Category Archives: sewing

Snow days!

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Snow days!

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When it’s well below freezing outside (our minimum one night was -24 or so, felt like -31  with the windchill) and the snow is building up to your knees and the roads are icy despite the efforts of the city to keep them ploughed and salted and gritted…well, you just gotta hunker down in a warm house and get crafty.

I was supposed to have Monday and Tuesday off, work Wednesday, then have today off, and work tomorrow. However the boss called Wednesday morning, expecting a quiet day at the store, and said I could stay home. YAY!

The bag adventures continue. I made another project bag (see above), still playing with proportions for using up those animal squares mentioned a couple of posts ago. This is the most accurate, compared to the squares I intend to use, and while it is still a teensy bit tall for its width I may just go with it. I do need to get a couple of metres of lining fabric before I actually starting sewing them though.

I also played with more triangle or pyramid bags. I used this tutorial here.

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This one used a zipper I had lying around and some stash fabric (left from a project a long time ago) and I was a bit slapdash with it, not bothering with Wonder tape on the zipper so it was far from perfect. The interfacing was a grey iron on piece I found in the scrap pile.

Later, I made a second, this time taking care to sew in the zipper perfectly and instead of interfacing I used a thin poly batting. The last step was sewing closed the gap in the lining, which was a bit messy, unfortunately. Still, I was just playing.

During my four days off, I also gave the house a good clean. Well, you can’t sew ALL the time. That felt good. And I also crocheted a couple of cowls.

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This is Bernat Pop from the yarn stash in the Blue Streak colourway. I held two strands double, one from each end of the cake and used a 9mm hook. The cable pattern is from the Complete Photo Guide to Crochet, which I own. This is for me, because sometimes I need an earwarmer rather than a whole hat, and anyway hats squish my hair flat and then I can’t take them off all day!

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This one was super quick because it’s a jumbo yarn. The brand is Spindle Yarns Snug-as-a-Bug which came from the store where I work. It used half the ball and a 19mm crochet hook. A 25 mm would have been better but I don’t have one. I just did slipstitch in the round for about five rounds and it was done in the time I drank a cup of tea at the coffeeshop today.

Seeing as I have half the ball left, I have whipped out some size 35 knitting needles (again, 25mm would be better but I only have one of those, probably from a thrift store purchase) and am making another cowl in garter stitches on SIX STITCHES. Yes, only six stitches makes a piece about 7″ wide. Crazy, eh!

I have done a fair bit of snow shovelling this week but thankfully because it’s so cold the snow has been very light. I have to be careful, as my right wrist tires easily since I broke it, and my left shoulder has a rotator cuff strain that has been painful for a really long time. I’ve decided to give it some serious TLC for two weeks to see if that helps. Rest (no yoga or upper body weights), turmeric for inflammation, ice pack, cold water in the shower (the water coming out of the tap right now is extremely cold, but I only direct it on my shoulder at the end of a warm shower). I really need to get this pain gone, because it hurts to do just about anything on that side, especially taking off clothing where you cross your arms over your body and pull upwards.

Oooh, I nearly forgot. It was a beautiful sunset as I was making dinner and as I looked out of my kitchen window I saw movement in the back garden. Four deer came through to nibble on our trees and generally hang out. They were there for some time. I am always excited to see them. (Sunset photo courtesy of my youngest son.)

Playing with proportions

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Happy Monday! Well, it is for me. I worked Saturday and Sunday, so now I have Monday and Tuesday off. It is super cold here in British Columbia (we’re talking about minimums in the minus 20s) and I decided that I didn’t need to go anywhere today and I would spent some quality time with my sewing machine.

This morning I made the Pink Panther bag. In my last post, I talked about the pink campervan bag, and how it looked too tall and skinny for my liking. I experimented by taking a couple of inches off the height of the printed sections above the denim. I really like this bag. It’s the perfect size for a sock or other small project, but looking at the animal squares in the fabric I want to use I really don’t know if it’s doable to trim an inch off the top and bottom of those squares.

After a quick coffee and some avocado on toast I returned to the sewing machine and made the caravan bag. I went back to the original height of the print pieces but made them a bit wider, thinking that I could add some contrast fabric to each side of the animal squares.

It does look good, I think. But I prefer the smaller bag. Also, did you notice that there is a jeans seam running vertically down the base of this bag? I accidentally cut the denim from the jeans leg the wrong way, but used it anyway. I might even prefer it this way as it becomes a feature instead of being hidden at the bottom.

I was binge watching You Tube last night, watching bag-making videos and upcycled jeans tutorials. I really should just go to bed early at the end of a work day – I am such a zombie past 10pm – I just wish it wasn’t so much effort to get off the couch and brush my teeth some nights!!

If you haven’t yet entered my giveaway, it’s here and you still have until the 21st to enter. 

 

 

Bags and thread

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What a gorgeous morning! We had quite the dump of wet snow overnight, but the mild temperature this morning had the stuff dropping off the trees in clumps. The sun coming up through the trees is one of my favourite views from my back deck.

I considered going to the gym, but then rationalised that Mr Fixit (previously known as Tai Chi Man) would probably be wanting to go tonight anyway so I might as well wait. Instead, I retreated to my sewing room.

Five of the knitting project bags I made were given out to my friends last night at our Hygge gathering at my house. I realised I needed to make one more for one person who wasn’t there, so I did that today. Then I made another couple of snap bags.

I even added a tab to the last two, and a keyring. I think that flower one is my favourite.

Then I had a peaceful time sorting all my thread into colour groups and tucking in messy ends and putting it all back. I think I need another 50 spool storage box! The neutrals are lying in the lid of one of the other boxes.

The family is trickling back from their work days and I need to blend the butternut squash soup, so I’m off to do that now. Enjoy the day, wherever you are.

Adventures with snap bags

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Adventures with snap bags

I’ve been having a little play with small pieces of fabric and video tutorials again. I have had the notion in the back of my mind to try making snap bags. Do you know what I mean? They are little pouches with a top opening that pops open when you squeeze the sides, and snaps closed when you let go.

I had watched the Riley Blake Designs tutorial some time ago and managed to find it again. She makes it look so easy. Well, I struggled! However, it wasn’t that it was a bad tutorial, the fact is, I was using an industrial strength measuring tape that my oldest son had donated to my cause! (It was broken and I had asked him if he had any tapes of the metal kind, the ones that roll back into their case when you let go of them.)

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I had a few issues with this first bag. The wide tape measure barely fit into the casing. The triangles did not end up centred. And the side seams couldn’t be sewn too close to the ends of the tape or the sewing machine foot fought with them. Wait, actually this was my second attempt to make this bag, but the first one never made it this far. I realised that I needed to make my fabric pieces wider to allow for sewing past the metal tape ends.

Anyhoo, I ended up with a usable bag, but the industrial strength measuring tape snaps so well that it nearly takes your fingers off, and the ends of the tape don’t meet properly at the side seams. The triangular flaps are great for pulling the bag open though.

OK, second go.

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This time, I used a tutorial from Gourmet Quilter. She starts out similarly, but doesn’t use the triangle idea. For the casing, she folds the edges down right over the top of the outer fabric. (The Riley Blake video has you fold a quarter of an inch, and then fold it so it just covers the top edge of the outer fabric. The downside to that is you only have a single layer of fabric covering the tape.) With Gourmet Quilter, making the generous folds means you can insert the tape so that you have two layers of fabric on one side and a layer of fabric and batting on the other. And you also topstitch both sides of the casing creating a stronger channel.

She also boxes the bottoms which always seems to create a cuter bag!

I was happier with this bag, but without the triangle flaps to pull the bag open, I needed to be able to squeeze the sides of the bag to open it. Again, strong tape, too much play in the side seams, not ideal.

And now, introducing Mark III, the most successful attempt so far (despite me swearing at my machine because it started playing up towards the end – I didn’t realise the needle was bent and that’s why it was hitting the bobbin mechanism).

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Tai Chi Man gave me a narrower and weaker tape measure today that was broken at the beginning but still perfectly usable further in. I was able to slide it into the casing with no problem, and also sew the side seams right alongside the tape ends, so that when I turned it right side out and tested it out, it worked perfectly! It’s not as strong of a snap, but the bag holds closed fine.

This final version measures five inches square. I don’t think you’d want to go wider than that as you wouldn’t be able to use one hand to squeeze it open. Five inches is a comfortable distance for me to open my hand. However you could certainly make it deeper for items such as crochet hooks, spectacles, etc.

It would be fun to make more of these, now that I have ironed out the kinks. It would be a good way to use up quilt cotton scraps. And for really small scraps, you could make a patchwork outer piece rather than use one solid piece of fabric. Hmmmm…I feel a whole family of these coming on!

2019 – what else?

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Having just written the post about my knitting and crochet exploits this year, I then looked at the awesome round up of 2018 I did at the beginning of 2019, and thought I’d take a quick look through my blog posts of this year to see what the highlights were.

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Well, it was a good year for travelling. In September, Tai Chi Man and I travelled to the UK, where we stayed in London, Ilkley and Jersey. London was a brief whirlwind of catching up with cousins, and touring the city. Ilkley is in Yorkshire and was our base for visiting YARNDALE! And Jersey is where most of our family members live (in case you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a tiny island in the English Channel, closer to France than England). And of course in December we revisited Maui for a week of fun in the sun.

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It was also a good year for sewing. I made pyjamas, an apron, fleece neckwarmers, infinity scarves, fleece armwarmers, a snowman quilt, a crazy hippie wonky log cabin quilt, napkins, bags (totes, knitting project bags, upcycled denim bags), tops, a cartwheel skirt for my great-niece…altogether a very satisfying collection of creations.

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I was also approached by a yarn company to feature one of my free patterns on their website. It’s my Frond cellphone cosy and they created a pdf of it to include on their site. They sent me a link. However I can’t find the email they sent me so I shall have to hope they get in touch again so that I can let you know where to find the pdf.

I am going to have a giveaway very soon. I shall let you know what it is and how you can be in for a chance to win in the next few days. It will be open worldwide.

For now, Happy New Year to you all.

On a roll

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Since my last post, I have made four more bags. I managed to get daylight shots of all five, just before it got too dim outside.

I love sewing days! No outside commitments (except I will go to the gym tonight with Tai Chi Man to counteract my sedentariness). No need to do anything except throw my fleece onesie over my PJs, drink tea, eat a bit, and sew. I set up my laptop on the table behind me so that I could listen to YouTube videos while I played with fabric.

The process is getting quicker, once I’ve made the decision as to which fabrics to put together. First bag today took two hours, the last was more like an hour and a half.

These three use the same range of fabric, but are all different…

And this one uses some cat fabric which has been in the stash for a long time…

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I started out by boxing the bottom corners with a 2″ square, but I changed it to 1.5″ and find it looks better. I also now use 32″ of ribbon instead of 36″ as it’s plenty long enough and will make my ribbon go further.

I’d like to keep going with these. Now that I have the method memorised, I am getting more efficient.

And now I need to get back to my bread dough which is rising in readiness for hamburger buns. I have black beans cooking in the pressure cooker to make beanburgers for dinner. Ta ta for now.

 

Projects and productivity

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Despite the fact that I had only a crappy few hours of “airplane sleep” Saturday night, I felt OK on Sunday and was even motivated to clean my house. I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be, and I couldn’t face just spending the whole day on the couch, so I vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, watered plants, and did three loads of laundry.

I also started sewing another drawstring bag. (See above)

After a very refreshing 11 hour sleep, I was ready to tackle the grocery shopping today. The meal plan was made, the shopping lists prepared, and after a cup of tea at our favourite tea shop (to settle back into our home groove) we hit four different stores to stock up on food. Bulk foods, health food store, Costco and the supermarket. All have their strengths and we did ’em all today. It took all afternoon, and it was dark by the time we made our way home with a car full of food, but it felt good to restock the fridge and pantry.

After a simple dinner of soup and biscuits (scones to you Brits) I went back to the sewing room and finished sewing the bag, just in time to go to the gym with Tai Chi Man.

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This is the same tutorial by Erica Arndt that I’ve made three times before. This time, I used three coordinating quilt cottons from the store where I work. This range is called Knit Happy and came in two years ago and has been on clearance for some time. It still wasn’t cheap but I decided to go for it anyway. I had a Christmas gift certificate to spend.

The strap is made using the selvedge, because it was too nice to throw out. It has little sheep in all the colours that were used to print the fabric. The lining is a yarn ball print that I’ve had for some time and, while it isn’t designed to coordinate with the outer fabric, the theme is the same.

Of course I took yarn and hooks on holiday with me, and I completed this market bag while I was there.

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Of course I had to pose it on some lava rock and sand! This is made from a hand-dyed cotton. I didn’t use a pattern though I was inspired by someone’s design on Ravelry. I started out with a circle for the base, then just did a mesh for the body of the bag, and some solid rounds for the top.

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After I finished the bag, I started crocheting this shawl. I’m using some stash yarn – Cascade Sunseeker – one of which is a pink/grey multi, and the other a solid grey, both with some sparkle. I took this photo at Kahului (Maui) airport the night we were leaving, including my Skechers in the picture because they went well with the yarn! Both have pink and sparkly bits!!

I wanted to keep it simple, so I started with 3 stitches and am increasing on one side every other row. It’s all half double crochets. The idea is to start incorporating the grey in stripes once I’ve used about three-quarters of the multi. And then keep going with just the grey for the last bit.

Well, I see it’s 10pm and I have work tomorrow, so I’d better be going. Hope you have a great week.

 

 

Snow, sewing and soup

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Today turned out to be a snow day. The flakes were flying horizontally and I was very grateful to have zero outside commitments so that I didn’t even have to change out of my PJs!

I spent most of the morning and afternoon in my sewing room, with just a couple of breaks to fetch lunch and hot drinks. I made another of these drawstring bags (tutorial from Erica Arndt on YouTube), using up more of the snowman fabric that I made the quilt with. This is a very easy bag to make and I could just go on and on making more and more! (And my new walking foot works beautifully!)

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I managed to get daylight photos of the bag around lunchtime, but the two projects I finished this afternoon were completed after dark, so indoor shots in artificial light only.

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Both this easy zippered pouch above and the drawstring bag below are from video tutorials by WhitneySews. (That’s my ironing board with the cute cup and mug print.) I added a turtle charm to the zipper.

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This bag coordinates with the zippered pouch, as I used the same spool fabric for the main part of this bag, and also lined the zippered pouch with it. The fabric on the outside of the zippered pouch is the lining of the drawstring bag. It’s a pretty big bag, though when I boxed the bottoms I took quite a chunk out, so it is probably a bit smaller than it could have been.

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Once again, the ribbons used for the drawstrings were from stash, ones that I bought when I was doing the farmers and crafters market about 5 years ago. The skinny teal and orange ribbons were a bit thin to use on their own, but as they both coordinated perfectly with the spool fabrics I used them together.

I’m hoping to convince Tai Chi Man to go out for a walk after we’ve eaten our root vegetable and lentil soup (good warming comfort food) and then if I have time I might just have to do more sewing.

So many tutorials, so little time!

Happy December!

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Do you love this time of year? So many people grumble about the cold and the snow, but my attitude is that the weather is not something you can change so you might as well enjoy it. Or at least accept it with grace! (Or move south, I guess!)

Yesterday was Sunday December 1st and we had our first proper snowfall. It wasn’t very deep but it was enough to make the roads a little slippery and turn everything into a prettier version of itself.

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Cold weather makes you count your blessings – we have a warm house, cosy beds, plenty of food, appropriate clothing. The temperatures dropped well below freezing in the last week and I know there are people in my town who are sleeping outside.

The drawstring bag I showed you a couple of posts ago was part of my Secret Santa gift for last night’s work’s Christmas Party. I also made a couple of coordinating gnomes (the two in the centre of this photo).

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I’m happy to report the bag and gnomes were much appreciated and were “stolen” twice in our Secret Santa game. The bag ended up with a knitter for her projects and the gnomes ended up with another person for her grandkids. It’s nice when people make a little effort for these things because there’s always someone who you feel sorry for because they ended up with a crappy thing!

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Another of my favourite things this season is that my Christmas cacti, of which I have about six, are flowering beautifully. I have found that if I put them outside on my covered deck in the summer, where they get a reasonable amount of light and fresh air, and then bring them in when the nights start to get cold, they flourish.

I had my sewing machine serviced this week and also invested in a new walking foot. The old one was about 20 years old and was loosening so much when I sewed that I kept breaking a needle when it hit the foot that had shifted below it. It is sewing like a dream again and I finished this little bag yesterday.

It’s small because I was limited by the length of the zipper. It’s called a Continuous Zipper Pouch and the tutorial is here. It’s a nifty way of using one side of the zipper (if you want, the other half can be used for a wrist strap) but obviously you need a zipper that’s twice the width of your intended bag and I only had short ones.

I love watching bag tutorials. WhitneySews is a channel that’s new to me (she has been making tutorials for ten years, so I don’t know how I missed her before) and she has lots of useful videos.

I also experimented with this Scandinavian fabric star. It’s a photo tutorial and after the first step, when you flip the piece over, it took me a minute to figure out what I was supposed to do, but I did, and it worked, and I managed to finish a reasonably neat star.

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I won’t post a photo of my Advent Meditation CAL ornament yet as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for others who haven’t got around to making it yet.

I think that’s enough of my warbling for now. I hope you are having a great day. Talk to you again soon.

Warm fuzzy weekend

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A whole weekend off – what fun! Saturday evening we had a potluck at a friend’s house with a group of lovely people. SO much food, we were nearly bursting! And of course we played our traditional Mexican Train Dominoes. Awesome!

My contribution to the food was apple pie and cashew-based vanilla ice cream (the big pie in foreground was the one I took with me, the smaller one and the jam tart made from the leftover pastry were left at home for the boys to eat). I rarely make pastry these days because of the fat content but OMG it came out so well – I used Melt Buttery Sticks for the first time.

This morning there was a vegan market downtown so we splurged on vegan baked treats, which we shared with the boys because they were far too rich for just two people to eat. We also bought some cool hand-made soaps again, and I also finally bought myself a vegan T shirt. Guess I need to get a photo of that sometime.

Afterwards it was tea at our favourite tea shop and a bit of crochet. I have made three of these gnomes (Gnomes of the Gnorth) now. Two of them were made following the pattern pretty closely, one wasn’t, and I shouldn’t have gone ‘off piste’ because I don’t like my version as much (the one with the white beard).

The pattern is on a blog, Mr Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness, and the designer is Sue Perez whose Ravelry name is MrsMicawber.

I have two new dishcloths made from a random ball of dishcloth cotton that I acquired recently. It never went into stash – I just used it up quickly, making up different stitch patterns as I went.

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And there has been sewing. Between tea in town and going to the gym, I spent a couple of hours making this bag.

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It was made with scraps left over from the snowman quilt/bag I made recently, with a lining from some other stash cotton. I think I need to buy a new walking foot – the one I have keeps slipping, the screw holding it on the machine is loosening so it moves as I sew (and I break needles as a result) and the whole thing is either too loose or too tight.

I am pretty happy with the bag, except for a little uneven quilting across the front. This is the same video tutorial as the other bag, and I pieced a patchwork section just like the original in the video. It’s a good way to use up small pieces.

After the gym I went out for a meal with friends, so all in all it was a very calorific weekend and I should probably not eat anything for the next five days! Yeah, right!!