30 May 2011

My weekend...

Happy Memorial Day!  Pioneer Woman put up some beautiful photos on her blog of a "Coming Home" photo assignment, which really put the meaning of today back into perspective for me.

My long weekend was spent testing out my new sewing machines, signing up for the Summer Essentials Sew-Along, and beginning work on my first summer garment.

Here is a preview of my weekend's work.
linen jacket in progress

It is a light-weight summer jacket made of an ice-blue linen suiting and lined with a yellow cotton batiste.
linen jacket inside

I wanted the jacket to resemble a Chanel-style jacket, and am trying some of the couture techniques listed in Claire Shaeffer's book, Couture Sewing Techniques. These include quilting the lining to the outer fabric, and hand-sewing the sleeves, the trim, and all the lining seams.  The machine sewing is all done, but I have a feeling that the hand-sewing will take a while.
linen jacket sleeve pinned
Currently the sleeves are only pin-basted in, and I need to pick a trim for the jacket. I have a white trim and a blue trim to choose from, and I am also considering using the selvage edge of the fabric.
linen jacket trim options

I started with Simplicity pattern 3628, but removed the collar, shortened the jacket and the sleeves, and got rid of a lot of sleeve cap ease.

Also, I was sent these BEAUTIFUL pictures of a sunhat made by RAJ from my free sunhat pattern!  
hat 083
hat 085

This is the first piece of evidence I have received that my pattern is understandable to others besides myself, and her hat looks so good!  My weekend was totally made with this news!  It also gives me more confidence to try writing up some of my bag patterns.

How was your weekend?

26 May 2011

the card that celebrates all celebrations

I have a few nephews graduating this year, and I was looking for a blank card in my stash so that I could send a congrats letter and gift, when I stumbled upon one of my favorite go-to cards.

It is entitled the "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" card, and was made by Erin Vale Design.  I always have a couple of these printed out and on hand for any occasion that arises, and I love the humor that comes with the multi-purpose-ness of this card.

I like to check as many boxes as I can before sending it off to the recipient.

It's even more fun to add edits into the card.

You can download it for free here.

24 May 2011

DIY fabric-covered belt buckle

I've been working on a spring trench coat, and after making the belt, I realized that I wanted a belt buckle, and that I had made my belt too wide to work with a purchased belt buckle.  So I played around and made a matching, fabric-covered belt buckle, and was so happy with it, that I wanted to share.
fabric-covered belt buckle

I started by deciding how large I wanted my buckle to be. I made the inside width a little larger than the belt width, and I decided that I wanted my belt buckle to be taller than it is wide, but you can make one that is wider than it is tall, or one that is circular instead of rectangular.

After you choose your buckle size and shape, you need to pick a sturdy material for the belt base.

I used the bottom of a plastic take-out container to make my buckle, but you could also just use the side of an empty milk jug.

You will need to cut out 2 of your buckle shapes.  Trace them on your plastic and then cut them out with scissors and/or an exacto knife.  I used scissors to cut around the outside and an exacto knife for the "holes".
After the buckle shapes have been cut, cut 2 pieces of fabric slightly larger than the shapes.  Mine are a 1/2 inch larger on all sides.

Using hot glue, glue the fabric to one side of each buckle shape, smoothing well.  Then, carefully snip the curves inside the holes, and cut triangle-shaped wedges out of the curves on the outside of the buckles.

I forgot to take a picture of the next two steps, but you basically want to wrap the fabric to the back of the plastic, securing it with hot glue.  Carefully put hot glue on each little fabric tab and press them onto the back of the plastic, making sure the fabric gets pulled tight, and that the curves look smooth from the front.

After the fabric is wrapped on both buckle sides, you will generously put hot glue on the entire backside of one buckle piece and press the other buckle piece onto it, hiding all the ugly fabric tabs.  Now you will have something that looks like this.
A lovely fabric-covered buckle!

Now, you just have to add the belt!
Attach one side of the belt to the middle of the buckle like so...

and now you have a fully functional, fabric-covered belt buckle!
fabric-covered belt buckle

A few notes...

1. This is a slide buckle, there is no pokey thing on the buckle, and no holes in the belt, which means that you are relying on friction from the buckle to hold the belt in place.
2. I actually tried using both E6000 and hot glue for securing the fabric to the plastic part of the buckle, but I hot glue was much easier to use because of its fast "dry time". I don't recommend using E6000 for this project. It was too messy and slow-drying for getting the little tabs of fabric to stick.

Just in case you were confused before, I made this handy diagram to summarize the entire process and help explain the parts where I forgot to take pictures.
fabric-covered buckle tutorial

If you are still confused OR you think I need to learn to draw better, just let me know and I will try to clarify or draw another picture think of a better way to convey information besides drawing.

23 May 2011

My weekend...

...was spent playing with 2 new toys!

Allow me to introduce you to Veronica and Evelyn.

Singer 201-2
This is Veronica.
She is a Singer 201-2, built in 1952, and in near-perfect condition, with no signs of rust, and all of her decals in great condition.  She came to me in her original table and with matching stool.  All she needs to be in tip top shape is a new spool pin (hers is missing on top) and a new power cord.  I have been working to disassemble and clean her up, but she really doesn't seem to need much.

I wanted to find a machine that could handle multiple layers of thick fabric (for making jeans and sturdy bags), and I was disappointed in the lack of new sewing machine options, so I decided to look for something used, and in my research, it seemed like a 201-2 was the way to go.

Singer 201-2 attachments
She even came with her original manual and attachments, which makes her a total keeper.  She will probably live with me forever and ever.  Can anyone name the attachments in the picture?  I had to look all of them up but 2 (ok, I looked those 2 up as well, but my hunch was right).

Singer 99k
This is Evelyn.
She is a Singer 99k, built in 1956, and also in great shape with no signs of rust and perfect decals. I haven't been able to test her out yet, because her belt was totally torn up. She was really dusty, and took a while to clean, and she had the biggest pile of felted fibers stuck in her bobbin case that I have ever seen.  Some of them are still stuck in there.  Besides that and the belt, she should be ready to go, but I have a feeling she will need a good tune up and lube because of how dusty she was.

I don't have a need room for Evelyn, so she may go live with a friend or get sold after I am finished playing with her, and testing her out, but she was such a steal that I couldn't resist bringing her home.

Besides acquiring and playing with new toys, I put up a fence gate, and didn't get to do much sewing this weekend.

How was your weekend?

20 May 2011

City Living Backpack Tote complete!

Version 1 of my "Biking to Work in the City Backpack Tote" is finished, and it is more functional than I could have ever hoped for!
City Living Backpack Tote
I have carried it around for the past 2 days, and it can hold my computer and my lunch and some other necessities with ease.   It also turns out to be the perfect size for holding a six-pack of beer, or 2-3 few bottles of wine very discreetly.

The fabrics I used were a yellow cotton twill for the outer, an embroidered cotton for the details and straps, and a floral print quilting cotton for the lining.
Backpack tote inside
The inside has a special pocket for my laptop with a snap to secure it in place. There are also pockets for holding my checkbook, pens, and other small things.  And the outside front pocket is where I end up keeping my phone and wallet for easy access.
Backpack Tote inner front

I love the comfort of the straps when I wear it as a tote.
Backpack Tote as a tote

And when the bag gets heavy from carrying too many bottles of champagne (I was planning a co-worker's celebration yesterday), the weight is better distributed in backpack mode.
Backpack Tote as a backpack
There is some pulling in the fabric when the backpack is fully loaded, and I think that can be eliminated in version 2 by adding interfacing to the bag (currently only the straps are interfaced).

The straps are attached by heavy duty snaps (you can see 2 of them on the front face), which makes the bag even more modular than just being used as a regular tote or backpack.  I love heavy duty snaps.  I have used them on past bags for creating changeable straps, and they have never un-snapped during use.
Backpack Tote font
I am so happy with how this bag turned out, and I know there will be a Version 2 of this little multitasker, complete with a stiff interfacing to minimize the pulling and help the bag hold its shape a little better.  But for now, I am loving the happy yellow color that makes the gloomy rainy Boston spring we have been having a bit more bearable.

You can see the inspiration post for this bag here and the sneak peak here

17 May 2011

designs that multitask: part 2

Have I mentioned that I really like things that multitask?
Because I do.

And Sew Mama Sew posted a tutorial yesterday for a wallet that turns into a tote bag.
I may have to try my hand at making one of these.

I also wanted to give a sneak peek of my multitasking "Biking to Work in the City" backpack tote, which was inspired by Liesl & Co's "A Day in the Park Backpack Tote".

It is quite a different design than my original plan. I decided that I needed the bag to be narrower for it to be comfortable as a backpack, so I changed the aspect ratio (sorry, nerdy words).

You can see that I went through a number of iterations on the design before I decided to start cutting fabric for the first attempt. I wanted it to be a simple bag to make, despite the transformer nature of it.

Here are a few more detail shots of the in-progress bag, just for fun.

The bag should be finished in a day or two, and ready for a full reveal.

14 May 2011

needle organization

the most informative needle case
I call this The Most Informative Needle Book.  It solves a problem I have been combatting, which is to allow me to store all my needles in a single place (instead of keeping them in al their original packages), while also keeping the different types of needles easy to identify.

needle case cover
It also folds closed, making it easy to store without pin pricks.  I love having my stuff well organized.

It was inspired by this post from the Domestic Diva, and this item in particular.  I altered it to fit my needle collection needs.  It might just be the next best thing to sliced bread.

09 May 2011

a sun hat pattern!

I posted a sewing pattern for the sun hat that I made my mom both on my website, and on burdastyle.

Sun and Rain Hat
The pattern is in pdf format and can be downloaded from here.

If you happen to try the pattern, I would love your feedback!
And of course, if there are any questions, please let me know.

06 May 2011

designs that multitask

I really like things that multitask.  Which is why I have been enamored for some time with the "A Day in the Park Backpack Tote" pattern from Liesl and Co.  It can be carried as a tote or a backpack, thanks to a clever design in the straps.

I would love to have a bag that I can wear as a backpack while biking to work, but that also functions as shoulder bag when I am on foot.  And I have never been down with slinging messenger bags across my back while biking.  I know it works for a lot of people, but I have a personal vendetta against messenger-style bags.

Unfortunately, the pattern for the "A Day in the Park Backpack Tote" pattern is currently unavailable, not to mention there are a few things missing that would make it an appropriate bag for me (e.g. too shallow for carrying a computer and my lunch to work, and no top closure = not good in the rain).

Therefore, being the engineer that I am, I have begun to design a bag that will meet my needs, which will be called the "Biking to Work in the City" Backpack tote.
It will look more like a vintage bowling bag, and have a similar convertible strap mechanism.  I will be able to alter a pattern I created long ago for my favorite bag to carry when I am just "Walking to Work in the City."
It is one of the earlier bag patterns I ever drafted, and was inspired by Amy Butler's Sophia Bag., as a learning experience on sewing a bag with piping and a zipper closure.

I have also been working on a men's version for my husband who also bikes to work in the city.
The design for his bag has been a larger challenge, due to a different system for converting it from messenger-style to backpack-style which requires changing the orientation of the bag while making sure the contents of the bag remain secure. I might be crazy with this one, but my husband gets his wishes granted because they are so few.

p.s. yes, all my sketches happen on gridded engineering paper.  it's my favorite writing surface.

03 May 2011

My weekend...

...was spent making a veil.

Mantilla Veil

I have made three in the past year: one for myself (for my wedding last July) and two for others.  They have all been the same style - fingertip length, modified mantilla veils with light gathering at the top, alencon lace trim and metal combs.  With the help of a good friend and her mother, we perfected the top of the veil, using the gathers to make the veil and lace lay nicely while trying to prevent puffiness in the tulle at the top of the head.


I love alencon lace, but I was so disappointed when shopping for wedding veils and realizing most $400 veils used cheap beaded lace that was glued to the tulle.  So I figured it might be worth trying to make one on my own.


Nice lace should always be respected by being sewn on.


And I love the fringes that exist on good quality alencon lace.


But it is interesting to read about the real history of Alencon lace, and how it is made.  It is an amazing art, one that deserves a lot of respect.
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