Feeling Introspective

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So, Wednesday is supposed to be my sewing day, but today - mostly for circumstances beyond my control, not much sewing is happening.

I did get black hem lace stitched to the raw edge of my wool dress so I am another step closer to hemming it.

I also pulled out a couple of patterns - one to trace and muslin and one to cut out and sew - and I photocopied the fronts of a few envelope patterns for my pattern binder.

But beyond that I have spent my day reeling from a blow up with Lucy, then delving into a book about the Enneagram and generally being more introspective than usual.

I guess that's how life goes...

And the Winner Is...

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well, not me. I am disappointed, of course, but I am trying to look on the bright side.

I received 39 VOTES!! That's pretty darn good! And I have a fabulous, perfect for me, not available anywhere bag for this summer. And I used my brain and my hands to make something. All told that's worth an awful lot.

So deep congratulations to Nancy2001 for her Akris Ai Bag Knockoff, to Jaggs for her version of Lisa Galvin's Stenciled Suede Handbag, and to fiberosity for her Self-Drafted Purse inspired by one from Coach.

Now, if only the weather would start being a little more pleasant...

Too Late to the Simplicity 3775 Party

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Well folks, whether you know it or not, I have been meaning for MONTHS to buy Simplicity 3775.

I waited too long. The highly reviewed dress is now out of print and no longer available at my local fabric stores. I'll have to see if Simplicity has a spare one lying around or if I can find one used somewhere...


Still here...

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Hey Everyone!

Just thought I would let you all know that I am still here. I even made a dress last week. But I have to take it apart and redo it.

I added too much fabric to the center back and didn't insert a zipper when I made the muslin, so I had no idea the back neck would gape when finished. And I added in-seam side seam pockets, but I managed to place them too low. So I have to take apart the entire center back and a good chunk of both side seams and redo them. Bleh.

I really need a dressform. I think I'll go check Craigslist.

Also the handbag contest is still open for voting for a few days, so drop in and vote for something you like!

The Bag is Done!! Updated!

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Hey Everyone! I'll update this post later, but I am so excited that I just finished reviewing and entering my bag in the March Handbag contest over at Pattern Review.

OK, so here's the real post (although much of it is lifted straight from my review):
The inspiration of the design elements of this bag came chiefly from two bags that I already own and have used extensively. But first and foremost, I needed a summer bag. Last year at the end of the spring, I bought myself a leather Fossil bag which I love, but found it very uncomfortable to wear during the summer. (Leather straps do not slide freely on bare skin.)

For the handbag contest at Pattern Review, I made a small lined messenger-style bag with an adjustable strap and magnetic snap closures on the flap and back pocket. There are two main exterior pockets (front and back) as well as two side pockets for cell phone and keys. There is one interior pocket for pens and another specifically to carry the little urn of my mother's ashes.

The finished bag is roughly 9" x 11". The strap is about 50" long. This means that
this bag is on the small-ish side which is good for someone my height. My life dictates a functional bag, but I wanted it to be a little fun, classic, and summery at the same time.

I spent who knows how much time searching for a bag pattern, but I couldn't find a commercial pattern that even somewhat resembled this bag, so I ended up drafting it myself. It wasn't too hard - just rectangles, and using graph paper made the drafting much simpler. (I do not profess to be any good at searching the internet, however. There could be thousands of patterns like this out there...)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had originally hoped to put small zippered pockets on both the front and back pocket pieces. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do the research and testing needed to learn how to make and assemble any zippered pockets.

I am very pleased withthe tiny urn pocket. My mother taught me to sew, so it is nice to have a little spot for her ashes in my bag.

I used a very stiff sew-in interfacing to support the body of the bag. It sewed remarkably well, but was difficult to pin without distorting the seam. To solve this dilemma, I used small squares of fusible tape left over from an old set of Ikea curtains, and fused the outer fabric to the stiff interfacing. I also used small binder clips to hold multiple layers together.

My machine had more trouble sewing through many layers of the outer fabric (when attaching the straps to the bag) than it had sewing through two layers of outer fabric, two layers of lining fabric, piping, and two layers of interfacing (sewing the bottom/side panel to the front/back of the bag).

I used the fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the lining to add support for the inner pockets. I also used fusible interfacing to support the magnetic snap closures. On the flap, I attached a piece of the stiffer interfacing opposite the magnetic snaps to prevent the fabric from wearing thin.

The strap is many layers thick - maybe six? I thought about adding fusible interfacing, but the methods I tried didn't work. The sliding buckle is just a regular buckle, but I removed the prong from the center bar. Works like a charm!

I had so much fun designing and making this bag! A friend asked me how many hours I put into it, and I can't even say. Definitely more than ten hours of actual working time, but then I also spent countless hours thinking through the steps and my techniques (and then there's all the time spent schlepping around town to purchase materials - I never manage to correctly estimate the amount of piping I actually need...).

Here is a slideshow so you can look at the entire album of photos with captions below. (The slideshow goes crazy fast and I wrote a lot in the captions, sorry. You can pause the slideshow by mousing over the photos and clicking the pause button that appears.)

Handbag Status and Thrift Store Finds

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I had hoped to get farther along on my bag, but it just wasn't happening. I have also given up exposed zippers in a welt opening with a pocket bag behind. That's just too much for me to work out without a pattern and instructions. At least, too much to be done soon.

So my bag is all in pieces. The lining still needs to be cut out, but I'm not exactly sold on the print. The interfacing is fused to the outer fabric. With any luck, I will be able to get it rolling this week.

No sewing this Wednesday, however. We were away visiting friends on Vancouver Island over the weekend, so David lost days of work and has meetings on Wednesday. Hopefully, I will be able to have sewing time on Thursday or Friday.

While we were away we stopped at a few thrift stores. Here are a few of the things I picked up:

Up first, an original Trivial Pursuit and Mastermind game! Peter has really taken to Mastermind, so now I just have to find someone willing to play Trivial Pursuit with me...

Next are some lovely sewing things, each for 25 cents. Clockwise from upper left:

  • Threads magazine from September of 199something. I haven't even looked through it yet. It was a sure buy, because as best as I can figure, EVERY issue of Threads has gold within its pages.
  • Spadea Sewing Book from the 1960s - a compilation of some construction tips from clothing designers. It's full of the same helpful hints that are now all over the internet and current sewing books, but it is written in a way that makes you feel like an insider.
  • Vintage Simplicity pattern for dolls and doll clothes. I don't know that I will ever make it, but it was impossible to leave.
  • Anchor 100 Embridery Stitches book. I began fiddling around with embroidery a little while back, chiefly to have handwork to do at meetings and the playground (when other people knit or crochet). I checked out a couple of books from the library, but now I have one of my own - and, since it is small, it will be easier to carry!
  • The Busy Woman's Sewing Book by Nancy Ziemann. I don't know how helpful this text will be, but it was hard to leave behind as well.
I'll leave with a snapshot from our weekend:

That's David with our kids and two of our friends' kids on a little suspension bridge at Bright Angel Park. A very nice little park where you can throw rocks or splash in the water (splashing in the warmer weather) as well as play at a lovely playground with real teeter totters and a merry-go-round (or wheel of death as our friends call it).

Meet my "New" Machine!

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Found this lovely on Craigslist for $30 and a bit of a drive.

I am SO excited, but of course and things have happened, I have yet to peruse the three instruction manuals. I have such high hopes for the buttonholer.

Briansews? I may be hitting you up for some advice!