Friday, July 29, 2016

Crafting with Courtney - the Izzy sign

When Courtney was here on Tuesday, she decided she wanted to have a little more sewing practice. I'd bought a kit a long time ago with various craft projects in it, and the time seemed to be right for getting it out. Most of the sewing projects were hand sewing, but I thought they'd work just as well on the machine, so we picked one out and she went to work. 

She first did some designing, then she sewed on applique pieces. She did so well at the machine that I even left her alone with it for a bit to go upstairs and make myself a cup of tea. She remembered how to thread it from the few weeks ago that she'd made the Izzy purse, so she was able to change thread colors all by herself. And except for getting her started at the beginning, she did it all by herself!

After that, there was some hand sewing. Here she is, happily getting started at that.

She learned how to tie a nice neat knot in her thread, then she sewed on some buttons and tied them off on the back, with barely any help from me.

She had a furry "assistant" who just had to be near.....

..... even though she seemed rather bored with the whole process. At least she was content to let Courtney do all the work.

After the sewing, there came the decorating decisions.

Last was the gluing.

Voilà! The completed project! Izzy's her cat, but can you figure out her design theme?

Of course there had to be the signature 'eye' photo.

The glue was not dry yet under the clear butterflies, but we were hoping it would dry clear, and sure enough, it did. Here's a photo she took herself at home and sent me to show me how it looked when the glue had dried.

She also wanted you to have one more picture for size reference.

Pretty cool, huh? I am SO proud of her! She's well on her way to becoming a great sewer (seamstress? sewist?) someday! She's a fast learner, and she's so careful and does such a beautiful job. She also has some lovely design ideas (did you figure out that theme yet?) and is creative in many ways.

Next time (in 2 weeks, because she goes to Bible camp next week) she'll make a sign for her other cat, Zoey. A girl has to be fair, y'know. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The wait is over

I know some of you have been waiting patiently for the Port & Sort Tote pattern by LiEr of ikatbag blog to be available for purchase. I'm happy to tell you that the time is now! Head on over to her latest blog post to read about it, see more photos and find out where to buy it.

I'll tell you, it's a huge job to write a good pattern, and it always takes longer than one thinks it's going to. But it's finally ready, and it's been tested, scrubbed and scoured, rewritten with more photos added to make it as understandable and workable as possible, and now it's finally DONE! If you want a unique little bag that can hold any number of various goodies, yet store flat when not in use, this is the one. Here's another shot of mine, loaded up and ready to go.

You can read more details about my tote and its little companion collapsible insert in my blog post here. One little tip that I hadn't included in that post is that when making the template for the bag body, I simply printed it twice, cut out the two templates and taped them together, as opposed to LiEr's method mentioned in the pattern. Either way works just fine.

Happy sewing of your own Port & Sort Totes! Again, LiEr's blog post is here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Surfrider Romper

I've managed a little other sewing besides the Port & Sort Tote. In fact, I'd started this project and had it ALMOST done when I got the pattern to test. Since it wasn't anything urgent, I put it aside until the testing was finished. So I finally finished it a couple days ago. I did take some progress photos along the way.

Yes, it's a garment. Yes, it's little. Very little, but still nearly as much work as making something for an adult. Basically, the seams are shorter. Ha. The bodice is fully lined even.

I made the romper from the pattern I got from Pixie Faire, the Surfrider Sundress & Romper. Here it is on my Kit. It's even for her, as her wardrobe is seriously lacking.

I love how it turned out. It was pretty easy to sew. I only had one problem, and that's that the pattern called for ¼" wide velcro down the front which is supposed to be stitched on from the top side (so you can't see the velcro while you're sewing) on top of topstitching that's already there and catching the velcro underneath. It was just too hard to catch that narrow strip! I ended up with several rows of stitching, none of which caught the velcro sufficiently. I finally ripped out all the stitches and used a wider strip of velcro, and that worked fine. In looking back at the pattern, the photo showing how to do it even had a wider strip in there! Wish I'd noticed that in the first place. Other than that, it was a breeze.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Port & Sort Tote

As I mentioned a time or two, I've been working on another pattern test. I finished the sewing and just this morning received the finalized pattern to read through one more time. So it won't be long before it'll be available for purchase! If you follow the ikatbag blog, you'll know that LiEr has written a pattern for the Port & Sort Tote she designed. And many of you know I test patterns for her and have done a number of them before, so I got to test this one, too. Since the pattern is no surprise, I get to show you my finished tote, even though the pattern itself is not quite ready to purchase yet.

I took a few progress photos along the way. If you purchase her pattern and make the tote, maybe you'll find it helpful to see how I did things. As always, Wonder Clips came in very handy for me. I don't know how I ever survived without them!

Put all that stuff together, and this is what you get:

It's a bag held closed with a separating zipper, which when unzipped looks like this:

There are partitions sewn inside that can either be fastened via velcro to the sides for an open compartment or, as below, divided into smaller sections using that same velcro to hold the partitions.

The tote can be used for ever-so-many types of things, and the side flaps can be held down and out of the way with the invisible (or regular) magnetic snaps. There are pockets on both ends of the tote, too.

It can be zipped up with items inside, keeping them secure.

There are also two other strap options, which you can see on LiEr's blog post (plus there's a supplies list in case you know you're going to buy the pattern and want to get a jump on getting ready while you wait for it). I chose to make the straps that have the rectangular rings, because 1) that's the one LiEr asked me to make, and 2) that's the one I would've chosen, anyway, because the straps fold down and out of the way so nicely (plus hardware is cool).

The pattern has been going through a lot of revision, so by the time it's all said and done, it'll hopefully be 'just right'. It's not a pattern for beginners, but if you have some bag-making experience, you should be able to handle it. There are some curves to sew, including the zipper installation, and there are some thick seams than can be challenging, so keep that in mind.

LiEr also posted a tutorial for making little collapsible inserts that are just the right size to fit inside the Port & Sort Tote. You can find that tutorial here. I wanted to try one for myself, and you may have noticed it in the one photo above. Here's a better look:

The outer fabric for the tote and the insert are from Jess's In Theory barkcloth collection for Cloud9 Fabrics.

Below is a little collage showing the insert, which has a zippered bottom that when unzipped allows the box to be folded flat, or even into quarters to maybe fit in your pocket! I love it!

As I said, I've got the pattern now for a final proofread, so I'd best get at it! I'll post again when the pattern is available to buy. SOON! (Relatively speaking, that is. ;) )

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Zip Itself Coin Purse #'s 3, 4, 5

Nearly five years ago (wow, can it be that long already?! I was thinking 2 or 3!), I showed you two little projects I'd made called the Zip Itself Coin Purse(s), from a tutorial found here. It was mainly to show the new ribbons Jess had designed. She's designed a lot more since then (you can see them all, and even her smiling face, here), and she coerced me into making some more of the purses because she loves them so much.

I made this one. For some reason, it got a little wonky and doesn't sit up quite right unless I bend the zipper underneath it. But hey, the ribbon is cute! ;)

Then I made another one, because I was determined to get it right. I did! Here it is, perched on Jess's hand. More cute ribbon!

They're not a quick sew job. The first one I made all those years ago was sewn completely by hand. But I figured out that I could sew at least some of the ribbon to the zipper with the machine and then do the rest by hand. That saved a little time, but they still do take a long time to make. Lots of hand sewing still.

This is how they work, from completely unzipped to zipped into the little pouch.

Delighted that the second one turned out so well, I decided to try just one more... because the ribbon is just so darn cute, right? Look how this one turned out, when I thought I was doing exactly the same thing!

Yes, it's square... and flat! I have no clue why. BUT, Jess loved it and begged to have it. So here's her hand again. I have to admit, it is still pretty cute, despite its "wrong" shape.

So here they are. One "right" out of three.

I won't be making any more. ;-P

I have other finished projects to show you, too. One of them, in fact, is the pattern test I was working on. I still have to take photos of that. And the pattern is undergoing a lot of tweaking, so it isn't quite ready to purchase yet. Soon! Hopefully. :)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Another first

I saw something new today. I happened to glance out the kitchen window (as I do a bazillion times a day), and this is what I saw on top of our light pole.

No, it's not a turkey, but it's nearly that big. It's a buzzard! A.K.A. vulture, turkey buzzard or turkey vulture. I've seen them before, but usually either flying high in the sky or along the roadside having some yummy roadkill for lunch. But I have NEVER seen one on top of our light pole before.

This one posed very nicely for me and gave me a great display of its huge wings.

Then off it went...


... high in the sky...

... to sniff out some more dead stuff, I guess. I read that they have a terrific sense of smell. All they eat is stuff that's already dead. They're good for cleaning up roadsides, etc. They don't hunt live prey, so I don't have to worry about my cats/kittens.

They have majestic wings... but such ugly heads. Look at this cropped pic of its head below. You can see right through that hole in its beak.

I was amazed to see it up there, much less get a chance to photograph it!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Izzy Purse

Courtney is in 4-H this year, and she asked me if I'd help her make a sewing project. Of course that's right up my alley, so I readily agreed. I kept my eye open online for simple sewing machine projects that she might like, and this one for a felt ladybug purse met with her approval.

We printed out the pattern, I dug out my felt, and she went to work. With a little guidance, she did all the pinning and cutting herself. 

Under the watchful eyes of her inspector, that is.

She's getting better at the sewing machine, having more control over the speed, particularly. So I don't have to hover quite so close (or hold my breath as much).

Had you noticed the ladybug colors weren't placed quite ladybug-like? Look below... this little purse has ears and whiskers!

Here it is, finished.

It was designed by Courtney to look like her cat, Izzy!

This is the back.

The face is the flap, and it fastens shut with velcro. This is what it looks like when opened.

Below is our happy little seamstress holding her Izzy purse and giving you some size reference.

She did a fantastic job! All those little colored bits were appliqued on, very slowly and carefully, a stitch at a time. Talk about a way to get practice sewing curves! A couple pieces were glued on (e.g. the whiskers) because they were too small for stitching. I did the harder part of sewing the head onto the back because those ears had to be caught in that seam and lined up just right. The pupils in the eyes were drawn on with a marker.

I know Courtney is hoping for a good score when her project is judged for 4-H. She'll be taking it to the fair, and she said if she gets a ribbon, we can take another photo to show you here. So be prepared (a few weeks down the road)!