Sewing Amidst a Mess

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My sewing room feels like a disaster right now. It’s somewhat functional, if I don’t mind stepping around piles of things needing to be sorted and re-arranged. On top of the sewing space feeling like a bomb went off, my camera isn’t working properly. I’m hoping it’s just the USB cord and I’ve ordered a replacement. It will still take photos, I just can’t get them off the camera. So here are some from my phone. (not great quality)

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This might not look too bad for some, but for me, well, I’m not enjoying my space at the moment.

What happened? Well, remember my new-for-me serger? It’s all computerized. The outlet I had the previously-borrowed serger plugged into didn’t have a surge protector on it – it didn’t need it. That serger wasn’t computerized at all. I live in a town, outside a major city. The city has regulated power. I don’t. When I bought my sewing machine, I was told if there’s a surge of power, it will fry the circuits of my sewing machine, and now my  serger. I needed a solution before I could use it.

It took a while for me to convince my hubby that this was a priority. But it’s done now, and I just need to re-organize.

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Here’s my new little surge protector for both my sewing machine and my serger. This little guy is screwed into the outlet so there’s no chance it will come loose. My sewing machine and serger both have a new desk too.

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It’s cozy, but it works.

I’ve even completed my first project in the new space. Just after the New Year, a neighbor came over asking me to alter her costume for her granddaughter. I don’t enjoy alterations, but because she’s a good neighbor, I said yes. I’m going to have her spread the word that I’m terribly expensive so I don’t get a bunch of costume renovation customers. I’d much rather sew selfishly or for gifts.

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It’s a charming costume, and the alterations weren’t hard. It was too big in the waist and arm, and the shoulders needed to be taken up too. I’m hoping to get a photo of her in the costume.

Now for some me sewing. I have a Swoon Coraline Clutch all cut out.

Happy Creating!

 

 

A Few Changes in 2016

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Happy New Year!

I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. I did. We don’t go all out, but it was lovely none the less. Maybe not quite as fun as surprising my Mum last September, but still good.

This past fall, I could see 2016 was going to be a little busier than 2015 had been. I could see some things were going to need to be re-organized in terms of priorities, and I knew it was going to affect my blog a bit. I’m hoping it won’t affect things too much, but to help myself out a bit, I’m going to only post every other week for the next while and see how that works.

There have been times in the past when I’ve followed a blogger and then they just seem to disappear. I do understand we all have lives outside of our blogs, but I do wonder what happened to them. So, I thought I’d let everyone know ahead of time that 2016 will look a little different. Everything is still good, I’m still here, and I’m going to sew and be creative – I just may have a little less time to have my fun and be creative and blog about it.

Here’s to a Happy, prosperous, and creative New Year!

 

Coraline Clutch

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Oh, I think I love bag-making as much as I love bra-making. I made another Swoon. I must say, I love it. I used it the same day I finished it, and was so happy with it. Here’s my Coraline Clutch shown with the pattern.

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I made this out of the same fabric I used to make my Agnes-inspired skirt, and the temporary dog boots. (I told you you’d see more of this, but I think I’m pretty much done with the material now.) This is a thick flocked knit. I really do love this material. I have a little more in black. I also have a similar black flocked stretch denim. So many things to sew still!

Back to Coraline. Here’s the inside of the bag.

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The pattern is a great pattern, and it all comes together easily. Swoon has a Facebook group for support, and that group lists a bunch of files. One of those files is a video tutorial that I used to help me make this bag – just to make sure I was doing everything right.

I added a fun little bracelet charm to the zipper to give it a little more oomph, and to make it easier to pull that little zipper.

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Here’s the backside of the zipper pull:

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I love that it is two-sided. Regardless of which way it shows, it looks pretty.

I worked to pattern-match the fabric so I’d have the same pattern showing on both the front and the back. I could have done a tiny bit better with my pinning because I noticed the bottom seam doesn’t match perfectly, but I’m pretty pleased with it overall. Most of the time I won’t be looking at it from the bottom, so the sides match well. There’s always something to work on for the next project, isn’t there?

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One change I made to the pattern was to simply attach my strap into the bag’s seam. The pattern calls for a 1″ D-ring and a 1″ swivel clip. I didn’t have those on hand, and didn’t have time to run to any store. I made this up, showered, and went out to a banquet. I love it as is, but also think I’d love to see it with the D-ring. I have another planned already.

Here’s my new Coraline with Catherine, just to show you the size.

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Catherine is draped in some lovely fabrics that I’m hoping will make it into a holiday skirt.

Happy creating and have a very Merry Christmas!

Dog Boot Update

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I’m on pair number five of the dog boots and I’m really hoping I’m done. Some good news: the boots I gave to a friend for her dog fit perfectly. Yay! Some not so good news: we’re now down to three of the boots I’d made last week, and three of the boots my friend gave to me.

Right there, I need to fix something because there is no way I want to spend my winter making dog boots. I’d much rather sew for me.

Here is the pattern I used:

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You’ll notice my boot looks a little bit different than the one in the photo. I used Velcro all around the boot, which is one change. I also added a long strap and pin to the end of the boots. If my little pup is going to lose his boots then I’m going to pin them to his coat just like we pin mittens to kids’ coats.

Here are all four new boots. Having an actual pattern helped so much in making them all the same shape. You can see two of them from the top with the Velcro wrapping around the front of them, and two from the back with the soft microfiber pad to help keep my pup’s feet dry.

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Here’s one by itself with the strap and pin. I may end up shortening the strap, but until he stops losing his ‘mittens’, I’m going to pin them to his coat.

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Happy creating!

Dog Boots I, II, III, and IV

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Can you guess what I’ve been working on? Our sweet pup came to us 10 months ago from California. From Cali-Can Rescue Foundation. Oh, I love him. I tell people, ‘We stupid love him.’ We’re all just over the moon for this little pup, He had to acclimatize coming from California; he needs to dress warmly now he’s in Canada.

We got him a coat last year, but it was almost the end of winter and we couldn’t find dog boots anywhere. This year, there were lots of them, but they’re $50! That’s more than I paid for his coat! I started looking for patterns.

The snow came before I had anything made, so I used some left-over material and made some quick little boots just to help keep his feet dry. They didn’t help a lot, but a bit.

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Just to keep them on, I sewed on some elastic as I didn’t have any Velcro floating around. As you can see, I really just threw these together, and we lost one after a couple of walks. On the far right one, you can see holes starting already. These are from skirt material scraps  and really weren’t suited for this project. Just a hint here: you’re going to see more of this material before I’m done with it.

A dear friend, who happens to run a cat treat and toy company, saw these temporary boots and said she’d get me some boots for our pup. She gave me these boots and a matching coat. The coat is great – it has a water-proof layer and then the fashion fabric. The coat is too big though. I could move the Velcro over a bit and make it work, but she wants to get us a smaller coat, so that will be great, especially for rainy days.

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Oh, there’s my sweet puppy baby! I just love him so. I could sit here and just look at that sweet face. See, I told you – stupid love.

Back to the doggie boots.

While I was waiting for that wonderful gift to come, I kept working on the doggie boots. I found a video on YouTube, and it looked great! I thought I’d give it a try, but without an actual pair of boots to look at, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to attach the Velcro. Here’s the video.

So, as my little pup was wearing out those first red booties, and coming home with wet paws, I found another dog boot resource. This one came from Deby at So Sew Easy on her Facebook groupSew Your Own Winter Dog Boots. This is the style I tried.

My pup doesn’t really like anyone to hold his paws, so measuring his paws was a bit of a hassle, until I decided to just put his paw on my fingers and use them to measure. His paws are two-and-a-half of my fingers wide, and two-knuckles long. It worked. That was what I’d used for the first red booties.

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They look cute and all. I added some faux leather to the back of them from an awesome leather score I got.

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I’d stopped in a second-hand store and saw these sitting in a box. I asked how much they were. Five dollars for the whole box. Yes! About one-quarter of this is faux leather/microfiber, which was perfect.

So these fleece booties are better for the weather, but I didn’t take into account that the material is thicker and the boots would need to be a little wider. These will go to another sweet Californian pup who came up to live with a friend of mine.

These are the last pair of boots I made this week:

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This time instead of faux leather they have microfiber on the back. These work well enough, but I think there will be a fifth pair of booties where I take what I learned from each pair, and add a little more.

The video, which really is great, didn’t show me how to attach the Velcro. The boots my friend gifted us does allow me to see how that goes on.

The video also didn’t have a pattern – she just winged it. And all my boot parts were cut out following the video’s information.

The next pair I make, I will use a pattern that is pre-cut, so pre-shaped. That way I’ll get a more uniform shape (which clearly I can use). I will continue to add the faux leather/microfiber to the bottom to give a little more insulation to my pup’s paws. But I will change the elastic out for only Velcro – it gives a stronger hold around the boot.

Happy creating!

 

 

My ‘New’ Serger

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Many, many years ago, my wonderful husband bought me a serger. He surprised me with it, so I hadn’t had any input into the decision. He just wanted to make me happy. And he did!

The serger, however, did not. It was a Kenmore. I don’t remember the model, but it was nothing but trouble. It would not stay threaded no matter what, and that was only one of its problems. I’d taken it back for repairs three times while it was still under warranty. Finally, the last time I took it in, I found out there had been a recall on it. The store replaced it on the spot. That was wonderful!

The big problem was, I wasn’t in love with the idea of a serger anymore. Yes, they can be great, but after three years of nothing but trouble, I didn’t even want to use it. I wasn’t using it. It sat for years. I finally sold it.

There were times I did regret selling it. Every once in a while I’d borrow one from a friend, because they are great in finishing everything so quickly and neatly. When they work, they’re the greatest.

Do you remember a while back I mentioned a friend had let her serger and Cover Pro machine come and stay at my house? I was going to let the Cover Pro stay here, but her serger didn’t work very well. I had taken it in to be repaired and the repair man said it wasn’t a very good machine – it wouldn’t hold the thread, it was loud and it shook a lot. Hmmm, that was not what I was wanting… again. After struggling with it, I called her up, thanked her for her kind offer and gave it back to her. Now, in her defense, she’d never even used it, so had no idea.

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I wasn’t having the best of luck with sergers, was I? However, if you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know, I don’t give up.

Just a few weeks ago, I called another sewing friend to ask if I could borrow her serger. She said, ‘Yes, of course.’ Then she said she’s selling it and wanted to know if I was interested.

Well, to make a long story a little shorter, look who came to stay at my house:

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This is the Bernina 1300MDC. Just to assure me she’s a great machine, she came with a sticker on her front saying she’s the Consumer Choice 2010.

I just (finally) had time to sit down and start reading through the manual. I didn’t get very far before I was absolutely stunned by what I was reading. I was reading how to insert the needles, and it said how to change the Left Needle for Cover Stitch, and the Center Needle for Cover Stitch, then the Left for Overlock, and the Right. I stopped reading. I read that all again. This is a Cover Stitch machine too? I had no idea!

I called my friend and asked her. ‘Yes,’ she said. I must have sounded a little odd because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had no idea when I got the machine that it was both. I simply thought it was a great serger.

She went on to say, she’d just had it serviced to make sure it was in perfect working order before selling it. I’m thinking my serger luck has changed! Woot woot!

Happy creating!

Swoon Ethel

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After making the Conference Tote Bag, I thought I’d like to make more bags. I’ve read a few books, bought a book, reviewed a book, am planning on buying a new book coming out, and took a few Craftsy classes – all on bag-making. I thought it was time to try another bag.

Let me tell you, it’s a lot more of a workout to make a bag than it is to make a bra! I can’t think of a anything that you fight with as much on a bra. The only thing that would come close is stretching the elastic along the band, but that’s nothing. Now, having said that, there are no fitting issues with bags at all.

Before I go on about the fight I had making the bag, let me show you what I made.

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This is Ethel, a free pattern from Swoon. I love the shape of this bag – that’s what drew me to it in the first place. It’s just a bit different for a tote bag with its tear-drop shape. DS2 came home the day I’d made it and said it was beautiful and what he really liked was the shape too. So, it’s a winning shape.

It doesn’t show up really well in the photos, but there is an outer divided pocket on the front of the bag. That’s something great for phones or keys or lipstick that you don’t want lost in the bag.

I used the same quilting cotton for the lining on this bag as I did on my Conference Tote Bag.

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Here’s the outside of Ethel with just a bit of lining showing. I love how these go together.

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You can see that front pocket I mentioned a little better in the above photo.

And here’s the back of the bag.

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Oh, I love that shape. I’d like to make this again and include a few of the lovely details from the Conference tote – like an inside pocket with zipper, and a zipper closure.

Speaking of detail, here’s a close-up of the floral detail:

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I love the gold on there, and the contrast between the dark brown and white.

Now, let me tell you about the fight we had. Well, the bag has interfacing and/or foam on all the pieces to give it structure. I did fight a little bit with the Conference Tote Bag – I’d decided boxed corners and I were not going to be friends. On this bag there are no boxed corners. However, the whole time I was sewing the seams, the foam seemed to want to push against something and I felt like I was fighting to keep my seam allowances straight. Tell me, any other bag-makers out there, is that normal? It felt like an arm workout that lasted too long.

The second fight is leaving that little six-inch gap in the lining to pull the whole bag through! I’ve read different comments where bag-makers have referred to that as birthing the bag. To me, it seemed more like I was trying to rip apart what I’d just fought to sew! Again, it was an arm work out too. Once the bag is turned though, well, that’s when you can see how it’s going to look when it’s finished. There’s just a little bit more sewing and some pressing to do, but the finished look is there. It’s a great moment.

In the end, I’m very pleased with it. This will be making its way to my Mum for Christmas this year. I had a lot of hints and questions after the first bag I made – I knew my Mum would love one too.

Happy creating!

An Agnes-Inspired Skirt

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Do you ever have one of those weeks where everything impinges on your sewing plans? That was my week this week. After a busy first part of the week, I was looking at Thursday thinking, ‘I have a whole day to sew.’ No, Thursday was spent driving errands for my family. So, Friday looked pretty quiet too, until the furnace guy showed up and needed to bring the giant hose through my sewing room window.

Now, all the errands are done, and my furnace is clean. Thankfully, my sewing project this week wasn’t a difficult one.

It wasn’t very long ago that Style Arc came out with a beautiful Princess-seamed dress. I saw it and loved it right away. As soon as it was available as a PDF, I bought it. The Agnes Designer Dress.

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I saw it and it was love at first sight. But… I don’t wear dresses very often. In fact, I think I only own one. I’m much more a skirt person. So, after a few months of having the pattern and wanting to do something with it, I decided to use some of its lines and make a skirt.

Out came my trusty skirt sloper. I used that make sure I got the correct fit for the waist and hips. Then I overlaid the Agnes pattern on that are re-drew the left side of my pattern to match that flare.

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The above photo shows the how much of a flare there is on the one side. The flare on the dress is on the princess seam, but I didn’t want a skirt with princess seams. My flare is on the side seam.

It went together quickly once I had some time to sew. Here’s the front of the skirt. You can see the flare on the right side of the photo.

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The basic pattern I used falls in-between an A-line skirt and a Straight skirt. It does flare over the hips – otherwise it wouldn’t fit my shape at all. Once it’s over that hip curve, it’s straight down. This will look like a straight skirt on, but with a bit of flare on the left side.

Here’s the back. Again you can see it’s straight with the flare showing on the left side of the photo.

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This material is a bit more substantial than some knits, so it may not sit the same as in the illustration, but I’m really thrilled with it. This is my skirt for the holidays this year.

Still to come is a slip for this.

Happy creating!

 

 

Types of Bra Patterns

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I’ve just posted over on So Sew Easy’s blog today on Types of Bra Patterns.

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This is the third post in a series I’m doing for So Sew Easy on bra-making. The articles are starting out at the very beginning of what you need to do all the way up to jumping right in and start making bras yourself. This one deals with the different types of patterns out there. Not all patterns will work for all women, just as not every bra will fit every woman.

Here’s the link to take a look:

Types of Bra Patterns.

Happy creating!

UFOs and Craftsy

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I’m just thinking, my tag line on my blog sums it up perfectly: I love to be creative & make things. That’s it. I love to make things. But repairs? Not so much love happening there.

It was too embarrassing to take a photo of my favorite sweat pants before the alterations began. The waistband had almost no material left where the ribbing folded over the elastic. I was ashamed to wear them in public, thinking, ‘Here’s the girl who sews all the time and look at what I’m wearing!’

However, removing the worn waistband was one thing. Sewing on the new one is entirely different. They’ve been sitting on my sewing desk for three weeks. (sigh)

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Then there’s the very small repairs to a bra and panties. Seriously, they’re very small repairs. But I put it off and put it off. The panties have sat in that same pile for the same amount of time as the sweat pants. The bra, only two weeks.

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Well, I already knew I wasn’t the best at this type of sewing, and I do normally put it off. However, this month it’s not my fault! What’s really been distracting me all month is Craftsy. It’s all their fault. At the beginning of the month they had an All-Access Pass for sale. I bought it and I’ve spent far too many hours watching Craftsy videos, and loved it.

I have to tell you, I was very organized in my watching. I started with the classes I’ve wanted to watch – the ones in my Wish List. That was great! There are a few of those I definitely want to buy now. You can click on the photo and it will open up the Craftsy class link.

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Here are a few of the ones I found that I will definitely want to put back in my Wish List to buy. I loved the Building Better Bags with Sara Lawson and watched all of it in one sitting. 20 Essential Techniques for Better Bags was great too. The Sewer’s Toolbox was a bit of a surprise for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m sure I took something away from the many classes I watched.

I included Plus Size pattern fitting & design in my list here. I was so very impressed with all the information in this class. Although I don’t quite fit into Plus sizing, I really did learn so much that I wanted to include a mention of the class. There is so much information there that simply pertains to sewing.

I didn’t just sample sewing classes though. I had a blast with Cooking classes too. Here are a few of my favorites, that again, I will definitely want to own.

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I learned so much from the Secrets of Gluten-Free Baking. Richard is a wealth of information, and he made everything look delicious! He answers questions quickly too. That’s always a plus in the classes. I have one class that it’s been years since I asked the question and have yet to get an answer. Craftsy did deal with that for me, but that instructor did not.

Another class that was great was Gluten-Free Italian Classics. Kristine made the best looking pizza crust I’ve seen in years. In fact, my DS1 came into the room while I was watching, and it looked so good he went and made a pizza for himself. There was so much in both of these GF classes, that I will want them.

Creamy Dreamy Custards was to drool over. The rest as you can see were all full of flavors. Homemade Salty Snacks is seriously delicious. The Dumpling class is great too! I already have Andrea’s Pho class, and she doesn’t disappoint at all in this class either. That’s another class I’m wanting to get.

Here’s one I didn’t watch, but heard about all month from a friend who was watching it. From everything I heard, I’d have to say it’s a good one. Seeing as I only eat Gluten-Free, I didn’t watch it.

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One of the biggest surprises this month while using the All-Access pass was I learned of a new style of knitting. My first impression what, ‘What?’ I’ve been knitting since I was a teen. I wondered how there could be a style I haven’t heard about? I knew English and Continental. This month I learned about Portuguese knitting. I even had a little get-together with a friend where we practiced this new style. I love it!

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I first watched Knit Faster with Portuguese Knitting, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I really do love it, and this class will definitely be one I’ll buy to keep. Then a friend mentioned Improve Your Knitting with Patty Lyons. I love this class. Patty makes everything sounds easy, and demonstrates everything very well. I think I was sold when her face lit up when she started talking about Portuguese knitting. I will definitely be buying her class as well.

So, now you can see why I’ve had so little sewing this month. Craftsy was distracting me from new sewing and UFOs. Sadly, the All-Access pass is now over, and I’ll have to wait for sales to get these wonderful classes again.

Happy creating!