Must-Have Crafting Tools Countdown #8

#8 – Sewing Machine

My mom and I got this little Kenmore Mini Ultra 3/4 Size sewing machine several years ago when it was on sale during Black Friday.  I think it must’ve been $50 or something ridiculous like that.  It only has 6 stitches, but honestly, I don’t even use all of them!  

This little guy has been faithful all these years, helping me make things like my first quilt, stuffed fabric birdies, paper garlands, scarves, and all sorts of baby stuff.

A sewing machine is perfect for whipping up handmade gifts in a few hours’ time, especially when you’re working with felt, as it requires no finished seams.  Stitching on paper is also a nice touch for homemade cards or invitations with a cozy, DIY feel.

I don’t think I could live without my sewing machine….I’m still trying to convince Dean to let me take it to the Caribbean with us. :P

Welcome, Elijah Eliot Wan!

Today is my little nephew’s one month birthday! Isn’t he just a darling? I never thought that I could love someone so tiny so very, very much. My sister has been sending me pictures almost daily so I can keep up to date with all of little E’s developments and all his little faces and expressions.

Of course, before Elijah arrived, I set to work sewing and making all sorts of thing to prepare for his arrival. Here are some little tote bags I made for my sis and Billy to make it easier for them to go out with their little one, similar to the ones found here.

A receiving blanket for baby

And some baby boys bibs.
And for mom, a nursing cover for feeding on the go.

Happy birthday, little guy! Auntie can’t wait to meet you soon.

Happy Mother’s Day!

For Mother’s Day this year, I decided to make an apron for my mom because she loves to cook for her family and friends. Her specialties include pots of slow-simmered Chinese soup, antioxidant-rich “smoothies” that usually include questionable things like bitter melon and tomatoes (she used to offer these to Dean when we were dating and he’d have to down them with a straight face…poor guy!), and an assortment of Cantonese and Vietnamese dishes that my sister and I have since tried to learn.

I used a pattern out of the Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts to sew the apron out of some linen I had on hand. I shortened and scaled it down a bit since my mom is pretty petite.

Then, I used my Silhouette SD cutter to cut out the images of a soup pot, blender, and wok on freezer paper. I ironed the freezer paper directly onto the apron, which created a seal so the paint wouldn’t seep through. At this point, I realized I didn’t have a single paintbrush in the house! Fittingly, I ended up using a kitchen sponge to dab the paint over the stenciled images, which surprisingly worked out okay. I let it sit overnight and then peeled the stencil off the next morning, put it in an envelope, and shipped it off to Portland for my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

LA Fabric Shopping

LA is one of the greatest places to go fabric shopping. We made a trek this past weekend to downtown LA where I stocked up on fabric for all my Christmas projects!

Our first stop was the FIDM Scholarship Store, a store run by and benefiting students at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. All of merchandise at the store is donated by retailers, and the proceeds go toward funding scholarships for students. They have tons of inexpensive clothing and accessories for sale, but my favorite part of the store is the back area where they sell fabric! Most of the fabrics are only $1/yard! We also picked up some new ties for Dean for only $2/piece. Score!

Our next stop was in the Fashion District at the Michael Levine Loft, where all of the fabric is $2/pound! Ridiculous. They have all sorts of fabrics here – chiffon, lining, jersey, knit, and plenty of fancier fabrics too. The one thing they don’t have are cute cotton prints….

But you can find plenty of those at the main Michael Levine store, right across the street! The fabrics here tend to be more like regular retail prices (think: Joann’s), but they have a huuuge selection. They do have some good bargains for trim, thread, and sewing notions though.

My loot from the day:

And since we were downtown, we took the opportunity to visit one of our favorite restaurants in LA – Bottega Louie. Eating at this place is always such a treat. Aside from their mouth-watering pizzas and infamous portobello fries, the big stand-out about this place is the impeccable service. From the moment you walk in the door until the moment you leave, you get the feeling that you are well-taken care of. The waiters are attentive, but not smothering; friendly, but not overly chatty, and overall, just super professional and not to mention, good-looking. Seriously, when my brother-in-law visited, he even made the comment that it seemed like one of those places where all the aspiring Hollywood actors work when they’re not busy doing auditions.

Speaking of Hollywood actors, we had the pleasant surprise of being seated at Bottega Louie right next to The Office’s Oscar Nunez. He was literally sitting two feet away from me on the same booth/bench. His jacket was in my seat and had to be moved for me to get into my booth! It was pretty hilarious. He was so close to us that Dean and I couldn’t talk about sitting next to him without him overhearing us, so we spent half of our lunch writing notes to each other and texting back and forth. Haha! Well, our LA experience is now complete – we have seen our first celebrity!

Some photos:

amazing portobello fries with aioli

desserts and candies


Fall Scarves

One of my favorite things about fall is finally being able to wear things like boots, hats, coats, and scarves. I love layering items, and I think scarves are just about my favorite accessory. I’m really loving the ruffly scarves I’ve seen popping up in the stores, so I tried my hand at making a few for myself.

I followed this tutorial I found (which actually is for a summer scarf!), but used soft jersey material in light grays and jewel tones more appropriate for fall. I didn’t have to sew the edges like the tutorial says because jersey doesn’t really fray, so this was really a quick project!

For this second scarf, I took the same basic idea of the scarf above, but used a strip of fabric that was only about 3″ wide and about 2-3 times as long. I then sewed it onto the edge of a larger rectangular piece of fabric to add a ruffle trim all the way around.

These were so quick and easy to make, I finished all four of these in one evening!

LA Renegade Fair Recap

This was my first time attending the Renegade Fair, and I had such a blast! For those unfamiliar with the Renegade Fair, it’s a “large-scale DIY event featuring hundreds of independent artists and their unique handmade items.” The participants included some of the best indie-craft artists and designers, so I left the fair feeling very much inspired.

Some details and picture tidbits:

fabric-covered button barrettes

letterpress stationery

felt crowns!

canvas bow tote bags

felt beards + moustaches (one booth even had a drawing for a giant stuffed moustache!)

Here are the goodies/freebies I picked up at the fair:

clockwise from top left: Renegade Fair guide, bookmark, Etsy bumper sticker, wildflower seeds from the Urban Craft Center, random stickers + buttons, tote bag from Threadless, tote bag from Yelp, free shirt + sharpies also from Threadless (we spun a wheel and won them!), and oodles of fun business cards!

My only purchase from the day – an art print by Jen Skelley:

I love this beautiful print and the playful, whimsical style of her illustrations. I loved it so much, in fact, that I promptly went to IKEA right after the fair to purchase a frame for it so that I could display it immediately! :D

Since we were downtown (and we don’t often get a chance to drive over there), we also made a stop in the Fashion District to purchase some fabric from the ginormous fabric store, Michael Levine. This store is like the mother of all fabric stores! They have everything you could possibly need for your sewing projects, but my favorite thing about them is their huge selection of cotton prints. They have everything from their own Michael Levine brand fabric for $2/yard to designer fabrics like Liberty of London for a whopping $38/yard (stored behind a locked glass case!).

my loot

I think I’m feeling crafty from all the inspiration + supplies I gathered this weekend! :)
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