Monday, December 26, 2016



. . . also, Merry Christmas, everyone!

If only we'd gotten our act together enough to take a glowing family portrait. Alas, we did not.
No - wait - we did:

Anyway, about that Niffler. I did make him after all (and yes, he even has a pocket for jewelry). Here are some substandard creature-shots in horrendous lighting.

That aside, I would not say he is perfect. For instance, I didn't have black fur in the house and had to make him dark brown. His snout/bill/snuffly nose thing isn't amazingly precise. 

But Emily (who'd asked for him) was right - he is somewhat Menagerie-esque in shape, and for a single night's work of drafting this prototype, Emily was quite happy with him.

Speaking of things Harry Potterish, I am still editing the hundreds of photos of Emily's Harry Potter party in September. I shall post them soon!

Have a wonderful new year, all, and may it be rich in family, love, safety, health, hope, peace, and all the things that truly matter. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


This amused me today.

It's a blobfish -

Poor thing.

It is, however, the favorite animal of one of Emily's very good friends, so we made her a Menagerie Blobfish for her birthday. I've made a fish from the Menagerie base before, but Emily convinced me that it could be turned on its head/tail and be a fish in the backwards configuration, too. Well! It turns out she was right. It also turns out that it's the exact shape for other sea creatures, like the clownfish. And angler fish. And manatees. And fattish sperm whales. 

I love being surprised by how versatile Menagerie is! 

Emily, incidentally, has asked for a Niffler. Apparently, it's Menagerie-friendly, too, she claims. Do I have the time to squeeze one in by Christmas Eve? One hopes.

We're set for a busy week here in chez ikatbag, so in case I don't pop back here before the weekend, have a wonderful Christmas, everyone, and safe travels for those leaving town. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Once Upon A MidSummer Night

Not really Christmassy, but I found this series of photos in our photo library this week and wanted to share. The husband captured this from the yard, through the sewing window earlier this summer.  Initially, since they were all so similar, I was going to pick just one shot. But then I realized they were a story without words. 

Aw - making a gift for someone you love. 
Maybe it is about Christmas after all.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Time Warp bags in Shop

Hello friends!

I feel somewhat accomplished because I weighed and measured and listed some items in my etsy shop for you today. Remember the Zip A Bag series from some months ago?

I promised that I'd be putting some of the samples in the shop for you to adopt, and they are there now! Whoo! I shall miss them because they were fun to design and make and beautiful to behold in their completed state. But I can't use them all and I don't have space for them at home, so I'd rather they go to other people who will use them and love them.

Please note that not all the bag samples from the Zip A Bag series are listed. My children and I have called dibs on some of the samples, for sentimental reasons. But there are still quite a few to browse and fall in love with. Each of them is designed and drafted from scratch - some are inspired by pre-existent bags and the ubiquitous classic zippered pouches, but the finished items are all limited-edition, one-of-a-kind prototypes that I may never make again, just because.

I've also added a few items from my existing stock, and there are a few Port & Sort Tote hardware kits still available if you want to make some from the pattern for Christmas gifts. If anyone is interested in the Port & Sort Tote fabric+hardware kits, please send me an email to request them. I don't have the Thermaflec or ripstop nylon on hand but I can pick some up at the fabric store within a day or two, and I have enough zippers in all four colors (coral, orange, light blue, royal blue) to put together a custom kit for you, and I can give you an estimate on when they'll be ready.

A note about shipping: based on previous years' experience, items can be shipped overseas in time for the holidays if you order before the 10th? of December. Shipping domestically buys us an extra week, but do purchase early to be sure things get where you need them by Christmas.

Go here to begin shopping, and thank you for your support!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Kids Made Their Own Advent Calendars

Today's photographs are brought to you by our little substitute camera because our Big Camera is in the Camera Spa for a tune-up. All I will say is I miss our Big Camera. I hope he comes home soon.

Advent is upon us this week.

And I feel a bit sentimental and nostalgic. See, I was looking back over the months and years I've been blogging and I realized something. Long ago, when I first started blogging, I was a mother of a preschooler, a toddler and a nursing infant. It's funny. No, the funny thing was not how I had no life apart from that which revolved around one or more of those children. Or even how my clothes never fit and I still wore them anyway. Out of the house, even.

The funny thing was me starting a blog when I had no mental or physical space in my life to take on the learning curve of social media or the weird genre that was bloglingo. Or a DSLR. Or a photo-editing program. Or, for that matter, staying awake long enough to write anything that wasn't feeding times or a log of the contents of diapers. 

I blame the Other Blogs. The ones that went before me, the pioneers and inspirers and trailblazers and round-uppers. The ones whose photos and children-in-handmade-glories motivated me to want to sew, craft, dig out my glue gun, create, design.

And to share unto others as others had shared unto me.
(How does that saying go?)

Over the years, I've watched so many of those Other Blogs evolve, dwindle, disappear. And for good reason: people's children grew up and became teenagers, college students, adults. There was no longer a need to make quiet books, burp cloths, tag blankets, cardboard ovens. 

Then there was the advent of iPhones and Instagram and Twitter, which offered deliverance from long hours of photo-editing and writing clever paragraphs. People could now brag-post without actually having to brag-post: a single photo of a finished quilt, snapped and uploaded on the same device, and they could call it a day. 

And some Other Blogs I loved became other kinds of blogs - shopfronts for commercial pursuits: etsy stores and fabric lines and sewing patterns. Mine, too. I mean, look: I have an etsy store. Not very well-stocked, true, but still - a shop. And I have a pattern store. And I am in books and magazines and whatnot. 

How on earth. . .?

Of course I'm happy for those enterprising bloggers who have Gone On To Turn Hobby Into Business. If we can make a living (in whatever capacity) from doing what we love, let's shoot out the fireworks and give thanks, is the general consensus.

But I miss my old blog. And the other Old Blogs that were full of charming handmade crafts that so whetted my appetite to make and give and share and enjoy - simply for the sake of (and delirious fun in) making.

And that is the story of my nostalgia attack.

Maybe I've just had a busy year, doing who-knows-what. Or maybe I sorely miss cardboard. After all, the cardboard side of my split personality is the purest facet of my crafting soul. I am never as gleefully creative with fabric as I am with cardboard, nor as courageous against norms and expectations of what is possible, or sensible. 

Or maybe I miss my kids being Little Ones, with their great thirst for markers and coloring and globs of glue and glitter and five-minute insta-projects. 

So this year, I thought I'd spend some time doing some of the things I used to do with the girls when they were small. We called them Complex Crafts - those that required some prep time and which involved us working together over more than a single day. Here's one: paper tube Advent Calendars. 

It's all over the internet: 24 tubes made from cardstock, tissue paper, masking tape and handmade number stickers. Each child got her own box. I prepped them and announced that we would be making our own Advent Calendars this year.

To my surprise (and delight), they were excited. Whoda thought - these girls who planned their own birthday parties and made their own jewelry and sewed their own bags got excited - and serious - about paper tubes and stickers. 

And you wouldn't believe how serious.

We sat and visited together as we worked - they colored and masking-taped, and I hot-glued. Just like old times. Then, when the tubes were all assembled, they stuck their stickers on.

Tomorrow I will fill these tubes with truffles and treats and glue them onto a board so there won't be any peeking. And, come Thursday, the poking and popping will begin. 

Some quick instructions if you want to make your own:

  1. Cut 6 sheets of letter-size cardstock into quarters. I've seen toilet paper tubes used, too, but unless you like the natural look, you'd still need to cover that with pretty paper, or paint it. Each piece will be 4.25" x 5.5". I used 5 green sheets and one brown sheet.
  2. Roll and hot-glue each piece along its long edge into a cylinder 4.25" long (the 5.5" edge becomes the circumference).
  3. Cut 24 circles of tissue paper, about 2.5" in diameter.
  4. Spread white glue (not hot glue) around the mouth of each cylinder (on the outside of the tube), center a circle of tissue paper over the mouth and press down the overhang onto the glue to form a "drum skin" covering one end of each tube.
  5. Print out the sheet of numbered circles below.
  6. Cut them out and turn them into stickers (if you have a sticker maker), or else leave them as is to be stuck on with glue; it is easier to color a whole sheet before cutting them out.


  1. Cut twenty-four 6" strips of tape wide enough to cover the messy tissue paper glued to the outside of the tubes. Mine were about 3/4" wide. You might need to demonstrate wrapping this strip around one of the tubes.
  2. When tubes are all wrapped by child, hot-glue them into a Christmas Tree shape.
  3. Fill with treats.
  4. Glue a board over the back of the Christmas Tree shape.


  1. Color the numbered circles.
  2. Cut out the numbered circles (if not turned into stickers already).
  3. Glue the numbered circles onto the tissue-paper covered opening of the tubes.
  4. Wrap tape around the mouth of the tubes, covering the glued-on tissue paper.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cardboard Shoutout

Very excited to show you what arrived in the mailbox this weekend:

Isabelle Bruno's and Christine Baillet's Reinventer series of books by the French publishing company Hoebeke Editions features fun new ways to use familiar products and materials. The first two books were all about Lego and IKEA.

The newest book, Reinventer Ses Emballages is all about packaging materials - - a little bit upcycling, a little bit repurposing and a whole lot of art, readers are challenged to put a new spin on an old thing that's headed for the recycling bin. 

I am ridiculously thrilled to say that I am in it!

Well, my cardboard train is, at any rate.


Let me show you what's in the book. It's divided into four sections according to difficulty level. 

My cardboard train is in the intermediate category.

Here are some projects from the different categories: a cardboard lamp (Simple),

Cardboard lamppost and masks (Intermediate),

A wooden palette outdoor swing and chair (Advanced),

and a manipulate-able cardboard bird costume and a camera made from a sardine can (Expert).

It's mind-boggling, the things people have made from plastic cartons, cardboard boxes, wooden pallets, glass bottles, food containers, tin cans and other kinds of packaging. I wish I could show you everything in the book - from organizers, working toys and furniture to entire rooms and offices made from cardboard and pallets. That's cardboard walls and supporting posts, people.

I haven't seen this book on the US amazon, but I found it on the UK site and the France site 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Really - that was what our Halloween was this year: uncommonly warm and summery.  We couldn't believe we were out trick-or-treating in just long sleeves and no sweater.  Literally, a midsummer night's dream come true!

Speaking of which, Kate was a fairy this year. 

Here she is, looking all demure.

A bit too demure.

Ah, that's much more like it.

Here's the ensemble - one dress, one pair store-bought wings, and one floral garland, which was a hand-me-down from Emily's 2013 costume.

While on the topic of hand-me-downs, when Kate said she wanted to be a fairy this year, I was ecstatic for all of five minutes, thinking she could wear Emily's fairy outfit from 2012, when Emily was exactly the same age Kate is now. 

Everyone rushed to the costume closet (where all the outgrown costumes go to languish), my heart soaring with the wild hope of sewing one fewer costume this year.

It didn't fit.
At all.

But see - that's the problem with custom drafts: what fit Emily beautifully at 8 will only ever fit Emily at 8, and no other 8-year-old. 

And Emily said, without a single ounce of pity, "Anyway, that's not the point, Mom. We're supposed to each get a new outfit each year. We all look forward to that!"

Now who on earth started that ridiculous tradition?
Apparently, me - in the carefree days when I only had one child. 

So . .  brand new identical-looking fairy dress it was, then. 

The skirt is a full circular skirt with a scalloped hem. 

I twined together two different colored trims for the waist seam and hand-stitched that onto the dress.

The lining was soft coordinating knit for the bodice, hand-stitched at the waist to the wrong side of the skirt. Two reasons for hand-stitching rather machine-sewing this seam: one, it was easier to completely face the neckline and strap if I could leave the entire waist edge open till the last. 

And two, the skirt consisted of five different fabrics and the outer bodice consisted of two, coming together in a bulky waist seam of seven rather itchy layers. Hand-stitching the bodice lining over that seam hid it and prevented abrasive contact with the skin when the dress was worn.

And now we come to the most important part of the costume: the sidekick. In the last couple of years, Kate has picked costumes based on their likelihood of including a coordinating one for Bunny, her favorite stuffed animal. Last year, she was a bunny and Bunny was a carrot. This year, her sisters tried to help her brainstorm (Kate as Rey and Bunny as BB8 was our favorite combination) and Kate finally that Bunny be a pixie. She very assiduously designed the outfit and measured Bunny, then drew her technical diagram.

She ran into slight problems during the layout and cutting stage (don't we all?) and I had to step in and rescue her. We finished Bunny's costume in a fraction of the time it took to make Kate's.

Okay, even I admit that it's kinda cute.

Cardboard wings were started, but eventually abandoned, so Bunny's really more elf than pixie. 

Which is great, because now her costume can double up for Christmas. Not quite hand-me-down, but we get to double the mileage by making it multi-holiday!