Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How To Eliminate Fruit Flies

Every year, late summer the same drama: fruit flies. Hesitation about what fruits to buy, how many fruits to buy to eat them quick enough before they strike your kitchen.

Here is something that helps (at least it does for us). A couple of years ago out mum showed me mixture that attracts and kills them:

  • 75ml Fruit Juice (preferably apple juice or any juice that has a yellow shade, though I also heard red wine works great )
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar (I use vinegar essence)
  • 1 Tablespoon  Lemon Juice 
  • 3 Tablespoons Dishwashing Liquid
Put all ingredients in a cup or glass and place it somewhere in your kitchen. It helps if you put close to the spots where most of the flies are. The flies get attracted to the smell and color and fly into the glass. 

All measures are approximate measures. It is not necessary to use a lot of juice. Make sure kids can't reach it! And of course....... don't drink it.

Yay! We Were Featured!

Last friday Birgit and me were featured on Crafts Missus D! How exciting! Click here to read the interview.

Sending a big "thank you" and lots of smiles to Kathleen of Craft Missus D! =)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sewing Quick Tip - Pattern Paper

After weeks (months?) of teaching myself to sew I'd like to share a couple of things I find really useful. Many books, online articles and blogs talk about techniques, styles, patters and wonderful fabrics. Most times I'm missing the "small things" though. It is much less talked about practical things around sewing. I hope to manage to write a more or less regular post about small practical things that are related to sewing.

As a beginner you probably use pre-made patters but at a certain time you want to make pattern on your own. To my great surprise this was MUCH easier than I expected it to be. To make your patter you need paper. Sewing shops supply you with whatever you need. But when you are sewing on a budget and you are not sure if the result will come out well you might hesitate you spend a lot of money just to throw it away later in disappointment. I read replacing professional sewing paper with wrapping paper or packaging paper. Of course, it is a lot more affordable but chances are you still need to spend money for it. Wouldn't it be great to spend very little (or even nothing) and do something good and recycle? YESSSSSSS!


I found the answer literally at my doorstep. My parents run a print shop which also does large format printing. The paper supplies my dad orders come wrapped in huge sheets of paper. This paper has no other purpose than to be wrapped around the actual printing paper. As soon as the printing paper is unwrapped the large format wrapping paper loses its purpose and is most likely to be thrown away. What a waste!
The wrapping paper really has a large format and is very strong and durable. Once you cut out your pattern you can keep it and reuse it many times without any damages to the paper.

So go to your local print shop (especially the ones which do large format printing) and ask them if you may recycle their packaging paper. I don't know how it works in other countries but in Germany you got to pay for anything you throw away. The more you throw away the more you pay. So you actually help them. The ideal case would be that they might look at you a little confused but then don't charge you anything and ask you to come again soon. Still, I believe it's ok if they charge you a little as you gain from it. If they don't charge you anything bring some cookies next time. From experience I can say this is appreciated very much. 

Happy pattern making! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Is On My Wall?

Crafty MissusD just wrote a blog post and asked what her readers have on their wall. I quickly took a shot of a particular part of my wall:

The post card in the middle shows Martin Luther  and famous quote of him: "Das gedruckte Wort hat Macht" ("the printed word has power"). I love this quote a lot and believe it is true. Once something is written it is kinda "official".

Monday, August 30, 2010

Musings About Closures

Making bags involves almost always involves a certain issue: closures. Personally, I really don't like bags which do not have any kind of closure. I might be a little paranoid but to feel secure I need something to close my bag (no matter how big or small the bag is).

I believe the most effective closure against pickpockets is a zipper. Many of the bags and purses I bought to far have zippers. I like them for being secure but I really hate to fiddle around with them. Usually my bags are indecently stuffed and the zipper gets stuck. I still hesitate a little to include zippers into my bags when I make them. Apparently it is not really about the confidence to sew them in, it's rather that I don't like the look of the zipper on my bags.
Therefore I usually use magnetic snaps. They are strong and easy to open and close. They are hardly visible inside of the bag and completely invisible for the outside. Magnetic snaps are easier to use than "normal" snaps. They are especially great if the bag does not need to be pickpocket proof. The magnetism of the snaps can be seen critical though. A couple of weeks I had a custom order of one the Happy Bags and customer had great doubts about the magnetic snaps as she feared it might affect her debit cards. So far I didn't have any issues with any of my debits cards, neither has anyone of my customer reported me any problems. As long as the debit cards are not wiped over the magnetic snap without protection there shouldn't be a problem. It got me thinking though. The solution in this particular case was to add a flap and attach the magnetic snap to the outside of the bag.

During the weekend I experienced with a new kind of closure. It took me three attempts to be kind of happy with it. The overall idea is to use ribbon and "holes" as a closure. What I really like about this idea is that it is not just a closure but also a very decorative element. Instead of inserting a zipper to my Sweetheart Clutch Bags I added three holes and ribbon to the top of it. I tried to sew in the holes with a technique I use for the handle of the happy bag. Huge failure! Seriously, HUGE. The handle is square and difficult to sew. The holes were meant to be circles and impossible to sew. I didn't take a photo of the result as it did not look neat at all. From the beginning on I thought that grommets would be great for the holes. It seemed to be impossible to find large grommets though. Late at night and shortly before I was about to go to sleep I came across a home decor website. Jeez, it was too easy! Grommets for curtains are perfect. No special tools, no metal to corrode. Just cutting a hole and clipping in the grommets! Of course my first trip on the next morning was to a local fabric store. I bought 12 of them (and apparently paid a rip-off price). I prepared a Sweetheart Clutch and in the end cut holes into it and inserted the grommets. 

So far, so good (or not). I like the look of the grommets but I don't like the shape of the bag. It doesn't look neat enough. I figured out that it should have pleats. A different shape overall. So unclipped the grommets to reuse them on another prototype (no need to waste six grommets!). I made another model of the same pattern, but with pleats and a stripe of fabric on top of it. The stripe turned out pretty difficult (at least the way I did it, I'm sure there is an easier way). Because of the pleats the top of the bag is smaller and I only needed two grommets on each side.

Yes, yes it's as neatly and nicely done as I want it to be. I hope I'll find some time again soon to improve it. This is one of the prototypes I'm keeping for myself to test wear it. 
As a new kind of closure this technique will be used my me more often. It would look so cute on Happy Bags, wouldn't it? 

Is there any kind of closures you prefer? Zippers or magnetic snaps? Or something completely different? 

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Sweetheart Clutch Bag

I've been downsizing a bit during the last days. Actually, I'm a friend of rather big bags as I always need lots of space for my stuff. Lately I started to make a little more "ladylike" purses. Some weeks ago I needed something rather sensible for a birthday party. I decided to go for a small clutch bag. And as I had a dark blue dress for the party I decided to for the dark blue fabric for the clutch bag as well. For quite some time I also wanted to used some old lace fabric I have in my stash. For this project it was ideal. Antique white lace over dark blue fabric. LOVE! The sewing turned out to be a big challenging. I've never worked with lace before. I carefully stitched the lace to the blue fabric. Only on the edges though. I took some time but it helped a lot during the actual sewing of the clutch bag. I lined it with some really soft pink cotton. Moreover, it was my first time sewing a zipper! I was so surprised how well it went:

A couple of days ago I had went through my stash again. I found a small amount of vintage fabric. I'm not sure what it is. My mum thinks it is polyester. It's definitely not cotton. It is very smooth. Almost like silk but not as delicate as silk. I love the flower pattern so much. It's so cute and I knew it would make a sweet little clutch bag. Again, I was so surprised how well the sewing went I love the outcome. This one I lined with smooth brown fabric.

I named them "Sweetheart Clutch Bag" as I can't think of a name more suitable than this. I might put the flower clutch bag into the shop. The lace one is so dear to me. I have to keep it for myself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christmas in August - Gift Box Tutorial

Yesterday I thought about the packaging of my earrings. I mean, August is almost over and you can't be too early thinking about christmas and a nice way of wrapping your goodies.
I wanted something that looks good, protects the jewellery from damage and doesn't cost too much. Finally I stumbled upon a little origami box. I guess, many of you have seen this box somewhere over the web.
The good thing about is, that you can vary the size according of what you want to put inside. But I didn't like the fact, that it doesn't really look like a jewellery box. The walls are too high which also means that I'd have to use a bigger envelop for shipping. So I wrecked my brain to find a way to make this box but with nicer walls. And after some experiments it worked!

As I really like the result I thought I'd share my wisdom with you an and let you know how I made them. So here's what you have to do:

What you need:
A Bone folder
A Ruler
2 square pieces of paper (One needs to be slightly smaller than the other)

What to do:

1. Remove the dog from your desk.

2. Take a piece of paper and cut a square. Use your guillotine if your have one (Mine was a christmas present my boyfriend gave me - The man knows what a girl wants!).
3. Fold from point to point in half. Then fold in half again from point to point. If you chose rather thicker paper or cardboard (as I did) use a bone folder or ruler for this.

4. Now take all four corners and fold to center.
5. Leave the corners closed and fold all sides to the center.
6. Open it. It should now look like this:
7. Turn the paper around. The four squares in in the center will be the lid of your box. I marked mine with a pen. Now cut towards the marked square as shown.
8. Take a pen and draw lines as shown on the sides that are parallel to the cuts you made.
9. Cut along the lines. The result should look like this:
10. Take the pen again and draw two lines on each of the remaining sides as shown. Cut along the lines.
11. Fold one side in half so it touches the square you marked before. Unfold again and to the same thing with the other three sides.

12. You made all the necessary folds and cuts! Now you have to put the box together. Therefor take one of the long sides and fold them as shown in the picture. Then do the same thing with the other long side. You should have two points touching inside and the short tabs sticking out.
13. Now fold the two tabs in to create the remaining sides. All points should be at the bottom of the box touching with no overlap. If the do overlap take a piece of masking tape and stick it in the center of the box. And that‘s it! You just finished the lid of your box.
14. To make the bottom of the box repeat steps 1-13. But remember that the paper needs to be slightly smaller (3-4mm) than the first one. È voilà - a pretty origami box with small walls! Perfect for all kinds of little gifts or the earrings by Smile Molecules. :-D

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspiration + Result


(Photos taken during our family vacation in Denmark 2010)


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The ever-developing collage

I haven‘t been posting much in the last time as I have been busy with exams, holidays and my mum‘s birthday. But now I‘m back and I would like to show you our ever-developing collage.
It's put on our kitchen wall next to a little table which we already had when we were kids.
Kathrin started the about 3 years ago by taping newspaper clippings on the backside of an old calendar.

I loved the idea and joined in developing it. So every couple of months one of us takes out the scissors and some old magazines and spends an hour or two with our collage.
Yesterday it hit me again. This is what it looked like before I started:
Two hours and later and a messy kitchen floor later ...

... it looked like this:Now after 3 years the poster is almost full. I guess I should start thinking about what to do when it is finally filled.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Bag On The Blog

I'm very happy to announce that I came up with a new bag. It is not an alteration of any of my other bags. This new baby actually makes sense. Before I'm going to properly introduce it, let me tell you the story behind it.

Inspiration can be a real sucker. It never comes when it is badly needed, but will strike you out of nothing. In this case "nothing" is my sister Birgit who showed me an old bag which she found at our grandma's place. She asked me if I could make her a bag like that. The bag she showed me (I'm sorry, currently I don't have a photo of it) is a medium size purse with a twist: the bottom is folded to the top and attached with an rough zipper. When zipper is unzipped the bag is twice its normal size. Does my writing make sense? Probably not yet. Be patient :)
The second part of inspiration comes from my friend Jules. I can't say how many times I went grocery shopping with her and she forgot to bring a bag to carry her stuff home. Thus she bought one of those horrible plastic bags (yes, in Germany you gotta pay for your plastic bags). I hate those bags. It's just such a waste of resources and they are difficult to recycle. At home I try to reuse them, but usually they just take up so much space and in the end I never really use them. So I try to avoid them. On the other hand, often I forgot to take a reusable bag with me.

Wouldn't it be great to have a purse that turns in the large bag when it is needed? It really struck me when Birgit showed me this old bag. But instantly I saw the problem: the zipper. It's big, rough, difficult to use and even more difficult to sew in. Especially because it is not an all-purpose zipper (the only kind of zipper which I can kind of work with so far). So I started to consider alternatives. First I thought of snaps (also magnetic snaps) but I don't like to look of them when they are not closed. It wouldn't look pretty at all. Then I considered ordinary buttons. Using ordinary buttons would have meant to put button holes into the bag as well. I really didn't like the idea to have holes in my bag. Further digging into my box of "stuff" was necessary. Finally I found my little box of covered buttons. When I had those in my hand I remembered something about hair elastic being great with covered buttons. Coincidentally I still had a pack of unused ones at hand.

Two days ago I made the first prototype of it. I really liked the idea of it, but I also found a lot of things not working out as wished. Well, I passed it on to Birgit. She usually takes the stuff I make and tries them out and gives feedback. I'm sorry for the photos. As this is "only" the prototype I wasn't too careful, but I hope you already get the idea.

The first photo shows the bag folded in half. This way it can be used as a purse. Of course it is fully lined and with a smaller pocket inside. Three elastics and covered buttons hold the bottom to the top.

The second photo shows the bag unbuttoned and in it's full size. This way it can be used to carry a lot of things. A laptop fits in without problems. 

Yesterday I made another one. This time I improved some features. The handles are sewn-in more nicely and I made the bag a bit larger to make sure A$ sized documents fit in without squeezing. In the middle of the bag I added another decorative line with more elastics. This way the bag can be adjusted in three different sizes. How great is this?!

This is the bag fully buttoned. You can click on the photos to see them in full size. It is great as a purse and even A4 sized documents fit in very well and neatly. Of course, this bag is also fully lined with soft cotton and has a small pocket to keep it tidy.

This photo shows the bag being buttoned in the middle. I like it this way best as I really like rather big purses. The broad straps keep it comfortably on your shoulders. 

Here you can see the bag in its fully size. It is about 60cm (23.62") long and about 38cm (14.96") wide.

At the bottom of the bag the three buttons are sewn on. They are as useful as they are decorative! 

I think this first one is not too bad. In future I will adjust some minor details. This first bag will be listed in our Etsy Store soon. As I'm not fully satisfied with it I will list as "sample piece" for a lower price.  

Do you think this kind of a bag is useful? I'm happy about any feedback and/or questions about it! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

What Did I Sew This Weekend?

Rainy weekend. Perfect weather to sew. On saturday I didn't really know what to sew (a bag seemed too much effort) so I went through my blogroll for inspirations or maybe a tutorial. I stopped at Craft Passion and found a tutorial for this really cute plush dog. It appealed to me because pretty much all I needed to make it were fabric scraps. As I can't throw away anything my bag of fabric scraps is huge. So I sat down and cut out the pattern and fabric and tried to make the cute plush dog. I'm not to happy with the result. It is not neatly done as I'm still having troubles sewing precisely on tiny things. Nevertheless, it is cute and I'm fond of it. 

On sunday I wanted to give it a second chance. This time I enlarged the pattern to 240%. It went a lot better, but still not as neatly as I'd like to have it. And again, I love this doggie too. Now both of them are sitting on my desk and looking at me. 

Maybe I should have sewn them by hand. I had some difficulties sewing nice curves with the sewing machine. But did I mention it? I love them!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Oh my, oh my!

How much have I neglected this blog! I'm so sorry for not posting. The last few weeks I spent on vacation with my family. We had a great time and I had the chance to shoot some lovely photos of even more lovely Denmark.

Also, I took my (new!) sewing machine on vacation with me and I'm very pleased with the results. As I still need to take photos of the results and anything I "produced" during our vacation I keep this post very short. A proper blog post is about to be written. Please bear with me (I'm about to overcome my inner pig-dog)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yay, yay, yay! Happy Bags are now offered with free worldwide shipping!

What a happy day! All Happy Bags are now shipped free of charge! It doesn't matter if you life next door from me or on the other side of world - shipping is free!

Follow this link to find the SmileMolecules Happy Bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SmileMolecules?section_id=7154099

I even listed a new Happy Bag.

Say hello to "Happy Bag Stripes 'n' Dots"! So mature outside, but party inside!

Friday, July 9, 2010

How We Met Our "Inner Pig Dog"

Hello, hello and welcome to this belated blog post! This was is overdue for about six days. Shame on me! I wanted to write about our fun time at flea markets and craft markets last weekend. Last monday I started a first try to write this entry but somehow the "writing bug" didn't bite me at all so I postponed writing to the next day and then again to the day after and so on.

So no beating the cat around the bush (love this saying) and lets get down to business!

Yes, yes what a lovely day. Expected temperatures: well over 98°F (36°C). Late morning Birgit, our friend Jules and me got prepared to hit the most exciting flea market / craft market / district festival the city of Leipzig has to offer: Westpaket!

About Westpaket I could write a whole entry but I'll try to make it short and sweet. Originally, a "Westpaket" (west parcel) used to be a parcel sent from people of Western Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) to their friends and relatives in Eastern Germany (German Democratic Republic). These parcels usually contained clothes, chocolate, coffee and toys. Moreover, the parcels were a way to communicate as phone calls between both parts of Germany were restricted and only few people in Eastern German had access to phones (and almost all phone calls were intercepted anyways). Overall a "Westpaket" can be seen as a way of exchange and communication, but also friendship, cooperativeness and solidarity.

The "Westpaket" market is just that. People meet, exchange what they collected or made and just have a good time together. I only took a very few photos as I as so busy looking at things.

At one of the stalls they sold big sticks of chalk and also had some sticks of chalk to try out immediately. No need to ask Birgit twice. She drew our SmileMolecules logo an Etsy shop address on the pavement: 

As nice as it looks.... can't be compared to this guy though (true soccer fan, drawing shows the excitement before the soccer match Germany/Argentina):

My favorite photo motif though is the "inner pig dog". I believe this saying is only known in the German language. So what is an "inner pig dog"?! To explain I'll try to translate some points of the German Wikipedia about the "Innerer Schweinehund". The term "inner pig dog" is an allegory of lack of will power (and/or motivation), which inhibits a person to pursue an unpleased job/activity/task. Usually the saying is "you gotta overcome your inner pig dog". Does that make sense to you? 

So how did we meet the inner pig dog and what does it look like? At the Westpaket it looked like this:

First I thought it's a scary and creepy chicken. When I took the photo the guy who sat next it asked what I'd think it is. I instantly and without thinking answered "It's an inner pig dog!" and I was right! For guessing correctly we got jelly babies. Only when I looked at the photos at home I realized the body does not have wings and the legs don't have chicken claws. The longer I thought about it the more it made sense. The inner pig dog sat on the step of Theater Bus. Now, what does this mean? I believe you got to overcome your inner pig dog to engage yourself with theater. At least this is my interpretation. What do you think?


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