Posted on Leave a comment

I see it all clearly now (Sewing with clear vinyl)

Clear zipper pouch

I don’t remember what made me want to try the clear vinyl, but I bought a metre of it to try, and finally got up the courage to open up the roll and cut out a piece. For my first attempt I followed a tutorial by Crafty Gemini on YouTube. It involves just one piece of vinyl and a zipper and is a nice easy entry into sewing with vinyl.

The vinyl I got from my usual bag supplies shop was rather stiff and turning out once finished was like a wrestling event. I finally got the pouches turned out, but.

Clear zipper pouches

These are actually quite useful as project bags to cart around your sewing, crochet or knitting projects. Also, these would be great to take your make-up or personal care products with you when you travel, so that you don’t have to turn out all the contents of your toiletry bag at airport security. But clearly, the size isn’t ideal for a knitting or crochet project. It would be great for sewing and embroidery, since fabric is flatter.

Then I wondered if perhaps it would be easier to turn out the pouch after sewing if I used some fabric panels. Plenty of patterns and tutorials are available for those as well. I finally ended up using one by So Sew Easy.

After those simple pouches, I took on the pattern that caused me to get into this vinyl business in the first place. A rollup case with compartments that can be hung up to access the separate compartments. I’m not sure why, but the concept fascinated me. There are several pattern options: this flat one (which I might make next), or this paid pattern with detachable compartments, made with fabric rather than vinyl.

But I chose a pattern by Pattydoo. It has an accompanying YouTube tutorial and a very affordable price. I could choose to make it with mesh or fabric but for my first attempt I chose vinyl.

This is the Kosmetiktasche Casey pattern by Pattydoo. My greatest hurdle in this was the binding that goes around the edges. I haven’t got much practice with it and I’m not very fond of sewing it. So the half-finished project languished on my sewing table while I made excuses to postpone making and sewing on the binding. I did finally get to it, though.

Variants in fabric accents

A customer wanted a set of the simple zipper pouches with ikat accents. I had not thought I had such a wide range of fabric in ikat, but my inner Hyderabadi seems to have surfaced. I was able to show her my range and she chose these three. By this time, however, I had had to go and buy reinforcements for the vinyl, and this time it seems to be a thinner variety.

Thick versus thin vinyl

So here are my observations/experiences with the vinyl. While the thicker variety was tough to manipulate for turning, the thinner variety was much easier. The flip side of that was that the thinner variety tends to stick, both to itself and the surface of the sewing machine. This made it a different sort of challenge. I finally compromised by sticking some paper on the machine so I could move this along to sew. A teflon foot helps on the other side. But although easier to turn, this vinyl also results in a pouch that stands up by itself.

I think if I tried Casey with this vinyl it might be easier, although there it wasn’t the turning that held me up but the binding.

I like trying out new materials and I think I can cautiously count this as a success. Have you tried vinyl? How has the experience been? If you haven’t yet but are planning to, here are a couple of tips I can give you for sewing with clear vinyl:

Beginner tips for sewing with vinyl

  • Use a teflon foot if you have one. If you don’t, you can stick some tape on the bottom of the foot so that it does not stick to the plastic
  • If you can cover your sewing machine’s surface with paper or some fabric, it will help move the vinyl freely. I stuck some on with washi tape
  • I believe heating the vinyl with a hair dryer will help soften it enough to make turning it easier. I didn’t try this because I was afraid it might deform the vinyl, so I cannot vouch for or against it
  • To hold the fabric to the vinyl, you could use pins, as long as the holes will be hidden in the seam or under the fabric. If close to the edge, you can use binder clips or Wonder Clips to hold the fabric and vinyl together
  • Use a longer stitch length to minimise the number of holes the sewing makes. Use a light, neutral colour of thread so the stitching is as inconspicuous as possible. Unless of course you want the thread to show as a design feature!
  • Sew slowly and steadily. Take your time with it. You don’t want to have to rip out any stitches that go wrong, because the resulting holes will not go away.

Pattern mini-reviews

As for the patterns/tutorials I used, I found all three (Crafty Gemini, So Sew Easy and Pattydoo) easy.

I like to watch Crafty Gemini for her accent (which is a very funny thing to admit, but I like how she pronounces her ‘r’, and she’s just so lovely to look at!) And she has a range of simple but useful free pattern tutorials.

So Sew Easy also has several useful patterns and tutorials. I think I own most of their patterns by now. And talking of accents, I love listening to the British accent for a change…

I like Pattydoo patterns because they print with a grid and are affordable in comparison with most US patterns. The tutorials (usually free) are always detailed and clear enough that I can follow even with my half-knowledge of German (she does have some with English subtitles). It helps me pick up some sewing related German vocabulary. There are one or two other patterns I want to try.

On the whole, sewing with vinyl has expanded my range, and increased the appeal of my products among my customers. I think I will get more comfortable as I make more pouches and bags and wallets and organisers with clear vinyl or plastic. Hop on over to my Instagram feed to see how some of my pouches are being used. It might inspire you to make your own, or order some custom-made ones from me!

Posted on 1 Comment

Hina Nitesh of Papertown

Those are the cutest paper cats ever, don’t you agree? I commissioned Hina Nitesh to translate my Warp and Weft into images, and she lived up to my expectations with this wonderful reproduction.

I have the deepest admiration for creators who work with their hands to produce something so detailed and delicate.

We met when we began to participate in craft fairs together and I am thrilled to own a piece of her artistry.

Quilled paper jewellery set of earrings and necklace

Let’s hear what she has to say about her crafting journey.

Why do you craft? And why quilling? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do? Or did you get there via other pathways?

Creating something with my hands gives me immense happiness and is also a stress buster. I love to experiment with different media, colours and techniques. I find it difficult to stick to one type of craft form for long so I keep on shuttling between different craft forms. I have tried oil painting, making zentangles, crochet, embroidery, decoupage, candle making, cold porcelain crafts, flower making – some learnt formally while others were self taught. These days (actually for more than a year, probably a record of sorts) I am quilling. It was not something that I started with the aim of making it my calling, but I find it fascinating and it has held my attention thus far.

Green and blue paper quilled jewellery set

Are you a process crafter or a product crafter? Do you do it for the joy of making something, or to enjoy what you’ve made?

I feel that the process and the product are deeply interlinked and it is difficult to distinguish between the two. I enjoy the process of crafting and this is reflected in the product. The joy is both in the making as well as in the product being admired.

What has been your most rewarding crafting moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

There have been many rewarding moments, for sure. There are two kinds of people whose appreciation is important to me – one is the total stranger who sees my work at an exhibition or on my page and admires it. The other is my own children who don’t mince words when it comes to ‘honest’ opinion. So, when my children want to gift their friends something made by me, I am over the moon!

I often think of reproducing products that are popular with people. I have tried it with jewellery, but ended with a slightly different product each time. And why not, one of the charms of handmade is that it is different and can be customised.

Customised trinket box with quilled top

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

Before we talk of ‘stopping in tracks’, let me talk about ‘getting started’ for that is the toughest part for me. I keep thinking about the different aspects, like colours, forms, fonts, etc. In case of a custom order, I also think of the person whose personality I try to reflect. When I am stuck in the middle of the project, unable to decide the way ahead, I look at images (not necessarily quilling) for inspiration. Thankfully, with my craft, the entire canvas is an experiment till it is glued down. This leaves me with a lot of room to experiment. I leave the canvas overnight (or days!!) with strips in place. If I still like it the next day, I glue it all down!

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

Quilling, as an art form, is slow and requires a lot of precision. I spend hours on a project but there is little to show on the canvas. So one of the things that I have learnt is patience. Cutting the strips, rolling them, gluing them down in the perfect place with forceps in my hand – it all makes me realise how important it is to pay attention to the details.

Does your craft define you?

Yes, my craft is now one of the things that define me.

 

Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still beginning your journey as a crafter?

If you wish to make your craft a source of livelihood, it is a big struggle, especially in the Indian context. I would say, take pride in your work and demand to be paid for it. There will always be people who will appreciate and encourage you – count on them and forget the sceptics. Be a thorough professional and pay attention to everything, from the product to its packaging. Think global by being social media savvy and have an online presence.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

Paper is an amazing medium to work with. One, it is easily available and pliable. You can explore forms and geometry, cut it, tear it, fold it, roll it and make it resemble just about anything. With quilling I am just skimming the surface of the immense possibilities that paper offers. Then there are artists like Yulia Brodskaya, Caroline Rose, Gunjan Aylawadi, Parth Kothekar whose work inspires me. So yes, there is a long way to go…

Find Hina’s work on Instagram and Facebook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Ritesh Uttamchandani, photographer

The photographer trying to charm the grey cat

Nearly everyone has a camera in their pockets nowadays. So while the mystique of film photography and waiting to see what developed no longer exists, it takes someone exceptional to shine amid the constant bombardment of visual stimuli we face every day.

On a monsoon Saturday in July, with the water sheeting it down, raining cats and dogs and other small furry animals, we had a visitor who battled through the streets to deliver The Red Cat. This is the first book compiling some of the thought-provoking photographs of the man behind the camera. Let’s hear from him about his craft and his passion.

Meet Ritesh Uttamchandani. In his own words, “Just photographer will do. Because I’m not just a photojournalist and categories are consistently broken as I go along. Not an artist, I don’t like calling myself that. When photogs call themselves artists, they effectively negate the value of their own craft. You don’t need to do that.”

Idol workshop, Chinchpokhli

Why do you take pictures? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do? Like “I’m going to be a photographer when I grow up…”?

I think it is purely because of the kind of person I am. I was a reasonably shy child. And everyday I would wake up in the morning and see Dad and my sisters reading the paper. The first thing as a child I would notice were the photos.

A jyotish used to come often to our house, and he would tell my mother that I would do something to do with the arts and I was like, “Bhakk, I want to be a sportsman and later a scientist.” And I guess it’s the fables and stories my sisters and mum would narrate. They would just spark my imagination. I’d imagine things, what must Karachi look like and so on. In those days, we had radio plays for kids and film reviews, so words would influence and invoke images.

Do you enjoy the entire process? Which part of being a photographer is your favourite? Are there any bits you want to fast forward over?

Every part of it is my favourite. But the best part is hanging with people, hearing their stories, and the food. Anyone who hangs with me is well aware of how much I value a power nap and the food.

What has been your most rewarding moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

I can’t pinpoint that. And rewards differ as one grows. It might have been an award, but nowadays, I feel very happy when a photograph of mine manages to make a tangible difference in the collaborator’s life.

Cinderella, Goregaon West

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

Generally the slowdown is self-induced; there is too much noise around us. Too many people have notions about how something should and shouldn’t be and the only way to power through is block out these noises. And they have a right too, photographs are subjective and the medium is too democratic now. In fact, I think all of us are lost to a large extent. Embracing it only makes the journey a little more comfortable and productive.

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

I doubt I’m an authority on that. Viewers have to evaluate that. But yeah, to a large extent I find photography to be like a performance; you switch roles according to a scene.

Does your craft define you?

No, it defines some parts of me. And we, as a species, are fairly complex, so any definition that holds true today, might not stay the same way after a few years, or even hours.

Servicing high-tension wires over salt pans, Bhandup

Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still at the beginning of your journey? Has becoming a photographer turned out the way you imagined it would be?

I keep collecting advice and ideas. I mean, we all begin thinking that we will be the next gear toting world traveller. But the scene has changed in the last decade. And I’m just happy to be on the journey. And pictures can be made anywhere. I was recently exposed to Eva Haeberle’s work. I don’t understand a word of German, but that was some wonderful mind altering work, yet so simple.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

I haven’t been hired yet by the ad world. I think I could bring a lot to the table. I’m hopeful that someone somewhere will give me a shot. That’s actually how everything begins. Someone gave me a chance 14 years ago. Even the people I meet and photograph, they are actually giving me a chance, allowing me to be a part of their life, just for a bit!

Electric dancer

The Red Cat and other Stories is available from Ritesh’s website. This is a lovingly produced book, that has not only unusual photographs, but also little gems of narrative that will cause you to look differently at your everyday surroundings. Go on, click though and order it!

Posted on 2 Comments

Dyeing experiments in silk

IMG_4895

I’d like to believe I’m not as fickle as it might seem, not a total butterfly, but perhaps my boredom/discouragement threshold is low.

So currently, I’m enthused by dyeing silk Shibori style. I still sew, but I haven’t woven in a while.

I’d taken a workshop with Iteeha in January last year in tie and dye Shibori. I was very happy with the stole I dyed for myself after careful planning, but didn’t really intend taking it any further. Ritika (the force behind Iteeha) mentioned several times to me in subsequent meetings that she kept hoping to spot some of my learnings in my Instagram posts.

I’ve participated in several sales since then. But mostly in a closed circle, so I began to feel like I was showing the same items or the same fabrics to the same audience. So when an opportunity arose for a further sale in which I agreed to take part purely because of the symbolic significance and not with any real hopes of dwelling anything, I decided to step out of my usual zone and try something new. A wild (for me) risk. I decided to dye some stoles for sale.

Not having the courage to do this at home the first time, I went to the Iteeha studio and dyed my first batch of 8. To my utter gratification, I sold 5.

Since then I’ve been and bought the supplies and begun dyeing at home. My daughter loves to help, as well.

There is something about the abstract geometry that strongly appeals to me. There isn’t a guarantee of what colour or pattern will emerge when you open the cloth up, and yet almost always the results are enchanting.

My first batch at home was kind of wilder than the previous one from Iteeha. I tried several colours and tying patterns.

Don’t they look gorgeous? I’m shamelessly promoting them wherever I can.

I’m now considering whether to dye a saree length, although it is slightly daunting to think of the construction and design.

I’m having restrain myself from dyeing more and more. I ought to push out some stock before I dye so much I need to start draping the house in it… It’s so much fun!

 

Some of these have sold, and others are available. Let me know if you’d like to take one home.

 

Posted on 3 Comments

My everyday, everywhere, everything dress

Time was, when we lived in Kochi, I wore sarees every day. I don’t remember how I arrived at that denouement, but I did. Perhaps it helped that I didn’t go anywhere (or rather didn’t go into the city very much). All my cotton sarees got a proper airing.

Then we moved to Mumbai and for various reasons (including a midlife crisis and the culture shock of moving to a metropolis) I switched back to wearing trousers and tops or kurtas.

Most recently in my sartorial journey, I’ve moved (shifted!) to dresses. I find they’re so comfortable, easy to get on and suitable for every occasion (unless you make the mistake of choosing fitted ones and then proceed to get highly self-conscious every single time you wear them in public).

Cotton dresses are the best!

After sewing for a couple of years now, and having failed in my previous couple of attempts to sew myself a kurti/nighty/etc., I did the unthinkable.

I fell in love with a particular style of dress that I bought online, and it doesn’t really have a shape as such, though it is styled. So I decided to make one for myself.

Last Saturday, while my daughter was at a paper weaving workshop (we do a lot of workshops, my daughter and I, together and separately) at Bombay Paperie, I went fabric shopping. Which is my favourite kind of shopping nowadays. I hit up Crawford Market (actually Mangaldas Market on the opposite side, to be technically accurate). Browsing through, I saw this cotton block print in beige with black and red, and quite as an afterthought, I saw this slubby, textured fabric, which the shopkeeper told me was khadi cotton. Now, that part I’m not convinced about, but it was beige!

Give me grey, beige, black, white and brown, and I’m a very happy bunny. I don’t know why, but I love my neutrals. So naturally I got the slub fabric, too. Without a conscious plan, mind.

417D0C50-61E4-4B6B-A37A-817DC9E3B13B

Can you look at that lovely texture and not fall in love???

All week I chafe against work and responsibility, but when the weekend comes, I end up not being able to settle down to any projects, which makes me feel discouraged, which makes it even less likely that I will be able to choose anything to make!

Finally on Sunday I decided to gird my loins and get down to try that dress. Nothing ventured, etc.

So I used the original dress itself to draw out the pattern directly on my fabrics, with a seam allowance. Then I screwed up my courage even further, and drew out the top yoke and bottom hem (with facings). I had forgotten to account for a contrast yoke, so I cut those extra inches out later from the body pieces.

I do have some real patterns saved and maybe even one or two templates cut out, but this was the first time I got as far as cutting out an actual dress in acceptable (to me) fabric. Choosing such an easy shape was a good decision.

Then the sewing.

It helps that I’ve tried so many different kinds of things over the past couple of years, so I could try ways to make the dress as “professional” looking as I could.

IMG_4564

I definitely wanted pockets, and these have French seams, which happen to be one of my favourite ways of finishing nowadays, so I began with them. Turned out nicely too, except maybe I should have figured out how to attached them to the dress body before declaring them finished.

Then I turned to the bottom contrast hems, and with the almost straight hems, the burrito method of attaching was a cakewalk. No visible seams! Finished off with a topstitch, naturally.

Having used the burrito method for the bottom, I decided to use it for the yoke as well. Since the yoke pieces were in two halves rather than a single piece like the bottom, I first attached the body to the yoke bottoms, then rolled up the burrito and seamed the tops together.

Once turned out, the tops of the body had a finished look. These I then seamed together and sewed down to minimise the bulk. Doing the yoke this way also means I am less afraid of the slub fabric fraying. The edges are nicely enclosed.

The only thing left to do was sew up the body. This meant I had to put in the pockets and then I realised the pockets I’d finished had to be reworked somewhat in order for me to be able to attach them in the seams.

This was by far the most complicated part of the whole project. I had recourse to my seam ripper, and I had to figure out how to achieve neat and strong seams.

I managed, and learnt a few things. Totally worth it, because I love pockets! (Which does not mean that I might not decide to use patch pockets next time.) I also realised I missed the small pleat the original dress has in the top back, but it still seems to flow OK.

So there you are. My smile says it all, doesn’t it?

So much accidental harmony. Perhaps that’s the best kind. Because I do know that I tend to become anxious when I do anything that is planned in advance. I’m also proud I managed the seam allowances well enough, that my inside finishing is also not anything to be ashamed of. Plus pockets!! And cotton comfort!! And neutrals!!

Should I try the same basic shape for my next one, in brighter colours, maybe, or try something more challenging? I don’t do well with challenge.

Watch this space.

Posted on Leave a comment

Saira Sumar of Lihaaf

Let’s hear from my next Creator who Inspires in her own words.

Hello, I’m Saira from Mumbai. I quilt under the brand name Lihaaf (which means quilt).

I play a myriad of roles: daughter, wife, mom, sister, teacher, friend and quilter…

I don’t claim to have been sewing/quilting all my life. In fact, I hadn’t been near a sewing machine for over 25 or more years. But once the bug struck, now I can’t be away from it for 25 hours. The time spent assisting my mom with her sewing and quilting as a young girl helped me grow fast as a quilter. I’ve made and gifted quilts and quilted items to family and friends.

I just can’t stop; I have found my passion.

Designing, buying fabric, cutting, sewing, quilting make me happy.

2016-02-13_08-36-06.jpg

Why do you craft? And why the specific craft(s) you pursue? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do? Or did you get there via other pathways?

I’ve never asked myself this question…why?

Crafting, it’s something I’ve always done…but it’s also varied crafts and with huge gaps when I haven’t when I was occupied with college/marriage/kids…

Currently I’m into quilting, from 2014.

I’ve done crochet, embroidery, stained glass, fabric painting, calligraphy.

How did I start my quilting journey? I happened to see some posts on Facebook of quilts made by my friend’s cousin. (QTQuilts) I loved them and was drawn to them.

I spent 6 months ogling her lovely work and then I texted her asking if I could also learn how to quilt in Mumbai and what did I need? She said yes, of course and that’s all I needed to hear …

IMG_20171113_170944_088.jpg

Are you a process crafter or a product crafter? Do you do it for the joy of making something, or to enjoy what you’ve made?

I’m definitely a process crafter and luckily I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve made. 🙂

What has been your most rewarding sewing moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

I’m happiest when I’m making baby quilts. The joy of picking fabrics, colours, patterns…I love it.

Once I’ve completed a project, I note down all the specifications

Once I’ve completed a project, I note down all the specifications: fabric sourced from, size, tutorial link, changes I have made or will make in my next piece, a photo for future reference. So yes, I can reproduce whatever I’ve made.

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

So far I haven’t experienced quilters’ block. But yes, life generally does get in the way. Then I wait for that period to pass and while I can’t get to the sewing machine, I keep in touch by watching tutorials, following sewing blogs, shopping online and offline for fabric, etc.

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

I start my day earlier to add an hour or two for sewing before the day really begins. Earlier I would be ready to step out of the house for anything. Now I try to merge two tasks and reduce the time away from my machine. I do think I’ve become a bit more patient…

I’ve changed from being a reader to becoming an audio learner. Multitasking is my forte.

TerraceQuilt-114.jpg

Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still in the beginning of your journey as a crafter?

When I began quilting, my best friend said, “You’re getting old!” But I found that being creative made me more energetic, enthusiastic and I made loads of new friends.

So I would say to anyone who wants to start, just do it. You will learn everything along the way. But be warned! Quilting is addicting.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

There’s so much to learn…I’m barely past being a beginner.

I want to try my hand at Art Quilts sometime in the future. I want to learn to do intricate free motion quilting. I want to make a quilt to submit in a quilt show. I want to grow my home business of quilts and quilty products.

“Stop wishing start doing” is what I need to remember.

HexagonQuilt-105

See more of Saira’s lovely work and get in touch with her on Instagram and Facebook.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Artisan Corina

I first met Rohinni Juneja (The Artisan Corina) when a quilting friend brought her home for her to see my looms. Thankfully she’d been forewarned that I’m eccentric, and we hit it off quite well.

Her aesthetic is so different from my own (non-existent) one, as you’ll see from the images of her work that she’s shared with us here. Delicate shades of pastels and pearly hues, and an immense attention to detail mark her output. She’s also an ace at photography, so I’m thrilled to be able to show off her work at its best.

In addition, she appreciates the same sort of absurdity and hubris in human nature as I do, so we’ve chatted late into the night on many occasions.

When first it occurred to me to have a gallery of my favourite craftspeople, she naturally featured, and despite a brand new baby, she very kindly answered all my questions and supplied images. My attempts at illustrating her crafting story likely do not bring out all aspects of her creativity, but I hope they draw you to her. I’ve given her social media links at the bottom of the post for you to explore her oeuvre yourself.

How would you describe yourself?

A highbrow eccentric with an eclectic mix of belongings (material and otherwise). (laughs maniacally for a good 5 minutes)

No, I’m not all that. I’m a simple homebody who finds joy and peace in sewing, embroidery and most other forms of handicraft.

Why do you craft? And why the specific craft(s) you pursue? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do?

I craft because working with my hands brings me joy, the repetitive nature of the work brings me peace and the predictability of the result keeps my anxiety at bay.

I craft because working with my hands brings me joy, the repetitive nature of the work brings me peace and the predictability of the result keeps my anxiety at bay.

The final product will maybe warm someone’s home and heart (I’m hoping, most times, since I generally give away most things I craft as gifts).

Flower pouches
Made for my sister’s engagement

 

I’ve always believed that life must not have space for regrets and that’s why I make it a point to try/learn everything I’m given a chance at. I started when I was 6 maybe. My father bought me a wool weaving kit (because I threatened to HELP him with some bits of a hand knotted carpet he was working on) and that was it, there wasn’t any looking back from there. My mother taught me to knit, crochet, sew and whatever else she knew. As simple as it sounds, it wasn’t always so. Raw materials and most basic crafting supplies weren’t easy to find. Oftentimes we’d have to substitute and improvise.

Are you a process crafter or a product crafter? Do you do it for the joy of making something, or to enjoy what you’ve made?

I’m a bit of both. It’s mostly about the process. As someone who suffers from anxiety and insomnia, I find the process very soothing. Also, I’m extremely critical of everything that I make (I don’t eat when I cook (laughs) and it’s not because the food might be horrid) so I don’t think there are too many things on the list that I’ve actually enjoyed.

What has been your most rewarding crafting moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

I haven’t gotten there as yet. I don’t believe reproducing items interests me in the least, and to be honest I wouldn’t even try. I am a sloth!

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

MATH!! I’m horrible with numbers. Of course, my sense of direction would like to compete. Almost always, I calculate and recalculate before I cut for any project. With all the calculation and recalculation (this could last a few days) I have always ended up with pieces of fabric that make no sense when sewn together.

I then recalculate (laughs) and cut the pieces that have already been cut and sew them anyway. So the idea, the interpretation and the final product are always VERY different.

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

Yes, it has. Patience, calm and tired fingers it has gifted me.

Does your craft define you?

It is a large part of who I am, but it does not define me.

(Ed.: The bag above was made for someone in a swap, who later sold it. The buyer was Shamlu Dudeja, known for her role in reviving Kantha.)

Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still in the beginning of your journey as a crafter?

I wish someone had told me that it’s OK to give up sometimes. That it’s OK to put down that crazily failed product into the prototype bin and move on. That doing and redoing the “imperfect” bits may not always give you the desired results.

That doing and redoing the “imperfect” bits may not always give you the desired results. That it’s best to start over sometimes.

That it’s best to start over sometimes. And, that being stubborn isn’t always good.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

I can’t even begin with that list (laughs). There is so much out there to learn. First on my list, at the moment, is to learn to organise my workspace. Once I’ve conquered that, I can’t wait to travel and meet the world.

Mixed media mini quilt
Mixed media mini quilt

There you have my tiny snapshot of a crafter who amazes, enchants and inspires me. Before you go, I can’t resist sharing what might be my favourite example of her work.

 

Cross stitch owl
Cross stitch owl

You can find Rohinni on Instagram and on Facebook.

SaveSave

Posted on Leave a comment

The first day was amazing!

My daughter has gone up from class 2 to class 3, and today was her first day in class 3. I’m still in the phase of wanting to make stuff for her occasions and she’s still in the phase of being happy with what I make.

This time’s challenge was to make her a bag for her lunch box and related stuff.

The challenge came from her choosing a round tiffin box. Most patterns have boxed rectangular or square bottoms and while I paged through several pages of results, I wasn’t particularly keen on starting any one.

When I sew or weave I usually have on my YouTube or Netflix in the background as filler. Either I’m tuned to standup comedy or classic murder mysteries or British political satire or true crime. Plus craft shows, naturally.

In one such session I found a video for a Japanese knot bag. Now, I’ve made a couple before (two years ago, as gifts for the class representative moms).

Reversible Japanese knot bags
Reversible Japanese knot bags

These were reversible and monochromatic either side.

This other video I saw, though, was constructed differently, with a harlequin effect and not reversible. (Although I suppose it could be made to be reversible. After all, if the exterior has a visible seam, why can’t the interior be shown?)

Anyhow, the construction interested me, so I decided to try it for the lunch bag.

Because of user error, it took me longer than it ought to have, but in the end it was a fairly simple pattern.

Handy bag by Corinne Bradd
Handy bag by Corinne Bradd

The only problem was, this (the larger size) was just big enough to fit the tiffin box and not much space left over for anything else.

I enjoyed trying out the construction though.

Japanese knot bag
Inside of Japanese knot bag

If you’d like to try it out, here’s the video (the templates are free from the Sew Mag website after registration).

I could have increased the template size to try and fit more in, but I went back to browsing other lunch bag patterns on Pinterest. Isn’t that what everyone does approaching midnight on the day before you need something?

The concept of the drawstring top bucket bag is fairly common and there are several versions freely available online. In fact, I’ve made one or two of those too!

But for some reason I don’t remember this one that I found on one late night browse. It’s a pattern+tutorial by Craft Passion. It’s simple and straightforward and easily customisable. I liked how she dealt with the exterior bottom in particular.

Interesting way of boxing the bottom of a bag
Boxed bottom bag

I also had to grit my teeth and cut into some of the cute prints I bought from Aliexpress a few months ago. (I’m all about the prints, excluding flowers. Unless the flowers are more abstract than real.)

It was worth it, though. My toughest point was when doing the final topstitching. I had to give in and put on the walking foot on my machine before I got a decent stitch.

And the best part was that my daughter loved it when she got up in the morning.

Bonus? The tiffin box fits, with plenty of space left over for the probiotic drink and the box of fruit… And the rectangular bottom doesn’t matter. I call that a win-win. (The handles are actually both the same size, it’s my poor photography that makes them look as though they were mismatched.)

What made my day though, was that my daughter came back and told me her first day of class 3 was amazing. The lunch bag played a small part, too, I think 🙂

Posted on Leave a comment

The cutest zipper pouch you ever saw

Yellow zipper pouch

Ha!

So I saw some dumpling pouches somewhere recently. And I felt the irresistible urge to make one again.

I’d made this (a couple of them, I rarely make things singly) a while ago, using the same tutorial. I think I either made the smaller version that time, or I printed the template out at less than 100%. This time something seemed off so I compared the printout to the screen and reprinted at 100%.

The pattern/tutorial

The pattern (tutorial) is fairly straightforward, although one or two things could have been clearer. Also, you have raw exposed seams inside which need the extra step of covering with binding. The zipper is fiddly, being curved.Still, the finished pouch is cute enough that you feel like forgiving it all its idiosyncrasies.

My materials

The exterior is rexine (faux leather) that I bought at my daughter’s insistence. She’s currently on a break after her school year finished and is filling time sewing and doing sundry crafts. She wanted to sew with this. I think for now the indoctrination in stash building is working well 😉 Also, I was very happy with the customer service from the store (Fagnia Impex at Nagpada). That’s where I go for my bag hardware and faux materials.

I know the tassel is a little off, but I wanted to draw attention away from the workaday zipper. I’m yet to find a good local source for jazzy zippers… I’ve only found metal zippers by the yard or so-so plastic zippers. So I make do, although I also have some “fancy” zippers I’ve got through Aliexpress.

I suspect buying finite zippers and chopping them down may not be very sound cost-wise but well. Needs must.

I’m happy I went with the contrasting colour for this zip, although I looked at a yellow one as well.

I borrowed these cosmetics from my daughter, since I have none of my own. I think the nail paints are half size.

And ideas for future projects

Which leads to the thought that perhaps I can enlarge the template and make larger pouches. I could then use my metal zippers which would look jarring on this petite size. And have a go at decimating my rexine stash.

Does that sound like a plan to you?

With summer upon us in Mumbai, weaving is suddenly a smidgen less appealing, except that it’s more portable.

One more photograph before I go, because this is so cute despite the iffy topstitching. Do forgive the poor lighting.

Posted on Leave a comment

In which I experiment

I was playing around with a scheduling app a few days ago, inspired by a weeklong spring clean by Makelight. I’m sorry to report I didn’t finish following up on that but maybe at some point I will.

Those of you who read my blog by visiting it might notice a strangeness. I tried to redo the theme and in the process I lost some settings 😟

Then there was the experiment to set up a payment mode for my products, right here rather than on any e-retail platforms. I added a PayPal button to the green scarf I wove a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if it’s working though.

So why have my experiments flopped?

1. Scheduling flopped because I didn’t build up enough content for scheduling to make sense. I’m finding it difficult to write a couple of blog posts a week and only manage to post Instagram pics because they don’t require much content.

2. Changing themes wasn’t a success because I know just enough WordPress to deconstruct and not enough to build (a little knowledge. And so on).

3. Payment may have sunk because a. I didn’t actually publicise it besides asking one friend to check it out and/or b. I’m not sure I did it correctly.

So now what’s next for this lab of mine?

  • Should I admit defeat and give up this online selling attempt and stick to word of mouth?
  • Should I give in and hire an expert (the consequent question would be, is the expense justified at this stage of my craft business or will it ever be?)
  • Just keep on keeping on and hope somehow I manage to whip myself and my online presence into shape with no outside help?

One thing that I do seem to be able to do is make stuff.

Now to find a way to keep these things moving on so I can make some more.