100 Day Project (The First 50)

On April 3 I started the 100 Day Project – my plan was to illustrate quirky animals, maybe not for 100 days, but for as long as I could keep it going. I was excited and nervous, because this would be my second crack at it (I also attempted this project last year, and that ended only 5 days in…). I have always loved drawing, painting, just plain old coloring, and animals and cute things, so this seemed like a good project. This kind of art-making really isn’t something I give myself enough time to do, and it’s such a nice change from working in 3D with the dolls – this is so much faster and details are easier to add and erase.

And so everyday I would sit down at some point, decide on an animal and go. I had pre-cut a bunch of 5×7 pieces of watercolor paper, and I used pencil, pen, acrylic paint, and pencil crayon for each of these drawings. Each one took between 20 minutes and an hour (drawing has always made me lose track of time in the best way). Eventually my goal was to make it to 50 animals, and I did it! I can’t say that I loved every single one, but looking at all of these combined is so satisfying – even though these first ones are from two months ago and I barely remember making them. I am learning a lot of things from this project, more on that after the photos…

 

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Some honest thoughts that I’ve thought during this project:

*Don’t start, you will quit again

*You should start, but don’t show anyone, that way if you fail no one will know

*This is so fun, I love this I love this I love this

*This is too easy, so it doesn’t count

*That’s not cute enough

*People are going to get bored of seeing these on Instagram

*I am not an illustrator (wait, am I? Am I using the term illustrator correctly? I don’t even know!)

*You could turn this into part of your business – wait, but that’s not really the point here

*What the heck are you going to do with all of these?

Some things I’ve learned so far:

*I think this type of project works best for me when it is really clear what I’m doing and I don’t have to make daily decisions about it. All I had to choose was the animal, not the paper/medium/theme.

*Once I really decide to do something I love, I will do it for myself (for those of you who have read Gretchen Rubin, I am a classic Upholder). That said, the comments and encouragement from all of you beautiful people on IG was so lovely. Thank you!

*Sometimes the act of sharing what I was working on, which I think it supposed to be inherent to the project, felt uncomfortable. I know this is silly, since people always have a choice whether to follow along or not!

*At a few points I missed a day, then caught up within the next few days. I knew it would be too easy to fall off the wagon if I didn’t keep the momentum up.

*Spring felt like a crazy time to start this project, when everything here comes out of hibernation and seems to go at full speed. It often felt overwhelming to add this one more thing to my day.

*Big projects can be accomplished a little bit everyday. I mean, we all know this, but I rarely see an end result like this for myself. I get why people do this project.

After the 50 day mark, I started another very similar, yet slightly different project to finish out the 100 days. I can’t stop now! Sitting down with my pencils and paint is now part of my daily routine that I look forward to. This feels like just the beginning of something good…

 

 

 

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Funny Little Pots

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Between the new year and spring I took a pottery class. After the first class I thought I might cry – you know, even when you are constantly creative, figuring out the basics of a new craft often has a steep learning curve. I watched you tube videos, I got a little better every week, I vowed to use up every last bit of my clay. By the last throwing class I made two bowls that almost matched, and weren’t too wonky (success!). My favorite part was painting the underglaze (the bright colors like the rainbows and bird above), and then I realized, hey wait, I actually just really love to paint. That process turned my weird little shapes into cute weird little shapes that I started to like. After 10 weeks of an almost completely foreign-to-me process, I brought home all these funny little pots – glazed and shiny. I have no idea what I’ll do with most of them…

Like anything I’ve taken the time to learn, it gave me a new appreciation for ceramics – it is such a long process with so many steps and so much room for error (kind of the opposite of what I do everyday – where things can be finished in relatively short time and mistakes can be undone). A new appreciation for the craft of my ceramic artist friends, and a new appreciation for the pricing of handmade ceramics, for sure. If you’ve ever thought about taking a class, do it. And try not to cry.

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keychains with kids

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My girl E turned 9 last week and we made these keychains with the kids at her party, since crafts are my go-to (I mean, I briefly considered trying to figure out Bingo…but no.) This was a good one for this age, but could be made more or less complex – and the supplies (key rings, letter beads, wooden beads, craft acrylic paint, colored hemp, mod podge) were all from Micheals. The girls each came up with their own idea and some used sharpies for the little details (marker does tend to run on unfinished wood). The only instructions are to loop the cord through the end of the key ring so it is doubled, string on the beads from top to bottom and tie a knot at the bottom. I also sealed the painted wooden beads in Mod Podge.Β  I may have had the most fun…

Here was my inspiration:

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Story of a Quilt

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Many months ago, I started a quilt. I randomly decided on this tiny triangle pattern (I do not like to research or look for patterns, I like to make things right now…) in hopes that it would use up a lot of my scrap fabric. Well, it did, and then in order to finish it I cut into lots of other fabric too – I really had no idea what I was getting into. When the Christmas rush of work took over the fall season, I put this project away. Then in the last weeks of December (the weeks that are generally very crafty anyway) I decided that I would finish it. I was at these triangles every spare minute and into the night. Over 1500 pieces later, I was. going. to. finish. it.

I completed the top just days before we headed to visit family – I took the quilt along hoping to make use of the quilting supplies at my parent’s church. I’m so glad there were other willing hands to help, which makes it that much more special to me in the end. Since I rarely do projects that involve this much time or materials, finishing this quilt felt epic. I’m guessing it’s the very last steps that keep quilters coming back for more (not so much, I think, the parts in the middle, when so much work has already been done and you’re asking yourself, do I even like this?) I don’t find that in quick projects there is room or time for me to doubt myself. In big projects, oh, there is loads of that.

Here is a how it came together:

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  1. The first hundred or so tiny triangles (the aforementioned ‘no idea what I was getting into’)
  2. Sewn into 40 blocks, laid out for the final design – just trying to make sure no two pieces of the same fabric were touching.

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3. Quilt top, two middle layers of bamboo, and bottom stripes (a lovely Marimekko flat sheet that I knew would wear well) sandwiched on a frame and ready for tying.

4. My mom, and friends (and kids!), came to help with the tying. It’s more fun that way.

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5. Two of my besties. Striped shirts mandatory.

6. Sewing on the top side of the bias binding edge – the first time I’ve done this! 1/2″ bias binding from Bumble of Beesquilt (7)

7. Many hours later, after handsewing the back of the binding in place. Complete!

Several weeks have passed and the quilt is still exactly there, like in that photo above. That’s where I read and stay warm, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy it.

To those of you who followed along with this over the months on Instagram, thank you for your encouragement — I’m honestly not sure how far I would have got without it. Though I won’t be after a project like this for a long time, I really do love how this all came together.

 

Sweet Saturday

A few months ago, the lovely folks behind the musical group Sweet Saturday contacted me about making some custom illustrations for them, to be used as part of their merchandise. They wanted the images to represent the actual instruments that they play and their vintage feel. This was such a fun little project for me (especially that accordion…), I often forget how much I love drawing until I am totally absorbed.

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The illustrations were pretty small watercolors that they turned into these…so charming and tiny!

sweetGo check out Sweet Saturday, like I said, they are lovely!

With Kids, Part Two

withkids2Sometimes I get kid’s craft books from the library. Sometimes I intend to make the crafts with my kids, and other times I don’t (my patience must be at the hiiiighest level), but they always inspire me somehow. Forest Fairy Crafts (a lovely blog too, talk about crafting with kids) came home with me recently, and last weekend I thought me and my girl should try making them together, these little fairies. I was a bit skeptical about the use of pipe cleaners, but I did remember making very rudimentary versions of dolls like this with my best friend when we were little. I loved them.

I’ll admit, for the most part I made these tiny dolls. I was really into it. E came and went, picking out yarn for hair, choosing colors and accessories, and stitching up the sides of dresses and hats (I have got to get this kid into embroidery). Instead of using wooden beads for the heads, we made beads from a fimo-type clay that you bake, then painted on the details. Yep, I just happened to have this ‘flesh colored’ clay, as well as all these other supplies and bits and bobs, oh my poor craft room. And after hours spent (she went off to a sleepover, I kept on) and moments over a week, we finished the fairies.

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The green haired girl was E’s favorite and the one she worked on the most. I’m not sure I can choose a favorite, there is just something about making tiny things. Anyway, we’re glad these little feather-winged fairies have come to stay with us, and our next project might have to be a proper home for them.

I hope you had a lovely weekend,

xo

Erin

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Handmade Wardrobe, Top

handmade wardrobe topBefore January, I came close to declaring 2015 the year that I would only add new clothes to my closet by making them. I was reeeeally close. But then I thought, maybe I’ll just try a little harder, and make a few things when I can. If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve shared a few of my other tops made this year, and I hope to keep it up. I would be the last person to claim that I am fashionable (we can’t all be, it’s okay), but I am very.picky. about the way my clothes fit. Comfort is first, and if it looks nice too, all the better. When my clothes are uncomfortable I feel like I’m going to throw an adult tantrum. Anyway…

I wanted to share this one specifically for a few reasons – the fabrics, the blocking, and the neckband. This shirt was a bit of an accident – I was attempting to recreate (with permission!) a favorite piece made by my friend Tracy at Dear Pony. But the fabric I was using (the navy here) did not hang the same, and so after I cut the first version apart, I was left with only usable sleeves and the bottom section of the shirt. So I readjusted the top half and filled in the gaps with these other fabrics – aiming for a seam across the bust.I have zero experience with creating blocking (sewing the two pieces together at the bust line to make the front and back pieces) with knits. I was nervous that it would stretch too much and leave that horrible ripple that you can so often get when sewing knits. I serged the rest of the seams on this top – but not this seam. Using a needle for knits, I first sewed the seam with a long basting stitch, then again with a shorter stitch, being careful not to stretch the fabric at all while I sewed. I pressed the seam after, and was pleasantly surprised…no ripples!

The floral fabric is an organic cotton knit by Birch – from the Acorn Trail series by Teagan White (the whole collection is so cute – mine was from here). I was unsure if it would be stretchy enough for apparel, but it’s lovely, especially just in a small section like this. I used an off white piece for the back, simply for interest. The navy and off white are 90% cotton, 10% spandex – it is just slightly thick (think yoga pants), and really nice to sew. Shocker, I got this fabric locally at Fabricland.

handmade wardrobe top

I really wanted to share this because of the neckband. This is always my downfall when sewing tops – but I came across this tutorial and thought I would give it a try. It’s so simple and I can’t believe you don’t see it more often. The result is really nice – very sturdy, leaves no edges on the inside of the neck, and can be easily top stitched with a straight stitch to finish it off.

This top is my new favorite – blocked, dropped sleeve, tight on the arms, loose on the middle (to avoid tantrum). I wish I could direct you to a pattern, but mostly I would love to encourage you to try creating your own patterns out of clothes you already know you love.

Happy sewing!

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{thanks to my husband for reluctantly taking these photos…}