Thursday, April 29, 2010

This bag has been in the bathroom!

Haha. Seinfeld moment :)

I finally finished the bag I warned you about the other day. I say finally, but I cut it out Saturday afternoon, and didn't touch it until last night.  I stopped at the part that gave me the willies, and worked up the moxie to just go for it this evening.  It's the same bag as the flip-flop bag, but totally different fabrics.  This time I reread  my directions for the zipper and realized that the reason I had been having so much trouble is because I was reading them wrong. Whoops.  Amazing how that happens.  This one is still not totally perfect, but I'm pleased enough with it to call it finito, Benito.  It should be fairly smooth sewing if I make this bag again.  I combined the Highbrow Hobo pattern from u-handbag, with a KwikSew pattern that I had used before for the gusset and the zipper.

I dig the brown and pink, and am in lurve with how the hearts on the straps tie in with the hearts on the main fabric.  Both of these are from Joann's Fabrics.

Due to the gusset this bag is pretty roomy inside.  Thanks, gusset!

This zipper lays across the top instead of sitting down inside, but is much sleeker looking than a change purse type of zipper.

And here's the happy inside. Slip pocket on one side, zip pocket on the other.

It's probably really obvious from the third photo so I won't gloss over the ugly details....I took these photos in the bathroom. I prefer to take my pictures outside; if that's not possible I hang them on a coat rack in the spare room.  But the lighting in the bathroom is really good and I wanted to highlight the colors of this bag, which is a huge part of its sweetness.  Normally I wouldn't mention it, but it's such ugly tile; it's never been replaced so I needed to bring it up simply so I could make it clear that there's no bad taste in tile in this house--blame it on the previous owners.  If you didn't notice it until I pointed it out and think that this is more information about my bathroom than you really need, just remember that you're the one who decided to start reading this in the first place.  Which I do appreciate, by the way :)

I must get myself to bed.  I have this thing called a day job I have to get up for.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It really WAS easy peasy...

My new favorite things are frame purses.  Correction! My new favorite things to make are frame purses.  My first attempt was my sunglasses kit.  Loved it.  My second attempt was this rectangular frame purse (the 'Easy Peasy Purse' from u-handbag) with some leftover Love from Amy Butler in the lime colorway.  I had made one of my boardwalk bags in this fabric, and when I glanced at it sitting on my sewing table I thought "Wow, that would look great as a frame clutch."  So I back and forthed over if I should try it, and where I should buy the frames from, and would people be interested and...oh. My point. I forgot.  The purse. Right. Here it is:

It looks more yellow than lime in this picture...I love those viny flowers going up the sides.

The inside is called "Frosted Fondant."  Nice and cheery.  I love the big mouth of this bag.

Here she is with my stuff--this is usually what's rolling around the bottom of my handbag.

These framed bags are deceptive--they look smallish, but they hold TONS of stuff.  Including a tape measure that you may have accidentally pinked the edges off of but is still perfectly useful, especially for spontaneous sewing shop adventures.  This would be way big enough to stash phone-keys-cash for a night out.  Survey says it would be better if it had a handle of some sort, so next time I buy some I'll get ones with loops on them and attach a chain of some sort.  It's amazing how a little bit of shiny metal makes something look professional.

AND...I finished up the bags for my friend's wedding in July. They're all packaged and ready to ship. 
That green is looking darker than it actually is.  The colors all go together very nicely.

Each dress is the same but in a different color.  I used the Made By Rae Buttercup Bag pattern reduced by about 10% and added a little carry-strap inside (I don't like carrying clutches and would prefer something to slip over my wrist.  I always feel like I'm suddenly going to need both hands and what will I do if one is full of purse?  Oh, I'm in the wedding, and wearing yellow.  That's why the strap concerned me so much).  The strap tucks neatly inside for those that do like carrying clutches, but my guess is that we might need our hands fairly free that day.

Closeup of the button (as if you couldn't tell that already).

And now, some random thoughts.  Blogger changed how you post photos--hate it!!  And it's amazing to me how I can play with one photo and still not be able to do my goods justice (i.e. the greens above that just won't be green) but then can play with another where a silver button looks red for some odd reason and tweak it until it looks exactly like it's supposed to. How do I do it?  Or not do it, depending on which photo we're talking about. 

Ok. Enough chit-chat.  Off to sew.  She's going to be adorable--can't wait to share the photos!

Review of "The Revolutionary Paul Revere" by Joel J. Miller

“The Revolutionary Paul Revere” chronicles the life and times of the bearer of one of history’s most famous messages. Starting with his father we learn of Paul’s birth; the conditions under which he arrived in America; his early struggles with work, family, and money; and, of course, the activities he participated in to help America gain her independence. We are introduced to a large number of historical figures who had an impact on Paul’s life or the history of the Revolution. We learn of success, failure, heartache and happiness. Finally, we learn of his extraordinary business acumen, especially in the building of the new country.

There are three things I knew about Paul Revere before I read this book: He was a silversmith. He dabbled in dentistry. He warned fellow colonists that the British were on their way. After reading this book, I know a few more fun facts I can toss out randomly, but not much else. I felt that this book was more of an overview of colonial Boston life wherein Paul Revere was present, but not a strict biography of Mr. Revere himself. There were too many people and events chronicled to keep track of at times, and sometimes I didn’t see how it was all tied together. The writing was not always easy to get through, and I found myself rereading sentences a few times and still not getting it (poor writing or poor editing). Overall, I was a bit disappointed in this book. I was very interested in the subject matter, but actually found myself wanting to put it aside unfinished several times, not really caring anymore. The most interesting bits of this book were the ones about Paul Revere—I would have loved more of that and much less of the filler that this book seems mostly comprised of. My recommendation to the casual reader would be to pass on this one; scholars of the American Revolution might find it worthwhile though, as long as they are not looking for a ton of information on Paul Revere.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Your botany lesson for today.... brought to you courtesy of some random woman at the nursery that my mother overheard talking to her granddaughter.

Every year we carefully plan what flowers we are going to plant.  And every year we pick either periwinkle/vinca or marigolds because they've proven themselves to be difficult to kill (we have black thumbs in this house instead of green ones).  I always vote for snapdragons, but we get our act together too late to have much to select from once we get to the nursery.  But this year is different--my parents stopped at the nursery yesterday and had a lot to choose from. So 2010 is the year of the snapdragon.

Here's the fun fact.  My mumsy overheard an older lady saying to her granddaughter "See? This is why they're called snapdragons.  Go ahead--pinch it!"  and her ears instantly perked up.  As she had no clue herself why they were called this she edged closer and snuck a peek at what was being pinched. 

Didja see it?  If you missed it here it is again.

It goes from being a mild, unassuming flower to a dangerous scary predator (hehe).

Wanting to learn more on this flower I looked it up on Wikipedia (which I could have easily done during all my previous wonderings if I wasn't lazy in odd ways).  Most of it was blah-bi-de-blah-blah scientific stuff, but the first sentence stated that it gets its name from the "fancied resemblance to the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth when laterally squeezed (thus the 'snap')."  This gave my mother and me a fair bit of amusement, which my father didn't share for some odd reason. Boys are so weird--so unfanciful with nary a touch of whimsy.  I enjoy being a girl :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beach Blanket Bingo

There's a bit of a theme to the sewing happening here in the hive this past week. As I mentioned before, beach bags and summer seem to be in demand (though I'm mentally not there yet).  First up is a simple beach bag:

Can't you just smell it? The beach, I mean...the fabric is so fresh and relaxing.

The inside is a delicate red and white stripe that doesn't seem like it would match but it's nice and subtle and just works:

And of course there's a zipper. Everyone looooves a zipper.

The beach bag took a few hours.  This next bag took most of the week.  It's made out of Waverley fabric (it's a home dec weight type of fabric) that shreds like nobody's business. Because I like my bags to have some structure to them, I stupidly interlined this with fleece. I say stupidly because there were bent pins, broken needles, and lots of naughty words involved with this bag.  It's not the bag itself--I combined a few patterns I've used before to get the elements the customer wanted, and had no trouble.  The problem came in --surprise, surprise--with the zipper, and with the unexpected bulk.  I do really like the way the colors and patterns work together, though:

The fabrics are "Flip Flops" and "Beach Umbrella" in the Taffy colorway.

Nifty hidden inside zipper.

Recessed zipper from the outside.

My only beef with this finished product is how I slightly goofed the zipper.  I didn't bring it close enough to the edges so there's a gap that bugs the bejeesus out of me.  It might be an issue, it might not--but I'm mentally prepared for a zipper redo if she decides she wants one.  Otherwise, this bag is bright, fun and sturdy.  I would use the remainder for a beach bag--I wouldn't need any interfacing and it would be perfect for the beach.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make this kind of handbag out of it again, though.  It took four nights instead of two and more than once I wanted to trash it out of frustration.

In other exciting news my purse frames arrived!!!!  I would have no trouble spending my weekend cranking out bags for these but I must restrain myself--it's not like I can run to the store and pick up more. I had to order these. From Hong Kong.  Which means foreign stamps, customs labels, and air mail stickers.  You would think that I'm living in 1910 when foreign mail was a big deal instead of in the global age.  Little things, folks.  Little things.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Haberdashery...just because I like that word

As the work piles up I find myself avoiding it like the plague, as though some helpful little elves will sneak in at night and transform my piles of fabric into piles of completed bags.  I'm not sure why I do this as I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and would gladly give up my day job if this sewing thing were lucrative enough.  So instead of crossing things off the list what I find myself doing is acquiring additions to my already sizable stash and creating another list of to-dos for after this list is finished.  But my feeling is that when things are on sale and you're going to get them at some point anyway why not save the money?  So here's my haul:

Some of the fabric, trims and buttons I decided I needed...I love the colors of these.

The fabric is a sage green satin that my camera decided against capturing, and some buttons I got crazy cheap (there's a whole bagful of them on my sewing table right now).

On a high note, I finished one set of bags for a July wedding I am in and just have to attach the buttons (I am going to use the ones in the center of the photo above).  Once I get approval on the satin color above I can knock out another set of bags for another wedding in June in no time (I want to use the heart buttons on the left). My mother and I stopped in a store that had huge containers of buttons for rock-bottom prices.  So we sifted through them for about half an hour to find as many of the above as we could (I'm sure other shoppers were thrilled with the noise we were making). 

And, because I realized that I haven't made anything for myself in a long time, I decided to put me first this weekend and put together my eyeglass wristlet kit.  I. Love. It.

The fabric makes me smile--it's part of the reason I wanted the kit.

I can't even put into words how easy this was (but I guess I just did).  It uses minimal fabric (not even a whole fat quarter) and interfacing, there is minimal sewing, and the frame makes it look like a store-bought item.  I have never glued fabric before (intentionally) so applying the glue to the frame and then the fabric and wiggling them together made me a little nervous, but I took my time and followed the superb directions I had and all went well.  I have a few minor things I might do differently on the next one but overall I'm pleased--I didn't think my first attempt would be acceptable. Of course, I think I am still high from the glue fumes, but if the strength of the odor is directly related to the strength of the bond of the glue, then I think I can put together a house from this stuff with no worries.  I love the new sunglasses I bought, and now they have a home so they don't get crushed and scratched in the bottom of my handbag.  I ordered a few more of the heart-shaped frames as well as the standard rectangular kind.  I'm going to try to put some for sale in my shop, but when I make something new everyone seems to want one and I don't get the chance to post anything (fine by me--I don't have to package and ship them).

And before I go make popcorn and play Jenga with a certain favorite little boy, I leave you with this close-up of my roll of pink fabric fat-eights I bought:

...which makes me want strawberry shortcake. So much for the diet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ode to winging it

I don't consider myself a creative person (which is why this isn't really an ode but just a bunch of regular prose). I can craft a bit--and I'm not entirely terrible at it.  But my "creative" process is something like:  follow a pattern/instructions, gather a bunch of different skills along the way, modify aforementioned patterns using aforementioned skills...and this is where I am now.  Hopefully soon I'll have the moxie to design my own bags and then sell the patterns and then they'll be a big hit and then I'll get rich from selling them and then I'll conquer the world and then I can take a class in not writing run-on sentences.

But some people are the crafty opposite.  As my cousin (Hi, Mollie!) told me the other day "I don't plan anything and I just kind of "wing it" through the whole thing...which is why approximately 50% of my projects go horribly, terribly, wrong (but the other 50% go quite swimmingly, and are a pleasant surprise!)."   This is the kind of creativity I envy--to just go for it without worrying if it's going to be perfect or not.

In this category you will also find my sister.  She gets a vision in her head of what she wants to create, and her hands actually make that a reality.  She's the one who makes handmade cards that look better than store-bought.   She decided a few weeks ago that she wanted to make jewelry, but not your typical sparkley-beads-and-wire variety.  She came home with a bag of wooden shapes, different cords, and the necessary clasps.  I went out to buy some fusible fleece, and when I came home she said "Do you like it? This one's for you!"

It's a double-sided wooden necklace that she hand-painted. 

The bright flowers and the colors are totally me.  I feel it should be noted here that when I draw flowers it's essentially a colored circle with a smaller, different colored circle in the center. She needed to figure out how to get the disk to hang straight (hence the pink bead), and how to attach the clasps.  Copycat big sister kept saying "Look on YouTube. Seriously, look on YouTube" and she kept ignoring me saying "I want to figure it out myself" so she went ahead and did just that:

Look at those lovely crimpy smashy things that make it a real necklace!

I love it and can't wait to wear it. Of course the weather turned chilly again and it doesn't seem right to wear this when there's a frost warning (80 inches of snow this winter and a frost warning was quickly we forget).  I've checked Etsy and Artfire and haven't seen anything quite like this.  Most of the wooden jewelry is beaded, or those Scrabble tile necklaces that have a small image on them decoupage-style.  So she may be onto something here.

She better not get rich first. I'm the big sister! I'm supposed to go first!

I couldn't resist posting this!

And does the song match perfectly or what?

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'll gladly wash my mouth out with soap!

It should come as no surprise that I love fabric. I love touching it. I love folding it. I love looking at it.  But I absolutely HATE cutting it.  The worst part of any project for me is the prep work of cutting fabrics, linings, interfacings, etc. Tonight I cut out the pieces for four satin evening bags and one more beach bag. Every last piece I'll need. So I don't need to cut anything else until at least the weekend.  Joy!  I was finished too late to start sewing and too early to go to bed, so what to do but play on the internet?

Because I'm supposed to be on a diet I can only sit here and drool over the following:

Hold on a sec...I have to get something to wipe off my keyboard....  How delectable is all of that?  And here's the coolest part--it's soap!  I stumbled across an artisan on Artfire today--her entire shop is delicious soaps that look too good to eat (which is a good thing, because it's soap and is probably icky tasting).  She also packages them in nifty ways that make them perfect for gifting. I'm definitely going to keep her in mind when I need a unique present for someone.  To check her out, visit her studio here.

I'm going to go eat a rice cake I'm not. I'm going to get an oreo.  Who am I kidding?

And tomorrow--a totally awesome giftie from my leetle seester.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hot fun in the summertime...

OK, I'm aware it's not summer yet but my former sewing teacher told me you should always sew a season ahead.  Kind of like retail--where they set up for Christmas just after Easter.  Which means it's time for beach bags!  I'm still not feeling beachy yet, but I had some orders so here they are:

I absolutely adore this fabric--so bright and fun, with a sunshine yellow lining.

Apologies for the not-so-hot photo...

The lining is a pebbly watery turquoise...

The ladies who requested these didn't want any pockets, but they did want a nice sturdy zippered pouch out of matching fabric. This way they can take the essentials to the beach without bringing their handbags, but everything will be cozy in one spot. 

These measure about 6 inches by 9 inches, and are nice and squishy because I interlined them with fleece.

I have one more of these to make for my hairdresser, and the fabric is so fresh and relaxing you can almost feel the warm sand under your feet.  I'll post a pic when it's finished.

I must apologize for these photos.  The sun has gone down and I  promised delivery of these tomorrow so I had to make do.

Quote of the day...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?"  
 –Marianne Williamson

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All you need is "Love" (and aspirin)

The interesting thing about making anything is that people invariably want it when they see it, but not quite the same.  A lot of times I get "Can you make it the same but bigger/smaller?" or "Can you put in a zipper instead of a mag snap?" or "I want it just like that, but can you take out the pleats, make it more square, have it tie shut, and put in lots of pockets?" So it goes from being a small change to a complete redo.  This particular bag had 2 minor changes but implementing one of them felt like I had put in enough time to have designed the whole durn thing myself.  But projects like this intrigue me because I gather new skills along the way.  As mentioned in my previous post, I had to shorten this bag because this one was entirely too big for every-day use.  Easy-peasy.  The zipper tried to sass me as I tried a few different techniques, but I worked it out in the end.  And I now have this sweet little number to deliver next week:

Modified KwikSew pattern #3749 in Amy Butler's "Love."

The close-ups actually do more justice to the bag as you can't see too much of the detail due to the busy print.

There's that lovely rounded bottom and a side view of some pleated loveliness.

Open or closed this zipper is pretty nifty looking (pats self on back).

I invested in a purse zipper for this project. The longer pull lets you put pretty fabric through it and is easier to get ahold of.

It is definitely a lot of work to give the people what they want, but it's always better to have happy customers who are getting exactly what they want.  My favorite aspect of this little bag-making venture so far is that everyone likes something different. I get to try out different fabric combinations I wouldn't think of or actually get to make what I'm envisioning as it will have a home rather than hanging on the coat rack in the spare room.

And what about the aspirin?  I've gone and injured my neck.  Sometimes I get a kink in it if I've slept funny or did something not quite right in an exercise class. But this one takes the cake.  I pulled it while brushing my teeth.  Yes, by essentially standing still I've gone and gotten a stiff neck for a few days.  Oh, the glamour...

Monday, April 5, 2010

London Calling!

I spent my holiday weekend lounging on the porch and reading, eating yummy everything, and doing a bit of sewing.  My leetle seester asked me for a few skirts for her birthday, and I didn't want to keep her waiting too long, so I worked on those.  Once they're hemmed I'll bend her thumb all the way back until she agrees to let me take pictures of her in them to post. 

I spent most of last week sick to my stomach...with excitement, because I was awaiting the arrival of this, direct from London:
Eyeglass case wristlet kit (from u-handbag--photos from their website).

And it arrived today.  With a big blue "Royal Mail" sticker slapped on the front. And a customs label.  Ooo-wee baby--an international shipment!  I have had my eye on this for ages--I love the cheery fabric, inside and out, and the entire kit comes with everything except the sewing supplies and the glue. I would order sooo many more of these kits, but the exchange rate between US and UK doesn't work in my favor, so I have to be picky.  I also bought a pattern for another type of frame clutch.  I'll invest in some frames once I see how this one goes.  This may be my weekend project. 

But first...I have to turn this:
Amy Butler's "Love" collection, Cypress print, in Paisley Mint

...into a bag.  I've made this bag before but now there are some modifications to make to it.  For one thing, it needs to be shorter.  That part was easier than I thought.  It also needs to have a zipper closure.  I think I've figured out in my head how I want to go about doing this, since it's not a standard application, so we'll see how it goes.  Fingers crossed...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Springtime Salutations

I went for a stroll around the yard on a sunny day off and was greeted by some springtime loveliness, just in time for Easter.


The snow melted away and left behind one lonely reindeer bell from a Christmas that seems long ago...

...a hydrangea bush that can't wait to bear its blooms...

...a happy purple rhododendron and a sunshine forsythia...

...and a lilac bush that's seen better days but still wants to join the dance.

Have a happy Easter and a happy spring!


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