Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013? What happened there?!

As always happens at the end of the year, it's time to take stock of life, accomplishments, goals, and hope for the future.  A few years ago, as we headed into 2012, I made a New Year's resolution to be better about posting in the blog.  And I was....for 2012.  I haven't made a single post in 2013.  Why?  To make a long story short, life happened. I met the love of my life, expanded my jobs, got in a car accident, got a new car, reapplied for grad school (need that PhD!), traveled the country, and moved in with said love. I cannot regret anything that happened in 2013, because it was one of the best years of my life.  There's an expression in my family that seems appropriate at the moment- I am as happy as a clam!  (How do we know that clams are happy, by the way?)

Anyway, free time this last year was a premium.  I finished several bags and one quilt, but barely remembered to take pictures of them at all. Every weekend saw a family event, a concert, a football game, a party, or commitment, which makes crafting time very difficult to come by.  But for the first time in months and months, I have no commitments on the horizon!  Yahooooo! You have no idea how weird and wonderful that feels-I haven't had free weekends in recent memory.  I sense some quilting time coming soon...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Fever

For those unaware- I love this time of year.  In the previous post I outlined the comfort to be found in jeans and sweatshirts and the simple pleasure of crunching a good leaf.  But underlying all these idyllic comforts are the magnificent trio of holidays that round out the end of the year: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  I love them all!  Cooking, decorating, and shopping for the elements of these holidays cheer me during these shorter and shorter days.

And yet, I have very few decorations for Halloween.  These two have been my only addition for the last four years!  Meet Ghosteo and Ghoulia- so named by TY, not me.  I do adore them...

Given my recent interest in wall hangings, I decided to indulge in a bit of Halloween fun via fabric.

I started by hunting the internet for Halloween clip art that I thought would be cute together.  After sketching out a rough plan on a piece of paper, I set about transferring these doodles onto fusible web and from there, onto scrap fabric from the stash.  I sewed everything down with decorative stitches from the machine and in a week of evenings, it was finished!

My first homemade Halloween decoration!  And you want to know my favorite part?

The little creepy mansion and it's neighborhood bats.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Autumn Love

Another cold day in eastern Nebraska- it's so lovely! There's nothing like jeans, sweatshirts, boots, hot chocolate, and crunchy leaves- I love Fall!  Perhaps this is why I undertook my first somewhat "artsy" wall it as it grows!

Roughing out placement

Then came the individual leaf idea...

Held in place by small, strategic pieces of fusible

A close up of the quilting- I purposely didn't want finished edges.
And now it's cheering up my living room!

There are things I would have done differently- a better background development, for instance.  But overall, I like it.  :)  Stay tuned for the Halloween and Christmas ones!  (Yes, I'm on a kick...)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's all pink!

Well, the black bag with crystal zippers fared fairly well during my endurance test with it...  Pros:  the size was nice and the front pocket arrangement was handy.  Cons: the strap was flimsy- mounting an adjustable strap at each end was not a good idea.  So back to the drawing board! Using the same measurements, I've created the 2.0 version.

A return to the double strap that goes over one shoulder works much better to balance the weight load a bag this size can sometimes carry.   I do think that such a large expanse of fabric on the front is rather boring, so I added the little decorative belting for some visual interest. I'm not entirely sure of the name of the fabric I used to make this- it was the left over fuzzy bits from this blanket project:


I am happy to report that both projects used no new material- I've had the fuzzy stuff for well over five years- I figured it was time to finally get it out of my stash!  The blanket is killer!  It drapes perfectly and between the fuzzy stuff, the batting, and minky, it is sooo warm and comfy! Pull this over you and it's instant nap time.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking- minky?!  Isn't that only for children's blankets?  I say no- adults like fuzzy and soft as well.  The only real difficulty of this project was the scale.  The blanket measures 60 x 72!  Working with minky on a machine is not easy; I ended up tacking the layers together every five inches or so with multiple zigzags.  It is nearly impossible to  actually quilt any kind of design into a material like minky.  To finish it all off, I simply bought silk blanket binding.  Viola!

I've kind of burnt myself out on handbags for the moment...big shock, I know.  I'm not sure what prompted me to start this next project, in all honesty.  I've never done any wall hangings before that were not simply miniature quilts. 

So here's the start- I'll show you the completed project soon.  (This post would be a mile long if I showed you everything at once!)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Step by Step

My god, it's August.

How did that happen?!  We are now officially closer to Christmas and if that's not a depressing thought- think of all those presents to get- this is the first week that it has been mostly under 100+ degrees all summer. It's absolutely crazy to me that I am now excited when the high temperature is only supposed to be 88; I now think that is "cool." Help me, the Midwest is messing with my internal thermometer.

As a direct result of not being able to be outside for any period of time this summer, I've been a busy little sewing bee. I've grown the Etsy store and sold a few more bags. I'm writing patterns for at least two bags and developing a third.  I've been approached about teaching classes on the bags, which I'm totally jazzed about. This summer is highlighting to me the need to formalize some of this "hobby." That's right, I may have to legalize it all with a business license and expense tracking...dun dunnn dunnnnn. Slightly terrified, slightly excited about this development.  Because really, do I have time for that?  I work roughly 60 hours a week between my two jobs now. Bah...that's enough of me and my wallowing.  Onto the new stuff!

A bag for my mother.
 The bag above was made for my mother. (I have a first edition made over from scraps from the Valori Wells bags earlier- very rough looking!) She had asked me to make a wallet from a pattern she saw in a store.  Horrible pattern.  I've never made a wallet before that and even I could recognize the errors in the pattern while I was working through it.  Regardless, it is not pictured because it was awful- by my standards.  Someday, I will work up to a wallet better than that one but not now...  So I made her a matching bag to make up for the awfulness of the wallet. She likes it so much, she wants me to sell it.  Go figure.  She thinks it is "too pretty to keep." I give up.

Mezzo Messenger

Because I liked the size and shape of the bag for my mom, I tweaked it a bit and started writing it into a pattern.  It has thus been christened the Mezzo Messenger and is available on my Etsy store as well.

Adjustable strap- new skill!

And this is the result of this's a work in progress. I've been thinking that as much as I love the Primavera bag, it just won't do when the wintery weather comes back around.  And so, I've been working out my own approach to a fully zippered bag. I've done a few through other people's patterns and not been 100% happy with the results.  But a few days of head scratching later...I think this works!

My big frustration with this bag?  The crystal zippers!  Very pretty, I know.  I bought them over four years ago and have been saving them until I knew how to use them correctly. Here's the problem: they work in your hands but the minute you sew them into anything, they freeze.  Literally. They will unzip but not re-zip. I have to nurse the teeth into the zip one by one!  Apparently, they cannot have any resistance or they stop working. Horrible product! Don't buy! Needless to say, this bag won't be for sale on Etsy. I'll haul it around for a month, see what else needs to be improved and get back to you vis a vis it's continued existence.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Take that New Year's Resolution!

I've finally done it!  I've lived up to one of my New Year's Resolutions- I have stock in my Etsy store! Probably should not have taken me nearly seven months to accomplish this goal, but I blame teaching for sucking up any and all free time for at least four of those months!

Anyway, the totes I put up are of the same style as those that I showed you last, though now they have an official name: The Primavera Tote.  I liked the fabric (Valori Wells) so much that I made two totes and just alternated the accent color.  Can't decide which accent color I like better... what do you think?

Pink accent

Coral accent

Well, I feel inspired.  Perhaps I will start on another bag tomorrow?  Lord knows I've got enough fabric to keep me in bags for a few years! To be honest, I doubt the bags will sell.  Though I've already sold one to a woman at work, I cannot help but feel that there are so many out there on the internet that mine will just get lost in the shuffle. But that's not really the point, is it?  I did it- actually followed through on a resolution.  Now to live up to the rest of them! I'll start the weight loss one right after a celebratory bowl of ice cream, I think. ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sherbert Fun

And the "final" result of the new bag design:

Accent fabric addition along the outside flap- do we like?

Highly customized inside- always losing my keys at the bottom of the bag!

Took this bright thing into work today as a test.  It worked marvelously! Just large enough to haul around full size books and notepads with water-bottle loaded on either side.  As always, the second attempt of a bag seems to result in more problems than the first!  I made the lining so perfect for the interior of the bag that when I assembled it (which requires one to put the lining on the outside of the bag), the lining was just ever too small.  Small pintucks on the exterior had to be added to make everything work. Sigh.  Someday, I'll master the balance between this and an interior that is not too roomy.

This bag experiment has eased the need to sew that has been increasing over the last weeks. So, now the questions is- make more for Etsy to sell or move on to another design?  I bought some lining and accent fabric for another fabric that I bought almost a year ago- enough to make several bags.  So, again- this pattern or another?  Hmmm...