Make Nine 2019 Plans

My wardrobe is in a dire need of a refresh. It’s been a year or so since I’ve sewn much, due to a lot of major things going on behind the scenes, and I’m not a prolific shopper, so some of my favorite pieces are starting to wear out. I have identified a handful of basics to form my core wardrobe.mosaicd16acbd72562cdd658fa7e8495fde0f2a57ba824I’ll be making jeans, tees, leggings, work trousers, and a button down shirt. For fun, I’d like to make that cute New Look 6000 dress…maybe even in red, as pictured. I also want to tailor a traditional jacket. I can use a well fitting jacket for work, so it’s not just a garment that will take up space in my closet like the Marie Antoinette gown.

Finally, because I love to knit, I’ve added two knitting projects to my queue: a traditional tam and a “So Faded” sweater which I’ll knit out of some gorgeous yarn I bought from Asylum Fibers.

I will not be restricting myself to any particular patterns because I don’t know if they’ll work for me until I start messing around with them. For a case in point, take the Grainline Lark T-shirt pictured above. After I taped all the PDF pattern sheets together, I could immediately see it wasn’t going to work for me. It appears to be designed for someone who has an angular rather than a curvy shape and their upper torso is significantly longer than mine. I could have made some extensive alterations to make it work for me, but that didn’t seem like much fun, especially when I have two t-shirt patterns that I know work for me, the old Ottobre t-shirt from 2009 or so and the Deer and Doe Plantain.

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Here’s my first version of the Ottobre t-shirt this year. I used up some stash fabric, which is another goal of mine.

For the striped t-shirt, I used the long sleeve pattern from Deer and Doe, but altered the sleeve cap to fit it onto the Ottobre t-shirt body.

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I also added a cat for decoration.

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Next up: button down blouses!

Happy new year!

Miss Maggie’s Handbag

I’m so completely chuffed. I made a handbag! I didn’t think I had it in me to sew through thick layers of finicky materials like vinyl and foam stabilizer. I’m notoriously bad with a hammer and screwdriver. But I did it and I don’t think it looks too shabby…

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Pattern Description:

“Miss Maggie’s Handbag is a great starting point for any beginner to advanced bag maker. It starts out as a simple handbag that allows you to use several styles of our Emmaline Strap Anchors, and after you personalize it with your own style, it will become one of your favourite bags. ”

Pattern Sizing:

11″ wide x 10″ high x 4″ deep.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, the instructions were excellent even for this bag-sewing neophyte. There is a typo in the instructions which caused me a problem. As noted on the emmaline bags website, “The cutting chart lists the measurement for the Foam Stabilizer at 17″ x 34″, but the correct measurement is in the cutting list and materials list. The cutting chart is not correct.” I didn’t see that before I cut out the foam and had to buy another piece.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like how simple and elegant it is. The bag is just the right size to carry all my odds and ends when I commute to work. It’s not too large so I don’t end up carrying too much. I like the short handles because I don’t wear purses over my shoulder; however, my daughter thinks any bag without a cross-body strap is a sad, sad thing. If you’re like her, you’ll either want to add a longer strap or look at a different pattern.

Fabric Used:

I used some vinyl with a flocked filigree design that I found at Joann’s for the body. I used some quilter’s cotton (a gold-flecked cork print) for the lining.

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The bag also required fusible interfacing, heavy interfacing such as Timtex for the base and foam stabilizer. Hardware included handle anchors, rivets, bag feet, a magnetic clasp, a tassel clasp, and a “handmade” label. I sourced most of these from emmaline bags. I found the magnetic clasp at my local fabric store. I found a large lot of rivets on Amazon, which was good because I’m terrible at inserting these and destroyed more than a few before getting them attached securely.

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I used a lot of E-6000 glue. I also used a few bits of thin quilter’s batting to cover up the backs of the hardware so they didn’t poke holes in the lining.

I tried to use heavy duty thread (upholstery) for the top-stitching, but even with a leather needle and a top-stitching needle, it frayed and I was unable to continue.

When folding the material for the handbag over on itself a couple of times, I resorted to double-sided fashion tape to hold the layers together. It worked like a charm.

I needed an awl to poke holes through the material and a hammer for the rivets.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

The pattern suggested adding heavy duty snaps on the sides to cinch in the top of the bag to give it a nice shape. I opted not to do that for two reasons: (1) I would never use the snaps because I like to fill up my bags to the brim and the snaps would reduce the bag’s capacity; (2) the material was thick and didn’t looked a bit messy when pleated.

I made the tassel following this tutorial: Tassel Tutorial

Note: You really do need a tiny screwdriver to do this. I started out trying to use a fork. No good. I then used the screwdriver included with my serger. Too large. Finally, like Goldilocks, I bought a tiny screwdriver set at Lowes for $5. One of those suckers worked perfectly.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes, sure!

Conclusion:

I LOVE this bag. It looks so snazzy with all the shiny bits. I carry it around with pride.

Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat

cat embroideryAnyone who knows me knows I’m bonkers about cats. My facebook feed is almost entirely devoted to cat pictures, which is so much more entertaining and uplifting than the news cycle. My friends also know that I love handcrafts like knitting sewing, beading and embroidery. Given these factors, it’s easy to understand why I jumped at the chance to review Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat by Applemints. It’s catnip for me.

Let’s start off with the cover. The kitty faces are adorable and are rendered in a nice looking satin stitch. This intrigued me. Most of the needlework books on the market in the past few years have featured cute designs, but limited the stitches to basics like the outline stitch and French knots. Beginner’s books are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but after a certain point, we all want to be challenged. After flipping through the book, I was pleased to see that a good variety of techniques were used and there were projects that would be suitable for both an absolute novice and someone with intermediate skills.

Of the 380 designs, there is an interesting variety of styles. Some of the designs lean toward realism and others lean toward cartoonish. Some have a modern vibe and others evoke a vintage mood. Some cats wear clothes like sailor suits, chefs’ hats, dirndls and leg warmers. Some designs tell stories, while others serve as graphical elements: feline alphabets, kitty corners and borders. Based on the cover, I wasn’t expecting such variety. It was a nice surprise.

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At the beginning of the book, you can flip through beautiful photos of the fully stitched motifs. Each one is numbered so you can flip to the back of the book where the line art and stitching suggestions are shown. I particularly liked how the number of strands of floss was indicated in the stitching guides and also how suggested colors were provided. If you can’t track down Olympus floss, which was used for the samples, there is a thread conversion chart for DMC, which is widely available in the US.

Toward the end of the book, you will find key information such as tools and materials, basic instructions, and an embroidery stitch guide. The information is well laid-out and clearly explained so even someone who has never picked up a needle and embroidery floss should be able to work their way through the process.

This is a charming book and would make a great gift for the crafty cat person in your life…or you could stitch up something lovely for your favorite ailurophile.

P.S. This shouldn’t be just for the ladies. Men can love cats and needlework too.

P.P.S.  I received a courtesy copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.