Thank God I have sewing skills

Before I became Mrs. Gonzalez, my husband used to have my mother-in-law do all his garment repairs and mending. Mind you, my mother-in-law is an accomplished “mananahi“, having put together my (ex) sister-in-law’s  bridal wear back in the day when.. but that’s not what I’m writing about.

Despite her skills with the sewing machine and with plain needle and thread, her eyes had been gravely affected by her age.  I remember chastising the hubby once when he asked me to replace a loose button in one of his suits the first year of our marriage because the thread used on the right button was a totally different shade not at all coordinated with the thread used on the original buttons.   So it stuck out like a sore thumb, and dashing as my husband may be wearing his suits to work everyday, that was a fashion faux pas his fashion-conscious diva-like boss probably raised his eyebrows on.  (Yes, it was a “diva” HE.)  Needless to say, I searched for the appropriate thread and changed it accordingly.

I have two projects on my plate thanks to his daily dress code — and one was a little challenging given the fact that I had to replace a gold button for one of his blue blazers, and it was a choice between finding the right button or replacing all.  It was a two-button suit but there were four smaller buttons on each sleeve which would’ve been such a chore.  And one of his favorite Egyptian cotton shirts which I had earlier patched a hole through via satin stitch now had three of the white plastic buttons breaking due to abuse from the press at the cleaners.   The fact that he had me remedy that tiny hole on the arm, driving me to Michael’s to find the correct shade of DMC thread to work with should tell you how much he loves this shirt.  The white buttons, even if there will be three of them, are not a problem at all.. it’s just a matter of sitting down to do it.

The bigger challenge was actually finding the gold buttons with a crest for the blue blazer.  Since I work on the fashion district row (although I am with a financial services company), it was a matter of finding the time to browse and hunt down that button.  I had no “spare” button to carry around (hubby lost it), so I took a picture of the button with the blackberry.  I made sure to take a picture of the button next to a finger so that I could gauge the size.

My first stop, of course, was M&J Trimming which is just a buttons, beads and notions paradise.  I stare upon the wall-high shelves of buttons and trims and ribbons and all sorts of other beautiful stuff crafters like myself go gaga-for.  I like M&J because of the high-quality and very organized way they display their wares.  The staff is also very helpful in trying to help you find the supplies you need.  Alas, no luck with my gold crest button.

My next stop was Joyce Trimming (which has it’s online store at eJoyce) and although it was a much smaller store — lo and behold, I found my button!  (Happiness!)  Of course what was even more exciting was the discovery of what would be a smaller (and less overwhelming) selection which was of such a kind and variety that it made me drool.  (Tissue please!)

By the doorway they had a clearance stash of bags of buttons and trims.  The trims went for $2.99 and the buttons, $3.99.  I had actually started going through the different bags trying to make a selection and then I took a step back and reminded myself I had enough projects on my plate.  At least now I know where to go for buttons and trims besides my favorite on 6th Avenue, M&J.

Would you believe I still buy my “banig” of needles every time I go home?  Is it the variety, the foil or the fact that they’re just so cheap in Manila?  Of course I have as good if not a better selection at the dollar store where I’ve found tapestry needles which I can use for thicker threads like yarn.  Perhaps it’s good, too, not to buy too many of them which eventually turn rusty due to non-use. =(

So I have my stewing stash ready.. my thread’s on standby.  Someone’s going to be happy to know…

Experimenting my way through

The evenings have been busy creating, and it gets a tad bit frustrating when you sit for over an hour trying new designs or methods of assembling the raw beads and findings and still end up with nothing. But that’s how I learn. It tells me what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve been wearing this pretty raw quartz necklace which has been fetching compliments right and left. The thing is it’s “experimental” as I tell everyone, principally because I need to work on creating a “lighter” chain or cord necklace as the quartz focals are really weighty. But I love, love, love it — and so do at least 2 of my other girlfriends who have each asked me to make them one. (I might end up giving away each necklace I create instead of putting one in the shop!) I was in line getting my quesadillas at a food cart on the corner of 43rd and Avenue of the Americas when the lady who ordered after me told me casually that I had a pretty necklace. I’ve had this silly idea to carry smaller than business card size calling cards with my shop’s name and special code.

These beads called out to me one time I was at one of my favorite wholesalers here in Manhattan — and although I had gone there to fetch some pearls for a piece that I had to create to give to a friend as a gift, I came back to get two strands when I returned. These babies in the picture will be mine to keep — but I have enough stones to make at least 2 if not 3 necklaces with it.  But that’s a project for the Fourth of July weekend, perhaps.  I am not too happy with how I am looping the wire that holds these little rocks together — I need to practice.

Getting there, and just a crafter’s alert to those who love browsing M&J Trimming here on 6th Avenue and having a crazy time trying to decide which item to get (or not to get), they have an M&J Challenge 2 Giveaway at their blog  which requires nothing but for you to visit their M&J Challenge 2 page and leave a comment.  DRAWING IS FRIDAY!!! (July 1) .

Thinking about garlands and winter in the summer

I was cleaning up some “working folders” in my hard drive when I came across a bunch of pictures which, if I recall, I had edited precisely to put on this blog, but which for some reason, never got published.  (I could be wrong..)  So as I do when I want to post a picture or pictures here, I uploaded to my flickr account and picked it up from there.  Gorgeous, don’t you agree?

This was sometime in the winter late 2010, when the skies take on a different hue depending on whether snow was coming.  I don’t know if it is just me or if the skies indeed become luminous when they are heavy with snow.  And this is that part of the year when the days are shorter.  Sunset before 5pm, and complete darkness by then.

It’s almost July and I’m already thinking about Christmas.  Yes, December.  I’m thinking about holiday cards, gift tags, and maybe gifts.. handmade.. or at least partially.  Now is the best time to work with my paper baskets and woven paper frames.  I’d love to get into papermaking but I am in no position to purchase more materials to experiment with, so any projects requiring “capital investment” in any shape or form, no matter how small, will just have to wait.  Besides, there are enough new projects to get started with.

Last night I sat down way past midnight (again) and started to create these fabulous garland earrings which I ultimately finished this morning — something I’ve been meaning to do but which technique I was having a tough time with.  The bunch of beads would look too bulky, seemingly out of synch, and the long and short of it was I just wasn’t happy with the way it came out.  This time around, though, I think I nailed it.  One single strand of chain forms the base, but the depth of the beads attached to every other chain link was what made the difference.

I’m going to create a couple more pairs in different shades/combinations using the same technique so watch out for additional new pieces.  Coming soon!

And the week has begun..

Mondays are usually good days for me, even if it means going back to the grind.  I’ve been here at  my desk taking care of business so to speak, although I’ve been itching to write for quite a while now.

I’m happy to report that I finally finished A Game of Thrones which is  George R.R. Martin’s first book in his popular series A Song of Ice and Fire.  Today, I move on to the next  book, A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) and I’m excited to continue the story from where it left off.  Even if there’s no way that I can make it in time for the release of his fifth book in mid-July, I’m reading voraciously to hopefully “catch up” with next year’s Season II on HBO.  (Book signing alert: George R.R. Martin is scheduled to have an author event on July 24, at 7pm at Barnes & Noble in Union Square.)

I am totally hooked!  I’m just happy that I’ve gotten to reading seriously again and adding to my bookshelf.

At the same time, I’ve managed to create a few pieces last night but which somehow got left behind in my rush to leave home today.  (So I guess I’ll be posting them tomorrow.)  I’m hooked on teeny-tiny freshwater pearls that I had acquired from a huge pearl sale here last year and from stocks sent to me by my sister-in-law from Manila.  I sat at my work bench until I realized it was past midnight and sadly, I had to put my pliers down to get some much needed sleep.  * sigh *

I was so happy to find some left over half-drilled freshwater pearls which I glued onto some gold findings I had purchased some months back but the piece actually has a loop for a dangle that I am still trying to make up my mind about.  (I can go the way of more pearls or just a single gemstone brio, perhaps.)  I’m still creating more stack stick dangles — this time using labradorite mini teardrop beads.  I know I have apatite beads with the same cut which I can make into a similar pair but I was hoping to post the labradorites first. =(

Between catching up with some chores yesterday while Alan and the tyke attended a birthday party in Long Island, I had a restful Sunday.  The late night date with my tools, though, has my body screaming for some sleep.  Later — in the bus on the way home.  There will  be time enough to indulge in that.

I think I’m getting on quite fabulously with trying to convert my “dormant” stocks into actual pieces.  Once I make up my mind about design, then it’s easy executing the piece and converting it from a plan to an actual accessory.  I am being drawn towards other possibilities but I am trying to stay focused.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to do anything for my Art Journal Every Day project, and it’ll be July already next week!  =(  Maybe I’ll be luckier in July.  We’ll see…

Muggy Friday in New York

The Empire State Building and the equally imposing Chrysler Building are both hiding beneath a thick cover of fog this muggy Friday in New York.  Describing the weather is a little tricky because we don’t have “mist” back in Manila.  But it is just that: a mist or a spray.  Not quite the type you’d pull an umbrella out for, but for the likes  me who starts sneezing at a drizzle, it can be quite a dilemma.  So I think I will stay indoors for lunch and go down to the cafeteria.

My weekend hasn’t officially begun and here I am whining I wish it could be longer.  Most mornings I wake up wishing I could linger in bed, then I come to grips with the reality that the boy has school and I have to get the whole gang going.  These days the coffeemaker has been given a rest thanks to an espresso machine that Alan received as a gift.  I actually enjoy it more than regular brewed coffee.  Makes me wish my mom, a coffee lover like Alan, was here so she could enjoy it, too.

I am getting more active in terms of posting in the shop again and hope to put in more items over the weekend.  Sales that have come in in the last couple of days have been encouraging and have stirred my creative juices to flow again.   Even creating packaging for the mail has me challenged, but I welcome them all!

Sadly, there are just not enough hours in a day and I usually succumb to fatigue before I can even get half of what I wanted to do done.   Thinking about it now, I can’t help but wonder if my sense of frustration flows from the fact that I am putting too much on my plate.  List too long?  I think I have to simplify it to one doable task that will make me feel like I did accomplish something.

Oops, minutes ticking by and my super express bus will be leaving it’s corner post soon.  Have to go and head home!  Later…

I hate goodbyes

We had a send-off for a retiring officer who just happens to be my boss.  (No cause for panic — I already have a new boss..)  I had served under this retiring principal for but a year and a half, but I can truly say she was one of the people I learned from the most.  Perhaps it helped that she has been with the company for as long as I’ve been alive — 45 years!  Through it all, she managed to rise from being a clerk out of high school who rose through the ranks, acquired an education, leaving the company as an Executive Vice President, occupying one of the highest positions in a company 40,000+ strong worldwide.

She likened her retirement to a wake and I can’t help but agree.  Everyone says nice things — things that should’ve and could’ve been said a long time ago.  Not that she’s griping, and neither am I.  I guess it’s part of the difficulty with dealing with goodbyes.

I made the gift tags for the candy bags we prepared for her and everyone raved.  They are scalloped tags which I printed on two sides.  I wrote half of her practically 500 strong department and solicited entries for a scrapbook.  It was a labor of love.  (And I am not exaggerating.)

I was going to provide my template for the scallopped tag then I realized that I cannot upload a PDF of the template as that would make it hard to actually type or write your own text or embed your own graphic.  Doing a word document would be difficult as well because of the intricacies of inserting text or an object which needs manipulating to allow the added item to overlap with the template.  So I said — forget it.

So much for generosity and wanting to share.

I really feel all tired and worn and just exhausted.  It’s as if all the effort I poured into the scrapbook and the business of preparing for this party suddenly caught up with me.  Not that I was alone — I wasn’t even the primary mover.  We have a lady who is the party expert in our department and who happens to be the closest friend of my boss in the company, so the logistics were a breeze.  I think it’s more of the emotional drain of realizing we’re nearing goodbye.

I have been very lucky as far as the people I have worked for are concerned.  Not only have I had the opportunity to advance financially, but more importantly, they were people of substance who contributed to broadening my horizons and my way of thinking.  I have been fortunate enough to have been entrusted with their confidence — something that I know they didn’t need to do but which they did freely.

I don’t have the energy to write more about the emotional component of work — the fatigue will take me over.  I’ve been exploring Etsy and looking at new ideas and getting ready to focus again on populating the store.  That ought to help preoccupy me and help me focus my efforts elsewhere.  I got an invitation to join another craft fair but I think next weekend is a tad bit too soon.  Perhaps sometime in July.

I have more cards to write and am actually thinking of creating cards over the weekend.  And there is my long overdue post in my Art Journal Every Day project. =(  My watercolor pencils go with me everywhere I go so I just might make an effort to sketch something today.  Need to think happy thoughts. =)

Free form crochet project: Flowers (Work in progress)

I learned to crochet when I was in Grade V (or fifth grade as they would say here in the US), thanks to the private school I went to which made it a point to introduce me to various crafts as part of my Work Education class.  I didn’t do too well with the sewing machine, but I did pretty good in other needle craft.

I have always been drawn to yarn, and while I have made a vow not to acquire any new spools, seeing a ball of yarn going for dirt cheap in the discount store is just irresistible, more so when it’s in my favorite color.  (What else?  Pink.)  I was tempted to pick up a ball of each of the 5 colors available, but I didn’t want them ending in my yarn bin (or yarn “coffin” considering they usually end up untouched and unused).  So I stuck with the pink and I thought I’d grab a beige ball, too.

While I can read both written and diagram crochet patterns, I wanted to experiment with doing my own rosette or flower, hoping to create pieces for a bib necklace and/or a brooch.  It has been a struggle trying to find the right crochet pattern so I thought I’d give it a go just winging it.

I actually came up with three different versions, but I am happiest with the one shown above which solved my dilemma about having multi-row petals to give the flower volume and make it “pop out” so to speak.  Voila!

So over the weekend, I will be decorating them with pearls, beads and maybe even  buttons.  Watch out for the pictures of the finished products which I hope to post in my GothamChick shop on Etsy.  It looks like the brooches will make it to the shop sooner than the bib necklace because the pieces I’ve managed to create right now are a tad too big and bulky to use as a bouquet to adorn your neck.  Pricing will also make it very affordable because the yarn and the effort put into it have been modest.   These would be perfect to use on your coats or jackets, or even a hat.

I am still moving at a snail’s pace as far as the shop(s) is/are concerned, but I managed to post a new bracelet using a variety of czech pressed glass and czech fire polish beads in coffee-tones. (Hence, the name “Coffee medley”.) I used a new technique to “string” the beads on antique brass headpins, creating my own chain in the process which is a little trickier, but it surely saves me the cost of the chain and the hassle of worrying about beads falling through the open links.  Check it out at the shop before someone grabs it!

Just as I am about ready to call it a day…

..I get the urge to log on and attempt a ten-minute post.

My time to blog these days seems to  be continually with a time limit.  Makes me think that I’m trying too hard — or on the other hand, I’m just being vigilant.  So many “bloggable” thoughts cross my mind in the midst of washing the dishes, preparing tomorrow’s coffee brew, or even as I walk the last few steps to my doorstep.  I find something blog-worthy as the tyke puts his arms around me.

So I am about ready to turn in and here I am.  I can hear the boy snoring ever so lightly beneath the hum of the airconditioner.  It’s one hot night in New York.  Makes me think whatever antics my mother-in-law has been up to must have been partly brought on by the heat.

I finished an order for a bunch of tags I had posted on Paperkrafts for a set of round paper tags I could’ve sworn I had in stock but which I couldn’t find.  Solution: Just make a new batch.  It’s like a reminder for me to get the shop going, too.  I’ve actually been busy working on putting some pretty ballerinas from Degas’ masterpiece on upcycled manila folders.  I am also going to have to take advantage of the dry humidity to work on some paper projects like my paper baskets and picture frames.  Plans on the drawing board.

Time for me to turn in.  Goodnight, New York.