Oct 212013

After a month I’ve finally finished making a diaper bag for my sister’s third-baby-present. That’s what I get for not buying a pattern.
ish diaper bag

I made the diaper bag she’s currently using a couple of years ago when I didn’t know much about making bags (the crossbody strap isn’t adjustable!), so I wanted her to have a nicer one. I couldn’t find a pattern to buy that I liked, so I looked for a real bag to copy and landed on Petunia Pickle Bottom’s Wistful Weekender. I know, I’m such a meanie! I use my sewing abilities for evil.
ish - snap tab

Anyway, I spent a couple of days making pattern pieces out of butcher paper. Then I was going to be good and make a test bag out of the small cuts of the Jessica Jones canvas I already had… but partway through sewing it together, I knew I’d never want to make a second one, so my sister was going to get this funny version. On to features!
ish - zipper top

There are three ribbon loopies for keys/binkies/other dangly things — one each for the exterior pockets and one in the bag.
ish - binky loop

The snap tabs on the ends allow the bag to kind of cinch up smallerhugish or open up to gargantuanhuge.
ish - snap tab open

There are ten interior pockets: four gathered pockets (two on each end), four regular patch pockets (two on each long side), and two zippered pockets. It’s pocketastic in there!
ish - inside pockets and binky fob

After a ton of overthinking, I put in the separating zipper flappies that the original has. I got the zipper from zipperstop, sewed each side into 3″ wide flaps, sewed the flaps to the interior fabric, and then covered the raw edges with cotton tape. It took less time than I had spent thinking about it.
ish - zipper flap

I wanted to give the bottom a little support without making it too heavy, so after assembling the exterior, I sewed a plastic cutting board (cut down to the curvy shape) between two pieces of heavy sew-in interfacing, and then sewed that whole sandwich to the bottom of the bag. It’s oooookay… it strikes the right balance between structure and weight for me, but it is still pretty bendy.
ish - bottom

I did a ton of top-stitching — I sewed two lines outside of every seam, including the seams in the lining. I was so pleased with myself… until I realized (after finishing the exterior and lining) that I’d left myself no way to turn the bag.
ish - inside stitching

As it happens, I wouldn’t have been able to do the turny-right-side-out way anyway because of the way I made the pattern pieces. Fortunately, the quilt binding-ey finish doesn’t look too crazy. But that’s not what I have pictures of — here’s more proof of top-stitching!
ish - stitching

Also, piping! The actual making of piping doesn’t bother me, but the amount of fabric I have to cut up to make it does. I can’t argue that piping doesn’t make bags look better, though, so I put on. I didn’t cut the piping fabric on the bias, but I think that actually would have worked out okay if I hadn’t also been double dumb and used twine that was not thick enough for the cording instead of the actual good piping cording that I have but still chose not to use. guh.
ish - piping

Last of all, I made a regular old adjustable cross-body strap that can hook onto the metal rings for the shoulder straps. I dithered a ton about whether to make dedicated stroller straps, but decided they weren’t necessary — Mr. Yazoo forgets that we even have them on our bag and just uses the cross-body strap to hang it over the stroller.
ish - crossbody strap

I initially made the strap waaaaaaay too long and had to cut it down twice so it would be short enough for my sister, who’s almost as tall as me. (hehehehehehe! Just kidding, we’re the same height.)
ish - crossbody with yazoo scale

The bag is supposed to be 17″ wide x 12″ high x 13″ deep, but it sure feels huge. You can put a baby in it!
ish - glowbug scale

Or you could be a normal person and not get arrested for carrying your baby in a bag.
ish - shoulder straps with yazoo scale

Oct 162013

Mr. Yazoo has a dadcat crazy shirt that he looooooves — he’s seriously worn it almost every weekend since Cosmo was born.
dadcat crazy shirt

It’s getting just a leetle stanky after four years, and since I haven’t been able to find a new one to buy him, my sister (the artist) helped me make him a dadcat pillowcase!
dadcat trio pillowcase

She drew a version with three kitties (for our three kids), and then I blew it up and thread sketched it onto Essex linen. I didn’t stabilize the linen with anything, though, so it came out pretty wrinkly. Good thing Mr. Yazoo’s not too picky about things like that!
dadcat stamp

After I gave Mr. Yazoo his pillowcase, I felt like doing some commerce, so we went down to SlumberWorld so he could pick out a new pillow. That was some fun shopping, but I quietly had a heart attack when I realized that his pillow cost a hundred eighty dollars. gahhhhhhhhh…

Then, to add insult to injury, the (standard length) pillowcase I had made was too short for Mr. Yazoo’s new queen-sized pillow, so I had to unpick it and sew on the extra dark blue bit at the end. That took me an hour, which I laughed and laughed about the next day when I watched that episode of Project Runway where the designers on the bottom remade their entire dresses in an hour. >_<
dadcat trio pillowcase close up

Sep 242013

… but I still ended up making my niece’s presents the night before. It was crazy — I was sewing the binding down while we were driving to see her, and Mr. Yazoo stopped in an elementary school parking lot so that I could take pictures (hehehe) before he wrapped the presents. But backing up –

Her first present was a devourer monster pillow. This thing is hilarious!
monster pillow

It was really fast to make (if you don’t count having to vacuum up all the loose fun fur afterwards, hah). For a 20″ pillow form, I might want to add an inch or two to the top piece next time, since this one just barely covered up the opening. Nom!
monster pillow, to scale

Just a pillow didn’t seem like enough, so after finishing the pillow (at 3 am), I decided to make her an art portfolio thingy. Should be just as quick, right? I mean, after how many years of sewing, I should be able to jam that out, yeah? NO. I am not fast, especially when making all kinds of whatever with no pattern. Gah.
art folder, front

It’s made to fit an 8″x10″ sketch pad because I had two 7.5″x11″ flexible food-cutting boards laying around. That missing half inch isn’t important, right? YES, that missing half inch is important. I initially made the straps to hold in the sketch pad completely out of elastic, and that made the back of the folder collapse around the missing half inch. Then I tried fixing it by grabbing one of our actual (larger) cuttings boards and trimming it to fit the back exactly, which kind of worked, except the elastic was still too tight and made the back cover bow inwards. But the elastic was already sewn into a bajillion seams (or maybe three) that I didn’t want to unpick, so I finally fixed it by chopping off most of the elastic and sewing the bitty ends to some twill tape.
art folder, close up interior

There’s an attached pencil case, but I didn’t realize til too late that I ought to have also made those little elastic loopies in the spine to hold just one pencil. My niece liked having all the colored pencils in the pouch, but she mostly sketches with a pencil, so it would have been nice to make it easy for her to get to her pencil quickly.
art folder, inside

The spine on the outside is fake — I just sewed a brown strip in the middle of that one piece of exterior fabric. hehehe!
art folder, exterior
I think I need a new ironing cover — the dirty old thing made stains when I had the exterior fabric face-down to put on the interfacing! I’ll probably never get around to making one, though; last night, I just threw one of our baby towels on my ironing board to keep my fabric from getting stained. Lazysolved!

Sep 202013

Since Glowbug’s our last baby, after she was born, I decided that I would make myself a whole bunch of shorts. And they’d be cute! Not too long (cause I look terrible in long shorts), and not too short (cause I’m not a teenager, hah). After I made myself two pairs of Iris shorts, I promptly lost steam. When I found out about the Tania culottes, they were so cute that they gave me clothes-sewing energy again, so after only a month of dithering, I finally finished them!
jersey culottes - front

I initially wanted to make them out of voile or some other woven since that’s what I’m used to sewing, but I ended up getting this rayon jersey because I liked the print. As you can see, the print is very much not matched up at the seams. This really uses up the recommended yardage, so I didn’t have much extra space to attempt to fussy cut anything. I cut out a small, which probably would have been too tight at the waist if I’d bought a woven, so good thing I had a knit! The small is also a good length for me, but I’ve read other bloggers saying that their culottes came out pretty miniskirt-ey. I’m sure they’re taller, though — I’m (almost) 5’2″.

jersey culottes - flat

The jersey is slightly sheer, and I worried for quite a while about whether I should try to line my culottes — it was a stressful idea since I’m not a very experienced clothes sewer and lining isn’t in the pattern, and does anyone line jersey clothes, anyway? I procrasti-googled for a while, and finally found someone who posted some great advice: sometimes the simplest solution is the best; wear a slip. Heh! (I wasn’t able to find a slip-slip, but tights work well enough and look less underclothes-ey when Sunshine lifts the side of my culottes up to my hip.)
jersey culottes - side

I tried using woolly nylon thread in my serger for the first time, and it took me an entire night just figuring out what settings to use. I was so happy when it finally worked! Then, you know how sergery people recommend you make a binder or something to record your serger settings for all the different fabric-thread-stitch type combinations? I had the iDatabase app on my ipod, and it’s so fun for keeping serger settings!
serger idatabase record

I learned from Four Square Walls that the great thing about making these in a knit is that you can leave off the zipper and just use elastic. Yayyyy! I zigzagged most of my seams on my regular machine and then finished them on my serger, but when I made the waistband, I zigzagged the stitching line first, then zigzagged one inch elastic onto the top seam allowance. That part obviously gets stretched a lot, though, so I’ve been hearing the stitching pop apart when I’ve pulled my culottes on too carelessly. What I should have done was serge the seam with the knife lowered, then serge the elastic on, again with the knife lowered. Next time!
jersey culottes - waistband construction

Other bloggers very helpfully mentioned that you have to let bias skirts hang for a day (as a clothes-sewing newbie, I totally didn’t know about that), but then it was an ordeal trying to mark a level hem. I don’t have a dress form and everyone’s asleep when I sew, so I tried this really neat idea to use a chalked string tied across a door (I used the kids’ sidewalk chalk, heh) to mark the hem line, but I couldn’t get it to work. I ended up taping the string between a desk and a chair in front of a mirror, and then guesstimated where to pin mark the hem, since my arms aren’t long enough to reach without bending a little.
jersey culottes - back

My next challenge was to try rolled hems for the first time; this took another full night. I ended up using Line of Selvage‘s settings for when wooly nylon is in both loopers, and that worked perfectly. Whew! For future reference:

  • Left needle: no thread
  • Right needle: 3.5 (regular serger thread)
  • Upper looper: 2 (wooly nylon)
  • Lower looper: 5 (wooly nylon)
  • Differential feed: 0.7
  • Stitch length: R
  • Stitch width: 5.5

I’m not sure whether it was my ability (or lack thereof) or whether I was on grain or bias, but sometimes my hem came out straight, and other times it came out wavy-lettucey.
jersey culottes - rolled hem

These culottes are sooooo comfy that it’s kind of amazing how cute and fancible they still look (well, would look, if I wore anything besides t-shirts). The box pleat that hides the shortsiness is really cool.
jersey culottes - inside front

And I can sit down without having to be fussy about it! Hoo boy, I am the opposite of lady-like. No primping for blog pictures here… although I did moisturize my dry knees for you. Mr. Yazoo was sighing at me because I realized after we took a bunch of pictures that my knees were all grey, and I made him wait while I ran inside to put on moisturizer. hehehe.
jersey culottes - criss cross applesauce

This was my September goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. Now I have three whole (casual, hot-weather-wearing) things to wear on my bottom half!

Sep 132013

When will I learn not to join thingy-alongs and then rush to finish by linky deadlines? Probably never. Here’s my latest disaster!
pile o mess quilt

It’s my finished quilt for the Star Surround quiltalong, and boy did I mess it up! In list form, the first of my mistakes:

  1. I was too impatient to order the background fabric I wanted (light grey), so I used a terrible combination of solids from my stash.
  2. I rushed when I made my flying geese, so they came out all funny sizes.
  3. I also was in verbatim compliance mode, so since the quiltalong instructions didn’t say to trim the flying geese, I didn’t even check to make sure they were the right size.

I was fed up with this quilt by the time the individual star blocks were done, so I decided to use it to try making a quilt-as-you-go kind of quilt for the first time. (I’m thinking of using that method for a dresden quilt I’m planning.) I also tried quilting orange peels, which was nice and easy since I was only doing one block at a time. That was actually my only success in this quilt! I used a 16 needle since I’d had problems with skipped stitches in the past, and this time I had barely any skipped stitches — the remaining ones were definitely user error, which is fine with me.
mess o quilt - quilting

Then I attached all the blocks+batting squares to make the top and:

  1. Screwed up trimming some of the batting bulk in the seams by cutting too much off.
  2. Got grouchy at Fabric Mart and chose a crazy bright pink flannel for the backing because all the other flannel looked babyish and I didn’t care about matching the back to the front anymore.
  3. (This is skipping ahead, but this is the best picture to see it in) Tried for the first time to do the kind of machine binding where you sew to the front first and then stitch in the ditch to catch the binding in the back, and mine was HORRIBLE.

mess o quilt with crazy backing

When you assemble quilts this way, you’re supposed to quilt just a couple of lines to attach the top+batting to the backing, so I did the least I figured I could get away with while making the quilt not too going-to-fall-apart-in-the-wash-ish — I sewed along both sides of the seams between the batting blocks. But!

  1. When I was pinning my big blocks together, I couldn’t see the seams (since the batting was already on), so I forgot to match up the little blocks’ seams.
  2. I somehow missed one of the big block seams and sewed a random line down the inside of one of the columns.

mess o quilt - quilting lines mistake

Bleah! I’m mad that I messed up what should have been a really cute quilt, but I’m going to think of it as my bad sewing heat sink that’s going to help me succeed in my next set of projects. Gah!
mess o quilt - cuteified

Sep 102013

Back in March, I made my sister Day in the Park backpack since I loved mine so much and because I figure mom types can always use a bag that doesn’t try to fall off every time you need to chase kiddies. (These pictures are old! I took them at our old place… I had such an easier time getting good pictures there. wah.)
birds in the park backpack

I only had half a yard of the birdy fabric, so I couldn’t (make a half-hearted attempt to) match the pattern at the top. I recently noticed that, even though it looks cute when the bag’s empty, having the short straps come out at the bottom of that pieced bit at the top makes the top strip fall in when the bag is closed, so in the future, I should probably either just leave out the pieced bits and cut the front and back whole, or I should sew the short loops to the bag up to the top edge. OR I should grow up and finally learn to use the rivets I bought ages ago.

I put in the usual patch pocket + zippered pocket + hangy loop stuff inside. I’ve been using my hangy loop to corral Glowbug’s binkie instead of my keys, which means I’m always digging around for my keys, but I can pop a binkie into Glowbug’s mouth no problem, hah.
birds in the park backpack, interior

Since I use my day in the park bag mostly as a backpack, I’m always vaguely wondering if it’s a bad idea to have my wallet floating at the top of my things inside of a pretty open-to-the-world bag on my back. I haven’t yet figured out how I want to close it up (an inset zipper would be fine when the bag’s being used as a tote, but it scrunches up differently when it’s a backpack), so I just added another zippered pocket on the back for my sister to put her wallet in.
birds in the park backpack, back

Now to doubly pull in the post title: this weekend, we went to the zoo, and Husbo kept asking if I wanted to put my bag in the stroller, but I insisted that I liked carrying it. It was a good thing I did because a bird pooped at me, but got my bag instead of me. Muhaha?

Sep 072013

My goal this month is to make myself some culottes! I’ve had the pattern for a couple of weeks now, but it keeps getting pushed aside by other projects. Oh, and I was so sad — only about a week after I bought the paper pattern, it was finally released as a pdf pattern! I would rather have bought it as a pdf cause I like the security of knowing I’ll never lose it. Shucks!
culottes wip

I have the pattern pieces traced and cut out, so all I have to do is cut my fabric and sew. Since I bought jersey instead of a woven fabric, I read that I can leave off the zipper and just sew in some elastic. I also bought some wooly nylon thread for my serger, so I’m excited to try out a couple of new things. I hope my culottes turn out okay — right now, I’ve only got two pairs of shorts!

Aug 292013

I finished my August goal, so yay…
books for baby quilt

It’s quilted in a diamondish fashion, and I did manage to finish it in time for Cosmo to use it at school. I was kind of too lazy to put a label on it, but since Cosmo’s stuff is supposed to have his name on it so they don’t get mixed up with other kids’ stuff, I sewed in some twill tape with his name stamped on.
books for baby quilt close up

When I gave it to Cosmo, he flipped it over and told me the robot flannel side is the front, cause that’s the side he likes. I think the robots are cool, too, but WAH. This is what I get for not having appreciated all the stuff my mom sewed for me when I was a kid! Karmaaaaaaaaa!
books for baby quilt with kiddies!

Aug 252013

It’s finally the week to make the project that I was most excited about in Ayumi’s book: the cute cute hexagon trivet. I even made two!

I’m so not fast that it took me an hour to choose fabric out of my scrap containers. Then I cut approximate chunks out beforehand, which made the piecing simple. It was a very straighforward project, so there’s not too much to say about it.
strawberry trivet

I was chintzy as usual, and I used some not-super-pretty scrap flannel for the backs (instead of super cute fabric, like Ayumi used in the book samples). No one looks at them after I take blog pictures, anyway.
trivet back

I was happy at how relatively neat the bound corners turned out. I used my usual lazy pinch-fold-fold-mark-mark-sew-sew method. Wasn’t that descriptive?
trivet front corner

I’m glad that the Zakka 2.0 Sew Along exists, because it’s nudged me to make time for projects I normally wouldn’t have done. These scrappy things are super cute! They take longer than things I’m naturally inclined to make, but I really like them when they’re finished.
bear trivet

Aug 202013

Sara recently asked for testers for her new lunch bag pattern, so I once again shoved aside my plans for my poor sister-in-law’s new pillow case (the old one I made her has her ex-boyfriend’s name on it, and it’s been half a year since they broke up and I still haven’t replaced it!) and glommed onto the shiny new project. I even treated myself to a kid-less hour in Fabric Mart since I didn’t have any laminated cotton.
pair of lunch bags

That ended up being a bit of a tactical error — I got really excited about finding some surprisingly cute flannel-backed vinyl (and it was only $6 a yard), so I made my lunch bags out of vinyl, InsulBright, and laminated cotton (only $7 a yard!). They certainly held their shape, but it was murder trying to top stitch the handles. On my first bag (the top zip one), I tried using actual top stitch thread, and it took me a jillion tries to get reasonably decent results. There are a lot of needle holes under those stitches.
top zip lunch bag, handle

I tried again with the top stitching thread on the round bag’s handle, but that was an utter failure, so I went back to (Aurifil) 50 wt, which was muuuuch easier. I had a bit of a problem with skipped stitches when I attached the handles to the bags because of all the thick layers, but I just went back and forth a lot and called it good enough.
round lunch bag, top

When Sara showed us a picture of her lunch bags, I volunteered because I wanted to make the round one. But once I got the instructions, I felt like I ought to be more helpful and make the top zip bag since it was supposed to be more difficult. I knew ahead of time, though, that I would be very grouchy making it because I’m terrible at finishing exterior edges with bias tape (I think that’s why I’m so bad at making pot holders), and I hate doing things I’m bad at. And you know what happens when someone who hates bias tape finishes makes a bag with bias tape finishes? It looks like it was made by someone who hates bias tape finishes! Look at this horror:
top zip lunch bag, bias tape

I also missed the instruction that tells you to tuck the zipper ends into the bias tape to enclose them. Poo. Oh wait, was I supposed to sew the bottom zipper to the outside of the bag? Oops!
top zip lunch bag, inside

My pretty round lunch bag consoles me… but my mom pointed out (and is right, dagnabbit) that the top zip one is more useful. Argh. Since I gave the samples to my mom, I might have to try again with the top zip bag for Cosmo. I should always strive to improve my skills…?
lunch bags