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My Autumn Colors Coin Purse is on Indie Spotting!

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Silk Shisha Coin Purse

Sometimes in the course of a sewing project, I end up with a whole bunch of fabric swatches that end up laying around, getting moved from surface to surface. They are too small to really do anything with on their own, but it occurred to me that combined, their power would be unbeatable! In other words, I could sew them into a patchwork fabric and make something out of that.

Here is my first fabric swatch project: a small coin purse!

And here it is with actual coins so you can see the scale:

I lined the inside with red cotton and embellished it a bit with some square shisha embroidery.

Hand made save the date cards

So you stumbled upon a tutorial all about how to recycle your own paper, and now you are wondering what to do with all that awesome home-made paper you have lying around your house. Or maybe you are just wondering what I plan to do with all the paper I made in the process of making the tutorial for all of you.

Wonder no longer!

Because we are currently spending all our free time on wedding-related stuff, we used our recycled paper to make our Save the Date announcement cards. To be fair, we actually recycled the paper with the intent of making wedding-type stationary products, but I have some other projects in mind.

Here is the finished Save the Date:

Front view:

Back view:

How did we turn our lovely paper into these fine specimens of crafty goodness, you might ask?

First we cut the paper down to the right side, and then we punched the floral trim on one side using a Martha Stewart border punch.

Then we drew the design of the tree and the elephant and the flowers onto linoleum blocks, which we then carved into stamps:


If you decide to do this, make sure you remember that stamps print in reverse. This is especially true for writing. We forgot this, and thus had to cover over the “HC+CB” on the tree so that it didn’t stamp.

Then we simply coated the stamps in paint, stamped the paper, augmented the design with some store bought stamps and hand-wrote the information to save ourselves the hassle of trying to carve backwards writing into linoleum blocks.

Embroidering with my mother

I remember sitting on my mother’s big double bed watching her embroider red flowers on the edges of her pillow case. My mother is not a virtuoso of domestic arts. A strident feminist who pulled herself out of her working class background through a college career begun when I was two, she taught me more about self-confidence and ambition than she did about the ‘feminine arts.’ But, like me, she finds time in spurts throughout her busy professional life to explore her creativity in the skills of her foremothers.

She taught me to still my six-year-old hands enough to draw floss through the wide eye of an embroidery needle and to draw the linen taut through the double wooden hoops. Sitting on my mother’s bed, I learned to push the needle through the fabric without stabbing my fingers, and to follow the outline drawn onto the cloth. I don’t know how many samplers I began and never finished. I know that none were ever completed. I returned to my toys, my mother returned to her papers and neither of us thought much of embroidery for the next twenty years.

Recently my mother and I have both rediscovered our interest in thread-art, partially through our own motivations and partially in dialog with each other. For Christmas this year my mother gave me a bookmark embroidered with an owl and my name and when I went home for a belated holiday visit we sat together in my mother’s yellow living room and practiced together.

Outside, the snow fell relentlessly. We wrapped ourselves in bathrobes and blankets, sipped chamomile-mint tea and relearned together the skills she had given me when I was six. I couldn’t help but think of all the generations of mothers and daughters who have sat together over the years pulling thread into floral patterns on cold winter afternoons. I am grateful that my mother and I both have lives that reach beyond that living room and other, less domestic skills to draw on. But every now and then it is nice to dwell on the positive sides of women’s culture, despite their complex and troubled history.

This is the pant-pocket that resulted from my holiday embroidering stint with my mother:


The photograph is blurry–I need to work on my camera skills. The design is taken from Teach Yourself to Embroider

Learning to do Indian Shisha embroidery

Originally I’d planned this blog as a series of how-to demonstrations, but I have come to realize that would put far more stock into my crafting ability than would actually be warranted. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that I do quite well and when I can I will post some how-to tutorials. But a lot of the time my crafts are things that I am just trying out myself, because, well, I like to try new things.

Like, for example, Indian Shisha embroidery. I’ve been drawn to Indian aesthetics most of my life and I’ve owned lots of clothes and purses and whatnot that have the mirror embroidery. A few months ago I stumbled upon a great tutorial on Joyful Abode and figured I should try it myself. I know I want to do some shisha work on my wedding dress, but I need to practice some before that.

So here is my second attempt (the mirrors fell out of my first attempt):

I need to work on centering the stitches that hold the mirror in place as well as the evenness of the decorative stitches surrounding it.

If you are curious, I am practicing on this dress, which might also be involved in my wedding festivities:
The embroidery will be on the waistband.

Dressmaking+cats=not productive

Today I began to cut the cotton for the mock-up of my wedding dress. I have an awesome friend who is willing to help me transform the dress from the pattern to the dress of my dreams, but I want to have a tangible dress to take to her. So I am plugging along with the mock-up. It turns out that cats and sewing don’t mix very well.

Heffalump sleeping on my fabric while Woozles approaches.

Woozles in my rolled up fabric pieces. She likes the sound of pattern paper crinkling.