25 Apr

Finally (I Think)

It started about four years ago with a drawing by my daughter of her daddy. I thought he looked military (which may or may not have been intentional on her part) and needed to become a patch on a messenger bag.

About a year ago, I found the perfect pattern and went so far as to make custom fabric using my kids’ drawings.

Last November I finally got around to making the bag, but I wasn’t happy with some of the choices I had made — namely stiff Peltex/Timtex instead of fusible batting as called for in the pattern (that will teach me).

So, I took it apart. And so it sat for the last four months, taunting me with it’s un-finishedness, taking up space on the futon in my guest room/sewing studio. It really bugged me to have to keep moving it’s pile around whenever guests came to visit. But I was mad at it for not being perfectly crafted. To the bag’s credit, it came apart easily and was mostly salvageable. But I was still mad at it.

Finally, I jumped in and finished it a few days ago. I used black binding which worked better than the green, and the softer batting in the body of the bag made all the difference in terms of  maneuverability for sewing.

But, once again, I did not heed the warning on the pattern, and I accidentally ironed the strap — making black smudges on the green facing in my lining. And though the black topstitching looks good on the outside of the bag, I don’t like it on the interior, especially as there is under-stitching as well and a couple of hiccups where the thread broke.

It would not be a huge project to take out the interior, replace the green strip and re-sew it all. But, I’m kind of over this project for a while.

12 Nov

When you know it’s going wrong, but keep at it anyway.

I’ve been wanting to make a messenger bag for  loooooooong time, based on one of my daughter’s drawings. Nearly a year ago, I found the perfect pattern via You SEW Girl, and it’s taken me this long to get around to making it.

I was intimidated by my vision for the drawings, but finally having my hubby home so I could dive deep into experiments and problem solving without worrying about homework or lunch got me through that. I was also intimidated by the pattern which actually required that I read it! Once into it though, I realized it’s thorough, but not difficult.

What was difficult however, was using thick Peltex interfacing rather than the batting called for in the pattern. It made the whole thing cumbersome. My seams and top stitching suffered from the extra bulk and the lack of maneuverability. But I pressed on because over-all, it was looking like my vision. Certainly it would pass the galloping horse rule. Which would be fine if I wanted to carry this around as an everyday purse.

But no-oo, I have this vision in my head of a gallery-worthy collection of textile pieces inspired by my kids’ art. And that needs Craftsmanship with a capital C. Frustrated, I was ready to ditch the whole thing last night. Instead, I slept on it, and realized this morning that yes, I’d never use the bag — because I was disappointed with it. I also realized that I could salvage more from it than I had originally thought — like the whole interior. And the base with the cool feet. So, today will probably see the deconstruction of the bag, but not it’s permanent demise.

15 Jun

Weekend Fun

I was debating whether or not to post about our activities of the last few days. They’ve been all kinds of fun for us, but maybe not that interesting to the rest of the world. In a nutshell:

• my son finished up a fantastic four day space/science camp and shot off the rocket he made;
• we went to see my blog friend Robin and watch her son play hockey since they were on “our” island;
• the next day we went to the water park with one of my friends from waaaaaaaay back when and her family since they too were on “our” island (in two weeks we get to go to theirs!).

Then, yesterday I spent most of the day making these:

Now there’s something for an artsy-craftsy blog.

We need to carry water around just about everywhere. Quite a while ago I had admired Kathey’s tutorial at Pink Chalk Studio but more in an abstract way (although I did purchase some insulating batting for eventual water bottle carrier making). This weekend it gelled for me and I decided that the carriers would incorporate some of the details from a little bag in Japanese craft magazine too. Plus, they’d look great in re-purposed BDU fabric.

I dug around my closet o’ crafty and fabric-y goodness looking for “stuff,” and pulled out some coordinating fabrics and binding leftovers, a collection of patches — military and otherwise, fun woven ribbon (the woodland ribbon is from Nic, and the flame ribbon was bought to embellish the hand towels in our hot rod half-bath), more of the fat red ric-rac from the mushroom quilt, clasps from two unused necklace-type key chains, twill tape, vinyl coated fabric (from the sandwich wraps), two sliding fastener thingies bought years ago only because they were cheap and seemed useful, cotton cording, and a leather cord.

In short, I quilted the BDU fabric to one layer of insulating batting and one layer of regular batting, then embellished with ribbon and patches. I made the straps with ribbon sewn to twill tape for her’s and ribbon sewn to folded over fabric for his. Added the fasteners and sewed the straps to the body. Then, I sewed up the sides and added the bottom circle (pre-quilted to one layer of insulating batting). Next, I made tubes of slightly smaller dimensions out of the vinyl coated fabric and sewed on their circle bottoms (not too much fuss sewing that as the troublesome shinier side was to the inside) then slipped them into their respective outer bodies. Now the carriers are lined all nice and tidy-like. I finished the short ends of two rectangles (one for each carrier) of coordinating fabric and folded over one long end on each to make a casing. That went into the tubes, right sides facing inward, raw edges matching. As per the Japanese magazine, I sewed binding over the raw edges to finish everything off. Lastly, I threaded the cording through the casings and added the cinch-thingies to snug and un-snug the top. That “poof” on top allows the plastic loop that holds the cap onto the bottle to stick out, and also allows for easy access to the water without pulling the bottle out of the carrier to drink.

The kids tested them out today and although the vinyl fabric doesn’t seem to stop wetness very much, the carriers got overall high marks.

09 Apr

Another Pattern Review

Just to add another dimension to my already schizophrenic blog, I seem to be on a roll with commercial patterns and I think the best way to share them is to do a review. So here’s another pattern review:

Like the Heather Bailey apron, I saw a peek of the Anna Maria Horner’s Multi Tasker Tote and knew I wanted it — but had to wait for it to be published. Luckily the wait this time was less than a year. Kathy of Pink Chalk Fabrics was potentially first in line to stock the patterns and I think I was first in her line to order one. She ships fast and I was off and sewing right away.

Description:
A roomy tote bag with integrated outer side pockets. The bag’s big side panels are perfect for bold prints as shown on the pattern, but also leave room for adaptations like mine. I love the side pockets as an opportunity for coordinating fabric (the more fabrics, the better in my book).

Instructions:
The instructions are very complete with lots of diagrams. At first glance some steps might look a little weird, but as soon as you have the actual pieces in front of you it all makes sense. I spotted two typos and noticed that although the pattern piece for the strap says to cut two out of interfacing as well as your fabric, the outer panel pattern piece does not (even though you DO need to cut two out of interfacing). Luckily, the written instructions are very clear about what you need to cut out of what and the typos are inconsequential.

Degree of Difficulty:
Although this is not a difficult pattern, there are some steps that may be a bit tricky for an absolute beginner — mostly in terms of wrestling odd shapes under one’s sewing machine foot. It should be a piece of cake for an intermediate sewer though. Sometimes I see something and I can figure out how to make it myself, but this one has a bit of ingenious construction, so I’m glad I bought the pattern and learned a new trick or two to add to my toolbox of sewing skills.

Modifications:
It’s probably obvious that I modified my tote a bit. I deconstructed one of Mr. Incredible‘s old uniforms for my outer panel fabric. The side in the first picture is the back of the uniform “blouse” with the nice big side pocket from his pants. I added a name tape and branch insignia in totally non-official places. I used the cinch-y thing from the pants and a cuff from the blouse for quasi-usable decoration. The other side is essentially the front of the blouse with the two lower pockets, and including the button placket, although it opens to nothing (if I were really high-speed I would have sewn an inner lining behind the button placket so there’d be a hidden Napoleon-style side entry pocket). Another cinch-y thing, jump wings, insignia from another branch, and a tape you can’t see that says US Army dress it up a bit. On the inside  I used the upper pocket from the uniform blouse because it has an awesome inner pocket for a pen (photo above). The other side of the interior has the pocket included in the pattern, although I used the ribbon that cinches up the bottom of the uniform pants instead of the fabric loop from the instructions (photo below). The shoulder straps are from the length of the pants and include a bit of the double layered sections that reinforce the knee and inner thighs (adds nothing to the functionality of the straps, just a couple of decorative seams).

Conclusion:
I’m very pleased with the pattern and the finished product. I appreciate when something looks equally handsome in real life as it does in the photos on the package. I would definitely recommend this pattern. I give it 12 muffins too (though not literally this time).

06 Feb

Dove in the Window

The new theme at 12×12 is Window. This is huge — I could go so many places with it that I am actually overwhelmed. Out of curiosity, I looked to traditional quilt blocks like Cathedral Windows and Attic Window, and also found one called “Dove in the Window” which and was first published by the Lady’s Art Company in 1898.

dove-in-window-block

I think there’s a lot to be said for traditional quilt blocks and their history. I love their names. Some are whimsical, some are pictorial, some are political — like Burgoyne Surrounded or Whig’s Retreat. I like that their makers could include subtle messages through the blocks they chose to use: the most widely known probably being the blocks claimed to be used by slaves to assist in their escape to freedom like Wagon Wheel, Flying Geese and Monkey Wrench.

I felt compelled to try out this block today. I used fabric from my husband’s old BDUs (battle dress uniform). I doubt I’ll use it as my 12×12 submission, but it could well inform something else I want to work on. Actually, I have about 5,000 things I want to work on. Is it wrong for me to hope the kids don’t come home from school today?