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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Handmade Gnome Ornaments and Basket

In an effort to calm my "grinchiness" as the Christmas season approaches, I joined an Instagram swap for handmade ornaments. Our mission was to make 3 handmade ornaments for a secret partner based on her likes/dislikes. Any crafting medium could be used and my partner mentioned liking gnomes. I didn't realize gnomes were a Christmasy thing. I didn't know how much gnome related goodness there is in the fabric world either! I was surprised once I started looking online for ideas. I tried to make a felt gnome, but he was scary looking. I decided I could use some cute fabric and make some "mushrooms" instead. Gnomes live in mushrooms, I think. I drafted the little pattern myself and tried to make them somewhat "wonky". 

I ended up with 3 gnomes, Sleepy, Hungry, and Clark. Each one is quilted differently. Clark is the one with the green dotted 'shroom. His top is quilted with metallic variegated thread, so he's the Clark Griswald of the gnome village. I also made a fabric basket to gift to my partner, since I had already bought the fabric and she is primarily a knitter. I know nothing about knitting, but I'm thinking everyone can use a fabric basket. Overall I think it all looks cute together and hopefully she will like them. 



3 little gnomes

with a basket

Clark

Hungry

Sleepy

Gnome Basket 

Gnome basket inside view

These little guys are off to there new home this week. I hope they make someone smile. :)

A Rainbow Roadtrip Case

I've been drooling over the Roadtrip Case pattern from Noodle-Head for quite some time, but I just hadn't taken the time to put it on my never-ending "to do" list. When Purse Palooza rolled around this year and the Roadtrip Case was the first pattern to be reviewed, I decided it was a sign from the crafting spirits that I needed to make one! I purchased the pattern and got straight to work.

I kinda had a vision in my mind of adding some rainbow patchwork to a black and white background pallet. I made these quilted coasters for a Flickr swap and I wanted to play on this idea some more.




I initially was planning to gift this case to one of my other swap partners, and I may still do that--- but I might just keep it for myself! What a fantastic and functional pattern! It comes together very quickly, and you basically have a blank canvas to add any special quilting or piecing features that tickle your fancy on the main exterior. I love that! I was a little nervous about sewing with the vinyl that is used to make a zippered inside pocket, but it was very smooth and easy. I used a denim needle and the Juki had no complaints.


Across from the vinyl pocket, you also have some long pockets with flaps. They are separated down the middle and then divided vertically, however you would like. I put magnetic snaps on my flaps, but you could also use hem tape, velcro, or a button and loop closure. It's very customizable to your wishes. The only real modification I made was to use quilt binding around the outside rather than bias tape as suggested by the pattern. If you've followed me at all, you know how I feel about bias tape. The quilt binding worked perfect. The only modification I might make on my next Roadtrip Case would be to omit the button and loop closure on the front. It just seems a little cumbersome to me. I might try magnetic snaps or velcro instead. Overall though, this pattern is a new favorite and I see more Roadtrip cases in my future! Think gifts for crafting friends, kids, artists, who couldn't use a little more organization in their life??

So here are some pics of the finished product. I think my vision played out pretty well. The black and white print is "Quilter's News" and it is hilarious. Since this was made with a quilter friend in mind, I thought it was fitting. Now I just need to decide if I can stand to gift it away!


Front of Bag hanging

Close-up of patchwork


Backside, such a fun print!

Inside view, clear vinyl pocket and 4 patch pockets with flaps and pleats, so they can hold a lot!

Trying to give an inside view of the pockets. Polka dot lining, I can't resist dots!!!

This bag will be my last entry for Purse Palooza 2014 too. It's been fun and I'm already excited about what the next year of crafting holds!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rachel's Birthday Bag

My sweet niece Rachel will be a teenager next month, and deserves a new bag! I asked her what kind she might like, and she told me that she liked the Convertible Bag from Sewing Patterns by Mrs. H. I had made one of these bags last year for her sister's birthday as well. Rachel also said, "I like pink." So, I got to work and came up with this little number....and might I mention that it is ready almost a month early! Wo-hooo!!! I do relish in the small victories whenever possible.



This bag is really cool because it can be worn cross body, or converted into a backpack. It's actually pretty simple to put together also. Rachel liked this polka dot print, but I had only a small amount of it leftover from another project, so I improvised with a fun HST panel and some solid pink on the front pocket and strap. This bag is little, but has great features. It has 2 zippered pockets, a slip pocket on the front and on the inside. I also quilted a 2 inch grid on the main pieces with a contrasting pink thread. I've been really into contrasting thread lately, and I like how the quilting adds some more detail.

I really love this pattern and this is the third bag I've made from it. The one thing I've learned is to reinforce all the various tabs extensively. Lots of tension on those if used regularly. Here are some more pics...

         
backpack version back
Cross body version back


     
Backpack version front. 
Cross body version front


Inside view, more dots, of course. 
Linking up to Purse Palooza 2014 at Sew Sweetness  Lots of great handmade bags to look at over there. I'm always impressed by the craftiness in this world!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A year long Journey Bag

I had a pretty exciting finish today and it has a little back story.

I have been sewing on and off for years. I was really into my sewing of clothing during my teens and 20s, then pretty much abandoned my machine while I was working through pharmacy school. I started sewing again after my first son was born, as a way to relax and get my creative juices going again. I got frustrated with clothing as it never seemed to fit right and I had such limited time to sew - I really wanted finished items that I loved....so I thought I might try making some bags....HELLO, light bulb moment!!! I really loved it, A LOT. One day, I stumbled across Craftsy and a little bag pattern from Emmaline Bags called Steph in the City. I had no idea PDF patterns even existed! Can you imagine a world without PDF patterns??? I purchased that pattern and a few days later, I got an email with a link to info about Purse Palooza 2013 on the Sew Sweetness blog. I followed that link and the rest is really Bubblegum history.

Purse Palooza and the various blogs that I began to follow from that event have taught me so much. I look back at where I was last year and I can't believe how much I have learned, friendships I have developed, and fantastic bags I have made!! I knew very little about interfacing, zippers, and even fabric choices a year ago.

My revelations:

1.) I thought all fusible interfacing was the same! I had never even heard of Soft and Stable or Shape-Flex.

2.) I thought all fabrics would sew up the same for any pattern! I thought cotton, canvas, and denim were pretty much equal and I had never heard of Tula Pink, Art Gallery Fabrics, or Pink Castle Fabrics. I don't care to admit how often I visit these sites now.

3.) And I had never made a zippered pocket (the horror!)! I had never installed a zipper closure of any kind! The world of bags really changed when I got over my fear of zippers! Wo-hoo for zippers!!

Things are a little different today. I wish I could thank every blogger out there that has ever posted a tutorial, created a pattern, worked through a problem openly,  or linked to a great crafty notion. My crafting has improved so much over just one year because of the goodness in the online crafting community. Truly, you folks are amazing!

Ok, back to today's post. Part of Purse Palooza is a contest that lets you link up handmade bags for the chance at great prizes. Last year, I entered some very simple bags, as that was all I was really making at the time. I also cut this "Journey" bag out. I didn't finish it then because it had a zippered top (scary!) and binding (also scary and new to me at the time). So it sat in a drawer for a year waiting for it's day in the sun. Well, Purse Palooza 2014 is here and I felt it was time to give this bag a life! It's pretty fabulous too and I am thrilled with the final result.


This pattern is a commercial McCall's pattern, but was designed by Kay Whitt.. Kay is a bit of a genius. She writes patterns for bags and clothing and has awesome style! It's simply called "tote bag" in 3 sizes...how sad that it doesn't have a clever name like most PDF patterns do. I'm calling it the Journey Bag, because of my journey and because it's huge! It would be great for a long day out with all the things I always need to carry along.

I only made a few modifications. I interfaced with Soft and Stable because it's really the best stuff ever for making a bag with structure. Kay recommends fusible interfacing with "buckram". I honestly don't know what buckram is, but the Soft and Stable worked perfect. I used Shape-Flex for the lining where I also added a zippered pocket. I can't live without a zippered pocket somewhere in my bag anymore. Then I made a 2 3/4" binding for the top of the bag. The pattern has a piece that is to be used for the binding, but I didn't care for it.. It's only a single layer with folding over 1/4" for the finish.  I also wanted to show off the print a little more, so I wanted something wider. I added it the same way you would bind a quilt or mug rug, etc. It's double layer and I love how it all came together. This bag looks a little more suited for spring, but I'm going to bust it out now. I think it will be my new favorite! And appropriately, I'll be linking up to Purse Palooze 2014, a year in the making of a great bag!

Inside view, lined with Domino Dots!

Zip Top Closure

Front View, shows off the contrast on the straps
See the great shape! LOVE!!!



Monday, October 20, 2014

An Envelope Clutch and more Handmade Autumn

Today I am showing off some goodies I made for a Handmade Autumn swap that was organized over on Flickr. This swap was a little unique in that we knew who our partner was and discussed what would be created together. It was tons of fun! My partner had asked for something to decorate her home and she mentioned liking the modern maple quilt block. So I started by making a mini quilt using some gorgeous peppered cottons. It turned out fairly well, although I did have to redo the binding. I used a crazy flowered corduroy print that I have been hoarding forever and it got a little wonky on me the first time around.

I also wanted to make her a pillow that simply said "HOME" in a fall display. I knew I was going to have to paper piece the letters (scary!!!!) so I ventured online and found this pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. The result was exactly what I had hoped for!! I also now love paper piecing. It is not scary or intimidating, just make sure you cut your fabric scraps big enough! I had to make the "M" a couple times, but I feel great about the end product. I was going to use the corduroy again for the background, but felt it may be a little too much. Not sure how much retro 70s my partner wants, and this pillow was a total surprise for her. The fall fruit motif worked out perfect and I quilted some straight lines so it reminds me of an apple basket. I really hope she loves this!

As a last minute surprise gift, I decided to make a Noodle-head Envelope Clutch using some fun pear printed fabric from Robert Kauffman. I hadn't tried this pattern before, but it was excellent. Anna Graham from Noodle-head never lets me down. Her patterns are straight forward and well written with spot-on measurements. The only modification I made was to install my magnetic snaps before starting the construction. I'm not sure why she has you install the snap after sewing some main components together, seems unnecessarily challenging to me. I installed them while my lining was still free and had no difficulties. I love how it turned out and I will definitely be using this pattern again. I used soft and stable for my interfacing and it gave great shape and structure to the clutch. It would be good with batting or fusible fleece too if you want it a little "smooshier" I'm a bit of a Soft and Stable addict myself, so I have trouble using anything else.
front view laying on the backside of the Modern Maples mini

Another front view
Back view

Handmade label purchased from Joanns (I adore these things!)

Hanging clutch

Inside view, has a zippered pocket and credit card slips on a patch pocket (clever!)
And here are all the goods together. I also made a fabric basket using the fun corduroy print. I sent some Debrands chocolates and fat-eighths of the peppered cottons to wrap up the swap, handmade autumn style!

I will also be linking this post up to Purse Palooza over at Sew Sweetness If you're interested in bag making you really need to check Sara Lawson's blog out. I was first introduced to PDFs patterns by this event last year and it seriously has changed my life!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Miss Independent Bag

This month at the Big City Bags SAL over at Sewing With Squeak, we are celebrating Miss Independent! I started out very excited about this bag. It looks fun and functional in the photos. I noticed that there is binding on the outside of the bag, which I don't really care for, but figured I could manage to put that on the inside and still have a great bag. Unfortunately, once I started this bag, I realized that it has more issues than ugly outside binding.

To recap my experience the cons:

1. This bag took an eternity to cut and interface. Not necessarily a fault of the pattern, but annoying none the less. Cutting and interfacing are far and away my least favorite things. It is a huge bag in the end though, more about that later.

2. The outside pockets: Great concept...pockets with panels, so they "puff" away from the bag to give you more space and character. Bad construction on the author's part though. I have made these type of pockets before and they worked out fine. First construct the outer, then the lining, use less than normal interfacing to reduce bulk and sew together at the top. For this bag, you construct each piece separately, then sew them together. And the author recommends a ton of interfacing, which makes your seams so bulky, they will barely bend around the curves. Plus, now on the inside you have open seams in the way. They are finished, but still open and ugly in my opinion.

Luckily, I was able to recognize that this design just wasn't going to work. So, I just left the panels off and made simple patch pockets with flaps. They look fine, and really, how much would I put in an outside pocket like that anyways?

3. I did not have a separating zipper on hand. I made a traditional zipper panel with an extra long zipper so that the bag opens fully. Only problem was that without a separating zipper, you can't construct this bag as written. I do regret that I didn't wait for the right zipper. I was able to modify a little bit and get the bag together, but it *may* have looked a little nicer with the side panels put together as originally intended.

4. This bag is huge! It's really too big for everyday carry, but not really big enough as an overnighter. I have no clue what I will do with it. But, for being so huge, it has one tiny zippered pocket in the lining, that's it! I put a patch pocket on the opposite side, but I fell it could really use more organization. Also, for a bag this big, who wants just 2 leather shoulder handles to carry it around? It's going to be heavy if filled up. I added an adjustable shoulder strap, just in case I do find a proper use for it.

So now for the pros:

1. The fabric choices I made...LOVE! I love the background with the pop of the black and white pockets. Plus I quilted my main panels with a variegated thread and I think it really looks cool. For the lining I used the text print from the Jungle Ave. line and it is fabulous. I must get some more of that before it is gone forever, really love the color and words.

2. The leather handles! I have been very reluctant to use leather handles for bags, but I actually loved how easy they were to sew on and how they look on the finished product. They are a bit hard to find locally, but I have found some sellers on etsy that carry a nice variety. So I am excited to have something new to add to my repertoire of handles

3. I feel smart. I was able to work through some problems with the bag and still end up with a nice finish. It's not exactly what I had pictured, but it's still fun. There was a time when I would run into a problem and just throw the project away! No joke. I trashed a lot of WIPs. My sewing has grown and I now know how to fix things, sometimes even improving them! So yeah me!

Now for the pics, please forgive the shadows. We are redoing our entire backyard right now, and there is just no where to take a decent picture. (I may be an awful photographer too, just saying)



So overall, I am happy with the finished bag. I know it could be better though, and I may play with the design at some point. I have more swapping insanity to get to though, so the next bag will have to wait.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Swapping insanity

Things have been quiet on the blog, but the sewing machine has been mad crazy!

I discovered the wondrous world on online swapping recently and have been busily making all sorts of goodies for complete strangers. Sounds odd, doesn't it?  Well, I think I'm in love! It's incredibly fun. I really have enjoyed getting to know the people in these swaps and to try and make something unique for them that they will love. I've been the lucky recipient of several goodies too, which is also so much fun. Nothing like going to the mailbox and finding a handmade item that was made just for you! What could be more fun. Since pictures always say more than words, here are some pics of what I've been up to. It's also been nice to step out of my bag making consistency and try some new things, like mug rugs and owls!

For the Secret Tote Bag swap, I made a 241 Tote for a partner that likes pink:


I love how this pink ombre turned out with the black and white!

Inside is a fun little pieced pocket

Add who doesn't love a nice text print?

For the August Super Swap group, I made a Noodle-head divided basket for a partner that likes aqua, green, and orange. 


I used every last scrap of these fabrics to piece this together. 


For the Starbucks Mug Rug Swap, I made a Halloween themed rug for a special swap partner that shares my utter excitement for all things Halloweeny and Alexander Henry! She hasn't received this yet, but I think she'll love it and I have lots of extra goodies for her too. Like the little candy dish made from an awesome shimmery sugar skull pattern.

Love me some Alexander Henry!

It's hard to see, but this is quilted with metallic gold thread!

And a nice sugar skull is always welcome in my house!


Next I joined the Trick or Treat Halloween Bag swap and I came up with this cool spider-web like bag, plus an owl! The owl is so cute. I will be making many more of them. The pattern is called the Owl You Need Sewing Buddy and is available for free on Craftsy.  The bag is from SOTAK Handmade available here These bags are so cool. I'll be making more of them too. Super quick and easy to make as fun as you'd like. The bags popping up in the Flickr group are amazing!




The black owl goes with this package and the gray one goes with the next swap. 
Next was the Halloween basket swap. I made 2 of these baskets because I wasn't paying much attention when I made the first one. I used Alexander Henry's Pumpkin Patched fabric, which is one of my all time favorite Halloween patterns ever! But, afterwards, I remembered that my partner hates yellow and brown. Ooops. So I made the black and purple one for her. She loves purple, so hopefully that will be a winner. This pattern is from Birch Organics, I just added the handles. It really needs handles. It's a big basket and can hold a ton!

The basket plus extra goodies

Just basket

Here they are together. 

The pumpkin one that I get to keep!
                                     
Close up of the variegated thread that I used for the first time! LOVE! 
And finally I did a "Fox Swap" Where we were to make something foxy for a secret partner. My partner had only said that she likes mini quilts (which I don't really do), but would love anything. So I found some fun fox print and went to work. I ended up making the Reversible Bucket Tote by VeryShannon, an Essential Wristlet from Dog Under My Desk, a stuffed fox (too cute) and a Mystery Quilted Pillow from Jeni Baker. All of it turned out pretty well and I'm hoping my partner enjoys it. 


QAYG, never get tired of this technique!


Inside of the bucket tote...more foxes!

All the goods together

So I have been busy. I have a few more swaps I'm working on as well as the Miss Independent Bag for the Big City Bags SAL. Dear hubby is complaining that I may be neglecting him a bit for the Juki love, so I may need to slow down on the swapping a bit. It is very fun though and I am grateful to have found a new outlet for my creative juices to flow!

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