It’s time for another creative assignment! Are you ready? No? That’s okay neither am I, but that is the point of these creative assignments.

creative assignment on elsie marley

It might seem counterintuitive, but the easiest way access your boundless creativity is to limit yourself. When I was in middle school, I was part of the academic triathlon team (nerd alert!). My favorite event was called Party in a Box (this is a sample and wow! it’s kind of amazing) . We were given a problem to solve and a box of random prop/craft things.  We had to write and star in a play that solved the problem–and do it all in 30 minutes. We had a time limit, a limited theme, and a limited amount of supplies. The creative rush was absolutely exhilarating! and the plays were not half bad either.

Now I can’t get you all in a room, hand you a box of random things, and ask you to make something with them–as much as I would like to! But I can try to limit you as best I can with this month’s creative assignment: within arm’s reach.

creative assignment on elsie marley

1. chevron pencil squiggles 2. number 2 weave 3. sewing 4. tools of the trade 

You are sitting somewhere now: on the couch, in the car, at your desk. What is within your arm’s reach? A random assortment of toys, old receipts, empty coffee cups, a notebook, cds, a pack of gum? (you now know what’s in my car) Make a list. These are your supplies.

What are you going to make with them? A pattern. A repeating pattern. Pick one or two things and create a repeating pattern with them. You can get out your kid’s crayons and draw the pattern out by hand. You can use Illustrator, or the Gimp, or a Paint program to make the pattern. You can draw on your ipad, print it out 30 times, cut it out, and make a pattern using collage.

creative assignment on elsie marley

 1. summer fruits and berries 2. sofa what? who chairs! 3. 4. blackberry pattern 

The ways to tackle this assignment might be limitless, but you have to work with in the limits. One more limit: it’s due next Wednesday. Just before beautiful holiday season explodes into busy manic stressiness you get to go on a creative joy ride.  To hand in you assignment, post your pattern to Instagram with the tag:


Or if you’re not on Instgram, then put a picture to Facebook (or the elsie marley facebook page) and tag it. Extra credit if you upload it to spoonflower :)

creative assignment on elsie marley

1. tacks, teal 2. by debbie powell 3. grilled cheese fabric 4. kalikka by marimekko 

First things, first: make a list of the objects in your arm’s reach. Leave your list in the comments so we can all see!! I found taking a picture of everything with my phone was super helpful. Then you can use different camera apps to play with the object (kaleidoscope camera apps are particularly fun).

Make a pattern! Then throw it up on the internet with the hashtag so we can all see it. By Wednesday! If you need help, Spoonflower is a great place to look (and it’s where I found most of these examples). Pinterest is also good–I have a fabric board that has a lot of great repeating patterns.

Ready? Go!


November 5th, 2014

A few weeks ago, with kid’s clothes week looming, I did not want to sew.  I really did not want to sew any clothes for my kids, though they did in fact need them (and still do!). Begrudingly I got out my sketchbook to figure out something to sew. The theme of KCW was storybook, so I got some of my favorites off the shelf.

dolls inspired by Ida Pearle // elsie marley

One of which is by a friend of ours, Ida Pearle. Her book, A Child’s Day (affiliate link) is full of gorgeous cut paper collages depicting children acting, dancing, hiding, jumping, and playing their way through every letter of the alphabet. The clothes Ida created for the children in the book are stunning. Both the styles and the prints translate easily into handmade clothes–and they have! Mary Frances from this is marzipan made many outfits for her boys all based on pages from this book.

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October 29th, 2014

falcon super hero costume // elsie marley

Halloween is not my jam. I think I’ve said this before . Somehow it’s made worse because I sew. I could just go to the thrift store and let them pick out whatever they want, but then a cloud of guilt follows me around until November. So I ask them what they want to be, and after all the “I want to be this! No I want to be that!” I put off the costume making. I know I am not alone on this.

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moon phase sleeper // elsie marley

This KCW has been all about making gifts for babies. I thought it would be super quick and I could crank em out. Not so. As I’ve gotten better at sewing, I’ve gotten slower. Seems counterintuitive, I know. Yes, I can sew faster, but now when I make things I want to make them better not faster. That means slowing down and ironing a hem before I sew it–pinning it even! [just as an aside: I listened to a podcast where the interviewee, Soyna Phillip, said the same thing. It’s a good one, go listen]

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bunny lovey

October 22nd, 2014

handmade bunny lovey // elsie marley

You know how yesterday I made a baby outfit inspired by this page from I Can Fly? Well, after staring at that page for so long, I had to make a bunny too!

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