Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home Ec - Supplies Roll-Up

Yay - Another Home Ec project! 

I was very excited for Project #5, the Supplies Roll-Up, because I'm constantly throwing a fistful of drawing pens in my purse or bag when I go out, then end up eventually losing all of them. Now, with my nifty new supplies roll-up, I can just fill it up with all my drawing instruments and be good to go!

I was also looking forward to using this super-cool oil cloth that I had bought at the Home Ec Workshop in Iowa. From what I've found, oil cloth isn't the easiest to come by, so when I found some as cute as this, I had to snatch it up before I wouldn't see it again. The inside fabric is some recycled cotton from a friend, and I thought it complemented the polka dots quite well. 

The project was pretty straightforward, but the most challenging part was the nature of the oil cloth itself. Since the good side is so sticky, it was next to impossible to move through the sewing machine as I sewed it. I finally ended up laying it face-down on a piece of tissue paper and sewed it together. The tissue didn't cause any friction, and I was able to tear it all off fairly easily when I was all done. Here are a few photos of that process:

What's interesting about my problem is when I emailed one of the instructors about the issue, she had never heard of such a thing. Weird! Maybe I just have extra-sticky oilcloth, but I don't know how people DIDN'T experience it. There was no way I was going to be able to sew the oil cloth without the tissue. So if there are any Home-Ec'ers out there having the same problem, this worked great!

I'm trying to finish up a logo project for another client, so I should probably get back to my "real" work. Take care!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ride the Drive

Today the City of Madison celebrated it's active lifestyle by giving up the cars and opening it's streets up to the bikes. Continuing the commitment to becoming a more bike-friendly city, Ride the Drive is all about allowing the community to experience the city from a different perspective. Whether by bike, roller blades, stroller or foot, thousands of people came out to enjoy 6 miles of Madison streets which were closed to automobile traffic.

Our family got the pleasure of holding down the fort at the Saris Cycling Group tent in the Family Zone. Stephen, an employee of Saris, welcomed kids (and adults) into the booth for face painting and a coloring contest. I was given the task of designing the coloring contest, featuring Lance Armstrong, 7-time Tour de France winner, who made an appearance at the event. We were hoping that Lance would stop by the booth to pick the winner of the coloring contest (which unfortunately didn't happen).  Here's how the coloring sheet ended up looking:

Coloring contests are tough to design! Especially when I want to add lots of detail, I have to keep reminding myself to simplify - this is only a coloring sheet, after all.

I also got the opportunity to do the face painting. I love face painting! It's always fun hearing the ideas the kids have. There was only one request I couldn't handle: Spiderman. I know Spiderman wears a red and blue skin-tight suit and has big oval-esque eyes, but I really couldn't guarantee it would have a resemblance without having a picture to reference. Apparently peace signs are popular with the kids these days, and beagles. Or maybe it's because one little girl wanted a beagle, and then all the other kids who were waiting wanted one, too. Not sure, but I got to be quite the expert at drawing beagles by the end of the day. I also got to draw butterflies, lions, an alligator, hearts, an angel, ladybugs, a T-Rex and of course, bikes.

I even had a man request a handlebar mustache! That was fun...though I definitely prefer drawing on the smooth skin of a child than the bristly whiskers of an old man.  :)

Here is a recap of the day in photos:

1. Kiddos coloring
2. Lots of people out riding their bikes
3. Stella, earlier in the day
4. More coloring
5. The poor lion braved the 90 degree temps ALL DAY!
6. Picking out a CycleOps sticker
7. Hard at work
8. Stephen hanging up the masterpieces
9. Taking a break
10. That's me! Probably determining which color to use.
11. Did we break the record of 30,000 people?
12. There's the beagle that started the trend
13. There's Lance riding by!
14. Stella, later in the day - face paint and marker smeared EVERYWHERE!
15. Focusing...and another beagle.
16. Lion face

The day was so fun! The booth was hopping all day. Awesome, but unfortunately it meant our fam couldn't escape long enough to go for a ride. But I have to say, Stella was a trooper - she stuck it out for 5 whole hours, even missing her nap. But I think she had a blast. And after all that, I think she has a future as a face painter!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Favorites: Faded Summer

Now that I'm officially an Etsy seller, I've been spending a lot more time in the shops. I am constantly in awe of all the fantastic talent out there. I recently discovered Treasuries, shopping galleries curated by the Etsy members. I thought this would be a good exercise for me to learn more about Etsy, and give me more reasons to explore the site. So every Friday I'm going to try to curate a list composed of whatever is inspiring me at the moment.

Since I have been enjoying the subtle changes of the summer changing to autumn, I have named my latest Treasury "Faded Summer". Here are some of my favorites from the list:

Stained Mustard Geometric Bangle by vozclothingandart
Latte Corduroy Briefcase by jennyndesign
Honey and Pink Textile Necklace by fleurfatale
Mini Bow Shoe Clips by no144
Vintage 50s Fields of Green Dress by LolaVintage

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pattern for Spoonflower

Yesterday, as I was driving along the 4-lane highway back to our house, I was amazed by the number of butterflies flying across the road. I felt really bad driving 70 mph through the cloud, smooshing the poor creatures left and right. They just seemed so happy, frolicking back and forth between the flowers, when all of a sudden, BOOM! Good-bye little butterfly.

Well, that really bothered me. So when I got home I felt inspired to draw them, to at least preserve their memory, as the highway was slowly becoming a butterfly graveyard. As I'm doodling the Sulfurs (that's what the little yellow ones are called), my mind is wandering to the idea of designing my own fabric. (Something I think about quite often). Just then, a Tweet pops up on my computer screen announcing free fabric swatches on Spoonflower for 24 hours between today and tomorrow. I couldn't believe it. I was literally just thinking about that!

I've never used Spoonflower before, but I've often considered it. So I figured, this was fate. I ended up making my butterfly doodles into a full-blown repeating pattern, which I uploaded to Spoonflower today. Now I'm super excited about the possibilities. I love the idea of making Fuzzies...or now tote bags...or other sewn products...out of fabric that I actually designed!

Here are 4 colorways of the pattern. I ended up sending the upper left one off to Spoonflower to get produced. Repeated, it would end up looking like this:

Couldn't you just see a pillow made out of this? Or a comfy armchair? Can you tell I'm a wee bit excited?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Home Ec - Bunting


Today I have Home Ec Project #4 : Bunting to show y'all. I thought this would be the perfect decoration for Stella's room. It's funny, her walls are pretty bare for having an artist for a mommy. I have a painting about 25% complete down in my studio, and lots of prints that need to be framed, but unfortunately other projects always trump Stella's decor.

If I wouldn't be so darned insistent on making everything myself, there would probably be more decorations in her room. But every time I see something that has good Stella potential, I think to myself, "Why would I buy that when I can just make it myself?". And then I never end up making anything. Does anyone else have that problem? Geesh.

So when I saw this bunting project for class, I figured this would be a great opportunity to actually MAKE something for Stella's room. And since it was an "assignment", I had to do it, right?

Of course, I made it in my favorite color combo (red and turquoise), but it actually matches her room really well. Her walls are a lime green, but all the accents are turquoise or red. And I went with a classic polka dot fabric to match her red polka dot pillow and comforter. Even though the red circles aren't perfect circles, I think they give it some character.

And Stella likes it, too! Her exact word: "Ooo!" with her mouth in a cute little "O" shape.

Today I'm feeling next to perfect. Therefore, I'm actually having a productive day! It feels so good to get some work done. And guess what? I have lots more to do, so I'm gonna fly.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home Ec - Tote Bag!

Finally I've gotten to the Home Ec project I was really looking forward to: the Tote Bag! I know, it's really not that exciting, but if you know me at all, you know I really like bags. And I am a sucker for a cute tote bag. 

The fabric for this project is pretty wild. When I saw it at the thrift store I knew immediately it would be perfect for the tote - it's a heavy canvas - great for carrying big loads. Once I started working with the fabric, I realized there is a LOT of it, so I'll probably be making several totes in this pattern. Oh well, it's fun. And it wouldn't it look awesome with this little jacket?


I've been feeling a bit under the weather the last few days. My mysterious allergies that I've had the last month have turned into a full-blown head cold. Though I've been slogging along through my work, it hasn't been pretty. And I haven't been going too crazy with my extracurricular projects; trying to take it easy. I hate taking it easy - there's way too much to get done!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spectacled Kiddo

Stella got some fancy new glasses last week. We were a bit skeptical that a 2-year old would keep them on, but so far it hasn't been too bad. The tough part is preventing it from becoming a fight. Little Miss Independent likes getting her way (and no, I'm not talking about myself...) so avoiding the power struggles is top priority.

Spectacled Stella has also been a big fan of balloons (or "babboon" as she likes to say) lately. We've had a few floating around in honor of Stephen's birthday and she can't seem to get enough of them. Just wait until all of her roughhousing causes one to pop - she won't be too happy.

I finished the tote bag for Home Ec this morning. Photos will be posted soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home Ec - 3rd Project

Home Ec Project #2 - Drawstring Gift Bag is now in the books. To be honest, I wasn't overly excited for this one...though the projects immediately following it were piquing my interest, so I figured in order to get to those, I had to plow through this one.

The main panel of the bag utilized some vintage fabric. I have no idea what it is, but it is super soft and smooth - and it resists ironing! No matter how much I ironed, it still maintained those stupid pleats down the middle. Grrr! Regardless of the wrinkles, though, I thought the floral pattern was quite striking.

The project was moving along smoothly until it came time to hand-stitch the "strong slit", in which the ribbon would flow through. The hand-stitching didn't worry me, because I do plenty of that on my Fuzzies, but somehow I really confused myself. I had no idea what to do with the ribbons to avoid stitching them, so I pushed them off to the sides, but then when it came time to feed them through the hole, there was a lot of tension. I didn't sew them, but I think I sewed them into the space between the channel and the strong slit and kinda pinned them there. The bag DOES close, but it's not happy when I do so. Oh well.

Today is Stephen's birthday, so we're going to go CELEBRATE! Woot!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Home Ec - 2nd Project

Well, I finally finished Home Ec project #1 : Single-sided Napkins and Double-Sided Napkins. For being an environmentally-aware family, I am embarrassed to admit we still use paper napkins at meals. So seeing that project number 1 was cloth napkins, I was stoked - this could be the motivation I need to "green" up our lifestyle even more. 

I got a whole bunch of fabric from local thrift stores that I figured would be great for these Home Ec projects, but unfortunately, none of them would work well with our red kitchen. So even though these napkins are cute in their own way, they really don't match our decor. Such is life, right? Anyways, the yellow napkins are from vintage pillowcases and the purple ones are just thrifted fabric.

There were two types of napkins - single-sided, with just a simple stitched edge, and the double-sided with the added ric rac. Since I'm behind in my projects already, I had gotten wind through the rest of my classmates that the ric rac proved to be quite challenging. Boy, were they right. It involved some tedious sewing! But in the end, I think they are pretty cool.

The double-sided napkins are a bit thick, so I think I'll end up using the technique to make place mats or table runners. When I make more napkins for our "green" lifestyle, I'll make the single-sided ones, because I think they're better suited for our needs.

One thing I've discovered about sewing since this class has begun is that there is A LOT of ironing involved! For someone who doesn't iron much (who me?!?), this is a big adjustment. My iron is probably wondering what's going on, considering it hasn't gotten much use since it was lifted out of the box on our wedding day. Not sure I like all the ironing, but if it's a necessary part of the process, I'll have to learn to love it!

Hope y'all are having a splendid weekend. My In-laws are in town, so I don't think I'll get much creative time. That's okay, though - I haven't been getting a lot of sleep lately because I've been working hard, so this will be a well-deserved break.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home Ec - First Project

Class is now in session!

As you probably know, (since I've been mentioning it non-stop for the last few weeks) I am enrolled in an online Home Ec course taught by Courtney, Leigh Ann and Rachel. On Tuesday, class officially started with projects being posted daily. The first project (actually a bonus project!) was a pincushion. 

It utilized a simple quilting technique that made good use of scrap fabric. I actually had some scraps in some awesome prints that I've been saving for the perfect project, and they were too small to use for Fuzzies. This pincushion project gave me the perfect opportunity to use them up!

The actual dimensions were supposed to be 6" x 6", but since one of my scraps was still too small, I decided to alter it a bit to suite my needs, hence the rectangular shape. But I still think it turned out pretty good!

Considering it's Thursday, obviously I'm already behind on the daily projects. But that's okay, since we have a full year to finish them. Though I'm so excited, I'd like to churn them out fairly quickly.

Oh, and I should note: The above photos were altered using a great Photoshop action from Rita over at her CoffeeShop blog. She has so many great actions/tutorials on her site, most of which create a vintage-looking effect on photos. I've been playing around with some of them, and they really create some interesting looks. Check it out!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cool Lion

Today I've decided to share a new illustration - Cool Lion. I'm not sure what the plan is for him, but I liked how he turned out. Though, I don't think Stephen gets my last two drawings [Lion and Zubaz Bear]. The whole pants-on-animals thing are weirding him out. Oh well.

So...Guess what I bought yesterday? A new sewing machine! I've been contemplating a new one ever since I started sewing the Fuzzies last year. My original machine was bought at the last minute, shortly before our wedding, when I decided (much to Stephen's chagrin) that I wanted custom table runners on all the banquet tables at our dinner. I had never sewn before, so I figured I didn't need anything fancy. I ended up buying a super-cheap Shark model at Target thinking I wouldn't be using it much beyond the wedding. Which was true...until Fuzzies came along.

I honestly can't complain. Even though I spent hardly any money on it, it held up surprisingly well the last couple years. I only yelled at it every other day or so. But when the opportunity came along to take this Home Ec class, I figured maybe this would be a good time to upgrade. So yesterday, when buying last-minute supplies at JoAnn Fabrics, I went for it and bought a new Singer:
Talk about waiting until the last minute, though! This afternoon I started playing around with it, and I have to say - it's pretty sweet! I can't believe how quiet it is. And it has an automatic needle threader! Ooo. Anyways, tonight I'm going to attempt the bonus project - a pin cushion. I will be sure to post pics of this exciting journey.


I feel like Suzy Homemaker!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Zubaz are Back!

Say hello to my latest friend:

I call him Zubaz Bear (for obvious reasons). And he's the star of my new, soon-to-be screen printed promotional postcards. 

I was trying to come up with a fresh way to personalize packages that I send out, instead of the old standby, the business card. Don't get me wrong - I really like my business cards, but I'm going to run out of my current inventory soon. And I figured, since I technically have my own printing shop in my basement now, why not print up a bunch of new cards to promote Bluestar Ink? Plus, I don't know about you - but I'm much more likely to hold on to a screen printed piece of art than an ordinary business card. Though, as my husband will tell you, I keep EVERYTHING, so I DO actually hold on to every business card I'm given.  :-)

So Z.B. is the new face of Bluestar Ink...for now.

Onto other business : This week has been CRAZY! I've been working on all sorts of design projects, and even got an additional work day yesterday. Little Stella had her first sleepover at the sitter's last night - she arrived at the sitter's yesterday morning and we didn't pick her up until late this afternoon. So I had Wednesday-Thursday-Friday to work, and boy, did I need it! 

And my goal for this weekend: 3 Fuzzies! I don't think I've ever pulled off 3 in 2 days, so we'll see. Stephen is going to be consumed with work for the next 5 days, so I figure I can capitalize on his absence at night and get some serious sewing done. Though I am looking forward to girl's weekend with Stella. Maybe some shopping? A little dip in the pool? Hmmm.

Well, I seem to be rambling, so I'm going to say good-bye. 
Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bluestar Ink Etsy Shop

It's official - the Bluestar Ink Etsy shop is up and running.

Even though I joined the Etsy ranks almost a year ago, it has taken me this long to figure out a plan. Now that I have one in place, I'm curious to see where it takes me.

For now, I'm focusing on Fuzzies and screen prints. If my sewing career takes off, who knows...maybe you'll find other handmade goodies. Below you will see a snapshot of all the creatures inhabiting my new shop. Don't they just look like a friendly bunch?

On another note, I'm so pumped for the Home Ec class which starts next week. There is a student lounge set up on Flickr where we can post questions, photos and just get to know each other better. I love that all of my classmates have different backgrounds, come from different countries, and have different reasons for taking the class. But yet we're all coming together with one goal in mind : to learn how to sew [better]. It's awesome!

Ugh. I need a new desk chair. I have the worst posture.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Iowa City Vacation


We finally made it back from our long weekend in Iowa City. Though it's nice to be back in our own beds, I have to say, I didn't want the weekend to end. For whatever reason, family time away from home is so much more special. I think it's because we don't have all the distractions of work, cleaning and honey-do lists - we actually get to spend quality time enjoying each other.

The University of Iowa is Stephen's alma mater, so we hit up a lot of his old haunts from back in the day. We had wonderful meals, met up with some old friends and went shopping. We stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast called the Mission House and had some amazing meals and conversations with the innkeepers. Stella brought her bike and biked her little legs to and from the downtown. I had a run-in with a hermit crab (actually a cicada...not one of my most brilliant moments), we got stuck in several downpours and did I mention shopping?  Ah, it was fabulous.

 The Mission House Bed & Breakfast

I think I may have found my new favorite store. We were walking down the street when I noticed a cute little sign reading "Home Ec Workshop". Well, of course I have Home Ec on the brain with our online class coming up next week, so I noticed it right away. I just had no idea what amazing things I would find inside. My eyes must have bugged out of my head the moment we stepped in, because I was surrounded by the most glorious fabrics, notions and yarn - all in one place! I didn't even know where to start. Since the fam was with me, I knew I couldn't spend much time there, so I made myself leave. But from that moment on, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

 Home Ec Workshop

Well, I ended going back not once, but twice. In fact, the first time I went (sans the family), I actually ran, I was so excited. Me. Run. Ha! Yes, I ran my little TOMS shoes all the way back to the Home Ec Workshop. And I hung out. And looked at fabric. And gazed at the yarn. I knew I wanted some of the beautiful yarn, but I didn't have any projects in mind. So Codi, one of the awesome owners, helped me find a project, and I left with enough yarn to make hats and mittens for Stephen, Stella and I.

Codi was so cool, and we ended up hitting it off right away. Turns out she follows a lot of the blogs that I do, and was even familiar with the Home Ec online class that I'm taking! Finally I was able to gush about all the stuff I love with a real live person! 

Well, the next day, Stephen wanted coffee, so he suggested we go back to the Home Ec workshop. (Did I mention they have coffee and baked goods, too?) I warned him that if he allowed me to go in there again, I wouldn't be able to help myself from spending more money. He was apparently okay with that because we ended up there again, and I stayed true to my promise. This time I focused more on the notions, thinking I'd probably be needing some things for the online class. I ended up with some adorable polka-dotted oil cloth and some cotton webbing and bias tape. I can never find patterned stuff like this, so I felt I'd better stock up when I had the chance.



So now that I'm home, I'm trying to figure out if making a 2.5 hour trip to Iowa City specifically for this store is absolutely crazy. I think it probably is, but I loved it so much. In addition to the wonderful products, the store had a ton of personality, Codi was so great and even the customers were a happy, friendly bunch! All-in-all, it was a fabulous experience. 

How was your weekend?
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