Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the multi-tasking tote is done!

Here it is! I just finished up the tote/
diaper bag I've been working on --
the Multi-tasking Tote from Lisa Lam's
Bag Making Bible. Isn't it cute?
I used smoke gray and yellow duck (Artee), accented
with Joel Dewberry's Aviary 2: Bloom in Granite.
Both interior and exterior have lots of pockets.
And the base is internally reinforced and has feet!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

oaktag patterns

I'm in the midst of sewing up a diaper bag that a friend
of mine commissioned. It's the Multi-Tasking Tote from
Lisa Lam's The Bag Making Bible. Lam's patterns are all
layered up on the pattern pages, so there's no way I'm
chopping them up. Also, a while back I learned
from Fashion-Incubator that in commercial settings,
patterns are cut out of oak tag -- a heavy manila paper.
Instead of cutting around the pattern, the shape is traced
onto the fabric and then cut. I like to use white china
markers for this. This method works great, makes for
durable pattern pieces that are easy to track down later,
and produces fabric pieces that are reliable and
sew together correctly. So here's my light board
and my fresh, new pattern pieces!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

more jammies

I pulled out the serger tonight and went to town on some more
jammies. This time just the shorts, in pink fleece for my girl.
The pajama bottoms sew up super quick, so I think I'll stick with
them and go with cheap t-shirts for the tops.

Friday, November 9, 2012

girl jammies

 Here's a snap of the girl jammies I finished last weekend (after being
worn several times and tossed in the laundry). Ashton opted for short sleeves 
and shorts, which is the fun of being able to customize a pattern.
I find the difference in the fabrics they picked quite hilarious.

What has also been funny about this whole experience is that 
at the start, I thought I would save money by sewing my kids' pajamas.
After buying the pattern on sale (for $1) and picking up the fabric
at half off, I still walked out the door with thirty dollars worth of
"now I still have ten hours of cutting and sewing ahead of me."

Were they worth it? The fact that I'm scheming up coordinating sets of 
jammies so they can be mixed and matched with these, as well as thinking,
"what if we made the pants out of old modal sheets (sooo softy!)"
or "a strip of velvet ribbon would be nice on the neckline" 
makes me think that probably they were.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

boy jammies

My children are growing at alarming rates these days.
In fact, the pajamas Elliott received for his birthday a year ago
are now a good six inches too short. Since he is sproinging
out of jammies, I thought I'd sew some up myself
for the winter, extra long, so that they can be
easily lengthened over the coming months.
I found a unisex pattern, Simplicity #3935, with child to adult
sizes. The pants sewed up super easy. However, I had to adjust the
opening on the shirt to accomodate Elliott's realistically sized cranium.
My seven-year-old picked out his own fabric, as you can see.
After I took the photo above, I realized that they were effectively
camouflaged into the background greenery!
So here's another photo to show a little more detail.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ready to sew

Now that the sewing room has dropped below 100 degrees,
I'm ready to start sewing again! I found these lovely, enormous
spools of thread yesterday for 99 cents apiece!
I just love the colors and can't wait to use them up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

mini wet bags

The other fun thing about coordinating fabrics is...
coordinating bags!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

another cutesie handbag

Here's another bag sewn up from
Keyka Lou's Small Satchel pattern.
I love how this bold print and
the bright colors accentuate its shape.

Monday, July 2, 2012

final product: cloth-diaper clutch

 As I mentioned in my last post, I spent some time in May
developing a pattern for a diaper clutch designed to work
specifically with cloth diapers. Here's the final product,
which is a gift my friend Hannah commissioned for her sister Amy.
 To help keep things shut in the face of additional width,
I put in magnetic snaps toward the two ends of the flap
rather than just one set in the middle. 
Isn't this Heather Bailey coordinating fabric just yummy?!
 Here's the inset zipper...
opened to reveal the wet bag for dirty diapies.

There's also a waterproof changing pad
backed in lining fabric that gets tucked in there.
So far, I'm quite happy with how this bag turned out!

Amy, I'd love to hear any feedback once you
have that precious baby and start using your clutch!

Friday, June 22, 2012

new clutch design

As I've now given several Grab 'n' Go diaper clutches to friends,
we've discovered that they work great with disposable diapers
and not well with cloth diapers. So I spent some time in May
designing a new diaper clutch pattern -- one that would have a front
flap closure which allows for fabric matching, plenty of internal
space for two cloth diapers + wipes and changing pad, and a
zipped wet bag pocket for bringing dirty diapers back home.
The challenge was adding all these features and maintaining a sleek shape!
My first attempt, above, came out too saggy with the zip pocket
in the front wall of the bag. The sides of the bag also needed shaping.
For the second attempt, I angled the sides to curve in
slightly toward the top. I also mirrored this shape in the flap.
Finally, I changed the zipped pocket to an inset zipper
and added a waterproof inner lining (polyurethane laminate)
which can be untucked for easy washing.
The final (third) round ended up getting an inch taller and
two inches longer. I don't have photos of it with me in Oregon,
so I'll have to post it when we get home next week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

jar o' buttons

My friends Hannah and Steve picked up this
jar of buttons for me at an antique shop recently.
I can't wait to dig in and sew some buttons on things!

Friday, June 15, 2012

new pattern try-out


This bag is sewn up from Keyka Lou's Small Satchel pattern.
I like the way it turned out, but I prefer how the flap covers
more of the opening in her Half-Moon Handbag.
It's possible to match the print on either bag (see how the flap fabric
blends with the pattern on the body of the bag?), which is tasty!

I'm currently on vacation with my family in beautiful Corvallis, Oregon.

We're having a great time!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

the most rustic bag


Just before leaving on our family vacation to Oregon, I wrapped up

a few sewing projects I had been working on. This particular bag was

a new version of one I had made before, but this time I experimented with

a new technique for attaching the lining. Unfortunately, speed and

experimentation don't at all go hand in hand, and I found myself at the

one week deadline with a fully lined and pocketed strip of fabric which was,

in fact, not a bag at all. I resigned myself to finish it by folding the thing

in half and sewing the seams on the outside (yes, an audible gasp from

the audience is fully appropriate here), which also entailed breaking

every one of my last remaining sewing machine needles (fully lined and

interfaced burlap is pretty darn hardy) and reverting to upholstery thread.

I delivered the bag with the disclaimer that if my friend would like

to throw it away and await my return from vacation,

I would happily whip up another while sustaining no offense.

However, this particular friend is not shy about sporting "shabby chic"

accessories. She has embraced said bag fully without complaint.

So there you go.

This is truly the most rustic bag I've ever made.

But there can even be beauty in that.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

half-moon handbag

 I just made this lovely little bag from Keyka Lou's 
Half-Moon Handbag pattern. I adjusted it by removing the
button closure and adding magnetic snaps.

 The lining is the same suiting fabric in a lighter shade of gray.
 I opted for a happy mustard print for the lining, though!
 Once it was done, I was pretty happy with the way it came out.
However, this rose pin makes all the difference for me. 
Now I love it!
I'm excited to have a cute little bag that will work well in more 
formal settings, which I occasionally (albeit rarely) encounter. 
Now I can leave my backpack behind!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

interfacing laminated cotton

 Since sewing with laminated cotton is all new to me,
I thought I'd post my discoveries here as I go along.
Feel free to comment from your own experience with
this unusual fabric -- I'd love to hear your ideas!
Okay... so, laminated cotton cannot be ironed directly,
as the plastic would melt to the iron or board. That said,
it CAN be ironed indirectly. The pattern I'm currently
using calls for fabric to be interfaced with fusible fleece.
The important thing here is to place the laminated cotton
WRONG SIDE UP, with the fusible fleece ON TOP.
Cover with a pressing cloth (either damp or spritzed with
water) and press. Hold the iron firmly, pressing down on
the fabric, for the shorter length of time given on the 
interfacing instructions. For my sample, this was ten seconds.
 Above is the result when the fabric was placed directly
(face down) on my ironing board. As you can see, the
metal grid of the board is embossed slightly on the
laminate. It doesn't change the finish at all, just the shape.
This is the result of ironing with a pressing cloth under
the laminate as well as on top of the fleece. The extra layer 
protects the fabric from the underlying shapes coming through. 
However, some lumps and even a bit of a crease line still show here. 
My recommendation is to go with one flat piece of fabric under 
the stack of layers if your ironing board is not well padded.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

how to remove grease pencil from laminated cotton

 One method of cutting out pattern pieces involves marking
around the pattern (preferably cut from oak tag or thick
manila paper) in chalk or grease pencil (a.k.a. china marker)
and then cutting just inside these lines.
However, if the pattern piece turns out to be misplaced,
how does one remove these marks from laminated cotton?
 Fingernail polish works, but the scrubbing 
it requires can stretch the laminate out, leaving 
permanent puckers in the cotton fabric.
A quick once-over with Goo Gone does the job, though,
and has no effect on the laminate's shiny finish. Follow
this application by wiping down the fabric with a water-dampened
cloth to remove the scent of the Goo Gone as well as any greasy residue.

Monday, March 12, 2012

weighted blanket

 I had opportunity last week to construct a weighted blanket
for a friend whose daughter has some sensory issues.
This article explains the benefit of weighted blankets.
To make a weighted blanket as described here, plastic 
beads are encased in squares so that the appropriate 
amount of weight is distributed throughout. It's kind of like
a bunch of little bean bags all connected to each other.
This particular blanket had six pounds of weight 
sewn into it, so I used a food scale and put 0.8 oz.
in each square. The funny part is that the beads are
added gradually throughout the sewing process,
so the blanket becomes heavier with each pass through
the sewing machine. By the last row of stitching, I
could hardly manage the blanket and all the beads!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 review

 After snooping around for some time now on,
I recently had opportunity to place an order with them.
I thought I'd post a little review about my experience for those
of you who were thinking about doing the same! offers free shipping on orders over $35.
I was curious to see how the fabric would be shipped --
I had some laminated cottons in the order, and they're
not supposed to be folded. I was quite happy to receive 
them all rolled up (as you can see here) on tubes, even
though they were only 1/2 yard lengths.
 The thing I love most about is that they
carry coordinated fabrics. I can't tell you how many
times I've spent way-too-long at JoAnn Fabrics searching 
for a lining that perfectly complemented the exterior of a 
bag. The fabric designs are also often available in varying 
finishes, such as cotton, satin, corduroy, flannel, and/or 
laminated cotton. This makes coordinating multiple projects a snap!
 Here's a little grouping I chose from the Michael Miller collection.
The laminated cotton bicycle print (which was also available in a 
very tempting flannel) coordinates perfectly with the 2 cotton prints! Yay!
 ...And here's a perfectly matched selection from Amy Butler's line.
The web interface at groups fabrics by designer,
whose collections often run by specific color palettes. 
However, once a fabric is selected, it also shows
suggestions for similar or coordinating fabrics. An
"add to design wall" button allows the user to post his own
fabric selections next to each other and see how they flow.
Finally, the search feature on the website retrieves
fabric designs based on a number of factors, such as
type of fabric, color, and image (i.e. "owls" or "polka dots").

So there you have it! If you've been wanting to order fabric
online but haven't given it a go yet, try --
[from my single-sample study, I predict that]
you won't be disappointed!!