Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear

Photo of the silk purse

A while back I attended a class (at a traveling sewing show) on making a silk purse.  The class wasn’t really what I had hoped it would be, but it was still interesting all the same.
We started with a piece of hand-dyed silk velvet.  I choose one in shades of blue and grey (gorgeous!) and a coordinating piece of silver silk dupioni for the lining.  The strap would be made of silk cord (or rather, a silk strap filled with cotton cording), and the purse would be embellished with beads, ribbons, yarns, and then when I got home, hot-fix crystals.

To start off, we had a piece of fusible interfacing, and ruched up the silk velvet, and pressed it to the interfacing to bond the two together. Normally I wouldn’t use an iron on velvet, but this is how we got the rumpled and manipulated effect, without laborious hand-sewing.  Since the velvet was just the basis for the rest of the embellishment, a few areas of flattened velvet pile wasn’t such a big deal.

Close up of the beaded corner

Then we determined the pocket of the bag and the flap, and started sewing on gorgeous yarns, beads, and ribbons to embellish the purse in a random, almost chaotic fashion. Then once home, we sewed the lining to the purse fabric right sides together (leaving an area to turn) sewed up the sides (and embellished them to cover the stitching) and added the strap.

I added the hot-fix crystals as well, but haven’t added a closure yet – the weight of the beads on the flap do a fine job of keeping the purse closed.

Photo of the whole purse

The final result is pretty cool, though if I were to make something similar again, I’d make just a little bit larger, and spend more time on adding pockets with zippers into the lining for security.  I don’t like ‘open’ purses generally, and some way of closing them is pretty important to me.  Still, as a quick class, it was great fodder for letting myself go embellishment-wild!


Do you think the finished product is too busy, or could you see yourself using something this embellished?  Let me know in the comments below!

Sewing room makeover (pt II)

So, as a continuation from the sewing & laundry room makeover post, I have a few more links to share; hopefully things that will inspire us as we head towards another renovation.

Home Made Couture's cutting table

One of the things we’ll be needing is a good cutting table.  Right now I use the deep freeze, which we’ll be getting rid of, so an alternative is manditory.  From the Home Made Couture blog, this IKEA table was featured as a possible alternative.  The two side panels fold down, to make a table that is much, much smaller than the cutting surface it offers.  My only concern, is that it’s highly likely that once we set up a table, it WON’T get closed down/moved/etc whatsoever, or that anything that requires having to clear out space before I can set it up might just become more of a pain than having something permanently in place.  Still, this is a pretty cute solution for a small space!

Show and Tell's Laundry Room

Endless Crafting has a mini-file (much like these posts!) of great ideas from different places online, as the writer daydreams about a future dedicated sewing/crafting room.  From her posts, I was directed to Saucy Sprinkles’ laundry room, and then I found the blog Show and Tell – where the writer shows off her new laundry room – complete with under-the-washer and dryer storage.  What an awesome idea, and what a great way to lift up the dryer so that it’s less of a hassle to get into!  The writer has laundry baskets under the washer and dryer for whites, darks, and colours, but I could also see these being baskets of works-in-progress for a sewing project, bundles of yarn, or anything else lightweight and not-often used.  I also LOVE the under-the-shelf clothes hanger pole – while it doesn’t give enough room to hang dresses for instance, it would still be a great place to hang tops or unmentionables – since I usually hang to dry most of my clothing, and would really like to have a lot of hanging room in the new laundry/sewing room too!

I think that’s about it for now… hopefully we’ll figure out what we want and what we need, and be able to make some choices!

Sewing / Laundry Room makeover

So despite still trying to wipe dust off surfaces in our basement, the decision has been made to re-do the laundry room.  I’m thinking about how the new room could possibly look and function.

Sewing room from Ebuild

This image is from a website called ebuild – which is really more about renovations than design, but it’s still a decent reference photo I figure.  I like the amount of light – which isn’t that useful in our space, but the white cabinets (which match the washer) helps lighten up the space.  I like the pop of colour as well, though the colour itself doesn’t appeal to me.  I like the seat-height desk for the sewing machine, but the counter-height for the remainder, though it’s something to think about.  I like the cupboards – although I really like the look of the glass doors, I don’t know if they’re entirely practical to use everywhere, but for a fabric cabinet (provided there’s no direct fabric-bleaching sunlight) I think it’s gorgeous – being able to see those pops of colour in an otherwise white wall.  I like the mini drawers (for threads, knitting needles/etc).  I don’t entirely understand the little cube cupboard, but imagine it would slide under the desk – possibly creating a place to put works-in-progress?

Sewing room from Ikea Fan

From a website called Ikea Fan, a poster has an absolutely beautiful sewing room featured.  The cutting table is really the most lovely part of this – the front of the clear drawers is actually faked – beautifully so.  There is a brief explanation of how it was done on the web posts.  Other than that, there really isn’t a lot going on in this room – no hanging storage for clothes, two additional bookshelves, but by the sounds of the discussion following the original post – it sounds as though there’s a closet in the room as well.  Again the light in this room makes a big difference – having those huge windows would sure be wonderful, but is simply not going to happen!  With that being said, the abundant track lighting is a great feature, and that would be workable I imagine.  The large cutting table in the middle of the room would be amazing, but not really possible in the space we’re working with.

Ikea Fan island

Looking at another cutting ‘island’, here’s another example from Ikea Fans.  This one started life as two dressers, with a plywood top.  Once more, the white is fantastic for this kind of a room, and the additional storage under the cutting table is great, but again there just isn’t room in the space we’ll be renovating for this kind of unit.  😦  I wonder if there’s a way of getting this large cutting space, within the space we’re working with?

Confetti's sewing room

The Ikea Fan website pointed me in the direction of the Confetti Paper Arts & Pretty Smarts blog – and a redesign of a very long and narrow sewing/craft room.  I like the fact that it’s a small room for starters – though I don’t know if it’s as efficient with space as we’ll need our space to be.  With this photo I especially like the use of the over-the-door space, with shelves all the way up to the ceiling.  While it might be too high for things that need to be regularly accessed, it’s likely an excellent space for things like magazines (which are only used as a resource once in a while), rarely used notions and tools, or other things like that.

Sew Many Ways' sewing room

Next up – probably the most interesting (and well-documented!) sewing room renovation that I have seen in my online wanderings.  This one is from a blog called Sew Many Ways, and I think it would be great to have such a pretty and well-organized (not to mention large!) sewing/craft room!  I love that this room has all this crisp clean black mixed with the lighter colours and tones.  I like the black and white patterned boxes and also the colourful stacks of fabrics.  What fun!  If you’re looking for your own redesign, the blog hostess also has a whole bunch of DIY ideas for your own room or storage solutions.

Sew Many Ways' ribbon storage

One of my favorite ideas (that I might consider stealing!) from the Sew Many Ways blog, is this cool idea for storing ribbon.  Right now all of my ribbon is in cardboard boxes, which looks fine too, but this is just so pretty!  Ah.. but half the point of all the boxes is to keep things looking clean…  *sighs*

Here’s hoping that some great ideas will inspire a great renovation, leading to a fantastic new room!

Do you have a blog featuring photos of your sewing or crafting laundry room?  Please share a URL in the comments below so we can go take a look!

Fabric sale

Last year I found out about this wonderful fabric sale, and this year we found it again. It’s held at a church, and if it wasn’t for reading my grandmother’s church newsletter we never would have found it again.  The sale was on April 9, but it’s taken a while to write the post.

April 9 fabric finds (close up)

Basically it’s a de-stash fabric sale.  You bring in your unwanted fabrics along with craft items, yarn, quilting supplies, etc and donate them – or just go and shop.  We did both this year.  All of the proceeds go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign.  This is the campaign that supports grandmothers who are raising their orphaned grandchildren – after loosing their own children to AIDS/HIV.  Talk about a feel-good shopping experience!  Oh… and the prices are awesome!

Most of the fabrics are just pieces – whatever someone bought for their project, and then couldn’t use.  However some people have donated entire bolts or rolls of fabric, so you can also buy those ones by the meter (though the cost is a bit higher doing it that way, but still very reasonable).  They hold the sale in a church basement, and there are rooms devoted to:

  • Yarn (and crochet cotton, etc)
  • Notions & trim (buttons, zippers, lace, cord, etc)
  • Craft supplies (various)
  • Books
  • Home Decorating/bolts & rolls
  • Quilting/Quilt fabrics
  • Books & magazines
  • Specialty fabrics (fancies, fun-fur, etc)
  • and then there are areas in the main area divided up into knits, wools, suiting, flannelette, and then just regular dress fabrics.

They also had a few sewing machines there this time too – probably last time as well but I don’t remember.

April 9 fabric finds

So, what did I get?

  • Plush solid grey fun fur
  • Variegated, somewhat striped grey and white fun fur (longer pile)
  • Pink micro pleat
  • Gold micro pleat (I had some of this before, and made a top out of it.  I also had some in silver (another top) and some in black (a dress)
  • Rust stretch velvet
  • Silk / silk-like red and gold striped fabric (I need to test it to see the content)
  • 2 pieces of copper taffeta, very much like the bronze taffeta I took to decorate the last two theme / costume parties
  • Black on black floral brocade
  • Grey wool coating
  • Navy blue wool coating
  • Copper/golden shantung silk
  • Copper/Red/Gold micro stripe
  • Large card of very narrow black lace
  • Small card of very narrow gold braid
  • Lots of open wide black braid
  • Pale pink/champagne coloured stretch lace
  • Ivory cotton lace
  • Purple and gold “Indian” braid/trim

I ended up getting a number of “warm” coloured fabrics, and even mum commented that it’s not my normal colour scheme.  Most of it I was thinking of for costumes though, which would explain why my mind was more on the steampunk-influenced colours rather than my normal more goth colour scheme.  I was also thinking of the Sultan’s Tent costume party – and I’m sure that influenced the way I was drawn to certain colours more so than others.

Now just to find the time to sew!

Pocketwatch gone home-decor

halligan’s pocket watch wall clock

I’ve been thinking about pocketwatches as well as home decor separately, and of course the whole gears-and-cogs element of watches is wonderful.  I’ve loved the giant huge over-sized wall clocks (we have one on our back porch too) but I also came across this fantastic DIY post on Design*Sponge.

The instructions are cool, but just the idea is amazing… I love that the designer was inspired by Alice in Wonderland (another love of mine), but most of all that this idea just came out – I think it’s awesome. It’s one of those things that makes me so happy that there are such cool, creative people out there!

That got me thinking mostly about clocks…. so I decided to hunt for some other cool things.  The problem I mostly have is SPACE… where there isn’t a bookshelf on a wall, there’s a window, a door, or artwork .  Perhaps going back into the garden is an option… which sounds like the basis for a completely different post…

In the meantime though, check out these cool ideas!

Linked from

From there is a neat clock with gears and whatnot.  The downside, the gears are just decorative, not functional.  Boo. It’s also almost $150 Cdn (“today” – likely the price changes based on exchange rate from the US$) which doesn’t exactly say ‘what would I like to save on today’, but I suppose if it really strikes you, it would be worth it… (after shipping, perhaps not so much though……)

Pillowcases from Branch Hand Made

Getting off the wall (ha ha) here are some interesting pocketwatch scree-printed pillow cases from BranchHandMade on Etsy.  (Is it just me, or does Etsy come up Waaaaaay too often in Google searches these days? They must be paying for high placements or something…)  This would be a much easier product to ship, and incorporate things back into the home without having to go on the wall!  If you had the resources (image, screenprinting equipment or willing to do a digital print) you could totally do this yourself too.  Actually – screenprinting is costly to set up IMO, and with a pair of pillowcases only 18$ from Branch Hand Made, it would be far cheaper to just order it…

Wood Garden's Timeless Clock

Another pillow option also comes from the wonderful world of Etsy (I feel a little sad that I’m becoming such a fan…) but this one is a pillow case for a throw pillow, but done with a pre-printed fabric (likely a digital transfer/digital print) and a secondary fabric plus trim.  This one is from the Wood Garden shop.  I kind of like this a bit better actually, though I actually quite hate throw pillows.  They are always so delightfully pretty in pictures, so lovely to see in the home, but so cumbersome and annoying when actually trying to live with them.  If they’re on the bed, what do you do with them when you want to go to sleep?  Toss them on the floor? Cram them in a corner? If they’re on a sofa, they rarely are the right size to support your back, and unless you’re on one of those horrible couches with rotten armrests, they’re not all that useful there either.  I have a few, which never get used, apart from when a certain someone comes over and prefers to sit on the floor rather than the couch.

While on the textile bent, how about ordering (or creating) fabric from Spoonflower?  If you haven’t heard of it before, Spoonflower is a place where you can submit your images, and they’ll print the fabric for you, and send you the yardage. Cool.  Of course, there’s also a whole gallery of fabrics that other people have designed and made available to you.  I THINK that the artist gets a commission based on how much they sell, though don’t quote me on that!  How about making your own curtains or pillow cases or duvet cover with something like this swatch? With Quilting weight cotton at 18$/yard (plus shipping *sigh*) that’s actually pretty comparable to high-end quilting fabrics at regular price.  (Let’s just forget the fact that I rarely buy fabric at regular price… but I also rarely get to print my own fabric….).  I had hoped to add a picture here, but it won’t link up.  Just click instead.  🙂

Hand towels from the Hip Hip Gin Gin blog

More textiles – hand towels.  I imagine these must be linen towels vs. the fluffy variety, in order for the image to reproduce so well, but still a cool idea.  I can see these printed with brown ink on a cream towel, displayed along with brown and golden towels in a brass and dark-wood filled bathroom.  Yum!  (Not my bathroom… that doesn’t suit what I would want to live with on a regular basis, but it’s a cool idea, non?)  I found these on the Hip Hip Gin Gin blog.  (Which seems to mostly be about style and beauty, but still a gem of a post.)

From the Steampunk Home blog

From the Steampunk Home blog (I can’t get away from this blog!!! Not that I would try, but I also don’t like the idea of seemingly blatantly linking here constantly…) this is just gorgeous.  10 ft of steel and glass – amazing!  Totally unrealistic, but amazing!  Really, if you are loving the whole idea of steampunk, neo-Victorian, Gaslamp Fantasy – inspired home decor, just go here!