Friday, February 24, 2017

The Absolute Bag

A good friend of mine gave me a bag pattern, batik sunflower fabric and Soft and Stable already cut to size to make the Absolute Bag. The pattern was designed by Marilyn Ulrich, who is the owner of Quilt Works Studio, a quilt shop located in Bend, Oregon. This bag is a large bucket-style tote bag which holds a lot. Marilyn says you can wear it as a backpack and shows a photo on the back of the pattern worn like this, but I would be afraid small items would tend to fall out of the bag if worn that way, so I would just carry it by the handles or on my shoulder. It's a fun and easy to sew bag.
The Absolute bag, with changes I made to the bag.
This is the Absolute Bag photo on the cover of the pattern. See the handles sewn to the top of the bag? Then look at how I changed this and sewed the handles to my bag differently.  

As a bag tester for several online designers, I found a few things in the instructions to be a bit confusing. The cutting measurements for one were not listed as to which measurement was the width and height, so if it wasn't cut on the true grain then there could be problems with the fabric sagging and puckering. (I did find my lining was a bit saggy, but not sure if that was "operator error" or not, LOL!). A quilter knows how to cut 2 1/2" strips, you would cut 2 1/2" wide (parallel to the selvage) x the length of the fabric. You wouldn't cut the fabric 42" first and then the 2 1/2" strips. But this pattern listed the long measurement first by the shorter measurement, which seemed backwards to the way most bag designers list their cutting measurements, so that is why it would be helpful to list the width, such as cut 42" W x 12" H, or 12" W x 42" H. If you cut fabric for an article of clothing that you are making, you can see the true grain line marked on the pattern piece. The grain line is marked so that you place your fabric correctly on the fabric or else your fabric might not drape properly. Luckily this was a simple bag pattern and I could figure it out or do it my own way.

Some of the wording was not easy to understand what she meant, especially without a picture to go along with it. Maybe I am spoiled, but I find the wording and picture together really help me to understand the instructions so much better. Sometimes having a picture really does help to clarify things that the wording alone doesn't. The format used for the pattern was essentially a paper folded in half with the photo on the cover, the material list on the back and the instructions in the center. This leaves only so much space for instructions. There was an addendum included too, which tells me the pattern could have and/or should have been thoroughly tested first. Apparently this bag was taught in a class, and of course having questions asked and answered in a class is great, but for those people not taking the class, then that's where things can get confusing trying to understand the wording with no pictures in places that needed some pictures for clarity.

I also like to make changes in bags that I make to suit my taste and needs. The only thing about the Absolute Bag that I didn't care for was sewing the straps to the top edge of the bag. If you are carrying something heavy that would put a lot of stress on the bag straps. I prefer tote style bags to have straps that are sewn the full height of the bag because it reduces the stress on the bag and it also gives you the perfect place to add a pocket in between the straps and having extra pockets is always a plus in my book! So that's one of the changes that I made was I lengthened my straps and added a pocket in between each strap.

I have small hands and grabbing a strap that is too wide will crunch the strap in my hand, so I also folded the strap in the center and sewed it, making the strap narrower in the center and easier to hold and also by doubling it over adds more cushioning.
Interior of bag with slip pocket. You can see the lining is a bit saggy on the right side.

This bag pattern did not call for interfacing, but knowing that I do add interfacing to all my other bags that I make, I did fuse Pellon SF 101 interfacing to both the exterior and lining fabrics and the pockets and straps too. I also quilted the exterior and bottom of the bag. If I were to make this bag again, I think I might quilt the lining and exterior fabrics together to avoid having a saggy lining and then add the pockets and straps.

I am not trying to be negatively critical about the instructions, just helpful. After all we all want patterns that we use to be easy to follow, right? If it's not easy to follow, would you want to make it again? That's one reason that I became a bag pattern tester, because I bought way too many patterns in the past that were poorly written or confusing. Once I discovered several online designers, I found their patterns to be well written and with lots of pictures, making it so much easier to follow the patterns. I am partial to pdf patterns for that reason because they are very thorough! Some bag pdf patterns I have are 70 pages long! I do not print the entire instructions out, only the templates. As my eyes are aging, I also find it easier to read a pdf online and I can enlarge the text on the pdf if I need to. While with those paper patterns I find the font size too small to read. So sometimes I will scan the pattern and turn it into a pdf to make it easier for me to read and I can type notes on the pdf too and then save it. So pattern writers out there if you are reading this, I just want to give you my observations about patterns so that you will make sure that your patterns are easy to follow. :0)
The bottom of the bag I quilted to hold the layers together better. This is the lining view.

You can see the handles at the center top where I folded over and stitched to give me a smaller and more cushioned place to grab and hold.


You can see here how the bag is a round bucket shape.
All in all I am pleased with how this bag looks and it was an easy sew too.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Wine Cork Keyring

I have been saving wine corks from Mr. P's wine for years and have quite a lot of corks. I have a Pinterest Board for what to do with wine corks too. When I saw several key rings made using wine corks, I thought I can do that! So I made myself a key ring. I made several more key rings, but haven't photographed them yet. I will try and sell those and see if they will sell. I will have several on hand gifts ready to give too. Since it's cork, it will float, unless there are too many heavy keys weighing it down, lol!!!

A few keys and plastic stuff like library cards, loyalty cards.

A cute little handbag/purse charm.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Passport Wallet

My daughter will be visiting my son (her brother) in a few months, so I made her a Passport Wallet to carry all her essentials for the trip. She chose the fabrics, and I made it for her. Bon Voyage my sweetie.
This is a large and tall wallet, but not thick.

Inside there are lots of pockets to hold her ID, passport, currency, coins, a pen, credit cards and airline tickets. Everything needed in one place. 

The outside opened to show the entire wallet.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pillow to Hold Kindle Tablet

I got an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet late last year. After holding it and using it, I found my hand and wrist started aching as there was not an easy way to to hold this tablet in either direction for very long. I thought about making a cover style book that I have seen on the internet to hold the tablet, but I thought I would have the same issues with holding it, unless I made the cover that could also stand to sit on the table, but that's not how I would be using this tablet. I got the tablet in the first place because I wasn't able to sit or stand for more than a few minutes when I had the very painful sciatica pain last year and thought I could use a tablet while lying in bed or in the recliner. As soon as I was able to sew, I made a pillow that would hold my tablet in place and that was more comfortable to sit in my lap as well as to hold on to the pillow. Since I have a tablet that is fuchsia and black, I used fuchsia and black scraps of fabric too. Here is the result and I really love using my tablet now.
This is a comfortable way to hold my Kindle Fire Tablet. I used elastic hair ties in the four corner to hold it in place.

Here is how it looks without the Kindle. The pillow I sewed log cabin style.

The back of the pillow is just a flap to easily insert the pillow form I made for this pillow. I can pop out the form and easily wash the cover this way. 

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Coiled Bowls

I made some more coiled bowls. Some of these I didn't wrap in fabric. The bowls that are not wrapped in fabric turn out smaller, even though I used the same number of clothesline feet on some of these bowls. It's amazing how a thin amount of fabric wrapped around the cording makes the bowls larger. The natural rope bowls do finish a lot faster without having to wrap them in fabric. I like a natural bowl, but I do love the colorful ones too. Some of the natural bowls I used colored thread when sewing them. I also experimented with by adding some yarn to a natural bowl, which gave it a different look altogether.
I used a variegated thread to sew this bowl.




I added handles making this a small basket and used a turquoise thread.









I added a boucle yarn to this bowl.


Upside down to show the bottom of the bowl.
I added large beads for a handle on this small bowl.


This one is a larger and deeper bowl.



This one is all natural rope and thread color.





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Monday, January 16, 2017

My Sewing Room Re-Do

Hello readers I have my newly updated and organized sewing room to share with you. A few years ago Mr. P built me a huge sewing table with the idea I would be able to sew and quilt on that table. It worked well for a few years, but I ended up piling more and more stuff on the table; like my scissors and bobbins and presser feet, and more because I had no place to put them. Well Mr. P. is very organized and doesn't like a lot of stuff and it drove him crazier than me that I had so much stuff around me. So we started brainstorming ideas to make my small sewing room more functional for me. We talked about finding some cupboards and drawers from the home improvement store in the kitchen department that he could attach to the walls. The only issue with that is the drawers for the built-ins were too deep. That would mean piling stuff on top of stuff in the drawers, which would end up becoming a big mess. So I continued to look at Pinterest for ideas and did Google searches.

I ended up stumbling upon a flat filing cabinet that was a Martha Stewart Living design at Home Decorators online. Apparently Home Decorators is a Home Depot Company. They have a lot of great looking furniture for every room in the house too. (I am not an affiliate.) We had to take measurements and see what would fit and work in my small sewing space. I have a few sewing machines, 2 were in tables and I needed one more table for the machine I use a lot that used to be in the table Mr. P. had built that he took apart. So I got another table first (ordered that table from Amazon..not an affiliate). The flat filing cabinet would work on one wall and the apothecary hutch would fit on top of the hutch and that would store most of my sewing supplies that I used the most. The narrower drawers even came with drawer dividers that can be divided in 2 configurations too! But I needed something else closer to the machines and found the 4-drawer rolling cart, which is perfect for my bobbins, presser feet, and more and I can roll it closer as needed.

Mr. P. had to build all the pieces first, because they are shipped flat and they are heavy! He knows how to build stuff, so it wasn't too hard for him, but I would have no chance if I had to do it by myself. He ran into a couple of issues with the drawers. He needed to shim them so they would glide smoothly. He also screwed the drawer dividers from the bottom in a few places to keep the drawers more rigid in the large filing cabinet. I was putting my thread in one of the narrow drawers and it started to sag from the weight. That's when he decided he needed to add the screws for support. I also decided to put my thread in the smaller bottom drawer.

I am thrilled with my new improved sewing room and the furniture looks fabulous and works well for me. I hope I can keep things tidier now! I also rearranged my cutting and ironing room to make it nicer too. So without further ado, here are my 2 rooms, both the before and after photos~

Before shot when part of the room was empty, except for my stuff piled up on the floor.
After with my wheeling drawer cart in between 2 of my machines.
After photo with my serger and another machine on the floor. What can I say, I love all my machines!!!

Another before photo.
Before photo with mess piled up in anticipation for redo.

Before photo.

Before photo.

Before photo.

Before photo.

After photo of my new flat filing cabinet and hutch.

After photo.

After photo of one sewing machine with drawer cart.

Now onto my cutting and ironing room that I reorganized~

Cutting table and rulers.

Ironing table.

My fabric, computer (need to stand more, so put my computer on top).

Cutting table.

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