Pros & Cons of a Handmade Christmas (& a little thrifting…)

Last year my two sisters & I agreed that, seeing as we were all fairly broke, we would do our best to stick to handmade gifts for Christmas. It worked really well – I’m still wearing the knitted scarf that S gave me, M got a great knitting needle case from S and some sketchbooks from me for college, and S leads me to believe she wears the crochet collar I made her 😉 – and so we’ve decided to do the same this year. Unfortunately they both read this blog, so I can’t let anything slip about what I have planned, but suffice to say that a couple more weeks to work on everything would be welcome..! :-/

I can tell you that I’ve crocheted this cowl for my best friend (who thankfully doesn’t know this blog exists yet):

It’s made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino wool in aran weight, which is such a gorgeous yarn – really warm & soft, with no itchiness at all. Plus the colour is fantastic. She’ll be getting a journal or two as well. (It helps that she’s a great writer, so I can actually justify using my bookbinding skills to give her things to write in..!) Continue reading

Crunching Numbers: 5 Pamphlet-Bound Notebooks

The hardest part of setting up a craft business isn’t actually making the stuff, it’s making it economically enough that you can actually sell it to people! The main cost in most crafty enterprises is usually the labour: the time it takes you to produce the things you plan to sell. I’m in the process of working out pricing structures at the moment. I made these notebooks today with a stopwatch (well, OK – a phone) on hand to see how long it would take to make 5.  Continue reading

Faux Leather Journal

You know when your day was turning out great, & then suddenly a couple of little things crop up & it goes all rubbish on you? Yeah. It’s been one of those. BUT at least I’ve just finished the faux leather journal I’ve been working on, so I’ve something to show for it!

I picked up the faux leather in the remnants basket of Hickey’s last year, & it’s good to finally use some of it. The tie is just a few colours of embroidery thread plaited together. What do you think?

Longstitched Card-Covered Notebooks

Today’s handiwork: two simple longstitched notebooks, with sheets of card for covers. A5.

The tutorial by Anya at sas-does.blogspot.ie was really helpful. You can find it here.

Now that I have the hang of the technique I think I’ll try tackling a faux leather one tomorrow.

That is, if the second-last run in my 5k training program doesn’t kill me first!

Eureka! (Well… maybe.)

Finding the right pattern can be hard sometimes.

When my mother & I heard there was going to be a sale in Róisín Cross Silks, we knew there was no point denying it: we had to pay them a visit. We first discovered the place when my sister got engaged last year. Once it was decided we’d be making the wedding & bridesmaid dresses ourselves, silk was really the only way to go. Or so we convinced ourselves. (Honestly, how many times are you able to justify buying top-quality material like that? Who among you could resist it?! 😉 ) Judith, the owner, was incredibly helpful and didn’t seem at all perturbed by our 2+ hour rooting sessions in the shop. (We got what we wanted in the end & the dresses turned out beautifully.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, when my mother and I returned to the shop for the sale and I found nothing I could really think of a use for on the shelves, I hit the remnants basket. And hit the jackpot. I found 7m (!) of printed silk for €40 (!!!), neatly folded and secured with tape. This is stuff that is usually closer to that price tag per metreNaturally, I snapped it up. Let’s face it: it would have been morally wrong, as a home sewist, to do otherwise. Here is what it looks like:

Printed silk

It’s not quite as dark as this, & the grey has a sort of purplish hue. Isn’t it amazing? It drapes beautifully and feels like only 100% silk can: amazing. There are some minor printing flaws in a couple of places which presumably explains the reduction, but nothing a bit of careful pattern placement can’t overcome.

Of course, now I had to figure out what to do with it. Continue reading

Tutorial: No-Pressure Newsprint Notebooks

A new notebook or sketchbook can be a bit intimidating. Especially if it’s a really nice one. All those blank pages! What if you mess it up with a crappy drawing, or you have to cross out & rewrite something?! And so you (or I, at least) never really get around to using it all that much.

These notebooks are not like that.They’re cheap & quick to make, & so you won’t really mind if your drawings turn out rubbish & your writing is messy. There’s no pressure to be perfect when you open up one of these.

It’ll take you less half an hour to make a pair, once you get the hang of it.

Continue reading

Finished!

I’ve just finished binding the second journal to its cover boards, so the pair is finished. Don’t they look great together?

I’ve definitely got to up my game, though – it took me far longer to make them than it should have. There’s definitely room for improvement in the execution, too. I’m hoping to buy a vertical plough for the studio so I can even off the page edges properly – a craft knife just doesn’t cut it.

If you’ll excuse the pun.

Now: what should I try next? Maybe a longstitched journal? Hmm. First, I’ll put together that tutorial: how to make a quick, cheap handsewn newsprint notebook.