Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lotta bags

I've been making small and simple purses ever since finding the Jordy bag tutorial on Craftster. If you like to make purses and have basic sewing skills and a machine, you can make all kinds of bags. Check out the list of different styles--it's amazing.

So when I heard about Lotta Jansdotter's new book called simple sewing, I took a look and was skeptical. Most of the patterns in the book really are simple--straight seams, no linings, nothing more advanced than what I've already learned. But I'm TERRIBLE with measurements and patterns, so this book actually works for me. It also reminds me to do things I always forget, like mitering corners for less bulk, or using a vanishing pen when tracing out patterns (I need to get me one of those. Right now I have white chalk and a regular pencil). I don't know why doing things like measuring, tracing, cutting along the line hasn't translated from paper to fabric for me--I outline, trace, and cut along pencilled lines all the time with paper. Mind boggling, I know.

So I tried Lotta's simple tote. And made my own adjustments frankensteining the Jordy cornering technique and lining with Lotta's fold-up-the-bottom-turn-in-all-raw-edges pattern.

The result is a nice little tote bag with interior pockets and a small bit of velcro for closure. I didn't bother using the magnetic clasps or zippers I have stashed away because this was a trial run.

Lotta's basic pattern was super easy to follow. I love her photos of her finished bags with the contrasting fabrics and appliques and embroidery. It's a smorgasborg of possibilities. The Jordy bag pattern is also easy to follow. The two meld okay--adding the interfacing and lining to the lotta bag was interesting--but I think I might try and work with the Lotta pattern again and adjust. Unlike the Jordy bag where the weight is on a bottom seam, the Lotta bag carries the weight in the handles. So for a grocery tote bag, I could interface at the upper seam for more secure handles... or something.

The simple drawstring backpack reminded me of the junior high school project and was also super simple. I need to adjust the sizes, though because I don't need the depth. I also will add a lining and possible interfacing for light structure, although I really like the slouchy look. I used ribbon instead of fabric straps and may use only one strap instead of two for a cleaner drawstring. I wonder if this will work larger with sturdier fabric. Maybe with silky-type cording instead of straps for smoother opening and closing...

(The hiatus from the etsy shop continues. I have teenies--see the pink one on the lotta bag--to sell, but I'm still not sure anyone will buy this design. The ones with velcro I put on our grocery bags got a big reaction at the store and they might be more desirable. But they'd also take me a lot longer to make. So, I dicker with myself and the store remains static. I should probably remove the current listings and start fresh.)

Monday, May 14, 2007


A small batch of new Teenies!

A close-up of a few. I bet these would look great on a totebag handle or even looped around a gearshift in your car. :)

I used smaller rubber bands because I didn't think they'd be looped around anything really large, but I suppose I can always sew on larger rubber bands if someone wanted to loop them around a wrist or mug or water bottle. Imagine a handful of these to identify drink glasses at your next party!

The zigzag stitch on the rubber band worked the best with the most minimal effort. I'm pretty pleased with the effort.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Trying out more new things

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! I'm under the weather with stuffed sinuses, cough, and sore throat. Loverly. So, I'm making stuffed things.

Because I'm making them small, I'm having a difficult time sewing beads for eyes, sewing seams, then turning them inside out. I don't want to overstuff them, so I'm trying to sew the seams on the exterior, which seems to be working. The orange triangle and red rectangle came out pretty well. The periwinkle fuzzy rectangle was a remnant already shaped and sewn. I just added eyes and a pin to the back. The one lying down is cute, but making the arms and adding velcro is really time intensive. I don't want wide arms because that would take up too much room. One layer of felt is too flimsy to withstand an opening and closing of the velcro. And the one not pictured here, but in the picture below (light blue with band of velcro) is just too big. Band of velcro overwhelms. And I forgot to stuff it.

Triangle and small red rectangle have rubber hands sewn to the back, which seems to be okay. I'm a little concerned about constant wrapping, unwrapping, so I may either add a button to the back interior--which ruins my next plan--or use a small zigzag machine stitch right on the rubber band.

I wonder if part of the problem is the polyester felt I'm using. Not as sturdy as wool felt, but a lot less expensive, so I don't feel bad about all these experiments. I bought the poly felt thinking of those with wool allergies or sensitivities, but you really do get what you pay for.

In the end, I'm having more fun making the little button-bead embellishments. I have more beads than I know what to do with and not enough cool buttons. Now, if I could only find a way to combine these teeny stuffies (which I'm calling my Teenies line, lol) with my cards, I'd be all set. I guess I could make a few with velcro hook backs and attach them to the velcro eye piece on the card. Maybe glue the velcro to a pin so that the stuffy could be taken on and off via the velcro, but the attachment is by the pin. Hrm. I'm not sure a flatback pin is the way to go on that--too 3D. I'd need something flatter.

Don't forget, tomorrow the postal rates increase

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Trying new things

I used to make beaded jewelry, but it's too tedious and costly. So the beads sit in a few boxes waiting to be unearthed and either passed on to friends or used for some other project. Voila! I thought about adding them to my stuffies! And so I tried a wee experiment with this little scrap and came up with this. I may make some more and add pins to the back. Still considering legs and arms... or wings or some more specific shapes, like birds, flowers, or other animals. But really, I like my gumdrop shaped odditites.

One thing I need to do is get an embroidery hoop to put the fabric into--will make it easier to sew beads and some minor embroidery (which I'm experimenting with, also). I'm just afraid the poly felt will bend and stretch too much, so it'll be experimenting. I also don't know if I can stretch fleece fabric into a hoop without crushing the fabric.

Also thought about using felt on cards and came up with this. I might do some more. I also need to figure out how to make a template of shapes for more circular circles. I don't want to use my paper punches on fabric and I don't really want to buy any more hardware, so I might just get a plastic template and do the trace-cut thing. I will also need a smaller pair of scissors (see! More hardware!). They aren't kidding when they say that sewing requires multiple pairs of scissors. Well, you don't really, but y'know, it's nice to have a pair with a super sharp point, one to get into tiny spaces, one to cut large swathes of fabric and one all purpose cutter.

And in trying to add art to the very beige walls (because I do not know what color to paint), I took some scrap book paper, dyed some unfinished wood frames with stamp ink (I used a sponge and it didn't take that long. I could have spray painted or used acrylics or something and it would've taken me ten minutes instead of the hour, but I was watching TV while doing it, so it didn't seem that long), and voila. Art. I just need to figure out if I want them vertical or horizontal and attach the hanger on the back.