Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Was Framed

Phew. What a marvelous past four days I've had. I took off on Thursday, and had off on Good Friday so I've had a nice four day weekend. I spent time with the nephews, fit in some shopping, a lot of sewing (and gluing), caught up on sleep, read a bit, and spent the afternoon with family for Easter. It's going to be hard going back to work tomorrow, but knowing the past few days were well-spent won't make it so tough. I always find it tougher to go back when I don't accomplish anything, as it feels such a tremendous waste of time.

Anyway, this week I was working on frame purses to sell in my wee shop. I've still got the smaller change-purse sized ones to make, but I've got some orders I need to work on so those will have to wait. But I did want to show you the pile of purses I made.

First up, I started with sunglasses cases. I made six, got glue all over one (don't even ask me how--I think it dripped and I didn't notice and then I laid the purse on it) so I ended up with five, one of which I forgot to photograph with the others. I blame Cadbury-induced chocolate mania.

My good camera died (the battery, not the camera) so I had to use my little one for some of the pics.

And here are the linings. These are such a good size for standard sunnies. They've been one of my favorites to make since I first bought the pattern several years ago.

The one above is the one I forgot to include. Then I moved onto simple rectangular purses. These went together like a dream. I kept thinking something terrible would have to go wrong as they were behaving so nicely. But nothing did. They're perfect.

That pink faux-patchwork one in the front is going to be so difficult to part with. It's the sweetest ever. When I see the pink and brown dots I think of raspberry cheesecake. I think the green might be a Denyse Schmit from Joann's print, and the other was part of a gift from my sister. Wanna see the linings? They go so nicely (I had a grand old time playing with my stash for these).

I need to restock the silver frames as I'm completely out and it seems most of my fabrics go with that finish. However, I do have a few more in mind to make that will go with the bronze frames (and even a gift suggestion for one of them :)

They've each got a nice flat bottom to hold your goodies--they fit the essentials perfectly (phone, keys, cash/cards, and a lipstick.

Any of these would be adorable Mother's Day gifts. They'll all be listed in my shop shortly (and there will be better pics there too). I've said it a gazillion times before and I'm going to say it again--if you've never made a frame purse before you should give it a crack. For reals. Especially this Easy Peasy purse that I learned to make from u-handbag. The sewing is simple, and if you let the glue set for ten minutes before you squeeze it into the frame there won't be much of an ooze situation. Plus--it's something that looks totally professional, but can be personalized with your choice of fabrics. You really do win all around.

So that's all I've got for now. I've got a diaper bag to cut and stitch, a pickle bag to concoct, and a kitchen curtain to ruffle and sew. Amongst the ever-present want-to list in my head. I'm this close (my fingers were about an inch apart there) to having my hexie table runner top all finished. The quilting should be simple in comparison, and then that will be one more thing crossed off the list.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter!!

I just wanted to hop by :) and wish you all a very happy Easter! I've been informed that candy doesn't have calories today, so munch away!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Few for Friday - #13

Do you remember in grade school when you used to squirt Elmer's glue on your hands and rub them together, and wait for it to dry so you could peel it off? No? Just me? Well I've just finished doing the adult version of that. Which is peeling glue off your hands after spending the evening making sunglasses cases. When you stitch things together in an assembly line fashion you'd be amazed how quickly you can make a bunch of those! Of course the glue fumes can get to you...which may be the case right now. So I'll show you some pictures.

I finally found some bunches of tulips for sale. I thought these were going to be red, but they're not--

 They're this orangey color instead. Here they are basking in the evening sunshine (I still maintain that daylight saving time is stupid and should be abolished but I do like that I get to appreciate the late day sun).

 Hopefully I'll have a bunch of purses finished and ready to pop in the shop soon. Frame purses are still one of my favorite things to make--you can make one in under an hour and they'd make great gifts, especially with a few little treasures tucked inside.

 I have never been to IHOP before today. And I'll be fine if I never go to another. First, the calories! Whoa! This waffle was from the diet menu, but the butter and syrup took care of any calorie savings. The one near us isn't the cheeriest place. We ended up going, interestingly enough, because this one thought that the other wanted to go, and then someone else thought that another really liked that place, and it turns out none of it is true but we didn't get the "then why the hell are we here?" looks on our faces until halfway through when we realized it all.

Yes, I was asked to make something out of this fabric. Oddly, I found it just across the bridge at a fabric shop in New Jersey. Usually when I need something unusual I have to order it from a gazillion light years away but this was easy. I dragged Z-man with me as the alternative was grocery shopping with my parents, so he decided even fabric was more interesting.

As I was searching for cotton pickles I heard "Aunt Bee, I found something I want." I was wondering what smart-a$$ comment I was in for, but here he found some New England Patriots fleece and he wanted a blanket. I didn't do anything but trim it (he didn't want me to edge it at all) and he's snuggled up in bed with it (there's no school this week, and he likes to sleep over so we got to hang out today).

And now I must trot. Enjoy your Friday! Especially if it's part of a long weekend, as it is for me :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Curved Purse Frames - Third Time's the Charm

I'm on a big use-the-stash kick right now. I feel like I've been using a lot of my fabrics, but the pile isn't getting much smaller.... I've got a pile of frame purses cut out and ready to stitch, so hopefully the stack will be shorter the next time I look. Let's talk about frame purses, shall we? Whether they're called kiss locks, snap frames, pinch frames, whatever--you know what they are. You give a little flick with your thumb and forefinger and it's open and ready to close with a satisfying click. Once you have a workable pattern drawn up they're not very hard to make at all. But, unless you have the fortune to have a pre-made pattern that fits the image in your head, it can be a bit daunting to create your own pattern. It took me three tries that ended in "what did I just make?" head-scratching before I had a shape and size that I thought I could work with.

I've used rectangular frames many many times, and they're pretty simple--straight lines, easy angles, all that jazz. But I've never used a curved frame before and couldn't find a pattern I liked. So I used this tutorial over at U-Handbag to create my own. I have no problem with creating the top part of the pattern as it's quite exact as far as numbers go. When you get beneath the hinges and can do whatever you want? That's where things get hairy for me. In my brain there is no "bridge" between a paper pattern and a vision of what it will look like--I have to actually sew it. My first tries were no good at all, and then, during an episode of The Americans, a few things clicked and I had a workable pattern.

The frame is fairly small (less than 4 inches across at the widest point), and my first version was a little too tall for such a small frame. Using the same pattern, I simply made a longer seam when creating my flat bottom and ended up with a purse that was exactly how I had pictured it for the most part.

On the left is the original. I'm keeping it for me as I didn't mark the center of the bag and frame and it's a little bit crooked. The one on the right is a bit shorter and fatter by not much, but just enough to alter the shaping a little bit. Now it's just the right depth for a little frame.

 Here you can see how they stack up. See what I did there? Hahaha. But seriously--one pattern piece, two purses that have a very different feel when you're fishing for change.

 Isn't this the cutest lining fabric? 

I actually made a third one of these (in the smaller size) but I had an issue with the seam under the hinge. The first version had the same issue but less noticeably so. The second one makes me cringe. The third I finally figured out the problem--I'll still need to trim a little bit of bulk in future versions, but at least now I know. Stupid v-seams--they get me every time.

You can see on the right (under the hinge) how the pink lining is folding over towards the outside. It's not doing that on the left (but I do see a thread that needs a snip).

I do like the look of a curved frame, but I find the angular ones MUCH easier to work with. My main issue? Keeping the center points matched up as I adjust everything into the frame. But one must have goals.

 Kissy kissy :)

If you've never tried a frame purse before I have a tutorial here for a glue-in version, and one here for a sew-in version. The best part is that these are small and can be made with scraps--even if you goof a few times you're not wasting much. That's what I tell myself every time I wave to the waste bin and say "Bye bye attempt number -- ". But it's very worth it and you'll feel quite pleased with yourself in the end :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Washi Tape Picture Frame

I do love a good weekend, but they go by so quickly that I find myself sitting here on Sunday night, writing to you and wondering where the past few days went. We babysat A-train yesterday and today, and he is on the move so you have to pretty vigilant. Z-man was here as well, and between the two there was a lot of activity. It's also my sister Alicia's birthday on Tuesday, so we had her celebration today as everyone was already here.

 Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing, made by my dad for my sister. She's not one for sweets, so this is her kind of birthday cake. We used to tease her that she was adopted (because we could be rotten jerks) but her lack of a sweet tooth makes me wonder if we were on to something. Of course, we all look too much alike for that to be true.

Anyhoodle, back in this post I gave a teaser of a washi tape project I had been working on. It was actually a present for my sister so you can see why I had to keep it hushed. It wasn't anything major that I did, just something I had seen here. But when I came across it I instantly thought of my sister and the jar of bright green tape I had been saving for the right project. I waited until she had to go away on a business trip (that feels funny to say about your 'little' sister, whom I still consider to be ten) and verified with her a zillion times when exactly she would be away so I could get this done without her seeing.  It took two evenings, and then I hid it away. But now I can show you :)

I couldn't find a good picture of her with 'our' boys, so I looked through the notebook  of quotes I keep to find something to fill the space temporarily. It reads (since at no point did I move the dragonfly out of the way): "Seek to find the best in the worst, to discover the great in the small, to see beauty in the plain, and to detect the elegant in the simple." I don't recall the source, and I didn't feel I had to officially cite it for this gift, but it feels Emerson-y.

I started off by painting the back of the frame green and the rest white, as the markings in the natural wood grain showed through the tape. It was ridiculously easy to place the tape, but to cut the excess with an exacto knife--not so much. A layer of Mod Podge and I was done.

The darker green tape was too plain and seemed to stand out and at the same time darken the whole thing. So I found this crocheted trim with an adhesive backing to stick down and MP over--it added just the right touch.

She looooooves the color green and dragonflies, so when I saw this beaded one I snatched it up right away. I got her a few other things, but I wanted to share the one I made. At first she couldn't believe I made it, but then she said "No one EVER made anything for me before!" which isn't technically true, but requesting something to be made is quite different.

I'm glad she liked it because I thoroughly enjoyed making it. I felt kind of geeky giving it to her, and I had my fingers crossed that she'd like it as I don't usually make things like this and thought it might seem kind of hum-drum. Isn't it funny how, when you make something, you hope-hope-hope it'll be loved and appreciated as it's almost a piece of your very soul you're giving? But then again, when it  comes to sisters you just seem to know what to do. Rachel's birthday is in July--I must get to thinking crafty thoughts....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Few for Friday - #12

Wow, has this week flown by. I've spent quite a bit of time in front of my sewing machine (I've settled on Ophelia for her name, by the way--thanks for the suggestion, Charity :) Just like a new car a new machine takes some getting used to, and we've finally gotten used to each other. The only thing is she doesn't have a free arm, but I've figured out how to work around that so I don't have to haul out and thread Lola just to do some top-stitching. OH--thank you all for your comments on my hobo bag situation--the vote was unanimous for the pink one, so I'll be headed that route until I can figure out a neater way to do the other version. afghan is coming along, albeit slowly. It seems I either crochet my fingers raw, or sew myself into a backache, and my back has needed some good stretching lately. I'd like to get more time in on that afghan, though, as I have an idea for one for Z-man that I really am excited about. I suppose I could put one aside and work on the other. What was my point right now? Oh yeah, Friday photos.

I'm doing some online training at work (taking it, not teaching it) and this "guy" is the course leader who pops by now and then. They've programmed goofy hand movements into him that make me laugh, but this one really cracks me up--his hands are in a position that look like he's mimicking breasts, and the animation has him moving his hands up and down like he's jiggling them. I suppose programmers of web-training programs have to have their fun :)

 While cleaning out a desk at work that apparently hadn't been used for a long time, we found this plug-in. To use the Helvetica font you would have had to plug this giant thing in to do so. Things certainly have changed...

 At work they put fake swans in the pond out back to scare off the hundreds of geese that land there and poop everywhere. These look really pretty, but it's funny how many people have thought they were real. And nobody has bothered to clue them in for a few weeks. So I became that person--I enjoy seeing the expression on people's faces when they realize they're not having a bright moment.

The other day this giant glowing orb was in the sky. I asked a few people what it was, and they told me it is something called The Sun.

Z-man asked me to help him set up his net for batting practice. If you want to see a circus and a half I invite you to watch me put this thing together. I think I broke a sweat. Stupid simple thing that's not that hard but is still hard to do. Try-outs are Saturday, so he's using all available daylight to work on his swing.

 Even babies get tired of the paparazzi, I suppose. I have another one of him making a great face while he's taking care of, but I think I'll save that for future blackmail.

I bought a bunch of curved purse frames and spent a couple nights working on a pattern. I got a good one going tonight after having to toss a few samples. Girl Genius here glued the frame on slightly crooked (I'm used to rectangular frames) but the size and shape are pretty much dead-on (third time is indeed a charm).

 All winter I wanted winter weather, and now that it's spring and I want spring weather it's cold and wet. No flowers out and about yet, the green stuff still asleep. But these fake forsythia on my desk at work are a fabulous splash of sunshine. Confession: they've only been up for a week, prompted by the comment from a co-worker "At what point are you putting your poinsettias away?" Whoops.

So that was my week. Lots of sewing and figuring out patterns and techniques--stuff that is really just speaking to my soul right now. Sometimes I want simple sewing, and other times I want to sink my teeth into something new and unknown. I love the creative process that way--it can give you what you need when you need it, and other times carry you along lazily.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Slouchy Hobos and a Question

You know the wonderfully simple slouchy zipped hobo bag? Or maybe you've seen it called a crescent bag? It is a style I have been trying to sew for three years now (off and on). I have no problem sewing a curved zipper, or sewing in a gusset or darts, or any of that stuff. You know what gets me? The stinkin' strap. I have gotten very lucky I think maybe once in all my attempts. I've had to pick out a LOT of stitches and figure out a way to make the bag work with an alternate zipper style. I've even lost my temper and tossed a few in the trash (gasp!). I've bought patterns and googled until my fingers were numb, hoping for a sprinkling of magic dust on my sewing needle, but to no avail.

For Christmas I received a set of Nancy Zieman's bag templates for the Town and Country collection (which is basically a slouchy hobo bag). You get six style options with one set of templates. They've been sitting on my sewing table since then, waiting for me to get some motivation. This weekend, with nothing else to do, I popped them open and got to work. They're very easy to use and I like them a lot but I had to have a good think over one of the instructions to figure out what the heck (and I'm firmly convinced my Grandma leaned down from heaven and whispered in my ear at some point when I was stuck for about two hours). I'll confess to you, lovelies, that I lost my temper and threw that bag away. This didn't bother me as much as you'd think, as my fabric choice was less than stellar and I was in no way excited about this bag as it was evolving. Very blah. Happy accident, it turned out to be, as the version I made the next day has me madly in love with it :)

There is something about this fabric that has me giddy for warm weather so I can carry it. My sister said it reminds her of something Kelly Kapowski on 'Saved by the Bell' would have carried, and I'm still wondering if that was an insult (though she says not :)

I didn't have quite enough fabric for a full strap, so I had to be a little creative and stitch a decorative strip down one side to hide some raw edges (if you can make it out through that horrendous blur). The pink dots on the strap is what the lining is made of:

The partial gusset makes this bag quite roomy on the inside--

So here's where my situation arises. When it comes time to finish off the strap and zipper, I have one hell of a time getting everything situated just so. Again it got me on this bag, but I was already in love with it so needed to find a way to finish it. Hence the 'caps' I put on over the raw edges to conceal those and hold the rings I was using:

They're not the neatest as I had no more fabric to play with, but if I did the shaping on them would be a lot neater. As such I had to work it out with what I had. I'm in no way displeased with it, and it's for me so that little bit of untidy stitching won't bother me, BUT I'd like to get it down better so I can make a few to sell.

Now, tonight (like just now--like I took these crappy pics about half an hour ago) I had another go with the method outlined in every pattern. I have been sleeping on this for three nights now, and I must be doing some deep thinking as I wake up quite sure I've solved the problem. Each time I try something different that works, but doesn't leave me thrilled. This evening's result was the closest I've come to success, but I'm not elated with it--

It really is a pretty fabric, it's just bad lighting. What I need you to look at is the shape of the bag. It seems to be a bit shapeless from doing the straps this way, doncha think? Here are the straps the way 'they' say to do it (and the way I just cannot make work satisfactorily)--

I'm not sure if I'm missing something utterly simple, or if this is just the way these go together. I've been looking quite closely at the product samples in the pictures they give, and the strap is a bit narrower than the seam, so I didn't goof that as I had thought.

I don't know that either method was simpler than the other--I rearranged a few steps during the process, but they're essentially the same (except for the way those straps are attached). So I must ask you your thoughts on this--which method should I direct my efforts towards? Here are side-by-sides so you can compare the shapes--

Which one looks neater? Which one gives a better shape? Thanks for your input!!

And just because I like this photo :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013


What a full day it's been! It's my mother's birthday today. My mother is full-on Italian (well, American, but of Italian descent) so I always found it interesting that the universe had her enter the world on an Irish holiday. It started off with homemade pumpkin pancakes made by my dad, and finished up with some grilled steak with a crab topping, and some linguine in garlic and oil. Oh, and a cake that my sissy and her hubs made--

The cake is not crooked. Apparently my eyes are. I'm such a bad photographer. Not bad for a first crack at fondant and icing flowers. It was a vanilla/chocolate zebra stripe cake inside--very yummy! I've always wondered what fondant tasted like and now I can cross that off my list. It's good to meet your goals :)

Take a look at what my sister made my mother:

Alicia has made a few paintings before (see here) but this is the first, she proclaimed, that wasn't in silhouette. I want to live in that house so bad!!! You just know there's a delicious sleigh and some horses out back, waiting to go over the river and through the woods. My favorite part is the wisp of chimney smoke:

Nothing creative on my part for the birthday--I bought new frying pans. Very sexy, I know. Don't be jealous of my boundless creativity. However, the other night I DID sew the wee 'un a little fabric book (how's THAT for a segue!):

He loves orange and bright colors, and this is so unspeakably cute I couldn't resist ordering it. I used cotton batting for the padding, so it has a nice light feel to it. It has the most darling goofy pictures inside--

Silly walrus in the bathtub. With a croc. Or is that not a bathtub? Because there's bubbles, but what kind of tub is on wheels?

These little birdies on bunting would be really cute as an appliqued pillow top. I might just do that... My mom kept going "Oh, this is beautiful. Oh, you did a magnificent job." My dad asked "Did you make those pictures?" I told him "No, I sewed a bunch of rectangles together and she's freaking out about it." There's a whole quilt line that goes along with this, but the book was all I wanted. I'm doing well at using fabrics and I want to use up a bunch before I add more. I thought Aiden might do his cute little excited face but he didn't. He wanted to discuss the finer points of the lion:

Z-man had to practice his oral report for school. I helped him a bit with the report and his poster, so now I know so much more about Barry Bonds than I ever cared to. He was pleased to be over and done with it so he could spend his afternoon playing some kind of computer game that I (he informed me) "would probably not be very good at." Thanks, bud. I love you too :)

I spent so much time in front of my sewing machine this weekend and all I have to show for it is a very simple bag. But as the shaping and the zipper has eluded me for three years now I consider even those meager results a success. If the sun decides to come out this week I'll be sure to share, though I keep hearing "wintry mix" on the news so I'm not too confident right now. Nighty-night!


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