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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




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 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 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!!!

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