January 31, 2008

A Happy Day

(sorry in advance, this is a long one)
I'm very excited today because Nick is coming home from his trip to the UK. I haven't seen him in 12 days! That's a record for us since we started living in the same country. haha I can't wait to see him and I know the kitties will be glad too.
The other good news is that I finally found myself a photographer for my wedding. That was a huge unknown up until now. I've been spending a lot of time on the wedding details since I got the bridesmaids dresses taken care of. This is basically what they'll wear.

This past Saturday I went into San Francisco with my friend Amanda to look for fabric for my dress. Unfortunately, I didn't even come close to anything. There was surprisingly little in the way of bridal fabrics, even at Britex. I suppose it's even harder when you know exactly what you want. So far the front runner for the main part of the dress is a special order from JoAnn, that's right, I said JoAnn - Hey! At least there I can use a coupon! I guess, in my head, I had hoped for a more glamorous fabric experience. You know, like I found it in some back alley shop for $3.99 a yard. There was a really great blush colored lace in Orange County, but the design was all over and I think that's just too much. sigh At least I've got the pattern, right?
Anyway, the day was a success and a lot of fun. Amanda and I shopped for about 10 hours, something Nick would never have done, no matter how many stores have a man chair. We went to the Japanese book store I've been wanting to see. There were so many books in the craft section, I was a little overwhelmed. In the end though, I had to get something. This was my choice:

I have no idea what it's called, but it's absolutely filled with amazing patchwork bags. Very inspirational.
Britex was not a complete failure, I did pick up a few buttons. For monkeys, of course. Just a little side note, I've been looking for a lemon button forever! So cool that I found the perfect one.

And last but not least, the yarn shop. No, not for monkeys this time, I can't afford fancy yarn for those guys. Who'd buy a cashmere Gadget Monkey? ImagiKnit was a great store with loads to look at and covet. I ended up with this pretty pink speckled yarn. No idea when or how I'll use it, but it's pretty, no?A lovely day out with lots to share. Can't wait to hear some opinions on that fabric now.

January 30, 2008

DIY Stickers

As much as I love to send out nice, clean boxes when I mail an order, I just can't bring myself to use a new box when there are stacks of them in my garage. So, I decided to make myself some recycling stickers for those reused boxes.

Step One: If the box has printing or labels on it, remove what you can then take it apart and reassemble the box inside out. It should appear clean now.

Step Two: Get yourself some full-sheet sticker paper at the local office supply store. I use this stuff for everything, address labels, logo stickers etc., etc. Very useful thing to have around.

Step Three: Go online and download some cool recycle symbol clip art from this site or this one.

Step Four: Lay out the clip art of your choice so that they fill the whole page, then print onto the sticky paper. Now cut 'em out.

Step Five: Stick one of your cool new stickers on your box and then proceed to feel good that you've reused a perfectly good box.

I honestly don't mind a pre-loved box if I've communicated that it's recycled.

January 27, 2008

The Cotton Patch

Last week I felt the urge to get out of the house so I got out my list of fabric shops and hit the road. I had 4 shops to visit that day, but only made it to 3. The Cotton Patch in Lafayette was my first stop.
This shop was a treat. It's brightly lit, always nice when looking at fabric, and stocked with lots of great fabrics. They have a ton of the modern stuff like Joel Dewberry etc. I spent some time browsing all of the bolts and was glad to find the back room with some great flannels and sale fabrics. In the end, I had to make a choice, and here's what I got.

Can you guess what I have planned for these bananas? In the end, I was pleased with The Cotton Patch and happy that it's not too far from home, not too close either. I think it's a half hour away at best, but situated near a nice little downtown. (On the way to this shop I passed a luxury yarn store and I didn't even stop! Wow, what will power I have sometimes.) ;)

January 24, 2008

Snow Day

What a lovely spot to get married, eh? Hopefully in the Spring this area will be green and not white. Ha!

January 23, 2008

Wedding Plans . . . . check

How's everyone doing? So sorry I've disappeared lately. I'm out of town, still. The weather has been pretty bad this week and I've just had to cancel my first Oakland farmer's market. I'm completely unprepared anyway. I really want to do a post about the 3 fabric shops I visited last week, but I just don't have the energy.

Tomorrow I'll be driving home from Oakhurst. I was able to get quite a few of my wedding plans taken care of on this trip so I'm really happy. I think I even found a photographer. Hooray! I tried the yummy pasta I've ordered for the reception and got to iron out some details with the caterer. I think most of what I have left to do invlolves sewing. I suppose it's a good time of year for me to be working on this stuff, I'm going to have to neglect my business a little till the summer.
The best news of all is that after searching through 78 pages of sewing patterns on Etsy last night, I found my wedding dress pattern. I'm so thrilled. It's just the shape I've been looking for and it's even the right size! I'll be making the one in the lower right corner. I plan to change it a lot, but the basic style is perfect. Isn't it great that I got it on Etsy too? Awesome. Now for the fabric.

January 21, 2008

I'd Rather Be Sewing

Bet you thought I disappeared, eh? Nope, just on a little road trip. I started feeling really guilty today about neglecting my blog so I thought I'd let you join me on my trip. Nick has officially flown back to the UK for a business trip and I am in Orange County for a couple days. I'm just plugging away at the wedding plans while I can. Today I went shopping with one of my bridesmaids and we were able to get her dress and shoes! That's a great thing. Tomorrow we should have the other 2 settled along with my niece who will be a junior bridesmaid. I found some really great embroidered organza today in a very pale shade of blush that I may just get for my own dress. I still don't have a pattern, but I don't want to pass up the fabric. It's just so hard to commit!
After dress shopping tomorrow I'll be driving up to my friends' house to do some more wedding stuff. Hopefully I will secure a photographer and a group rate at the Best Western. I must get home to sew some new things for my market on Saturday. I'll be at a new location and I'm still really low on stock after the holidays. I've been working on monkeys so much lately that I've neglected my poor sewing machine.
These little guys seem to be the hot ticket now. I've had the monkey coffee cozies on my "monkey list" for a while but didn't make them until I opened the new shop. Even Nick likes these guys and he doesn't even "get" monkeys. haha. I'd love to get some more made while I'm away.
I guess that's it for me now. I should really get to bed. Long drive tomorrow. Some time in the next few days I'll tell you about my quilt fabric odyssey from last week and what I found.
Have a great week all!

January 13, 2008

Seeing Red

First I want to thank you all for your nice comments about my prom picture. If only I were really adorable! ha
I've been spending a lot more time on monkeys lately than I have sewing, but today I finally got a chance to make something without a face. It was very exciting to be back at the sewing machine. I want to put a few Valentine's Day things in the shops, but I'm trying to avoid very themed items. I made this floral messenger a few weeks ago that I think is nice, it doesn't have any hearts, but the red is perfect. I got to use a little of that sage gingham I bought in the city a while back. And the button you see there on the flap came in a great pack of buttons I bought from a fellow Etsy seller. I love how the gingham looks with this red floral. It's very feminine. I added this bag to my Etsy shop this evening and tomorrow I'll put it on my website.
Today I made this pretty little red zipper pouch. Remember the other day when I said I had a bunch of them lined up on the sewing table? Well, better late than never. I was able to use 7 different red prints from my stash for this bag and once I got it pieced together it was just screaming for some decorative stitching. I guess it just reminded me of those great old crazy quilts with all of the fun stitching. I did sneak some hearts into this bag in the end. One of the fabrics has some little hearts on it and I used a heart stitch too. I'm just thinking about adding an applique heart & I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Now that I've accomplished something I guess I'll get back to the monkeys. Thanks so much for all of the support you've given my new shop this past week. It's been great! Now I just need to get you monkey lovers to join the Flickr group and add some fun photos.
Have a great week!

January 10, 2008

In Honor of Project Runway

After watching last night's episode of Project Runway, I have searched the house for my prom picture. Unfortunately, all I could find was a tiny black & white copy. (I was huge into photography in high school so I printed my own b&w's.) Anyway, here it is in all its glory.
Lucky for me, I was as unfashionable in high school as I am now. It's not that bad. The top was very gathered black velvet and the skirt part was tiered dark green with a black sheen (I colorized the skirt, that's pretty much how it looked). Very classy indeed. Man! I was skinny back in the 80's. I went to the prom my junior year with my high school sweetheart Mike, who now lives about 30 minutes from me with his wife & 3 kids. I think he reads my blog sometimes so I covered his eyes, lol. Hi Mike!
I was the head photographer of my yearbook in those days, so I actually had to carry my camera bag around all night. That was charming. I think we had a pretty good time. We double dated with my friend Coleman, the only friend I still have from high school. I distinctly remember him putting a dime down my dress. Ahhh, those were the days.
So now I challenge all of you to dig up some memories and be brave enough to post your prom photos, Homecoming's okay too. Misses Kwitty, I'm particularly interested in yours, hehe.
And Jenn, I'm so sorry your boyfriend had to go, he was nice. :(

January 09, 2008

The bomb that blew up in my sewing room

The weather here is still like the picture below, we had one sunny day in the last week I suppose. I've got so many things I want to do that I don't know where to start. My sewing room looks like a bomb blew up in it, which is not normal for me (I'm so anal retentive, or "AR" in my house). Usually when I finish a sewing project, I tidy up and put away all of the little bits I've been using. Obviously I'm a little behind. I've got about 6 zipper pouches laying on the table, a monkey backpack that needs finishing, a cup of coffee from 3 days ago, shipping supplies, etc., etc.. What a mess! I really want to clear out some fabrics and organize a bit in here.
The good news is that I'm starting to find some time to plan my wedding, which is now only 3 months away...yikes! I have a florist, caterer and cake on reserve, still need a photographer. The other stuff is pretty easy. Naturally, I have purchased most of the fabric I need to make various things. Here it is, waiting to be used...

along with some yarn for the place cards/favors. Here's a hint at what those will be. The Spring patterns are starting to trickle in so I'm beginning to think about my dress. Yep, I'm making it. I'm no Project Runway contestant (but I'm a huge fan), I need a pattern to get me started. I think the hardest part will be committing to the fabrics, and fitting myself! Anyone want to come to the Bay Area for a little visit? haha

And, last but not least, I got a chance to check out some of my favorite blogs this morning and I've noticed a lot of you are in the same mind set as I am right now.

Katie's Cleaning Up.

Jessie's scraps are taking over.

Jenn, as usual, is all organized and getting things done. Dang!

Thanks for all of the inspiration ladies. I need it when the skies are grey and I don't have farmer's markets staring me in the face. My goal today is to make at least 2 of those zipper pouches and maybe a pattern for them as well, but this is what I want to do.

January 05, 2008

Rubbish Weather

This is for all of the people who think it's sunny every day in California. Oh yeah, and evey city is on the beach! lol Just kiddin' The weather here lately has been really bad. Yesterday I felt like Dorothy, I thought the house would blow away. Just miserable. It's not much better today, but we're staying dry and keeping warm.
Generally, I prefer living in a place with some rain and cold, but it's making my life very hard at the moment. I can't take any decent pictures of the things I'm making. Unfortunatley, I don't have room to build myself a little light box, so I have to make do with sunshine. What do you do when there isn't any? Anyone have any great photo tips? I think I'll get some little table lamps with daylight bulbs to use as filler, that might help. Let's hear some picture taking tips. (Jenn, I know how you do it and if I had a basement, I'd do the same thing.)

January 03, 2008

Quilting for the Planet

(Click the image to read the package)

We all want to do our part for the planet, don't we? So I was really excited when I came across this new eco-friendly quilt batting at JoAnn Fabrics, it's made by Mountain Mist. Naturally, it was all the way around back on the island of batting, but at least they're selling it. I bought this package of crib size batting and a bag of the fluffy fiber-fill that's used for cuddly toys & things like that.
This stuff is really interesting, it's made from corn (read more about it on the Mountain Mist site here)! It looks a lot like polyester batting, but it's a lot fluffier and light. It's hard to describe, but it really is very light, like what you'd expect a cloud to feel like. It's not as fibrous as the polyester, but the thickness is similar. It doesn't crease like polyester either, it's much smoother and easier to work with and pin. The only problem is that it's so fluffy that it seems to take more pinning. The fabric just springs back at you as it's pinned.
Anyway, I used this corn batting on my latest CHECK Quilt. I like to machine wash my quilts after they're made to make them look more loved, so this quilt was no exception. I thought this batting was light before, but after washing it seems to be almost non-existent. It got really thin. The finished quilt is so light and thin it feels like there is no batting. Now, I'm all for being environmentally conscious, but I don't think this makes a great quilt in the end. I think I'll use it occasionally because my market customers love their sustainable materials. I just fear that it will seem sort of, well, cheap. I'm a little disappointed, but super glad that someone actually bothered to try. I'm sure products like this will keep coming and keep improving. For now I'll probably stick to cotton, at least it's natural.
Side note: I read online that there is a version of this batting that is 50% cotton, that might work out a little better for me.

January 01, 2008

Monkey Season

I did it! I opened a second Etsy shop today, just for monkeys. I'm pretty excited about this. Ever since the first official Gadget Monkey made his trip to Yosemite I've been planning a website. I decided to go with an Etsy shop and Flickr group for now. If I can find the time I'll add a blog and maybe a website too. So, if you're a fan of the monkeys, please stop by & see them in they're new homes. :)