Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Millie's Dresses Go Anywhere

This past weekend, Mr. T and I went to visit some friends in NYC.  LC is one of my best friends from college and a talented sewer herself - she made an awesome bag for me a number of years ago, so I decided to repay the favor and make her one in return.  Plus I probably won't see her for another several months, so this way I could hand deliver her Hanukkah present.  After scouring the interwebs for the perfect pattern, I found the Go Anywhere Bag from Anna at Noodlehead. With a 15 month old baby and all the stuff that goes along with him, a big bag like this was just the thing for LC.

I also had the perfect fabric on hand - Millie's Closet Dresses in Yellow.  I wasn't sure how I felt about this fabric when it first came out, but after looking at it several times, I fell in love.  To me the pattern versus the colors are the perfect blend of 50's and modern.  Plus, I got an awesome deal on it from Pink Castle Fabrics.  The other two fabrics I pulled from my stash.

I'd read a lot of good things about Anna's patterns, and I mostly agree with the reveiws.  The directions were very clear and all of the photos were super helpful.  I also appreciated that she explained in detail how to add a magnetic clasp. I did find two things a bit challenging:

1) On the pattern pieces, all of the outside pieces are referred to as "exterior."  This confused me at first because to me the exterior fabric was the dresses, while the stripes were exterior pocket or something.  I almost started trying to cut all the pattern pieces out of the dresses.

2) The fabric used in the bag made in the pictures was not the same as that of the sample bag presented on the cover and as the finished product.  For me, this just made it a little confusing to determine which piece was which when working on each step.

Because I can't leave well enough alone, I did make a few edits to the bag.  First, though this bag has more than enough pockets, I added another to the inside.  So, in addition to the inside slip pocket called for in the pattern, I included a zippered pocket, for which I used this tutorial from The Busy Bean.

I also changed the slip pocket slightly by making it wider and separating it into two sections.

Lastly, since I was using quilting cotton, I added SF-101 to everything!  Every single inch of fabric (even the welt pocket) in this bag is interfaced. I might have actually added a bit too much because the empty bag is sort of heavy, but hopefully it also means the bag is sturdier and will last longer.  Needless to say, I used way more interfacing than recommended in the pattern.  Thankfully I bought a lot of extra with the idea of having leftovers on hand in case I decided to make an impromptu bag.

All in all, I'm really happy with this project and am already picking out fabric to make one for myself - or maybe Anna's new Sidekick Tote.  I'm more of a cross-body bag person.  Also, when LC's sister (also a sewist) saw it, she was really impressed and is now thinking of making one for herself.  Apparently she'd been eying the pattern and my in-person sample confirmed her desire for one.

After an awesome visit, LC and I had some fun photographing the bag in her backyard:

Pink Castle Fabric

I just had to pop in quickly and say how much I love Pink Castle Fabrics.  I don't have any sponsors, so no one is paying me or giving me anything to say this.  I have just received amazing customer service from Brenda and Jason and see as they continually improve their shop, and I wanted to give them a shout out. 


1) I emailed them (and a few other online fabric stores) a few months ago asking for suggestions on a solid to use for a semi-commissioned project, and, in my opinion, they were the only ones who really listened to what I was asking and offered me great suggestions, and for that I ended up buying a good amount of yardage from them. 

2) I just received an email from Pink Castle giving me a 15% off coupon because it's my birthday month.  THAT'S AWESOME! 

3) They're in Ypsilanti, and I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which is just next door, so I'm kind of bias...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flying Moustaches!

I've been really into making pillows lately.  They're relatively quick and easy (I'm a fan of [semi-] instant gratification), and they allow me to improve my sewing/quilting skills on a smaller scale item.  And I love this pillow.  I sort of want to keep it, but I'll be good and give it to the intended recipient.

I found a fat quarter of this mustache fabric at my (somewhat) LQS, and just had to get it. (I have no clue who the designer, manufacturer is.  There's no info on the selvage and I couldn't find anything online.  Lots of photos of the fabric, but no info - Update: It's Where's My Stash by Alexander Henry Fabrics.).  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but my friends and I have always had this strange thing about mustaches, so I didn't really have a choice but to buy it.  After thinking about it and staring at the fabric, I decided it would make the perfect pillow for my friend LC and her husband.  They're awesome, and fun, and a bit quirky (they bought lamps from the kids department at Target to decorate their bedroom), so a mustache pillow is right up their alley. Also, they got married a year and a half ago in a very small, family-only ceremony, and I never really got them a gift.  Since Mr. T and I are visiting this weekend, I decided it was the perfect time!

For this pillow I also tried a few new things:
1) Added a zipper covered by a flap - this is actually the 3rd zipper I've added to a pillow, but I haven't finished the other two yet, so it's the first completed pillow with a zipper.  I used this tutorial, which I thought explained it really well.  Also, rather than use a narrow cut of fabric to make the flap, I just folded the larger backing piece down.  I think it worked out pretty well.

Excuse the lint.  I did find and use my roller, but apparently I missed a few spots.

2) Piping! - I was pretty nervous about adding piping, but I think it turned out pretty well.  There is definitely some room for improvement, but for my first try, I'm pleased.  Again, I used a tutorial from Sew Mama Sew's website. I thought there were a few areas in which this tutorial could have provided a little more detail, particularly concerning what type of cording to buy (maybe naming some common brands), and also more clarification concerning when to sew to the right and wrong sides of the fabric.  I was halfway through pinning my piping to the wrong side of my pillow top before realizing that I should be pinning to the right side.  As a new sewer, extra details like that are often helpful, but often overlooked by those who have been sewing for a long time.

Even though the tutorial recommends bias cutting the strips to cover cording, I decided to cut along the grain.  Every time I've tried to cut on the bias, I've messed up, so I just decided not to do it.  Also, as I don't have a piping foot, I just used my zipper foot.  I can definitely see how a piping foot would be handy.  I couldn't quite get as close as I wanted to the piping, and then when I sewed the top and bottom together, I definitely got too far away, so you can see threads from the piping covering coming out.  Oh well, it's little touches like these that make it homemade and special!

I was planning on making the entire backing black, but after adding the zipper it was an inch too short.  I added the leftover strip from the fat quarter to add some length and I have to say, I'm really pleased with the result.  It adds an element of surprise and intrigue to the back.  I love that!

Mr. T and I also decided to have some fun with this one...

He wishes he could have a mustache for real, but I won't allow it.  A full facial hair set is fine (even preferred), but mustaches on their own are often creepy.  Especially on Mr. T...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Schoolhouse Tunic Sew-Along

Have you heard about the Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic Sew-Along that Rebecca from Sew Festive Handmade is hosting?  I think I'm going to join.  The only pair of clothing I've ever made is the pajama pants for Mr. T I mentioned the other week. (I've finished them.  I'm just not ready to post the final product.  It's coming soon, though).  And while they're pretty awesome and he loves them, they're not exactly neat or refined.  I want to learn how to make something I can wear in public, and maybe even how to do a french seam!  So, I'm going to take the plunge and do it...

I'm going to go with the dress version.  I think if I can find a good, relatively neutral fabric I'll be able to wear it to work this fall/winter.  Also, I just know I would never wear the shirt no matter what fabric I used, and I don't think I'd wear the tunic with jeans, so hopefully I can find something that works with tights and boots...

Here's the question - what kind of fabric do I use?  Rebecca dedicated a whole post today to fabric selection, but unfortunately it's not really answering any of my questions.  I did look through the Art Gallery she recommended, but all the prints are too busy for me.  I'm thinking of going to JoAnn tomorrow to look around, but I'm worried the quality won't be good...

Any opinions or suggestions for a first time clothes maker?


Friday, September 14, 2012


I'm so excited I just had to post again today!

I ran in to JoAnn during my lunch break today to pick up a few zippers and other odds and ends.  As I was leaving, I happened to walk by the quilting book section, when, out of my periphery I spotted none other than Modern Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman.  I had to do a double take.  I couldn't believe that JoAnn had it.  (Not sure why - the book just seems slightly out of their league.  I'd also looked for that and several of the other popular, relatively new quilting books out now and have never seen any of them there).

As I approached the counter, I just knew they were going to tell me that it had been placed on the shelf by mistake and it wasn't actually for sale.  I was especially excited because I had a few coupons, so if everything worked out, I was about to get a super good deal on the book (meaning more fabric money to actually make the quilts in it...).

I did quite the happy dance as I rushed outside!  I also immediately texted Mr. T and told him not to order it for my (belated) birthday present.  Ah, I wish I could go home early today and spend the afternoon with EH and my fabric stash!

From http://bokertov.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451bc4a69e2014e8a8f894b970d-800wi

Mosaic Buttercup Bag

My boyfriend is notoriously bad at gifts.  When he gives them, they're usually quite good - it's the giving that's the problem.  He's inevitably late.  Last year, my birthday present came in January (my bday is in September).  So far this year I haven't received anything - unless you count the take-out he brought home last night...  But we're only a week out, so there's still time.

His sister's birthday is just a few days before mine, so having to worry about two gifts compounds the problem.  This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make her a purse so that he wouldn't have to worry about her present.  It's still late, of course, but we have a good excuse: Mr. T is going to visit his sister in a few weekends, so why waste money on cross-country shipping when he can hand deliver it?

Anyway, after spending hours combing through countless bag patterns, I finally settled on the Buttercup Bag by Made by Rae.  I think it's the perfect size for Mr. T's sister, and I was working from my stash, which is chock full of fat quarters, so I knew I'd be able to find a good fabric and not have to worry about running out.

Her favorite color is blue, which was exciting because it meant I could finally dig into the Dear Stella Lanikai bundle I had purchased from Fat Quarter Shop awhile ago.  This bundle was my first quality fabric purchase, so I've been saving it for something super special.  Obviously I still have a lot left since it was a huge bundle (on sale, too!), but it breaks the ice a little bit since I've cut into the first FQ.  I was debating between using Mosaic and Splatter Paint, and decided to go with Mosaic because a) I thought the pattern would work a bit better on the bag and b) there was less white space which means it won't show dirt as easily!  For the lining and pocket I just used some fabric I had bought from JoAnn a while ago.

I had a lot of fun making this bag and I learned a lot of new techniques.  It was the first time I had used magnetic snaps, the first time I added interfacing (correctly), the first time I lined a bag, the first time I made pleats, and the first time I included a label (I'm pretty excited about this last one!).  Overall, I found the pattern pretty easy to follow.  I got inpatient and didn't read carefully a few times, so I did a little bit of seam ripping, but that was all user error.  I also had to refer to the Go Anywhere Bag pattern that I had just purchased from Noodlehead to install the magnetic snap.  (Note: keep your eyes out for this one - it's on my list for this weekend). 

To make the label, I used some cotton printer "paper" with the fusible back that I bought at JoAnn when I was making my brother's wedding kippot. I think it worked out quite well.

I love my little roach!
As far as edits, since I'm new to bag making I didn't really change much.  I just made the inside pocket a bit bigger because I felt the measurements included in the pattern were too small to make the pocket useful.  I kept the same depth but made it 8 inches long rather than 4.5 (so I cut the pocket piece 8x9in and folded it in half).  I also added a separating line, so there's one small pocket perfect for chapstick or lip gloss and one that can fit a slightly smaller cell phone. Also, since I was using quilting cotton, I stabilized both the outer and lining fabrics, as well as the strap, with Pellon SF-101.  Never having used interfacing before, I didn't know what to expect and was nervous that the bag would still feel a bit flimsy, but I must say I was quite impressed.  Neither the fabric nor the SF-101 feel that strong on their own, but you can really tell a difference once their fused.  I'm glad I added it to both the outer and lining fabric as well.  I think it will make a big difference in the durability of the bag.  Lastly, I'm not a huge fan of buttons, so I chose to skip that embellishment.

Anyway, this Mosaic Buttercup is off to it's new home in a few weeks and I hope it gets a lot of use!
Disclaimer: I was not paid nor did I receive any benefit or reimbursement for the statements above concerning Pellon SF-101.  I just really liked it..

Monday, September 10, 2012

Birthday goodness!

So, today is my birthday and I got some wonderful quilty gifts!

A free motion quilting foot and Elizabeth Hartman's The Practical Guideto Patchwork  from my brother and sister in law, which is perfect because I have fabric for a Birdbath quilt, and now I can use my own copy rather than boggarting the library's.  I also got an Amazon gift card from my mom to buy other quilting books that were on my list.

Some very old Quilters magazines Mom found lying around her office (apparently some patient left them).  Mom's gifts are always a good mix of new stuff and old stuff - often the old goes straight to the trash or Goodwill pile (like the pair of Mom jeans she sent me last year), but this year I'm keeping it all!  The fabric is Bella Plantium. It's not actually a birthday gift - it's for a semi-commissioned project - but it was still exciting when it arrived today!

Last, but certainly not least, is a gift card to Purl Soho from two of my good friends!  This is perfect timing too because Mr. T and I have an upcoming trip to NYC, so I'll get to use it in store and not have to waste any money on shipping!  In addition to fabric, I may indulge in some yarn I normally shy away from because of the price.  I might see a cashmere hat in my future...
Thanks to my family and friends for such great gifts and all the birthday wishes!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Well, over the weekend my walking foot decided it had had enough and the feed dogs stopped working.  Until I can get a new one, the quilting project I previewed in last week's WIP post is on hold, but it's basted and ready go once the new foot arrives.

With my walking foot out of commission, I was able to spend some time over the weekend tackling other projects that I've been meaning to get to for months, but that just keep getting pushed down by my quilting endeavors. After weeks of promising him, and months of having the fabric on hand, I finally started making pajama pants for Mr. T.
Monkey fabric from JoAnns
 I've never made clothing before, so I figured pajama pants was a good place to start.  They seem relatively straightforward, and if they're awful no one will ever know because they're just for around the house (in theory - I admit I have worn mine out before, but mostly in college).  I found this free pattern by Simplicity online that I'm using.  It was a bit of a pain trimming and taping the 25 individual sheets of the pattern together, but it didn't take too long.  I was able to get everything cut easily, and then I went to make the buttonholes for the drawstring.  Now, I've never made a buttonhole before, but my instruction manual says it's a very simple process because my machine has a 1-step automatic buttonholer.  Well, it may be simple, but it took me and Mr. T THREE HOURS, a bunch of googling (which wasn't actually helpful), and a slightly tearful phone call to my mother to figure it out.  I guess my stitch length was a bit too short, so the needle kept getting caught up on the left side.  Oh well, now I have two perfect buttonholes!

I don't have a surger, so I used my pinking sheers to cut the fabric, and am thinking of zig zag stitching all around the edges to reduce fraying.  Does anyone have other suggestions?

My other ongoing project is my Spectrum Socks, which I'm making with Shibui yarn.

I'm using a pattern from Knit Socks! 17 Patterns for Cozy Feet by Betsy McCarthy and the two-at-a-time method.

So far I'm loving these socks, especially the way the variegated yarn is resulting in this spiral striping.  Hopefully I'll be able to finish them in time for the cool weather (which I hope is coming soon!  I'm sick of this heat and humidity!)

Disclaimer: I apologize for the poor photo quality today.  I took these in a hurry this morning before I left for work just so I would actually have something to post today.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.