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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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