Super Lady’s Reversible Tote Bag

grocery bag

I have been really busy with my new job and haven’t really had the chance to get myself into the creative mode  … so it was nice to get back in the saddle, so to speak, and make a handmade birthday gift for my friend C, just in time for her birthday BBQ party.

To suite her busy lifestyle – of being a fabulous mother and a kick butt professional woman – I made a reversible, multi-purpose tote bag that she can throw anything in. She can take it to a grocery store, or take it to the beach. Beause it’s made out of 100% cotton home décor fabric (as opposed to those fine quilting fabric), she can step on it, feed it to the dog, or toss it in the washer and dryer and it would still hold its shape.

grocery bag reserved

I used Traditions Kelso Brown / Maggie Pink on one side and used Oxygen Dots Kelso Brown / Maggie Pink on the reverse side. When I first got these fabrics, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but I can’t be happier with the way this tote bag came out. I have the same two fabrics in brown and French blue combo so I think I’m going to make the matching bag … maybe for myself this time.  I can’t wait to walk into Trader Joe’s with this fabulous grocery bag!

Multi-Purpose Reversible Tote Bag
Fabrics used: Traditions Kelso Brown / Maggie Pink and Oxygen Dots Kelso Brown / Maggie Pink
Pattern: My Own
Recipient: Lovely friend C for her birthday.

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Carb Loading at Pizzeria Mozza

pizzeria-mozza-anchovy

I stopped watching MTV circa 1993 (around the time I graduated high school) when music videos vanished, only to be replaced by silly reality shows. There is, however, one program that I still enjoy watching once in a while called Made, a show that helps “make” one lucky teen’s dream a reality every week. I wish a Made Coach can storm into my life too and make me into a 10k runner in the next several weeks. I am running / walking the Santa Monica 10k and while I signed up for the race a month ago, I am still shamefully out of shape and utterly unprepared.  I’m getting a bit panicked now that the race date is so near … but I guess the only thing I can do now is to get serious and start training, even without the luxury of having a coach. I hope these teens know how lucky they are to have all the support in the world to realize their dreams!

Well, if I’m going to run a race, I would need to load up on the carbohydrate and what better way to do it than by enjoying the best pizza in town at Pizzeria Mozza on Highland and Melrose. Believe all the hype you hear about the place because they are all true. I’ll blog about the experience in my food blog a little later but in the meantime, enjoy the photos on top.  And yes, I am aware that eating carb without actually running is like taking a pay advance on the work you haven’t yet performed, thank you very much.

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As for the craft, I made a memo pad cover and gave it to my sister this afternoon when we met up for lunch. Her blue one matches the one I have in pink.  Cheers to the sister power.

note-pad-pair

(A little update:  I did it! I ran the race and had a blast!)

In Search of Perfect Potholders

potholder-grab1

My craft obsession invaded the kitchen today with handmade potholders. They are still a work in progress, as I’m making few different styles and shapes to see what works best.  Here are the photos of one of the several potholders I made this afternoon.

Since they are intended to be a functional potholder, I wanted to make sure that they actually stood up to the heat of a piping casserole coming out of the oven or rotating the baking sheet in a 375 degree oven. I sandwiched the cotton fabrics between the cotton batting and Insul-Bright to make them truly heat safe, and machine quilted to make it easier for gripping. I think having the batting and the insulated material was sufficient, as I was able to hold on to the hot iron without the heat penetrating the potholder.

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I want to come up with the perfect pattern since I think these potholders make wonderful housewarming and birthday gifts for cooks! I’ll keep you posted!

Pin Cushion

pincushionI’ve had many random hobbies – candle making, jewelry making, and even dabbling into handmade skincare (making facial toners, lip balms, body scrubs, etc.) – but the ones that stuck with me are knitting and sewing. I think my first and real love is still knitting. There’s really nothing more relaxing than submerging in a mindless, repetitive act like knitting, although that can quickly change into a nightmare when you have a complicated pattern or if you drop a stitch. Compared to knitting, however, sewing is fast and I think that’s what attracts me to the craft. It takes days and even weeks to knit a tote bag but it takes a mere few hours to sew one up!

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing lately but it was only recently that I realized I don’t own a pin cushion!  I know I can go to a craft store and pick up one of those tomato-shaped ones but decided to make one instead. My philosophy is always, why spend money on something that I can make at home? I got the inspiration from Paper, String, Cloth blog, and as for the button in the center, I’ll put it on as soon as I find one.

Pincushions are a great way to use us leftover fabrics!

Pin Cushion
Fabric: Amy Butler Belle Coriander Pine and Seagreen, and Fresh Aire Sprigs Green by B.J. Lantz
Recipient: Me

Journal Cover

journal-cover-closed

I was looking through my old photo albums the other day and realized that it was four yeas ago next month that I traveled to Europe! I had decided to go on the trip solo because I really needed to do some soul searching at that time in my life, and felt that the only way I could do that was to face fear, uncertainty, joy and all the world’s unknowns on my own. The trip was truly one of the most exciting and valuable journeys of my life.

Aside from stuffing my face with some of the best-tasting feasts in the world, I found joy in discovering cute little cafés in every city to relax and write for hours. Instead of hauling my PC everywhere, I wrote the old-fashioned way – with a journal and a pen. I carried the journal my friend gave me as a bon voyage gift and documented every taste, smell and sound that rushed into my soul.

journal-cover-no-cover1

It was then that I discovered Kraft refill journals from Barnes and Noble and their true awesomeness (my favorite is size 3, which is 5″ x 7″)! Their sturdy cardboard front and back covers keep the shape well and the smooth paper surface allows the pen to glide effortlessly. They are so amazing I haven’t used any other journals since. (Note: And the journal goes very well with pens from Muji, hands down the best writing utinsils in the world.)

The journal design is, however, pretty bare, without those fancy leather journal covers (they are, afterall, a refill). Since I’m not that big of a leather person, I decided to make one myself with a lovely fabric to jazz it up a bit!

The fabric I had ordered from Purl Soho arrived this week and decided to turn this lovely pink-and-blue animal print fabric into the cover. I’m so in love with this design that I was eager to turn it into something … anything!

journal-cover-side

This is relatively a quick and easy project but the challenge was, for me, to ensure that the cover fit the book perfectly. I have a tendency to want to make things slightly larger to give a little wiggle room but I resisted the urge this time and cut the fabric exactly to the dimensions that I had measured before starting the project. The effort paid off and the cover fit like a glove!

journal-cover-tag

(I put my label on the inside cover)

Journal Cover
Fabric: Magenta Menagerie Damask from Etsuko Furuya’s Eshino collections
Pattern: My own
Recipient: Secret

Pink Clutch Bag for Noelle’s Birthday

noelle-bag

After I “stole” the bag that was intended for my friend, Noelle, for her birthday the other day, I went back to the drawing board to design the perfect bag for her, and this time, I promised myself that I will not keep it, no matter how much I end up loving it.

I knew her favorite color was purple, but something told me that I should go slightly more subtle, so I turned to Joel Dewberry’s Manzanita Damask in Salmon to do the magic. The salmon pink was so perfect because it gave a classy feel without being overly girlie. I came up with the idea to make the purse into a clutch bag because I wanted this bag to be something different and totally out of her handbag comfort zone! In addition to the one inside the bag, I put two extra pockets on the back to avoid keys, cell phones and other little things disappearing in the bag black hole.

The fabric I used for the lining is Aviary Rose Green, also by Joel Dewberry (I absolutely LOVE this fabric!).

noelle-bag-opened

I must admit that I thought about keeping the clutch for myself (again), but I resisted the urge by quickly wrapping the bag in tissue papers and shoving it in the gift bag before the temptation got the best of me!

Clutch Bag
Fabric: Manzanita Damask Salmon by Joel Dewberry
Lining: Aviary Rose Green by Joel Dewberry
Recipient: Noelled

Memo Pad Cover

note-pad-opened

The shoulder bag I made the other day was feeling a bit lonely so I made this notepad cover with the same fabric to keep it company. This was inspired by one of my favorite Etsy sellers, Watermelon Wishes, who sells wonderfully practical items like tote bags and fabric organizers, and gives me so many great ideas for future projects!

note-pad-closed
(There’s a slot to put a pen and other things like receipts and coupons)

These memo pads remind me of my days as a journalism student, when I went through so many of these spiral memo pads taking notes and jotting down ideas for articles. Although I retired my reporter hat many years ago and the information I write down on them has changed from important quotes to grocery lists, I’m still a big fan of these little practical mini notebooks. Now I can carry them around with a cute little cover!

note-pad-cover

Fabric used: Amy Butler Daily Chain Demo Rosey Navy
Pattern: My own but idea inspired by Watermelon Wishes
Recipient: Me