Long Distance Pillowcases

November 19, 2012 at 1:51 am (General Crafting, Sewing)

While I was visiting my fiance in Washington, I had a few hours to kill each day while he was at work.  Generally I kept myself busy with my pictures, blogging, working out and crafting.  One of the crafts I worked on was hand embroidering these two pillows as a surprise for him before he deployed.  I got the idea from some screen printed pillows I had seen online, but I thought the embroidery made a nice touch.

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Amy Butler Weekender Bag

September 20, 2012 at 12:46 am (Sewing)

I did it! I did it! (Imagine me doing a happy dance…which I actually did when I completed this…)  I actually completed the holy grail of sewing patterns…the Amy Butler Weekender Bag.  I’ve had the fabric for this bag for about 3 months, the pattern for about 3 years and I’ve wanted to make it for waaaay longer than that.  What stopped me you ask? Several things– finding the perfect fabric was key (I finally found it in a tiny, hip, fabric store that I dragged my fiance into in Spokane, WA called The Top Stitch.  Yup– this Jersey Girl travelled all the way to Washington for the perfect fabric– if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is!), but really, it was all the negative reviews of this pattern found online.   I seriously have never read a positive review about this pattern, and yet, every sewist who lays eyes on it must, must, *must* make it.  I guess it’s a right of passage…. or maybe it’s the bragging rights? Maybe it’s a sickness? Who knows.  Whatever it is- when I first saw it years ago, I knew I had to make one.

I finally got up the courage this weekend to tackle this huge endeavor.  I’m going away next week (back to Washington– I may have to stop into the fabric store to show it off!), and I thought it might make the perfect carry-on bag, and now that it’s done, I know it’ll be perfect!  The excitement of having this bag in front of me is already starting to cloud out all the bad memories of sewing it– the cutting….and cutting….and cutting (there’s over 50 pieces), the piping (made from scratch nonetheless!), and oh– that stiff peltex and layers of interfacing.  In the end though- it was worth it.

Without further adu– my beast of a bag! (Seriously- it could be considered a small piece of luggage rather than a bag!)

A little recap:

Closeup of the fabric chosen.  It’s from the Amy Butler Home Decor “Lark” line– it’s called “Charcoal, Floral Couture”  Purchased at the Top Stitch in Spokane, WA.

The infamous pattern!

50+ pieces!

I used one of the many tips I read online and “pinned” my bag with clothespins rather than straight pins.  Seriously– nothing was penetrating the 10 layers of fabric that I had to sew through at one point.

Speaking of sewing through all that fabric…. here’s the first of 4 sewing machine needles I bent or broke:

Not only that, I broke two separate sewing machines! (Thankfully, they were both fixable)

Some tips and changes I made:

First of all, if I were to make one again, I’d invest in a welting foot.  I used a zipper foot, but even then, I had to sew some seams 3 or 4 times, getting a little bit closer to the piping each time.  It was a pain!

I’m also glad I took the time to line up the fabric for the pockets– makes for a much more polished finished look!  (I also doubled the pocket pieces and added a second set of pockets on the inside of the bag.  Four outside pockets is nice, but I like to have some organization on the inside too!

And last, I couldn’t believe the handles were attached with a little line of sewing!  I made mine more secure by sewing a box with an “X” inside.

All in all, it’s a great bag.  I might consider making another….but not any time soon!  My fingers need a little R&R from being pricked by needles and alllllll that handsewing to get the lining sewn to the inside of the bag (ha– you should have seen me sewing the lining in…I practically climbed into the bag to do it.  I wish I had a picture!).  But, I do love it’s size– it’s all ready to go here with my magazine and water bottle!

I think I might add a handle cover and a zipper pull, but it’ll have to wait for now!

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Cute Purse turned Camera Bag!

December 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm (Photography, Sewing)

For those who follow my blog and have wondered where I’ve been (I went from posting one to two times per week to “I’m lucky if I post once per month” in the course of the past year!)- but anyway- for the past year, I did a 365 Blog where I took a picture a day for a year. In the course of the past year, I’ve become quite obsessed with photography– I’ve upgraded my old Nikon D50 to a new semi-profiessional Nikon D7000, bought 3 new lenses, and countless accessories. How’s a girl to carry all of this equipment when out and about? Last spring, I invested in a Lowepro camera backpack, which is wonderful….except when I want to change a lens. (I have to take the backpack off, and set it down somewhere to open it and change lenses) And I am forever changing lenses! I also made this camera “hip pack”, but I quickly outgrew it. (I still take it with me occasionally, but when I load it up with everything I need, it pulls down my pants. Not good!
Anyway…enough rambling. Into the picture comes…(drumroll please…)….the Kelly Moore Bag! For those of you who don’t know what it is, go research it. They are the most fantastic, adorable camera bags ever! Unfortunately, they come with a hefty price tag (around $200!) Now…I’m not complaining, because, being in the handmade industry, I know what it takes to make it/break even when selling handmade items, but at this point, I just can’t justify spending that on yet another piece of camera equipment (I could put that towards the 28-75mm f/2.8 lens I’ve had my eye on!).

So what is a girl to do? Make her own of course!
I set out to find the perfect purse to turn into a camera bag…not an easy task. I needed pockets (lots of pockets!), a sturdy fabric that was semi thick, but yet still pliable, preferably leather, or something water-resistant, and it had to have a long strap so I could wear it messenger bag style. Finally, after months of searching, buying purses, bringing them home, wearing them and returning them after I didn’t like how they felt, I found the perfect bag on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx. It was a $140 purse on clearance for $30– can’t hate that!
The purse has two main compartments, each with pockets inside of them, and two outside zippered compartments.
I got right to work measuring and cutting, and in less than 2 hours, had a nifty little foam insert with velcro-ed foam dividers to protect my camera and 2 lenses. This little insert is made from 1/2″ foam and beige knitted suede, and it fits perfectly into one of the main compartments. The other compartment is the exact size of my iPad, and will also hold my wallet, keys, phone and anything else I may need. The pockets securely hold my camera’s remote, extra memory cards, cleaning cloth and filters. And best of all– it is so comfortable when I wear it that I barely know I have it on! It’s also great for changing lenses, because the other one is right there at my side, and I don’t need to set anything down. And (yes– there’s more!)– it doesn’t scream “Camera Bag”, so I don’t look like a target to anyone who might want to steal my equipment, and I don’t look like a tourist walking around! Win, win and double win!

So cute, right?

The inside– I took out the camera in the middle so you can see the velcro and the adjustable dividers:

Everything safe and snug inside!

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Fall Gala Dress

November 20, 2011 at 10:43 pm (Sewing)

…yet again I’ve let waaaay too much time go between blog posts. I promise, I’m still here, but I’ve been caught up in my new job that crafting has had to take a back seat 😦 .
I pulled myself out of my anti-craft slump by giving myself a large project to tackle– a semi-formal dress. My school was having a large formal fundraising gala and I needed something to wear- this was the perfect excuse!

The pattern was a Jessica McClintock- with very detailed bodice (nearly twenty pieces in the top alone!). I ended up making a cotton bodice out of scrap material just to make sure the pattern would fit okay, and thankfully it did with very little alterations!

Now, don’t be fooled- it may look nice all done, but it was a pain to sew! It took nearly three Saturday’s to finish (with pretty much one whole day being dedicated to cutting– between the dress, the lining and the interfacing, there was over 50 different pieces. Then the bodice had to be made twice because the interfacing was causing the fabric to bunch and not sew properly. Ugh. Anyway– I’m pretty happy with the way it came out and got many compliments on it the night of the gala!

Close up of the bodice:

And the whole dress- I love this fabric to pieces! It reminds me of something Chrissy Snow might wear on Three’s Company 🙂

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More Lens Bling

April 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm (General Crafting, Photography, Sewing)

Two more lens blings! I couldn’t stop after just one~ I was having too much fun.

A colorful fishy:

Mickey Mouse!!

And a better picture of the owl I made the other day:

Thanks to my dad’s vintage (anything that’s older than me is considered vintage…lol) Minolta SLR for being a wonderful “model” for my lens bling!

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Camera Lens Bling

March 31, 2011 at 6:49 pm (Photography, Sewing)

I’d love to get into photography as a career someday in the future. To see if it’s really the career for me, I’ve volunteered to take pictures of friends children, just to see if it is something I am successful at, and more importantly, is something I enjoy.
While reading up on tips for child photography before my first shoot, I came across what many call “lens bling” which is basically a scrunchie with some accents attached to it to make it look like an animal. The purpose is that it gives children something fun and cute to look at/focus on while you’re taking their picture!
Today I tried my hand at making one- it was really easy and fun- I may make up a few more so I can switch it up if a child gets bored with one, or to customize it to the Childs age/interest. (I can see some Disney themed ones in my future too!)

My first lens bling- a crazy owl/bird thing. He needs a funky name, don’t you think?


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Pillowcase Dress

March 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm (Sewing)

Check out what happens when you take a .99 pillowcase from Goodwill, make a few snips in it and add a few yards of elastic— new dress!

The standard sized pillowcase I started with:


Close up of the dress itself:

And close up of the bodice. I used single fold bias tape in two different widths to make the “casing” on the inside of the pillowcase for the elastic and finished it off with a grosgrain ribbon bow!

(I would just like to mention that these aren’t the best pictures- but I was standing outside in 32 degree weather dressed like this just to get a picture! When its that cold and I’m dressed like that- you don’t get many takes!)

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Camera Bag

January 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm (Photography, Sewing)

Since I’ve been practicing my photography more lately, my mind has been in overdrive trying to design a way to carry extra lenses and other photographic paraphernalia with me.
I know there’s the tired and true photography vest- but really? Its hideous. It comes in beige and black (and while those are the two staple colors in my monochromatic wardrobe, it just doesn’t work for me on a photography vest). Not to mention, they are not figure flattering, and they’re made for men.
I tried to design a women’s fitted vest with various pockets. I designed it so the back would be made out of feminine lace, the pockets would be lined with trim or ribbon, and there would even be a pocket for your chapstick. But then I realized it still wasn’t practical. I wouldn’t be able to wear it in the winter because I’d have a coat on, and in the summer, it might get too hot having an extra layer on.
Onto plan B. A backpack seemed logical, but I don’t want to have to stop, put down the backpack, change lenses, then put it back on— I wanted something where I could reach whatever materials I needed with little or no fuss.

So–this wonderfully 80’s “hip pack” was born (no, it is NOT a fanny pack—or I wouldn’t wear it). Is it fashionable? Heck no. Does it look better then a frumpy made-for-a-man vest? Heck yes!

Here’s an overall view.
It has 2 main compartments. The back compartment can remain open, or there is a snap in the middle to hold two lenses (or a lens and a flash unit, or a lens and a water bottle, or whatever) upright. The middle compartment has one large area, and two smaller pockets (cell phone and filter sized!), and on the front is a smaller pocket for a pen and whatever else you may need to carry with you (chapstick?).

View from the top.

The main back pocket- unsnapped. Very well padded to protect your lens!

Close up of the middle pocket which has two smaller interior pockets.

I also made one for a friend in a different color.

What do you think? Would you wear this?

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Goodwill Goodness

December 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm (Sewing)

So the other day, I posted about a wool sweater turned mitten/hat set that I made as a prototype. Today, I am proud to show off the “real” set!

I bought this wonderfully tacky, 100% wool sweater
Goodwill sweater

I fell in love with its cute little reindeer
Goodwill sweater (2)

And pretty stars
Goodwill sweater (1)

And the price! (Blue was half off that week!)
Goodwill sweater (4)

I stuck it in everybodys load of laundry for a week until it had sufficiently shrunk. (Why is it that if I had a wool sweater that I didn’t want to shrink, it would shrink in one shot, yet this one took 6 washings to shrink?)
Goodwill sweater (11)

Next I made a pattern. The mitten was made by tracing my hand and adding a half an inch seam allowance, and the hat was made by taking my head circumfrence, dividing it by 5 (the amount of panels I wanted), and trimming it to make a point.

Goodwill sweater (6)

Pinning and cutting out…
I laid the mittens out on the sleeve so that I could use the ribbing as the cuff on the mitten.
Goodwill sweater (8)

After an hour or so of sewing, plus adding in some fleece lining for itch protection and added warmth, I was ready to show them off!
Goodwill sweater (15)

Artsy-fartsy shot of the mitten in the tree:
Goodwill sweater (18)

Full set
Goodwill sweater (19)

Just the mittens (which are sooooo warm!)
Goodwill sweater (22)

And the lining on the hat:
Goodwill sweater (23)

I’m off to Goodwill in a little while to look for more sweaters!

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New Clutch!

December 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm (Sewing)

If you know me, or follow my blog, you know that I love purses, namely clutches! Lately, I hate carrying around a large purse, and have been able to pare down what I carry with me-
The Essentials:
~hand sanitizer

The problem with most clutches is that they are slightly wider and thinner, and therefore can usually carry only my wallet and phone, but having my camera with me is very important, so I’ve been working on making a “thicker” clutch (see “Expand-A-Clutch”)

Here is my latest design, based off of a Keyka Lou Pattern

Keyka Lou Purse (11)

The strap folds over from the back and bottom, making the strap, plus it adds added security to the main pocket, and not to mention visual interest!

The back features a thin pocket that just so happens to be the perfect size for my wallet!
Keyka Lou Purse (12)

The clutch has Amy Butler cotton on the outside, and a microsuede lining. It is padded with both interfacing and fusible fleece for protection and stability.

Keyka Lou Purse (17)

That’s not the only one I made though—I made a prototype first—the green one on the right is slightly smaller, and will be a gift for my sister. Its made of a twill print cotton, with a cotton lamé lining.

Keyka Lou Purse (18)

Keyka Lou Purse (7)

The lining looks very blue here, but it is a yellow/green two tone fabric.

Keyka Lou Purse (4)

Keyka Lou Purse (5)

Keyka Lou Purse (8)

Close up of the buttons I added because the fabric was so plain.

Keyka Lou Purse (10)

What do you think? They came out so nice, I’m thinking of listing some on Etsy. They’re not the easiest or quickest to make, but they look very professional when done.

We all know the quest for the perfect clutch is far from over though!

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