Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In love with LECIEN

I wonder if anyone out there not in love with Lecien?? For those who are not familiar with Lecien, they produces an extensive range of high quality Japanese designed quilting fabrics. From the beautiful floral ranges that they are best known for, which include the Antique Flower and Durham Quilt collections to the rich colours of the Mrs. March collection and the cute as pie Minny Muu ranges.

I have in my collection few of the super sweet and delicious Durham Quilt collections which now wishing I had purchased a whole lot more.. *sigh*
Have a look at some other Lecien fabrics here and here.

What would you make out of these darlings??  Pin It

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Odekake Bag

I completed two commisioned Odekake bags this morning for my friends. As I was clipping excess threads and sewing the openning, I remembered the first Odekake bag I made about a year ago. I saw the pattern in one of the sewing books I got from the local library here. The thing that caught my attention about the bag is the wide openning and how you dont have to fiddle looking for keys or something. Odekake means going out in Japanese and I think the bag is perfect for going out *grin*   

The features of MyBotanG Odekake bag:
2 side pockets
3 deep expandable inside pockets
magnetic snap button for closure
Size: 45cm (l) x 21cm (h) x 13.5cm (w)

You can see more pictures and read more about my Odekake bags here and here.
I used Alexander Henry KOTO fabric for the bags above.
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gifts from the heart

Since her rather successful first attempt at making this heart (read about her handmade heart here), my girl wanted to make more as gifts for her teachers and I was more than happy to assist her along the way.

We were heading to the immigration office for some official matters which is about 2 hours away, so I thought that was the perfect travelling time we needed to whip up 3 more hearts. I made all the preparation before the journey and got to use my travel sewing case for the first time (read about my sewing case here and find the tutorial here)
Heart 1 - for her class teacher

Heart 2 - for her piano teacher

Heart 3 - for her kumon teacher

I'm happy to report that we managed to complete sewing and stuffing 3 hearts by the end of our journey though not without fuss *sigh*  

What do you pack on long journeys..?? Are you able to read, sew, knit while travelling? 
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Quilted Alphabet Cards

I had a full set of uppercase alphabet fabric from Deb Strain - Love U (in green)  laying around, remnants from making crib bumper for my sister's baby (read about the quilt and crib bumper I made for her, here). I originally wanted to make an alphabet book (read more about projects I want to make, here), but then decided to make them loose individual pieces, as I figured there are many more exciting hands-on activities one can accomplish as compared to a binded book.  

Features of the Quilted Alphabet Cards:
a) 24 individual cards except for W&X and Y&Z
b) machine washable
c) comes in drawstring bag

I used Robert Kaufman's forest fun (see clearer pic here) for the drawstring bag
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!Pin It

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What!!! More bento bags!!!

I'm pretty sure you probably had enough of bento bag posts (if you haven't, feel free to read about them here and here), but I thought this version of my bento bag is rather..emm cool *grin* It's interesting to see how a bag to carry your lunch box evolved into a small handbag.

This is my quilted bento bag. I used Japanese cotton for the outside and light blue polka dot fabric for the lining. I quilted the cover fabric with the batting before sewing in the lining. It has magnetic snap button for closure.

Another quilted bento bag using Alexander Henry's KOTO.
How's your week progressing so far?? I feel like a walking zombie.. *sigh*Pin It

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pattern Variation - Bento bag with cover

Fabric: Happy Channel by Cosmo

Have you ever worked with a pattern - be it a pattern for clothes, hats or bags and after a while created a variation of the original pattern? What made you do the alteration or create a variation of the original in the first place?
As for me, I think my bento bag original pattern (read more about my bento bags here) has seen many variations of them all, mainly because I received many requests for bento bags with handles from my customers. One of the variation is my bento bag with cover.
The changes I've made to this version are:
a) added handles
b) added a cover with drawstring
c) removed inside lining
Made any alterations lately??
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sisterly LOVE

Did I tell you I have a sister?? Well I do, she's 5 years younger than me and now is expecting her second baby (delivery date 2nd April 2010). I love my sister, she's a lot like me and we get along superbly.. most of the time at least..heheh

My sis and I, taken March 09

As the best big sister that I am *grin* I managed to finish the baby quilt and baby crib bumper for my sister's baby in the nick of time.. My mom made the pillow covers and bed sheet covers using the same fabric I sent her earlier.
You can read more about the fabric and projects I plan to make with the panel here.
I used plain white cotton for the back

I sewed lace all around and binded the quilt with polkadot green fabric  

As for the crib bumper, I cut the alphabets out - to be used for another project and used only the centre panel (4 panels all together). Since my quilt batting is rather thin, I double layered the batting for the crib bumper for added cushion.

How about you? Ever made anything for your family members?

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Table cloth ordeal

My first attempt at making table cloth for a 6 seater didn't go well.. *sigh* 
Let me tell you why..
a) I don't have a table that big to measure for size.. but then I saw Lia's 6 seater table cloth here, and I asked her for the size (which she gave, of course - thanks dearest!!*grin*)

b) Almost all the items I make are with linings.. I have NO idea how to finish the hem on a table cloth.. but I found Kak Dee's tutorial on how to here, and although it was very clear and easy to follow, I was reluctant, being used to lining everything, I thought 'hey why not line the table cloth as well..' 
c) ..and so I did line the table cloth, which was hell!! spreading 6 seater table cloth in the crammed living room of a Japanese apartment.. well..ehhmm NOT a good idea. I hardly had any room to move, but I survived the ordeal somehow.. 

d) after all that is said and done, I was feeling rather pleased with myself, and so I wanted to picture the said table cloth.. but again another problem, no table big enough to put it on!! So I hanged it on my girl's loft bed and this is the best I could manage..  

Some information about the materials I used for the table cloth -

Japanese cotton with sweet strawberry prints for the centre
Plain white cotton for lining 

Although the whole experience with space and hemming was disastrous, I find making table cloth quite fun. Nevertheless, I hope no one commisions me for another 6, 8 or 10 seater table cloth..*gulp*. I have however, taken another commision for a 4 seater table cloth though and I plan to try K.Dee's hemming style next.. Wish me luck!!  
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fabric Scraps - what to make??

As I'm packing for our move soon (read more about our move to Kyoto here), I find some of my earlier projects - small stuff, made mainly from scraps as then I was nervous about cutting into good fabric, scarred of making mistakes and ruinning perfectly good fabric.

Looking at those stuff now, I think they are a perfect way to reduce some of the mounting scraps you might have collected over the months/years of sewing. The final product would make a cute and warm gift to friends and loved ones. It would also be a great excuse to take an afternoon off from sewing serious stuff and wander into your scraps bags looking for matching strips to make one of these items  *smile*

Snack mat in the shape of cup and saucer - it's smaller than placemat and is suitable for kids' snack time
(read more about snack mat here)

Another snack mat in brown

Hand sewed coaster - coffee mug

Another coffe mug coaster

Would anyone be interested in a tutorial for the snack mat and coffee mug coaster??
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My heart belongs to you

My almost 8 year old girl likes to mooch around in my sewing studio. She likes looking at all the ribbons and array of fabric. She especially loves it when I allow her to make something out of scrap fabrics. Last weekend she made this - a heart charm which she hangs on her school bag. I did help here and there but I give full credit to her.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Love U in pink - wall hanging

How was your weekend? This weekend like the past few weekends have been rather tiring and stressful for my family and I. My husband has accepeted a job offer in Kyoto recently, which is about 8 hours drive from our current location. I am happy and rather excited of a prospect of residing in a city which have such historic value and culture, but as the excitement settles, the reality surface.. searching for suitable home, school, packing and uprooting our family and moving doesn't sound very exciting after a while.. all that is left is headache and more headache.. *sigh*

In the meantime, I finished this little wall hanging recently. You might remember my purchase of Deb Strain LOVE U panel in green (blogged here) a while back. I found the same panel in pink in a bag of fabric scraps I bought from Tokyo the last time I was there and I figured a simple wall-hanging would be nice.    

I used a pink polka dot gauze fabric for the back and loops and pink polka dot cotton for the binding.

Hope you had a stress-free weekend and ready to face the challenges of the coming week..Pin It

Friday, March 12, 2010

Envelope Budgeting

Yesterday I posted my 'All in one pouch' (blogged here) and how different compartments in the pouch are for storing the month's expenses for that category. It was interesting to read different responses on ways people manage and track their monthly spending habits. The 'All in one pouch' was inspired by the envelope budgeting method, but instead of using separate paper envelopes, I made a fabric pouch with compartments for different categories. 

What is envelope budgeting?
A simple (our mothers and grandmothers might have used this system) yet effective way to organise your finances and spend wisely. Get more ideas of the system from a youtube video here

Envelope budgeting basics
1. Decide and list down the spending categories for your budget and set the spending limit for each category. Of course some things are better automated such as rent, utility bills, insurance, school/tuition fee and mortgage. My spending categories are food, petrol, entertainment, personal allowance. 

2. Using one envelope per spending category, write the name for each category and the monthly budgeted amount on the envelopes. This is where my 'All in one' pouch comes in handy. You can use simple paper envelope or make your own (for inspiration see samples here and here). 

3. You are all set up now, when you make a purchase pay using the cash from that particular category. The principle is easy, when you run out of money from that envelope, you stop buying *grin* 

With the envelope system at any given time you know with absolute certainty how much money you have on hand and what it’s for. On average you will simply spend less on purchases when you pay for them with cash then you would with credit or even debit cards. When you have to hand over your cold hard cash it really makes you think about the expense.

Anybody using similar system or other system in managing your finances.. care to share??Pin It

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All in one pouch

Being in Japan, our daily expenses are paid in cash. We use credit card for big purchase, travel and hotel booking only. I don't have a cheque book here *gulp* Carrying and managing cash is tricky and stretching it to last takes a lot of practice and strong self-control accompanied by powerful mantras *grin*
I made this all in one pouch to store cash and book banks all in one place. It has 3 zippered compartments which I labelled bank for bank books and resits, food for and etc for petrol, bus fare for Sofea, maintenance fee and etc. The pattern is inspired by my old pouch bought from 100yen shop a while ago. I used canvas remnants from Odekake bag (read about my odekake bag here) for the front and scrap fabric I bought from flea market donkey years ago for the back.  

How do you manage your monthly expenses??
Any tips and tricks??
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm seeing patches

Do you like patched fabric?? I ADORE them *big grin* 

I used this patched linen blend in soft blue to make my latest Hippo bag

View on the inside (you can read more on the bag here)
What are you up to today..??Pin It

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

5 down 3 more to go

I managed to finish another quilt recently. Like everything else in life - practice DOES make perfect.. quilting is no exception. When I started quilting my first wall hanging, my anxiety level was very high, I was very nervous and fretted over small stuff (read about my first wall hanging here). The alphabet quilt was a real challenge too, as it was my first attempt at free-motion quilting, learning the pattern and being able to manouver the needle took a lot of getting used to (read more here). 

The truck quilt was easier in comparison, the fabric (see the fabric here) was already pretty and I decided to use simple patchwork stitch around the blocks. This enhanced each block and I can already picture my friend and her son (my old college friend commisioned the quilt for her 3 year old boy) having loads of fun conversation about them.  

The back view of the quilt. I used plain white cotton for the back.

 I made a thinner binding for this quilt as I thought it looked better that way *giggle*. I used the same patchwork stitch for the binding and I felt it better enhanced the edges.  
 So, no matter what you do, remember... practice practice practice practice practice...

P/S - As for the title of the post - I have so far completed 5 quilts and I have 3 more baby quilts to complete. I pledge (read about my new year resolutions here) to complete 2 baby quilts and 2 single bed quilts by March - meaning I have surpassed my own expectation.. yippeee!!!

How about you..?? Able to check off any of the resolutions you've made at the beginning of the year yet?Pin It

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tips and Tricks from FlyLady

Once in a while, I hop over to FlyLady to see what she's cooking. I often stumble upon some sound advice that I TRY to apply to my daily living. Here's some that I'm trying to make a habit:

1. Shine your sink
  • Use some cleanser and scrub your sink, even old sink can look pretty decent with some elbow greese. Clean around the rim and the faucets too.
  • Every time you run water in your sink, take your clean dishtowel and dry it out.
  • Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink, especially overnight, make a habit to wash and clean the sink before you go to bed every night. Get up in the morning to be greeted by clean and shiny sink (it does affect your mood)   
2. Decluttering 15 minutes a day (I've tried it with my sewing studio, it worked!! I am yet to move to the other parts of the apartment..uhuhu)
  • Do a little every day, don't burn yourself out by doing everything in a day. Only do small amount at a time. The house did not get dirty overnight and it will not get clean overnight.
  • You will need garbage bags, boxes and magic markers. Label the boxes "Give Away", "Throw Away", and "Put Away". Line the "Throw Away" box with a plastic garbage bag.
  • Set a time limit (15 mins, 20min, 1 hour) Just do the job as fast as you can and do not pull out more stuff than you can put away in that length of time. This means just one drawer, one closet (or even one shelf in one closet), one magazine rack, or digging under just the furniture in the zone. Not all of them at once!
My shopping bag cum cooler picnic bag

Lined with cooler sheets to keep food/drinks cool
(I've since added zip to the bag)

Have a productive week!! Pin It


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