Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ode to the Feedsack....The Lucky Denver Mint Bag

My Lucky Denver! is almost 1 am so this is gonna be short. The Lucky Denver Mint Bag is complete and just under the wire too! I actually was going to make this post in the morning but luckily went to Angela's blog to confirm what time the Big City Bag Monthly linky party closes....oops in just 6 hours! Every month Angela hosts a linky party and we sew a bag from Sara Lawson's Big City Bags book.

The month of July was The Lucky Denver Mint Bag which is what my friend would definitely call a "feed sack" bag. She always hated them! Well, I happen to love a "feed sack" style handbag. I don't like to carry huge bags (like my friend does) and this is one great thing the "feed sack" has going for it. Just enough room for my normal stuff with maybe a bit to spare.

I found this graphic which shows the different types of bags and what they call a "feed bag". But in my opinion their's is not quite right.

Almost...but not quite right.
This bag, the Lucky Denver Mint Bag seems to be designed for simple practicality. So, from the beginning, I liked the bag design.
From Sara's book.
The Lucky Denver went together for me faster and easier than the bags we have sewn before. It was an easier pattern with less cutting but I think I am getting better! This bag turned out smaller than I thought but partially because I made a cutting error that took some correction. Still, big enough for me.

Just right size wise for my needs!
A sweet vintage floral print was used for the lining. Both fabrics have been in my stash for a while so another reason I love this bag, was able to do some stash busting!  (I actually made a skirt to match this bag out of the same two fabrics, will try to post pics later.)

Helloooo downthere!

Thanks Angela for hosting another month of the Big City Bags SAL. And good luck to everyone!

Update: I just read Betsy's post here. She mentions a couple things that I definitely noticed as well. One the bag handles are too short! And here's kind of a weird thing about that....why don't the bag handles look short in the picture in the book??? Man, they have some real tricks of photography in that book...that is all I can figure. Also, pocket design. Too far down in the bag. They need to come up a inch or two. Perhaps a zippered pocket would be a positive.

Since this bag came together so quick, I can definitely see myself making it again, maybe with a nice lightweight wool that has some embroidery. When I do, I will know what needs to be changed. Till then it's me and Lucky D!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Color block, Monosew, Make A Garment A Month and Spandex.


I am in love with this pattern and spandex fabric! For now, I can't say too much about the pattern as it has not been released yet. Deby from So Sew Easy will be releasing the pattern on August 20th. I encourage you to prepare yourself and your fabric because YOU WILL LOVE IT and want to sew a gazillion of these dresses!

Only 4 pattern pieces and some thought put in to fabric choices and bam....a simple to sew stunning dress for a night out. Tone down your fabric choices and you have a great day wear dress that is very comfortable yet stylish. That is why we sew isn't it? For comfort, fit and style?

First attempt with a strip knit. Super comfortable and casual dress.
I first tried this pattern with a stripped knit I had bought at the resale store for 50 cents. Here is a secret; no one wants to buy the knits from a resale store because they frequently are out of style. This stripped knit is a perfect example. Hmmm...for 50 cents, they may be worth the risk. After sewing this version up, I saw the monosewn challenge for Monthly Stitch AND this month's Wardrobe Challenge with Angela Wolf was color blocking! thinks this could be one dress that fits two purposes, actually three if the Make A Garment A Month Challenge was included. Now off for some serious fabric shopping.

Enter: Spandex.

This was my first time ever purchasing or sewing with Spandex. While there were a few issues, wowsa, I love this stuff.

This fabric came from Girl Charlee and is soooo soft and drapey and fun. But, also slinky and slippery as all get out! I had to overcome a few issues and it took a long time for me to cut the pieces out because the back middle seam had to be removed and that pattern piece altered. There was no way I was going to be able to match the fabric pattern on that back seam. Altering that piece and the nature of the fabric itself also caused a bit of issue with the hemline.

Removed the back middle seam.

Still amazed the hem turned out. Yikes, it was a mess.
Another issue I had with my first attempt was a gaping neckline, I guess a common problem when sewing knits. You can see a bit of that in the first picture of this post. With some research I was able to get a solution that will work on future knit projects as well.

Flat neckline! Yippee!
I did end up spending some time online, looking up knit fabric techniques and in particular spandex.  I also started a knit notebook to store my new knowledge because well....let's just say my memory is not what it use to be.

Here are a couple of tips that really helped:

1. Pin, pin, and more pins. I pined A LOT. This helped to stabilize the fabric when sewing my side seams and the front and back panels to the center pieces.

2. Stay tape. I wish I had thought to stay tape my shoulder seams but due to the design of the dress and how it fits me, there isn't too much stress on the shoulders...I'll probably be okay. I do have a bit of wiggle room under the arms so am thinking I might redo the shoulders. However, in the future, I will definitely use stay tape at the shoulder seams.

3. Stay tape.:) I did use stay tape around the armscye and at the neckline to prevent those areas from stretching and gaping when being sewn. Here and here are great articles on how to prevent neckline stretch. I used 1/4" double sided tape, laid it down around the armscye and neckline, peeled the backing off and folded over the fabric. This helped in two major areas....completely stabilized the fabric so no stretch and gave me a nice clean line to sew beside. I did not worry about finishing my seams, just trimmed them close to stitching. Spandex fabric does not fray.

4. Use a double needle. I had a lot of "firsts" with this project and a double needle was one of them. That double needle had been in my sewing box for almost a year and I had never tried it. Well, I will probably never sew another knit without one! It worked perfectly on the spandex and produced a beautiful finish with much less fuss than a single needle.

5. Stay tape. :) :) This time on the hemline. This was the hardest part of sewing the entire dress due to my pattern alterations mentioned above. Also, when the seams where sewn there was some creeping of the fabric and, just cutting the fabric out; the slightest movement and the spandex would shift some.

6. Next time I will probably try a rotary cutter and mat to cut pattern pieces. Cutting the spandex with scissors just wasn't that great. Pain in the keester!!

All and all this was a great sewing project. So much was learned about prepping and sewing with spandex and knits in general and also I learned a few things about using my sewing machine and the double needle.

The biggest benefit though is this great little dress I now have that I don't want to take off and as mentioned before, that's why we sew right....comfort, fit and style?


P.S. Many thanks to Deby for agreeing to let me post this before her pattern release!

Monday, July 28, 2014

A scrappy little tea wallet.

Monthly Linky Party
Back when the year was fresh, I made a lot of sewing commitments. Not really New Year's Resolutions but like that. The remnants of some of those commitments are on the sidebar of this blog. But there were more that never made it to the sidebar. At the time, one of my sewing buddies said "you are going to be VERY busy". Yes. Busy.

Things held together pretty well during the winter months but then spring, our son's wedding, another son decided to swim competitively, our daughter and college visits, chores, chores, and more chores outside. And well, there you have it. I have not been very "busy" with sewing but have been plenty busy.

The one thing that has sorta been kept up is the monthly Craft Book SAL with Live.Love.Create. I say sorta because although I've had the projects done, I haven't been able to post a blog about them or to upload them to Kelly's monthly linky party.

Well, this month I have the project done, the pictures ready and am writing this post with plenty of spare time! Happy times!!

The craft book chosen is actually the book I won in January from the SAL in the random drawing Kelly does each month for the prize; Patchwork Please! Actually, this is one craft book that I have been using. I have made several items from the book and have enjoyed them all.

For this month,  these sweet tea wallets from some scraps on my sewing table were calling to me. Just like most (all) of you, I am not quite sure what to do with all those scraps but can't quite throw them away. These wallets are perfect for that problem. What a delightful teacher gift these would make!!

Super cute projects in this craft book!
Dainty little prints for the wallets.

Any color combination will do nicely!

A dear friend of mine has a lovely Tea shop in a nearby town. This month I took a few of these little wallets to sell through her shop. It is the first time I will get paid for sewing. I really can't decide if it's a good thing, PRESSURE as everything must be perfect when you are selling something! My husband says Yes! :)

But in any case, I have this wonderful July finish, humble as it is!! And that my sewing friends, FEELS GOOD!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Easy Breezy......really!!

The Easy Breezy Blouse by So Sew Easy

In the past I frequently bemoaned the lack of summer wardrobe available in my closet. Truthfully, I have way more winter clothes than summer. Not sure why because where we live there is plenty of summer and lots of time to wear those gauzy, sleeveless, woven tops. Many times I have purchased lovely spring, summertime and early fall prints which I later planned to turn into luscious summertime wear. Except for that last part, where I actually make something with all those wonderful fabrics!

But, those days are over. This year already, I have made 3 summer tops. One of them, the one above, was sewn in less than a hour using an embroidered gauze that has been stored away for a while. Those three tops are seeing a lot of wear, especially the Easy Breezy, which spends its time either on me or in the wash.

Deby always does a good job with making patterns simple and easy to use. Most of the them have a video which is very thorough and provides a good visual aid if you are having trouble with any step.

Now there is no reason to put off making sweet summertime wear and in a jiffy too!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bee Sweet Finish!

Inside my bag.
Yay! A Big City Bag finish this month. So happy. This month things went much better.

Here's why:
First,  I tried really, really hard to be positive and not grouse too much about cutting out bag pieces. (I did have a momentary set back but it was short!)
Second,  I did not try to finish the bag in one sewing session. Instead,  the pieces were leisurely cut whilst watching old Star Trek episodes with the fam one day and the bag sewn a couple of days later.
Third, NO stress over each piece of interfacing and every perfect bag part. I knew handles were needed so apart came another Tommy bag. Also, took the magnetic snap from there as well. I did not want to run around looking for bag pieces.
Fourth, I took the time to rip out or do over seams or topstitching that did not suit me.

In hindsight a stiffer interfacing would be nicer, the bag is too floppy, but it will work just fine for me. The bag style is quite nice and the construction was pretty easy.  I enjoyed sewing this one.

The fabric has been in my stash since last summer. I thought this particular bag perfect for the fabric and like the way it came out.

Here is the bag already loaded up with my stuff.

A lighter picture.
It is never too late to join the monthly bag SAL hosted by Angela at Sewingwithsqueak. We have been sewing through Sara Lawson's book, Big City Bags. Next month is a diaper bag. I might try to make two for my two horsey friends who recently had babies! FIRST, I am going to see how much cutting there is!! :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Carry the Clutch Girls.

"I've always loved when girls carry their wallets as a clutch instead of a bag."

Alexander Wang

The beginning of my clutch stash.
There are so many wonderful things about a clutch purse aren't there? So convenient and easy to carry. Perfect when you don't want to carry the kitchen sink. Versatile. Light. And if you are the slightest bit crafty you can own a million zillion in all the glorious colors of the universe and in every style imaginable.

Over the past weeks, I have become a lover of clutches for all the reasons above and then some. One major reason is So Sew Easy's Clutch pattern. It is somewhat rare to find a purse pattern this user friendly yet so amazingly easy to hack. The only limitation here: one's imagination. Fabric choices, interfacings, embellishments, closures, to strap or not to strap, and size; all can be changed up, customized, coutured to your very own loves.

Deby at So Sew Easy really does make it....well....easy!! And somewhat lucrative as she is hosting a clutch contest with lots and lots of prizes including a side bar link on her highly trafficked website to the winning blogger . Although, this post is somewhat late in the contest, it closes tomorrow, one could STILL easily enter because these clutches can be sewn very quickly. Heck, by midnight tomorrow, one could sew about 25! Ha, one a hour as of this post! Probably not likely, but you get the idea of how friendly this pattern truly is!

The first time I printed off the pattern, I forgot to tile and got a smaller pattern. I decided to use it to make my first clutch for practice. With a sweet pink linen on which I embroidered a small motif, some pretty purple satin for lining and a quality snap, I ended up with the small jewel pictured at the bottom here:

Small pink clutch perfect for lipstick, jewelry, other odds and ends.
For the contest entry something a little more dressy and an opportunity to attempt a new sewing skill seemed in order. The flap on this pattern just begs for embellishment so beads it was! 

Beaded flap. This was so much fun! Can't wait to put beads on a skirt!!

It just so happens our little town has a sweet bead shop. While there, a beading jewelry fiend help me choose beads and gave great encouragement. Beading is not that hard! There are a few good tutorials on youtube and some articles. But I actually was surprised by the lack of beading instruction out there. Basically, it seems you have to buy a book. However, with good quality nylon thread, quilt batting or repurposed felted wool, a good sharp needle with a tiny tiny shaft and head (a pain for someone who is past 45) but necessary to get the small seed beads on, one can be off and running. Once going, things went quickly. 

Some beading tips: 
1. Set yourself up completely with a; flat tray to pour your beads on, the beads, extra needle, thread, and scissors. Also in the future I will probably get one of those hand needle threaders as one of the teens had to be called upon to thread the needle a couple of times.
2. Make sure you are not rushed. I actually found this process to be very relaxing. It was a joy to see the bead designs take shape.
3. Anchor your thread each time you take new thread. Double your thread, come up through the fabric from the back, go back down very close to initial hole, run the needle and thread through the middle of your double thread and then pull tight. Anchoring ensures your beads do not come lose.
4. Frequently check your work on the back to make sure you have pulled all the thread through. A couple of times I had to start over with a design because I did not pull my thread all the way through which means loose beads on the front.
5. Tie off securely. As if the zombie apocalypse is here. All of your work on the back is hidden by the lining for the clutch so it is okay to leave a bit of knots etc...on the back of your work.

To finish off my clutch it needed a special lining. Some time ago I purchased a small amount of raw silk from They have the most amazing selection of silks there and this one was no exception. Golden in color it was the perfect finish to my special clutch.

In person, this fabric has the most amazing sheen.
I am delighted with the finished product and am very happy that Deby shared her pattern and hosted this great clutch contest! Thank you Deby!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Wonderland Bag that Wasn't.


A couple of weeks ago I read through the directions for the Wonderland Bag from the book Big City Bags by Sara Lawson.
Wonderland Bag as pictured in Big City Bags by Sara Lawson.
Every month Angela from Sewing with Squeak host a linky party for a bag from the book. The Wonderland Bag is number 4.

From the beginning, I have struggled with the bags. My biggest struggle is just getting all the pieces cut out. There always seem to be soooo many. I don't know why I hate it so much. I have to constantly remind myself that I will not be defeated by this first step!

But even with that success, it is becoming pretty clear that I am not a great bag maker.
January's Bag.
For January's bag, I had left over pieces and my lining was saggy and much too large for the bag. Also, there was so much bulk in my seams that my machine had some troubles at the corners. But, in the end it turned out okay.

Month two I missed the deadline but did finish February's bag the first week of March.
Like this bag a lot.
This one went pretty quick for me and I am still carrying it for spring but I made a couple mistakes that mean the bag probably won't last me very long. Partially it was the fabric I chose, partially it was lack of experience with bag making.

{Memo: Bag Making is a skill that requires Yoda like patience, knowledge of all kinds of bag construction techniques, bag making tricks (that make the bag look professional) and even more knowledge about bag hardware; where and what to buy. And while I have books and the internet, much like all other sewing; to get really good at it takes time at the machine.}

In March we made a cute clutch purse.

Daughter took this one to prom.
This one went pretty well and left me excited for April's assignment. Not really any major mistakes or issues except with the zipper and the way the bag curved. Again, experience.

Then today and April's bag. One would think I would be getting better at bags now that we are on month 4. And when I read the directions in the middle of the month, I imagined this bag would go pretty quick. There weren't a tremendous amount of pieces to cut (yay!!) and the design is very straight forward but, as soon as the main fabric pieces were cut, I knew I was in trouble. The size of my panels, cut according to the directions, did not even come close to matching what I thought I saw in the book as far as size. I based that on a photo where Sara is holding the bag. There was no way my bag was going to turn out that size. The only way it would even come close was if I turned my fabric to make the larger measurement the width but my lining was directional and had already been cut and even if I turned it, it still seemed much smaller than the bag in the picture appeared.

I sat thinking things over and looking at the pictures of the Wonderland Bag. Truthfully, even if I tried again, cut more fabric and made the bag, it wasn't my style. I am short and big bags make me look shorter. What would I do with it? Did I really want to make the bag? The answer: No. If I am going to spend time, effort and money on a bag I should like it. Even if I were to give it away afterwards, I still should like something about it. It is not a bad bag, it is just not me and the thought of the effort to start over and try to figure out some workable measurements just didn't seem worth it.

But, now what? No Big City Bag for April and what to do with the cut fabric. It seemed about the right size for a toiletry case or a large zippered pouch. The fabric would work for a guy so why not make a case for my son? I used my favorite tutorial for a large cosmetic bag and zippered pouch for Cole.
Found a guitar applique online. Cute.

Used my machine blanket stitch which made it quick.

Had some fusible vinyl which I used to make the inside waterproof.

Cole was quite pleased with his bag and I got some experience with machine applique. I am going to link up with the linky party but my "Wonderland Bag that wasn't" shouldn't be included in the prize drawing. After all, it's the bag that wasn't and it's okay.