Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We had a blizzard yesterday

Today it looks like this around here. The wind came from the northeast, rather than the northwest which is more normal for a blizzard, so the snow piled up in new places. I don't remember ever having drifts this big in our back yard before (note the LP gas tank on the left, for size reference!).

Same as above, different perspective:

Closer look at that pointy drift:

We even had sundogs this morning, although it wasn't terribly cold (+17°). Must've been from all the snow still in the air. Right side:

Left side (harder to see behind the evergreens):

Just another snowy photo (through a snow spattered window):

You'd never know there was a garden back here, would you? Even the asparagus stalks are buried:

I think my favorite view is the mini lilac bush. It looks like it's made of huge marshmallows!

School was cancelled yesterday and today, so no Courtney day this week. Good thing we got to see her on Sunday at her birthday party! I guess I'll try to do some catching up on procrastinated projects. Then there are more sewing projects in the queue, so never a lack of things to do.....

Monday, February 1, 2016

Quick Zip Shopkins Bag

In my last post, I mentioned another project I was going to work on. I'll bet you didn't expect to be seeing it so soon, did you? It had a very short deadline, and I honestly didn't think I was going to have it done in time. But since it was for a birthday gift for a very special 9-year-old whose party was yesterday, and since things were going very well, I kept at it till it was finished (finally, at 1:00 a.m. Sunday!).

Courtney wanted a bag to carry her collection of Shopkins in, preferably something that she could see them through. When she mentioned it, we discussed some options... then I did a lot more thinking and nixxed some ideas. Finally I came up with this, the Quick Zip Lunch Bag. It's a pattern written by Erin (Erickson) Gilbey (have I mentioned her before?), so I knew it would go well, even though I'd never made one before. I'd bought the pattern awhile back and was finally happy to have a purpose for it. Here's the bag.

What's that you said? You can't see through it? Well, look at this side!

I made a "window" and inserted a piece of clear vinyl (thanks, Auntie Kris!) in it. I was sooo glad I'd made all those luggage tags, because I was able to use a technique from that pattern for inserting the vinyl into the window. It worked great! My design took a little lot of thinking and planning and calculating, but it worked as I hoped it would and went smoothly. The hardest part was gluing the lining "window frame" to the vinyl and outside frame, because it was the last step and it was pretty close quarters by then (not to mention the glue wanting to come out of the tube much faster than I needed it to). It worked (and there's not too much glue on the vinyl window).

There's a slip pocket inside the bag, which I thought would be good for keeping those little lists that come with the Shopkins. You know the ones... they identify all the available Shopkins... making the kids want every one. ;)

Courtney didn't take long to load the bag with her 151 Shopkins (thank goodness they're so tiny!). There's room for that many more and then some.

She was very pleased with her new bag. Here it is on her shoulder, so you get an idea of the size. Just right.

She does love her Shopkins! She and her mom even made two Shopkins character cakes for her party. Aren't they cute? They tasted yummy, too!

Today's her birthday - February 1st. I can't believe she's 9 years old already!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lorelei and Alanna

Okay, I know I said I was going to try to do better at blogging in January. Well, just so you know, this post makes one more than the number I did in December. Ha! Still bad. But I can't blog and sew at the same time, and I've been sewing. Here's what I've been working on.

This is the Lorelei Bag in one of Jess's barkcloth designs from her new collection In Theory. The fabric is supposed to be released... well... soon... from Cloud9 Fabrics. And by now we all know "soon" is relative. ;) So we'll wait and see. (We did get the sample fabrics sooner than expected!)

That's a zipper pocket with pleather and rivets for trim.

Inside is another zipper pocket on one side and a large divided slip pocket trimmed with outer fabric on the other side. It fastens with a magnetic snap.

It's a big bag! My hair dresser graciously agreed to model it for me to give you an idea of how big it is.

The pattern came as a set of two bags, and here is the other, the Alanna Zipper Pouch. It has the detailed outside pocket to match the Lorelei Bag.

The straps and the pieces that surround the zippers are pleather, as is the zipper pull (that I just made up to go with the rest). Here are Lorelei and Alanna together.

The patterns are by ithinksew. I'm not going to link to them for you because I just can't recommend them. The instructions were skimpy, so bag-making experience was certainly necessary, but even aside from that, there were a number of issues that just made for a lousy pattern in my opinion. It was apparently not tested, because one of the steps was simply impossible to do. Ugh. And although the pictures showed a snap, there was no mention of installing it! For some reason, I expect a pattern to be accurate.

In the making of these bags, I relied heavily on tried and true methods. I used my favorite tutorial for the zippered pockets, and I followed the wonderfully clear and detailed instructions for the Essential Wristlet by Erin (Erickson) Gilbey for constructing the zipper pouch itself.

Since I was going back and forth between patterns, I managed to forget a step. The pouch was supposed to have a strip of the pleather across the top front and back, like this, which I had cut and ready, but....

It would've been cuter with that trim on there, but as it turned out, I'm glad I forgot it, because those strips would've made for very bulky seams at the corners.

The pattern called for sewing the pouch and lining together, then binding the seams on the inside with bias seam binding. Umm... I like Erin's method much better, with the seams ending up between the exterior and lining fabrics.

Incidentally, the zippered pockets are very small. They are about 5" wide by 3" deep. They're probably only good for car keys, chapsticks, etc. You'd have to have a very small cell phone to fit it in them.

I'm very pleased with how the bags turned out, even if it was a frustrating process. If you REALLY love them and decide to make your own, you can email me for details on how to work around the not-so-great pattern. By the way, I checked the pattern reviews for this seller. For the most part, they said things like "This pattern looks great - I can't wait to make it!" Not exactly a helpful review, is it? There was one, though, that said it all: "I got so confused I gave up." Now that's a more realistic review.

I'm off now to start another project, and this one I know will go well, because it's from a tested and much loved pattern by Erin, but one I haven't made before. I'll be showing you later......

Friday, January 15, 2016

Just so you know...

Even though I've been lousy at blogging, I've not been sitting idly twiddling my thumbs. Jess received her yardage of her new In Theory barkcloth on Monday, which means it'll be available in stores very soon, which means I need to get some sample projects made up!

Isn't it gorgeous? I just love it!

So I AM busy. Here's proof... a project in the works.

It's making progress.

Jess even sewed up a little project of her own with it! This is the Meridian print, which just happens to be my favorite, although surprisingly, I like it in the other colorway even better.

So there ya have what's been going on around here. I'll surely show you things when I get them finished. At least the weather's good for sewing, if not much else. We're supposed to get near 20°F below zero this weekend. Aargh.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What to do when it's below zero outside

What do YOU like to do when the daytime temp is below zero °F? Here in our house, we sometimes like to just hang out in a spot of sunshine.

More often than that, we take naps in that sunshine.

For those that live outside, naps in the sunshine are a little different.

But sometimes they like to play, too.

Above you can see why cottontail rabbits are so-named. :)