Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Travel Bags

By-Jenny2

I'm so excited, I sewed for myself last week! You and I have talked before about how difficult that can be, and how much easier it is to sew for others with a "deadline" and the purpose to give gifts. Well, this time I had a deadline: my trip to Texas and Tennessee. The shoulder-strap purse I'd been using for a couple of years had a broken zipper and it was time to make a new one!

Jenny: Hobo Buttercup

I decided to adapt the buttercup purse pattern into a hobo bag. Having worked with it before, it was familiar and I knew I could easily modify it. I added about 2 inches on every side, aside from the bottom where I added about 4 inches. I made the pleats wider. I made the strap a shoulder strap instead of a small handle. And I added a layer of batting to make this a substantial everyday bag.

Jenny: Hobo Buttercup
Jenny: Hobo Buttercup
Jenny: Hobo Buttercup

I'm very happy with it! I have been using it for a few days already and it's a great, convenient bag. I love that it is unique, I love that is has natural linen as the main fabric, and I love that I made it for myself!

For my brother's wedding party, I needed a purse. Instead of buying one, I decided to make that too! I'll be wearing a bright springy green dress and decided a classic black purse would probably be best. I picked a crisp black linen for the outside and a funky Alexander Henry print from a few years ago for the inside. I didn't get too creative here, I just followed the buttercup pattern once again, to a tee. I had made this purse for the women in my family at Christmas time but never made one for myself. So, it was time to rectify that.

Jenny: Black Linen Buttercup
Jenny: Black Linen Buttercup
Jenny: Black Linen Buttercup

The pictures are terrible, I'm sorry! It actually turned out really well and looks more polished than my previous attempts at the buttercup pattern. I think it's the crisp linen.

Finally, I decided to make one more thing for the trip: a laptop pouch based on my pocket pouch pattern. I used upholstery canvas for the outside and a layer of batting to pad the whole thing.

Jenny: Laptop Case
Jenny: Laptop Case

I'm not too happy with the fabric combo, but it is much more convenient than the bulky laptop case, especially when traveling with a little one!

I know you've been busy with a bunch of different projects lately, with the renovation, Ian's birthday and the end of the school year. Have you had a chance to sew for yourself at all recently? Did your spring top get relegated to the bottom of the to-do pile? That's so easy to do, isn't it? I'm looking forward to seeing what you've been up to!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Show and Tell: Bobbin Saver

By-Jenny2

When my mom was visiting us last month, she helped me get my dining / craft room in order, she cleaned up and oiled my sewing machine (and showed me how to do it!), and she made note of what I had and didn't have in terms of sewing tools and supplies. During one of our many trips to various local fabric shops, while I was drooling over designer fat quarters, she came toward me holding a peculiar rubber ring in her hand.


bobbin-saver

"Trust me, you need this!" she said. And despite my rolling my eyes at her purchasing yet another gadget for me (she does that a lot), I have to agree that this is the coolest little thing ever. It is called a Bobbin Saver and you can find it at some local fabric shops and at most Joann's.


Jenny: Spotlight: Bobbin Saver

So yes, today my spotlight is on a gadget. It's not usually my thing, I like to use mason jars, recycled containers and old wooden boxes to store tools and notions. But bobbins... they have a mind of their own. I went from swearing every time I had to untangle a bobbin from all its other bobbin friends in the little baggie where I kept them all stored, to reaching for the one I need easy-peasy without a mess of tangles and knots. This Bobbin Saver is compact and cheap, yet serves its purpose efficiently and without fuss. One word: awesome! (How's that for advertising? I promise I wasn't paid to write this!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Link Love:

By-Angel

Here are some crafty links I bookmarked this week:

Upcycled T Shirt Rug Tutorial from Keep It Real

I know where I'll go for my next felt purchase: Felt-O-Rama (via Maya Made)

Salley Mavor's blog (author of Wee Folk) is inspiring me in a big way this week.

Handmade News (Group Craft Blog, the "largest on Earth")

Jenny-mini-button The artwork by Salley Mavor is incredible! What detail, I am amazed. Had never heard of Handmade News and will definitely bookmark that site, thanks for the link!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crafty Notebooks

By-Jenny2

Jenny: Decorated Journal

I have a not-sewing-related project to share! I love Moleskine journals and have been experimenting with decorating their plain cardboard cover Cahier Notebooks. With mixed results.

Working with these kraft cover journals is a bit of a trend in the online craft community. Maya*Made (our favorite!) regularly stamps them with her latest designs. Angry Chicken and Wisecraft have covered them in fabric. You can find them embroidered on Etsy. Search for "moleskine journal" on Flickr and you will receive tons of inspiration. And check out this little collection compiled by The Long Thread.

I was itchy to try something out and purchased a couple of 3-packs a few months ago. They are quite reasonable, here they are on the Moleskine website but you can also find them in multiple online shops.

Experiment #1: Pasting a paper initial on the cover to personalize the notebook for its owner. I made this one and a couple others for Emily, my secret-santa gift recipient last Christmas and a writer, to go along with her brown pocket pouch.



Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal

The color of the scrapbook paper I used was a purplish periwinkle when I picked it out of my stash, but by the time I had pasted it onto the journal cover with mod podge, it looked more blue-ish. I like this concept, and it's pretty quick from start to finish. If I do it again, I will work on making the letter more detailed and embellished, maybe in two layers, and probably a bit smaller.

Experiment #2: Stamping a favorite quote on the cover.



Jenny: Decorated Journal

I love this idea and wish my stamping skills did not suck so badly! I think I used such tiny stamps (in order to properly fit the whole quote on the cover) that they were too tricky to maneuver into straight lines. The crookedness gives it a certain charm, but eh, I still wish I could stamp "cleanly".

Experiment #3: Painting flowers on the cover. I was inspired to do this by this photo and post by Beauty That Moves. After finding out that one of Emily's favorite flower is bougainvillea, I got to work researching, sketching and painting.



Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal

This was by far my favorite, both in process and in result. It provided less instant gratification than the other experiments, but I loved slowing down to draw and paint. I think the colors really pop on the kraft cover and the time spent on the painting really makes this a thoughtful handmade gift. I'll definitely do this again.

And finally, Experiment #4: Fabric collage on the notebook cover. My college best friend recently got engaged, a couple of weeks before her birthday. I tend to make her handmade gifts for her birthday and wanted to craft something useful as she enters the whirlwind that is wedding planning.

I managed to coax some info out of her, primarily that she wants bright yellow flowers for the ceremony. I decided to make her an "inspiration" journal to jot down wedding to-dos and ideas, with a bright yellow flower collage on the front.



Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal
Jenny: Decorated Journal

I could have kicked myself for not realizing sooner than the mod podge (or whatever that glue is) was glossy and not matte! Consequently, I had to paint the whole cover with it to match the sheen. I have mixed feelings about the result. I like the idea, but should have pasted the fabric onto white paper before gluing to the cover, to avoid some see-through issues. I will probably try this again but will plan out my design a bit better. Overall, this was a super fast project, maybe 30 minutes from start to finish, and a great way to use tiny fabric scraps!

Have you ever decorated these journals before? Do you have ideas for what you would do to personalize them?

Angel-mini-buttonJenny, I've said this before but it bears repeating: the thought you put into your handmade gifts is really inspiring. That sweet energy permeates anything you make. I was folding laundry today and the lunch bag and snack bags you made Ian for Christmas were slowly uncovered as I picked up items, and the sight of something you made with your own two hands gave me the best feeling.

I haven't decorated these books before, but I am definitely a Moleskine fan. I like the idea of making potato stamps and using white ink for printing. Using favorite fabric scraps is brilliant too. I am going to try this soon!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Link Love

By-Jenny2

Hello there! Finally caught up a little on my blog reader after neglecting it for a while, so I have some fun links to share!

- How About Orange collected several free patterns and tutorials for all sorts of summer bags. Fun! Now, which one to make myself...?

- Handmade Beginnings, the new book by Anna Maria Horner is out. I want it, I want it!!

- You know what else I want? These iris dangle earrings, by Jorgensen Studio. Someone please tell my husband?

- My Spring Top didn't win the competition, but you can congratulate the Reader's Choice winner Adrianna on her cute top here!

- Annekata has a super cool tutorial for making your own fabric tape. Smart!! Can't wait to try that.

What fun stuff have you found online lately?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pocket Pouch

By-Jenny2

How are you feeling today, dear friend? Boy, demo work in the house, then a sleepless teething baby with a dairy allergy, then a 1000-year flood, now strep?! You poor thing, what's next... I'm afraid I shouldn't ask. Hopefully, just a peaceful healthy mellow spring and summer! Yes, that's what I'm wishing for! I hope you feel better very soon.

Here's a little project I've been meaning to share with you. Last summer, before our family traveled to Europe to visit family and friends in a whirlwind vacation, I made little gifts to bring to our hosts. Most of those were the pot holders I've written about here before. But for the young women among our friends and cousins who hosted us, like my cousin Clarisse (who reads this blog from Central America where she is traveling by tandem with her boyfriend!), I sewed little pocket pouches.

I didn't take photos of the half a dozen pouches I made last summer, but I did make one for myself at the time. Here it is: black linen on the outside and flowery fabric on the inside, with a fun button. It is small and perfect to store and carry make-up.

pocket pouch-06

These are simple pockets, made with 2 squares or rectangles of fabric and a contrasting lining. I've used this straightforward process to make sandwich bags with velcro, or a pouch with a snap, or a grocery bag with handles before. But I was inspired by Amy Karol's painted clutch in Bend The Rules With Sewing to make them foldable with an elastic loop and a button, instantly dressing up this little pocket. I love that idea!

Before our big trip last year, I also made a couple of pockets to store our portable DVD player and its accessories for travel. These came in so handy (and so did the DVD player...) and, thanks to a couple of layers of flannel inside, have kept our electronics safe from bumps in the travel backpack.

pocket pouch-07

Lately, I have made these pocket pouches as gifts in a size that is perfect for storing a journal and a pen or to use as a cute evening clutch.

Black and white with a kick of yellow for my friend Erika...

pocket pouch-04
Jenny: Pocket Pouch

Brown and periwinkle for a secret santa gift for Emily last Christmas...

pocket pouch-01

Linen and teal flowers for our friend Kristina (terrible photo, sorry)...

pocket pouch-03

And just this week, red with bold peonies for the birthday of my college best friend Mary Ann (who just got engaged!!).

Jenny: Pocket Pouch
pocket pouch-05

I love how each fabric combo results in a totally different look. It is such a fun and fast project with satisfying results, perfect for using fat quarters or large scraps in your stash. I may post a tutorial for making this type of pocket soon. They really are super easy and turn out so cute! In the meantime, instructions for making a clutch with awesome custom-painted fabric are in Angry Chicken's book.

Angel-mini-button Jenny I love the way you use color and coordinate your fabrics in projects! You take a simple pattern and turn it into something extraordinary. I have that book, and love the idea of stamping or stenciling onto the pouch as well. I know that some people wonder "Why make something to hold the portable DVD player when you can just buy something instead" but what I love is that you can pick the fabric, make sure it is the perfect size, and instead of looking at the ugly black case it probably came with, you have a beautiful alternative.

You asked how things are here, so I'll give you a quick rundown. Everything is cleared out of the basement and we have a dehumidifier going. We had a hot water heater installed (tankless!)yesterday so I got to take a bath after almost 9 days without hot water. You know we've been under strict water conservation orders in Nashville anyway, but thankfully that's been partially lifted. With strep throat and a terribly achy body I had to get into the bathtub for a soak, it's all I could think about all day! I figured after the whole family didn't bathe for 9 days or wash clothes or dishes for that long, I'd conserved enough extra water for a bath.

Not much crafting going on here, up until I got sick Sunday afternoon I'd been making 100s of lunches for the residents (mostly Egyptian immigrants) of a flood ravaged apartment complex. My plan had been to volunteer there for Mother's Day, but I only got as far as making food before the strep knocked me out. Crafters were represented among the volunteers, however! Ann from Mason Dixon Knitting was there, she wrote about it here and NPR also did a story on this community here.

The husband is off work today, and hopefully we will at least get somewhat back to what normal looks like for us. And hopefully I'll have some curtains to show you next week!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Show and Tell: Debbie Bliss

By-Jenny2

Sitting on my dining room table right now is a pile of library books I just got last week, including Martha's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric (fab!), Denyse Schmidt's Quilts (super fab!) and, more on point, a couple of books by Debbie Bliss. She is a big name in the yarn and knitting world, but I only recently discovered her and wanted to share that here.

That little grandpa sweater I made for Silas last year? The pattern came from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits for Babies, a gorgeous book. (And let me just say her pictures look much nicer than mine, ahem.)


Jenny: Baby Grandpa Cardigan
Jenny: Baby Grandpa Cardigan
Jenny: Baby Grandpa Cardigan

I had talked about that same book in my post about baby blankets a couple of months ago. As you can probably tell, I became enamored with Debbie Bliss' designs when looking for baby projects. She has created so many patterns for baby clothes and accessories, and for the most part, they are a lovely mix of classic and contemporary, with clean lines and straightforward patterns (totally my style!). Here are a couple of things I am determined to make sometime soon.


Spotlight: Debbie Bliss

When digging around for more Debbie Bliss patterns, I found out she has published countless books, including some with patterns for adults, older children and the home. She has a line of yarn in gorgeous colors and a variety of luxurious and eco fibers. And she also is the editor of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine (for Vogue Knitting) which is a steal per issue considering the number of patterns provided inside. When venturing away from baby stuff, her style is still clean and classic yet fresh. I also love the way the designs are styled in the photos that accompany the patterns, much more fashionable than the average knitting publication.


Spotlight: Debbie Bliss
Spotlight: Debbie Bliss

I have a cardigan to finish for myself at the moment. It's been a painfully slow, months-long process even though it's a simple project, I think it's because it's for *me*. Why is it that I'm so less driven to finish something for myself?? After that, I have countless projects in mind to cast onto the knitting needles. But, the patterns from Debbie Bliss' books keep beckoning me... Might have to make another baby sweater sooner than later. What knitting projects are you working on these days?

Angel-mini-buttonOh, I wish I had a picture of Silas in that sweet cardigan! It's already put up for the summer but it will fit him later this year, too. I have checked out her books from the library multiple times, mostly the baby one but I've looked at the others too. I've made the baby booties for a few friends, and my sister made the heart sweater for Silas as well (just a note, the neck hole doesn't seem to be very stretchy on that one, might be an error in the pattern?)

I am mostly a Fall and Winter knitter, but I do always have something on the needles. Right now it's a sweater for Ian, knit in one piece and sewn up the sides. I think it would have been a little big for him this year anyway, or at least I'm telling myself that! I think knitting is such a slow process that it's easy to get sidetracked and set things aside, especially if it's for yourself!

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