Meet Mr. Darby

This week I decided to give felting a try. Oh I've attempted it before but gave up after failing miserably to make a bear look like a bear.  What was different this time; is that I was determined, really determined to make a bear look like a bear.  So I gathered my felting books for a study and inspiration; viewed a youtube felting tutorial video or two or three; cracked my knuckles; ready - set - go! Oh yeah, this time my determination paid off; finally managing to felt a bear that looked like a bear; a funny looking one but still; unmistakably a bear. Let us rejoice!

..and it all started with a fluff of roving wool

To start the body; I first rolled one end over using my thumbs (needle is for pic only)

Next, I folded the left corner over towards the center; holding it down with my thumb
Then rolled the end of the wool down; being sure that the folded left corner is tucked under
Now I folded the right corner towards the center
Then rolled the end of wool over; repeating the process until...
You get something that looks like a cocoon
This is the video I followed:  How to create a basic shape.  After many jabs; including a couple pokes on my finger; my bear started to come together. (I actually took a pic to post of my finger with blood oozing but decided to spare you all from the gory spectacle..heh)

... and here he is....Meet Mr. Darby

...he's not perfect but he looks like a bear...yaaay!  It was fun jabbing and jabbing and jabbing; seeing the cocoon shape slowly evolving into Mr. Darby.  He is a wee bit on the soft side; just as I liked; with long skinny arms for hugging his cat; and a flat butt for sitting....

I discovered that I love felting; finding the process very calming.  I supposed it's because it takes one's full concentration (no bird watching out the window); with a lot of hand action; jabbing, rolling, jabbing.  I liken it to hand work; similar to embroidery; where you might sit by a window for light; with a cup of tea for an occasional sip; gently pulling your needle in and out of your cloth piece; slowly watching each stitch unfurl into something beautiful...or cute.

I know that more practice is needed.  But I have to focus...on sewing first.  focus : focus : focus

An Awesome Tree

On my morning walk, I found this most amazing tree; dotted with oh so delicate; dainty purple flowers.  But it isn't just the flowers that I love; it's the 30 or so tiny birds tucked in the tree; scattering from branch to branch and chattering so much nonsense.  These lovely birds are a sight to watch; but there was a blur that caught my eyes; a flurry of green swooping into the tree.  Parakeets! My lord! And so many of them!  I wish you were there with me to be in the moment; forgetting the cars and their passengers rushing to work or the kids taking over the sidewalk waiting for their school bus or the crazy scary guy who sits under a tree talking to himself. It was a moment simply to be. I stood under the tree for awhile taking in the lovelies when it suddenly came to mind that there could be a poop fest any moment!  Nasty stuff. So off I went, vowing to bring my camera on my next walk; and perhaps an umbrella.

I found a package of waste canvas; used for cross stitching, at a local thrift shop.  I decided to give it a go on these cute mini pincushions.  I loooove how they came out. 

First is this here hedgehog with his squirrel buddy.  The squirrel buddy was added when I realized that I placed the hedgehog too high. Oops.

This little project started with a piece of linen, cut into a half a circle. Pins held the rick rac in place but oow-wie; so many pin pricks!  Pain is wonderful at times; prodding me to think that perhaps using a bit of glue would work much, much better.  And it did.  

After hand stitching the rick rac in place, I aligned the centers of the waste canvas piece with the linen and pinned it in place; knowing that basting is traditionally required but I say "what the heck".  I'm a reckless crafter who lives on the edge. Who knew.

The fun and scary part is removing the waste canvas threads; first by wetting the waste canvas; then carefully pulling one thread  ....

then more ...

and more and more..whew.

My sewing table sits facing a window; perfect for staring at the sky or catching a smootching couple (yes, we have LOTS of birds here). 

Distractions aside, I managed to finish two more pincushions.

I now am in love with cross stitching with waste canvas.  I thought I would run into problems with removing the canvas but it went without a hitch or I should say snag. 

hmmmm....what shall I make next?  .... I'm thinking ... BIRDS!

A Happy Spring Card

This blog of mine started with 3 choices...baking? paper crafting? Japanese crafting?  I love, love, love baking;  yummy cakes, pies, breads, brownies, and whatever Martha bakes. The problem is that baking =  exploding fat cells. And as a Lifetime Weightwatchers member there was no way I would grow a muffin top belly for a blog. heh.

So it was on to choice two; paper crafting.  I'm addicted to paper crafting and I need help.  I invested tons of money into rubber stamps, gel pens, water colored pencils, die cut machines, glues, scissors, card stocks, spools of ribbons, containers to hold all my junk; the buying was endless.  This avenue was filled with possible paths; entering contests, designing with sights of a possible magazine entry, & joining an extensive community of paper crafters.  I do love paper crafting...

But as you already know, I decided to get in touch with the Japanese in me. Not sure why because up to that time, I was merely a collector of Japanese craft books; taking joy in simply perusing the books.  If I had to choose a reason, I think it's because I WANTED TO MAKE ALL THINGS KAWAII.

I'm happy.  I love having this blog to share my adventures in learning all things zakka and on occasion to share my two other loves.

I leave you with this Spring card made for a special girl; Julia.

This card is made using a paper piecing method; using this tutorial from Split Coast Stampers. This method involves stamping the image on different card stock then cutting the pieces and fitting them back together to form your was like playing with a paper doll! very fun...

...till next time...

Amigurumi Crochet Bird Pouch Pattern

This week I started playing around making a couple of boxy pouches with this tutorial on : it's a pretty modern life. This pouch is fully lined; presenting a bit of a sewing challenge for me. Adjusting the size for a smaller size; I was in sweats sewing this little guy. Next time; a larger size may prove more sewing friendly.  Or I may try this tutorial from Skip to my Lou; a modified version of a lined pouch; with a few seams in view. This version with only 4 boxed corners to sew may prove less stressful than the fully lined version's 8 boxed corners. With each attempt at something new, I learn. I like that.

This cute amigurumi crochet bird pouch was a savior; helping to re-align my zakka chakra.   He's a tiny fellow...5" wide x 3" high.  No Sewing Machine Required.

Mini Amigurumi Bird Pouch Crochet Pattern

Size Needle : 5/0
Yarn : 4 ply; 2 colors : one for body, one for beak
Eyes : Buttons, Eyes, Felt ... your choice
Zipper : 5 inches
Fabric : Small piece for lining & wings

Work in rounds; do not join rounds. Use a marker or a piece of yarn (my style) to mark the start of the row after each round.

First if you are new to Japanese style crocheting, please check out planet june's delightful crochet blog for her terrific amigurumi tutorials.

Bird Body : 
  1. You will start with a 'wa' or what crocheters refer to as the Magic Circle.  Start with 7 stitches.
  2. 2 single crochet in each stitch : 14 stitches
  3. (Single crochet in first stitch, 2 single crochet in second stitch), repeat to end of row : 21 stitches
  4. Single crochet in first stitch, ( 2 single crochet in second stitch, single crochet in next two stitches), repeat to end of row ending with single crochet in last stitch :  28 stitches
  5. Single crochet in each stitch : 28 stitches
  6. (Single crochet in first 3 stitches, 2 single crochet in next stitch); repeat to end of row ending : 35 stitches
  7. Single crochet in each stitch : 35 stitches
  8. Single crochet in first 2 stitches, (2 single crochet in next stitch, single crochet in next 4 stitches), repeat to end of row, ending with single crochet in last 2 stitches : 42 stitches
  9. Rows 9 - 15 : Single crochet in each stitch : 42 stitches. END

Bird Beak  :
  1. You will start with a 'wa' or what crocheters refer to as the Magic Circle.  Start with 4 stitches.
  2. (Single crochet in first stitch, 2 single crochet in second stitch); repeat one more time
  3. (Single crochet in first 2 stitches, 2 single crochet in next stitch), repeat one more time. END : Fold in half

To Assemble :
  • Attach eyes
  • Attach beak
  • Attach wings : For the wings I decided to use a flower motif....other options: Applique a wing from fabric. Use a fabric yo-yo.  Use a heart shape felt piece. 
  • Hand stitch zipper to inside of pouch
  • Lay the crochet pouch on your lining fabric (you will need 2 pieces). Draw an outline on the fabric.  This line will be your sewing line. Add about 1/2" or more to the top of the lining.  Sew the lining.  Insert the lining inside the crochet pouch.  Fold over the top towards the inside to hide raw edges.  Hand stitch lining to zipper.

 I hope this birdie makes you happy....till my next a bird.

Truth or Dare

Hi All ~
Here's a truth for you all about moi ~ I live on an island....buuutttt...I don't know how to swim! Believe you me, I've attempted a few times to learn but I'm terrified of not being able to touch the floor of the ocean or the pool bottom.  I once had a goal to learn to swim by age 65! HAHA  Yeah, well, I don't think that's going to happen. 

I remember in 5th grade, the class would go to the high school pool for lessons. I stayed back because I had ... you know...juggers. And being only 10 years old, I was very, very embarrassed to wear a bathing suit in front of my classmates.  Then there was this time when I took my son to private swim lessons so I decided to join in.  The problem? The toddlers and their parents from the next class sat around the pool watching us; not as private as I thought! OH, I attempted a few more times after which I think I'll settle for wearing a life preserver instead of a bikini.

This week....I was... PRODUCTIVE. I made 5 pouches...that's a record for me... I have the entire weekend to R&R; hoping for sunny weather! till next time

A Mini Handbag Organizer Tutorial : Just in time for Mothers' Day !


I am attempting to be a bit more organized...oh yeah, this is a VERY BIG GOAL.  I want to complete at least one project a day and one tutorial a week.  This doesn't appear too overwhelming but I haven't succeeded yet and this is already April!  My problem? I take too many breaks. I get hungry.  I crave DIET SODA.  I get distracted watching full episode streams on my computer while I sew.  I can't make up my mind what to make. heh.

So I pushed myself a little from last week, finishing 4 embroidered pouches ...

...and this here tutorial for a mini handbag organizer....just in time for Mother's Day that's only a month away!  This little handbag organizer is a perfect size for my 2 phones (don't ask) and my all the other necessities of life (tylenol, tissue, pen, gum, sticky note pad, etc. etc.).  A perfect project/gift for someone who likes to change bags with her outfits or someone who needs help keeping her bag nice and neat (that's me).  The bag has "drawstring" like handles for you to lift your organizer out of your bag...just a little extra touch of cuteness!

The pockets ended up a bit too shallow so I adjusted the dimensions in the tutorial instructions. goes

Prepare Fabrics 

  • Exterior fabric - Cut 2 pieces 6" (height) x 8.5" (width); iron on CRAFT FUSE interfacing
  • Lining fabric - Cut 2 pieces 6" (height) x 8.5" (width); iron on mid weight interfacing
  • Pockets for Exterior and Interior : Cut 4 pieces 10" (height) x 6" (width); iron on mid weight interfacing; fold in half to form pockets
  • Tabs for "Drawstring" Handles - Cut 4 pieces 3" (height) x 4" (width); iron on mid weight interfacing
  • "Drawstring" - Length 16 1/2". I used cotton twill but you can use whatever you want, as long as it fits the width of the tabs.
  • Sewing Seam : 1/4"
Prepare Pockets

  • After folding pocket piece in half, add a top stitch along 'fold' edge if you'd like
  • Using a Mark-B-gone fabric marker, draw a sewing line down the center of the pocket.  If you like, add smaller pockets for pencils and pens. 
  • Pin pockets to exterior and lining pieces.  Sew on sewing lines. 
Prepare Tabs

  • Fold tab pieces with right sides facing 
  • Mark 3/4" on each side of tab; crease; then fold in half (bring raw edge towards the crease line) This will hide the raw edge of the tab
  • Sew side edges. Repeat for all 4 tabs. Set aside. 
Putting it all together
  • Exterior Piece : Place right sides together and sew along side edges and bottom.  Sew a 2" boxed corner; trim.  Trim any bulk as needed. Set aside. (Turn exterior piece right side out)
  • Lining Piece : Place right sides together and sew along side edges and bottom; leaving a 2-3 inch gap on the bottom for turning. Sew a 2" boxed corner; trim. Trim any bulk as needed. Set aside. DO NOT turn right side out.
  • Tabs : Mark the middle of each tab.  On one side of the bag; find the middle of the exterior piece; mark (Fold bag in half to find middle or measure).  You will have 2 halves.  Now find the middle of each half.  Match the middle of a tab with the middle of one of the halves. Pin with raw edges of the bag and tab together. Do the same for the other half.  At this point, you have placed tabs for one side of the bag.  Simply match up the tabs for other side to the tabs already in position. Baste in place.
  • Attach Lining to Exterior : Place the exterior piece into the lining; right sides together.  Sew along top edge.
  • Pull bag from gap in lining. Sew gap. 
  • "Drawstring": Thread "drawstring" through tabs (I attached a safety pin to the twill to help with threading).  The cotton twill frays so I put on fray check before sewing.  Crease each end of twill with each end going in an opposite direction; to hide the raw edges in the final step.

  • I decided to sew the two ends together before hiding the raw edges being careful not to tangle the twill.
    • Fold together as shown in the pic below. After attempting to machine sew the ends together, I found it easier to simply hand stitch.  This section is hidden in the tabs so simple is good.
    •  The use of the cotton twill dictated how I put the handle together so feel free to change it up to suit your choice of material.
      enjoy....till next posting...