A follow-up: New House, New Studio

I recently posted about how I’ve been feeling unusually optimistic about this particular New Year, not least because I’d just moved into a new house in a beautiful part of Co Sligo. Now that most of the unboxing and settling in has been accomplished, I thought I’d share a few images from my new studio.

It’s set up in “sewing mode” today, so the ironing board is up and the BurdaStyle handbook I got for Christmas is out. Current project: the skirt included in the book. (I’ve had some nice red light-medium weight cotton for ages now & it’s great to finally have the right project for it.) I’ve only just traced out the pattern & I’ve still to mark out the seam allowance (yawn!) & lengthen the pieces. I thought it’d be a nice quick project to snap out of the “sewing block” I’ve had for a while but hey, I may as well do it properly, right?

One important feature of any studio should be the pictures-of-your-heroes section. No? Just me? Right. Either way, my besties Polly Jean & Joanna are up in front of my desk to keep me company.

The best feature of this particular studio, though, is the best thing about this new place in general. The view. It’s incredible. We’re right at the bottom of a beautiful valley, beside a lake and surrounded by mountains. (Well, Irish-grade mountains, referred to internationally as “big hills”.) Anyways, it’s gorgeous. The weather is pretty changeable here, which makes for an ever-changing view. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to live somewhere this beautiful again!

This picture absolutely does not do it justice, but I’m sure it’ll give you the right idea. This is literally the view out of the window:

What’s your setup like? Do you have a studio, or just a corner of the kitchen table? What’s important to you in a workspace?


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!

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


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