Monday, August 18, 2014

Wristlet: Nailed It

'Allo! I've spent some quality time with Harriet (my sewing machine) this week. When I find myself not very motivated to sew (but have projects 'due') I find that two things help: first, I just start. Half of my problem is usually getting going, so once I do that it's easy to keep going (I don't like leaving things unfinished). Second, I work in small bits instead of marathon sewing. Small, reasonable goals are much more achievable towards the same end as an unrealistic night or two of super late night sewing.

Last year, I posted about my troubles with making a cute, workable wristlet for a friend's daughter. She beat the crap out of that thing all year long (which I love to hear--it means it got used :) However, as I had never made the pattern before I didn't realize how thin it was, which limited how much could be carried. As such, if it's just holding a few cards or bills it's fine, but anything more and the zipper pops. This year, though, I had my own new wristlet I had just made to base a new one on. It's what I was hoping to end up with last year, but had no clue how to go about it. I did some drawing and some math, and delivered this one today.


I used the same exact fabric (as I just couldn't find the right kind of elephant fabric), and I think it really has a Vera Bradley-ish look to it. I quilted with simple straight lines in one direction that you can barely see. And let me just tell you that I have no idea what is up with that fabric--it looks faded, but the colors are really rich and vibrant in actuality.


Figuring out that teeny flush zipper was not fun. The process was the same as usual, but I had to be really mindful of the side edges (and I'm not used to doing that as I usually insert these into larger bags with plenty of room). I confused myself a few times and thought I really messed it up, but it is the perfect size for holding a standard-sized card, which is what I was shooting for, so yay! Seriously, what is with that fabric looking so faded? It's really not. Swearsies.


Normally I would have gone with bronze hardware to match the fabric, but I didn't have matching anything. Good thing silver seems to go with everything. I have no idea why but I have oodles of these clips that I don't remember buying, and looking at this picture makes me think of a leash, so maybe I'll make some of those....


I put two card pockets on the inside (my expired library card that I still have for some reason is getting quite the workout as a model). This leaves a nice chunk of room for a phone, cash, some lip gloss, and phone numbers of cute boys, harharhar.


This ended up as such a good size, and I used a bit more interfacing than I did on mine so it feels more structured. I was giddy with joy when I found some woven black interfacing I don't remember buying, and I had some black fusible fleece as well. I don't know if that makes a difference on such a small thing, but I felt I had to use them or else all that glee would go to waste. It's actually a little smaller than mine, but has more depth. I don't know how I manage to use the same measurements for two things and they end up different, but that could be the story of my creative life. Which is good, I guess--it guarantees that no two things are alike as I'm clearly incapable of making them so (but in a good way).

I've got an overnight bag that's half-finished sitting on my sewing table that needs a lining inserted, so I'm hoping I'll have that to share soon. I've got bathroom curtains to make, my quilt to work on, and yarn for two sweaters on the way (whaaatt??? I know, I'm going to try to make clothes! Clothes that aren't pajamas!!). I certainly never lack for things to do. For that I am thankful.

See you soon, lovelies!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What's This Decision: Blocks 21-24

Sooooo I kind of just realized that I haven't finished posting my finished wacky quilt blocks. I've hardly been at my sewing machine this summer at all, except for a request here or there. Something about the lack of portability of a heavy sewing machine onto one's porch probably has something to do with it, as well as the discomfort of a steaming hot iron on hot days. I've finished some crocheted bits which I'll show you soon--that and finishing my paper-piecing project has taken up much of my time. Anyhoodle, here are the next four blocks. I don't even know if I remember what I was thinking as I put these together.

The quintessential after school snack--milk and cookies at the kitchen table. I used to love those moments when we would all come home from school to our waiting mother, to have a quick snack and then start homework. It's still my favorite time of day, that late afternoon four o'clockish time.

Ermm....I don't really need to explain this one...

This one is a basket of strawberries with a pretty gingham cloth to keep the bees off during your walk home from berry pickin'.

Cherry pie :) Even though the pink says cupcake. I guess they could be cherry cupcakes. I love the look of delight on the woman's face. That's how I'd feel if someone gave me a cupcake right now.

Hmmm. I guess I do remember what I was thinking...

I've got a few more blocks, and a few crocheted projects, and hopefully by the end of the weekend a few bags, to share. So why do I feel like I haven't done anything? Ta for now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spicy Shelf Giveaway Winner

Hi all! Just a quick pop-in to announce the winner of the Spicy Shelf. We had a whopping sixteen entries :) but I popped them in the random number generator just the same, and that winning number is:


And that would be Margaret, who said:


Congratulations! I'm off to email you now, Margaret, so we can get your prize to you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Saga of the Last Green Bean: An English Paper Piecing Tale

At some point last week I decided I was done with my English paper piecing project. It had morphed from my original plan, and once I reached a certain point I really had no idea where to take it (especially since I was just feeling done with it mentally). I didn't feel like doing more stitching, and I was wary of making this into a quilt as I'm always unsure of the sturdiness of my hand stitches (the worry was for naught as the stitching held up beautifully through all of the following--so I guess that's something).


My original plan involved making this a wall hanging of some sort, with the orange as the center 'hub' and the pink flowers circling around it. I was thinking of framing it but convinced myself it wasn't really frame worthy. So my mother and I concocted a scheme of covering a canvas in fabric and mounting this on it. Problem one: a canvas does not exist in the size I was looking for. So we had another brilliant idea of enlarging the canvas with some folded posterboard pieces and some fiberfill to give it some sturdiness. So far so good. Honestly. It was up to size and didn't look bad and felt sturdy enough.

Then we very tightly pulled some pretty green fabric around the canvas and tacked it in place. We're still OK at this point. I had originally pulled all of my hexie papers out of their fabric shapes. When we laid the piece on the green fabric you could see all the seams and the green showing through. So we both sat there cramming all these little bits of paper back in. We were getting a bit testy at this point, but kept at it. After a convincing press everything really did look hunky dory.

And then....ugh. I had decided that Mod Podge was the way to go with this. We had everything carefully centered and all that jazz, and then we proceeded to slather Mod Podge on everything to stiffen it and tack it down. I now have a question for you. Do you know what happens to paper when it gets wet? It curls. And not attractively. The edges didn't want to lay flat, no matter what we did. And because the papers were essentially loose in there (as I had ripped them out of their glued snugness) that fabric was not laying nicely either. At this precise moment I said to my mumsy "You know what I should have done? Stitched this to the green fabric and some quilt batting and then stretched that around the canvas." She gave me one of those looks like I imagine people give right before they beat the $*&# out of someone. 

Since things look better in the morning, we left it. And in the morning...it was not better. It was a wrinkly crinkled mess. I'm not sure what numbered brilliant idea we're up to here, but I think it's maybe the fifth? We very carefully peeled the whole thing off and removed the papers. And because Mod Podge washes so easily out of brushes with soap and water it would surely wash out of the fabric, right? Yeah, no. After googling, and then trying various things that I was hoping would work as a solvent (Goo Off, WD40, nail polish remover, and rubbing alcohol) I was no further. You know how MP looks before it dries? Kind of white? That's how this looked now. I rinsed it really well and laid it flat to dry, and wondered just what I would do. My temper was flaring and I was going to throw it out, but my mother convinced me not to.

Here's something you shouldn't do: iron something when all of the aforementioned has happened to it, but most importantly when there's Mod Podge on it. No, I didn't wreck the iron but it certainly did not make things flat and pretty again. This was one wrinkly mess. I couldn't even summon a specific emotion at this time. I know this is a lot of wordage and no pictures, but I just couldn't bear photographic evidence of this misadventure.

Since Goonies never say die, I headed out to see what I could come up with (again). And while I am not as in love as I was before I near destroyed this thing, I love it enough that it's hanging in the bedroom (can you tell I'm single? What guy would allow this over his bed, hahaha?).


So here's what I eventually did. I bought one of those big tri-fold foam boards (as it was the only one large enough) and cut it to my size (which was a 26 inch square), taping the fold so the board would be nice and stiff (and it was). I used spray adhesive to fuse some Kona white to some cotton quilt batting, and then very carefully wrapped it around the foam board, using Aleene's permanent fabric tape (I'd never heard of it before but it worked great for this!) to hold it all in place on the back.


Clearly my camera wanted to focus on the bow and not the fold but you get the idea. The folds are actually quite neat looking and not too bulky. I then forced a grommet into place at the top center so I could use that pretty pink ribbon from my stash to use as a hanger--you can just see the silver here under the knot:


I then used the same fabric tape (because pins were not working out, though my white headed pins did look cute) to hold the hexies piece to the board. I worked from opposing ends and pulled as tight as I could to try and smooth out some of the wicked wrinkling that had occurred. If you're wondering why I didn't sew the hexies to the white and wrap that around it's because the fabric was still covered in Mod Podge, and I had no idea if that would gunk anything up in my machine.


You can truly only see the wrinkling if your face is practically touching this, or when the bedside lamp is on and reflecting up (and even then it's only on the yellow fabric, which gave me trouble when gluing it to the paper pieces to begin with, so now I'm wondering if there's something funky to the fabric as everything else did end up nice and smooth). When I woke up this morning it looked like a happy piece of sunshine was hanging over my bed. And I'm very OK with that.

And now, the title of this post? That's my mother's favorite guilt trip. It doesn't matter if it's green beans, snow peas, carrots, or whatever. If there's one of something left in the bowl "someone has to eat it or else it will think it's not wanted." Two is OK, one is not allowed. When I said "I'm just going to throw it away or put it in a drawer" she reminded me of the stitching hours, and then said "How would you feel if no one wanted you because you weren't perfect?" And when I reminded her that it was me who did this, she responded with "All the more reason to keep it." This guilt trip works ridiculously well on me, for some reason, as I am well aware that green beans and other vegetables do not have emotions (that's a sentence I never thought I'd find myself writing). 

I guess it's a thing you have to come to terms with as a creator of anything, that the imperfections must be embraced and loved, just like people. We are not gods/goddesses here on earth, sitting in smug towers of perfection. We are human, and something I love in other handmade items is the evidence of a human hand being involved. I don't know why I eschew such things in my own work, but sometimes you need to be humbled in your work (and still come out liking it) to remember that sometimes it's the process and the learning therein more than the actual result. It's a difficult lesson, but as I am wont to say to others in situations that would rather not be endured, "Hey, at least you got a story out of it."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Blog Tour Giveaway Winner...and a Few Tidbits

Ahoy, ahoy! I've got a few things to share with you today, but I'll be brief. Pinky swear. I know you've all got summering to get on with.

First up--the winner of the Rafflecopter giveaway from my blog tour post. I'm not sure if the winner entered here or at one of the other blogs that was scheduled for the same day, but the winner is Debi J. Sara from Cozy Nest Designs has emailed all winners, so if that name belongs to you check your email, please! And congratulations!

Second--I joined Twitter. I decided that, although I watch 'The Waltons' and other shows I love from back in the day (like 'Blossom' and 'Full House') with fond nostalgia and wishes for those much simpler, largely tech-free times, that I need more social media noise, harharhar. I'm not sure how 'good' at it I'll be, or if I'll just use it to stalk celebrities (I kid!) but I'm there if you're there and interested in following. My....user name? handle? Is it still called a handle? Was it ever called a handle? is @flybybethy. When I find the file on my computer where I stored my social media icons I'll add one to the sidebar for easy clicking.

And third--I don't really have a third...so here's a funny for you.


Hugs until later!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Spicy Shelf - and a Giveaway!

Hi, chickens! I've got a review and a giveaway for you today! A few weeks ago I was contacted by the folks who represent Spicy Shelf and asked if I'd like to do a review. I wasn't going to, but didn't respond right away, either. I'm glad I didn't write back with a no because it became clear soon thereafter that this would be a good thing to have.

I've recently been trying to learn to cook more things than maybe the two or three I know at the side of my extremely capable mother. As I don't have the skills she does sometimes I feel frenzied when she says things like "Now add this before this happens" and I feel all "Gah!" because a poke on the spice shelf as it used to stand was no easy task. Things were crammed in, they'd fall over, you'd invariably find three jars of cloves and two of cumin though they are both things that you'd swear have never been used, and where is the stinkin' minced onion? After some naughty words and quite vocal exclamations as to how this was the least efficient cabinet ever(!!!!) I told my mother "We are trying this thing out!" So I responded and said "Oh, my, yes please!"

Here's a bit of a before of one side of the cabinet (because sometimes I'm dumb and forgot to take one of the other side, but trust me it was in worse shape):


This doesn't look terrible, but when you try to work with it it's not user friendly. The lazy susan is supposed to hold commonly used things, but that's not always the case (because my dad will cook things and nothing ends up where it's supposed to because it's easier to find an empty spot than to finagle things into place on a crammed piece of plastic that spins). That wooden box holds a multitude of spices for things my dad "would like to try," which is why there are multiple jars of the aforementioned cloves and cumin (it's easier to buy new than to dig through this cabinet over the stove).

As my mother emptied her cabinets, I put together the Spicy Shelf. At first I thought it was going to be an Ikea adventure and that we'd need to find a child to help us with assembly, but it was really very easy and the directions quite clear on how to turn all these bits into something usable.


The shelves can be adjusted to be wide or narrow, and there are legs of two different heights that you can attach. This is quite a short cabinet, so we made them as wide as possible and squeezed them in side by side. After putting the rarities towards the back (and tossing some things that were from the Stone Age) the cabinet looked so much roomier and more open. We have a round that goes under the shelf, and then one on the shelf itself.


The things on the top right are the new jars of spices. The others are on and under the shelf. My mother took the lazy susan out this evening as she felt she didn't need it anymore since everything else was so  organized and out of the way. It's hard to tell from this photo but there is so much more room on those shelves now.

This is the other side:


The things not used often are out of the way but still accessible, and everything else is easier to grab as you're not trying to sort through a bunch of stuff that you don't even know why you have in the first place. I asked my mother all week "Do you like it? Is it better? Are you glad we did it? Do you like it?" And she does. There's no fear of things toppling, of having to drag chairs over to climb up and poke around, and no wasted time while you pick up every jar but the one you're looking for.

As I said, these cabinets are quite short, but if you have taller cabinets wherein you try to organize things (be it vitamins, medication, and so on) you can see how these shelves can really help to maximize your space:


I'll be honest--at first I thought "Why not just stack things along the back edge without the shelf?" But stacking a bunch of teeny spice jars, one on top of the other, is not fun and not very accessible, and also quite likely to tip when you knock into them.


I should have taken a better before shot, but trust me this is a major improvement. It may not look like the pretty ads, but it really is such a noticeable improvement when you're actually using it.

But wait, there's more!!

Spicy Shelf has generously offered one of my readers one set of two shelves. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what you'd use them for. Please note that this is open only to readers in the continental US. I'll leave comments open until 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, August 11, 2014. I'll pick a winner the next dayish.

If you'd like to order some of these for yourself (if I had a dedicated sewing room I know I would use these for my little jars of buttons and bag hardware that reside in a shoe box right now, as well as my thread) I've got a discount you can use. When you check out enter the promo code SPICE5 (that's a five, not an 's' at the end) to receive $5.00 off your order.

See you soon!

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the product at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Convertible Reversible Bag Tour With Cozy Nest Designs--and a Giveaway!!

Hello, and welcome to my happy little hive! If you've been here before, skip to the next paragraph, haha. If you haven't, I'm Bethany ('Bee'), and I love to make things. Crochet is close to my heart as I spent a happy winter vacation beside my grandma as she taught me, but sewing is where I invest most of my time. Some of my favorite things to make are bags and purses of all shapes and sizes. The possibilities are endless, they're totally functional, and they don't have to fit. I hope you'll stick around for a bit and maybe come visit again.


I was asked to participate in this blog hop with Cozy Nest Designs to make the Convertible Reversible bag. I've never been in one before, and I hesitated as I wasn't sure what or how much would be required of me or if I would end up making a mess of the whole thing. But once I saw some pictures of this bag I said "Count me in!" I absolutely had to know how this thing was managed. I consider myself not a total dunce at figuring things out, but I am still wondering how Sarah made this happen.

The great thing about this pattern is that you get four looks from one pattern. That's awesome sauce! To accomplish this there are quite a few pieces that need to be cut out, but Sarah has very helpfully included labels with the pattern so you can keep everything straight. It was oddly satisfying to see the pile of pieces disappearing as the pattern progressed. This pattern is certainly not for beginners--it helps to have experience reading patterns, sewing zippers, and all that jazz. But if you've got a few things under your belt you should be successful. The pattern also contains live links to other tutorials for certain steps that may seem a little bit hairy to get through. I'll have you know I used my seam ripper once, and that was because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. So if you take your time and follow the directions you'll be fine.

OK, now onto my version of the bag. First, we have a basic bag that can be a clutch, a makeup bag, or a crossbody bag.


To the right you see a tab loop--that's where I can clip the strap (adjustable) if I want.


Even in its more 'collapsed' version this is still plenty roomy for essentials. Now, let's say I need it to be a bit larger. All I'd have to do is unzip the zipper all the way. Peeking into the bottom of the bag I'd see a zipper laying across the bottom and would naturally think "What is that doing there?" Pull that out, and the bag extends to its full size, with tab loops for your strap to attach at the top.


That part in the middle where the zipper is can be folded down or up (as I have it). D-rings were optional for attaching the swivel hooks, so I opted out of those and simply clipped onto the tab itself.


So where are the other two bags? OK, get a load of this. When the bag is fully extended, you unzip the zipper across the top and then turn the whole thing inside out to reveal the next bag.


This fabric reminds me of a shirt I had at some point in my teenage years so I had to get it. This side of the bag shows the magnetic snap when it's fully extended. There are directions within the pattern to make snap covers so it looks cuter and more finished.



Now for the final bag. All you do is make sure this one is zipped across the top, and then fold the top down inside the bottom, similar to the other side. Once it's tucked all nice and neat, you simply bring your flap over and voila! Nifty little clutch!



I'm still pretty stinkin' amazed at how this came together. If I had thought ahead I would have chosen fabrics that could have shared a strap so I would only have had to make one (and would have one less to lose, hahaha), but I really wanted the bags to be as different as I could get them. This would be an excellent bag for vacation--four looks and only one thing to pack. The pattern even shares instructions for a vinyl insert to keep everything nice and clean for when it gets turned every which way. This pattern is really quite a good value. You can score yourself a copy here. If you hurry (and by hurry I mean do it by tomorrow) you can receive 25% off the price by using the code bagtour at checkout. This deal ends tomorrow (August 2nd) so hurry if you're interested.

And now, how about a little giveaway? Yes, you say? Excellent! Sarah has generously provided prize packages for us to offer to you folks every day. See the Rafflecopter business below, and get entering for your chance to win some fun stuff!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the pattern at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.

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