Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fabric Animals 101

I came across the pattern for these adorable fabric animals while hunting for Christmas gift ideas for Ellis and Théo. The last time I made a stuffed animal was in my 5th grade HomeEc class.  So while I felt slightly intimidated to venture away from the comfortable world of 2-D sewing projects, I thought if I could make one back then, then it was certainly worth a try now. After a little trial and error, and a mutant lamb or two, I think they came out pretty cute.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Garden

This is the first year I committed to planting a winter garden. It took some effort at first to get excited about evergreens, but when I came across the charming miniature varieties I got a boost to follow through with my plan. It's still somewhat bare compared to our garden this past summer and could use something draping down, like ivy... but once the harsh days of February arrive I know we'll be thankful to see these little tufts of greenery against the snowcapped rooftops.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Apple Bottom

The lonely apples hanging around in my fridge from apple-picking back in October made perfect stamps for homemade wrapping paper. After a night of experimenting I was so happy with the results that I suddenly saw fruit in a whole new light. Passing through the greenmarket I felt compelled to pick up some new shapes-- a teeny tiny crab apple and a firm bosc pear. I learned my lesson with the pear: No matter how much I blotted the surface, the pear was just too juicy to get a sharp print.

But that's okay, I've already moved on from fruit and am now eyeing root vegetables...potatoes, turnips, carrots. I have a feeling that they'll work the best with their firm flesh and low moisture content. I just wish I had a little more time before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Printer's Block

While I was meandering through the Brooklyn Flea back in August an antique Indian woodblock caught my eye. At the time Ronak was in India on a business trip and I was just settling into "our" apartment. I was on the hunt for a housewarming present for us that spoke to both our tastes.

I pondered over the worn woodblock for a while, drawn to both its form and function. I knew Ronak would appreciate it sculpturally being that it's dark wood and a relic of Indian handicraft. And for myself, I saw it as a new toy to play with and was excited to test out its printing capabilities.

Here I've finally found the time to experiment with the block using a lightweight cotton fabric and Jacquard screen-printing ink. Despite not having pre-washed the fabric to remove the sizing, the pitted wooden block made a satisfying impression and a seamless repeat design. It's become clear to me that I've only just begun to graze the surface of this beautiful old-world printing technique.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I made a set of bibs for my nephew Théo after seeing this cute tutorial on the Purl Bee. I went through a bib-making-phase last year, and this pattern just inspired me to make a few more. I love the look of the terry cloth backing and also the extra layer of absorbency it adds. Théo's not eating solids quite yet, but in the meantime these bibs will work wonders for absorbing baby drool.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Field Trip: Fishs Eddy Vintage Collection

One of my favorite things about working at Fishs Eddy is having the opportunity to visit the vintage collection which is housed at the store's distribution center in Jersey City -- and most likely one day, the Smithsonian.

Each time I go out there I discover that everything's been rearranged and the collection has grown up and out. The soot-covered pieces are beautiful individually, while the rambling stacks and piles tell a story of shut-down china factories, hotels, restaurants... and the passion to preserve every last piece.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


My friend Adriana has a resourceful and eco-friendly approach to decorating her home and it's no different in preparing for her new baby's arrival. She has a real knack for gathering old & neglected materials and re-purposing them to feel fresh and modern.

Since Adriana had packed up her sewing machine to make room for Baby Tucker, she selected fabrics for this diaper clutch and handed them off to me to sew. The outer fabric is recycled 'wrapping paper' from one of her shower gifts, and the cheerful clown lining is a vintage print. She chose an unpredictable turquoise button as the perfect finishing touch.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The last terrarium I made was enclosed and didn't hold up very well, most likely because I hadn't given my mom the proper instructions to maintain it (sorry, Mom!). This time I created a desert terrarium for my good friend Jess, a lover of succulents and a native Arizonian. I imagine it will thrive well considering it requires very little attention, just full sun and a little water from time to time.

I've had this terrarium sitting on my kitchen table for a few days and have become really attached to it. Luckily it was fairly easy to make and I have enough leftover supplies to make another.

Note: Petco wound up being a great place to find gravel and sand (used for small pet cages & aquariums). After experimenting though I decided to use sheet moss as the ground cover instead.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh Happy Day

It's a really good day. Kari and I are celebrating our 30th birthday... and 30 years of friendship. Before email we survived our long-distance friendship by writing each other letters and sending care packages. And the best gift we could ever give each other was stationery, and apparently it still is.

These days we're no longer using Precious Moments stickers to decorate our envelopes, but have discovered the grown-up version: HappyTape! With its multitude of patterns, colors and uses, its hard not to give in to the childlike urge to collect 'em all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

She Crochets Shells

It's officially Fall when yarn becomes just one of the everyday items rolling around in my purse. Train rides, casual family gatherings and hours in front of the TV are all perfect times to mindlessly stitch away.  It's been a while since I've crocheted and so I decided to start up again with a fast-paced, non-threatening project like a scarf.

It took a few rows to get into the rhythm of the shell-stitch, but once I got going I quickly worked through 4 skeins of cashmere merino yarn. In crocheting as opposed to knitting, it's easy enough to  pull out stitches and begin anew when there are slip-ups (the perfectionist in me loves this!)

I gave the finished scarf to Ron's mom this past weekend for her birthday. It made me happy to see her trying it on, and the sangria color looked great on her (good call on the color, Ron!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hunting and Gathering

This past trip to Paris I was on the hunt for inspirational materials to work into my projects. Everywhere I looked I found graphics, colors, and materials that excited me. The hard part was finding the time to shop with only 5 days, and a million beautiful sites and things to do. Alas, I think I gathered enough to keep myself busy for a while.

In the Marais I returned to one of my favorite shops, Entrée des Fournisseurs, a beautiful shop tucked in a courtyard off rue des Francs Bourgeois. Stepping into the store I was greeted with a vista of ribbon spools, bolts of fabric and buttons filed neatly on cardboard. My favorite finds this time were embroidered sew-in labels: one that reads "Crocheté main" for my upcoming crochet projects and another that reads "Fait par Maman" for my mom.

At Ultramod I rummaged through vintage ribbons and made out with a collection of blue & gray striped ribbons to feed my maritime obsession. They're almost too precious to use. I could have spent hours at La Droguerie in the 2e arrondissement sifting through jars full of beads, buttons and feathers. There I found bias tape made of Liberty fabrics(!!).

The Marché aux Puces turned out to be another great source of inspiration-- furniture, prints, clothing, brocante. I happened upon a booth selling bundles of vintage piping. I couldn't decide over red or blue, so in the end I just bought both.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Make a Wish

Julie is drawn to things that are small, pink, polka-dotted... and Made in America.

Here you go, Julie. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Ron travels way more than the average person. This year alone he's gone to India four times, with detours to Japan, Switzerland and Austria. While jet-setting is in his blood, recovering from jet lag is a drag. For his last trip I made him an eye pillow out of Liberty of London's Grey Susanna print. I filled it with lavender for it's relaxing aromatherapy powers and added flax seed for weight. So simple!

After using a plastic bag to tote his eye pillow around, I had the idea to make a carrying case for it. Not only does it protect the surface from dust and dirt but also helps preserve the dreamy lavender scent.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Still Growing Strong

Between packing, painting, moving and unpacking, I haven't had much spare time to work on my creative projects. I hope to have more down time soon, which will most likely coincide with the onset of cooler weather.

In the meantime, I've really been enjoying how much the garden on our balcony has grown since I planted it back in May. The sweet potato vines are reaching down towards the ground, and to my surprise we even have sweet potatoes peeking through the soil. They've gotten so big that the geraniums have backed down in submission.

The nasturtium didn't survive the heat wave in July and the lavender drowned due to lack of drainage, both of which I promptly replaced with low-maintenance succulents. On the other hand, the tomato plant is actively producing a bounty of sweet cherry tomatoes, excellent for pairing with bocconcini. :) For a little while the morning glories looked like they might not make it but have showed a lot of resilience and are coming back strong-- and finally bearing flowers!

With the gardening season so short-lived, it has me thinking that I need to get more creative in the Fall and Winter so we can still see green when we look outside our window.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grande Fête

About a decade ago my Uncle Pat & Aunt Arlette had the idea of gathering family and few friends to celebrate Bastille Day. And by celebrate I mean eat platefuls of French food and drink lots of wine. This tradition is now 10 years in existence and the guest list has greatly expanded, reaching almost 80 people this past year. What better reason to celebrate than for the love of French food and culture-- it sure makes Bonne-Maman proud!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Born on the 4th of July

What a monumental weekend! On July 4th, at 12:50 pm my nephew Théo Julien was born at 6lb 8oz. After waiting 9 months and an extra week past Rachel's due date, we were reaching maximum anticipation. Actually Théo timed his birthday quite well. Every year he'll be celebrating his special day with fireworks and BBQ's, and better yet, he'll always have the day off from school with Maman and Papa.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Out of Print

Dave, one of the owners of Fishs Eddy, made a fortuitous find on a recent buying trip to the Midwest: Vintage metal stationer's engraving blocks from the 1940's and 1950's! He came back with hundreds of initials and full addresses, most in their original boxes with handwritten names and dates of when they were last used.

When I saw them they reminded me of my friend Josephine and the types of objects she often paints: aged and weathered surfaces, objects with historical content and traces of text. You can see some of her truly amazing works here. I thought if these engraving blocks didn't serve as her next muse, they would at least look great displayed in her studio.

I wrapped them in pages from old Anthropologie catalogs and adorned them with spare buttons.