To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
A few years ago, two sewing kit bag patterns were making the rounds online—the Bionic Gear Bag and the Sew Together Bag. While I wanted to make one (either one), I never managed to prioritize it amongst other projects. Events this year have sparked that desire again, and when I found myself tossing all of my tools and notions into a cardboard box to tote down to GA, making one quickly jumped toward the top of my project list.
First, a confession: I hate buying patterns for quilts and bags. If I’m going to pay for something, I want to learn something, and so many patterns don’t introduce any new ideas or skills. In other words, I can do addition and geometry; teach me the out-of-the-box, or simpler, or more couture, or more resilient way of making the thing. If not for the fact that I’ve never made a bag with interior divider pocket/zips like this, I would never have used this pattern. It was so chatty, unpolished, poorly photographed, and needlessly long. So, caveat emptor if, like me, you’re a bit behind the bandwagon on this.
I chose the Bionic Gear Bag over the other for two reasons. First, I was able to see the product in person; three fellow guild members brought theirs to our spring retreat. Second, I like that the front becomes a tray when open, which gave me a place to modify the pattern with d-rings to hook a thread catcher bag onto (another long-term non-prioritized want). I don’t have any criticisms of the final product the pattern produces, just the pattern itself.
I did very little in the way of modifications. I chose to leave off the snaps and not make the fabric dish (another 36 pages of instructions!). I added a needle minder to the front pocket (made from a couple of batting scraps and fabric). And I added the aforementioned d-rings to the binding that becomes the front of the tray, so that I can attach a small Open Wide Pouch (modified with swivel hooks attached and a cutting error that makes it deeper than it should be) that acts as a thread/scrap catcher.
I also went pretty basic with fabric on this; there is no fussy cutting, printed patterns, or decoration to be found. All of the fabrics are Essex Linen Blends, mostly yarn dyed. The interior is made of shades of gray; the zippered pouch interiors are the only pops of (solid) color. I did order a slightly fancy metal zipper for the exterior with an interesting zipper pull. I love the overall minimalism of the bag and am looking forward to making a machine cover in the same fabrics.
I can’t wait to travel with this. I’m signed up for a couple of classes locally and am heading back to VT for a few days later this month, conveniently at the same time as one of my guilds’ fall retreats, so I have ample occasions to use it. And it certainly fits a ton of stuff. Almost everything I stuffed into this box when traveling to GA fit into the bag (or, in the case of zippers, became part of the bag)!
My friend that also went on the retreat back in February pointed out that I make all these cosmetic bags, yet mine were in one of those free-with-purchase “gifts” from a department store cosmetic brand. She quipped about the “shoemaker’s children” and how I should get around to making myself one. I still haven’t made a cosmetic bag, but I did finish up another UFO for myself.
Back in November, I mentioned paper piecing a small block to go on a bag for my EPP and other handwork projects. I made the bag exterior, and let it languish on my shelf for… eight months now. So, this weekend, I decided to UFO bust and dragged out the bag.
The problem with letting a project that you dreamed up and didn’t write any notes down about languish for months on end is that you have no idea where you were going with it or what the measurements were. Somehow, I managed to cut out a lining of the right size, and managed to sew it in without too much trouble.
I even made a zipper bag and two Velcro pouches with leftover fabric—great for keeping bits of fabric separate, and to act as thread catchers, etc. The largest scrap I now have of the hedgehog print is a 2.5″ square—talk about efficient cutting (completely by luck)!
The outside has a few pockets, and a small needle/pin section.
And the inside has a pocket as well, with an elastic top to help keep things inside.
I don’t know what I was thinking with the handle, but without the strap where it is, the front is too long for the bag. I added a hook that keeps the flap connected to the top of the front by way of a button-hole, while still allowing access to the pockets, but I may rip off the strap and affix it to the sides at a later date.
For now, I just need to load it up and see how it works. It’s large enough to carry around my iPad and notebook, so it may work as a purse, too.
Hooray for finished projects! I’ve actually managed to empty out quite a few of my UFO/WIP cubbies lately (at least it seems so—although some of it has been by condensing things into other locations, I think). I think that means my project ADD will kick in again soon. 🙂
Have you managed to finish any UFOs or WIPs recently?
Three presents down (including this one from last week), a handful more to go. I am making three of the cosmetics bags total—the finished one here, the one cut out and half quilted that is also shown, and one other.
Also, one more of the little zipper bags, and one or two other small things. By next Friday. Yikes! It has been fun working out the kinks in construction process for the big bags. I am not sure how to translate my finagling into a tutorial yet, though.
I haven’t been quilting lately, but I have been coming up with great ideas for the new year!
From around the web this week: The Oldest UFO from the Quilter’s Newsletter Blog. Unlike the author, all of my unfinished latchhook projects are lost to the sands of time (I can think of at least three, one might have been finished). Did you do latchhook as a child (or adult, for that matter)?
Modern Mirage from Freshly Pieced. This is my favorite quilt I saw online this week.
My youngest sister Kaite loves Vera Bradley. She not-so-subtly hinted on Facebook to our other sister that said sister should buy her a laptop backpack for her birthday last week. Sane (also broke college) person that she is, other sister said no way, and so Kaite changed tack by claiming that she loves “Rachael Arnold” more than Vera. That little equivoque earned her a cosmetic bag in addition to the rest of her combined Christmas/Birthday/Finals Week present (I’d neither the time nor inclination to try making a laptop bag).
It’s quite a nice sized bag for toiletries or sundries. It’s around 11″×7″×4″. The outer fabric is quilted to cotton batting, and the zipper spans the entire top section, curving over about an inch on either side.
One side has a small handle with her initials, and a carrying strap attached via a clasp and D-ring.
I didn’t get a good photo, but I’m rather proud of how I managed to center the design on the hand strap.
The lining material is interfaced and has a label. All in all, the bag has a lot of body and was completely empty in the photos, so you can see that it stands fine on its own.
I believe I’m going to make another one or two of these in the next month or so. After I iron out the issues I had with this one, I’ll turn it into a tutorial if anyone is interested. The problem with making up a pattern like this as you go along means I forgot things like the lining when initially constructing it, and I still don’t know the exact length of the side piece, since I just sewed it onto the front and cut off the extra.
These are my youngest sister’s presents for her birthday/college finals week/Christmas (she get to go on a cruise over Christmas with her boyfriend and his family, so I won’t see her this year). I’ll post more about the bag soon. The other is a hot iron sleeve for hair straighteners/curlers. I posted about it back in July.
The bag didn’t turn out half bad for something I made up as I went along. I never thought I’d use more than a 100m spool to quilt something so small though. I hate last minute runs to the store to buy thread for those last four inches of quilting. Happens to me all. the. time.
Now I need to remember to put them and the rest of the care package in the mail tomorrow…
…and then maybe get a gallon of paint for our window seat 😉
I’ve been unproductive and messy and it has all culminated in my sewing room looking like this last night:
To be fair, it’s because I’m trying to reorganize everything and had just removed the desk that served as my cutting table to make way for a new cutting table with storage (also known as a dresser), a new bookshelf, and a new desk for my sewing machine (anyone want a Singer Touch and Sew c. 1976? It needs service, but it comes built into a desk and has all its parts to the best of my knowledge. Free to anyone willing to cart it away from my house in Utica, NY. Ferris? Bueller?).
But, it was quite a mess to begin with and really has been for about 9 months since I originally set it all up. In that time, I’ve found some things that work, and some that don’t, so this week seems like a good time to start over, particularly because I’m sort of in-between projects and bouts of creativity (I do have projects that my brain wants me to be working on, but artistic me just isn’t feeling them).
In the past few weeks of non-posting, I’ve only made a couple of things. One was a present for my friend’s son, which in now late and still not mailed. I decided to pull the embroidery unit out for it.
I downloaded this free (at the time) Pirate Octopus from Daily Embroidery a while back, and thought it was perfect. Because I don’t entirely trust designs I find on the internet, I stitched out a sample on a scrap.
Awesome (ignoring the jump stitches I didn’t snip cleanly). The final one is in different colors (but same thread types). It is stitched directly onto the bag. It isn’t nearly as awesome, because when my bobbin ran out halfway through, I grabbed a normal-weight white bobbin, not the spare bobbin-weight one I thought I had. Using bobbin thread really does make a difference—with normal-weight thread, the bobbin threads pulled up in certain areas.
Bummer. But, it is ok. I just need to remember to mail it.
The last thing I finished is a bag that will be filled with craft supplies for my quilt club’s service project. I made a pattern for them, which I hope to turn into a blog post later this week (I finished the pattern for the club about 30 min. before the meeting yesterday).
Now, I need to get everything back in order post haste, because I promised my sister a “Rachael Arnold” zippered bag in lieu of the “Vera Bradley” one she keeps asking our other sister for. Her birthday is tomorrow… I’m a bit behind these days.
I’m still working on quilting Carl’s gift. I’m trying to work on denser quilting (when called for), but the tradeoff is that it is taking hours and hours to do, and my non-ergonomic space means my back can only take so much at a time. I think I hit the official 2⁄3 finished point last night. In the mean time, here is another quick project I made recently. This was another class at the Viking Gallery sometime in June, but I just finished hand-sewing down the binding last night.
It is a case for a travel iron—be it for quilting/crafting or hair styling. The trick is that it has a layer of Insul-Bright so that you can put the hot iron in the pouch and go—no need to wait for it to cool down.
I found myself in need of a pair of small storage bags this evening. With a few charms of Etchings (that I don’t actually remember buying… hmmm.) and a couple of inches of Velcro, I managed to fulfill that need very quickly (in under 20 minutes, I think). Here’s how…
After making proper drawstring channels for my gown and sewing my petticoat straps on (they were pinned on TV), I decided that my outfit needs one more addition: a reticule. After all, I need a way to hide my very un-period keys and cell phone.