Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Variations on a Theme

I have been a very busy woman lately. I just can't seem to stop myself. In fact, I can't keep up with all of the designs and ideas that fly through my head. I have a few pairs of shoes cut out that I haven't even sewn yet because something else caught my fancy. (Mandy, I promise I AM working on the skirt.)

My husband's work is a big supporter of March of Dimes. His department is putting together a Made in Michigan basket that will be up for bidding and yesterday (uh-huh, yesterday) I was asked to put a pair of shoes into the basket. Luckily, while I was making the last pinstripe set I cut and sewed an extra pair since they were my size and I still don't have a pair of my own. All they needed was a little decoration, but since I had used all of the shoe's fabric for the other flower, what to do, what to do?

Each new one is my favorite.

I wanted soft and feminine again to balance the buttoned up feel of the pinstripe. And boy did that turn out. This was my first time trying one of these kinds of flowers. It won't be the last, that's for sure.

I wasn't sure while they were coming together, but now I love them. And I keep thinking, "They could have been mine!" But, I will do the unselfish thing and let them go do some good in the world. So those of you who work with my husband, bid well!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A New Little Something

I'm nervous as I unveil these items. This is something new, untried and untested. Let me say this, we have this game we play at the dinner table that involves asking questions. One of those questions has been "What are you most afraid of?" My answer is always, failure. When I was younger and taking art classes, there was nothing more frightening to me than the blank canvas. There was so much potential there, but a lot of times, if your art went awry there was no fix for it, if say you were doing pen and ink drawings. Then all of that potential, not to mention time and energy, was wasted. It was a huge deal to me back then. I guess it still is.

So please be gentle with me, I'm very vulnerable right now. I am having so many flashbacks to school days and class presentations. Oy, let's just get on with it, shall we?

I have a few jewelry pieces to share. It's spring and I have these lovely shades of vinyl that have just been calling to me to give them shape and form. Which is something, because vinyl isn't exactly a muse kind of fabric. Nonetheless, here they are:

Firstly, a pale gray butterfly necklace.  Because it's spring, and that's the time for all things light and lovely. And butterflies, of course.

I have always loved butterflies.
And, it's reverse side has a few bright pops of color.
Then of course, with it being spring, I have flowers on the brain. I miss them so. They have yet to make an appearance outdoors, but that doesn't mean I can't wear one. So, for adornment, a corsage cuff for the wrist.
Corsage Cuff

I don't know what it is about these soft shades. I used to abhor neutrals, but now something the color of a glass jar full of soft marshmallows is my new favorite. I may be getting old.
At any rate, gray and cream and green is now one of my favorite color combinations. Ask anyone who has been in my living room.

And finally, this one is for a bit of fun, and would be great for a little girl or someone who wants to embrace make believe and simple joys the way that little girls do. Whenever you are around a butterfly, don't you always just wish that one would land on you? There's magic in a moment like that.
Butterfly Cuff

And there's a fun little surprise under its wing. Would you like a peek?

Just like a real one. A little whimsy never hurt anyone. In my opinion we're all a little too serious these days. So tomorrow, I'm strapping this little gal on my wrist, and we're going places. Even if it's just to the store.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not All Business Slippers

I love these new slippers I made for a co-worker of my husband's. I've not met her, but I dig her sensibilities. She wanted black, with the corsage flower with a little pop of bright pink. Oh, yeah, I can do that.

The fabric came from a pair of pants (my sister has been a wonderful contributor to my little business). It has a subtle pinstripe. I thought it made a perfect counter balance to the flirty and wild pink.

She definitely has a fun side.

They're so lovely. I love working with a customer to give them exactly what they want. It enables me to stretch creatively and create things that I might not otherwise have envisioned on my own. So thank you, Jennifer. These were a joy to create and I hope that you love wearing them!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Decor and My First Mini-tutorial!

Ok, being super busy with three young children and a baby business, it's not like bunnies and flowers are popping up all over the house. But, I did manage to finally take down the Christmas stars and paper ornaments and replace them with something more befitting the season. (Or rather the season we are supposed to be having, whenever we can get rid of this 30 degree weather...)

Butterflies and flowers scream spring, only here they do it in a subtle way. And the message in the middle, LIFE, is what spring is all about to me. Here in the frozen north, life really seems to begin again come the warmer weather. People emerge from hibernation and make the most of the long hours of daylight. But, most importantly, Easter, my favorite holiday comes in spring. And He is life to me.
A field of crepe paper flowers

And, just in case you had any interest in how I made these flowers, I recorded the process and will now be dipping my toe in the tutorial waters. Bear with me, it's my first!

I'm sure you've seen similar flowers all over the web. They're made from simple crepe paper. But my method of putting them together is a bit of a twist.

Grab your crepe paper!

Begin that flower.
I prefer to gather it under the center. And in order to create a slightly cupped shape gently stretch it along the top, then pinch, turn and gather. I made four layers this way, but you could make them fuller I would imagine.
Looking flower like

Then when you have them shaped as you want them, it's time to secure them. Lots of people reach for the glue here, and you could certainly do that, though, you would probably want to do that as you go. That's time consuming and messy to me. So, I sat down at my sewing machine.

Stich the center!
 Gently slide the flower under the presser foot, insert your needle and stich freehanded in a circular motion. Don't make it too tight a circle so that you are sure to catch all of your layers. Remove from your machine and look at that little delicate center.

Pretty little poppy.
I forgot to document how I applied them to the screen. Rookie mistake! But, I just sprayed the back with a little Fabric Tack, let them get tacky, pressed green ribbon the them, then pressed them to the screen. The glue was tacky enough to hold them there, but they're easy enough to remove later too.

Happy Spring!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Monday, March 21, 2011

She's a Little Bit Rock-n-Roll

I'm very eclectic. I like things both old and new. I like girly and romantic, and also modern and sleek. So having made Emeline a pair of ever so sweet, vintage romantic shoes, I felt the need to balance things out with a more modern design. After all, a girl needs options.

I saw this fabric and immediately loved the bold colors and the fun pattern. Here's the kicker though. It's outdoor fabric! But, then I thought, that might be a good thing. It's thick and water resistant. It'll wipe clean, in theory. Not bad qualities in fabric for little shoes. So, I bought a quarter of a yard and decided to experiment.

She's got room to grow...

The experimenting didn't end there, I used rubber sheeting, which is soft like flannel on the outside and water proof rubber on the inside, for the lining material. And I used foam for the insoles.

Sweet little things.

What worked? I like the outer fabric. It was just fine to sew with and I like that it's going to stand up to to wear and tear better than a lot of fabrics. I liked only using two layers of fabric, but I think I'll skip the rubber sheeting in the future. It's just a tiny bit unwieldy. And the foam for the insoles, I like the idea very much. I just need to find some slightly softer foam.
It's the details that mean so much.  

That beautiful little butterfly makes me smile. It wasn't originally supposed to be there. That's something I absolutely love about all of this, the design process. Originally, these shoes had t-straps with a black ruffle. But, oh, they just didn't look right and my heart sank.  All that hard work and I thought I might have to scrap the whole shoe. Thanks to my trusty seam ripper (whom I spend way too much time with), and a little burst of inspiration the shoes were saved. So, I took a few risks this time. What do you think of the outcome?


Tip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, March 18, 2011

She's a Little Bit Country

Spring! You can smell it outside. You can see little green shoots poking their tips up out of the ground. The sun has made an appearance or two. I am ignoring the weather man who says ominously, "It's not going to last." I love this time of year. Winters are long and hard up here, and spring and summer are times to be cherished in all of their glory.

So, with the approaching warmer weather, we're going to need to put the boots away, which means of course that Emeline is going to need more shoes. Oh, darn. So I forced myself to take the opportunity to make something pretty, something that shouts spring has sprung. They're done, and we did a little photo shoot today. Would you like to see?

Ooh, fancy.

I have this love affair with ticking. It's vintage, it's graphic. It's pretty perfect. And I love it with this pale pink silk.

Dress 'em up..
Dress 'em down...

Pose very prettily...

 I also used a new soling material for these so that she can wear them outside once she starts walking. Obviously, she won't be jumping into any spring puddles with them, but the soles are slip proof, water proof and there's a comfy couple layers of cushioning in them too.  If you sew baby shoes and are looking for outdoor soling material, this is where I got mine. It's cinch to sew with on a home machine. I have so many ideas percolating for warm weather shoes and techniques. I can't wait to get to them. For now, we will content ourselves with these. 
Ah, spring.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Challenge Met

My husband has a large extended family. His maternal grandma, who was told, I believe, she'd be unable to have children, had seven of them. And since each of those children had kids of their own, we're talking cousins galore. And since, growing up, I didn't have a single cousin on either side of my family, I admit I was slightly overwhelmed by the boisterous Brown clan in the beginning. But, now, I see Brown family get-togethers posted on Facebook and lament that we aren't close enough geographically to be a part.

One of the numerous cousins is a fantastic woman who wears so many hats it tires me out just thinking about it. She's a wife, a mom to an irresistible rascal with the bluest eyes, a hair dresser, a graphic designer and a photographer. It was in this last capacity that she contacted me and asked if I would like to make her a pair of baby boots for a photo shoot she has coming up. But, could I make them cowboy boots, something in neutral/nature colors, something modern though, not classic western?

Talk about a thrilling challenge. The first difficulty would be the pattern. I searched, but was unable to find one to buy online. So, I bought a new pattern that I thought I would be able to alter into a cowboy design. I made three different attempts all to no avail. They were awful. Not that they weren't cute, but I had absolutely no confidence that they would stay on the babe's feet. And that is one of my pet peeves as a mom. Little feet do a lot of kicking, and there is nothing more annoying than stopping every two minutes to put a shoe or sock or boot back in its place.

So, I scrapped that pattern and went back to my tried and true favorite.  But, it didn't look much like a cowboy boot. For one thing, I needed to move the opening to the back of the boot, so that the sides would be free for decoration. And then the tops needed a more cowboy boot curve, which I admit was hard to eye ball correctly. Luckily, I remembered in time that Isaac had been given a pair of cowboy boots when he was two. They proved to be the perfect template for what I needed.

I was giddy while these were coming together.

I love how they turned out, and hope Lauren will be pleased as well.  I think they;re graphic enough to be interesting in a photo shoot. The outer fabric is a dark grayish brown and I lined them with a fun khaki and white polka dot fleece.

Western with modern sensibilities...

One of the many things I love about this pattern, is that the shoes have elastic sewn around the ankle in the lining to help them stay on. And now, I love how easily customizable I can make them. I'm almost saddened that the cold weather is leaving us, and I'll have to wait all spring and summer to explore the possibilities that have now opened up to me. I'm sure I'll get over it quickly.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Back At It

Good grief what a week it was around here. That bug you've heard about making its rounds? I can testify from every angle it IS as bad as they say it is. I will be polite and spare you any details. I will simply say I am glad we seem to all be on the mend, and am so thankful that Em and Jo never got the really bad stuff.

But, while I was laying there recouping and wishing for the sweet oblivion to reclaim me, all I could think of was this little business I am starting. I had no idea of it starting up like this. I have had fits and bursts of inspiration before, but this feels so very different. Almost like I have given birth to three children in the last two and a half years instead of two. So I was almost as physically pained to be separated from it as I was to be separated from Em for almost 24 hours.

And it's been a big week for my little company. I have a custom order for which I had to develop a pattern on my own as I could find nothing online to match it. I had my first repeat customer place an order. I handed out my first business card. And I had my first e-mail from a prospective customer, (someone I have never met, eek) in my goodlittlethings inbox. I am a little overwhelmed. In a good way.

I will have photos of the custom order to show you in a couple of days. In the meantime, here's a hint, can you guess what it might entail?

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Do You Think of Pink?

I got these lovelies done before pestilence visited our house, thankfully.  So while one babe sleeps in my arms, and another fights sleep next to me, and the biggest, sickest one sleeps upstairs, I thought I would share.

My awesome sister-in-law who is one of the reasons all of this shoe business started in the first place (read about that here) had a girls-night-in whilst my brother was off globe trotting. One of her friends admired her shoes and Tracie, who is nothing if not incredibly generous, placed an order with me for her friend's birthday. Her friend's favorite color? Hot pink.

Searching through my stash, I had one hot pink option.  It was a cast off silk skirt.  But there were a couple of things that worried me.  It was bias cut, it was very thin and it was printed.  I figured interfacing would solve my first two dilemmas by stabilizing it and giving it body.  I thought the print might work and would be an interesting change of pace. And the skirt did have a matching solid hot pink tank that would be perfect for the flower.

So what do you think? Do you think she'll like them?