#dowhatyoulove · #handmade · #wearableart · collage · Deco Art Fabric paint · fabric · Gelli Plate · inks · mixed media · New Project · painting · paper · patterns · projects · sharing techniques · Uncategorized

The 2018 Bag


The 2018 Art Bag

It was time for a new bag. I wanted one with lots of color, lots of fun things. The great thing about making something for myself was I didn’t have to think about pleasing anyone. There was freedom to put in anything I wanted without having to explain how or why. I knew what I wanted inside the bag, too. Pockets for cards and cash so I could do away with worrying about the size of my wallet, maybe something to hold a pen too.

When you stop to consider all the things that have to be in a bag, it makes the whole process a bit daunting. I’ve been listening to audiobook versions of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and in one of them, Anita says something about how it takes no less than 10 minutes (or was it 15?) for a woman to go through her bag when she’s looking for something.

Brings to mind an incident with my dad. He had had his stroke and was using a cane but offered to hold my bag so I could lift my toddler out of the van. My dad almost toppled sideways when I handed him the bag. In fairness, I had a toddler. That means carrying almost half of the nursery in the bag and then some.

Well, the toddler’s taller than I am now and cooks lunch.  Anything in the bag now is mainly for myself. The only communal item that goes in is the hand cleaner. So unless they were for traveling, the bags I’ve been using have gotten smaller.

A friend of mine once called the bags I made “happy bags” because of the colors I tend to use. I love color. My favorite is actually white which is supposed to be the presence of all colors. However, I do tend to keep reaching out for oranges when I’m painting. Then when I’ve got the orange down, I feel like I just have to have a few pinks in as well. Then the pinks tend to call in other colors. You get it, right?

Anyway, the new bag. I went on Pinterest and did the Google image search before deciding on a shape I wanted to try. When I was ready, it was just a matter of preparing the substrate. In this case, it was leftover canvas that I primed with gesso.


Then I traced the pattern onto the primed canvas. I knew I wanted to sew the bag the way I did the stuffed figures I’d made for the Christmas Fair. Since the bag was small, I didn’t want to worry about having to turn it inside out and all that. I trimmed the canvas allowing a quarter inch excess from the traced edges.

The next bits were the best. I painted, glued, stamped and sewed to my heart’s content. My collage didn’t really have an actual theme or story. I just picked up what looked like it belonged. I used Mod Podge to glue papers down though I did sew on the ticket from the Met just in case.


It took me a while to decide on the strap. I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily. I wanted to use up whatever I had in my stash. I had enough of the cotton woven strap you see in the picture. I was hoping I had one in a darker color but I’d used those up.

Then I decided to add embroidery and bits of fabric to the strap. I sewed a strip of ribbon that must have come with a gift on the back of the strap to hide my knots. I was quite pleased with myself and even more pleased that the serendipitous ribbon was the right length !


I sewed up the lining as planned and added a kind of strap to hold the bag closed. I didn’t want to insert magnets mainly because I was lazy. I just embroidered on the leftover piece of strap and made a heart from Paperclay. The cords you see were made using a Kumihimo loom and embroidery thread.


If you already sew and you’d like to make a bag of your own, I made a PDF of the bag pattern. The strap is about 45 inches long without the inch and half allowance on each end (I’m about 5’6″ and the strap is meant to cross the body). The hanging strap that keeps the bag closed is about 6 inches with 2 inches extra for folding under.

I may do a step by step in the future but this is all I can do for now. Here’s the link to the pattern:


If you do decided to give it a try, send me pictures of your work! If you have questions or need help with your bag, send me an email!


#chapterbooks · #kidlit · #writing · block printing · Children's Book Academy · fabric · Hillary Homzie · linoleum printing · Mandy Yates · Mira Reisberg · Photoshop · printing ink · Speedball Carving Tools

It’s May and the MATS Bootcamp is back! April was a bit of a break for Bootcamp attendees because it was dedicated to the MATS A and B courses. MATS stands for Make Art That Sells which is a course run by Lilla Rogers.

This is not to say that I remained idle in April. No chance of that specially since Mira Reisberg, Hillary Homzie, and Mandy Yates were holding the Chapter Book Alchemist class at The Children’s Book Academy. So while I was still working on some fabric designs, most of my hours were dedicated to learning all I could about writing chapter books.


Every morning, I eagerly geared up for class posts, wondering how in the world I’d ever remember everything I was reading. Then there were trips to Goodwill which turned out to be a great source of used chapter books. Mira suggested marking up chapter books to see how one character’s voice differed from another’s. It was a great idea but I didn’t have the heart to do that to new books. So it didn’t matter if the ones I found were a tad ratty–they served my purpose beautifully!

The town library is always a great place to look for books so some afternoons were spent reading in the children’s area. My other resource was the digital library which allowed me to listen to a few of the chapter books available via the One Click Digital app. Freebies are always good.

Speaking of the library, I did have to haul my butt over there a few times just to write. The great thing about these courses is that you can choose to be part of a critique group and other than receiving great feedback and guidance from classmates, you have deadlines to meet. Nothing gives me more focus than having to meet a deadline. When I’m in the library, I’m like a horse with blinders.

When the course ended, my chapter book was only at its halfway mark. I ended up starting from scratch at one point, after already revising a few times. After coming up with six chapters, the first three had to be condensed into one. The story morphed into something almost completely different from what I had in mind when it first began to take shape. The process was not entirely different from writing picture books but it felt as if the rewrites were more epic. I had to use that word–I can’t think of a better one at the moment. Still, it can be a bit of a thrill when things come together and you begin to actually like what you’re reading.

I’m not quite at the finish line as of this writing. There is a bit of research that needs to be done particularly because my story has to do with Philippine mythical creatures. I don’t intend to be supremely faithful to each and every detail that’s been written about the creatures but it certainly helps to know what’s been written about them. I’ve even come across articles where the author claims to have actually seen a particular creature and it’s the one I chose to be in my story. Fancy that!

Anyway, this post will not be complete if I don’t post some artwork. This one has nothing to do with writing chapter books although it could lead to how I might want to do some illustrations in the future. It’s my first ever attempt at lino block printing. If you’re an expert at it, then my work will probably look crude. But, it’s my first and I came out of it unscathed! Not a single Band-Aid had to be fetched in the making of these prints!

This is the trial print on a used brown paper bag. It’s a good way to recycle them and if I ever want to use the print in a collage, it’s got an interesting background built in.

I cleaned up the block after seeing the debris that I thought I’d wiped off the first time.
I needed another element to add to the bunch and came up with a surfing star. The quote from Deepak Chopra came about because as I was listening to him during one of the meditation sessions with Oprah, I decided liked what he said. This scrap of paper with the star was the closest thing I could grab to write on.
Here’s the surfing star all printed out.

I couldn’t resist showing off my son’s Mother’s Day present. The carving tools I originally used were digging into my palm. This Speedball version should make carving more comfortable!

And finally, I put in the scanned images into Photoshop and added color. Final step will be to see how it works as a repeat so I can adjust the layout.
#wearableart · cabinets · Deco Art Fabric paint · fabric · grandmothers · painting · patterns · sewing · Singer Sewing Machines · Tina Givens

Wearable Art

When I was a little girl, I used to go and explore my grandmother’s room. It wasn’t a big room but my grandmother, being a pack rat, managed to cram all sorts of wonderful things in it. She must have had at least two bookcases in there as well as a large, heavy wardrobe with a mirrored door. Then there was a smaller cabinet that she kept locked although she would unlock it when I’d be there. She knew I enjoyed looking at all her little treasures.

The first time I saw her sewing machine must have been the first time I ever saw a sewing machine. It was a Singer–the kind with a heavy metal stand and a treadle.  At the time, I was looking for ways to get more clothes for my dolls. This discovery told me that I had found the answer. All I had to do was to learn how to sew! I didn’t know anything about patterns. I didn’t even have fabric. But my grandmother did (of course). It wasn’t long before the weekends would find us in her bedroom, in front of the sewing machine sewing up whatever she thought would be easy enough for me to try.

The doll clothes came much later when I was able to deal with sleeves and darts and such. I also learned how to do a French seam because my grandmother liked everything tidy. When I was older, I took sewing lessons and even learned how to draft my own patterns. 

Nowadays there are endless patterns to choose from and while I don’t spend a lot of time sewing, I find myself buying patterns for those just-in-case moments. For the longest time, however, I’ve been mulling over a dress pattern that I felt would be ideal for someone like me who likes “shapeless” clothing. Since I do lots of planning and designing in my head (not ideal when you come to think of how my mind flits about but well, there you have it), I had been mentally drafting the pattern and reminding myself to commit it to paper.

Then I found Tina Givens! Her clothes aren’t for everyone and maybe most of them belong to a whole other era altogether, but I knew I found what I’d been looking for. Best of all, she shares four free patterns that are PDFs that you can download, print, and try out.

I downloaded the ones I wanted to try out and quickly realized that they’re easily adaptable. I also delighted in the fact that they made perfect “canvases” for whatever I felt like painting on them! So I sewed one of the patterns and after I washed the finished blouse, I grabbed my box of yet unused (and bought during a huge online sale) DecoArt Fabric Paint. It was the first time I used this brand of fabric paint. In my teens, I used a Japanese brand.

When I bought the paints, I also bought a resist medium and I was truly thankful that I did! It helped keep the paint from spreading out too far and it also made the leaf outlines possible. After 48 hours, I washed the blouse again to see how the paint would fare. It was perfect.

I sewed the blouse using the smallest size option because I had my niece in mind when I started the project. After sufficient drying and a quizzical once-over, I wrapped it up and sent it off to Hawaii. Today (just when I was starting this post), she popped me a message on Facebook to let me know she got it and even shared a photo of her wearing it. I hesitate to share it here because since she blocked her face with her phone, I figure she wouldn’t want me sharing her image with the rest of the world (not that the world reads my blog but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?).

I’m still going to draft that pattern in my head at some point, by the way. The painting in my head needs a “canvas” and that dress will be perfect for it.

Next up will be the painted wooden bangles although they might make their appearance on my Paper With Everything blog because I’ll be using mixed media which means more tea bags and paper!