Saturday, 5 March 2016

Creativity lately - crocheted boookmarks (+ a book)

Yes, this blog is about creativity, too! 
Eco-friendly and nature-inspired most of the time.
But my creativity went a bit unheard lately, because of my two jobs and my need to grow as a tourist guide (my dream job, you know, not far from becoming reality).

Of course I missed the solo moments when I am in the very good company of my sewing machine, needles and thread (and/or zippers, buttons, metallic hardware, crochet hooks, yarn and much more).
So I tried to carve 10 minutes out of the day, here and there, expecially to finish started projects for the shop.

With mum's help I finished some crocheted bookmarks with charms (started during Christmas holidays!).
Aren't they lovely just because gift ideas?

This one in green with a horse is for S. (he loves horses!):

horse charm on handmade bookmark

It's super simple, because, hey, it's for a man! 
Only some rows of double stitch (not sure it's the correct name in english, sorry!) and a horse: it comes from a bracelet mum bought for 1 € some years ago; I saved the charm for my man waiting for the right project!

More complex and feminine crocheted bookmarks found their place in the shop. Here they are:

handmade bookmarks cheap gift idea

My favourite is the cream boookmark with a fish:

eco-friendly bookmark

It's 100% recycled and has that rustic + romantic look I love (perfect for my shop). 

There are also:

Because all my creations for the shop are nature oriented, I decided to add only charms with animals!
I had some doubts about the price but I thought that 7 € + shipping is good. What do you think?

Are you wondering about the book in the snapshots?
It's a lovely autobiography by Marc Chagall ("La mia vita" is its title in italian, "My life" in english). 
If you like this artist like me, this book is a very good reading to understand something else about him and his art. And it has amazing illustrations by the author himself (who else?).
Highly recommended!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Blog makeover! Oh, yes!

After my complaint I decided for a blog makeover!

Yes, I love tooooo much to have a special little space to write in, to share my adventures in self-expression, to tell the world something about my steps into the sewing world and my inclinations for nature, country life and creativity in general. 
I didn't like the idea to give up.

So I've rolled up my sleeves and started a very big work. 
A lot of things to change, a lot of aspects to consider and to re-think.

blog makeover ideas

This is what I've done
  • I've made a new banner by myself!
    I was still in love with the one Francesca made for me almost 5 years ago, but it wasn't representing me after some important steps done in my creative journey. 
    I'm not very skilled with graphic design, but I realized something I like with very simple tools: Picmonkey collage tool and Microsoft Word.
    Oh, yes. 
    The banner includes written words about the key subjects of this blog (eco-friendly sewing, rural life and creativity) and a selection of photos from my little word. 
    It speaks about me because it's simple.
  • I've re-organized the right column, also adding some useful things like a contact form and social media buttons (you can find them at HopefulHoney blog).
  • The pages are new! New contents and photos, but (so important) I've added a page about tutorials and free stuff.
  • New palette! I decided for the couple light avio blue + light cyclamen.
    Do you like it? It speakes about my personality (I'm quiet, not noisy) and my love for all is nature inspired (I was thinking about flowers and water, when I picked up them).
  • New fonts! not only Verdana, but also Copse in different "sizes" for all the titles. And la Belle Aurore in the banner, because I've used it for my shop and it works well.
  • I've learned how to center dates and titles in all posts and I love the result!
  • I've added some suggestions for further readings at the bottom of every single post thanks to Linkwithin.

How I did?
You probably know I'm not very skilled in web design and other geeky things.
But I love when I can learn new things to make by myself.
So I've read a lot (a lot!) of tutorials on line and followed them.
Simple :)

Simple doesn't mean easy.
I've had some difficulties here and there, but I succeded after some attemps.
Now I'd like to know how to add some buttons at the end of the posts (you know... for sharing the content on google+, facebook or other social medias). I can do it!

And now?
I'm going to work on content.
I have to clear my mind about what to share here in my blog.
I can't simply think to speak about me and my creative journey when I have something interesting (in my opinion) to say.
It doesn't work.
I'd like this blog will be useful to other people.

What do you think? Your opinion is very welcome!
Please, let me know if you like the new look of the blog! Your opinion is very important to me!
You can write a comment also to leave a critique (negative, too, it's not a problem) or suggestions and new ideas!
Your comments are fuel for this blog!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

To blog or not to blog?

to blog or not to blog?

To blog or not to blog?
This is the (oh so hard) question!

Weeks and weeks passed from my last post. 
No words written here since September 2015. 
Oh, yes, I worked a lot (as a teacher and tourist guide). It meant less free time. But I want to be honest with you, as usual: some time ago my blog started to bother me
No authentic comments by readers, but a lot of spam instead.
No more people who like my posts or decide to follow me.
Well, you know, nobody starts a blog to act a monologue
So I've abandoned it with a strong sense of failure in me, although I miss this precious little space of self-expression.

I started to ask me what is wrong with this blog and why people ignore it.
I couldn't find an answer. 
I was blind.

Then I started a new blog
A professional one. It is a support for my new job (tourist guide in Sicily, Italy). It's here.
Since being a tourist guide is my dream job (I'm not happy to be a teacher) and I wanted to have a beautiful and successfull blog, I've spent a lot of time reading websites and blogs with posts about blogging, personal branding, social media strategy, SEO and all the things a blogger should know before opening his/her personal space.

So I've understood: MadameRenard blog is really an awful place.
Its flaws?
Here is a list:
- not perfect english (this probably annoy readers)
- no idea about SEO's rules
- random contents about me, me and me... without interactions with other people
- no plans about what I want to communicate with people
- no idea about who my ideal readers are and what they would like to find here
- a very bad look, improvised in colours and graphic
And much more!

I've been so candid to think that I could simply write here and there, be honest and put some photos among the sentences to have audience.
Blogs don't work in this way. Now I know it!

And now? What to do? 
I miss this place where I can share with the world my creative journey and I feel like I need to go on writing.
But I have to refresh everything here!
A lot of work is waiting for me in case I'll decide to use this blog again!
A lot of questions are knocking on my mind... who are my readers? what they like to read? what colours and fonts are the best for my contents? italian, english, bilingual? where can I have a new banner? new pages under the banner? go on here on blogger or start a new blog on wordpress?

What do you think?
Have you answers or advices for me?
Please, leave me a comment, don't let me alone.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

I need your (little) help

How are you?
Things are going very well here. 
I've just come back from a week spent in beautiful Ireland (take a look in my Flickr album) and now I'm ready to start the last part of 2015 (autumn? already??? °__°).

Before starting with my usual show&tell about sewing and creativity, I'm here today to ask you a little help.
I'm taking part in a photo contest called #vistidallalto. The game consists on uploading snapshots of Sicilian places taken from above. The prize? Two books about Sicily!
You can help me leaving a "like" to my photo on the contest's facebook page. Thank you in advance for you help!

About my photo...
... it captures a medieval church in the little town of Calatabiano, seen from the castle on top of the hill.

I wrote a post about this place and its traditions here.

Have a good day!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Late summer post

Hello, my friends! How are you?
I hope these late summer days are going great for you!
Although we are still having very sunny days and high temperatures here in Sicily, days and nights are warmer. 
I like the atmosphere of this period of the year, probably one of my favourite (together with april month).

We are going to celebrate a special birthday day for S. with an amazing gift (for both of us): 7 days of journey in Ireland! I'm so excited, I can't wait to be there!!! I wrote some weeks ago about my need for adventure and wild life in nature and I think that some days along wild atlantic way will work very well for my soul!

I've recently spent also some days in northern Italy at mum's home. Nothing special to say about this short vacation, this time. It was different from last year and I have no snapshots to show you. 
But of course I had some quiet days with family and friends and this is good. Very good.
Mum and I worked a lot with cornstarch clay. Mum is an artist with this material. She learned how to make roses and other flowers and also started to make tons of earrings with my help.
Here is a photo of some of them (those I've picked up for me and my relatives here in Sicily):

Making them with mum was very funny.
I'm not very creative in this period and they helped me staying connected with using the hands for making things.

I have a lot of new ideas for the shop, for new things to sew for me, for my career. But all is saved for the second half of september. Now I'm going to book a room in a lovely b&b in Ireland :)

So you soon!!!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Black and charcoal: new accessories for the shop!

Recently I worked a lot with black and charcoal fabrics (+ light grey) and made new accessories for the shop! 
Not very summery colours, but probably perfect for autumn (it is very close, although here in Sicily we are having super hot summer days).

I was in the mood for sewing with some leftovers from this bag I made last March for my friends Vera [**] and also with some scraps of a beautiful Ikea fabric (colorful nature elements on black background... lovely!) [*].

I started from a tote bag, altering a bit a pattern I drew by myself two years ago. I decided to add a recessed zipper instead of placing it on top (I'm totally in this kind of zippered closure this summer!); I've also opted for a wider pocket (thanks to darts on the corners).
This is the finished bag:

Grey shoulder bag made of fabric with leaves for autumn
Pocket on a tote bag
recessed zipper in a tote bag by MadameRenard inner zipper

More technical infos here.

You know that I like to make small things, so I used the same fabrics for a small crossbody bag, too.

small grey clutch with leaves

Also this design is 100% by me. I've drawn the pattern for this bag three years ago and used different times with satisfaction.
I like the dimensions if the finished bag and the inner space, but also some details like the closure and the contrasting flap:

small bag - snap for bags closures
Darts to add inner space to a bag

I couldn't resist and I decide to make a wallet to match with these bags!
Do you like it?

wallet with leaves
Pockets of a fabric wallet by MadameRenard

I've already written about my passion for making this kind of accessories!
All my wallets have two pockets for cards and paper money and one pocket (closed by velcro or a zipper) for coins. They often have a little strip of recycled leather for closure, as in the case of this grey wallet and of the following one, the black floral wallet:

Fabric wallet in black with flowers and birds
eco-friendly materials for a beautiful fabric wallet

Love the stylized flowers and the little bird on top :)
The light blue inner pockets are made of leftovers of a beautiful eco-friendly fabric (organic linen + bamboo), given to me by Manuela, the owner of Retro eco à porter, an italian organic line of clothes (you can see the fabric "in action" on her Malva top).

While making the wallet I cut the fabric for a Moleskine cahier cover, too.

Moleskine cahier cover pocket size made of black fabrics
Moleskine cover with flowers

It matches perfectly with other two accessories I've made in the past with this fabric and still available in the shop: a pencil case and a little pouch. They both are zippered and have recycled leather bottoms.

I'm very happy with these new items!
I don't use very often this kind of tones in my creations. I used to think that grey and black are boring, but I was wrong. They are very elegant and modern, expecially if you mix them with other colours.

Let me know which item among these is your favourite :)

[*] I can't find this beautiful fabric in italian Ikea shops anymore. I'm looking for it on-line, but I even don't know its name; if you know it, please, write it in the comments!

[**] I wasn't tired after all this sewing  and made a second bag for Vera: a tulip bag with a side band to increase to inner space. Very summery bag, thanks of its light sand fabric!
And now... rest time! :)

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