Monday, May 28, 2012

Blue eyes.

{I've been a bit absent's why: lightning hit our internet during a bad storm last Tuesday. We got a new box that didn't work properly for several days, until we realized one of the cords was bad. Now my parents' computer has internet, but my laptop doesn't because apparently they didn't send us an actual wireless router. Anyway. It was sort of nice to be web-free...I get a lot more done when I don't have internet access. :) I read a lot. Isn't it weird how, if you go days without getting online, you sort of expect that something majored happened while you were gone? And yet, when I was able to finally check everything: I had nothing but junk emails, no sales on Etsy, the blog was quiet, etc. I guess I didn't miss much at all, huh? :) It was a nice little reminder about how unimportant all of that really is, compared to real life. I won't be doing any new posts until all this gets straightened out because it's too complicated to upload my pictures to my parents' computer. This post is something I wrote about two weeks ago and conveniently still had in my drafts folder.}

Our local Goodwill has lots of vinyl albums for sale. And every once in a while, you can find something really good. But usually you have to dig through a lot of weird stuff first.

I've sifted through a lot of Barry Manilow, classical music, Elton John, and local 70s gospel groups with matching pastel suits and big hair. The last time I was in there, I saw an album recorded by a chaplain called "Being Saved Is Fun!" Yes, there really was an exclamation point. :) I had to laugh and show it to Mom.

Anyway, as soon as I walked in last time I saw a Sinatra record. As I kept looking, I saw that there were about six or seven of his albums all together! Apparently someone donated their collection. I was so excited because I can rarely find Sinatra albums, especially good ones from the 50s or 60s (it also seems like nobody in our town listened to Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald or Rosemary Clooney, because I can never find any of them, either).

About half of them ended up being some of his from when he was older, and I prefer how his voice sounded during the Capitol years. So I got "Nice 'n' Easy" and another two pack- all Capitol records.

P.S. Why don't people use words like sensational anymore? I think we should.

Another  P.S. I think I should do a Sinatra post sometime soon. Because I have mixed feelings about him. He has (probably) my most favorite voice ever, and I could listen to him sing nonstop and never get tired of it. But from all I've read about his personal life, I don't think I would have liked him very much. Then again, he sometimes comes off as weirdly charismatic in sort of a tough-guy, arrogant, honest way. I don't know what to think... :) All I know is that I love to hear him sing.

I also got this record with a wonderfully cheesy cover, full of Charlestons and other 20s music. It's all really bouncy and full of ukuleles and just fun. And, finally, a Bing Crosby Christmas record. I can't believe I didn't have one before now.

Also, I just found out last week that Amazon has a vinyl store! I knew that some groups like She & Him and The Secret Sisters released their music on vinyl, but I had no idea that you could also get records from The Civil Wars and Norah Jones. Very awesome. :) They do seem a bit expensive, but only because we're so used to cheap digital downloads...

Until next time,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some craftiness.

Just some things I've made over the past couple of weeks that weren't big enough for a post of their own. :)

I've been meaning to make a mini-sewing kit to keep in my bag for a while now. I haven't needed to make any clothing repairs on the go yet, but several times I've found myself wishing I had a needle or a little pair of scissors with me. When I saw this tutorial, I decided to try it out. The inside was perfect, but I didn't especially like the outside. So I sort of did my own thing with the front. :)

I like the way cross stitching looks on felt, so I stitched a little heart. And the light blue felt pieces were just scraps I had left over from the inside that were so cute and rickrackish that I couldn't throw them away.

The back, with a button closure.

Yes, I know my light blue squares are a little crooked. :) They were too big so I had to trim them down, and apparently it's hard for me to cut in a straight line with pinking shears.

There's room for everything you could need...thread, needles, pins, scissors, and a little pocket for buttons and safety pins.

This is one of my mom's favorite blogs, and she has been hinting around for one of these soap dispensers made from a blue canning jar for a while now. So I made her one for Mother's Day. We had the jar and the lid here at the house already, so I just had to buy the pump at Hobby Lobby for about $1. The tutorial is here.

I also stitched her this embroidery piece from a vintage pattern (have you ever seen this group on Flickr? Tons of adorable free vintage embroidery patterns! There are so many there I want to make). It was my first time using a vintage pattern. My mom loves birds, especially bluebirds, and pink. :) I'm not much of a bird person, myself (thanks a lot, Mr. Hitchcock). Or a pink person. It was interesting stitching up something that I wouldn't necessarily make for myself, and I'm happy with how it turned out.

I've had the knitting itch lately. Very inconvenient, because I can't really use or wear anything that I knit for months. :) I've been working on some dishclothes. I decided to try to make some sort of cozy for my camera, just to protect it from getting scratched up in my bag. So I did my own thing with some pretty yarn I had.

I cast on about twenty-five stitches (on size 5 needles) and did the stockinette stitch for about 12 or 13 inches, making a button hole about an inch from one end. Then I folded up the other end enough to cover my chunky camera and stitched up those seams. Then I sewed on a button from my stash.

It's not the most beautiful or well-planned out thing ever. But it does protect my camera. :) I knew that stockinette stitch rolls up, and I didn't do anything about it, which is why the little flap is curled up on the end.

This was my first time making a buttonhole in knitting, and my first time sewing up seams (though I did it in a sloppy way...I tried watching Youtube videos about how to sew up the sides without the seam being visible, but it wasn't working. So I just did like a backstitch with the yarn. It was also my first time knitting something without a pattern or instructions.

And finally, I did some cleaning and reorganizing in the craft area a few weeks ago. I bought a fabric cube from Target to hide some of the stuff on my shelves. I moved my craft books around (which gives the illusion that I don't have quite as many. It must have even made me believe that I don't have a craft book addiction because I just ordered three new ones from Amazon. Hm.).

I also had the idea to use fabric to cover up some of my junk. I had just got a huge box of new shipping envelopes for the Etsy shop, and no matter how I arranged everything, my pile of packing supplies still looked messy. So I took some inspiration from Kate's scathingly brilliant work area. :) I didn't have a piece of cotton big enough to cover it, so I bought about 2 1/4 yards of some that was on sale.

I wanted it full, but didn't want to bother with gathers. So I basically just made a big pleat. I hemmed up the bottom about 2 inches, and the top about five inches (I didn't want to bother with trimming up the fabric, either), and the sides about 1 inch. Then I did some math to figure out how to get the pleat even and then just used flat tacks along the top to hang it on my cutting area.

Here's what is hiding behind the curtain. Scary, huh?

Until next time,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Love letter to Narnia.

I reread the Chronicles of Narnia a couple of months ago and realized that I haven't written much here about the books. So this rambling post is sort of a love letter to C.S. Lewis' Narnia.

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite parts of the day was story time. I remember my second grade teacher reading Charlotte's Web to us, using different voices for the different characters. In third grade, our entire class crowded onto a small rug, elbow to elbow, and the teacher sat down in her rocking chair in front of us. She took out a rather unremarkable looking little paperback book called The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and began reading us a magical story.

I came home from school and climbed into my closet. I pressed against the back wall, which is covered in old flowery wallpaper, not fur coats. Unfortunately, I didn't fall into Narnia. But I did get to go back to school the next day and hear the next chapter. :)

{My very worn copy of VDT.}

And that was my first introduction to Narnia. {Thank you, Mrs. Williams!} I know that she read us at least three of the stories: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Magician's Nephew. You know how you can have very vague memories of a story that was read to you long ago, stuck in the back of your mind for years until you stumble across the story again? That's how it was with MN for me- I had this image of two children in a wood full of puddles in my head. I didn't know where it came from, until I read The Magician's Nephew again years later.

I ended up collecting a couple of the Narnia stories during the years after that. I found the 1970s boxed set at a yard sale one summer and paid about $2 for it. But the books sat on my shelf until I finally decided to read through the series when I was about thirteen.

And I was smitten.

I can't really explain how much I adore these stories. They're my favorites. They're a part of me, imprinted on my heart forever. Other than the Bible, these seven children's stories have been the books, out of all the books I've read, that have influenced me the most. Other than the Bible, they are the ones that have most shaped my ideas of God and heaven and life in general. {I really, really hope that the end of old Narnia and the beginning of Aslan's new Narnia in The Last Battle is similar to how our world will end someday, and similar to how heaven will be. Compare those last few chapters with what the Bible has to say- there are definite similarities.}

When I was younger, I desperately wanted to get to Narnia. I wanted it to to be a real, physical place that I could visit where animals talked and right always won and the glorious Aslan ruled over it all.  It did always occur to me that I wasn't nearly as brave as the kids who went to Narnia. I didn't think I'd be able to do all of the wonderful things that they did. But then I remembered that Narnian air and the presence of Aslan changes you, so I figured I'd be alright in the end. :)

But as I got older, I really understood that this little part applied to me:

"Are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund.
"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

The Chronicles of Narnia are full of God. Every time I read them, I notice something new that reminds me of something in the Bible. Things that Aslan says parallel with words that Jesus spoke. I honestly believe that reading about Narnia when I was young opened my eyes to see the beauty and hugeness of life and God as I got older. Like the quote I mentioned here: reading about a magical place didn't make me dislike the real world- it made the real world seem more magical.

I have this strange motherly protective feeling for these stories. I'll never forget something that happened back when the movie adaptation of LWW was getting ready to be released in theaters. A girl at church sneered at the book because the title had the word "witch" in it. I tend to avoid conflict and usually keep my mouth shut, but that day I felt something rising up in me that I don't feel very often. And oh, it was hard to choke down. :) I think I sputtered out something about them being written by C.S. Lewis, a Christian author, and then continued my conversation with the Narnia fan I had been speaking to. Isn't it funny how little things like that can stick with you?

The books are honestly funny. And not dumb-funny like a lot of children's books. C.S. Lewis didn't write down to children. He wrote clever, believable (though fantastic), moving stories that can be enjoyed by anyone. I love children's literature and agree wholeheartedly with these two quotes from C.S. Lewis about the subject:

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”  

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”  

I know that sometimes when you reread a book as an adult that you loved as a child, it's a bit of a letdown. It's not quite as good as you remembered. That has definitely happened to me before, and it sort of makes me wish that I hadn't reread the book so I could still have that lovely memory of it. :) But there are some incredible children's books that I loved when I was ten years old that are still my favorites (like Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted). And the Narnia books have never disappointed fact, I think they get a little better each time I read them.

{My Narnia books. I tend to accumulate multiple copies of the books, because I'm always afraid something will happen to mine. :) A bit obsessive, I know.}

If you've never read the Chronicles of Narnia before, what are you waiting for? :) Seriously, though, they come highly recommended from me. There's one very important thing about reading the series: read them in the order they were published. Which is: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; The Horse and His Boy; The Magician's Nephew; and The Last Battle. Publishers now release them numbered in chronological order, and C.S. Lewis himself apparently said that it might be better for them to be read in that order. Well, this might be the one thing I disagree with Mr. Lewis about. :) Trust me that they are so much better in the old order. Everything is revealed in perfect time and fits together like a beautiful puzzle. But when you read them in chronological order, starting with The Magician's Nephew, everything is sort of spoiled and laid bare at the very beginning. It's like eating your dessert before your meal, which sounds like a good idea but doesn't work out so well. It doesn't matter that MN has a number 1 printed on it: don't read it first. :)

P.S. I could never pick a favorite Narnia book. It would be like having to pick a favorite child. But I have always been partial to The Silver Chair, though I can't exactly explain why.

There's more I'd like to say about the Chronicles of Narnia but can't exactly find the words. Why is it so easy to write about books that you don't especially like, and so hard to write about your favorite ones? :) So this is how I'll leave it for now.

Are you a Narnia fan? (Please tell me that you climbed into your closet or wardrobe, too...and be honest- did you ever get there? :) Did you first read the books when you were a child or when you were all grown up?

If you want to read my (very vague) reviews of each Narnia book, look here on my Goodreads. Though I don't think LWW is there, because I read that one at the end of last year and this is the list of my 2012 books.

Until next time,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Handbound (Faux Leather) Journal Tutorial: Part 3

This is the final part of a three part tutorial on how to make your own handbound journal. See part 1 and part 2. This section, the actual bookbinding aspect of making the book, is the most difficult part. It will take some time and you'll probably feel like you need some extra hands when you're trying to wrangle the book and the pages and the long piece of thread. But you've made it this far- you can do this! :) I'm the most clumsy, uncoordinated person in the known universe and I can do this.

This part was also the most difficult for me to explain. I tried to take lots of pictures and explain things clearly. But if all else fails, watch this video. Sometimes you just need a video. It's hard to see in spots, but it's how I learned how to do this type of binding two years ago. And please know that I don't consider myself a bookbinding expert by any means. It's just something I enjoy doing and like to play around with.

1. Cut a length of waxed thread approx. 2 yds long. This will be a bit more than you'll need, but I'm always terrified of running out of thread in the middle of the project. To arrive at this estimate, I measured the length of the spine, multiplied by how many signatures I have (six in this book), with a couple of extra lengths thrown in to account for the bookmark and just in case. :)

2. Tie a good knot (at least a double knot) about 14 inches from one end of your thread. Thread the other end in a blunt tapestry needle.

3. Take a deep breath. This is easy when you get the hang of it. :) From the outside of the cover, insert the needle into the top left hole of the spine, as shown below. Pull it all the way through up to the knot.

It'll look like this on the inside of the cover:

Then take one of your signatures and put the thread through the top hole of it, from the outside, pulling it tight. Now the pages will be against the inside cover.

4. Now the thread is on the inside of the signature. Pull it through the next hole of the signature.

And then exit through the second hole in the cover.

5. On the outside, enter into the third hole in the cover, and pull it through the third hole in the signature.

*Important! As you're stitching the binding, keep the thread tight, but not too tight. This is something you'll adjust to as you practice. If you pull it too tight, the spine will buckle a little (that happened on my first book). But you don't want it loose, or the pages will be able to shift.*

6. On the inside of the signature, pull the thread through the last hole, and then through the bottom hole in the spine.

The outside of the spine will look like this.

The inside center of your first signature will look like this.

And that's the basic back and forth, in-and-out that you're going to use on the whole book, except for at the first and last holes, which is where things get a little different.

7. Put the needle into the second hole down, on the far right (or bottom) of the cover.

It will make a little stitch like this.

Then continue on as before, in and out, adding and sewing in another signature on the inside, until you reach the last hole of that row.

8. Now, tie a knot using the thread and the tail that is still there from the begining.

9. Pull the thread through the third hole down on the spine, and continue on as before, adding the third signature intside.

10. When you reach the end of the third row, it will look like this.

Put the needle through that first little stitch that you have.

Pull it through...

And then go in through the fourth hole- the next hole down.

11. Continue across the fourth row, adding the fourth signature inside.

12. When you reach the end of the fourth row, do the same thing you did at the other end. Thread the needle under the previous stitch (where the knot is), then come down and enter the fifth hole.

Then continue on across the fifth row, adding the fifth signature inside. You're nearly done!

13. When you reach the end of the fifth row, repeat what you did at the end of the previous two rows. Thread the needle through and enter into the last hole below.

The far right of the spine will look like this:

14. Continue across the remaining row, adding the final signature. Then exit through the very last hole.

Go up and thread through the above stitch, and then tie a knot. Trim the end of the thread off (the thread you just finished with- not the first tail).

You're done binding the book! The spine should look a little something like this.

15. If you want a built-in bookmark, leave the first tail from the beginning of the binding. Tie a knot, add a bead or two, and then knot it again and trim off the end. (First pull the tail to the inside of the book and make sure that you tie the bead far enough down that it will hang below the pages.)

If you don't want a bookmark, no problem-  just trim off the 14" tail you left at the begining.

At the end of your leather lacing, tie a little knot.

You're done! Now you have a lovely handbound book to journal your awesome summer adventures in. :)

Here are some other options for this kind of book:

-Use another fabric instead of fake leather. This looks really cute! And I recommend using a layer of batting and a layer of fusible interfacing inside if you're using printed cotton. It won't wrinkle like it does with fake leather.

-Use real leather for the outside of your journal. If you're doing this, then you can skip steps 1-5 of part two. Just cut your leather into a piece measuring 9.25 x 18.25 inches. Then pick up with step 6. To attach the cord, either sew it on, or just cut a tiny slit on the edge of the back cover, insert the leather lacing through that end and knot it.

-Instead of using leather lacing for the tie, use something else- rope, twine, rickrack, yarn, etc. If you're using printed cotton for the outside, make your own skinny ties out of fabric and attach them the same way.

-Use different kinds of paper inside: scrapbook paper, watercolor paper, cardstock, old magazine or dictionary pages, etc.

If you're interested in more information about bookbinding, there are lots of helpful videos on Youtube (I really like the coptic stitch, too). I own two books on the subject: Re-Bound, by Jeannine Stein (it has book projects made from very unique objects- very inspiring!), and Making Handmade Books, by Alisa Golden (which is so packed with information that it's a bit overwhelming). I've got my eye on this one and this one, and I'm hoping I can get them soon (this one looks cute, too).

Well, that's the end of my first tutorial here at Sew Technicolor. I hope it wasn't too incredibly long or complicated. If anyone has questions about the binding or any other aspect, please ask and I'll answer in the comments.

I hope you guys enjoy! I'd love to see any books that you make with this tutorial or otherwise. :)
P.S. I have a couple more ideas for tutorials (one of them is another little book, much simpler than this one). I promise they won't be this complicated. :)

Until next time,