Thinking About Christmas…

I haven’t posted a lot this past month but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. I began in earnest as soon as my cast came off on July 31.

In August I made:

  • Four pair of pants for myself – two in linen, one in a summer weight wool/poly blend, the fourth in a stretch twill. (Now I have to take four pairs of pants out of my closet!)
Wool/poly Pants
  • I remade a pair of jeans I bought at Costco (I had to lift the back pockets and create a teardrop dart down the centre back of each leg; resew the pockets).
  • In the end I made 30 sets of seat belt covers! (For the folks who chauffeured me while I couldn’t drive)
  • I improvised a set of zippered pockets which I attached to a blanket for a friend in a wheel chair. (I forgot to take a photo of the completed project)
  • I also made a new five-pocket zippered wallet for myself out of ripstop
Five Pocket Wallet

I sewed almost every day. I didn’t get any quilting or wall art started but I’m thinking about it.

I also managed to cut out fabric to make 30 zippered bags – in two sizes.  Two weeks ago at our knitting group I noticed the bags I had made a couple of years ago are being well used. I asked the gals whether anyone was interested in having another bag – silly question – you can’t have too many small zippered bags, for heaven’s sake. So I decided to get that organized.

I dug out the bright fabrics I had set aside to make bags and cut it into appropriate sizes (17″ x 6.25; 21″ x 7″). I cut batting scraps into similar sizes as well. Found suitable (dull) fabric in my stash to be lining for the bags. I went through my zipper tape and cut enough lengths to the correct size.

Fabric Prepared for Zippered Bags

To make a bag I need one outer piece (twice the width of the finished bag), one lining piece, a piece of similar size batting, one half of a zipper tape cut to length, a zipper slide, and a short piece of grosgrain ribbon.

Setting Up For A Bag

I make the bags this way because it allows me to create a zipper loop at the closed end which is much neater than trying to stitch over cut zipper ends.

Using Zipper Tape

I’ve made three bags so far – two larger (9.5″ x 6.25″), one smaller (7.5″ x 5.25″).

The First Bags – 2 sizes

Now I need to sew the remaining 27 bags! Each bag doesn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes were I to do each one completely, but I’ll do this factory style – I’ll add zipper tape to the outer fabric and batting, add lining and stitch to zipper on the second side, for all of the bags. Press. Next turn right sides outside and add the zipper pulls. Then turn right sides together with lining and outer fabric/batting separated to stitch the open side (remembering to insert the folded twill tape into the seam close to the zipper on the outer fabric side – fold toward the centre of the bag). The bottom of the outer fabric/batting is sewn next. Now the important thing to remember: open the zipper! If the bottom of the lining is sewn before the zipper is open, you can’t open the bag. Turn the bag right side out, sew the bottom of the lining (wrong sides together) then push it inside the bag.

It sounds complicated – I probably should take photos of each step along the way (I will try to remember to do that when I get started on production). But the process is fast and the finished bags are neat.

You can’t have too many zippered bags! I use them for so many different purposes: for jewelry, to store elastic bands,  spare change, specialty threads, sewing machine attachments, flash drives for my embroidery machine…. It looks like it’s going to be bags this Christmas.

New Sewing Machine

Last week I upgraded my embroidery machine – a totally impulsive decision. My Pfaff Creative Sensation was about 5 years old (no longer offered by Pfaff and  quite substantially depreciated since the new Creative Sensation Pro II was released within the last couple of months). My local Pfaff dealer was offering a good trade-in on my old machine so I decided to make the swap.

The differences between the two machines are subtle – the Pro II embroiders noticeably faster, there are a couple of new fancy stitches, the workings are all just a bit more stable than my original machine. The trade up made some sense since all my embroidery hoops work on this machine as do all the feet in my large collection of sewing machine feet.

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Front of zippered bag

So I took the machine home, unpacked it, and decided to give it run by making a zippered bag for storing the foot pedal and cord when I need to transport the machine. I loaded one of the embroidery designs included on the machine, picked out some rayon embroidery thread and stitched out the design. Did a nice job and this was where I could see the increase in embroidery speed. The stitches were properly embedded in the fabric layers without my having to make any tension adjustment (which I often had to do on the old machine). No thread breakage – always a good sign.

One of the few hoops I don’t have is a “texture” hoop – one which lets me add ribbons and other trim to the surface of the fabric before stitching out an embroidery. Instead, I took a piece of grosgrain ribbon, lightly glued it along the middle of my fabric, hooped the fabric and stitched out the embroidery. Worked fine!

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Back of zippered bag

I added a zipper, a lining, and stitched up the bag. Didn’t take long. Then I played around for a while testing out various stitches on a scrap of fabric.

These days, however, I primarily use my embroidery machine for quilting. Once my quilt top and quilt back are pieced and sewn (I actually prefer my straight stitch quilting machine for that), and the quilt sandwich pinned, I do the final quilting by hooping the pinned quilt segment by segment (easiest is when the top is actually constructed from blocks; more demanding is hooping from edge to edge – which is the job I just finished today on my Fibonacci quilt (I’ve quilted half of the border; I’ll complete that job tomorrow, then add the binding and label)).

The Pro II runs more quietly and smoothly than the original Creative Sensation. I can see I will turn to it for more than just quilting.

The new machine is now sitting proudly on my new sewing table which is deeper and a bit longer than the previous table (on which is sitting my straight stitch quilter) – making the whole business of quilting with the embroidery machine much easier (much less drag on the embroidery unit since the weight and expanse of the quilt is distributed over a much larger surface).

I can see I’m gonna be happy having upgraded the embroidery machine.

This ‘n That…

I’ve been working away at stuff – got another pair of socks finished:

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My sister Barb was visiting from Toronto on Sunday and she went home with one of the pairs of socks in my stash. This pair will take their place. The others will be Christmas gifts, quite likely.


Yesterday, the zipper on my small “wallet” separated at the back end. It’s a small zippered pouch I made maybe four-five years ago – small enough to fit in a jacket pocket but large enough (with enough zippered pockets) to hold just about everything I want to carry with me: a few credit cards, a couple of loyalty cards, a bit of cash, some change, and a spare key (along with a pocket screwdriver). Here’s a second one I made at that time – discovered when I’d finished sewing that it was for a left-handed person!

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The zippers open the wrong way and if you hold the pouch to open them with your right hand, then all the pockets are upside down! I use it to hold my driver licence and car permit in the large compartment but not much else. I needed a pouch that was right-handed.

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The one I made today is a tiny bit wider and longer but the zippers open on the right side and the pockets are right way up when you open them.

I used some royal blue rip-stop scraps I had kicking around from my days of kite making. I had a some turquoise/lime green grosgrain tape, and some lime green zipper tape (without pulls) left over from a roll of make-a-zipper tape I’d bought from Nancy’s Notions years ago:

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I’d used all the pulls that come with the tape – so I removed the pulls from the zippers on the original pouch – with some tugging, managed to install them on the green tape (which is why one pull is pink!).

Project took a couple of hours – the rip-stop is slippery and I had to pin as I went along to be sure the sections of the pouch would be aligned – slowed the sewing process down. I should actually make a pattern for this project – I’m sure other people would be interested.


This morning a jar of Rustins Leather Re-Colouring Balm arrived in the mail from England. I’ve had a dark brown leather chair for over 40 years. About 20 years ago I had the cushions restuffed but I was never able to find a product to refinish the leather itself. With this move I decided to see if I could find something to renew the leather on the cushions. I came across this Rustins Recolouring Leather Balm:

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I ordered a jar in dark brown. I’ve just used it and it’s wonderful! I thought to myself as I started applying it to the chair cushions I should take a “before” picture – I didn’t. But here’s an “after”:

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All the white wear marks are gone. The balm soaked in quickly – there wasn’t much excess to wipe off. The best part is it’s not going to come off on clothing when someone sits in the chair! It didn’t take long to apply, wait for 5 minutes, then wipe off (the wipe off cloth didn’t pick up much colour at all). I’ll apply a second coat tomorrow just to catch the few uncoloured spots that I’m noticing now. I can’t believe how much better this chair looks.

So now to get organized to quilt that latest quilt. The sandwich is pinned together. I’ve set up an embroidery design to quilt it edge-to-edge. Gotta try out the embroidery on some scrap fabric to make sure of the dimensions so my edge-to-edge quilting will align properly.

 

 

Gift Bags

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From time to time I make a bunch of small zippered bags to have on hand as gifts. Two days ago, I was tidying up the baskets in my sewing room and came across some denim from a pair of jeans which I’d cut up – making a shopping bag from the top leaving the leg portions. I thought with some embroidery they’d make nice zippered bags. There was also a piece of tapestry left over from a large carry bag I’d made for my bed foam which I take with me when I travel. So I made a small bag from that leftover. As you can see I embroidered each denim bag differently (the tapestry had an interesting enough pattern that I left it alone).

There was also a scrap of pink fabric which I used to make a larger bag:

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The design in this case was made from built in machine stitches – it was saved as an embroidery and done in one of the larger hoops.

This morning I began using some “lacy” fabric which surfaced in the clean up – I’ve done two bags, I have enough fabric to do two more.

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These will all go into the bag stash and be given away as gifts when the occasion calls for something. I use them as gift wrap often, putting something else inside.

If you’re interested, here are instructions for making a simple zippered bag.