November 27, 2009

Beyond Saturation Point

Here it is, my new studio, with many more things than I have space for. I'm moving back in and weeding out unwanted/unfinished items.

I've limited storage to a reach-in closet, three Ikea kitchen cabinets and a baker's rack. If it doesn't fit, then there is more than I need. Five sewing machines is far too many, even if they each do different things (standard, serger, embroidery, blind hem, felting).

I realize many items have been a way to hold onto my past and, as I age, the past has less importance. The present holds more weight. Acknowledging this has allowed me to let go (throw away) -- it's freeing. Today I decided to toss every movie ticket from the 14 years my husband and I have been together, among other keepsakes. This is an idea of what I save, along with every bit of fabric that could be used in another project, yikes.

Other things I like to hoard are blank notebooks and containers of all sizes. I'm sure my therapist would have an explanation for this.

Be on the lookout for giveaways. Maybe you can benefit from my over-spending.

November 22, 2009

Talmadge Art Show

I finished working on my new display the day before Talmadge Art Show and was very happy with the outcome. I knew there would be things to work out once I began using it. The only thing I hadn't fully considered was lighting.

Installation at the show was easy. I could carry two shelves without much trouble, although Tien's help always makes set-up easier. The skirt goes on with Velcro, so there's no need to make sure a tablecloth is on straight.

I'm usually behind my table but the back-drop doesn't allow that. I like to hide administrative stuff (and coffee) too, with tissue for wrapping (seen on the left side here). Eventually I worked it out and the Velcro skirt allowed for access to these items which I hid below.

My next tackle is lighting. Items under shelves were dark, plus different heights for display might have worked better. No one recognized the hat/scarf set on the Ikea vase for wine gifts, so I'll have to drink a half-bottle before the next show.

Here are a couple of images of the show. Even with the slow economy, this show is always fun to do.

November 15, 2009

Show Display Shelves

Long time no see, eh?? I have a bit of work to show. These boards were shelves in our garage. Now they are shelves for my art show display.

Boards were cut to 6'. A fabulous woman at We R Fabrics, Mandana, helped me with fabric selection and yardage measurements. The boards have two layers of quilt batting for oomph and substance, and everything was staple-gunned to the boards. Wow, what amazing transformations can be done with fabric and a staple gun! Next, Milo will nail-gun guides to the underside (see previous post).

Check out my shelves, filled with inventory for sale, at the Talmadge Art Show this Sunday at San Diego Women's Club.

October 30, 2009

New Display

A few months ago I bought a new rack for my show display. It needs my attention and I'm finally able to work on it with Milo's help. Milo cut four shelves for me, each six feet wide. In order to stay on the rack without sliding around, I need tracks to keep them in place. Milo cut 16 pieces for me in about three minutes! My next job is to cover the wood shelves with fabric with batting underneath and a staple gun. Then Milo will nail-gun them for me. I can't wait to get started! Maybe this weekend. I'll be using the new display at Talmadge Art Show on November 22.

October 28, 2009

Staying Cool

Everything takes time! The fan is in, but the recessed lights are not. They'll be put in tomorrow (I think).

Before you know it, I'll be sewing again. I'm sure itching to, that's for sure.

October 15, 2009

Invisible Magnet Wall

I know, isn't it cool? You can't even see the black primer anymore. And the magnets stick with a decent pull too. My new floor is being installed.

October 10, 2009

Hi, remember me?

The sewing room remodel is still going on. The intended color, White Solitude, which went onto the walls of the studio was beautiful, but I ended up asking the painter to go over it with Bleached Sand instead. It a little bit warmer and you can see the difference in contrast to the closet.

I have a small collection of Chinese sewing baskets. They were made during the early part of 1900s and were meant for the export market. It's appropriate that I collect them, being American-born Chinese and a seamstress, but also because I'm the granddaughter of immigrants who made the crossing during that period. I found this little basket in an antique store in Solana Beach. It's the tiniest one I have at about 5" across. I love the Peking glass beads too.

October 7, 2009

Magnetic Bulletin Board / Wall

UPDATE 10/6/09
SEVEN coats from one quart of primer -- that's pretty thin paint. Again, the primer went onto a section 18" x 10'4" and magnets do adhere. A final update to come once the painting is complete. BTW, if you're going to do this, don't rinse your roller in the sink -- who knows what happens after all those particles go down your drain. Buy a disposable roller and throw it away at the end. In between coats, keep the wet roller in a plastic bag. This assumes you will paint every day.

UPDATE 10/1/09:
After SIX coats of magnetic primer, a fairly strong magnet adhered with the kind of strength I hoped for, although it will never be like the fridge. For each coat of paint, I generously loaded the "wienie roller" -- I did not skimp. There is a bit of paint remaining in the can, so it will be the seventh layer. The black will be topcoated with White Solitude, so my next worry is, will the magnets stick? I hope so. I want my fabric swatches, photos and magazine tearouts on this wall.

UPDATE 9/28/09:
After three coats of magnetic primer, a low-strength magnet barely adhered. I've got enough primer in the can for a total of five layers. Don't try this until I report results! One disappointed person is enough. :-(

I just painted an 1.5' x 10' portion of my studio wall with primer. This primer is metallic, that is, it has metal in it. After three layers of primer, it will be top-coated in a color called White Solitude, and magnets will stick. How's that for a bulletin board/inspiration wall?! Pretty neat stuff! Here's a discussion thread. Seems the only health hazard is the potential for little kids to swallow magnets.

BEWARE: Rust-Oleum's website says light grey, however, the primer color is more like nearly black.

September 25, 2009

Coming Along

The studio renovation is slowly taking shape. The ceiling has holes for four recessed lights and a ceiling fan. The rectangular holes were for running wires and will be covered and patched.

Meanwhile, more chemotherapy caps have been embellished with stars.

September 19, 2009

Stars in My Eyes

I don't have a lot to show for myself except these crochet'd stars on chemotherapy caps. They're fun to make and esp useful for scraps. Instructions for "light blue starflowers" are here.

September 11, 2009

Show Notice

I just registered for The Talmadge Art Show to be held on November 22, 2009. While remodeling the sewing room, I wasn't going to do any shows, but why not?! I have plenty of inventory available. Stay tuned!

September 3, 2009

This Made Me Feel Sad

The very first time I wore my new jewelry, I had a quality control issue: one of the pendants fell off and I lost it. Next time I will do a better job when making earrings.

The stones were part of a mixed strand of beads that came from Khan el-Kalili market in Cairo. They were the best beads of the entire strand.

August 31, 2009

"Desires of the Heart"

Desires of the Heart was my bridal accessories business in San Francisco. Everything was made-to-order, hence the name. Primarily, it was headpieces and veils. You might imagine how I loved this work with all the necessary handstitching, details and design work. Cloud-like veil samples hung on a blue wall. It was beautiful and I wish I had a picture to share. I learned a lot about myself with this business and closed it when pressures I put on myself outweighed the pleasure.

I used this Butterick pattern like crazy. Before laying out the pieces, I had to iron the tissue on low so it would lay flat on tulle. Now that I'm purging the sewing room closet, I'm feeling nostalgic about this pattern. I don't feel the same about the two Vogue patterns that got little use.

August 27, 2009

Apartment 303

Just before a party I hosted in my former SF apartment, I made this little quilt for the front door to indicate that it was a shoes-off dwelling (can you see the tennis shoes under the circle/slash?). Now I don't know what to do with it because I don't want it anymore, nor do I live there.

Just so you know, output around these parts is nill, nada, nothing. It's kinda refreshing to go through things and purge. Maybe I'll have a drawing soon, that is, if I find anything worthy.

By the way, as of Sunday, this blog is two years old. Happy birthday to it, heehee.

August 21, 2009

Get Well, Naomi

Today's post is dedicated to Naomi, who is mom to my great pal Sarah. Naomi begins her chemo treatment this afternoon. She's a tough one and I'm sure she will come back strong. Please send good wishes her way.

While all my supplies are boxed up for the studio renovation, I'll be knitting a lot of caps for UCSD's Moores Cancer Center.

August 19, 2009


"Compactum" was a company that made fitted armoires. Pretty cool piece of furniture, right? I've had this since about 1989 and have enjoyed it immensely. Now it's time to go. Here is the Craigslist post.

The left side held bolts of fabric and quilt batting. The right side held yarn, textile ink/pencils, beads, trim, knitting needles and crochet hooks. For now they are going into boxes until I can unload them in the renovated studio.

Please pass this on to anyone in San Diego county who may be interested. I have a GREAT contact for moving services -- we've used Relocation Engineers for two moves. They were professional, careful and didn't mishandle anything.

August 18, 2009


I'm getting rid of stuff. Well, some stuff. More coming as I pack up for renovations! See the Ebay listing here.

August 16, 2009

Thank You

I'm ever so grateful to customers who coveted my stitchery and gave them new homes. Thank you for coming out to support independent artists!

There is a good possibility that, if time allows, I will do one holiday show. Although I will not have new goods, there is remaining inventory for the gift-giving season. As you may know from reading this blog, my next chore is to pack up the studio for renovations.

Stay tuned!

August 9, 2009

Please Join Me

Saturday, August 15, 2009
10a to 4p
Encinitas Library -- Community Room
540 Cornish Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024

Come and get it! Lavender pillows, quilts, dolls, and the final series of silk rag baskets...

I'm renovating the studio, so this is my last show until Spring 2010. You can still reach me by email for mail-order or local delivery. Of course, you’ll be the first to know if I squeeze in a show.

August 8, 2009

Remembering Details

Besides what you see here, I take macro photos of my work, esp the flowers and beads. It helps me to remember what I did. If you'd like to see a particular silk rag basket up close, there are more photos in prior posts -- scroll down to see as I worked on them! If you want to see them in person, they will be for sale at Talmadge Art Show being held next Saturday.

August 7, 2009


My hang tags are printed on card stock. I run them through my sewing machine with a size 14 needle (set aside just for paper) and no thread to make the perforations. They're cut with a rotary cutter (also set aside just for paper), then hole-punched. Oh yeah, almost forgot: I write the price on each tag too.

August 6, 2009

In the Studio

I haven't done a show in a while and the lavender in remaining inventory was from last season. Freshly-dried lavender has a clear, sharp scent, unlike year-old lavender. The old lavender is now going to mulch in my garden, and new lavender is in these pillows. I've been hand-stitching them closed.

Did you see this news item about the woman whose child's photo was posted in a Craigslist adoption scam? It is certainly causing me to rethink any personal photos I post here.

August 3, 2009

Getting Ready

It's been a while, hasn't it? By the time you're reading this, I'll be filling Chinese and Japanese pillows with newly harvested French lavender. The Talmadge Art Show is on August 15th. Please join me to see the work of 37 local artists.

A reader named Jimmy wrote to me, asking if others would be interested in filling out his survey about online fashion classes. I completed the survey and it only took one minute, and doesn't ask any personal questions. Wanna give it a go? If so, click here.

July 29, 2009

You Know It's Bad

You know it's bad when I'm not stitching and posting everyday. Not wanting to be a crybaby-whiner, I've been silent. This non-H1N1 flu is taking a long time to clear. I've got to get back up to speed because the summer Talmadge Art Show is happening very soon!

The final series of rag baskets is finished. I just need a prettier picture of the group than the one you see here. (At least it's a start!)

There is a huge bag of lavender downstairs just waiting to fill vintage Chinese and Japanese silk pillows. That's the next project.

July 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jodie!

Dear Jo, how lucky am I to have such a great relationship with my cousin? There's nothing better than the closeness that comes with knowing each other our whole lives. I hope you are having a wonderful day -- you deserve it.

Above and below are two views of the same rag basket. I was trying to find an excuse to use my new butterfly sequins.

Above and below are also two views of a purple rag basket. There wasn't any purple silk left, so I dug deep into the scrap box where I found plenty that looked beautiful with it.

Above and below are the same rag basket. The top photo is a blunder. I wasn't happy at all with the way this turned out, so I removed all the amethyst, seed beads and Swarovski and tried a new technique which turned out to be a lot of fun.

July 23, 2009

Personally Speaking...

Maybe you know... The ABC-part of my business name, ABC Rags, is an acronym for American-Born Chinese. This is why the following article is of interest to me.

If they were still alive, I'm not sure know how much this California State resolution would mean to my grandparents who endured Federal immigration laws aimed specifically at Chinese. Still, it's a step in the right direction. Here is an article in the LA Times.

July 22, 2009

No Swine Flu Here

The nurse called with results of my H1N1 flu test and it's NEGATIVE! She and the doctor were both surprised, since nearly all the local cases have been positive.

If you have any flu-like symptoms, go to your doctor immediately. They may be able to give you Tamiflu, but only in the first 72 hours of symptoms.

Read about H1N1/swine flu here. TAKE CARE and wash your hands frequently!

July 20, 2009

Sad But True

So much for goals, as this piece is the only thing completed over the last seven days.

July 18, 2009


Please pardon my absence. The flu has had me flat on my back since Tuesday night. During wakefulness, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog of Thomas Mahon, a Savile Row tailor. It's a rare blog that captivates me such as this. Now, to find someone who writes about her/his daily life in a couture house.

In four days, this one beaded florette is all I've managed to produce -- very sad indeed!

In the sewing room, Tien replaced my monitor with a larger 23" that has a built-in TV tuner. Now I can watch instant NetFlix period flicks or Turner Classic Movies on the same screen. Removing my old-style TV will give me more space. First, however, I need to be healthy again.