Monday, March 10, 2014

I got to bag it up

This one was a challenge. This one stumped me.  This is one I am very happy to finish! 

About a year ago, DJ Tripp asked for a custom messenger bag. 
Ok, I thought. 
"It would be special messenger bag that can hold records" he said. 
O…K….. I thought. 
"It would be able to hold 45s in a pocket too" he said.
Of course….. I thought.
"It would be sturdy enough to hold a laptop" he said.
"The cover would be houndstooth, than it would have an alternating fabric on the side and adjustable straps" he said.
"You better draw me a picture" I replied.

I haven't made anything without a pattern at this point. I thought about making a custom pattern and sewing up a prototype. I didn't get as far as I wanted. I searched the internet for similar bags, to no avail. I even considered paying someone on Etsy to make the bag.

Then one day, fabric, a strap, buttons, strap attachments and a strange messenger bag pattern appeared at my sewing area.  

"It's gonna be like this, but without the patchwork, and big enough to hold records and no back pocket."

The supplies sat there for a while. 

I didn't know how I was going to adjust an existing pattern that much. I didn't know where to begin with drafting my own. In the end, I got a new pattern that I felt comfortable with and just adjusted it an inch around to ensure that records would fit inside. One day I will be confident in my skills to draft patterns. I have been reading about it and there are some great resources out there. However, I also think just getting more sewing under my belt will teach me some techniques to add. 

Here's the pattern I used:
The nice things about Amy Butler patterns: they are on paper-not tissue and the instructions are relatively easy to follow…  Lesson learned on this project: buy more fabric than you will think you will need (or make sure the person buying fabric does) and/or make sure you finish it in a timely manner. I ended up buying more brown canvas to finish the bag and by the time I went to Hart's the particular brown was discontinued. 

Since I've been told these are too long, I will just finish off with some pictures. 
General schematics, the bag ended up slightly different in the end.


It's sturdy! It includes a front pocket, an inside hanging pocket with zipper, and another inside utility/pen pocket, a front flap with inside zipping pocket and adjustable straps.

I think he likes it!

Gratuitous record collection shot.

Now, it is time for a bag hiatus. On to clothes!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas project

It's been a while since I've posted. Unfortunately, I haven't sewn as much this last year as I would have liked. I am currently working on a project which will hopefully be done soon. Stay tuned for that one...

I took a little hiatus from my main project to whip up some Christmas gifts for my coworkers. I usually don't give out many holiday presents. I don't like to do things that will add stress and luckily at work gifts are given on a on a want-to-give basis.  However, my coworkers are more than that; they are my friends and my family. I wanted to do something this year, and also get out an easy project to boost my sewing confidence. I found this great blog Jedi Craft Girl which had a zipper pouch tutorial that had pictures and clear directions. I also like how polished these zipper pouches look, with the zipper top having nice fabric edges and lined inside.

This project was fun, once I got the hang of it. First I went to Hart's Fabric and picked up some very fun fat quarter packs the staff had put together. I of course bought more than I needed, knowing that mistakes would happen and not knowing what part of the print I might want to use. I bought one pack with cat prints (my coworkers LOVE cats) and two packs of some fun dia de los muertos and skull prints. Zippers and fleece interfacing completed my purchase. (I was happy to have a $50 gift certificate to help!!)

I became a one woman assembly line: pressing all the fabric, cutting all the fabric, then attaching the interfacing pieces. Once all the prep work was done I stayed up a couple of nights and sewed and sewed. Once I got the hang of it, I could make them without the instructions quite easily.

Each project I do, I learn something, usually by something I did wrong or different from what the pattern called for (usually this means I assume things in the instructions or don't pay attention at all). In this one I learned that usually a step that seems trivial will end up being for an important reason that I find out later when it goes wrong. Case in point: the step that talks about cutting off the end tab of the zipper seemed unimportant as the ends of the zipper were hidden in the tab fabric at the top of the pouch. On my third pouch I realized that not cutting out that small piece of metal would come into play when I was sewing up the edges. That tiny piece of a metal tab and the sewing machine needle were not friends…many error messages later on the machine and I realized I had to pay a little more attention to instructions!

(one woman sweat shop)

I ended up making one tester bag and seven more bags for my coworkers. On Christmas Eve, I decided I needed a couple more gifts and easily sewed up two more for members of my family.

I did change one thing from the pattern. The last step calls for top stitching the opening in the lining that you use to push the bag right side out. The first sewing project I did was a bag for my mom and in that project I learned how to do a ladder stitch to sneakily close that opening. It just added a little more polish to the end result. Plus I find the ladder stitch to be kind of fun!

I think they liked the bags!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Clutch project

To continue on my descriptions of sewing projects and self learning processes, here is my latest: a simple yet classy clutch.  I follow a few sewing blogs, a couple are referenced in my last blog, and one of them was looking for pattern testers.  I signed up to try some of the easier projects.  I was happy to help test a pattern, because I find most patterns to be very confusing if you haven't sewn for very long.

The first project was for a cute little clutch by Sew It Love It website.  I was sent the pattern, and told to make the item, review it, give any recommendations and send in pictures.  Since I was wanting something homemade and fun to give to a friend for a birthday, I decided I could do both with this project.

I had some cute scraps of fabric, but sadly they weren't quite enough to use for this project.  Not wanting to compromise the size since I was pattern-testing, I went to Hart's Fabrics (oh darn!).  I was happy to find some other fun skull/dia de los muertos fabrics to use, since that was what I was aiming for when I had this friend in mind.  This time of the year there are some really great fabrics!  This pattern also called for some wide ribbon to tie the clutch together, another thing I love to purchase at Hart's.  I also found some other fun scrap pieces to use in the future and the lining I found is from the bargain scrap bin.

The pattern was pretty darn easy to follow, I only got tricked up a couple of times when I assumed something instead of reading the instructions carefully.  I have already discovered this is something I need to work on.  Carefully read the pattern all the way through to see why you do certain steps and then read each step carefully again so that I do things the right way.  At least while I am trying to learn this whole sewing thing! 

All in all, this project did not produce any headaches, let me use up some leftover interfacings I had, and also gave me a chance to sew a little with a satin fabric for the first time.

On to the visuals!

The front, check out that bow and the awesome print fabric!

The back. The downside to using a directional print was that it did show up upside down in the back.

 An awesome thing that happened, was that my print magically lined up when the clutch was closed! I could not have planned this better!
The inside. Note that the ribbon and lining match! There's also a nifty pocket inside.   Apparently I did not pay enough attention to this step, the pocket is supposed to go across the length of the inside.  However, it's still a pocket, and those are always important!

On to the Birthday Gift Basket! Side note: I love making gift baskets.  The bad part is I end up spending way more on them than a single present, but the good side is that I can make them totally personal based on who they are for.  I love to get creative and have some sort of theme.

This one had: The cute clutch, Nutella and biscuits (that's cookie to you, dahling), two little bottles of Jameson whiskey, a skull flask, a scorpion sucker (in honor of The Drive movie we had just seen together) and Lady Gaga's perfume!

Basically a basket of goodies I would adore!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

First dress!

So, I finally finished my first garment! I have now made 2 bags and a clutch and yet no clothes until this dress!

My good friend agreed to be my "guinea pig" and around the same time our local fabric store was having a sew-along challenge.

The pattern said it was Intermediate, but after reading some pattern reviews I saw that many people felt it was explained well enough for a beginner.  I figured since it was a sew-along there would be some tips and such.  While there wasn't much of that, I knew I could go down and get advice from real people at the store and since there was a deadline I figured it would light a fire for me to get it done.

My friend picked out this super cute fabric combo:

On first glance in the store, I thought the print was much like a print you would see on a bandana and then saw that they were skulls.  What a great find! She paired this with the deep blue and we agreed to do a red piping around the waistband and top of the bust.

I dove into the project by trying out a muslin version of the bust area.  That fit her just great so I went ahead with the "real" fabric.  It's so scary for me when I cut out the pieces.  It feels like such a commitment!

If you haven't tried a Colette pattern...they are great.  I haven't followed that many patterns yet, but so far they are way more vague than this Colette pattern was.  The instructions come in a little booklet with pretty good diagrams.  The pattern itself was still on the flimsy paper, but of course you can copy that over to better paper.

The piping was something I had never done before, but had already seen tutorials on how to make so making the piping was easy, but attaching it all together with the different fabrics proved to be quite a challenge! Lots of swearing ensued from this step and I almost threw in the towel a couple of times. Another challenge was after I finished the top pieces and was going to sew up the sides, I took it to have my friend try on. Her torso is short and the back piece ended up being way to big! Luckily I got advice right then and there from a mutual friend. (Thank you Kimmy!)

I could not have made this dress without some great Tutorials! Here are some I really benefitted from:

To learn piping

To learn the invisible hem

To put in the invisible zipper

The pattern mentioned understitching and had some info on their blogsite.  Really there are some great tips and tricks on the Colette website, even if you are an intermediate sewer.

Some great advice I got from other sewers was first of all from the staff at Hart's "Go slow, take your time" and from my aunt "I have never made anything that I didn't have to take at least one seam out".  I won't tell you how many seams I re-did, but let's say it was more than one....

The things I had never done before making this dress but now have tried!
Piping- making it and sewing it in
Pockets on a dress
Invisibile hem
Invisible zipper

*I didn't even know what this was! Facings are sewn to the edge of the garment and turned under to create a professional finish. They are most often used on necklines, sleeveless garments and waistbands.

At one point I realized I wouldn't make the deadline for the Sew-along. The prize wasn't huge, but it was 3 Colette patterns, which are not cheap!  With the cute fabric and gorgeous model I figured we had a good chance, even with my inexperience!  Once I realized I would not make it in time to win, I really was ok with it; I realized that I undertook a huge challenge for my first garment.  At that point I just wanted something my friend would be proud to wear, since she was taking a chance on me. 

I realized that after a couple of hours of sewing my quality would go downhill, so first of all I took a break from the dress and made my sister a cute tote for her trip.  Once I did get back into it, I made limits on how long I could sew at once.  No more 4-5 hour blocks. It seems like a lot of time, but if you have a passion, those hours fly by and all of a sudden it's midnight and you really should be going to bed...

Anyway, the moment of truth! I finally decided I couldn't do any more work on the dress or I would go crazy tying to make it perfect.  I was very nervous since the back had been altered, this would make everything else "off".  I worried this made it not fit her, since it is kind of a hard dress to put on anyway.  I'm super excited to be done and that it looks so cute!

I gave it to her and then waited in antici...............pation  to see if it would fit.  She said she would wear it to work which gave me a little anxiety! Finally she texted me that it did fit and I felt so happy and relieved to hear I had done OK!

Without further ado, my friend and wifey Amber:

Told you I had a gorgeous model!  I'm so excited to try this dress again, especially after I've seen how people have modified it in different ways. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Goodbye Project Runway....hello sewing for fun

Around the time I realized that Project Runway was beyond fun to watch I realized that I want to try sewing again.  I took a home economics class way back when in Junior High and fiddled around (poorly) with making my own things and wanted to try again.  I asked my mum for her old sewing machine for my birthday and she went one further and bought me a new one.

There are so many great sewing blogs out there, and thorough tutorials to boot, so I won't be trying to teach anyone how to sew or do anything like that. Rather I want to just post pictures of things I'm working on, kind of like an online catalog of projects.

So far I've completed two things and am working on 3 others.

First I decided to take a class from Hart's Fabric, the cute local fabric store.  I have already spent quite a bit of money their on fabric, notions, sewing tools and even a book. Thankfully the employees are all very friendly and helpful. I took a great class for beginners and planned to make a bag for my mum in thanks for getting the machine.

Here's what I made:

The print in the middle is a super cute gardening print, and the contrast and lining is a flower print. 

Steve the doggie likes it too!

I learned SO MUCH just from taking this two session class where we got help making this bag. The teacher started out explaining fabric: precare, grain, crossgrain, bias, pressing.  It was all so helpful.  I also ended up learning how to use the sewing foot that does a clean top stitch, made the pockets, attached snaps and interfacing. I was very proud to finish this after hours and hours.  (The 6 hours of class time was not enough for a beginner!)

Once I started sewing I discovered I want to make things for other people! I currently have 3 things I'm working on, which I will post about when they are done. 

This is the latest project I finished, a reversible tote bag for my sister, who just left for a cruise today.  The theme was to be nautical, so we picked out these fabrics:
Cotton print, I've been dying to make something with this print since I saw it on Hart's website

This one was in the home decor part of the store, it's a canvas weight and I just love the print! I pretreated it just like cotton, hence the wrinkles....probably it's best to hand wash this kind. 

The finished bag:

It turned out a little bigger than I expected!! It's reversible and has a pocket on the inside and outside, which is handy.  The pattern called for the handle to be the same fabric as the contrast, but for some reason I didn't have enough fabric, so I must have cut it wrong.  With using the home decor weight and all the interfacing the pattern called for, it's a very sturdy bag! The first bag I made above was my first big project so I spent many hours sewing, getting confused, redoing, sewing some more and so on.  This time I understood the pattern language a little better and took my time reading it before I dove into the step.  I still need to learn reading ahead, it will save me some headaches.  :)

Both bags used patterns by Amy Butler, her bags are super cute and the instructions are pretty easy to follow.  Although the patterns are not cheap, she prints them on real paper, not the crazy thin tissue paper.  For the tote, I borrowed a book from the library and just copied the patterns for free.

Stay tuned for my next projects which include my first garment....a cute dress and a tie for the BF.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Finale Part 2

aka Why I am not invested in Project Runway anymore

Season 10 started last week and I realized with a little guilt that I never finished off Season 9 for my blog. I thought about deleting it all.  I know that I don't want to continue my blog but I felt like I should at least finish off what I started. Perhaps leaving the show and then coming back would change my perception.

So I re-watched it and realized I still don't care.  My goal this season is to sew my own things.  Today I had the first episode of Season 10 on as background while I worked and was not interested enough in the show to find it distracting.

Here are my quick two cents on each collection...

Lots of bold colors, not much of anything super new.  The white pieces thrown in were distracting for me. Good job, but it seems like she needs more time discovering what her style is.

He was all over the place. He did do a lot of different separates which makes it a bit more fun but most looks did not seem flattering at all.

I was a huge fan of his theme and style. I thought his collection was the most cohesive and looked the most expensive and had a great range of different pieces.

Many of her clothes have a nice movement and flow to them and there is a market for beach resort wear clothing.  Otherwise there was not much diversity to her clothes and I found it very convenient that they got $500 extra after Anya had 2 very hideous looks that she clearly needed to pull from her collection to come even close to winning.

After they announce Anya as the winner, I find that I am not upset by it the second time around.  It was so obvious from many episodes ago that the producers were going to do whatever it took to get her to the finale and after spending so much effort and episode tweaking, if they had not given Anya the win it would have been even more ridiculous.

If you read this blog and don't already follow Tom and Lorenzo's, you really need to! I read their posts about the show without seeing the new Season and they are so funny and sharp I was more entertained than when I heard the actual show in the background.  LUV THEM!

I miss the first 4 seasons of Project Runway, I may rewatch those and enjoy my old friends while I work on learning how to create my own pieces.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finale Part 1

Ok deeeeeesignahs, you are in for the finale. Wait, you are ALMOST in, we are going to (hopefully) kick someone off before a final twist (I'm sure) and then the Final Runway Show.

What a waste of my time.Raise your hand if you DIDN’T think they were going to keep all 4 after all? I thought so from the first moment, but then what about when Tim did the home visits and Anya hadn’t sewn one item to show Tim? Who are we kidding? It was only going to be 3 designers if someone besides Anya or Josh had failed in their looks worse than them.

I do actually like the home visits. It’s nice to see the designers in their home element; they always look healthier and happier at home. Interesting that all of them had a “death” story to tell. See Josh, you are not the only one with sadness.

The thing I will say about this episode, the judging was the best it has been all season. This season, the
judges have been so catty and mean and contradicting at every turn. It has really turned me off of the show,
among their choices for favorites and un-favorites. This night, they really seemed to be giving honest critique to them about what they did and didn’t like. I hope the designers are smart and take their advice

The obvious front runner was Viktor.
How cool was the gasps when he took that leather jacket out? I agree, his zippered outer skirt was too much with the top, I think he will listen and not have them together on the runway. The judges critiques were mostly nitpicky, but will only help him when it counts. Out of this final group, he is my favorite. He may be the one to beat in the final runway show, unless he just does too much technique.

Josh’s looks were kind of weird, but I knew the judges were going to think it was enough to keep him. The black cocktail dress was so lame, I don’t know why he chose this to show for his mini collection, except maybe to prove that his whole collection is not filled with the cray cray. I just don't see anything very amazing or fashion forward here. It will also be interesting to see how much he listened to Tim for his final collection.

I like the direction Kimberly was going with her looks, well except that pink skirt. God that pink skirt. I don’t mind the bubble butt, in fact I’m totally down with it, but the front! The front makes me cry. It was so weird and disproportionate and yikes. Honey can we get rid of that thing or what? I liked where she was going with the styling, the judges are just haters. I can’t wait to see all of her looks together. I’m glad she made it. Let's face it, there have been quite a few black designers in the finals, but none have won. If you look in the fashion world, there is still not much diversity, period.

Anya’s collection. I don’t care what anyone says, this is straight up crack smoking that got her to the finals. If they were going to send all 4, which they were, then why waste the time? Listen, if any one else had sent that gold dress down the runway, in any challenge, they would have been laughed off the stage. Do you hear me? It's ill fitting, sewn terribly and has no interesting design. It's a disgrace. Ok the print dress is cute, but what is it without that belt cinching it all in? The bathing suit was so unflattering I couldn’t handle it.

That. Gold. Dress. Get it out of my sight!

This season has been a joke. It's now a reality show with some sewing. I won't be blogging about the show again after this season. Last season we could see it was really falling apart, but there was some good work making it down the runway. I loved Mondo, but the judges were so fixated on Gretchen they couldn't even see his work. Which all in all was fine, he wasn't stuck with all the rules that come with winning the prize. However we could already tell the show was doing bad, I don't think I even finished blogging last season.

I was willing to give it another chance because it is one of my absolute favorite shows, I really enjoy watching Tim Gunn interact with the designers. When the judges give good critiquing, they are also great. Sometimes you would get a fun guest judge or challenge and it's so fun. This season we didn't get really any of that. The difference between the bottom and top looks were so minuscule the judges were making up stuff to justify what they were doing. It seemed like the producers have had a heavy hand in who went home and who stayed. The challenges were just strange and I have barely been watching each episode.

Do I care who wins the whole thing? At this point, no. I'd like to see it be Kimberly or Viktor, but it won't be shocking if neither of them wins. Be prepared for them to have to make a last look this week, they almost always have to.

Am I going to watch Project Runway All Stars? Most definitely, it will be great to see designers that can actually produce great work. I won't need to be that invested, because if these designers aren't doing well by now, it's their own fault, not the judges this time.

Project Runway, I'm sorry but you're Out.