Saturday, April 30, 2016

Special Gift

My 13 year old, Lucy, was going on her first band trip this past month.  And not just to Ottawa or something.  They were going, by plane, to Colorado!  She is in the Durham Jazz Band.  This is actually 3 bands (plus a "combo"), of students from mainly grade 7-12, for the Durham Region (east of Toronto).  Students must audition each year, and there are only about 15 spots in each band.  Lucy was encouraged to try out last year, but wasn't sure she was ready.  Then the kids came back from their trip to New York City, and Lucy had musician's regret, LOL.  She's never shown a particular fondness for jazz--she was in the school jazz band for the last few months of grade 6, and all of grade 7, but her music teacher is the conductor for the senior jazz band, and really, there's not much else for musicians her age.  So, jazz it is!

Since they were spending a lot of time on a bus, in change-able weather, I figured a nice day pack would be handy.  At first I thought I could do it as a surprise, but, well, this is Lucy.  She's not all that big on surprises.  I knew I needed her input if I wanted her to get any use out of it.  My idea was a black drawstring backpack, with a lighter coloured inside, and the DJB logo embroidered on the outside by my friend at Small World Embroidery (she did the "Rude Robot" hat, and luckily, since then, has moved to just behind the kids' school!).  She was happy for the chance to practice her scanning and digitizing.


Lucy picked out red satin for the inside.  What?!  Satin would not have been my choice.  I didn't want to do a zippered pocket in satin, so I did a hanging pocket, but she said it didn't work because it kept flipping out.  I probably could have used fusible interfacing to do the zipper.  Next time.

I also sewed a couple loops of elastic in one of the inside seams to slide the water bottle in, to keep it upright.  She said she never tried it.

The cord straps were rescued from a cheapie drawstring backpack that had been a give-away promotion and fell apart.

She received quite a few compliments on it, and it sounds like a number of kids would be interested in having one.  Getting the embroidery done is probably not as cheap as having it screen printed (or whatever is the current technology) but I felt it looked really custom, and supported someone local.  I think I might make one (with a different inside fabric!) for their upcoming dinner and dance fundraiser!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One More Bag!

I enjoyed sewing Megan's slouch bag and could see many ways to customize it.  My mother usually carries a larger black leather-look purse and stuffs it with a lot.  I thought it might be nice for her to have something different.  Still large and stuffable, but just to change it up once in a while.

I went through my fabrics, and picked out this rayon wrap skirt with dragonflies.  For the bottom of the gusset, I wanted something that would be durable and not show dirt too quickly.  This side is a textured black; the texture is striping.  In order to get the stripes to go across the straps, I had to piece it, but with so much else going on, that's not a problem.
 I decided I wanted to add a water bottle pocket on this side.  I used the pattern pieces from the seat organizers.  That pattern has it topstitched to the organizer, so I had to use my brain to make it lined, sewn  into the side seams, and with an elastic at the top.   Luckily, the gusset piece is the perfect width.  It doesn't hold a large water bottle, but my mom usually goes out with a small one.  It does seem a bit bulky, but I think with the purse filled, it'll feel better.  Also, since this is reversible, this will keep the water bottle upright inside the bag when worn the other way.  Bonus--I think this way (elastic at the top) will be a great way to make my water bottle holders more adjustable!
 For the inside, I chose to recycle a test muslin.  I couldn't get a piece large enough after taking it apart, but I don't think the seam is bad.  Rob thought it felt a bit "old ladyish", but um, Mom isn't young, and is an award-winning gardener! I went subtle with the zipper, luckily it was also in my stash.  For the bottom of the gusset, I went with a brown cord.  I actually had two brown cords (and a brown twill) to choose from!  I also had a pale pink cord that looked lovely with it, but not too practical.  The top of the strap is a beige crinkle fabric, which once upon a time had been a babywearing wrap.  Megan and I picked a lot of wild blackberries with that wrap!
 The side has a narrow pocket on the gusset.
 The inside of the pocket is also a little more subdued this time.
I made the straps the length the pattern suggests for an adult, but my ends weren't very good, and even cross body, they were way too long.  I cut them down, tapered the ends a bit (I've seen another hobo bag pattern where the strap narrows in where the knot is to be tied).  I've been thinking about adding snaps to the straps to keep those ends down.  But...how many?

Even though Megan's bag went to together easy-peasy, this one didn't.  I don't know if it was because the rayon was slippery and the cutting wasn't accurate, or what, but the joins of the curved tip of the body to the strap, took quite a few attempts, and even re-cutting of the black fabric.  And of course, once or twice I managed to not have pulled the surrounding fabric out of the way and it got stitched in!  Ooops.  I really took my time with this, thinking the process through, and the little extra features.  I think it paid off!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Getting in the Groove

I never seem to have the right bag for the outing.  I've been wanting to sew bags, and this time resting my wrist has been great for my sewing mojo!  I decided a drawstring backpack would be good.  They didn't look hard, no real special hardware needed.  I started googling.  Mmmm.  Could it be made reversible?  I hate how crumbs get stuck in the raw seams of bags....I couldn't find a pattern to make it reversible, but I did find a pattern for making a lined version.  I used one we already had to base the size on, which was 16"x20".


 I picked out this loooonnnngggg piece of heavier decorator cotton.  I've had it for awhile.  I bought it thinking it was a sheet, but it turned out to be a window topper, so it's not very wide.  But there's lots of it!  And, it even had a hem that I thought would work for passing the ties through.   Which of course meant I had to adjust the size of the inner piece to account for needing to fold over the casement.

 The other edge was a folded over hem, which I thought I could cut off, zig zag down the edge, and make into the straps.


 This inside would be this blue fabric I found in my bin.  I have no idea where it came from.  It might have come from my aunt, who lived in Africa for awhile when I was young, and a few years ago she gave me some African fabric she had brought back but never used.
 The "Made in..." was stamped with a gold foil.  I thought it would be cool if it showed on some future project, but unfortunately, it could be scraped off with my nail.  I don't know the fabric content, but when I ironed it---it stank really bad!

I decided I wanted an inside pocket.  When the weather is warmer I'm going to be walking to work, and I'd like a place for my keys, phone and mp3 player.  Well, now we have a new door lock with a number pad, so I don't need the key, but if we're hiking or something, it'll be good.  I used the tutorial here which worked very well, even though I wasn't placing it 1" below the top and I used a different sized zipper, one just pulled from my stash.  I buy bags of random zippers at Value Village once in awhile.  Great way to have random colours for projects like this.



This is the outside of the pocket fabric.  Just chose a random bit of fabric from my bins! 

 This is the inside of the pocket.  I don't like dark fabrics in bags!


I went outside to take pictures, and over the course of the morning, the local robins built this much of a nest, right beside our back door!
 This is a close up of the strap.  I spent a bit of time trimming off loose threads. However, I did it with the bag loose, and when I tightened it to use it....there were a lot more threads that needed trimming!


So here's the final result.  I'm quite pleased.  It's substantial enough without being heavy.  My knitting needles don't poke through.  The opening has some heft to it so it doesn't collapse when trying to put things in.  Large enough for my snowpants and safety vest for work.  It's nice to have something practical, pretty, and unique!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mistakes are Not Always Design Features

Often in knitting, you'll hear "Oh, it's not a mistake, it's a design element".  Once is a mistake, twice is a feature, thrice is purposeful.  Well, I made a mistake on this shawl, and didn't notice it till 27 rows later.  It is clearly a mistake, even if most people I showed it to could not find it right away.

 It was hard getting a good picture.  Running vertically, just to the left of the right pins, there are extra eyelets in the tips of the motifs.
 Close up, they do sort of blend in with all the other million eyelets, but they break up the tips of the motifs.
This picture shows it pretty well.

Of course, this is not a simple repeating pattern with clearly defined stitch repeats (chevrons or feather and fan type patterns).  Dropping down the offending stitch and reknitting it 27 rows....in this pattern, I wouldn't even do it if it was just ONE extra eyelet, and I think I did it 8 times.  What I don't understand, is how it didn't affect the next right side row!

The only way to fix this was to rip out the rows.  I thought maybe I could take a thin needle through a row just above it and then tink the last few rows, but the pattern undulates too much.  I kept it pinned down, and ripped the rows back, counting each row as I went.  I ripped 27 rows.  Then, I had to figure where this put me on the charts, since there are two charts, and one is 40 rows, and one (the section with the errors) is only 20 rows.  There is 4 rows in the 40 row chart that serve well as "landmarks" because two of them have a M1 at one end of the section, and two rows have it at the other end of the section.  In a sea of YOs, K2tog, SSK, SSP2O and K3tog, a M1 stands out.

I got it back on track, and I'm keeping care track of which row I'm on this time (you repeat the shorter chart something like 5 times, and the longer chart, it doesn't say how many times!).  It seems I've barely used any of the yarn (KnitPicks "Shadow", I think), but now I'm in the "even width" section so I'll just keep going on these charts for quite a while.  I wish I had made it one chart repeat wider, and actually, after ripping out the 27 rows, I would have had to rip out only about 20 more rows to get back to those charts...oh well!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's Never Easy

Even when I think it's a sure thing that a project is going to be easy, something messes it up.  Usually it's my own impatience, frugalness, or unorganization. 

I picked up a pants pattern at Value Village quite a while ago.  Totally not my size, by about 5", but the design is simple so I thought it would be okay to upsize.  I'm finally getting to it.  I open it up, it has been opened before and the pattern pieces are nicely folded with many straight pins holding the layers snug.  Then I notice there's some pieces in a different colour tissue.  Oh!  Someone has included another pants pattern.  Now I get worried.  I look at the proper pieces, they are partially cut out, but at the waist, they were cut, tapering from the largest size to the smallest size--so no largest size to extend outwards for myself.

So I have to guesstimate how much to add.  I need 5", that's 2 1/2" for front and 2 1/2" for back, or 1 1/4" each seam, right?  I start doing that and then see that the center seams are the cut line for all sizes.  I'm not sure that what I added at the sides will be enough, especially for the front.

The wide yoke is cut on the bias.  Which, given it stretches, means it's not cut the same size as the pants.  But how much difference?  I have to guess.  And do I want it stretchy?  It's not going to be "stretchy" but just not stiff and tight.  While stretchy waist bands are comfy, they aren't flattering.  I need a waist that's snug to keep me all in place LOL.  BUT...I want to copy pants I have like this, but they're in a stretch fabric, which means the yoke doesn't need to stretch...BUT the fabric I'm thinking of using for the trial pair is very unstretchy.  What to do?! 

I finish up with the pattern and head to the fabric.  My table isn't big enough to really lay the pieces out and the fabric has some wrinkles....so I'll stretch it out on the concrete floor and iron it right on the floor!  The piece is about 24"wide by 15ft long.  Maybe longer.  When I start with the ironing, the steam is getting the fabric really wet, maybe cause the floor is so cold so the steam condenses rather than evaporates.  And the floor isn't particularly clean, there are some residues from the old flooring.  Okay, back to the ironing board on my table. 

Before I pick it all up, I decide to lay out the pieces, rather than just start cutting.  I realize there is a subtle grid pattern that I might want to make sure lines up right at the butt seam--something I've never done.  Laying out the pieces (which I haven't shortened to account for my short legs), it appears I might not be able to fit it all on.  The yoke pieces waste a lot of fabric because of the narrowness of the fabric (it was a window topper!) and being on the bias.  Even doing the capri length (which often ends up as ankle length on me) is iffy.  There is a seam across the fabric too, so I need to work around that.   I decide that I'll just have to do long shorts.  Really, I just need to fit the torso, right?

I head back to iron it all.  It's soooo long.  So I cut across the seam, making two long pieces.  All this time I'm thinking of how all these little issues are stacking up and I'm really losing interest in these "two hour" pants, that might, or might not, be wearable.  I really do want new pants, just like these.  But with pockets...

Dinner time. After dinner I remember that I wanted to google sun hat patterns.  Gee, that fabric would make a good sun hat probably, if it's wide enough for the brim (or...I could do the brim in two pieces if I remember to add seam allowance...)....

I have no ink to print out the sun hat pattern.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Still a Long Way to Go!

While I was working on some sewing on a Friday evening, my daughter Megan (the one who wanted to learn to sew and make that tote bag from a couple posts ago), had a great idea.  "She" could make something to give her synchro coach at the party....tomorrow.  "But Megan," I said, "You really have three coaches".  No problem!  We decided on a small zippered bag, using some skating fabric I have in the stash.  I sent Megan off to bed and I worked out a pattern template.

I first looked at a top zippered pouch, which is most common.  I looked at ikatbag's tutorial but she doesn't give full instructions for attaching the zipper because "by now you can probably do that in your sleep."  Well, I've done it, but they've been few and far between.  And I struggled.  So I looked some more at her zipper tutorials, thinking that starting closer to the first one might be good for both Megan and I.  I skipped the first two and went with a flat bag with zipper on top.  I had done this once before with a different tutorial (I made a little bag for Lucy's EpiPen, but I can't seem to find a post!).  I struggled a bit that time, but I was sure with ikatbag's tutorial I should be fine.

She doesn't give templates for these tutorials.  I thought that would be okay because so often I'm making something a different size from a tutorial and I don't understand how the dimensions given sometimes relate to what I'm doing.  I drafted out a shape that I thought was nice, a square with rounded corners, but not too rounded so they wouldn't be too hard to sew.  Megan picked an inside fabric, and I had three matching zippers that while not perfect, would do, though I thought maybe we'd go and pick out better ones in the morning. 



Morning came, and Megan wasn't getting up, so I went ahead with cutting.  And then the next few steps since I had never sewn tabs over the ends of the zippers.  Here's where some measurements would have helped.  My zippers were long enough without tabs over the ends, but I wanted to do that this time since I hadn't ever before.  I had no idea how long to make the tabs, she just says "at least as wide as the zipper".  And, how to ensure that both ends ended up the same size once sewn in.  I didn't want to make the tabs too long, but in the end they were too short.  I had to use a really tiny seam allowance, and trimmed the zipper back, but they still ended up sticking into the seam allowance of the sides of the back, making the bags pouff up and not lay flat.  The other thing I didn't take into account was how much of the front pieces get taking up with the zipper.  When I divided the top piece for the zipper, I added seam allowances to both pieces.  It didn't need a full 1/2 inch but I don't know exactly what it did need.  My zippers seemed a little narrow. 

In the end, really the only part Megan did was sewing the straight parts of the outer bags.  The curves were too tricky for her, and we were running out of time.  I added blue satin ribbons for loops.  I was pleased at myself for remembering to add them and in the right direction.

One other small detail.  I wasn't really paying attention to the fabric direction when I was cutting, I just wanted to make sure there was a full "Canada" on one of the top pieces. After, I noticed that this bag, well...I know I wasn't trying to align the fabric, but it's one of those situations where it's close, but not close enough and not far enough to look unintentional. Know what I mean?  The first picture, that bag wasn't bad, and I don't remember the second bag, but this one is a little embarrassing!

The coaches really seemed to like them and thought maybe for next year's teams it'd be fun to have their make up use the same fabric as the costumes.  Usually those fabrics are not the greatest to sew with when it comes to things like zippers, but I figure I could do the inners in a woven. I'd think they'd just get the seamstress that does the costumes to do them, but that's okay, one way or another. 

I wish there was a way to measure how much fabric is leaving my stash! I've still got two other sewing projects to show off!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Not Too Hard...

My 13 year old daughter Lucy is on her first band trip.  It's a biggie--from Toronto area to Denver/Boulder Colorado!  Because it's a band made of students from all over our region, they didn't organize a bus to the airport, and they needed to be there at 6:30am.  My husband is on a training course this week, in the opposite direction.  I don't do well with big city driving.  I was able to arrange a ride with another student from her school.  The parents didn't want gas money, but I knew they had an adorable little girl, about 22 months old, so I thought I'd make her something.

Perfect opportunity to make one of those "woven" knit balls!!  I've been wanting to make one for awhile, but I have quite a few balls in my "in stock" bin.  So I needed a reason to make one.  I followed Cheryl's Brunette's video.  She has a link to the pattern.  Cheryl said to make them 20sts wide and 8" long, but shockingly, doesn't give an idea of what yarn or gauge she is using!  I tried 20sts, and it seemed too wide, so I went with 10 sts, and 42 rows, on the LK150 at about T5.  If the strips are too long for their width, the ball won't hold together.  I think my strips might be a smidge on the short side.  I think I might try 45 rows next time.  I sewed mine with the roll to the outside of each strip for a bit more texture.  Oh....idea!  Instead of colours, change the texture for each strip!


I had watched the video a few times so I tried to assemble it on my own.  I was sure I was doing it right, but somehow had two "overs".  So I followed along, and indeed, I was right, and she has it in the video too, but it gets sorted out before it's done.  So don't despair if you can't seem to get it.  There is also a suggestion of cutting six strips of paper, numbering them/colouring them, and weaving them first.

I went to the pet store and bought a cat toy--a bell in a plastic cage.  Then we had to go to the dollar store and right away I saw a 4pk of similar balls for just 25cents more than I paid for the ONE!  Ooops!

I will definitely make more of these.  Everyone seems to love to squish it and figure out the pattern!

Now, for something serious.  I love blogging.  The teacher in me loves to share knowledge, and the writer in me finds this to be a great outlet.  It takes a fair bit of time though.  Taking the pictures, editing them, writing, posting, the whole process.  I have been struggling, financially, this spring though. I have never "monetized" this blog because I find ads annoying and I have never bought anything (readers have to actually buy through the link for you to earn anything) from ads on a blog, so I don't know how much one can really make.  I was thinking of putting a "Donate" button on here, but I'm not very tech savvy.  However, if you are feeling generous and appreciative of my blog, maybe you'd consider donating a little?  In Canada, you can do "e transfers" and my email is tracykm at yahoo dot com.  If you prefer PayPal, it's tracy-rob.mainwaring at rogers dot com.  Or, even better, go to my Facebook page and see what's in my "Ready to Ship" photo album! Maybe there's something there you'd like!  I really, really appreciate my readers and fans :)