Monday, December 26, 2011

Sewing for the guys

I'm lucky to have some young men in my life that actually like home made things. I've been sewing for some of them for (shall I say it) decades years. First- dop kits and winter hats, then fleece pullovers, then PJ's, flannel pillowcases, more jammies (their moms feed them and they grow!- imagine that!!). Then, they go to college and still ask for PJ's….. makes me smile every time I think of that.

 So, this Holiday, I tried a pattern from Stitch Magazine, Fall 2011. This fleece pullover seemed like the perfect "stylish" (is that OK for young men too?), top that is both warm and comfortable. I ended up making 2 (Had this coupon for 50% off at Joann's and it's good on one cut of fabric- (are you following my train of thought???). It's a nice neutral medium grey, (like the fabric featured in the magazine). I used a grey zip on one and a black on the other.

Zip front Pullover by: Jill Cappuccio (directions in the magazine, pattern available for download on the website). I am a visual sewist, so my only complaint is while the written direction are beyond excellent, I could have used a few more pictures, especially when it came to the set in collar, which I ended up winging, and (luckily) it came out fine none the less. Had I never set in a collar before, I think this would have brought about a few choice words.  The pattern does call for some seam allowance changes, sometimes it's 1/2" others 1/4" and you have to pay attention to those. I had never ironed fleece, and this pattern does call for a stretchy type fusible interfacing to be ironed onto the fleece. I found my teflon pressing sheets vital, as I was uncertain at which temperature I would have success or utter failure. The pressing sheet and the middle temp on my iron (a Rowena) worked like a charm. Other than that, there are not many pattern pieces, and the sewing is rather straight forward. Overall, I enjoyed making them and would make others should anyone want more. I opted to make a Medium and that seems to be pretty true to size, but if your guy likes his clothing baggier, I'd go a size larger. My Joann's was low on zippers so if you want the contrast of the zipper and fabric you might have to order up the zips. My schedule didn't allow for a zipper order so I had to go with what was available.

One is for my son, 17; the other for his best friend, also 17. They don't go to the same school so I don't have to worry about any embarrassing clothes/fashion moments.  But, I forget- they are guys, even if they did go the same school and ran into each other in the hall, they likely would not even register they were wearing a similar top.

In addition, I came across this great earbuds tutorial and decided this, in the right fabric, would be a wonderful gift for another young man, who is a sophomore in college. Can you guess where he goes to school????

While I was at it, and because I miraculously got my sewing done with a few days to spare, I made a few more earbud cases for the girls in my life (there are more of them than the guys……).

I changed one thing from the tutorial. The pattern calls for a split ring (featured in bottom row of top photo and bottom photo); which I changed to a lobster type of clasp/hardware (top row, top photo). I used my Go! Baby cutter to cut all the circles for this project. (Saved TONS of time).

And because I was having boatloads of fun and because I had the Go Baby! cutter fired up, and it started to snow outside- I tried my hand at this cute tree.

Instead of a bow at the top I put a Jingle bell. I really like it, and if I find myself with a few hours to spare I may make a few more, if not, they are definitely on my list for next year!!!

I hope your Holiday sewing was successful and fun! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy 2012. I hope that the New Year brings lots of sewing inspiration and perhaps some cool fabric in your Holiday stash. (Yup, my husband went to my LQS and got me a gift certificate for the holidays- I did hint, and print up the directions for him…….. never hurts to be prepared)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

And the winner is…...

The winner of this bag, (my first ever Give-Away day give away)
is June Bug! Mr Random number picked you!!!


Please contact me with your address so that I may mail your bag to you. Happy Holidays! (I foresee a package arriving to your house in the near future- wink wink).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Giveaway Day is here… it's a wonderful time of the Year!!

                                                                            Sew-Mama-Sew Giveaway Day

My first give away on Giveaway Day and I want it to be a doosey!

Amy Butler's Sweet Harmony bag, in Kona Coal with various quilters cottons. (I can never remember all their names, but perhaps you recognize some of them…..).

 Interior detail: zippered and open pockets in Alexander Henry Farmdale Apples with a snazzy red zipper.
And button details on the handle/straps.

To enter, just leave me a comment. Tell me about one place you have visited/traveled to that has left a real impression on you. (Near or far- doesn't matter).

The winner will be announced back here on December 18th, 2011. So stay tuned.

Remember I need to be able to contact you if you win (hint hint if you are a no-reply blogger). If you don't have a blog, no problem, just leave me your email in your comment. I am willing to ship Internationally if you don't mind the possibility of a bit of delay with all the Holiday shipping going on out there in postal land. Happy Holidays and Good Luck!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Out with the old

Have you ever seen those funny photos in magazines where they have 2 photos side-by-side and you are supposed to find the 7 things that are different- (even though they look almost identical).

I have one for you……. Can you tell me what the difference is between picture ONE?

 and picture TWO????

Give up????? It's this beautiful and unique bag….. received from Michelle Lizcano (I like orange too).  I would start to sound like a Thesaurus if I even got started with all the things I LOVE about my new bag-  it's versatile and the fabric on the outside is this heathered grey and yet not "just plain grey" (I love fabrics like that), the many, many details, and the adjustable handle and…….well, let's just say I'm not the only one that had rave reviews, check out this list of accolades……

My new bag. The hardware holding on the handles comes on and off like a dream.

My "stuff" in my new bag (I was bowled over by the details ,and the colors, and the modern organic lines of this very beautiful bag. ) I have seen this new fabric on line but hadn't yet purchased any. It's beautiful and playful and perfect for me. (I love this color yellow).

Oh, and if the bag were not enough,  I did get my goodie bag filled with goodies (The dog didn't come in the mail), she's mine.
 The gorgeous bag was filled with "spicy" colored fabrics, many which are new to me and a charm pack of the new Lotta Jansdotter Echo fabric and a shorter handle so I can do a presto- chango with my cross body bag and make it into a hip folded-over going-out bag.

The "back/front" of my bag with beautiful hand stitching

close-up of the hand stitching, the grey against the aspen- so beautiful. See what I mean about the fabric- grey, but not only grey- 
So, this bag is mine.  I am truly grateful that, someone I didn't know, but hope to now know better (we are western "neighbors" so-to-speak), would be able to figure me out just from what I've commented on (am I revealing too much???- are you a mind reader????). Michelle, this beautiful bag is more me than you can possibly know; NO WAIT, you do know- you nailed it!! If this bag could be bought, I'd buy several!!! I LOVE cross-body bags. I NEED pockets to put the few things I do carry in their places. I love to travel, so being able to take one bag that can fit what I need, yet chameleon into an almost totally different bag to take out is MORE than perfect. The colors and design are timeless and traverse any season or occasion that I could ever imagine. It's not too big, and not too small…'s PERECT, and I am very, very thankful that it found it's way to my home.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An overnight bag that turned into a weekender…..

My daughter asked for this bag a few months ago- the bag on the left in the photo- Simplicity pattern #2274).  She had gone through my fabric and decided she really like some of the DS for Joann's fabrics I had purchased earlier this year. Only problem (for me) was there wasn't enough fabric to make the bag- No problem for my mix and match girl…..
 I cut out the pattern/interfacing and batting using 4 DS prints and one non-DS print
 I used the fusible fleece as it saved on many of the basting parts of the assembly. (I did still quilt all the pieces together because that just adds to the overall look!)
 I changed the pattern a little (had to make it ours, right???) Adding 2 end pockets, both pleated, one open

 …….the other zippered, as per the pattern.  I added center side pockets on both sides not just one (you'll have to trust me there are 2 and they both look exactly alike.)
I omitted the webbing handles and went with a softer fabric in houndstooth (that's fabric #5- the only non-DS pattern)
 and I added a shoulder strap (although the handles are long enough to toss over your shoulder, this option which can be adjusted to wear cross-body I think only improves on the design.
 It is billed as a overnight bag, but let me tell you, it's roomy, at 19" x 12" x 12".  Big enough to fit 3 queen size cuts of warm and natural batting (purloined for the photo shoot) and stuffed (with room to spare) into the bag.

side view of the open pocket 
This shot is to give you some perspective of the size. Carrying with the hand straps…….
 or the adjustable shoulder strap……..
Thanks to my daughter for "modeling" her new bag- although I am putting it aside for a Christmas gift- (it  isn't a surprise) and I did need some pictures so I could publish this post!

The pattern is straight forward, and easy to follow. There are LOTS of things to transfer from the pattern to the fabric so remember not to skip any (I know this to be true).

I can see no reason not to add two, between-the-handles, side pockets- they are the easiest pockets on the bag and there are no interior pockets. (In my next bag I will add a few interior pockets for additional organization).

May as well add 2 end pockets while you are at it. The zipper pocket is part of the pattern and would be a great place for a phone or something you didn't want to loose but still needed to keep at hand. (Like plane tickets, an e-reader, ipod).  May as well add a second end pocket following the same directions for the zipper pocket (unless of course you don't have a second zipper) then the pattern is easily modified to make the pocket without a zipper. I used interfacing on ALL of the pockets. I highly recommend this, makes the pockets better, trust me. I opted for Pellon's heavyweight fusible interfacing works like a charm and doesn't add much to the overall bulk of the bag. It's way easier sewing through this than the the gazillion layers of peltex/interfacing/fabric/cording/zippers if you have ever had the pleasure of making any of Amy Butler's bags.

Don't be afraid to mix up your fabric if you want an eclectic look. Challenge yourself to use what you have on hand. I loved that I made this bag without a trip to the fabric store. And that it suits my daughter's personality to T. You could even make your own fabric from your scrap bin to go with a patchwork look. You could showcase the beloved scraps on the pockets or the straps…. the options are truly endless.

Adding the shoulder strap increases the versatility of the bag especially if you ever take it on an airplane where you might need your hands free to say, hold your ticket/book/passport/coffee/toddler. You will need some hardware, if you want to make the shoulder strap adjustable, but that is easy to come by and lucky for me, I had some on hand from a prior project. No hardware is needed if you can live with your strap at a fixed length. I made mine adjustable because I figure my daughter won't be the height she is now when she is an adult and if she needs a longer strap then she can make it whatever length she needs. The shoulder strap was constructed in a manner similar to the handles, with fabric, fusible interfacing and rows of stitching. I ironed the fabric for the strap in half length wise, opened it up, folded each side into the center ironed seam, ironed again and then refolded along the original ironed seam, enclosing the raw edges, stitching along the open edge, the opposite edge and a few additional rows down the center.

I will serge all the raw edges in my next bag prior to construction. Due to the size of this bag doing it after construction is like wrestling with…… well, you know what I mean. Serge first, or zig zag at least but do it before you start putting all the pieces together.

If you are looking for a fun, "luggage" bag to make, consider  this pattern. I already have ideas for the one I intend to make for myself. If you get started now, you might even be able to get one done in time for the Holidays!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Did I say choices…..

Do you remember this post??? And after all that you would think (most reasonable people would)  that I should be satisfied with the 2 bags I made, but the more and more I started reading about what my partner was responding to on the Flickr group, I started thinking, maybe, just maybe, she would like something besides grey- I like grey but then it's not for everyone. So, I posted this photo on the Goodie Bag Flickr page and wouldn't ya know it, she liked that combination better than the one I originally posted. The upside- I got to try another bag pattern- not entirely of my own design, but with enough modifications to the original pattern that I think it's unique enough and perfect for my partner.

So, want to know what my partner is getting???

The Oversized Fashionista Bag
from The Bag Making Bible, by Lisa Lam
19 x 13.5 x 3"
plum/eggplant linen body, plum/mustard cotton print flap
mustard linen lining
antique bronze hardwear
2 straps one long , one shorter, both removable

So, putting the AB Sweet Harmony Bag and the Original Design Cross body bag aside- for now, I found a pattern (The Oversized Fashionista Bag) in The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam

Inspiration bag
and modified it to my partners likes and wishes. I used the plum-eggplant/mustard/ print combo as the bags main colors. The plum-eggplant linen for the bag base, the print for the flap and antiqued gold/bronze hardware for all the moving parts. The bag is lined in the mustard linen.
For the modifications to the original pattern:
Pattern pieces used in the construction of the Fashionista Bag. I folded the main body piece to make the interior pockets. The zipper was placed further down on the bag from the original design.

1. I quilted the outer top flap panel and instead of constructing it RST, turning it right sides out and topstitching the curves, I placed outside and inside pieces (and all their interfacings, wrong sides together and I bound the raw edges in the plum-eggplant linen. I REALLY like how that turned out.
bound edges; it really accentuates the curved scalloped edge

2. I made the handles 2 different colors, heck I made the bag 3 different colors!!! The longer handle can tuck right into the bag when not in use and is long enough for cross body or over-the-shoulder wear. The smaller handle also fits over your shoulder and can also be removed for a different look. It's constructed in a way to make it comfortable to hold- even if your bag is packed to the max.
The short handle is double folded with fusible fleece. It's very comfortable to hold, but very difficult to sew. IIt's removable and long enough to fit over your shoulder.

Side view of the longer shoulder strap. This is also padded and has hardwear that allows it to be removed if desired.  The fabric loop tabs end right at the top of the bag allowing the shoulder strap to be tucked into the bag without it's removal as well.

Bag interior with longer handle inside. Interior pockets were constructed with the cotton print fabric and are also gussetted to fit to the bags interior.
short handle- padded and long enough to be worn over the shoulder

long handle- worn cross body

long handle worn over the shoulder

3. I added a back outside, almost full length zippered pocket with the method found in the book. This pocket is big enough for a ipad, or just keys and a cellphone. (I even found the zipper to match the mustard linen)

4. I added 2 inside pockets
The pockets (2) are made from the same print used in the exterior top flap. Having them in a different fabric  makes the interior of the bag less monochromatic. Even with the additin of the 2 pockets the interior is very spacious.
Things I learned in the process:
1. That although these are not "my" colors, I LOVED how they all came together in this bag and I'm SOOOO happy my partner chose this color combination.
The top mustard linen was used in the lining. I didn't use the silver hardwear in the final bag.

2. Just because all the hardwear for your bag hangs together on a lovely display rack doesn't mean that the clasps used in the handles actually fit through the "matching" grommets. This was my OMG moment of the bag. The bag is completely sewn, the grommets are added almost as the very last step. The holes are cut in the bag, as in I can see my cutting mat through these holes…..the grommets (these screw on and they were VERY difficult to install through multiple layers of fabric, 2 layers of fusible fleece and 2 layers of interfacing). I was proud of myself to finally match up those tiny screws into those tiny holes (if you have ever used these you will know exactly what I'm talking about)- I go to attach the handles, the thickness of the fabric combined with the grommet itself wouldn't allow the metal handle clasp hardwear to go around and through the grommet. I almost cried. I did say a few very bad words- wondered how I was going to solve this dilemma and eventually settled on using some standard grommets (gold) and antiquing them a wee bit with some black. They are not exactly the same, but I might be the only one who notices….
I can tell the grommets are different. I hope my partner won't mind. The metal hardwear on the shorter handle allows for handle removal if desired.

3. I love bags with versatility. I thought at first this bag might be too trendy and not practical enough for my partner, but with the handle modifications, (both are padded so you can really put things in this bag), the outer large zip pocket, the additional interior pockets, I think it's both practical and lovely.

4. I used way more thread than I thought, going through 2 spools of mustard yellow and plum. I think the additional quilting and the handle/bag modifications may have made the difference. (lots of additional stitching)

4. I like it enough that I'm considering making one for myself- just in different colors!!!

5. I don't think I need to make a 4th bag. I really think I finally got this one just right!

It's on it's way to you partner, in the mail yesterday.  If the mail gods are smiling on us, this might actually get to you for Thanksgiving. I hope you're home so you can receive it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes not having a plan is the best plan of all

I think this is also known as winging it, and when your scraps runneth over, it's a pretty good plan if you ask me.
I am doing a private swap with a friend and we are making each other Holiday Table runners. despite the fact we have never met in person, we have similar tastes- even down to colors…. so, I made her something I would like to have on my Holiday table.
A interesting view to say the least, but it's a bit hard to get the whole thing in one photo. Here are some pieced views
Left side, front

Middle (ish)
Right side, front- hum, that doesn't look like the rest of that wild and crazy table runner
3-D Mod tree with hand knotted embroidery "lights"
Now the back
The back, in one of my favorite Holiday fabrics.

So, there is is and if you go all the way back to the first photo, you can see the tree…..

Holiday table runner for Whitney
I forgot to measure it, but it's 14 x 42, more or less (her table is black- I think this will really stand out- especially with the white binding)
Pattern- remember what I said- none, nada: random quilting cottons pieced from my scrap bin in reds/oranges/yellows (leftovers from the Starburst Block Quilt) with inset lime "slashing" in Michael Miller Ta Dot fabric, bound with Michael Miller Fairy Frost (I didn't take a close-up but it's sparkly) and backing fabric: Sheri Berry Designs, 12 Joys of Christmas (I have no idea what the other 11 are, but I sure like this one). The 3-D tree was inspired by an ornament I saw on line, forgot to bookmark and cannot find again. But, instead of pinning the folded 2" squares onto styrofoam I made them into a tree, and because this will likely get washed at some time in it's life, anchored them to the table runner with embroidery floss in yellow, making little "lights".
It's asymmetrical, and original and totally me- I also hope it's something Whitney will like as well.
And here is a parting view- from my Holiday table to yours!