Day thirty six: favourite things

A friend of mine brought me a pair of jeans. She told me they are her favourite ones, which unfortunately have served their time and now are just taking up space in the wardrobe as she doesn't have a heart to throw them out. I'm quite familiar with the concept of sentimental attachment to all kinds of things and letting go of those has always been an issue for me. Therefore I sometimes come up with alternative uses for my favourite things, so I shouldn't part with them. I guess, this puts me on the same page with my friend and that is why her request didn't surprise me. "Maybe you have an idea for a project," she said. And I did, dear emf :)


Day thirty five: here to stay

When I was 5 or 6, I wanted to become a painter. Teaching seemed like fun, too, but drawing was the one and only path I was willing to pursue (right until my first drawing class at school when I was suddenly told what I was supposed to depict in my artwork. Gosh! A tree bark? Seriously?) Anyway, while I was still into art, I once drew a greeting card featuring a rather decent hill, some jumping/flying animals, gigantic flowers and a sun with a huge smile on its face (I can’t believe I still remember this). I was supposed to bring the card with me to a friend’s birthday party, but I was so overwhelmed by the success of my creation I just couldn't part with it. I might have even cried a little over it, when my mum finally suggested that I could draw another picture for my friend and keep the first one if it's so precious to me (mums rock!) 
Yet 25 years later it happened again. I made this green linen zip-pouch for the Christmas market and fell hopelessly in love with it the very instant it was finished. Somehow I managed to convince myself I'm not a child anymore (oh yeah?) and placed the pouch in a box with other things for sale thinking to myself that it would be a bit sad to let it go, so I should hope I will like the person who gets it. Imagine my surprise when people were browsing through the basket of purses, some buying a thing or two, but nobody - not a single person - even touched the green linen pouch. So this is how mental earmarking works! Finally, I gave in to my inner child: YES, I love the things I make, so why not celebrate it? The green pouch stays with me : ) 


Day thirty four: heart of Scandinavia

I'm in love! With linen :) What a remarkable material it is: so classy and sturdy, decent and predictable, just like a perfect gentleman :) I ordered 1.4x2.2 m of Avignon Linen in October and it's all gone. Working with this material is a pure pleasure since it's very neat, easy to cut and irons really well. Sounds like a dream, right? To make things even better, the same kind of fabric comes in different colourful prints. For example, the one with heart pattern I used for this project is among my favourites: it is called 'Scandic Love' and looks really lovely. This particular name is another reason why I chose this fabric for a present to a very dear and special friend of mine who is now residing in Scandinavia (Moi, moi, Anda!) She is a fantastic lady, such a brave and generous soul with terrific sense of humour and a real knack for crafting: she's making amazing things using just a crochet hook, a thread and handful of teeny-tiny pearls. I hope my parcel reaches Anda soon and I can finally tell her about this blog without risking to spoil the surprise :) 


Christmas market: two days in Dragontown

After a whole month of intensive sewing, stitching, baking and planning I finally made my debut as an elf in the Christmas market in a nearby town guarded by the loveliest dragon I've ever seen. The market itself was a two-day event that took place outdoors (yep, long hours in freezing temperatures certainly calls for more than one glass of Glühwein if you plan to survive :)) and it was a fantastic experience for a newbie like myself. The choice of the event could have been better though, since two thirds of the stands were filled with foods and drinks and people were clearly in party mood, meeting friends and having good time, not thinking much about shopping. Also the tradition of gift-giving for Christmas apparently is not very popular in Luxembourg. From what I've seen, people don't exaggerate with these things and don't regard this custom as a must. Being aware of all the above-mentioned, I kept an open mind and did a great deal of observing and learning. It's only fair to admit that not all of the conclusions I made were the most flattering ones, but I really see no reason to dwell on those, because there were far too many beautiful and special moments I experienced and those are the ones I will be carrying in my heart. 

While watching my work through eyes of my friends and loved ones, all the grannies who smiled the warmest smiles and children who dragged their parents to my stand to show them the colourful Christmas stockings, this event quickly transformed into my personal thanksgiving. And I do have so many things to be thankful for: this time in life I am given to explore sewing, the chance to work well with my hands, my mum who has taught me so much, my wonderful and supportive husband who was out with me in the cold for most of the time and helped with all the logistics and spoke German with customers and for my fantastic friends who lent me tables and baskets and showed up just in time to cheer me up and did some Christmas shopping themselves :) 
Finally, despite the cold and all the Glühwein (and the fact that all my things smell of smoke from fireplaces) I am glad I gave this a try. Sure, the overall sales could have been better, but as far as the first attempts go, I'm happy with my trading experience and I might actually try this again.


Day thirty three: steady heartbeat

I know. Judging from the frequency of my posts it may seem that I have given up on the whole sewing idea when in fact it's the exact opposite. I've been sewing like a maniac for the past few weeks :) My creative frenzy has resulted in many nice things and it will probably take me two days to take photos of each and every item I've finished so far. The reason for this bustle is the upcoming Christmas market, which will be my first attempt to sell my creations. That means running a stand for the whole weekend with a very vague idea on how it might go, but it's certainly keeping my hands busy and mind bursting with new projects, and I must say I'm enjoying this process immensely. My living room looks like Santa's workshop with fabrics, bells and ribbons all over the place and happy me in the middle :)


Day thirty two: 96th birthday

Today is the National Day of the Republic of Latvia: the 96th birthday of my country. Lately, I think quite a lot about my home country, the place I come from and places I might be going to, the importance of culture I understand and feel part of and general sense of belonging on top of it all. I feel how these topics become more essential with every year I spend abroad and I might be coming closer to the point where I figure it all out. Or not :) 
While waiting for this moral epiphany to occur, I'm taking part in the birthday celebrations from a distance by sending my love and sewing this lovely make-up bag in the colours of Latvian flag. Cheers!
Daudz baltu dieniņu, Laimiņa, dodi...


Day thirty one: summer breeze

So I sat down one morning to make a tiny gift for a very dear friend of mine [ciao, Aija!] to remind her of summer during the dark ages we're stuck in until March and to say grazie mille for her creative support :) Love towards nature and a dream of owning a garden one day is among the many things we have in common, that's why I chose the plant theme for this little project. The pouch was quickly done, no hiccups whatsoever. After measuring the rest of the fabric (yes, leftovers is my sweet spot, what can I do...) I realised that it was just enough to make another purse. Of course, I couldn't resist.

Day thirty: red cheeks and air balloons

I made this zip-pouch a while ago, only didn't have a chance to post any photos. In fact, this was the very first scrap bag I made: the apple fabric is just too lively and juicy to let any bit go unnoticed. Since we were blessed with yet another sunny afternoon, I immediately took the bag out on the balcony to make a couple of photos. After spending a quarter of an hour stretching, turning, bending, and kneeling I suddenly heard a strange puffing noise. Instinctively I glanced up and there it was: a hot air balloon just above my head! What a beautiful world... full of wonders, apples and balloons :)


Day twenty nine: Venetian sunset

For the last couple of days I'm chasing daylight and keeping myself busy with my hands on the fabric and my mind all over the place. Despite being completely predictable, not to mention inevitable, change to winter time annoys me every year - what a silly custom it is to fiddle with time like this. The shorter the days and the gloomier it gets outside the stronger is my need for colours, so on one particularly grey afternoon I went through my precious collection of scraps and put together this splash of colours. It was indeed enough to regain hope of an early spring :)


Day twenty eight: come play with me

So this is where I used the last scrap of the fabric with a giraffe pattern. I'm getting very fond of these striped cosmetics bags: they don't require a lot of fabric, so I can easily use up all the leftovers from other projects, plus they are quite easy to make, still the result looks both, pretty and smart. The basis is the same wonderful easy cosmetics bag pattern I've been using all this time, it just takes a bit more time and hustle to cut the main fabric pieces into strips and to stitch them back together. Nevertheless, I like this technique a lot and there are more scrap bags on the way.


Day twenty seven: giraffe in the wind

I know people sometimes complain about all the fabric leftovers and have hard time figuring out what to do with the scraps filling up their drawers, shelves and corners. Well, I'm not one of them (so far) - 'my scraps' inspire me. For instance, two tiny pieces of the giraffe fabric in my mind suddenly materialised into a tote and a make-up bag. I started with the tote, as I was impatient to try out the window concept and to see the result.
When the bag was ready and all the windows closed, I invited Mr Giraffe to accompany me on the balcony for a quick windy photo-shoot. He even wore his fancy tie for this occasion :)


Day twenty six: cute and cuddly

After spending half a day choosing Christmas fabrics (and then doing it all over again after my virtual shopping cart magically emptied itself) I'm ready to admit: having no choice sometimes can be easier than having too many options. If we lived in a world where there is just one kind of Christmas print, I'm sure we would all just take it and make the best of it. But instead we can (and we do!) spend hours and hours browsing and wondering until some of us just end up overwhelmed and overinspired and/or broke :] Anyway, I have done my best to scrap a bit from everything: I'll have my trees, my hearts, my candles, some dwarfs and an occasional reindeer, so I should be all set for seasonal sewing. While I'm waiting for all that to arrive (oh my) I spend my days creating these cute zip pouches and dreaming of all those friendly-looking forest creatures entering our home. 


Day twenty five: an apple a day

Yes, I'm back to sewing Deby's makeup bags since I really like making those and I also got incredibly inspired by the bunch of colourful zippers I received as a gift from my mother-in-law. Apparently, she found them on sale in a small shop in Latvia for EUR 0.14 a piece which is simply a dream come true for me who otherwise would have to buy them for 2 euros or more.
In other news: autumn is here and so are the local apples and pears - juicy, healthy and lovely. One of the [extremely few] reasons to wait for autumn every year. Fruit and colours... how lucky we are, the autumn package includes these two items :)


Day twenty four: two cups of tea

I always start my day with a cup of tea and I like to end it with one as well. Sometimes it's just fascinating to look back on the day and realise how many different and amazing things have happened in between the two cups. Holding the warm mug just filled with sweet-scented infusion brings me joy and promise of a new morning and helps to regain the peace of mind at the end of a long day. I need this more in the dark months of the year - that's time when the tea shelf in our kitchen cupboard suddenly gets really packed  :) 
However, if you are not much of a teaholic yourself, but still would like to keep a small tea collection just in case one of your teaholic friends comes over, I guess you could easily store it (the tea collection, not your friend!) in a sweet bag like this one


Day twenty three: owls and foxes

How about two birthdays every year? Yes, please :) Since we do celebrate our name days, I feel like having a 1.5 birthdays every year, but I still wouldn't mind having one more day to embrace all the love and joy in the world (oh yeah, I'm a birthday spirit, a huge fan of flowers, gifts and surprises, both give and take). But these things happen! For instance, one of my friends is officially entitled to celebrate her birthday two days in a row since she was born on one day, but her birth certificate states it was the next one - as unbelievable as it may seem, a  bureaucratic mix-up can eventually lead to something good. This friend of mine has a soft spot for owls and foxes. Since the 'double birthday' is coming up, I went into the fabric shop hoping to find something foxy or owly there and imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this adorable fabric featuring both animals and an occasional hedgehog :) Splendid! And after sewing a cosmetics bag I still have enough fabric left over to make a smaller bag or a pencil case for the birthday girl's daughter.


Day twenty two: butterfly effect

So I got seriously intrigued by this oval messenger bag. I am much obliged to the Stitching Scientist for sharing her pattern and providing the crystal clear instructions with photos. My favourite feature of this bag is the front pocket - what a delicious curve! For it to really stand out I decided to use the base fabric for the overlay as well. I also added an inside pocket and chose to use handles instead of a shoulder strap since my bag came off as a rather slim and stiff one, which I don't mind, but maybe next time (and I am quite positive there will be one) I should slow down with the interfacing just a bit :)

Day twenty one: pocket-sized rock 'n' roll

Let's resume the day count, because I'm back on track with my sewing projects. The first thing in line was this phone pouch I created with a very special man in mind who also happens to be my husband and the first follower of this blog in one person :) He used to play guitar some time ago and was getting pretty good at it. I really wish he'd pick it up again.
 I do hope you're reading this :)
Speaking of picking up guitars, my all time favourite band has just released their latest album. I can't wait to get my hands and ears on it.


Postcards from Paris

My personal 'month of sewing every day' had to be paused on day twenty due to rather pleasant circumstances, namely having friends over from Finland and leaving for Paris right after that. Oh, Paris... Being a nature person who normally avoids cities and crowds and prefers sitting on a rock to spending 2 hours in a museum or shopping centre, I'm always astonished when I am in Paris: it's a 2.5 million metropolis, but doesn't feel like one. At least not in May or September. The white city is always on the move, embracing everything and everyone, buzzing here and fizzing there. It inspires me in so many levels and I feel at ease with its multiplicity. Standing at the foot of the Eiffel tower excites me every time and so do the hundreds of candles in Sacré-Cœur and delicacy of the Notre Dame. I admire the paintings in Montmartre, the bridges across the Seine, the breathtaking views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and fragility of architecture all over the place. If only my French was better...


Day twenty: say 'queso'

I always bring my camera along when I go hiking and it is very important for me to be able to reach it quickly and make a shot whenever I feel like it, so I often wear a waist bag - it may not be the classiest accessory in the world, but it's very convenient for a person like me who likes to keep their hands free. The only problem with this arrangement is (or should I say - was) the high risk of getting your camera scratched by other random objects in the bag. One day I got really fed up with muffling the camera in a shawl and I came up with an idea of a simple protective pouch. For the lining I used the softest fabric I could find (it's very cute, too, with birds and cows and stuff). The bag was quickly finished and it serves very well.


Day nineteen: a crocodumpling

'Let's make dumplings,' Michelle said, and adventurous me thought 'Let's indeed'. Great was my astonishment when I printed the pattern and realised that it's much smaller than I anticipated, but I didn't mind too much since it was my first attempt anyway. Then I discovered that this XS creature requires a pretty long zip (yep, 30 cm), but the longest one in my stash was a sturdy 28 cm (and red!) - maybe not the best option, but just to keep my spirits high I decided to proceed :) The zip length was more than sufficient, but the sewing turned out to be rather tricky. Two hours and one bent needle later I ended up with this funky croco[dile]dumpling. I still cannot believe how tiny it is!


Day eighteen: oldtimers' parade

I really like this fabric, so I made another tote. This one isn't supposed to be reversible though, because I added an inside pocket with a zipper. Took me a while to figure out the most logical way to insert it, but I managed somehow (and will manage even better next time). 


Day seventeen: who's gonna drive you home tonight?

I got my driver's licence when I was 26 and I really considered it a big achievement, since my first attempt in the age of 18 was a complete disaster. Basically, it took me 8 years to get over it, but I did thanks to my amazing driving instructor Vladimir who really deserves a monument somewhere because he managed to pull me out of the 'ditch' my first instructor had left me in and it turned out I am capable of driving after all :) 
Now I'm a proud owner of a 10 years old Citroen and I'm totally cool with that, but I won't deny that fast cars excite me a well (from afar of course). I'm a huge fan of Formula 1. Just this weekend all the petrol-heads will be turning towards Singapore and I will be keeping fingers crossed for my team.


Day sixteen: rustle of leaves

So I received my first 'order' :) After seeing the family portrait of the make-up bags I've created, my mum asked me to make a small pouch for her cell phone. Well, why not? After googling the model of the phone I made a prototype from paper to have an idea about actual dimensions - looked silly, but helped a lot. What a perfect mini-project for an evening when one doesn't feel too inspired for 3 hours of sewing. The One is pleased :)


Day fifteen: serious business

A while ago, I promised to make a toiletries bag for my husband and today just seemed like a perfect day to keep the promise.
OK, no time for flowers and bunnies - let's get down to serious business. I decided to use a piece of leatherette for this project, hoping the end-result will be masculine enough. The material is very stubborn, but thankfully I am too :) It took me quite a while, but I made it work. Here we go.


Day fourteen: chasing rainbows

Feeling a bit grey(-ish)? I might have just created a cure for that. I am deeply disappointed every year when I see shops introducing yet another grey-black-dark-boring-and-depressive autumn collection. Instead of following this disturbing trend, I got busy and created a small (35x40 cm) fabric tote bursting with joy. My rabbit friend Rūdis was kind enough to take part in a quick photo shoot to capture all the colours of my home-made rainbow :)


Day thirteen: floral blues

Apparently, my love affair with different shades of blue is ongoing :) I'm still using Dana's pattern with minor adjustments: this is a more compact version, just 35x40 cm. Today I felt a bit cheeky because of my recent success with previous bags and decided to make it a liiiittle bit more complicated and to add a pocket. Since the tote is reversible, the pocket can be either a functional bit (when inside) or a decorative element (when outside). Looks fab to me.


Day twelve: your friend giraffe

So I went hunting (like women do) and returned home with a pile of delicious fabrics and 100 ideas for new projects. The safari-themed fabrics had 30% discount and I just couldn't resist the giraffes - such adorable creatures. I decided to dedicate my next reversible tote to them :)


Day eleven: a horse with no tail

This is a story about amazing women and somewhat unconventional animals.
Soon after becoming a proud owner of a sewing machine I came across this website: it was the first page I bookmarked in my "Sewing" folder and I keep revisiting it. The amazing lady behind this site is Dana from Austin, Texas and I truly admire her energy and way of doing things with such ease and creativity. Her tutorials are splendid as well, so I decided to make this reversible tote. It sure needs more fabric than a cosmetics bag, so I looked critically at my thinning stash of sewing materials and chose two animal-patterned pieces of fabric. This is where I must mention another wonderful woman: my friend Irina who has been an amazing help and inspiration to me since the very day I decided to buy the sewing machine. She is Mrs Crafting in our circle of friends, so she gave me a very good advice about the machine itself and provided a pile of fabrics from her collection for me to start with. Thanks a million, dear!
I specifically remembered having a piece of linen with horses which would be just perfect for my fist tote. And it was only after I had already cut it when I suddenly realized: wait a minute, those are no horses... where are the tails!? And then I leered at the other part of the bag featuring blue and orange deers and decided to go for the psychedelic zoo theme :) The result is goooood and reversible.


Day nine & ten: good morning, sunshine fog!

Since there was some fabric left after my success in the nightdress department, I decided to embrace my innovation skills and to sew a matching gown. Or as Mr Jeremy Clarkson would say: how hard can it be!? Well, it was a living hell :) The fabric is like water: it's all over the place. Also at one point I discovered a serious flaw in my pattern that led to revisiting geometry classes in my head and a great deal of patience from yours truly. Finally, it took me two days to sort out the mess and to come up with something I could actually wear. Mission accomplished this time (never again without a proper pattern and guidance!)
In other news: autumn is coming, yes it is. Every morning starts with a fog: foggy scenery, foggy minds and foggy gowns to slip in quietly.


Day eight: dreaming in circles


My dear husband has been very supportive of my sewing routine :) I even received a lovely piece of fabric as a gift for my name's day (this reminds me I promised to make a cosmetics bag for him, too. I just need to find the right fabric: flowers and kittens are out of question). So, I got this fabric and it was directly clear I will make a nightgown from it. It's soft and stretchy: just perfect. I used one of my nighties as a pattern and added a bit of lace on the edges to make it a bit more romantic. This turned out to be a surprisingly easy project, I'll certainly make some more of those.


Day seven: no small talk

I decided to finalize the make-up-bag-week with a mini version of the same pouch (plus I went through my stash and found a tiny red zipper and a little scrap of fabric left over from the ladybug's project). The result looks much nicer in reality as it does in photos (oh, sweet daylight, where art thou?) and I'm actually pleased with the result: the size is very handy for occasions when we are going out and need just a couple of things. And these wallets nowadays:  jeez, they're huge! Sometimes light&easy is all we need. Just like some people eagerly engage in small talk with strangers and think this is the easy level of communication. This might be it, but I honestly struggle to see the added value of any conversation - either significant or small - leading nowhere and feeling like a complete waste of time. I prefer making small things to talking about the ones we cannot change :)


Day six: send me a postcard

A postcard - what a marvellous invention and what a thrill it is to find one in my letterbox! My friends travel a great deal and spoil me with lovely cards from all over the world. I have tried to figure out the magic of postcards and I soon realised that since I'm not dealing well with the concept of globalization and digitalization, something as simple as a photograph with a personal handwritten message makes me believe there is still hope :) It means so much that a person has thought about me for a little while in between their adventures and is willing to share their happy moments with me. And I most gladly do the same (after spending half an hour at the postcard stand and buying far too many cards, but it's just so hard to chose!) I display the most recent cards on the cork board in my kitchen and later on they all go in a shoebox - not too glamorous, I know, but I'm determined to come up with some sort of crafty postcard storage solution in near future.


Day five: taste of blueberries

Have you ever wondered if it is possible to organize your stationary that is otherwise scattered all over the place and be able to actually find a thing you need just when you need it? I'm sure there are plenty solutions, but here is one of them - a lovely pouch large enough to hold all the essentials.
So it's day five and I'm still into Deby's cosmetics bags: the pattern is perfect for a beginner like myself and I love the outcome every time, so I decided to continue with them for the whole week. I fancy this one very much. Blue is another colour which I absolutely adore, it dominates my wardrobe and I often cannot resist the temptation to combine it with my greens. But not this time: today it's all about blueberries, cornflowers and Indian summer blues.


Day four: pocketful of grasshopers

I have a confession to make: I am a greenaholic. Green is my favourite colour and it never leaves me indifferent, whether I see it in nature or in interior, and fabric shops are no exception. The lovely boutique I have discovered even has a separate stall bursting in all shades of green: sea, forest and mint, bottle, moss and olive... oh my... I found a little corner of a meadow in the box of fat quarters and it melted my heart instantly. So here goes another make-up bag. This one is complemented with a tiny inside pocket just for fun, I thought a grasshopper might find it useful.


Day three: bed of roses

I had a feeling this pattern might work for a cosmetics bag, but I could never imagine a result as charming as this. It amazes me every time how a fabric comes to life when used for the right purpose and this just confirms my suspicion that one must be a genuine visionary to become a professional dressmaker or designer. And a hopeless romantic :) 
Even the bag itself exudes romance, don't you think? The size is just perfect for slipping in a couple of toiletries to grab with you when packing for a last-minute getaway to an exotic island with your sweetheart or heading for a classy week-end in Paris with your best friend.  
Bon voyage!


Day two: ladybug's treat

After a relatively successful test-drive and a short visit to the local fabrics shop I was eager to make another cosmetics bag. This one is a birthday present for a very special friend of mine - the bug, that's how she often refers to herself - and this should keep all entomologists awake because she's indeed one of a kind :)
Hand-made gifts have always been my hobby-horse, but let's be honest: it takes time, skill and a great deal of inspiration to come up with something original in the right moment. All that in combination with my stubborn determination to offer a gift with both, sentimental value and practical use often results in a creative headache. But no hassle here this time: the idea practically fell into my hands just along with a perfect fat quarter of a vibrant fabric featuring birds, which is as good as it gets since my friend is very much into birdwatching and learning their names in at least 4 languages. I'm certain that this cute bag will be a sound travel companion wherever the bug chooses to go or fly.


Day one: spindle ballet

In true spirit of upcoming International Sewing Month I accepted the creative challenge of sewing something every day. Being well aware of my limited needle-spinning capacity (due to lack of experience, not that there has ever been a shortage of ideas on my part...) it was clear I shouldn't set the bar too high and begin with something easy and practical. 
By a chance I came across Deby's cosmetics bag: the pattern was free and instructions seemed pretty straightforward, so I decided to give it a try. 
Click below for more pictures.