Nov 062013

I love how fantastic sewing is for someone like me who has hobby ADD — bored of making quilts? Sew clothes! Bored of making clothes? Sew bags! Tired of making bags? Sew toys! And so I made some monsters for my kiddies.
monster trio

I let them choose which one they wanted (Glowbug got the leftover one), and Cosmo picked the pink monster that’s based on Igor Mousenstein.
googly eye monster

Sunshine chose the one from Make a Monster. I was so surprised that he actually really likes it — it’s been a couple of weeks, and he’s still carrying it around! He calls it his dolly. :D
weirdo monster

Glowbug got the last one, which I made just so Sunshine would still be able to make a choice after Cosmo. It’s based on a monster I saw on Pinterest, but the link goes somewhere weird… anyway, I think it’s really funny! It’s the perfect shape to put a crinkly thing inside for babies, although that didn’t occur to me when I made this one.
moustachioed monster

They’ve got hearts on their butts because it’s a monster requirement, donchaknow. Picture overload!
moustachioed monster, back
monster pair, back
kiddies with monsters

Oct 302013

Last month, I won a copy of Quilting Arts Gifts 2013 from Esch House Quilts, and when I got it, Cosmo flipped through it with me. We both liked the trick-or-treat bag project, and I managed to make a couple in time for Halloween.

Mr. Yazoo helped by drawing the faces for the bags — he made a meanie face for Sunshine cause he’s been having a little bit of his terrible twos.
halloween bag - grouchy

I found some cute Halloween fabric that I’d hoarded from last year to use for the bag lining, and I substituted automotive headliner fabric for the batting, or whatever it was the project called for. Oh, and I have an opinion about automotive headliner fabric, if you care. :D

I’ve used both Soft and Stable and automotive headliner fabric, which I bought specifically because I read people on the interwebs saying that it could be used as a substitute for (the expensive and unavailable-locally-for-me) Soft and Stable. I think headliner fabric is fine for small, semi-disposable things, like kiddie treat bags, where you do want it to stand up by itself, but you don’t necessarily want to use your good supplies. However, it isn’t a good substitute for nice bags (like, say, a weekender) because it’s nowhere near as sturdy as Soft and Stable — it’s much, much thinner and kind of fragile. On the third hand, it is a good substitute for grown-up bags IF all you want to do is take a picture and show off your pretty-bag-that-you-couldn’t-get-Soft-and-Stable-for-but-still-want-the-look-of-it. ;) That’s my opinion!
halloween bag - inside

Anyway, back to the halloweenie bags, Mr. Yazoo draw a happy face for Cosmo since he’s been a sweetie lately. heh.
halloween bag - happy

Happy Halloween (in advance)!

Oct 282013

I’m totally one of those women you see walking into the office carrying two to four bags: one regular purse, a tote bag with stuff I need for the office but doesn’t fit in my purse (like lunch and emergency candy and assorted snacks), and yet another bag with current-crafting-project stuff. I really wanted to make a new weekender for when I went back to work a couple of months ago, but I didn’t get around to finishing it until this weekend (because I wanted to be able to use it at the speech tournament I helped judge at, since speech tournaments are another occasion when I carry around a lot of stuff just in case I have a bye round). I stayed up all night and just barely finished in time, even though almost everything was already cut out and basted. Six hours to sew basted-together bits together! Whyyyyy am I so slow?!
homelike weekender

I loooove my homelike weekender, though. It’s got crazy fabric, but I realized that the bags I love best are the ones where I just use fabric I adore, rather than trying too hard to make things coordinate, and then ending up with something kind of boring. So for this one, I used a funny [easygoing, homelike] cat panel (bought from Super Buzzy a long time ago), Heather Ross ugly ducklings, some hoarded Japanese canvas, and silly retro kiddies. They make me happy!
homelike weekender, diagonal view

Here are the retro kiddies in the pockets:
homelike weekender, inside of exterior pocket

I cut apart my old weekender in order to reclaim the zipper I love — that previous weekender was really heavy when it was empty and the straps were too narrow. This time, I used Soft & Stable instead of all the interfacing, and it’s so awesome for this bag. That included using Soft & Stable in place of the three layers of interfacing on the zipper panel, and that was perfectly fine (it wasn’t too puffy or anything). I followed the regular instructions for making the exterior zipper panel, but since I didn’t want saggy baggy lining this time, I basted all of the lining pieces with the exteriors. For the zipper part, I pressed the straight edges of the lining pieces, basted them to the underside of the zipper, inserted that muslin bit in the space between lining pieces, and sewed the zipper+lining normally to the exterior. Clear as mud? Picture is better!
homelike weekender, main zipper

What I meant to say (and missed in rambling off) was that using Soft & Stable makes my weekender super light and still shapely. Super light, yay!

My bias-bound raw edges look terrible, as usual, but I care more about having lining that stays put than funny-looking edges that I don’t notice when I’m actually using the bag.
homelike weekender, crazy inside big pockets

I even ran out of bias tape and used not-matching, leftover quilt binding to finish up. I was seriously falling sleep at the machine — I kept veering off the seam allowance and just sewing the bias tape to itself. But! The lining stays put!
homelike weekender, crazy inside birdy pockets

I didn’t even have to make (or, really, steal-from-my-old-weekender) the false bottom, because it’s totally stable enough.
homelike weekender, bottom

I made the straps with rectangle rings (the way Pink Chalk did), which is fantastic because it was easy to adjust the shoulder straps when I realized they were too long, and also because I can hook a cross-body strap into those rings when I need it. Have I mentioned how much I love my new weekender? Also, I’m totally getting my money’s worth out of this pattern! :D
homelike weekender on a swing

Sew Sweetness
Oct 282013

Whether he’s doing it purposely or not, my oldest son is great at making me want to sew things for him — he cuddles with stuffed animals I make him (for at least a day after I give them to him, heh) and loads his toys up in bags I sew. He’s in the four-year-old class in preschool this year, and a couple of weeks before the beginning of the year, I got it in my head that I wanted to make him a quilt for naptime. Commence no-sleep-for-me week!
books for baby quilt

I made him the Books for Baby quilt from Patchwork, Please!, and even though I didn’t do a great job of putting together fabric that would emphasize the bookiness of the design, I really had fun sewing it up. My OCD self loved how tidy using a pinking rotary blade made the back of the top look!
books for baby, back of the quilt

When I gave him his quilt and asked him to help me take pictures of it, he kept trying to flip it over to the flannel side, saying that the robots were supposed to be the front. Hah!
books for baby quilt close up

Oh well, I still send it to school with him every week. :D
books for baby quilt with kiddies!

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?