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Amy Butler Fringed Hobo Bag

Oh dear, very rushed with the photos, but you get the idea.  Finishing this was an exercise in seam-picking, swearing, and persistent hand-sewing.

Oh dear, very rushed with the photos, but you get the idea. Finishing this was an exercise in seam-picking, swearing, and persistent hand-sewing.

When I searched to see if anyone had sewn this bag recently and recorded it anywhere, I saw tumbleweeds.  That should have been a sign, but no, it wouldn’t stop me.  Because when I first began sewing, I saw Amy Butler’s book Style Stitches and immIMG_1532 (1)ediately wanted my own fringed hobo bag.  I had just begun to sew, and it wasn’t going to happen.

Four and a half years later, it just couldn’t be helped.  I had to do it.  I read how difficult it had been for advanced seamsters to complete, but to no avail.  I sewed through the many layers, never having worked with Thermolam (AND Pellon SF 101 — my favorite interfacing — together?!), or sewn a fringe into the seams, or constructed a bag with maddening corners up top where the straps come up.  I decided against the two giant inner pockets because I’ve now made enough bags to realize that two pockets will sag in on each other, making access to the center annoying at best.

But I also felt that the lone pocket wouldn’t we useful as one wide, crescent swath.  So I divided the pocket into four widths: two shallow for gum on one side and lip balm on the other, and two center divisions for cell and sunglasses.

Three of the four divisions.  Ah, all neat now.

Three of the four divisions. Ah, all neat now, except for that wonky top stitching.  Tucking and sewing one giant circular portion of the bag that couldn’t be partially sewn and turned was nearly my undoing.

I wouldn’t sew this one again.  My curiosity is sated, and I’ve learned a bit more about interlining and fringes and fabrics in general.  But this thing is HUGE, and now I long for another crossbody bag and a little less cursing.  And a little more Russian dark chocolate and tea.  And a vacation where I might need an enormous, fringed bag to hold my chocolate and trashy magazines for the ride.

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Sewing

Traveling backgammon

We found an old backgammon set at a garage sale for 50 cents, and I couldn’t resist the idea of doing another backgammon set.  The first set replaced a decrepit one from my childhood that I used to help me learn techniques for my first quilting effort.  It’s a bit large, though, and I wanted to make a smaller one.  I used Pellon 725 Wonder Under for the pips.  I make a template, then draw them onto the Wonder Under paper before adhering it to the fabric and cutting with scissors.  Iron on the pips, figure out the zigzag stitch, remember where to tuck the ribbon (epic fail resulting in cursing and seam ripper, but easily corrected in the end).  The pink one below is the newest…and probably the last.  I’m not yet ready for summer, but ready for playing backgammon, at least.

The back was cut from an old shirt, as was the carry bag for the pieces (that I forgot to photograph)

The back was cut from an old shirt, as was the carry bag for the pieces (that I forgot to photograph)

I finally figured out the zigzag stitch, and opted for no binding at the last minute.  Always room for improvement, but I like it and it works.

I finally figured out the zigzag stitch, and opted for no binding at the last minute. Always room for improvement, but I like it and it works.

 

Large, manly, and my first attempt at applique.  I also learned that bias tape is garbage and made my own for the quilt with great results.

Large, manly, and my first attempt at applique. I also learned that bias tape is garbage and made my own for the quilt with great results.

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Sewing

Messenger bag for Spring

messengersittingmessengerinteriorflap messengerinterior messengerhardware

Oh, orange, I just can't stay away from you.

Oh, orange, I just can’t stay away from you.

Do not fear the zipper!

 

I decided that I wanted a bright, cheery messenger bag for Spring.  I came across this terrific tutorial at No Time To Sew, and got crackin’.  This is, by far, one of the best tutorials for this sort of thing — great pictures, taken on a grid so it’s pretty clear what’s going on.  Big thanks to Aleah for posting it.  Also, I’ve never done an interior pocket by doubling over the fabric and sewing it shut to finish (as in the tutorial) —  it’s a great way to do it.

I used Moda High Street fabrics, Pellon SF101 interfacing for the interior and zip pocket, and Pellon Craft 801 interfacing for the flap and exterior.  I usually prefer woven interfacing because it gives strength but also avoids that weird creasing caused by other interfacing.  It came out fine, however.

The (really nice, shiny, nickel) hardware came from Michellepatterns on Etsy.  It was surprisingly difficult to find good hardware.  Joann has stopped selling it for the most part.  The source Aleah gives in her blog were out of 2″ rounded hardware, though their stuff looks good and I may try them again.  Their customer service is terrific, but they got back to me to say that they’d be out of slides for another month (!).  I buy zips from ZipIt on Etsy.  I was lucky I already had the right color (do a custom order and get a bunch, then practice without fear, because zippers are just fab).

Now, if I could just finish up that quilt…we never had a winter, and I just couldn’t get it together.  Hopefully soon, as I hate clutter.

 

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Sewing

Fat Quarter Bags

I just got a call from one of the kid’s friends because she wanted to sew a bag like the one I made the kid when I first started sewing (the poor thing needs a scrubbing or I’d show it).  I love, love, love this simple tutorial from Diary of a Quilter.  Sewing the bags shown really got me interested in sewing handbags because I realized I could do it.  From there I made two bags with magnetic clasps, internal zips, interfacing, etc.

Think of it as a learning experience.  At the worst, you have a little produce bag or you can give it to the nearest 4 year old, who will fall over from excitement and see none of the flaws you do.  At some point I will post pictures. I think.

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Sewing, Sewing with kids

Not-paper towels: Wiping cloth tutorial

We have used cloth napkins for a very long time in our house.  It’s been so long, in fact, that our thick, durable white napkins started to fray at the edges.  We bought some replacements (including some at a garage sale that had never been used), but what to do with the frayed napkins?

Make wiping cloths.

They don't have to be perfect and are a great way to practice top stitching, placing a hanging strap, and saving the Earth.

They don’t have to be perfect and are a great way to practice top stitching, placing a hanging strap, and saving the Earth.

We have bar mop towels to wipe the puddling water around the sink after washing the dishes at night, but we found that whenever we picked up a little spill — a drip or a dab off the floor after a vegetable dove from the cutting board —  we used a paper towel.  I figured perhaps a few small, ex-napkins with a hanging loop could stand in for those moments and save us a few paper towels.

First, I trimmed the fraying edges and cut each napkin in half.  Then I let the kid have a go at the rectangles of cloth, practicing stitches and sewing straight.  Why not? (This is why there are zig-zag stitches visible below.)

I found some extra material (the pink one was the remaining portion of a previously sewn strap, the others from a long strip of fabric I had left) and made straps.  You can make a strap by ironing the strip in half, then folding each side to the middle and ironing so it looks like a staple after it’s gone through the stapler.  Fold the sides together as if you were bending the staple in half so the folded edges meet, then top sew as close to the edge as you can manage.  You can top sew the other side as well to make it look nice, but for these I didn’t bother…

Here they are wrong side out, strap tucked inside.  Sew around, leave a little space to turn, iron and sew around the outside.

Here they are wrong side out, strap tucked inside. Sew around, leave a little space to turn, iron and sew around the outside.

nonpapertowels114wso1

I then folded the fabric in half and placed the little strap inside with the stem facing out and sewed around with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a couple of inchesfor turning right side out.  Trim to 1/8″ and trim the corners carefully (don’t cut your stitches).  After they were right side out, I used a chopstick to get the corners straight. I ironed  and top stitched  — in a couple of cases using thread that was nearing the end of the bobbin — and they’re done.

Every time a newly poured up of water leaves a little ring on the counter, a few drops of milk or tea are left behind, or the dog sloshes her water, I can clear it up without a paper towel.  Often the little spill is just water, so I can hang the little towel on our hooks and let it dry out for another use.  Even if you just clean up spilled bits on the floor and toss them into the wash, these hardly take up any room, are incredibly soft, and give new life to something no longer served its use.

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Sewing

Coffee Cuff, Coffee Jacket, Coffee Sleeve, Coffee Cozy…

coffeecozy1 coffeecozy2I first saw little fabric-wrapped coffee mugs on Etsy (look how nicely these are sewn), and decided I should look for a tutorial.  Of course, I stumbled upon a really nice one at Skip To My Lou (again).  A great tutorial, but I need to elongate the pattern slightly to close the gap around, ahem, the Venti cup…  I probably should have noted that before I sewed about five of them, including one for the (currently sick) kid.  She was very happy with hers, after choosing the fabric and buttons. They all work great, and all of these were made using scraps leftover from other projects, along with buttons whose garments were long ago abandoned.coffeecozycoffecups coffeecozykaffee

Instead of fleece interfacing, which I recommend if you have it available, I used some leftover cotton batting in the center.  It would have been easier to sew (they are a bit wonky) if I had used interfacing instead.  Be sure to check that your fabrics are right-sides facing, that the long end of the hair elastic is sandwiched in there, and if you’re using batting, be sure it’s on the outside.  Good stuff, these!

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