Cogs & Gears: Play

I was going to name this post “All Work and No Play,” but on consideration decided that that might conjure images of a really crazy Jack Nicholson, which would be regrettable.

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Not this crazy Jack Nicholson (though – yikes!)

 

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This one! (Haven’t actually seen this movie, but you get the idea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And anyway, I think I’d rather examine the idea of play all by itself.

It’s my Ladybug Week again! As Sarah was saying recently – a planned time to step away from all Etsy stuff before it totally overwhelms me, to step back and get some other stuff done, to relax and not worry about things like business: Sort of an every-seven-weeks vacation.

Now, I’ve always had trouble with the idea of play and recreation – an occupational hazard for someone whose work is what they love: I like crafting – but should I stop making stuff this week? I love writing – but having just finished July’s CampNaNoWriMo with a lot of hardcore writing time, should I take the week off? What do I do instead?

I came up with a very depressing list of things To Do every day this week:

  • Yard work for 2 hours – weeding, digging, bug control, etc. – even if its 90 degrees outside.
  • Attack the mending pile.
  • Clean and declutter an increasingly chaotic house, for 2 hours.
  • Study really hard for 2 hours, to get back into regular schooling.

This excellent program is probably something I actually should do some week, to kick-start several projects that need doing. But, while it would be different work from Etsy-listing and novel-editing, it would be anything but relaxing and restful.

What makes this Ladybug Week harder is that, 1) I feel like I didn’t get that much Etsy-work done in the last few weeks, and 2) CampNaNo gave a lot of momentum to my writing that I don’t want to lose. However, 1) I did manage to establish a routine of listing a new item on my shop every day almost – and that’s quite the accomplishment, if you think about it! And, 2) I generally find writing very recreational.

I was telling my helpful sisters about all of this, and that helped me realize that I should make this time off into a restful thing and not fill it up with extra stressers and hard labor. I do need this, to put myself back together or keep from falling apart, to get some perspective, to refocus on where I’m going rather than floundering about, and to enjoy some random things!

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So, here’s an actual list of the fun things I want to do this week:

  • Put some music on my phone (which is smart! yay!)
  • Create some art, which I began last year. It’s time to bring it together!
  • Sew a purse for myself out of some very fun Parisian fabric (again, I’ve had this project hanging around for a while, and it’s a little daunting – so it’s the perfect time to take it on!)
  • Figure out and blog my goals for the month
  • And blog about what our theme this month will be (spoiler: it’s gonna be fun!)
  • Watch some “Daredevil” (probably while sewing)
  • Continue writing – this chapter is exciting!
  • Play some Taptiles and other games

There you go! It still looks busy – but it should be fun rather than arduous work! Bonus: the New Mexican monsoon season has begun, so it looks like it’ll be gloriously stormy for the next few days.

What are your plans? Do you have any fun-and-frolicsome ideas that might spice up my relaxation?

-Abigail-

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Friday Featured Favorites: Apples and Gingham

Okay, due to the day getting a bit crazy, I have about an hour and a half before it’s actually Saturday to talk about a very fun shop. So hopefully I will do it complete justice, which is extremely unlikely, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself.

Today my favorite shop is Apples and Gingham. And by the way, I thought I would try coming up with clever titles for these posts, something to do with the shop, but I thought the shop name itself was so wonderful and fun, I couldn’t think of anything else.

There are pillows, mug cozies, even a t-shirt scarf, and keepers. I took a look at the keepers (pictured above) to find out what they are, and I love the idea! You can use these to keep a collection of things together, like diapers with wipes, a set of napkins (I think that might be something we’d use it for) a few books, as pictured, maybe a sewing project (again, I might use it for that!). And you can a request a custom order, which is something I’m always impressed and pleased with.

One of the things the shop owner, Kam, specializes in is re-purposing, which is also something I’m impressed with. My creativity doesn’t tend toward re-purposing, but I’m hoping to explore it a bit more.

It’s inspiring to see what Kam has done with re-purposing, especially for people new-to-it-and-thinking-of-trying-it-out, because the result looks absolutely wonderful.

I asked her what she looks for in her re-purposing projects and she mentioned that she might go there looking for something specific, like turning men’s shirt into a pillow, or a bag of t-shirts into a scarf. She especially tries to use items that might not be used, such as company shirts, jeans and school teams.

Like me, Kam finds a lot of inspiration in denim things. It’s such a convenient, nice fabric (and 60″ wide!) I’ve only just discovered how much I like denim. We’re getting low in our stash and I’m a bit worried. Still, there is that box of old jeans. Hmmm…..

Last week I took a look at the reviews, so I decided to brave it again. (I tend to avoid reviews anywhere because I’m afraid they’ll be bad) The reviews for Apples and Gingham were great, mentioning great shipping and satisfaction with the item bought.

Here is a link to this charming Etsy shop. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Have a great weekend everyone! By my time we’ll be there in about 10 minutes!

Our Etsy Shops

Amid all the craziness of being new bloggers, putting new stuff out there, and hoping people will find it, it suddenly seems as though we have (sorta) lost sight of what this blog is really about: Our Etsy shops – what’s there, and what to look forward to.

Of course, we haven’t really forgotten about it. Etsy and our shops and where we’re going with our creative careers is never far from our minds, hearts and imaginations! But we do need to start highlighting our shops a little more. (This is a little embarrassing, since I’ve been neglecting my shop far too much lately!) We’ve been talking about making a couple of changes to our blog so that it ties in with Etsy a bit more, but until then here’s an introduction to each of our shops (in alphabetical order!):

Annavania

Hannah’s shop features beautiful crocheted hats. She designs her own original patterns (which she says is easier than following someone else’s) and works primarily in cotton thread. Each creation is unique, and wonderfully wearable! She also has a line of Victorian-style handcrafted cards (paper and downloadable versions) which she is expanding all the time with new original designs. Keep an eye out for Christmas cards, sets and individual!

TheRaisinFairy

My shop is about small things to charm and light your life, and add a little bit of comfort and magic to even the most mundane days. At the moment, you will see several cards (downloadable and hard copies), and adorable little woodland ornaments. But my shelves are going to fill up soon with crocheted fingerless gloves, colorful and bright sachets, more cards, and some fanciful earrings that I am in the fun process of designing.

SallySewing

Sarah’s shop is all about bags. Her designs are clever, creative, and lovely. From handbags to totes, each creation is unique – I don’t think she’s used the same design twice yet. She uses fabrics from our Stash, which encourages outside-the-box thinking, with occasional additions specially purchased to make the bag come to life. She’s planning some Christmas bags, which will probably show up soon. But her bags are all-the-time useable. Gorgeous and chic!

So come and check our shops out! We are always reinventing, renovating, and experimenting with new ideas – and it would be wonderful to have you along for the journey.

-Abigail

Maxi Skirt: A New Project

I think it’s about time that we let our readers have a behind-the-scenes look at our creative process – inspiration, ideas, brainstorming, working and re-working, all the way until we finally have a finished product. We are, in fact, formulating something that will form a regular part of our blog and allow us to showcase works in progress. But until we get some cork board and a home for it, I’ve found the perfect project to get started on!

The Maxi Skirt

This is a personal sewing project. I sew almost all of my own clothes – it’s a bit of an obsession – so this isn’t unusual. If it turns out really well, I might start putting maxi skirts on my Etsy shop; but for now I’m just experimenting.

I like the maxi trend. It shows less skin than is often popular, and yet is very attractive. It’s elongating, which is important to someone who is short (like me). Also, I like the Boho look, and that’s where I’m going with this.

I’ll do regular updates, showing my steps and progress, my options and choices, and finally the end result – however it looks!

The Fabric

I found the fabric I’m going to use in our Stash. In fact, there was a view of it in my post on the subject of Stashes and Inspiration. It’s calico and a little too cute for my usual taste, but as a skirt it should be a lot of  fun!

Trim

Our Stash also includes an abundance of ribbon and lace – very useful, but often forgotten. This project should give me the opportunity to play a little.

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The wildflowers will not be included in the finished garment. But they are terribly inspiring!
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A few of my different options. I want to include some openwork under the lace, for a touch of peek-a-boo. And I’m not certain what color ribbon to choose. Or perhaps several different colors? So many choices! Part of the fun will be playing with the limitations of material – if I don’t have enough of the lace that I choose, perhaps I can use it minimally elsewhere.

The Pattern

I’m not sure if Stash is the right word for patterns, but we certainly have a library! There are a lot of different patterns that I can choose from in our library. But the style that I want – multi-tiered A-line – would be simple to create from scratch. Here are 3 alternatives that I just sketched (I was playing with Fresh Paint on the Surface, and might’ve gotten carried away!):

MaxiSkirt, Draft1
A simple 3-tier. I want the top tier fairly wide, perhaps ending at the knee
Again, wide tier at the top; but this time with 4 tiers
Again, wide tier at the top; but this time with 4 tiers
A slightly different look: This time I've added a ribbon tying up the bottom tier to reveal - I don't know. Perhaps I can find lace to make an undershirt. This is a look that I've seen with several Boho skirts, and it might be fun to experiment with it.
A slightly different look: This time I’ve added a ribbon tying up the bottom tier to reveal – I don’t know. Perhaps I can find lace to make an underskirt. This is a look that I’ve seen with several Boho skirts, and it might be fun to experiment with it.

First Impressions

This might be more Prairie than I want, so I’ll have to be careful. There are many more skirt options that I can also consider.

So what do you think? I will be finding a pattern and cutting soon, and update then with more pictures!

-Abigail

Inspiration

Today I have arrived at #11 on our ideas for new bloggers list: Share Something That’s Been Inspiring You Lately. Oh, why do I keep picking all the difficult ones?! Why couldn’t it be something easy, like “Tell Your Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream”?

Well, actually that isn’t so easy. I like a lot of different ice cream flavors, and it varies from month to month – chocolate or strawberry, mocha or basil, or just plain vanilla.

The same goes for all that inspires me. I find inspiration in so many different places, times, people. In fact, I’m inspired at the drop of a pin (the same way I get embarrassed or feel guilt – I’m hoping they’re not related). So I’ll try to narrow it down to three areas, particularly related to our efforts in crafting and creating: People, writing, and our Etsy shops.

People.

So many awesome people to choose from – friends and bloggers and fellow crafters, and even my sisters! Here is someone we’ve mentioned before; our friend Lexi.

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Lexi has recently gotten into Mexican folk dancing – which is awesome!

Lexi is an amazing person. Like us, she loves crafting, sewing, and historical clothing. We can talk crinolines, pleating, bucks, and the subtle variations in fashion from the early 1860s to the 1870s for hours, in-between trying on each other’s corsets and Spencers.  She has overcome many different issues and blossomed into a beautiful and confident person, with a deep interest in Civil War history and exuberance that keeps her dancing! Her Etsy shop is called oldfashiondolls, where she once sold enough to take her on a Jane Austen trip to England. Lexi is our go-to person for all Etsy questions, and a huge inspiration in getting us to open our shops.

Writing.

Inspiration is not my problem here; the problem is working until I’ve made the ideas that are inspired into full and coherent stories! But I’m not talking about work – just the inspiration. So, here’s the germ of a new idea:

Krypton in “Man of Steel.” Such beautiful worlds we shape in our computers! And then destroy…

I’m a science fiction lover, brought up on “Star Trek” and space opera. But I’ve never really been too interested in setting a story out there in the stars among worlds ancient or bran-new. But lately, the movies have been daring to create civilizations and landscapes of a kind that the early sci-fi masters only dreamed: “Man of Steel,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” even “Serenity” and “Doctor Who” (with its recreated and redestroyed Gallifrey). All of these make me want to write of gallant starships, space knights of old orders, brave young cities on outpost planets, tribunals following the established good rules of ancient societies, a convent of nuns standing valiant on the edge of nebulas against lawless raiders…

So many ideas, so little time!

For Etsy crafts.

We have so many different things available to use, so many sources for inspiration! The internet has so much there’s no way you can even begin to look at it all (Pinterest, blogs…). There are books and things on TV, tiny details in movies and shows – all those different ideas of new things to make! But the one thing that has been really inspiring my lately? Our Stash!

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Just some of the lovely fabrics awaiting the perfect pattern!

I don’t know if we’ve mentioned our Stash. It’s way too big for our own good. We have the terrible habit of buying new fabrics, with every intention of making it into something beautiful, useful, and usually necessary – often with a specific pattern in mind. And then life comes along and pushes the fabric aside, and then we find some other fabric that we like and must have , and we bring that one home, too. So we end up with boxes and shelves full of forgotten treasures. It’s not just fabric, of course; there’s yarn and paper-crafting stuff.

We’ve been trying to go on a no-new-fabric diet (which would be easier if you could find exactly the fabric that you want in our Stash).  So far this has resulted in two Stash dresses that I’ve made this summer – one green and the other a marsala-roses on gold floral – both beautiful successes! But I have found that when you just go out looking, sometimes you can find a fabric you never expected to use which inspires an idea for a project you might never have thought of otherwise.WIN_20150907_17_45_55_Pro

 

 

 

 

There are many other areas of inspiration, of course: I haven’t even gotten to food! Recipes, cook books, etc… But that’ll have to be another post  later.

So many blogging ideas, so little time!

Ribbon’s in her hair

Recently Sarah made this adorable shirt with about a yard of red rayon (she and I are totally in love with this drapey, soft fabric).

You can't see much of the shirt here (apparently I didn't take any really good shots of the shirt) but you can get the general idea
You can’t see much of the shirt here, but it’s kind of a simple, baby doll style blouse

She wanted this morning to have her hair braided, and I weaved a ribbon into the strands. I took some pictures to show one of my first efforts with ribbon braiding…

Lovely sister Sarah
Lovely sister Sarah

…not exactly how I was hoping it would go, but I’m still learning the art, and my sister always looks really cute and sweet whatever hairstyle she has!

Sarah

Soon I will figure out some more ribbon hairstyles to try out, and I’d love to hear (or see) any ideas that you, my readers, can send my way!

Polka-dot Creations

I’m still getting used to making bags. I am comfortable with it and I have fun making bags, but it’s tricky trying to figure out how many bags I can get out of just one yard of fabric.

I found about two yards of canvas-type navy blue fabric, which will be the front and back and handles of  five tote style bags, while some similar pink fabric will be the sides and bottoms. However, I needed to get (not get out of our collection) some fabric to line the bags, so I got three yards of pink polka-dot fabric to make for lining. Long and short of it is, I could have gotten about two yards of it, and I have leftovers.

I love the fabric. It’s pink. It’s polka-dot. I could easily squeeze in a shirt, possibly a skirt or maybe even a vest, any of which would be cute!

Or I could be practical and make some adorable little bags for make-up, or flowers for hair or decoration, or possible doll clothes or absolutely wonderful headbands to sell on Etsy.

So I’ll let the fabric sit for the time being and think what it would best make. I invite everyone to tell me what you think I should do with this fabric!

Come on- I know there are some fabric-lovers reading this, imagining what you would do if you had this beautiful fabric. Believe me, if I could have, I would have gotten about ten yards of it and done all of the things I’m coming up with!

It's like strawberry ice cream with snowflakes on top!
It’s like strawberry ice cream with snowflakes on top!