Patchwork Duffle

I don’t have PS on my laptop. I use my iPhone for maybe 99 percent of the photos I take these days. I’m waving the white flag and giving up on any pretense of polished perfection in favor of actually writing more than one blog post a year. So if less-than-perfect pictures offend you, you probably want to stop reading my blog.

Life happens. A lot. So here I am, seven months since my last blog post, trying to start anew. So how about I just dive back in?

At Quilt Market in Portland this past spring, I snagged a copy of Bari J‘s Holiday in London Duffle Bag. Bari is one of my favoritest people ever and I really love her aesthetic, so I pretty much had to pick up one of her awesome bag patterns, especially one that had the potential to become my go-to travel bag.

I was itching to make something with a gorgeous range of Michael Miller fabrics we had at the shop. Norwegian Wood plus a bunch of other gorgeous, graphic brights. Elizabeth Hartman’s patchwork Weekender came to mind but I didn’t want to make the Weekender so the patchwork Holiday in London Duffle came into being.

Holiday in L

I picked up 10 fat quarters plus extra cuts for the handles, strap and binding. Oh and separate lining fabric. Yeah, not doing twice the patchwork. As it was, the patchwork, quilt-as-you-go method probably added about eight hours to this project. Why? Because I’m slow and sometimes mess things up and have to figure out a fix midstream.

Holiday in L

I did an easy piecing job by using strips of different widths to fill the space. If you do this, you’ll want to cut the Soft n Stable at least an inch larger all the way around to compensate for how much it pulls in during the quilting process. I forgot this on a couple of pieces and so my bag turned out a wee bit smaller because I had to trim things up to get them to fit together properly. Whoops!

Holiday in L

I tinkered with the straps and handles (and tabs) and just made them into casings to slip cotton canvas webbing through. I really like using webbing for the durability factor and having them covered with fabric pulls together the whole look. I also used my favorite, favorite, favorite Fuse n Wrap piping because it is one of the best inventions ever. Seriously. (Soft n Stable falls under that category, too.)

The instructions were easy to follow and I like how the seams are all encased. If I make this again (and I probably will because I think it will be a great graduation gift), I will attach the bag bottom a little differently because I’m too lazy to do the hand sewing. (What? Have you not met me?)

Holiday in L

I skipped the “faux piping” step at the end because it’s a little on the bulky side and I just wanted to be done with it and start using it. I immediately took it upstairs to show off to Miss L and my Honey because nothing says “I’m done!” quite like show and tell. Ok, I really wanted someone who was not me to ooh and aah over it because it is FABULOUS. I love, love, love it and am so glad I put in the extra effort to do all that piecing and quilting. If you’re thinking about making this bag, I highly recommend checking out Bari’s fantastic sew along.


Tie One On

I don’t know about you but I think time has somehow accelerated. Surely it can’t already be February, can it? How did that happen?!

I’ve been pretty slack in the blogging department for the past year but I’m determined to make it work (in the immortal words of the fabulous Tim Gunn). What better way to kick off than with my little muse and the quick project she requested.

bowtie1lo

I picked up the ruffled button-down on clearance at the Land’s End store inside Sears. As soon as she saw it, she said it needed a bow tie and vest.

Yeah, there’s no denying that face.

bowtie2lo

My talented friend Jona has a great pattern for a men’s/boy’s bow tie; surely it would work for Miss L, I thought. Yes and yes! I’m really tempted to whip out a few more of these for my girlie and maybe the men in my life, too. But first there’s that vest…


Dragoncon 2012: The End

Welcome to the ongoing geeky adventures of the Craft Addict! Yes, more Dragoncon sewing but I think you’ll like this one.

My lovely friend Meredith made a passing comment on the Book of Faces one day about sewing a Star Wars pin-up dress with some sheets she’d bought. The shop had recently gotten in some awesome Star Wars fabric so of course I had to use that comment as inspiration for my own geeky dress.

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If you’re going to be at a convention in Atlanta in the summer, a halter dress is pretty much going to be one of the most comfortable things you can wear. I am beyond happy with how this dress turned out, even though certain parts of it made me want to cuss.

The dress is a modified version of Simplicity 2401. I omitted the straps and lengthened the top of the bodice pieces to make a continuous strap around the back of the neck. I also added darts on the bodice sides to improve the fit of the “cups.” But the biggest modification I made was one that could have been handled differently had I followed my own advice: Make a muslin.

To be fair, I did make a muslin of the bodice portion of the  dress. Where I went astray was in thinking I didn’t need to worry about the skirt. For some reason, I though the skirt was more of an A-line than it actually is — and that resulted in a too-tight dress that looked utterly awful on me.

Fortunately, I had just enough fabric left to cut a third panel for both the front and the back of the dress. After copious amounts of unsewing (including picking out serged seams), I inserted the panels, gathered the top of the skirt to the bodice and a new favorite dress was made. A petticoat underneath adds just the right amount of “oomph.”

And did I mention it has pockets?

I’ve had some random invisible zipper issues with this dress and still need to rip out this zipper and install a new one (which will make the fourth one). But the fit is perfect and it’s super comfortable, too. Not to mention super geeky.

My weekend wasn’t just about wearing cool costumes, though. I also spent a few hours as a panelist with the Costuming Track. Let me tell you, it was one of the most awesome experiences ever. I sat on four different panels: Fabrics & Embellishments, Practical Costuming, From 2D to 3D, and Pattern Drafting Basics. Some of the coolest, most talented people imaginable were seated on those panels and dorky Mary was right there with them. It was surreal! I mean, it’s not every day that you get to hang out with RJ Haddy of SyFy’s Face Off. Well, maybe you do but I don’t. And the room was so full for most of my panels. I wasn’t really paying attention (I was trying to make sure I stayed on topic!) but my awesome Honey did and he was impressed with the crowds.

So many people came up to me during the course of the weekend to tell me how much they enjoyed the panels or thank me for some bit of information I passed on. It just really blew me away. Honestly, I am so lucky to be able to do what I do and getting the chance to pass that along to other people is one of my favorite parts of my job.

Of course, bumping into Dean Cain at Starbucks and having him tell you the Supergirl costume you made your daughter is great is pretty cool, too.

Yep, Dragoncon was pretty awesome this year.


Dragoncon 2012 Part Deux

So, where were we? Dragoncon. Costumes. Geekery.

I pretty much had a plan for what costumes I was making for DC this year before last year’s con ended. And, as usual, that plan went right out the window. Blah blah blah procrastinationcakes. That wasn’t the only reason, but let’s run with it instead of getting bogged down with all the other boring crizzap.

You might have noticed that I’m kind of a big fan of Urban Threads. When the site unveiled its amazing Mechanica Aquatica designs a couple of months ago, I just knew I had to incorporate them into a DC costume. And thus the “Steampunk Mermaid” was born.

OK, she’s really not a mermaid but I wanted something that was very mermaid-y in feel. My character (if you will) is married to a man who runs aquatic adventures. Unfortunately, he’s been lost at sea since heading off on an expedition to find the lost city of Atlantis but I continue to dress as something of a walking advertisement for his business.

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Yes, another crummy phone pic. Some day I will get decent photos of this costume. Preferably a day when it’s not 92 freaking degrees outside with 80 percent humidity. Until then, we’ll all just have to deal.

There’s about six or seven hours of embroidery in this costume. Some of that was spent on designs that didn’t turn out so well. I’m still counting them. In addition to what you can see here, there also are two of the fish borders on the back of the skirt and an “embossed” compass rose on the purse. I’m also wearing a free-standing lace choker. Yep, all of it’s from UT.

The corset is a pattern by Truly Victorian and I love it beyond all reason. The printed fabric is an Asian quilting fabric by Quilt Gate. They’re actually fans but I flipped them upside down to look more like scales. Cool, eh? The shiny fabric is from a piece in my stash that I bought at Fabric World. I’m 100 percent certain it’s 100 percent synthetic but it was perfect for this costume. Because I omitted the busk in the corset, I used something like 8 or 10 yards of lacing in the back. It’s still a bit of a struggle to pull on and off but I really like the centered design on the front.

The skirt is a modified version of Butterick 4954. I added some fin-like details on the sides, a peplum in back and — my favorite touch — metallic copper pintucks on the lower portion of the skirt to mimic fish tails. Without all the embroideries and extras, I probably could have made the skirt in an hour or two. As is? Yeah, a lot longer.

To top it all off, I made a leather pirate hat fascinator. It’s my first time working with leather and I’m so lucky to have a friend who makes leather armor (among other things). Totally tapped into that wealth of knowledge, let me tell ya. (Thanks again, Stephen!)

I put together a Flea Market Purse from The New Handmade to go with, made with purple no-whale corduroy and lined with the same shiny fabric from the corset. Normally, I’d add pockets to the skirt but the design didn’t really lend itself to on-seam pockets so a purse it was.

 


The Return of Dragoncon

You know how a three-day weekend can totally throw off your days? I’m having one of those weeks only it’s compounded by being at Dragoncon for four days. I *think* it’s Wednesday but I certainly wouldn’t swear to it. And don’t bother asking me the date. Clueless.

But, oh, it was worth it.

For those who don’t know: Dragoncon is a four-day pop culture convention. If you’ve ever heard of Comic Con, it’s kind of similar, only it takes place in Atlanta — which means it’s close enough for us to attend and get our geek on.

This year was my most ambitious to date in terms of costumes. Now, wearing costumes isn’t mandatory — but it sure is fun. Except for the sweating part. And the people stepping on my train part. But other than that…it really just kind of adds to the experience, in a random sort of geeking out way.

Anyway.

Costumes. I made two new costumes for Miss L: Supergirl (which I’ve shared previously) and a Steampunk Alice in Wonderland, which was part of a themed set I did that included a costume for me (Queen of Hearts), my son (White Rabbit) and my son’s girlfriend (Mad Hatter). (See what I mean about ambitious?) I also made a Steampunk aquatic traveler costume for myself (but more about that later).

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Now, a themed costume group can be pretty cool but it sort of requires that whole “group” thing. What you see here is evidence that the four of us were, in fact, in the same place, at the same time, for I think about five minutes. The big kids were off doing their thing (as young adults are wont to do), but they at least hunted us down so we could get this picture before they changed into more comfortable street clothes. Miss L and I, however, remained in costume all day.

The Mad Hatter is wearing a high-backed underbust corset made from a pattern by Harlots & Angels. If you are a very experienced corset maker, you might like this pattern. I found it problematic, especially the part about 1/2″ boning. The boning channels in the back are much longer than standard cut bones and finding the right size was a challenge. I ended up swapping out 1/4″ (I had spring steel I could cut to length) and then had to cut off about 3″ of the top back because she is so petite.The skirt is actually the apron-and-bustle portion of Simplicity 1819 as shown on the pattern cover and diagram. Unfortunately, the pattern instructions don’t actually tell you how to make the skirt this way so I had to come up with the steps on my own. I didn’t like how the apron drooped so I added contrasting straps to improve the look. The mini top hat fascinator is a pattern from The Quilted Fish and actually recycled from my 2011 DC costume.

The White Rabbit is wearing a cravat I drafted (just love the Steampunk-y fabric!) and a vest made from Simplicity 2895. I wish you could see the clock face buttons — they are the perfect touch. The ears are cut and shaped leather that I painted and then hot glued to a metal headband. I bought fabric to make pants but never got around to making them.

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My Queen of Hearts includes the Laughing Moon underbust corset made without a busk. I embroidered a steampunk heart design from Urban Threads on the front. The fabric is a beautiful quilter’s tweed by Robert Kaufman. I drafted an easy elastic-waist A-line skirt (red stretch poplin from Joann) with a ruffled hem and made two drawstring channels on the front to add a little interest. Plus I really wanted to show off my Fluevog Babycakes! The crown is lace that was stiffened (thank you, Stiffy, for giving me a giggle every time I looked at the label), spray painted and then hot glued with gears and “gems.” The button down shirt is from Kohls maybe two or three years ago. The gun was made for a costume last year. No, I don’t know why I’m holding it upside down.

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My favorite of the bunch is easily Alice. Big surprise, eh? The peasant top is from my book, although I sized way down and added length because I knew the jumper was going over it. It’s sort of similar to another pattern in the book but I drafted a completely new bodice and skirt piece. (I’m thinking of posting a tutorial — any interest?) On the peek-a-boo underskirt, I stitched a Cheshire Cat design (also from Urban Threads). Some lace from my stash, suspender clip straps and a few well-chosen accessories brought the whole look together.

Once the weather cools off, I plan to take the kids out for a proper photo shoot. (The iPhone is certainly handy but indoor con pics are bleh.) I’m thinking it’ll make a great big piece of art for one of the walls in my studio, don’t you?


Camera Cuteness

There have been a few instances when I’ve seen a fabric that led me to beg Sarah to order it for her shop. Honest-to-goodness begging. Which led directly to making this:

IJ suitcase-style purse

Funky, retro cameras? If ever there were a fabric that screamed “buy me NOW!” it is this fabric. It’s such a cool print that I didn’t want to chop it up so I scoured the shop for a pattern that would really show it off. The Indygo Junction In-Style Suitcase Bag seemed to fill the order, so off I went homeward with fabric, pattern and some cool Echino strapping in hand.

The pattern calls for polyester foam, which I do not have. I didn’t want to hunt it down (and kind of wanted to use what I had on hand) so I substituted double-sided fusible Peltex.

This was an excruciatingly bad idea. The next time I make this bag (and I guarantee I will), I will either hunt down the appropriate foam or use multiple layers of fusible fleece with Decor Bond fused to the lining.

Other than that little misguided notion, the bag came together fairly well. It may have come together a bit easier had I read the instructions, but who reads that stuff anyway? (Tip from me: Read the instructions. Seriously.) I love how the style shows off the swoon-worthy fabric and the bag is roomy enough for everything I own and tote on a daily basis.

Now to figure out what else I can make with that camera fabric…


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.


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.