Travel plans, first successful(ish) zip pouch, and thrifting finds

It’s been such a crazy couple of days, I don’t know where to begin. All I can think of is: WE’RE GOING TO HONG KONG!!! We’d been talking about the possibility of an April trip there for a few months, but yesterday our friend Caroline (with whom we’ll be traveling) called us mid-morning with news of a massive Cathay Pacific sale… so, with hardly a moment for second thoughts, we booked the tickets. I’m so excited. I have never been out of the country for more than a few days at a time, and even then only to Canada (as a kid) or Mexico or the Caribbean (on one-day excursions while on cruises). And now we’ll be flying to Hong Kong and staying for a week! I can’t wait. I plan to do lots of antique, vintage, fabric, and craft shopping while we’re there. And of course, it goes without saying that I also plan to eat as much as I can hold! If anyone has any Hong Kong insider tips, I’d love to hear them!

I lost a lot of time yesterday to Hong Kong-related flipping out, but I did manage to make some serious progress on redoing my whole bookkeeping system (this was both boring and fun, go figure, I’ve always been an organization nut). My new system is going to be ridiculously detailed, which may be a pain to maintain. But I hope it will also give me more peace of mind, and make it easier to figure out both my general expenses and my costs for each project (which is always tricky when I’m making one-of-a-kind products using secondhand materials!).

I also made my first non-fail zip pouch last night. koi pouchDon’t you wish there were an “undo” button for real life? That’s how it was with this pouch. I made it following this tutorial (which, while very helpful, could still use more photos IMO), and while it came out perfectly serviceable, after I finished the last stitch I looked it over and realized there were so many things I wanted to change about it. It’s my fault, really, for sewing the pouch late at night while Caroline, Erik and I were squee-ing over our Hong Kong plans. But I’m still irked. Well, lesson learned for next time!

koi pouch lining Before I go into all the problems, though, I have to say that just design-wise, I really love this pouch. The koi appliqué, the deep purple zipper, the natural linen, and the printed rose-colored linen lining all come together so well. When Erik saw the pouch, he commented that it would make a great purse if I attached a strap, and he’s so right. I wish I’d thought of that before I got started, but I had no idea this was even going to work!

The koi appliqué was a new thing for me. I ironed interfacing onto the koi fabric to give it some more structure and keep the fabric from fraying, then cut out the koi and painstakingly machine-stitched it into place. I think it worked okay, but it wasn’t until after I finished the entire pouch that I realized I’d forgotten to remove the plastic from the other side of the interfacing — so now the koi makes a crinkly sound when you touch it. Argh.

The other big problem is I didn’t press the seams — I knew this was a bad idea, but I was so sleepy I just didn’t feel like it, which is silly because the iron and board were already out — and so the bag is kind of lumpy. If I’d used lightweight cottons I might have been able to get away with not pressing, but with linen, it was just a foolish decision, and I really regret it. Because of the lumpiness and the crinkly appliqué, I don’t feel I can sell this pouch, but I do still like it and will be glad to keep it (or possibly give it to my sister). And now I feel confident enough to make another pouch soon, and maybe even several more for Craft Happy — we’ll see!

So that was yesterday. Today, I met up with Jinny for thrifting in Fremont. We immersed ourselves in two huge stores, Hope Station and Thrift Town. Most exciting thing about these places? regal kameezFremont has a large South Asian population and it’s reflected in the goods at the thrift stores: SO. MANY. SARIS. Unfortunately, the area demographics also mean the saris weren’t dirt cheap, but they were mostly very beautiful and in excellent condition. And when I say “saris” what I really mean is saris of all styles, as well as salwar kameez. goddess kameezI could have cheerfully bought them all and come home to luxuriate in beaded silk heaven. As it was, I did indulge myself in two kameez from Hope Station. The ornate golden yellow beauty makes me feel like the queen of the universe, while the regal embroidered purple is divinely flattering. The kameez are slit quite high up the thigh — if I twirl around in them I produce an interesting peep-show effect! — but I’ll deal with that somehow, either with leggings (which I kind of hate) or by stitching up the sides to a modest length. I don’t think I need to do much with them otherwise, though, to wear them out for festive occasions. Do you think it’s culturally insensitive to wear these as dresses? I hope not. I was trying to imagine a non-East Asian girl in a cheongsam and decided it wouldn’t be offensive as long as she didn’t try for an exotic dragon-lady look, so I hope no one will mind if I wear these the way I’d wear any dresses, with my usual accessories and styling.

kameez and saris Gorgeous South Asian textiles aside, I also picked up some craft-related goodies in Fremont: two wool sweaters for felting, a clear plastic storage box, a fabulously beautiful handmade-Nepalese-paper scrapbook/album, and a small selection of potential display props for Craft Happy. I don’t know whether I will use any of these items at the show, because I’m still not sure what my inventory will be, and the props don’t all go together (at least, not in any way I can currently envision). display propsBut housewares at Hope Station were 25% off, so I thought I’d get them anyway. There are four lovely tile picture frames (to use for signage), a little metal paper/book stand, and a cool vintage buttercup-colored metal breadbox in very good condition. I’ve always wanted one of these breadboxes and I’ve only ever seen cruddy-looking ones for sale, so I’m pleased to have gotten this one for only $3.75!

I don’t know, do you think the breadbox goes with the frames? I know it’s not a good photo (by the time I got home the light was already going). I feel like the breadbox is more of a vintagey, shabby-chic look, while the frames have more of a folk crafts, world-market feel. The items currently in my shop give off a different vibe still. I have trouble with pinning down a “style” for what I make because I feel that the unifying look for all of them is simply my own taste, which is, of course, not something I can easily explain, since it’s very intuitive. Well, I hope it will all come together as I get more things made for the show!

I was about to sign off with “happy Friday,” but it’s not yet. Oy! What a week! Happy Thursday!