Friday, March 19, 2010

March Handbag Contest Voting

Well, the participant gallery is up.  Be sure and check out all the great reviews and handbags made--there are some very cool ones like the knock-off of a $4400 Akris handbag!  Be sure and vote for your favorite.

Sorry no posts for the last little while--I've had a sinus infection that just won't give up and haven't felt that great.  But, I did create a cute new rag doll pattern and dyed some fabric--so, I haven't completely died yet!
March Handbag Contest VotingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March Handbag Contest Part 3 -- Finished!

For those anxiously awaiting the results of my handbag creations, here you go--the final part!

At the last post, we ended with the outer panels ready to be sewn together and the lining panels ready for the magnetic snaps to be attached.  At this point, I did make a modification to the pattern (during Step 10).  For each handbag, I sewed down the center of one of the pockets to create two smaller sections--such as for a cell phone.  To do this, I simply measured the width and divided that in half.  Using a quilt marking pencil (you could use chalk or something, just make sure it doesn't show through) and a ruler, I simply drew a line vertically to follow while sewing. 

Next, I found the placement for the magnetic clasps (Step 11).  To ensure that they would line up, I measured to find the center of each lining panel and measured down from the seam (the one joining the top panel and the lining panel) a 5/8 inch, rather than fold a crease, and made a small dot with a pen.  This is not exactly where the instructions tell you to put the snap, but I liked it a bit lower.  (Just be sure and line the interfacing patch up with where you decide to put the snap.)  I folded the rectangles of interfacing in half and then sewed the end opposite the fold, just to make sure it wouldn't fold up strangely inside the handbag later on.  I then placed the washer that comes with the clasp over the dot, centered and marked the two slots.  I followed this great set of instructions:  Attaching a magnetic snap and this one:  Installing a magnetic snap.  (I did not sew buttonholes as I don't think the stress will be that great on these handbag snaps, but I did add some fray check liquid.)  Please be careful when cutting the slots!  Be sure and fold the snap arms inward and press them down really well (they're pretty stiff, so if you need to use something to help press them down, go ahead).

Here you can see both lining panels with their half of a snap (I did two handbags at a time, so if you also make multiples, double check before attaching that each handbag is getting matching male and female parts!)

Once you've added both halves of the snap, you're ready to pin the linings together to sew.  You should also have the outside panels already pinned.  We'll start with those (back on Step 8B).  Simply stitch 1/2" around the handbag starting at the side of the top panel.  Sew to the dots marked earlier, make a slight pivot to maintain the 1/2 inch seam allowance and continue around.  Take the curves nice and easy, pivot at the next dot and finish at the top of the top panel.  Then follow the instructions about clipping where the dots are--don't clip through the seam!  (I like to stay at least 1/8 inch away from the stitch line.)  Then trim the main panel area seam allowance to about a 1/4 inch.  You don't have to measure it.  I just cut down the center of the seam allowance.

Now sew the lining panels together (place right sides together) with a 1/2 inch seam allowance (Step 12), just like for the outer panels.  One modification though, leave about 5 or six inches at the bottom unsewn for future turning (this is instead of the instructions in Step 13B).

Next, clip and trim just like for the outer panels.

Press the seams open for the Top Panel areas on both the lining section (Step 12B) and the outer section (Step 8C).

Now, turn the outer section so that the right sides of the fabric are out--starting to look like a handbag, isn't it?

Step 13A can be a bit tricky in that you have to stuff the outer part inside of the lining.  (Keep the handles downward so they don't get caught.)  Pin the top edges of the Top Panels together.  You should have the right sides of the lining section facing the right sides of the outer section.  Don't worry if it seems like one big lumpy mess--mine sure did!  Just make sure the side seams are neatly lined up and the raw top edges are aligned.

Now stitch around the entire top (remember, we left an opening at the bottom of the lining section instead).

Now turn the handbag right side out!  Take your time and work it out, it will squish out that opening!

Once you get the entire thing right side out, it'll look like this. 

Because I changed the opening for turning to be at the bottom, I handstitched the opening closed at this point.  I used a sort of modified running stitch with very tiny stitches to keep it from being as noticable.

Give the whole thing a press--mine got a tad wrinkled during turning.  Now, just tuck the lining into the outer section (Step 13C).  Now it looks like a handbag, but there are still a couple of finishing touches.

Once you've got the lining inside, press the edge so that it has a nice clean, crisp fold at the seam.  This will help the thickness of the seam stay put for the finishing stitches.  Next is the second half of Step 13D--edgestitching.  Take your time here, this stitching will show and you want it to look great.  If you have an edgestitch foo, this would be helpful, but it isn't necessary.  Just go slow and keep the line even all the way around. 

At this point, I just smoothed out the Top Panels and lined up the seams that connect the Top Panels to the lower sections for both the lining and the outer.  A few pins will keep the lining from sliding out of place.  Then topstitch over the previous topstitching that is 1/4 inch down from the seam line that connects the Top Panel to the Main Panel.  Start a bit to the right of the magnet snap so that you can sew without a problem and sew until a bit before the left of the other half of the magnet.  Stop and repeat along the other side.

Go nice and slow, handcrank if you need to, in order to stitch exactly on top of the previous stitching.

Give a final press and you and I are done!  Drumroll, please. . .

Handbag 1

Handbag 2

Wish me luck in the contest, there are a lot of great entries!
March Handbag Contest Part 3 -- Finished!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Handbag Contest Part 2

Whew, lots of sewing the last few days.  Worked on the Amy Butler Frenchie handbags.  They're almost done!  Here's some images to get caught up...

Step 4C is simply basting over the pleats pinned and pressed earlier on the main panel.  That'll hold 'em in place and get rid of the pins.

Next, Step 5 A-D.  The handles.  Watch out with the iron--it's so easy to burn fingers, especially if you give a little steam shot (ask me how I know).  I folded the handle strips in half along the length, pressed and opened.  Then fold each long side in towards the crease in the middle and press.  It can be a bit tricky to hold and press, but you can use a stiletto to hold the folds down while ironing or pin (just don't run over the plastic pinheads).  Press very well and then fold in half to enclose the raw edges and press, press, press.

The edge stitch along both long sides of each handle strip.  I used an edgestitch foot (has that little metal guide on it) to help keep things lined up.  Take your time, this stitching will show and you want it as straight and neat as possible--in the end though, don't fret if the line isn't exactly perfect.  (Anyone looking that closely at your handbag is probably snooping in it--not looking at your stitches!)

Step 6 A-D is to pin and machine baste down the handles to the main panels.  Keep the ends facing the correct way and you shouldn't have a problem keeping the handle from twisting.  Me, I placed the handles so that the fold edge of the handle strips faced in towards the main panel pleats.

Next, attach the Top Panel with the interfacing to the Main Panels for the front.  Take your time sewing over the handles and pleated parts.  Going a bit slower will help you keep things neat and even when sewing across the various bumps and folds.  (Step 7A)

Here's a closer look at the 1/2 inch seam allowance.

At this point, I like to first press the seam as is, without opening it up.  Its a trick I learned in quilting called "setting the seam" and really helps to make the seams nice and crisp.  Then open and press the seams towards the Main Panel.

You should now have front panels like this.  The handles will naturally pop up towards the Top Panel once the seam has been pressed towards the Main Panel.

At this point, if you want to can skip Step 7B to sew the topstitching later when the fronts and backs are attached.  I went ahead and followed the written instructions to topstitch 1/4 inch below the seam line on the Main Panel.  Again, go slowly so you can keep it straight while crossing the thicknesses of the handles and the pleats.

At this point, I put the outside panels aside (skipping Step 8 for the moment) and went on to Step 9 to sew the non-interfaced Top Panels to the Lining Panels.  These edges have a slight curve to them, just like ones on the outside panels--no worries, just pin and sew carefully--even a total beginner can handle this if they just take their time, it is a very gentle, subtle curve. 

You may see what looks like extra fabric forming folds after it is sewn, this disappears when the seam is pressed towards the Lining Panel.

Here is what the interior linings should look like once pressed.  See how nice and neat that little curve becomes once pressed.

Time to make the pockets!  Step 10A is pretty simple.  Just layer, right sides together, one interfaced Pocket Panel and one non-interfaced Pocket Panel.  Sew with a 1/2 inch seam allowance along the top straight edge.

Then (Step 10B) flip the non-interfaced panel over so that both right sides are facing out.  Press so that the bottom curved edges line up and the top seam edge is nice and even.

Finally, for Step 10C, machine baste around the curved edge to secure the panels together.  Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance and if you start to get fabric build up as the foot moves, stop half way around and then baste from the other side towards the middle.  This will help ease out this "extra" fabric and if there is a little bit still giving a slight pucker, it will be at the center bottom and not noticable.

Step 10D, sew the pockets to the lining.  I noticed that you can slightly feel an "edge" created from the seam on the pocket panels.  I preferred to put this side towards the lining panel just to make it less noticable. 

Line up the bottom curved edges and baste one pocket panel to the right side of one of the lining panels.  Repeat for the other one.

You'll be machine basting about 3/8 inch seam allowance so that the basting won't show in the final seaming.  Here you can see how this basting seam is just inside the basting done earlier on the pockets.

At this point, I went back to Step 8 and pinned the two exterior panels (the ones with the handles) with right sides together.  I'll sew them together later.

When I'm sewing, I like to group things together like doing all the pressing at once and then all the sewing.  It helps everything to get done a bit quicker and less setting up and taking down of things like the ironing board.  This is helpful if, like me, you don't have a dedicated sewing room where things can just be left out.  Sometimes, there's no getting around going step by step, but whenever possible, try grouping your tasks and see if you don't get things done in a quicker more organized way!
March Handbag Contest Part 2SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, March 8, 2010

February: One Doll/Softie A Month Challenge

Well, I had grand plans of photographing my jewelry to list on Etsy today.  The weather was great--bright and sunny--a beautiful day.  Oh, except for the biting cold wind blowing through the area.  By the time I finished cleaning and setting up the spot I wanted to use I was freezing!  Now, before you think I spent hours on this, we're talking ten minutes, 15 tops.  Even Stars didn't protest too much about coming in early, and he's the king of stalling when it comes to going inside on a sunny day.  Yes, its true, I totally wimped out in the cold.

So, no photos of jewelry, but I finished up the Edith Ackley Flack baby for the doll house family--she's more like a little toddler.  She is February's challenge doll, but it took me a bit to find the "rouge" stick I use for creating rosy cheeks on my dolls.  Isn't she a cutie pie? 

And at only 4.5 inches tall, she is adorable--although quite tricky to turn and stuff.

She is completely handsewn with handpainted undies, socks and shoes.

She as a salmon pink floral cotton dress and a coordinating baby ribbon bow in her beautiful auburn hair.

Now how can you resist such a doll?  (On after thought, she kind of looks like my little cousin Paige!)  And finally my sister can stop calling her creepy because "she's faceless"--I think she heard you!
February: One Doll/Softie A Month ChallengeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Very Special Apron Part 3

Lest you think I've forgotten about Lil' Miss...

After shopping for fabric (which, incidentally, I think should be an Olympic sport ;) ), I found two combinations that will work wonderfully--not too grown-up but not babyish.

Fun, right?  I'll line them both with white cotton that has been laminated (iron-on laminate) so that spills won't soak through onto Lil' Miss, but have it on the bottom layer so that drips just don't run down the front--a great suggestion from ColorKitten over at PatternReview (thank you!).

However, I did need to rethink my pattern layout a bit with this fabric.  I didn't want stains to show up a lot, so the lighter fabrics will be on the lower part and I'll need to extend the darker fabrics for more coverage.  Here are my illustrations of the aprons I have planned.

I kind of merged the idea of a smock apron with some of the Japanese styles that have been becoming so popular in the sewing world these days.  I think they represent a good balance of style and function.  Now to work up the patterns and test them.
A Very Special Apron Part 3SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Find of the Week: Vintage Patterns

Went to the local senior thrift store to see about a little white doll chair I'd seen before for my Etsy photos (which I'm delighted to say had dropped from $10 to $3!) and found a box of vintage patterns--lots of mens and boys patterns.  I got the whole box for only $4.  Woohoo!

Here's some closer views.  Check out those men's shirts.

There were several robe patterns.

A few of the patterns had repeats in the pattern but not in the size.  Only two didn't have the pattern sleeve. 

Only the one boy's pj pattern was a repeat in size and pattern, so I'll go through them and make sure I have at least one with all the pieces and instructions.  (Although just from quick checking it looks like all the patterns are complete.)

Check out that costume pattern in the upper left corner--Uncle Sam/Colonial.  Very cool.  I love finding these vintage and retro style patterns.  With a few adjustments and careful fabric choices, they'll be right in style with the fashions coming out.

The thrift stores often have patterns at 10 cents or a quarter.  People tend to pass them by because they don't sew or just see old patterns, but much of the old is back in style again and some of the classic styles really never went out--designers just change out fabrics and a few little details to make them look new again.  What can you find?
Find of the Week: Vintage PatternsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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