Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mama's Got A Brand New Bag!

I liked the bag I made for Diana so much that I decided to make one for myself as well!

It's basically the same design, with just a few variations on the inside pockets, and with a different design on the front flap (this one is from Embroidery Library).

The front of the body has a pocket with a zippered pocket in the flap.

The top can be closed off with a separating zipper.

I used a darker fabric for the lining (which is a big switch for me; usually I prefer light-colored linings). But this was cute fabric, and it had a sewing theme, so...

There is a center divider, and the back section has a zippered pocket. The front section has two pockets, each with a single pleat.
It has a self-fabric strap, clipped onto D-rings.
I'll be doing a "field test" of this bag in New York City this weekend; we'll see how it holds up to the rigors of sightseeing!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daughter's Got a Brand New Bag!

I'm heading up to New York City this weekend with my daughter Diana. When we were planning our trip, she said she needed to look for a new shoulder bag, as the one she bought on our last trip was just a bit too big and too floppy to suit her needs. Of course, I offered to design and sew a bag for her. Who can resist a challenge?

Rather than design a bag completely from scratch, she and I spent some time looking at the big floppy bag. She told me what she liked and disliked about the bag, and what she wanted to carry in it, and we made notes on sizes and shapes and pockets. We went shopping for fabric and she chose a khaki cotton heavy duck cloth, and a quilting cotton for the lining. Then I went to work.

First of all, she wanted a cute embroidery on the flap of the bag. A friend had recently introduced me to Urban Threads, and my daughter chose one of their designs, which I embroidered with my trusty Designer 1. I sketched out a few simple pattern pieces on Pellon Tru-Grid (rather than going to the trouble of drafting a real pattern with Pattern Editor), then just started making it up as I went along. I did use one of the pocket patterns from the Rogue River Vest I just made, but I'm going to change the pocket configuration for the next iteration of the purse (which will be for me).

So here is the view of the outside of the bag:
You can see the adjustable part of the clip that keeps the top flap closed; this part is sewn into the bottom front seam of the purse. The fixed part of the clip is sewn to the back of the front flap.

The view under the main flap:
I used the same separating zipper technique for this bag as I use on the Professional Tote. Diana wanted it to lay flat when the bag was unzipped.

The front pocket flap has a lined, zippered pocket in it, and the flap is held closed by two magnetic catches.
With the flap raised:
Inside the bag there is a central divider, with pockets in the back section.
I'm going to spend some time refining the pattern; it may be available as a download some time in the near future. In the meantime, this bag will get its "field test" in the Big Apple in just a few days!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Making a Baptism Blanket: Acetate Should Be Outlawed.

I finished up a project today that should have taken maybe three hours, tops, but ended up taking seven hours.

A good friend of mine is having her son baptized on Sunday, and I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out what kind of gift to give for the occasion. Then it occurred to me: A baptism blanket! Something in which to cradle the little one during the ceremony. I had no idea there was actually a market for these things; a Google search helped me with the general dimensions and some decorating ideas.

The blanket would be a nice neutral creamy ivory, with a blue banding and blue ruffle. I wanted to embroider the baby's name, birthdate, baptism date and a nice quote on the banding. Off to JoAnn's to find fabric!

What was I thinking?

The only thing I could find in the colors and texture I wanted was an acetate fabric. "Dry clean only". Yeah, right. I figured I could make it work. I brought it home and tossed it in the washer and dryer.
Did you know acetate wrinkles? And refuses to let go of those wrinkles? When I took the fabric out of the dryer and tried to press out the wrinkles, I nearly cried because those wrinkles just weren't going anywhere. But then I remembered: I had a bottle of Crease-Away on the shelf, left over from my drapery days. Would it do the trick? Yes it did!! After a spritz of Crease-Away, the fabric smoothed out beautifully with a barely warm iron.

The construction of the blanket was a battle with the fabric and my machines; I couldn't get a decent gather with the ruffler attachment on my Bernina, so I ended up gathering the ruffle with my serger. Luckily that worked out pretty well.

Once the blanket was done, I brought it over to my friend's house and her baby promptly crawled over to it with a big grin and drooled on it, which was his way of saying he liked it. I'll be attending the baptism tomorrow; my only concern is that the acetate is so slippery the kid will squirm out of his parents' arms and into the font.

The finished blanket:
The colors really don't show true in this picture; the central piece is a very pale ivory.
The lettering was done with Embird, using one of their font plug-ins.

The top banding piece has the baby's name; the two sides have his birth date and baptism date. Along the bottom is a passage from Psalm 43:3.

In the center of the blanket is a shell with three drops design. I looked for a long time for a nice shell design and finally ended up using a shell from Embroidery Library, deleting a portion of the design, rotating the shell,  and adding three drops I digitized with Embird Studio.

The quilt was tacked with a single repeated motif, done with my Designer 1.

Now that this project is done, I need to get back to finishing up the new purse for Diana. Hopefully that will be finished tomorrow.

Not Sewing, but Still Creative
We've been kind of busy around here the last few weeks: my husband Bob and I decided to tackle a small home-improvement project this month. We built a deck in our back yard! We are all but finished now; all that remains to be done are the handrail on the stairs and some lattice to cover the open areas on the sides of the deck (to keep critters out from under it).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Green Pepper Rogue River Vest

I finally got the chance to do some sewing for myself. Last week, I started a photography class offered through the Smithsonian; it's called "Capturing D.C. Digitally" and involves a LOT of walking around the monuments on the Mall for four successive Thursday evenings. At the first class, I had all my camera equipment in my Professional Tote, as well as my purse. What a hassle! I was constantly putting them down, picking them up, fearing I'd lose them... Not fun! But then I had an idea...
When I was in Puyallup for the Expo, I picked up the Green Pepper Rogue River Vest pattern.(PDF file). Even though this is a fishing vest, it sure looks like a photographer's vest to me. So I decided to make it, in time to use at the second class.
The pattern is very well done, and the instructions are fabulous. The pieces went together flawlessly, and the markings are very accurate. And I learned a new skill: shortening a separating zipper!!
Here's the front view:
The outer fabric is a heavy green cotton twill from JoAnn's; the lining is a cotton from my stash (not drapery lining for once!).
Back view:

Pockets!!! Does this thing have pockets!!! Thirteen pockets on the outside.
Some are Velcro, some are zipped. And there are ten more pockets on the inside.
See the horizontal pocket on the lower edge of the lining? It's only attached along the top edge, so it flips up to reveal MORE pockets:

I do have one beef with this vest: It runs on the large side. I followed the instructions to use my measurements over clothing to determine the size, and made it up in Large. I could have easily made it in Medium. It really is a bit too big:
Of course, the real proof is in how it worked. Last Thursday, I stuffed all my photo equipment into the various pockets, along with my Metro card and other personal items. I had pockets to spare, and the vest performed wonderfully. It was very comfortable (with one small exception: the back neck rubs me just wrong, so I'll be adding a small piece of polar fleece to cushion that area), and I felt like a member of a Press Corps just wearing it. Other people in the class even commented on it.
I might make this vest again, in a smaller size, and maybe just a hair longer. And I'll probably leave off the center front buckle. And add an elastic-topped pocket for my water bottle. But I do highly recommend the pattern.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yes, I'm still alive... and finally sewing again.

It seems like ages since I've spent any time in the sewing room. Too many other things have been competing for my time: my daughter is home from college, my husband's business is growing, and we are working on building a deck in the back yard. But I did manage to get down there long enough to crank out another pair of pants using my new Tried and True boot-cut jean pattern generated from PatternMaster Boutique. This is the same pattern I used to make my uniform pants for the January conference in Las Vegas.

I didn't change anything about the fit; the only difference is I made the front pocket openings a bit more horizontal, and I added back pockets.

Front view:
(Sorry for the awkward picture... my husband was eating an ice cream sandwich when I asked him to take pictures, and rather than wait until he was done, he just had the camera in one hand and the ice cream in the other.)

Back view:
To give the pockets some pizzazz, I added an embroidery design from Embroidery Library.

I plan to make these pants again, but next time I'm going to make them a little narrower at the hem, and also just a little bit longer. But this pattern is definitely worth doing again! I also plan to add embroideries to my garments more often; it just adds that little extra something special.