Funky Baguette

As I flip through my ever-growing pattern collection, I often wonder if I’m in need of an intervention. So many patterns, so many intentions and yet so little follow through. For instance, I’ve had an Echino purse pattern since 2008 and even bought the fabric but never got around to making it. Why?

In part, because the pattern is in Japanese. This may surprise you, but I can’t read or speak Japanese. Shocking, right? But the Japanese craft books and patterns usually are so detailed with diagrams that it’s really not necessary to be able to read the accompanying text.

Except this pattern. There’s one little diagram that I just wasn’t sure I understood. I finally took another look at it and realized my confusion: The little wiggly line means to gather the section between the arrows. And the diagram on the pattern sheet shows to gather the fabric to an opening of  29cm. Woooo!

And thus my newest purse came into being:

Kokka Baguette

The body of the bag is a fun, new linen/cotton blend from Kokka, part of the new Trefle line. My favorite bright colors+sewing images? LOVE! I lined it with an aqua and white gingham from the Michael Miller line Mini Mikes. The tabs and strap are made with the MM Cotton Couture line of solids (which I am so loving).

All told, I think the bag took maybe 90 minutes to cut and sew. My strap is a little longer than the pattern piece and I also made mine a little different (I cut it four times the finished size and folded it like bias tape, with a touch of Decor Bond to interface). I did mess up the tabs on the first go and these aren’t quite right, either. I also left two pins underneath one of them and had to work them out through the seam. Oops!

I usually don’t like bags without interior pockets but this silhouette doesn’t really lend itself to pockets. Fortunately the size it perfect for my must-have items so I don’t really need any pockets inside. I can seriously see myself making several more of these. Next time I want to use some of the Kokka ready-made strapping.

Behind the Lens

My sister-in-law drove down from her Indiana home last month so we could play makeover and dress up and take pictures. Allegedly we were taking the pictures for her next CD, Crawl, but it’s hard to call it work when we’re both making faces and goofing off. Of course, it’s not all making faces, either.

Jenn Cristy

This is not the first time I’ve taken Jenn’s picture for promotional purposes or even for her CD art. I’m really lucky that she trusts me enough to let me play photographer for a day or two, and then play graphic designer and put together the CD packaging. It’s fun to dip my toes into my former life, without all the stress or pressure. And with Jenn, it never really feels like work.

Jenn Cristy

We decided to hire a makeup artist this go ’round and it was a terrific decision. If you are in the Atlanta area and looking for someone to do makeup, you must check out Lindze. Awesome gal, so sweet, professional and talented. She even helped with photo styling, which you will see on the CD cover…eventually. (Yep, keeping it under wraps until it’s out.) But these little sneak peeks give you an idea of what we were up to. You know, minus the giggling and singing and my occasional cussing at my camera lens (my 35mm lens only focuses sometimes-ugh).

I seriously think the photos from this shoot are among the best I’ve ever taken.

Technical details: Shot with my Canon 30D and a mix of lenses (Tamron 28-75, Canon 35mm) with natural light and a Canon 580ex Speedlite with Gary Fong Light Sphere to diffuse the bounced fill light.

Retro+Fussy Bag

Sometimes I see a pattern and I just know I have to make it. This was the case with the Modern Mary Jane pattern by Loft Creations. What really made it for me was the big, showcase-y kind of panel for showing off a cool fabric — which is the argument I used to convince Sarah to order it for the shop. I was down there to pick fabric for the sample almost before the pattern was unboxed!

I have been dying to sew with Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Shining ever since she posted peeks of it on her blog and it looked like the perfect fit for the pattern. When I compared the measurements of the focus panel to the cool mixed-print fabric in her line, I was thrilled to discover it was almost an exact match. Serendipity!

Ruby Star Shining bag front

Because the fabric has so many prints and pieces, I was able to fussy cut all the border squares from the same piece of yardage. I did take Sarah’s suggestion and mix in a bit of natural linen (Timeless Treasures) as well as a navy-and-white polka dot from Sarah Jane’s Children At Play for Michael Miller. The inside of the bag is a vibrant chartreuse from Kona.

Ruby Star Shining bag back

I changed up the pattern and did a second “front” of the bag for the backside to use up the other focus panel on the fabric. I’ll probably follow the instructions the next time I make this bag because I like the multiple pockets called for. Although I’m holding out for the cool female superhero fabric that’s on order. Because that’s how I roll.

Tunic Time

Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic

I always enjoy creating treasures from my stash, especially when I’ve had something — fabric or pattern — for a while and have no good excuse for the sewing delay. Last summer, I taught a private class at Intown Quilters and my students wanted to sew an article of clothing for themselves. I suggested the Schoolhouse Tunic, which had been hanging out in my pattern box, and they loved the idea.

Of course, I had to make one for myself before I taught them how to make it. So August found me cutting and sewing some of my favorite cotton lawn from Timeless Treasures. These colors are so me and I love the hand of this fabric like you can’t imagine.

The tunic is designed to be worn over a cami or tank, so if you’re not into the layering thing, it’s probably not the best choice for you. I tweaked the sewing just a bit since I have a serger and am not afraid to use it. I also vaguely remember adding just a bit of length to the bodice to compensate for my slightly fuller bust. I think the empire waistline might have hit a bit too far north otherwise.

This would be a really cute dress in a slightly heavier fabric if I added another 12-18 inches to the hem. I’m not 100 percent sure the current length is totally flattering on me but I don’t care; I throw on a pair of jean leggings and wear it anyway.

Confessions

Each week I receive an email from Ali Edwards as part of the 52 Creative Lifts subscription. Yesterday’s email hit my inbox and it was like one of those Oprah “Ah ha!” moments:

{It’s a fabulous email and I highly recommend reading it. You can forward a copy of it to your email here.}

I’ve struggled the past year with comparing myself to others. OK, this post is titled “Confessions” so it’s more accurate to say that I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I’m not smart enough/funny enough/talented enough/insert whatever here.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, then you’ve surely noticed a substantial decline in posting. While I’d like to say it’s because the blog is not in charge of my life it’s really more a matter of not feeling like I have anything to offer that measures up to whatever Everyone Else is doing. The Internet has gone from being a source of inspiration for me to one of constantly comparing myself — and feeling lacking.

But here’s the thing about comparing yourself to other people: You can’t value  your worth on someone else’s accomplishments. I have let so many opportunities slip through my fingers because I have not felt worthy or haven’t put forth the effort or just taken the chance. OK, that’s not 10o percent true, either. I have taken some chances and been rejected — and let that feed the fire of “you’re not worthy.”

It’s kind of a sucky cycle, you see.

So I’m giving myself a kick in the ass. I’m not going to measure myself against other people. I’m going to take a break from the social networking black hole which seems to suck me in and trap me in some unhealthy behavior. And I’m going to take charge of my life and really devote my energy to doing the things I love (crafting, teaching, writing) and see if I can’t make some of MY goals come to life. I’ll be blogging about what I’m doing and making again because I’ve missed it.

This is my life. It’s not perfect but it’s mine and I’m not wasting it.

Imagine That?

One of the things I stress in the beginner level sewing classes I teach is machine maintenance. Namely, that regular use is needed to keep a machine in good working order, as well as annual “spa days.” It’s advice that I more or less follow myself.

So I have this embroidery machine, a BabyLock Emore, which I affectionately refer to as “the paperweight.” I bought it 4.5 years ago for a steal because the model was on closeout and have since used it rather sporadically, mostly around gift-giving times (Christmas, birthdays, end of the school year). For the most part it sits on its own little rolling cart in my studio, gathering dust.

When my sweet and talented friend asked me a couple of months ago if I would let her come over and use my embroidery machine for a costume she had in mind, I of course said yes. We discussed technical details like thread, designs, hoop size and stabilizers. Last month she came over and we got down to business.

We stitched out designs, testing thread colors, sizes and fabrics. To say this is an embroidery-intensive project is something of an understatement. She joked about moving in for the duration, since she was (is) determined to do as much of the work as possible. We planned lunches, tossed around ideas for other costumes, talked and talked and talked some more. And the learning curve. Definitely some major navigation of the learning curve related to the embroidery machine since she’d never used one and I had basically ignored it for so long.

Funny thing about machines. They really need regular use and tune ups if you expect them to do their thing. It really should have come as no surprise, then, that said embroidery machine completely locked up after the third day of nonstop stitchery.

Oops.

I am eternally grateful to have a great machine repair guy who is not only fair in pricing but fast, too. He did point out that the damage could have been much worse had I not stopped the machine when I did.

Lesson learned, for sure.

New Year, New Bag

I think I probably sew more bags than just about anything else in my repertoire. There’s just something gratifying about making something I can immediately use — and I literally wear out the bags I sew, which means there’s always room for another in my closet.

Daisy Girl Backpack

This bag combined two things I fell in love with on sight: Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Rising fabric and the Daisy Girl Backpack by Fig Tree & Co. Honestly, the most difficult part of this exercise was cutting into the fabric. It’s OOP! It’s the only half-yard of it I bought! Once I make something with it, that’s it! Oh em gee!

Yeah, I may get a little worked up on occasion.

I actually bought the fabric with another project in mind but couldn’t find quite the right lining fabric. I’m glad I waited because I love how this bag turned out. LOVE. IT!

The contrast fabric is Kona (if someone’s really interested, I can match to  my color card) and I used a minty cotton twill for the lining (I inexplicably bought about four yards of it and it’s a pretty nice match). A note on linings: I tend to stick with light-colored fabric for lining bags. If you’ve ever owned a purse with a dark lining, you know that a black hole it can literally be. So much easier to rummage around and find what you’re looking for (I’m looking at you, debit card) if you can actually see the bottom of the bag.

I added a swivel hook to the bag lining to keep my keys, because it’s much easier to find them if they’re always snapped to it. I also substituted a flat magnetic clasp instead of the magnetic snap to save on wear and tear of the opening (I’m rough on bags and inevitably rip the snap through, even with plenty of reinforcement). And I goofed up a bit with the interior pocket and drawstring casing (read the directions! I’d save myself a ton of heartache if I’d follow my own advice!) but it’s still functional if not quite what Joanna Figueroa intended.

There’s a drawstring closure of the bag top which uses grommets and I deviated from the instructions here to do them more like corset grommets. The biggest difference is that I use an awl to work holes for the grommets rather than cutting the fabric. It works on smaller grommets — I can’t see how the technique would work on the big drapery grommets — but is incredibly tedious. It probably took me about 90 minutes but I think it helps keep the fabric stronger around the grommets since there’s no cutting involved. Obviously YMMV.

The bag size is pretty good for my needs. It holds my checkbooks, wallet, iPad and/or Kindle with room to spare. But not so roomy that it will end up a bottomless pit of old receipts, coupons and forgotten mail. Oh, who am I kidding? I am, after all, the woman who can junk up a wristlet!

Miss L was crushed to learn the bag was not for her, so I am fairly certain I’ll be sewing another of these in the near future.

Pinterest Christmas

My dearest Honey is beginning to dread the words “so I saw this cool thing on Pinterest,” likely because he’s come to expect me to completely obsess be inspired to do yet another project. Miss L’s birthday party may have been one such project. And Christmas just may be another.

Before Thanksgiving, I was talking to Honey about our need to replace the 10-year-old Christmas tree. “You know,” I said, “I’m really tempted to just leave all the ornaments in the attic this year and just start fresh.” And he said, “Okay.” Which I interpreted as “go right ahead.”

Whether that was his intention or not is completely irrelevant. What is important is that I consulted him on color scheme (“If I were going to change things up, would you rather do this or this?”) and I did my best to do it on the cheap. That meant having my oldest pull anything out of the attic that worked with the new colors (silver, white and aqua, with a touch of red) and scouring Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods for inexpensive decor items I could use. Oh and of course making a few things, too.

Want to see?

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Oh Christmas Tree. Tree and many ornaments from Target (mostly the shatterproof kind since the tree is situated in the middle of the greyhound’s indoor track aka the dining room) but also some from Home Goods etc. and our existing stash. Ribbon garland from Hobby Lobby (50% off). Star from that W place. Tree skirt made by me.

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Coffee table. Candleholder thingy from Home Goods; candles from my stash.

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Dining room light fixture. Most of the ornaments from the attic. Snowflake/crystal drops from TJ Maxx. Bow ornaments from Target.

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End table in the living room. Silvered glass tree from TJ Maxx. Glitter house from Hobby Lobby, painted and glittered by me. Tiny tree from attic.

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Foyer. Holiday sign a free printable I found on Pinterest. Brush tree from Marshalls. Ornaments and garland from Target.

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Foyer light fixture. This is seriously one of my favorite touches! Paper star from Home Goods ($4!!) with stash ribbon added.

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Stair railing leading up to the living room. Stockings made by me (aqua feather wale cord from my stash + Platinum Delovely Damask from Antiquity by Michael Miller). Garland from Michaels (60% off).

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We have a sort of half wall along one side of the dining room and where the stairs come up, open to the foyer. It needed something but it couldn’t be anything that could fall off the ledge since it likely would end up broken thanks to either us or the cats. I made a really simple banner garland with more of the damask fabric and a glittery aqua ric rac (Hobby Lobby, 50% off). It’s hung with some of those removable 3M hooks with more of the Target ornament bows to hide the hooks.

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Fireplace hearth and mantel. Seasons Greetings garland, mini trees and pots we had (I freshened up the pots with some white paint). Ornament garland from Home Goods. Silvered tree and glass owl from Marshalls.

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Schrank in the kitchen. A work in progress. Wreath, stands and ornaments we already had. The “gifts” are wrapped boxes I had on hand. Glass owl from Marshalls. Banner garland made by me.

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Kitchen sink window. Mason jar we had; I just added candy canes from Target. Silver glitter snowflakes also from Target and hung with monofilament thread, suspended from monofilament thread strung on two 3M hooks. Lighted garland from the attic.

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Kitchen cabinets dressed up with ribbon (50% off at Hobby Lobby). I used tiny clothespins (Joann) to clip the Christmas cards we received to the ribbon. It took two rolls of ribbon to add it to all the tall upper cabinet doors (8 total) and we’ve just about filled them with cards.

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Tree in my studio. I’ve had it three years and this year decorated it with the items I made for L’s birthday party. The tree skirt is my design (created for the FreeSpirit booth at Quilt Market with different fabric).

We had a few friends over for a casual open house, which of course meant I did a little cooking:

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Tablecloth from Home Goods. Table runner made by me with a different colorway of the damask fabric. Centerpiece put together with silver tray and candles we had (I Mod Podged glitter on the pillar) and votive holders from Target. You can see more of the food on Flickr, if you’re interested.