Inspired Handbags...

My parents and sister came up to visit this past weekend. It was so nice to see them all and celebrate my dad's upcoming birthday. My sister brought up my belated Christmas gift, and it was most certainly worth the wait:

She picked up sewing not too long ago and this is one of the first handbags she's ever sewn! Ho-ly-crap! I love it so very very much. I hardly ever get to see sis, and the fact that she somehow knew I've been obsessed with a red/white color pallete lately just shows how awesome she is! Best big sister ever! I love the little details; the pleats, buttons, lining, and those too-adorable handles. This is my new favorite purse.
Speaking of awesome handbags by new sewers, my friend Jill has been working on a couple super-duper cute ones over at The Curious Bee as well. I adore the green flowery one! 
So, amidst all this handbag inspiration flying at me, I created my own sweet little number one sleepless night this week:

I was out and about looking to buy a cold-heat soldering iron (more on that later) and I ended up in a Beverly's in Alameda, which I didn't even know existed before last weekend. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I made a new year's resolution to not but any new (new-to-me is still allowed) fabric or yarn without having a project in mind to use it for. My stash has become very well filled out as of late so I figured this would help me stop stashing and start using. I've also been trying to start and finish projects in a more timely manner. I made this bag all in one go and was up till 3 in the morning, but it turned out better than I expected. I found the yellow fabric at Beverly's and I had the red dot one in my stash, as well as all the trimmings. The little brooch on the front is removable for easy washing. And I even put a tag inside above the little 2-part pocket. I got some ribbon printed a long time ago and I just recently decided to cut it all up and use it as tags.
I love this bag and I don't really want to sell it, but I know I'm going to use sissy's bag all this summer so I wouldn't want it to be hiding in my room. So I'm putting it up in my etsy store very shortly, along with some new scarves, owls, and a suprise which I will do a post about very soon.


A Year of Love!

Dennis and I celebrated our one year anniversary on March 10th and I've been wanting to show our presents to eachother. Since Valentine's day was so recently and we're both really broke right now, we decided to just do a small meaningful gift and go out to dinner. Dennis made me a pair of fingerless gloves! 
Too super freakin awesome! I squealed when I opened the box. He's been collecting old t-shirts and sewing gloves from them for a while now, and when I was going thru my closet for shirts to give him I happened upon my much-loved yet too-small pegasus shirt from Urban Outfitters. I told him that I wanted a pair made from it and he delivered! Ugh, I love them so darn much! 
For my gift to him, I know he loves the slideshows I used to do of my self portraits on flickr, so I made a slideshow of all the pictures we have ever taken of eachother with a song that has always reminded me of him, and I put it on YouTube for all the world to see. You can watch it if you like, but my roommate thinks it's too mushy and makes little gaging noises whenever I mention it. Prepare thyselves...


Crossing the Seas!

Well, I was just over on Amazon listing a few books I've been meaning to sell and when I was done I went hunting for new things to put on my wishlist. I don't know if I'm the last one to hear about this, but I just realized that there will soon be English versions of a couple of my favorite Japanese craft books coming out next month! They're coming out under a group called (Make Good: Crafts + Life). I am so ridiculously excited, especially for this one:

Japanese crochet books are always a great resource for me because the crochet symbols are universal and easy to follow. But the few sewing books I have are usually for inspiration only, because while I can read the measurements and follow the diagrams to a point, the finer pattern details and techniques are completely lost on me. I can't wait to get my hands on these books, and I sure hope they come out with many more of my favorites!


Oh, and by the way...

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Dennis and I will be watching Irish movies and eating corned beef and cabbage. How about you? Anywho, the real reason for this post is that the apartment below us is vacant! Ghasp! Here's the Craigslist ad our landlord has posted:

I'm writing about this on here because Angela and I would love it so much if we could encourage some cool people to move in downstairs. For some reason the neighbor below us and the neighbor across from us were continuously fighting about lord knows what, but since we could hear them sometimes I gathered that it was a typically Oakland-style fight concerning baby-daddies and money. Yes, I am serious. We love our neighbor across the way and are very glad the one downstairs has moved on as she was not very friendly. If you're looking for a nice apartment with amenities, a great landlord, and neighbors who are friendly then look no further! Angela and I would love it if someone would move in who is the kind of neighbor we strive to be. We would love to have a building-wide barbecue in our awesome back yard with our awesome neighbors, or trade baked goods and veggies from our soon-to-be-garden for a cup of tea and a conversation. What ever happened to the days when neighbors were friends? I hope they're not gone for good...

A Steampunk Sojourn

Lately I have been absolutely captivated by all manner of Steampunk-y goodness.This necklace was made by Etsy seller Bionic Unicorn. For those of you that don't know, steampunk is a kind of retro-futurism wherein there is a fantasy world where today's digital technologies are run by analogue components. Clockwork computers, steam powered superfast cars, etc. Just imagine the Victorian days with lots and lots of technology that's all run by gears and steam. I find it fascinating and have spent the last few days sifting through all the websites on the subject I can find. My favorite find and by far the thing that started this new obsession is this steampunk'd computer (especially the keyboard) from The Steampunk Workshop.

Recently, I also had the opportunity to go to Rakkasah, a large bellydancing festival in Vallejo. I bellydanced all through highschool so this was not a completely random outing. But when I got there, amongst all the usual vendors, I found some amazing booths filled with gothic lolita/steampunk/bellydance fusion fashions, my favorite of which was Black Lotus Clothing. If I had unlimited money I would spend it all here (and hire a personal trainer). But since I'm broke I'll have to make due with handmade faxcimilies based off of the beautiful pictures. I'm currently working on some kind of feathered headpiece, something less outlandish than the mini tophat but still foofy enough to garner attention.

...If I had any guts whatsoever I would be a steampunk. In fact, I've been toying with the idea of making myself a steampunk outfit, though I doubt I'd ever have the nerve to go anywhere in it. I admire the people who can dress is these "outrageous" fashions because they must have an overwhelming sense of self. Goths, Lolitas, Punks, Steampunks, Cyberpunks, all of them not afraid to stand out. I think I'm afraid to stand out most of the time, and I wish I could just wear whatever I wanted and not feel silly. When I think of wearing something that's not the norm, I know that I would think I looked awesome, but everyone else would think I looked silly. But why should I care so much about what other people think of my clothes? Better yet, what if I'm completely wrong and everyone who sees me will react like I do when I see people in unusual garb - with amazement, envy, and respect. I'm slowly starting to make a few little Victorian-inspired accessories here and there, and I'm thinking about going thru my closet and using some pieces I never wear to construct an ultimate steampunk dress, and then I'll go to the grocery store in it, just for fun, lol. I'm going to try to slowly incorporate more lace and feathers into my wardrobe, and over time I will add some clockworks since my dad repairs watches and probably has a few gears to spare. My first truly silly piece of steampunk garb will be goggles, which appearantly you must have to be considered a real steampunk. I've found a couple tutorials online for making your own, but I found some for about $30.00 on Etsy as well, so I don't know which option I'll choose yet. But check out these awesome works of art from Aaron Ristau!

Anywho, just google "steampunk" if you're at all interested, and especially check out Etsy for cool stuff. While I'm more interested in the clothing and accessories aspect, I find tons of inspiration from the decor inspired by this movement as well. One of my favorite websites I stumbled upon is The Steampunk Home, which is a blog dedicated to using the steampunk style as home decore.
Here's the opening quote: "I believe that Steampunk is more than just brass and watchparts. It's finding a way to combine the past and the future in an aesthetic pleasing yet still punkish way. It's living a life that looks old-fashioned, yet speaks to the future. It's taking the detritus of our modern technological society and remaking it into useful things. Join me as I search for items for my house that combine the scientific romanticism of the Victorians with our real present and imagined future."

I couldn't have said it better myself.


Still making stuff...

It seems like every day I don't make something is a wasted day. I feel so much happier when I know I'm being productive and getting things done, even if it's something small like making dinner. Dennis and I had a lovely evening a few weeks ago when we decided to stay home and be creative. He wanted to make a knitting needle case, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to show him how to use the sewing machine. So we spent some time thinking about the construction and ended up basing it on the case that came with my Klutz knitting kit, pretty much a long 3 by 3 inch rectangle. He cut out the pattern pieces from an old piece of wool suiting I had in my stash, then he cut the lining from a cool skull and crossbones material. For Christmas I had made him one of those classic mason jar sewing kits, and I used this same fabric to make the pincusion on the lid. Now he has a complete set! He snagged some buttons from my stash as well to make it look like the fabric was from an old coat sleeve. I think it turned out great, and he picked up the sewing machine stuff really quick! While he was hard at work making the case, I was making ravioli from scratch for dinner.

I've never made pasta before, but it seemed easy enough so I just went for it. In the end they turned out okay, mostly because I forgot I didn't have my pasta roller anymore *d'oh*, which makes it really hard to get thin pasta dough.Another problem I had was that my beautiful measuring cups from Anthropologie are actually completely inaccurate. They're a pretty little set of nesting blue bowls, and I use the 1/2 cup measure for most of the flour measuring because it fits in my flour container better than the 1 cup.But I kept ending up with what seemed like too much flour for a lot of my recipes so I bought a standard Anchor cup and guess what? The 1/2 cup is more than 3/4 of a cup! So they're pretty, but useless now. That explains why my cakes have been coming out so dense as of late. So in the end the ravioli came out huge, too thick, and took forever to cook. Many lessons learned though, which is good.


One down, a million to go...

Another project is done and crossed off the massive to-do list! And even better, this one didn't sit around in pieces for a year and a half! I found this amazing fabric over at Superbuzzy. I was a bad girl and I went on there when I saw they were having some things on clearance. I had a cart full of stuff picked out but in the end I narrowed it down to this one amazing mushroom print. It's very light weight cotton 2-layer gauze and it was on sale for 30% off. I bought three yards knowing I had to make at least one skirt and a billion other little things from it. So here is the finished skirt, and guess what? It's the first piece of non-costume clothing I have ever made!

To make it, I cut 1 1/2 yards of the mushroom fabric and the super soft blue gingham I used for the lining, trimmed it to the length I wanted and hemmed the bottom edge. I used a basting stitch to lightly gather the fabric at the waist until it fit me right, then I covered it with a light pink vintage seam binding I found in an antique store in Alameda. I added some big cotton eyelet trim to the bottom and a pink zipper in the back. It fit a little boxy so I added some angled darts at the waist and now it fits just right. It's super comfy because instead of doing a ton of bulky roll-over hems to keep the edges from fraying I just zigzag stitched over the top of everything. If you look closely at the seams in person it looks a little messy around the zipper because of it, but it's so much more comfortable so I don't care.

When I was at that antique store in Alameda I also picked up this amazing piece of mushroomie goodness for only ten dollars! It's just a small quilt someone made a long time ago from one big piece of that awesome mushroom fabric lined with an olive green silky fabric and quilted with red and white knots. I love it so much, even though the colors don't match anything in my room! I may put it out in the living room because we have a bunch of red and green accents, but I'm afraid Kyoto will claw it to death. Anywho, if anyone wants to go rummage through this place, it's called Pauline's Antiques and it's on Park St. in Alameda. It's a jumble in there but patience and persistance pays off when you're out for treasures!