Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Indie Laptop Sleeve

I'm a big fan of Art Gallery Fabrics, especially since the Indie line by Pat Bravo was released. They have been running a different sewing challenge every month this year, but I am just getting in on the action this month.  The assignment was to make a laptop sleeve with a "drop-in" pocket using only Art Gallery fabrics.

Luckily, I ordered myself more Indie a couple of weeks ago.  I pulled out a pattern by Michelle Patterns that I used several months ago for a laptop sleeve.  I wasn't happy with the results at the time (which is unusual for a pattern by Michelle--her stuff is generally awesome).  The velcro on the flap didn't line up correctly, the case was a little too bulky, and the laptop didn't quite fit into the sleeve.  I reworked the pattern a bit, making it a little taller and adding a wide zippered pocket across the top to hold my iPad and the charging cord for my MacBook.  Rather than use Velcro to close the flap, I borrowed the method I am using in my coffee cup sleeves and made two elastic loop and button closures.  Now the flap can expand to accommodate the added bulk when I put my power cord in the pocket.

And now I can retire my old Vera Bradley laptop bag that is pretty far from my current style in favor of my awesome new Indie sleeve.  Hooray!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Military Uniform Upcycle, Part 2: Cargo Pants to Messenger Bag

Oh, what to do with old Coast Guard ODU pants with such an attractive backside as this:

 And huge cargo pants right on the hip area, so big that my son can fit his head inside:

Thanks to the inspiration from Noodle-head, I decided to try turning a pair into a messenger bag, with the cargo pocket on the flap.  With the high position of the pocket, I needed to add in fabric from the back of an ODU blouse in order to get enough pocket-free fabric to construct the bag.

Here's what I came up with:

I tried using binding around the flap like the original idea, but the cotton quilting-weight fabric I was using for my lining just didn't play well with the heavier-weight nylon blend of the uniform.  Now I understand why my blogger friend and seamstress-extraordinaire Maureen strongly urged me not to pair the uniform fabric alongside beautiful high-quality designer cottons for a quilt.  That would have been disastrous.  I also used a more basic messenger bag construction, with just the flap pieces plus a front and back (leaving out the separate gusset pieces).  I then boxed the corners, with what ended up as a 2" gusset seam after several sizing tweaks.  If you're not familiar with messenger bag construction, it's really pretty simple.  Here's a great starting point, from mmmcrafts.

My final bag dimensions were 12" long by 10" across, not much larger than the pocket itself.  I originally made it 3" wider and then took it apart and cut it down to better match the flap size.

 The cargo pocket itself has some rather large pleats.  I added a magnetic snap to the flap to help keep it in place when closed, in case I put too much stuff in the outer pocket.

 I prefer to make my messenger bag straps adjustable.  Usually I wear them cross-body style, but sometimes I like to shorten up the strap and use it like a shoulder bag.

My lining fabric is from Hello Pilgrim by Lizzie House.

 I attached a slip pocket to the inside for my phone and pens.

 After removing the binding from the flap, the outside looked a little plain.  I tried out different ways of dressing it up...

And I even removed the name tapes and rank symbols from the uniform blouse.

I think the rank patches would be a fun addition if I were to use several of them in a row, so they don't scream, "This patch came from a Lieutenant." I'm not one who really likes to advertise rank, especially when it's not my own.  I do kinda like the US Coast Guard tape across the flap pocket.  But in the end, I decided to leave my bag plain.  The color on the back of the strap is enough for me this time around.

And look at that.  After saying in my last post how much I didn't need another bag, here I go claiming this one as my own.  Sheesh.  Well, I suppose it will come in handy since my Zakka Style Stem Messenger Bag was a bit overused this summer and is showing some wear at the seams.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Military Uniform Upcycle

Turn this:

Into this?


Every so often, the Coast Guard makes some sort of change to the uniform that my husband wears to work on a daily basis (called the ODU).  When they do, we have to buy all new uniforms and end up with piles of pants and shirts that he can no longer wear.  I have been holding onto such a pile for about six months now, and I finally decided to cut into it this week.

Many people choose to turn the old uniforms into tote bags featuring the name tapes, but that's not really my style.  While I have tons and tons of bags, many of which I have made for myself, when school starts again and I am running errands all day I usually just ditch the purse and carry around my wallet and phone.  This idea on Pinterest gave me the inspiration to make one little wristlet clutch that can hold the contents of my wallet, plus my iPhone in its huge OtterBox case, and make it all easily accessible.  I thought this would be the perfect project to try cutting into the old uniforms, since they are made of a nylon blend and are quite sturdy.  Plus the shirt pockets have flaps with velcro attached to them, so some of the work was already done.

First, I cut a piece out of the shirt front around one of the pockets that would be large enough to fold in half around my phone and still leave room for seam allowances.  

Then I detached the flap from the shirt and set it aside to use to close up the whole thing.
I added an inset zip pocket on the back for change.

Using coordinating Amy Butler fabric, I made an inside pocket for my phone (with the opening toward the middle, to prevent it from slipping out when I open the flap).  I also made card slots with smaller slots alongside that hold my hair clips for the gym.

The last addition was a wrist strap on a removable clip.

The original flap closes it all up.   There's a surprise inside, too!

Why would I leave the pocket attached to the shirt fabric?  Because that also gives me a "secret" pocket on the outer edge opposite the flap, where I stash my receipts, store cards, and, most importantly, Starbucks Gold card.

 I have been using this for a week now and absolutely love it!  The only issue at all is the strength of the Velcro.  It is either a bit worn out, or wasn't very strong to begin with.  I may have to replace it at some point.

Next up for my military uniform upcycle project? A messenger bag out of a cargo pant leg.  Yes, even though I don't need any more bags.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How I Made It: Infinity Scarf

As the weather is cooling down (I live in Alaska, it's happening now!), I've been looking for a way to make my summer tops work without having to break out the sweaters and hoodies (Alaska, remember?).  My favorite local clothing shop always has tons of colorful scarves that would work well for this purpose, but they are usually either too long- I'm 5 feet zero- or too expensive.  After a little while hours browsing around Pinterest and reading tutorials on making scarves, I decided I'd better just dive in and try it myself.

I am not calling this a tutorial because I can't take credit for coming up with this method of scarf-making. I made my scarves after reading so many fabulous tutorials put together by others (which started to blur together after awhile), and I just combined the parts that I liked best about them.  I took pics of each step as I went, partly so I would remember what I did for future reference, and partly to show you how I did it.

Most of the scarf tutorials that I found had you buy two yards of fabric in order to have one continuous piece on each side of the scarf, with the only seam being to join the ends together.  I wanted to use up some larger scraps that I have been holding on to, and since an infinity scarf is usually worn looped and twisted, I didn't see the need to buy new fabric when I could just join together what I already had.

Choose a width for your scarf and cut enough strips to make it as long as you'd like.  I made my strips 7" wide and about 60" in total length.

I got scrappy with the other side of my scarf...just cut enough 7" wide pieces to join together to the appropriate length.

Sew all the pieces together into one strip for the front and one for the back.  Press the seams open.

Lay the two pieces right sides together.

Sew down the long sides, starting and ending each side seam about a half inch from the end.

Turn the scarf right-side out.

Press the edges.

Press down the two unfinished edges of one side of the scarf.

Place the unfinished edges of the side you didn't press down together.

Sew the edge you just matched up with a half-inch seam allowance, being careful not to catch the folded-down edges.

Press open the seam.

Tuck the pressed edges inside the folded-back edges.

Press one of the folded-back edges in on top of the sewn edges.

Press the folded-back edge flat, and then press it under a quarter of an inch to create a finished edge.

You have two options to finish the scarf.  You can hand sew the seam so there are no visible stitches.  I despise hand-sewing.  I just stitched close to the edge of the folded-under edge.  


The Washi scarf on the right was actually my second.  I made the one on the left first.  It is a bit shorter in length (fits me great, but may be too small for others).  The fabrics in the scarf on the left are from Echo by Lotta Jansdotter.

Perfect with a long-sleeved t for a cool morning at the playground!  Excuse the iPhone self-portrait.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Project to Organize My Projects

I have been out of my regular sewing routine for awhile.  When that happens, my mind fills to overflowing with all of the projects that I want to start back on, and I have a hard time deciding where to begin.  I have been adding all summer to a board on Pinterest with hopes of remembering the ideas that I have come across. Next week will be my first "regular" week since May, and I can't wait to dive in!  Today, I thought I'd work on a project that will hopefully help me organize and prioritize my to-do list.

Using all materials that I already had stashed away in closets and drawers in my house, I made up a cute framed note line to hang above my sewing nook in the time it took my son to eat his Madagascar-shaped mac 'n cheese.

Photo frame with glass removed, a print from Loulouthi, fleece, yarn, hot glue, and some old scrapbooking supplies

Hot glue a rectangle of fleece on the cardboard frame insert, then cover with fabric. Hot glue fabric to back of cardboard. 
Hot glue the ends of two pieces of yarn to the back of the board to make two hanging lines, and then insert the board into the frame. Voila!

One color for personal projects, another for custom orders

I can easily rearrange my to-dos when I need to re-prioritize my projects!