Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays 2013

Thank you for your amazing support in 2013. Your visits to the site, sharing your comments and joining Crafted Spaces Radio broadcast and social media has been greatly appreciated. I am blown away by just how much Crafted Spaces have grown this year. I am excited about the coming year and I look forward to connecting with more of you in 2014.

Best wishes to you and your family!

Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby
Crafted Spaces

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping

Wrapping gifts is a holiday favourite of mine. I love finding creative ways to present my gifts and I prefer to use materials that can be reused or is recyclable. I think that an important part of gift giving is the presentation and there are so many ways that you can present a gift.

I like to get my Christmas shopping done early, which allows me to take my time with the wrapping. Each Christmas I like to do something different so I generally give some advance thought to what supplies I would need. After I have gathered my supplies, I prepare an area that I can designate as a "wrapping station." This year I have kept things simple and have chosen basic Kraft paper, Kraft paper bags, jute, yarn and red velvet ribbons. I purchased a roll of Kraft paper from Wal-Mart and found Kraft paper bags at the dollar store. The red velvet ribbons are from Chapters and HomeScene. The jute and yarn are left over from previous projects.

Other great options are strips of vintage fabric or bias cut fabric, which I use as ribbon. I have also sewn fabric bags as an alternative to paper gift bags. Newspaper comics and regular news print are also fun alternatives to wrapping paper.

If you are looking for other great holiday gift-wrapping ideas, I have rounded up some of my favourites:
Happy gift-wrapping!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Arrangement

I love natural flowers and during the Christmas holidays I really love getting natural red and white poinsettias. However, this year I decided to go for the silk version, given that my little guy loves to dig plants up. I made a Poinsettia Christmas Wreath and decided I will also make a few small arrangements.

Over the weekend my husband and I made a trip to Ikea and I purchased a pair of their SKURAR candle holder, which I used as my containers. Creating the arrangement was super simple and only took a few minutes. I gathered a few stems of silk poinsettia (thrift store find) in your hand, tied them together at the base with some jute and cut the length of the stems to the height of the containers. I simply placed the small bouquet of flowers in each container and put them on display.

I hope that this has given you an idea for a quick and simple arrangement for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY Poinsettia Christmas Wreath

I have had the same Christmas wreath for a few years now and I really wanted to make a change. The wreath I had was artificial greenery with pinecones, which over the years I would freshen-up with new ribbon and other embellishments. However, this year I wanted something different with more colour. I decided to make a poinsettia Christmas wreath that will be the focal point for my front door Christmas decorations.

I reused the grapevine wreath from my spring wreath and I combined two types of poinsettias along with some gold glittered poinsettias. I removed my spring flowers, cleaned up the grapevine and attached the poinsettias with hot glue. I started hot gluing the poinsettias from top centre and continued anti-clockwise. I alternated between the two types of poinsettias and added a bit of shimmer with two medium gold glittered poinsettias. Having the different textures in the poinsettias creates more dept and contrast and prevents them from merging into the same shade of red. The two gold glittered poinsettias were glued close together to match the volume of the larger blooms. I finished off the wreath by adding a few of the poinsettia leaves; which I think adds more interest.

5 Large satin poinsettias
5 Large velvet poinsettias
2 Medium gold glitter poinsettias
Poinsettia greenery
Grapevine wreath
Hot glue
Hot glue gun

I hope that this project will inspire you to make your own Christmas wreath. I have several other projects I am working on for Christmas that I hope to share with you before the holidays.

Wising you all the best with your holiday planning!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Home Decorating Challenge: Shopping for Home Décor Fabric

I love fabric and one of my favourite things to do is to go shopping for fabric. When my family and I travel to somewhere new, I am sure to look for a fabric store to see what they may have that is different. In the past few years, I have also been exploring a few online fabric stores and I have spent hours browsing through their web pages. However, I am a touch and feel kind of girl, so I always find myself wanting to see and feel the fabric prior to shopping. I prefer natural fabrics, but have found myself falling head over heel for a few synthetics. I am also in love with vintage prints and I have a growing collection of vintage fabric, mostly cotton sheets and pillowcases that I have found at thrift stores.

About two years ago I discovered Spoonflower and it has taken me way too long to look further into their services. I have visited the site and have looked thorough the wonderful collection of fabric. There is such a combination of styles and graphics that one can get lost in the endless possibilities. I am hoping to use their service to print my original fabric for one of the projects in the home decorating challenge. I have received a sample of their colours and swatches of their fabric, and I really like the weight and feel of the cotton. I am working on my design and I am excited to place an order.

In the lakeside "bedroom community" where I live, the choices for fabric stores are very limited. I use to live in Toronto, and I have to say that I miss the abundance of fabric stores. There are lots of wonderful fabric stores to choose from in Toronto and you can surely get lost in many of them. I try to plan my trips to Toronto and when I do make it there, I am like a little child at a toy store.

I have been shopping at some of these fabric shops with my mother and grandmother since I was a child. I can remember it being one of the most exciting parts of my summer visit from Trinidad. My mom would always stock up on a collection of great Caribbean friendly fabrics in Canada to take back to Trinidad, and have her dressmaker craft something for her. I would also get the chance to pick a few pieces for myself as well.

Here is a list of some of my favourite places to go fabric shopping for home décor and other purposes:
  1. Designer Fabric: I have been shopping at this store for as long as I can remember. There is no way that I can enter this store and not have difficulty leaving. I love every section of this store. Located in the heart of Parkdale just west of Dufferin on Queen. There is two floors of fabric to choose from and countless swatches that you can rent and take home to see what works prior to purchasing. If you visit Designer Fabric, do not forget to browse their trims and other notions.

  2. Eurofab: There is a collection of home décor fabric, trims and other notions. The store is walking distance west of Spadina on Queen Street. Their focus is on high-end imported fabrics for home decorating. Provide them with an idea of what you are looking for and they can assist you in finding what you need for your home decorating project.

  3. Fabricland: I am never disappointed by a trip to Fabricland. They have stores across Canada and there is generally some type of sale event. You can purchase a membership (which I have done); however, I find that I just keep an eye open for their sales and then shop till I drop. Most of the stores I have been to have an ample selection of home décor fabrics and trims. You may also find a selection of ready made drapery and bedding. They also sell Butterick, Simplicity, Vogue, McCalls, New Look and Burda sewing patterns. I have always found most of the staff friendly and willing to help.

  4. King Textile: A friend introduced me to King Textiles about thirteen years ago and I have found some beautiful fabric from this supplier. They are located on Spadina just south of Queen Street and have three floors with thousands of fabric to choose from. Again it is one of those fabric stores that you can spend hours in and if your not carful may walk out with a lot more than what you were looking for.

  5. MacFab Fabrics: I was introduced to MacFab Fabrics many years ago when they were located just west of Shaw Street. They have moved since and are now located east on Queen Street near Broadview. I really like the store location and find it easy to get to and a little less hectic that Queen West. The store carries a beautiful selection of high-end fabrics and has a wonderful selection of trims, buttons and other notions at the back of the store. MacFab Fabrics can also custom make home décor items.

I have discovered a few online fabric shops that I really like. I have placed orders with several of them, but I suggest shopping around, compare prices and look at the cost of shipping:
Hawthorne Threads
Nancy's Notions

If I am looking for vintage fabric I find that the best sources for me are thrift stores, yard sales and antique markets. When I am shopping for vintage fabrics I really want to have an opportunity to see and feel the fabric and to examine the condition of the fabric.

  1. Collect a swatch when possible and place it along with your other decorative elements.
  2. Purchase a little more fabric than you think you will need.
  3. Get fabric from the same bolt where possible.
  4. Give yourself time to shop around and compare your options, you may be surprised at what you may find.
  5. Purchase family friendly fabrics that are easy to clean and wear well.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vintage Pillowcase Apron

I found this great vintage cotton pillowcase at just .99 cents, and I just had to add it to my vintage fabric collection. There is a hole in the fabric and I had to find a way to mend it so I decided to do an appliqué. I have shared with you the hand embroidered appliqué and the embroidery stitches that I did, so here is the finished apron.

The waistband was made from the same white vintage cotton that I used for the appliqués. I added a bit of interest with a running stitch just along the front.

I like repurposing pillowcases and I really enjoyed this project. An apron is a great gift idea and I think I will be making a few of these this holiday season. There are so many creative ways you can go with an apron project.

Do you have any ideas on how to repurpose a pillowcase?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Home Decorating Challenge: Living Room Hardwood Floor

This is one of those long overdue projects that just had to get done. Earlier this year my husband Don and I purchased hardwood flooring for my sewing studio and we loved it so much that we decided to purchase more of the same flooring for the living room. Both rooms are on the ground floor of the house and they both had some very dated carpeting.

My husband successfully did the studio floor; but between time and the fear of not doing the job just right, we did not want to do the living room ourselves. We were also waiting for our little one to get a little older and to do his worst to the carpeting. The wood was sitting in our kitchen at one period in time and was stored in our front hall closet for most of the year. Our friend James is a professional carpenter and he offered to do the job, and this past week we finally found the time to get it done.

To make the process more manageable, my husband removed the carpet and underlay in sections. I have to say, it was actually very scary to see under the carpet when it was lifted. As a result, I am seriously thinking of putting hardwood on the second floor as well (we will see how that goes). 

My husband and I removed the carpet tack strips and underlay staples, followed by the baseboards. We are going to reuse the baseboards, so we were very carful when we removed them and they were numbered with a pencil to remember were they belong. With the sub floor prepped and cleaned we were excited to get things started.

We chose a 3/4 inch x 3 1/4 inch solid white oak in a beautiful toffee colour. It was a great deal from Home Depot and was one of their "special buy" items. This meant that we had to do a bit of hunting between stores to find the amount of wood we needed. We had to travel to an out of town store to pick up a majority of the boxes, as they were not willing to transfer them to the store that was closest to us. The price of the wood and how stunning it looks makes the hassle well worth it in the end. We even have some wood to spare that we are thinking of using in the home office.

The most time consuming part of the job was cutting the pieces to fit the curves in the room; however, our friend James did an amazing job.

It was difficult to match our oak staircase, so the floors are a bit darker; however, I think it works well together and is a wonderful change from the carpet. With the floor freshly finished, it is time to put our baseboards back on and to work on other elements of the room. We have a beautiful wool rug that we purchased from HomeSense to add to the room, and there will be several other exciting changes.

  1. Buy a little more flooring than what you think you will need
  2. Clear the room as much as possible
  3. Remove old carpeting or flooring down to the bare sub floor
  4. Remove any staples from the carpet underlay and hammer down any upraised nails on the sub floor
  5. Check the condition of your sub floor and address any problems
  6. Clean things up with a broom and/or shop-vac
  7. Note the direction of your joists under the sub floor and install the flooring perpendicular to the joists
  8. Use a chalk line to ensure that your first row is completely straight
  9. Wear hearing and eye protection
  10. Consider having a professional do the job

  • White Oak solid hardwood flooring - Toffee Colour - 3/4 Inch x 3 1/4 Inch random length. Home Depot (similar product), approx. $3.15 per sq. ft.

If you are in the Toronto, Barrie or Muskoka area and you will like to find out more about James' carpentry services, please email me or message me on Facebook.

Home Decorating Challenge - view other projects!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Home Decorating Challenge

I have a new home challenge that I am truly excited about. With the winter months ahead, I could not think of a better way to spend the cold winter days than planning great decorating projects that I can sink my teeth into. So, I have come up with something that I think is super juicy and I hope that you will join me.

Earlier this year I did the "Home Organization Challenge," which has been wonderful, and my family and I have really benefitted from having things better organized. It was also such a treat to have so many of you joining me here on Crafted Spaces and on Facebook and Pinterest. However, at the end of the twelve weeks of decluttering and organizing I really felt like I needed to add some style and personality to each room. Well, I finally have the time and resources to do so and I hope that you will join me for a "Home Decorating Challenge."

Starting today, November 15, 2013 to March 31, 2014, I will be giving each room in my home new life. The challenge will follow a budget, it will be eco-friendly, and done creatively, while utilizing as many items that I already have on hand as possible. With some added elbow grease, I hope to transform each room into stylish but fun spaces that my family and I can enjoy. Along the way, I will share with you the projects I make and resources that I have found. The journey promises to be creative and fun, with a few thrifty finds along the way. I hope that you will be inspired by these projects and will try your own home decorating.

I am not an interior decorator, so I am not planning on delivering any advice as such. I am also not interested in "curating" objects in my home or following the latest trends. I am a designer, artist and maker and my approach to this process is going to be more organic. I prefer to have items that reflect the personalities and history of my family and I will choose colours and textures that make us feel happy and at home. I am hoping that this will be an exercise in how to decorate with items you love for those whom you love. This will be a non-decorators' guide to decorating.

Here is a little inspiration to get you thinking about what you will like to do:

Pinterest Boards
Home Style
DIY Home Decor
Creative Spaces
At Home

I will also share various resources including books and various web links.

Happy decorating!


Home Decorating Challenge: Shopping for Home Décor Fabric
Better Home and Gardens
Style at Home
House Beautiful


Entryway - Fresh Paint
Living Room Hardwood Floor
Gallery Wall {Part 1}
Living Room Gallery Wall
Second Floor Gallery Wall
Pillow Covers
Light Fixtures
DIY Painted Dinning Set
DIY Shower Curtains
Upholstered Bench
Removing Wallpaper
DIY Shelves
DIY Desk
Studio Curtains
Seat Recovering
Laundry Room Curtains
DIY Artwork
Basement (Part I)
Basement (Part II)
Basement (Part III)

* There are more resources and updates to come, so visit us again!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Featured Designer: Tricia McMaster

Today our Featured Designer is Tricia McMaster of Green Bijou. Tricia is the owner and designer of the unique one of a kind vintage jewellery collection. She specializes in bringing new life to antique and vintage treasures. Tricia's business journey started with antiques, working as a dealer and has evolved into a passion for jewellery designing. She credits her travels to Europe as a source of inspiration for her designs, and is moved by the rich history and culture. Tricia's pieces are timeless and today she shares with us her creative journey and stunning designs.

What drew you to jewellery designing?

It actually started on a whim! I would get my fashion magazines every month and noticed an increase in the trend for vintage "inspired" jewellery. I kept thinking that I would rather wear the real thing. Having a background in selling antiques, I decided to put my knowledge to use and I created a few pieces for myself. After being stopped by strangers asking where I got my necklace, I think it finally clicked for me that there was a demand for this kind of jewellery.

Where did you receive your training?

I went to Sheridan College for Arts and Illustration, worked in graphic design and later started my own interior design firm. It was after I started sourcing antique furniture for clients that brought me into learning the world of antique jewelry. I feel it is really a compilation of all of my previous roles that has led me into designing, and each part of my background has given me skill sets to use in this venture. Most importantly is having knowledge of antiques, so I am confident in sourcing the right pieces for my designs.

How will you describe your personal style?

I would say a bit eclectic! I love everything from simple Art Deco designs to ornate Art Nouveau. It is the vintage component in each of my designs that ties the Collections together and appeals to me.

What are some of the things that influence your designs?

Quality antiques and current trends have an influence on my designs. Not every vintage piece can stand up to being re-worked into a new way. It is important to me to design pieces that not only fit within current trends, but whose end design will stand the test of time.

What inspires your work?

The inspiration for my work is a mix of where the item is from and the current trend I can see it fitting into. I am also inspired by the history of the places we travel and the emotions they evoke. I especially look for fashion inspiration when I am in France. The French architecture, people and lifestyle inspire me.

What type of materials do you use for your designs?

I am quite particular about the vintage components I use. I probably find one in every 100 items I look at that is of high enough quality, appeal and characteristics. For example, I prefer vintage glass pearls versus cheaper made plastic pearls. The original plating also needs to be of a certain quality. Crystals should be real, not Lucite.

How much time do you spend creating? 

I spend quite a lot of time creating. So many of my pieces are truly one of a kind. If I come across a beautiful Victorian brooch for example, I would design a style just to showcase that special piece. Some ideas come together right away for a design, and it just seems to work immediately. Other designs have me at the workbench for hours, trying to figure out the best way to incorporate the items.

Tell us about your creative process?

I often work backwards from a vision. My mind starts whirling when I find a cool item and I start to think of how I could use the piece in a design. Sometimes the end result is not what I might have thought of in the beginning, but to me making the vintage element the focal point is key and so I work around the piece. I will base decisions on the vintage elements; does it need a simple design or complex? What colours work well with the item? All are decisions I make while at the bench working. That being said, sometimes I bring home pieces with no formed ideas for them yet, and the night owl in me has me sketching ideas late at night when a sudden picture forms in my mind. My advice is to always have a pad and pencil nearby!

What is your favourite part of the process?

Sourcing. I love the thrill of the hunt and the whirlwind of ideas that come into play when I've found something interesting and unique. I am always on the hunt for items to use. Whether it is locally at auction sales, antique shows, flea markets, or specialty markets and brocantes when we travel.

My favourite place to source is Paris, France. We regularly source in Paris, and I also source in Italy and other countries while travelling. That aside, did you know most of the antiques you find here are likely from another country originally? Most of the pearls I use are from the UK. Most of the crystals I use are from Austria and the Czech Republic.

Since Canada is a relatively new country, most of our ancestors came from elsewhere and if they were lucky enough to have a few pieces of jewelry, they would bring it with them. So spend some time hunting at a flea market and you can find all kinds of great vintage costume jewelry that has travelled the world!

Tell us about your custom order process?

When a client wants to incorporate their own cherished piece into a new design, I begin by looking over their piece and determining if it is a style worth re-working into a new design. This does not mean the value of the piece. When it is an inherited item the value is often in the sentiment. Whether or not we can use it here depends on the style of the item and can it withstand being altered.

Once I have looked over the component I let the client know how much altering can or should be done to it. From there I ask the client to begin by reviewing my current designs so I can get a feel for the styles that they prefer. Once they determine if they prefer a pendant style, or a statement piece, etc., we review what other items they wish to be alongside their piece. This can be colour or style of chain, other findings, do they prefer sparkle versus subdued items, and really here is where I look to the client to help me understand their preferences.

I then do a mock-up of the piece before altering, get the client's approval, and the final step is to make the piece. Almost every facet of the design is reviewed ahead of time including size requirements. All of these steps in preparation help ensure the client gets the piece they desire and will make them become part of the design process. When you are putting your own cherished item into the piece, it is so important that it be showcased well.

How do other's respond to your work?

My clients love wearing something that no one else will have. They also love the history behind each piece and the story the new piece tells. They feel as I do, that as a society we now have a mindset that moves us towards less disposable fashion. So many of my clients are young and tell me how much they love antiques!

What challenges have you faced in building your business?

Every day is certainly different from the next, and the tasks you perform certainly differ from your first year of business to your current year. The first year is a time to set up, research and prepare. Get your ideas flowing. Get ready to start the business. Research, research, research. I can’t even remember how many hours were spent learning about each facet of the business. Do not think of this as time not making money; it is necessary to prepare the business plan and get your systems, processes and equipment in place. Now in business for three years, my daily duties change as the seasons change. I find the hours I put in can feel overwhelming some days.

I often find myself educating my clients about antiques. This part I love. If someone tells me they love the look of a piece, but don’t know anything about it, you can just see the interest in their eyes as you explain what a Victorian chatelaine was, how it was used, worn, etc. To take an item with that kind of history and create a current piece they can wear today, means they not only have a new piece of jewellery, but can tell the original story behind its’ history.

What is your workweek like?

Every day can be different from the next. It depends on whether I am getting ready for a show, meeting a client, working on orders for a store, sourcing, etc. A common element to my day is reviewing emails first thing in the morning. But when you have your own business you have to enjoy the flexibility of varying events in your day; you never know what issue will come up or what may need your attention.

Who has been the biggest motivator to you, during the development of your work?

I am thankful on a daily basis for my friend and fellow jewelry designer Andrea Tsanos of Stonefox Jewelry Originals. To have someone you trust in the business to share your thoughts and ideas with is crucial. Doing this on your own is hard and when you get stuck, you need someone who can shed a different light on the happenings around you.

What do you have in store for the future?

We have so much in the works right now. A new fall line, new website, the Christmas One of a Kind show, and a new studio where clients can come on an appointment basis to see our Collections.

How do you define success?

For me success is based on a mixture of continuous self-improvement and self-fulfillment. The best question I ever heard was "What will you do with your one life?" We need to feel like we're doing something to contribute to society, to have a sense of purpose and to be valuable to our friends and family.

What advice do you have for others who are thinking of turning their creative passion into a career or business?

Go for it! If you have a passion for something in life, do what you can to make it happen. It feels much less like work when it's something you love to do! To make your business succeed you need to look at the larger picture and try not to get bogged down in the necessities that take so much time. Can you see yourself doing your craft as a business, whether full-time or part-time or is it something you just prefer to do for yourself? When you do it as a business, you open yourself up to feedback from your clients. Do you live in the right environment to support you in the business? Long hours mean less time for other things and it helps to have an amazing support system around you.

All images featured in this post were provided by Tricia McMaster | Green Bijou. For more information visit Green Bijou. You can also join Tricia on Facebook and Twitter.

I will like to thank Tricia for sharing with us her designs and creative business. ~ Yvette-Michelle

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn Walk

I hope that you are enjoying autumn as much as my family and I are. Enjoying the changing colours of the season is one of our favourite things to do. The temperatures are perfect for long walks and there are so many colours everywhere. You never know what you will discover along your walk.

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
When my family and I go for a walk we love keeping our eyes open to see what new mushrooms we will find, and over the years we have found some very interesting looking mushrooms.

Thanks for joining us on our little walk! What do you like best about autumn?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Crochet Washcloths and Dishcloths

This week I made crochet washcloths for my husband and the boys. I used Bernat Handicrafter 100% Cotton yarn ( off white, white and pale yellow) and made them 8 x 8 inches and 10 x 10 inches square. I did not use a pattern, and most of it was done using single crochet. However, I took the opportunity to improve my tension and to practice the stitch variation that I shared earlier this year in my chunky cowl project.

Crochet washcloths and dishcloths are fun and simple to make. They make a great beginner crochet project. You can try a combination of stitches or practice one particular stitch. They are perfect gifts on their own or can be included with other items to create a gift set.

Here is a list of tutorials for making your own:

Single Crochet Mesh Dishcloth or Washcloth
LuLu B Washcloth Patterns
Spa Washcloth Crochet Pattern
Chunky Stitch Crochet Dishcloth Pattern
Three Color Simple Stitch Crochet Dishcloth Pattern
Gingham Dishcloth
Tunisian Crochet Washcloths

You can also find some great ideas on our Pinterest board:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Making a Hand Embroidery Appliqué - Part 2

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful weekend. This weekend I have been catching up on a few projects, including my hand embroidered appliqués, that I mentioned several weeks ago. My plan is to make an apron; but as I mentioned before, I needed to do something to repair a hole in the fabric and I think that an appliqué was the perfect solution. Placing one flower seemed a bit skimpy, so I decide to add three flowers. My original plan was to do three different sizes, but I think in the end there is not a huge difference in the size.

I used a combination of chain stitch, running stitch and French knots. I really like the way it turned out and I think that the combination of stitches works really well for the pattern. I also changed the colours slightly, to give each flower a different look. I used two stands of embroidery floss, doubled the thread and knotted the ends together.

My appliqués have been sewn onto my fabric and I am excited to finish my apron. I will be sure to share with you the finished apron.

What do you think of the finished appliqués?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Goodbye Summer Garden

This past weekend my husband and I said our final goodbyes to our summer garden. The last of the blooms are fading and many have died down. We took advantage of the great weather and got a head start on cleaning the yard before colder weather arrives.

We both enjoy gardening and really love doing it together. This year we had the challenge of dealing with lots of rabbits and squirrels, so needless to say we lost quite a bit of what we had planted. Regardless of our losses, it was lots of fun and so rewarding to see the beautiful blooms.

It was great being outside, chatting and getting things organized. I also had a chance to admire the remaining blooms and took several pictures. There are several new bulbs that will be planted in the coming weeks, and beautiful blooms to look forward to next year.

Have you said goodbye to your summer garden? Are you planting anything new this fall?

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