Sunday, November 29, 2015

M6532, the Taco Bag, Part One


First, thanks for the lively conversation regarding Liberty Tana Lawn. It's fun to share opinions, isn't it? It's what makes the world go round and the sewing blogosphere interesting, fun, and with a depth not found in other social media. Thanks all for you input.

I spent a good part of this afternoon putting the zipper in the top gusset of the bag. FWIW, I am doing this bag totally out of sequence. Why? The interfacing will make this bag fairly stiff and I want to turn the bag as little as possible to prevent cracking. Secondly, in the pattern the upper gusset is set into the inside corners  of the sides, all lined and interfaced. That is a recipe for disaster IMO. So the lining will be separate and I will use Shirley Adams' wonderful technique for doing inside corners that you can see here. Fingers crossed and I will let you know how it goes. Above you can see the completed zipper installation. I use upholstery zips a lot. I love their neutrality, large metal teeth and sturdiness. This one was the perfect highlight for this bag. Here's a little rundown of how I went about it.


When I make bags I do something I have really not seen mentioned by other bag makers, but very important to me. All interfacing is cut WITHOUT seam allowances and then fused. This eliminates huge amounts of bulk and gives a better finish to the seams. Remember, per Roberta Carr, "her" number one rule of sewing is to reduce bulk whenever possible! That's worked well for me. Above I am using old fashioned colored carbon paper and a serrated wheel to mark the seam line on the fusible fleece. That will be the cutting line for  the interfacing. The results:


Once the gusset was interfaced it was time to put in the zip. This involved sewing a rectangle and turning it, just like you do for bound buttonholes or welt pockets. Here is the lining I chose. Light colored linings are important to me in a bag. This one has the added feature of some glitter. It is a simple quilting cotton, not the best quality, and therefore heavy and with body, just fine for its intended use.


Here is the zip installed in it's "window".


This zipper will get a lot of use, another reason for the heavy upholstery zip. Because of that heavy use I don't like to do the usual row or two of topstitching. Instead I use the triple zigzag as you can see  more clearly in the first photo in the post. It's served me well. It's ok to not follow the pattern. Utilize your machine and all of it's wondrous abilities. With this fabric the stitches sunk right into the fabric.  This is what the zip looks like on the underside.


This was enough for today! Next will be getting the bottom of the bag together and doing those inset corners.

I've decided this may be a Christmas gift, or not. I am also working on some jewelry gifts for my favorite women. More on that later!......................................Bunny

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Wednesday Words, a bit early!


photo courtesy Britex fabrics.

" I know what you mean about Liberty – the soft 

lawn cotton is really nice but most of the patterns 

are way too ditsy – and from a distance most of them

 turn to a purpley grey sludge. Or brownish." 

.......................................Kate from Fabrickated


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I will be travelling over the Thanksgiving holiday and won't be back until next week. I wish you all a wonderful day with family and friends, revelling in their company and sharing the joy of good food together. Safe travels for all............................Bunny

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Taco Bag, McCalls 6532


I am anxious to start my Taco Bag, McCalls 6532.  First, the fabric which you see above. It was recently purchased at a Joanns fifty off home dec clearance sale. I truly regret not having bought more. Because I needed to place the motifs, the yardage amount was really compromised. Oh, I really had enough. I just didn't have the extra I thought I would. Of course this was in the store the day I bought it and never more. It is a black denim with very heavy rayon embroidery all over, huge repeat. I am showing  it to you all scrunched up to make a point.  This just came from the washer, dryer and iron. Before that it was like any home dec fabric, stiff, yucky and loaded with finishes. I wash home dec fabrics all the time. The hand on this changed in such a positive way that if I had more it would have become a rather Koos type coat, not a bag. It now has a beautiful drape and will be much kinder to sew, the biggest reason I wash Home Dec. That really helps eliminate stitch problems.  I do know that the marvelous new drape won't make any difference as I interface the hell out of the bag parts, but it does just feel nicer to work with. Moral: don't be afraid of those big ole nasty stiff but pretty home dec fabrics. WASH THEM!



Here you can see why I call it the Taco Bag. It's shaped like a taco! All reviews say they were surprised at how large it was but I want a large bag. I need one to schlep my books and stuff to work. This should do it. I will be doing View A, the view with no contrast bottom fabric. This is how I cut the motif. The big flower will be bisected by a zippered pocket but that should be below the center of the flower.


This pattern has a rather odd way of sewing in the zippered top. Actually, it's not odd. What's odd is that the gusset is not run down to the bottom edge of the bag, ending instead half way down the side. That means inside corners  to deal with. Add in that Peltex is recommended and you can see where this could get a bit sticky, something reviewers mentioned. I am going to pass on the Peltex and use my tried and true combo of Decor Bond and fusible fleece. It won't come out with the luggage look but that  is fine with me. It should still have some serious body.
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I am still working on beads and jewelry at night while watching TV and still enjoying it. I purchased and painted sheets of Tyvek, that stuff they wrap houses with, and hope to make some beads with that real soon. In the meantime, the holiday hustle is on. I am off to make one of my deserts to bring, Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cake from the Betty Crocker site which is down today "for maintenence" and wind out a bit of fresh pasta for dinner. Once you've gone that route its tough to go back to Barilla!..........Bunny

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Linen cushions are finally, finally done!


The cushion project for DD#2 is finally done. Cushion number one went perfectly, taking no extra time and falling into place like a snowflake on Christmas. Cushion number two: let's just say it was a friggin' nightmare. It took me five passes around the last boxing edge to get it finished. I've since calmed down, and the cushions are ready to be delivered on Thanksgiving. Here's the low-down.


DD wanted two cushions to fill the window seat of her bay window in the family room, 110 inches wide and 17 inches deep. On her own, she purchased the fabric and asked if I could make them. The fabric was a linen drapery fabric with a large repeat. Her purchase was done without my input. The linen was too light, IMO and would there be enough with the huge match? As far as the match, I made it with a six inch square piece to spare. Talk about close! But it matches nicely, on the covers and the boxing. Since the linen was too light, IMO, but was perfect for her room, IHO, I backed it all with fusible tricot interfacing, better.  For the insides I used the high density foam, thank you Joann's, and wrapped it with poly batting. The batting was loosely stitched together around the core and then was good to go.

I made miles of piping, 23 yards to be exact and too much but you just never know, and I used the technique for making bias found in the tutorial tab. The plan was to stitch the piping to one "cover" and then stitch the boxing to it following the previous stitching. That worked well and the first cushion came out perfectly.  The second cushion, not so much.

It took me five passes around the final boxing seam before I was finished. I sewed the boxing to the top and then took a couple days off to go to work. Then I stitched the remaining boxing seam to the bottom or so I thought. I am using my Kenmore and you can't see the spool from the front of the machine. I sewed the first four inches beautifully. Little did I know that the spool was empty after that. Remember in seventh grade Home Ec class they told you to look at your edge, not the needle? Well I did and thne stitched the entire boxing to the bottom with no thread, Pass Number One. OK, take a day off, start again with a full bobbin and spool of thread. It's going well. I got all the way around and about 12 inches from the end realized I had ALL THIS EXTRA fabric bunching up  at the end, GAhhhhhh. The boxed corners didn't match up from top to bottom either, Am I losing it? I am just shoving this away.

Another weekend and I rip out all the previous stitching that should have finished the cushion. Try again. This time I was really careful, lining up my corners nicely and spreading out any ease. Looked good and I decided I would baste it first just to be sure. I baste stitched all around  and all look wonderful. We are now into Pass Number Three. Let's finish this baby! I grab the cushion cover and start sewing.  I am excited to be done. and wha.....I restitched the OTHER boxing seam which was just fine, Pass Number Four. Can you hear my primal scream? Ok, here's comes Pass Number Five and I am going to get it right this time and I did! The Sewing Gremlins definitely took up residence in my sewing room for this project. Is not any project for someone else, whether we love them or not, doomed to major frustration? Sometimes I think so. But it is now done, and I am sipping my glass of wine as I write here.

Below you can see the two cushions. Because they are so long I couldn't get them all in the pic or close enough for detail. They are the same size and match nicely despite some sort of optical illusion going on.


I will be bringing the two cushions to New Hampshire and will  place them in their new home on the window seat in the way wide bay window. In the end, I think they will look nice and DD will appreciate my efforts. I am just glad it's done.

Hanging over the couch and visible in a few pics is the tapestry for my next project. I can't wait! I will be working on a much needed new bag for winter. Reading Marie Kondo's organizing book conned me into chucking nearly every bag I own. They didn't  "spark joy" in me. My next project will be making a bag that "sparks joy" in my heart. Better not have any gremlins.....................Bunny

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Words, out of the mouths of babes




Another pleasure of King Arthur weekend was spending the day with my ten year old granddaughter, Sophie. She is extremely bright, a delight to be around and very "in control" of her world! She loves to sew and we try to get to the machine every time I visit. I gave her my Featherweight and she is enjoying it and taking very good care of it. This trip she was having a problem with her tension, loopy messy stitches. We checked and the thread was threaded perfectly. I pulled out the bobbin and lo and behold, it was put into the case counter clockwise when it should have been clockwise.I gave her a quick class on filling her bobbin case properly.  I had her do a few practice bobbin fills and she definitely learned her lesson. Then our conversation began.

Me; "Have you been sewing in school?" ( she does) "What are you working on?"

Sophie: "This year we made a gym bag ( draw string bag, sixth grade, she skipped a year). That will be our project for the year. We learn all sorts of things in our FACS class.? (pronounced like fax in kid lingo)

Me: "What is FACS?"

Sophie: "Family and Consumer Science. We learn how to sew and cook  and lots of other things."

Me:  "What else have you sewn?"

Sophie: "Last year we did a pillow case. But we learn lots of things besides sewing and cooking."

Me; "What other things?"

Sophie: "We've learned the right way to set a table, how to iron a shirt, how to wash dishes the right way by hand, do the laundry and lots of stuff. It's really fun."

Me:" Is this just in middle school?"

Sophie:  "No. Everybody has to take FACS from fifth until twelfth grade but in high school they spend more time on cooking and sewing, I think."

In comes big brother, in eighth grade,  who brings his phone over to be part of the conversation.

Jack: " Bunbun, look what I did in FACS."

He proceeds to show me his digital presentation he had to do for his cooking segment of the class. It was amazing. He documented the meal he was assigned to prepare at home for his family, showing how he cut the onions, cooked the meat, read the recipe, set the table, cleaned all the dishes, including pots, when done. Everyone in class had to prepare an entire meal for their family, eighth grade, mind you, document it all digitally, and do a power point presentation to the class. I was so impressed and told him how proud of was of his assignment. I don't know of anyone other than these two kids who are getting this kind of valuable learning. Do you? Can you see the value in it like I do? These are necessary life skills. I am so glad my grandchildren attend school in a community that doesn't write off sewing and cooking as a frivolous budget expense. I am thankful they live in a community that wants their children to learn how to iron a shirt, set a table, wash the dishes, do laundry and I am sure many other life skills. Where I live kids are being taught to pass tests and not much more. There is nothing like this. I am sad for those who aren't as lucky as Jack and Sophie....Bunny


Monday, November 16, 2015

Fiber Beads!



With a little inspiration from Pinterest I decided to dip my hands into making beads from fibers, namely batik and vintage ribbons. These are vintage ribbons in the necklace above that were given to me by my  dear friend Ima. There used to be a ribbon factory in New Hampshire at one time and it had a retail outlet. This is where she got these and kindly gifted me with them many years later when she "broke  up" her sewing room.  Very similar ribbons can be purchased today at places like Joanns.


There are a couple of different techniques to wind the beads but in this necklace I used a clear straw as the center and proceeded from there. After that actual glass beads were stitched to the fiber beads. This was really fun, great "TV" work and fairly quick to do. I've worn this necklace a few times and received lots of compliments. I think it is the "bead on bead" effect that makes it special.



This necklace was made with batik quilting cotton, similar technique. I touched up the beads with a bit of silver paint pen. I think the fiber beads really need a bit of bling somewhere to work.

I hope to make a few more of these as Christmas gifts. My cadre of favorite women, those I joined in the King Arthur class, will wear them and appreciate them. They are special like that and really the only people I sew and create for. It is my pleasure to do so as it is always much appreciated.......Bunny

Thursday, November 12, 2015


No sewing got done this past weekend. My two daughters and my sister and I all spent a fabulous weekend together culminating in a whole day at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont learning all about hand making pastas from scratch. This was just the best girly time. It was spent with my favorite and oh so wonderful women doing our favorite things, learning, cooking, eating and shopping.  Our chef/teacher Robin was  very knowledgeable, fun and patient.  The sauce we savored made with  Black Trumpet mushrooms she herself foraged from the Vermont woods gained her rock star status.  Above you can see my oldest daughter churning out what will become spinach fettucine. 

 Here is baby sis working on hers. We made raviolis, laminated pastas, fettucines including flavored variations, and capallettis. Hope I spelled that right! We had a meal of spinach pasta with a sauce made with heavy cream, nutmeg and the black trumpet mushrooms, simmered over an hour, incredible. We all took our work home each of us needing two provided boxes to house all the booty. Tonight I cooked up some more of the pastas with a simple garlic olive oil dressing. Hubby loved it and thought the texture was perfect. He's very fussy about his al dente. We learned how good  texture depends on the blend of flours, not so much on boiling time.  

 This pic has moi and my youngest daughter . I'm cutting my spinach fettucine. In the pics you can see what a professional environment we were in, each with our stations all stocked with everything necessary. Another chef circulated answering our questions and checking our results, clearing and delivering any necessities. There were sixteen in the class aided by the two chefs. We learned SO MUCH. I can't stess that enough. It was clear everyone there was an experienced cook who loved the craft. This is not first time we've done this. A few years back we all went and took a class on baking sweet yeast breads. If you ever have the time or or plan to be in Vermont, this is a great  way to spend a day, particularly with like minded individuals, be it friends or family. Hope you give it a try.  The building is gorgeous, the restaurant all locally sourced and serving fabulous food and the education area and staff totally professional. It was great fun!

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Since there is more fresh pasta in the freezer and I had the day off yesterday, I took some time between catch up house chores to make some bread. I love to cook almost as much as sewing! Back to sewing soon.......Bunny


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Read any good books, lately?

courtesy essentialhealth.com


I'm no expert. I've never claimed to be. But I read a lot, particularly a lot of sewing books. By this stage of my life I have made more sewing mistakes than you can imagine. Sleeves installed backward? I've done it more times than I can count.Cut and sewed two of something when I only need one?  Many times. Nasty zipper installations? Well, if there were an Olympic competition for that one, I'd have the gold. I could go on and on. But back to my second sentence. I DO read a lot. I actually  "study" sewing. I know many of you do as well. I have all but a handful of the first few issues of Threads and have read every one of them numerous times. They say reading before sleep helps you learn. I don't know but that is generally when I read my Threads or any of the other sewing books I enjoy. I reread those too.

Through books I've learned there are many ways to execute technique but the basics are pretty much shared by all the greats equally. I'm talking my heroes, Nancy Zieman. Claire Shaeffer, Roberta Carr, Susan Khalje, Kenneth King and others. I have read all of their books over and over. Did you know I have, or had, a photographic memory? I did until I hit about forty. That was when I declined in my reading of books ( work, kids ) and I really think that change in the use of my memory muscle did it in. I rarely studied in college or any other school. I would look at the book once and could go into a final knowing exactly the line, the page, and words I was looking for. That did not help my study skills and any subject that required reasoning, like math, I avoided like the plague. I guess I let that little tidbit about myself  out just to make the point that what I read I hold on to. (FWIW, I still have perfect color memory. Weird how that stuck.) My visual memory is still quite good but not the letter by letter perfection I used to consider normal.

Why am I boring you with all of this? Part of me doesn't really know. I feel like I am talking to friends when I write my posts. Another part of me wants to make the point that there is really solid, good, easy to understand knowledge out there. It's not all on you tube or blogs. Actually, a lot of misinformation can be attributed to either of those sources, but some good too. It is so easy to just click and skim. A book is heavy, doggone it, and you have to actually read the thing, too. It is not instant gratification. But I love that I can take a book and find an answer to my sewing query. I can take it in at my own pace. It can sit right next to me at the machine, if need be. (I know, my tablet can too and sometimes it does.) I love being able to "study" in my comfy chair or propped up on my pillow in bed or in the shade and coolness of our new deck. Yes, I can do this with my tablet but there is just something "hard" about a tablet and "warm" about a book, at least for me.   I certainly use the internet and  various devices to search and learn, but it's not the same type of "studying" that I enjoy with books. I love on the internet that I can instantly get various opinions and techniques on the same subject. Books for me  require a different sort of effort. The experience is enhanced by a good cup of tea, a comfy place to sit and QUIET. I  love the quiet part. It's a pleasure.

This post was prompted by finding someone giving erroneous information to others out on the internet in regards to a technique of sewing, While I feel bad for those who took the information as correct when it clearly wasn't it made me just start wondering about how we receive our sewing information. Moms and Grandmoms who sew as well as Home Ec classes are long gone as reliable sources of basic sewing technique. I am talking about today and how we learn. I have so many questions.

What part of your sewing education has the internet played? All of it? Some of it? Very little of it? Do you blindly trust youtube and bloggers with sewing information or maybe just some of them? Would you trust a classic sewing book, or a  new one for that matter, as much, more of, or less than internet advice?  What about your own experience? By that I mean the College of Hard Knocks and Wadders. Is that your primary teacher? Is your knowledge a combo of internet and books? Where did you get your "foundation"? Do you consider yourself to have a strong  foundation in the basics of sewing? If so. how did you come by it?  And how much does the marketing of a blogger influence your trust in information? If someone has many followers, does that mean they must know what they are doing?  There are no right or wrong answers here.

I am currently reading a very interesting  book called "Reclaiming conversation" by Sherry Turkle. One of the big seductions of texting and blogging and such is that we can "get it right", Turkle's words. We can take thirty pictures to get just the right one on a post. I've surely done that. We can edit our words before we hit publish whereas in real life, once our mouth opens, its pretty much a done deal. We can present a persona out on the web that in real life has warts, misbehavior and is not always that pleasant.  And we can use this power of getting it right to maybe exaggerate our knowledge, skill and experience. We can edit to put a face to the world that presents us as pretty doggone perfect if we want to, unlike real life, which goes unscripted and has blatant consequences of our actions. We can even delete or not allow publication of comments that point up our faults and misinformation. Are you more likely to believe in someone's abilities if they are well marketed? Pretty provocative stuff. How do you like  blogs who show their wadders and poor fitting as opposed to those that are examples of marketing genius? Which do you trust more for sewing knowledge? Let's be honest here.

I would love to know your opinions.