Monday, September 9, 2019

Twofer Tote

As I mentioned in my last post, I had another pattern test coming up. This was for a new designer I'd never tested for before, but I had sewn one of her other bags recently. The test is now completed, and it went very well. I'd gladly test for her again. Here's the resulting bag:

It's the Twofer Tote, by Linds Handmade Designs, and it can be purchased here.

It has shoulder straps plus a crossbody strap, and when carried as a crossbody, it folds over for a different look.

The pattern features leather accents, but cork or faux leather (as mine is) can also be used, and I learned some good tips for sewing with leather. It even has an accent piece around the zipper pocket inside, and I love the look of it. It's so easy to do, and the inside of the pocket has no raw edges, not even the zipper tape.

There are lots of rivets in this bag... 20, to be exact! Although if you're intimidated by rivets, you could skip them and just stitch instead, but I really like the look, even of those on the inside of the bag, They just add 'something', don't you think?

The fabric I used on the outside is some of Jess's (a.k.a. howaboutorange) barkcloth that she designed a few years ago for Cloud9 Fabrics. (Unfortunately it's all sold out now, so don't even ask.) I still love the texture of it.

So there you have it... a sweet tote bag with a zippered top, three slip pockets on the outside, one accented zipper pocket inside, shoulder straps plus a crossbody strap. I love it, and the pattern was easy to sew (some bag-making experience is helpful but not required), well thought-out and detailed, yet not complicated or confusing. I highly recommend it!

Grandpa happened to come home just as I'd finished taking photos, so I enlisted his help for one more, so you can get a feel for the size of the tote. It's just right, I think.

Speaking of taking photos, the background makes all the difference! Here's one that I took on the deck steps. It sure looks blah compared to the ones in front of the flowers, doesn't it?

What's next? Maybe another pattern test. The tester call hasn't come yet. Other than that, there are still plenty of to-sew's on my list, so we'll see.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Classic Shirt #2

What would you make if you received fabric like this in the mail?

Can you guess who picked it out? No, not Courtney, but if you said Jess, you were correct. She fell in love with it when she saw it at Oak Fabrics, and she asked if I might "pretty please" be interested in making her another Classic Shirt, using the same pattern I'd used before by Liesl + Co. I figured 'why not?' since I was all practiced up from making the other one.

She suggested one change, and that was to make the collar just a tad wider. That was an easy adjustment, and I added ½" to the width. I also used the old traditional way of sewing on the collar and cuffs, rather than the more complicated (or at least it seemed so to me) way the pattern called for. I found it easier, and I think it turned out just as well if not better. Also, this rayon was a bit easier to work with than what I used for the first shirt, so that was nice.

Behold the Classic Shirt, in Broken Staircase rayon!

Her photographer (hubby Alex) was out of town, so she just sent me these quick in-front-of-mirror iPhone photos.

It must've been a bad hair day or something. ;)

So, another successful shirt in the books. One more to go... my own! Someday. Don't hold your breath. I have a pattern test coming up soon, so that will be first.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sewing with Courtney - another year, another 4-H garment

*UPDATE: See end of post.

Another year has flown by and it's nearly County Fair time again! Granddaughter Courtney wanted to sew another garment, so a little searching came up with this pattern, and she loved it immediately.

Since we got off to a much later start than last year, there was no time to waste, and she got busy and cut it all out in one session.

I kinda like that "flamingo pose", don't you?

The next time she was here, she began sewing it together.

It's chilly in my basement sewing room, so a sweatshirt was usually required. I don't think the hood was 'necessary', but... ;)

She kept her iPod nearby, just in case she got a friend alert or something. Or if they tried to call her, just to "start a conversation". LOL

Here is her romper, half done, and a better look at the fabric she chose. I admit I cringed a little bit when I saw it was a plaid, but there wasn't a terrible lot of matching to do, so we conquered it okay.

She got to learn something new this time - how to sew with a serger. She used it to finish the seams. She's not really sewing with it in the photo below, but faking it because I forgot to take a pic while she was actually doing it.

She carefully did the ironing herself, including measuring and pressing up the hems. Below she's working on the shorts hems, but she also did all the way around the top and bottom edges of that ruffle! She got lots of practice!

Speaking of that ruffle, I learned a new tip a while back for making narrow hems easier, especially on curved items. You serge the edge first, before pressing, so then you have that ¼" of serging stitches to go by when folding. It works like a charm, and it helps to draw in the excess fabric in the curves so that you don't get a bunch of little pleats.

More sewing below, plus folding and pinning the tiny narrow tie for the waist bow.

I did allow her a break occasionally, which she spent with a snack, and....

Ta Da! The finished romper! It fit just right and we were both so pleased with how it turned out!

Here's a little closer look below. On examining this photo myself, I finally realized how lucky we were in how the plaid matched up vertically! I really couldn't plan for that very well when we laid it out because of the gathering and the seamed shorts, but somehow it worked out just right! I love when that happens!!

We had a fluffy little photo assistant (well, several of them actually), so how could we not include her in one of the shots?

The 4-H Fashion Revue was held last Tuesday evening. Here she is, modeling her constructed project.

This is her purchased outfit.

Finally, here's her recycled outfit.

At the end, they did a little "parade" of all the fashions. There was quite a variety, and it was fun to see all the garments.

We don't know exactly how she did as far as scoring. We'll find out next week when all of her projects are put on display at the fair with their respective ribbons. She's been working on many projects besides this sewing one. I'm sure she'll do well and that her dream of going to the State Fair with one or more will come true! She does an excellent job on everything, and I am so very proud of her!

*UPDATE:  Courtney was happy to report she got a Reserve Champion and a purple ribbon for her romper. Way to sew, Miss C! She also received 5 Grand Champions and various other awards for her many other projects, and she's earned herself a trip to the State Fair, which I know she is looking forward to a lot.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A glorious surprise!

Last April we had an ice storm, and our trees ended up looking like this.

We lost quite a few branches, and Grandpa had to cut down a lot of broken ones. On one of the branches he'd cut, I noticed a large cocoon, so I cut off the part of the branch it was on. Here's what it looked like.

I had no idea what would be in that type of cocoon, and I asked my Instagram followers if any of them knew. No one could help me out, but one person said it would be something big! That sounded exciting, and since I was curious as to what might eventually hatch out of it, I put it in one of our kids' old "critter cages" and set it in the garage in a place where I'd be sure to notice it every day.

I waited and waited, but it seemed like the time for it to hatch was probably past, and I sorta gave up on it ever happening because it looked pretty dried up. Yet, I still looked at it every day, out of habit mostly. As of Monday morning, it still hadn't changed.

Then Monday evening, I glanced at it and was amazed to see this!

It was so huge! I didn't even know if it would fit through the door of the cage, but I removed the empty cocoon, got it to crawl onto my finger and carefully dragged it through. It seemed quite content to remain on my finger. It obviously had just recently hatched, so it still needed time to stretch its wings before it could take off.

Here it is stretched out next to its cocoon.

Upon closer examination of the cocoon, I couldn't even at first see where it had gotten out. But then I noticed this tiny hole in the end of it.

Yep, that's where it came out! I later did some researching to find out first of all what it was and then more about it coming out of that tiny hole. I happened to discover on Instagram a video of one hatching. It's quite a struggle! As someone said, it's rather like a human giving birth to a baby! :)

Isn't it glorious, though?! Research quickly told me that it's a female Cecropia Moth, the largest moth in North America! I had heard of them before but never seen one in real life that wasn't already dead and on public display in someone's collection.

They're so HUGE! I measured the wing span on this one and it was just over six inches! You may notice the wing tips are bent a bit. That's because it didn't have enough room in the cage to fully stretch them before they dried. I doubt it would affect its ability to fly, though.

It was so beautiful! The males look the same except they have much larger antennae (to better detect the presence of a female, which they can do from up to a mile away!) and a smaller body. I love the "furryiness" of its body, too.

Need a little more size reference? Here it is on the front of my shirt!

It wasn't ready to fly yet, but Grandpa and I needed supper, which was already overdue thanks to my discovery, so we put it on the maple tree that the cocoon had been on originally.

That was the last we saw of it.

Sadly, these beautiful moths only have a two-week life span. They have no mouth parts or digestive system, so they can't eat anything to live on. They live only to reproduce. Seems like a waste of such a beautiful creature, doesn't it? But knowing that makes me appreciate even more the gift I had in finding one. Needless to say, my day was made!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Benjamin Dopp Kit

I love quick, easy projects that use up scraps. This time I almost finished up my last bits of waxed canvas (same as I used for the Dayna Pack in my last post). I still have about a 10" square piece left for 'something'. It's so nice to sew with, and I just may have to get some more sometime.

I made a Benjamin Dopp Kit. It's from a free tutorial by Red Rabbit Mercantile, and it can be found here. It makes a nice little masculine shaving kit or possibly a cosmetic bag in prettier colors. This one was for Grandpa, and it's made its first trip already - to Texas!

I added a strap that was also left over from a previous project, and then I added purse feet... mainly just for fun, because I could. :)

I use some ripstop nylon for the lining but failed to take a picture of it. Imagine it black. :)

So there ya have it. Done in a day! Yay!