23 September 2012

working with leather

I love challenging myself.  And for quite a while I have been planning some leather sewing projects but had been a little too nervous to start.

I love leather because it's durable, does not fray, and it is a natural material.  But what makes sewing leather a challenge is the irreversible nature of putting a needle through it.  Because once that needle punctures your precious pattern piece, there is no going back.

You also need to have a sewing machine, needle, and thread that can handle sewing through leather without breaking.  I will admit that I have already broken 2 needles today and my thread has broken on me a handful of times as well.

And I have been carefully adjusting my tension, even when I am switching between 3 and 4 layers of leather.  I also had to adjust my bobbin tension for this project.

And while leather might not be the easiest material to sew, beautiful stitches are the reward for all my hard work.  This little, perfectly sewn sample gave me the confidence to start a real leather sewing project.

So I am currently working on my largest leather project to date - a black leather satchel.  It is about halfway done.  I hope to have it finished by the end of the week.  And it might be my biggest challenge to date (though surely not my last).
What have you been up to?  Do you like to challenge yourself when you sew?  Are you intimidated by leather?  (I still am...)

28 June 2012


We are in the process of moving, which means there are a lot of changes happening over here...

...including a new and improved organization scheme for my sewing tools...
sewing tool organization
sewing tools hanging on the wall

...and new fabric organization.
fabric file crate organization
filing fabrics in a file crate

We are creating a new and improved guestroom with these fabrics in mind...
guest room fabrics
a beautiful grey linen and a sheer home decor weight cotton

and these supplies will be used for one of the home decor projects and tutorials I am working on.
Can you guess what it is?

Any changes happening on your side of the fence?

15 June 2012

I've been away at....

...a Renaissance Faire?

Well, maybe not exactly.

Truth is, I paraded around Cambridge in this costume for 2 full days.
The purpose could be called a modern-day Renaissance festival, also known as graduation.

The reason for my recent absence from blogging is that I just completed my PhD.

So now, when someone asks "is there a doctor in the house?", I can respond "YES!", to be followed quickly with "not THAT kind of doctor!"

There are few occasions when you get to wear a funny outfit like this, and I wanted to take full advantage.  The grey and red colors on the robe represent the institution (MIT) and the navy blue hood represents the degree (Doctor of Philosophy).  Which is funny because I studied Biological Engineering, but I guess I did so while "philosophically" searching for truth.  The hat is an eight-sided tam, and I have no idea why.

You really can't carry a purse with you when you are wearing a robe this unwieldy.

Luckily, the bottom of the hood in the back forms a pocket, which I used to hold my provisions during all the ceremonies. I had a book of sudoku and kenken puzzles, a pen and a bag of chips in there.
I also wore a dress with pockets underneath to stash my phone and keys.

If you happen to be curious about the history of academic regalia, you will find that it really does stem pretty directly from Renaissance times, when scholars took vows and held religious positions and therefore were required to dress appropriately.

In the meantime, I am in the process of moving, but hope to get back to showing you some of my most recent projects soon.

Anybody want to get a PhD now, just for the cool outfit?


23 March 2012

Nano Case

Apple recently recalled its first generation iPod Nano's because of a possible battery problem.
Just in case you have one laying around, it's worth checking this page out.

In any case, I had one collecting dust, sent it in, and received a brand new 6th generation Nano in its place.

And these new iPods are REALLY tiny!  It practically begged me to make it a case.

So I made up a design on paper, one that requires no sewing and no closures.

Then I cut the design out of leather, and wrapped my little Ipod Nano in it.
It fits like a glove.  Now, I don't have to worry about dropping it or getting it confused with other Nanos.

I love the little hole for the headphones.
Here is the closure on the back, just a couple slits to hold a couple tabs in place
And it can still be pulled out easily to change tunes or charge.

I find leather to be one of my favorite mediums for crafting, especially when I don't have to sew with it.
This case took very little time to make and assemble.
And I am sure this could work equally well with wool felt.

What are your feelings on leather?  Anyone else get lucky enough to trade in their iPod?


14 February 2012


My husband knows my rules regarding Valentine's Day well.
No flowers, candy, stuffed animals, cards... nothing that comes from a store.
No eating dinner out on the 14th either.

I'm sure he loves it because it means he has an excuse to completely forget the holiday without repercussion.  How many guys are that lucky?

But he didn't forget.

v day
He made me flowers out of some red napkins.

And they are more precious than any flower he could have bought.

That makes me feel pretty lucky.

And pretty loved...

Happy Valentine's Day!

09 February 2012

In progress

A scarf for me!!!
It will be the first one I have made and kept for myself.
i picked colorful yarns that would coordinate well with both of my hats!

I chose 2 colorways by Araucania, 70% wool and 30% silk, hand-dyed in Chile.
So soft, and not a single bit of itchiness.
I love working with it in my hands.  

What are you working on?

22 January 2012

my hats

knit hats
I've been knitting and crocheting for about 3 years now, but I have only just finished my second hat for myself (and still have not made myself a scarf).  Most of the things I knit or crochet end up being gifts.  But these two hats are mine, and I love them. I have a lot of hair, so my hats have to be roomy to cover all my hair and my ears.
   blue hat pouf 
The blue one I made last year from Alpaca, which you can see is VERY fuzzy. yellow hat detail 
And the yellow hat I just finished last night from wool. So far it seems to have good stitch definition, but we can reassess after it gets some wear   little woolly ball 
But now I have to figure out what to do with this tiny leftover ball of super-bulky yellow wool.  The beginnings of some fingerless gloves maybe?

I would really like to make myself a scarf.  The hubby has a hat and scarf, and is begging to get a sweater made.  I previously told him he had to wait until we were married, because of the curse.  But now I have run out of excuses.


09 January 2012

Apologies for my absence

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are excited for what is to come in 2012!

The end of 2011 was a little crazy with my needing an emergency eye surgery right before the husband and I took our little break.  But the break was very relaxing, and I am ready to get back into the swing of things, both with sewing and work.

This week I have been most grateful for my family.  I have a really big family and I love it.  You can't get bored when hanging around my siblings.  I got to see 5 of them this weekend, along with my dad, and it was wonderful.

But enough about me.  Let's talk about this blog.  I've been thinking about my goals for blogging in 2012.   Let me know what you think...

  1. Post twice a week.  
  2. Post pattern reviews.  Thus far I have focused mostly on designs I make, but I think there could be value in reviewing the commercial patterns I use for clothing.  I know that I check patternreview.com regularly before purchasing or sewing a new pattern, so it's only fair to assume that you do too.
  3. Shoes.  I love shoes and have been playing around with making shoes behind the scenes.  I want to share.
  4. More patterns.  I slowed down on posting tutorials and patterns at the end of last year, and I would like to rectify that.  I have a few ideas in the works, but I don't mind suggestions!

Anything I am forgetting?  What are your plans for 2012?  Are you excited or grateful about anything in particular?

I will leave you with a picture of this:
husky-corgi mix
My sister just got 2 husky puppies, and I would love to have one.  If only they would stay puppy-size.  But if you mix a corgi with a husky, you can get miniature huskies like this little guy!  So cute!!!!!
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