Sunday, January 31, 2010

McCoya's Smocked Bishop



This is the bishop I am making for my friend Jocylyn's first grandchild. She will be a baby girl and their strong Scotch heritage has inspired Mom and Dad to call her McCoya. I love it. I am using Trudy Horne' Shoulder Button Bishop pattern, my go to,  and the Bayless plate that comes with it. There will be delica beads I think too. I have some really lovely variegated floss but I have never used variegated floss before. Do I just cut and smock? Do I make some sort of effort to follow a sequence of shading? Any helpful hints here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. 
This will be my current "hand" project. I will also get going on my muslin for the CJ. 

Twinlet Zakie, 2 yrs and one month old, got his first pair of skis. Is he the man or what?


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Got it!

 OK, I just realized that I published my La Sewista post on Go Chanel or Go Home. That's OK, I was going to post on GCorGH anyway, just shorter. So I did a little cut and paste here. If you haven't checked out the GCorGH blog, its great fun.
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My fabric arrived from Banksville. It was in a box in a plastic bag in a raging blizzard on my back porch. Since my ride home was one of the worst of my adult life it was a great treat to come home to find my fabric surprise. Did I start ripping the box open?  NOOOO, first pour a litttle pinot grigio, (that drive was unnerving), prop myself up in a quiet room on a fluffy pillow and start to pick apart the tape. Yippee! Caroline and Lindsay have had some great posts and commentary on buying on line lately. I seldom do it. But I think I will again with this particular vendor, Banksville. It seems we each have our vendor we feel comfortable with and buy from them. It feels risky handing over the plastic and crossing the fingers. Swatching is the way to go IMO. So without further ado here it is:



I had a horrendous time getting the lighting and therefore color right. DD, an amateur photog, told me to take the picture in morning light outside. So, I draped the fabric on the back porch and clicked away. Oh, did I tell you it was 8ยบ below? See, Dawn, your not the only nutty, brave stitcher out there!

The silk lining is a gorgeous taupe with a definite pink cast and the combo looks very rich. The boucle is pink, a pretty brown, taupe, and off white. Some of the threads glisten which I like and you can see that here:



     I have decided that what I would really like is an edge to edge no collar jacket, the classic. Vogue 8259 is quite structured, IMO, and I think the collar gives it a more formal look that will not give me as many opportunities for wear. I still think I will make 8259, but maybe not in this fabric. So still thinking about it all....Bunny














































Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Handbag Making


 First, thanks to those who commented on the corded buttonhole post. There were some terrific ideas to make this job easier and the commentary is well worth reading. If you haven't read them just scroll down to the corded buttonhole post previous to this one and make sure you click on comments  to check them out.
     I finished the raffle bag. I am pleased and will show your more in a sec. While making this baby I had many thoughts about handbag making in general that I'll share.
     First, I would really encourage all of you to try it. This is simple sewing, usually all straight lines. While you can do zipped bags with zipped pockets inside you don't need to go to that effort to get a great looking bag. It is all about the fabric and embellishment. You can be really crazy creative here. Your creativity will really liven up other garments you wear. This is opportunistic sewing at its best. You can show off those skills you may not normally use on a garment you might make. Take stipple quilting. That's a technique I love and have used much in my long ago quilting history. I probably won't make any more quilts and doubt I would put in on my clothing but I could stipple quilt my brains out on a bag. Get the picture? Here is a closeup of the handles and faux leather work I did on this bag. It's hard to see in the photo above.
   I just love the combo of the linen-y fabric, the faux leather, the lacquered rattan handles. Bags give you the option to try out textures and colors and not commit a project to being your life's work. A couple of afternoons and you've got your bag.

Also while bag making I thought I would show what I have found to be its only challenge.
Challenge =Bulk. Yup, you have simple straight lines to sew, but man, do you have the bulk! The way I make my bags with fusible fleece topped with stiff fusible Decor Bond they take on a life of their own. I grapple and twist and pull. But that stiffness is what keeps it from having BHS, or Becky Homecky Syndrome so don't hesitate to over interface your bags. You don't want to make a bag that looks wonderful then collapses in a lump after you have used 3 times. Here you can see one way I dealt with it.
Here I am sewing the lining to the bag at the top edge. The handles are connected with the leather straps to the bag and they are inside between the two. At CF and CB you have the magnetic closures I put in, also very bulky. I can't tell you how many times I underestimated on a bag and put those magnet thingies too close to the seam allowance. Wherever you think they should go, put them back further into the bag. You will need clearance from them to sew your top edge seam.  It totally helps  to have a free arm machine but even that isn't enough. Remember, this is one stiff puppy. So, I turn my machine to be over the edge of my counter. You can't see it but the ironing board is to the left and when the weight of the bag pulls the SA out of whack I have the ironing board to rest it on as I sew. Complicated? no? grunt work? kinda.
Here you see my topstitching the top edge. You can see how you can be concentrating on the stitching closely, as well you should be,  and  that you don't see that your handle is getting caught on the machine, as above, and the next thing you know, you are sewing and making nests not stitches and nothing is moving. Your eyes need to be everywhere, just like with your little ones.
So those are the downsides. Lets get back to the good stuff.
Here you can see the lining, pocket and facing band. See that magnet? The bulk of the seam gives it some strength. It is also back with more decor bond and another piece of the faux leather to prevent show thru and give more strength.

Now some words on the faux leather. Wonder Tape is your new best friend here. I used it many times in this process and here is an example. I needed the facing bands to match exactly on the side seams. I put down a  small piece of WT,  crossing the SAs. Now I can match up the seam allowances. Believe me, without the tape you will match and sew the seam at least 3 times before it is right. Here is what the tape does:


Gotta luv it. Also with faux leathers, use a size 14 stretch needle. I rub a barely there coating of Sewer's Aid on my feed area, the underneath of the presser foot, and right on the vinyl. This helps tremendously. . That needle recommendation is straight from the Sandra Betzina book and it really makes a difference.

What's up next? On the table is my little bishop dress for my Canadian friend and then get going on a muslin for the Channel Jacket, which I will just call the CJ from now on. I also want to make myself  a new bag, something uniquely embellished. More to come.........Bunny

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Buttonhole Talk

Tonight I made up some samples in my cranberry fabrics  of corded buttonholes so we could discuss. I have an older Pfaff, which I love. It's buttonholes are OK as long as there are no lumps from seam allowances near the buttonhole to mess up the computer and its stitch counting. However, when I can use it, as I did on the cranberry dress, it does work up a very nice corded buttonhole. If you have this buttonhole foot on your Pfaff, you may be one of the legions, like myself, who didn't know there was a top or bottom. It seems to work either way, but not very well. Then one day I looked at the tiny markings on the foot. Didn't really know there were any there. I did this because I had read somewhere on the web about it only going one way and you have to have the marking as you would normally read writing. duh....Well, since that enlightenment my BHs have improved immensely. So first make sure your foot is on correctly. I am showing your my Pfaff foot. Most recent machines will have some sort of accommodation for making a corded buttonhole but it may not be like the Pfaff's. So get out your manual and see what it says. OK,,,,

I have my fabric, some very lightweight stabilizer, probably ten years old so who knows what it is, and your cording material. Here and on the cranberry dress I am using floss, all 6 strands. Pearl cotton works wonderfully as well and even a couple of strands of your sewing thread. Just don't use anything with lots of fibers, like yarn.

You can see my foot has a prong on either end. Cut a piece of cord a good 10 inches so you will have something to handle. While your foot is on the machine, and not in space for taking photos, wrap the center of the cord around the back prong. Pull the cord under the foot and place the cords into the slots in the other prong. Give them a tug. On my machine they will now stay in place.

This photo, against the fabric shows this step a little better. Holding your cords slightly snug and out of the way to the left, start making your buttonhole. Just let it do its thing.

When done, you will have something like you see at the left. The BH on the right is the basic machine BH. The threads weren't clipped very well for what we are doing here. In real life, I always take them to the back and knot. Now, hold the buttonhole between your thumb and finger and pull the cord with the other hand. It may take a few tugs  but go easy on this or you can get loops and knots. Now it will look like this and you can cut off the cord at the bottom OR you can thread a large eyed needle and bring them to the back and knot and trim. I don't like the big knot on the back so I just carefully snip the cord on the front.

Next I take my stabilizer off the back of the BH. Then I give the back a good soak of Fray Bloc. Off to the ironing board where I iron it dry till the Fray Bloc is all dry. It only takes a few seconds. Now it is ready to clip. I highly recommend a buttonhole chisel and board if you don't have one. You will wonder how you did without it.

Always make sure you do test buttonholes to try the fit. Adding the stabilizer, Fray Bloc, and cord will definitely tighten up the hole. Make sure your samples have all the parts before you decide how big it should be. This is really  one of those tiny details, machine details, certainly not couture. But it is quick, easy, and gives a niced finish than just the basic machine BH. Here you can compare the differences.

Each sample has a corded BH and a regular machine buttonhole. The cord really fills in and smooths the stitching out. Hope you give this a try and definitely go check your manual as all machines are a bit different. I don't see why you can't place a pin about a half inch above the BH and wrap the cord around the pin and just hold it straight under the foot. Did Nancy Zieman do that once on her show? .....Bunny

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Raffle Bag


I've changed plans for my raffle bag. While I am still absolutely anxious to try that UHandbag pattern, I really think that since this bag will be raffled off over a period of a few weeks, it needs to stand out more. So, I have now decided and cut out McCall's 4400, View E, a larger bag with more presence.  It is the one on the bottom left with the red corner appliques.


I have made this bag several times.  Here is a pic of one I made back in 2007. In the header of the blog you will see a red wool plaid version of the same bag. There have been others. 



What I am planning now is a neutral home dec fabric with faux leather corners and handles. I cut it out tonight, so quick and simple.

In real life the leather isn't quite so dark looking. I may have made this bag about 5 times so far. After the second bag I decided to make a permanent pattern. I spread Elmer's or Sobo glue on some oak tag with some sort of card so I could get a thin thin layer of glue. The  tissue pattern pieces were placed on top and the bubbles rubbed out with the card. An old credit card is great for this. Let dry and cut out with the rotary cutter. Punch a hole in the top of each piece. Put a big kilt pin thru the hole of all the pieces. Now you can just hang up the pattern and you are good to go. I will fuse this with Decor Bond, probably two layers. I like my bucket bags to really hold their shape. Hopefully I will be able to whip this out fairly quickly.



Thanks, all, for all your wonderful comments on the Cranberry dress. It went over well with DD#1 and I know DD#2 will just love it. I would like to remark on Nancy K's comment which I so appreciate, as I do all of them. She mentioned how she visits other blogs with children's clothing but stays and reads on this one (or to that effect.) Thanks for the support, Nancy. I love doing my gourmet children's clothing but I try to add and/or explain techniques that could work just as wonderfully in adult clothing. And as most of you know I do  a fair amount of adult clothing, bags, and hats too. I just love to sew it all!

As soon as time allows I will put together some samples and pics of the corded buttonholes, so easy, and the hem treatment on the Cranberry Dress, also easy. Hasta luego........Bunny

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Cranberry Dress is Complete!




I only wish I was able to get it done for Christmas, but it should fit her easily next year as well. Sophie is a willow of a child, very tall and slender for her age, not at all grandma's genes. She is dark skinned with big brown eyes and her momma thinks her best colors are maroons and dark reds. Momma picked out the fabric. I bought the coordinate. They are 100% cotton.

The pattern is Vogue 7593. It is a  2002 Theresa Layman design. The dress you see with the puff sleeves has only a flat front bodice and yoke. I worked out the design to accommodate the smocking. Only the pinafore and the sleeveless dress came with smocking. Since Sophie is so tall and thin I had to extend the bodice with the yoke and the back bodice and sleeves as well. Another change I made to the design was the use of a tailored back belt with two big red buttons instead of a big sash. My little girl is growing up and I think just may be beyond sash stage.





She is only 5 but so tall she seems older. Here you can see the back belt. The back bodice buttons are clear. I corded the buttonholes, something my machine does very easily. I decided that from now on all buttonholes will be corded. What a pretty difference that makes. Check out your machine manual to see how to use your feet do this. I have two different prongs on my buttonhole foot that holds the taught cord. For the cording I used matching embroidery floss, all six strands. Maybe I will do a little tute on that.

The bodice has a peter pan  collar edged with  Roberta Carr "Mystery Binding."  The contrasting yoke is piped. Below the yoke the skirt is smocked. As I often do, I started off working a design from a book, but before long changed  it to something more of my own. I was originally inspired by the "Potpouri plate and dress design from The Best of Australian Smocking and Embroidery.  

This design contained feather stitching, which to do  well takes a lot of concentration. Because the berries camouflaged the feather stitching, I decided to do waves and run ribbons thru them. I had never done that before and am pleased with the results. I also added some bullion buds as a motif in the center of the smocking.

The sleeves on this pattern are very puffed and could even bear a little reduction in the width. I also found that the cuff is v. wide. I just know I will have to take in the cuffs but will wait till Sophie tries it on.

The hem band was stitched to the bottom edge of the hem right sides together. The hem edge of the contrast was then serged, pinned to that stitching line on the wrong side and stitched in the ditch. I do this a lot on childrens clothing. It makes a stronger hem and still is nicely finished inside. It is close to invisible on the top side. 

All in all this really was a very basic puff sleeve bodice design and really fairly easy to execute. Just like we have tried and true patterns for ourselves, it is great to have a few TNTs  for children in the larder too. Vogue 7593 is definitely one of my go-to's  and is a well used pattern in this house....Bunny

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Banksville Fabrics, NAYY....

The journey to make a Chanel jacket has been challenging. First there was the pattern. Then there was the fabric. Then there was Summerset. She kindly sent me her Vogue 8259 to trace off. ( I am halfway done that job.) Then when I mentioned my frustration in finding a choice of boucles, she stepped up to the plate again. She suggested I try Banksville Fabrics in Norwalk, CT. I will be eternally greatful. I now feel that my little square of the Adirondacks has access to wonderful, wonderful fabrics. Thank you so much, Summerset.

I must first tell you all the only thing I knew of Banksville Fabrics was that they were often used by designers featured in Threads. So the name was not unfamiliar. What I didn't know is that they are a "swatching service" as opposed to an on-line fabric e-tailer. For ten dollars you sign up and that entitles you to 36 swatches. You can e-mail, fax, or phone them about your request. They prefer phone calls. When you call, you get either the wonderful Margo or the equally special Lori. I dealt with Margo and she was just as excited about my project as I was. She was in no hurry to get me off the phone. We talked about my project, the pattern, the colors, what I didn't want, what I did want, the linings, etc. I got the feeling she knew exactly what I wanted and was so excited to go pick fabrics for me. Today I received my swatches.


Lots of swatches. I have many choices of the color boucles I wanted. Margo picked out coordinating silk charmeuse for the linings as well. DH and I poured over the options, ending up wanting about 4 different jackets made! I will hone in on one shortly.

It is so good to know I have choices. So now I am on my way to make my Chanel jacket. I will definitely be asking for help and have joined the Go Chanel or Go Home blog for additional support. I love doing handwork so this should be right up my alley and I am looking forward to all the stitching. Next step is to buy my fabric, finish tracing the pattern and get it back where it belongs, and make a muslin. I'm excited....Bunny


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter's Beauty

I know this is not sewing related but I thought DH's pics were so pretty they had to be published. So here goes:


That's a pic of our little barn built by one of our Amish neighbors, Joey Yoder.


This is the road in front of our land. Our house is set way back on this and not really visible.


Our humble little downsized home. It is just right for us. The snow falls off the roof and by morning is beyond shoveling. I do have a side and back entrance to ingress and egress so it is all OK. Oh, there is a lot to be said for downsizing from the big family homestead. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The only thing I miss in my old digs is the  master bath. It was just incredible and I will leave it at that.  We are very happy in our little hut. We heat with wood and only turn the furnace on when we need hot water. I could go on and on, but nuff said. Hope you are all  staying warm and cuddly. I hope our southern sewing sisters are learning the joys of high performance fabrics. Do they know what that is down south?...... Bunny

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Collar Again.....

I have a sewing pet peeve. It is peter pan collars that don't meet at the center front neckline. I have seen them on garments in magazines occasionally and I find it hard to think that look is intentional. Perhaps if there is a design detail like a button or bow, you may want to separate the collars. But, IMHO, if it is a basic Peter Pan collar, it should match. Now, truth be told, I made this mistake myself for quite some time when my children were small. Then the light went on. YOU JOIN THE COLLARS AT THE SEAM LINE BEFORE SEWING. What I would do back in the day was meet the CF edges of the collars at the fabric raw edge, not the seam line. Then of course, when my machine went over it, the collars would be spread a good half inch apart at the seam line. Maybe I should have been brighter from the get go but in those days it was make it fast and make it many. I don't sew like that any more. (30 yrs ago)







First, I find the exact 5/8 inch spot on the collar CF edge. I mark that with a pin or whatever marker you like. Then I tape the two collars together with their 5/8 inch markings kissing. You can see the tape shining. Next I go to the machine and do 3 or 4 wide zigzag stitches on the markings . This is to stitch the two collars together. Pull off the tape. You will now be able to pivot the collars so the seam allowances overlap properly.

There is a lot of free play here in the SAs. Now do your normal pin and stitch the collar taking care to place  the zigzags a hair below the 5/8 SA at CF.

Remove the zigzags, press, and voila! IRL, you really don't see the bottom collar peeking out, a camera angle thing!....Bunny

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Roberta Carr's "Mystery Binding"

I love Roberta Carr. Her book, "Couture, The Art of Fine Sewing" is wonderful and definitely one of my go-to's. On Page 89, if you have it, is a wonderful technique she calls "Mystery Binding". She also gives Chanel credit for this technique which can make an undercollar look like it wraps around to the upper collar. I had used this technique some time ago. For the Cranberry Dress I needed a contrast between the collar and the yoke of the dress. I could have gone the piping route but really wanted something stronger. I remembered this technique and thought it would be just right for implementing the contrast.
I will do a tutorial here of the method. One thing I found is that I am working with cotton and this is what I call a "hard" fabric. This technique would be much more easily used with a wool crepe or other type of soft fabric.


The goal here is to make it look like the undercollar wraps around to the upper collar. You will need the upper collar, my lighter print, an undercollar, the cranberry print, and a bias binding in the same fabric as the undercollar.

The bias binding needs to be twice the desired finished width plus the seam allowance you are using. So I did a half inch x two plus 1/2 inch seam allowance. I ended up sewing a 5/8 inch SA so the finished binding came out more narrow, but that was fine. Next you turn under and iron one raw edge the width of the finished binding, half inch in my case. Some time back I made myself this oaktag "ruler" to use for accurate pressing of small widths. It has turned into a real essential in my sewing room. I fold the fabric to the proper line, and then steam press right over the oak tag.

Now Roberta suggest that the binding be steamed to the shape of the collar. This is easier said than done. My fabric is a 100% cotton and "hard" to ease,  but I gave it my best shot. I pinned and pulled and steamed as best I could. The folded edge that was just pressed in goes toward the neckline of the collar and the raw edge meets the raw edge of the collar. It took me a moment to wrap my head around this one but you need all that width because of the SA. 

I found the best results came when I used my dauber and soaked the folded edge with water and then pressed. This took a lot of fiddling. I am not sure I would have been better off just stitching the bias binding R sides together to  on the collar but I wanted to give this technique a shot. 

Once the binding is pinned and steamed into shape around the collar you  need to slip stitch it to the collar on the fold and then press. You can see the results above. 



Once the binding is shaped, pressed into place, and slip stitched, you fold it back and stitch with the machine on the inside of the fold as you see above. After this stitching was completed I trimmed back  and graded the 3 layers of fabric involved. It all got a good hard press.  Next the undercollar was put in place and the collar was matched against the pattern piece. I had to do a little trimming at this point to accommodate the stretching of the upper collar from all the futsing. With right sides together the collar, top and bottom, was stitched right sides together. The collar was then turned and pressed and here are the results. Because of my trimming to match it all up to the pattern piece it is thicker just in the areas of the berries at CF. That is OK with me. It all blends in. I really like this technique but am sure it would work much better on a fabric not quite so unforgiving. A piece of wool or crepe would use this technque wonderfully. In the meantime I am pleased with the results and now have the contrast I wanted between the yoke and the collar.

I highly recommend Roberta Carr's book. It is so clearly written and actually very readable. What legacy she left behind. I wish I had been able to take a class with her. They say she was a pistol........Bunny

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We picked up a foot of snow last night and that was on top of an already good amount. I will leave you with this tranquil picture.

I took this this morning.






Saturday, January 2, 2010

And The Winner Is........

Arizona from Illinois!  Congratulations, Arizona!!! Please email me with your snail mail address so I can mail this out to you. My email is bunnypep at wildblue dot net. Substitute the "at" with an @ and the "dot" with a . Make sure all the letters are connected, no spaces. I think you will really enjoy this book. And thanks to all  of my followers. You humble me, really.

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Update on the smocking:
After getting a half a row of featherstitching completed, I ripped it all out. It just was too busy and lost in the print to be worth my effort. I decided to try something I haven't done before and am pleased with the results. I am doing a wave with 3 cables on top and bottom and running the ribbon thru the stitches. I have one row completed and almost the second. I have decided to maybe do some pink bullion flowers. Each of the berries in the print has a pink outline and I thought that would accent the smocking a little more as well. More to come! 

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Next in the queue are a couple, actually three projects. I think I will start the bags first, doing them both at the same time, production style. This is the only time I break my two at a time rule, when I am making more than one of the exact same thing. It goes much faster doing each process to each item and with just slightly more time you have two items done! The bag I want to make is one I downloaded off the internet about a year ago. It is a great design, IMO. Unfortunately, I downloaded off a PDF and there is no URL on the printout to refer you all to. If anyone knows whose design this is, please let me know so I can give proper credit. It was a free download offer from somewhere, perhaps a bag site. Your help is really appreciated as whoever designed this bag also gave fabulous directions for drafting the pattern and I would love to share it all with you and give credit where due. Thanks. Here is a photo of the download:


Great little bag, right?

I also have two very close friends having their first grandchildren in the next few months. The first due I know will be a girl and I plan on a little bishop dress for the sweetie to wear in the summer. I think this will be the combo:


I have been looking for a reason to use these variegated threads. They were part of a special DMC variegated collection. They have been aging in the thread drawer with their multicolored sisters and this looks like a perfect oppportunity to split them all up! I may get going as soon as the Cranberry Dress smocking is complete. Gotta have that one hand project going all the time! I don't think I ever told you all how I started doing embroidery on a big scale. I did it here and there as a child but when I was 25 it was far from something I would pick to do. Then one day I made one of the best decisions of my life and just up and quit smoking a pack and a half a day cold turkey. I needed something to do with my hands after my meals and such. Smoking for me was a real hand to mouth oral thing. I went to an embroidery store, got a kit, and then was hooked. I picked up my embroidery at all those moments when I once picked up a butt. I have to tell you, quitting was much easier than I thought. A couple of hints on my method: I told no one. I just kept it to myself and no one even noticed for almost a month. That took a lot of pressure off. Another hint: just do it. And the last, find something wonderful, like embroidery, that you feel is actually rewarding you instantly for your efforts. Oh, one more rule, don't make that wonderful substitution putting food in your mouth. Bless any of you who make the effort. It is soo soo worth it and I have now been weed free for 35 years! You couldn't pay me...................
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I am still on the quest for a great boucle for my Chanel jacket. I am just not finding it. Summerset kindly sent me her Vogue Claire Schaeffer pattern to trace off so that will get done soon. I want a boucle that isn't a plaid, isn't pink or pink and black or black and white, which so many are. I would like something with lots of vivid colors. Any hints on where to look would be appreciated. I keep checking Emmaonesock (my original choice of fabric), Fabric.com, and Sawyer Brook. "He who hesitates is last" and that is exactly what happened to my choice. I thought it would be around for a bit, particularly because it was so pricey. But it got scoffed right up. Now I know to get that credit card out the minute I see the next great boucle.  Thanks for any of your efforts in helping me find something colorful and boucle.......Bunny

ETA: Thank you so much to Linda for identifying the source of the handbag pattern. It is from U Handbag and the link is here.  Really appreciate your efforts, Linda.