Feb 142014

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my readers, wherever you may be! My day began with a lovely bouquet of flowers from John, which is looking as good today as it ever will, given my history of botanical failures. I take a photo of John’s bouquets as soon as I can so that I can preserve the flowers in their best state.

Valentine's Day 2014 Flowers

In return, I sent John a dancing JibJab card. For $18 a year, you can have a lot of fun, uploading your photos and inserting them into ridiculous cards and videos that you can share via email, Facebook or—if you pay an extra fee—that you can download to your computer or upload to YouTube. Click on the image below to view one of two cards I sent John.

Brazilian Samba Valentine

Whether you have a special someone with whom to share Valentine’s Day or not, it appears that everyone can enjoy a Valentine’s Day gift, courtesy of the Internet. Take note of the following offers:

1. Download a free sewing pattern from Craftsy to make a cute Be Mine Tote designed by Melissa Stramel of Lilac Lane. Easy enough for a beginning sewer to assemble, the finished tote bag measures 10 inches x 19 inches x 4 1/2 inches.

2. Television sewing celebrity Nancy Zieman offers an adorable paper-pieced Fabric Valentine pattern you can download. Transform it into a special handmade card, incorporate it into a tote bag design, stitch a mini pillow, or add it to an apron or bib pattern. Use your imagination! And by the way, Nancy just published her autobiography, Seams Unlikely, which is a fascinating read. You can purchase the paperback version or the Kindle edition on Amazon. I purchased the digital version for $5.99 and am reading it via my Kindle app. If you have an Android device, you can download the book for $4.61 via Google Play.

3. Scrapbookers will appreciate Deena Boese’s journaling cards and border that appear in the February issue of Paper Crafts & Scrapbooking.

DSCN81634. In the same issue, you’ll find Jaimee Kaiser of Just Jaimee’s journaling cards. These are perfect for gift bags, scrapbooking or handmade cards.


5. Need a gift or candy box? The designers of We Love to Illustrate for Children have five too-cute-for-words gift boxes for you to download, print and assemble.

DSCN81626. Other Valentine projects to download include:

Hopefully at least one of the above projects will appeal to you, but if not, here’s one last “dancing card” for you to enjoy. If you have trouble imagining John and me as flower children of the sixties, rest assured that you are not alone. Click on the photo below to view the video.

John and I were in grade school when Sonny and Cher sang the song in this video.

John and I were in grade school when Sonny and Cher sang the song in this video.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jul 302013

If you’re like me, you have not only many pairs of shoes in your closet, but also many bags—tote bags, wallets, clutches, shoulder bags, messenger bags, organizer bags. The list is endless. If you sew, you can save a few dollars by making your own customized bag. Don’t have time to generate your own pattern? There are many PDF patterns you can download from Etsy.

If you would like to sell finished items from these patterns, please check the policies of the designer. Some designers will allow you to sell online, others give you permission to sell at craft shows only, and others limit the number of bags you can sell each year. In no case are you allowed to mass produce the bags, or to sell the patterns themselves. The assumption is that you are making the bags cottage industry-style, using your home sewing machine.

Feel free to click on the image below to look more closely at these wonderful bag patterns. Many of the designers offer additional selections in their shop.

Sew it and sell it bags for every occasion

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jul 282013

I’m admit I’m a latecomer to the art of zakka, which I believe represents the kind of sewing I like to do these days: small items made of cotton or natural fibers that are functional and beautiful. Both physical space and time constraints steer me away from larger projects.

So, what is “zakka?” Depending on the person you ask, zakka is a Japanese word that means household goods, many things, or small necessities—and usually refers to a design style in which the simplicity, charm and detail of an item contribute to the individuality of an environment, particularly in a home. Sewn items are often made of organic fabrics, especially linen and cotton, and include—but are not limited to—tote bags, tea towels, table linens, and baskets. Zakka-style sewing encompasses a combination of hand- and machine-sewing techniques that can include sashiko embroidery and patchwork quilting. Zakka’s definition is fluid, allowing for a broad interpretation. The style is influenced by trends such as kawaii (cute), using foreign words and phrases as a design element, and furoshiki (the art of folding fabric to wrap packages or gifts). Simply stated, zakka represents a design aesthetic that combines beauty and simplicity with purpose. While the zakka movement may have begun in Japan, its principles are evident in other cultures, such as Scandinavian or Appalachian folk needlework.

Over the last few years, zakka-style sewing has been growing in popularity, with sewists enthusiastically joining Lindsey Rhodes’ 2012 Zakka Style Sew Along and 2013 Patchwork Please Sew Along. In fact, more than 300 zakka enthusiasts posted photos of more than 1,700 completed projects in the Zakka Style Sew Along pool on Flickr. Asako of Piggledee in Australia has led a local Zakka Sewing Group. On Pinterest, Aunt Pitty Pat has a wonderful collection of Zakka projects on her Zakka page. Jessica Okui of Zakka Life devotes an entire blog to zakka-style original craft projects and tutorials. On Etsy.com, you’ll find more than 3,000 handmade zakka items, and more than 10,000 zakka-related items.

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Zakka-style sewing appeals to me because of its simplicity in design, the practical nature of completed items, the use of linen and cotton, and the prevalence of both hand- and machine sewing. Although I doubt I will be able to keep up with any of the wonderful sew-alongs I’ve described in this post, I intend to do more of this kind of sewing in the future. If you feel the same, here are a few books to get you started:

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.