Tuesday, June 29, 2010

a striped yoga bag

I've been a little out of pocket these days, but I just wanted to post this yoga bag that I made for my sister.  I used the measurements and instructions from the One Yard Wonders book put together by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins.  This particular project was submitted by Gene Pittman.

My sister picked out the fabric.  It was a good experience going to the fabric store with her because I got to learn more about her taste.  I would never have picked out this color combination for her, so I'm glad she chose her own.  I really like the fabric; I just didn't think that she would.

Hopefully my sister finds the pocket useful. I followed the instructions for the pocket, but I'm not sure how practical it will be. I'm all for extra storage, but I thought the pocket should be more robust to hold bulky keys or something. But I didn't want to take the extra time to figure that part out (it was late).

I didn't follow the instructions for the bag handle from the book.  The project in the book uses a strap attached near the top opening.  I wanted a strap on the side so it could be easily carried over the shoulder.  I used webbing for the strap which saved me a lot of time (as opposed to using the bag fabric for the strap).

Oh, and since this is my review of the project, I would like to point out two things:
  1. One of the items needed is 22 inches of elastic.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why you would need that much elastic for the opening.  I wanted my opening to be rather small, so I used 5 or 6 inches of elastic.
  2. I don't agree with the verbage of one of the measurements.  The project says to cut two 16.5 inch diameter circles (one for the outside and one for the lining).  This is not meant to be the diameter of the circle.  This measurement would be the circumference of the circle.  Maybe this is how pattern instructions are written when dealing with cutting circles, but I almost ended up cutting a circle three times larger than I needed it (again, it was late).  For anyone interested, the diameter of the circle needed is 5.25 inches.  Yes, I am a math geek.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

old polo shirts find a new wearer

My four-year-old has been hurting for some nice collared shirts.  Active boys find a way to cake new t-shirts with dirt, food and other grime within days of purchase, so he really needs a few nicer shirts to wear to church and stuff.

Instead of starting from scratch, I decided to transform a couple of my old collared shirts.  I wore these to work when I was an operations manager.  These were men's shirts, so they were not at all flattering on me (which didn't matter in that job).  Now that I have an office job, I never wear them.  But they are in good condition despite the fact that they are both at least 10 years old.

It was late at night when I started transforming these, so I didn't take any BEFORE pictures. But this green shirt shows the approximate size difference before and after the transformation.

I made a pattern from one of Logan's only collared shirt.  It is a size 4 (not 4T) so it's still a little big, but I figured he could wear these for another year (barring any major growth spurts of course).

Because I didn't want to cut up the current polo, I didn't have a pattern for the sleeves.  So I just laid a sleeve from the current polo on top of the sleeve of the old polos and cut around it.  This didn't work out so well.  The sleeves that I cut were too small for the arm hole.

The mishap caused me a ton of grief on this gray polo (which is my favorite).  The knit material didn't stretch very much and I ended up with more shirt fabric than sleeve fabric and I had to rip the seams about 4 times before I got it all to work out.

The gray polo ended up slightly slimmer on him than was originally planned, but I really like that kind of look with shirts.  This one fits him better for his size now, but who knows how long he will be able to wear it.

The blue polo turned out a little bigger than I wanted it to.  I didn't add any seam allowances to my pattern, and I purposely didn't add any when I cut to try and make the fit a little tighter.  It's still a little big but he will be able to wear it for a while.

This one went together much more quickly (in less than an hour, but I think the bottom hem took me the longest).  I tried to cut the sleeves a little differently, but again I ended up with too much shirt and not enough sleeve.  This knit material, however, was much stretchier and I managed to ease the sleeve into the hole without any problems.

By the way, I'm not sure which way of attaching a sleeve gives a better look, if there even is a difference.  With these, I sewed up the sides of the shirt and then sewed up the bottom of the sleeve to make it circular.  Then I fit (not so easily) the circular sleeve into the arm hole and sewed around the circle. 

I thought this was the right way to do it, but then I found a few tutorials online that sew the top of the sleeve to the shirt before sewing the bottom of the sleeve or sides of the shirt.  Then the bottom of the sleeve and side of the shirt are sewn together in one continuous maneuver.  That sounds a lot easier, kind of like cheating, and I will try that with the next one.

I'm proud to hand down my clothes to the next generation but I'm even prouder that I could fill a need using my sewing skills without spending a penny.  Frustrations aside, I gained confidence in my transformations with this project and I am currently raid my and the hub's closet for more clothes to transform into little guy sizes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

gone fishin' {with magnets}

Need a game to occupy a four-year-old for hours?  How about a magnetic fishing game?

After watching Logan fish for shoes with a tent pole, I started brainstorming about how he could fish for, well more real, fish.  Magnets seemed the best way to go.  I just needed to incorporate them into the fish and dangle another magnet from a dowel.

The pole was simple.  I drilled a hole in one end of a dowel and tied one end of a piece of yarn through it.  We bought some craft-sized wooden barrels to dangle from the end of the pole for weight and drilled a small hole on the top of the barrel to screw in one of those closed hook-type-things.  Then we tied the other end of the yarn to this hook and glued a magnet to the other end of the barrel using wood glue.

No, this is not my four-year-old.  He was napping when the sun finally came out long enough to take some pictures and I needed a child prop.  This game does occupy one-year-olds, but in terms of minutes, not hours.

For the fish, I used felt.  I drew a fish on tissue paper and used that as my template for all the fish.  I used two fish cutouts, one for the front of the fish and one for the back.  I traced the magnet on the back of the front fish cutout and cut the hole slightly smaller than the traced hole.  Then I just hot glued the magnet to the felt around the hole.  I just had to be sure that I glued the correct side of the magnet so the barrel would attach to the fish.

I used embroidery thread to whipstitch the fish closed.  I also put a little bit of stuffing in each fish to add a little more depth.

And guess who helped me sew up these solid color ones?  Nope, not Logan.  The hub late on Saturday night.  I did not beg...he actually offered.  I'm impressed with his craftsmanship.

I really like these ones because the felt used from Hobby Lobby was textured!  I didn't know there was such a thing.

I'm very happy that we went with magnets from a home improvement store instead of the craft store. These are stronger and can even hold the entire set of fish which makes clean up even faster (and more fun!).

This game will be coming with us on many a journey.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

basket-like bag

My sister asked me to make her a bag.  She was looking for a tote-like bag that she could take with her on her trip to us and couldn't find a good one.  So during her visit, we went to the fabric store so she could show me her vision.

After a little debate with herself, she chose this blue Mariner's Cove print for the bag.  I think she pictured the entire bag in that print, but after she showed me a photo of the type of bag she had in mind, I thought it needed some neutral.

I used a natural-colored linen remnant that I found at JoAnn's for the neutral.  Actually, I think it's a linen blend, but it has weight and it works.  I wanted to incorporate the print on the outside of the bag, so I simply created the outer shell and then top stitched a wide piece of fabric to the front and back.  Isn't it hard to get those sides to match up perfectly?  It seems like you line it up just so before sewing and then it shifts just enough during sewing to drive you crazy.

I used fleece as interfacing to give the bag more substance. She should be able to throw lots of junk in the bag without feeling like it will break into bits. I padded the straps with the fleece as well so they feel thick and sturdy, not to mention comfortable.

I don't know if you can tell, but this bag is shaped more like a trapezoid (you know, with the top wider than the bottom).  I like this shape for this bag because the linen and the print remind me of a basket.  I've seen plenty of hand-baskets (like handbags, only baskets) that have this shape (but maybe that was back in the 90's?).  Maybe you can see it better in this photo . . .

This was the first project for my new little serger.  She performed quite well!  I serged all the edges of each piece of fabric because that's what everyone says they do.  It seems like an unnecessary step to me.  Those edges will all be hiding anyway so I don't see the point.  It just took up more time.  But the serging did serve me well when I went to hand-sew the opening in the lining.  Usually I have all kinds of rouge threads trying to escape, but this time the edge was nice and clean and cooperative.  I also serged together the three layers for the straps (neutral + print + padding) and I didn't have any loose threads to deal with when turning the straps either.

And because every bag needs a least one pocket (if not ten or twelve), I included an invisible pocket.  Is that what it's called?  The kind where you can't see the pocket, just the zipper.  I like the look of these, but I always have a hard time figuring them out.  If my seam ripper was feeling neglected after my last couple of projects, it definitely doesn't now after that step.  I guess I just have to do them more often (or write down the instructions, but I'm too excited after I figure it all out to be bothered).

Although I really do like the subtle colors of this bag, I think it needs just a tiny little pop of color.  I'll have to remedy that this week before shipping this gift off to her.