Instax update: I love my Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

I love instant photography! The idea of watching film develop right in my hand has fascinated me ever since I was a kid. Up until a few years ago, owning my own Polaroid camera was a distant dream though - that is, until the event of the FujiFilm Instax!

The Instax film format is smaller than the traditional polaroids and the technology behind it is different (no shaking required!) but the basic idea is the same. My first Instax-type camera was actually a burgundy-colored Polaroid 300 (which is the same as the Instax 7s,  though I imagine you pay a few extra dollars for the venerable name) which served me well for a couple of years. Last fall though, it started acting up and I felt the prints were not as clear as they used to be, probably due to my rough handling. Luckily for me, the new Instax Mini 90 (dubbed "Neo Classic") came out at the start of this year. It was a little pricy at around USD $250, but SOOO worth it! The Mini 90 has lots of new features and shooting modes, and it is much more compact (and sturdy) than its predecessor. I have used it all year and I'm still completely smitten. I thought I would show some of my most recent shots!

These are a few of my shots from this spring/summer, locations include Stockholm, Gotland and my mom's house in the countryside outside Vingåker. Like most instant cameras the Instax really does best in natural (outdoor) lighting, but I am still learning how to use the different shooting modes one the Mini 90 to get better indoor shots.

I actually really like the credit card size of the Instax mini film, it's so convenient and fun. And I like that despite the smaller size, the photos still have a white space to one side, so there's room to write a date or caption. Not all markers will write on the film surface though - I learned this the hard way so decided to spring for some ultra fine tip sharpies to decorate my prints. Look at all the yummy colors...

Another fun way to dress up the individual shots is using frame stickers - individual stickers that wrap around the prints to look like the film itself is patterned:

I recently found a pack of these frame stickers for cheap on Ebay, and I've been playing around with them. I love the result!

I'm still trying to find a nice way to display my Instax photos. I might do another wall collage like my Instagram wall collage, or try to find a nice frame to display a few of them. If you have any ideas for displaying Polaroids/Instax photos, I'd love to hear them!

Liberty Teacup Pincushion

I've had a teacup pincushion for years - I made it back in 2008 when I first took up sewing again, and it's been very useful. Lately though, it's been looking a little sad:

Such a mess - faded, worn and discolored! So last week I thought I would give it a bit of a makeover. I used a small piece of my favorite Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabric, and re-used the same teacup. The inside is poly-fill mixed with steel wool, this is meant to keep the needles nice and sharp.

Making a teacup pincushion is really easy. You start by making a ball shape using fabric and poly-fill (or you can use quilt batting, wool, thread and fabric scraps, or whatever else you happen to have on hand), and then simply glue the ball to the inside of your teacup. I used the saucer as well - that way you have somewhere to put your seam ripper, bobbins and all those other little things that have a way of disappearing right when you need them...

This was a quick and easy project, and it added some color to my sewing area. Win-win! If you feel like making your own teacup pincushion, here is a link to a tutorial that explains the whole process in more detail.

College Student Care Package

Just a quick update today, as I'm having a bit of a busy week. As last week marked the start of the college semester here in Sweden, I thought I'd show you this care package we recently sent of to a new college student.

I used to love the start of the new school year back when I was a student, partly because it gave me the chance to stock up on new office supplies. I am a total geek when it comes to things like pens, notepads, and binders! Now that I'm not a student anymore, I try to live vicariously through others...

Of course, the perfect college student care package has to include some edibles, as well. This particular student has some dietary restrictions, so instead of the usual chocolates we opted for some healthy snacks from Swedish health food guru Renée Voltaire. I LOVE her products! Lots of vegan, raw, clean eating type things, and always delicious.

(Image from Renée Voltaire)

This college care package included:
- A set of adorable mini highlighters from Muji
- Whitelines notebook (another love of mine)
- Neon page markers
- Glass and Porcelaine pens for this particularly crafty student
- The awesome book Me on the Floor, Bleeding by Swedish YA author Jenny Jägerfeld
- Chocolate covered gojiberries
- White chocolate covered raspberries & blueberries
- Heavenly Spread almond butter
- White sesame crackers

I hope you're all having a great week!

Subversive Machine Embroidery

Hallelujah, we have Internet access! This past week we've been having a ton of problems with our Internet provider, and while I'm not sure everything's fixed yet, at least we finally have access. It's true what they say, you don't know how much you depend on the Internet until it's taken away.

Less time browsing Facebook and Pinterest has meant more time for crafting, though. Among other things I reorganized the two closets that house my craft supplies, and this gave me the energy to finish off a couple of WIPs that have been hanging around in there for way too long. A great feeling!

I am a big fan of the craftivism movement and sites like Subversive Cross Stitch. Ever since my mom got her Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond sewing machine, I have been brainstorming ways to combine that subversive feel with the medium of machine embroidery. I'm not much of a cross stitcher myself (not enough patience!) so when mom introduced me to the cross stitch software that came with her Designer Diamond, I was understandably thrilled. I've spent many hours in her studio sewing and creating, but only this week did I get around to actually mounting the finished pieces. Here are a few of them!

I mounted most of the pieces in embroidery hoops because that's what I had on hand, plus I like the look. But I also had a couple of thrifted picture frames which worked well after a fresh coat of paint.
 That pink frame now houses another "Girls Just Wanna Have Fundamental Human Rights" embroidery which is winging its way off to a friend to become a birthday present  for her sister. That's part of the charm with machine embroidery - once you have a design programmed and ready to go, you can make several versions of the same design quickly and conveniently, experimenting with different color combinations, background fabrics, sizes and so on. The top picture in this post shows the same "Girls" embroidery on a really nice structured linen - I will be using that fabric again for sure!

I also made a couple of hoops featuring "subversified" Swedish sayings. Not sure what I'll do with them yet, I might have to start a hoopla wall to feature them all. Right now my mind is reeling with ideas for more subversive machine embroidery, so I'm sure there will be more to come!

Do you have any ideas for sayings, quotes, factoids or anything else you think would fit on a cross stitch wall hanging? I would love to hear your ideas!

"Attention: Craft" Exhibit

I love exploring all the crafty things that Stockholm has to offer! My mom and her husband came to visit recently, and we took the opportunity to go and see the "Attention:Craft" exhibit at Liljevalchs art gallery. It was a pretty small exhibit, but there were several fantastic pieces which I thought I would share with you.

I think this one is my favorite - it's a waterfall (hard to tell in the photo but it's massive, several meters high) made entirely of old recycled denim! Isn't it amazing? The artist's name is Hanne Friis, she makes really thought-provoking textile art.

My mom's husband is into woodworking, so of course we spent a while looking at this fantastic sculpture. It's entirely made of wood, no metal nails or screws. I could barely stop looking at it, it's so fascinating!

This fabric piece is meant to resemble an autopsy - it was quite disturbing! 

Lots and lots of beautiful metal bowls - I was so tempted to try and steal them all home with me! I especially love the turquoise designs in the forefront, they would look so perfect on our living room table... Oh well, maybe I'll be a millionaire one day and able to buy all art that catches my eye.

We spent maybe an hour going through the exhibits, and combined that with a lunch at the excellent museum restaurant and (of course) a look through the gift shop. If you are in Stockholm and have an hour or so to spare, I would definitely recomment a trip to Liljevalchs. The "Attention:Craft" is on for another couple of weeks, so there's still time!

Instagram wall collage

I'll start by saying this; I like Instagram as much as the next person, but I still think there is something to be said for old fashioned printed photos. Yes I love my Instax instant camera and yes, I still order prints from my point-n-shoot. But over the past couple of years, most of my on-the-go photography has been done using Instagram, and I've found myself missing the tactile experience of printed photos. 

Luckily for me, more and more companies are now offering fun ways to print your Instagram photos. I am a big fan of Origrami, and have ordered their retro polaroid-style prints several times. When I got my latest batch in the mail a few days ago, I thought it would be fun to show them off in some way.

Our apartment has these super hard concrete walls, so hanging pictures is always a huge undertaking. Not exactly ideal for putting up a bunch of tiny 4" x 5" frames. Enter my washi tape collection! This project is so simple that I hesitate to even call it DIY - but I think it came out rather well. I just picked out a few favorites, and stuck them up in a heart pattern using MT solid color washi tape.

I even found an excuse to use my new mini-sized level, to ensure that the photos were hung (reasonably) straight. Oh, and sorry about the poor lighting in these photos. The weather has been really dull and overcast this past week!

A quick and easy project for a rainy afternoon! And just for fun, here's a photo I snapped of my washi collection - yeah, I'm not addicted...

Wedding weekend

We have had a busy weekend! We left for Gothenburg on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday we had the joy of attending a wonderful wedding on a friend's estate north of the city. The beech forest was such a magical setting for a wedding - my pictures don't do it justice... Many congratulations to Jonas and Camilla!

Hexagon alphabet quilt: Pattern tutorial

I promised that I would share the pattern for my Hexagon alphabet quilt, so here goes! Keep in mind that I’m by no means a professional quilter, I’m just sharing my own process hoping it might be useful for someone.

I first found the inspiration for this design on a blog called The Inklingo Sampler, but the patterns there were not meant for traditional English paper piecing. They use a method called Inklingo, which I had never heard of before but which apparently involves printing patterns onto fabric using an inkjet printer to make individual square blocks (if you’re curious, check out this website for more info!). Now I loved the look of the hexagon letters themselves, but that method just wasn’t for me. I’ve been thinking about starting a traditional EPP quilt for a while, so I decided to make my own pattern in a similar style.

Here's the rundown: I printed off some hexagon graph paper and started to mark out my letters. Working with hexagons rather than squares was a bit challenging at first, especially spacing and fitting the hexagon designs onto a square quilt. This is the result, after much tweaking:

If you want to make an alphabet quilt like mine, feel free to use the above pattern (just right click on the image and click "save"). But of course you could also use the individual letters to make your own design, like a name or a favorite quote. Just print some graph paper and start brainstorming – the possibilities are endless!

The next step was to decide on a size for the individual hexagons. I wanted a lap sized quilt, but figuring out what size hexies I would need to reach that end result was tricky! In the end I decided to use hexies that are slightly larger than 1 inch (2,86 cm to be exact) on each side, which given my pattern will make a quilt that is roughly 53 x 63 inches (134 x 160 cm) when completed. You can choose any size hexie for this project, but keep in mind that hexagons are not square (duh) so calculating the size of the finished quilt is a little finicky. If you have a specific end measurement in mind, break out your calculator! 

That’s your pattern completed – next you need your templates! If you’ve chosen a common hexagon size like 1” or 2”, you can buy ready-made templates at your local quilting shop or online. But if you’re like me and you ended up with an oddly specific number, this is a great site that lets you input the size of your hexagon and makes a PDF graph paper based on hexies that exact size. Perfect! I  printed the templates onto a sturdy cardstock and cut the templates out using scissors. 

Keep in mind that this quilt is comprised of 978 individual hexagons, so if you want to prep all your pieces before you start sewing them together you will need A LOT of paper templates. I started a sort of printing-and-cutting assembly line in my living room and made about half of the templates in one go, but of course if you start to assemble your hexies right away that will free up some templates to use several times over. Whichever way works for you!

That’s it, you’re ready to start your own Hexagon alphabet quilt! Now, I haven’t made a tutorial for the actual EPP piecing and sewing because there are so many of those already floating around the internet – if you are new to English Paper Piecing, these are a couple of good examples:

I hope you found this tutorial useful! I will continue to post my progress on my own hexagon quilt as I go. If you decide to make one, I would love to see! Just drop a note in the comments. Thanks and good luck!

Hexagon alphabet quilt: My new project

One of the biggest projects I’ve taken on so far this year is starting a hexagon alphabet quilt – hand sewn from nearly a thousand individual hexies! For now I wanted to share some progress pics and tips, but I am working on a complete pattern how-to for next week, so stay tuned!

I worked out a design for the quilt inspired by the images in this blog post but with several changes.  I’ll be making the entire quilt top by hand in traditional English Paper Piecing – that means a LOT of hand sewing! I’m fully expecting to spend several years working on this project, and to me that’s part of the charm of EPP – that it’s not meant for fast-results, spur-of-the-moment type projects. To me, hand sewing is a way to slow down in a fast-paced world. It’s really quite meditative, prepping and sewing all those tiny pieces of fabric.So far, I'm working on a bunch of neutrals for the background color.

I did make one concession in the name of modernity, however: I invested in a Sewline Glue Pen. It’s such a life saver, allowing me to prep my paper pieces so much faster than normal and leaving all that hand sewing for when it really matters – joining the pieces. I’m sure that some quilters cringe at the thought of gluing on fabric, but I have tested the method on several smaller projects and found that most of the glue stays on the paper piece rather than on the fabric itself. And it’s water soluble, so whatever small residue is still on the fabric disappears when you wash the finished quilt. If you’re curious, this is an excellent YouTube video describing the process in detail.

Great, isn’t it? I’ve prepped about half of my hexagons so far, and it has been a breeze – the perfect craft for an evening in front of the TV! I’m looking forward to showing you the progress as I go along – I can’t wait to start sewing the pieces together!