Jul 152016

Earlier this week, I had a post at imagine gnats about a Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt. Look how poofy it can get when it’s windy! :D:D

kelly skirt

I really had to bonk myself on the head — the side of the waistband that I started topstitching out came out much nicer than the side I ended on. I planned to put in my buttonholes so that the nicer side of the waistband ended up on the top… but then I took a break from sewing and I forgot! I only remembered after I’d sewn all the buttonholes on the side that the instruction say to, and then I was too lazy to unpick them. doh!

kelly skirt waistband

In other interwebby things, last week, Sara at Sew Sweetness released her Tortoise Bag, which I got to test.

tortoise bag

It’s a cute little bag! The next time, I’d try to use a two-way zipper instead of two one-way zippers, though… maybe I could trim down the the tape or find one with very flexible tape.

tortoise bag

Jun 302016

Ever since I joined my quilt guild, I’ve been getting to go to sewing events (yay!!!), and I’ve been wanting to make one giant bag to carry all my supplies in. A long while ago, I bought Elizabeth Hartman‘s Sewing Circle Tote pattern (it looks like it’s no longer available 🙁 ), and last month I finally sewed it up!

sewing circle tote

I used some of the blocks I received from the awesome Piece Bee I belonged to a few years ago — everyone sewed up their own original foundation paper-pieced blocks according to the month’s theme. I chose the blocks mainly based on which ones fit the size of the finished pocket. And I just realized that I forgot to take pictures of two of them, oops.

sewing circle tote

Even though this is actually a pretty basic tote (just with a bajillion pockets), it took me kind of a long time to make. The instructions are very clear, but my brain takes a long time to parse her style of writing. I think it’s because I prefer pattern writers who use lots of bullet points. For instance, one set of cutting instructions says:

Cut 2 strips 14" x width of fabric. From these, cut 2 pieces 14" x 20½" for the front and back, 2 pieces 14" x 10" for the sides, and 1 piece 10" x 20½" for the bag bottom.

I understand that more easily written this way:

  • (2) 14″ x wof
    • front and back: (2) 14″ x 20½”
    • sides: (2) 14″ x 10″
    • bottom: (1) 10″ x 20½”

Aaaaaanyway, this bag is HUGE and I love it! The bottom is especially nice and sturdy — I didn’t have Peltex, so I substituted a few layers of duck canvas and Pellon 65 stabilizer. I think that worked out fine, but then again, I’ve never actually used Peltex, so I don’t know how my bag’s bottom compares with the recommended three layers of peltex. I really liked the way the lining is tacked down at the seam allowance so that the lining bottom never pulls away from the bag. It’s so smart!

There are four external pockets, five elasticized internal pockets, and three internal zipper pockets. It’s always nice having the option of pockets, but the first time I took it to a class, I barely used any of them.

I added a long keyfob to the inside front of the bag. It comes in handy when it’s raining and I only think to fish out my keys when I get to my car, heh.

sewing circle tote, inside

The two sets of handles are a nifty idea — there are longer shoulder straps and also shorter handles that seem like they’d be useful for things like moving the bag around your sewing space. However, since I’m short and consequently make my shoulder straps super short, both sets of straps ended up being almost the same length. It’s a little confusing on my bag, and sometimes I found myself carrying my bag by one shoulder strap and one “short” handle.

sewing circle tote

In summary, here’s what I learned: buy patterns as soon as you like them because otherwise they might get discontinued on you! ;D

Nov 302015

Our guild recently had a foundation paper piecing challenge, and before I made my challenge item (I was procrastinating!), I made a quick poolside tote for the prize.
Modern Flora poolside tote

I was stashbusting, so I did the best I could with choosing fabric that worked together out of my limited selection of 1 yard cuts (because I didn’t feel like finding coordinating half yards for the lining — that would be even more matching!); this is an old Jessica Jones Modern Flora print along with an old Anna Maria Horner LouLouThi print. Since I liked the result so much last time, I made another super long keyfob out of the the LouLouThi selvedge.
Modern Flora & LouLouThi poolside tote

While I was going through old photos, I found pictures of yet another poolside tote I made last year, but forgot to blog about. This was for my sister-in-law, and I meant for it to be a beach tote. Looks beachy, right? 🙂
chevron poolside tote

I lined it with a chicken print that I got specifically for her since she’d recently bought her own chickens and built a coop for them. 😀 (Since this was an earlier tote, the key fob is a more normal length.)
poolside tote - chicken lining

Speaking of chickens, I realized that one of our neighbors has wild chickens living in their mango tree! Someone had stopped by to pick mangoes, and I guess all the shaking disturbed the chickens so they were all over the road. Then I saw a bunch of them fly up to the neighbor’s garage roof, and then they jumped into the mango tree from there!

Oct 012015

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to get to test Taylor Tailor‘s first pattern — the Desmond backpack!
Desmond backpack (in the tangerine tree)

Now, if you look at Taylor’s versions (and probably all of the other testers’), you’ll notice that theirs don’t look as much like demented monkeys as mine does. I’m missing the rectangle rings for the roll-top straps… I found out at the last minute that the ones I had were too big, and I couldn’t find the correct size locally in time for the testing deadline. Derp!
Desmond backpack (in the octopus tree)

I added the dark brown bottom accent because the two bolts of light and dark brown looked so nice next to each other in the store. This was mostly a matter of looking at the pattern piece and marking a line that was as high as possible without having to make the zippered pocket two-toned; my brain broke enough just having to make the slip pocket two colors. 😀
Desmond backpack - bottom accent

I couldn’t find matching dark brown webbing so I made the straps… which made me really irritated at myself when I was almost done and got out my too-large rectangle rings, because if I’d just checked the size first, I could have made the roll-top straps to fit. !!!

Can you see what an awesome shape the shoulder straps are? I’m pretty sure I made an undignified noise when I finished sewing them because they looked so great — totally due to the great pattern pieces and not any skill on my part.
Desmond backpack - back

I had a lot of fun making this backpack, especially because Taylor’s diagrams are so good. Seriously, SO GOOD. Also, the format of the backpack instructions make it super super super easy to notice when he’s talking about pattern pieces, which I love because I’m a huge instruction-skimmer. The pattern is incredibly professional-looking and I adore the version I got to sew up. Congratulations on your first pattern release, Taylor!
Desmond backpack (by the aloe)

Sep 102015

In order to practice for an upcoming workshop, I made an Amy Butler weekender bag I don’t need. hah! My old one is still perfectly fine even though I use it almost every day, and I’m not ready yet to give up my funny ducklings and homelike kitties. 😀
lion weekender bag

Anyway, I needed to write down the modifications I made the last time I used Soft & Stable, so I scrounged through my stash and came up with a me-typical mish mash of fabric loosely themed around felines… the wolves are roughly the same shape, yeah?
lion weekender bag, inside

My piping turned out pretty wrinkled because I got confused again about whether to pull the bias tape taut or leave it slack. I tell myself again: pull taut on bags (convex curves) and leave slack on clothes (concave curves)!!!
lion weekender bag

I’m not sure what to do with this bag, now… on one hand, it would be nice to keep because I like how it turned out, plus I love the zipper. (It has two pulls! And it opens so easily! And it’s pretty!) On the other hand, I wouldn’t use it for a while yet, and I hate having bags sitting around and getting crumply. Plus, it makes me feel like I’m being greedy. A family friend jokingly said she’d take it, and I would actually send it to her if I knew how to mail it without costing an arm and a leg or squishing it too badly. People who make custom bags for reals don’t end up paying $40 for shipping, do they?
lion weekender bag

In any case, while I fail to do anything to figure this out, here’s a picture of my lion weekender bag with a six year-old for scale. 🙂
lion weekender bag, to scale

Aug 182015

In June, I got to lead a workshop sewing the Poolside Tote for my quilt guild, so after the class was over, I finished up all my step-out bits to make myself yet another tote!
Cotton & Steel poolside tote

This time, I put in the exterior zippered pocket, key fob, and an extra interior zippered pocket. I rarely zip up the outside pocket, but it’s nice to have just in case. The interior zippered pocket is super handy for carrying Cosmo’s lactaid (for emergency ice cream stops!), and I loooooooove the key fob. I like to make mine extra long so that I can unlock doors without taking my bag off my shoulder. This one is made it out of two Cotton & Steel selvedges, which I think turned out pretty cute. 🙂
Cotton & Steel poolside tote - key fob

Later on, my friend said she’d like a tote like this, so I made a second one! Can you even tell the difference? :D:D
Carrie's poolside tote

Apr 132015

I’ve really been loving being a part of the Oahu Modern Quilt Guild — the other ladies are so fun and kind that it’s awesome meeting up with them every month. Since I’m behind on blogging (as usual!!!), here’s some things I’ve made for OMQG events since I joined…

In December, we had a mini swap as part of our holiday party, and I made mine based on Carolyn Friedlander’s Bartow quilt. I actually got to see the Bartow quilt and other Kona anniversary quilts in person! A local fabric shop close to my work had them on display, and I wanted to visit and take pictures for our guild during my lunch hour. Since I was nervous about going and taking pictures in the shop, a fellow guildie who goes to there a lot stopped by to go in with me and make me feel better. 😀
bartow mini

I think you can see that I did matchstick quilting… even though it’s only a mini, I got SO BORED while I was quilting. I fell asleep a couple of times.
bartow mini

More recently, we finished up a Bonnie Bucket Bag sewalong. I had a smallish piece of my squirrels and hedgehogs having tea fabric left, and I wanted to use as much of it as possible, so changed my bag to have just two panels instead of three.
bonnie bag

For the exterior zipper, I left off the welt pocketiness of it — in almost all of the Bonnies I’ve seen, the welt things remind me unpleasantly of lips.
bonnie bag, back

My bag was not as impressive as others finished for the sewalong, but people seemed to get a kick out of the gnomies inside. :}
bonnie bag, inside

Finally, the quilt block due this month is for our guild quilt. The blocks had to be made using only our guild colors in solids and could be any size. I made another humuhumunukunukuapua’a; luckily, I had at least saved my initial drawing, although it didn’t have any seam lines drawn on it. I kept referring to my old blog pic while I was sewing this one, heh.
omqg humuhumunukunukuapuaa

Feb 132015

Back during our New York trip (in October! hehehe), I was a little nutty from not being able to sew, so I made a bunch of sewing-related purchases that I normally wouldn’t have — they were awesome, but cost more than I’d normally spend all at once. One was a Swoon subscription, and that was neat because, while shopping at Joanns, I offered to make my sister-in-law a bag out of the fabric she was getting, so she looked through all the Swoon patterns and chose the Rosie crossbody bag.

(I have no idea why I thought it would be cute to include the Essex linen selvedge on one end of the strap.)
rosie crossbody

Still in the spirit of justifying impulse buys, I used Michelle Patterns’ curvy patch pocket templates for one of the inside pockets. It came out really cute!
curvy whale pocket

I put in two zippered pockets (there can never be too many in a purse!), and of course only the exterior one came out wonky, while the interior one was nice and straight. >_< rosie crossbody back

My sister-in-law doesn’t sew too much, but she really had fun at Joanns and was buying fabric because I also offered to make her some scrubs and fabric baskets. She found a book in the store with some that she liked, and I remember that they seemed pretty easy to recreate without instructions, so I told her not to buy the book. But now I forget what they looked like! doh! I’d better get cracking on making more stuff out of her fabric — I see it every day, and its guilt cloud is getting stronger…
rosie crossbody

Jan 202015

I made two more poolside totes recently for presents because I love this pattern so much. The cutout makes it easy to reach in to grab stuff without taking one of the handles off my shoulder!

The first one was for my co-worker who retired at the end of last year. I actually wanted to make her a quilt, but ran out of time. 🙁
mochi dots poolside tote

Since I wasn’t sure how flashy she likes her bags, I used a conservative mochi dot canvas for the exterior. (Can you see the slip pocket? Pattern matching! 🙂 ) She used to give me cute little origami boxes (with candy inside!) made out of adorable cartoony paper, though, so I figured it would be okay to use this fun print on the inside.
mochi dot poolside tote interior

The second was for my friend’s birthday. I sent it in the same box as her late Christmas present, which ooops, I forgot to take a good picture of. I’ll just slap up the instagram pic here (which I took while I was waiting to find out what length to make the handles) — it’s a Petrillo bag that she chose the fabrics for.
birdie petrillo bag

She’s going to use her Petrillo bag for work, and she remarked that it looked pretty somber compared to the bags I normally make. :> So then to balance things out, I made her a silly horsie bag (my fabric choice, of course) for her birthday!
horsie poolside tote pocketless

I did the zipper pocket on hers (instead of just a slip pocket like the others) because, even though it’s a silly bag, it should still be a little bit practical for my practical friend. 😀
horsie poolside tote

Dec 052014

I got to test Sew Sweetness’s new Holland bag pattern (I believe it’s going to be released next year), and it makes such a cute little bag!
holland bag

I haven’t gotten around to buying thicker topstitching thread, so my straight stitching on the Essex linen straps was looking wobbly (even though I swear I was sewing straight). I ripped that out for the strap extenders on the bag body and experimented with the decorative stitches on my Juki F600… I may have gone a little crazy with the cutesy-folksy look, but I like it with the matryoshka print!
holland bag -- lookit the straps :D

Since the pattern is going to be aimed at beginners (I think), it includes instructions for patch pockets on both sides of the lining, but I replaced one with my usual interior zipped pocket.
holland bag interior zip

The bottom lining is an Aneela Hoey fabric — this is going to be my niece’s Christmas present, so hopefully she’ll get a kick out of the girl reading a book.
holland bag bottom

The tester version of the pattern has pretty long straps (30″ strips), but I like smaller bags like these to be right under my arm, so I cut mine down to 23″. Here’s a five year-old for scale!
Cosmo and the Holland bag

I sewed this on both my Juki TL-2000qi and F600. I started out on the F600 because of the decorative stitching on the straps and continued until I was sewing the exterior pieces (canvas and Soft & Stable) together. Then I noticed that when I tugged the exterior pieces apart at the seams, the stitching would become exposed, which looks awful. I switched to my TL-2000qi, and that sews things together much tighter so that individual stitches are never exposed when the seams are stressed.

Now I’m curious: do you think that if I needed to, I would be able to adjust my F600’s settings so that thick seams are more secure, or is this just the natural difference between a computerized/decorative stitch machine and a straight-stitch-only machine? Either way, I’m glad I have both! hehehe.
holland bag -- lookit the straps :D