Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Shoes!

At the very cool Habitat shoes.

Ahhh. Do you ever have those fantasies where you win a lottery ( a big one) and plan the actions you will take? Look at these shoes. These are part of my rich girl life.

Maybe I'm being a goof. I'm taking antihistamines that are expired. Is that okay? Hm. I'm sneezing my head off...what can I do?

I'm half asleep, scrolling the web for I don't-know-what...I think I'm addicted. I think I should set time limits on my surfing.

I think I better go to sleep. And you? You should read today's post from Jodie at Ric Rac. It's funny.

x ella

Friday, August 29, 2008

grey bubble tunic & labour day weekend

I loved this fabric and imagined a cushion cover (why does it always start there? hm..) and ended up making a little tunic for my daughter. It falls to the mid-thigh and usually ties with a soft organic cotton ribbon in a natural colour. I love it. It was fiddly and no pattern but I like the yellow trim and the boat neck. It was easy except I forgot out allowances on the hems of other words, they were a bugger to hem. But it looks cute on V. (my 3 year old) and I think I'd make another one.

This is Labour Day Weekend in Canada. Monday is off. We're at the in-laws' farm...and school starts on Tuesday. I have started doing some experimental embroidery stuff for cushions...some bubbles...or circles...or something. We'll see how that goes. Also I was recently inspired by some Brice Marsden drawings to do embroidery that mimics roughly drawn lines. It's an experimental weekend as we spend the last summer days with the urchins...have a lovely weekend.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Duck Egg Blue Size 2 -- Giveaway!


I think it's time for a giveaway.

I don't know why I'm completing a flurry of hot-weather sewing projects...must be that new nip in the air making me rush to hang on to summer, or something. But this piece, newly completed, is now too short for a girl who's three and very tall. It's size 2. The blouse is a pullover, cotton, gathered using elastic thread in the sewing machine, and with two little pockets with hand-stitched details. Just link to this entry and next Tuesday I will pick someone to receive it (using whatever random method is at my disposal)! When you receive it, just fold it up and enjoy it next summer. Unless of course you live in Hawaii, in which case, I would like to switch places, please.

xo ella

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rust Pillowcase Dress

Ah, the last of summer. Colours give a hint of the fall to come.

This is a basic pillowcase dress -- i.e. no pattern; basically fabric or ribbon threaded through the top of a rectangle with angled cut-outs for under the arms. I had these older fabrics on hand and made this for my three-year-old to wear to a party. It was very easy and now that summer's almost over I regret not making more of these. But next year. It would be lovely in voile also. You can see from the close-up that I was in such a rush I didn't even finish the tie-ends. I'm keen on peacocks right now for some reason. You know, one year it's sparrows, the last year it's been owls, now peacocks are catching my eye. Though I still love sparrows and owls. This fabric was originally purchased in the winter as I was starting to sew again after many years. It was originally intended to be a "bag-bag" - you know, a holder for plastic bags. This is close. :)

xo ella

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Boy's Shirt

As school was wrapping up in June, my five-year-old son requested a "Hawaiian" shirt. I searched through vintage mens' shirt racks for material to make a small shirt out of a large one. I had a pattern -- Simplicity 5581.

A bit goofy (dig the multidirectional fabric) but perfectly fine -- plus it included hat patterns which by then I was looking for. But no luck finding vintage shirts (too much polyester) or shirt material (too tacky). But then I noticed this Amy Butler fabric. (I promised I am not obsessed with Amy Butler fabric...despite appearances.) The shirt neckline was a little tricky to sort out but successfully I made the collar smaller (i.e. less 1989 than the pattern). It's now the "party shirt" and J. wears it with pride. Yay!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Polyvore is today's Design Solitaire

Oh dear. I am in trouble. And so are you. Check out Polyvore to assemble fashion and design stuff in a collage of your own making, VERY easily and quickly. Be careful. I had to stop fooling around in mid-assemblage (see above) because I could have gotten into the perfectionist stage. Instead here's a bunch of stuff that appealed to me, on a kind of red and turquoise theme. Only together, mind you. Not even sure about individual items. I was going for a sort of Morrocan thing. However - I HAD TO STOP. Have fun!

Friday, August 22, 2008

If you have ever been a waitress... might want to read about the "other side"; the struggles of line cooks, prep cooks, pasta cooks, and sous chefs in this terrific, funny autobiographical book written by a former New Yorker editor. Bill Buford fell in love with cooking -- and left the New Yorker -- while being a kitchen slave for the famous Mario Batali (aka Molto Mario) of Babbo in New York. It was a position he lucked into and at times performed with hilarious ineptitude. It includes among other kitchen secrets, an entertaining and disgusting tip on why you don't want to order pasta in a restaurant after 10 pm. (It has to do with the debris in the pasta-boiling pot that goes all night...shhh.) However, "Heat" is definitely not a gross-out extravananza -- it honestly celebrates the deep passion and heritage of traditional Italian cooking.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

MacFab Sale 50% Off

In Toronto, MacFab is having a sale of 50% of all fabric. I just picked up some linen for curtains for my guest room (white). They also have a selection of designer fabric. Check it out because it will possibly end today. They don't know. Word is whenever the boss gets back and gets into a mood, it ends.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bent Silberg Find

(photo from The Mid-Century Modernist)

In a dumping site for furniture I found two side tables. I was dropping old baby stuff off at the Value Village here and was disgusted that some people just toss stuff into the parking lot and let it get rained on. (You're supposed to bring it inside if there's no attendant. Okay, so I read the signs.) Anyway, I brought my kids' stuff inside like a good little doo-bee, and emerged and headed for my car, sniffing at the vultures rooting around in the chaos of the sad junk pile accumulating regardless of weather, when I spotted some teak. I stopped. Then got into my car. Then got out of my car.

I'm not normally a lover of teak. But my husband is, among other things, a mid-century modern fan. Me, I am only interested in free furniture that might be paintable, able to be transformed. So. I thought of my guest room redecoration -- remember? Only a few pennies' worth of work allowed?

I yanked aside a nasty MDF table, a wet carpet, and found two Danish Modern side tables with linen magazine holders. They were dirty, but not beyond all hope. This type of thing is not my speed, normally, but they might do in the new guest room configuration if I re-do the linen, which is unbelievably shabby but also easy to replace. Plus they were about to be rained on.

It's been a while since I brought home free finds. I think I might use something other than linen to replace the WRECKED linen fabric magazine hanger portion. There are SO many cool fabrics out there and changing it up would be so easy.

The picture up there is a nice version of the set I found-- mine are identical but filthy. More pics of the one above here. Genuine Bent Sigler. (I know, I didn't know him from Adam, either, as my mum would say.) But I found him on line. Danish, 50's. Cool, right?

I'll keep you posted on how they turn out. Right now they're hiding in the basement waiting for a few hours' work. I'd better take a "before" picture, right?


Have a great Wednesday.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Portrait by Zeesy & Happy Blues

Portrait by Zeesy
Originally uploaded by the workroom

This is a pencil and watercolour portrait done by Zeesy Powers, of my three-year-old daughter yesterday at the Trunk Show. Her mother feels it's priceless. Yes, me.

You can check out more portraits and see the lovely stuff that went on at the workroom yesterday by visiting the flickr pages here.

I snuck in a purchase of some fat quarters after picking up a set of Shannon Gerard donuts (see the one in the pic?) and cookies -- crocheted -- for a Christmas present (shhh) and this adorable Angelune starfish. It's made with wool and angora. I mean, really. How cute.

And I thought, well, maybe a donut theme is starting somewhere in my life but I have no idea what that means...and maybe I'm just losing it after visiting the donut factory. Inhaled too much powdered sugar.

Have a great night.

P.S. I have no idea what I'm doing with those fat quarters yet but I might try a log cabin quilt pillow. Some of them are SO cool.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kids' Trunk Show & Guest Prep

Crocheted donuts!

Wow, the Kids' Trunk Show at the Workroom was amazing. I am so happy I had both childrens' portraits done (watercolour and pencil) by Zeezee Powers. Thrilled. I also picked up a wool starfish (I want it for wall...but I'll sacrifice it for Christmas, I guess)..and some gorgeous crocheted cookies and donuts for tea parties. I'll post pics tomorrow after I ask the makers. Everyone's "trunk" display was so cute.

I'm exhausted tonight from doing the turbo-house-clean that one does when guests are coming for a few days. Do you do that? Phew. House looks great. Thank goodness people visit us once in a while. Otherwise, we'd wallow in our own filth for far too long. Also I needed that adrenaline to mow the lawn like a crazy woman last night, (perhaps) driving the neighbours batty as I staggered around in the dusk with the push-mower as they tried to have an elegant dinner on their new deck, two yards down. Oh, well. At least it wasn't a leaf blower or chain saw, right? Sigh.



Friday, August 15, 2008

a real donut factory

I love factories.

The other day I mentioned that at our house we joke that we go to work "making donuts" when in fact we work at home. But we recently visited a real, live donut factory, thanks to some dear friends of ours.

Here's a pic of one of the many donut racks -- these are sour cream.

Our host would casually stick her hand into large machines, racks, or sugar-dusters, and pull out sugar-dusted, or chocolate, or jam-filled donuts for the children to "try". My kids, being deprived of donuts in everyday life, would not "try" and toss, but consumed each one completely, with concentration. The kids (in ecstasy) ate about four donuts each within an hour-long period. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the scent of frying sweet dough. And for a while, envied the simple work mission. Mission: make some nice donuts.

Nothing complex, like -- "Mission: Research details then work out a timeline for delivery of a written proposal and review said proposal with corrections as per boss then translate that into a power point with appropriate music....." Ugh.


Just good sugary work. Make some donuts. Cover 'em with sugar. Dip some in chocolate, sure, if you feel that way. Or stand at the cream-puff-cream-filling machine and make sure they all look nice.

I know I'm romanticizing tough factory work, but that day it sure seemed simple and appealing. I know, I'm nuts.

Here's the donut fridge. Have a great day in whatever factory you work in. Manufacture nice stuff today.

xo ella

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

...and now that we're discussing a fantasy redecoration...

Crafting is slow today as I concentrate on my job.

I work at home.

So of course, I procrastinate and do some virtual shopping. Is there a word for internet window shopping? Check out this Angela Adams rug. No, I'd never heard of her, either. Lovely, hm? Might be right on for the playroom/guest room re-do. Which leads me back to paying for it. Oh yes, the job!

Well, here I go. Back to the "donut factory" as my DH and I like to call our respective self-employed gigs.

Actually, I visited a real donut factory recently.

I'll post a pic tomorrow. It was very cool.

Okay -- enough procrastination, already!

Have a great day.

x ella

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

earthy dress on sugar city...and house re-do

For those of you unfamiliar with Sugar City Journal, it's divine. Two sisters-in-law sharing a blog. I HAD to post this dress.

See it here on their blog for more brilliant inspiration. I love it. Look at the terrific pleating and the rough softness of this fabric. Doesn't it motivate you to create some new fall clothes? (Just when my summer clothes are still waiting to be completed. Boo, me!) Their new shop gets stocked and immediately sells out in a blink of an eye. The women create clothes generally without commercial patterns! They also post pics of their homes and there are many very cool ideas on there.

Speaking of homes.

Lately I've been salivating over Apartment Therapy.

See, I'm thinking about re-doing the larger attic room of our house into a guest room/play room. From brown lino tiles, mismatched bookcases, stacks of books, papers everywhere, mismatched rugs, no curtains... to an airy white space with turquoise and yellow accents. This is my dream. On very very few dollars. I figure I simply switch the furniture around, paint it and the floors, make some bedding, a headboard, a futon cover (for the futon in the new office), and find some dirt-cheap lighting. No problemo! But where to put my husband who is currently using it as an office. In the current (wee) guest room! And so then I must re-do that room for him.

Here are some colour combos I've been eyeing. I am gravitating towards painting the floor in a pale yellow/wheat neutral. (Is that beige? Hm. Hope not. More of a yellow ochre.) And the fabric that I am loving of this batch, for a headboard, is the Kokka with the trees. Though I would love a more modern look. Like this one on the left.

For one thing, I hope to make a fabric-covered headboard and am having trouble committing, because this will anchor the whole guest/play room's colour scheme. I am seriously loving this Anna Maria Horner stuff, though.

Check out the Sketchbook in Blue. There's something cool about Volumes, too. Like a pile of books -- oh yeah! -- I get it! Duh. Volumes = books. Takes me a while sometimes. Two little know...mommy brain. :]

The pics on the left are my choices -- the ones on the right are the choices she presents on her website, FYI.

Anyway Ms. Horner is absolutely brilliant and very well known among quilters and fabric afficionados. But if you simply want to be inspired with beautiful, daring colour combinations, check it out. Her shop also sells fabric scrap bags. Mmmmmm....

I'll write more on the playroom/guest room transformation as the weeks go by.

Last week I learned about painting over lino tiles. Use TSP (ick) to clean them, or sand, then paint with oil-based paint. Fine. But is there a Lovo paint or a "cleaner" oil paint for this use? Am I pipe-dreaming?

xo ella

winging a clutch

Okay. A clutch purse for a friend.

My friend requested I make her a small clutch (after I nagged her to let me make her something. I suspect she was hesitatant about ending up with something very strange. You know -- a tea-cozy with pom-pom trim and ric-rac edges and....hey, wait a minute, that sounds good.)

Anyway. After some hemming and hawing, she was visiting recently and we chose this Echino Dots Japanese fabric (the purple one in the middle...and it has bird on it, too) - I'd had a piece left over from my original purchase from the workroom (that's their photo, above).

Originally I bought it to make a pillow, but it seemed kind of wrong for it, for some reason...then I cut into it to make a pencil case for my husband - never used -- I mean, how often does the guy need a pencil case? So then I had a fat chunk -- maybe 1/3 a yard. I pulled it out when H. was here and she took one look and said, "Yes. Let's do it."

I love decisiveness.

So I started a simple, "easy-peasy" clutch, no pattern, no instructions, I mean, heck, it's only an envelope, lined with a zipper, so things don't fall out when she's dancing the night away, right? I wanted to dive in and figure it out as I went along. No problem.

I had made nice headway... lined the flap and now to stuff the lining into the main part and stitch it together. I'd made an inside-out pencil-case type structure.

So. By then I had almost finished installing the purple linen lining (that had a zipped part) when I tested the zip, running it along, smooth, smooth, nice, then...air.

There were no stitches on the end....and came the zip pull...What the - ?


How dumb was that? This rendered the newly-installed zipper USELESS. No matter how much I tried to jam the zip-pull back on -- no way was it going back on.

So - I had to take an hour to remove newly installed liner pouch with zipper. So very joyful I'd sewn it in so securely... :[


I seam ripped for an hour watching some dumb TV show. Canada's Top Model? I forget.

So then, guiltily recalling how H had said "I don't need a zipper, really I don't", I decided to take her up on her word. I left the zipper behind and did a pouch with snap. No zip -- and had to cut out the crazy custom embroidered pocket and sew it inside all over again -- which actually created a second interior pocket. Long story.

Notice the crazy "HG" embroidery - I was fooling around with an idea and it only warranted appearance on the inside of a purse. So, here's the finished product:

I used the rest of the Echino fabric for the pocket this time.

At least now H. gets a little owl peeking at her every time she reaches for her lipstick.

Have a lovely Tuesday.


Would anyone be interested in an "I learned the hard way" tutorial? Where I create a pattern, describe the interfacing and everything? It would be fun to do a tutorial.

Hey, wait a minute. "Might be fun". That's what I said about "winging" a clutch....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

robot for brown-eyed boy

This robot is receiving important radio signals. This is a lousy shot taken in a hurry en route to birthday is about to become a cushion..but it might be the last I see of this robot so here it is...he's about 5" tall...

starfish for my son

Monday, August 4, 2008

apple tree embroidery

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Isn't this the nicest basket of beets ever? We ate them roasted last night on the barbeque. I am not inclined to post food items here - though I am a foodie married to a foodie/amateur gourmet chef...because I LOVE to leave the cooking to others. But what a pretty picture, huh? xo ella

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy First Day of August

An embroidery -- a small one -- for my daughter. This is a pretty simple robot...but it has a good heart.

Happy Long Weekend.