Simple threads

Last summer, I volunteered to help Janine with a project. She promptly shipped over a box of thread and cards for me to wind. Quinn slept beside me in the shade of our big poplar, Anderson played in the dirt—as only a preschooler can—and I wound and wound and wound. In a summer of changes for our family it was a quiet moment of simplicity.

If you haven't already secured your first edition copy of Dottie Angel, now is the time. The first edition of this popular publication, with all the hand-assembled goodies, vintage buttons and fabric, is almost sold out. A second edition is in the works and will feature a pull out poster.

Girl Crush tea party with Tif Fussell (dottie angel)

The Jealous Curator has a great series of Girl Crush tea parties planned. We have crushes on the same amazing ladies such as Tif Fussell and Lisa Congdon and Shauna Alterio. (The Jealous Curator has even more crushes than me!) Tif's tea party will be held at Seattle's Assemble Gallery & Studio—the same lovely gallery where Tif and I had the book launch for The Suitcase Series: Dottie Angel

Thank you, Paige!

For those of you who have seen the dottie angel book in person, you can appreciate all the lovely tactile details that went into the book's production. In appreciation of our helpers (Ana, Erin, Paige, Kendra, Janice & Bonnie), Tif gave then each one of her embroidered chapter dividers and I wrapped up their books in some of the project remnants—vintage pillowcases that were too nice to cut up, some miscellaneous doilies and button cards. The parcel above was given to Calgary designer Paige Smith, who documented it with these great photographs.

Paige and I share a love of vintage things, flea markets and old typography (but our styles are different enough that we aren't coveting the same things when we go to the Sunnyside Flea Market, which is a good quality in a thrifting buddy!) I gravitate toward print and books, while Paige is always on the lookout for old china to make into her stunning ring and jewellery holders:

These holders are available in Anthropologie stores or you can custom-order one from her Etsy shop by selecting your favourite saucer.

Please visit Paige's blog and website for more inspirational images of her workspace, vintage finds and product photographs. And I would be remiss not to mention that she's also a talented web designer!

The road I'm on…

Tomorrow's my last day at home/work before we all take off (yet again!) for another trip. This time to Seattle to celebrate the launch of dottie angel. I can't believe how quickly the year has gone since Finley, Glen and I first met Tif and her family at Mossy Shed.

When I look back at the 18 months since Finley was born, I can scarcely believe at how much the magazine has grown (let alone my baby boy!)... and that I've also released FOUR books: The Elegant Cockroach, Work/Life 2, A Collection a Day and dottie angel. That's over 1600 pages of content. People often ask "How do you do it?" The answer is simple and difficult at the same time. I just do. Each magazine issue, each book, has its own set of steps. If I just do one thing, then the next, and the next... just keep going and it will get done. Some of the steps are easy and joyful (design, editing, creating), other steps are long, arduous, stressful and not much fun at all (logistics, bills, shipping). But even when the steps seem painfully impossible, I know that if I just push my way through, things will get done. And so even getting one step done in the long process becomes a reward in itself.

Publishing UPPERCASE magazine and creating books is the road that I'm on. I am happy to be on it! Though I am grateful that I started on this path before having a baby. Being the owner of your own business has the benefit of flexibility. My workspace and worktime have been adjustable (for the first year, I designed the magazine, Cockroach, Work/Life 2 and Collection a Day from my basement at odd fits and spurts between feedings, playing and changings.) Glen and I juggle our creative work time with looking after our child; having a supportive partner like Glen makes my work possible. (Glen has been working hard, too—he has finished writing the first draft of his second novel!)

In some ways, I think that I have pushed myself so hard in a creative and business sense because I had a baby. I did not want motherhood to impede my own pursuits and I set out to prove it to myself. My child benefits from a mother who is creatively challenged—and happier for it. Though I would really like to reduce my to-do list (and assign some of those steps to someone else) to free up more time for thinking, musing, planning, playing, making and doing nothing. Indeed, finding that help is a step coming up on my list.

Step one? Spend a lovely few days in Seattle with my great little family, the wonderful Tif and her clan... rest, relax and have a well-deserved vacation.

If you're in the Seattle area this Friday, please do come by Assemble and visit.

A digital mockup of the front of the book launch invitation

(Oh, and out of curiosity I'm also going to check out what "big" publishers do and attend the Design*Sponge book release celebration at Anthropologie the night before.)

Light cube, I love you.

I wish I had made this purchase sooner! A table top lighting system for product photography. I'm still working on proper exposures and best compositions, but off to a nice start. The images still need photoshopping for removal of the background, but so much easier than waiting for decent light to filter in through the window...

(Purchase these books here. Or get all four of the most recent books as part of a bundle and save off the cover price and on shipping.)

Breakfast date!

In less than an hour I have a breakfast date with a few hundred people... I will be speaking on a panel for the "VIP Breakfast Panel, Women Entrepreneurs"! (eep!) If you're here at the event, I welcome you to stop by the UPPERCASE and dottie angel table in the marketplace and say hi. I would be happy to answer more of your questions there and am always receptive to your ideas for the magazine.

Here's a classic shot of Tif in our display:

St. Paul

So a mere 24 hours ago I was uploading the final print files for Issue #11 and now I am sitting in a hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota, doing my homework for the start of The Creative Connection tomorrow morning. It is kind of hard to adjust my brain, from being so focused on the final and minute details of the magazine to now have to think outwardly and prepare for an event with apparently 700 attendees!

I have enjoyed my jam-packed 10 hours in St. Paul so far: the hotel is beautiful, I met with Sharon Werner of Werner Design Werks (I've admired her design work for years!), enjoyed wandering the city for a while (though the wind in bitter cold, which doesn't help my ringing ears from a head cold + air travel), visited a gallery show of Jennifer Davis and Amy Rice, and to top it off, dinner with Tif and Jessie followed by a nice chat by the fire. (Alas, no hot chocolate, Tif! You'll have to carry some in a flask.)

I've got my big camera and laptop with me, so I'll blog recaps when I can. But if you want to follow along in real time, I'll be on @uppercasemag on twitter and instagram sending dispatches from the event.

Featured Stockist: Ray Stitch, Islington

I just wanted to share this press release with you... UPPERCASE magazine and the dottie angel book have a new stockist in the UK! The shop looks absolutely marvellous and Tif and I are thrilled to have our book on the shelves (real and virtual) of Ray Stitch. Thank you to Michelle Zimmer for making this happen.

World’s First Haber-café-ry opens in Islington
Official Opening Monday September 19th 2011
Ray-Stitch, a new concept in haberdashery, is opening on Essex Road in Islington. It’s the brainchild of Rachel Hart, a self-confessed “maker of all things”, who felt fabrics and sewing materials weren’t being done justice by existing retail outlets.
When you walk past the row of brightly-upholstered deckchairs into her beautifully-appointed shop you can see what she means. One end of a six-metre-long, solid oak counter works as a coffee-bar specializing in Climpson & Sons coffee, delicious pastries and freshly-made sandwiches, while the other acts as a generous fabric layout and cutting table.
Fabrics from Ray Stitch’s many and varied suppliers fill the whole of one wall and are displayed like precious books rather than on the usual, clunky white metal rollers you see in department stores. There are patterns for things you might actually want to make such as bags, cushions, and cloaks. And at the far end of the shop are all the tools of the trade – glass-headed pins, tailor’s scissors, measuring tape – an extensive range but, again, tastefully displayed.
“I wanted to present textiles in a non-mumsy, non-tacky, non-bland way,” says Rachel, otherwise known as Ray, as in Ray-Stitch. “But most of all I wanted the shop to be comprehensive. It’s a pain if you want to begin a project and can’t get everything in one place, so I aimed to create a one-stop shop. People can pick up a pattern and browse for the fabric, trim, and buttons. But they can also get the useful and technical bits in the way of an old-style haberdashery or a DIY or art shop.”
So how did the haberdashery get combined with a café?
“I think it’s easier to walk into a café than a sewing shop,” says Rachel, “and what could be nicer than browsing the shelves with a hot drink and a snack close to hand?”
Sam Richards runs the café and he’s downstairs making up the sandwiches before the shop opens at 8.30am each day. He’s become a specialist in the art of good coffee and fits in happily between the pins and the patterns.
If you want tips on what to make, however, you’d do well to ask Michelle Zimmer. She left top textile magazine, Selvedge, to join forces with Rachel and is an avid fabric ‘stasher’. “I’ll always buy a metre of nice fabric wherever I go,” she says, confident she’ll have many uses for it “…cushion covers, a skirt, a bag, a needle bag, bunting, or even wrapping paper for a friend’s present.”
A programme of sewing classes will begin in the basement workshop later in September and Rachel and Michelle are confident in their market. The business has been running successfully online for two years. “Our customers are happy to buy fabric on the internet especially if it is well-chosen and well-presented, but as soon as we started talking about a shop it was clear that many would be delighted to view our wares in real life. There’s also an amazing buzz from local people – it’s a proper high street shop, selling proper things and people are interested to see the how the café/haberdashery mix will work.”
And with their tape measures hung round their necks they return to the counter to welcome their first customers.
Ray-Stitch is at 99 Essex Road, London, N1 34P

It's First Thursday!

Hello, September! My what a busy month you'll be...

First Thursday

Art Central, Calgary

I have 30 advance copies of the dottie angel book for local folks! The rest arrive next week. The books turned out beautifully; Tif and I are so very pleased. Preordered copies are being mailed directly from the printer and will take a few weeks to reach their new homes. You can also order your copy online and it will ship from the fulfillment house in a couple weeks. Read Tif's blog for her reaction to the book and a special giveaway!

September 15-17
The Creative Connection

St Paul, Minnesota

I'm looking forward to this: I'm part of Pitch Slams where participants can present their ideas and portfolios to me in effort to be published, the VIP Women Entrepreneur breakfast, and a panel on self publishing. You can also find Tif and me in the Marketplace selling our wares.

September 30
dottie angel book launch

Assembly Gallery & Studio, Seattle

Join us for the official book celebration in the beautiful Assemble Gallery. Refreshments, bunting, crafts and the wonderful Tif Fussell! I will be there with my family as well. All ages welcome.

Oh yeah, and I'm working on issue #11 which will be off to the printer at some point in September. Busy busy busy!

p.s. This is an excerpt from my monthly e-newsletter. If you sign up, you receive one monthly email that includes sneak peeks and special offers/discount codes. I'll share the current e-newsletter here so that you can see what they're like—and you can preview the cover of the next issue! Sign up here.

Thanks, Mom!

The dottie angel book has many extra little details that make it very special—and labour-intensive. The stitched scalloped-edge postcards adhered to each cover had to be stitched by machine. With a print run of 3000, that's a lot of stitches! Over 3km of stitches, actually!

Thank you so much to my mom and to Paige for taking on this arduous task. Mom stitched her way through 2200 postcards, so chances are high that the book you order will be her stitches on the cover.

Above are some images of my mother's workspace which is just off the family room. The sewing area is designed to fold up and fit behind a closet door, but I can only recall a handful of times when it has been completely stowed away. Which is a good thing because my Mom always has a project in the works.

She recently put up a flannel wall so that she can view her quilts in progress:

Below is a hand-hooked rug that she made. It is one of my favourites; I like the graphic design and use of black.

My Dad holds up a recently completed quilt (he's got quite the wingspan!:

Finley admires some flowers:

Thank you again to my skilled, talented and hard-working mom.

dottie angel: sample copy!

I spent the weekend at my parents' in Saskatoon, and the printer fedexed some preview copies of the book to me there. It looks fantastic, it feels great (so many pages! the curved corners! the textured cover!) I am thrilled with the result. Here are some photos taken outside on the patio.

Currently, the stitched cards and fabric labels are being attached to the covers. Next, the glassine envelopes of goodies will be shrinkwrapped with the book (for protection in transit) and then it is off to all those kind folks and bookstores who preordered the book.

The big mailout occurs this week, so the last day for preorders is Monday, August 22 at midnight, then the database must be compiled and closed. Orders on or after August 23 will be shipping from the fulfillment warehouse in September. Order your copy here!

The book, Tif and I will be at The Creative Connection in St. Paul this September, and the official launch is September 30th at Assemble Gallery and Studio in Seattle. Mark your calendars... we hope to share the book with you in person.

dottie angel: thank you

Thank you to the wonderful helpers who stuffed envelopes of goodies on Thursday: Ana, Paola, Janice, James, Paige, Angela and Kendra. Thank you to all who have preordered so far!

Thus concludes "dottie angel week" on the blog, but I'll be posting more previews of the interior page design, cover mockup and more in the next few weeks. I guess our "dottie angel week" was the same days as "shark week" so I will leave with this image of Tif's shark... Mr. Shark that is, her heavy-duty iron! (Tif has the endearing trait of naming all her appliances.)

Mr. Shark, the ironPreorder the book here!