Two Projects for Easy Spring Maintenance

Spring may be the "time of plans and projects" but these slightly milder days demand more time in the sun when we can find it! Today’s crop of craft titles yields a pair of easy ways to keep two things in good working order: your wooden spoons and your relationships. Who can do without those?

Max Bainbridge graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design before setting up Forest + Found with his partner, quilter Abigail Booth. Based out of a workshop in his East London garden, Max works with sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood to hand carve and turn bespoke kitchen and homeware.

Max’s book, Heirloom Wood, is a beautifully photographed and clearly written guide to sourcing your own wood, setting up a basic toolbox, and then creating your own hand-carved bowls, cutting boards, spoons, spatulas, and more. He uses his own recipe for beeswax salve on every piece, to bring out the “natural color and patina of the grain.”

We recommend it even if you haven’t carved a thing—woodenware treated this way is not only protected against moisture, it stays usable, washable, and completely food-safe.

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in  Heirloom Wood .

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in Heirloom Wood.

Beeswax Salve

Excerpted from Heirloom Wood

This recipe will give you a large mason jar of salve, which should last you a good amount of time.

Tools and materials:

1 quart (1 liter) pure mineral oil

18 ounces (500g) pure beeswax pellets

large saucepan

heat source

mason jar

kitchen towel

1. Sterilize the mason jar using boiling water, or put it through a dishwasher cycle. Start by measuring out 18 ounces (500g) of beeswax pellets and 1 quart (1 liter) of mineral oil. The basic ratio is two parts mineral oil to one part beeswax. 

2. Pour the oil into a large saucepan and set the heat to its lowest setting. Add the beeswax and heat gently until the pellets start to dissolve. Stir very gently to ensure the two ingredients have combined thoroughly. As soon as the mixture is clear, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. Let the beeswax and oil cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour the mixture into the mason jar. Be careful in case the liquid is still hot.

4. Set aside and leave the lid open. Place a kitchen towel over the jar to ensure nothing drops in. Allow the salve to cure overnight and, once it is completely cool, it will set and turn cloudy. It is then ready to use.

5. Use a lid with a rubber gasket to seal the jar, and store in a cool, dark place.

Salve from Heirloom Wood

A long way away across the equator, Australian-Lithuanian photographer and designer Ebony Bizys had worked at Vogue magazines for 11 years before realizing, in 2010, that she felt most alive on her vacations to Japan, and making the move permanent.

Ebony Bizys

Since moving to Tokyo, Ebony has art directed books, hosted solo exhibitions, designed a Japanese fashion website, been commissioned by Vogue Japan to make artworks for their publication, collaborated with Japanese masking tape brand mt, and on a fashion line with Romance was Born, styled for various magazines, trend reported for various companies and written for magazines including Vogue, British Airways, Inside Out, Real Living and Frankie. She chronicles her daily life in Tokyo at her blog Hello Sandwich.

Ebony describes the book Hello Tokyo as “a hard copy of the blog, with stories about living in Tokyo, projects to create a cute Tokyo-inspired lifestyle, and pages on collaborations and past projects.” We love her tips on picnics and party decorations, but most importantly, the entire chapter on correspondence!

Ebony recommends making your own envelopes as “a fun and simple way to set the mood for when the recipient opens their mailbox to find this handmade surprise. Plus, you’ll never have to spend money on envelopes again!”


Envelopes from Hello Tokyo


7 Ideas for Handmade Envelopes

Excerpted from Hello Tokyo

Fabric-covered envelopes

Idea 1: Fabric-covered envelopes 

Cover paper with pretty fabric before folding to make an unexpected envelope. Use spray adhesive to stick fabric to the envelope base, then use craft bond glue to hold the flaps in place. Line the envelope with tracing paper or patterned waxed paper.

Mini envelopes

Idea 2: Mini envelopes 

These come in handy when you need to give someone something teeny, such as money or tickets. It’s also a great way to use up small pieces of cute paper. Adding a mock stamp is a fun way to play with scale, don’t you think?

Window envelopes

Idea 3: Window envelopes 

Here’s an envelope that lets you sneak a peek: Cut out a window shape with scissors or a craft knife. I also like to use a Martha Stewart Crafts All Over The Page Punch. Apply transparent paper to the back of the window using glue tape around the edges.


Idea 4: Envelope templates 

I like to keep a stash of envelope templates on hand; however, if you don’t have an envelope template, you can easily make one from an existing envelope. Gently open up the glued edges, being careful not to damage the paper. Et voilà, your very own envelope template! Trace this opened-out envelope onto card stock to create a template built to last the crafter’s mile!

Hand-painted envelopes

Idea 5: Hand-painted envelopes 

Have you ever finished painting and been left with excess paint on your palette? If I find myself in this situation I like to paint pieces of paper in simple patterns, such as stripes, dots, or freestyle designs, to create decorative paper that can be used later for various craft purposes, such as original handmade envelopes.

Eyelet circle-closure envelopes

Idea 6: Eyelet circle-closure envelopes 

Use an eyelet punch and a circle of cardboard to create a unique closure for your envelope.

Transparent envelopes

Idea 7: Transparent envelopes 

Experiment with various transparent papers such as kitchen waxed paper, tracing paper, tissue paper, and translucent contact paper (with the sticky sides sealed together). If the paper is slightly creased, I like to scrunch it and smooth it out two or three times to enhance the textured effect. Use POSCA pens or other markers to add color. Some waxed papers can be pesky with glue, so craft bond glue might be your best bet. Colorful washi tape along the joins can add security and a nice design effect.

Both Hello Tokyo and Heirloom Wood are on shelves today! Take a peek at the books below.

Natalie Chanin is Back with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns!

Today is an exciting day—Natalie Chanin, founder and creative director of Alabama Chanin, is back with the book fans have been waiting for: Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns

If you've ever dreamt of creating your own Alabama Chanin wardrobe (and really, who of us hasn't?), this exciting compendium takes the Alabama Chanin library to the next level, offering all the patterns from Chanin’s first three books on a convenient CD, plus instructions and patterns for new skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets, with illustrated guidelines for customizing the fit and style of each. 

Hand-sewists: this is a key guide to customization. This invaluable resource is bursting with information about the ins and outs of refashioning shapes, raising and lowering necklines, taking in and letting out waistlines, and other key skills for creating the wardrobe of your dreams.


Chanin also provides guidelines for adapting patterns from other popular sewing companies to the Alabama Chanin style: stitched by hand in their signature soft, organic cotton jersey and embellished with swirls of stenciling, embroidery, and beading.


For more inspiring peeks into the book, check out our image gallery. Or, get your hands on a copy today, wherever books are sold!

Alabama Chanin Dress--Completed (with a little help from my mom)

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you may recall that last February I posted a photo of the kit I got from Alabama Chanin in order to hand-sew the Spiral Applique & Beaded Camisole Dress from Alabama Studio Style.

The dress is finished. Back in February and March I sewed together the front and back pieces, cut out all of the spirals and pinned them on, stitched one spiral to the back, and then . . . nothing. Everything sat neatly arranged on my ironing board--for a long time. I  just wasn't making time to work on the dress, though I desperately wanted to wear it. And that's when inspiration struck.

In the age-old tradition of daughters everywhere, in July I packed the materials in a bag and gave them to my mother, who is the most industrious person I know. True to form, she worked diligently and a couple of weeks ago, she brought the completed dress to me.

I've worn the dress twice already and love it. Thanks, Mom!

I love the way the beaded parallel whipstich looks at the neckline! I'm thinking about making a dress in this style without any other embellishment except this neckline treatment.


Mom improvised a bit on the placement of the circle appliques. They're a little further apart than the ones shown on the dress in Alabama Studio Style. She also added extra beads around some of the sprials; I may add a few more.

Just so you know: I wasn't a total sloth while my mother worked on this dress. I completed an Inked and Quilted Camisole Top from Alabama Studio Style as well as a Subway Hat from Modern Top-Down Knitting (photos to come soon), and the sweater for my son that I posted about below. And in the best news yet: My mom said she liked making the dress and would be willing to make another one with different embellishment.


(My photos are in black and white since my color photos made the dress look purple for some reason--the colors on the real dress actually look pretty close to what you see here.)

Sewing Green ”Show Us How You Sew Green” Special Offer

Sewing Green author Betz White and custom-fabric printer Spoonflower are teaming up for sustainability. Betz has designed a new Sewing Green print (shown above) and Spoonflower is printing it on 4-oz pure organic cotton. The fabric is available for purchase through Spoonflower's Etsy shop.

To celebrate this beautiful eco-smart collaboration, for $6, while supplies last, Spoonflower will send you a swatch the exact size you need to sew the Organic Washies from Betz’s book. And to sweeten the deal, we invite you to take part in our “Show Us How You ‘Sew Green’” Contest for the chance to win the book of your choice from STC Craft.

We’ve created a Flickr group called “Show Us How You ‘Sew Green’”. To enter, before noon EST on September 14th, post a photo to this group showing one of the following:

-a project you’ve made from Sewing Green (to see a gallery of images from the book, including the washies, click here)

-a project you’ve made with Betz’s new “Sewing Green” fabric

-a green or eco-friendly craft project you’d like to share

For more details and to share this offer with your friends, click here.

All eligible entrants who upload a project photo will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win the STC Craft book of his or her choice. On or about September 14th, 2009, we will pick three (3) winners in a random drawing. (To see our online catalog, click here and here. To see galleries of images from many of our books, including Sewing Green, click on the titles you're interested in at right.)

Limit one (1) entry per person, per Flickr account. We’ll be contacting the winner via Flickr mail, so please be sure your account is linked to a valid email address!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 18 or older as of date of entry. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59:59 AM ET on 9/14/09. Visit for full official rules. Void where prohibited.