seeing people's homes anyway, but when you get a glimpse into someone's home - especially someone whom you feel a creative connection with, well - that's really great. so in that interest... here is a little glimpse into the life we live here in our little 1922 Los Angeles bungalow. We live in an historic neighborhood, which is undoubtably "edgy" - this is no suburban cul-de-sac - but we love it here and are so happy.
Studio shots will have to come later - considering I still need to wrap my head around what to do with all my scraps! (they're not easy to organize)
Living room. (Before the new chair! I'm also working on finishing the loveseat's cushions this week... will post a photo when I am done) I think I have written before about how much I love the Bachelder tile on the fireplace - it's one of my very favorite parts of the house.

Dining Room. When we moved in, people asked, did you buy the house to go with your furniture? It felt like we did. The closed door is the door you see on the blog daily - where I photograph my projects. My studio lies behind.
Kitchen. It's funky. Open shelves, no dishwasher, few cabinets, original drawers (auckward!) but it's bright and cheerful with a view of the back yard. Someday we hope to update it.... not yet.
Mimi's room. Plenty of light and lots of room to dance. Lots of repurposed and repainted furniture.Master Bedroom. What a lie this photo is. We never make our bed. We used to, but it's no longer worth it with the monkeys around.And there you have it. Our home. Happy. Loud. Crayola. and like the sign over the entry to our dining room says, "all because two people fell in love"

New chair

J and I had promised to buy ourselves a chair for valentines day instead of spending money on random objects... And we finally found it, this weekend at a local upholstery shop that was getting rid of samples...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pneumonia makes a purse from placemats

I bought these placemats a while ago, with the intention of making myself a tote from them, but when I started the bag today, I got a new idea... The one strap goes through two buttonholes and causes it to self fold... Kind of fresh, I guess... Like the warm air I have been coaxing into the house today.

Pneumonia gets creative - 34 hairclips

Sitting around, sick, tired, with not enough energy even to sew, I decided to make some new hairclips. About 5 years ago, when I was pregnant with the Design Director, I envisioned her coming out like my sister's little one had, looking like our side of the family - with a head of dark, straight hair... as I dreamt of that - I made sweet little hair-clips from ribbon and glue. I imagined sticking them in her downy brown hair and people never having to ask if it was a boy or girl because of the sweet bows and ribbons.
ahem. well, the Design Director came out, bald and as fair as I'd ever seen - with nothing but a tiny tiny bit of fuzz for about 2.5 years. (I'm NOT joking). And the barrettes were given to friends and tucked away until recently... I figured out the other day that a little bit of velcro (the prickly half) on the inside of these makes them stick really well in hair, and now that my hair is shorter, I'm always looking for fun clips...
so ... here's something I can do while feeling awfully weak... using up scraps of ribbon, yoyos, old buttons galore... The funniest part to me was thinking back to when I made the first batch. I remember them taking forever to make - days. And I only made about 10. But this batch was made last night and this morning, while home sick from church... and I whipped them out.
I guess years of crafting can make you faster even at the little things.



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