DIY Pencil Case

30 Minute Pencil Case

I’m not exaggerating when I say this pencil case is super quick to make. Seriously, it took me 30 minutes to knock out one of these babies–easy enough that it made me want to make 3 more colorways (which I did, of course). I couldn’t resist, I had to try out the new designs in our Spoonflower shop! The nice thing, too, is that you can just order a fat quarter and it’s plenty to make multiple pencil cases. 

How to Make a DIY Pencil Case

Here’s how to make your own DIY pencil case:

Prepping the Fabric

  1. First, order the fabric. As I mentioned above, we used our Spoonflower designs: blue windowpane, pink windowpane and this retro rainbow stripe. A fat quarter is a sufficient quantity. You can use a variety of fabrics, so use the one that you like most. We used petal signature cotton.
  2. Once your fabric arrives, don’t forget to prewash!
  3. When your fabric is washed and dried, iron it out nice and flat.
  4. Now, cut two pieces of fabric that are 11”x 6” each.

Sewing the Zipper

To sew the zipper, follow the instructions outlined in the pencil case template.

Assembling Your DIY Pencil Case

With the zipper in place, you’re now ready to assemble the rest of the pencil case!

  1. To assemble the case, with right sides together, sew around the remaining three sides of the two fabric pieces. Sew as close to both ends of the zipper opening as you can. Leave the zipper partially open so you can flip it right side out after.
  2. Finish the seams of the three sides with a zig-zag or overlock stitch.
  3. Now, pull one corner in and press out perpendicular to the side seam. Measure down from the point by 1” and sew along that 1” mark. Repeat for the other corner.
  4. Clip the excess fabric at the corners and finish both those raw edges.
  5. Now you can flip your pencil case right side out and admire!

More Inspiration

Stay tuned for more back-to-school crafts and DIYs coming soon, like this DIY drawstring backpack made from a tote bag! In the meantime, check out some of my favorite back-to-school projects from years past, like this DIY reusable lunch sack or DIY apple lunch sack. Also see these back to school stickers (find them in our shop!) and these creative homeschool activities. And don’t forget to check out these tips for designing the perfect dorm room!

Camp Lars: Fusible Plastic Bags

An Environmental Quandary

Ever forget to bring a reusable bag to the grocery store with you and end up with a pile of single use, plastic ones? I know I have. I try to be environmentally conscious, but it still slips my mind on occasion. So what to do when that happens? And what on earth to do with all those plastic bags?! We’ve all probably heard by now that not everything you throw in the recycling bin gets recycled, and I really hate thinking about my plastic grocery bags filling the landfill. 

The Perfect Recycling Solution

Well, it turns out that this super simple DIY craft is the perfect solution to all those conflicted feelings about plastic bags! Generally we create waste by crafting, too, right? Paper scraps and bits of fluff galore. Well not this time! Introducing fusible plastic bags. Did you know you can make DIY stained glass and all kinds of pouches and purses by fusing plastic bags together? Save those bags and turn them into these cute little crafts instead. Here’s how:

How to Make Stained Glass with Fusible Plastic Bags

Prepping the Plastic

  1. First, tear a large piece of parchment paper to go under your work. Tear another 1-2 pieces to go between the iron and your plastic bags.
  2. Now take a few plastic bags of each color and cut the top seals off.
  3. Next, cut the bottom and side seams to open the bag as big as it can be.
  4. Now get creative! Keep a few plastic bags big and cut the other bags into fun shapes of different sizes.
  5. Once you have enough pieces cut out, lay down a large plastic bag. Start assembling your design on top. You can also layer the colors to experiment and blend the colors.
  6. When you’re happy with your designs, you can prep to fuse them together. 

Fusing the Plastic

  1. To fuse your project, take your parchment paper and place it on top of your assembled work. Be careful to not knock anything out of place!
  2. Set your iron somewhere between synthetic and silk. If you have a Cricut Easy Press, set it to 215 degrees. Once it’s hot, gently press it across your work once, then lift up the parchment paper to see if it’s fused yet. If not, repeat again. Note: Be very careful to not hold it for too long as your work might melt and shrivel up. The goal is to have the plastic melt together but not shrink.

How to Make a Crossbody Bag with Fusible Plastic Bags

To make this bag, you’ll use the zipper tops of the ziploc bags you used for the stained glass. Waste not! If you’re not using ziplocs, cut strips of plastic bags and double layer them, then fuse.

Prepping your Bag

  1. First, tear a large piece of parchment paper to go under your work. Tear another 1-2 pieces to go between the iron and your plastic bags.
  2. Now lay out a few tops an inch apart from each other alternating the colors. Lay another row going the opposite direction. You can also weave the tops if you want.
  3. Take your parchment paper and place it on top of your assembled work being careful to not knock anything out of place.

Fusing your Bag

  1. Set your iron to silk/wool or your Cricut Easy Press to 275 degrees. Once it’s hot, gently press it across your work once, then lift up the parchment paper to see if it’s fused yet. If not, repeat again.
  2. Flip your work and do the same thing on the other side
  3. Once your work is melted together and feels secure, trim any edges that are uneven to make the desired shape of your bag.
  4. Repeat this for the other side of the bag.

Creating the Strap

  1. To create the strap, take 4-6 plastic bag tops and cut them apart into individual sides. Use your iron at silk/wool or your Cricut Easy Press at 275 degrees to fuse them together overlapped by 1 inch. Put this off to the side.
  2. Take another plastic bag top and your two bag sides and hot glue them together to form the base of the bag. Make sure you don’t glue the bag shut, you want to be able to open and close it.
  3. Now, take embroidery thread and a needle and work a blanket stitch all the way around the sides of the bag. On the top corners, secure the bag’s closure with a few stitches and the beginning and end.
  4. When you finish, take your handle and attach it to the top inside corners with a few embroidered stitches. Add hot glue for extra security.

What to Do With Your Fusible Plastic Bag Projects

Woohoo, you’ve successfully made your fusible plastic bags into something beautiful! Now, what to do with them? We love using the plastic stained glass in windows–the light that filters through the plastic is really striking, especially in the afternoon when west facing windows are fully lit. It’s magical! If you don’t have many window options, though, you can also frame them, make a garland or banner with them, or pin them up anywhere. Let your kids get creative, there are so many options!

As for the crossbody bags, use ‘em! They’re the perfect size if you don’t want to carry around your phone in your hand or if you don’t have pockets. Don’t want to use them? Consider it another opportunity for some unique wall art and get decorating!

What are you going to do with your fusible plastic bags? Let us know below!

More Inspiration

Loved this tutorial on fusible plastic bags and want more kids summer craft ideas? Not to worry! We have so many options for you to choose from. Check out this amazing hack to make a custom puzzle! Also see this compilation of kids activities from our archives.

Casetify Inspired Fabric Projects

Funky Town Fabric Projects

The best thing about the projects we picked to feature our funky town fabrics is that they are all so simple. Seriously. If you consider yourself a beginner, you don’t need to feel intimidated by any of these projects. Just follow along with us to learn how to make these easy staples to add to your wardrobe and home!

Tip#1: before starting any of your projects, make sure you’ve pre-washed your fabric first!

Tip#2: when cutting out square or rectangle pieces, it’s much easier to be precise when you use a cutting mat, rotary cutter, and clear gridded ruler.

Bandana/Kerchief

Simplest of our Casetify inspired fabric projects, this bandana is the perfect accessory to your outfit. If you’re lacking a little color, the bandana will give you that pop you were looking for! For ours, we chose the small marbled and lilac checkers fabrics.

Here’s how to make your own:

How to Make a Bandana/Kerchief

Prepping the Fabric

  1. First, order your favorite fabric from our new Funky Town collection! For fabric type, we’d recommend cotton poplin, as it’s soft, light and breathable. Remember to prewash!
  2. Next, for each bandana, cut out a square that’s 23″x 23″, or adjust the size as necessary for your neck size (smaller bandanas can be as small as 17″ or 18″, and larger closer to 28″ square).

Sewing the Mitered Corners

Now you’re ready to sew the mitered corners. This is the neat diagonal finish to the corners that eliminates some of the bulk caused by traditional hemming. It looks neat and is easy to do!

  1. First, fold over and press each edge by a 1/4″, then a second time to cover the raw edge.
  2. Next, unfold the second fold and measure double the width of the hem from the edge of the fabric down. Mark the spot on each side of the corner with a fabric marker, then connect the two sides with a line across.
  3. Now fold the corner on itself with right sides together, pin, and sew along the line you drew.
  4. Last, clip the excess fabric, press open and flip the corner to the right side to reveal your finished corner.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the remaining corners.

Finishing Touches

  1. To finish up, simply topstitch along the edge of the folded over sides to complete your hems. Press so it’s nice and flat.
  2. Done! Lay it out and admire.

Simple Throw Pillow

Our next Casetify inspired fabric project is a simple throw pillow. This is the simplest technique to make a throw pillow. No piping or zippers, so there’s not much to be intimidated by. The great thing is it looks lovely when done and takes less than an hour to finish! For ours, we used the retro rainbow stripe in cypress cotton canvas.

Prepping your Fabric

  1. Once your fabric is prewashed and ironed, lay it out and cut out two squares that are 19″x19″. These are the dimensions you’ll need for a standard 20″x20″ throw pillow.
  2. Now lay the two pieces out on top of each other with right sides together.
  3. Next, fold over and press both sides of one edge of each fabric square over to the wrong side by 1/2″.
  4. Pin the three sides you did not press down to prep for sewing.

Sewing the Pillow

  1. Now that your pillow pieces are pinned, sew around the three un-pressed edges. Backstitch at beginning and end.
  2. Clip corners and flip your pillow to the right side.
  3. Next, stuff the pillow insert into the pillow cover you just made and sew up the opening close to the edge. Make sure the pressed edge you created is tucked neatly inside.
  4. Done!

Tote Bag

The tote bag is a bit more advanced than the other two Casetify inspired fabric projects, but we promise you can do it! For this one we used the large retro rainbow marble in cypress cotton canvas, with golden accent handles and strap.

  1. Print off our tote bag template found here.
  2. Cut your bag pieces out of the fabric using the bag template. Note which part of the fabric you want to highlight on your bag and which direction it will face when complete.

Main Bag Piece

  1. With right sides together, sew the front and back of the main bag pieces together at the side seams. Use a single stitch and then finish off with a zig zag to prevent fraying.
  2. Next, pull the edges of the notched part of the cut fabric together (the two bottom corners) to form the flat bottom of the bag. Use a straight stitch, trim the excess down to 1/4″, then finish the edge with a zig zag.
  3. Now turn your main bag piece right side out to prep for future steps. Now to move on to the handle straps!

Handle Straps

  1. First, hem under each long edge by 1/4″. Then fold both of the handle straps in half so the folded edges meet.
  2. Next, pin and sew a single stitch down both long sides of each strap.

Shoulder Strap

  1. For the shoulder strap, fold the shoulder strap piece in half with wrong sides together lengthwise.
  2. Next, unfold, then fold each side into the center seam, pressing as you go.
  3. Now you can fold the strap back along the center crease you made. Make sure the two folded edges line up evenly.
  4. Lastly, pin and sew a single stitch down both long sides of each strap.

Attaching the Straps

Now to attach the straps to the main bag piece. For this, make sure your bag piece is turned right side out.

  1. First, position the handle straps in the center of the bag opening on each side. Align the raw edges with the top opening of the bag. Pin, then sew in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  2. Now attach the ends of the shoulder strap piece to both side seams of the bag. Position them the same way you did with the handle straps and sew in place.

Finishing Touches

  1. Now it’s time for the facing. For this, take both facing pieces with right sides together and sew along both short edges by 1/4″. You should now have a tube that’s the same size as the opening of your bag. If it’s too big, make the seam allowance larger to adjust.
  2. Next, fold one edge under (wrong sides together) by 1/4″ and press.
  3. Now, with right sides together, align the raw edge of the facing tube around the opening of the bag.
  4. Next, sew a single stitch around the top opening edge of the bag, with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
  5. To finish up, turn the facing to the inside of the bag, press, and pin in place. Make sure the sewn edge of the facing/bag is creased neatly along the top edge of the bag. It shouldn’t show on the outside.
  6. Last, edge stitch along the creased edge of the facing to hold it in place.
  7. Done!

Styling Your Funky Town Projects

You can have a lot of fun styling your Funky Town Casetify inspired fabric projects! The great thing about these fabrics is that they can be mixed and matched in so many different ways. Try a marbled with a checkered, like we did, or add a solid pop of color to a busy pattern as an accent. The options are endless.

We’re excited to see what you make! Let us know in the comments!

More Inspiration

Loved these simple Casetify inspired fabric projects? Check out the first post in our sewing basics series, how to thread a sewing machine! You’ll probably also love these other easy sewing projects. Try our Mother’s Day apron or our Easter outfits (not limited to use on Mother’s Day or Easter). If you want more home decor sewing projects, try our shaped throw pillows or quilted shower curtain.

What Iris Apfel Can Teach Us

Iris Apfel June Book Club Artwork

Who Is Iris Apfel?

Iris Apfel is one of the most iconic women in the history of fashion. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned her! Here’s another post where we share some of our musings about Iris. Self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet,” Iris Apfel started as an interior designer with an innate interest in fashion. She really became known when her noteworthy wardrobe made its way into an exhibition at the Met. From there, her career as a fashion icon blossomed.

She didn’t stop there! At age 98, she signed a modeling contract with IMG, blowing all former female model stereotypes out of the water. She even came out with her own sunglasses line a few days before her 100th birthday! From interior design, to transforming the definition of modeling, to her eclectic and show-stopping style, to simply living a full life, Iris Apfel can teach us so much.

Embracing Maximalism in an Age of Minimalism

We are living in an age of minimalism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always against minimalism. When done correctly it can be lovely. The problem is that it’s become an overwhelming default that squashes so many opportunities for creative expression. If you’re interested more of my thoughts on neutrals and default colors, read this post. Anyway, I’m not here today to focus on minimalism. I’m here to talk about Iris Apfel, who is an example of totally owning gorgeous maximalism. Iris Apfel can teach us so. much. Here’s how she can help us embrace maximalism when minimalism is so overwhelmingly present.

What Iris Apfel Can Teach Us

Don’t Fear Patterns and Colors!

I remember buying clothes with my mom as a kid. She’d always offer up the same advice: “pick something that will go with everything!” There’s a myth that’s been circulating for many years that neutral solids match better than colors and patterns. My mom’s not alone. Many people stick almost solely to neutrals, not because they don’t like color or pattern, but because they feel intimidated. Which is totally understandable! Neutrals are, admittedly, easy.

But are they satisfying? Iris Apfel sure shows us that there are many, many examples of bold color and pattern combinations that look exquisite together. They’re less common because it’s intimidating to jump into so much color and pattern, but maybe that’s what makes them so wonderful. So to those wanting to incorporate more patterns and colors into their lives but feeling intimidated, remember that Iris would tell you to go for it! You can do it, just be confident in those bold choices and don’t let others dissuade you. As Iris would say, “When you don’t dress like everyone else then you don’t have to think like everyone else.”

The Bolder the Better

Speaking of bold choices, is anything every really too much for Iris Apfel? Probably not. She teaches us that, rather than airing on the side of caution when it comes to your wardrobe, go big or go home! She would probably put it just that candidly, too.

She’s the perfect example of really diving into colors and patterns and showing us that bolder really is better, in her case. After all, she did say, “color can raise the dead.” When you own bold patterns and colors like Iris Apfel, they are striking, completely show-stopping, and do much more than any combination of neutrals could to. So be all in! The key is to be decisive and intentional. A half-hearted effort just doesn’t produce the Iris Apfel effect.

Mix and Match!

Another one of my mom’s common statements was something along the lines of “don’t wear multiple patterns together, they don’t go.” Well Iris Apfel would most likely say the exact opposite: Why opt for a neutral that goes with everything when you can go for a wild, wacky combo? And who says multiple patterns can’t compliment each other exquisitely?

Rather than always going for black because it will match everything in your wardrobe, try branching out. Unlikely combinations can sometimes be best.

Speaking of unlikely combinations, don’t fear mixing high and low fashions. Iris Apfel was famous for shamelessly mixing designer brands with flea market finds, and patterns, colors and textures of all different eras. The eclectic mix became her signature, and she knowingly broke all rules and conventions. Isn’t the saying something like “learn the rules so you can break them?”

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Don’t let me finish out this list of what Iris Apfel can teach us without including accessories. Iris’s iconic glasses, boas, and bold bangles with forever be remembered. Nothing is too thick, chunky, or big for her. Accessories can do wonders for an outfit that feels like it needs a little something to be complete.

And again, Iris Apfel audaciously merged antiquity with modernity with striking success.

Dress for Yourself, Not to be Stared At

Above all, fashion is and should be very personal. It’s all about you, or it should be. As Iris says, “I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself.” Iris has us convinced that fashion should be fun, and it’s the most fun when it feels true to YOU. Ultimately, “The important thing is to be comfortable so you can get on with your life.”

In the Shop

If you’re looking for something to remind you of Iris Apfel, check out our shop! Nothing helps with inspiration like seeing Iris Apfel’s face every time you open your book and see this bookmark. Or looking up at the wall by your desk and seeing this print! If you’re wanting to prep for the holiday season early this year, we’d recommend this Iris Apfel ornament.

More Inspiration

Loved this post on what Iris Apfel can teach us and want to be inspired by other amazing women? Check out our Becoming series, where we highlight female creatives and how they became who they are! You can also be inspired by these in the mood for posts, where we draw style and design inspiration from artists, creatives, and things we love throughout history.

One last note before you go: Iris Apfel has collaborated with H&M to release a new collection this spring 2022–STAY TUNED! I’m positive we’ll have more to say where that came from.

 

 

 

 

Alma Thomas: Black History Month Kickoff

Who Is Alma Thomas?

Alma Thomas

Back in 2020, we dedicated a blog post to Alma Thomas, which you can read here. Long story short, she was an amazingly talented black artist, famous for her mosaic-like technique for painting. Her story is amazing, and we’d recommend reading the unabridged version in our blog post here.

What Does the Course Include?

For a complete list and the link to the Alma Thomas class itself, click here. If you’d like, you can also purchase the full course here, which gives you access to courses featuring six different historical artists, including Alma Thomas, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Michelangelo. Don’t forget to use the code ALMA50 for a 50% discount on the Alma Thomas course! It’s available for the entire month of February.

Inspired By Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas was a genius when it came to color. Want to be inspired by her in what you wear, but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some clothing items to get you started, as well as some accessories, if you’re not quite bold enough to wear all the colors of the rainbow in one statement piece. Adding a small pop of color can really transform an outfit.

Here are a few crafts you can make in honor of black history month and Alma Thomas:

Heirloom Plush Dolls

These Heirloom Plush Dolls are a fun way to decorate and remember that it’s black history month. They’re a jazzy, creative twist on our Family Heirloom Ornaments.

Alma Thomas Paper Dolls

Alma Thomas Paper Dolls are another interactive way to celebrate black history month. They’re a great way to teach your kids about black history while crafting at the same time!

Other Black Creatives

We hope you’ll treat this month as a learning opportunity and be inspired by the black creatives all around you. Alma Thomas is a great icon, but there are other ways to get involved during black history month as well.

Books, Movies and Shows

In this post, we compiled a list of black-authored books to read that are both eye-opening and engaging. It’s a great place to start if you have a goal to be more informed about black history this month. Bonus: if you’re more of a screens person, that same post also includes some really great movies and shows by black creatives.

If you’re not familiar with many black creatives, here‘s a list we complied a while back with some of our favorites. You can also check out this post, where you can learn how to make your own heirloom ornaments featuring your favorite black creatives.

Interviews

If you’re interested in getting to know some different artists of color, this post is for you. We compiled a list of interviews with some of our favorite artists of color. We loved getting to know them and what they do!

Black-Owned Businesses

Here are some amazing products we love from black designers. This is a great way to support black makers.

Happy Black History Month! We’d love to know: what are you doing in honor of Black History Month?

 

Christmas gifts for women

Christmas gifts for women

This was a fun list to make. Every single item on it is on my personal wishlist. Santa, please and thank you?!

  1. Fair Isle Sweater–How stoked am I that fair isle sweaters are back and better than ever?! Loving them! This one is perfection. I just got mine in the mail!
  2. Flower sweater–It was sold out on the original website so I had to do some scouring for it. It’s perfection!
  3. Stripe eye mask–Yellow and pink are my JAM! I LOVE this color combo so much. They even have this stripe on pjs, bottle warmer, and more.
  4. Hand bag leather strap--I’ve been wanting a bag with a fun strap to boot. I am DIGGING this one so much!
  5. Handbag–It’s about time I invest in another handbag. I have this thing where I don’t switch mine out so I don’t lose things as often. Not sure if that technique actually works because I lose things all the time, but at least I need something new. This one is both grown up and fun!
  6. Mary Janes–Hooray! Mary Janes are back. Give me a lovely colored flat any day!
  7. Colorful socks–Why is it that we always need socks? These ones are a fun punch of color!
  8. Corduroy flower pillows–I think I’m going to attempt to make my own some time, but these are tempting to me because the colors are so good. And corduroy?! Come on!
  9. Color block beanie–Perfection in a cap. Love the colors!
  10. Floral rain coat–Again, perfection.
  11. Hair bow–Love this for the holidays. Nothing more elegant!

And here are more Christmas gifts for women

You can see our previous holiday gift guides here:

Holiday decorations
Advent calendars 
Christmas gifts for kids
Christmas gifts for Men

Stay tuned for more gift guides including one for men, crafters, kids, design/craft books, and more! 

Becoming Arounna Khounnoraj

Arounna Khounnoraj is a Canadian artist and maker working in Toronto where she immigrated with her family from Laos at the age of four. While her education includes a master’s degree in fine arts in sculpture and ceramics, it was through subsequent residencies that she found her current focus in fibre arts. In 2002 she started bookhou, a multi-disciplinary studio with her husband John Booth, where Arounna explores screen printing and a variety of textile techniques such as embroidery and punch needle. She creates objects such as bags, home goods and textile art. 

In recent years Arounna work has created a social media sensation. From wall art to cushions and bags, her punch needle pieces highlight her botanical and abstract designs and her sense of colour have brought a modern, new life to an old technique.

She is the author of Punch Needle: Master the Art of Punch Needling Accessories for You and Your Home, which was published in April 2019. In 2020 she released a book on Visible Mending and she is currently working on her third book based on Embroidery.

A group of punch needled surfaces and artworks leaned against a white wall.

Becoming Arounna Khounnoraj

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

It’s hard to choose just one, I consider myself an artist first but being self employed I really rely on my self taught business skills and what I try to do with my writing and social media is to share with my followers the different ways I work and techniques they can apply to their own work.

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born in Vientiane Laos, but came to Toronto, Canada with my family when I was four. Growing up in Toronto was a major influence. Even though I lived downtown in a very urban setting, Toronto is, nevertheless, a city of neighbourhoods that are very eclectic and diverse so I experienced a variety of cultures. It’s also a city with pockets of nature and I think that all combined, an environment like that helped me create work that is also eclectic but with an emphasis on natural things.

Of course family life was also influential. As immigrants we lived modestly and made much of what we needed and used. Food, clothing, repairing things ourselves when they are broken helped create a definite DIY mindset that has always stayed with me.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I grew up in a household with makers, not necessarily artists but definitely makers – using our hands. So, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to be anything else but a maker too.  I have always made things with my hands and it brought me the most joy so it only seemed natural to go to art school and follow a path of making art.

What sparked your interest in mending? 

When I was younger I would mend my clothes whether they needed it or not so I had some experience. But more recently, mending just kind of happened since it is really just an extension of the kind of hand work and stitch work that I was already doing. Studio work for me has always been about trying new things and new techniques, whether it was patchwork, appliqué or decorative stitching, it was already part of my studio practice. Having a family and kids especially, certainly gave me a new application for these activities. 

But also, I‘ve always been the kind of person who not only believes in an economy of means, but I hate to waste materials, both in my own studio and in life in general. So reuse, and by extension mending, is a  natural part of how I work. 

Arounna and her daughter in a light-filled living space.

What are three words to describe your style?

Natural, simple, organic

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career

I started with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Ontario College of Art and then Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, then finished with a Masters from University of Waterloo. 

School has been very influential in shaping my current path. I worked in a variety of media, ceramics, multimedia sculpture and fibre arts, while at school and it is certainly there that I found the artistic interests and methodologies that continue to define my work. Jumping ahead a number of years when I started to make utilitarian work, especially products, I found that those disciplines and ways of working in a studio continued. I’ve always thought of our workplace as an art studio, a multidisciplinary space where artistic interests and vision could be applied to everyday things. Working with materials, details of design, surface decoration and use is not that far from what I was concerned with at school.

Have you ever made a big career switch? If so, what prompted that? Are there aspects of a prior career that you incorporate into what you do now? 

Not really, I’ve always been making things one way or another and finding a way to market them. The only real switch was from working in a studio art practice that entailed singular installation work in sculpture, to production work with textiles and printing.  That happened in a rather unplanned way with a residency that I accepted in a textile studio and simply being open to spending some time trying something different.  After I finished, I continued to work on smaller, more personal fabric based items concentrating on drawing and printing as forms of surface design. Although, differences aside, I think both have a lot in common in terms of artistic vision, and by the things that inform them – natural imagery, organic forms and belief in the handmade. 

What inspired you to become a textile artist?

A layout of craft supplies, punch needle projects, and art.

More than anything else, working with fabric was always an activity that I enjoyed and was always around me. I always had a connection to it, starting when I was young. As I grew older it became an even more important activity. I became aware that working with fabric was more than a personal activity. The very idea of sewing, or stitchwork is so related to the concept of women’s work and domestic work. I was always inspired by the ideas, the techniques,  and the continuity of the work as tradition. Seeing the work of others who take an idea and pass it on as something wonderful and beautiful is amazing, and being a part of that is inspiring.

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

If I have to pick one, I suppose the piece(s) I’m most proud of in recent years are a series of little stools that John and I made together. He designed the wood stool specifically to fit a punch needle seat. We had always talked about collaborating on such a piece and it was great to see it happen.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

I’m not sure I look for inspiration for new pieces. The possibilities for what I’m already inspired to do seems endless. I think every maker or artist becomes aware of different possibilities they could explore in their work. So, perhaps just new applications and working at larger scales. 

a patchwork project bag made by Arounna Khounnoraj

How do you make social connections in the creative realm?

Working in the studio on your own work is quite often so focused, and busy, that it’s sometimes hard to connect to other makers in real time. But having spent as much time at craft shows as I have, I’ve been able to meet a wide range of artists and makers that I find time to connect with, creating a soundboard for each other.

In addition, through social media I’ve been able to connect with so many people all over the world who work in similar activities as I am, or simply enjoy what I do. Social media has allowed me to connect with teaching opportunities, collaborations with others and enjoy the work of others.

How has social media influenced your work?

I cannot tell you how important social media is. It really works in partnership with other aspects of business and studio work. Most importantly it helps tell the story of who you are and what you do. And when it comes down to it,  to make connections, the narrative is really important.

Social media and studio work are definitely connected, but it is more than just documentation. I spend a fair amount of time creating work and instructional content not just for web sales but specifically for social media. Sometimes too much time. In the end, I can’t say that my work in terms of design has changed in response to social media, but it certainly has changed the way I work, and the success of a product.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

When I just started our business I was still in art school mode, and I was looking at artists like Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith. But I remember seeing the show of makers from Gees Bend at the Whitney around 2002, and I was blown away. There are a number of people and studios I am fond of now like Mina Perhonen.

A collection of patchwork blocks made by Arounna Khounnoraj

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I sometimes watch TV and movies when sewing, just something to have in the background. I’m fond of British Crime dramas and anything post apocalypse.

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from?

One piece of advice that I always try to remember is that if I like my work, I know that someone else will like it too. I think it’s a variation on trusting yourself regardless of how things are initially received, or how fast or slow work progresses. Trust yourself, trust your direction, just work hard at making the most of it. Not sure who sent that my way. 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

We were fortunate enough to buy a storefront that had a small shop in the front and a small studio in the back and our home above. Over the years we renovated and expanded to include a sewing area where my mother and I have machines; a small shipping area, and studio space – printing and cutting table. There is also a quieter, more private studio space on the second floor for when I feel like stepping away from production. 

Since the pandemic, only family members are with me, and the showroom space has turned over to more work/organization space (and plants). It’s definitely quieter, but we’ve tried to maintain a degree of normalcy. 

A patchwork blanket made of indigo squares in various shades.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

There are a couple of things that influence my work. Firstly, having a diverse series of spaces that are specific to each task allows me to work efficiently, and gives me enough space to work at anything that comes to mind. Secondly, I live upstairs, so I don’t have to leave to work. Some might see this as potentially burdensome, but with young kids it was great, and it lets me be connected to work whenever I want, which I find both convenient and liberating actually, since I love to work.

Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you climb out of a creative slump?

I have a tendency to be a little impatient, but in a good way. Not sure if that’s a habit, but it means that if something is on my mind, if I have something to do or a design that needs development, I’ll just do it. I don’t like leaving things lingering, I’d rather finish things or make decisions as soon as I can. It means that things are always moving along, and seeing work in its final form, especially when I’m excited and happy about it, is really motivating. 

I also make sure that every day I have time to sit back and draw, whether analogue or on an iPad. I find it relaxing actually. Letting your mind just go, focusing on nothing else just for a little while can be very helpful to keep you in your groove, and suggest new ideas. As long as you have work on the table, there is always something to do.

What is a typical day like for you? 

Depending on the day, after the kids are off to school, or virtual school, I usually do emails first thing. We do shipping two days out of the week so that pretty much structures our day for us. If it’s a non shipping day I’ll make lists of any orders. If anything needs to be made we’ll start that, otherwise I’ll either cut or print fabric or both for my mother who does a lot of the sewing, so we always have stock, as much as we can. Afternoons tend to be working on social media posts or photography, taking advantage of the afternoon light. Shipping days are similar except with a lot of packaging. When it’s not too busy I fit non production work in, working on new projects and finally, at the end of the day, a little drawing. 

What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?

My mum is a wonderful cook and I really wish I took more interest when I was younger to be as accomplished as her. The problem is that she was always happy cooking for us and I was happy letting her.

Someone stands on a bench holding a white punch needle blanket above their head. The punch needled parts are in lots of colors and look like confetti dots sprinkled throughout the blanket's surface.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

My advice would be to not hold yourself back. Try everything even if it’s for one time only.  You will never know how it could add or change the way you work and it might enhance it for the better. Don’t feel you have to be an expert in one thing and only have to do that one thing forever. These days there is so much access to online help, courses and many great kits available.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

Our business was financed by our part time jobs when we were starting.  Don’t worry if you have to have a job in order to finance your business, as you figure it out you will be less dependent. I would try to focus on not growing too fast, to really understand the work that you want to make and understand your audience. Knowing these two things are actually the most important business decisions you can make. If there’s equipment or material that you need that you can’t afford, think about renting it or borrowing from someone who does. If there is something that you can’t do right now, then try it a different way. The important thing is to work, try new things, but keep working.  When we started we did every craft show that we could. Some good, some not so good. But even a little income was good. Same for online. Be patient and learn to trust yourself, (and it is something we have to learn). Eventually you will find a rhythm and your income will start increasing. 

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

In terms of both inspiration and work, one of the defining aspects of my work has been its relationship to nature, working organically, and specifically, my love for botanical imagery. I have always been interested in plants and I think if I wasn’t making, I would like to learn more about botany.  I think somehow cataloging  them by painting/drawing or by photographing them.

floral punch needle pillow in warm oranges, pinks, yellows, and greens.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

My 10 year goal is to try to move away from the constraints of production work and focus more on designing, perhaps working with other studios in creating my work.  For the work I do myself, I would like to do larger, more art based pieces that would allow me to slow down, focus, and really delve into a project.

 

Palm Springs Style You Can’t Miss

The city really took off after the 1940s when the Golden Age actors of Hollywood wanted a retreat from the growing sprawl of Los Angeles. With all of that wealth coming to town, architects came along with it. William Krisel and John Porter Clark and Arthur Frey and Jack Meiselman and so many more created masterpieces and tract houses alike in this town. While you and I probably can’t commission the architecture gods to build us new homes, we can take cues from their style! It’s also a very real possibility to snag one of the homes for yourself if you’re in the market.

John Porter Clark home. The sky is bright blue, the house is modern and flat-roofed and brilliant white, and the foreground is beige gravelAlbert Frey home made of glass and steel tucked into the plants and rocks of Palm SpringsA white and black Jack Meiselman Home at sunset. Palm trees sway in the background, and the front yard is xeriscaped.

Color Reigns

The look of Palm Springs is one of openness and ease, minimalism with playful twists. With the pervasive sun and expansive sky, most of the homes in the area are painted white but you’ll be hard pressed to find a neutral-colored door. Pastels and neons reign! Hooray! There is this random house that isn’t one of the rat pack mansions or anything, but it has become famous because of #thatpinkdoor. A few cans of paint is all it takes for you to bring this Palm Springs styling tip home with ya! 

Vertical image of a modern white home with a pink door, agave plants, and structural landscaping

Don’t Forget to Look Up

If you go visit Palm Springs, odds are you’ll be so busy looking at all of the fabulous architecture that you might not notice the sky. Who am I kidding – it’s huge and bluer than you’ve ever seen it before. You can’t miss it. The architects who polished this corner of desert into a gem certainly didn’t! It’s almost as if they designed with the sky as the centerpiece. Check out this picture from my good friend Frank’s house. Architect E. Stewart Williams wasn’t messing around – he was showcasing the skies. My favorite Palm Springs houses have windows that are higher than I’m used to seeing. They also have cantilevered sections and skylights. This stunning photograph of the Sunnylands Estate, AKA “Camp David of the West” shows how important the sky is to the design of the property. By the way, Obama and Xi Jinping hung out here a few years back. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! 

Image of a house with a huge blue sky, topiary-style trees, modern flat roof, and a pink ramp leading into a flat blue pond.

Geometric Ease

Okay, thanks for humoring me while I ranted about the sky for a bit. A huge part of the appeal of Palm Springs is its ease. I just look at pictures and feel relaxed. The design is simple to understand; it’s all about straight lines and symmetry. I love this photo of a room at Twin Palms – the sunburnt orange color is definitely an homage to the earth tones outside. I love that color as a headboard! The symmetry of the room is so precise and uncomplicated that it looks good from every angle. Imagine having a wall of matching prints of identical size behind you for zoom calls! The exteriors of Desert Modernist homes tend to have breeze block and hardy plants that are almost impossible to kill. What’s not to love about that? 

If you’re looking to add some freshness to your space, try channeling the vibe of Palm Springs! Its simple color scheme, sky-inspired design, and linear geometry create such a feeling of comfort and relaxation. That’s exactly what I want right now!!

Shop Palm Springs-Inspired Decor

Shop Palm Springs-Inspired Fashion

Palm Springs-Inspired Accessories

Looking for more style guides? Don’t forget to check out our In the Mood For series! We’ve found fashion, home decor, and accessories inspired by Frida Kahlo, Josef Albers, The Queen’s Gambit, Andy Warhol, Alma Thomas, Monet, Wes Anderson, The Royal Wedding Anniversary, Jane Austen’s Emma, Iris Apfel, Little Women, Alexander GirardAnne of Green Gables, and Hamilton.

Image sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

DIY Block Printing with a Potato

DIY block printing stamping art with potato

Perhaps our favorite thing about this project is it is just as fun for kids or adults! The short material list and simple shapes make it a very kid-friendly craft. However, this is just a starting point for any design you want to try! Try out more intricate design at any skill level.

How to stamp with a potato

Supplies:

  • Potatoes
  • Acrylic or fabric paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Fabric or paper surface you want to print on

Steps:

  1. Cut your clean potatoes into the shape you would like to stamp. We used half circles but you can stamp in any shape!
  2. Apply paint evenly to one edge of potato stamp
  3. Press firmly down on your paper or fabric surface
  4. If you would like to combine two potato shapes to make one full color-blocked circle, place both potato stamps before lifting the first, as shown below.
  5. If desired, fill in design more fully after stamping the basic shape.

DIY block printing stamping art with potato DIY block printing stamping art with potato

What to block print on to

We choose to block print onto a canvas art supplies portfolio, we have holding our coloring pages and supplies!

In the past we have also stamped onto bandanas, napkins, wrapping paper, and more. The options are limitless! If you chose fabric, just make sure to use fabric paint.

DIY block printing stamping art with potato DIY block printing stamping art with potato

More block printing and stamping tutorials

DIY block printing on bandanaDIY block printing stamping on linen napkinsDIY block printing stamping art on ceramic plates

Read our interview with one of our favorite professional block print artists, Jen Hewett, here!

Once you start stamping you won’t want to stop. We know from experience. Though block printing is probably our favorite method, there are plenty of other fun ways to make your own design. Try this method for stamping onto a ceramic plate.

What other unexpected supplies have you used to block print? We would love to hear! Comment below

2020 Trend Alert: Embroidered Everything

The feel-good factor is just as important as a principle of design because when it is present, people notice. Embroidered work feels personal and intimate, tying the owner to the piece. It also carries with it emotion that otherwise would be lost in a different medium. Would Katherine Kelly care so much about that hanky if it was screenprinted? Not a chance! That hanky reminded her of her mother and represented a central theme of the movie – that old things, however quaint, could be replaced by modernity. 

Luckily enough for us, people love embroidery way too much to let it slip away into memory. We are some of those people!! Care to check? Search our website for the word “embroidery” – I did and counted the results until I got to sixty and decided that was enough. We have written about embroidery in sixty different blog posts. If you are a newbie to fabric arts, check out our results for some inspiration and even a tutorial on basic stitches.

embroidered fashion trend 2020

If you, like us, are fully on the embroidery train, don’t wait for someone to give you a hanky! With some help from the Lars team, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite embroidered items for purchase that we have compiled below. Feel free to peruse, and if you dare, shop!!! If you’d rather make your own embroidered item, go for it! From simple stitches to complex masterpieces, embroidery shines on everything.

Embroidered Fashion

 

Accessories

 

Embroidered home decor

 

All mood board photo sources can be found here on our Pinterest!

When Life Hands You Lemons care package and tablescape with Spoonflower

My favorite Mother’s Day inspired Spoonflower patterns

I spent a good amount of time going through the Spoonflower Marketplace, which is thousands and thousands of independent artists and great designs. Yes, it took awhile, but I came upon some really beautiful options and had a hard time narrowing it down. I saved my favorites in this collection on their site.

Which ones are your favorites???

There are a lot of good ones, right?! I was going for a springy, floraly vibe that also felt refined and could be used throughout the year. Here were some alternative options I was eyeing:

Citrus fabric tablecloth with Spoonflower

Ultimately, I ended up going for this Multi Citrus Grove Toile by Danika Herrick. It has the right touch of deGournay with its chinoiserie feel. Plus, I always love some good citrus–it makes everything feel instantly refreshing.blue and orange table ideaCustom Home Decor Options

Perhaps you remember when I redid my bedroom in all Spoonflower? Right–so not only can you order fabric by the yard, but you can order things for your home to be made in the fabric of your choice and it’s all sewn right here in the United States. For my bedroom it was the wallpaper, duvet, pillow cases, curtains, and this time around I ordered a tablecloth for the Party-For-Mom that I will be throwing. I paired it with this Indian print inspired marigold print by Andrea Lauren because I loved the contrast of the yellow to the blue in the main selection and decided to use them for the cloth napkins.Indian block print napkins

Visualizing the process

What I find useful in their new home decor option is the ability to see them on a variety of products. You can do that by selecting Home Decor in the “Also available in” section to view all of the different home decor products and then it automatically shows you how it will look.

And the marigold:

Because of that, I was able to visualize what it would really be like. And it was going to be GOOD!

Pattern on pattern advice:

Pairing a pattern on pattern can be tricky, but there are a few ways to make sure it works:

  1. Identify the colors of the palette. The first pattern I worked with has a lot going on but I drew out the main colors: blue, yellow, orange, and green.
  2. Along the same lines, draw out the colors that you’d like to highlight more. If there’s a color in the fabric that you don’t necessarily love, don’t highlight it! On the flipside, if you like a color more than another, bring that color out more.
  3. The two fabrics should be of different scale. The first pattern has a very large scale so I knew I needed to go smaller on the second.blue and orange table idea

Citrus tablescape

To go with our Mother’s Day party, we created a centerpiece of citrus–grapefruit, lemons, and oranges, to sit atop the tablecloth. We matched with with some yellow plates, blue bowls, and goblets to tie it in with our beautiful fabric. Plus the pretty chargers that add some depth. And a dash of flowers to keep it fresh!

Mother’s Day Care Packages

Because we are keeping friends and family at arm’s length right now, we have been brainstorming DIY ideas of how to share uplifting moments with our loved ones near and far. We decided to make a tote from Spoonflower’s Linen Cotton Canvas –it’s the perfect thing to fill up with goodies and send along to someone who needed a dose of joy. A handpicked, handmade gift for someone you love can be the best surprise!oranges table idea

To match the amazing fabric, we made our gift bag lemon themed! You know, the classic, “When life gives you lemons”. With everything life is throwing at us lately, let’s just say we have been making A LOT of metaphorical lemonade. We filled our gift bag with lots of lemon themed hand soap, lotion, candles, and more. Everything our loved ones need to make this extra hand washing fun!

When Life Hands you Lemons Care Package

Additionally, I wanted to create a care package to send along to my mom as Mother’s Day approaches. Social distancing could have interrupted the celebration of such a special holiday, but instead it turned into something that lets us show our love for our mothers in a new way. After turning the beautiful fabric from Spoonflower into a tote (the tutorial is now available in the Lars shop!), I wanted to fill it with goodies that were fun and practical. So, candy was a must (der!), as well as hand sanitizer and other necessities. Paul and Jasper joined in as well to create a tote-turned-gift-basket for Paul’s mom too to send to her in Denmark.

Follow these simple steps to make your own gift tote bag:

DIY Tote bag

(inspired by the famous Baggu tote!))

Materials:

Instructions:

Step 1: Print off our tote bag template found here

Step 2: Cut your bag pieces out of the fabric using the pattern, making sure to note which part of the fabric you want to highlight on your bag and which direction it will face when complete

Step 3: Starting with the main bag piece — face right sides together

Step 4: Sew the sides with a single stitch (and finish off the edges with a zag zag stitch if desired)

Step 5: Pull the edges of the notched part of the cut fabric, on the bottom of the bag, together to form the flat bottom of the bag. Sew a single stitch straight across these edges you have pulled together

Step 6: Turn your main bag piece right side out to prep for future steps. Now to move on to the handle straps!

Step 7: Take one of the cut handle strap pieces and fold the long edges in a quarter of an inch. Use your fingernail to crease the canvas fabric fold well.

Step 8: Once both long sides are creased, fold the entire strap in half so both folded edges meet

Step 9: Pin and sew a single stitch down both long sides of the strap. This will flatten the strap and make both edges look the same.

Step 10: Repeat steps 7-9 for the second handle strap. Next for the shoulder strap!

Step 11: Repeat steps 7-9 for the shoulder strap — to repeat, crease in the long sides a quarter of an inch, then fold the entire strap in half so both folded edges meet. Sew a single stitch down both long edges of the shoulder strap.

Step 12: Now you will attach all straps to the main bag piece — to do this, make sure your bag piece turned right side out

Step 13: Position the handle straps in the center on the bag opening, on either side, facing down towards the bottom of the bag with the short edges aligned with the top opening edge of the bag. Pin them in place and sew them on.

Step 14: Attach an end of the shoulder strap piece to both edges of the bag, with the strap facing down just like you did with the handle straps, and sew them in place.

Step 15: All straps should now be sewn on the outside of the bag, facing downwards, so they when folded up inside the bag to face up the seam will not show. You are almost done!

Step 16: Take your facing pieces, on both pieces, crease one long edge in a quarter of an inch.

Step 17:  Face both pieces right side together and sew both short edges

Step 18: Place the sewn facing pieces around the opening of the bag, over the edge of all the straps. Make sure the creased edge is facing down and the un-creased edge is aligned with the top opening edge of the bag.

Step 19: Sew a single stitch around the top opening edge of the bag, attached the facing pieces to the bag

Step 20: Turn the facing piece to the inside of the bag, making the straps fold upwards and the seams will all be hidden inside

Step 21: Turn the bag back inside out for the final step – Sew around the bottom creased edge of the facing pieces to keep that inside edge from fraying.

Step 22: Your bag is finished! Turn it back right side out to admire your work!

Send a Mother’s Day care package

What a wonderful way to send love when you can’t visit in person! Plus, who doesn’t love surprise presents in the mail? We think that, in lieu of a visit, sending gifts for Mother’s Day can be the next best thing! orange and yellow tableorange tablescape

Mother's Day table ideaDIY Baggu bag templatehow to sew a baggu toteWe’d love to see your Mother’s Day party-for-ones or care packages. Tag us with #LarsLovesMamas so we can see them! 

Discount for Lars readers

Lars readers can get 15% off with code LARSTABLE15 for all Table Linens and Tea Towels.

This post is sponsored by Spoonflower, who we love for their many home decor and fabric options. We love working with sponsors who allow us to create awesome new content for you!

Going Green: Using green in decor

Green Style

Find your shade! Are you a chartreuse kind of gal, or a deep emerald? Minty fresh or bright as a lime? This post is filled with every shade of green you can imagine, and we know you can find the shade that matches your personality best!

 

Maybe you don’t normally go all out on St. Patrick’s Day the way we like to here at Lars (we’ll take any and all reasons to celebrate!) Even so, we are handing you the perfect excuse to splurge a little and treat yourself! Is your closet already 50 shades of green? If it isn’t, you’ll be surprised how much adding in this fun color puts a spring in your step! Freshen your closet with these mint woven sandals. Grow your confidence with this forest green blouse. Embrace Grace Kelly vibes with this kelly green sweater. Step into the lime-light with this beaded clutch. This puff-sleeve sweater will have you sea-foaming at the mouth?? Too far? Oops!

 

Green in Decor

Let us give you some sage advice, this dining set is the perfect soft pop of color without taking over your kitchen. We promise, your old room decor will be green with envy. (Ok ok! We are done with the puns this time!)

 

Room Inspo

How to recreate some of our favorite rooms, using green as your inspiration color.

Room #1

 

Image Source

Room #2

 

Image Source

Room #3

 

Image Source

Room #4

 

Image Source

Room #5

 

Image Source

You can find all the mood board photos on our Pinterest, here!