Friday, December 4, 2015

My Sewing Journey

I have a friend who recently asked me to help her make her children a couple of presents. She wants to sew them and just needs someone to help her along. I am honoured to help and last night we got together for the first session. "How long have you been sewing?", she asked. I had to really think about it, because it was kind of gradual, but there was definately a time where I became interested to really learn and not just fake it anymore. It isn't my mom's fault that I didn't sew until so much later. She tried to teach me, but I didn't want to learn. I would rather just know then put in the effort to learn. Isn't there something you'd love to just know and not have to learn? Piano? Guitar? Art? It was sewing for me. I first dabbled when I was about 17 or 18. I'd use a cut off leg from blue jeans to make a purse or hack together a bag from some random bit of fabric. It wasn't until I discovered online tutorials (the same year we bought our first Mac) that I decided I wanted to know bad enough to learn. I borrowed my MIL's machine (I called her Helga) so that I could learn. I didn't want to invest in a machine if I hated sewing, so I strong armed Helga onto our tiny apartment table and worked through my first tutorial. Thank you Melissa, you have no idea what your tutorial sparked in me! I asked my pastor's wife to walk me through my first pattern and the rest is history.  Rather than bore you all with the details, we'll do an overview through pictures of my progression. This is about 9 years of sewing....

This is the early years. Not the very beginning. I wish I had pictures of my first projects - they were so bad! Hahaha. These are from the first year. As you can see it started with my love of bags and that love has not diminished.

These are from a couple of years into sewing. I loved tutorials and patterns by this point and was happy as a clam to sew bags, bags and more bags!

I even started to feel confident enough to alter patterns or design my own bags.

Zipper pouches and wallets are still a favourite go-to gift for me.

Dolls. My first doll (top middle) has been my most loved doll and I am so honoured that she was the favoured cuddle toy for my friend's daughter. My boys' super dolls were a huge hit and are still played with regularily. 

Baby presents for my babies and friend's babies. How I love to give handmade treasures.

I've tried my hand at some children's clothing and with my mom's help sewed cloth diapers that I loved!

Did I mention bags? Yup, I have sewn a LOT of bags.

Notebook covers in large and small sizes. Gifts and sold in fundraisers. 

I've had the privilege and honour of teaching some beginning sewists.

I've been stretched and challenged by commissioned orders. Things I had never made before and were trusted to do and afterward so proud of finishing.

I've challenged myself with projects that I wanted the finished product of and again, through the challenge and perseverance of it I was very proud of the results.

I've started and finished (most) several mass producing kind of projects. (I still have a partial picnic blanket in my WIP bin)

I love the creative process of sewing things from a flat piece of material into a work of function and/or art. Thanks for walking this journey with me. I plan on continuing on for many years to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Live at the Space Album Review

I've had the privilege of reviewing Karla Adolphe's latest album Live at the Space. Karla has a style that lingers with you and is steady and true. Her bluesy spiritual grooves keep me going back for more. The album was recorded live in Red Deer's The Space and I'm sure it was an absolute treat for the listeners there. My favourite track is "No Grounds for Love" with its pure and lovely harmonies. "Ice Road" got a great re-mix and is a treat to hear. This five track EP shares a solid message and is  musically flawless. Karla's HEart continues to shine through her music. Her album is available for purchase here

Would you like to win a digital copy? Share this review on any social media site and comment here to let me know where you shared. I'll choose a winner on Monday, November 23rd.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Happy Mail!!!

I just got a package that was a great surprise. Months before my art gathering, I wrote to Shanna from Illustrated Faith and asked if she might have a little printable that she would like to send for the ladies at my event. I thought even a little "hello" would be nice. Well, today I received a large package with the "Bloom" devotional by Stephanie Ackerman (Documented Faith founder) and stickers and pocket scripture cards!

Thank you so much, Shanna!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Art Gathering (supplies update added)

Well, this past Tuesday I hosted an art gathering for locals (Winnipeg and surrounding areas) involved in Documented Faith and Illustrated Faith. I love a good party and I think it turned out fairly well. There are always things I would go back and change or adjust, but that's my event management training and since I haven't decided to go into the event industry, I can take it a bit easy on myself, right? I will spare you all the thought processes and ideas that I sifted through and show you where I landed.

My first event weakness if food. I quickly solved this by asking people to bring snacks and thank you ladies, they were great. I made our traditional Christmas cider drink. I figured since it was cooler outside, it would be a nice cozy thing to sip. My next party weakness: pictures. Ugh! I really need to delegate picture taking to other people. I'm usually too involved in the event to think about pictures, and then when I do, I'm in such a fluster or hurry that they're not great. Sorry. This would be so much better to share with good pictures.

Probably my favourite thing about hosting events is making my guests feel a little spoiled. I could easily spend a fortune on giving gifts, but I try my best to have parties on a small budget so as to not stress out my dear David who works so hard to provide for our family. This means I get to exercise my creative gifts. If you're ever curious just how creative you can be, limit your resources. It's fun and surprising to see what comes out! In the end I made fabric cuff bracelets with "made to create" stamped on them.

Each bracelet was slightly different and imperfect.
I printed out free embellishments and quotes etc. from various blogs I found through Pinterest. I made little bags filled with fun post-it flags, shaped paper clips, hand painted star cutouts and other embellishments that could be used in everyone's Bibles and/or journals. Candy, of course. One of my guests brought bookmarks that she carefully stamped for us and another guest sent Illustrated Faith goodies to share. All to be put into cute decorated bags. I also made lanyard style name tags.

The evening itself included sharing our journaling stories. I asked everyone to share what kind of journaling they do (Documented Faith and/or Bible journaling), how they heard about it or began, what it means to them and anything else they'd like to share. This is a great ice breaker for those of us who hate icebreakers. It gave us each a chance to talk about something we all had in common.

We shared a group art project experiment and laughed our way through our insecurities. We started with a blank canvas and had about ten minutes to apply our base, then we rotated the canvases and added to each one as we continued passing them around ten minutes at a time. I'm not sure it was completely a success, but it was a fun experiment and a great opportunity to create and visit. Then we pulled out our Bibles and journals creating and sharing our favourite pages. 

These ladies are all lovely and I hope to get to create with them again. (boo! blurry! )

In the event invitation, I asked each person to bring a favourite art supply (under $10) to swap with another person. We drew names to see who got whose supplies. I shared a bottle of Martha Stewart acrylic paint and a Staedtler pigment liner in my favourite size.  I received a whole package of favourites including number paper clips, washi tape, alpha stickers, clips to hold the pages during the creative process and ribbon - spoiled, I know! Other items shared were watercolour pencils, washi tape and Illustrated Faith pens (I was slightly jealous over that one). 

Don't these all look so great?!

Sadly, four ladies were unable to make it and two others had other plans, but it sounded like everyone would be interested in another gathering. Who wants to host, let's say in January?

Hello, friends from Documented Faith. Thanks for stopping by. A question that I've been asked is how did I handle supplies. In the event invitation (I created a Facebook event - easy access to everyone) I asked everyone to bring their own favourite on-the-go supplies to use. I also put out my few paints, brushes, paper, ephemera and glue. I only put out items that I wasn't worried about being over or misused. Keep your best pens and markers to yourself if you want them to be in good condition by the end of the evening. Whatever supplies you do share, share with open hands and heart. If anyone has any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer either here or on Facebook. Again, thanks for stopping by.

P.S.  If you're curious about faith journaling, you can learn about Documented Faith here and Illustrated Faith here. You can also read about my DF story here and my IF story here and here. I post pictures of each week in my DF journal and all my Bible journaling pages on Instagram (user name: mrsgingras)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Checking In - It's OCTOBER?!

Wow! Did September fly for you, too? It was an amazing September for us and I can't even express how grateful I am for it. Let's get to it!

  • Why was it such an amazing September? Answer: Abby. There has been such a remarkable difference in how she is handling change and this fall we've had a couple of minor incidents and no major meltdowns! This is the first peaceful back-to-school season we've experienced. Abby has had her fair share of behavior issues and the fact that we can finally reason with her and help to adjust to new situations without lengthly meltdowns is huge. I miss her now that she's in school for five days a week and I'm so glad to be able to say that. If you've had a child with behavioral issues, than you know that it isn't always easy to be around that child. Now, I look forward to her coming home each day and I don't have to brace myself for potential conflicts.

  • With such a change in Abby has brought a change in our family. We haven't merely survived September, but have taken the time to enjoy it.

  • My parents have had a lot to celebrate. Daddy has been through a huge battle and has a way to go, but he's alive and they celebrated the one year anniversary of his medical event (I don't know how to refer to the day he almost died and ended up in a wheelchair). Thank you all for your prayers, love and even financial support. We are all so blessed! 

  • We took our annual trip to a local farm's pumpkin cart. They decorate the yard with lots of picture worthy spots and it's a highlight of our fall each year. 

    cash wallet for budgeting
  • I'm still open to custom sewing orders and finished up a few in the last little while. I am still so flattered that y'all want to hire me and I love being able to personalize items to fit your needs. I am much more careful with your projects than my own, in case you saw my recent blunder on Instagram. 
Essential Oils Cases

  • We are in the midst of a federal election here in Canada. David and I took advantage of the advance polling station this year. We were both eager to vote and it was nice to walk in with no wait time at 7:00 in the evening. It seems to be a very pivotal and important election and I'm praying that the best people for our country will be in leadership.

  • We celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend. Friday we had a traditional turkey dinner at "Auntie" Trudy's. We started a new #gingrastradition for Thanksgiving with a BBQ steak dinner. We enjoyed the warm weather by taking a nice walk at the park on Sunday and we stayed warm and cozy on the cold Monday at home. 

"every woman should have flowers for Thanksgiving" - my David
  • I'm hosting an art gathering for locals involved in Documented Faith and Illustrated Faith next week. This introvert is rather proud of myself for this and a bit nervous, too. It's going to be great and I've come a long way from planning a party that no one shows up for. I love a good party full of swag and good company, so I know it'll be great. Stay tuned for a blog post about that after the party.
"I'm so glad I live and world where there are Octobers" - Anne Shirley

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Art Update: Part Two

I shared about our family art time from the summer, but that is not all the art I did. Surprisingly (to me anyway) I didn't do more. The art time that I had, I cherished but I chose to spend more time on family focused time than my art. That's a decent accomplishment for me and I'm proud of it.

I spent some evenings painting and some afternoons lettering. I joined a few new groups on Instagram so that I'd have prompts to practice my lettering. I don't think I'll do it daily, but I do enjoy having some new things to try. The flowers are painted and cut out to use in my Bible, journal and letter writing. The bookmark on the right was by request from a friend. 

The one art that I was most faithful to was my Documented Faith journal. This little book has been a delight to fill. I update weekly on Instagram. (user name: mrsgingras)

I did a fair amount of Bible journaling, too. I love how I'm able "to hide His Word in my heart" through art. By the end of the summer I picked up a new Bible study guide. I find that having something structured to follow helps me with consistency. 

I tried my hand at mixed media and had a lot of fun, but need more practice. I mostly like the results.

I did a little sewing. I have a few custom orders on my plate right now, so it's back to the grind of it tonight. My new table is a dream to sew on - solid and no bounce! Happy sewist right here.

Does playing with her hair count as art? I am counting it as art and focused family time. Win win!

And finally, I shared this on Facebook and Instagram, but I wanted to share here, too. I went on an artistic field trip. This is Nettie and she is one of several volunteer sewists who make quilts for charities worldwide. Nettie and her friends work from the MCC thrift store. They sew and make 1000 quilts per year. They are resourceful, using every piece of useable fabric that's donated. Some quilts are "batted" with light blankets or heavy sheets and then are are hand tied (I helped tie 3 this morning). They use the self binding technique and are finished with a sewing machine. Cutting and quilt top sewing are done in homes and the stacking, tying and finishing is done upstairs in the store. I had such a great morning! Thanks ladies.

This summer was by far my most favourite in years. I am so thankful for the two months of family adventures, simply perfect days and yes, some challenges. It was a great time. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

An Art Update: Part One

Part of the summer fun for me was having lots of art practice time. I was our family "art director" for the summer and I look back with fondness at these times. Although...

family art is something that I have to work hard at. In the end, I'm usually glad that I put in the effort. I am not a fan of messes that I don't make myself and so I have to focus on the fact that it's a family creative initiative and it WILL be messy. If I prepare myself ahead of a time for that reality then it helps me not to mind too much. This summer we did more family art projects than ever.

Sun painting was the first art project we tried. I saved this for our camping trip so that we'd have something fun to look forward to (I'm not a great camper and this helped me to have something to look forward to). The idea is that you paint the fabric with diluted paint, then place leaves etc on it, lay it in the sun to dry. We followed this tutorial here. We didn't have much direct sunlight that day, so only a couple turned out the way we had hoped, but they were all colourful and we had fun doing it.

Tree faces is a family favourite and we've already decided that this will be an annual summer tradition. Tutorial/instructions can be found here. 

Stick painting might have been one of my favourites. (I chose family crafts that I wanted to try and it helped to keep my focus off the mess and onto the creative effort). We had some grumpy-ness during this craft and it was uncomfortably hot, but I loved the results and still have them in a vase in my kitchen.

Paper making was a two day process and the results weren't as satisfying with this method, but I think the children had fun with the process, so I can still feel like it was a success. Tutorial that we used is here.

Bubble painting was another children favourite. The picture above of them blowing the bubbles is before we got the paint to water and soap ratio quite right. The littles were less interested in the art than the bubble blowing, but I got some cute stationary out of the deal. Tutorial/idea from here.

Individual craft time can also reduce the mess. Malachi did a cute printing paint project (similar to this method) at Michael's and the mess stayed at the store - worth the $2! Abby and I had a mini art date one quiet time and we did make a large mess, but with it just being the two of us it was still manageable. Both littles appreciated the focused one-on-one art times.

Some art projects require no mess at all! Shadow play was something we all had fun with this summer.

This wasn't exactly a family craft project, but we all certainly benefit from the result! My favourite art project of the summer, was definitely my table! David, with some help from a student he mentors, built me this gorgeous kitchen table. My David's love for me is all over this table and I'm so thankful!