Category Archives: sewing

Sketchbook Satchel

A couple of months ago, I bought a yard of Japanese cotton on sale and decided it would become a bag for me. And finally, it has–one that could hold anything, but right now, I’m considering it a bag for my sketchbook, pens/pencils, and paints.

sketchbook satchel at amyhoodarts.com

I didn’t use a pattern for this, just my knowledge of how bags go together and an idea of the size and pockets that I wanted. I knew I wanted a drawing pad up to 9×12″ to fit into it, I wanted a pocket on the outside for pencils, etc, I wanted it lined, and I wanted the strap to be long enough to go across my body.

sketchbook satchel at amyhoodarts.com

The strap is actually a little longer than I need, so I knotted it. I decided to err on the side of too long, which is easier to adjust than too short.

sketchbook satchel at amyhoodarts.com

Yes that stray blue thread on the left annoys me. It was just a hitchhiker but I didn’t notice it before snapping the photo!

For the lining, I used a discarded button-down shirt of my husband’s. (Both the lining and the Japanese cotton were a bit wiggly to work with.) It’s been hanging in my closet waiting for repurposing for quite a while now, and it immediately came to mind as a good pairing for this cotton’s pattern.

I cut the lining pieces from the back of the shirt, but I carefully removed the pocket from the front of it and sewed it onto one of my lining pieces.

sketchbook satchel at amyhoodarts.com

It’s just the place to slip my cell phone.

I love this bag and I love that I made this bag. It’s a bit of a rush to have an idea in my head and use my sewing machine to turn it into reality. Pieces of flat fabric and a zipper, turned into a bag I can fill with art-making supplies, sling across my chest, and be on my way. Exactly what I wanted, because I designed it. So happy-making.

Making + Listening::8/2014

Much making going on this week, but not as much as I’d like. I am in a mood of really, really wanting to hole myself up in the studio and create, but of course, that’s not how it works. And this morning my husband left for Singapore; he’ll be back for a quick layover next weekend before leaving again for another few days. So the next couple of weeks will have little spare time, but I have a feeling I will really need to work to get in the making, because it will help.

First up, a pile of finished pockets. I began sewing these a while ago, got as far as sewing the green zippers halfway in, then one thing and another…anyway, I got them all done this past weekend.

finished zip pouches at amyhoodarts.com

None of these are in the shop yet… but I also cut a bunch more pieces this week, mainly for pencil pockets.

pile of cut fabric at amyhoodarts.com

I also watercolored a package of ATCs and stamped them all with hand-carved stamps. I’m offering a stamp-carving class locally and these are to help promote it at an event there this weekend.

stamped ATCs at amyhoodarts.com

As for the listening, I downloaded Spotify and am taking advantage of being able to listen to entire albums. The other day I listened to Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Fear, which I don’t own digitally, just on cassette. I wore that thing out. I’m not sure listening to it was actually a good idea, as it whooshed me straight back to my college dorm room, with the closet door on which I chalked the lyrics to “Walk on the Ocean.” (I just admitted that publicly!) Let’s just say you couldn’t pay me to go back to 1992.

Linking up with Dawn again this week! Do share–what are you making? Listening to anything good?

Child-Led First Hand-Sewing Project

Child-led first hand-sewing project at amyhoodarts.com

This looks like it was planned by a 5yo because it was.

One afternoon while I was working (publishing that zine from my dining room table, like you do), my daughter got out her fabric scraps box and got to work. She’s had her own pair of fabric scissors since she was two, and I’m quite comfortable by this point letting her use them without hovering over her the whole time. So she sat at coffee table nearby, and I sat at the dining room table, and we worked.

When she was finished, she showed me what she’d done. She’d cut out pieces to make a “Super G—,” complete with a drawn-on smiley face and a “G” on the felt body. She’d pinned the head, arms, and legs to the body piece. It just needed to be sewn, and I helped her a bit with that part, as this was her first time using thread. (She embroidered her initial not too long ago.)

She is so happy with this creation. And I adore it, not that it matters if I do or not. But what I adore about it is that it contains so much of her. It shares the style of her drawings and her paper collages. She sat down with fabric and scissors, cut out pieces, no-one hovering to tell her how Things Ought to Be when it comes to sewing. Of course the edges will fray. Of course all the knots are visible on the back. These refinements will come in time, if she continues to be interested in sewing. The most important thing right now, though, is her passion–that, and her utter delight in her finished work.

Making + Listening::5/2014

I’ve been very busy making this past week. First priority was a custom order for Dawn, for a pouch for her son’s Kindle. She also wanted it to be protected against wetness. After talking about her son’s interests, this is the design we came up with.

photo 1 copy

For the uninitiated, that’s a Minecraft cake block.

I lined it with PUL, the fabric that’s used for cloth diapers and wet bags.

photo 2 copy

It’s on its way to Dawn and her son now. I always put my own good intentions into what I make–even when I don’t know who may end up buying something, I make everything as if I’m sewing a gift for a friend. But when I do know who will be getting it, that’s even better, because then I’m thinking of them all the way through. Which is to say, I enjoyed making this for Ander!

Also this week I’ve been working to put together the next issue of Art Together. I am so excited about it. As part of that process, I made my first gelatin printmaking plate.

gelatin plate

Photo by V. Hood.

The kids and I spent Wednesday morning experimenting with it, and we were back at it after lunch on Thursday! I have a stack of gelatin plates in my fridge right now (I cut the large one down into smaller ones). Because this is a completely normal thing for some of us, to have ink-stained printmaking plates hanging out in the fridge.

I’m also happy to be making time for running again. Earlier this month I was cleared by the orthopedist to start slowly, with short distances, adding only 1/2 mile or so of mileage each week. I was waylaid a bit while my husband was away last week, but I got back to the track last night and it felt so good! I’m also transitioning to minimalist shoes, on the orthopedist’s recommendation, which requires a different footstrike, too. (I know, I lost the non-runners there, sorry.) The bright side is that coming back slowly to running makes it the perfect time to transition, because you have to do that slowly too. By the time sunrise is early enough for me to get out before I need to tend to the day (my favorite running time), I ought to be able to just head out the door and go.

As for listening…it’s still the Olympics most of the time, and Pandora shuffle in the art room. What a happy thing, to listen to music and make art.

(Linking up with Dawn again this week.)

A wee bit of overwhelm

Lilies from the supermarket.

Lilies from the supermarket.

As we wind down January and head into February, I’m feeling a little…overwhelmed. I agreed to run some printmaking workshops over February school vacation. I want the third issue of Art Together complete by the end of February. I have a guest post due by the end of February, and a column due as well. My husband will be away for another full week. February is only 28 days long. It’s not looking nearly long enough right now. But these are good “problems” to have—many Good Things will be accomplished in February. Yes.

So, a column is exciting! But also a bit pressure-y in a way writing my own blog is not. A magazine that comes out four times a year doesn’t lend to an immediate conversation with the reader, so I’m left trying to anticipate what those readers might want most. I polled my family members: If you were a homeschooler or parent who maybe wasn’t sure about “doing art” with your kids, what would you most want to know? These are the answers I received:

Husband: I don’t know. What do you want to know about [his industry]??

9yo: Give them things to do—art activities.

12yo: Make sure they know it’s easy.

5yo: Tell them what Art is.

I’m not touching “what Art is” with a ten-foot pole, I’ll tell you that much! (But the 5yo definitely thinks big and all-encompassing.) I like my oldest’s response. Inspiring confidence is definitely a goal of mine.

With all this writing ahead of me, I am keenly missing my running time. I didn’t necessarily compose writing while I was running—letting my mind wander in that way resulted in slower running, I noticed—but focusing my mind on breathing and pacing left it open to work on ideas without me beaming a spotlight on the process. Running is active mindfulness for me, clearing the brain. Oh, how I miss it. I get out for one-mile walks when I can, but that’s only 15 minutes and doesn’t have quite the same mind-clearing effect. I have another follow-up with the orthopedist next week and I’m hoping he says I can at least head back to the track (a soft, level surface) for short runs.

Sewing projects in progress.

Sewing projects in progress.

So how did I spend my weekend? Was I working on those deadlines? Um, not so much. I spent it at karate with the kids. Taking my daughter shopping to spend a gift card. She loved the mama-daughter shopping time (the boys went to get haircuts with dad), and I love that she loved it, even though department store shopping isn’t my thing. Doing the weekly grocery shopping, which, until spring arrives, now includes flowers as a line item. Sewing some pouches, none of which are complete yet. Planning another linocut. Spinning the wheels in my head a bit. How about you?

Lily sketch.

Lily sketch.

Making + Listening::1/2014

Check out that shorthand up there! This is the first Making + Listening post of 2014, and we’ll see if I can remember I did that next week. Lots of making went on here over the holiday break, including two pairs of flannel jammie pants and two new skirts for the girl. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, one half of our dining room table was given over to sewing and the other to cookie decoration…not a bad way to spend the day before Christmas. But all that is practically ancient history by now. I have pictures of the more recently created stuff for you instead.

thank you RAK mail art at amyhoodarts.com

Karen at Mail Me Some Art suggested that January be Random Act of Kindness mail art month, and that sounded like a great idea to me. I have some previously made background-only postcards on hand, so I added the elephant and the text and a note to the librarians at our local library and sent it along. If you want to join in, Karen has all the details here.

Right before Christmas, we received a box of nature goodies from Dawn. Sadly, our nature swap partner disappeared after receiving our box, so Dawn and her kids stepped in to make sure my kiddos got a box in return. It included this great sea urchin test, something we’ve never found on our beaches (although they do live in our waters).

sea urchin test at amyhoodarts.com

It’s sitting in the center of our dining room table, which is where all our best nature finds eventually end up, so it was in sight and on hand when I was looking for something to draw. Look at that texture! I had to give it a try.

sea urchin sketch at amyhoodarts.com

Remember the socks I began for my oldest a month ago, and then put aside for some Christmas knitting? They were lingering, and I was feeling guilty, and maybe a little unmotivated. Well, I finished the first one and began the next one right away, as you do. I knit on it steadily while watching playoff football, and this was the progress after one day’s knitting: half a sock.

sock in progress at amyhoodarts.com

The next day, I finished it while watching the BCS Championship Game. It’s extremely convenient that two of my hobbies–watching sports and knitting–are so complementary.

finished socks at amyhoodarts.com

These aren’t everyday socks. He wants warm handknit socks to wear to bed. I told him Tuesday morning that they were done, but I needed to take a picture before he could have them. (He didn’t bat an eyelash. He knows this by now.) They were on his bed when he got home from school. He bounded upstairs to tell me, “Those socks are AMAZING!” I will always knit for him, obviously.

Also this week, I tried out a new zippered pocket size. I have a bunch of 4″ zippers and I wanted to try a vertically oriented pencil pouch. This is the result.

vertical pencil pouch at amyhoodarts.com

It’s a little longer than most pencils and pens, but it’s the perfect size for double-pointed knitting needles still in their original packaging.

DPN pouch at amyhoodarts.com

I often need more than one set of DPNs, for instance, when I’m knitting mittens. I like to keep them in their pouches so I don’t lose any, but then I have them rattling around in my bag. The pouch I use to hold my knitting tools–a purchased one, long ago, in my Early Years of knitting–isn’t long enough to hold DPNs in their pouches. I think this might be a little deep for pens and pencils. I need to actually use it for a while to decide. I think it’s just right for DPNs, however.

I think I’m mostly caught up now, except for letting you know that I’m pleased to be amongst the contributors for the upcoming issue of Kindred: Nest, available for pre-order here. That list looks so impressive, and I can’t wait to hold the magazine in hand.

As for the listening part of this post, I could use suggestions of new music. I seem to be listening to the same five or so albums, interspersed with much older stuff. What’s your favorite, sort-of-recent album or band?

(Linking up with Dawn again this week!)

Notebooks in the Shop

I’ve added some new items to the shop, including some hand-colored and hand-stamped notebooks, like this one:

daisy moleskine notebook at amyhoodarts.com

And this one:

tree moleskine notebook at amyhoodarts.com

And a couple of others. I also added two new embroidered pouches:

I sewed both of these together this past weekend, and when I was completely finished–turning hole sewn closed by hand, pockets ironed–I regarded them with what can only be described as satisfaction. I am pleased by them, in that quiet way that comes of creating the thing that you envisioned. Sometimes I get that feeling from a piece of writing, too, the sense that it expressed exactly what I was trying to say. That’s a good feeling, a feeling worth slogging through the not-quite-right attempts in order to achieve.

Anyway, I suppose if I ever lose that feeling with these pouches, I’ll have to move onto making something else, because I hope the sense of care and satisfaction hangs around them like an aura, packaged and mailed right along with the pouch.

Her First Embroidery

My daughter, who recently turned five, has been cutting fabric with real fabric scissors for two-and-a-half years now. She has a box that holds her scraps, scissors, and a few pins, because when she cuts the fabric, she wants to pin pieces together. Naturally, she recently asked how to sew the pieces together, so I taught her the running stitch, using a large needle, the full six strands of bright embroidery floss, and some white felt.

sewing practice by 5yo at amyhoodarts.com

“I can’t believe you’re letting me use your materials!” she exclaimed, even though, of course, we share materials in the art room all the time. But up to this point, hand-sewing and embroidery is something she has watched me do, and I took needle and floss for her to use out of the zippered pouch that holds my embroidery scissors and needle case. Kids notice what supplies they’re given, and handing over the “real” supplies for her use demonstrated that I was taking her interest seriously.

After she sewed around all the edges of her practice piece, she decided she knew enough to embroider, so I taught her how to back stitch. After practicing that, she decided she wanted to embroider the first initial of her name. I drew it onto the felt to her specifications, and she set to work.

back stitch embroidered "G" by 5yo at amyhoodarts.com

Those are careful, attentive, small stitches right there–she was working quite earnestly, and she can’t wait to start another project. This piece is now hanging up on her bulletin board in her room. She has always had excellent fine-motor coordination, so I’m not surprised she was able to do this. I also started her with a full thickness of embroidery floss, which is less likely to tangle than sewing thread, and a larger needle, which is easier for smaller fingers to hold. Felt is stiffer than regular cotton and doesn’t require a hoop (although you can certainly use one). Contrasting floss shows up well on the felt, so she can see where she’s sewing or stitching. And I was on hand to quickly help with confusion or mistakes.

I’m pretty impressed with her first embroidery, but more importantly, she is delighted to have learned something new that she wanted to do.

A Birthday Shirt and Cape

I’ve been quiet here because I was busy last week getting ready for my youngest child’s fifth birthday. For her third birthday, I surprised her with a white t-shirt with her number and a crown painted in pink, and now a new shirt is expected every time her number changes. Last year’s shirt was purple with a light blue number and crown, and this year’s is pink with a black number and crown. Of course she wore it on the big day itself.

five

I made it using a freezer paper stencil, which is so easy, with such satisfying results. I’ve been using them for years now, and I’m working on a tutorial for a blog hop I’m participating in on Thursday with other members of my fantasy football league. (I’m a woman of varied interests!) So look for that.

She is also wearing her new wizard cape, which is technically for Halloween, but she really, really wanted it in time for her birthday. She and her brother picked out Halloween decorations for her party, and Halloween plates, and she wanted people to wear costumes, and she wanted her wizard cape. Four years ago, when she was just a wee baby who wouldn’t sleep without me, I agreed to sew each of the boys special capes–my younger son has one just like the one you see here, except it’s white (he was a ghost), and my older son had a wizardy one with stars and moons on the fabric and big drapey sleeves. I drove myself into several meltdowns trying to sew slippery fabric around the schedule of a clingy baby, plus I’d only been sewing for a year, which means I’d sewn as much as possible for a month before having the baby, then barely sewed at all, then made those two capes. (After that, my husband banned me from sewing Halloween costumes.)

But this year, four years later…I know so much more. I made this cape with French seams, so the raw edges wouldn’t fray and unravel like they’ve done in my son’s, because patterns never do tell you what to do about those raw edges, they just figure you know, and I didn’t. The fabric didn’t seem at all unmanageable, I gathered the hood as instructed (I don’t think I even attempted it last time), and I turned the narrow hems with no trouble at all. It took a goodly bit of time to sew, of course, but that’s all it took–time. It didn’t take anything else out of me. As I sewed the pattern pieces together multiple times (because of the French seams) and watched my seams line up and everything come together smoothly, I kept thinking, I have come so far! That’s a nice feeling, and a pretty good bonus that comes from making the same pattern four years later. As my daughter twirled around in her cape, pretending to fly, I sat on the couch watching her and couldn’t help saying, “I did such a beautiful job making your cape.”

Montana Bound

I’m leaving so early tomorrow morning that I should be in bed by now. (Seriously–I just set my cell phone alarm and it told me it would be going off in 5 hours, 28 minutes. What?!) I’ll be back in Rhode Island and this space again next week, with good things to share, I hope. I’ve been busy with my to-do list the last few days, not just packing (and unpacking, and repacking, because I’m taking three planes each way and do not want to have to check a bag) but also leaving assignments for my homeschooled kid and a master list of where which kid needs to be when.

But before any of that, I finished a project I’ve been working on, with the plan being to have it available to share with the world shortly after I get back. Then, I turned to my sewing stack, so I can add new items to the shop when I return as well.

The sewing pile.

I didn’t quite get to the end of it, but close.

I’m looking forward to September, y’all. Six days away, followed by lots of goodness to share, a birthday for me, teaching some classes, helping coach soccer again, another 5K…this is going to be a fun, exciting month.

Enjoy your week!