Thursday, April 19, 2012

This week's sew-alongs

I am all settled into my new sewing area, which I LOVE.  I can't believe how handy the little drawers and compartments in the desk have turned out to be.  My machine also sews much nicer on the very solid desk surface.  After sorting through my mountains of fabric and notions and organizing it all into its new home, I managed to squeeze in both sew-along projects this week between sewing up custom orders.

Here's my New York Beauty block.  That's right, just one block.  I have a second in progress but need to start it over because I don't like my fabric combo for the center piece.

This week's Zakka Style project is a pin cushion.  I actually need a new one, so it came at a perfect time.  The whole thing took about 20 minutes, and it's simple yet cute and functional.  I didn't do last week's project because I just didn't have the time.  Plus it was a zip pouch, and those who know me know that I have about fifty of them already.

Up next I'm going to try these really cute sling-style backpacks for my kids.  We have lots of adventures coming up this summer (visit my other blog for more on that) and they need something functional and durable to carry their stuff around in.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sewing Space Makeover

Our family moves around a lot (thanks to the Coast Guard) and that means my sewing space is always changing.  In our current house, space requires that I sew in the living room/kitchen/dining room combo.  It works nicely most of the time, but it didn't look pretty.  I have been keeping my eye out for some sort of piece of furniture that would house all of my stuff but also hide it when company comes.  Luckily our small town is big on reselling just about everything since we are 220 miles from the nearest big city, and I found an 80's-style roll-top desk that looked like it would do the job.  Here are some before and afters. Ikea table and storage unit (don't mind the green walls and frilly window treatments...another product of renting!)

The desk, in pieces, amongst the other junk in the garage

New paint (charcoal with deep purple drawers), new drawer pulls
My sewing machine fits under the roll top!

Of course, a child got to filling the drawers before I could.

Think I have enough zippers? This is just half of them.

The best part is the pull-out surfaces on the sides...perfect for cutting and ironing!

The little cubbies are a work-in-progress...maybe some contact paper is in order.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Projects

I have spent my sewing time this week working on a couple of new projects for myself.  First up is the New York Beauty Quilt-a-long.  It's actually on week 6, but between not having the time to start it and not being able to make up my mind about which fabrics to use, I'm a little behind.  I'm doing these blocks with the intent of making a new quilt for my bed, since I still have the same quilt on it that I made 9 years ago (my first made-by-me quilt, actually).  The fabric choice was tough, partly because I had stashed some fabric awhile back that I intended to use for this project but didn't really love.  I have to have just the right fabric for something that is going to be on my bed, so, with my hubby's help (shhh, he's really great at choosing fabrics but doesn't want anyone to know) I decided on my favorite Washi fabric with a Kona coal background.

I did the first week's blocks to get into the groove, since they were the easiest.  I am playing around with color values to make the points stand out.

Light points on darker background

Dark points on lighter background
My intent is to turn these blocks into a meandering design and then fill in with larger pieces of the background fabric to give it a more modern look.

Then I jumped ahead to this week's block, which was more tricky.  I think if I made these again I might use the solid in some of the pieced sections to make them less busy.

I also realized that I might not want to make four of each of the ten block styles or I will end up with way more blocks than I need.  Or maybe they would make great pillow covers...

I also tried out a cute new reusable grocery bag pattern this week from Keyka Lou.  It comes in three sizes.  It might not be a great make-and-sell item because they take $5-10 worth of quality fabric apiece, but I am going to use some of my stash to make myself a set.  The design is very similar to a plastic grocery bag and folds up very small.  It's fully lined, reversible, and has reinforced seams.  Perfect for the farmer's market!
This is the small would also make a nice lunch bag.

Next week it's back to restocking my shop with new iPad and e-reader cases.
Oh, and how could I forget?! If you are ever in Homer, AK, stop by Homer's Jeans where some of my creations are now being sold!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Zakka Style Sew-Along Week 1: Zig Zag Tote

I have been hoarding my stash of Washi fabric, waiting for just the right project to come along.  As soon as I saw the first project in the Zakka Style Sew-Along, I knew this was it!  The project is a tote bag, which I don't really need.  But I have been filing away ideas for a handbag for myself for quite awhile, adding to my list as I have made new patterns.  I love the quilted zig zag design of the sew-along tote, so I followed the directions in the book for that portion and then made the rest up as I went along.  It was fun to get back into quilting again after a very long break!

The bag started out with cutting quarter-square triangles.  I was a little unsure how this print would turn out when made into the zig zag shape because the color is not evenly distributed throughout the fabric.

But it turned out just fine.

I constructed the full zig zag portion of the bag as instructed.

Then I designed my bag shape, taking some construction tips I learned when making my Honolulu Bag.

The gray brushed twill was left over from another project, so I made my bag as large as my scraps would allow.  Then came the quilting!  I have never used fusible fleece before and loved it.  I put on my walking foot and the quilting was a breeze. 

For the lining, I took the tip offered by Terri and made my pocket a contrasting color.  

Then I decided to get really fancy and add a straight wide band at the top of my bag, set a zipper down inside, and attach my straps with nylon D-rings that I have been waiting to use.  I learned this basic top and zipper construction from my newest favorite pattern from Keyka Lou.  I followed the strap construction directions from the book and was very pleased with them.  My least favorite part of making bags is turning the straps right-side-out, and this method eliminates that completely!

The result is quite fabulous, if I do say so myself.  I love everything about it and am a little amazed that I was able to figure this all out on my own.

I added some darts in the top to give a little shape.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sew-Alongs: Getting Things Done

Pleated Clutches, from a pattern by Keyka Lou, headed to a local boutique
I have spent the past few weeks sewing up orders for others.  I enjoy sending my goods out to those who love them, but I am so looking forward to starting on some things for myself this week. Since I do better with smaller projects (I have a bit of sewing ADD), I decided to join a couple of sew-a-longs that have recently caught my eye.

First up is the Zakka Style sew-a-long, hosted by LRstitched.  The book we will be sewing through is compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale, designer of the Washi line of fabric that I have been holding on to, waiting for just the right project to come along.  I think this fits perfectly!  The sew-a-long starts tomorrow with a zig-zag tote bag...which also seems to fit nicely with my theme of chevrons lately.  Staying true to my usual re-design-it-myself style, I plan to take the basic idea of the tote and turn it into a slightly different shape that looks more like a handbag.

I have also been eyeing the New York Beauty quilt-a-long hosted over at Sew Sweetness.  My bed is screaming for a new quilt, and I have been hoping to try a more modern style of quilting than I have done in the past.  I ordered some charcoal Kona cotton to use with these Poetica by Jane Dixon half-yards, and plan to make 4 of each New York Beauty block.  I'm going to assemble them in a very non-traditional, meandering sort of way with lots of negative space.  Or so I think, anyway.  We shall see.  I'm 4 weeks behind on the blocks, so I need to get started as soon as my solid arrives.

My bed's new quilt...eventually

Of course, I also have a few more custom orders to make up this week as well.  I have put a hold on taking new custom orders on my Etsy shop until mid-April.  I may add a few things to my shop in the meantime, but I am focusing mainly on things to keep this month.