Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Purse for my mom

Well now that Christmas has passed, I can show the purse I made for my mom as a gift. It's very similar to the one I had previously made for her. The outer fabric is a heavy weight cotton in a dark floral print. There is an outside and inside slip pocket and an inside zippered pocket.

I'm currently taking a bit of a break from the sewing, and in the meanwhile will re-organize my sewing room, work on updating my Etsy shops and pick some new patterns to make. In the spring I will look for new consignment clients, as The Rage will be closing their doors soon. Oh, and I still have that sketchbook project to work on, which will keep me busy for the next 3 weeks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Somewhere in between craft shows, online sales, and Christmas shopping I made this t-shirt for myself. I had some black cotton jersey knit to use up, and I found this awesome skull fabric to use as a coordinating fabric. I used a t-shirt pattern, and copied the kangaroo pocket from a hoodie. I used the skull fabric for the sleeves and pocket (I love pockets!). I think it's pretty awesome.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shop updates

Saturday's Movies and Makers show went really well, I'm almost sold out of my small zippered pouches, which I debuted at this show. Both of my Etsy stores have been updated with new items, and some items have been reduced. I'm going to start putting together gift card sets, such as this one here, available in my Karen's Creations Etsy store:

It's not too late to place online orders for Christmas gifts. If you're in the Toronto area, I would also be happy to arrange for local pick-up.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Workroom fabric sale

One of my favourite fabric stores, The Workroom, is having a fabric sale, in conjunction with the Sheridan Textile Studio Sale. This means not only is the fabric on sale, but there will be hand printed fabric, aprons, t-shirts, and other texitle gifts for sale designed by Sheridan students. Can't wait! I'm going to stock up on fabric to work on projects over the holidays and cold winter months.

Monday, November 29, 2010

This Saturday is the Movies and Makers show at the Fox Theatre. This is my second year doing this show, and I'm really looking forward to it - both the venue and neighbourhood are ideal for this kind of show. I can't wait to check out stuff from Coy Clothes!

This is my last show of the season, I've cut back a bit to focus on other projects. So if you're in the neighbourhood on Saturday, come have a look between 11:00-5:30 (free cupcakes to the first 100 people!).

Monday, November 22, 2010

It has begun...

As you can see from my worktable, things are a bit chaotic right now: my Etsy store has been busy with sales and custom orders, I have an upcoming craft show to prepare for, handmade Christmas gifts to make, and some film photography projects on the go. And, my sketchbook for the 2011 Sketchbook Project arrived the other day. In between working on other projects, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to decorate the cover. Why I thought this was important I'm not sure, I guess I'm thinking it will provide inspiration for the rest of the book.

Although it may prove to be not very durable (may have to find a way to clear coat it), I decided to use handmade Japanese paper (washi) for the cover; I buy scrap packs from The Paper Place in Toronto and use them a lot in crafts, although sometimes I think the paper is too pretty to use. I decided to orient the book horizontally rather than vertically; this may affect the digital scanning process and how it's presented on the project's website, but I prefer the layout. Next I need to create a title page, and then the sketching begins.

Participants were asked to choose a theme, or have one randomly assigned. I chose Happy Thoughts... I go through periods of depression which gets worse during the winter, as it does for a lot of people, so I'm hoping this theme will help me in staying positive.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Current sewing projects

I've been trying to use up some of my larger pieces of fabric, so I recently made two new skirts and a messenger bag for myself.

This is the first piece of clothing I've made for which I drafted my own pattern. It was also the first time I sewed a pleat and used an invisible zipper. yay for me!

This is just a simple lightweight denim skirt with an elastic waistband.

Lastly, I needed a new bag for myself as the other one I made for myself was a bit too small. It has an adjustable strap, outer and inner slip pocket and an interior zippered pocket. I forget what the outside fabric is, I know I ordered it from Tonic Living, it may be Michael Miller?

Remember: I take custom orders for bags and other small accessories!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sketchbook project

A friend of mine posted a link to a project I couldn't resist to take part in: The 2011 Sketchbook Project. Participants are sent a Moleskine sketchbook (for a fee) in which they, well, sketch and doodle, based on a theme (not telling you what theme I chose yet). The sketchbooks are then sent back and become part of a touring exhibition, eventually ending up in a permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library. This is a great way to stay motivated on a creative level, and I'm really excited about filling up my sketchbook, and seeing how others interpret their theme. Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

100 Mile Finds now has e-commerce

100 Mile Finds, a website which allows you to locate local businesses for unique gifts and services, now has an e-commerce option, meaning you can purchase directly from the vendor. I've set it up for my
Zippster store. Not every vendor has enabled this feature yet, but I'm sure more will get on board soon. In the meanwhile, here are some of my picks for Toronto vendors:

Vintage Paper Parade: whimsical, stylish paper goods with a modern twist for children’s birthdays, baby and bridal showers.

Love, Poetry Corsets: specializing in one of a kind, hand made corsets, often using rescued, recycled, or vintage fabrics. Beautifully hand painted!

Dear Sukie: Handmade wallets made in small quantities using a variety of patterned papers and clear vinyl. Very cool, and reasonably priced.

Yes, it's time to start thinking about holiday gift shopping, so why not support local businesses!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bazaar of the Bizarre show

This past Sunday I participated in the annual Bazaar of the Bizarre show, at the Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement, in the Queen and Dufferin area. Despite the fact that it was a long week-end and a day when many were probably feasting on turkey, I was pleased with the turnout. It was a long day, but I'm happy with what I sold. I was very impressed with the quality and variety of goods, much more so than most shows I've done, and especially pleased to discover that the baked goods being sold by Bunner's were gluten-free - yay for tasty treats for me! I have two more shows lined up before Christmas, details to come soon.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wrap dress

OK, I lied: I said I wasn't going to make anything new for myself until I was done with the fall craft shows, but I have enough inventory and am on a roll with the sewing, so I decided to keep going. This is a wrap dress from Simplicity (#6674).

I've made a dress before, from the Japanese pattern books, but I have to say this one gave me a bit of trouble. I had to re-do the back collar, and I'm not happy with the front panel - somehow there is a seem right down the middle. I think the skirt pieces were too big and I ended up with a whole panel too much. All the pieces for the trim, waistband and ties were a bit tricky to line up. Overall I'm happy with how it turned out but I'm not sure if I would use this pattern again. The fabric (Katie Hana by the Henley Studio, Petite Flowers) was purchased at The Workroom. My grandmother recently passed, so I'm planning on wearing this dress to her memorial service; I think she would like the idea of me wearing something I had made myself.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bridge club cards

Recently my mom asked me to make some cards for her bridge club, named Petticoat Bridge. She wanted cards that would hold their tally sheets. I decided to make each card different so the ladies could pick a unique card. This project was a lof of fun to work on, plus it gave me the chance to use some of my vintage trim.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New top

This is tunic "E" from the Japanese pattern book "Stylish Dress Book". For some reason, I had a terrible time with this top - I had to re-do one of the sleeves, and although I was as careful as I could be lining up the pin tucks along the front, they aren't quite even at the outer ends, even though it is centered. What I discovered is that my body is not symmetrical, I have one shoulder higher than the other and it also protrudes more forward than the other, which means that my clothes always seem a bit crooked. It was more obvious with this top because of the pin tucks. I don't even know how to adjust for this.

As much as I love pockets, I didn't add them to this top because I felt it would have added too much bulk with this fabric, which is another batik called "Elementals: Lots of Dots" by Lunn Studios. I also shortened the length, and opted to add darts in the back rather than gathers (which I hate doing).

This will probably be the last piece of clothing I'll be able to make for myself for a while, as I'm busy preparing for several fall/pre-Christmas craft shows, including this one:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Annual trip to the Aberfoyle Antique Market

Every year, I visit the Aberfoyle Antique Market, located just outside of Guelph. This is a huge outside antique market, and I love spending the day looking for treasures. I like this market because the quality of the items is high, and the dealers must sell antiques, so it's not just second-hand junk. It's a great place to find collectibles and unique items - sometimes very unique items, like this truly ugly crab dish (pardon the photos, I didn't want to carry a camera so I used my cell phone); take a guess at the price ...

I recommend visiting either at the beginning (May) or end (September) of the season, as not only is it not as crowded, but not as hot. There is a restaurant and ice cream booth on site (yum!), and places to picnic.

Sometimes I have something in mind to look for, otherwise I just browse. Here's a selection of interesting things I saw (I'll leave it up to you to determine if I thought it was cool or not):

One of my favourite items was this cabinet - I would love to have a house big enough for this!:

I did manage to score a great deal on this set of melamine dishes, which look like they've been sitting in a cottage and hardly used (they happen to go great with our Formica table, which we rescued from the garbage):

We also picked up a fantastic orange stool for our cats, who are 18 and have some trouble getting up onto the couch. Here is Hank, trying out the new stool (this is his chair):

There is always a good selection of dishes, glassware, silverware, art, musical instruments, books, toys, cameras, tools, purses, jewellery, knick knacks and small furniture. I was hoping to pick up some vintage fabric this year but didn't find any. Can't wait until next year!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting ready for the fall

The fall and pre-Christmas craft show and shopping season is quickly approaching. After a slow summer, sales have started to pick up in both of my Etsy stores, and I have a few shows lined up. I was able to make a few items of clothing for myself over the summer, but now I need to focus on building up my inventory.

I just added a whack of new buttons and magnets in my Zippster store, many of them made with either images taken from vintage magazines or beautiful Japanese papers.

I've been shooting more on film lately, and hope to use some of those prints on a new line of greeting cards.

Show info to be posted soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Top

Tunic "O" from the Japanese pattern book Stylish Dress Book. The fabric is a batik called Willow (Aspen), by McKenna Ryan. I chose this top because of the shape, but I also wanted to learn how to do an elastic gathering. I hate sewing gathers, especially with elastic - I don't know how to gauge how much fabric and elastic is needed, or how to space the gathers so they look natural. I ended up removing the elastic after my first attempt because it was too tight, and replaced it with a longer length. This will be another nice top for fall; I love tunics, I find them really comfortable, and they help hide some of my more curvy bits.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Small zippered pouches

Just listed in my Etsy store - small zippered pouches, the perfect size for helping to keep your bags organized or for carrying the essentials.

[As a side note, I love the robot fabric - it's one of my favourites. This is the last of it.]

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Dress

Dress Y from the Japanese pattern book Stylish Dress Book. I'm so happy with how this turned out. Although I have to say, I found drafting the pattern more difficult from this book compared to other Japanese pattern books: all of the pattern lines are the same colour and the same pieces are used for variations, so sometimes I didn't know where the lines ended. And even though I'm using the next size up to accommodate for seam allowance, I still find it a bit snug around the bust/back, so for the next project I'll have to make some adjustments.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My craft room/office

A few people have asked me about the space I use for sewing and how I stay so organized and on top of things, considering I work full time, have two Etsy shops, have two retail consignment customers, do craft shows, and make a lot of my own clothes and gifts for people. Sometimes I think I'm crazy for taking on so much, but I'm not busy all the time, so I like to make sure I have projects ready to go for when I'm bored. I've been meaning to show off my space for a while but haven't had time to take pictures; it was a lot of work to get it the way it is, and even though it's not perfect, I'm very lucky to have a whole room to myself. I've been more productive creatively than ever before, which, as someone who has struggled with depression my whole life, is important.

In December 2009 I moved from a tiny downtown condo to a 1 1/2 story house in East York. This was a big deal to me, as it finally meant I had a dedicated space to work on projects - my condo was so small I used what kitchen counter space I had as an ironing board and would cut my pattern pieces out on the floor. I had little piles of boxes and projects all over the place. Not ideal. At my new place, I took over a small second bedroom and use it as my craft room and office. This is the before picture, but after we had already ripped out the carpet.

Here's the corner by the door. The small door is for a small closet - because the
house is 1 1/2 stories there is no attic, just a crawl space under the roof. My clothes are in there.

The dormer window (need to make curtains one day, I hate those plastic blinds!) is a bit of an awkward space, but I rescued an old metal card catalogue which fits perfectly. It holds all my photography, drawing, painting and card-making supplies, and other craft supplies (adhesives galore!). The white bin holds all my fabric: my rule is that I can't buy more than what can fit into the bin. And of course, because I'm a librarian, it's all sorted and organized in a very specific way.

This is my main workspace: it's actually IKEA kitchen cabinets and a counter top. All my tools, sewing supplies, mail and packaging supplies, Etsy inventory, patterns and current projects fit here (and yes, everything is labelled). The IKEA cabinets and counter tops were the only items I needed to purchase for this room (well, and the paint).

My two sewing machines (a domestic and a serger) sit on a IKEA countertop, which is on casters, making it easy to move out of the way in case I need to get to the stuff jammed in the corner (big rolls of cotton batting, and a big Rubbermaid bin holding all my craft show display items). The two windows let in lots of natural light.

And lastly, the "office" area. The crawl space closet holds all my junk - I need to make a curtain to hide it. Behind the desk on the opposite wall is a filing cabinet and my printer. I replaced a really awful ceiling light with adjustable track lighting, which is necessary for taking photos - the light bounces off the sloped ceilings and make weird shadows. Painting the room was a challenge because of the sloped ceilings, and one day I would like to put down new flooring, but for now it's fine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another top

Here's another top I made from the Japanese pattern book "Tunic and One-Piece". It's actually a pattern for a tunic, but I shortened it for a top, and altered the neckline. Because the Japanese pattern books don't include seam allowance, I've discovered that using the next size up is an easy way to accommodate for this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New batch of coin purses

The other day I dropped off what may be my last batch of snap-frame coin purses at The Rage: the owner has announced that the store will be closing as of October 1st. This makes me sad, for several reasons. Not only is it a great store, but the positive feedback I received on my purses was a huge source of ego-boosting for me. Knowing that complete strangers liked what I made certainly helped improve my self-esteem, and making the items gave me a sense of purpose that a professional career doesn't always provide. I need to have a creative outlet in my life, and the store provided that for me. I'm really hoping that the business is purchased and continues, even if at a different location.

So, I am on the lookout for new retail opportunities to fill the gap. I've already contacted a few stores and hope to have something in place soon. If anyone has any suggestions, please contact me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Top from Japanese pattern book

I'm slowly getting used to making clothes from the Japanese pattern books, so much so that I just ordered two more books. This top is from "Natural Fabric Summer Clothes & Goods" (ISBN 9784834725506). This book has patterns for household items, such as cutains and bags, along with clothes.

I altered the pattern a bit by lengthening the sleeves, and at the collar: I opted for a small V opening rather than button details. It will be a perfect top for the fall.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Purse for my mom

A while ago my mom asked me to make her a purse, and unfortunately it was a while before I was able to start it. It's now done; the outer fabric is Amy Butler, and it has a padded strap, inner and outer slip pockets and an inner zippered pocket.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Finally bought a dress form

For a while now I've wanted an adjustable dress form, but they can be pricey. I happened to be in a Fabricland this past week-end and noticed that they were on sale for 50% off, so I bought one. Originally, based on my size according to off-the-rack clothing, I got the smaller form, but the hips and waist didn't go high enough (!) so I ended up with the larger form, but the bust doesn't go small enough (!). I can't win! The dress form will certainly make sewing my own clothes a bit easier.

Friday, May 28, 2010

New magnet sets

New magnet sets in my Etsy store! I really enjoy making these sets; coming up with the theme and choosing a coordinating paper to line the tin with is a lot of fun. They are a great gift idea if you need something small and inexpensive.