Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Napkin Time Again!

I am sure if you're a sewer, you have probably been pretty busy finishing up Christmas gifts.  I decided to make Christmas napkins again this year, but a bigger size and more to give to each person.  If you read a previous post, I was given a large gift of fabric and patterns from a lady who works with my mother.  The fabric and patterns had been in her attic for about 7 years and had belonged to her mother-in-law.  And she really liked novelty prints, especially Christmas novelty.  So, this year, I didn't need to buy any Christmas fabric thanks to her.

I created a template of 17" x 17" and cut 8 napkins per person (4 in all) and serged the edges.  It is really easy and fast and makes a quick gift in a time crunch.  The first pic below shows the napkin selection, but each person had a variety.  This set is going to my niece who has 2 young daughters of her own.  So I mixed a few fun prints in it.  The bag came from Dollar Tree-2 for 1 pack.

On my serger, I used a red thread and red upper looper and green lower looper so you see two different colors from top to underneath.  This is a close-up of those edges which turned out really nice.  This was a 3-thread overlock-wide stitch.  If you don't have a serger, look into it--maybe for Christmas.  it really creates nice professional looking edges and seams.

Next year, I would like to make something more challenging to give as gifts--maybe a make-up bag for each family member....hmmmmmm.  Merry Christmas everyone!  And remember, JESUS is the reason for the season :-)))

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Bag Resources I Found

I like to sew bags and found a Yahoo group that I recently joined.  It's called sewing tote bags and purses.  One of the blogs I found there through the posts is called Passion et Couture.  The blog author has some great pics of bags she has made, especially her most recent bag called The Exchange Bag.  Also on her site, she had a link to  Pinterest where you can see all sorts of bags with links to where to find the patterns for some.

Here are some other bag resource links I have found:
Chris W Designs
Christopher Nejman
Nicole Mallalieu-You Sew Girl!
Purse Patterns
By and Stable stabilizer for bags
Sew It All TV-Episode 406
Squidoo-How to Make Purses, Wallets, Pouches, Cases
How About Orange-How to Sew 9 Different Bags and Purses
Innovative Bags and Totes-Part 1-Sewing with Nancy video
Innovative Bags and Totes-Part 2-Sewing with Nancy video

If you know of any other resources for bags and purses, please add them in your comments.

Monday, September 24, 2012

PR Handbag Contest Entry

I finally decided to take the plunge and enter a contest when I saw the announcement for the 2012 Handbag Contest.  I absolutely LOVE handbags and had been planning to make a messenger bag version for my DH.  So, I thought, why not enter that one, even though it's adapted for a man?!  He had wanted me to make one that reflected his military experience (15 years active and reserves) and the patriotism he has for his country.  Check out this bag on for a comprehensive review of it.

I made the same messenger bag pattern I made before for my daughter (see older post). 

Below are completed photos of the bag:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Working on Several Items at Once!

July has been busy and looks like August will be the same--but that's a good thing, right?  I started a sleeveless top for my daughter, Sarah using pattern Simplicity 2892:

The envelope says "6 Made Easy", but I have not seen where view D is so easy.  I have never worked with so many gathers in all my born days!  I guess it was about time to do so, though.  I have not completed it yet because my daughter requested many alterations to show off her curves a bit better.  It was too full, I must say and would not be flattering as is.

Here are some previews of the unfinished top---not too exciting and rather hard to see due to the pattern of the fabric.

This shows the wrong side of the front with the collar lining showing.  I've never worked with any kind of lining before either.  So next comes a pic of some darts I need to add in to the back piece to make the top more slender.

You can barely see the two basting safety pins on the right side of the fabric in the back.  I don't have much experience either with darts, but I'm feelin' the challenge and will rise to it.  I plan to add bust darts to the front, although I'm not too sure how that will look next to the collar seam.  Otherwise, it gapes open too much at the arm holes.


So, next up is a project I am pretty stoked about--a military-themed messenger bag for my husband.  I received some great fabric for free from a lady who's mother-in-law had passed away a while back--see my last post.  I got some camo fabric and a small piece that had eagles on it.  So, needless to say, my  husband, Bill was excited.  I am using the same pattern I used for my daughter's bag (Sew What! Bags-City Satchel), but am beefing it up quite a bit to be more sturdy and not so slumpy.  I'll be using some heavy duty interfacing to hopefully achieve that.   And.............get ready............I have entered the 2012 Handbag Contest.  This is the first time I have ever entered a contest on PR which is my FAVORITE sewing site which I KNOW I have mentioned before.  I look at it everyday!  You should seriously consider joining if you haven't already.  I am looking forward to just the experience of participating.  Of course, I would be delighted if I won--the prizes are awesome!

I expect this bag to go together pretty quickly this time since I've made it before.  Here are pics of the pieces which I cut out.  I have to get the interfacing in order to begin.  SIDE NOTE:  Our Jo-Ann's store had a water main break inside their store almost a month ago which flooded the whole thing and everything was likely ruined.  So, the store has been closed a while which is a major bummer for someone like me who needs their Jo-Ann fix to continue living.  And SO, I have to travel to Jefferson City, MO--about 30 minutes away which isn't bad at all--to go to their store which is a super store.  I honestly think the store here has more square footage than that store.  BUT the exciting news is that our Jo-Ann store is opening south of town--far away for me, but in a nicer building location.  And, get this, it's going to be a SUPER STORE!  But that won't open until January :-(

Back to bag piece pics:

overall bag pieces
lining pieces

eagle to be appliqued on front flap of bag

The biggest challenge for me on this bag will be appliqueing the eagle fabric onto the front flap which is a navy canvas fabric.  I am taking a class to learn this on 8/7 and know I'll have to practice quite a bit before sewing the real piece on.  That will make me nervous.

The whole outside bag is navy canvas with camo cotton as the accent for the side pockets and lining.  I'll be using button pockets that I have removed from some of my husband's old Army coats and pants.  He was in the Army for a total of 15 years which includes 4 active and the other in the Army Reserves.  He is very patriotic and proud of his military experience and loves anything to do with military--like watching military inspired movies, etc.  He has also given me various patches to sew onto the under flap of the bag, as well as pins that he also received.  It will be a very sentimental and meaningful bag for him--which I'm excited about making for him.

The last item I resurrected from over a year ago is a shirt from McCall's 6159.  It's a girl's pattern and is too small for my daughter now.  But, I am attempting to salvage the cut pieces--the front and back pieces of the shirt to make a simple vest.  She still likes the fabric so I hated to see it all go to waste.  I'll have to insert some darts in this, as well for a more fitted style.

With ALL THAT going on--it'll keep me busy for a while.  But that's a good thing, right?

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Huge Gift of Fabric

I received a huge gift of fabric that belonged to a lady's mother-in-law who has passed away 7 years ago.  All this fabric was in the attic and most had never been washed or used.  So, I have been washing up a storm for weeks now and hoping I can find a place to put it all!  She liked novelty prints which I also love.  Now, my husband says I don't need to go to Jo-Ann's for 14 years (but you know that won't happen!).

Here is how it all looked when we unloaded it the evening I went to get it.  Then, afterward the long process of picking through it all to decide what to keep, throw away or maybe sell.

Included were approximately 200 patterns from the 80's and 90's.  So, my daughter helped me sort through those as well.

As you can imagine, I have not sewn anything since receiving this gift as I've been trying to get it cleaned, sorted and put away so I can start my sewing life again.

Many thanks to the mother-in-law who must have had a passion for fabric more than me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

McCall's 5562-An Easy Dress Pattern For Girls

I have two great nieces who are 7 and 4 years old, respectively.  I have never sewn for children, but really wanted to sew for them.  When I started sewing in 2009, my daughter was past that age---so, alas, no cute children's clothes for her :-(  So, I sat down with my great nieces, Audrey and Alyssa, recently and asked them what they wanted if I made them something--such as a dress or pants, etc. and what colors they like.  The oldest one, Audrey, said she wanted purple which is her favorite color--that was her only criteria.  The youngest one wanted Tinker Bell pants, period!  And so I went home and found a cute dress pattern for the oldest--McCall's 5562 and a pants pattern (A while ago, I happened to have bought Tinker Bell fabric one day when the youngest and I went shopping at Hobby Lobby) that was McCall's 5796 which had a pattern for cropped pants--I thought more apropos for the warm months ahead.

OOP pattern I ordered from The McCall Pattern Co.

Well, I actually started on the TB pants and had two brain farts in the process and almost messed them up completely!  So, in the interim, I switched gears and worked on Audrey's dress, McCall's 5562.  At the first fitting, I found out the dress was 2-3 inches too short.  So I went back and made shorts in the same fabric to do with it.  Also, when the oldest had tried the dress on the first time--the younger sister was jealous and wanted a dress right then and there and wanted purple like her sister.  Light bulb!--I'll just go get TB fabric that is purple and is already shirred (like the fabric I used for my daughter's dress in the post below).  Lickety split, an instant dress in no time at all!

When I delivered the final product to the oldest niece, she was thrilled and wanted to wear it that day.  Then, when I showed the youngest the Tinker Bell dress fabric--she lit up and was so excited.  She wanted me to finish it right then and there.  I fitted pieces of ribbon on it for straps.

I have since cut out two different fabrics for dresses for Alyssa in the 5562 pattern I had to order from McCall's.  And, I've cut two more patterns of the dress (both lengthened by 3") for Audrey, as well.

I added this patch I found in my stash.

A happy young lady who wore this to the mall and got a compliment from a stranger--which I am guessing made her day!  It was really fun to sew for them and I plan to sew much more for them.  It's nice to see happy smiles after making something for someone who enjoys it.  It's fun to pick out children's fabrics with bright colors and play around with the trim colors.

BTW, those Tinker Bell pants are still sitting in one of my project folders--maybe I'll make shorts out of them.  OH, and I also recently found a Tinker Bell bright green remnant at Walmart----for a future dress for Miss Alyssa too.  Happy days are ahead!

Updated on 07-06-12-Here are some other photos from this pattern---Audrey's patriotic dress and her sister's Tinker Bell dress:

Check That Off The List!

Well, I did get my mojo workin' a little bit and finished a project, if you can call it that, that was two years old!  It was one of those fabrics you buy that is already shirred and makes an instant dress with one seam.  I had cut this fabric out for my daughter two years ago.  Thank goodness I bought enough of it because I had to re-cut it since she had grown--who woulda thought?!  But she was happy with it and wore it on her last day of school.  I added the ribbon that I already had for the straps which just happened to match the colors in the fabric.  Sewed the one seam and the hem and----voila!...........

I gotta mention these envelopes again---I use these to put my old and current (and in between) projects in and just love them!  I took a picture this time so you can see how cool they really are.  They are clear plastic so I can see everything and have a snap enclosure.  I use a label maker to label the pattern number, if it has one.  And then label the name of the project and possibly who I am making it for.  They expand a little as you can see in the second pic---so there is ample space for the pattern, fabric, notions, etc.

Take a look-see:

I bought these from Current Catalog online.  You get 8 to a pkg and the top flaps are decorated with colorful designs.  So, IMO that is a plus.  The plastic is very sturdy--very had one rip and have had my first batch for over a year.

I stand them up in hanging file folders now (after moving things around) so I can easily find them since they 'stand' out so much :-)

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Sewing Room Arrangement-Pics Coming Soon!

Well, I have completed the furniture makeover of our sewing/office space.  And I'm in the middle of putting away stuff and straightening things up a bit.  Below is a pic of our messy 'new' space.  The family really likes this new arrangement.  It opens the room up quite a bit.  And I LOVE being next to the window so I can look out at the creatures next door that run around.  We have a field on one side of our house. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Trying To Get My Mojo Workin'...

I have to admit that I haven't sewn ANYTHING since we last spoke--or since I last spoke here!  I am much in my mind I want to get out of the way.  Plus, my sewing room is a mess.  I share my sewing space with the office of the house.  So, my feeling is to do a little bit of a room switch-a-roo with the furniture.  I have a degree in Interior Design (from Mississippi State University--a plug for the maroon and white!).  And so having learned mechanical drawing--it serves well when I want to move the furniture around....anywhere! 

First, I measured the space and all the items I want in that space.  That is what you see below.  This room is 10'-4" x 11'-10 1/2".  But when you are putting one large office desk, printer, files, another office desk (the hubby's), 2 sewing pieces of furniture and one vintage Singer sewing cabinet---it gets a little crowded.  Right now, there's too much bumping into each other.

Next, came my preliminary plan of the space which I thought I could live with, but later rejected it.  It's just too choppy.

I tried to rotate this many times so you could visualize the same view throughout.  The pic above shows the window on the right side (south wall).  North is pointed left in this view.  The entrance to the room is the arrow near the top left.  The sewing furniture is on the right or south wall.  But because of the way the furniture/cabinets (both are identical) open, it's not able to abut to one another.  There is a top on the left side of each cabinet that you pull up and use the door of the cabinet, when opened, to support that top.  Inside the cabinet door are two rows of plastic trays that can be adjusted in size with spacers to hold whatever.  It is these trays that are causing the abutment problem in that corner.
So, in the above view, you see where I put the sewing cabinets in the same corner, but positioned corner to corner.  The 'x' in the top right of the paper in the corner of the room designates 'dead' or unused space.  You try not to lay out space that way, but in this case the furniture will look better.  Plus, I can hide something in that corner I don't get to often.  Maybe I should put a big plant there near the window!  That would be nice.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lost & Found--Or Maybe, More Lost Than Found!

"Oh woh is me." say my many lost little projects that I've started and never finished.  They are yelling at me saying, "Finish me!," but I wonder if I will be able to fully find them again in the lost sea of unfinished projects.  If you are a sewer, you know EXACTLY what I'm talkin' 'bout.  You get excited about starting a particular project, though half-scared because you're working with fabric you've never used before--like knits!  And you're wincing allllll thhhhhhe wayyyyyyy...........

Or maybe you are feeling a little intimidated by learning a more challenging skill and a little timid to put both feet in the water.  Does maybe Tim Gunn whisper in your ear, "Make it work!"--okay, maybe more than a whisper.  Or just maybe it's altogether that in the middle of that project, something else struck your fancy.  So, you tell yourself, "Oh, it's time to learn how to sew a denim bag you've always wanted or a blouse or dress for niece, or a......"  But, then sometimes those 'have to' projects come to you that demand, "I'm here; take care of me NOW."   So, guess what happens now---It's Project Runway time in your brain:  "Gotta make it work, gotta make it work...."

So now you get a breather after that's done and you're thinking to yourself, "I'm not going to sew anything or look at anything to do with sewing for a week."  Really!?  Do you really think that's going to  happen?  The whole process starts over---pattern shopping, intrigue is baiting the hook.  You feel it, don't you---it's coming on again!  " I wanna make that."  Shop for fabric, notions, etc.....

My rescued old Kenmore 385-1764180.  I decided to pull out this machine from my closet to meet its younger sisters and grandmother (Singer 115).  I wanted to use my machine, even though it's old and pretty basic, but from what I hear, it sews leather really well.  It's resting place is on top of grandmother's cabinet and will have to be moved if she ever wants to come out and show me a thing, or two.  Now, we are all in the family :-)

Then one day, your mind comes back to haunt you by saying, "You forgot to finish this project and that one and that...."  Oh, and this one too: "You daughter was really looking forward to wearing that outfit you started making for her about 9 months ago."  This mind talk stuff starts getting on my nerves.  So, I decide, as I did recently, that I'm going to go back and finish those lonely projects and bring life back into their lonesome fabric souls.   Okay, maybe that's a bit much!  I started a written goal list in Excel a month or so ago and pinned it in front of my sewing machine.

Now, you get a part in this too.  I am going to share what projects (I can remember) that I need to finish--these are projects that can be worked on; not ones that didn't get finished because nothing could save them from the trash.  So, here we go:

-Finish the flowery red/black/white insta-sundress into a shirt for my daughter.  Just have to re-mark those pins, takes one seam, and sew on the straps.  Easy enough, I think.

-Actually put together the cut out pieces I have for a fall/winter vest and blouse to go under it, again, for my daughter.  Maybe it will be done by next fall.

-Finish a winter plaid skirt that was close to being finished.  I tried to make it in time to wear to a funeral, but didn't make the deadline---no pun intended.

-2 pajama shorts for my daughter; one pair for me---all cut and ready to be sewn.

-And the most recently lonely project is a fleece pullover my husband wanted me to make him to replace the one he's had forever that's falling apart.  I was so excited about the fabric--moose and bears and deer, oh my!  I made a muslin of the pattern because I wanted to make sure the size was right.  Got that done and ready for him to try on.  Then he got too busy with work and then sometimes didn't feel well.  He's already told a friend that it will be next year/winter before he wears it.  It takes two to tango to get this done, hubby!

Hope your old not-finished-project list is shorter than mine.  But, hey, it's about just keepin' on keepin' on.  And FEEL FREE to drop me a line asking me how the sundress or whatever is going just to keep me in check and on the right and intended path.  Or maybe I can just pretend I have cheerleaders cheering me on, which would end up getting on my nerves.  Or better yet,  I could pretend I'm a contestant on Project Runway and have to finish all these projects within 2 days---"Make it work, make it work!"  More like, make it work in a month's time !(OUCH).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Costumes on the Brain!

My latest adventure in sewing was making a few costumes for a passover dinner play called The Lamb at our church.  The play was seen last week on 4/5 and 4/6.  There was a 4-person team of us that took on assessing costumes we borrowed from another church and what needed to be made by us for this year.

This was the second annual showing of this play.  Last year we borrowed all of the costumes from 3 churches.  So, our plan, starting this year, was to borrow from one church and then make what we needed--whereby, eventually we would have our own set of costumes eventually.

I have never made a costume in my life, but was ready for the challenge.  I ended up making the costumes for the main character of the play and the person who played his wife as they were the 'host' family of the passover dinner.  I also made some for other character who didn't need anything fancy.  I'll show you a few pics from the actual play.  It's a rather big production, with actual stage lighting.  The main stage consisted of the host family table on an upper part of the stage, with 4 tables below that.  Each of those tables had a host couple.  People from the audience were invited to sit at the tables during the play and partake of the dinner which was very authentic--the food that was made and stages of eating each type of food and the explanation of what each represented to the Jews.

The photo above shows the character Martha (standing right) in a blue costume.  I made that one and also made the undergarment of the main character Rueven who you can also see in the photo who is standing on the left.  I don't have any close-up photos of this costume, but I trimmed the bottom of the sleeves in a somewhat narrow gold ribbon.  The hemline is also trimmed in a different ribbon with brown and gold.  Both costumes were made from the same pattern, but altered to fit the character.  The main host family had to have clothes that were more expensive looking than the rest of the cast.

The photo below shows the 'Upper Room' where Jesus and his disciples were staying at the hosts house.  The lighting would change when focusing on this part of the stage versus the lower stage.

I did take some close-up shots of the Martha costume which you can see below.  Like I said, I used the same basic pattern pieces for all costumes--Simplicity 4213 which are patterns for passion plays.  These are unisex patterns.  I made an XL for the lady who wore it.  I made a size M for the Reuven character.

Front views and back views are below.  My husband is hold them for me.  I added the gold rick-rack, as well as the back opening with ribbon as a closure.  I really didn't enjoy messing with the facings which also called for interfacing.  But the stitching didn't look good to me when I was done with the front facing.  So, I took it to my dealer, who used to sew costumes for theaters, to find out what I could have done better.  She told me next time to use bias around the neckline and not even bother with the facings.

Close-up of back view:

 As you can imagine, this fabric was horrible to work with--a polyester, pre-wrinkled fabric that really liked to ravel.  So, I can now strike this off my sewing bucket list, I guess.  I fully expect next year to go a little more smoothly and maybe not have to make as many.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lady Sews the Blues

I finally completed my no-pattern, self-drafted denim bag in between other projects.  So, now you'll see some of the steps, visually of where I started and ended.  This is the first time I have created something (worthwhile, anyway) sewing-wise without any pattern or directions of any kind.  It was really fun to unleash my artistic tendencies in the sewing arena.  I love to sketch and think outside the box on how to do something different.  That is where true creation is born.

Below are pics I took in the order of how the bag was constructed.  I started with some old jeans that belonged to my daughter.  I wanted to make a unique denim bag that wasn't sloppy but kinda a cool to tote around.  I chose a basic size of the whole bag, based on what I learned from making the messenger bag for my daughter.

pieces before sewing

From that basic size, I cut strips of denim in the various shades of denim, as you can see.  I cut off all of her back pockets and ripped out most of the stitching so I could re-stitch in the same area,  but not be as bulky.

A lesson I learned from cutting and sewing the strips together is to make sure you cut all the pieces in the same grain.  Otherwise, you'll have some wonky pieces that really want to stretch out.

The pic you see here shows the stiff (but, not stiff enough) fusible interfacing I used to give more structure to the bag.  I would choose a heavier weight next time.

I really recommend using basting stitches through the middle of the pockets and near the sides a little before sewing the pockets in place.  It definitely keeps them from shifting.
all sides sewn together
bag lining and pocket
At the last minute, I added an inside slotted pocket and backed it with the same stiff interfacing.  Even though I like bags with pockets, I end up ignoring them for some reason when I actually use/wear the bags.  I know, it makes no sense. 
the button pins worked great for this

Now, one of the lessons I learned while sewing this bag was when trying to attach the top trim piece (sewn in one piece).  After you handle denim pieces over and over that have spandex in them--they tend to stretch--go figure!  So, my bag circumference was larger than the actual trim you see here.  I decided to then go back on each side and add a small pleat near each side end to kind of 'gather' that material to "make it work", as Tim Gunn would say!

Also, I must say that it was difficult to sew (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd....time around) using denim thread up top and denim thread in the bobbin (which I found out from my local dealer that I wasn't supposed to do)---it's not calibrated for that kind of thread).  So, they told me to use regular construction thread up top, but use a triple stitch with a longer stitch length--and construction thread in the bobbin, as well.

The next pic shows the metal feet I added to the bottom.  I wanted to add a classy touch to the bag, like the expensive bags in department stores.

metal feet
handles were bought from Jo-Ann's
Close-up of the tortoise handles that were added using belt loops from the jeans.  It just seemed a 'given' or an expected idea  to use the belt loops as loops for the handles.

The completed bag showing the end of the bag--I added small pockets--big enough for a pen or pencil--on each end piece.  You can also see the ready-made grommet pockets--another great find from old jeans.  Most all of the denim came from the old jeans.  I did buy some extra fabric from Jo-Ann's for correcting some mistakes and to use for the trim around the top and end pieces.

One side of the bag has the pockets you see above right and the other as you see it left.

And of course, what would a denim bag be without some added bling--Swarovski crystals!!

If I did this over again:  I would have added a magnetic snap closure or zipper because the bag naturally wants to open wide when I set it down anywhere.  I don't usually use the zippers, etc. that come with bags I buy--again, makes no sense, but I think adding something wouldn't make it 'hang' open so much.

In all, I am pleased with the outcome and now know things I would do differently when making bags in the future.  I would have definitely added stiffer interfacing to make the bag stand on its own.  All in all it was a good learning experience.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome to My Stash!

So, last week I went thru that oh-so-painful task (NOT) of getting more fabric at some great prices for whatever projects will pop up in the hopefully near future :-)   I got some great discounted fabric in the red tag section of Jo-Ann's, some calicos that were 40% off there and a few fabrics for bags at Walmart.  Aren't they awesome!  Most were bought to use for linings in bags.

I don't know about you, but my family would make fun of me growing up of being a touch-feely person because I wanted to touch everything, like clothing or whatever when something sparked my fancy.  And I vividly remember loving those children's touchy-feely books of different kinds of textures.  Well, that hasn't gone away a bit!  I just can't keep my hands to myself when I go somewhere where there are fabrics!  I guess it's that instant learning from touching something and instantly recognizing what it is through the 'hand' of it.  It's just too tempting for me!