venerdì 5 dicembre 2014

Advent signs

At mum's home in the North for some holiday days.
The sky is so grey and gloomy here (100% usual for this part of Italy in december) that I feel a bit like I have dark clouds in my brain. But my heart is singing, like under a happy sun.
I'm spending special days with mum, AuntFran, brother, big cousins and friends!
Also enjoying the advent atmosphere.
I can't believe december is here. Again. 2014 is going to the end. Really???

I'm having fun capturing advent signs here and there with my camera.
Not those showy Christmas decorations that are everywhere right now, but all the little things that make my frugal Christmas.
Let me show them with you.
A couple of cute tiny angels for my Christmas tree I bought yesterday at "L'artigiano in fiera" (a big fair in Milan):
They come from Lithuania and I can't wait to show them to S.
Other angels I photographed visiting the fair. They are made of crocheted cotton and wooden spheres for the heads.
A recycled paper nativity I bought for mum in a craft fair  last november (look where S. and I have been in a sunny november sunday!).
It's now part of her collection.
eco-friendly christmas
Mum loved it at first sight. I'm happy her collection is growing with my contribute, too!
Some advent craft: I'm making new synthetic felt ornaments. Not only embroidered stars! These are for cat lovers (like me).
Pam's ornament for mum is in its place: mum decided to hang it to her kitchen's door, so she can see it everyday!
I'm updating my Pinterest boards almost everyday, filling them with ideas for a rustic Christmas or for all people who like snowflakes (like me!) as winter symbol. They are full of other advent inpirations, take a look!

martedì 18 novembre 2014

Refashion: from trousers to skirt

After a very long time I finally spent a couple of hours refashioning old clothes.
Refashion is one of my favourite craft!
Since I have difficulties in throwing away my old things, I like to give them a new life to keep them with me for some more. 
And this is expecially important for beloved clothes, like a pair of Esprit grey trousers I bought 4-5 years ago and wore almost till consumption (they were so confy and their fabric so good!!!).
Making a skirt out of them, cutting away the damaged parts, seemed a good idea. So I did it!

This is the before&after photo-collage:

And this is the photo of the back:

the final result is a pencil skirt and a "tear" is higly reccomended to walk without problems.
I realized it simply folding the fabric inside and sewing. 
I know this isn't the right way to realize these details in clothes, but it's a simple solution for a very informal skirt like this.

The skirt is not perfect.
Making a perfect skirt recycling a pair of trousers is almost a "mission impossible", because the fabric's cut in trousers follows curve lines that are very difficult to conceal when it's time to sew the skirt.

But if you want to try you can follow these tutorials:
- "Pants to pencil skirt" by La vie DIY
- Tutorial by sewmakeplay (a different solution from the front)
- 5 ways to turn jeans into a skirt with different skirt designs
- "Turn pants onto a skirt" by Potluck on the porch

Here in my Pinterest board about refashion you can find other tutorials and inspirations if you want to save an old pair of trousers (or other clothes you love).

mercoledì 12 novembre 2014

Pattern review: Bonsai bag by MadeByRae

made by rae bosai bag made by me
Do you read Rae's blog?
You should!
It's full of sewing ideas to be inspired by, expecially if you are interested in sewing mum&kids clothes and bags.

In this page Rae shows all her sewing tutorials, included the one to make "Angel tops" I followed to sew my very first one handmade piece of clothing.
Some years ago I've also made a couple of "Buttercup bags", using her pattern, like this or this
I still wear this bags, because their medium size is perfect for me and because, well, they have a beautiful design.

My experiences with Rae's tutorials and patterns, as you can read, are great!
They are well written, full of clear images and instructions and easy to follow.
And Bonsai bag pattern is very good, too!

I waited so long to make one! 
I bought her "Bonsai bag" pattern some years ago, after making my buttercups bags, but something didn't coinvinced me (probably I was scared by all that pleats and the sewing around the central panel).
I waited till this october to make one.

But, hey, the final result is this beauty:

ecological and eco-friendly bag

I listed it in my shop. Follow the link to read more informations about the bag (only one note: it's a very eco-friendly bag) and to look at additional photos.

What to say about the pattern?

Let me write down some thoughts about it:
- it's very well written, clear, rich in step-by-step photos (24 pages!!!).
- it's not a paper pattern. You will receive the instructions to download it and then you have to print and cut it at home. I like best this kind of pattern, I think they are more eco-friendly (not shipment involved, not wasted paper, also because I usually don't print all the pages, but only the pages I need) and most of all you receive it very quickly (almost immediatly).
- it offers two possibilities for the closure (and consequently two variations in the pattern): closure by magnetic snap (that I choosed) or by inner zipper
- the pleats and the central panel are not too difficult to make and put together; what you will need is a big amount of pins. And of course ironing the pleats before sewing is a good idea (I did it)!

- the pattern gives you a licence to sell the finished bag (with some restrictions) and this is very good for crafters in bussiness like me.
- in my opinion this bag is not for beginners [*], but a person with some basic skills in sewing and some experiences in bag making can realize it without problems.
- the design is lovely, the final dimensions are just perfect.
- the straps designed by Rae (and shown in the pattern) are different from the straps I made. I decided for very simple straps, but Rae's idea about them is more interesting, because it involves plastic rings and knots (as you can see in her blog).
- the central panel can be decorated by ricrac, trims, pompom thread... Rae shows you how to do this.

Making this bag was a pleasure, so after this very good experience I made a bonsai bag for me, in black, because I hadn't a black bag in my closet:

Of course I know it's not so charming as a bonsai bag with a contrasting central panel, but it's perfect for me and my informal look.

[*] If you want to test one of Rae's bag patterns, but you are a beginner in sewing, you can start with Lickety split bag. I haven't tested it yet, but I can see by the photos that it's not too difficult to make.
But I think my next Rae's pattern to buy is to one to make Showoff bag. I really like the shape!

Hope this post will be usefull for other people looking for good bag making patterns.

lunedì 10 novembre 2014

Recently on my sewing table: monogram bag

Hello, sweet MadameRenard's readers!
A new week is starting today and I hope to have the time to write some blog post to share with you all the things I'm working on during these first autumnal days (too much autumnal, probably, because we had rain rain rain and even a hurricane near our coasts. omg °__°).
But today's post is all for sewing and for a special bag I finished recently.

monogram bag for my nieceMonogram bag for C., the birthday girl

My niece C. turned 7 at the end of october.
She has the right age to wear a very "girly" bag, so I made one for her as birthday gift. 

After some (ehm, very long) pondering of what kind of bag is a good choice for a little person like C., I decided for a crossover clutch.
When you are 7 years old you need to have free hands and a safely closed (and not too big) bag, don't you think?
But my intentions were also to give her a very special present, a "just for her" gift. So I put her initial on the flap, cutting a C out of a constrasting fabric and sewing it by hands.
Uh, of course I've picked up a special fuchsia fabric
All little girls love fuchsia!

Design by me
I used the pattern I've designed to make three bags for my shop (sold out) because it has good dimensions for a little girl, but I've altered it a bit and made a longer flap to make space for the C.

design by me for thi bag for little girls

I'm quite sure C. like the bag.
She used some italian words that sound like "Aunty, I love it tooooooo much!".
I'm an happy aunt.
Giving brings you more joy than receiving, expecially when kids are involved!

sabato 1 novembre 2014

Amazing gifts: knitted Santa Lucia by Pam

I'm sure you know Pam.
Not only because I've mentioned her other times here on my blog as one of my best "on-line friends", but also because she writes a successfull blog (gingerbreadsnowflakes) with lot of readers.
But if you don't know Pam, well, you should! This post is for you, too.

She had very hard times this year, but she was so kind to finish a gift she promised to send me some months ago.
Look what it is:

Knitted Santa Lucia doll

A knitted doll with the sembiance of Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia in italian), so well made and so beautiful! 
And so precious to me, also because I know she knitted it for me during a very sad storm of her life.

The choice to make and give a Santa Lucia doll can appear a bit strange, but it isn't, because our friendship started to grow when we had the opportunity to share our thoughts about Santa Lucia day's traditions (some of you probably remember that I wrote for Pam' blog a guest article about italian traditions for Santa Lucia's day).
So this is not only a beautiful gift, but is also a symbol of the friendship between me and Pam :)

Lucia is now with Zarina, another "doll" Pam sent me some time ago (yes, I am a very lucky girl!).
I'm sure these two girls are good friend now. They probably spent the first night together chatting and chatting about almost everything, because, well, girls do it!

This doll surprised me for the care of its making and for some details like the hair and the candle crown:

And, ehm, I don't want to be insolent, but... look! Lucia wears panties, too!

Love these details!

I'm very happy she is with me now!

Pam is a talented knitter and, since she is crazy for Christmas (according to her words), she also knits Christmas ornaments. 
Here you can find some of the ones Pam recently made (balls, mushroom, an elf and... oh, that polar bear!!!). 
To make them she follows Alan Dart's patterns; I think you have to take a look if you need ideas to dig into some Christmas knitting.
And also these balls are beautiful (patterns by Arne and Carlos). 

In the mail box I found also a little precious gift for mum:

Look what was inside the bubble wrap:

rustic and scandinavian christmas ornament diy

I can't wait to give it to my mum. For a happy coincidence I'll probably will be at mum's home with her gifts in my hands around S. Lucy's day! :)

A big THANK YOU to Pam and a suggestion for you: don't forget to visit Pam's blog if you haven't done it before. It's full of crafty and creative ideas for all seasons and I'm sure there is something that will inspire you!

mercoledì 29 ottobre 2014

10 ways to write a date on your journal's page

I don't speak about my journaling habits too much here, but I write and draw (and glue things!) in my Moleskine almost everyday.
I'm still using the Petit Prince Moleskine Journal I started more than two years ago. I'm not a compulsive writer, sometimes I add only a little sketch or some words, so the process of filling a page is a bit slow, expecially because I started to feel very good when the pages are beautiful to see, so I work on every single page like I'm doing a little work of art.
And I'm still experimenting new ways to write, to decorate, to express myself on those white pages (all started here).

Recently I noticed how much my date writing style has changed.
I always write the date beside all I do in my journal, because I want to keep precise memories of my life. I also like to add a draw or a note about the weather and the day of the week.
In the past I used to write in small letters the date + the day of the week and make a little drawing for the weather. 
But recently I started to be more creative.

I used my date stamp and decorated the space around it.
I gave to the date more importance and wrote it very big (and experimented different "fonts").
I grew a sort of obsession for banners with dates inside.
I put the date into my drawings, even drawings about weather.
I mixed bold and thin letters.

I have fun with these experiments. I'm always looking for other ways for date writing.

This is a photographic collage of some of my dates in differents styles.

I'm sharing it today, hoping to inspire you to be creative on your journal page and have fun even with a (apparently) boring matter like writing the date.

I'd like to listen about you.
Do you have unusual ways to write the date on your journal pages? Do you write te date or not?

Looking other people's work is very interesting to me. This is one of the reasons why I've recently opened a Pinterest board dedicated to Moleskine journals (and journaling in general). Take a look if you need more inspirations.

lunedì 27 ottobre 2014

My cats sleep on damask

My cats sleep on damask. Velvety damask. 
They are very lucky cats!

Carotina, my cat, sleeping on handmade pilllow

This is Carotina (Macchia's child) yesterday in the afternoon sleeping on the damask pillow I made for my cats. 
I've placed it between the glass door and the shutter of the kitchen while I was tidying up after a family lunch.
He had a very good sleep, I suppose. 
When he woke up this was his face:

Carotina, my cat, woke up after a nap on his new pillow

So satisfied by his nap!!! :)

The pillow is a novelty for Macchia and Carotina.
We needed a pillow to insert into the "kennel for cats" we bought in a shop some days ago. 
Winter is coming and, although sicilian weather is mild even in winter, nights can be very chilly and windy and wet for our cats who live their wild life mostly outdoor. 
We bought a very practical plastic kennel to offer them a dry and warm refuge, but it hadn't a pillow (and all people know how much cats love to sleep on pillows!). So I made it by myself recycling some upholstery damask and other materials.

I'm happy when I can make things I need using my hands and skills, saving money and recycling materials I already have.

Here are some snapshots I took while making the pillow.

Making a recycled cat pillow

I sewed together three different pieces of old upholstery damask to make a rectangle. They are yellow, but one has a pattern of green leaves.
Then I stuffed the almost ready pillow with other recycled fabrics (you can see one of the sample I've used on the left of my sewing machine).

Making a recycled cat pillow

I can't use these fabrics for my bags and accessories, because they are too lightweight and soft. And transparent, too (they are for decorative curtains making, I suppose).
But they are perfect for stuffing a pillow :)

Then I closed the open side with pins and sewed.

How to make a pillow for cats

This is the pillow in its place, into the bottom of the kennel:

Recycled pillow for cats

I'm happy this project is ecological, 100% made of recycled materials.
And I'm happy my cats immediatly appreciated the pilow I made for them. They look very pleased to have a confortable place for sleeping :)

(I'm in love with this little cat and his green eyes)