Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zakka Style Sew Along Week 4: sewing kit

Since I've only been sewing for a few months, I don't have much of a fabric stash. At first I only bought fabric if I had it in mind to use it for a specific project, and then this moon print called to me.

Does your fabric speak to you?

It whispered buy me. I'll make you happy. It wasn't a seducer's whisper, more like a spirit guide. There was no romance to the premise, just a calming reassurance. And indeed, the moon print, once in my hands, made me happy. But it also caused me a measure of duress because I didn't have a plan for it. And with that one purchase, sewing had tipped from skill to acquire to hobby.

Whoa. With that realization, the first thing I did, of course, was set up this blog. The second was probably to buy more fabric. Fast forward by a few seconds and I decided to participate in this sew-along. The sewing kit, this week's project, is featured on the book's cover and as soon as I saw it, I knew: that's why I needed the moon print.

I was right, too. The print isn't available anymore. If I hadn't bought it when I did (heavy sigh), nothing would be the same.

Obviously the sewing moral of the story is: don't ignore talking fabric.

And with that, may I present to you my sewing kit:

Happy moons! Don't you love them? I do.

Here's the pincushion. It tucks into the left pocket. I was inspired by my new favorite person Fiona to include the selvedge. She's been encouraging me since I started the sew-along, and I'm so appreciative. The Liebster, Fiona? Thank you. And I am saving it for this weekend, but I will pass it forward.

Now let's talk about blind-stitching, please. Remember how I struggled on the last pincushion? So clearly I need to practice this skill but I didn't want to muck up this little sewing kit that I already love so much. So I decided to forge my own path, and I patched the closure. Maybe that'll be my thing, I thought. Cute little patches. And I like it, but I don't love it enough for it to be a thing.

So then I had to make this pincushion, and I decided to address the closure by just topstitching the whole top closed. The way this looks would bother me immensely on the sewing kit proper but because the pincushion is so much smaller and because the opening that needed stitching is both centered and extends across almost the whole width, somehow it doesn't bother me here.

I'm consistent like this all the time. Ask my husband. He might injure himself nodding in agreement.

And all these projects with the inside-outing and the closures: will I be facing them forever? Maybe it's a good thing that my original plan was about quilting, and none of this complicated other-sewing stuff. I have a confession: I get really nervous when I have to right-side-out the inside-outed piece. Like, cold sweat nervous. I find myself sort of holding my breath until I have it completely outed. No wonder I don't have the resolve to face blind-stitching. I've worn out all my determination on the inside-outing.

So here it is, my little sewing kit (and a dash of my pyschoses for fun). Adorable, yes?

Honestly, if those happy moons don't make you smile at them in return, I'm worried about your soul.

Fabric details:
Exterior: Moons in Plum from Heather Ross's Far Far Away II collection.
Interior: Royal City in Persian Purple from Lizzy House's 1001 Peeps.
Trim, patch, pincushion top: Sheherazade in Persian Purple from 1001 Peeps.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A little mid-week sewing

You know what's ugly?

A tissue box. It's just not pretty.

Okay, honestly this cheap fabric is kinda ugly, too, but I knew my girls would love it. And Sunday night I looked at the ugly tissue box hanging out on the headboard of my oldest's bed, and I heard that princess fabric I had bought with her in mind calling to me.

And thus, the princess/fairy/purple tissue box cover was born. This had an immediate effect in our house: a twin sibling was born an hour later, because the younger sister needed a firefighter/ladybug/pink tissue box cover.

Someone would especially like you to note the fairy on her side panel.

I will one day make one for the boy's room, too, but not anytime soon. He's currently not allowed any tissues in his room since he thinks the most fun project in the world is to empty every tissue out of a box onto the floor. Two-year-olds.

I followed this tutorial, which was super easy, but there was one problem: it's sized for 200-count boxes and our house is stocked with 150-count tissue boxes. Can you believe it? So now we have saggy box covers.

So embarrassing.

There are two conclusions to this post:

1) the girls are delighted with their new tissue covers, and so I'm happy with them, too.
2) there are many, many beautiful craft and sewing blogs that show perfection-projects in every post. Let's just be clear right now that this won't be that kind of sewing blog.

And as I continue to think about it, I have one more:

3) it's very possible I'm going to cover this whole house in fabric. What should I do next? What would you do?

Fabric details--
most strips came from a no-name bundle.
Ladybugs are from Urban Zoologie for Robert Kaufman and Play Day for Peep Squeaks for Clothworks.
The red fire hydrants are from Off to the Rescue for Newcastle Fabrics.
The batik-y prints are from the Sundrenched line for Fabric Traditions.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Zakka Style Sew Along Week 3: pin cushion

Welcome to week three of this sew-along, which I'm treating as my second sewing class.

This is the first week in which I'm not thrilled with my project:

I wanted to use the ric-rac to cover the seam between the red print and the gray linen, but I cut it too short (resulting in the piece you see here) and my in-a-devilish-phase two-year-old did something gross with my remaining piece and an avocado.

Also, this was the first time I ever tried stamping, and there's a little too much mess around the letters. But that's the point of this, I guess, right? I'm learning?  At least my cute new alphabet stamps have a nice home.

You can see I used a quote from The Sound of Music, but before I had a sense of how little space I had to work in, I had planned to use a quote from Anne of Green Gables. Remember when Anne accidentally gets her new friend Diana drunk and then Diana is never supposed to play with her again and Anne is so bereft that all the other girls at school go out of their way to be kind to her? One of them hands her this poem on scalloped pink paper (like ric-rac!) (I had planned to use the part in bold):

      When twilight drops her curtain down
    And pins it with a star
    Remember that you have a friend
    Though she may wander far.

That's why I picked the red print with the star motif. It's still a pretty print even without connecting thematically to the stamped text, but I had big plans that just didn't come together.

It came out lumpy. What's the secret to smooth stuffing? Someone enlighten me.

And I didn't show you this specifically, but you can see in the bottom gray corner of the first image that I struggled with the blind-stitch closure. Being a perfectionist and a novice sewist do not go together so well.

But I love the little scissors button I found. I thought fabric was addicting, but I'm just now realizing how notions are just as enticing.

Fabric details:
gray and blue no-name linens.
Red print is Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi Triflora in lipstick.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Zakka Style Sew Along Week 2: house pouch

We've been traveling for spring break, and you know I'm serious about learning to sew that I dragged my sewing machine and fabric piles across an 800-mile road trip. Still, when it came time to make this week's assignment, a house pouch, I discovered that despite my earnest packing efforts I didn't have any green thread for the flower stems.

So with all three kids (ages 6, 4 and 2) and the lovely husband, I detoured us to a fabric shop en route to the science museum we planned to visit. 

Oh, my.

I almost never shop anywhere with the kids at all, because it's such a chaotic experience, but the fabric store! Everything is so shiny and bright and touchable! As I debated the merits of a bright shiny green or a muted but probably more reusable kelly green, the girls got into the buttons. And they're all so pretty, of course. And suddenly there were probably about $200 in buttons in our cart. 

I was smiling widely as I helped the girls try to put back most of their selections. The lovely husband patiently kept our two-year-old son out of the ribbons and commented, "I want you to realize that this moment defines my support of your learning to sew." And I was able to answer, "I beat you to that thought 90 seconds ago." He's a good one.

The original pattern had six flowers on the front, but you see I have more. It's because the girls found some buttons we just needed to have.

And three flowers on the back instead of one. Three kids. You know. And spring break, so they were all around whenever I worked on this. They had some opinions to share.

And finally, the pitch of my roof is a little steep. The original called for a 6" zipper, but I only had a 7" one. We modified accordingly.

I like this little house. I keep wondering who lives here. Maybe her?

Fabric details:
no-name purple linen.
Herringbone roof is some scrap I got out of the nickel bin.
Door is Bazaar Style Moroccan Streets in Night by Art Gallery.
Windows are Sheherazade in purple from 1001 Peeps by Lizzy House and I lined it in Royal City in purple, also from 1001 Peeps.

Next week's project requires some stamping. I don't yet own any heat-set ink pads, but I think when I buy them next week, this little pouch will be their new home.

(Get it?)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zakka Style Sew Along: Week 1

After that one sewing class, I decided to join in on the sew-along that's happening through the spring and summer online to accompany a new sewing book that was recently published. I'm thinking of it as my second sewing class. I'll be (theoretically) completing a new sewing project each week. This one was due Sunday, but Passover makes life a little complicated! So here I am, a little late.

Presenting my zig zag tote:

This bag marked the first time I sewed with linen (and there's a lot of linen in this sew-along), the first time I pieced triangles (not so well, you may notice, if you see my swallowed triangle points), the first time I used interfacing,

and the first time I installed a magnetic closure. I felt fancy with that bit!

Okay, so let's also note: I attached the lining to the body in the wrong direction (there's a pocket in there, but you can't see it because I put it on the wrong side), and I attached the handles all backwards, too. Oops. Although, looking at that first photo, I like those cheery red flowers waving hi at me, even if they're supposed to be tucked on the inside. And, um, the whole thing isn't quite symmetrical. It's a little shorter on the left for some reason. I love its little wonky self so much.

And there are a million little details I could have done better, but I'm proud of this bag. I used all day long today and it didn't fall apart, so that's good, right?

By this coming Sunday, I'm going to make a cute little house-shaped pouch. Do you see those details? Circles. Curves. Another zipper. And more linen.

I'm in over my head with this sew-along. I think it's going to be fun.

Fabric details:
generic gray linen and three different prints from Denyse Schmidt's line at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The iPad case and the other iPad case

So, about that iPad case. I was so excited about that project. It came out well and I was really proud.

But then I tried to put my iPad in it, and it didn't fit. I hadn't accounted for how the opening of a zipper is smaller than its length. I can't show it to you, because in a fit of determination I immediately deconstructed it to analyze its measurements and how much fabric loss I had planned for in the seams and how much I really had. I needed to know what I had done wrong.

But look what I nice job I did with that zipper!

Fabric details:

Exterior-- Deer in lime from the Woodland Wonderland line by Jay McCarroll (of Project Runway--remember him?) for Free Spirit.
Interior-- Firefly in pink from the Gypsy Bandana line by Pillow and Maxfield for Michael Miller.
Pocket lining and zipper tabs-- Zen Garden in pear from the Sanctuary line by Patty Young for Michael Miller.

I never felt upset, just determined. I designed a slightly larger case, and made this:

For the front, I pieced together three different pieces of fabric. The back is one continuous piece.

That's L's hand showing off the front pocket to you. She wanted to be prop assistant.

And here's the main pocket. It's roomy enough to fit my iPad in its smart cover as well as the separate keyboard I sometimes use.

So you know what? I thought I loved the first case. But I really love this one even more.

Fabric details:

Exterior including zipper tabs-- fussy cut Ruby Star Shining panel by Melody Miller for Kokka fabric.
Interior-- Fantasy Roads in red from the Hyperreal Garden line for Art Gallery.
Pocket lining--Endless Dream in shine from the Bohemian Soul line for Art Gallery.