19 Jan

A Baggy Bag

Echino fabric and an idea

Sometimes a fabric jumps up and says “buy me!” This one wanted to be a bag of some sort. The only thing was, I liked the leaves and flying birds but not the fantasy birds in the center. My design would have to work around that.

baggy bag

This was pretty simple to put together with simple patchwork to replace the birds and a pair of patch pockets on the inside (lined, of course). I made it rectangular because it was easy, but now that it’s finished and I can see the effect of the slouchy handles, I’d make it a more triangular or trapezoidal shape. Figuring that out is part of the process though. More often than not I don’t make things exactly how I imagine them first time out. Things required tweaking, and sometimes starting over, or another try. Refinement. In fact, looking at this photo, I think I’ll turn the casing for the handles to the inside instead of having the lining show like it does now. I’d rather see more blue birds.

All these crafty items I’ve been posting are things that have been waiting around in little piles of fabric. Their specific projects kept getting put off for “more pressing matters” until I felt like I was going to drown in things I really wanted to do. My goal for January has been to finally make all these small projects my priority and clear my mental slate for some big stuff. To date: cute tags for my kids’ storage bins so they can better put away their toys, a skort for my daughter, book bags from fun fabric for both kids, this purse for the fun of it, and annual doctors appointments for everyone — including the cat. Still to be done: a blouse for me, another bag I’m curious about, a logo for hubby’s IBOL site, fabric design for a friend, and minor car maintenance. I may get all that done by the end of the month, but if not, I’m still feeling good about the dent in the list and the weight lifted.

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 insideĀ  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).

24 Feb

Good Mail

The mail has been good to me lately. First, I couldn’t help myself. I HAD to buy Sandra’s Viking notecards; and while I was at it, I decided I might as well get the adorable mobile too.

Since I’m new to Hawai’i and don’t really know what’s here, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to Hapa/Hale’s blog feed. It’s mostly fashion stuff that doesn’t apply to me, but I still get a feel for what’s going on outside the strip malls and big box stores. So, when Sasaki Creation’s bags popped up, I knew I had to have one. This is an Omiyagi Bag, but I’m probably keeping it for myself. Now that I look at Barb’s blog though, I might need a Kukio bag (scroll down the sidebar). They’re all very Hawai’i without being typical and touristy (IMHO).

(The interior fabric is even coffee bean fabric!)

The best mail though, was the surprise from Nic. Since I joined the mushroom swap and she is a mushroom and kitsch aficionado, I guess she figured she had what I needed. Really, I have no idea what triggered her generosity, but I’m not complaining. Look at all the Pimpinellakram (“Stuff” from her line, Luzia Pimpinella) she sent me:

Not only does this include mushroom, gnome, and owl ribbon hot off the presses, but also a Pimpinella keychain featuring one of her brand spankin’ new mushroom embroidery designs (if I had the embroidery module for my sewing machine, I’d be buying all of Nic’s designs for clothes for my daughter. I’m not though because, like scrapbooking, that’s a whole can of worms I don’t want to open). Anyway, there’s Little Red Riding Hood ribbon and the deer in the woods one I’ve been eyeing but not yet bought, plus sweet matroishkas and hearts too. And stickers! Cute overload! Thank you, thank you, thank you Nic! The ribbons will be so much fun to sew with.

I love my mailbox (even more so in that all this mail goodness comes to my door — I don’t have to get myself to the mailroom on post [after 11:00] to pick any of this up!).

12 Jan

Metamorphosis

One of the reasons we wanted to post about our caterpillars is because we were inspired to make a softie version of the metamorphosis. We’ve taken quite a few creative liberties, but it’s essentially the life cycle of a Chinese Yellow, or Citrus, Swallowtail.

We started with our “baby,” the first through third stages (instars) of the swallowtail: the bird poop caterpillar. This stuffed version features a brown and white fabric, ruched to accentuate the caterpillar’s texture.

The quick-change artist then gets zipped into a lined pouch…

…to become the fourth instar: the chunky green version. I added the osmeterium (yellow-orange scent glands) later as it seemed like it could use a little jazzing up. I love how the functional zipper mimics the actual patterning on the real caterpillar. I really love that it was my daughter’s idea and not mine.

Next, the caterpillar(s) get put into the chrysalis purse and…

…out comes a beautiful butterfly! The butterfly has a pouch on her underbelly for a pom-pom egg so that the cycle can begin again.

The chrysalis purse isn’t quite as graceful or poofy on top as I was hoping for, but I do really like it’s quilted bottom section. Poopy should have a bigger head and Instar Four could be a little more detailed on his back, but really, we’ve been having great fun playing with this — and that’s what matters most!