Blog Archive for August, 2009

Last month I mentioned that I was working on a new collection for my friend Cynthia, who is starting up her own line of organic cotton. Well, she posted the new “Circa 50” prints on her blog fabricworm – check them out here. They’re a bright, bold celebration of mid-century design, and were a lot of fun to work on.

Meanwhile, I’m ironing out the details with my own line of fabrics and learning the ropes of a whole new process. I should have strike-offs next month, and I’ll post a sneak peek then.

chair update


We painted the chairs this weekend, and they’re coming along nicely, though we had a little snafu with the fabric. The Spoonflower site specifically mentions that it’s a good idea to get a swatch first, and I should have listened because the colors were pretty off. I think we’re going to try again, but I’m going to have to call them and see how to get a better color match. Does anyone have any advice on that? I’m trying not to be too impatient, but I’m really excited to get them upholstered!

I saw some great green apple fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter recently, and it reminded me so much of a certain family member that I decided I had to make her a tote bag from it. It’s a perfect match with the Monaluna dots from Mingle, so I used the green dots for the straps and the brown for the lining. I’ve made a couple versions of this bag now, and its pretty quick and easy – I thought I’d share the instructions with you. By the way, does anyone recognize the apple fabric? I forgot to check the maker, and there’s no designer on the selvedge.

Tote Bag Project
You will need about 2/3 yard of two fabrics – one for the bag and one for the lining – as well as enough fabric for the straps (or some heavy duty cotton webbing), matching thread and pins. If you use fabric for the straps, I also use thin cotton batting to pad, and you’ll need 2 2″ x 22″ strips. This is optional.

1. Cut the following:
for bag:
2 @ 14″ x 15″ (front and back)
2 @ 6″ x 15″ (sides)
1 @ 6″ x 14″ (bottom)
1 @ 7″ x 9″ (outer pocket)

for lining:
2 @ 14″ x 15″ (front and back)
2 @ 6″ x 15″ (sides)
1 @ 6″ x 14″ (bottom)
1 @ 12″ x 12″ (inner pocket)

for fabric straps:
2 @ 5″ x 22″
2 @ 2″ x 22″ (batting)

OR for cotton webbing straps
2 @ 22″ (look for a 2″ – 2.5″ width)

2. Using an iron, fold under 1/2″ on top, sides and bottom of pocket. Fold over another 1″ at top of pocket and sew close to fold. Center the pocket on the front piece of the bag and pin at desired height. Sew close to edge on sides and bottom only.

2. Next, prepare the inner pocket. Using the 12″ x 12″ lining piece, fold in half and iron, making a 6″ x 12″ rectangle. Using a marking pencil or chalk, make a mark at the top and bottom of pocket 7.5″ from left edge (you will sew a dividing seam here when the pocket is mounted). Then, sew 2 darts at the bottom of the pocket (the raw edged side), 1″ and 3″ from the right edge. This creates a puckered pocket for a cellphone. Using the iron, fold under 1/2 inch on the side and bottom of the pocket. Pin the pocket at your desired height, centered on one of the 14″ x 15″ lining pieces, making sure that the left pocket lies flat, and the cellphone pocket is slightly puckered. Sew close to the edge on the sides and bottom of the pocket. Sew the dividing seam, now 7″ from the left edge.

3. With a 1/2″ seam and with right sides facing, sew the front and back, sides and bottom of the bag together. Then, do the same with the lining. Turn lining inside out.

4. Prepare the straps. If you are using cotton webbing, just cut 2 lengths, 22″ long. If you are using fabric and batting, cut 2 strips of the fabric, 5″ x 22″. Cut 2 lenths of the batting, (scant) 2″ x 22″. Using an iron, fold over 1/2″ on each long edge of the strap fabric.

Then fold in half, matching up folded edges, and iron. Open fabric back up and tuck the 2″ strip of batting under one of the seam folds. It should fit nicely between the folded edge and the center fold. Fold the fabric back in half, matching up the folded edges, and sew close to edge. Then, sew another seam close to the center fold (opposite edge). For good measure and decoration, I also sewed a seam down the middle of the strap. Pin the straps to the top outside edge of the bag at desired (but equal) width.

5. Put the sewn bag, right side out, inside the sewn lining, right side in, and pin at top edge, matching seams. Be sure the straps are hanging straight down and away from the top edge except where pinned. Right sides of fabric should be facing. Sew 1/2″ from top edge, leaving a 3-4″ gap for turning. I go over the straps twice for strength.

6. Turn both bag and lining through the gap. Once all is turned through, it should look like this:

7. Tuck the lining inside the bag and iron. Pay close attention to the top edge and be sure that the lining is tucked just below the outer bag.

8. Hand stitch gap closed using a whipstitch.

9. Make a finishing seam a scant 1/2 inch from the top edge of the bag to keep lining in place.

d.i.y. pools


I heard a great piece on NPR this morning on d.i.y. pools made out of dumpsters. The idea, which sounds to me to be part d.i.y. ingenuity, part social experiment and part art installation, was hatched by a real estate developer in Brooklyn. The pools have been set up in an industrial neighborhood of Brooklyn called Carroll Gardens, are complete with cabana tents, grills and beach chairs, but are accessed by invitation only. So New York. Check out the article here.

Yesterday was my first unscheduled Sunday in a while. Dave and I woke up with a plan to have no plan – just enjoy the day, relax and be lazy. That lasted all of about an hour, when I noticed a couple of beat-up old chairs at the used furniture store down the street – and fell in love. They were filthy and moldy, but they had nice lines and would go perfectly with some 1940’s library chairs that I refinished a few years ago. Plus, they were 5 bucks each. So before we knew it we were picking up sandpaper and paint at the hardware store and lugging the chairs home. We spent all of our Sunday afternoon under the shady tree next to our apartment, sanding and pulling out upholstery staples. Our neighbors thought we were crazy, but it was pretty fun. Today I have sore shoulders and tender hands, but I’m really excited about the chairs! Here’s what we’ve done so far:

The sanding went pretty quickly, but the upholstery part was a nightmare! I was cursing the former owner for using about a zillion upholstery staples… only to find that there were four layers of heavily-stapled upholstery to undo. That took some time…

I think the wood is a little too far gone to leave them natural, but they’ll look nice with a coat of white paint, and I sent a print off to Spoonflower last night, so soon they’ll be upholstered with some new Monaluna fabric.

And that brings me to my news. I’ve been thinking about this for a few months now, and I finally decided to take the plunge and manufacture my own line of organic cotton fabric. The line is still in the very early stages, but if all goes according to plan (always an “if”), the fabrics will be available on my (new) website in early spring 2010. Look for more updates soon!



It’s been another long week away from my office this week, and I didn’t get that project post up. I will soon! I have some fun news that I’ll save for Monday, too, so check back. I hope you all have a great weekend!

tomato love


Our tomatoes are definitely getting out of control. I knew we tried to pack a bit much into our mini-garden but the plants look so petite and manageable when they’re small… now they’re ginormous. But at least they look happy – they have more tomatoes growing than I can count. Here are some photos. Keep in mind that Dave is 6’2″.



One of the great things about living in Oakland is that there’s a veritable orchard on most blocks. The story is that when Italian and Greek immigrants came to Oakland in the 1920’s, they all planted fruit trees in their yards. There must have been a lot of those Mediterranean types, because now almost every house has a fruit tree of some sort. I live in an apartment, which was probably once a large single-family craftsman, and in our small yard alone we have a lemon tree, orange and mandarine trees, an apple tree, a pear tree and a sickly fig. Some of my neighbors have pomegranates, avocados, grapefruit, plums and apricots. A lot of the trees go untended and unharvested, and so Oakland citizens have formed a number of urban foraging groups, which will harvest the trees and barter the fruit, or sometimes make jam or baked goods and share them with the community. Some of the fruit goes to homeless shelters and food banks as well. Really great ideas.

This weekend, though, I decided to harvest our apple tree myself, and baked a pie which I shared with our neighbor Martin. Most of the apples were small, and a few had worm holes, but dang they made a good pie! I sliced up about 7 cups of apples and mixed them with a cup of sugar, a little cinnamon and a sprinkling of flour. I used the crust recipe here and baked at 450ยบ for an hour.

painted city


When I’m not working on textile designs or random d.i.y. projects, I sometimes freelance for Pottery Barn Kids. This week is one of those times. I used to work there full-time, so it’s a familiar trek from my apartment to the Oakland BART stop (the west coast version of the subway), across the bay to the 16th and Mission stop, and then through the Mission neighborhood to the office. This morning I had my camera with me, and snapped a few photos on my way. There are days when the Mission – with all it’s urban grime and chaos – feels a bit much at 9 a.m., but this morning what I noticed was all the color. There is paint everywhere. Even the graffiti is graffiti’d. Here are a few photos. I’m hoping to get a project post up this week, but I may be putting in some long hours at the cuteness factory, so it might not happen til next week.

even the palm trees are painted