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As a passionate listmaker, it goes without saying that I love all kinds of notebooks and paper products, and it is even better when I get the chance to make them unique with my own drawings. Lately I have been on a kick of drawing on MUJI plain notebooks in a coloring book style, and adding color with markers while I am in the train commuting to and from work. I am so used to drawing in the slight motion and shaking of the train that whenever I sit on a solid seat to draw it feels odd! Most of what I make ends up as a gift to someone, but I also make them for myself, of course. The ones I know I will keep are usually where I experiment with new ideas, knowing that even if the result is not great I will still love and use it.

Another way to experiment is on my old-time little notebooks made of scrap paper. At work I end up with a lot of printouts that have only a brief time of use. I always feel bad throwing out paper, and the pages usually end up in a messy pile next to my desk. Every now and then I get the urge to create something, and then I cut and fold them to various sizes according to need and simply use a staple to bind a few pages for instant gratification.

I have been making and using and giving away these notebooks since I was in primary school, and over the years they have been given away on Earth Day at the Library reference desk, made into light and portable expense notebooks to keep close track of expenses, sticker books for the boys, or simply a place where I keep a specific type of information gathered in one place.

The covers change according to whim, from laminated collages to being covered with stickers, to a simple drawing with or without color. I made the one on the last photo above just now, when I simply had to make a 10-page booklet from some almost blank pages I printed out.

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I am terrible with going to the post office. There is no good alternative in my area, I always feel they are going to be rude and annoying (which they often are, but not always to be fair), and it usually requires an extra trip just for that. Unlike most people, I don’t begrudge the wait – I have long ago made my peace with waiting in lines and I just take the opportunity to people-watch, day dream, and look around for inspiration. There is always inspiration, if you give yourself time to let it rise in your mind, so waiting in lines is the perfect time pocket for doing just that.

The reason I mention post offices is that I have to go to one, as I have 4 packages with gifts for people that I haven’t mailed to them in weeks (okay, months… *blush*) One of them contains a tag blanket for my lovely niece, who turned 1 in August. She was my original inspiration, as my brother mentioned that she likes to stick the tags from toys in her mouth, and so do my boys. A light went on in my head, and I understood the purpose of tag blankets. I had seen them, and tutorials for how to make them, online, but always thought they ‘d be kind of a boring thing to have around. Obviously, I have a long way to go before I think like a baby. The boys looooove theirs, and enjoyed being the product quality control team for the first one I made (see photo above.) They grab the tags, stick them in their mouths, they play with the applique, and V plays his favorite game, which is to put the blanket on his face for a few seconds and then lift it up – is it a form of κου-κου τζα (peekaboo) or does he get something else out of it? I so wish I knew! Maybe I should try playing the game myself 🙂

There are several tutorials online for how to make them, which were very useful in some respects, but of course I did mine a little differently, to suit my preferred way to work / fabric selection etc. I used solid-color flannel for the soft side, and an equal size cotton fabric (from fat quarters) for the other side, plus a little more for the matching applique. For the tags, I used my stash of ribbon from gift wrapping and ribbon (my mother would be proud of me for holding on to them all these years!) A word of caution: if your gift ribbon is “wired” to help the bows hold their shape, make sure to pull that wire out before attaching to the blanket.

The process itself was very easy and fun:

  • Cut two pieces of fabric at a square of your choice, estimate how many tags you ‘d want for each side, and cut as many in equal sizes. You can embroider, applique, use patchwork pieces or use whatever other embellishments you like for the fabric pieces.
  • Fold tags in half, and pin on the right side of one of the two fabrics, tags’ folded end facing the center of the fabric, and edges sticking out just a little bit from the fabric edge.
  • Lay the other piece of fabric on top (right sides facing each other with tags in between them) and sew all around, leaving an opening for turning inside out.
  • Turn inside out carefully (lots of pins inside!), remove all pins, and top stitch all around to close opening and give a finished look to the blanket.

I washed mine a couple of times before giving it to the boys, to make sure all the colors and other nasty stuff from the tags were washed away.

Enjoy!

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