Geometric desktops from Herman Miller

Thanks for patiently tolerating my addiction to desktop wallpaper. I was excited to see that Herman Miller, the iconic furniture manufacturer, is offering a selection of free downloads. These desktop backgrounds are bright, modern, and graphic. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend!

Via ManMade DIY.

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Seamless patterns for websites and desktops

If it's time for a blog, desktop, or Twitter page spruce-up, take a look at the pattern gallery at Designs are contributed by artists and available to download free. There are some wacky graphics over there! Click any image to see what it looks like tiled before you apply it to your stuff. For example, heads trapped in cell phones might be exactly what you're looking for. Or not.
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Lots of printables for kids

I don't have children, but I believe I've met some. And I think they might like some of the projects at Mr. Printables. There are oodles of games to make, things to color, and crafts to assemble, including this US map jigsaw puzzle. Or maybe these egg people— it's presented as an Easter craft, but summertime is perfect for deviled eggs when the people wear out their welcome. Parents, go investigate.

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An orange skirt from Mum

I have the best Mom. (Known to you all as Grandma G, faithful commenter on my blog posts.) I said, "Mumsy, would you pretty please sew me a pleated orange skirt?" And so she did. I picked McCall's M5591 as the pattern and my Boardwalk print as the fabric since I had some extra yardage. It's home dec weight, so it was an experiment to see what sort of skirt would result. A cute one, it turns out! It's a little bit heavy for summer, I suppose, but I don't care about things like that.

I recruited my husband to take a couple pictures. I'm not a good poser, and thus I have only one arm and one leg in the photo above. But you get the idea.

Look, it has pockets!

And Mum sewed a sweet surprise inside— the selvedge from this print.

For anyone interested making this pattern, here are her comments on McCall's M5591:

The first thing I would say about this pattern is that I don't know how a person is supposed to know what size to buy! I thought most garment patterns have body measurements on the outside of the envelope, but this one had none. Fortunately, the envelope contained four sizes, so Jess was pretty sure one of them would fit her when she bought it. One did, but not the one she thought. Not even close. ;) So the first thing to note is that if you buy this pattern, don't go according to your regular clothing size! Once you get to the pattern pieces inside, they give measurements as to the waist measurement, etc., for each pattern size. I don't know if the large McCall's pattern catalog in the stores has a size chart or not. I would certainly hope so!

The instructions are pretty straight-forward and easy to follow. I'd say it would be helpful to have some sewing experience before making this skirt, because it doesn't include some little things like finishing seams or which way to press them, etc. The only thing I found to be a little challenging was the zipper. Don't let this be your first-ever zipper installation! It was challenging because of the pleat in the center back where the zipper goes. Mine ended up not quite as neat as I'd have liked it, but I didn't redo it because I thought it might not turn out any better the second time... and because I didn't feel like ripping it out and doing it again.

One last quick tip, if you decide to make this skirt: If you use the version where the pockets are in the side seam, make sure that they are turned toward the front of the skirt when you sew on the yoke. It will save you over an hour's worth of seam ripping and resewing. Ahem. ;)
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A handful of new sewing tutorials

If you haven't poked around Sew 4 Home lately, you might be missing a recent burst of free sewing tutorials. They're posting projects that show off some new fabric collections on the market. Check out a DIY color-blocked duvet cover and bolster pillow, above.

Or get free patterns for making vintage-looking kitchen stuff, including a pleated apron, oven mitts, and a toaster cozy. You know, just in case you've cranked your air conditioning up too high and your toaster gets chilly.

Here's a triangle-patterned table runner project. Find even more tutorials right here.

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Print your own fabric with Inkodye

I played with Inkodye again—a photo-sensitive dye that uses the sun to develop prints on natural materials like wood and fabric. One nice thing about using this dye instead of fabric paint is that fabric stays soft and flexible, instead of stiffening like it does with paint. Plus watching prints develop is always fun!

I made a simple cloud design this time, since I knew that achieving perfectly crisp edges is tricky due to shadows that might occur. And clouds can have soft edges, so if that's what happened, all the better.

To make your own cloud print, you'll need Inkodye, fabric, a foam brush, a large piece of cardboard wrapped in plastic for your work surface, masking tape, cardboard for cutting out shapes, a pencil and scissors.

Sketch clouds onto cardboard. You could use a cereal box or other recycled cardboard for this; avoid regular paper since it might let light through and it will curl more easily if it gets damp.

Cut out the clouds.

Tape the edges of the fabric to your work surface to keep it in place while you brush on dye. (My "work surface" was a piece of corrugated cardboard wrapped in a garbage bag, which worked great.)

Mix up your Inkodye solution. It's fine to use it straight from the bottle, but it's very concentrated so you can mix it with water to stretch it. Use a 1:1 ratio of dye to water, and colors will still be vibrant. I used about 1/4 cup of each for this project.

In a dim room away from direct sunlight, quickly brush the dye evenly over the surface of the fabric.

Then blot up any excess dye until the surface feels barely damp. Less moisture will keep the cardboard shapes from curling up.

Arrange the cloud cut-outs over the fabric. Then carry the board into a sunny area, set it down, and don't move it while the dye develops. (About 8 minutes on a sunny day, 15 on a partly cloudy day.) For best results, expose prints around noon when the sun is directly overhead; it will help reduce cast shadows.

It's helpful to weigh down your shapes to prevent curling; I used some stacks of coins. Place them quickly to prevent the cardboard from shifting. Once exposed to sunlight, the dye will begin turning color within seconds. When your print has been exposed long enough, bring it back inside before removing your shapes. Remember, the unexposed areas will immediately begin to turn color if you remove the cutouts outside, so resist the urge to peek immediately.

Quickly begin washing out the excess dye in hot, soapy water, scrubbing thoroughly. Rinse, and you're done! The resulting print will be permanent and machine washable.

If you'd like to give it a whirl, Inkodye is available here.
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Mid-century chair desktop wallpaper

Fans of iconic mid-century furniture (and a few newer classics) will love this set of free desktop wallpapers from David Vineis, a French digital artist and designer. The actual chairs would cost me an arm and a leg, which I need to keep, but I'm happy to admire their images on my computer screen at no charge. Download the whole collection as a .zip file at the bottom of David's page.

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Orange for my office

How could I possibly resist a box of orange push pins? I bought these pins in an art store this weekend. They're actually map tacks for marking locations, but my bulletin board likes them just fine. See other colors here at Amazon.

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Free font: Winnie the Hoop

Check out Winnie the Hoop, a contemporary rounded typeface you'll want to hug. It's the debut release of Teo Tuominen, a Finnish type and graphic designer, and inspired by you know who. As prescribed on the website, "Using this font to communicate a sad or grave message is not recommended." Get it for free right here at
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A cool way to sell things directly from your blog

Guys, this looks awesome. Have you ever wished you could sell the amazing t-shirt you designed, or the digital magazine you made, or the six tote bags you sewed in a frenzy one night? And you wished you could do it right from Facebook or your blog, so you don't have to set up an entire e-commerce store for a single product? Oh, and you also wished you could sell your thing in a way that looks professional instead of tacky?

I just learned about ShopLocket, a widget you can embed directly on your blog, website, or Facebook page to sell your product. It integrates seamlessly with Paypal, only takes a couple minutes to set up, and doesn't require any coding knowledge. You can choose a design, enter your product info (including variants like size and color, or an expiration time), embed your product on your website like you would a YouTube video, and watch the orders come in. So useful! Learn more at
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A guide to help creatives start blogging

While I'm on the subject of books, here's a really useful one. Blogging For Creatives: How designers, artists, crafters and writers can blog to make contacts, win business, and build success. Robin Houghton has put together this super guide to help anyone (not just creative types) set up a blog from scratch and make it go.

The book avoids technical jargon, is easy to understand, and won't make your eyes glaze over. Robin addresses hosting options and blogging platforms (what's the difference between Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and others?), the anatomy of a good blog post, how to promote your blog, options for advertising and sponsorship, and legal considerations. Step-by-step screenshots show how to get things done. The book also features dozens of example sites with tips from a variety of bloggers sprinkled throughout. Including yours truly.

I speed-read through the entire book and would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in starting to blog, or looking to grow their little blog into something with more impact.

My review copy has the UK version of the cover; the just-released US version has a different cover design but same interior. Grab it here at Amazon, and get more blogging tips at
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Sewing book: Happy Home

Chronicle Books has recently released Happy Home: Twenty-one Sewing and Craft Projects to Pretty Up Your Home by Jennifer Paganelli, the designer behind Sis Boom Fabrics. I peeked at a review copy from the publisher and snapped pix of my favorite projects: a duvet cover with piping, a pleated bed skirt, patterned boxes, and floor-length drapes.

Make them with Sis Boom fabrics if you adore an explosion of candy-colored florals and wish you lived in a garden. Or choose geometric prints and lots of solids if you love a modern look and wish you lived inside a Room and Board.

Many, though not all, of the book's projects are classic enough that you can achieve any decorating style by switching out fabrics. That's the beauty of sewing it yourself— you can make it exactly how you like it instead of settling for what's in the store. Plus you'll be so proud you can hardly stand it. I remember the first time I sewed a pillow out of fabric I designed. I thought my head was going to explode, I was so pleased.

Other projects in the book include party bunting, pillows, a tote, an apron, laundry bag, dog bed cover, pillowcase, fabric-covered headboard, and bed canopy. Written instructions are accompanied by illustrated diagrams, and a couple of printed sewing patterns come in a pocket inside the front cover. Bright, cheerful photos of finished projects are peppered throughout. Happy Home is available here at Amazon.
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Make a DIY cardboard iPad stand from a box

Sebastiano Ercoli emailed me about a DIY project he designed with Alessandro Garlandini for Comieco, the Italian consortium for paper recycling. It's a cardboard iPad stand that's simple to make from any corrugated cardboard box. Watch the delightful video tutorial here and download a free PDF template. Make sure your volume is up; the sound effects will make you smile!

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I finally joined Pinterest

Since last year I've been receiving invitations to join Pinterest. I've dragged my feet until now, since I was afraid Pinterest would become the ultimate time-waster. There's already Facebook, Twitter, updating this blog, responding to comments and fielding emails... stuffed into the cracks between running my graphic design business full time.

And given Pinterest's home page, I expected I'd be getting a steady stream of manicured fingernails and Ryan Gosling photos. Though lovely, I don't need to see more than one.

But after a conversation with friends I took the plunge and joined. And hey, it turns out you can follow people with similar interests. Goodbye fingernails, hello mid-century furniture! This could get terribly inspiring.

You can find me on Pinterest right here.
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Play with wallpaper in virtual rooms

This morning I stumbled upon BoråsTapeter, a Swedish wallpaper manufacturer. And then I wasted too much time playing with the site's wallpaper selector that lets you choose rooms and drag wallpaper onto the walls. Change the furniture, too! Try it out by going to and clicking "Wallpaper Guide." Then throw some Hanna Werning on those walls. Or check out the same game at Eco, a sister company with a less floral, more graphic collection.

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Little origami elephant

You know how sometimes you need to take a break from work and fold an elephant? Here's my attempt, following this YouTube video in which Jo Nakashima shows how to make an origami elephant designed by Li Jun.

This guy's pudgy derriere is even cuter than his face.

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Free printable Father's Day labels and cards

Have you seen these awesome printable cards and labels for Father's Day? They're compliments of Hello!Lucky, where you can download them for free. Assemble a gift for Pop with coordinating sock bands and beer or wine bottle labels, then jot a note in a matching greeting card. Choose from black or white designs. Very manly and cool, and totally beats the zillions of golf and fart-themed cards found in stores, right?
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Seamless patterns for Twitter and blogs

Alma Loveland has posted a handful of free summer patterns you can grab to beautify your blog, Twitter page, or desktop. The images are seamless graphics that will tile perfectly across your page. Get them here at the Nicole's Classes blog.
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Free sewing tutorial: Geek Chic iPad Case

Hello, everybody! I'm back from my travels. I hope last week's orange round-up didn't scald the retinas of those who prefer other hues. I've got a freebie for you today, and you can make it in any color you like (though I do recommend orange).

The Geek Chic iPad Case is a sewing project from Lisa Lam's book A Bag for All Reasons. You might know Lisa from her site Since I have a bag addiction, this book with 12 different sewing patterns makes me super happy. They're modern, clean, and make smart use of hardware. I've seen tons of bag and purse patterns that combine appliques, ruffles, and patchwork in a crazy mess. Cool if you like that sort of thing, but I prefer simplicity. Let the fabric be the star, I say! So I'm a fan of Lisa's lovely patterns. Want to try out a free project from her book?

Download the Geek Chic iPad Case tutorial here.
Download the flap template here.

If you dig it, you can purchase the whole book here. Happy sewing!

(Photos from A Bag for All Reasons.)
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Orange office

The final roundup of orange items! Orange cuteness for the office. Binder, magnets, Sharpie, tape, tray, trashcan.
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