Monday, April 28, 2014

Random Updates

So I've been on a bit of a blogging break because my computer died. It's still dead but we will eventually replace it. For now, I'm slowly learning to do all things bloggy and photo-edity on the laptop. Which is shared by everyone in the house. Which means turn-taking. Which also means other more important uses (like homework and news-reading) get first priority. Hence the blogging break.

Not complaining. I'm always looking for excuses to blog less, anyway. Is it just me or do other people also think blogging is a huge time investment? It used to be so easy and fun, back in the old days when the children were small and took naps and I'd just make, say, a random bag and take a few pictures and brag about it on the blog. Now, though, everyone wants to do crafts and electronics and read-a-longs and needs help with everything from homework to those not-actually-easy youtube videos on rainbow loom thingummies and I actually have real, personal, non-child-centered hobbies like reading paper novels and an exercise routine. Blogging has been reassigned to my To Do list - there is, for instance,  "Write Sleeve Drafting post" sandwiched between "Do laundry" and "Vacuum downstairs".

Not that I don't still enjoy blogging and connecting with you guys- I do. It's just that loads of Other Things seem a lot more fun (and/or urgent) these days.  

I am, however, still sewing.

Because the end of the school year is nigh, and teachers need lunch buckets

Some in new fabrics and some old, hoarded especially for projects like this.

I will put some in the shop soon. 

And you know how I was telling you about the Grand Old Days when the girls were small and took naps and I'd made all kinds of things "just for fun" because I seemed to have all the time in the world? I think I'll put some of those in the shop as well to send along to deserving homes. Check back here soon(ish) for a shop update!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kate Woodworking

I think it's very interesting how watching adults craft makes kids want to do that same thing. I also find it interesting that, while reading other people's blogs on that exact topic, their mom-and-kid craft adventures are relaxing, bonding, wonderful experiences in which the adult in question sits nurturingly beside the kid in question, being all wise and mentor-like, projecting the perfect balance of hand-holding and independent challenging. I find it especially interesting that there are, often, no other children around, so that the adult-child ratio is a charming 1:1 or, if there are other siblings, they all magically require assistance only in turns and it's so lovely and parenting-magazine-photoshoot worthy.

Just so you know, it doesn't look like that in our home, okay?
And if you believed otherwise, you should go take a second look at the manic photos in my old posts of whenever the kids get together to make something.
I won't provide details because it's exhausting just to think about, let alone recount in words here. I will say that, ironically, everything was actually more feasible when at least one of my children was a baby or a toddler, whose motor skill level and/or creative interests were in a totally different universe than her siblings. So all ye mothers of nursing infants who can't wait for the day when everyone can craft as a family: guess what? Get crafting now, while you can. You might actually get more done now than later.

Or maybe it's just my family that regularly fails the parenting-magazine-photoshoot audition. Regardless, I'm laughing as I write this. At the irony. At my own fallible Overwhelmed Craftmotherness. At how, everyone (except maybe other moms) forgets that saying yes to crafting usually means the house falls to ruin and there is no food on the table when everyone suddenly realizes they're famished enough to eat a horse. And at how, sometimes, when the kids ask me if we can "do a craft", I inwardly cringe and want to run away screaming. It's - twistedly - funny. 

Sometimes, however, I cave.
Like last week, while making those stools.
The older girls were in school but Kate was home with me, watching me saw and sand in the garage.

"I want to make Bunny a table." She told me. 

Not "Can I make Bunny a table?"
"I wonder if it might be too much to ask to, sometime when you are free, make Bunny a simple, whip-up sort of table?"

That's Kate, after all. 
Knows what she wants.
And because it's so un-self-serving (it's for Bunny, not her), it's hard to say no.

So I detoured in the middle of drilling and measuring and whatnot, dug in our tub of scrap lumber, sawed what we wanted, and clamped pieces in the workbench for her to sand. 

Then she glued and nailed and screwed together a table and a chair for Bunny, and provided the following feedback, "I like the nailing and gluing more than the sanding. Sanding is boring."

She found a lemon beanbag (from our old Tea party) for a seat cushion,

and made some clay silverware for her favorite sidekick.

I rather liked the natural wood look, but Kate wanted color.

So she painted them.

And guess what? Jenna saw them later and said, tentatively, "Mom, Bearaby needs a table and chair, too. She can't use Bunny's chair because she's so much bigger and Bunny's chair is too thin. Can we make a bigger one for her?"

Does this count as taking turns? I think it counts as taking turns. Plus, a mom has to play fair, right? So I think I said yes. Now I must go to the hardware store for some hinges so we can make Jenna's table a folding one to save space. Or maybe we can nest Kate's in Jenna's. Because at the rate at which the craft requests are coming in, we may be overrun with wooden toy furniture before long. And then where would we find room for cardboard? 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Folding Camp Stools in Arrow

Camp stools!

I've been making these for the girls this past week. 

Let me say that we're sooooo ready for summer.
And being outdoors, and sitting on the deck, and concerts in the park and all things warm and relaxing and fun.

Remember that director's chair I reupholstered in reversible Arrow? I decided it needed a footrest.

Which could also be a side table. 

And which I thought I'd better make three of, so the girls could each have one.

I made the white-and-orchid one first. And decided that while it was perfect for Kate, who's now 6, it was too little small for Jenna or Emily. So I made the next two a little larger.

Here are the finished dimensions for both stools - the larger

and the smaller.

With a little bit of simple Math, they can easily be sized up for adults.

Want to make your own? I'm sharing the tutorial today on How About Orange!

All you need is lumber,

some hardware,

ordinary woodworking tools,

and fabric. 
Or - if you're not big on sewing - store-bought placemats.

But, really, the sewing is simple - just a rectangle and straight seams.

Make the frame,

staple on (or hammer in tacks) the fabric,

and you've got some cute seats.

Fold them up to store or pack them in the car.

Or put food on them.

Or employ them as photoshoot props.
(Or simply an excuse to use some really gorgeous fabric, really.)

See the tutorial here at How About Orange!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reversible Chair In Arrow

I am very excited to tell you all about my friend Jessica Jones' new fabric collection: Arrow!

You all know Jessica, right? She is the very talented and funny author of the very chic and popular blog How About Orange. She designs beautiful stuff, including, but not limited to, fabric. Of which she has several collections. Which are all gorgeous and inspiring to work with. 

And with which I have made all kinds of things.
(click on each caption to go to the archived post):
Market basket in Outside Oslo: Dusk Tulip

Lunch Bucket in Outside Oslo: Dawn Tulip

Morphing Wallet-Totes 

Swatch strap in Modern Flora: Herb
Book strap in Outside Oslo: Dawn Tulip

I am, to say the least, a forever fan. 

But back to Arrow. When Jessica's new line was ready to be shared with the world, I wanted to make stuff with it right away. Even while I was still in Singapore, mind you. So I emailed her and she sent fabric and, once I was sufficiently recovered from jet lag, I made that chair. 

This is Arrow, currently available in navy/orchid, orchid/white and navy/white. My camera settings are a bit odd in the photo below and made the orchid look pinker than it really is, incidentally. 

And this is the chair, 

which is reversible.
Because almost everything can be made reversible if you are sufficiently scheming.

I didn't make the frame, though. That I got on craigslist.

Here's how I made the reversible Seat and Back. 

The Seat first:

I cut out the two layers of fabric, plus interfacing/stabilizer.
Now, the Arrow fabric is canvas, which is quite sturdy by itself. However, since it was going to become a chair that would bear an adult's weight, I reinforced it with two layers of plain natural canvas, which acted as a sew-in stabilizer for each Arrow fabric layer.

I sewed up the side seams,

(here you can see one of the side seams where the two fabrics meet)

flattened it all out, tucked in the SA along the top and bottom edges, and sewed both fabrics together, leaving a channel at the side seams into which to inserting things (explanation later).

Did the same thing for the Back.

Not all director's chairs work this way but for this one, both the Seat and Back are removable i.e. they aren't permanently attached to the frame. This allows them to be flipped over and, thus, be reversible. The Seat utilizes two flat sticks

that are slotted into the side channels

and wedged into a cutaway groove under the armrests.

When the armrests are flipped up, they hold the Seat in place. 

The Back is then slid over the back posts, to make a complete chair.

Both the Seat and Back can then be removed for a face change.

One frame, two looks!

Another Arrow furniture project is up next.

In the meantime, go visit Jessica on How About Orange to see what other people have made in Arrow. Arrow, along with Jessica's other fabric collections, is available at The Needle Shop here.