Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Time For a Change

If someone gave you two mini-skirts.....

..... and a strap.....

..... what would you make?

A bag, of course! And here's my bag. It's the handbag/toddler size Time for a Change bag, from the pattern by Erin (Erickson) Gilbey of Dog Under My Desk. (Have I ever mentioned her on this blog before???)

Of course no one handed me two mini-skirts and a strap. I'm just being silly. I made them myself, but seeing the outer bag and the lining just made me think of little mini-skirts. :)

The fabric (as well as the fabric I used in the Roundabout Hobo) was a gift from Jess (not her designs) for Christmas several years ago. I loved it, and I was just waiting for the right bag to put it on, because I knew it should be a big one to show off the lovely print. This bag fit the bill!

Below is the other side. Believe it or not, I fussy-cut every single piece except the strap and zipper tab! I wanted the birds to be in good positions, but I didn't want them to 'look' fussy-cut. Make sense? I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I LOVE this bag! The pattern was written with Erin's usual perfection and was great to sew. The only challenge I had was with those curves at the zipper ends. It wasn't that they were so hard, but just that I'm a bit of a perfectionist myself, and I wanted them 'just right'. Erin's instructions were ever-so-helpful, and I'm pleased with the result.

It's a big bag, even though it's the smaller of the two included in the pattern. The bigger one is intended to be a diaper bag, but could be used for anything you need a BIG bag for. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with mine. It's bigger than I use for my "everyday" purse. I guess I'll just have to find something big to put in it. Or hang it as a decoration in my sewing room because I love looking at it. :)

The lining fabric is something I bought a few years ago, mainly because of its name! Jess at some point had started calling me Mumsy, and that's the name of the fabric. So being blue, it's actually "Mumsy in blue" (my favorite color). My intention for it was to make a housecoat (and be Mumsy in blue), but upon seeing it in person, I thought maybe it was a bit too crazy, so I opted for this fabric instead.

I was super pleased to find a zipper in my stash that matched one of the colors so well.....

..... and I used Erin's method from the Roundabout Hobo pattern to add a totally finished welt zipper pocket inside the bag. I had started this bag several weeks ago, but when Erin said she was writing her method into that pattern, I put this bag on hold until I could use it. I'm glad I waited, because it just makes for such a lovely finish!

The outer pockets are lined with a solid blue to match the zippers. I thought it'd be a little too crazy seeing those two prints together on the outside of the bag.

I also used the solid blue on the bottom, since I thought the white parts of the other fabric could get dirty and look awful pretty fast. I added purse feet to help keep the bottom clean, too.

Here's me-the-model again (my photo assistant, Miss Courtney, didn't come yesterday), to show you the size of the bag.

So there you have it - two completed bags in less than a week! Woohoo!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Roundabout Hobo

I was privileged to be able to test the newest Dog Under My Desk pattern by Erin (Erickson) Gilbey. I had no qualms about testing this pattern, because I know that her patterns are always done with very detailed instructions, lots of photos demonstrating how to do what she's talking about, and little tips along the way for making your sewing experience as easy as possible. Whenever I sew with one of her patterns, it's kind of like "coming home" - a comfortable place to be, y'know? I love them, and as I've said in the past, they are definitely my favorites. I never have to worry about pattern pieces that don't line up right or instructions that are confusing or diagrams that are hard to figure out... or any of those things I've been challenged by with some other patterns. Simply put, Erin's patterns are the BEST!

This new pattern was no exception. It was beautifully done! Testers look for anything that's amiss, and all I found was one minor typo and one teensy seam issue, both of which Erin corrected, so the pattern is perfect!

Here's my Roundabout Hobo.....

..... and a goofy photo of me, just for size reference.

It has such a cute shape, and little easy-to-make pleats help to give it its roundness.

There's no gusset or bottom piece to fiddle with, and not even a separate strap. In fact, there are only four pattern pieces and no extra stabilizers, so it's also quick to cut out.

It has an inner patch pocket....

..... a top zipper closure.....

..... fun contrasting lining fabric that peeks out of the handle.....

..... and an inner (or you could put it on the outside if you preferred) zipper pocket.

Actually, that zipper pocket is the reason I volunteered to test the pattern in the first place. Erin had mentioned in her Facebook group that she had a new technique for adding a facing inside the pocket so that even the zipper tape was finished off. Although I've done a lot of zippered welt pockets, I couldn't imagine how it was done... but I knew that I wanted to find out! Here's how it turned out. Isn't it just lovely?

(This pink is the actual color of the lining, not as red-ish as the pics above.)

As I was first following the instructions for that zipper and facing, I at first thought, "Is it really worth the bother? Who ever looks at the inside of a pocket at the zipper tape, anyway?" But once I had it finished and realized how slick it went, and that there really wasn't much more to it than what I had been doing before, I've decided it's now my go-to method for that type of pocket. I love it! I'd have paid the full price of the pattern just to get it.

Speaking of the pattern price... if you're interested in buying the pattern, it and all the patterns in the DUMD Pattern Shop are discounted 20% through Valentine's Day, so hurry up and get yours! The discount will automatically be applied when you check out - no code needed.

I've already used that pocket technique in another bag that I had partially finished but put on hold until I knew how to do the zipper facing. I can't wait to finish the rest of it and show you... it's soooo pretty! You shouldn't have to wait too long to see it, because I have a bunch more projects in the queue already and need to get at them!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Corduroy slippers

If you're still wondering about this sneak peek I gave you on Monday,

you need wonder no more! Nope - not a bag this time. Slippers!

They're made from Jess's upcoming (in July) Spring Quartet babywale corduroy fabric and faux sheepskin. Also, you can't see it, but the bottom is navy pleather.

Here they are on Jess's (ahem) dainty little feet.

I made them following a tutorial by Melly Sews. She has a ton of tutorials, found here (you have to scroll way down to "Sewing for Men", although the pattern is a women's size 6!), but you only get access to the tutorials by subscribing to her newsletter. Fair enough, I'd say. By subscribing, you get to learn about new tutorials as soon as they're available.

This wasn't one of my favorite or neatest sewing projects. The tutorial was easy enough to follow, but it was the faux sheepskin that gave me trouble. I got some through Amazon (which actually came from as per Melly's suggested link in the tutorial, and I found it challenging to work with because it was thin, stretchy, and MESSY! I had little bits of fluff everywhere!

It even plugged up the eye of my sewing machine needle at one point. It was also kind of hard to see where to sew the seam, so I don't know how good a job I did on that... and by that point I really didn't care. Ha.

It was also somewhat hard to get a good fit, since Jess wasn't here to try anything on, although she'd traced around her foot and sent me that for something to go by. There was a lot of adjusting to do in the pattern pieces. These ended up somewhat too big for Jess, but better that than too small. Yet the hole for putting them on was almost too small... even for my smaller foot. That might have had to do with the non-stretchiness of the corduroy, so if I were to make them again, I'd adjust the pattern and leave that hole bigger.

All in all, they were quick to make, the tutorial well-written (with a demo video included), and they'd have gone much better had I used a fleece fabric for the lining... which I might try sometime.

One thing I did differently is that I added a layer of foam just for a little cushioning, and I think that was a good idea. I sewed it to the bottom of the lining sole. Well, I sewed ONE to a lining sole. I forgot to include the other one until I was all done and picking up my stuff to head upstairs and discovered the foam piece still lying there - AARGH! So I ripped out the turning hole and stuck the foam in that way, which was rather challenging, to say the least. Then I pulled it back out because it was bunching up because I should've trimmed off the seam allowance! THEN I got smart and used my forceps to get it back in because it had been so hard the first time around. That worked well. Finished, finally. A day in the life of a sewer. ;-Þ

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