Modern and Ancient Collide…Obi iPad and Kindle Case DIY

Each year after the ASIJ Quilt is completed, I am left with a crafting hole in my life. Last year, the lovely and talented Erin Leong brought her hand sewn iPad case to one of our last quilting sessions and the oohs and aahs were deafening.


Using vintage and antique obi, kimono and haori lining fabrics, coupled with obijime as closure ties, she fashioned cases pretty enough to stand on their own as small clutches in addition to their proscribed use.


We decided to meet and all make a case or two for ourselves. Erin brought a sample that she had just begun (click on photos throughout this post for details). Obi brocades are just thick enough to provide some soft cushioning for electronics and they are just the right width for a standard large iPad. For a Kindle or iPad mini, the width needs to be cut down to fit. Since obi are thick and reinforced inside, she takes them apart to cut the outside layer of the bag. Soft silk, rayon or cotton lining fabric is perfect for the inside.

Each one is simply a long rectangle of fabric, folded in thirds, with two sections sewed together to make the pocket and the third section left free as the flap.


The play between the colors of the wrapped detail edge of the lining and the obijime, contrasted with the outer obi fabric is what makes these bags so fun to design. Erin has also included a bit of sashiko embroidery on her two bags, giving them extra depth and detail.


This one was custom sized for a Kindle.


She and I pooled our stash of non-valuable obi for the group and the creativity began. Combinations were tried out and tested.


In the end, this traditional brocade on the left looked best paired with the indigo cotton in a stylized bamboo pattern on the right. We decided that a curvy flap went best with the pattern too. If you compare Erin’s two bags above, one has an angular flap, while the other a soft scroll similar to this one.  Aesthetic decisions were left to each person and dependent on the fabric and taste.

The outer fabric is cut to be about half an inch wider on each side than the object you want stored in it. The lining is cut with about an additional quarter-inch seam allowance. If you cut it too big, it is too bulky to sew along the outside edge.  Cut it too narrow and you can’t fold it under to make a clean edge before sewing. There are no exact instructions for this project – it is kinda do as you go.


This case looked a little blah when finished and closed, so a bright orange obijime and some sashiko stitching were added. You’ll notice that small cases look and work best with the obijime running horizontally, while on the large size it is best vertically.


Erin’s detail work is lovely – she did all the sashiko stitching on this one.


This is another that I made and love the play of the watery green lining and the bold mauve obi. The cases are designed to look handmade, and to counteract the formality of this piece I sewed the lining edge with a blanket stitch, done in a very casual style.


In the end, the case had some issues.  I had decided I wanted the extra thickness of the obi and did not dismantle it.  The net result was that it was almost impossible to get the needle through to sew it. Does that sound familiar? Without Erin’s assistance it would never have been done! As it is quite formal and very pretty, I think it will be kept to use as an evening clutch – I can’t quite see dragging it around as a case.


Another friend could not resist the idea of making an evening bag and chose a formal silk obi and silk lining that matched and contrasted at the same time.



She never got around to finding an obijime for it so I believe she simply used a hidden interior fastener. I think that one green flower in the lining is what makes this so perfect and so Japanese!

obi ipad caseobi ipad case inside

Yet another friend went all green – fancy brocade exterior with silk lining in a realistic bamboo pattern. After taking apart her obi, she found the fabric to be too soft, so she reinforced it with some iron-on interfacing. You can see how each project evolved a bit differently. She also chose to follow the shape of the hexagon in the brocade when cutting the shape of her flap. I’m not sure she has progressed much beyond this point.  Like I said, sewing through obi fabric is a huge pain!


We are trying to convince Erin to start making these for sale, so if you would be interested, please give a shout out in the comments or send me an email.  They are absolutely gorgeous – the combination of antique and vintage textiles with the hand sewing is so unusual.

Related Posts:

A Not Quite DIY…An Obi and Quilt Block Pillow Tale
The Magpie Gene…Vintage Kimono and Judyth van Amringe
Saving Coral…Finding Treasure in Shrine Sale Junk

A Possible DIY…Painted Inlay Vanity?

If you didn’t follow my bathroom re-do last summer, you might want to read this post, before starting this one. As a quick recap, my master bathroom at the shore went from this to this…

master bath from rental listingimg_0097

…and this to this, for almost no money and a just lot of sweat equity, including me personally hand stamping an Indian block print for what felt like a million times.

toilet view master bathtoilet side master bath

The thing that didn’t get finished and thus does not appear in the photos is the vanity which was not changed out. One of the choices I was really interested in was using some kind of mother of pearl or bone inlaid chest or table as the sink vanity. It was complicated, because I couldn’t find one the right height or size and many were absolute budget busters anyway. After I left at the end of the summer, it went on the back burner, but still simmered all year. Well, in this month’s House Beautiful, Rebecca Minkoff did just what I was talking about, converting an inlaid dresser to a vanity by adding a sink. It got me to thinking…


A number of favorite bloggers – all master DIYers, though, unlike me – have painted the most extraordinary trompe l’oeil inlaid pieces lately using either stencil kits or in some cases painting free hand. Camille at The Vintique Object painted and stencilled this small chest after practicing on a small stool first. She used a stencil kit from Cutting Edge Stencils, designed by Kim Myles, who also has a great how-to on her blog. Would you ever believe this piece wasn’t actually inlaid?

vintique object painted inlay

Jenny over at Little Green Notebook free-hand painted this dresser for her girls room. It has a more relaxed look, but still that great Moroccan vibe. Visually, she used the same technique, with scrolling floral pattern inside borders.

Little green notebook inlay painted dresser

Marian at Miss Mustard Seed goes even more free form with this hand painted art deco era dresser (you would never believe the before photo!). If she can convert that dresser, then I have to be able to do something with my vanity!

hand painted dresser via miss mustard seed

So I am wondering if I might accomplish a few things at once if I try this on my vanity. One, I won’t have to look at its ugliness anymore until I find the right thing to change it to, and two, I can check out and “practice” having an inlaid piece in the space to see if it is worth the splurge to get a real one. Now, mine has more of a bombé shape, but I am thinking there is potential!


What say you all?

Master Bathroom Related Posts:

Renovation Report…The Finished Master Bathroom (Almost)
Renovation Report…Vanity Dreams or Vanity Reality?
Renovation Report and a DIY…Using Indian Wood Blocks to Create “Wallpaper” in the Master Bath
Renovation Report…Do You Throw Good Money After Bad? Thoughts on Fixing My Master Bathroom
A Day Too Late…One Perfect Bathroom Photo
Renovation Report…Pocket Door Progress

Glass Fishing Floats for the Holidays

Sorry to be so MIA, but I have been constantly in motion for the last month – both physically and geographically, but also emotionally, quite frenetically. Not quite ready to talk about any of that yet, but it, along with jet lag and poor internet access, has led to an inability to get posts out in a timely manner. It hasn’t helped that we landed at JFK the morning of the Newtown massacre and that subsequently left me utterly too disheartened to write.

Recent posts on ami, the Japanese fish net pattern, and even a photo in my last post of a great glass fishing float perched on an itomaki silk spool, reminded me that I had an unfinished post on one of my most popular topics still in the hopper. I realized I had a lot of images that pertained to the holidays, so what better way to add a little cheer than some vintage Japanese glass fishing floats for Christmas?

Small floats look wonderful lined up along a windowsill to catch the light, highlighting the variations in color and form.

NYTimes floats in kitchen

The sun streaming through the colors is magical.

fishing floats senbei canisters wi

Look at how it lights up this pair of rare amber ones I recently found.

amber floats

Bottle and float pairings are always perfect and the glass was designed to be exposed to the elements, so catching the sun’s rays outside is another great way to display them.

floats and wine jug via dirty deets

Colorwise, vintage ball jars make great companions.

floats and ball jars via scambledpreservedfriedcured

Here they have been grouped to great effect for a gorgeous holiday display!

fishing floats christmas

I know this is actually the powder room mirror in this photo, but doesn’t it look just like a sparkly silver modern wreath?

Small floats were designed to be strung together in their nets for use.

Seeing these working photos makes me think they would make great garlands on a tree or strung in front of a fireplace.

As ornaments anyone? Amazing photo, no??

hanging fishing floats

Of course it turns out there are a number of great DIY tutorials on how to turn simple glass Christmas ornaments into ones that look like floats, from this one at Sand and Sisal

Glass Float Ornaments (1024x739)[4]

…to this one over at Matsutake.

home made float ornaments

Can’t resist including this photo that has been circling the internet all month – a fairly “alternative” tree in a gorgeous glass bottle!

christmas tree in glass jug

As for upcoming parties and hostess gifts, if you are in a float mood, how about bringing your wine in a bottle net from Alder & Co. They’re even made in Japan and knotted in the traditional manner!

Alder and co net bottle carrier

Obviously I have tons of older glass fishing float posts – just click the glass category on the right if you’d like to read them!

Have the Merriest Christmas and a wonderful New Year! I’m headed to (hopefully) sunny warm Florida, where there are always great antiques and design shops to report on, so you may as yet be hearing from me before 2012 is out.

Image credits: 1. The New York Times, photo credit: Bruce Buck, 2-3. me, 4. via The Dirty Deets, 5. via Scrambled Preserved Fried Cured, 6. via Patina White, 7. Coastal Living, 8-10. from my files, no credits available, 11. Sand and Sisal, 12. Matsutake, 13. via Remodelista, 14. via Alder & Co.

Renovation Report…The Finished Master Bathroom (Almost)

To quickly review, how does one make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Well, I am not sure if I have done that, but I have done as much as I can to the master bath with what I already had to work with and a tiny budget for change.

With a better structural choice –  changing to a pocket door – we gained square footage, ambient light and a utilitarian feature that turned into a show piece.

We changed the color scheme of the room entirely, from a bright peach box to white and blush, without changing the existing tile work or plumbing fixtures, using paint magic from a textile inspired block print technique on the walls…

…and the simple charm of Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, one of the most perfect whites around, which while being truly white itself, can also make an existing almond toilet look white. Magic!

With a change of metals in the lighting and fixtures from faux this…

…to this, Pottery Barn’s Florence Collection in polished nickel with its fleur-de-lis backplates, elegant glass rod and scrolled brackets…

…and this, Pottery Barn’s Covington Hotel Triple Sconce, also in polished nickel, with its simple, almost Moorish design. There was simply no reason to go to higher end, more expensive fixtures with these well made, well designed ones available at such reasonable prices.

Antique accessories and inspiration are a must, in this case a small collection of pink lustreware, which set the tone and color for the entire room…

…and a vintage mirror from my larger collection. I’m not sure it is quite big enough, but it has an ethereal quality of light and I look softer, younger and prettier in it, so it is staying! And if you were wondering what happened to the gilded French oval mirror that was here before, be sure to check my next post.

And never forget the softness of fabric, which performs its own magic, filling dead space near the ceiling and covering an unusually large and unsightly header, while adding some dressiness. Pottery Barn Textured Cotton Curtain and Cafe Curtain used as the valence.

You’ll note the key thing I am not showing, thus the “almost” in the title. What is it? The vanity, of course. That will have to wait for winter or next year. The vote from all was a resounding yes to a vintage marble-topped wash stand. I could have stopped and painted the one that is there, but I don’t want to get lulled into keeping such an impractical piece. I’ll be keeping my eye out for one, hunting on Ebay and with local dealers around here. Thanks to everyone for all your comments and input!

Master Bathroom Related Posts:
Renovation Report…Do You Throw Good Money After Bad? Thoughts on Fixing My Master Bathroom
A Day Too Late…One Perfect Bathroom Photo
Renovation Report…Pocket Door Progress
Renovation Report…Vanity Dreams or Vanity Reality?
Renovation Report and a DIY…Using Indian Wood Blocks to Create “Wallpaper” in the Master Bath

Renovation Report and a DIY…Using Indian Wood Blocks to Create “Wallpaper” in the Master Bath

So this is the lovely Madame de Montreuil wallpaper from Les Indiennes that I wanted for the master bathroom. No real reason not to get it, other than its high price and its durability in a small bathroom with poor ventilation, but I also liked the idea of a challenge in creating something similar on my own.

So those of you who have been following for a while know that in Singapore in March of 2011 I purchased these traditional floral Indian wood blocks designed to print fabric with the intent of making my own “wallpaper” in the bathroom. Like any project, there is always some other work that needs to come first and I had been waiting on the installation of the pocket door in this earlier post.

So with that finally done and the sheetrock repaired and painted in BM White Dove as the base background, I bought paint and poster paper, set up a workspace and got to work practicing my block printing technique. Wow, it was so much more difficult than I had imagined and my first attempts were just awful! I had too much paint in the tray and trouble figuring out how much blotting I needed to do before stamping. I was looking forward to an irregular organic look, but not this organic!

I wanted to try out different patterns so I did a dense one, which was waaaay too busy, but more importantly, made me realize that as this isn’t wallpaper, I don’t have a partial block print option and need to leave space between each row so it can finish cleanly around wall edges and the ceiling.

Aha! Now this was starting to look right. And I liked the idea of a band of the small flowers above the tile and bisecting the wall behind the toilet. We even considered a square border of the little flowers all around on each wall – a fillet à la the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire – but discarded it as the room is just too tiny. I did this just casually eyeballing it, so luckily my sweet and very mathematically smart husband decided to help by figuring out the exact spacing and placement for the walls.

Hours of work went into these documents and the success of the project really hinges on his work more than mine.

While the design had started to come together, the quality of the actual prints was not so good. Here’s a close-up of one of the practice flowers – you can see the paint is very thick and three-dimensional.

Then late that night it finally occurred to me to actually research how this should be done and lo and behold, I discovered I was missing one essential piece, a small rubber roller called a brayer. So day two and off to the craft store we went! The brayer solves the gunky paint issue by controlling how much goes on and keeping it on the design part of the block only and out of the deep recesses. You can see from the practice below how much better the printing looks.

We took turns and painted the bathroom all in one evening. Sweet husband would work with a T-square and level and make tiny pencil registration marks (which were so small I couldn’t photograph them) on one wall and then I would paint there. Then we would switch off for the next wall. I didn’t realize how physically exhausting this would be, but it was like an extreme workout with a few hundred lunges and squats – squat and roll the paint, climb the stepstool, push with my arms raised, climb back down, squat again. Days later and I am still extremely sore.

Here is a little video – totally unrehearsed and you can hear how tired I am as I am almost slurring my words – but in the heat of working we forgot to take any more footage. Painting on the wall was very different from painting on the poster board as the wall was much harder and absorbed less paint and I needed to really work it on by pressing, rocking and banging. I even got adept at making repairs by adding paint to the block only in the spots that hadn’t printed well.

As I said before, having the design perfectly planned and marked on the wall made this project much easier than it would have been and guaranteed a great result.

We even went so far as to plan out the exact location and dimensions of the towel bar and did not print there, leaving the space perfectly clear.

How pretty and perfect is this Florence glass towel bar from Pottery Barn? The shape of the escutcheon mimics the shape of the flowers. More on all the accessory details in the final reveal post!

I am holding back on photos for one final post showing the whole bathroom, so just keep in mind that none of these photos do justice to the room or how fabulous the painting came out. It is softer and prettier than any actual wallpaper would have been!

Master Bathroom Related Posts:
Renovation Report…Do You Throw Good Money After Bad? Thoughts on Fixing My Master Bathroom
A Day Too Late…One Perfect Bathroom Photo
Renovation Report…Pocket Door Progress
Renovation Report…Vanity Dreams or Vanity Reality?

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