Author Archives: missphd

Introducing….the Crafty Little Club (+giveaway)!

I’ve hinted at it and now it’s time for the big reveal….. For the better part of this year I’ve been working on a passion project – the Crafty Little Club!

Science-themed craft subscription box

In the beginning…

I’d been wanting to start a crafty business for a long time but just couldn’t seem to come up with an idea that felt right. I worried that a business selling finished products would start to make my sewing hobby and joy feel like a chore, and I was also pretty sure that I wouldn’t have time to make much.

After I had my son early last year, I also fell into a bit of a creative slump. Those early months were a blur of wakings, feedings, and poops, then just as we started to feel like we were emerging from the fog we went and moved to a new state (Hi Oregon!)! We rented a house when we first got here but it just had a skinny little landing area at the top of the stairs as my crafting space. There was no door so I had to put things away when I wasn’t working on them. I may sound like a total slob, but having to put away my projects is such a damper on my progress, especially these days when I’m often just stealing 20 minutes here and there.

So there I was, over a year after my son was born, finally feeling like myself again, and missing my hobby. On a whim, I decided to go to the Sew Expo outside Seattle and boy was I glad that I did. I left feeling energized, inspired, and jazzed to make time for myself and my creative hobbies again. On the drive home at the end of the weekend, I floated an idea past my husband – what if instead of putting my time into making finished products to sell, I instead channeled my creative into making patterns?

As we talked, an idea started to form.

I had just signed myself up for a monthly embroidery club and I was loving it! I’d recently re-discovered embroidery and was finding myself surprised to enjoy my stitching time away from my machine. Not to mention the fun of getting a surprise craft in the mail every month. As we brainstormed, I thought about what interests me and I couldn’t help falling back to my nerdy roots – SCIENCE!

Science-themed craft subscription boxes

And so, the Crafty Little Club was born.

The Crafty Little Club is a science-themed crafting subscription box that will keep your hands busy and your heart happy, at any skill level. For just $25 per box (shipping included in the US), science and craft enthusiasts who join the club will receive a new box with a different theme every other month. Each box contains everything you need to create two embroidery or hand crafts including high quality materials and detailed instructions. The contents of each box are a surprise until they are mailed out, but receiving a crafty secret in the mail is half the fun! Subscribers receive 6 kits per year, but you can quit the club at any time.

The first kits mailed out on the first of this month and I thought it’d be fun to share a little reveal video to show folks what the first theme was and what they can expect with the kits:

It’s been such a wonderful experience to work on this project and see it through from idea to launch! In addition to the creative design aspects, which I knew I’d like, I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed some of the other things I needed to figure out: building a website, sourcing materials, budgeting….

It goes on and on. And to be honest, it will keep evolving and I will keep needing to figure things out. One of my favorite pieces of advice that I really took to heart, was from Chris Guillabeau’s book, Side Hustle (not an affiliate link): don’t wait until it’s perfect, just start doing it and figure it out as you go. I have a tendency to try to plan every tiny detail out entirely, complete with backup plans, before I make a first move. But that’s a good way to make yourself feel overwhelmed and never actually start anything. The best way to get going is just to get going!

(Now if I can only figure out the best way to convey that the boxes AREN’T FOR KIDS!! Adults craft too, people!)

The Giveaway…

Well, if you’ve made it this far then you deserve to hear about that giveaway I promised 🙂 I’m giving away a free box (November’s “Virology” box) to someone in the US or Canada (sorry rest of the world….shipping….). Pop on over to Instagram and check out my giveaway post. Follow me @craftylittlesecret and tag two friends in the comments, and that’s it! Giveaway closes this Wednesday, November 21 at 16:00 PST. I’ll choose one winner at random and contact them by DM.

If you want to check out what other’s are doing, don’t forget to follow #craftylittleclub. I’m so excited for this experiment :).

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Chemistry Oven Mitts

They’re baaaaaaaaaaaaaack! And only 5 years after I originally hinted they may be available in my Etsy shop 😀

Robot Lab oven Mitts from Crafty Little Secret

Oh my dear friends, I have been gone for so long and I have so much to tell you! But much of it will have to wait because [Spoiler Alert] one of the reasons I’ve been gone so long is that I was busy birthing and raising a child. And boy oh boy, turns out that takes a chunk out of your free time.

I’ve also been busy working on a passion project and I’m just about to burst with excitement because I’m very near official Launch with a capital “L”. So stay tuned for more on that soon!

And, oh yeah. In the past 16 months I’ve also moved. Twice! One of those times was across state lines and the other was into my very own house. [Another Spoiler Alert]  Buying, moving into, and making a home out of a house also takes a big bite out of your free time. Who knew?

Science and Chemistry Oven Mitts by Crafty Little Secret

Babies, new businesses, big moves. It all adds up to me being terribly neglectful to this here poor blog. But I’ve got some fun projects that I managed to work on during all the Busy of the past 2 years that I’m dying to share with you and I’m scheming on a way to make some more time for myself to actually manage that.

So until then, I leave you with this PSA to let you know that you can, finally, have your very own pair of sciency oven mitts. Ta-ta for now, but hopefully not for long!

 

Me-Made May 2016 Pledge

Admittedly, I’ve been a little (ok, a lot) slack in my blogging of late, but I’m still excited for Me-Made May. This year more than ever, I’m hoping that Me-Made May will help to re-invigorate my sewing mojo and get me back at my machine on the reg. At the very least, hopefully it will encourage me to post some unblogged finished projects!

Assessing my wardrobe in preparation for the challenge has me concerned that some staples from previous years are now starting to look a little tired and worn. Here’s hoping the challenge will help push me to fix what can be fixed and replace what can’t. So, without further ado, here’s my pledge:

‘I, Eileen of ‘Crafty Little Secret’, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear one me-made clothing item each day for the duration of May 2016. I will take pictures daily and post a round-up here once a week. 

Here we go….

Channeling Jeanie Bueller: My First Granville

I didn’t set out to channel Jeanie Bueller, but as I was working away on my top Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came on tv and my husband called to me, “That’s just like your shirt!”

jeannie bueller

And it kinda is.Sewaholic Granville front hanging

I bought this fabric along with another selection with the intent of making myself some collared shirts for the office. It can be so hard to find ready-t0-wear button up blouses that fit my bust, let alone ones that are also in a fun print!

This is my first collared shirt and, I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed with myself for making such a wearable muslin. I used the Sewaholic Granville pattern and the instructions were pretty clear and easy to follow. With the exception, that is, of the cuffs.

As I was inserting the sleeves into the cuff pieces, on both sides I ended up with too much sleeve fabric compared to cuff, as though there should have been a pleat. But the pattern didn’t call for a pleat. I’m not quite sure what I did. Did I somehow sew the sleeve placket incorrectly? Was there supposed to be a pleat and I was just missing it? Anyway, I ended up just adding a pleat. Done and done.

Sewaholic Granville sleeve placket

I was particularly afraid of the collar, but I didn’t need to be. Turns out, it’s not so bad! A little rough perhaps on the collar stand, but not at all bad for a first go.

Sewaholic Granville collar detail

The thing I was most impressed with, however, was the button placket.

Sewaholic Granville button stanceOooooooooh! Aaaaaaaaah! Have you ever seen such straight and even top-stitching? Such perfectly spaced buttons? Such just-the-right-size button holes?

Sewaholic Granville back hanging

My main error in stitching up this pattern, I think, is in the sizing. My bust is usually one size larger than my waist, which is usually one size large then my hips, when selecting pattern sizes. Instead of doing a proper full bust adjustment, I just graded this pattern accordingly.

Sewaholic Granville back

It’s not terrible, but it left me with more room in the back than I need and larger (and longer!) sleeves than I need.

Sewaholic Granville sleeves

The Granville pattern also flares out a lot in the hips, much more than I need it too. I think that in my next iteration I will cut even more fabric out of the hips and, for this top, I am still considering darts. While a looser or boxier shirt can be flattering on many people, for me it often just makes me look like a giant cylinder. As though my whole body is the same circumference as my bust. Next time I sew this, doing the full bust adjustment instead of grading might also help.

Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com - Channeling Jeannie Bueller, Sewaholic Granville shirt

My last couple projects (I’ve been sewing, just not blogging), have been a little more complicated lately. This shirt was fun, but it also made me realize that I have different sewing moods. Sometimes I want a technical sew. Something that requires precision or teaches me a new technique. But, more often than not, I just want to sew! Whipping up a new t-shirt can bring me just as much satisfaction if I’m in the mood for it.

Lately, I’ve been delighting in the repetitive cutting and sewing of a simple quilt….

Sundays are for Shibori.

Indigo hand - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

A friend of mine attended a shibori dying workshop a couple months ago and has been addicted to shibori ever since. I’d been toying with the idea of working on a shibori quilt or other project, but just never really got my rear in gear. So when he offered to spend a Sunday teaching me about shibori dying and generously sharing his tools, I jumped at the chance!

Ryen already had the indigo all set up and ready to go when we got there, and I didn’t really take enough pictures/notes to make a tutorial, but I thought it’d still be fun to share some of our experiments.

Shibori Inspiration - http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=32197162&category=A_FURN_BEDDING_THROWS

I hunted around online a bit for inspiration before I started and found this pillow from Urban Outfitters. I loved that the fabric was left with a large amount of white space and very little had actually been dyed.

shibori foldingThis isn’t really the best photo, but to get the look I was after I started by ironing the fabric into a long accordion. So much ironing.

Shibori wrapping - Crafty Little Secret - craftylittlesecret.comNext I laid the accordion-folded fabric against a PVC pipe and wrapped it with twine. Once it was all bundled, I smooshed the fabric until it looked as it does in the photo above. With shibori, any of the fabric that is against the pipe or the string will not take the indigo and will stay white. Any fabric that’s smooshed up away from the pipe will take on the indigo dye and end up colored blue.

Shibori Dying - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comWho knew that indigo dying could be so time-intensive? Turns out that to get that nice deep dark indigo color, you need to dip the fabric multiple times. The exact number of dips depends on the type of fabric, and natural fibers are required. I was using some nice white Robert Kaufman Kona cotton. You start off by soaking the fabric in water for 20 min; this prevents the dye from bleeding through the bound areas of your fabric. You then cycle your fabric, 20 min in the dye, 20 min drying on the line. Repeat until desired color is achieved. I had two pieces of fabric, one tied to either end of the pipe, so I was just flipping the pipe every 20 min.

shibori on the line

I didn’t catch any pictures of it, but when the fabric comes out of the dye bath it’s actually a lime green color. The deep indigo color develops through an oxidation reaction that occurs once the dye is exposed to the air.

Shibori Dying - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis is how my first piece of fabric turned out! Stay tuned to find out what it gets sewn into….

I also brought a long scrap of cotton knit fabric and decided to play with some different techniques and made a sampler scarf.

Shibori dying tools - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comRyen had a ton of tools that he’d laid out for us to play with, and I was drawn to the little wooden beads.

shibori beadsI wrapped the fabric around individual beads in clusters of 4-6, and wrapped each cluster with an elastic.

Shibori Sampler Scarf - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comI also tried some popsicle sticks, which I hoped would make stripes, and some plastic furniture coasters held in place with clamps. The tied up cones are a technique known as “kumo” in which the fabric is wrapped around a dowel (or chopstick, in this case) and tied in place using thread or string. Here’s a great example of kumo, that Ryen made:

Kumo Shibori - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd here’s how my sampler scarf turned out:

Shibori Sampler Scarf - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

On the left is the pattern that was created by the little wooden bead and elastic clusters. I love it! Very microbial, no? Next to that are the strips created by the popsicle sticks, the kumo twists, and the polk-a-dot pattern on the right was created using the plastic coasters. Since this scarf was made out of a scrap of fabric I had in my stash, there’s a chunk cut out of it on the right. But fear not, I’ve got a plan. So stay tuned for that too!

Anyhoo, that’s all that I dyed, but check out some of the awesome things my friends made!

Shibori butterfly - Crafty Little Secret - www. craftylittlesecret.com

Ryen used these little wooden leaf cut-outs that he found at the hardware store to make the butterfly effect shown below. I really wish I had taken a picture of Kristy’s finished product using the same technique to show how differently different fabrics take the dye.

Shibori Butterfly napkin - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comKristy brought some linen that she cut into 20″x20″ squares to make napkins. You can see in the photos below that the dye penetrated the fabric really, really well making clean sharp lines and consistent dye patterns.

shibori napkin lattice Shibori Napkins - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comRyen also played with placement of simple patterns and made the tank top below. The stripe is on the back of the tank top so it makes a really cool spinal effect.

Spine Shibori - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

And here it is, all our beautiful work hanging on the line! What a way to spend a lazy Sunday…

Shibori Dying - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

 

 

 

Me-Made May 2015 Roundup (Finally)

Well kids, it’s been a whirlwind Me-Made May this year. So much so, that I’m posting about it halfway through June! I did follow my pledge and wear me-mades everyday, but I didn’t manage to snap pictures of all of them. I also followed my pledge and (almost) finished the pants I’ve been working on (they literally just need a button and a buttonhole and they’re done). I did not, however, follow my pledge to post outfit photos weekly. No sir, I did not.

Anyhoo, without further ado, here’s the roundup:

Me Made May 2015 Roundup

 

I’ve gotta tell ya, we had some good times this past month, me and my me-mades….

Savannah….we started out the month in Savannah, GA. This dress has never been more perfect for any occasion….

Cal Academy……we checked out the California Academy of Sciences……

Picnic……we had a picnic with friends in Alamo Square…..

Book of Mormon.…….we finally saw Book of Mormon……..

NOLA……and we finished out the month in New Orleans.

Good job to everyone who participated in this year’s Me-Made May. I was pretty slack on my posting (in that I didn’t do it), but I’ve loved seeing everyone else out and about in their me-mades!

Me-Made May ’15

Hello, old friend! It’s been a while.

It’s that time of year again…..Me-Made May! I’m going to try to wear a me-made item every day, but I’m honestly not too sure how it’s going to go. A lot of my handmade wardrobe is on the casual side because I wasn’t working at my peak sewing time, and was working in an academic lab before that (all jeans and bleach stains…). Now I work in an office and need to look at least a little professional every day.

The other confounding factor is that I’ve felt a bit low on sewing mojo lately, for a few reasons. The main one is that I’ve done something terrible and ungodly to my back. It now hates me and occasionally sends shooting pains into my right leg, like lightening bolts into my butt cheek. It is locked in a battle of will against my chiropractor. Time will tell who wins the war. In the meantime, sitting for too long hurts and at the end of the day I’m too exhausted to do much more than flop on my couch.

So this year, my two Me-Made May goals are; 1) to find ways to mix my handmade wardrobe into my work wardrobe, and 2) to get back to the sewing machine. With that in mind, I’m making the following pledge:

 ‘I, Eileen of Crafty Little Secret, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2015 and to finally finish my half-sewn dress pants’

I’m going to take daily photos and post a weekly update of how I’m doing.

Happy May everyone!