Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A fabric-backed treasure wall

For many months I've carried a notion around in the back of my head: Of turning the master bedroom of our home into a large studio / family art room, and our small third bedroom (my current work room) into our main bedroom instead. But I have begun to realise that this daydream of mine actually makes a lot of sense. The biggest room in the house is one we use the least, I really need more room to work, and the thought of having a place we can all make stuff together family-style is really appealing to me. (My partner and love Charles is also an artist: he can draw like crazy!)

So it has begun: the big room switcheroo, which consists mostly of me trying to move a lot of crap around, Adelaide moaning away, and Elliot all upset and attacking himself because he thinks we're moving again. It's painfully slow-going. All of our stuff is all over everywhere, and I'm not exactly sure what the plan is yet. One thing I do know is that I want to have myself and Adelaide's bedroom set up as soon as possible. (Adelaide and I share a bed and room and Charles has his own, for he is not a pleasant bed-sharer, and must wake up much earlier than us). So I've been focusing on trying to have our new little bedroom cozy first of all.

Today I worked a little on arranging some more of our new bedroom. I've always loved The Purl Bee's Swatch Portraits, so when I came across some old square white cubbi shelves of mine I realised that they would be perfect for making some fabric swatch shelves!

special spots by you.

To make them, I first went through my fabric stash and picked out six favourites. I then traced the inner edge of the shelves onto some corrogated cardboard which I salvedged from a packing box, and cut them out. Next I ironed my fabric, and placed it below my corrogated square cut-out. Next, I trimmed all around it, leaving about a 1" border. I then folded over the extra fabric onto the back of the cardboard and taped it snugly using some regular sticky tape. Simple!

my lovely assistants by you.

To hang the cubbies, I traced them onto some scrap paper, marked where the hanging holes are, and used these silhouettes to figure out how to arrange and hang them on our wall. Adelaide loved helping me with this, and once the cubbies were hung, we popped in the fabric inserts and added some of our favourite treasures.

I only wish I had more of these shelves, I think it would be great to have a entire wall done up like this with their sweet fabric swatch-backs. They've got me thinking of saving up some of my spare change and adding more to our treasure wall one day!

new bedroom by you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

homemade goodie bags (+winners!)

Last week, I took my time and made up goodie bags. Because I wanted to give our little birthday party guests something useful and worth keeping (hopefully!), I looked around at a couple of shops such as Daiso to find some sort of little bags to use. But I also didn't want to spend a lot of money... $2 seems pretty inexpensive, until you start multiplying it by a dozen or more kids! I then realised that I could make up some simple little bags myself using supplies that I already had, and not have to spend a lot of money doing so.

After I decided to try and make my own drawstring gift bags, I wanted to find a nice way to personalise them. I have found that little ones (and anyone, really) really appreciate having things created especially just for them. And so I came up with the idea to make each child a bag with the first letter of their name on it.

pile of goodies by you.

I made the bags out of cotton muslin as it is inexpensive, simple, I already had a lot of it, and I just like it! The only supplies I had to purchase was some 3/16" cotton cording at .17 cents a metre, and a bit of Steam-A-Seam 2 double stick fusible web for the letter appliques.

It took me a few tries to make a sample that I was happy with, but once it was settled I was quite surprised on how quick and easy these little bags were to make. I began on Monday evening, and without any stress at all made a few bags here or there throughout the week, finishing up 13 bags up by Saturday morning.

I have made up a pattern and instructions if you'd like to make some of these gift bags, too! This is the first pattern that I have ever made, so please let me know how it goes and if you have any thoughts on how I could make it better:


When I had them all made, it was time to fill them up! I added two of the little note-books that I had made previously, a small pack of special japanese crayons, and a small treat: two individualized glassine pockets, one filled with organic cheese puffs, and the other with organic chocolate chip cookies. Perfect to munch on while making some drawings. Yum!

contents by you.

By time her party came yesterday, Adelaide was so excited with anticipation that I had to hide all the goodie bags from her - otherwise she would have simply handed them to anyone as they walked in the door! 

I think it is so important to encourage and show little children the joy to be found in sharing and giving. So when the time came I gave Addie the bags, one at a time, so she could find her friend and give them their gift herself. She loved doing this so very much - I could just tell how incredibly happy and proud she was to be able to personally give her friends a birthday treat, too!

addie's goodie bags by you.

ps. Thank-you all so much for your many comments and sweet words. I have now gone through all the comments for my children's book giveaway, and I have tried my best to pick winners by matching their animal preferences with what books I had left. And the winners are:




Andrea Soos



Julie E


The Flower Maiden

If you are a winner and you haven't heard from me yet, please send me your mailing information and I will mail out your prize!

Friday, February 13, 2009

making valentines

Because Addie isn't in school it hadn't occurred to me earlier to make valentines with her, but suddenly I realised: why not - we still have many people whom we love! And I decided to use my awake-in-the-night-time to plan and design out a collaboration project for us to make together the next day.

Knowing that Addie's skills pretty much only comprise of scribbles, I decided to try and expand upon her talents for our valentines.

To make them, I first went through my envelopes and found some glassine candy bags. In Illustrator I then designed up little 3.5 x 4.5" cards to fit the bags. I used the typeface Mrs. Eaves and a placed a heart-shape outline in the center of each card. I then repeated the card four to a page, and changed each of the names before printing to personalize them. I printed them out on my desktop printer onto watercolour paper, and then they were ready for morning and for Adelaide's contribution!

making valentines by you.

The next morning after Addie was fed, bathed, and happy, she was ready for our project. I gave her a big pink sheet of construction paper, red, pink, peach, and purple coloured cray-pas crayons, and let her go at it. She made up a big page of scribbles, I set it all aside and moved on to other things until her afternoon nap-time.

When nap-time came and she was cozy and sleeping, I got to work. Using a sharp new xacto knife and a cutting mat, I carefully trimmed out each of the middle heart shapes from each sheet of four cards, leaving a heart-shaped hole in the centre of each. I then cut a lot of 3.25" 2.25" pieces from Adelaide's scribble drawing, layered them with a piece of glassine paper, and taped them together to fit in behind the heart-shaped holes. Once all of the holes were filled, I glued the back with a glue stick (I prefer Ross Sticks) and pressed it to a pink sheet of card stock paper. I then used a brayer (printmaking roller) to roll it out, and placed it beneath my big cutting mat to press.

Once I had finished 5 sheets to make 20 cards, I trimmed them down to size using a sharp new knife. I then rounded the corners using my corner rounder, and took some photos.

By this time, Addie woke up from her nap. After a bit of cuddling, she joined to put the little valentines in their glassine pockets, along with some dark chocolate sundrops that - thank goodness - I happened to have in the house. 

And they are ready to be delivered to all of our sweet valentines!

addie's first valentines by you.


i am two! by you.

happy birthday, my sweet sweet girl.

two years old. today! by you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

homemade children's books

monkey and dolphin books in + out by you.

Lately I've been wondering what to give to Adelaide's little friends at her birthday party this coming Sunday. I really am not fond of purchasing items that are eventually going to end up in a dumpster somewhere, and so I wanted to try to give the children something that hopefully they will be able to use and enjoy beyond a sunday afternoon birthday party. And I also wanted to try and make the goodies myself using inexpensive materials that I had on hand.

Because I've had several parents ask me about Adelaide's favourite crayons - a kind of children's wax and oil based crayon from Japan - I got the idea to give out small packs of these crayons in the birthday goodie bags. And then I realised that I could make small children's scribbler books to go along with them!

To make the scribble books, I first scanned in some animals from the pages of one of Adelaide's colouring books that I picked up at Daiso for $2 but it is completely unmarked besides pictures and a bit of Japanese text. I wish that I made the illustrations myself - they are so very sweet! However, I did not due to lack of time and because these little books are for gifts and won't be sold.

note-books for first scribbles by you.

After scanning in several animals - Monkeys, Dolphins, Squirrels, Lions, Otters, and Penguins - I made a layout simply in photoshop using the typefaces Giddyup and Neutraface. And I added alphabets in both capital and lower-case letters on the back cover, too. Once Designed, I printed out on my desktop printer many covers onto random coloured card stock pages.

For the insides, I chose simple multi-coloured paper, along with some kraft, manila, and interlined paper as well. I randomly sorted them in stacks of 8 sheets, and along with a cover folded them in half to make 16 page books. Then, using a long-armed stapler (which I simply asked to borrow from my mom's work for a few days) I stapled the center fold line of each book twice.

I then added a length of librarian's book tape to the spine. With an xacto knife, I measured out 3/4" from the spine edge of the cover and marked two small marks with the blade. Then matching up the edge of the tape to the marks I laid the tape down, and then flipped and pressed it to the backside of the book. Last, using my Fiskars rotary paper cutter, I trimmed down the books to their final size - about 5x7"- and rounded the corners with my corner rounder. All Done!

These books are so incredibly simple and quick to make that I hope maybe you will make some for your little ones, too. They'd be great to kept in a small bag along with some crayons, ready for when you go out to a restaurant or coffee shop. Hopefully they can keep little ones occupied for even a short while!

But, I made too many! I have about a dozen or so leftover books that I'd like to give away. If you have or know a little one who would like to have a couple of them, please leave a comment and I will randomly select six or so children to send them to. Which animals would they choose? Which would you?

an otter book by you.

ps. Thank-you all so much for your many comments and sweet words. I have now gone through all the comments for my children's book giveaway, and I have tried my best to pick winners by matching their animal preferences with what books I had left. And the winners are:




Andrea Soos




The Flower Maiden

Julie E

If you are a winner and you haven't heard from me yet, please send me your mailing information so I can send your new book(s) to you!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

homemade birthday invitations

Yesterday afternoon I made time to make up some invitations for Adelaide's second birthday party which we will be hosting next Sunday. (Her actual birthday is February 13th). To me, Addie's birthday is the most joyous and special of all days of the year. It means so much, not only as the day my daughter - who truly feel is my soul mate - came to be with me, but also as a huge milestone in my own life: giving birth!

For the longest while I really wanted to have a little bird themed party as Adelaide is really interested in birds. But my brain kept coming up with more and more bird party ideas and I found myself becoming overwhelmed with them. I finally realised that I needed to simplify my brain (and output) and so I decided to shelve all those bird party ideas for another year.

To make these invitations, I first went out to find the envelopes for them. These red and white polka-dot ones I picked up at Daiso for $2 per 15 count. I have found that one of the most important steps to take when designing an invitation is to first find the envelopes for them. What is available - colour, size, material - will dictate what your invitation will be. It is not fun to design up a beautiful invitation only to find you can't get an appropriate envelope to send it out in! Often when I am out and about I will keep an eye out for nice and inexpensive envelopes to pick up and keep around for future events, thank-you's, greetings, and the like.

Yesterday afternoon I went through my bin of fabric scraps and selected out many appealing bits (Adelaide helped with this). Using my sharpest scissors, I cut out balloon shapes from the fabric scraps, and then scanned them into photoshop. There we picked out the balloons that turned out the nicest and I began to make an arrangement. When they were all set up I added their 1 pt. strings and ties with the paintbrush tool.

Once my composition was ready, I saved my photoshop file into a .tif and placed it in Illustrator. I do this because I despise working with typography in Photoshop, Illustrator is much better for this kind of work. There I then added the copy, going back to slightly tweak the background image in Photoshop a couple of times until it worked out best for the space. The typefaces are two of my very favourites - Mrs Eaves and Neutraface.

for Adelaide's birthday by you.

I then printed them out onto watercolour paper using my (Canon Pixma iP4200) desktop printer, trimmed them down using a sharp new xacto blade and metal ruler on a cutting mat, and rounded the corners using my corner rounder.

They were designed, printed and ready to go in only a few hours, and all that's left to do now is to deliver them!