Drawing …

May 19, 2016

papeterie nota bene_Drawing2

I’m drawing (again) sort of .. I joined a drawing group that meets every week and we draw “gestures.” We pose for each other, a series of 6 poses and we have a 1-minute to draw the gesture of the pose. It’s been ages since I’ve been drawing, for some reason …  drawing seems like a luxury. I’ve been joining the group, on and off over the course of the year and most recently I find myself really enjoying the meditation of drawing.

These pics are from my favourite store in Montréal, papeterie nota bene* at 3416, ave du parc. They have a unique selection of agendas, notebooks, pencils, design books and all things paper. My eyes have gleaned over almost every item in the store.

papeterie nota bene_Drawing1papeterie nota beneDrawing3

How to: Black lace top with collar

April 18, 2016

A few weeks ago, with nothing I wanted to wear to a surprise birthday party, I made this black lace shell. It’s been many months since I had the time or inclination to do any sewing. It was so nice to take the time to make something for myself and to remember how much I enjoy sewing.

Black Lace top, Lace shell diy, lace top tutorial

This is a tutorial for making an unlined, boxy lace shell with a standing collar and long sleeves. There’s an invisible zipper and uses the natural lace edges for the sleeve and bottom hems.

Finished measurements: Black lace shell length – approx. 22″, Chest width – 20.5″, Sleeve – 23″ (I have long arms), collar – approx 2″ in height.


What you will need:

  • enough fabric for length of your torso and sleeve (44/45″ – 1.5 m or 58/60″ – 1.3 m)
  • invisible zipper, approx.12-15″
  • thread

Step 1: I used a basic top pattern as a base (I have McCall’s pattern – 8277, unfortunately out of print) and used a favourite lululemon shirt to get the ideal measurements for the sleeve and shirt length.Here’s a link to a basic top pattern or a free downloadable long-sleeve T pattern  (Cut the back bodice in half and add .75″ for the centre back seam to allow for the zipper).

Black Lace top, Lace shell diy, lace top tutorial, Lace shell tutorial

Step 2: Cut your bodice. Open the fabric and lay pattern pieces on the fabric. Place the bottom of the bodice at the lace edges. Cut the entire bodice as one piece to avoid the side seams. Place the right back bodice beside the front bodice and left back bodice piece.


If you want to hide the seams in your top, be sure to trim around the lace pattern when you are cutting your fabric.


The lace edges will extend beyond your pattern edges. Baste the sewing line with contrasting thread so you know where the edges of the pattern pieces are.


Use a zig-zag stitch over the edges of the lace like an applique stitch. The lace will appear as a piece of fabric. Here is the link to a tutorial for sewing lace and shows you how to hide your seam allowance. I used this way of sewing lace for attaching the collar, shoulder seams and the sleeves. The drawn line indicates where I zig-zagged over the lace edges to get a seamless look.


Step 4: Cut your sleeve and collar. Fold fabric together and position the sleeve edge with edges of the lace.  Cut two sleeves. I wanted narrowish sleeves – the width of the midpoint of the sleeve were approx. 10″


Measure the neckline on the front and back bodice piece and double the measurement to get your collar length. Cut a collar piece with your approx. neckline measurement  x at least 1.75 inches tall (or whatever height you want your collar to stand.)

Step 4: Sewing the top together. Attach the front and back top shoulder pieces together. To hide the seam allowances, I basted the garment together and used a zig-zag stitch over the edges of the lace like an applique stitch. Here is the tutorial for sewing lace.

Attach the collar piece to the neckline and follow the same steps for hiding seam allowances. Alternatively, you can finish the inside seams with seam binding.

Black Lace top, Lace shell diy, lace top tutorial, Lace shell tutorial

Step 5: Sew an invisible zipper to the back bodice pieces. See instructions for sewing an invisible zipper here.


Step 5: Baste the sleeves together and zig-zag over the lace edges like an applique stitch to get a seamless look for the sleeves. The drawn line indicates where I zig-zagged over the lace edges to get a seamless sleeve.


Attach the sleeve to the bodice by turning your sleeve inside out and placing it inside the armhole. Sew together. I opt to sew regular seams and finished the edges with seam binding to get some structure in the top.

Step 6: Finish. The natural edges of the lace is a nice detail for the garment hem and the sleeves. Keeping the garment unlined gives you many options for wearing different colours underneath.


Here were my inspirations for my black lace shell. I think a white lace shell would also be a good addition to any wardrobe. Different weights of lace patterns can give your lace top a casual or refined look. Pick a lace pattern that suits your purpose. I generally prefer thick fabrics and really loved the heavier lace fabric I used for my top.


Black lace:  Margaret Zhang | Temperley London Nomi lace top | Keri Russell.
White lace: Dolce Vita Top | White crochet top with lovely bell sleeves | Balloon sleeves | Self-Portrait Flounced ruffle sleeve daisy lace top | Self-Portrait Guipiure lace top

How to: Make your own Solar System-in-a-box

July 8, 2014

My son is fascinated with the planets, space, the stars, sun … he knows all the planets and the number of moons they have, how the solar system formed and repeats the facts over and over. A great summer project that spans over afew days was making our very own solar system.

Choocha_SolarSystem_21  Choocha_SolarSystem_1

What you will need:

  • a large box (i.e computer box or boot or small appliance box)
  • styrofoam or foam balls
  • paint
  • string or fishing line
  • screws

Step 1: Determine the size of your planets and cover the sphere with paper maché. I made a homemade version of the paper maché paste by mixing 1 part flour to 2 parts water in a large bowl. Mix it until there are very few lumps.


You can use newspaper, but I had lots of lightweight white bond paper around and covered the spheres this. Insert a screw so that you can tie a string on the planet to suspend them. Let the spheres dry until it becomes firm.


Step 2: Have fun and paint your planets. (It can get alittle messy!) Let dry.

Choocha_SolarSystem_12Choocha_SolarSystem_10 Choocha_SolarSystem_11

Step 3: We recently upgraded to a new computer so the computer box was a perfect size to house our space adventures. Paint the inside of the box and hang the planets using string or fishing wire. I also used old ribbons and elastics that were around the house and we cut out some stars and glued them to the box.


Choocha_SolarSystem_3 Choocha_SolarSystem_14 Choocha_SolarSystem_15 Choocha_SolarSystem_16Choocha_SolarSystem_20Hours of fun from a box with lots of exciting space travel expeditions to be had. Great hours of play n’ learn when adding rocket ships, asteroids, black holes and aliens.


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How to: Potted herbs Teacher’s “Thank you” gift

June 23, 2014

I can’t believe how fast the first year of school went. Kindergarten went out in a flash. With summer just around the corner, an inexpensive thought-that-counts teacher’s “Thank you” gift would be repotting some herbs bought at the local corner store. I reused some vases from plants that didn’t survive, added a great gift tag holder and it’s a lovely and practical teacher’s gift. My son loved getting his hands dirty.


Choocha_TeacherThankYou_1 Choocha_TeacherThankYou_2 Choocha_TeacherThankYou_3 Choocha_TeacherThankYou_4Choocha_TeacherThankYou_6 Choocha_TeacherThankYou_7

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How to: Happy Father’s Day “desktop picture” card

June 15, 2014


Wishing all the Dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day. When my son grows up, I know he will have very fond memories of playing with his dad as his playmate. My husband does everything with him from crossword puzzles, explaining the intricacies of how a piece of electronics work, to play fighting. (Keep in mind that our son is only 6!)

My son has accumulated a great collection of toy cars … some cars were ones my husband found in his garage sale/second hand shops rounds, birthday gifts, some from my father’s own collection and others from a trip to the mall with the grandparents.

We always handcraft cards for special occasions. Since my husband is always on the computer – I thought this year’s Father’s Day would be a desktop picture of a selection of my son’s toy car collection. We changed the screen on his computer the day of and — surprise — happy father’s day!

It’s very easy to do and also documents your child’s toy collection. You can make a electronic desktop picture card for any occasion/event.


Step 1: Take a photograph of your child’s favourite toys  Arrange the toys preferably on a white or solid background. Desktop pictures work best when there is white space so you can see your folders and loose documents you need to file. Consider grouping similar colours and shapes together, or arrange in an interesting grid or place toys together to form a shape.

Stand directly above your toys – you may need a small ladder or chair to get an overall view. I used a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens on my Nikon D300. You can cover a range of distance with this lens. Snap a picture directly above the arrangement in a high resolution jpeg.


Step 2: Edit your image in Photoshop or any other image software and make the final image size to match your display resolution. I made my image to measure 2560×1440 pixels (at 72 dpi) – which is an optimal for most monitors. Personalize your desktop image with some lovely words.

Step 3: Save the image as a jpeg and it’s ready to be used as a desktop picture.

Here’s a Desktop picture just for you. Download here.




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