how to make your dreams come true

Sometimes I like to imagine that the things I want to write will just come to exist by themselves. But I’m learning the hard way that even my imagination has limitations.

I used to think goal-setting was for nerds, but now I understand why people bother with it. In this post, I’ll break down some of my goals and endeavors over the next few months. I realized the other day that I sew and knit to procrastinate, so my primary objective is to use my time more wisely to develop my writing.

Let me know what you think.

a little bit about sewing stuff

This month I’m taking part in Me Made May. Me Made May is an internet movement created by Zoe from the internet challenging people who make their own clothes to wear the things they make throughout May.

my me made may pledge

I, Justina (@justinaforever), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavor to wear at least one me-made item of clothing each day for the duration of May 2017.

I try to wear the things that I make every day anyway, but Me Made May makes me realize I need to do a few extra things this month.

things to do for me made may

  1. Turn the dresses that I rarely wear into tops. (I need to stop making tee dresses because they tend to ride up if I wear a backpack. Ugh, inappropriate!) I’ll chop them up, re-hem them into tops, and try to salvage the rest of the fabric into other tops.
  2. Find a really good pattern for shorts. It’s much too hot to wear pants now.
  3. Use up the rest of the fabric I have hiding in my apartment.
alder shirtdress view b in printed pattern
Wearing an Alder Shirtdress I made (pattern by Grainline Studio). Photo taken by my good buddy Billy.

but this post isn’t about making clothes. it’s about writing.

Thing is, what I really should be doing instead of knitting and sewing is working on all the stories I want to write. So here are my goals for all of you to see. I’m declaring them here so you can hold me accountable to them.

writing goals

  1. Publish a blog post each week.
  2. Finish writing my novel for kids, which I’ve been working on since 2010.
  3. Make an outline for the new novel bubbling inside my soullll.
  4. Read lots of CanLit written by women, and make a true effort to read work by women of color.

But how to accomplish these goals? With these here rules:

rules for getting more writing did

  1. Write for at least 25 minutes in the morning before work. (I bought an egg timer for this.)
  2. No knitting or sewing until I have written for at least 25 minutes that day.
  3. I am only allowed to knit while watching TV, on public transportation, and during 5-minute breaks between writing.
  4. Capture ALL my ideas (especially the worst ones) in my handy dandy notebook.

but why

i have dreams u know

advice? insight? feedback?

Am I doing this all wrong? What are your hopes and dreams? Don’t be shy! Let me know in the comments…

DIY Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to make a simple drawstring backpack. I’ve adapted it from Sam DeRose’s great tutorial in Make: Sew a Durable Drawstring Bag.

This particular drawstring backpack features French seams and grommets for extra durability.

Drawstring backpacks are great for taking stuff to work, hiking, shopping, carrying cleats to games, etc., etc. Continue reading DIY Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

City Gym Shorts

It seems like every sewer (sew-er?) on Instagram is all about these City Gym Shorts from Purl Bee… including me! They are flattering and adorable.

Purl Bee's City Gym Shorts
Purl Bee’s City Gym Shorts

Used the leftover bright floral fabric from my Circle Skirt dress to make these. I got the fabric from King’s Textiles at Queen and Spadina. It might be for quilts. I don’t know. It’s cotton.

Purl Bee's City Gym Shorts
PJs + Birkenstocks = my mother would not approve.

BRB, I’m going to make some more.

are you the light of my life?

On Friday evening, I had a sudden whim to make a lamp.


me: want to make a lamp with me?
Evan: of course I do
me: SWEET.

This is the lamp that we made out of garbage, essentially. (click to enlarge)

we made this lamp by ourselves
homemade lamp

And here’s how we made it:

First, we collected some materials and tools:

  • a make-a-lamp kit from Canadian Tire
    • this lamp kit assumes you’re making one of those wine bottle lamps, which we weren’t
    • in the future, I’d probably buy the components individually instead of the kit
  • a lamp harp
  • a glass/tile drill bit for drilling holes in glass
  • a CFL light bulb
  • the bottle left over from this delicious limeade
  • four boxes of crappy pencil crayons from Dollarama (4 x 12 = 48; didn’t use black or white)
  • some twigs
  • sticks for a hot glue gun
  • hot glue gun
  • some canvas
  • a wire hanger
  • random crafting wire

… and got to work.

** First things first: Evan is my favourite person to do random craft projects with, because he’s willing to do ALL the dangerous stuff, like drilling glass, lifting heavy objects, mixing hazardous materials, and other things I’m hesitant to try. In fact, he’s not only willing — I’m pretty sure it fills him with manly glee. **

Anyway, first we went outside, where Evan drilled a hole in the bottom of the bottle for the wiring to go through. The glass dust smelled kind of toxic. I regret inhaling it. The cat next door kept trying to hang out with us but I told it to go away because it’s cute and so I wanted to protect it from the glass particles.

Then we had to shorten the pencil crayons because I wanted the crystal-looking part of the bottle to show. Sharpening 44 pencil crayons is no easy task — just ask the blister on my middle finger. 🙁 Eventually, I figured out that cutting the pencils to the right length before sharpening them was much more ergonomic and efficient than trying to sharpen them to half their height.

dollarama pencils, canvas lampshade, lamp, diy lamp, wiring kit
the crystal stuff that i wanted to keep exposed by shortening the pencils

And then we hot-glued the pencil crayons to the bottle. I didn’t feel like using the black and white pencils, so we collected some twigs and whittled them down to look like pencils and glued them into the space that needed filling.

dollarama pencil crayons, twigs, lamp, lamp shade, diy lamp
four of these things are not like the other

Then Evan affixed the lamp components and stuff to the top of the bottle. The lamp looked cool but very, very naked, so I spent a long time Googling “how to make a lampshade” and such, but most of the DIY tutorials assume that you already have a lampshade that you want to make over, which we didn’t. I had no luck finding a good one at the Value Village/op shop around the corner. What to do, what to do???

Here’s what I did:

I fashioned two big rings from the one wire hanger I could find at home, and used some random crafting wire to make a sloppy mounting thingy for the upper ring so that the lampshade could sit on top of the harp thingy. Then I glued the canvas to the wire rings with the glue gun. I didn’t really measure or try to do any part of this with precision, so the fabric puckers in some spots and isn’t a true cylinder. You know, I’m not even sure that the rings are the same size.

poor wiring job
poor wiring job

The whole thing looks tragically handmade, but so does the rest of my workspace, so whatever. It was very fun and it gave me something to write home about.

And so, I leave you with a picture of Kermit praising the godly new lamp.

kermit praising god
kermit praising god

I’ll let you know if the lamp catches fire. I wasn’t very sure about the canvas shade, but so far, so good.

Thank you for reading my blog post. Coming soon… a new story about the Underwear Tiger, who has it out for the wind we had in Toronto on Saturday because it blew the underwear off his head and made him feel very, very naked. Poor baby!

saying goodbye to Flunckel

In light of some terrible thing that has befallen me, I have decided to dedicate a part of my website to my Former Left Knee Ligament, henceforth named: my FLUNCKEL.

RIP, Flunckel. I loved you though I didn’t know it. And now that you are gone, I no longer feel whole. You are gone, and you have left a flunckel-shaped hole in my knee.

Seriously, though. Today I met with the surgeon, “Dr. Ted.” First his “fellow,” “Dr. April,” told me that some of his hockey buddies still play hockey with no ACLs, because Dr. April loves to play his hockey three times a week. Then he called me a frisbee-playing “weekend warrior,” which I think is a terrible misnomer, because first of all, I can’t play Ultimate at ALL right now. Second, I would refer to myself as a weekend wimp, given that my weekends have consistently consisted of watching cartoons while eating chocolatey cereal in my underwear. Like a wimp. Then Dr. April said that I should probably get surgery. Then both of the doctors made a big deal of the laxity of my knee’s pivot.

Now for some good news. Hooray for muscle atrophy!!!! I can now easily slip my atrophied left leg into half of a pair of skinny jeans!

Pictures to come!