The week of wearing many hats


The week finally came for the Textile Art Boutique and it was time to put on my retail hat and sell my stock inventory at my booth. Unfortunately for me the lack of people visiting the show this year was down 300 from 900 last year and I had to reconfigure my booth at the last minute which made me practically invisible at the show.

I really needed to be in a different location where I could display my rack without getting in the way of my neighbors – live and learn and I know for what to request for next year! Whether I will be making clothes is another thing? I really enjoy making and sharing my fun pieces but I really am in the wrong area to sell fashion – my ideal market is most likely Los Angeles or San Francisco where people are willing to dress up a bit more rather than wearing their exercise clothes everywhere they go! Still I am here in the suburbs and for now, I enjoy making what I would like to wear and I enjoy sharing these fun pieces. So on with the show and let me critique my booth below…


For one the way the booth is aligned means people have to walk into the space to check out my wares, according to a fellow artist at the show. She mentioned she used this configuration and it is intimidating for a lot of people to walk into a booth to look and I certainly did feel that way when I was knitting away and watching the crowd go by. Being at the back of my booth behind my stock was another problem as I could not really engage in conversation. When I stood up to chat people got frightened and left – I think I wandered too deep into their personal space barrier! I find that I can talk to anyone, this is from experience as a freelancer coupled with my personality but from where I was in my booth I hardly engaged with the customers. The customers would just look at my sunglasses pouch, check out how it worked and walk off. Another problem was that on either side of me the displays of the booth were huge with using massive room divider screens to display their fabric canvases and cards on one side and on the other side lots of wooden risers to display stuffed animals and 3D textile pieces so my booth just got lost as people wandered by. Lessons learned from this year is to streamline my product line and work on my display at home before I head to the show.

Now to put on my teacher’s hat for the Halloween Goodie Bag workshop at the Mountain View Public Library. We now have a total of 8 machines for the libraries drop in sewing on Saturdays and for the Sew Sew with FabMo classes that I teach. We had about 13 students in this beginner class last Tuesday. The class made a goodie bag for Halloween from four 8″ squares and a felt stencil of a Halloween image. The class went for 2.5 hours until the library closed as some folks really enjoyed detailing their stencils. I really enjoy seeing what people create when they come to my classes, how they take my tutorial and customize it. November 15 will be the next workshop with an infinity scarf made from stretch fabric to take home all compliments of FabMo for the fabric and Friends of the Library for the machines, thread, and supplies.


On Wednesday I took a small break and went to the hairdresser for a mom’s time out and used the Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink this time to dye my hair and I just love it! It is so vibrant on the lighter parts of my hair (the gray) and it takes so well! I love how I can change the color of my hair so often with such fun colors – I wish I knew about Manic Panic years ago as it is Vegan and a Semi Permanent!


Sunday I put on my helmet and got on my red bicycle for a ride early in the morning. There was quite a chill in the morning with the added bonus of the trail being very quiet. I had planned on just doing my usual 30-minute ride up and down the trail but then I decided I would try and find a way to the middle school from the trail. I hopped off the trail at Crittenden right next door to one of the Google buildings and I spied this cool sculpture so I had to stop and check it out. I found the plaque and it read ‘Cast Bronze Horse – Deborah Butterfield May 2001’ and underneath it read ‘A Gift to the People of Mountain View From SGI’. SGI would have been in their heyday back then before Google had taken over the Shoreline area and I think the building (where Google is now) would have been the one my husband visited when he came to the Valley many years ago when he was working for SGI. And as my MIL mentioned, there is one of these sculptures in the lobby of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford – I knew I had seen this before but I could not remember where.

So the week ended on a beautiful 1-hour bike ride and all was good again. I just finished Missy’s Halloween Poo Emoji costume yesterday for Trunk or Treat this Friday! With Halloween this weekend it is very exciting!

Now to wear my student hat to get to studying as my classes start November 6th, for my Bachelor of Education so I can teach when we return to Australia in a couple of years. At least it is inside weather now and I can hang out at the library and study!

The Grand Finalé


The time has finally come with 3 days to the show I have been working towards. My inventory of stock has finally come together! This weekend is the FabMo Textile Art Boutique from 10am to 4pm at the Elks Lodge in Palo Alto. I finally completed my final piece for the day of the show which is a dress made from the cascades of colored fabric I have collected over time which I made into the skirt for the dress. As well the bodice is fabric that I found at FabMo – I love how it turned out and the skirt is a lot of fun to wear as I puffed up the hem with gathers to enhance the differences in the fabric.

My last few garments have been completed somewhat slowly in the last couple of weeks with little bits of time here and there and I finally made all the pieces that I have cut out ready to be sewn. The shift dress in the 1960s green and orange fabric has terrific hanger appeal and is very fun to wear – fancy a bloody mary anyone? The checked yoga PJs are super comfortable to wear and the feel of the fabric is wonderful, I am sure they will find a good home with someone. I know I used my fox yoga PJs all throughout my Australia holiday in the winter mornings doing my yoga sessions.


Close up of the skirt above – I love the detail in this fabric


I found this velvet collection of cascades on my last visit to FabMo and it makes an amazing looking huge tote with denim straps – it is a mix of the luxurious and the utilitarian that will hold a heck load of stuff!


As much as I would like to make more denim totes this is the last one as time is fleeting away and I think I have a lot in my collection and I need to have room on my table too! This beautiful butterfly fabric worked so well with this final bag for the show.


So anyone in the Bay Area who is wanting to check out an inspiring textile show head on over to the FabMo Textile Art Boutique this Saturday, October 22, 2016 – hopefully I will see some of you there. I am looking forward to presenting my ‘Traveling Not So Light’ range inspired by my 8 weeks of travels and coming home to my sewing room.


Falling for you!


Despite my complete lack of time to be productive last week with a whole week of minimum days with the middle school child, I  did manage to make some tote bags as they are a project that can be completed in a 2-hour gap. The dress and skirts I have made over the last couple of weeks I finally completed them and wanted to style them for a photo shoot with a Fall theme. Check out my sugar pie pumpkin!

I have always loved the red fabric ever since I found it at FabMo and I have made a bag with it and it was beautiful, I did always want to make an item of clothing with it. I love the tunic dress and as this fabric is quite heavy it works as a dress for the Fall weather. And I love it with the booties I found in Melbourne when I “accidentally” wandered into a Camper store while waiting for my friend for lunch. They are very comfortable with a chunky heel and I love how versatile they are. When I came back to California I looked over my collection of Camper shoes – now I know what to say when people say do you collect anything? Yeah, Camper shoes I now have 6 pairs and 2 of the same style  :)


I also wanted to showcase the skirts I have been making and combining it with a vintage top I found. The tights are from Treasure Island Flea Market and the boots are a pair of Camper boots I bought 5 years ago! That is what I love about Camper shoes are their quality and their lifespan. I have found some lovely fabric in my stash from FabMo and each of these skirts pairs well with the top. The accessories are Swarovski crystal pieces my mum gave me when I was in Australia and they are rocking the outfits – get it!!

Here are some of the bags I completed this week using denim jeans for an oversize tote that I road tested the other day and they are perfect for carrying all sorts of goods such as water, sunscreen, and food. The pockets on the exterior are super handy for keys, smaller containers, and snacks on the go. As I was looking through my fabric stash I found the forest fabric that I found a very long time ago and wanted to make something that kept the fabric intact as it is a beautiful linen, another big tote came to mind and I found the perfect fabric for the back – see here on my Instagram post. The diamond pattern fabric is by a legendary fabric company out of Thailand Jim Thompson and this was a fabric sample I picked up which was too small for apparel but perfect for a bag. And I found the perfect pocket fabric sample in a chevron fabric to match.

Friday was busy with the school Walkathon at the end of the day. Whew, it was a big week but we gotta keep on walking or even dancing and maybe we can catch a Pikachu in the field – no Pokemon GO for us!

Missy walked 67 laps only 8 laps shy of getting the coveted tie dye t-shirt. She was walking and walking and not wanting to give up – the kids were allowed to run at the end but her feet were hurting. So I said to her, hopefully, next year we will have some better shoes for you and be prepared, maybe with some extra hiking! This year she threw off her Converse and walked in her socks and at the end of that, she said her feet and legs were so sore after walking many miles and she is still recovering today which is Monday.

Next on the agenda for the weekend, was a sleepover party for my soon to be 11-year old! I enjoyed a bike ride and yoga on the Saturday morning so I could be prepared for 6 boys sleeping downstairs in the lounge room. I made an amazing blueberry lemon pound cake as the birthday cake and it was delicious especially enjoyed by the birthday boy. The sleepover for the kids was a lot of fun but as for the parents with the interrupted sleep, it was all over rover – still, I remember sleepovers and how late we stayed up chatting to our friends. This time, however, the kids had their little electronic devices to play too, I think they all appreciated the freedom and the next day it was down to the park to play with zero screen time all day! (For my kids anyway).


Brothers gonna work it out


That’s the Public Enemy song we used to listen to in the car hanging out down at the beach – now that is da biz!

Following last weeks cubby project with my daughter’s 3rd-grade class, here is what they looked like as a completed collection – I love this as an art installation and the bonus is that it is used to hold the kid’s binders and their work.

As I have two weeks of minimum days my days of preparing for the Textile Art Boutique have been shortened! I had to work extra hard last week and do a lot of prep and make to up the inventory so I can get going when I get time this week to do anything. Today was a complete right off with zero time to do anything except hand sewing and unpicking. With some luck and preparation, I can get some work done this week.

Last week I finished two smaller tote bags with outside pockets. Also, the denim tote bag collection is continuing with a checked pink bag. Plus as I felt a bit of a robot with just doing and making I needed a break to do some prototype design with a clutch purse. I love the Missoni fabric sample I have used though it needs some fine tuning for the next one I make.

Pic by John Scarboro

Sunday was a family day with Bike Palo Alto! and my friend Cherie’s birthday gathering so we made some yummy baked goods such as a chocolate chip banana bread and lime coconut muffins. I volunteer with Safe Mountain View with Cherie and John, to promote safe riding for all in the city and it was fun to ride in a protected bike lane that led directly to a middle school. As Safe Mountain View we are trying to get some of these throughout the city so it is safe for all of us to get around. Hopefully, the City of Palo Alto can advise Mountain View that it is super easy to install and does not cost too much!

Pic by John Scarboro

The kids are enjoying riding in the protected bike lane and feeling safe from the cars. At least the cars know that you cannot cross the white bollards on the road and cut off a cyclist.


Pic by John Scarboro


One of the reasons we joke about why the bike lanes are not happening is how expensive the green paint is in Mountain View! Just to see this paint creates an awareness and not to drive in them, I am just pointing to the green paint right there in the city right next to Mountain View that it is possible.


Pic by John Scarboro


Currently, my middle schooler is driven to school every day as I do not trust the roads he would ride on to get to his school – too many people distracted on their phones going to work. If this was a reality in the city I live in maybe he could ride to school on his own and I would feel confident that there is an awareness on the road for cyclists. Unfortunately, for now, construction of apartment buildings and development are a number 1 priority of this city without thinking of the impact of the infrastructure of the city and what does this mean for the traffic – just more cars and pollution!

Something borrowed, something new


I found this interesting info about camping in a book from my daughter’s classroom when I was waiting to go home from school. This is what we enjoyed for my husband’s birthday over the weekend. Friends from our school organized this trip to Memorial Park near Pescadero, in the summer and we thought what a lovely way to spend a birthday weekend under the redwoods! Yes, I can say camping is quite relaxing though the preparation and organizing for a night out in the woods can be quite demanding especially after a big week!


A banana slug found by the creek where we were hanging out and relaxing after a big week. Hopefully, this guy found some tasty foliage and was kept out of harm’s way!

The week started out with my monthly program at the Mountain View Public Library with Sew Sew with FabMo. I am the FabMo representative who creates little take home projects working with FabMo fabric from interior designers and smaller textile design companies that would otherwise end up in the landfill. I had a class of 8 people who enjoyed making embroidered cuffs – a cuff is a bracelet with a snap to hold it together and we go through the process of sewing a front and back, sewing a snap and embellishing the fabric and then sewing the whole cuff together. I have a link to the tutorial on this blog if you want to try your hand at sewing one. Everyone is so happy when they leave with something that they made themselves and very thankful for the class, so it is a joy to volunteer to teach something that I really love.



Another side project I am enjoying with my Italian friend Cristiana from Pebble and Fire is an Art Play every 2 weeks sharing our skills. We visit each other and work together, have lunch and finish a project. Our first project was a ceramic pinch pot that Cristiana helped me create – it is a geometric salt cellar. It was so fun to create and learn new skills in ceramics that I may have missed when I went to the adult education classes. Cristiana is super skilled at hand building I love her style, so it is such a treat.


And this week we worked upstairs in my sewing room and Cristiana wanted to make a pillow case so I made her the pattern and we did some applique and made an envelope backed pillow cover. It looks just lovely on her couch and the little whale is made from denim and we embellished the heart from the red fabric we used on the back. It was so much fun to see my friend enjoy sewing as last time we went sewing together it was at an Etsy event in San Jose making lunch bags which was easy for me but not so for Cristiana. At least, this time when we worked together it was a bit more relaxing. I am looking forward to our next project together and it is such a great thing to do to learn something new and spend some time out of the usual.


In between, I have also been preparing work for the FabMo Textile Art Boutique that I am working towards. Here is another denim tote I have made using some beautiful linen I found at FabMo. I also made completed the sunglass pouches I worked on last week and made 3 skirts from stretch fabric – whew that inventory is coming along nicely!


Today I worked with the kids at school helping them choose colours for their cubby project where they are making an art installation using fabric I found at FabMo. They are staining the wood with a 1 part acrylic paint and 2 parts water where the wood absorbs the colour and creates a translucent effect with the wood grain. I love it and cannot wait to see the finished installation in the classroom.

Celebrate, Good Times


Look at this little Pomegranate thief, up high in the tree and grabbing the forbidden fruit of the pomegranate from a front garden up in the hills! It has been another one of those four-day weeks that went by in a flash but at least I managed to design a cocktail dress that I have always been dreaming about!


Saturday we did take a family day out to Bark in the Park over at San Jose in the hot summer sun for some excellent dog-friendly activities. Hanging out with friends and meeting lots of dogs, what a lovely way to pass the day! I highly recommend this if you have never been before and have a love of animals. The entertainment will keep you going as there are lots of dog related shows to check out and all for free and you don’t even have to have a dog! The best thing is you get to meet lots of dogs and pat them – yay!


Saturday I was invited to a party at my friend’s house for her daughter from London who will be getting married this Wednesday – Congrats Elly and Olly! I gave myself a project to design the cocktail dress of my dreams and it took most of my time last week but as I was inspired by the vintage fabric I found at an estate sale last week I continued with the flow. It was a lot of fun as I combined a bodice from a dress I love with a skirt from The Great British Sewing Bee book – creating a design in this way requires a lot of thinking and manipulating, still I went along with it and ta-dah finally I was happy with what I created. Also, it was a bring along a dessert to the party so I made my favorite Fig Tart with a Rosemary Cornmeal Crust from Epicurious. From my CSA box this week I received these beautiful candy stripe figs and they looked (and tasted) beautiful on the tart.


The party was so much fun with an amazing array of food thanks to my friend’s daughter Rosie who is an events manager in London. The bar was the best with gin (& tonic) from a bespoke distillery down the road from Canary Wharf where Rosie lives and I enjoyed my first experience of a Pimms cup complete with fresh fruit, cucumber, and mint – an absolute delight. And as a special treat, we enjoyed this amazing ‘cheesecake’ made from Stilton, Pecorino, Goat Cheese and I think Humboldt Fog Blue cheese! What a dream complete with gorgeous figs and grapes. A piece of art in itself and very tasty at that🙂


As part of my segway of creating a cocktail dress this week I wanted to get a move on my inventory for the Textile Art Boutique coming up on October 22nd. So I made these sunglass pouches for your fly eye sunnies out of FabMo fabric. I have them in a regular glasses size also a wee bit bigger for the bigger Audrey Hepburn style fancy sunglasses.

Going on a Treasure Hunt!


As I write this, it is Monday evening and thank goodness it is over! What a way to start the week and a friend was mentioning that good ol’ Mercury retrograde is up to it’s old tricks again. Expect delays and the like but I did not imagine a Monday would start with a nail in the tyre of our car – oh well, take a breath and get on with it and take your Monday down a notch or two and enjoy some reading and a cup of white peony tea!

As for my creative project this week I made this lovely long sleeve tunic I found in a book Handmade Style. What a wonderful pattern and easy to make and super comfortable to wear – though I will be making it a wee bit longer next time! This works well with leggings but I do have to be careful when I bend over…


In the pic above I am channeling my urban gardener or this outfit could be worn on holiday somewhere by the beach – perhaps Australia? We will be returning down under next June, I cannot wait!


Another fun thing I channeled this week was my inner hula hooper. As I was watching my daughter effortlessly hoop for many revolutions, every time I tried the hoop kept on dropping to the ground. Thanks to some help from some YouTube videos and practice I managed to get some hoop action happening while listening to Cat Power, it is so amazing how centered it can make you feel as it does require a great deal of focus to have your body in the correct space.


Last Friday was a big score day for me as I subscribe to an email list of estate sales around the Bay Area. There was one in Mountain View last week which had a collection of stuff that spanned over 50 years! I usually scour estate sales for vintage fabric which I did find and cannot wait to make stuff from. At this sale, I found a big olive pot for my plants, costume jewelry, and vintage champagne glasses – for whenever I feel like having a party. And as a special request from my hubby he wanted to some tools – check out this good looking vintage saw I found. I had to ask the dude at the sale if I could give it a go to see how sharp it was, so he found me some wood and thanks to some recent lessons with the 5th graders I tried it out – perfect! This saw would also make a great home decor piece for our cabin or yurt in the woods as the handle is decorated and shaped beautifully – dream on!

All in all a very productive 4 day week with just the right balance of creativity, exercise and treasure finding.

Hunting high and low


A week of peace and contemplation and I managed to clear my mind to enjoy some creative endeavours. I had a pile of my husband’s jeans ready to be repurposed into something fun, so I created these tote bags. The fabric is from a sample from Designer’s Republic in the UK I love the colours and so did a friend of mine in Melbourne and purchased it as a gift for her niece in New Zealand.

The first prototype was sold and take two is with the black and white print with an interesting vintage fabric lining and red details on one strap going across. I still have 4 to work, though – as I design them they take a life on their own.


Cute kitten picture from swimming class with the kiddos this week – so much fun to have kittens by the pool!

The weekend was a good mix of relaxation and fun with the Mini Maker Faire on Sunday at History San Jose. I highly recommend this event as an alternative to Maker Faire. The location is perfect for the Makers and space is the perfect size for a family so you don’t feel so overwhelmed to keep your eyes on the kiddos and their activities constantly. There’s plenty of shady trees and cool redwoods to enjoy and the bonus is that with the activities all kids can create, take away and learn some new skills in the process.

At one of the tables was a hexagonal quilt making project which was very insightful to how a hexagonal quilt is put together. It is a cute little hand sewing project and the perfect project for an 8-year-old and for me too! Still, to make a quilt with so many hexagons it will take forever, we can always do a small portion as a detail for a skirt or something! As an introduction to hexagon quilt making, you can make a group of 7 and form a flower with your colours or patterns of choice.

As we were on our way out we had the chance to look at a letterpress and as my background is in printing – the commercial type of lithographic printing on a printing press, I was intrigued to see the traditional wood type letterpress in action. Missy had the chance to sweep the press across the print that had a coating of gold studio quality printing ink. This was such a treat to see!

This Mini Maker Faire was the 2nd annual and I hope to see more in the future as there are many vendors scattered throughout the activity tables and it is such a pleasant day out with the family as a lot of local museums from San Jose and surrounds are presenting projects and crafts such as the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, the Lace Museum and an Embroidery guild – yay for the inspiration.

Sunday we were hiking on a 2.5-mile hike through the dry oak woodland forest with our friends from Oakland. Hikes up in the hills are beautiful in the rainy season but as there has been zero rain for months the marsh is non-existent and the grasses are brown, this is  very normal for summer. The hike was on the San Andreas fault line and offers the opportunity to learn about the area’s geology. Unfortunately, the kids were on a mission to complete the hike and eat as soon as possible. Off one of the trails, we had the chance to hang out with a buddha hidden in a rock formation.

Still, the peace of hiking with no one else around was a pleasurable experience and the colors of the leaves are starting to change to their fall colours as you can see with this poison oak trio – leaves of three let them be! Soon with some luck the rains will come and make the grasses green again and the forests lush with moss, though it is hard to imagine with this last blast of summer this week.

Keep on moving don’t stop…


What a crazy week it was last week with 3 minimum days and the schedule totally upside down – I really felt like this doll, flat out by the end of the week!


Still, the weekend was big and the 2nd Annual Summer Bike Ride was something Safe Mountain View has had in the pipeline for the last 6 months. I was a part of the ride committee as I volunteer for Safe Mountain View, to promote safety on the streets. Our bike ride on the weekend was a success with just under 100 people showing up with their families to ride their bike around the city of Mountain View.

We rode in ‘bike buses’ of groups of 6-8 people taking it to the streets and riding together creating this amazing feeling as cyclists on the road. To have that sense of empowerment and pausing traffic ever so slightly was the best! Even some of the motorist were keen to join in the fun!

To ride in a group the kids felt safe too and I am thankful for this ride as it really encouraged my daughter and gave her the confidence that on a bike you can go where ever you like as long as you are safe and aware on the road. Now she wants to ride to school, sounds good to me as I like any excuse to get on my red bike and ride around. After the ride, we had a picnic back at Bubb Park and enjoyed ice cream after our well-deserved picnic lunches. Everyone was happy to have some ice cream and there were even seconds for anyone who wanted more!


On Sunday we met some friends who live in San Francisco at the Treasure Island Flea Market for the day. Coincidentally on this day, there was a vintage trailer display and the interiors were so inspiring. The only thing to get a family trailer in action you need some sort of big truck so our Subaru sedan will not do the job. The teardrop or canned ham trailers are perfect for sleeping two which means we leave the kids out camping in a tent, maybe not! I have to get my hands on the book that was being displayed at the sites just to get an inside on design ideas.

I absolutely loved the colour schemes of the trailers – mid-century blues, pinks, and greens. The Shasta trailer was a popular choice of the day with a cost of just under $10,000 with an original interior it seems like a dream at this moment in time!


As it was a fun flea market I wanted to road test a new skirt I made last week for the upcoming Textile Art Boutique I will be a part of. The skirt worked well with the wind and just created a little bell when the gusts of wind came underneath – so no flashes of my leggings! The other bonus as Treasure Island is about an hours drive away in the car the minimal crushing of the fabric for the drive was excellent, so I will be making more of these this week and getting my inventory up and happening. I have until mid-October to get a bunch of new stock together so I better get moving!!