it’s a chair!

I finally, FINALLY! found a chair to use at my sewing table in CraftyTown.

Garage sale chair

We found this at a garage sale near where we live. It’s a lovely style – those curves are gorgeous – and only needs a little work. The seat is actually fine, but I will recover it with something I like better (and is not stick-to-your-legs plastic). I will also clean it up with some wood soap, though it’s not really too bad. I’ve been using a folding chair for over a year, so I am really excited to have a real chair!

At the same sale, I also picked up this adorbs glasses-case/tiny clutch:
Garage sale clutch/glasses case

It’s in perfect condition!


a leg to stand on

My sewing table has seen better days. It wasn’t expensive in the first place (due to the use of lots of coupons and discounts) and we’ve moved it many more times than is probably reasonable. But one of the casters has had issues since, I think, the first time we moved it – the casing on the caster snapped (cheap plastic) and though we glued it every time it rebroke, it finally gave up the ghost when we moved into our home last year. I had some random pieces of craft board stuffed under there until recently when I finally decided that it was leaning too far to that side and needed a better solution. We haven’t done very many DIY projects involving wood at this house yet, so we don’t have a lot around in the way of scraps. K found one lone piece down in the Harley Room and used that to construct a foot of sorts.

Caster fix

It also has felt on the bottom so we don’t scratch the wood floors, and a few scraps of a paint stirrer to bring it up to the correct height. It’s not pretty, but it works! My table is now level again and I’m not in fear of things sliding or rolling off the edge.

Eventually, of course, I’d like to find a solution with storage so I don’t have all these bins of yarn shoved under and around the table. I trip on them on an almost daily basis! Ridiculous! Ideally, I’d find a vintage piece that was big enough for my needs (I’d like to keep my cutting mat from this table, which means the surface needs to be about 60″ x 36″) but that seems like a pipe dream. Plus we don’t have any way to transport such a piece of furniture home from a yard or estate sale or wherever I might ostensibly find it, and we would need it to fit up the stairs, which might be a challenge with a heavy old piece. I found this dresser on the IKEA website – if I put two of them back to back (and secured them together), it would work! But sadly the website lists it as not in stock at any of the stores in our vicinity (Michigan and Illinois) – I’ve been checking back periodically over the last few months, but so far no luck. We’ll see what we find – in the meantime, though, I’m delighted to have a sturdy table with a level surface again! Big thanks go to K for putting it together for me.


Aziz, light!

I’ve been trying to enhance my AnneArchy setup lately, investing in some new pieces, one of which is a new light kit!

Craftytown with new light kit set up

It’s a HUGE difference from the tiny lights I have been using! These cast a LOT of light, which is working really well. I’m still experimenting with them, figuring out various placements for difference effects, but I am really pleased so far. This light kit seems pretty decent so far. It’s not terrific quality – both umbrellas came with some threads hanging and some other imperfections, but they’re functional, so I’m not going to worry about it.

The overhead lighting in CraftyTown is pretty lackluster, so I’m researching replacement fixtures that would be more suited to my needs. Anyone have an awesome overhead fixture you love?


getting it together, Blythe clothing edition

I have finally, finally gotten a system of organization going for my Blythe wardrobe.


I started out with the shoes. Prior to now, I was storing these in a smaller plastic organizer box, but I decided to switch them out to this larger one since it wasn’t full with what it was holding before.

Blythe shoes and socks have been gathered and organized! πŸ‘πŸ‘ŸπŸ˜ƒ #blythe #blythedoll

Isn’t that pleasingly tidy? Of course, practically right after I did that, I got some new socks, so I ended up with far more than would fit in that one section of the shoe box.

Blythe wardrobe reorganization

Luckily, Joann happened to be having a big sale (which they almost always are), so I was able to use a combination of sales and coupons to get another organizer box for 80% off!

Blythe socks reorganized

Ahhh, so soothing, having them all just so. I am also finding it much easier to use them when I can actually find what I’m looking for and see what I have.

On to the clothing! I used some more Joann discounts to get two three-drawer units for Blythe clothing.

More Blythe clothes reorganized

Before this, I was storing all of my Blythe wardrobe in one scrapbook paper box. Each item was in a ziploc bag, which kept them well protected, but made it difficult to see what I have.

Blythe wardrobe reorganization

It was also crowded and I’d always have to empty the whole thing to find any one piece. Frustrating!

I was originally thinking I only needed one three-drawer unit, but after filling those three drawers I quickly decided to get a second one. Stacked, they fit right under my photo table, and this way I have things well organized and I can find what I’m looking for very quickly.

Blythe clothing drawers collage

Going clockwise from the upper left above, we have one drawer each for:

  • Middie clothes (I need many more of these! Must start sewing and designing and knitting) (the few petite clothes I have are also in here)
  • accessories including scarves, bags, and kerchiefs
  • costumes (huzzah for Blythe Swap! I love these costumes that people have made me over the years)
  • hats and sweaters (I have kept surprisingly few sweaters for myself, though I’ve knit over two hundred! must remedy this) (most of the hats I have were made by others for me as well – gotta get knitting)
  • separates, including tops, skirts, and pants
  • dresses

  • I am so excited to have things so organized! Have you noticed the joy that organization brings me? It’s not to be underestimated.


    ribbon reorg

    Since we moved in to Firefly Cottage, I haven’t really had a good system for organizing my ribbons. In fact, I haven’t had a good system since we lived downstate, or possibly ever.

    I’ve been storing my ribbon rolls haphazardly thrown/stacked into a shelf, but it’s not working.

    Ribbon reorg

    Everything has been piled on top of other things, making it hard to get to the one thing I want, which is inevitably underneath at least half a dozen other spools. I decided that I wanted to take advantage of some of the vertical space on the sides of my fabric shelves instead. We’ve been using Command Hooks a lot in our new place, since the walls are plaster and we’re still a bit gunshy on drilling holes and knowing the best hardware to use. (Also, when you’re drilling holes in drywall, it’s easy to be cavalier knowing that all it takes to repair a poorly placed hole is some spackle. Plaster is a bit more tricky so I want to be more deliberate in my decision-making.) I came up with the idea of using hooks plus organizer trays/baskets rather than a more traditional dowel spool-holder since it would be (A) less pricey and (B) fit on the relatively narrow shelf-sides. I had to wait a bit until the local dollar store got some baskets in the size range I wanted with holes in the appropriate place on the side (to fit the hooks), but only a little while! They got a lot of new stock in a week or so ago, so I could keep this project to a minimal cost (rather than buying more expensive baskets at Target or such).

    Ribbon reorg

    These refreshingly green baskets came in a 4-pack, meaning that I got 8 for only $2 – what a deal!

    Ribbon reorg

    I now have a lovely line of them on one side of my fabric shelving units.

    Ribbon reorg

    The sight of this type of organization pleases me to no end. It pushes the same button in my brain that being in an office supply store does. SO GOOD.

    Ribbon reorg

    This holds most of the ribbon spools I have, but not the teensy tiny ones. I need to find some very shallow/narrow baskets for those, so I’ll be keeping an eye out at the dollar store for something that will work for those very small spools. How do you store your ribbon?


    Keep it to yourshelf

    One of our kitty-corner across-the-street neighbors is moving, and she had put this shelf unit (with bins!) out next to the trash pile. I snagged it right up knowing it would be perfect for storing some sort of crafty goodness. I recently ended up with too much yarn to fit in the wire units I usually use for yarn storage, so I ended up moving some yarn that had ended up in a big pile of ziplocs on the floor into these bins.

    new shelf in Craftytown

    I rearranged things slightly in Craftytown to accommodate it, but I actually really like the result. The tall fabric stand is slightly farther away from the cutting table, which means that when I stand at the cutting table, it feels more open. I also realize now how terrible this looks with the cable hanging down above the table! I need to have K affix that to the rafters for me again.

    new shelf in Craftytown

    Isn’t this a pretty assortment of stuff? It would look even prettier if I de-ziploc-ed the yarn, but I like to keep fiber safely ensconced in plastic, just in case.

    new shelf in Craftytown


    Sewing again!

    It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to make time to get down to CraftyTown to sew, but last weekend I made several hours each on Saturday and Sunday.

    my sewing machine

    Last year, before holiday knitting started to monopolize my attention, I had cut out a bunch of fabric for Blythe dresses, but hadn’t gotten very much farther than that. I’m still perfecting my technique with the new sewing machine feet I got for my birthday last year, so I’ve found that doing the same step on several dress pieces in a row is working well for me.

    Blythe dresses under construction

    I’m really looking forward to making time to sew at least each week, if not more often, in 2011.

    sewing table

    Playing with fabric pattern and color is so much fun, and it’s so satisfying to see the results when a project comes together.


    11 for 2011: Blythe Wishlist Meme

    BlytheLife recently posted a dolly meme that’s been popular lately, in which one chooses 11 wishlist items for 2011. Fun!

    These are all things that I’ve been thinking about for awhile and probably I’ll continue to do so. I don’t have a sense of urgency about any of them, and I figger things will work out when they do, and that’s good enough. Going from left to right, top to bottom:

    11 for 2011 dolly wishlist

    1. My dream custom mohair reroot Blythe. (This photo is a placeholder since she doesn’t exist yet! I really dig the look of this reroot by Pheisty.)Β  I’ve been collecting pieces – I’ve got the girl (bald Prima Dolly Aubrey Encore), eyechips, and pull ring charms, so I just need to buy the mohair and send her for rerooting and customizing. I’ll get there someday!

    2. Make my girls a classic Doctor Who scarf. (This is NxtDrGrrl‘s cute example.)

    3. More progress on the front garden, so it becomes a more versatile place to take Blythe photos.

    4. Make time to use more of the awesome fabrics I’ve accumulated, to make more Blythe dresses.

    5. Improve my skills at photography, especially refining the lighting and my skills using my lightbox. (This isn’t mine pictured here – but there are a lot of good notes and ideas on this photo!)

    6. Acquire some sort of carry case so that I can take a Blythe with my in my purse and not worry about her getting scratched or super static-y. I’m not sure yet what shape/design I want. (The one pictured here is cute!)

    7. Acquire or create some sort of efficient but accessible dolly clothing storage closet/system. Right now I keep all my Blythe clothes in Ziploc bags in a scrapbook storage box, but I can’t see what I have at a glance the way I’d like to. The challenge will be figuring out a system that keeps things safe, dust-free, and yet doesn’t take up a lot of real estate. (Isn’t Little Sheep Eep’s closet so cute?)

    8. Expand my use of Re-ment and other minis in my Blythe photography. I have a bunch of this stuff and I just hardly ever remember to use it!

    9. Acquire some of Laura Lorraine’s hair clippies for my girls.

    10. More stripey socks!

    11. Keep up with all my awesome Blythe peeps on Flickr, Blythe Kingdom, and Twitter. You are all terrific!


    Going down to CraftyTown

    We have an unfinished basement, but there’s one room that was partially finished when we bought the house: CraftyTown. It has drywall up on the walls and the floor is carpeted, but that’s all that’s been done. The ceiling is unfinished and we put up a light fixture in the one central receptacle, but the room badly needs more light and a real ceiling. For all these photos, please ignore the boxes and junk on the floor that I couldn’t be bothered to clean up.


    The walls were decorated with a HockeyTown motif and splatter paint effect (oh, the 1980s) when we moved in, and though it took five coats of primer, the hockey rink and Wings logos are almost entirely hidden. I haven’t wanted to paint the walls another color, figuring that white will reflect the most light and anything else would make it darker in there. We also tacked up some cheapo white tablecloths over the ceiling beams in hopes that the white fabric would reflect more light. The ceiling in here is also quite low, as the room above it is sunken.

    The next step will be to get the electrician to come install more lighting. In this regard, the fact that the ceiling is unfinished is in our favor, as he’ll hopefully be able to give me light in all the areas I want it, and we won’t need to tear anything out. I’d like it to be bright as all get-out in there so I can really see what I’m doing when I’m sewing and know that I’m seeing the actual colors of fabric, thread, and so on. After the lighting is in we could think about finishing the ceiling.

    I don’t love the carpet in this room, but I can definitely live with it. It’s fairly clean and it’s pretty comfortable to stand on so the padding must be adequate. I wouldn’t want to shell out the dough to replace it until we really need to. I’d like to paint at least some of the walls another color – something light but not white. Once I have enough lighting I’ll see what I think.

    So, for the quick tour, we have the sewing table:


    sewing table

    And the cutting table:

    cutting table

    And the computer area (this PC is reserved for iTunes only – it is several years old and can’t handle much more reliably):

    computer corner

    And my fabric rack:

    fabric rack Fabric rack

    This rack was originally intended as shelves for a bathroom, but I re-purposed it to hold all my Blythe dress fabrics. This way I can see what I have in any given color and easily see patterns and colors that might compliment one another.

    I feel good about having organized most of my raw materials. The drawer bins I mounted on the wall are really great for keeping track of all the little buttons and sequins and stuff, and the thread racks make it so much easier to see what I’ve got. I think I like the arrangement of the room pretty well. As I keep saying lately, “it’s getting there!”

    More pics (and notes to identify things) on Flickr.


    home computing

    skully macbook

    So I was always a PC gal until a few years ago when an IT expert pal of mine got his first MacBook and convinced me that I’d like one myself (he was totally right, I love it). I still have a desktop PC which lives in CraftyTown and houses my big ol’ hard drives for storing photos, music, and other files. I use the MacBook for almost everything, though, with the only exceptions being file storage and for listening to iTunes while I’m working in CraftyTown.

    My PC is aging and it has occurred to me that given the very limited way I’m using it, if I were to use an external hard drive for file storage (I actually already have one of these currently used for backup) I could just take my MacBook down to CraftyTown to listen to iTunes and eliminate the need for the PC altogether. I already take the MacBook down with me regularly when I have crafty stuff open in the browser and don’t want to have to re-open that content on the PC. Setting it up this way would mean that I’m only opening iTunes periodically while I’m hooked up to the external drive – I wonder if this could create any problems? I’m also wondering about a backup for the data I’d have stored on the external drive. Would I need a second external drive for backup? Is that even possible?

    I think I’d need some better speakers, though, as the MacBook’s internal speakers are less than powerful (they work just fine to a certain volume, but in CraftyTown I need to be able to crank it so that I can hear over the sewing machine). I’m not familiar with how it works to hook up external speakers to a MacBook – seems like with a Mac it should be exceedingly simple. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything I’m forgetting. Has anyone created a setup like this who could share success or otherwise?