Leather Bag

This is the second time I’ve made this bag – made one a number of years ago (~ 2015 as I recall) using the beautiful soft purple kid skin I bought in NYC in 2010. I’ve used the bag a lot – the colour faded and it got scratched. It was time to use the remaining purple kid to make another one.

New Leather Bag

Today was the day. Actually I cut out the leather pieces and the lining pieces yesterday, even dashed off to Fabricville to purchase 14″ zippers (longer than the bag is wide so I didn’t have to worry about the zipper ends when sewing them in). It took me just under three hours this morning to put the bag together. I reused the fittings when attaching the strap.

I made a couple of modifications this time, the two painted leather inserts are narrower making the pockets accessed through the khaki zippers larger and therefore more useful than in the first iteration of the bag. I also used a painted leather insert at the top of the back to make the back long enough to match the front.

Otherwise the internal construction is the same – the major central pocket has two small side pockets built in to each side to hold things like hand sanitizer, nail file, wallet, glasses cleaning cloth, Swiss army knife (credit card style), etc. With stuff stored in the pockets I can find what I’m looking for easily – it’s not all a jumble at the bottom. The other two zippered compartments are simple pockets – one for my check book (yes I still carry a check book although I must admit I haven’t written a cheque in almost a year!), and for stuffing shopping receipts in one place so I can find them.

I could put my phone in the bottom pocket if I wanted to – it’s large enough in this version of the bag. But usually I carry my phone in my right pants pocket.

I’m still procrastinating about starting a quilt! I’ve pulled out some fabric – a double jellyroll (5″ wide strips) to start something – Tomorrow! I’ll get going on something tomorrow, for sure.

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.

Seat Belt Covers

I’ve been making seatbelt covers for myself for years – I’m short and especially during the summer when I’m wearing open neck clothing an unprotected seatbelt cuts my neck. I was very aware of the problem whenever I was driven somewhere when I had my cast on and couldn’t drive myself. I decided I needed to make seatbelt covers for quite a few of my friends – I could also use a new pair myself.

Two days ago I bought 2m of batik fabric (it’s more densely woven than quilting cotton and holds up better) – that would work out to 6 pairs of seatbelt covers/m – cost ~$3/pair. I also bought 6m each of black and white velcro (loops and hoops) – each seat belt uses ~10″ of velcro that gives me 4 covers/m – ~$1.00/pair of covers. I have lots of batting scraps which I planned on using so I didn’t need to buy batting.

Here’s how I make the seatbelt covers:

Folded in half, I cut 7″ strips from the width of fabric – cut in half gives me 2 pieces of fabric 7″ x ~21″. I cut batting 6″ x 21″. Place the batting in the centre of the fabric, fold in one end, fold over the second (selvedge edge on top so I don’t have to fold raw edge under).

Finished underside of seatbelt cover

Next, I sew a double seam across the open edge, turn the cover over, attach the loops and hooks to the length edges of the seatbelt cover by stitching the inner edge of the velcro; turn seatbelt cover over so the under side is up, then fold velcro over, and stitch down, folding in the top and bottom raw edge of fabric.

Finished top of seatbelt cover

Fold the cover in half and seal the velcro

That’s all there is to it. New seatbelt covers – cost: ~$4/pair (that’s because I used batting scraps – had I bought new batting the cost would have been closer to $5.

I have a new pair in my car. I have six pairs done – seven more to go in this batch – a total of 14 pairs of seatbelt covers.

I’m not sure whether I’ll gift these to the women in our knitting group, or whether we’ll take a day and they’ll make their own – they’d find that more satisfying, I’m sure.

Patch

Yesterday, the chiropractor told me to walk to the end of the block before getting into the car at the end of our session. What he didn’t know is there’s a wonderful small fabric/DIY shop at the end of his street – Patch. Chris Pasquet, the owner, saw a need for a DIY sewing studio in Halifax that also provided instruction, stocked unusual garment (and quilting) fabrics, along with interesting indy patterns and a few notions. She opened five years ago and the shop has been a going concern since.

Deb and I stopped in. Chris had a couple of interesting sample linen garments in the shop window which caught our eye. The three of us chatted for a while, Chris pointed us at some of her recent acquisitions – Japanese double-gauze prints, some nice linen and linen/cotton blends.

 

Summer Dresses

I have a single summer dress to my name. I could use a couple more loose, light garments for the warm days to come in July/August. In the end I chose a turquoise print Japanese double-gauze, a copper/beige ombre linen/cotton blend, and a pattern for a simple summer dress.

I won’t be making the dress as shown on the pattern cover – I plan on making it longer, much more A-line by inserting a wedge at the centre front/back on the centre fold line. The dress also has a tie at the back neck, I will just make a loop and button closure.

Now to get the fabric prepped and then I can commandeer help for the cutting!

Unplanned Interruption In My Creative Life…

 

My Cast For Wrist Fracture

Fractured my right wrist and injured my left hip in a freak accident Thursday (you really don’t want to know what idiot decision I made that resulted in this unplanned outcome). Had x-rays of my wrist and lower spine done at emergency and came home with a humongous cast. Very uncomfortable all weekend sitting on ice. (The wrist break BTW is the result of a FOOSH – falling on outstretched hand – what’s referred to as a Colles’ fracture of the distal radius).

Spent yesterday getting my left hip X-rayed, then getting my cast changed. No hip fractures! No increased slippage of L5/S1. Yeah. And while it’s still a plaster cast until next week, it’s a lot smaller and it frees my thumb and fingers so I can use my right hand a bit. Can’t lift anything with weight but I can use a knife to cut food on my plate. Big improvement. 

Saw the chiropractor this morning and the left hip injury is much less serious than he and I expected. He did a bit of adjusting and I’m moving a little more easily. So day by day….

Can’t drive (probably not till I get a fibreglass cast next week) but friends are being wonderful at helping out and getting me where I need to be. 

While inconvenienced, I expect to recover reasonably quickly.

Thursday, before the accident I’d cut out a pair of pale green summer wool pants and was just getting ready to cut out another in red linen:

Two Projects In Waiting

Now that I have an opposable thumb (and you can’t believe how important that actually is) I may even be able to knit a bit and sew some soon.

There’s no way I can go six weeks (that’s how long I expect to be in a cast) without making stuff. No way!

My 5 Essential Quilting Tools

I’ve been trying to track down another seam ripper clipper to have at my embroidery machine and they’re hard as hen’s teeth to locate and get to Halifax. I bought my original online at Nancy’s Notions in Wisconsin – the tool isn’t expensive but the cost of getting one here is prohibitive! It got me thinking about what are my essential quilting tools.

Essential Quilting Tools

Here they are:

  • a seam ripper clipper – it has a small but sturdy/strong point that easily slips under a 2.5mm stitch and fits nicely in my hand. Insert it under a stitch and when you continue pushing, it cuts the stitch on the sharpened interior edge below the point. I needed it yesterday when I had to take out 1000+ quilting stitches to redo the quilting. It’s a must have tool – way better than a conventional seam ripper because there’s less likelihood of cutting the fabric
  • self threading needle – I like to leave tails when I start and end embroideries/quilting which I then embed in the sandwich. A self threading needle with an open back end is easy to thread – place it in the fabric, push the threads into the open eye, pull thread through and trim
  • very sharp small scissors – useful for lots of tasks including trimming threads close to the fabric; definitely essential when I’m doing appliqué work
  • fine pointed 3.5″ tweezers – I can’t manage without these – they’re perfect for grabbing the pulled up bobbin thread when I’m starting a seam – I always have a pair right at hand at each of my machines. Perfect for pulling out loose threads when I’ve taken out a quilted seam.
  • Frixion heat erase pens – I just finished the internal panel of the double convergence quilt I’m currently working on. I was doing an edge-to-edge quilting with three different embroideries adjusted to fit the quilt – I had to do a lot of marking to position the starts and ends of the embroideries/quilting elements. Press the panel and the markings disappear (I’m guessing they would reappear were I to take the quilt out into below zero weather or put it in the freezer….)

These are my five essential quilting/sewing tools; can’t function without them. I highly recommend having one of each at each machine in your sewing space.

Last Two Tunics Finished

Finally got the remaining two tunics done. My friend Janet suggested I add a cowl neck and it would have worked nicely but for the fact that I’d already cut these tunics out and didn’t have enough fabric to make a cowl neck scarf to wear with either. So crew necks I’ve got.

“Feathers” Flared Tunic #3

This is the same printed pattern as the second one I did, just in shades of black/grey/white. It’ll look good with a black turtleneck and pants.

“Grey” Flared Tunic #4

That’s it for garment sewing right now. I still have corduroy for a couple pairs of pants and I need to make another bedspread jacket for a friend but it’s back to quilting right now.