April 30, 2014

Blanche Barrel Bag

I am always browsing for new bag patterns from independent pattern designers.  I love receiving a pattern as a file on my computer.  It gives me the ability to print all of the instructions and pattern pieces or just the pattern pieces and follow along on my computer.

 I have purchased many patterns and have been surprised by the variety of methods used to draw up the directions.  I prefer to have the directions look like a tutorial with pictures of the step that is being done.  I know I am a visual learner.  If the directions aren't clear to me I can actually see the step being done.  I have also received some patterns that are computer drawn.  This would be my second favorite type because this is similar to the store bought pattern I grew up with.  My least favorite would be hand drawn pictures.  If the directions aren't clear, the drawn picture sometimes doesn't clear up anything.

The one thing that would keep me from buying a pattern is if the designer would not allow me to sell the finished product.  That is what I do.  I am very thankful that there are many independent designers who allow sales of products made from their patterns.  I believe that we help each other out.  When I sell, I always give credit to the pattern designer on my tag.  I apprectiate them very much...they make my bag look good and I hope I make their pattern look good!

Speaking of new patterns, I am awaiting the May Bag of the Month that will arrive tomorrow.  But since I had just enough time before it arrives, I tried a pattern that is new to me...the Blanche Barrel Bag by Swoon Patterns (I made the smaller size).  One of the "souvenir" fabrics I bought in Dayton a couple of weeks ago would be perfect.  It has a 3D effect and I thought it would do well on a rounded barrel shape.  I paired it with a brown heavier weight vinyl.

Overall, I like the look but I will make some changes the next time I make it.  They used craft fuse as the interfacing and I thought it was very stiff for the lining.  The next time I may use Soft and Stable for this bag.  I also will not make another Blanche Barrel bag with this heavier vinyl.  The smaller size was too small to turn the vinyl easily and no way to iron it.  The inside of the bag is roomy, though, for the small size.  It has one zipper pocket inside.

April 28, 2014

Out and About Bag and Another Skull Necessary Wallet

I completed another couple of orders and finally feel like I am getting under control (hopefully not for long). 

The first bag is a bag from Pattern Play Designs called the Out and About Bag.  This is a comfortable cross body bag.  At the Community Fair, I sold one to a young woman.  Later, her mother decided she wanted one, too.  She liked the fabric that her daughter's bag was made from and asked that I use that for the lining.  She wanted a darker bag for herself and she picked out a grey and black pattern with black trim.

Here is a picture of her daughter's bag...

And this is her bag with this same fabric as her bag lining....

I also got a call from the customer that ordered the Necessary Wallet by Emmaline Bags in the skull fabric who said her friend loved it and wanted one like it.  At this point, I have only made one of a kind bags.  I made them both agree that they didn't mind having matching wallets.  I needed their permission before I would make it.  They agreed so here is that wallet.  They are a little different.  The front of the bag has a different view of the print on the fabric and I used a solid red inside for the lining.  Now on to a pattern I have never used before.  I hope to show you that before the end of the week.


April 24, 2014

Sewing Machines...Then Until Now

I recently made the decision to spring for a new sewing machine.  Don't get me wrong, I have loved every sewing machine I have had.  Each one for different reasons.  In fact this purchase got me to thinking about the machines I have had.

My mom had an old treadle sewing machine in a cabinet.  We had it as our earliest sewing machine.  I never got to use that machine but I was fascinated by it.  No one in my family really sewed before me.  That machine was used for repairs, etc.  Certainly not for clothes making or bag making.  The same with our next sewing machine which was a Signature brand from Montgomery Wards (how old am I ????) that was in a blond colored cabinet.  This was the machine that I learned to sew on.  It had a knee lever to run the machine.  You had to open the cabinet and lift the machine in place.  It was solid and heavy.  But it wasn't mine.

My machine was a Singer.  It was the first thing that I bought after I finished nursing school and had my first job in the hospital.  That was 40 years ago.  It did everything (or so I thought at the time).  I still have that machine and was using it until about a year ago.  It needs repaired again, something that was happening more and more.  In fact, the last time I took it in for repairs, I was told it may no longer be fixable.  Parts were getting hard to find.

Finally, at the beginning of last year I bought a Brother SE400 Embroidery and Sewing Machine.  I love this machine for the ease of use.  Some of the reasons I love this machine are the ease of changing stitches, changing stitch length and width, buttonhole making, easy threading and bobbin making.  It has a small embroidery frame that I have only used once but I hope to take the time to learn this function better.  You want to know what my favorite thing is?  It is push button sewing, no knee lever, no foot pedal.  My least favorite thing?  The fact that it just can't handle all of the fabrics that I want to sew for my bag making.  So...

A couple of weeks ago, after struggling with several layers of upholstery suede, I knew it was time to look for a new machine.  I had been reading about machines that others had reviewed.  I thought I wanted an industrial machine but just did not have the room for it in the room that I am sewing in.  After corresponding with Daryl of Patchouli Moon Studios, I decided to look at the semi-industrial Brother machine that she had.  I found one that had all of the same functions but was a different model name and it came with a free felting attachment ($200 value).  This is the one I chose.  It is a Brother Designio DZ1500F.

This machine has easily sewn through everything I have given it and more.  It is quiet and smooth and sews up to 1500 stitches per minute.  (Does anyone really need to sew that fast??)  All it does is a straight stitch but it does that soooo well.  The bobbin placement is a little more difficult to reach but no different than a lot of other machines.  After not using a foot pedal for over a year, that has been the most difficult thing.  I am starting to get the feel now.  Trust me, it can go really, really fast!!
The extension table gives so much work surface and the opening under the arm of the machine is twice the size of my old machine which makes it perfect for bag making. 

Although I don't quilt, the feed dogs do go down so you can do free motion quilting. It is a pretty simple machine to use. The only thing I do not like about this machine is the lighting. It lights up the left side of the needle OK but not the right side.  But certainly I feel no regrets, I am loving my new machine.

April 22, 2014

Daughter Finally Gets Turn.. With a New Hobo Bag

I have to say that my daughter has been very patient.  We have been looking for a smaller bag pattern that would fit her style.  She loves the look of a Hobo bag but everything is way too big for her.  She has been carrying an Evelyn bag from Chris W Designs that I made for her but it was time for a new bag.  She decided on the Sylvia Sling bag from Sew Serendipity in a bright turquoise fabric for Spring.

I changed this bag in a couple of ways.  I love the look of some hardware on the bag.  I changed the strap so I could add rivets and rings.  The original pattern has 2 parts to the strap, a longer side and a shorter side.  The two straps are overlapped and then sewn together.  The strap is then finished off with a fabric flower, buttons, or a buckle.  I added all of the pieces from the ends of the zippers up.

The bag is put together with raw edges in the lining that she has you cover with binding at the end.  I don't mind the look but I hate doing it.

In the end, this bag is still a little large for my daughter but we'll see as she starts to use it.  Next time I think I will print a pattern at 85% for a smaller size.  Has anyone done that and how many adjustments do you have to make from there?  Has anybody found a smaller sized bag pattern that they love?

April 19, 2014

Still Sewing But Can't Share....Yet

I took 3 days off at the beginning of the week to visit some great friends.  They even took me to a great quilting shop and I bought more "souveniers"  (That's what you call fabric pieces you purchase when you are away from home.)

I have been sewing since I got home because I got behind on some orders and now a couple more orders have come in.  I think that makes me even "more behinder".  I completed a bag that I was a tester for but I can't show that to you until June.  Trust me, it is a great shaped bag that I think you will love.

I also completed a wallet for my sister.  She picked out some upholstery fabric that I had and decided she wanted a Necessary Wallet by Janelle at Emmaline Bags but because the print is so large, she did not want the raised trim around the front.  She also wanted a thumb latch instead of a turn lock.  I was excited by that because I have been wanting to do one like that.  I included the wristlet strap and the shoulder strap.

I'll give it to her when I see her on Easter.  Did I tell you that I sewed it on my new.....wait for it.......
semi-industrial sewing machine!!  I'll post about it this coming week but I feel like I am starting to get used to it already.

April 10, 2014

Community Fair and Zip & Go Bags

They say you can never  go home but I do a couple of times a year.  This weekend is one of those times.  The community I grew up in is having a Community Fair where the community comes out to admire the artistic talents of their students through the sharing of various artistic projects and music.  Many of the local businesses have booths to share info with the citizens and there are craft booths, too.  I will be displaying at this fair on Saturday.  Last year, I saw many people I went to high school with many, many years ago.  It was fun to catch up.  Hopefully, I'll sell a few bags, too, to help pay for a new purchase I just made and will blog about when I receive it.

In preparation for this fair, I am trying to increase the number of some of my smaller bags.  I just finished 3 Zip & Go Bags, a pattern by Erin Erickson of Dog Under My Desk.  I carry this bag myself especially when shopping when I need my hands free. 

The first bag is from a glittered brown, orange and white chevron cotton.  These are the colors of our local NFL football tream, The Cleveland Browns.  I thought it might  be a good choice for the increasing number of female fans.  Of course the straps and back of the bag are made from croc vinyl.

The 2nd bag is a fun bingo bag that would be perfect for those who love that game.  It is big enough to carry what you need to play bingo (daubers, etc) and to carry home all of the winnings.

The 3rd bag is a fun bag for cat lovers.  Dog lovers will have to wait until I find time to make theirs...oh, yes I do have dog fabric.  After the popularity of the yoga frog fabric, I thought I would see if this might be loved by cat lovers.

For those who might be in the area, the Community Fair is at Mogadore High School in Mogadore, OH and the fair runs from 10 AM to 2 PM.

April 5, 2014

Sugar and Spice for Something Nice

I got a call from one of my sisters with a great request.  Seems every year at this time she buys something to donate to a fundraiser for breast cancer.  This year, she wants to buy one of my bags.  She loves the Sugar and Spice bag I made for her, so that was what she decided she wanted.  She loves the look of black and tan.  She picked this fabric.  Not black and tan but black and cream.  I think it was a great choice.  I had a fabric that I thought would go well as the lining.  Of course it would have my go to croc vinyl for the upper and lower straps.

I love this Sugar and Spice pattern by Chris W Designs.  I never used rivets before Christine's patterns and I love the look of them.  With the right sized punch, installation is pretty easy.  They certainly make the bag look more professional.

I used store bought piping and used my piping foot to attach it.  I won't go on about my piping foot because you have heard me do that more than once but you won't believe how easy it makes this dreaded task.

This bag has plenty of pockets inside and out.

I love the peek of lining fabric by the recessed zipper.

This pattern remains one of my customers' favorites.

This bag will go on a table to be displayed with all of the other donations.  People will buy raffle tickets and will put those tickets into containers in front of the items they want to have a chance to get.  Let's hope the container in front of this bag is full of raffle tickets!  Thanks, Linda.

April 3, 2014

April Bag of the Month --- Midtown Messenger

Well, last month I waited until the very end of the month to finish my March bag of the month.  I have a busy April so I couldn't let that happen again.  I finished my April bag of the month today.

The Midtown Messenger bag is from Betz White.  The outer bag has a large slip pocket in the back and a divided slip pocket in the front.  The front is closed by 2 tuck catches on a large flap closure.  Under the flap, the inside of the bag has a recessed zipper closure.

She used waxed canvas as the bottom of her bag but I decided to use a suedelike upholstery fabric that I had on hand as well as a grey and cream zebra print home dec fabric.  Although I love the look and the weight of these, I had a hard time sewing through several layers of the upholstery fabric for the straps.  Next time I will remember my sewing machine's limits.  It growled at me several times but was not injured during the making of this bag!

This bag has a padded inside pocket for a tablet.  This was a fun bag to make and I will definitely make more when things slow down.

April 1, 2014

A Skull Walllet

I've said before that some of my business comes from customers that want a bag or wallet in a fabric that they have difficulty finding ready made.  They want something unique that shows their personality or things they collect or color combinations they love.  Here is one of those orders.  I had a customer ask for a wallet made from skull fabric.  I knew the perfect pattern, The Necessary Wallet from Janelle at Emmaline Bags.  This pattern is really fun to make because the first time you make it, you are not quite sure how it will come together but it turns out beautifully.  She includes directions for a short clutch strap and a shoulder strap which I always include.  Here is the fabric chosen...

I have made many of these wallets but this is the first time I have used my standby vinyl/faux leather for the decorative trim on the front and the straps.  I like the look.  Although the fabric would not be for me, I  do love the colors. 

I added peltex to the flap so the straps would have more support.  This really does make the wallet look and function better.