Friday, May 30, 2008

Sophia Carry-All -- cutting

I got my fabrics and I started cutting for the Sophia Carry-All bag from Amy Butler yesterday. I considered scaling everything down since this is a bag for a child, but that would have complicated my life way more than necessary so I just followed the pattern. It took me ... I don't know, forever. It's specially time consuming when you have to break every five minutes or so to teach your 3-year-old how to jump rope. But I think I got everything cut, I think.

The "Animal News" and polka dot fabrics are very lightweight and the Heather Ross, "Racing Cars" fabric is a decor-weight fabric with more of a linen feel. I didn't quite realize it was going to be different than the others. I would have liked it to be just regular smooth cotton but it's not a big deal because I'm only using that for the inside pockets to give it a little contrast and a bit more fun inside.

I started off making a full size template from some scrap lightweight cardboard for the main panel right off the bat because I figured I would be cutting that piece out a lot. I also transferred the strap placement onto my template. It bugs me a little that these marking are not on the pattern piece and that you have to measure them out. I don't mind measuring them out but I would still like to see them on the pattern piece. Making this template left me with a negative template which I could place over the "Animal News" so I could see what images would end up on the cut piece and how they would be situated. I couldn't decide if I wanted the big bold "Animal News" letter in the cut piece or not, and after probably way too much deliberation, I decided to keep it in since that's kind of main feature of the print. So I did one side with and one side without. After that, I didn't really pay too much attention to the print for the other pieces other than to cut them so the lettering would be horizontal on the bottom and top panels in the center of the bag instead of the way I think they are laid out in the instructions.

The pattern calls for a lot of interfacing, Pellon Thermolam, a thick but flimsy fleece interfacing, Stacey Pellon Lightweight Woven Fusible, and Timtex but only for the bottom panel on the bag. I knew I wanted to use Timtex on the main pieces of the bag because that's what is used on the Weekender bag (although I haven't made this one yet). I want it to hold it's shape well and after reading this blog post, I was reassured that should be the way to go. I have a roll of "low carb" Timtex I bought from eBay a while ago which was said to have the same stiffness but is more compressed. Because I'm using lightweight 45" wide fabric, the pattern wants you to double up on the iron-on woven interfacing (Stacey Pellon SF101). Once I started cutting out the interfacing though I started second guessing myself. I thought, well if I'm using Timtex, do I really need to double up of the woven interfacing. And when I placed the cut front panel on the Timtex piece, it doesn't have the same cushiony feel as when it's on top of the Thermolam. Then I started worrying it wouldn't have the right feel and maybe might end up being too stiff. So I cut out the Thermolam too and I'm going to try to use both. I know I will be cursing myself later for thinking this was a good idea, but oh well. Then I decided to use a cheaper bolt of regular lightweight fusible interfacing I have to cut out the extra pieces called for instead of cutting out duplicates of the Stacey interfacing which is more expensive. So maybe, I'm taking the advise in these interfacing guidelines a little too literally by combining all these interfacing together. Who knows if I'll even be able to sew through all of it.

I didn't have enough dot fabric to cut the fabric strips for the cording. Because the pattern calls for this to be cut from the same exterior fabric and not the lining fabric as I'm doing, I forgot to calculate for this when I ordered it so I had to order more plus shipping --ouch.

I think this is going to take me quite the long time to finish but my goal is two weeks. I hope I make it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Emmeline Apron

Back to sewing - I joined this sew-along for the Emmeline apron and managed to finish it this weeked. I used some of Amy Butler's fabrics from the Midwest Modern line. They are so refreshing and happy. I liked the pink prints so much, I may make some window treatments for my little studio room with these. This apron will be for a friend that just finished remodelling her kitchen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Supercute Japanese Stuff

I found this great online Japanese store, Rakuten, with lots of stuff I like but I need to figure out how to order this stuff. How frustrating to be able to see it and not be able to find the "buy" button. (Actually, they may not even ship to the US but I would like to think that they do).

I was able to find some cute kid's bento boxes and egg molds very reasonably priced from Ichiban Kan. I picked this box because it has a little compartment for the matching fork and spoon. Unfortunately, I can't find the fork and spoon for a reasonable price. But I'm very excited about this purchase. I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to try it but it will serve as good practice for when my little monkey pants does need to have a packed lunch for school.

In sewing, kids, and more Japanese cute related items, I may give the Sophia Carry-All bag a try in some fabrics from Superbuzzy for monkey pants. She has an overnight stay at the hospital scheduled for some minor surgery next month. I thought this might help cheer up the atmosphere and I may also pack her first bento box too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

If only there was more time in the day...

A little while ago I made an attempt to make my picky eater daughter's lunch a little more exciting in hopes that it would encourage her to eat better. I used a simple gingerbread cookie cutter to shape her sandwiches and tried to add some color to her plate. And what do you know, my small effort actually paid off and she ended up eating a turkey sandwich without dissecting it and throwing the offensive meat at my plate. She called the sandwiches, "the boys". I was feeling fairly good about my little lunch design until I stumbled upon the "Bentos" Japanese boxed lunch concept today from a link on shim + sons.

I grabbed some of these photos from flickr. Wow, are these the cutest box lunches ever! If only I had more time in the day. Seriously, who has this much time. My little "monkey pants" gets lunch at preschool so I don't even need to pack her lunch, but I'm going to try to file these ideas for later when she starts school. Oh, and the lunch boxes are so adorable too.

* A site all about boxed lunch
* Cute bento boxes, especially this one

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day presies

More pot holders and a simple apron except I didn't realize I didn't take any pictures of the apron before I gave it to my mom. Woops. I selected some more Amy Butler fabrics for this set from the Nigella line. I don't think I even liked this print (olive primrose) when I first saw it, but now I absolutely love it and want to make all kinds of stuff with it.

I used the stripe fabric (from an earlier line) for the back of the apron and some bright aqua linen for the straps. It's reversible and super simple to make. I'll have to try to get a picture of it this weekend.

* * *

I got this lovely little book as one of my Mother's Day presies. I guess putting my list on Wishpot worked! Much better than getting a sleeping bag. So now I need to relearn how to crochet. Last time I crocheted I think I was six. I can't wait to make some of these --I guess I should say at least one of these-- for my little monkeys. I especially like the idea of making dolls for boys that are not, you know, "dolls".

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chelsea Bag

I meant to make this bag to use as a lunch bag. I didn't want it to be too girly so my husband could use it too but it turned out to be too narrow to put plastic containers in so I may modify this pattern later on to use as a lunch bag. However, I really like the way it turned out for general use and even as a purse it actually looks really nice. It's really easy to toss stuff in and it doesn't require as much digging as my purse does to find things again.

I used Amy Butler's Chelsea Bag pattern (I have a lot of Amy Butler's patterns I can't wait to make) and Heather Bailey's Freshcut paisley fabric for the exterior and some dark denim for the interior. I used the "low carb" Timtex I bought on Ebay a while back to make it nice and stiff. This was my first time using it and it was surprisingly easy to use. I guess it is no longer in production and is pretty difficult to find so I'm glad I invested in a whole roll. This was also kind of a practice project for the Weekender of Sophie bag I plan to make soon. At first I was concerned the Timtex wouldn't lay flat as it was curled from being on the roll, but it pressed flat with the steam iron very easily. The only hard part with it was at the end when the whole bag was constructed and I was topstitching around the handles. I didn't know how to handle the bulk of the bag inside the sewing machine.

The stitching around the handles looks rather messy. If I make one again and I probably will, I will probably use a different technique on the handles and eliminate all the basting stitches around the handles. I think it would be better to cut out the Timtex for the handles without basting the fabric in place, folding the fabric over to the inside and securing with some kind of fabric glue or lightweight double side fusible interfacing of some sort. So that when you put the exterior and interior lining together, you can have just one uniform top stitching around the handles.

Another thing I might do on the next bag is put some kind of hard interlining around the handles for more support like the template plastic used in Amy Butler patterns for the bag's false bottom. I think that would keep the handles from getting crinkled and disfigured when there's heavier things in the bag like my camera. (Note to self - I need to find some kind of small camera bag pattern).