Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Bonnie Woven Top in Orderly Fashion

A little over a month ago, I received a package containing these gorgeous goodies in the mail!

Looks like a work assignment for me, right? Right! Well, sort of. To me, it’s more fun than work. But yes, it’s a number of sewing projects, because Jess has a new line of modal rayon fabrics out that she designed for Cloud9 Fabrics.

Of course rayon fabrics mean garments, which are usually larger projects than bags, so for the first time I needed to flip up the other leaf on my new cutting table and see how everything fit in the room. It actually worked quite well… close, but still with room to maneuver.

So, I proceeded in Orderly Fashion, which just happens to be the name of the fabric line. See the selvage?

This first fabric design that I worked on is called Nevermind. As you might (or might not) guess from looking at the pattern pieces above, the first project was a top, the Bonnie Woven Top by StyleARC.

I decided the best (and quickest) way to finish the seams and all those facing pieces was to serge them, so that’s what I did.

It was a pretty simple top to sew. However, the instructions in the pattern were minimal, which I guess StyleARC is known for. That was okay, because I’ve sewn lots of garments, and something like this should’ve been fairly easy… but the way they said to connect the back neck facing to the center back had me tearing my (also minimal) hair out, because I simply could not figure out what they meant to do! I did some googling to see if others had had problems, and sure enough, there were some frustrated sewers. Most had gone ahead and done it their own way, and the ways varied, which was visible in the photos.

I figured out what I ‘thought’ the instructions meant and did it that way, which seemed to work out okay and looked right. I also, out of curiosity, emailed StyleARC and asked them about it. I received a very helpful reply the next day, and it turns out that the pattern has an update, which they sent me the pages for. That made all the difference in the world! I wish they’d sent the update to their wholesalers right away (the pattern is several years old - not like it was something just discovered). It would’ve save a lot of frustration. Also, as it turned out, my method was not correct, making the center back fold in the wrong place. Since it was too late to redo it by then, I had to do a little “fudging” when adding the buttonholes and buttons. But it turned out okay and is not really noticeable.

So here’s the Bonnie Woven Top… front…

… and back:

Here is Jess modeling it:

It’s wearable, although the armholes are a little bit snug and it’s a tad small across the back. I’ll be making another one in a different fabric soon, and hopefully my plan for adjusting it will make for a better fit. Thats’s the trouble with having Jess live so far away. Fittings for garments aren’t very handy.

Bag making is fine, though, and when I mailed the top to Jess, I sent the Two Zip Hipster (see my previous post) along with it. She loves it, and I guess she likes the fabric/strap combo so much that… well… have a look for yourself:

Fun, right?

Part of my next project is completed, but I won’t be showing you until it’s ALL done. So I’d better get at it. By the way, all of this rayon sewing is being done on my faithful old Kenmore. My Sailrite could do it (except for the buttonholes), but it would mean a lot of tension adjusting, and I’d rather leave that machine set for heavy fabrics. I do still enjoy sewing on the Kenmore, anyway.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Two Zip Hipster Bag #3, modified

A few years ago (oh gosh, it’s been over 11 already!), Jess asked me if I would make her a Two Zip Hipster bag from the pattern by Dog Under My Desk. I did so, and it was such a great pattern that it began my love for all DUMD patterns, most of which I ended up testing after they were written. She then thought it would be fun if I made a second Hipster out of another of the canvas fabrics she designed. Since I thought it’d be fun, too, I agreed. So this one is the bag she carried for many years until it finally wore out (she had gifted the first one).

Fast forward 11 years, and she asked me if I’d like to make her another Hipster! Who am I to say no? Ha! This time she’d seen some fabric I’d gotten in a terrific grab box I’d come across, and she asked if she could have it for the bag… even though it was blue, which was MY favorite color and hers is orange. 🤔 She had an idea of how she wanted it to look. Sure, why not?

The fabric turned out to be some really tough water-proof stuff. It was a good choice for sewing on that new machine of mine. I just love the perfect stitches it produces!

I kidded Jess that the fabric/zipper combo matched the machine so well that I could hardly see what I was doing. 🤣

Jess wanted this new bag to be two inches shorter, which was just a matter of shortening the rectangular pattern pieces - super easy. It came together so beautifully.

Just look at those perfect stitches!

There’s a little secret tucked inside the bag. 🤫

Apparently the sew-in interfacing I used also makes good pattern pieces. Haha. I’d gotten it from Jess’s friend, Rachel, who owns a fabric store and was cleaning house and gifted me a bunch of fabrics and interfacings she had no more use for. I thought this would be appropriate for Jess’s bag. Here’s a closer look at what it says. It was just funny to my mind.

Jess had in mind a striped strap made of webbing, so she ordered this from an Etsy shop. It was designed by Tula Pink for Renaissance Ribbons. It saved me the trouble of making a strap for the bag. All I had to do was cut it and attach it.

Here’s the new Two Zip Hipster, shortened to be almost perfectly square.

I used silver waterproof canvas for the lining. With that and the sturdy outer fabric, no other interfacing was needed besides the sew-in. Also, the bag is so tough that it just might last Jess the rest of her life! Or MY life, anyway. 😅

Just more pretty stitching:

So that’s my second-to-last sewing finish. The last one is on its way to Jess right now along with this bag. I’ll give you a clue… it’s made from her new line of rayon fabric. I’ll post after she receives it and tries it on… and Alex finds time to take some photos. Three more projects are in the queue out of the same rayon (in different designs), so I’d better get busy! 

P.S. There’s still enough of that blue fabric left for something for myself, which I might also have in the works. 😉 And there’s still more left!

Thursday, April 13, 2023

LSZ-1 and Tiny Bin

If you read my last post, you’re probably curious about that blue machine sitting in my new sewing room. First and foremost… no, I did not replace my faithful 52-year-old Kenmore that I bought new all those years ago! I could never part with that machine. I’ll probably take it with me to the grave. (Not really. I think it’ll be inherited by my sewing protégée, Miss Courtney. She’s already experienced in using it.) It has served me well and made it through everything I asked it to, albeit sometimes with some hand cranking and an occasional lockup and/or broken needle when the seams got too thick. I still love that machine.

That being said, I’d thought long and hard about getting a heavy duty machine for those thick seams I mentioned. It would just make my life easier. Bags nowadays seem to be calling for more thick fabrics, particularly vinyls, and of course they make the seams bulkier. I had gone so far as to check out some heavy duty machines online, and I had picked out the one I’d hypothetically get. Then came Black Friday last November. It had a pretty good sale price! I thought some more, even debating until the last day of the sale. I could resist no longer and went for it. I also bought the made-for-it table that it’s sitting in.

So here it is, the Sailrite LSZ-1 (now upgraded and just called LSZ).

It can sew straight or zigzag stitches. It’s a beast! Those pieces shown below are the samples they used to test the machine before they shipped it. In my hand is 6 layers of naugahyde or some kind of heavy vinyl like that. The black sample is 8 layers of something thinner but very tough. The piece is nearly stiff as a board sewn together like that. I sewed some practice stitches on both those pieces, and it just sailed right through them! So fun! So amazing!

The light you can see in the first photo came with the machine. Although the arm is flexible and can be moved around, I still needed something more, so I ordered (from Amazon) the LED strip light you see below. Much better. (They’ve upgraded their machines now and include a light that fits inside and shines right down on the needle. I could purchase it and add it to my machine, but I don’t think I need it now.)

One of the selling points of the machine for me was that it’s portable. It comes with the case below. So if Jess ever comes up with a project needing some heavy duty sewing, I could take it to her house. It does weigh a ton, though, so Grandpa would have to carry it, but it’s doable. The table it sits in folds up flat and is portable also.

The machine is entirely mechanical, just like my Kenmore. In fact, they have a lot of similarities, so that’s made it easier and less intimidating for me to get used to using it. I’ve already posted the first project I made on it, the Andrew Trifold Wallet. After that I made this Tiny Bin, from Michelle Patterns. It was quick and easy, and good practice. (I got the pattern free by signing up for her newsletters, so I don’t know if it’s available anymore.)

Isn’t it cute? So tiny!

I like how it matches my machine. I decided for now that it’s going to hold some of the extra parts I’ve purchased, like this knurled presser foot and feed dog set that will be used for fabrics that are apt to show marks from the original more aggressive feet that came on the machine.

So there you have it. That’s my new heavy duty sewing machine… in my favorite color, no less! 💙 I’m still getting used to it, learning new things as I go. My Kenmore will still get plenty of use. I’ll need it for buttonholes, blind hemming, etc. I’ll use it for projects requiring lighter weight fabrics, because although the Sailrite can sew them, it takes major adjustments to the tensions, so I’d rather just leave it set for the heavier stuff.

Speaking of lighter weight fabrics, Jess has a brand new line of rayon prints! So my Kenmore will be getting a good workout soon. Fun! Meanwhile, I have one more completed project that I made on the new machine, and I’ll show you soon.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

I moved!

Grab a cup of coffee… this is a long post!

Did you notice the title? Yes, I moved… my sewing room, that is. I’d been thinking about it, for years really, of how I could make things handier. My sewing room was in our downstairs bedroom, which was also our guest room, so when anybody (namely Jess & Alex) came to stay, it required monumental effort to rearrange and pack away stuff so they could get at the bed have a reasonable amount of room to set their things and move around. Then when they left, I’d have the task of making it into a sewing room again (and trying to remember where I’d stashed stuff to get it out of the way). It was not a good arrangement at the best of times, crowded and always with a bed in the way (although the bed usually held a lot of fabric, so there was that) and a NordicTrack skier that I use regularly. It could be tricky just getting from the sewing machine to the ironing board.

I thought of getting a futon or something to replace the bed. That way it would be folded up and out of the way in between visits. But that still would make for a lot of moving stuff around for visits. My other thought had been to get rid of the twin bed in the third bedroom upstairs and make that into my sewing room. No one ever used that bed anymore; it served more for holding fabric, as the room contained most of my fabrics… and other stuff that was just stored in there. The question was, was the room big enough to hold everything I needed it to? I wanted to add a cutting table so that I’d no longer have to use our dining table and put whatever I was working on away every time we needed to eat. 

I was discussing this with Jess one day before Christmas, and she said Alex, being the engineer, loved to arrange rooms, and she volunteered his help. He arrived last Christmas armed with graph paper and ready to get to work. He drew out the room to scale, and then he and Jess made to-scale drawings of everything on my list that I had made of sewing room essentials and their measurements. Here’s the tentative room with its arrangement:

It looked like everything would fit! So….. was I brave enough to go through with it? It was now or never, while I had the help of the whole family being together for Christmas. I decided to go for it! Everyone got to work and emptied out the room entirely, including the closet. It all went into the living room. Yikes!!

I had already purchased the cutting table I wanted from Amazon. Courtney was Grandpa’s assistant in putting it together. I think she made sure he followed the directions. 😉

I can’t quite tell if she was having fun here or not. It was quite a task, but they got the job done!

The rest of us got to work moving stuff up from the basement and putting it into its new home. I rearranged some of pieces of the original plan, but at least I knew it was all going to fit somehow. Long story short, here is what it looks like after everything was completed. I took this photo a couple weeks ago, and I’d been doing some sewing, so it’s got extra ‘stuff’ in there. But I figured I’d better take some pics before it got worse. Nothing stays neat very long. If you’re a sewer or a crafter, you know, right?

Now I’ll give you a closer look at some things. You can see the cutting table above. One half of it is folded down, but that extra half can easily be folded out to double its size. It should be sufficient for the bigger projects (and I have some lined up to give it a good test). Underneath that folded part are a shelf and a couple of hanging baskets for storage. Very handy! 

Against the one wall is my 52-year-old ever-faithful Kenmore. Above it hangs a photo-on-canvas of my favorite housecat ever, Willow.

To the left of the Kenmore is a stack of drawers that hold all kinds of miscellaneous but very necessary items, each drawer with a label that I’d made some time ago. On top are a speaker that I bluetooth with my iPad or phone… and a hot pink kangaroo that I made a few years ago. 

Below the fold-out arm of the Kenmore cabinet is a new cabinet that I bought to hold my serger. When I need to sew with that, I can roll the cabinet out and set the serger on top. It’s also the perfect height for my rivet/snap press, since that requires some leverage on the handle. I bought this cabinet from Amazon also. I started putting it together myself when Grandpa was away. I had it all figured out and could’ve finished it, but with all the screws that needed to go in, I knew it would take forever. So I called my son and he came with an impact driver, and saved me a whole lot of work! I think it turned out great and will do its job nicely. It sticks out into the room a bit, but it’s not a problem to go around it. We’ll see, though, how it works when the cutting table is fully opened.

This stool holds lots of tools in the Honeycomb Basket I made a few years ago. On the bottom step are bobbin cases, and below that on the floor are a couple of cases full of various colored threads. That colorful coaster next to the Kenmore was handcrafted and gifted to me by Courtney. 💕

The little rolling cart below used to belong to my grandmother. It holds my sewing basket and lots of various ‘stuff’. It’s nice that it’s on wheels because I can just grab it and move it to wherever I need it.

Behind that cart, against the wall and next to the cutting table is a cabinet full of little drawers that hold all my bag hardware in various sizes. I made labels for all those drawers, too, as well as sorted and organized all those little bits to make them more convenient to find. That was a task in itself, but I’d done that a year or more ago.

Below you can see a cabinet which gets used to store a lot of household stuff that seems to have no other place to go. On top is my crockpot. And two chickens. My clothes baskets reside in the room, too, for lack of a better location for now. The closet contains Christmas decorations, among other things, some of which are bags I’ve made that I don’t know what to do with.

My ironing board has a nice bright spot by the windows, so lots of good light for ironing and to brighten the room. It’s also good for my only two houseplants which had been in this room all along and I don’t seem to have a better place for. I know an ironing board isn’t an ideal spot, but they’re not too difficult to move around to other temporary spots. They do love the light there. I just don’t want them out where the cat can get at them. She is not allowed in this room.

On another wall is a second photo-on-canvas, and it’s a favorite. That’s little Courtney walking along our driveway with some companions.

I guess I must like cats. I have a kitten calendar on one wall, too. 🐈

I also have a clock in my sewing room. Mainly it’s for the cuteness factor. It’s battery-operated, and it gets stuck a lot, so it rarely has the correct time. 😑

NOW… if you’ve been very observant, you may have noticed this in one of the other photos:

It is not my Kenmore. It’s newly acquired, as of December! I’ll save the details of that for another post. Soon, I promise! This one is too long as it is. But I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse into my sewing space. I am thoroughly enjoying it! I love having it upstairs, and although it’s close quarters, it’s not inconvenient. Everything is very handy! I love it!

My fabrics are now in the basement bedroom. Presently they’re awaiting sorting and storage. I’m much better at procrastinating than I am at organizing. 😣  At least once I get done, they won’t have to be moved every time Jess and Alex come. The living room is emptied of its excess except for about three boxes of things that I have to clean out a place for. It’s all a never-ending process!

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Mav Pack

Linds Handmade Designs has done it again! She already has another new pattern out, just released yesterday, in fact. I’d like to see inside that mind of hers… it must be constantly swirling with ideas for new bags that just MUST come out into a pattern!

I was fortunate once again to be able to test the latest, the Mav Pack. It’s a smallish (about 7”x5”x2”) sling bag that can comfortably be worn on one’s front or back. It’s even a fun size to use for a child. Here’s the front view of mine.

The fabric is a barkcloth, gifted to me by a friend who was destashing. So cute, right? Here’s the back.

The side view, with a better look at the cool strap ends made from faux leather.

There’s one zippered pocket on the inside. The fabric I used is a piece I’d bought on sale 30 or so years ago, thinking I’d find a use for it someday. I was right! Ha!

The pattern suggests webbing for the strap, but since I only had one in the right width but not the right color, I decided to make my own strap. The khaki-colored twill seemed a bit boring, so I added a couple extra lines of stitching to give it a hint of color to match the bag some more.

As Linds said, wearing it in front is so handy because all your stuff is ‘right there’ and easy to get at.

(Don’t you love how my shirt and bathroom colors are so coordinating? 😁)

Have you ever tried to take a photo of your back? Let me tell you, it ain’t easy! I deleted many shots before I finally got one I could crop to make work!

This time I got my post written in time that you can take advantage of the pattern (as well as everything else in her shop) being at a 20% discount through tomorrow (3-5-23). I believe she has some of the many samples she made for sale, too, if you’re not a sewer yourself. So head on over to Linds Handmade Designs to take a look!