The Necessary Clutch Wallet

I haven't done much sewing for myself (or in general) since the wedding last November....until now! Today I'm sharing the Necessary Clutch Wallet I recently made.

Necessary Clutch Wallet

This wallet features lots of pockets and pouches, and enough room to hold your phone and checkbook, making it a perfectly-sized carry-all when you don't want a big bag weighing you down.

Necessary Clutch Wallet Interior

There's a zipper pocket, generous card pockets, and slots for cash money!

The pattern is by Emmaline Bags, and there is a mini version available as well. Be sure to check out their amazing selection of purse hardware, too...this website is incredible for bag makers!

Necessary Clutch Wallet In Progress

The pattern was very easy to follow, with great photos and instructions. While I will probably make a few changes next time, those are personal preference and not because the pattern wasn't spot on - it was great! The wallet took just an afternoon to sew up, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Head over to Emmaline Bags to download your pattern and check out #necessaryclutchwallet on Instagram to get some inspiration!

A (letter) pressing need

My favorite tools for expressing myself are paper, pen, thread, and fabric. Over the years I've dabbled in many media, and I think it's important to try new things. It helps you discover what works well for you and can help grow your appreciation for the talents of others.

One thing I'd wanted to try for a while was typesetting and letterpress. As a practitioner of hand lettering and a lover of all things type, it has always fascinated me. Recently, I had an opportunity to take a letterpress class with my daughter at Igloo Letterpress, a charming studio/shop in Old Worthington. They recently moved into new digs in an old hardware store on the main drag, and they have a beautiful new space for classes and workshops.

We learned to typeset a phrase the old-fashioned way, one letter at a time, using movable metal and wood type.

We took turns hand-cranking the press to make our final prints.

We had a great time learning something new and creating something awesome.

My sister, mother, and I went this past Friday night to Igloo's Galentine's event - a casual event where we made watercolor & letterpress Valentine's Day cards.

They have a variety of classes, workshops, and projects for artists of all ages and skill levels. Head over to their class page to learn more!

 

If I'd been a boy...

...my parents would've named me Valentine. An old family name. For a dude. Seriously. I'm pretty sure I hit the chromosomal lottery and dodged a real bullet there.

That said, I have a soft spot for Valentine's Day. Sure, it's a little sappy and mushy and obnoxious when you're single. But I fondly remember when I was a little girl (thankfully!) handing out tiny cards to everyone in my class at school. I would spend hours decorating my Valentine's Day mail box, anticipating the cards I would receive. I loved the colorful little messages, love-struck cartoon characters, and candy hearts. As I grew older, I developed an appreciation for vintage Valentine's cards with their corny puns, slightly-forced rhymes, and beautiful illustrations. Here are some favorites from my collection.

In anticipation of Valentine's Day this year, I designed free printable valentines for you!

Don't worry - I haven't forgotten about this month's coloring page...I did get a little carried away with the valentine, but I still have a brand new free printable coloring page for you, too!


Hideaway - my latest fabric collection!

It's cold and snowy here in Ohio, but I got a little taste of spring today with the arrival of my latest fabric strike-offs! I'm excited to share my newest collection, Hideaway, available now in my Spoonflower shop!

This collection was inspired by my recent trip to Mexico, and I tried to capture what I loved about the bright colors, beautiful flowers, and carefree spirit.

The collection is available in three colorways, and offers large scale, ditzy, and blender prints in a combination of organic and geometric forms. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed designing it!

2016 - The Year of Big Quilts!

Last week I declared that while I don't make New Year's resolutions, I did resolve to try and make big quilts this year. That's right...I don't always follow the rules, even when they're my own.

For my first big quilt of 2016, I decided on a Double Wedding ring quilt made with fabric from our recent wedding (fitting, I know). We used homemade cloth napkins for the reception, which have been washed, rewashed, and pressed, as well as fabric from various items like the ring pillow.

I know that it is a luxury that a typical modern quilt is made from lovely fabric, purchased for the purpose of quilting, cut into a bunch of pieces and sewn together as part of a plan. I kind of like that this quilt shares something with the quilts of my ancestors - made from fabric that served another purpose first and led a good, useful life before it became a quilt.

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I splurged and purchased the Simpli-EZ Double Wedding Ring Ruler set in an attempt to not lose my mind cutting or tracing the many many many many pieces needed for the quilt. So far, I have managed to cut 607 tiny wedges without completely losing my mind.

One day soon I'll be able to get to the fun part...the sewing. But for now, I need to run and buy some more blades for my rotary cutter.

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. The unseasonably warm weather in Ohio made it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year, but I enjoyed time with family and friends and yes...I did enjoy wearing a sleeveless top on Christmas.

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, so to speak. I'm not big on yearly resolutions - they just don't seem to work for me. I'm a fan of evaluating things throughout the year and trying to make changes when needed, but I've never been fairly successful at saying 'beginning January 1, I will/will not _______.'

Some things are better marked with the milestones of time, however. For example, I've decided that 2016 will be The Year of Big Quilts. Mini quilts are fun to make, an inexpensive way to buy all the fabrics in usable quantities, and can provide a rewarding challenge on a small scale. But how many throw quilts and wall hangings do I really need? Realistically, I don't need that many big quilts, either. But what I do need is a challenge...and to slow down and enjoy the process some instead of racing to the finish line. I've picked several projects for this year that will take some time and commitment. And I can't swear I won't make any minis...I'm just going to try to think big when it comes to quilting.

Another goal I've set for myself that lends itself to a yearly view is to release a coloring page every month in 2016. I love to draw, but coloring is relaxing and is a fun, creative way to play with colors. With the new year laying before me as a blank slate, full of possibility, I'm sharing an adventure-minded coloring page with you this month.

I hope you enjoy this printable PDF of vintage-inspired travel stickers as you consider the adventures that lay in store for you this year!

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads

When I was a child, no occasion went unmarked by a festive pillowcase. It began with Christmas pillowcases for me and my sister, lovingly sewn by my grandmother. We were so delighted that she kept making them. Birthdays, Valentine's day, Tuesdays - any reason was good enough for a special pillowcase. As time passed and fabric selection improved (along with her sewing machine), the pillowcases became more spectacular. My children have pillowcases she made with glow in the dark embroidery of their names! Our home now has no shortage of festive pillowcases for most occasions, so this year I decided I would spread some cheer and carry on this tradition by making pillowcases for my nieces and nephew.

 

These make a great gift and are super-quick to sew up in a pinch. You can even use them as gift bags! To make a pillowcase, you'll need one yard of fabric (I pre-wash mine...shrinkage after sewing isn't a big issue for pillowcases, but it softens the fabric up nicely). Fold it wrong sides together from selvage to selvage. I don't bother trimming off the fuzzy selvage edge - we're going to use French seams, so that will get trimmed away eventually. I simply sew along the selvage in this step. You'll sew across the top/short side and down the long side opposite the fold. Leave the bottom open - you have to be able to get the pillow in!

Now you're going to trim away that fuzzy bit and most of the seam allowance/selvage. You want less than 1/4"...just trim as close to the stitching as you are comfortable doing.

Now turn the pillowcase wrong side out and press the seams you just sewed.

Now stitch across the top and the long edge using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Now, before you get excited and flip the pillowcase right side out, let's do the bottom hem. Turn up and press 1/4".

Now turn up 3 1/2" and press. This will make the cuff, so to speak, of the pillowcase.

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Now stitch about 1/8" from the turned up edge. I moved the needle over because I have a fancy sewing machine, but you can eyeball it or mark it if your needle doesn't move. The goal is to make sure you close in that raw edge you turned under, so 1/4" is too much.

And that's it! Turn it right side out and your pillowcase is ready to enjoy!



Now we're cooking!

Waiting is difficult. As a seasoned adult, I should be better at it by now - but I'm not. The time it takes to go from sketch to digital design goes by in a blink compared to waiting for strike offs to arrive and a collection to actually become available. By the time I have fabric in hand, I've usually moved on to the next collection. My recent wedding and honeymoon kept me (rightfully) distracted while I waited, but I'm pleased today to share that my latest collection, What's Cooking?, is now available on Spoonflower!


DIY Bride

Now that the hustle and bustle of planning a DIY wedding is behind me, I'm excited to share photos of my crafts in action.

Let's start with the dress. Yes - it is possible to sew your own wedding dress without large amounts of crying and tequila.

I made several muslins trying to get the fit and style I wanted. Once I had that down in el cheapo fabric, cutting into the expensive stuff wasn't so scary. It's hard to tell from this photo (professional shots to come in a few weeks), but it's made from satin overlaid with sparkly lace. I layered the fabrics when cutting out the pieces of the dress and then basted them together before beginning the sewing. And doesn't my kid brother look snazzy walking me down the aisle?

My other kid brother, who is an engineer, helped me build the ceremony backdrop.

I sewed the flower girl's dress out of my leftover fabric, and I also made the ring bearer's pillow (which is now sitting on my couch).


I handmade the flowers for the bouquets using crepe paper and a instructions from Martha Stewart's Crafting Encyclopedia.

I know this looks like a lot of work, and I'm sure it was - it just didn't feel like it. I kept my flower-making supplies in a box by the couch and would work on flowers any time I was parked in front of the T.V.

Here's a photo of my handsome husband with his handmade boutonniere.


I made flowers for the tables as well, and table tents giving our guests the rundown of the evening. This saved me the trouble of programs for individual guests, and looked pretty good if I do say so myself.

 

I did a mercury glass-style treatment on mason jars and used battery operated votives. You can also see the vintage teacup candles and hankies. We (and by we, I mean mostly my mother) made simple frayed-edge cloth napkins from various fabrics that went with our scheme.

For our little guests, I made coloring kits. I drew up coloring pages and bought tiny clipboards and crayons. The adult guests were pretty jealous.

The adult guests did get favors as well - decks of playing cards with our wedding logo (if you can call it that).

The decks of cards were basic black and red playing cards. I had labels printed with my artwork and applied them to the boxes - a huge cost savings over having custom printed cards.

Continuing the love of games, here's our 'guest book'.

I'm sharing all of this to encourage brides looking for a dream wedding on a smaller budget to do some or all of the work themselves. Yes - planning, sewing, crafting, and cooking ate up a lot of my free time. But when it was all said and done, it was absolutely worth it. It was an event that completely reflected who we are as a couple and we walked away without any debt - what better way to begin a marriage?

 

Photos courtesy of Lindsey Habegger of Duo Photojournalism and Kathy Grinstead of Kathy Grinstead Photography

What's Cooking?

I'm excited to share a preview of my latest pattern collection with you. The name of my collection is What's Cooking?, and it was inspired by the hustle and bustle of Grandma's kitchen as she prepared Sunday dinners.

I also used elements of my patterns to create a tea towel calendar.

I had so much fun with this project! I knew I wanted to develop a collection around kitchenware. I'm not much of a cook, but I love kitchen gadgets and have many fond memories of helping my grandmother as she cooked and baked for the family.

Here are my mood boards.

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I sketched in pencil and then traced my drawings in Illustrator.

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Now I'm working on additional colorways for the collection, and look forward to sharing the whole line with you soon.

Vintage Teacup Candles

For reasons of practicality and personality, I'm DIY-ing many things for my wedding - invites, food, decor, even my gown! I just finished making some vintage teacup candles for the guest tables, and I couldn't wait to share the process with you!

I had a handful of vintage teacups in my stash, rarely (if ever) used for drinking. I hit the thrift store and the internet to round out the collection. Since I was planning to use them for candles, matching saucers were a non-issue, which made it easy to find cups inexpensively. Apparently, real collectors like a set...their loss! If you're not choosy about saucers, you can pick up cups like these for under $1...most of mine were $0.50 or less.

I purchased a big block of candle wax and some 9" wicks from a craft store. And yes - I know 9" seems like a lot of wick for these tiny cups, but you need a long wick that you can trim down at the end of the process. I broke the block of wax into little chunks so it would melt quickly.

They sell lots of fancy things you can put in your candles...colors, scents, oils, doodads...but I went frugal and broke up some crayons to add a hint of color to my candles.

Not being much of a cook myself, I don't own a double boiler. The only time I used a double boiler was for hot wax which was an exercise that ended, well, poorly. I saved a coffee can and used it along with a pair of tongs to melt the wax in a pot of boiling water. If you have a double boiler, rock on!

While the wax melted, I prepped my teacups. The wicks have a metal bottom that will sit nice and flat against the bottom of the teacup. Using a pencil/pen/chopstick, I wrapped the excess wick around and around so it didn't sag or move or fall in on the wax while the candle hardened.

I let the wax cool for about an hour, at which point the tops of my candles looked pretty sad. This is a part of the process - as the wax cools and hardens, it settles around the wick and the edge of your cup, forming an ugly, misshapen top on your candle which needs to be filled in with more wax. But don't fret - a little more wax on the top will even it out and make them look lovely.

Once they're cooled completely, trim the wicks and you're all set!

Autumn Arrowhead

Happy October! I'm celebrating my favorite month by sharing a quilt block with you for the first time in a looooooooong time. I'm this month's queen bee for the Columbus Modern Quilters, and I selected the Arrowhead block as my block of the month. This is a traditional quilt block, pieced in a very simple way – my sample block took about 10 minutes to make, and I was pausing for photos.

For those of you in the bee, please choose a light and a dark fabric. As you can see from my block, bright and bold are my thing – just make sure there is some contrast. Please stay away from low volume or solid fabric.

Place two 10” squares right sides together. Begin sewing 3” down from the top right edge. When you're 1/4” from the edge, pivot and stitch to the bottom left edge, backstitching at the end.

Rotate the block 180° and repeat for the last two sides.

Cut the unit diagonally, through the sewn corners. You will have two triangle units.

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Stack the two triangle units with the opening in the bottom left corner. Measure 3” from the left and cut through both units.

Now measure 3” from the bottom and cut through both units.

Open all of the sewn units and press the seams toward the light fabric. (This will help everything nest together nicely when sewn.) Lay out the pieces as shown.

Sew the pieces together in three units as shown. Then sew the three units together to make the block.

Square up and trim the block to 11.5”. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Nature's Sketchbook

I recently shared my Seeds Gone Wild pattern. I used that pattern as a springboard for a collection of 6 patterns.

I sketched in pencil, and then traced some of my drawings in Illustrator using my Wacom tablet and inked some of them using a lightbox and pen.

Here are close ups of the individual patterns.

I'm now awaiting the arrival of strike-offs, and the collection will soon be available in 4 colorways in my Spoonflower shop!

Seeds Gone Wild!

I'm working on a collection of patterns celebrating the garden. I drew inspiration from vintage seed packets and flowers from our yard.

I usually use a lightbox and pen to get my drawings ready for scanning, but I was encouraged to use my Wacom tablet, so I just scanned in my pencil drawings.

I traced my sketches in Illustrator, and applied 4 different color schemes that I've been working on.

Here's the final version of this pattern in repeat.

And here it is on a dress, because...well, why not?


Feeling Crabby

I'm currently hard at work on my last assignment for this year's MATS Bootcamp! I can't wait to share it with you, but right now I'm taking a break to share last month's project with you.

I began with the mini assignment to draw crustaceans. As little as I want to be near actual crabs, I had a great time drawing them.

I also drew patterns as part of our mini assignment, and when the final assignment came out I learned why - a set of nautical-themed plates featuring crustaceans and brightly colored patterns.

Now back to work! I'll be back soon with more fun stuff from MATS Bootcamp!

Whirlwind

April has been quite a month for me, hence the radio/blog silence. I unexpectedly (but pleasantly) changed jobs at the beginning of the month, planned and hosted a 1940's themed birthday bash, got engaged (squeal!) at that same party, presented my fabric designs to a local arts group, secured a licensing deal with a children's clothing manufacturer, and was selected as a featured artist for #wildartcolumbus, spawning 5 new pieces for online and gallery exhibition! File this post about my Make Art That Sells assignment under 'better late than never'!

This month's MATS Bootcamp mini assignment was to hand letter the phrase 'The Global Art Gathering'. Without knowing where this assignment would ultimately lead, I dove in headfirst and had a lot of fun.

I used similar iconography to that in my logo/website design, and added color and watercolor texture.

I was pretty happy with where this was headed, but when the assignment came out, I had to switch gears. The assignment was a design that could be used as a poster and a postcard for The Global Art Gathering in Brighton, UK this June. When I needed to draw together reference materials, I turned to my well documented love of vintage travel posters.


I had a blast researching Brighton and the things that make it unique, and am now suffering the side effect of needing to go to there. I started by working on some iconography of landmarks.

I loved the bits and pieces, but they weren't really working for me as a poster. I tried a cityscape next.

 

While definitely moving in the right direction, I knew it needed something more. After adding watercolor to my drawing, I used the Ferris wheel icon as a backdrop for the city, and I was pleased with the results.

I'll be back soon to share my pieces for #wildartcolumbus. In the meantime, check out Wild Goose Creative on Instagram to see what I (and other Columbus-area artists) have been up to!

Home is...

In February, our MATS Bootcamp mini assignment was plate scenics. If you're scratching your head at that, know that you are not alone...I was irritated. What the hell is a plate scenic? I'm supposed to sketch plates? Or the scenes on plates? As always, Lilla provided some guidance and inspiration – lovely photos of vintage plates, with romantic little scenes painted on them. I still couldn't quite wrap my head around it. I asked myself what kind of plate scene would appeal to me, and the answer was clear – the same kind of scene that always appeals to me – adventurous nature. I immediately began sketching various National Parks and wilderness destinations we've visited in our travels. Just like January, I started out annoyed and overwhelmed by the subject and ended up in love.

When the main assignment came out the next week, we were to create our art on wood slices – a perfect fit for my natural theme. This also gave me a chance to stretch my painting muscles as well as pick up a new skill (although skill may still be a generous term for it)...wood burning!

Devils Tower in Wyoming

The assignment called for one finished piece, for the wall art market. I made several to test the waters and really play around, and ended up with 5 pieces that I love, all of which are now hanging in my guest bathroom.

See more of my favorite pieces here, and check out my final submission and those of my MATS buddies here.

Hidden Gems

I have the month off from MATS Bootcamp, and am excited to use some of my 'free time' to catch you up on what I've been working on. I love the format of MATS Bootcamp. During the first week of the month, we get a mini assignment – an assignment that centers on a single theme, and involves research and sketching the subject without really knowing where you're headed in the main assignment. By the time the main assignment is revealed during week two, I've already fallen for the subject matter and I'm ready to go!

January's mini assignment was Edwardian brooches. When I received the email, I went into instant panic mode. I found the subject completely unappealing, and couldn't see how it would work with my style. Nevertheless, I began my research. I found some interesting shapes, and began to latch on to the facets of the gems.

 

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Before long, I had 6 pages of sketches and I was hooked!

When the main assignment came out the following week, I had lots of icons ready to pull together. The main assignment was journal covers for the gift market, and the brooches were a perfect fit!

I typically draw using paper and pen, and scan my drawings into Illustrator to digitize and color. I decided to stretch myself further on this assignment, incorporating watercolor into my work. I'm really pleased with how the textures came through, and will be using this method again.

By the time my project was submitted, I was so infatuated with Edwardian brooches that I decided to translate them into a repeating pattern for fabric as well, now available in my Spoonflower shop!



Resolve

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I think that it's a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment and guilt. Any time I've tried, I start off strong and fizzle out before Valentine's Day, and then the self-loathing sets in. I do understand the desire to start the new year fresh and how the future seems full of potential. I do believe in setting goals, and I've set some for myself this year.

I want to make my art a priority, and to devote time to practice and to develop my work while learning new things. I want to push myself and grow my portfolio. To that end, I've made two investments in myself for this coming year.

First, I signed up for a yearly membership to Skillshare. I took Elizabeth Olwen's surface pattern design class last fall and love it! It was truly inspirational, and it really motivated me to get to work. Skillshare has hundreds of amazing online classes across all sorts of creative subject matter. Here's a link to get a free month of Skillshare Membership and unlimited access to these classes.

Second, I signed up for Make Art That Sells Bootcamp! Last year, I participated in Lilla Rogers' Global Talent Search and I've been dying to sign up for one of her classes ever since. I'm saving my pennies to be able to take some more intensive lessons her studio school offers, but Bootcamp has me pumped. Every month I'll receive a professional-level assignment, cutting edge trend information and inspiration, and my work will be published in a public gallery. In addition to having structure to keep me on track and accountable I will be able to participate in a supportive, inspirational community. I'm so excited to begin!