1.09.2019

A Possible Bag

I'm completely in love with my new Possible Bag!  The term 'Possible Bag' hails from early frontier days and would be "a bag for every possible thing".  Particularly the nineteenth century frontiersmen's small bag/pouch (think Davy Crockett) that would hold small gear for hunting.  Well I'm not hunting, but I like the idea of 'possibilities'.
This is a modified bag from Mary Mulari's now out of print 'Made For Travel' Book.  One might remember Mary as a frequent guest on Nancy's Zieman's TV show 'Sewing with Nancy'.  I bought this book for $1.00 at our local library's book sale years ago.  Once a month the library holds a book sale of books that have been donated that would not be suitable to add to their collection as well as books they are culling from their collection.  Funny story.... this book was a part of their collection that I'd check out frequently until all of a sudden it was no longer available.  Imagine my surprise to find it at their Book Sale where I quickly secured my purchase and was ever so happy to have it now in my personal collection.
Her Bedside Bag caught my eye with its rounded top and boxed bottom corners.  We are very lucky to have an awesome YMCA near my home and I am trying to work on more consistent exercise there and part of that is having the proper gear to hold my little things.... like phone, driver's license, etc. and thought a little bag like this might work.  I don't like to use the lockers, so the bag has to be built to stay with me or hang on hooks on the wall in the room I'm in.
This is Mary's larger version bag pattern photocopied from the book with seam allowances added.  At first I thought a wristlet would be a good idea and dove in making a faux leather version.
Some mistakes but overall a big learning experience.  A biggie..... it needed body to hold its shape.  This little bag collapses on itself and gives my phone/stuff no protection.
 I did line it and added a little pocket....
 .....as well as the wristlet and found I do not like a wristlet at all.  Also used an All Purpose Zip and though it works great 'zipping' open and shut, the small zipper head is puny.  Even after adding some little wooden beads it just doesn't look right.
Also added a tab and small ring with leather latigo and again.... yuck.  Doesn't look right.  But I have been using this little bag, which turned out to be a good idea because it gave me more time to figure out exactly what I needed.
I needed more room.  So I redrew the pattern, keeping the basic shape as I found I really liked the rounded top.  Not using/liking the wristlet I was grabbing the rounded top to carry my little bag and thought that made a better grip than a square bag.
Mary's original pattern is on top of my newly drawn modified pattern and basically the only difference was widening the sides a little.
Having bought this awesome canvas at my local only-open-once-a-month textile outlet center a few months ago for maybe $10/yard?  Maybe less?  Embracing a more organic, natural product and nature colorway, thought this might make a great bag.  Ummm, yep it did!  *squeal*  This was one of those projects that I could 'feel' was turning out so good during construction, that it almost frightened me to go to the next step.... afraid to mess it up.... if that makes sense.
But move ahead I did and this time LOTS of changes were made..... beginning with using a fusible fleece to create a more stable fabric and padding.  But the biggie has to be a metal zip!!!  Yes!!  I was able to figure out how to install a metal zip without breaking a needle or sewing over my fingers!   I'd ordered a bunch of different sizes and metals metal zips from Wawak during one of their sales and that is where having a cool stash of products comes in handy.  It really is small details like this that really raises a handmade item to a higher quality in my eyes.  This time I remembered to take a few pictures during construction. The key to sewing a metal zip is to line up the edge of your zip tape of the opening of the zip even with your fabric and use that 1/2" or so of zipper tape to sew on in your side seam allowances.  This also hides the ends of your zip tape inside your seam allowances.  My seam allowances were around 1/4" - 3/8" or so.  Below you can see the closed zip head is even with the side of the bag.
Now re-work the zipper stop to the size you need using fabric.  I cut about a 1" x 4" strip of canvas and began by sewing the canvas as a stop this way first... down the sides..... not across the zipper teeth.  Maybe 1/4"-3/8" stitching is all you need.  I folded my canvas over maybe 1/4"/3/8" so no raw edges would show on top of the zip.  I also have more canvas showing here as I wasn't sure how much to cut off at this point.  Where your stitching stops, and all measurements have been carefully checked and double checked! then cut your zip.... but not your fabric at this point.  Yes, you can cut through a metal zip with an old pair of scissors and very carefully.  It was no big deal.
You can see here below in this fuzzy shot.... my dark brown zip has been cut just beneath where the stitching stopped and that left my long canvas tail.  At this point cut your canvas even with your bag's sides.  I got so excited that everything was working well I did not take anymore photos of this stage, but hope you get the idea.
You might can see better here what I'm talking about.  This is the newly completed zipper stop with the top-stitching also complete.  What this does is gives you about 3/8" of canvas, far right, to sew through and completely miss sewing through any metal from your zip as you complete your bag.
Attention was paid to little details like matching fabric pattern.....
.... a little off but doesn't bother me a bit...
..... this was tricky to sew through as my fabric is a mid-weight canvas with top-stitched knit jersey strips.  So it was all roller coaster for my poor sewing machine and got pretty thick and bulky in places...... but my sweet Bernina handled it all like a charm.   Particularly after I changed my needle to a Denim weight.  ;)  Below you can also see I added a canvas tab instead of a wristlet.  This will work well for hanging on hooks at the Y.  I triple stitched it inside the seamline to the seamline during construction because I do not want any weak points.  Decided not to box the bottom corners as was afraid of the bulk and not really sure I needed that at this point anyway.
I added a little raw silk pocket inside to hold my earbuds and lined the whole thing with linen striped ticking.
Perfect!  It holds all my stuff exactly like I wanted and needed.
But the best thing of all is this little finishing touch of  'jewelry'.  As I looked at my plain little completed bag, I began to think..... 'What would Sue do'.  Sue has been making up a bunch of bags recently using all sorts of thrift store odds and ends....
.... so I began to channel Sue and found an old belt of my mother's that I'd put away.... made of suede latigo, beads and metalwork and in short order had worked it into my new project.  Felt it was fitting as I've always loved Native American Indian lore, and some think there is Cherokee in my mother's line from Oklahoma.....  it added to the character of my 'Possible Bag'..... and in some small way my mother is a part.
Anyway, back to the making..... took a few minutes to sew a small 'pocket' out of the raw silk to hold my driver's license and a little money.  I am serious about making this bag work well for the Y and needed to reduce bulk.  I don't want to take my wallet inside, much less my purse, and also don't want to leave anything in my car.
Well, the key fob I made during my 'making' storm of December looks a little out of place now.  One thing I like about this key fob is that it's easy to find and grab!
And all ready to go with my new Possible Bag with a new year full of possibilities.
Happy Sewing All!  :)

1.07.2019

2018 Reflections

Hard to believe we are already into 2019, and before much more time goes by I wanted to try and wrap-up 2018.   Overall 2018 was a good year for me.
 Faux Fur Jacket, Top, Skirt
It felt like the year began a little sluggishly until I found my footing with BurdaStyle magazine patterns.  The Burda Challenge 2018 worked well for me and not only did I make 12 new Burda garments but found sewing with those patterns and instructions, or lack thereof!, really helped my skillset grow.  Confidence too.  Their patterns fit me with little modifications.  I will definitely continue to sew more Burda patterns.

Ottobre was another favorite this year.  This designer's patterns also fit me well straight off the page.  My Easter Dress and accompanying little Jacket have the best fit I've ever achieved in a sheath dress and accompanying jacket.  7 Ottobre garments were made this year.
A project I enjoyed immensely was Kate at Fabrickated's 'Dress Like Frida Sewalong'.   A project that truth-be-known I was not interested in at all..... became one of my most favorite learning experiences of all this year.  A Humanities Class of learning all wrapped up in a top and skirt.  So very much enjoyed learning about Frida Kahlo, the artist.... her life and her art.  Achieved a top that's been worn constantly and a suede Big Valley type skirt that is only just now beginning to see wear.
Ode to Frida Kahlo - the story in dress
An interesting project, enjoyable to make but has rarely been worn was from another sewing challenge begun with lackluster enthusiasm to support a couple of my IG friends #SewingSansFrontieres using a free 'pattern' of measured rectangles.  I want to like this dress but the reality is that it is not comfortable to wear as the neck pulls up and the hemline looks wonky in the front, yet registers 'even' when I try to correct it.
Stitch Sisters Free Caftan
Another IG challenge I enjoyed was #sewtogetherforsummer.  At first I was not going to participate until I realized Ottobre's Faux Wrap dress was in the queue, and this challenge's prompt was a wrap dress.  Win!  This dress is a fun little summer dress to wear.   Seems I have a little trouble getting excited about sewing challenges, and then enjoy them once I'm on board!
Not sure I ever showed this on the blog, but #sewingagogo IG's challenge one week (that's another challenge that was fun!) was "wild at heart" and this is just about as 'wild' as I get these days as I'd just returned from a workout at my local YMCA and thought the 'wildness' was quite clever. ;)  Ha!  Quote from my IG page:

  • 1) my daughter informs me that in the sea of black and gray workout pants, my leggings are pretty wild. Yep. True! 😁
  • 2) For this #over50 gal ‘Journey’ is my exercise playlist, complete with wireless Skullcandy earbuds. I have a 💀 in my 👂 and still love classic rock ‘n roll! 😁
  • 3) The ponytail is crooked and glad IG doesn’t have smellavision. 🤣

Top, Leggings
Overall I participated in 8 sewing challenges during 2018 between here, on the blog, and IG.  'Make a Garment a Month Challenge' is always at the top of the list as I consider Sarah Liz a dear friend and whose lovely challenge I've been a part of since 2013.  She's mixing things up for 2019 and am excited about the new changes. 
Another biggie that I always look forward to is Me-Made-May and 2018 marked my 5th year there.  THAT was always a huge goal of mine to 'someday' be able to do, back in the beginning days of making my clothes, and this year there were very few repeats (Yay!!) and a photo every day.  You can review all that in Days 1-15 here, and Days 16-31 here if you like.
In the middle of my social media break, my sweet friend Ellen, from Ellen's Sewing Passion, asked if I'd participate in her 2018 Sewing Advent Calendar she was hosting at her blog.  She would be featuring one of her international sewing friends on each day of December.  I could not say 'Yes!' fast enough!!!  I've admired Ellen and her awesomely creative work for years now and the idea that she would think of me as a friend just sort of blew me away.  If you are not familiar with her, please check out her blog to see all her amazing creations.  She lives in Norway and was part of Norway's televised Sewing Bee.  The majority of her work uses Burda patterns..... with some Japanese draping techniques she's learned.  She's also been doing quite a bit of refashioning lately and it's amazing how she pulls those together.  Let's just say I'd love to own her closet!!!  Anyway I'm on Day 20 if you'd like to check that out.  :)
Then sometime during 2018 LifeStride Shoes picked up one of my photos and ran it on all their social media outlets.  I.was.floored!!!  I really appreciate how LifeStride supports their consumers in this fun way.  Btw, these Parigi Pumps were purchased a few years ago and they really are the comfiest, nicest pumps to wear.
Top, Skirt (unblogged still)
And my entire 2018 Gallery of Work can be found here for those interested.  Well, pretty much all the garments I've made and blogged about are there. 

A rabbit trail of projects began when the weather began to change and my hands would get sooooo cold.  When my hands get cold, I'm cold all over.... and eventually I became so miserable I looked into the makings of a rice pack.  An afternoon was all it took to make a couple of rice packs for myself out of 100% cotton flannel, filled with long-grain white rice.  And boy why did I wait so long!! Microwave for @1 minute and you've got moist heat that lasts a lot longer than one might think.  These are fun to make and as Christmas drew near, thought they'd make great Christmas presents.
And that's what happened when I took my little social media break..... 'making'.  Making all sorts of non-garment stuff.  Dog collars, leashes, key fobs, and rice packs for gifts.  Not to mention baking goodies to put in those long-distance gift boxes too.
Made around 10.... probably more.... of these rice packs, below.  These measure 6" x 12", are out of 100% cotton flannel and filled with white long-grain rice that had Peppermint Oil added.  It was fun to use some of my decorative stitches for the channels.
A super fun dog collar(s), leash(es) and key fob(s) set to make, below, went to my college roommate so her pups could show their school spirit.  I made a couple of other seasonal sets for family member's pups and bad blogger that I am.... neglected to take any photos.
Also sometime in there I was asked by Suzi's groomer if I could make her face masks out of fabric.  She is allergic to dog dander and was tired of using the paper ones readily available and was having trouble sourcing ones made of fabric.  At first it took me a bit to figure things out, and kind of 'over-thought' fabric content vs. usefulness..... but in the end made her around 10 or more out of 100% cotton fabric lined with same.  Such a fiddley, fiddley project but she loves them and uses them and it was a wonderful feeling to be able to provide her with something she really needed.  It was fun to order the doggie fabric from an Etsy supplier who was so nice that once she found out I needed such small pieces of fabric, she threw in her doggie scrap prints for free.  Hair elastics were finally decided upon as 'perfect' for the ear elastic.  I may write a blog post at some time as others might be interested to see how these were done.  We'll see. 
These 2 Melly Sews Blank Slate Patterns free t-shirt pattern below, were made and never blogged.  She does her free patterns a little different in that after you subscribe to her e-mail newsletter, she sends you a link to access the pattern.  No problem there.  But her free patterns are only sized to her body measurements and the instructions are all in a YouTube video.  Not written/illustrated out per se.  The way she has you apply the V-neck facing was a little different.  Again, no problem, but I had to keep stopping and starting the video to work through those steps.  Also, my measurements are pretty much the same as hers.... but she must be reeeaaallllly teeny tiny as my first version was too small.  More like an XS.  Thinking it just needed a bit of tweaking and all would be good, the second one is also too small.  More like a S.  In the end not sure if I'll make this again as it seems with more analysis, the width from the neckline to the shoulder seams are super narrow and now you're getting into modifying the pattern in a way I'm not sure I want to do when there are other T-shirt patterns in le pattern stash.  So we shall call these a learning opportunity.
Anyway, back to the 2018 Summary.  Kind of got a little fancy this year with a chart, so you can better see how the year worked out.  A total of 33 garments were made and that is comparable to 2017.  Kind of surprised as thought I'd made more this year.  Maybe it's because 37 non-garments makes were made that kept me pretty busy?!  ;)
2018 SUMMARY



Burda Magazine
12
Ottobre Design Woman
7
Simplicity
4
NewLook
3
McCall's
2
Itch to Stitch
2
Stitch Sisters
1
Blank Slate T-shirts
2
Non-Garment Makes
37


TOTAL MAKES:
70

MISC. ITEMS:

Dog Collars
7
Dog Leashes
2
Key Fobs
4
Face Masks
14
Rice Packs
10
But what I most want to share with all of you, is a very grateful Thank You.  Thank You for reading along and being a part of this amazing journey.  Sewing is a hobby for me and little did I know, 5 short years ago, that it would bring me such Joy in unique opportunities and precious friendships all over the world.  It is so much a part of my life, I cannot see myself wearing anything but handmade garments now. 
Top, Shorts
I'll be back soon with plans for 2019.
Atop Sassafras Mountain. South Carolina's highest peak.
rtw jacket, AC inspired top underneath, Ottobre pants
Happy Sewing All!  :)

11.02.2018

Mini-capsule wardrobe item #5 | a Re-fashion

Do you have that odd piece of clothing that doesn't fit your needs anymore..... that maybe hangs isolated in the closet, never to see the light of day?  This skirt began as one of those not-so-loved-anymore garments..... but not now!  This cutie is already much loved and will be worn.... lots!! 
The idea for this skirt began percolating in my head as I planned the mini-capsule wardrobe for this Fall, knowing I needed a fitted skirt in the charcoal gray color scale to be worn with tops tucked in/or out.  When I saw the Burda 02/2017 #117 Skirt pattern here, here and here it made me think of the elastic-waist NewLook 6192 skirt  I made back in Fall 2016, fully lined with in-seam pockets, and though it was worn from time to time, it always felt a little 'clunky' so it's been hanging in my studio..... taking up valuable real estate on the rack, just waiting for the right project to come along to transform it into something useful.   My weight is down more than 15 pounds from 2016 and the elastic waist felt bulky and all bunched up, particularly in the back where my back is narrow anyway..... so a re-fashion into this cute Burda skirt seemed like a good plan.  But oh my goodness, I had no idea how much (extra!) work a re-fashion could be!
Everything from the old skirt was incorporated into the new skirt..... even the waistband.  I began by unpicking the elastic waist waistband to preserve the fabric in both the skirt and waistband.  The NewLook skirt was already a little short and I did not want to go any shorter.  Then I carefully cut apart the side seams and laid everything on my newly traced Burda pattern pieces.   I traced a size 36 waist, graded to a size 38 at the hips flaring out the hem just a little.  This is a pencil skirt pattern with a vent and I wanted more of an A-line skirt with no vent.  The faux pockets and the diagonal seamlines act as a sort of curved dart to help with shaping, so these had to be cut from a leftover piece of this fabric squirreled away in the stash as my NL skirt did not have enough.  Initially thought about eliminating these and make a simple skirt without these features, but thought the shaping would be nice.  It is.
Decided to use a center lapped all-purpose zipper instead of an invisible zip because of not feeling confident of sewing an invisible zip without that darn pucker at the end.  Kind of proud of this zipper application here.  One thing I really like about Burda patterns, is  that their back skirt pieces are always narrower than the front.  For instance..... when this skirt is hung on a hanger, you cannot hang it by centering the skirt off the side seams.  The front is a little wider overall than the back.  I need this type of fit.
This skirt was a roller-coaster ride of emotions.  First I thought it was going to be too small..... then I just knew it was going to be too big..... all to find out when the lining was installed it fit just right.  Goldilocks Syndrome in a good way!!  I used the old NL skirt lining pieces eye-balling where the darts and shaping were and simply turning them under.  The only thing I did not think about is the extra flare at the NL skirt's hem.  You can't see any of that here, as the lining behaves itself well under the skirt, but I can feel the swishiness of the lining's flared-ness enclosed by the now much narrower skirt and may go back in and slim up the lining's side seams at a later date.  By the way..... the more I sew, the more I understand the importance of lining a garment.  I have a half slip, and once the waistband was partially installed I considered finishing this skirt as an unlined piece..... but wanting to stay true to my original plan went ahead and finished incorporating the old lining into the new skirt and found the entire fit was a more superior fit and finish.  Lining affects the fit and wearability of a garment in a big way.
A little note about the waistband..... the Burda waistband pattern was shorter than my skirt's top by a good couple of inches, so I unpicked the waistband side seams of the NL skirt and custom measured the Burda's skirt finished measurements both front and back and cut the new waistband off those measurements adding seam allowances at both sides.   And before I forget..... Catia, The Petite Cat's blog post about her cute version of this skirt, was most helpful in constructing my skirt.  I followed along with her photographs and that was nice to have a sort of visual help in making a Burda pattern.
Aren't these silver buttons perfect?!  Recently an elderly lady at church tearfully gifted me her beloved button collection.  She had realized she was unable to sew anymore and wanted her collection to go to someone who might understand their value and use them.  She evidently had made fitted business suits and jackets for herself back in the day and most of her buttons are of beauty and quality.  These are from her.
One of my goals for 2018 was to sew more fitted garments for myself, which meant I needed to learn how to better fit myself.  I've learned a lot this year and feel this skirt shows the improvement well.  An overall look of the skirt paired with the Burda top.  Our weather has been up, down and all around lately with today being rainy and gray outside, thus trying an indoor shot.
This completes another 2018 Burda Challenge for November....
.....and a Make a Garment a Month Challenge.
Almost done with the mini-capsule wardrobe.  Got an Itch-to-Stitch Hepburn Turtleneck and an Ottobre Cardi to go...... but in the meantime finishing up a Blank Slate Pattern/Melly Sews Women's V-neck Tshirt free pattern  because I desperately need new workout shirts and this is the type I like to wear.  It's all done but the neckband.
Happy Sewing All!  :)
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