2015 Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge

While surfing the web last month, I came across Umbrella Prints and their 2015 trimmings challenge. They are an Australian textile company specializing in organic printed fabrics and the patterns were so darn cute, I couldn’t resist ordering a packet of fabric trimmings.


Although I’m not a quilter or sewer (I use my sewing machine for paper more than anything) I decided to give it a try anyway. There’s something about rolling up your sleeves and trying out a new crafty technique that brings excitement and creative energy!


My initial thought was to use the patterned fabric to create an illustrated scene, but I sort of wanted to sew rather than just cut and glue… so thought perhaps I could quilt pieces together randomly to use as a journal cover. It didn’t seem like that exciting of an idea however, so I thought a shape could be created by using cut paper to sort of frame over all the quilted pieces of fabric.


I had everything laid out on my table, but it took me a long while to actually get to sewing. I was sort of afraid to dive in, for fear of making a mistake. The days flew by and suddenly I found myself at the end of the line. Not only that, our second baby is arriving soon, so there’s no time like NOW to get going. So I dove in and just did my best. Even if it’s all a bit lumpy and imperfect, I love the mix of patterns and colors… so happy, cozy, cute and lovely.


I thought the finished piece would be larger, but that’s because I didn’t really think about all the sewing seams… oops! Talk about a newbie, right? I’ve actually taken a sewing class before, but I’m just not very good at it either way! Regardless, I forged ahead and will love my sewing, imperfection and all! I decided to use a classic heart shape for the frame on top. Basically, the idea is to create a wall hanging to put on my studio wallspace. After cutting the heart shape I realized most of the fabric was not showing up and it such a shame. So I got ambitious and starting to cut more areas out of the paper.


As I got into it, I just check going and kept cutting out more areas to reveal the pretty fabric pattern underneath. I got really ambitious, even though the whole time I was so worried that I would make a mistake! Props to all paper cutters out there, for sure. I was just cutting straight lines, but it was nerve wracking regardless. In fact the top and bottom bars were supposed to be multiple lines, but I was too hasty and cut through. However, I’m happy with how it turned out in the end… a very cool geometric kind of cut-out frame.


Here’s are some shots of a few details, imperfections and all. It’s not easy to cut paper precisely and I certain freehanded a lot of lines and corners.



The final product is pretty cute and I love that I have another crafty project to display in my studio. This year is all about making my workspace more happy, motivating and “me.”


Now I just need to decide on how to hang it… using a traditional frame, hanging from a dowel or clip or something else? There are so many creative ways to display work on walls, I want to explore my options…


Do you have any ideas on how to hang pieces on a wall? Did you participate in the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge? Either way, you can always grab some bits of fabric and just play.


In fact, I didn’t want to throw away the tiny pieces of fabric trimmings I had left from the project, so I threw it into a page of my art journal to create a patterned background. Maximum use, no waste! Yay!

If you want to check out all the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge entries, you can follow the Pinterest board here… can’t wait to see everyone’s creative work!

Fauxdori DIY Experimentations


If you are new to the Midori Traveler’s Notebook and don’t know what it is… you may want to check out the Midori 101 video by TheResetGirl – it pretty much explains everything!

I should have watched the video myself before experimenting in making my own notebook which I blogged about – Make Your Own Midori (Fauxdori) Traveler’s Notebook – previously.

After fiddling around with my DIY notebook for awhile, I realized that I kept thinking that the elastic bands had to be more than the height of the insert you slip in, but that’s not entirely true. Technically the elastic can stretch out, but the key is to get the tension perfect, otherwise you start wrinkling up stuff.


Anyway, I decided to make another fauxdori from my DIY learnings… and yes, this means I’m building up a collection already, but each one is slightly differently since I’m actively experimenting with the little details.

I decided to reinforce the holes punched with eyelets – duh! Since I’m a scrapbooker I have lots of tools anyway, so why not use them? I also used a decorative one for the center hole, pretty darn cute, huh?


The funny thing is that I’m such a homebody and SAHM nowadays that I’m not really traveling much as compared to my 20s (I toured Europe and backpacked all over!). However, I’m making this fauxdori to be my in-the-purse notebook, so I have a pretty journal for when I am out and about. Waiting for the doctor, appointments and those kind of situations.


So the result is a roughly A5-sized fauxdori notebook cover with the regular midori sized inserts. I also added a paper pocket on the inside front cover and a back area for a quote to attach my pen holder elastic.


Slowly but surely, I’m customizing and getting the details down to create something I really like.

Yay for DIY, right? With just a little bit of effort you can really get crafty and create your own custom planners and notebooks, suited just for your use and taste. Are you getting crafty or into the whole planner world?


I’ve been taking it easy this month, waiting for our 2nd baby to arrive (any day now!) but still keeping myself creatively active via Instagram. It’s probably because Instagram is so easy to update on a day-to-day basis. I joined in on the #The100DayProject challenge all about the process of making for 100 days in a row. You pick your own challenge and get to it for a 100 days, posting your progress. I kept it simple by challenging myself to create a simple sketch every single day and it’s working because I’m still going at it 40 days later. Pretty cool!


Even though I know that when the baby arrives, I might run into a time crunch, it’s worth incorporating a creative routine into my day, no matter how small or quick. It’s proof that it doesn’t take a lot of time to inject a bit of creative mojo into our busy schedules. It always seems like such trivial progress, but when you look back you realize how much you have accomplished. It’s never too late to join in or start your own initiative or challenge, so I say go for it!

Make Your Own Midori (Fauxdori) Traveler’s Notebook


I’ve been looking into paper planners recently and kept seeing the mention of Midori journals and notebook inserts. Although it’s been around for a long time, I never actually understood what it was. The Midori Traveler’s Notebook is basically a leather cover with elastic bands inside that enable you to slip in and out saddle stitched inserts. This means that you can use the same journal cover over and over, just swapping out your notebook insert inside.

Of course, the original brand name is Japanese and not the cheapest on the block. People have copied the idea and often go DIY, calling them fauxdori. Although the Midori was originally intended for travelers who would swap out inserts for every trip, nowadays people use the same idea for all kinds of purposes. Everyday sketchbook artists, planner addicts, list makers, diary writers, bullet list journalers – you name it! The system is so flexible, it’s just a great way to keep a perpetual journal for any topic or hobby.

I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try my hand at making a Midori (fauxdori) Notebook. There are lots of tutorials out there and definitely some variation in regards to sizes and how the elastic band is bound into the cover. But ultimately, all you need is durable material for your cover, the elastic band material and some basic bookbinding tools. All the other details are sort of up to your preference.


After rummaging in my stash, I decided to use the dark blue leather for my first fauxdori notebook. Unfortunately, the leather is not a very thick and quite floppy. I know that not everyone has access to leather, but you can definitely consider any kind of material that will hold up to be a cover. Whenever I want to strength my cover material, I just cut a piece of cardstock to size and glue it to my leather. Besides adding strength, it’s a nice way to add a pop of color and design to the inside of your journals.

Since I live in Italy and we use A4 paper, I decided to size my notebook accordingly. You can see a bunch of note system page sizes here and decide what you want to go with. Depending how thick and expansive you want the notebook to be, you’ll have to calculate enough width for the spine area. I would have preferred to make mine wider, but I’m limited by the size of the patterned paper that is 30 centimeters wide.


I cut my paper to size first, then glued it to my leather with standard white glue. After everything dried completely, I trimmed my leather to size and made some measurements to punch the holes for the elastic band. I ended up purchasing some colored elastic that you usually see with these types of notebooks – but I didn’t realize 3mm is actually really thick. I think it’s too big because I had to punch really large holes to get it to fit through.


I punched a hole in the middle of the spine for the wrap around part of the elastic. You might have seen that some journals have the closure cord separate and knotted on the back, but I don’t like the idea of having a bump under the writing area of the notebook pages. Now comes the part that tripped me up a bit in the process. I realized that the cover has to be much larger than your notebook insert size from top and bottom, because you have to punch holes for the elastic and the notebook has to slip in. How close did I really want to punch these holes to the edge of the cover? Especially since my cord is so thick, I was risking weakening the whole cover structure and possible tearing through use.


In fact, with all the wrangling I ripped the paper lining at the bottom of the cover as shown in the picture above. Below you can see a view of the finished cover from the outside.


In the end, it wasn’t a total loss, because I just had to cut my notebook insert paper down a 1cm to fit into the cover. I suppose it’s not too shabby for my first try.



Of course, from the hands-on experience I immediately wanted to make another fauxdori with a few improvements. Instead of punching holes in the cover to string the elastic through – reducing the size of the insert that can slip in, I wanted to try wrapping the elastic over the top and bottom of the cover. Of course, it depends on you having a strong enough cover material to withstand that pressure, so this second attempt uses a heavier weight black leather.


I also added a little strip of leather with the wrap around part of the elastic, so the pressure wouldn’t rough up the notebook papers on contact, when closing it up.


Obviously, all this has to be tested with tried and true usage, to see what really happens. I ended up with two fauxdori covers to test out… perhaps will carry it around in my purse to see how the wear and tear goes.


Coming from a bookbinding perspective, I know there are lots of variations possible in terms of where to punch the holes and how many strands of elastic to include, depending how expansive you want your notebook to be. I’m thinking of horizontal row of holes and needing more width for the cover in general. Or maybe even using slits instead of holes.


Lots to consider and think about… not to mention real-world testing.

Well, since I have a whole lot of material available, I will be making more of these to try out some variations in construction and sizes for different purposes. I’m thinking that personally I would definitely use this system for notebooks in my purse, because it’s usually quick notes and things I jot down, not necessarily to be kept forever. It seems the kind of usage that makes sense for something that can be perpetually swapped out.


Have you tried to make a fauxdori? Did you run into any issues or would you opt for traditionally binding a journal?


Currently Crushing…

In attempts to tidy up my possessions and life habits, I want to start compiling a list of my wants here on the blog. There’s so much good stuff out there, but we all need to control our consumerism, not to mention it’s just financially impossible to buy everything. I want to try out the method of eliminating impulse buying and give myself a waiting period before making my final shopping decision. So here goes my first currently loving/crushing list…


1. Been drooling on instagram looking at planners and all the beautiful supplies. So wanting The Planner Society Kits – such cuteness!

2. I’ve known of the erasable Frixion pens for a long time, but always doubted them… but with my recent planner craze I’ve been looking for shops who carry them here in Italy and really want the highlighters. I might be fooling myself into thinking they will help me plan better?

3. I’ve always been an online class addict – information at your fingertips, right? Recently been considering Creativebug because they have such a low membership price… do I have the time?!

4. Although I love a good cappuccino, oftentimes I want more liquid when it comes to coffee in the morning (and throughout the day). So I’ve been wanting to try the Chemex Coffee Maker – everyone seems to rave about it.

5. I’ve only heard good things about Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Only problem is that I’m really behind on my reading list already… oif!

What have you been crushing on lately?