happy bag!

So my plan to get a couple of things cut out by the end of the weekend was a complete fail– it’s Tuesday now, and I still only have the cardigan cut out! It was very much a weekend of nothing going according to my plan–ended up going out with some friends on Friday night at the last minute, and my Saturday shopping trip ended up taking a lot longer than I’d expected it to. So between that and dinner, I lost the entire day for craftiness. Didn’t get much done on Sunday either, since I was helping one of my friends who just moved unpack a bit, and now I’m having to ease into my fall work schedule. And since right now that also consists of last minute panicking and rushing to get stuff done in time for band tomorrow, that means no sewing has happened in a couple of days.

I did, however, have time to finish this! Finished the machine work on Friday and stitched up the inside lining on Sunday night.

So yes, after years of searching, I’ve finally found the one! (Purse pattern, anyway. Still working on the guy part.) It came together so much easier than my last bag that I sewed, I love the front cutout detail (and they’re actually pockets, so totally practical), and it’s nice and roomy. The only alterations I made to the pattern were enlarging the dimensions about 2″, and making the strap a crossover one instead of two handles. (I like the hands-free thing, and the two handles on the purse that I caved to buy last fall because I had no time to sew one ended up annoying me. Especially once it got cold enough that I had to wear my rather bulky winter coat–it would NOT stay on my shoulder!)

And look! More pockets! On both sides of the lining! No more fishing around for my chapstick! Or a pen!

And what’s it got in its pocketses, you may ask? It worked out so nicely– though it was completely unplanned, one of the pockets was the perfect size to put my fabric swatch notebook into. Another one holds my sunglasses case (which doesn’t like to stay closed) rather snugly. And I can fit my largeish wallet in there and still have room for a nice-sized book. This one happens to be the 5th installment of Harry Potter, which checks out at a whopping 870 pages. And since the ability to carry a book around with me at all times is one of my bag must-haves, the fact that I have so much room left after that makes me extremely happy.

In other news, Self-Stitched September starts tomorrow! I’m really excited about this one, actually, since the focus isn’t just on sewing clothes, it’s about integrating them into outfits. Since I never actually put the pledge up here, figured this would be a good time to do so! So here goes…

‘I, Becky, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned item of clothing  or accessory/jewelry every day for the duration of September 2010′.

So yeah, there’s the rules I’m setting for myself, other than I’m not counting my garden center job in this. (I have a t-shirt I have to wear, and everything gets dirty and, this time of year, sweaty and gross.) I’m going to aim for one piece of actual clothing that I’ve made or reconstructed every day–hopefully I won’t have to fall back on the jewelry too often! Though I already know the weekends are probably going to be the biggest challenge for me in this, since I tend to live in jeans and knit shirts then. I’m thinking I’m also going to try for one picture post a week here to show off the outfit combos, so you’ll have to excuse my pretending I’m a personal style blogger. (Any more than once a week and I’m afraid I’d bore you all with pictures of myself, lol!) 

Getting ahead of myself

I am SO close to finishing up the fall purse I’m working on. The machine work is done now, and I just need to hand-stitch the lining bottom shut and it’s done. I’m really excited about how it turned out, too–this just might turn into one of my go-to bag patterns! (Pictures will come after it’s actually finished.)

And of course, now that I’m so close, my brain has already moved on to the next several projects! I’m hoping to get several things cut out this weekend….

First on the menu, this cardigan, which I cut out last night. I lengthened it a bit, since the pattern makes it look like it would hit at my hips and I thought it would look much better/more me/less like a granny sweater if I brought it to about mid-thigh. I’m expecting this to be a pretty quick one, actually–if I play my cards right, I won’t even have to hem it! The selvedges turn up in a natural zig-zag, and it’s a really nice finished look. So I’m thinking I’m going to unfold it for serging purposes, and then tack it down by hand, and I should be done.

I’d also like to get the pattern traced out and a muslin cut out for this jacket, since I’ve been drooling over it for more than a year now. It’s going to need some tweaking, because I can’t see it looking right over top of anything else as an actual jacket. Not with that neckline. So I’m planning on making this more of a blouse, and will have to raise the neckline accordingly. It won’t look right longer, but with that length I’ll feel much better if I can wear a cami underneath, and I don’t particularly want that showing above the jacket neckline.

One project that I forgot to mention in my fall planning post is revisiting the pattern that I made my “Green and Gray” dress from. I had this one in mind anyway, since the main print fabric has been sitting around since the same Christmas that the jacket fabric came from (also part of my fabric gift pack from Mom). But it’s getting bumped up in the queue because one of my cousins is getting married in October and I need something to wear. (And there is no way that I am pulling out that dress from my brother’s wedding again, unless it’s to chop it into a skirt!) I figured this one would be perfect, since it’s nice fallish colors, and it’s a knit fabric. So it’ll be really comfortable for the drive, too. Which is good, because the wedding is in his fiancee’s hometown, which is 4 1/2 hours away (one way), and it’s looking like my immediate family is going to drive there and back again on the same day. Anyway, I’m going to alter it so that it’s long-sleeved instead of 3/4, just because the weather in that part of Pennsylvania in October could be pretty chilly. And even if it’s not, this is for the ice queen that is me.

I’m also going to be sewing a little bit of the fiancee’s shower gift (teaming up with my sis-in-law for the rest of it), but that may not get cut out this weekend since we’re going shopping for said shower and wedding gifts later this morning. That, and I have to work on getting some music together for the band I teach, which starts up again on Wednesday. And cook some food so I actually have something to eat–my freezer stash is starting to run a little low, and all insanity (aka my fall work schedule) breaks loose on Monday! I’m hoping that I can at least find a little bit of time to keep sewing in there–I’d like to get something new done during Self-Stitched September! I’ve also been reconstructing a sweater, so maybe I can at least stitch on that in the evenings or something….

Jewelrystock II: Now with actual pictures!

Rather than post a bajillion full-sized pictures, I was able to consolidate these just a bit. So here’s what came out of Saturday (plus a few extras.)

I’d actually started the blue and silver necklace on the left a week or two ago–it was just a more time-consuming one. The blue stones are sodalite, and they’re lined with wire and twisted jump rings. Definitely one of the more involved pieces I’ve done so far. As for the one on the right, it’s glass beads, chain, and glass/gemstone chips. I really like how that one turned out, actually… I’m rather tempted to keep it for myself! Or at least clone it, since I probably do have enough of the gem chips left to make a second set. (They were Fire Mountain “thank you for ordering” freebies at some point.)

Going clockwise from the top left: the three bracelets are deconstructed from a bracelet of Majjong tiles that I picked up really cheaply at the craft store once. I like my version better. (And I’ll be keeping the one in the middle!) The earrings are ones I made a few weeks ago. The blue and silver bracelet was made with leftovers from the necklace above. And the branch earrings are also among my favorite that I’ve made to date– they’re glass leaf beads and wire that I wrapped into that shape. I’ll definitely be duplicating that one at some point.

Two more necklace/earring sets: the teal and copper one is some leftovers from stuff we’ve had for years– one of the necklaces I made for my mom. And the purple and green one to the right is very similar to the necklace I made for Cassie on Saturday. It’s a lot of the same beads, though hers also had green glass beads mixed in. The earrings are rather different– just clusters of the gemstone and glass chips.

And then these are the rest of the earrings I made on Saturday…minus one, now that I’m looking at it. Anyway, from top left: cat face charms and glass beads, a dark glass crystal and a dyed freshwater pearl, more glass beads. Bottom row: Sodalite chips and chain, glass beads and some seashell beads left over from one of my necklaces, and glass heart beads and a metallic bead.

Finally, the earring set that I missed: the glass flower bead are from the same set as the green ones above, and the crochet beads are also leftovers from one of my mom’s Christmas gift necklaces.

And with that, off to take advantage of my not having any teaching this afternoon (flute repair/band camp/end of summer hurrah type things) to run some errands, and then I have that purse to keep sewing.


Earlier this summer, my best friend and I decided we needed to have an all-day craftyfest at some point–she and I and another friend are considering attempting a craft fair sometime this fall, and we needed to make inventory. I decided back when we were discussing it that I’d rather do jewelry than sew things, mainly because I can whip out stuff faster for that and I have more stuff on hand to use. (Seeing as how most of my fabric stash that I’d be willing to use for such things would be leftovers from my clothes–not the most craft-conducive fabrics, since most of that is probably not cotton and the like.) Plus I can make each piece of jewelry a little different and not just sew the same pattern out of the same pieces of fabric a bajillion times. I’d get so bored if I did that. Seriously. And if I don’t sell anything, as long as it’s not a clone of something I’ve made for myself, I can just keep it.

No pictures yet, because the lighting sucks for it this late in the day and I need to get a shower and get to bed. Between getting home about 2 this morning from another friend’s going-away party that was last night, and getting up earlier than I otherwise would have to get ready for Cassie coming over, I’m done. But I wanted to chart my progress before I forget. So in the time it took us to watch 5 episodes of The Big Bang Theory, 4 episodes of Farscape, 4 episodes of reeeeeally old-school Doctor Who (like from the 60s…we couldn’t help giving it a bit of a Mystery Science Theater treatment) and 3 episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, minus meals, I managed to finish 12 pairs of earrings, 4 bracelets, and 5 3/4 necklaces. I probably could have finished more, but I’m trying to branch out a bit from just straight-up stringing beads and so I’ve been playing around with some different styles and techniques. Not everything is for the craft fair– I did make one of the bracelets for myself, and a necklace/earring set for Cassie because she said if we do this, she wanted to wear one of my necklaces to help me model. And apparently, though I’ve made earrings for her before for either Christmas or her birthday, the only necklace she owned that I made was her bridesmaid necklace from Julie’s wedding. But that still gives me a pretty good starting inventory. I’ll get some pics as soon as I can. And hopefully I can keep the motivation going to keep at this–Cassie was having to give me a pretty serious pep talk the other day, because I’ve been in a mood lately where I’m excited about fall projects and Self-Stitched September and I just want to sew!

On the machine…

Besides cutting out fabric (and a little bit of flute teaching), this is what I spent the evening doing. It’s going to be the front, or perhaps the back, of this bag. I borrowed the pattern from my mom (bags are her favorite thing to sew that isn’t quilts), and she’s being rather generous in letting me use bits of her stash to fill in– I had a plain brown that I’d gotten to go with this, but it didn’t quite go with my fabric. (My mom is awesome!) Since this is fabric she can actually use, she’s probably going to get my leftovers as a thank-you…yes, I have fabric left over. At least a yard. This seems to be a common problem with me these days!

I’m excited that I finally get to use this for something, though, because the fabric’s been in my stash for probably 3-4 years now. I was originally going to make a dress from it, but I’m glad I never got around to it because it’s going to look so much better as a bag. And the colors are absolutely perfect for fall.

So I have one more piece to quilt–two, technically, though I think that part behind the front pocket with the cutouts is going to get just enough quilting to hold it to the batting, and hopefully hidden behind said pocket. And then I can start actual bag construction! Good thing too, because I need to get this done asap–forget Labor Day fashion “rules”, I’m more concerned that my poor warm-weather purse is literally beginning to fall to pieces! Oh well, I did get two years’ spring and summer use out of it…and since it’s just around the edges and especially the strap, I just might be able to find a way to recycle a bit of the fabric. I do need to make myself a new iPod case at some point, after all. (Because that is also falling to pieces.)

I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…

I can’t help it. I see plaid, I get that Monty Python song stuck in my head. But I think my shirt looks way better than his. And since the fabric was called “Ayden”, I’m going to go with that for the sidebar, because I’d much rather go with the boys’ name than my “lumberjack shirt”. (Besides, I like the way they spelled it.) So here’s my extremely laid-back pattern review for Burda #110 of the May 2009 issue.

It’s not perfect. If I was going to do it again, I think I’d have done some things differently. Like I think I’d make the back a bit wider, because it’s a little snug across the shoulders despite my having let the back pleat out quite a bit for the same reason. And I’d take it in a bit more at the waist….I may still do that if I’m feeling up to it, actually. Depends on how self-conscious I end up feeling about it. I’d definitely make the buttonholes a little bigger, because some of the buttons are reaaaaaally hard to button, but I was having some issues with that anyway (more on that later). And I ended up taking something like 6″ off the hem, because when I did the test version, I knew that with the plaid, it was going to hit in a really awful spot on my hips. I think maybe I took a little too much off. Maybe.
But I do think I did well with other things. I took a little of the fullness out of the sleeves, and they’re perfectly non-gathered just like I wanted–and I added the right length, too! And I still like the way the pleats turned out! I like the double-buttoned cuffs even though I don’t think the pattern called for that. (I have to admit that once I got to the buttonholes yesterday afternoon, I kind of ignored the magazine’s instructions altogether and just stuck them where they’d look good. And no collar button that I’m never, ever going to use!) I think I did a pretty good job of matching up the stripes, too, at least to the extent that I could given the pattern. I’m still proud of myself for picking this fabric, because it’s not in my color comfort zone at all– no blue, green, black or brown anywhere, and I still like it.
I do like the pattern overall, and I think with a couple of tweaks to fix those fitting issues, I’d use it again.
So that issue I’m having with buttonholes… I think I may have broken the buttonhole foot on my machine. 😦 I have this bad habit of setting it on the edge of the table–earlier this year or late last year I found a travel toiletry case at Goodwill and I’ve been using that as my “sewing box”, which has worked really well, and had been keeping it in there. Which worked much better. Except that apparently I forgot to do that one time recently, and it got knocked onto the floor and into two pieces. It’s back together now, but it doesn’t quite slide around as well as it should, and still comes apart sometimes. I’m also not entirely convinced that because of that, it doesn’t affect the length the buttonholes actually end up being in relation to each other–my machine has the ability to make one buttonhole and then go on auto to remember the length, but if the foot’s not starting in the right place, I think it may be shortening a few of them. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to replace it either, since I have an older model machine. 😦 Guess I’ll have to start checking eBay.

I also did a minor refashion recently, which I finished up on Friday night. I got this tank top awhile back because I liked the color and the length and overall shape of it. What I did not like was this embellishment. I was ok with the sequins, but those clusters of fake pearls were just nasty. Especially since I’m not a pearl fan anyway–too grandmotherly for my taste. So I took those off, as well as the sequins since they were coming off anyway. I wanted to take the lace off too, but I took a couple of stitches out and found that it was leaving visible holes in the fabric, so it had to stay. It was too plain with just the lace, so I ended up sewing beads on there.

Much better. (Except for the photo coloring.)

A couple of updates on previously mentioned things:
#1: I’ve decided for certain that I will be doing Self-Stitched September. My pledge is to wear at least one handmade or reconstructed article of clothing and/or accessory each day for the month. (Good thing I have my jewelry stash.)

#2: You remember that jeans muslin? The one that was just refusing to work? The class instructor did get it in the mail. (And is actually using it as an example in the jeans-fitting class she’s teaching at a fashion school there, eep! I guess it’s a good example of what not to do….or how many fitting issues one girl can have…) The nice thing is that she’s going to make a pattern from the muslin (hopefully after fixing the crotch issues) and send that back to me. So that saves me a step, and then I don’t have to worry about remembering the ridiculous amount of changes I ended up making. So maybe, just maybe, there is hope that someday I will be able to make a pair of jeans that really fit! (And don’t fall apart after 3 wearings. Yes, I’m still a little bitter about that one.)
Next on the agenda: a new bag for fall. I broke down and bought a purse last fall because I didn’t have time to sew one, and ended up hating it. At least, hating the straps, which had a tendency to constantly fall off my shoulder when I had to wear a coat. Especially this one, which is quite bulky due to all of the layers…stuff like that makes me wish I could wear wool.  (Also, for a pricey leather bag, which thankfully was on sale, it was kind of poorly constructed– I had a tear in it before 2 months had passed!) So this year I’m going back to my funky printed cotton bag. And using up some stash to boot! Hoping to cut that out tonight, since I have reduced teaching and will be home earlier than usual. Ah, end of summer/beginning of marching band season.

a tale of two opposites

First off: The instant gratification project (with a short backstory)! My dad has had rental properties for some time now–since before I started college, I think. That was largely how my parents paid for that for both me and my brother. And while I was still in school, I’d occasionally help him out with fixing them up between tenants as my class/work schedules allowed. Mostly in terms of painting and cleaning off disgusting kitchen appliances. It’s not unusual for his tenants to leave things there– I think my brother and his wife have a chair from one of the more recent incidents of that. My best find was a beach umbrella, which was still in great condition, and which I’ve been toting with me every time I’ve gone to the beach since. (Being of mostly Anglo-Celtic-German decent, I tend to burn like a vampire in the sun. And not those sparkly poser Twilight ones, either.)

The only bad thing about the umbrella was its carrying case. It was cheap clear vinyl that had a tendency to stick to the umbrella somewhat when you stuff it back in. On the plus side, it did have a carrying strap. But that broke either last summer or the summer before, and there were just a ridiculous amount of tears in it. So I finally got around to making a new bag for it on Sunday– just in time, too, since I’m going to be going back and forth to the beach several times in this next week and a half! It was so easy to make– just basically sewing/topstitching the strap, sewing that on to the fabric, and then making a closed-end tube out of it. With the drawstring top, of course. I modeled it after the old bag, and the umbrella fits in there rather snugly, but perfectly. And the best thing was that this was all stuff I had on hand– the metal rings were in my box of random sewing thingamabobs (I think from some bag I didn’t get around to), and the drawstring was leftover stuffing cord from the piping I made for some pajamas. The fabric is one of the curtains from my old bedroom. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the leftover curtain-and-two-thirds that I still have left…

Now for my still-in-progress, anti-instant-gratification project:

This is where I’m at so far on my blouse from the May 2009 Burda. It’s going kind of slowly because I’m trying to pin really carefully in order to match up the plaids as much as possible. That, and I had to cut all of the pieces out individually to match the plaids. (And I still don’t think I got it right on the top front…I should have shifted it over a little more. Oh well.) Well, that and both of the concerts I was scheduled to go to this summer were within three days of each other, as in this past Saturday and Monday. (Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.) I’m really excited to see how this shirt will turn out, though–given the color scheme, I’m a bit surprised at how much I’m loving this fabric.

Plus this shirt has some really great details. I really like those pleats! If it turns out as well as I’m hoping, I strongly suspect that I’m going to use this pattern again.

I’m planning on working on it some more this afternoon, since the garden center has had to cut back its employees’ hours and therefore I have no work until the three lessons I teach this evening. Just have to finish up some cleaning first. And probably some more flute practicing, since the flute ensemble has a concert on Sunday, and I more or less had to sight-read all of the parts last Sunday because I got switched to other parts. But if all goes well, this should have sleeves by the end of the day!

On a final, random note, I’m seriously considering signing up for this Self-Stitched September challenge.  It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything like that, and I like that the parameters let you kind of design your own challenge. I’ve seen some people on there saying they’ll wear ONLY handmade stuff, and others who go the route of wearing at least one handmade article of clothing or accessory every day. So in that aspect, it would be a fairly stress-free challenge (and I wouldn’t have to attempt to sew a bunch of pants in less than a month, or exclude any of my favorite thrift store finds!) Much more user-friendly than, say, the Wardrobe Refashion challenge. And I kind of like seeing what other people come up with for these things. Only a couple weeks left till the fall (eep) so I guess I’d better make up my mind…