Just so you know: Dear Handmade Life received products from Sizzix that we mentioned in this post. However, we only write about and recommend products that we use personally and believe are awesome!
When I was in junior high, I spent my summer days at the YMCA camp. There was a dirt bike track there. All the cutest/most unattainable boys had two things: long bangs that they’d toss back as if they didn’t care (even though we knew they did) and dirt bikes. In the afternoon, the other day campers and I, would get picked up by our parents. At night, the fluorescent stadium lights edging the dirt bike track came on and the cute/unattainable boys would race around, shooting up dirt clods with their back tires into the crowds on the rusty bleachers.
I never got to go to a dike bike race. Sometimes, my mom would pick me up very late and just as we were pulling out of the parking lot I’d see those bright lights illuminate the track in the rear view mirror. Damn, I thought, as we pulled away from my potential future first boyfriend.
My attraction to the dirt bike boys was my introduction to how danger could sometimes be sexy and exciting. Unlike the danger I’d known previously (my mother’s warnings about mall kidnappings) dirt bike boy danger had the potential for some positive outcomes. The closer I stood to a dirt bike boy, the more I could smell the slightly minty scent of the eucalyptus trees that lined the YMCA picnic area. The hairs on my arms stood on edge and I realized just how many nerve endings my skin had. I noticed the whoosh of cars, like wind or water, flowing down the nearby freeway… In short, I felt more alive.
My love of this new feeling of fear coupled with anxiety and fueled by excitement didn’t end with the dirt bike boys. A new girl joined the camp that summer. Her name was Carmen and she was 15 – the cutoff age for the YMCA day camp. She wore mostly black and her stir-up pants and tank top were tight, tight enough to see the dimples in her overgrown thighs if you looked close enough. Though, I didn’t see her as overweight. She looked rubenesque, like the women in paintings that we studied in art history class. She had actual boobs and unlike me, truly needed a bra. She wore purple eyeshadow, outlined her lips with a burgundy lip liner and then filled it in with iridescent pink lipstick. Her hair was a piece of art. This was the 80s and one of the goals of the decade was seeing how tall you could tease your bangs. Carmen won. Her bangs were curled, teased and hair sprayed with Aqua-Net to a glorifying three inches. It wasn’t just the way she looked. It was her attitude. She walked into a room with the confidence of a supermodel. One time, I brought up the idea of going to talk to the dirt bike boys, and she said, “we’re out of their league. boys like that wouldn’t know what to do with women like us.” Of course, I had no idea what I’d do with a boy anyway but i said, “yeah… totally.”
Carmen always carried around a notebook on which she’d written words in a font that I couldn’t read. “That’s graffiti!!!,” my mom said. “It’s what gang members use to communicate secret messages about their crimes, so the police can’t figure it out.”
“Mom, that’s ridiculous! Carmen isn’t a gang member! She’s a writer!” I said. When I’d asked Carmen about her notebook, she told me it was her journal, a place to write down her “most sacred thoughts about boys and life and being a lady”, she only used graffiti so that her parents couldn’t “get into her head and read and her personal stuff”.
Despite my mom’s protests, I hung around Carmen as much as possible. Carmen taught me how to write graffiti, play it cool with the dirt bike boys and most importantly… how to put on make-up. We spent nearly an hour in the YMCA bathroom using a match to melt her stick of black eyeliner and then she taught me how to apply coat after coat of mascara and separate my lashes with a safety pin without poking my eye out.
Now, nearly 25 years later, I’ve let go of most of Carmen’s make-up tips. My make-up routine takes just under two minutes… brush on powder, one coat of mascara and some red lipstick. Every once in a while, when I’m feeling dangerous, I’ll put on some eyeliner. Every time I light a match and hold the eye liner pencil over it, so it gets soft enough to apply to my eye lids and add a little tail at the end, I think of Carmen. I think of the first female I knew who was artistic, smart, lovely, audacious and adventurous. I think of sitting on the YMCA bench with Carmen in the afternoon waiting for our rides home. I think of the long talks we had about what we’d be when we grew up – her: fashion designer, me: interior designer. I think of the way that whenever I was with Carmen, the scary part of danger was overtaken by the exciting part of it. I think about how so many years later, the lessons Carmen taught me about how to properly apply eyeliner mean way more to me than those dirt bike boys.
Carmen always drew a lot of circles in her sketchbook. She said “circles are what life is about. you always come back to where you started from.” I created this make-up bag using my awesome Sizzix Big Shot die cutter. When I was deciding what shapes to use, I went with circles in homage to Carmen. the Sizzix die cutter made it super easy to cut a perfect circle every time. Follow the instructions below to create your own vinyl make-up bag using the Sizzix die-cutting machine. Don’t wear make-up? No worries. You can use the bag to haul around your art supplies, or make a smaller version to use as a wallet.
to be entered to win the sizzix big shot die cutting machine:
1. Leave a comment on this post letting us know what you’d like to make with the Sizzix Big Shot machine by Monday March 31st.
We’ll pick a winner, announce it here on April 9th (sorry for the delay but we’ll be at Craftcation through the 8th). Then we’ll send the winner the Sizzix Big Shot! Be sure to leave your email address in your comment or add it to your profile when you comment so we can send you an awesome Sizzix big shot!
(The contest is now closed. Congrats to Sarah!!!!)
what you need:
-Sizzix die cutting machine (I used the Big Shot) + some circle shaped dies
-Random vinyl scraps to cut circles in a variety of colors
-Two larger pieces of vinyl – 8.5 x 6.5 inches for the front and back
-9 inch zipper
-Rotary cutter + cutting mat + metal ruler (optional: I like using the rotary cutter because I can cut a perfectly straight line without much effort)
-Sewing machine (we used our awesome Bernina B380)
-Thread (I used red since that is the color of bag and I like how it contrasted with the different colored appliques
*feel free to adjust the size of your large vinyl pieces to make a smaller or larger bag
what to do:
1. Follow the instructions that came with your Sizzix machine to use it to cut circles from the vinyl pieces. This was my first time using my Sizzix machine and I was surprised to find out how easy and quick it was to cut a perfect circle every time! You simply place the die on the platform, place your vinyl scrap on top, then place the clear plastic piece that comes with the machine on top of your vinyl piece and then you turn the crank which rolls everything through and applies to pressure to the die which cuts the vinyl! Viola – tons of perfect circles!
3. Sew all the circles onto the front of the bag using a zig-zag stitch.
4. Position your zipper on the top of the front piece of your bag and use a zig-zag stitch to sew the zipper to the vinyl. Repeat for the other piece of large vinyl (the back). Make sure the zipper is open.
5. Close the zipper about an inch, then fold the vinyl pieces so that the wrong sides are facing out.
7. To make the gussets at the bottom, grab one corner of the bottom of the bag and flatten it out. Sew a straight stitch about an inch and half long across. Then clip the triangle of excess vinyl. This is a bit hard to explain. It’s best to look at the photos for this step. Repeat for the other corner.