Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lined Drawstring Bag

In my quest to learn more about sewing, I started reading some really helpful blogs. (See the list to the right!) There are easy-to-follow tutorials for just about every aspect of sewing, even how to change the feet on your sewing machine and pick fabrics that will complement one another. I always had this impression that people who sewed, embroidered, and the like were stodgy old ladies who were sticklers for the rules. Not so. By and large, the crafty ladies who write these blogs are young-ish, really psyched about what they do, and eager to share their knowledge from both their successes and their failures. They like big, bold fabrics, bright colors, and taking shortcuts when they can. Some of them are newer at sewing, like myself, while some grew up stitching. It's definitely reassuring to know that the seasoned pros still make mistakes and that's part of the charm of making something by hand. It's a nice little community out there!

Thanks to these blogs and Pinterest, I have no shortage of projects I want to get started on. But I'm a pretty practical person, and I knew I'd have to start small. When I found this tutorial for a lined drawstring bag (it was free!), I knew I had to make one. Or five.

I had purchased a bunch of fabric from an Etsy seller in anticipation of making my plum Aviary quilt (which I will describe in detail one of these days, I promise!). Since the seller offered flat rate shipping and I wanted to get my money's worth, I decided to buy a bit of Alexander Henry's Spotted Owl fabric in Smoke, too. I have a slight obsession with owls and I really couldn't resist. I figured it would be perfect for my new bag, and I paired it with some leftover gray Kona cotton from Ryan's pillow and black cotton from Sean's pillow.

It took me about four hours to cut the fabric, figure out how to pin everything together, press, and sew, but when I was finished, I had this awesome little bag:

It's the perfect size for storing my embroidery projects in my commuting bag. You've already seen the canvas case I keep my needles, scissors, and floss in, but here's a photo of all of my embroidery notions, including my fab magnetic polka-dot needle case and scissors, both from Sublime Stitching. (I'm pretty sure I've ripped off Lindsay's taste in notions!) The scissors have a cute embossed cover and they fit inside the needle case. Ingenious!

The hoop is 5 inches (I think) from Jo-Ann. After trying a plastic square snap-frame, which doesn't hold the fabric very tight, and wooden hoops that sometimes snag the fabric, I think I've settled on plastic hoop -- this  purple one in particular. So, all of that fits into what will henceforth be known as my owl bag which, in turn, fits into my commuting bag. I don't travel light.

Jeni of In Color Order had another pattern for the same bag in a variety of sizes, so of course I had to pay for that one, too. I used it to make birthday presents for a couple of special people. I'll post pictures after they open them.

And finally, I finished my Aviary quilt this weekend and I love it! I'm sooo close to being caught up with my project recap, so I don't want to skip out of chronological order at this point. I also anticipate that post will be a long one, so I may have to put it off until the weekend -- but it's coming! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lots of Ornaments... and a Preview!

I made all sorts of ornaments before Christmas. Did you know that embroidery hoops come in really tiny sizes just for this sort of thing? I used some Sublime Stitching holiday patterns, and some patterns I drew myself. Here's the best of the bunch.

I use patterned background fabric for some of them. The picture didn't come out that well, but I like the ornament itself.
 This cute little penguin went to my cousin's daughter, Mackenzie.

I tried making a few ornaments out of felt. I saw similar ones in a magazine and they were really cute. In person? Not so much. I think they look a bit like a 5-year-old did them. But they have character, I suppose.
I made this Union flag to give to my friend Marie for her 30th birthday. She's a fellow Anglophile and studied in London, too. Her husband is an old friend of mine, and as soon as we met, we instantly bonded over our love of all things British.
A close-up of the stitches. I can't tell you how tempted I was to keep this for myself!

I have a few other projects to write about before I'm all caught up, but here's a preview of what I'm working on now. It's come a long way since this photo was taken (about a month ago now), but I'm very excited to share it with you:

Yup, that's the start of my very first quilt! I got it in my head that I wanted to put my sewing machine to good use, and my supervising editor (who is quite a talented and crafty lady) inspired me to just jump right in. It's been a very interesting process. It seemed completely daunting at first, but with a lot of help from online tutorials, I am now almost finished. I'll write more about it at a later point, but now that it's finally starting to look like a quilt and I'm 95% sure it won't turn out to be a complete disaster, I think it's safe to share. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Gifts

I embroidered this apron for my mom for Christmas. She's a great cook, but somehow manages to get food on herself every time she goes near the stove. (It must be genetic, because I have the same affliction!) So, I thought she could use a pretty apron. I bought the apron online from Target and the canvas was just the right weight -- sturdy enough without being too hard to stitch through. The design is from Aimee Ray's Doodle Motifs book, and I decided to do the embroidery in cheerful, bright colors.

The stitching for this project went surprisingly fast. I think it's because, compared to the rest of the apron, the embroidery doesn't take up too much space. I didn't want to go overboard with it. I did most of the stitching at my dad's house while watching an LSU game. My mom seems to have really liked it, so I'd say it was a success!

I made this hoop for my roommate, who loves Paris. The design is from Jenny Hart's "Bon Voyage" pattern, and I adore the vintage jet-setter look of it. I made a few adaptations but stuck with the general design. (The fleur-de-lis was my own addition.)

It took a few tries to get the image on the fabric just right. The lines with the transfer marker were too thick, but the fabric was light enough for me to trace the images with a water soluble marker. I think this may be my embroidery-transfer method of choice going forward. I also couldn't get the mouth looking the way I wanted, which was annoying, but I don't think my roommate really cares! I painted a regular wooden hoop with some cheap gold craft paint to spruce it up a little. The dress and suitcase colors match my roommate's bedroom decor, which she noticed right away, and I tried to get as close as possible to the actual golden brown color of the Eiffel Tower. (Sidenote: In every picture I had ever seen of the Eiffel Tower, it looked black. It wasn't until I saw it in person that I realized it was actually brown! Who knew?)

I think I may have to make one for myself, but with a London theme. ;)