29 November, 2015

BAG IT Vinyl Sewing and Helpful Hints

For this last week of BAG IT with Elm Street Quilts, I have had little time to sew. I did enjoy a drama-free Thanksgiving at my house and I was thankful for those relatives who understand this is now a requirement.

I tried to sew on Thanksgiving as it was a day off work but got bogged down with fabric dithering and decided to just roll with it. Today, I managed to get myself into the sewing room where fabric choices were made quickly and sewing commenced.

My big project is a jewelry bag. I still need to hand-sew the binding down.

 I needed a quick & dirty project to 'cleanse my sewing palate' and these two small earbud pouches were sewn without too much fuss. I sized up on the second one as I don't need an earbud pouch. I like Erin's Circle Pouch better. I especially like the heart variation of her small circle pouch.

In any case, a larger see-thru vinyl pouch will be sure to fit in someone's stocking.

I totally stole Janine's idea, utilizing the lace zipper in these. 

It added a bit of polish to these easy bags.

I quilted the back - the diagonal stitching looks best.

Even with my teflon foot, the foot was grabbing at the vinyl during top-stitching, causing the threads to feed oddly. See bottom row of stitching. See those gold dots at bottom? This is the gold top stitching thread being pulled to the bottom. Lessening the bobbin tension might help?

 I had some trouble stitching on this vinyl and I have a little list that could help you sew with vinyl.

1. Sew vinyl with tissue paper underneath or on top or use fabric so vinyl doesn't get stuck on your feed dogs or machine foot. The tissue tears off easily.
Try to sandwich your vinyl in fabric.

2. Use a longer stitch length. This helps when you are navigating different thicknesses in your project. The longer stitch length also keeps things from going to perforated in a heart beat - where the vinyl has so many holes - it tears away from your project.

3. If you own a teflon foot, now is the time to bring it out. It tends to slide over the vinyl rather than your usual foot which grabs.

4. If you don't own a teflon foot, use some post its stuck on your sewing surface with just the feed dogs showing. Some people have used scotch tape on both the bed and underneath side of the foot.

5. My friend who sews with Michael Curry Design (Think giant disney characters and Macy's Thanksgiving Parade)has offered up using K-Y Jelly. You smear it on the vinyl so it doesn't stick and we are officially at TMI.

6. USE A SHARP NEEDLE - A NEW ONE. Don't use a dull one.

7. I had better luck with thicker vinyl bought at fabric store. It comes in guages - I have totally forgotten which one I bought but it's on the thicker side. When I first sewed with vinyl, I  used the vinyl bag I got bed linens in and had a lot of trouble sewing with that thinner vinyl.

8. Use your walking foot to help feed evenly. I have a pfaff which uses the IDT system. It helps keep things from grabbing so much too.

9. No Pins. Anything that leaves holes in the vinyl is to  be avoided. I like to use my Clover Wonder Clips - as long as they are used inside the seam allowance.

The little bag measures 5.5" wide x 4" tall.
The larger bag measures 6.25" w x 5" tall.

26 November, 2015

Rice Crispy Treat Coma

No sewing to report. 

I got bogged down in making fabric choices.
I am still playing BAG IT with Elm Street Quilts and I am making some vinyl bags next.

I am knee-deep in 12-hr split shifts right now at work and while I had today off (Yay! for Turkey Day), I found myself indecisive about which fabrics to cut into and what I wanted this sewing to become.

We had a small gathering at my Thanksgiving table and it went very well. (No drama). Of course, we are now into a turkey coma. Well - not me, exactly. Turkey disagrees with me nowadays thanks to the soy injections so I limit myself  to one slice.   I'm really in a rice crispy treat coma. I can tolerate all the ingredients in this dessert and over indulgence happens.

I think I will put the sewing on hold until Saturday afternoon after work finishes.
I'm going to go read my book:

Cover image for The time in between
Dueñas, María

I'm grateful and thankful for:
1. I can decide whether I will sew or read my book.
2. That we have plenty of food in my nice warm house with family.
3. That I have enough fabric to cause dithering.
4. The bright, sunny day with the gorgeous full moon.
5. Flowers on my table picked (flash frozen) from my garden offerings.
6. Safe travels for family members.
7. Family members who embrace the "Just be polite" mantra and are able to move forward.
8. I can keep three silly jokes in my head at the same time.

I'll leave you with some super silly jokes my co-workers and I were telling random customers yesterday (supervisor gone all week ( she of the "NO TALKING" (wasting time))).

What do you call a turkey with no feathers?


What happens when two turkeys get into a fight?

***They kick the stuffing out of each other***

How does a turkey drink his wine?

***In a goblet***

What's a turkeys favorite dessert?

***Peach Gobbler***

And a couple my friend in Japan told me:

Why did the turkey sit on a tomahawk?
***To hatchet***

What sound does a space turkey make?

***Hubble, hubble***

I would love to hear what you are thankful for.

22 November, 2015

Retreat Bags


I cut into my cherished Echino Airplanes (Kokka).
They have been waiting to be used for several years. They were folded carefully and then tied off with twine.  Lovely to pet.

The blue jumped to be first up in making Retreat Bags. The Retreat Bag is a free pattern from Emmaline Bags. She has awesome bag bling too. The bag utilizes wire frames to keep the bag open wide

 Emmaline Bags carries those zipper ends. So much easier to use than sewing fabric tabs onto the ends. These look very polished. The airplane charm was traded for.

 Those wire frames really help to keep the bag open. I made a second one in the elephant fabric that i recently used in a boxy bag because it was out.

I made a New Year's resolution to use up fabrics once I took them out of stash. To keep sewing until it was used up. But I can't do it.

I was able to cut into my blue echino airplane but I can't cut anymore. I am overwhelmed with the need to save it and parsimoniously eke it out in various small projects to the end of time.

Similar sized bags with long zippers.

The boxy bag is  similar to a men's Dopp Bag. I really like the Retreat Bag better as it opens wide to allow you to see all the contents at once. The boxy bag can be a black hole.

Each bag has it's own version of a handle. I've added carrying handles to the Retreat bag before for my great-nieces. The Retreat Bag is easy to pick up and carry because of the wire frames.

 You can add two slip pockets. I added two in the airplane bag, one for the elephant, and none at all for the great-nieces.

You could dress it up with a zipper pocket inside and even on the outside. The bag starts out at 13 1/2" across but the available pocket room is around 6 inches (centered) x 4" deep.

For this Echino fabric - not a quilting cotton - more like a canvas - I wanted a zipper with metal teeth and I was a little frustrated that I couldn't find one in the right color. You have to understand I have at least 200+ zips in my stash. I scored a big zipper haul earlier in the summer at an estate sale. I was going to settle for an off-white one with #5 nylon teeth (big teeth) but then I found this orange which was the right orange.

There was a black zipper with humongous brass teeth that would have looked awesome but it was way too long and I would have struggled taking some of the teeth out. This one works. I can't really explain why the nylon one would not have worked  - this one worked better. The off-white was safe, the orange makes you think twice.

Thanksgiving is Thursday. I'm having 7 people here.  A bit small this year. We've never had giant gatherings - 13-15 is our average most years.

I cleaned house Saturday between work shifts so I could chisel out time to sew today.
I also wanted to make Apple Cider Caramels for my workmates and for Thanksgiving, along with Butternut Squash Soup for both dinners this week and as a starter course on Thursday.

Working 12-hour split shifts through Christmas now.

 These are all cut up and wrapped, ready to be put into containers.
I actually made two batches this morning. My first went swimmingly until I poured it out -and realized I forgot to add the butter.

These bags were made to help me out at Christmastime and for Elm Street Quilt's BAG IT series this month. Patty has coughed up a very organized month of sewing bags with accompanying tutorials and tips and the whip (prizes!) to make you sew some fun bags.
This week was non-zippered bags  - storage box bags.

I didn't need any open storage nor could I thing of someone who would so I did my own thing. Which is normal for me and entirely fine for the BAG IT series.

17 November, 2015

Skydiving Bunnies

My new blogging friend, Heidi, of Red Letter Quilts, sent me an email recently asking if I was interested in this fabric. She found it at her local fabric store and it was super cheap. 

As in, $5.49 a yard. This is a panel print; usually these are sold by the panel which is shorter than a yard.

Anyway, Heidi picked up on my little obsession problem with airplanes and sewing. BFF status here.
I jumped - lol, bunnies jump fast too. In my five boxes of airplane fabrics, I did not own this particular biplane print.

At first, I was just going to get two yards for the stash but then I got looking at the panel and I saw pillowcases. The lower part with the bunny airshow will be the main fabric with the upper sky portion the cuff. A little red in the right tone will be the trim.

Won't everyone on my christmas list love getting new pillowcases for Christmas? So, I asked her to get four yards. You are seriously THE BEST, Heidi!!!

Over all picture of the panel. The sky is folded over at top - so lots of blue with airplanes flying around.

 Lower portion of the panel - depicting a busy little airshow with tents set up and spectators.

For the record, I would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

15 November, 2015

Boxy Bags

This weeks mission on Elm Street Quilts'  BAG IT series was to make some boxy bags.
I still have a QAYG (Quilt As You Go) bag to make to get caught up.

The first one made was the Medium Formula One car racing bag. The suggested tutorial was this.
And as soon as I got to the corners, I recalled this tutorial with dislike. I'd been down this rabbit hole before.

Yes, it results in no seams inside. Yes, it results in a bag that works. But it takes hours to do and the lining is floating around in there - too big - with no way to adjust it. I want to tack the corners of the lining to the outer fabric but I am resisting. Because I have spent enough time on this bag.

My cute checkerboard lining.

 The small Formula One and the Elephant Bag are made with this video tutorial.
Which is how it's done in RTW.

The lining is attached to the outer fabric via the serged seams, providing a nice neat interior.

Actually, I studied my son's Dopp Bag last year and the inside seams are finished with grosgrain ribbon folded over those exposed seams. And the lining is fused to the outer fabric.

 I don't mind my serged seams either. (Yes, I powered over those nylon zipper teeth at the side seam.). I put a drop of Fray-check on the corners where I trimmed the serger thread. The insides of these two bags are really clean.

And - it took 20 minutes to cut, fuse, and sew this bag compared to the hours spent on the first Boxy Bag. Who has that much time? No one will ever notice the inside - except for how loose it is in the first bag.

Lining all bunched up and loose. No way to cut it smaller or adjust . I am not tacking it down at the corners.

With cute tassel - made by me too.

Boxy Bags made in three sizes.

Baby: started at 8" x 6".
Mama: started at 13" x 8"
Daddy: started at 15" x 10"

I was thinking of making a Daddy Formula One bag but I ran out of my checkerboard lining fabric and grabbed some home decor fabric instead.

08 November, 2015

The Dressmaker

My favorite of the same titles

I'm always on the search for good books to read. Sometimes, I only read for 6.7 minutes before zonking out. I do like to read. When I get a good book, it's very difficult to put down and I must finish it. 

Somewhere, I read online that The Dressmaker was good and going to be a movie. I plugged the title into my county library system and found four (4!) books with that title. It turns out that I have yet to read the book that inspired a movie but I did read these four.

* This first one by Alcott is, ummm, bad - don't read it. It starts out promisingly but than needs to be drastically edited down to 34 pages. We get to re-live the sinking of the Titanic and the cliched Unsinkable Molly Brown for a while before we finally land in New York. Maybe one page {all together}  was actually about sewing.

*** This one by Elizabeth Oberbeck was interesting. About a small town talented tailor who finds his muse in a younger woman who comes to him to design her wedding gown. And their little romance. Some sewing. A little unexpected story twist - not what you would predict.

**** This title by Posie Graeme-Evans was a great romantic with a little thriller mixed in. How our dressmaker grew up poor, her father the rector, dies, her mother has long-lost RICH relatives who have problems of their own. Then she and her mom flee, find succor with an acquaintance, then the friend's son has a plot of his own. She marries him, has a baby, discovers somehow, overnight, she is the dressmaker to the rich and famous. I liked this one. The story flowed predictably and had a lot of sewing stuff inside. 

This one by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon was my favorite. I could not put it down. It tells a story of Afghanistan when the Taliban took over and women were forced to stay inside their home unless a male relative could escort them grocery shopping. When women were forced to wear the chador - completely covered up. All the men were off fighting and women had little means to support their families. They were not allowed to work.

This story tells of a very young gal who manages to find a way to earn money by sewing clothes for the clothing stores. Her entire family helps out as well as relatives. Her dad and older brother were forced to flee to avoid Taliban retribution. This gal came up with several business ideas to support not just her family but others as well. Lots of sewing.

A few years back, I was involved in a soldiers scheme of helping out Afghanistani and Iraqi women by sending over bundles of sewing supplies. The idea was to provide women with something of usefulness from the American's in order to turn the tide on the war.

This book was an extension of that aid and the resiliency of women to figure out ways to survive.

My library system doesn't have the Rosalie Ham version, The Dressmaker, yet.

I can see if Minnesota public library has it. I have my sister's library card #.  That's the secret of my kindle success. Oregon has very few e-books and only lets you check out six at a time. Minnesota lets you check out 50 (I dare you!) and has the most current titles and best-sellers.

I really enjoy the Kindle on trips but at home, I like turning pages in real books. Looking back a few pages when I get the plot confused, dog-earing the page to mark a recipe.

Right now I am finishing up Jenny Lawson's  Furiously Happy . I read her first one: Let's Pretend This Never Happened a week ago. Her journey through mental illness - she is a hysterically funny writer. Apparently, she writes a big-time blog. Her books contains some of her blog stories.

06 November, 2015

Twisted Tuck Wristlet Clutch

Day two in the Bag It series by Elm Street Quilts.

I deviated. Of course I did. I had this Twisted Tuck Wristlet tutorial by Mahlica Designs vying for sewing time and it somehow squeezed into the Bag It month.

This wristlet/clutch is about 9" wide by 5 1/2" tall. Perfect for hanging onto.
I love the tuck detailing on the front.

Lazy me has been using this tan Sulky thread for all that serious matchstick quilting I've been doing. It has a bit of sheen to it. Anyway - it appears to look good on the suede as well. I'll keep it on the machine until I am forced to switch.
{I think the *mean* Bag it organizer wants us to do more matchstick quilting...on a bag that's coming up in the series.}

I used some faux suede fabric that's been in my stash forever - either from a child's Indian costume or a garage sale find. It sort of behaves like suede but doesn't have a recognizable nap one way or the other. It also doesn't fray! Which made for awesome fringe on that costume.

A blue plaid leaped into the inside lining, thus the blue zipper.

Back side.

Blue Plaid lining

Other side of lining with the slip pocket that extends all the way across.

Great tutorial from Mahlica Deisgns.

I am trying to do this bag a day thing but I will be posting some on my Instagram feed instead of trying to write a blog post every day. You can find me there by looking for RocketGirl50.