About Me

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Los Angeles, CA, United States
I'm Julia! I sew and design fabric and go on food adventures!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Last Minute" Party and Gift Ideas

I don't know about you, but once posts in the blogosphere start having titles with "last minute" in them, I begin to get a little bit nervous...

But this year, after learning from last year, I came armed for the holidays with a few easy gifts to whip up at the last minute for both the men and women in my life, as well as a few fun party ideas.

For Him:


Bottle Cap Magnets: For the beer fan.

I live in a house with four young adult "dudes", so it stands to reason that at any given time, there are a lot of beer bottle caps laying around, which inspired this project. 


All it takes is some of your favorite bottle caps, craft foam, magnets, and E6000.
~ To get nice bottle caps, either use twist-off caps, or open them slowly with the flat kind of opener.
~ Glue your magnets to the craft foam, then glue the foam to your bottle caps. (If your magnets are thicker than your caps, then just glue the magnet straight to the cap)
~That's it! I made a simple pouch to put them in. This project could be made more cutesy with craft bottle caps that you can find at large craft stores.

Webbing Belt: For the Fashionable Male.

This project takes about five minutes, and is so satisfying! And it can be personalized easily (this pictured belt is actually for me! The man in my life is getting one with skulls)
~ Purchase webbing and a buckle to match (make sure that the buckle is size-appropriate for the webbing you choose) I got this webbing and buckle at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco
~ If your webbing is made of a synthetic material, you can melt the edge of the webbing with a lighter to finish the seams. If you use cotton webbing, finish the edges with fray-check or clear nail polish. 
~ Sew the webbing to the buckle with a heavy denim needle (size 16 or 18)
~ You're done! In terms of how much webbing to buy, a yard and a half is about right for huskier men. You can always buy more and then cut it down (remember to finish the edges!) if you need to.

For Her:


Tote Bag With Pocket: For on-the-go moms or busy students.

I made up this pattern with a simple concept, but The Purl Bee has a great 20 minute tote tutorial as well.

~ Purchase 1/2 - 3/4 of a yard of a cotton or cotton/linen canvas. This one is from Echino and I got it from Harts Fabric.
~ Also purchase 3-3 1/2 yards of cotton webbing. The webbing is also from Harts.
~ Cut two pieces of fabric about 24" x 18", and one about 18" x 6" for the pocket (these dimensions can be tweaked based on the proportions you want)
~ Press tops of tote and pocket over 1/2", then again 1 1/2". Stitch hems down, then pin pocket to front side of tote, making sure to center it on the bottom.
~ We're going to make French Seams! WRONG sides together, stitch side and bottom seams with a 1/4" seam allowance. (making sure to get the pocket in there).  Trim these seams a bit if needed.
~ Then flip inside out with RIGHT sides together, and stitch around the side and bottom seams with a 1/2" seam allowance, making sure to enclose all raw edges.
~ Now stitch ends of webbing together making one big loop. Pin to your bag making sure that it goes down and under each side of your tote evenly and encases raw sides of your pocket.
~ Stitch all the way down and around each side of the webbing making sure to catch the edges of your pocket (the webbing should frame the pocket on the sides).
* If you want, you can be done here, or you can flip up the points of the bottom of your tote and stitch to make a flat bottom!

Pearl and Wire Bird's Nest Pendant: For the Jewelry Lover

This project is so fun and easy! I used this tutorial Sarah Ortega, and learned a few things along the way.
*Memory wire is easy to find ad craft stores, but do NOT use memory wire. Go to a real bead shop and purchase a nice malleable wire, it will make your life easier. I used gold-filled wire, for the pictured pendant. I paid a little bit more for it, but I only needed a yard, and the final product was so much nicer than when I used other wires.
* Make sure that your pearls have large enough holes! This seems obvious, but it could ruin your day if you don't double check.
* Using round-nose pliers also works better because they won't leave marks in your wire.

~ String 3-4 pearls onto your wire and arrange in a circle
~ Secure your circle by looping the start of your wire onto the wire immediately after your last pearl.
~ Start winding and winding around your cluster of pearls in imperfect circles until your nest is the right density, then loop remaining wire around nest to secure.
~ Attach to a jump ring and then to a chain. Voila!

For Your Last Minute Party:

Dressing up Dollar Store Cups:

I am a college student, and am on a college student budget. So for my holiday party I shopped for supplies at the Target dollar section (where I found this awesome glitter tree decoration), and the Dollar Tree. Unfortunately the Dollar Tree was out of X-mas themed cups, so I bought black cups and red and green tissue paper. Cut small strips of tissue paper, layer, twist into bows and hot-glue your festive bow-ties to your cups. How fancy!

Glitter Snowflake Bobby Pin Party Favors:

I took some glitter snowflake table scatter (Again, from Target's dollar section) and E6000'd (can I verb that?) them to some thick bobby pins. These not only make cute favors, but are fun last-minute gifts as well

Whether you're feeling the pressure, or are as cool as a cucumber this holiday season, I hope this has given you some good gift ideas as it gets closer to the holidays!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Simple Ten-Minute Tee Tutorial

I LOVE the sense of accomplishment that you get you finish that perfect structured garment. However, sometimes I want sewing to be more like shopping, that is to say that I want to spend a little bit of time and walk away from the whole experience with a new outfit.

So here's my solution: The Ten-Minute Tee.

This project was born one laundry day when this indecisive dresser found herself about a half an hour before work and all of my clean shirts were in the laundry! ARG! So I whipped one of these up and have made several of them since.

This simple and quick project is also great for people who are a little intimidated by sewing with knits. It can be done entirely on a regular sewing machine with straight stitches!

Materials you'll need:
~ 3/4 - 1 yard of a jersey or interlock knit fabric
~ A Tee-shirt that fits well
~ A regular ol' sewing machine (with matching, or complimentary thread)
~ A pair of scissors
~ Pins

Step One:
Turn on your TV, or play some Netflix. This project can be completed in less time than it takes to watch an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" but you might as well multi-task eh?

The REAL Step One:
Measure your torso and determine how long you want your top to be. Cut your piece of fabric to that length. At this point your piece of fabric should be have the dimensions of the width of your fabric (probably 60" or so) by your desired length (I like 'em around 27").

Step Two:
Fold your piece of fabric selvage to selvage, and cut along this fold. Remove selvages (I don't always do this if they're not obvious). You should now have two square-ish pieces of jersey fabric. These are all of your pieces! Yay! The sides that you just cut, will be the sides of your tee.

Step Three:
Place your two pieces right-sides together, and determine how wide you want your neck hole to be (this top also looks cute with a wider, off-shoulder collar). Use pins to mark where you want your neck hole to be making sure that it's centered.
Now sew your shoulder seams by sewing from the edge of your neck hole to the sides of your top.

Step Four:
Now flip that puppy right side out. You can pull it over your head to make sure that your neck hole is big enough. You may also pretend that you are a poncho-wearing cowboy at this point. No one will judge you.
Lay your top out flat, and then lay a top that you like the fit of on top of it. Pin around the edge of your old top to mark the beginning and general shape of side-seams (it will be more flattering if your side seams are a little curved).

Step Five (Last Step!!!):
Sew along the lines you made with your pins (yes! With your fabric right-side out!). At this point your basically done, but now you can shape your collar if you want. You can cut a round or scoop or v-shaped neckline. Mostly I like to keep it simple by cutting a straight slit a few inches down the front to make a v-neck with cute little "lapels".

Now go wear that puppy and make all of your friends jealous!!!

Stay tuned for: Easy and Fun Holiday Gifts for Ladies AND Gentlemen!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fun Things on the Horizon

Since My last post here, I have:

Turned the "ripe old" age of 21,
Been promoted,
Begun perhaps my last summer vacation ever,
Crafted my crafty little heart out,
Visited Disneyland for the first time in what feels like a lifetime,
Participated in Harts Fabric's 1st Annual Craftacular Wonderfair,
And been roped into applying for San Francisco's winter Renegade Craft Fair by a colleague.

Whew! It's been an eventful (more than a) few months!

But I feel that I am in a position now to pay more attention to this blog, and my wonderful crafting hobbies and friends.

I've been stepping out of my crafting comfort zone by pushing myself to create new items out of new materials that i can hopefully market and sell (unfortunately, working in the fabric industry doesn't necessarily support my fabric addiction)

I've been working on these leather pouches:

I've ben making them in both coin purse sizes, and what I call "secrets" size, which I imagine to be perfect for ring boxes, tooth fairy pouches, or of course, small secrets.

I'm having fun choosing fabric to match with the leather. I get to use all of my favorite cottons that I don't necessarily desire to make a garment out of. It's also a great way to bust trough all of my cotton and leather scraps.

I also sold these knit tops that I screen printed. I like the style of top, but I think that If I make them again, I'll build a cleaner screen (although the grungy, distressed look of these tops is kind of fun!)

I'm adding items to my etsy this weekend, and I'll have new posts here this week, including a fun and easy top tutorial!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hand-Sewn Small Things.

There is something just so satisfying about hand-sewing. It's meditative to focus on each little stitch being made, coming together to form the final result. 
I also love small things. Little decorations and embellishments are the icing on any project I work on.
From this is born my obsession with Clover Needlecraft's yo-yo and flower makers.
Small yo-yo in progress. Made from echino double-gauze.
Now, it's no secret yo-yo's and fabric flowers can be made without the aid of anything at all. Purists may even scoff at my addiction to these tools, and frankly, I cant really disagree with them. However, Clover's products make it so easy to create the perfect stitches and gathers for these projects making them easy and relaxing enough to do while watching a movie (I associate hand-sewing with Jane Austin movies) or even while in class (yes, yes, I admittedly do this more than maybe I should).
Clover also knows how to design an attractive product:
How could these not cheer you up? L to R: Large Sweetheart Rose maker, Large Shamrock yo-yo maker, and large and small yo-yo makers.
At first, I had no idea what I would possibly do with a bunch of fabric circles, but now I am enamored with the possibilities of these products. So far I have put yo-yo's on headbands, roses on hair ties and combs (What? I love hair accessories!!!), and am making some to put on cardigans and shirts. My boss at Hart's Fabric, who introduced me to this obsession, even features them on an amazing quilt with wonderful results.
L to R: Large shamrock yo-yo, large regular yo-yo's, and large sweetheart roses. 
So there is one of my latest obsessions. If you love hand-sewing and small things as much as I do, then you should check these products out! They have a bunch of cute shapes and sizes to play with: Clover's yo-yo page.

Stay Tuned for Alchemy Tea's next entry: Adventures in screen-printing!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Official First Post!

Welcome to Alchemy Tea!
I'm creating this blog to better organize my creative thoughts and to catalogue my creative endeavors. I hope you'll join me on my journey!
But who am I? Well, the basics, I guess, is that my name is Julia. I currently live in Santa Cruz, CA. I go to the University of California here in SC, and major in Plant Sciences. I sew, I draw, I make jewelry and I do a lot of homework.
My style and influences vary day to day. I can't say that I subscribe to one aesthetic particularly more than others, but I have been known to be active in the Bay Area Japanese Lolita fashion culture. Ive also been known to create and wear costumes for the few comic book/anime conventions that I can make it to in a year. My current obsession (along with much of the rest of the internet) is Steampunk.

So, I guess that that's me in a nutshell. I hope that through this blog I can share my love of fabric, design, crafts, fashion and nature with a larger community than that which immediately surrounds me.
I'm looking forward to posting content and sharing with everyone!
Happy reading!

Sunday, February 27, 2011