Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gathered clutch

I had so much fun making this clutch/wristlet, and it may be the best phone holder/wallet option yet!  I like my other clutch I made, but I wish I had rounded the bottom corners.  I also wish it held my credit/loyalty/insurance cards a little neater.  I saw this tutorial from 2010 for a gathered clutch on one of my favorite sewing blogs, noticed the card holder and internal divider options, and decided I needed to give it a try.

Unfortunately, the pattern of the fabric kind of camouflages the cute gathered part of the clutch.  If you look closely, you can see how the purple rose fabric is gathered behind the denim band.  It might look more obvious with a different print.  I could also make that pattern piece longer so that it gathered more, but that might make a little too much bulk.

Inside, there is a divider that can keep my phone separate from the cash, and little pockets that can hold the cards.  I altered the design to make the cards stand up vertically so I could have three instead of only two sections.  I also added a wrist strap because I am on a kick of only carrying around a wallet/wristlet thingy instead of a full purse.  I'm sure I will be back to purses again soon, but it feels so nice not to haul around a big bag for a change.  Hooray for (sort of) potty-trained kids!  I also rounded the bottom corners in the 11th hour and am happy with the result.

Ooh -- actually, it fits even better when I put the cash behind the divider and my cell phone in the middle!

I stole the hardware for attaching the wrist strap from a flash drive we have.  How's that for upcycling?

If I make it again, I will use a different fabric so the gathers are more noticeable and I will pad it with a layer of felt as batting.  My phone could use a little more protection (even with that whole Otter Box, I'm still petrified of anything happening to my precious phone!).  I also had a really hard time with the zipper tabs and want to try that whole thing again, only making the zipper a little shorter.  I think I used too wide of a seam allowance to sew the whole clutch together and there was no way to avoid sewing through the zipper tabs (which is the trick to using zipper tabs).  Oh well -- this is certainly not the worst zipper I have ever sewn!  I also should have put the strap on the same side as the zipper pull when it's closed, so I can open the zipper easier.  Whoops.

Charlotte just saw it and said "it's the coolest wallet ever!  We skould make one for everyone we know!  For Shelby's mom, Grandma JoJo, NanaB, Ivette, Miss Kym . . ."  WHOAH there, cowgirl.  Learn to sew yourself (we're starting with a few little quickie projects, including a simple fleece sleeping bag for her beloved Charlotte Doll!) and then you can start planning out future sewing projects.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Somebody's Converse Shoes

Well, these were supposed to be for baby Alex, but his feet grew faster than I anticipated and by the time I finally got around to crocheting these hilarious shoes, his feet were too large.  Whoops.  But I have big plans to alter the pattern to make them bigger!  For now, I'm trying to decide what to do with these ones:

Sonia is modeling the shoes as potential mittens since poor Alex couldn't model them for me on his feet.....

I found the free pattern for these cute shoes here on Ravelry.

A bike bucket for Peter and a heart-shaped box for Charlotte

We bought Peter a 16" bike last fall because we figured he could grow into it.  Well, turns out he's ready to ride a bike and still many inches away from being tall enough for the 16-incher.  Whoops.  So we bought him a 12" bike today so he could keep up with his leggy older sister on her 16" bike.  Hers has a classic little white plastic wicker basket (complete with flowers attached to it!), and I figured he needed a basket/bucket of his own to tote around his treasures as well.  I clicked back onto the bike bucket tutorial I used for Maisie's birthday present and combined the Stars Wars scraps I had left with some of the flame fabric to make a bucket sufficiently "cool" for Peter's bike.  He calls pink things "girl things" and calls boy things "cool things".  Um, okay.

I altered the pattern a little to make the attaching piece big enough to go around the padded thingy that was on the cross-bar of the handlebars.  I probably added a little too much extra fabric, so for future reference if I make it again, I should cut that piece of fabric to be probably 6" inches wide by 14.5" long.  The bucket still works great and looks cute on Peter's teeny little bike.  Now if I could only teach him how to start pedaling without me giving him a little shove.

I still had the super stiff interfacing out on my work table when I was browsing around on the computer and found a tutorial for a hilarious little heart-shaped box which uses Peltex.  Charlotte saw me looking at the tutorial and insisted that she needed one for her princesses.  The box was fun to make, but BOY did it suck up a bunch of thread.  I started with a full bobbin and had to refill it four times during the project.  Each piece needed to be tightly zig-zagged around, and then they were all attached together with still more tight zig-zagging.  If I had a serger, it would have been a much quicker project I bet.

The pattern called for the underside to be out of a different fabric for some reason.  Good excuse to use up a scrap left over from a long-ago project, I guess.  It would be cute to make a nesting set of these boxes for teacher gifts, but I would have to remember to buy a whole lot of thread beforehand!  Either that, or I could just skip the initial zig-zagging on the pieces, assemble the box, then zig-zag around the top to finish.  Yes, this is the most times I have ever typed "zig-zag" in my entire life.

Charlotte loves the box and is currently using it to transport Lego houses all over the family room.  She's building some kind of epic town and apparently needs to rearrange it frequently.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Happy birthday to Ben with a shirt and basket

Peter's good buddy, Ben, has his fourth birthday party today and we're coming armed with (what else?) a "4" birthday shirt and a fabric basket to match.  We're headed to the store in a few minutes to buy some treasures to put in the basket with the shirt.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?  I made this basket pattern for the second time, and it turned out pretty cool.  Peltex (actually, Pellon 72F) is a monster to wrestle with when you're sewing, but it really is the best thing for any project that needs strength and permanent shape.

I love that shark fabric (from the remnant bin at Jo-Ann's) and wish I had a whole lot more of it.  I have no idea what else I would make out of it, but it's just fabulous.  I just bought a new chunk of that flame fabric, because I used all that I had on hand making 20+ car caddies last year.  I have a few ideas of things to make for Peter with it.  I love the blue tints around the edges of the flames.  Ben's party is train-themed, so I tried my best to find some train fabric at Jo-Ann's with zero luck (except for some babyish flannel that would have looked terrible as an applique).

Two and a half hours until party time -- better get shopping!

Friday, July 26, 2013

A couple of cute pouches

I needed a break from sewing clothing, because clothing is very tricky!  It has to fit, be comfortable, be cute, and be well-made so it doesn't look "Becky Home-Ecky".  Not so easy to execute, as it turns out.  Pouches are the perfect antidote to the stress of garment sewing.

The first pouch was from a tutorial published by a hilarious woman who is quickly becoming my favorite sewing blogger.  It's one that she calls the "Straight-Sided Flat-Bottomed Pouch".  It's quite a mouthful, but it is the perfect description of the pouch.

Why the "R" on the pouch?  It's for something to be revealed later.

The second pouch was not so successful, mainly because I didn't line up the pleather patches so well, and also because I kind of messed up the pleather by getting too close with the iron and proved just how synthetic it all was by melting part of it.  The tutorial was fine, but it would have worked better with actual leather (as the tutorial called for, rather than the stretchy pleather I used).  Notice how the triangles don't actually line up, as would have been aesthetically pleasing.

You can see on the triangle on the right where I kind of steamed off part of the "pleather".  Whoops!  The pouch is still functional, but not worth actually gifting to someone.  Ahem.  I guess I can use it for holding, um, Q-tips or something like that when we travel, right?

Bike bucket for Maisie

My sweet niece, Maisie, is turning three in a couple of weeks.  I just spent all week with her at Camp NanaB, and it is clear that she loves to ride her bike.  Stephanie mentioned that Maisie had asked for a bucket to go on her bike, and I jumped up and volunteered to make one.  Maisie's favorite color is green and the bike is pink and purple, so I found some cute fat quarters that could pull all three of those colors together.  I love the tutorial I used, and I'm totally grateful for the blog post I found on another site that documented that author's experience making the bucket.  She even answered a question I had about the size of the attachment piece!

I could not for the life of me figure out how to iron in the Pellon 72F piece on the inside on the bottom, so it's kind of loose there.  I don't think Maisie will mind.  I purposefully didn't take a picture from an angle to show the entire lining because it's not all that flat.

Here is the piece that attaches it to the handlebars on the bike.  I forgot about making the piece bigger to accommodate the foam piece around the bar, so I'm going to re-sew it with a bigger circumference.  It shouldn't take very long.

And here is the bucket being modeled on Peter's bike.  Please ignore the messy garage!

Hope Maisie likes it!  Now I need to figure out some fun things to put in the bucket for her to tote around while riding her bike.  Knowing her, she'll probably put cars and her lovey (if it is allowed outside the house!) in it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Classic A-Line Dress disaster

A while back, I won some free patterns from an online indie pattern designer.  I was allowed to choose three patterns from all the ones available, so I figured I couldn't go wrong with the "Classic A-Line Dress".

I read the directions, and was a little suspicious of the method for constructing the straps.  I kind of forgot about the pattern until his evening after dinner when Charlotte and I were talking about how people design clothes.  I told her I would sew her an elegant dress and thought of this pattern.  I dug out a couple girly fabrics (teal eyelet and pink with multicolored striped circles on it).  I cut out the pieces under Charlotte's watchful eye, but she wandered away when I started sewing.

About an hour later, I was done.  The top where the straps came together is a complete mess, and it's totally not my fault.  The method of tucking one side inside the other and sewing it results in a really crappy finished product.

Still, I persevered and finished the dress.  Charlotte is in love with it, but it falls off her skinny little shoulders and isn't roomy enough around the middle.  It's difficult to get on because it has no closure anywhere, but I guess it's cool because it's reversible.  Even though Charlotte had a long day at Camp NanaB, I had her model the dress by striking her "most elegant" poses.  Here it is with the pink side out.  I didn't even bother to iron it perfectly because it gets so munched up as we wrestle it on her.

The v-neck back is kind of cool, but it makes her skinny little shoulders pop right out of the dress.

And here it is with the teal eyelet side out.  Yeah, I probably should have chosen a solid for the other side so it would look prettier where the fabric peeked out from behind the eyelets.

That pattern was probably just a waste of fabric.  Pooh.  I'm deleting that pattern!

The funny thing was that Peter wandered out while I was telling Charlotte to strike an elegant pose.  He then made an elephant trumpeting sound and said "dis MY elephant pose!"

Shark Pouch!

Way back in March, I crocheted Sonia and her bestest buddy, Ike (aka Ikey), some hilarious little shark pouches.  They were made with Red Heart Super Saver yarn, safety eyes, a zipper, and stiff felt for the teeth.

I absolutely love Moogly's design with the exception of the fins; they are so thin that Moogly recognizes this and suggests stiffening them with "school glue and water" (huh? that doesn't sound like hold up to any sort of handling, and this is clearly not an item designed to sit on a shelf....). When I made the second pouch for Ikey, I doubled each fin and that resulted in a much more robust shark.  I should probably go back and fix Sonia's pouch one of these days.....

The pictures on the pattern showed the shark pouch bring used to hold writing implements, but Ikey and Sonia were too busy stuffing anything small enough to fit past the shark's ferocious felt teeth into their pouches to listen to that suggestion.  Unfortunately, as with all crocheted bags & pouches, items with pointy edges kept getting caught on the individual crocheted stitches, and I was worried that the kids were going to tear the bags apart.

But now, thanks to my sister (and Roonie Ranching partner in crime), I am the proud owner of a sewing machine.  I was initially resistant to the idea of letting her give me her old Brother machine because I do NOT need another craft addiction, but when I realized that I could just use it to sew linings for crocheted purses, bags, and pouches, I relented.  My incredibly patient sister helped me figure out the basics, and my very first project was to line Sonia's shark pouch.  Voila!

Mr. Shark pouch, what all do you have in there?

You're like the clown car of pouches!  Sheesh, you had an entire animal kingdom (including dinosaurs!!) in there.

Say "ahhhhhhhh"....

I had bought that fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics out of the remnants bin several months ago, envisioning my sister sewing me something fabulous with it.  Instead, I created a pretty gruesome-looking shark pouch lining.  Win.

Now I need to steal back Ikey's shark pouch to line it, too.  I wonder if I could line Ella's dinosaur purse.  Noel's owl purse needs a lining, too.  Oh, the possibilities!!  Thanks for the sewing machine, Niki.

A vinyl pouch to match the purse

I forgot about pinning this great tutorial for a very cool-looking clear vinyl-front pouch, and when I found it again this morning I started making it to match Erin's purse.  She is a sucker for see-through pouches.  This one won't hold a ton because it's pretty flat, but what's in there will be in full view!

Here is the front view.  You can see the light reflecting off of the clear vinyl up at the top a bit.

Here is the back view.  Just ignore the crazy little experimental thingy I tried to put on the zipper pull tab to make it easier for Erin to pull.  I'm going to come up with a better option.

It's a simple design, but I love the way the author solved the problem of how to make the vinyl and the zipper work together.  The author is a quilter, so of course she recommended I finish the last step of the binding by hand.  HA!  Not gonna happen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stuffed animal sleeping bag for Sonia

Another one of Sonia's birthday presents I totally neglected to blog about was a goofy little sleeping bag for a stuffed animal.  It was very fun to make, but the small amount of quilting in the project really made me realize just how much better it would be if I had a walking foot for my machine.  I gotta start hunting one down!  I would have added texture to a lot more things if I had one.

Anyway, I made this sleeping bag without any particular stuffed animal in mind, but Erin took pictures of it for me with one the crocheted Octonauts as the model.  Sweet dreams, Dashi!

The most ridiculously tiny but fabulous fabric box (and a slightly bigger one, too)

I saw a tutorial for a cute little fabric box and just had to make it.  It's hilariously small -- only two inches tall and three inches square from above.

For future reference: to get one this size, I started out with an eight inch square and made inch and a half triangles for the corners.  I used good old felt instead of proper batting, and it worked perfectly.  If I made one a whole lot bigger, I might add some Craft Fuse (Pellon 808) to one or both of the fabrics, but then sewing on the buttons might be a nightmare.  I might just hot glue those puppies on in that case.  For this one, hand sewing on those freaking buttons and hand sewing (GASP!) to tack down the inside corners took longer than sewing the entire rest of the project.  Hence, the reason I hate hand sewing.  I'm always poking myself with the needle and making myself bleed, too.  I loved sewing this little box anyway.

Here is the second one I made just now -- it started with a 12" square and used a 2.5" triangle for the corners, and it ended up being 3" tall and 4.5" square.  I eschewed the hand sewing in favor of hot glue.  I also decided to forego the buttons to make the box look a little less country.  I also added in one of my labels that my mother-on-law gave me for my birthday.  I'm still planning on making Roonie Rancher labels for me and Erin, but I need help picking a font.

Here is a photo of the two of them together.  Amazing how a 4" larger square didn't increase the overall size of the box by much.  Now I kinda want to experiment with some even bigger squares!  I didn't put any Craft Fuse in this box, because the polyester I used on the outside is fairly stiff.  If I had used two quilting cottons, some interfacing might have been a good idea.  The hot glue for the flaps (both the inside ones and the outside ones) worked great.  I didn't like the placement of two of the outside flaps and was able to rip them back open and reglue them into place -- not something I would have been willing to do if I had hand-sewn then wonky.

Last-minute shirt for Sonia

The morning Erin and Sonia left last week, I was sitting on the floor of Erin's room and looking at the cute shirt Erin set out to dress Sonia in for the car ride home.  I could make something like that!  So I ran downstairs, and instead of helping Erin pack and get her daughter ready, I sewed like a crazy woman and made this shirt for Sonia.  I drafted a pattern based on the existing shirt, screwed it up, fixed it, screwed it up again, and did a last-ditch Hail Mary move to save the shirt.  Amazingly, it worked.

The main body of the shirt is an old t-shirt of mine, and the sleeved and binding are from another t-shirt in the upcycle box.  I didn't get a chance to hem the sleeves because Erin needed to get on the road, but I don't think they look that bad raw.  The body of the shirt uses the original t-shirt's hem.  I love doing that!

I couldn't recreate this top again if I tried without getting my hands on Sonia's shirt again, but I might try, anyway.  The result was pretty cute, and the top was apparently comfortable enough for Sonia to wear it for a five-hour drive home with no complaints.  Score!