Monday, January 23, 2017

New lighting... and some peeking

As some of you know, my sewing room is in the basement. The lighting is not the best, especially for sewing on something dark... especially at night. I wanted to brighten things up a bit, so I considered getting one of those LED strip lighting sets made for sewing machines. (I'd kept trying to win one every time SewCanShe had one in their giveaway, but that never happened. I was delighted, however, when my friend and faithful commenter, Annie Dee, recently DID win one! Yay!) 

I went to to look for a lighting strip, and in doing so, I found one of these which I purchased instead. It's an LED light on a flexible goose neck that has a magnetic base. I love it! I can adjust it to wherever I need it the most (or could even take it to another room for a different project if I wanted to). Very bright and helpful. 

(Side note: Apparently my sewing machine is not magnetic, which totally surprised me, so I had to rig up an alternative way to attach it. It was easy and worked very well, so if anyone wants to know how I did it, tell me in the comments and I'll do a separate post about that.)

A couple of weeks ago I got to thinking about how long my sewing machine light bulb has been in use (years), and I decided I should buy a new one to have on hand. I went back to Amazon (who doesn't shop on Amazon?!) to look for one, and much to my surprise and delight, I found LED sewing machine bulbs! So I bought this one.

It makes a world of difference! Here's a shot of the old incandescent bulb's brightness (or lack thereof)...

... and below is the brightness of the LED bulb.

To compare more easily, here they are side-by-side (LED on the right), with color comparison of a piece of fabric below them.

Quite a difference, eh? I thought some of you that sew might appreciate knowing about the availability of the LED bulbs. Some newer sewing machines come with them, so you'll have to check yours. But if you have an older machine, you might want to invest in one. They cost more, of course, but they should outlive the incandescent bulbs many times over, plus the extra brightness is well worth it!

There are two different kinds of sewing machine bulbs - a screw-in and a push-in, so be sure to check your bulb type before ordering. Mine above is the push-in type. I was also given the tip that you should handle the bulb by the base, especially with the push-in type, because they push in kind of hard, and handling it by the bulb itself might cause it to break.

On another note... a few weeks ago, Jess ordered something fun - a box of leather scraps to use for trim pieces on bags, etc. It was a nice assortment of colors and sizes, and the quality was great. Inspector Josie approved wholeheartedly. Annabelle seemed to appreciate the box more (which, as you can see, was again from Amazon - no, they are not paying me to advertise for them - ha!). You can expect to see leather-trimmed items in future posts.

Just to let you know I've not been sitting idly doing nothing, here's a sneak peek of my latest sewing completion, made from Jess's new Spring Quartet corduroy collection (which unfortunately has been pushed back for a July release instead of March, and the new Holding Pattern barkcloth will be released in March instead) for Cloud9 Fabrics.

I'll be showing you the rest soon. Jess should receive the package today and will be taking more photos for me.

I also have another project over half done, but it's on hold for the moment, pending a new zipper technique I'm waiting to learn about. I can't wait to get it finished, though, because I love it a lot! Hopefully I'll get to show you soon. Meanwhile, my mind is clicking away with all kinds of project ideas......

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winter scenery

I thought I should come back and let you know I'm still alive. I don't have any new sewing projects to show you (Christmas kinda got in the way there), but I am now working on a couple of things. Courtney finished a project that I forgot to post about, however I'm going to see if I can get her to write a guest post about that. She didn't come here yesterday because she was home sick, so maybe next week we can get caught up.

Our winter weather's been crazier than usual this year! We had a very warm November, which boasted these lovely mushrooms on the 28th!

Two days later, it looked like this around here.

It was a bit hard to take after being so spoiled with the warmth, but it did make for some pretty photographs. Minor compensation.

Then we had an extremely cold December, with the temp going down farther than -20°F one night, which produced lovely frosty decorations on the windows.

I had posted the photo below on Instagram, and someone who works for ABC TV asked permission to use my photo on TV! I said yes, of course, but whether it got used or not, I'll probably never know, because I didn't see it. Anybody remember seeing this?

Here are some more frosty pretties.

Believe it or not, we had heavy RAIN on Christmas Day! It was also very windy and near freezing, which resulted in a power outage for a couple hours or so.

We've also had some colorful skies, like this sunrise on December 30th...

... and plummeting temps brought these sun dogs a few days later (I had to take the pics from two different windows, so I spliced them together)...

... with this amazing scene that evening after the sun had just set!

The cold is good for something nice to look at, if nothing else!

One more scene, not so nice to look at...

... was these persistent turkeys sneaking across our backyard. Ugh. This was the first time we've had them during the winter. NOT my favorite birds! ;-Þ

Friday, December 16, 2016

Zipper Organizer

I made a quick little project this week. If you saw this in-progress pic of it, could you guess what it was?

I didn't think so. How about this, where it's all sewn?

I wouldn't have known, either, so here it is in use:

A few days ago, someone pointed me to a brand new pattern for a zipper organizer, and it sounded perfect to me, since I'd been wondering how to organize and store all the zippers I've accumulated. It's a pattern designed by Michelle Wootton of Birdcage and Thread, and it can be found here. You can't beat the price of only $2.00! It was well-written and even had a nice video tutorial to go with it. It was also easy to sew!

I used some of Jess's older fabric, her Sunflower canvas. I didn't have the grosgrain ribbon the pattern called for, so I improvised by sewing a fabric tube and pressing it flat. It worked just fine. The hooks are actually drapery hooks, and I dug around and found 55 of them in a drawer - enough for more than two organizers! (Sometimes it pays to save everything!)

There are 11 hooks on each side....

.... so the organizer holds up to 110 zippers, with 5 on each hook.

I think this idea was ingenious! I can now hang my supply of zippers in a closet to prevent them from getting dusty or fading, and they're portable so I can take them wherever I want to match with fabrics. I love it! The organizer could also be used to hang belts, jewelry, or anything else that would fit on the hooks.

The photo above doesn't show all my zippers. I only put a few on there for demo purposes. I need to do some organizing by color, etc. And I probably need to make another organizer. ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gatherer Crossbody Bag

If you remember (c'mon, it's only been a week this time) from my last post, I showed you what I'd received from Jess's newest fabric line for Cloud9 Fabrics, Spring Quartet in babywale corduroy. Jess and I put our heads together to see what could be made from the 2-foot square samples, and here's what happened.

First I made a strap from some lovely pleather Jess had ordered from Discounted Designer Fabrics. It was a crossbody strap, so it was about 50" long (highway hypnosis again, but only half as much as with the Heidi strap).

Here are some progress shots of the bag. There were a dozen darts!

There were a couple strips of piping, which I made from a fat quarter of cirrus solids from Cloud9 Fabrics. (The lining was also a cirrus solid.)

Next there came a little pleather tab. We didn't want raw edges like the pattern called for, so I cut it double wide and turned it under like I did for the strap. Only the ends have raw edges this way, and it's a little heavier and sturdier.

Unlike the pattern, Jess suggested a snap to hold it shut. Placement of that was a little tricky, since I wanted the flap print to line up with that of the pocket front, so I had to mainly guess as I was cutting it out. I set the snap before sewing the pocket onto the front of the bag... and held my breath to see if I'd guessed right.

After completion, it was quality-tested. (I think Josie was looking for cat hairs, probably to see if she'd managed to get enough on it. Cat hair sticks really well to corduroy.)

Finally, here it is! Did you recognize the pattern along the way? It's the Gatherer Crossbody Bag, a free pattern by Noodlehead.

My guess was a bit off on the snap placement. It could've been about an inch higher on the pocket, so it kind of pulls on the top of the bag when snapped, which bugs me, but I guess it's not a deal breaker. Lesson learned for the next time.

It has the front pocket plus a slip pocket on the inside.

My assistant photographer (Courtney, of course) was here yesterday, so she took a photo for you for size reference. She does a great job (and cut my head off as instructed)!

So there ya have it. It's a sweet little bag, pretty easy to sew, and the corduroy is great to work with. I still have the other three prints in the same 2-ft. size. What would you make from them?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Heidi Foldover Clutch & Wristlet #2

I guess it's time for another blog post, huh? Yikes, where did those 2 weeks go?! Especially since I told you previously that I'd made two things and so far I've only shown you one of those... and also because I have another item almost completed that'll be ready to blog about soon.

I guess the reason I'm so slow posting this one is that it was hard to get good photos of, and I'm still not too pleased with these, but they'll have to do. They were taken nearly a month ago, when my alyssum was still blooming so prettily in front of the garage doors, before I had to pull it all out, still blooming, in preparation for our first blizzard of the season. Ahhh... I digress...

Anyway, here it is... another Heidi Foldover Clutch & Wristlet, made in the larger size with a crossbody strap added. I had this one cut out before I sewed the other one, but since this one wasn't destined for Quilt Market, it got preempted. 

The fabric is called Zenith, and it's barkcloth from Jess's In Theory line for Cloud9 Fabrics. I did a bit of print matching, which I find challenging but fun.

This one is different from my previous one not only in size but also in that the back pocket actually opens - ha! It has a surprise of pretty pink inside.

Besides the print matching, I planned the cutout of the pieces around one of the dots... just for fun. Too bad both halves of the magnetic snap couldn't have a dot. Heehee.

I like how it opens wide. The lining is a gold canvas.

The strap and accent pieces are from some bargain pleather that Jess bought ages ago and if you've followed my blog for long you've seen on numerous other things I've made. I still have some left, so you'll likely be seeing it again. It's awesome pleather to work with - I love it!

The strap was like 50 inches long or so, so with 4 rows of stitching the whole length, it was a long road (you can do the math) and I nearly got highway hypnosis!

Jess keeps designing fabric, which is great for me, because I keep getting some of it to sew more things - yay! Her latest is something different - it's babywale corduroy this time. Here are the samples that arrived at my door the day after our blizzard. It's called Spring Quartet, and it's scheduled to be released in March.

I have a project close to completion with one of those prints (if you follow my Instagram at grandma_g415, you know which one). It sews up beautifully, and I can't wait to show you what I'm making!