Thursday, September 13, 2012

fresh sketchbooks

a new school year means new school supplies. my kids' school supplies are included in their tuition which is convenient and means that all the students have the same supplies. however, i do love shopping for new art supplies and we ran out of sketchbooks some time ago. it's too easy for the kids to grab my printer paper and the sketchbooks are a great way to see their progress as artists over time.

the plan for these sketchbooks is that they will be used for 'family drawing time'. the idea is from amanda soule's book 'the creative family' though we've been doing our own version for years. we always remember to take paper and a pen when we go out to eat with the kids and pass the paper around the table while waiting for our food to arrive. everyone gets a chance to spontaneously draw with elaborate and often hilarious results. each of us will have our own book and sit down together to draw the same object at our own dining room table. (cancelling the cable tv last year has been great for doing creative things together).

this is the first time i've seen sketchbooks with such colourful binding. de serres is having a sale - five books and a tube of winsor & newton white gouache was about $50 - if you're in canada.

let the drawing begin!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tutorial: Monkey Shorts

monkey shorts: little shorts to wear under your skirt while playing on the monkey bars.
the girl will be starting grade three in a few days and we've been getting ready - shoe shopping, labelling clothes, and organizing her uniform. we decided that maybe it might be nice to have some little shorts to wear over her underwear/under her skirt - to preserve a little modesty while climbing the playground equipment during recess. i used an old pair of leggings as the basis for the new shorts.
- one yard of cotton jersey, pre-shrunk (can make about 6 pairs depending on size). i used navy blue to comply with school uniform requirements. old t-shirts would work well if they are very stretchy.
- 1/2" wide elastic, a couple of yards if you want to make a few pairs
- thread to match jersey fabric
- small pieces of ribbon (optional) to use as tags/labels
- tracing paper or scrap paper, paper cutting scissors, pencil, ruler
- old pair of leggings or jersey tights to use as a pattern
- sewing machine (that can sew zig zag stitch)
- serger machine (not necessary but very nice to have)
- sewing machine needle for knit fabrics
- twin sewing machine needle for knit fabrics (not necessary, but great for finishing hems on knit fabrics)
- scissors or rotary cutter (for fabric)
- pins
- measuring tape
Step 1: Cut the old pair of leggings to desired length and cut along seam lines.

Step 2: Lay the leggings onto the tracing paper and trace in pencil.   
Step 3: Add 1/4" seam allowance to the seams and 1/2" to the hem. Draw a line to indicate the grainline and label with any notes you might need. Cut out the pattern with your paper scissors.
Step 4: Pin the pattern to a double layer of the fabric, lining up the grain line. Cut out using your fabric scissors or a rotary cutter.
Step 5: With the fabric pieces right sides together, pin the leg seams together.
Step 6: Sew the leg seams making sure to remove pins as you go. If you are using a serger (as I did), just trim off a little as you sew. The seams can be sewn using a standard sewing machine - use a stretch stitch or a narrow zig zag stitch. Stretch the seams as you sew.
Step 7: Turn one leg right side out.
Step 8: Place one leg inside the other, right sides together. Match leg seams and pin.
Step 9: Sew the crotch (is there another word?) seam together, removing pins as you sew. Again, you can use a zig zag or stretch stitch with a standard sewing machine if you don't have a serger. Remember to stretch seams as you sew - we wouldn't want this important seam to split open while on the monkey bars or doing cart wheels!
Step 10: To hem the legs, turn up the bottom of each leg 1/2" and pin. Sew from the right side using a standard sewing machine with a twin needle or using one single needle with a zig zag stitch. Don't forget to stretch the fabric and remove pins as you sew.
Step 11: Measure the elastic waistband from the old leggings and add 1". Or wrap the elastic around your child's waist, stretching it slightly. Lap the edges of the elastic over 1/2". Zig zag stitch the elastic together.
Step 12: Divide the elastic waistband into four even sections and mark with pins. Do the same for the shorts. Pin the waistband to the wrong side of the shorts, aligning edges. Stitch edges from the right side using a serger OR zig zag stitch if using a standard sewing machine. Remember to stretch your fabric and elastic and to remove pins as you sew.
Step 13: Fold over the waistband to the wrong side (interior) of the shorts and pin. At this point you can add a little piece of ribbon to the center of the back (optional).
Step 14: Using the twin needle, sew the waistband while stretching the fabric/elastic and removing pins as you go. This can also be done using a standard sewing machine with a zig zag stitch.

Step 15: Make a lot of monkey shorts and play, play, play!

Monday, August 20, 2012

back to school prep

we've started getting ready for school to start. and after spending a small fortune on new shoes and some extra uniform pieces, i decided that i could make them new lunch bags with fabric i had in my stash. now that my little man will be in all day kindergarten he will have to take a lunch and snacks. and the girl seems to have a hollow leg so the generous size of her lunch bag will accomodate a full lunch and lots of snacks.

i used the tutorial from pink penguin with a couple of small modifications to enclose all the seams. inspired by knot, thread, stitch i traced the kids actual printing/handwriting and embroidered over it. they are thrilled with the results.

now to research some lunch ideas...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RIP David Rakoff

 from nytimes
i was so sad to hear that david rakoff died, having just finished his book, half empty, on thursday. it's a strange feeling to know that as i was reading his last chapter detailing his brutal struggle with cancer, his family and friends were saying goodbye to him. this american life posted his last dance on their website. eff you, cancer.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

new skill: piping

this was a fun project for a friend who needed new cushion covers for her kitchen chairs. she chose the fabric - a lovely coated cotton with an abstract chrysanthemum pattern. there were a ton of videos on youtube to help learn about cutting bias strips for piping and sewing it onto cushions. i bought sash cord from the hardware store - 45 feet for about $2 - much cheaper than the fabric store. now i'm looking around the house to see how i can incorporate more piping.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Frieda's Machine

our house is only one of four on a block with views of the gulf islands, each lot with a substantial garden. we've been lucky to make friends with the family next door who have lived here for over 40 years. our kids play with their kids, running through the sprinklers and playing in treehouses and forts together. we feel fortunate to have such friendly neighbors.

the beautiful house behind us has just been sold. it is a beautiful custom built mid-century home and we hope the new owners don't tear it down. the original owner is a lovely lady named Frieda. she lived there on her own until she was 93 and started to need a little extra help though i know she is still sharp as tack. she's is now in a senior's home and according to her family, enjoying the outings and company. we got to know her by waving across our yards and when it snowed we shovelled her walk. we made sure to take her garbage cans back from the curb. we chatted every few days when we saw each other out shopping on our local market street and learned about all of the changes in our neighborhood over the last 50 years. we took over cookies, muffins, and vegetables from our garden. she was always lovely to my kids and they learned to be 'neighbourly'. Frieda would tell me not to sew too late into the night - her kitchen looked onto my sewing studio and she said she said she wished her eyes would still let her sew. she brought over fabric and we talked about sewing projects. my favourite memory of her will be when she hired a maintenance crew called 'men in kilts' to clean out her gutters and spent a lot of time checking that the base of the ladders was secure for the handsome, kilted workmen.

it has taken Frieda's family the better part of a year to clear out her belongings. it must be heartbreaking to find new homes for all of your belongings and then sell the family home. Frieda's family was very kind to donate much of it to charity. we are very grateful for the doll dishes, child's chair, and a lovely slipper chair sits in the corner of my bedroom. but i was most touched to receive the little desk and chair in the picture above. the top folds out to become a sewing table and a beautiful 1963 Singer Touch & Sew pops up. it came with all the accessories and instructions and has knee controls. i can't wait to teach my kids how to sew on this machine and carry on the handmaking/sewing/crafting tradition that Frieda enjoyed. we miss you, neighbor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

happy anniversary

nine years ago we were enjoying hot, sunny weather and getting ready to be married. it really was a perfect day surrounded by our families and friends.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

summer reading

this post could also be called 'restrain oneself from kissing postal delivery person'. i was so thrilled to get the mail on monday - a gigantic box of books and even my favourite sewing magazine delivered to my door. most of these books have been on the bookstore shelves for some time but not on my own shelves. i've needed a little fresh inspiration and these are scratching that itch. this september (in one month!) i will be able to focus on my interior design business thanks to all-day kindergarden.

i am really enjoying lisa soloman's 'knot,thread,stitch'. great projects, clear instructions, and lots of encouragement to try stitching your own way. i can't wait to transfer some of my kids' drawings onto pillows for them. and to get them started on a little hand stitching of their own.

lest you think i've been only reading books with pictures, here's a list of what i've read this summer on my kobo ereader and from the library. and no, i have not succumbed to reading any of the 'fifty shades of grey' books - yet.

summer reading list 2012 (in no particular order):

the birth house - ami mckay
cutting for stone - abraham verghese
the descendents - kaui hart hemmings
freedom - jonathan franzen
irma voth - miriam toews
let's pretend this never happened - jenny lawson
the sense of an ending - julian barnes
the sentimentalists - johann skibsrud
the shoemaker's wife - adriana trigiani
the sisters brothers - patrick dewitt
this is how: overcoming shyness,... - ausgusten burroughs
committed - elizabeth gilbert
the 100-mile diet - alisa smith and j.b. mackinnon
life a user's manual - georges perec

if i keep going at this pace i may need a new prescription for my glasses...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

true love

last weekend was spent celebrating the wedding of my mom and bob. they are just so happy together and we couldn't be more thrilled for them. (and, finally, my lifelong wish to be a bridesmaid was fulfilled).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

new pouches

the last couple of months just got away from me. i had every intention to post but very little time. it's nice to relax a little after a couple of fast paced months.

the kids are at summer camp, the laundry is done, and i don't have to go into work today and it is absolutely lovely to have a little time to myself. it was an entirely pleasant process gettting some new bags photographed and listed in my etsy shop. i love the new size of pouches - just right for pencils or makeup.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lightning McQueen

the little brother turns 5 soon and he is having a joint birthday party with two of his girl friends in his class. like many little boys his age he is obsessed with 'cars', 'cars 2', lego and transformers but lightning mcqueen remains in the a-1 top seeded position around our house. his race car driving grandfather is pretty thrilled to have a fellow car enthusiast in the family after having two daughters (though i do know how to change a tire and my dream car is an aston martin).

there will be about 100 people at the party tomorrow - bouncy castles, pizza, cake and general mayhem. in lieu of presents, we've asked the guests to bring a donation for the vancouver food bank. for loot bags this year we decided to hand out cookies of our boy's favourite character instead of a bag of cheap plastic junk. i can't take any credit for the amazing cookies - my dear friend is a fantastic baker and she did an amazing job! the boy is so thrilled and sends a big sticky hug and kiss out to mrs. c.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak

from wikipedia
from gwarlingo
sad to wake up to the news that maurice sendak has passed away. his books were read over and over and over to me when i was a kid and it's been my great pleasure to read them over and over and over to my own children. thank you for the wonderful stories and illustrations.

Friday, May 4, 2012


from: global grind
shockingly sad. i've loved the beastie boys since high school. thank you for bringing hip hop to my little sheltered suburban world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

lego, lego, lego

via OhGizmo!
the cold, wet spring we've been 'enjoying' and a lack of cable tv has meant that my kids have been entertaining themselves with lego every chance they get. every time they get a new set they build it according to the plan. but within days the 'kits' have morphed into a dozen different original creations. the boys tend to make ships, vehicles, and things that move or shoot and nothing seems to be saved in it's original format for long. my daughter tends to create elaborate structures and villages and woe is the brother who steals a coveted piece or a parent who accidently knocks anything over.

the nearest mall just opened a lego shop and we've visited several times. the kids love to look at it all but have not harassed us for any more sets. which really is an indication of just how much lego we already have at home. (we've probably spent more on lego than i did on my first car. and anyone who has ever fallen in love with a little british sports car will understand exactly what that means). but this weeks visit to the lego store had me seriously considering a purchase or two for myself. almost the entire lego architecture line was calling my name. mother's day is coming up and lego will last longer than flowers or a british sports car. and it's certainly the only way i'm going to own farnsworth house or fallingwater.

Monday, April 30, 2012

mother's day

mother's day is quickly approaching. one of these little pouches would be a great gift - filled with with a gift card or some beauty products for your mom, grandma, or aunt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

quickie lunch

grabby post title but no, it's not what you might be thinking. sometimes you need to make a quick meal and this is about 5 minutes total. this is our favourite small kitchen gadget of late. it's from kuhn rikon and was brought by santa but has just been rotated into daily use. it juliennes like nobody's business.

recipe: quickie lunch*

1 package ramen noodles (toss out the flavour packet - there is nothing good in it)
3 cups of broth (preferably homemade/low-sodium)
one carrot, peeled and julienned
handful of frozen peas/corn/green beans
1 egg, beaten
finely chopped green onion (optional)

cook noodles in boiling broth for about 2 minutes. add vegetables and cook for a minute longer. add egg and stir and top with green onion if desired. serve in bowls. slurping allowed.

*no pictures of the noodles as they were eaten in less time that it takes to make them!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

domino magazine


i have almost every issue of domino (2005-2009) carefully stored in my craft closet -  right alongside every one of martha stewart's blueprint magazines (2006-2008). while i've managed to edit the massive dwell 'mountain' down to one thick binder, every time we move or reorganize i struggle with the decision to donate or keep the full issue magazines. surely i am not the only person hoarding back issues of domino.

it was with great anticipation that i awaited the arrival of this issue, trolling the magazine aisles in the grocery store this week to get my hot little hands on my very own copy. I'd hoped for an entirely new issue as inspiring as the original but it's a bit of a rehash. i feel a little let down. maybe i'm just a little jaded - there's an awful lot to 'see' out there on the internet and a massive increase in lifestyle/interior design/shelter blog content. surely the online access to instant inspiration has had something to do with the decline in print publications. living in a small house, being mostly self-employed on a tight 'fun money' allowance, as well as trying to tread a little more lightly on the earth has meant that i have been much more selective in what i buy. and sometimes it's just that i want to come up with my very own ideas without any outside influence and that can't occur when there's no break from outside influences.

that being said, i am looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and getting to know this new/old friend.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Go Canucks, Go!

the canucks are in the stanley cup playoffs - this is our year. we could not have come closer last season and we are determined to bring it home this year. (ok so i can't really skate but we are all canucks in vancouver. the puck drops at 7 pm and the beer and chip dip are in the fridge. honestly, the only thing i miss about cable tv is not being able to watch the canucks on our tv. live streaming on the computer screen isn't the same though i can sew at the same time. if i sew with blue and green fabric we might win tonight? it's great to see people out and about in their jerseys on game days and the scruffy start of many a play off beard.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

sign of spring flowers

grape hyacinth have been my favourite sign of spring's arrival since i was a little girl. we moved into this house in winter and were so thrilled to see all the daffodils, tulips, and grape hyacinth bloom that first spring.

the original owner of this house was an amazing gardener or so the neighbors tell me. the garden suffered from a couple of years of neglect when we got here so we've done our best to make use of the vegetable garden. the new downstairs tenants are horticulturists. (awesome people). we are thrilled to see their efforts to bring the fruit trees back to health, build a proper compost bin, and prune the roses. i can't wait to plan the veggie garden. the first summer we were giving produce away but last year's yield was just enough for one big meal. my kid's big request this year - grow brussel sprouts!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

open for business

spring is here and katemakes is open for business! it's been a busy few weeks in the studio. lots of little pouches, pillow cushion covers, and bags. these little bags are perfect for summer travels, as a gift for a mom, dad or new graduate - just pop in a little note, a special lipstick, or a gift card. now if the sun would only come out so i can take some decent photos of all the other katemakes products that are ready to list. stay tuned. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

happy international women's day

happy international women's day. i am thankful for the rights i enjoy as a woman in canada and for all the women who continually fight for those rights for women and girls all over the world. and not to make light of it, but i am also really glad i have the choice to wear pants if i want.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

warming up

spring is on the way. it's a beautiful sunny day - the perfect opportunity to practice a bit with the camera. the rainy, overcast days have been a great chance to get re-aquainted with my grandmother's sewing machine and there's quite a little stockpile of pouches and bags gathering here in my studio. i'm gettting warmed up to re-launching my etsy shop.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

happy making

i almost kissed the postie when she delivered this yesterday. a few weeks ago i was checking out lotta jansdotter's site and saw on her new ledger that she has a contest to see what people will make with her fat quarter pack from her echo fabric collection. the cotton is great quality, the designs and colours gorgeous. what to make for the contest? how can i possibly cut into this fabric? my sketchbook is full of so many ideas...

packaging is lovely too - 'happy making' indeed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

inspiration in progress

available here or here or your local bookstore
my tools

i've been feeling a little overwhelmed by all the great stuff on the internet. it can be so inspiring but also be very intimidating. we chose not to have cable tv back in september and it's been great but my time on the computer has greatly increased. i'm going to step back from viewing so much and fill the time with more making.

sometimes i need a little kick or shove to get me motivated. this talk by kate bingaman-burt on creative mornings is very inspiring. constraints or self-imposed rules can create a framework to force creativity. who hasn't done some of their best work while pulling an all-nighter?

keri smith has published several brilliant books to expand imaginations and fuel creativity and her latest, F INISH TH S B  K, is no exception. they really bring out the kid in me and take me back to the times i made my own books or created treasure hunt maps or made dollhouses out of old boxes. my daughter absolutely loves Tear Up This Book. i don't know that i will show anyone my finished book but it is a lot of fun to work on and gives me a little creative goal every day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

tools of the trade

these are my absolute necessary items in my sewing kit. missing from the picture are my beloved Rowenta iron, tackle box, pincushions, chopstick, loop turners, and measuring tape. the skein of beige fluffy cotton thread (bottom left corner) is amazing for basting and making tailor's tacks. i was introduced to it at fashion design school in japan and recently ran out of it (my stash held out for 15 years!) and it took me a week of driving all over vancouver to find some more. it can be bought at daiso in richmond for about $2 and comes in a few other colours. all the driving around was worth it - some tools and supplies are simply essential.