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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Few cards I made this week...

Here are some cards I made this week. I saw some videos online on stamping and I got excited and wanted to try my hands on that technique. Its called coloring - mainly the background with distress ink to give it some dimension / vintage look and the other one was using color pencils and coloring after stamping. Also I used embossing heavily on some cards.



Also here is  a Quilling card I made for Diwali. I will write another post on what Quilling means when I make more cards of that type.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not so craftsy post today

Today I decided to blog about something totally different from crafts. But something I learnt in a crafts class. I am taking a sewing class at a local store in Bellevue. And I always used to wonder, why everyone in the store is so old. It's a given that with age, you have more experience with everything you do. Similarly all these ladies are at least 60 or above and of course, they know their stuff way too well.
For me, it was just not about learning sewing but it was also about the social aspect.One of my favorite pet peeve is that people here in WA do not talk or rather they talk, but nothing more. They have boundaries and it does not go beyond a casual hi/hello. But this place is very friendly. Everyone is so friendly and every time you go, they recognize you, they help you out with what you need, whether it is picking the fabric or a question about how to put a zipper or even knitting. So I go there to share some laughs, have a good time while learning few skills. Who cares about the age group right? Some people might say, you should be hanging out with single guys, but I am challenged in that area.

Anyways going back to the topic, the reason for writing this blog. One thing I realized while talking to each of these instructors or even my fellow students. All these women are much older than me, some have families and some don't, live in old age homes and earn a living working at the store.  There was this casual conversation going between my instructor and another student in the class the other day.

Here in US, Breast cancer is huge and people do different things to support the cause. One thing is that they stitch sexy bras for them to make the women feel good. Some knit bras too. The conversation was about that. My instructor was giving another lady, an idea, to gift to her breast cancer survivor friend. And then the conversation leads to my instructor mentioning, that she is a breast cancer survivor. The other lady said, "Oh, I had cancer too, but I had to amputate my leg and now I have a prosthetic leg". Not sure what cancer that is, but I was already shocked at these women having casual conversation about it. Didn't dare to ask. I was surprised she was still using foot pedal on sewing machine. She was really excited looking at my machine which could start and stop sewing with a button press. Then my instructor says, "Oh, I had a surgery too and I have a metal piece inside my leg." And then my instructor  has only one eye working, the other eye, apparently she had retinal surgeries multiple times but had no luck but she teaches sewing just fine, with her one eye.  She is the most enthusiastic and positive women I have seen. I would be just heartbroken if any one of these things had happened to me and she was doing just fine.
And there is this other women, who holds open knitting night - where you can take whatever knitting project you like and she will help you through it. She is a darling. She was talking all happy one day and casually slips in, I have chemotherapy tomorrow, so I need to find someone for dog-sitting.

I was just blown away looking at all these people. The one thing that is common among all these women was that nothing ever stopped them in life. Whatever hurdles they have had, even if they were life threatening, it made them more loving, more positive & strong. They did not lose a bit of interest in life.
I kept thinking about me and my family. All my family members are stressing so much about my life and my marriage and it  affects me directly or indirectly in many ways. This experience made me realize, at the end of the day, this husband might not stay all your life, this family, your kids and anyone else, and even you might not live long. What will stay is the spirit you live your life with. If you are happy with yourself, and ready to take on anything life has to bring, can anything ever bring you down? Yes, a husband would be nice addition to my life right now, but because I do not have him, does it mean I cannot live my life? Whether he is in my life or not, I still have to live my life right? I wish I could introduce my parents all these people, so they can realize what they are missing. I feel like they are aging much faster and their health is deteriorating just because they think too much about my marriage. I would be happier if they moved past that and found a way to live their happily instead. I would definitely be more happier to see them have a healthy active lifestyle.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Handmade cards

I had made hand made birthday cards at several occasions this year but have not really tracked them. But now that I am getting more and more serious about it, I thought I should track what I am doing and get feedback from folks, if they like them or not.

Here is one I made today, for Dipika's birthday. Just had 30 mins to go after I got home from sewing class. I baked some brownies and made a card really quick. Just played with paper and colors today. I like how it turned out to be.

Throw pillow

Today I learnt to make this throw pillow. I know most of you might think, what is there in sewing a pillow case, one can take approximate measurements and stitch it away. I agree, any rectangle or square pattern is easier to make an approximation and stitch it. But this one is a fitted one for 18x18 in square pillow. I learnt couple of techniques while stitching this today.

One was how to make a cording. The round edge that is seen in the pic below is called a cording. Cording is something you can buy it in the store readymade or buy a white thread (called cording) and stitch fabric around it. The frabric can be contrasting or the same. There is a technique to cutting the bias fabric for it. You mark the fabric at 45 degrees angle and then fold it at 45 degree angle, using scale, measure 2 inches and cut. Follow this until you have the length you need. For this pattern, I needed 1 yard fabric and 21/8 yard cording. After that, we joined the pieces at a certain angle, so the edges align and pressed the seams open. Then put the cord in, using the pins and zipper foot, stitched very close to the cording. 

The second techinque was to add a zipper, and also how to cut it to the length you need and hide it away at the bottom of the cushion. I used a 18in regular coil zipper for this. I added to pieced at the top and bottom of desired length and cut out the extra zipper. Then using wonder tape, aligned a 2in fabric close to the edge of the zipper and stitched. After that, took the bottom piece of the two 18x18 pieces we cut out and attached the zipper to the other side of it. After that done, we folded the square piece to the exact size of top 18x18 in piece and stitched at the fold. That hides the zipper essentially. The next part was to attach the cording to the top piece carefully folding at the edges. Then joining the bottom piece. That's it 4 hours later, we had a finished throw pillow ready. 



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The first few jewelry designs I made

I was walking through Ben Franklin a few months back and saw someone teaching making simple ear rings with beads and got fascinated with the idea. I went and listened in. Sounded exciting and I decided to take a class thinking they will teach more. Of course I learnt how to make ear rings. But nothing more. Since then, my curiosity increased. I was looking at any and every jewelry I could find and I decided to give it a try on my own.

I got some beads, and asked the folks in the store how to bead a wire and close the ends. They gave me a booklet that I could learn from. I got it and started trying different variations of them. Now I think I am getting a feel of it. Though I think there is a long way to go, I think at least I am headed in the right direction. So before I forget all about my first few designs, I thought I should upload them and share with you all. So someday when I look back, I have an archive for it.  Here are some pics of that jewelry.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgrandhi/tags/jewelry/

Please leave your suggestions as comments on which of those you like or don't like. That would give me an idea of what works best for everyone.

More jewelry to come and I will keep you all posted. In the meanwhile enjoy. Few things I tried in these.

  1. Wiring bead earrings - You need beads, flat head pins, pliers, ear ring hooks 
  2. beading pearl chains /crystal chains - You need beads, beading wire, crimping beads, spacer beads, crimping tool
  3. Chaining the beads- round head pins, pearls/beads, round nose and flat nose pliers, pendants if you like
I will explain these in detail when I get a chance at least one of each style, so you know what I mean. But for now, adios. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Couple more Baby Blankets

So I decided to make two more baby blankets. One for Priya's yet-to-be born little one and our cutie little pie, Siddhanth. Here are both blankets. I will let them decide which one they want. Both made with flannel this, not fleece or minky fabric. It was far more easier to work with, so I could sew two on the same day.


A fun experiment - coasters

Here is a fun experiment I did today. I went to Farmer's market today and was impressed by all the artwork there was. One of them was an exclusive shop of decorate wall hangings or candle holders (wider coasters type). I talked to the lady where she got the material and how tough or east it was to make all these. And she said, Ben Franklin, my favorite arts and crafts store. So I made a trip there immediately. Got some felt material in green and half white colors and brown thread to go with it. Also got some sunflower felt stickers. Also an idea that the lady gave.

After spending all afternoon learning more about my sewing machine, I decided to try something not directly related to sewing but something fun. So I made these felt coasters. Let me know how you like them. Small craft projects that are fun to work on.

Cut them in 5 in squares. Cut the half white piece 1 in all around to make it smaller than the green background piece. Then did a blanket stitch all around to join both. Put a sunflower with leaves stickers on the corner so it does not take too much space on the coaster. That's it, its that simple and you have beautiful coasters.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Second project - A tote bag

Yes, a tote bag - that's the first lesson they teach when someone attends a beginner sewing class. I joined one too, at the Pacific Fabrics store in Bellevue. I expected more of "Getting started" kinda approach. But the first day we went, the instructor started off with cutting some fabric according to some dimensions and pressing the fusibles and what not. Already there were more people registered than the space could take and it was crowded. There were 8 students and two cutting boards and irons. We were waiting endlessly to even get a chance to use the rotary cutter.

The second class, it got better. I ironed the front showing piece with the fusible and the handles, ready to be stitched in the first class. So I did that stitching at home. Then the pattern got complicated and was talking about velcrow etc. which I didn't have. So I waited to get back to the class. Then we attached a pocket to the lining and joined the edges leaving a 6in hole on one side. Boxed (mitered in sewing terms), 4 inches from the edges of the front piece and the lining. For boxing, we had to press the seamed edges all along and then make a 90 degrees angle at the corners and stitch 4 in from that corner back and forth. Then cut that corner out leaving 1/2 an inch on either side.

After boxing, we turned the front piece inside out and then attached handles to it. After than we attached the lining with wrong side out (right sides together) at the top. Then we pulled the front piece from inside to out of the lining piece. Then pressed the lining and the front piece together at the top with good steam and then stitched all around. That's it. that made a perfect tote bag.

Tips Learnt:


  • Rotary cutter works better than scissors in cutting straight lines
  • There is a technique to attaching fusibles. Attach the rough side to the fabric and press with steam up and down and not sideways (with a pressing sheet in between) 
  • Always use a pressing sheet or a fusible sheet might damage your pressing iron
  • Pins are your best friend. Pin every 1 in so that the fabric does not shift
  • When making seams, if you iron it before hand, it wont move around
  • When you want to turn around the fabric, to avoid the bulk of the cloth being on right side, turn around  so the bulk of the fabric is on left side
  • To turn around the corners, keep the needle down and lift the presser foot up and turn the fabric around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My first sewing project - A baby blanket

Here is my first sewing project outcome. I chose the most difficult fabric to work with. Lesson learnt. Not sure of the dimensions either. When I bought the size they mentioned in the pattern 1yard, it looked too big for a baby blanket. So I went by my instinct and thought it cant be that bad. Especially for a new born, how big blanket would you need. So I made one. Will have to see how the soon-to-be-mommy likes it. This blanket, I made for Priya's baby shower this coming weekend. Hopefully she will like it. Since Raghav said she likes something more personal, I thought giving her something that I made myself might be a good gift. Since I wanted to learn sewing anyway, thought it would be a simpler project but let me tell you it is not easy. Working with cotton is much more easier. I am also working on a tote bag which I will soon finish. Though it is lot more precision and detail oriented project, it is much easier than working with this minkee fabric.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lavendar Festival was indeed relaxing

As they say Lavender is supposed to relax and de-stress you, even the lavender festival seems to have had that affect on me. Got a mail from Kalpana the previous night and I was glad to see her ask me if I wanted to join for Lavender festival. If you have visited my house, you probably know how I load up on lavender soaps, moisturizers etc.Even car perfume is lavender. I found some in pike place market. I find it very soothing. So I always wondered if there are lavender farms somewhere around. So I was happy to hear about Lavender festival.

We drove to Edmonds and took a ferry to Kingston and drove to Port Angeles/Sequim from there. It was about 2.5 hrs of travel time. But the best part of that journey was the ferry. I have never been on a ferry where you drive your car and park it on the ferry. It was a new experience for me. And then the beautiful views of the ocean, the Olympic mountains. It was just beautiful. Even the drive was beautiful. Lush green scenery, with rain and pleasant breeze in the air, and a view of mountains covered with snow and clouds, everywhere you go. Felt like a paradise. We reached the lavender farms and just kept clicking away. The lavender fragrance in the air was mind blowing. I have seen some flora and fauna that I have never seen before. I was very happy to have captured some of the beautiful flowers though I do not know their names.

On the way back, we even spotted Bald Eagles. Apparently this is the season and that place is a Bald Eagle sanctuary. We spotted a nest with two young ones and then we were wondering if we could spot the parents. Then came to bald eagles and sat there, waiting for us to click away. Loved to capture those.

Somehow everything seemed perfect though I would have liked blue skies so I can get better pictures. I think what made all this very much fun and exciting was Kalpana's company. I have never met her before outside Team Asha activities, but meeting her and hanging out with her was really fun. She is the only other single girl in the area, who I have met. So we both seemed to be on the same wavelength, could understand what each of us are going through. It was a quality conversation, which I never had with anyone else in the Seattle area. I was heartfully happy to have met her. That's why the whole day became a fun experience in itself.  I felt refreshed when I got back.