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.

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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.

A Pair: Work-In-Progress

I did something extremely stupid when I was working on these journals a few days ago.

I’d sewn both text blocks, made the covers and pressed them all under weight, and all I had left to do was attach the covers to the block with coptic binding. I started on the green journal with a two-needle technique, & no matter how hard I tried, I just could not keep the covers tight! Argh! So I decided to literally cut my losses and pulled out my craft knife to cut out the coptic stitching. And my hand slipped. And I cut the link stitching on the text block. ARGH! (It’s a good thing the studio is a detached building because I cursed at the top of my lungs for a solid minute.) What an IDIOT!

So… I finished the grey journal yesterday, and I got the text block resewn on the other one this evening. (I used a link sewing technique I learned from Molly Brooks’s exposed tape binding tutorial. I have ambitions to make an exposed tape bound book soon, but here I just wanted something a bit decorative to show off the new thread I bought this week.) The finished journal is covered in ordinary bookcloth, but the second, unfinished one is covered in real Irish linen, left over from a dress I made last year. It’s turned out pretty well! Here are a couple more photos:  Continue reading

Getting Up to Speed

Ah… it’s nice to have a new place to share my projects. Here’s what I’m working on at the moment:

Sewing:

I’m muddling through a dress at the moment. I’ve made a lot of changes to the pattern, mixing View D of Vogue 8766 with a Burda dress from the 12/2012 magazine. This is (gasp!) the first time I’ve made a muslin for any dress I’ve attempted. This  is mainly due to the pattern changes I’m making, but also because the fabric is Magee Tweed and therefore very expensive. (I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it – €40 pm?! – but it is really nice.)

The skirt part of the dress needs a lot of alteration, and I’m sort of stuck at that point at the moment. There’s really nothing exciting about altering a muslin.

Continue reading

Time to Introduce Myself! (First Post Nerves)

Well… hello!

To quote my brand-new About page: My name is Yvonne and I love to work with my hands, mainly in book arts, sewing and crochet. This blog is a place for me to share projects I’m working on, post tutorials and hopefully get to know some fellow binders & crafters worldwide!

This is my first WordPress blog, and in a way, my first real blog. At least, it feels that way. I’ve had a couple of Tumblr blogs – for my photography, and then to keep myself occupied when I moved home last year – and they’ve both largely run their course. I think this one will be a bit more permanent. I’ll be moving to a beautiful part of Co. Sligo in a fortnight, and that’s when I’ll be getting the wheels in motion on my new business, a bindery called Needle & Flax. (I’m excited about it, & pretty anxious to get started!)

This blog will be a parallel venture where I can share more than just business. My mother taught me how to sew when I moved home last year, and we also took a crochet class together before Christmas. I learned to make books in a summer course at the NCAD in Dublin, and it’s something I love to do now. So those are a few things you can expect to see here on the Needle & Flax blog. I hope there are other crafters out there who will enjoy reading about my projects, and help me get better at the crafts I enjoy!

I suppose I might as well get on with it & write an actual post.

Is there anybody out there? … Hello?