September 25, 2010
September 22, 2010
Part of my stash. I can't wait to cut little H's boots from last year to pieces - i like the little belts on them. M's boots have met my scissors already...
Often I'm asked where I find the leather I'm using in my crafts. I consider myself lucky to be living in Paris for many reasons. One of them is that I have easy access to everything imaginable related to making and creating. I have a couple of addresses at the Marché Saint-Pierre where they sell leather in any size going from full skins to just pieces of scraps. I've been told these skins and scraps are actually leftovers from big labels like Hermès, Chanel, ... I'm not sure if this is actually true, but I like the thought that I do carry a Hermès bag after all! The department store BHV also carries a nice selection in its hardware department, near the shoe repair supplies. Knowing that this information doesn't help a single bit if you don't live in the Paris area, I have come up with a couple of alternatives. The good thing about these is that they might turn out to be a lot cheaper as well because chances are you might own them already.
- Leather boots: Did you grow tired of last year's boots? Are they beyond repair? Did your kids outgrow their favorite boots? Don't throw them out yet! Just cut off the shafts and you'll end up with two nice pieces of leather.
- Leather jackets: Having an outdated jacket you don't know what to do with? Cut it to pieces. If you don't own an old jacket try to find one at a thrift store. You'll have plenty of leather to work with. The same applies to leather skirts and pants. Get out those scissors!
- Purses and bags: You might be done with that old purse or book bag but before you throw it out, check if there aren't any parts you could still use. I'm not only thinking of pieces of leather but also of possible straps, belts and buckles which might come in handy.
- Belts: by nature perfect as a strap, the buckle being a nice detail.
- Sandals (and shoes): because of the straps and often also because of their decoration. They could be transformed in some nice accessories like a bracelet, a brooch, a hair clip, or could be used to add detail to a plain bag.
And now, go check out your closets!
September 20, 2010
It's weird but I have the hardest time getting online and starting to write something, lately. Could it be another of those bloggers-blocks?
Anyway I hope it won't last too long, because I'm getting annoyed with my own lack of presence here.
I've been going through my last photographs several times this weekend, and I have quite some, but I just couldn't find anything to go with them or to write about. So, tonight out of misery I chose figs. Except for them being really good right now (and I mean really, really good!) I don't think they will be the most inspiring picture you'll come across this week. It's not that nothing's happening over here, quite the opposite.
One thing that did happen for instance is that I went on a job interview, got the job and then turned the offer down. For practical reasons. Not because I didn't like the job or didn't find myself fit. For practical reasons only. Like not being able to find a nanny within two days' notice, because that's what it was. I was supposed to start immediately. Having been home with my girls for almost nine years now, not being certain about who would pick them up from school and take them to their after school activities eventually gave me cold feet. I simply couldn't do it. Sure, after the first interview I really felt ready for the big leap forward. When I walked in that office, it actually felt as if I never had left the work floor. I was ready for a new challenge. Back home, however, especially after meeting with the HR people, and seeing the puzzled faces of my girls, reality kicked in. It was early September and the starting date was only a couple of days away. How on earth would I be able to find someone, when all I heard at school was moms complaining and being desperately on the outlook for nannies.
The job would have changed our lives considerably. I would have gone back to my old field, economics. No more sewing, no more crafts, at least for awhile. Probably, I wouldn't have had time to continue this blog here, though I must immediately add that I had volunteers lining up already. My sweet, sweet girls would more than happily have taken over the business. M. actually can't wait to start a blog of her own. The stress level in our household would have increased considerably, too. But maybe also my intellectual satisfaction. After a couple of sleepless nights, I said no, however.
Maybe I saw it too black and white. I know many of you are doing it. Successfully. Every day, day after day. Family, job, blogging, and many things more. And so was I. I used to be a working mom in a former life. So, what happened to this once so ambitious girl? Was it the kids or was I afraid of giving up something else too?
I gave it a lot of thought and I think my priorities have changed over time. Yes, I still want a job, but one leaving enough flexibility for that other important job: being a mom.
Do I regret I didn't take the job? Yes, to a certain extent. But it would have come at a price. A price I wasn't ready to pay. And anyway, bygones are bygones. Or as they say in Dutch: het zijn vijgen na Pasen. Figs after Easter..., which they always are, by the way, at this side of the world...
So, I'll keep on looking, either for a part-time job or a job I can do from home. I might even write that book I've been thinking of after all. Who knows... If I ever do so, I will let you know!
I'm wishing you a great week!
I feel deeply touched by all of your comments - every single one of them! Being a parent is a balancing act, isn't it. Thank you so, so much! I really have the feeling I made the right decision for now - I see it in the happy faces of my girls... and it makes me feel good!
September 14, 2010
I found some spare time to finally write down the tutorial I promised last week. The bag has been used extensively lately, and I must say it's one of my favorites (didn't I say that of every single one of my bags?).
It's sturdy, carries quite a bit and yet it still looks elegant, if I may say so myself. And it's so simple to make. Ready?!
Here is what you need:
- enough denim, canvas, or any other heavy-weight fabric you have at hand to cut two 54cm x 52cm pieces from - the given dimensions include seam allowances for side seams and bottom seam (note: since I wanted to make use of the denim's nice selvedge (Yes, Cindy, you got that right - that was of course on purpose!!), I cut two separate pieces. You could of course take one long strand and fold the fabric in half - do not forget to adjust for the seam allowances in that case and to add some at the top as well.
- two 65cm x 6cm straps of leather
- an awl
- heavy duty thread and a ditto needle
- large paper clips
- sewing machine
1. Cut the fabric as shown in picture 2.
2. Bottom and side seams using the half French seam: on the sewing machine, sew the bottom seam closed on the right (!) side of the fabric, taking into account a 2cm (3/4'') seam allowance(picture 3).
Cut away half of the seam allowance on one of the pieces as shown in picture 4. Press the seam open. Fold the longer seam allowance over the shorter, tucking inside the shorter end and secure with pins (picture 5.). Now, sew into place ( picture 6). Repeat with both of the side seams.
3. Boxed corners using a French seam: on the right side (!) of the bag, fold the bag such that bottom seam and side seam align perfectly on top of each other. Pin and next sew together (on the right side!) (picture 7.). Press. Next turn the bag inside out, fold and tuck the first seam inside layers. Sew on machine making sure to use a slightly bigger seam allowance than in the previous step. The result should look as show in picture 9.
Note: for a good description of the different types of French seams and felled seams, check out Annekata's tutorial here.
4. Handles: I got the idea for the handles from the Japanese sewing book Making Leather Bags Lesson 1,2 by Umami Yoshimi Ezura - a gem really, that I recommend to anyone loving nice, simple and yet elegant bags.
At both ends of each strip of leather, make little wholes using an awl (picture 11), making sure the distance between wholes is equal and left and right on each side match perfectly. These wholes will help you sewing the handles to the bag more easily. If your leather is thin enough you could omit this step. Next, mark on your fabric where the handles should come (picture 12). Now, pinch your leather strip between the fabric, folding the leather strip in two (I ironed the fold of the leather handles - before you do this try on a little piece first to see how your leather responds to heat). Adjust such that the previously made wholes coincide perfectly. Secure with a large paper clip (picture 13). Sew into place with a heavy-duty needle and some heavy duty thread, using small stitches and going through the earlier made wholes. (I did every stitch twice to make sure the handles are tightly sewn to the bag.). And done!
As usually, if you have questions about this project just let me know! I'd be happy to help. Also, if you made something using a tutorial found on this blog or if you got inspired by something you found here, make sure to post your pictures here.
As with all tutorials found on this blog, please note this tutorial is intended for personal use only. Therefore, do not reproduce, sell or commercialize in any form without permission. Thanks for understanding!
September 12, 2010
I just love those crazy photo shoots with my girls. We don't do them very often, but when they're in the mood for it, it is so much fun. Occasion: the new jackets they each got. M. at last got the faux-fur jacket she'd been wanting for so long but never found in her size. Little H. is a bit more of a blazer girl. She really is and wears it with the buttons closed. Even to play. Preferably with a pair of skinny jeans. The little red shoes are a pair of Asters we got for M. our first summer here in Paris. She wore them once. My fault - I love Aster shoes, they don't. I should have known that. Good thing we got them at the end of the sales at a very good price, as it looks like they'll remain unworn. Little H. put them on exactly once, the day of the photo shoot , and then she got blisters.
End of story and such a shame, really.
The red blazer and the furry coat, however, are favorites! No doubt about that...
September 10, 2010
I can't believe it's Friday already - the week simply flew by!
I haven't been posting much lately, nor did I keep up with my favorite blogs. But that's hopefully about to change, though I do intend to spend a little less time on the computer in general. In fact, that's what I've been doing all summer, spending less time just staring at that screen and it actually felt good. I want to try to spend my time more efficiently. Do things and get things done.
So, don't you worry if you don't hear from me for a couple of days. I'm still there. I'm probably in the middle of something crafty, or reading a book maybe, or getting tonight's dinner ready, or baking that NY style cheese cake that I have been craving for a while now - and, yes, of course, I'll continue to share the bits and pieces of our lives, and more importantly the crafty stuff .
Like this necklace (photo) which I made just last night, or that tutorial for my newest bag that I'm planning on having ready somewhere next week...
Wishing you a great weekend!
September 2, 2010
Our summer vacation has come to an end. It was great. It was fun. I was in good company all summer.
But tomorrow part of my good company is going back to school. I'm sure that will be great and fun too. They're so ready to see their friends, to make new ones and to finally meet their new teachers.
We've been busy preparing and labeling all the school supplies for the last couple of days.
The girls got new back packs and I... a new sturdy denim shopping bag for the occasion!
Don't you like those handles?! I got the idea from a bag in Making Leather Bags Lesson 1,2 by Umami Yoshimi Ezura, a Japanese craft book I bought over summer and which I found here (thanks, Michelle, for those links!). If you like stylish, simple and minimalistic bags like me, this is a must have book!
This was my first craft in weeks, and it won't be the last as I have plenty of denim and leather left!
'Wishing everyone a happy September!