Leather Bag

When I got my new sewing machine last year, I immediately tested it out on all sorts of projects.  This leather bag was one of my "tests" and also my first time sewing leather.

The pattern is the sidekick tote from Noodlehead.   The pattern comes in 2 sizes.  I made the smaller size.

The leather is a hot orange lambskin, from EmmaOneSock.  It is a thin and soft leather, so not too difficult for my first leather project.  I didn't use any interfacing on the bag.  The lining is a cotton canvas.

The top of the bag is closed with a recessed zip.

Internal zippered pocket.

It is a smaller bag than I usually carry, really just holding wallet, phone, keys and a few bits and bobs.  It is nicer to carry a lighter bag than usual though.

My only problem sewing this leather bag on my machine was that the stitching came apart a little at the top of the side seams on each side.  I will have to remember to secure this stitching next time.  I used top-stitching thread for the top-stitching.  Actually, I had top-stitching threads a very similar colour...one worked like a charm and the other one kept tangling up the stitched underneath...one of those strange sewing mysteries.

I tried really hard to use some lovely red anorak snaps on the straps.  I have been hoarding these snaps for years, waiting for the perfect project.  Turns out that they were not strong enough for the straps, and would not hold, so my straps are not adjustable.  

I used a magnetic snap to close the front pocket.  Next time I make this, I will extend the front pocket right up to the pocket flap, as I don't use this pocket much as it does not seem so secure when the flap is so high above the pocket.

I used pleats instead of darts for the bottom shaping.

The bag has been a  huge success, and I have used it heaps.


Waxed Paper Bag

This was one of those projects where I ended up almost wishing I had just bought the inspiration piece...man was it a lot of work!  Fun though, and I am delighted with the results.

Some of the details

1.  Outer "fabric" is brown paper that I waxed myself.  I had a large sheet of brown wrapping paper.  I got out the tin of wax I have been carting around for about 20 years now for re-oiling my Driza-bone.  I guess I will miss the wax if I ever move back to a cold climate and dig out that coat.  I warmed the wax in a little electric chocolate fondue pot that I bought at Big W for $12 so that the kids could do batik waxing.  I spread out a large sheet of plastic, was very neat, got all my tools ready...and then tripped, knocking over the hot wax and spilling it everywhere, including over my feet.  Lucky the wax was not too hot.  I used a paint brush to brush the wax into the paper.  I then used a hair dryer to melt the wax a bit more to get an even distribution of the wax.  The hair dryer got tired of this and stopped working.  So then I got the iron and ironed the waxed paper between several sheets of butcher's paper to even out the wax distribution.  I then hung it on the line for several days (weeks actually) to dry out as I pondered my next move and drafted a pattern to fit the size of the paper.

2.  Inner fabric is heavyweight upholstery fabric.  I thought I needed something fairly hefty for support.  I bought a remnant of this grey fabric from Oddz and Endz in Noosa for $3.  I was most upset to find that this place has closed down.  It was always one of my highlights of my trips to the Sunshine Coast.

3.  Leather handles, attached by hand stitching. Even with a thimble, I got sore fingers sewing these handles in place.

4.  Internal pockets.  1 zip pocket and 1 patch pocket.

5.  Purse feet

6.  Inner base for support

I wanted some support in the base of my bag, but I didn't want to spend any more money on bits and bobs.  To make the base support, I quilted together a layer of canvas, wadding and shirting.

Of course, when I overlocked it into an oval shape, it looked like a super-sized pad, but never mind, it is between the bag and the lining and will never be seen.  It is secured in place by the purse feet.

7.  Top-stitched seams.  Stitching paper into a bag shape  is harder than I anticipated.  There is no flexibility in the paper, so I found myself standing in funny positions over the machine to feed the seams through, especially for the top-stitching.  I used jeans thread for the top-stitching.  I constructed the bag so that the lining was attached all the way around the top edge of the bag, with the bottom of the lining completely open, so that I could slip the lining up and into the bag, without having to turn the bag through.  I then closed up the bottom lining seam.

So cost to make
Brown paper - recycled
Wax - from stash
Purse feet - from stash
Base - from remnants
Lining -$3
Handles - $20
Thread - from stash
Pattern - paper and pencil

I haven't costed the stash items, because I consider many of them to be "sunk costs" these days...meaning I should use them up, they will be worth nothing when I die.  However, if these items all had to be costed and you consider the amount of time I spent making this, the $149 asking price for the original inspiration piece seems very reasonable...if only I wasn't such a committed diy-er who likes the challenges these sorts of projects bring.

Sucker that I am, I made a second one for one of my sisters, only with bright coloured lining and tan handles.

In the interests of full disclosure, I admit that I have seen the inspiration bag once more since I finished mine, and it is made with a much thicker paper and so seems a little sturdier.


Top with Gathered Yoke

I am trying to devote one (school) day a week to my pattern drafting.  I am always surprised at how many other activities are competing for my attention on that day.  I thought this gathered top onto a yoke would be a quick draft, but it was a little trickier than I anticipated to get it "just right".

The fabric is a cotton voile from Tessuti.

(Do you love my necklace?  My daughter and I had a fimo day recently, so I have a few necklaces in these colours now)

The biggest issue was getting the position of the yoke line right.  I originally wanted it a bit higher, but that lined the yoke seam up with the flat part of the armhole curve, which I thought would be a bit messy, sewing  wise.  I could have gone higher, but that would have left me with quite a skinny yoke, and I wanted a substantial yoke in case I decided to feature a different fabric for the yoke.  So I moved the yoke line down, below the armhole, but not as low as the bust point.

Then I thought it would be good if it matched the back yoke, but I knew I definitely wanted the back gathers higher up than my baby doll, for ease of movement across the back.  I could have curved the back yoke seam up, but decided that I wanted a horizontal seam, in case I wanted to put a lace yoke or similar in the back.  The curved seam will have to wait for another draft.

Here is my final draft (though I may need to address some teensy front neck gaping).

 I have been attempting to declutter lately, but here is a good reason not to throw out my fabric scraps.  I felt like the yoke needed a little stabilising.  A lightweight white fabric seemed to make the yoke look different from the body of the blouse.  I did not have a suitable nude fabric.  In the end I used a silk cotton woven in a tropical print.  An inside view is shown blow.  It seemed to blend with the voile enough not to result in show through to the outside.  I treated it as an interlining, rather than as a lined yoke, and still finished the edges of the armhole and neck with binding.

Fehr Trade Kimono Sweat

The Kimono Sweat by Fehr Trade has 2 tops in the one pattern, both of which I can show you today.

View B is a sleeveless tank with deep armholes.  I confess, I do not love the look of this top; however, it is a very practical garment for running in hot weather.  I do love my running tanks, but just sometimes, I do not wake up as early as I would like for my Sunday run and the sleeveless Kimono Sweat still protects my shoulders from the sun (by 6:30 am the sun is already beating down on us here at the moment).

This last week has been very hot, and Lincraft has their activewear fabric half price at the moment, so I quickly made up a fluoro version.  Some people in my household think I could have just gone and got myself a safety vest.

I can also show you my tester version of View A, which has short kimono sleeves.  I love, love, love View A of this pattern.  I can't find a good image for comparison, but it gives me the same vibe as some of the woven tops that Phoebe Philo has designed for Celine.   I think it would work out great made up in a chambray (only chambray is a terrible colour on me) or even an organza (the organza I put aside for this got snaffled up in my frenzy of summer swing tanks), but I haven't got beyond my imagination for these versions yet.  I can show you my tester version made up in fleece remnants.

Now, as a bonus, I can show you an unfinished version of a mash up of the Kimono Sweat with the Jasper Sweater from Paprika Patterns.  I just got too busy with with other stuff last year and did not get around to finishing this off...and the weather got hot and I didn't need it...and I can't decide what colour tabs to put at the neck. and whether to face or hem the sleeves.  This winter, I will finish it for sure.

(do you like the way it looks as though I am sprouting palm leaves from my head?)


Quilts 2015

I "fell into"  teaching quilting last year, so I made a few quilts to learn some techniques myself.

1.  Wonky Log Cabin




Close-up of back motif

Quilting - I quilting pictures into this quilt - snails, mushrooms, birds, frogs etc.  Hard to see but I thought would be fun to discover, if you were 5 and this was your quilt

 2.  Quick triangles baby quilt - The HSTs were made by sewing diagonally across 2 fat quarters facing together, for both diagonals and then cutting horizontally, vertically and diagonally to make 8 HSTs.

Oops, I can't find my photo of this one and now it is hanging up at work, so I will have to come back later and put it in.

3.  Half Square Triangles lap quilt - The HSTs were made by facing 2 squares together, sewing around all 4 sides of the square and then cutting diagonally in each direction.  The sides of the finished HSTs end up being on the bias.

I tried out some of the quilting stitches on my new machine for the quilting, but did not really like the effect.

 4.  Quilt as you go using scraps of 2 1/2 inch strips

 5.  Crazy 9 patch lap baby quilt

I quilted an all - over geometric design on this quilt.

I rounded the corners.

6.  Amy Butler In Stitches Doona Cover - ok, so not technically a quilt, but something that I have been wanting to make for a long time.  This looks much better in real life than these photographs suggest.  Definitely not as wrinkled as the photos.  The fabric is a cotton linen blend, which makes for a rather heavy doona cover.

7.  Improv log cabins.  This one has been in progress for about 3 years.  My daughter wanted a turquoise room and decided that this quilt would be a good match, so I got stuck in and finished it (well, almost finished...I still have to hand-stitch down the binding).

The entire quilt (front, back and bindings) is made from leftovers, either from other quilts, or bags or dressmaking.  For the back, I made some oversized blocks and joined them together.

This is the first time I have tried free motion quilting and I was very happy with the results.

8.  Ninja Quilt - This one was actually made this year, not 2015.  I quick quilt for my son's birthday.  I used the Lap of Luxe quilt as a guide, though my blocks are a bit bigger and I have an extra row of blocks.  I bought a fat quarter bundle of 16 fabrics and same yardage for the back and pale contrasts.  I had only ribbon scraps left over in the end.

I did make a quilt top for my bed, but I have not made  aback or sandwiched it yet, so that will have to wait for my next quilting round up post.