Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday Words - Mine!



This weeks Wednesday words are my own. I am needing a hiatus from blogging. So much is calling for my attention and I am forced to seriously prioritize to get it all done. Ern and I really need to focus on a few issues to accomplish that. His health has been challenged lately and it sort of puts me into some double duty on the home front.





My photography class has been intense and really requires a lot of homework all of which I thoroughly enjoy.  Classes will continue until the end of June. Hopefully I'll come out on the other side with improved pictures and skills. I have learned so much but mostly that I know very little. So my class is getting a lot of focus right now as well it should. It is a fun adventure.

Summer looms with all its gardening, visitors, home maintenance, etc, all of which my husband and I both enjoy. I will get some sewing in, for sure, but have to draw the line somewhere. I sew for sanity. I blog to share my passion for sewing. I will continue to sew.  Like I said, it keeps me sane. As far as blogging, I have many posts in my brain. I am hoping that will continue but at the moment it will be put on hold.


And then there's that job I work full time..........

I may blog now and then but for the time being, and I am not sure what that is, it will be sparse if at all. I hope to catch you all on the other side after our other priorities get managed. Thank you , all of you, dear readers, for following and commenting and just being the great blogger sisterhood that you are. Happy sewing and have a wonderful summer...................Bunny

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Craftsy Class Review




When a recent email came across for a bargain offer from Craftsy on the class of my choice, one of those "we want you back as a friend"  offers, I bit. I perused all the selections. So many options........A few things played into my choice. First, I feel a real bagapalooza coming on after my last bag.  You know I have garments lined up but there is no pressing need for those. Also, bag making is such fun. There are technical challenges to be enjoyed, no fit issues, and an opportunity to utilize some of the wildest prints and surface embellishments out there. Doesn't get much better than that! Then I started thinking, like I never ever do, that I should maybe start making bags for Christmas gifts, NOW. So unlike me, but it's a great excuse to switch gears a bit creatively.  Throw in that I am entranced with all the hardware now available for making professional looking bags and here was my choice: The Mix and Match Clutch Bag Technique course with Janelle MacKay of  Emmaline Bags. NAYY, BTW!




I've never been really good at clutch style bags. One of the big issues is the top flap not having a snug fit on the inside of the bag and then the innards sort of peek out. Well, with the class I learned tricks that prevent that and I truly haven't seen it in any of the samples made by others taking the class. To me a clutch bag is like a well fitting blazer. It really needs to have inner engineering to make it look effortless when worn/used and those skills are taught in this class.

You all know I have been making bags since before the millennium, cough, cough, and then some. I can honestly tell you I learned much new in this class that I can't wait to put into action. Janelle MacKay's method for installing pocket zippers is like none I've seen elsewhere and gives a beautiful finish. She also introduces various foams to the process which was a giant light bulb moment for me. Her method for getting the best installation of the foam again is like nothing I've seen elsewhere and the results are beautiful. MacKay clearly explains why various interfacings / foam combos are or are not the best idea. In the past I've used fusible fleece and decor bond combined usually. Her foam / interfacing method gives much superior results to that  and I am itching to have at it.

MacKay teaches how to install the various types of hardware and how to adjust your pattern to accommodate the varieties. I always thought that was some proprietary secret of really cool bag makers but she shares her knowledge generously.  The patterns for all the bags you see above are included with the class as well as excellent written instructions in a PDF format. The cutting layouts are clear and well illustrated. Her style of teaching is clear and straightforward. Her voice and tone are pleasant on the ears and she is totally on focus with no extraneous distracting mannerisms or unnecessary words. Her knowledge is vast, experience obvious and all generously shared. One of the things that has really impressed me and has greatly set her apart from many others who teach and design is her generosity. She allows and encourages the use of her patterns, with credit of course, for those who wish to sell them, just no mass production. This generosity of knowledge, skill and spirit is only matched by her professional demeanor. The knowledge in this class is supported by a FB presence in her Emmaline Bag group and her NCW Addicts group where here generosity, encouragement and skill shine.

I've taken several Craftsy classes at this point, most of which have been quite good. This class is among the best. If you have ever wanted to make a professional looking clutch bag, expand your bag making skills to other styles of bags and learn from the best in a clear, enjoyable class, this one's for you. I highly recommend. Again, I have no affiliations here........Bunny

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wednesday Words


This is not a book review. I haven't read this book. What I have read are a couple of articles in one of my favorite magazines, Crafts, about the sloppy craft movement. They encouraged me to seek out even more information about this phenomenon. 

Here's my opinion on crafts: there are two kinds. There are the kind you see at Saturday afternoon events in the summer and fall that are peopled by our local craftsters. I can buy cupcakes, crocheted toilet paper covers, awesome Barbie doll clothing and lots of jewelry, lots. They are a fun way to spend a cool afternoon and see your neighbors and buy a thingy or two.  Then there is the other kind. The second type of crafts that are really fine art. These fairs are held in well known big venues and have been running for years. If you have ever been to the Sunapee Fair in New Hampshire, you know what I mean. There is woodworking that glows and curves and takes your breath away. There are carved birds that could light on my trees and the local birds would ask for a mating. There is fine art to be bought, spectacular weaving, people who make exquisite and very expensive custom leather shoes. etc.. I love this type of craft. It is true art and can stop you cold in your tracks with its beauty. DD#1 and I would go to the Sunapee Fair every summer we could and would come back with items that have been in our homes for many years. I have a carved great blue heron that is one of my favorite things in the world. It just makes you want to touch it's smoothness. Jen has over her fireplace an exquisite custom hand forged piece of metal artwork. I can't even describe it but it is a beautiful  addition to the room. 

There is a place and enjoyment to be had at both these types of craft shows. Back to Craft Magazine.


And there it is again, those words, "Sloppy Craft". Now, frankly, I don't have a clue what Postdisciplinarity is or how it relates to fine craft. But I do know from the articles I have read that a lot of garbage is being sold out there as art. "Artists", faux that they be, are marketing this stuff and it is "dumbing down" fine craft and art.  Starting to sound familiar? Moaning arises about how you need to have a strong foundation and experience as a real artist/craftsperson before you can deconstruct and present garbage as art, like you see above. Then the moaners bemoan the fact that most of the Sloppy Crafters are highly inexperienced, wouldn't know an art degree if it slapped them upside the head, and are lowering the standards of the entire craft movement. They are highly skilled at marketing and social media.  Much is said about "who does it bother" and others are extremely incensed by it's existence.  Suddenly this fine art group of craftspeople is divided into groups for and against.

Many have seen this in the quilting movement with "art quilters" just not doing it like the traditionalists. ( I have seen some spectacular art quilts, BTW.)

Here are some words from Gloria Hickey, "Emerging generations of craftspeople no longer worshipped at the altar of the past.  They did not learn in apprenticeships with masters and a growing number had abandoned classrooms. They were not slaves to techniques or materials.  Young craftspeople learned from their peers or the Internet. The digital age would be to craft what the sexual revolution was to feminism." 

Dumbing down, making it fast with money as the motivation with disregard to skill and craft seem to affect more and more in our world each day. You all know you've seen this same movement in sewing. I sure have. What do you think? ..............Bunny

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Vogue 8823, the Cobalt Bling Bag is done!


Vogue 8823 c'est un fait accompli!  I really enjoyed this project on many levels. I got to add bling-y hardware to this bag. I stenciled the center section of the bag and I had the challenge of a new pattern and dealing with a new on line purveyor, at least for me, Emmaline Bags, NAYY by the way. So without further ado, here is the skinny of my newest bag.

Pattern:

This pattern is from Vogue and one of Marcy Tilton's latest designs. There are six distinct views to make with this pattern, three of which are very large, not a scale for petite's. But as Goldilocks says, View G was "juuuuuuuust right". My goal was a simple tote bag for summer. My last bag was extremely structured and this time around, for summer, I wanted something softer and more casual. I didn't use the heavy interfacing combo I usually use when I make bags but that is fine. I got what I was hoping for.

I had issues with this pattern. I thought the specified zipper installation was very cumbersome and decided to find a better way. What I did was detailed in my last post but basically I made up the top section of this three section bag separate. That way I was able to get the area to receive the zip under the presser foot comfortably and with little bulk. Then the top section was simply stitched to the bottom section after the zip was installed.

Another issue I encountered was the layout for View G on the strap pieces, 36 and 37. Let's just leave it at very confusing illustrations. Follow your gut and just cut what you need to get the job done. I had plenty of fabric to pull it off with what was specified.

My last issue with the pattern was the lack of a size being specified for the zipper that goes across the top of View G. In the notions requirements it says for that you need "one zipper (for size see sewing instructions)." Well I looked all over for the size and never did find it. Luckily my plan was to use a long zipper anyway with the tails tucked in and the metal zip ends inside the bag. Therefore I was able to be happy with my end result, but I could easily see someone being stymied about what size zip goes across the top of this bag.


Fabric:

For the bottom section and the straps I used a faux leather from Joann's, 100% poly. I found my best needle to go through this was a Microtex size 14. The leather is shaded and was quite thin and relatively easy to work with.


The top two sections of the bag were made from "bull denim", pretty heavy stuff I got a few years back to make slipcovers, about 12 yards. In keeping with my philosophy of "just cut it" I did and have no regrets. I can always buy more bull denim if I decide to do those slipcovers. The denim is a nice soft off white.  I stenciled the center section and left the top section plain.

The lining, which you can see here turned inside out, is fabric I used a couple of years back to make a spring jacket. It's an Ikat from somewhere, 100% cotton home dec print. I had enough for this lining left and felt it was a nice combination with the bag.

Interfacing is "soft". So contrary to what I usually used, I only interfaced the bag with fusible fleece. It has some body but really is quite soft. I do have to tell I have discovered something called Flex Foam which I am really excited about and will make another bag with it soon. I can't wait to try the FF out but the fleece worked fine for wanting a soft tote.  The bottom of the lining is fused with Peltex which really helped with shape of the bag bottom. You have to have some sort of base in a bag or whatever you throw in it will sag and show, so Peltex in the bottom!

This was sewn with regular Coats and Clark thread. I didn't use anything heavier for the topstitching as I get a bit paranoid about topstitching faux leather. Heavy threads or triple stitching can contribute to damaged seam lines so I kept it simple with the Coats.


Construction:

This is where it got fun! I wanted to try some new techniques here and that was fun. The bag is pretty straight forward. I've told you about the zipper issues. . Another diversion from the directions was NOT doing this: "Pin lining to front and back, having wrong sides together and edges even. Serge around edges." This was before stitching up any side seams or corners.  This would work if you were going to do the zipper the pattern way but it will still leave you with a relatively unfinished innard with serged seams, not really my style. I decided to do a drop in lining which really was easy. You can see it pinned in above and I just hand stitched it in.

For the stitching on the faux leather I rubbed the needle shaft and presser foot bottom with "Sewer's Aid", a silicone product. It worked great. Topstitching was 3.5 stitch length. Construction seams were 2.5.  I tried to press the faux business as little as possible but when I did it was with no steam, low temp and using my wooden clapper. Love that clapper and it did a great job here.

Details: 


The zipper goes across the top of this bag. The ends slip inside. If the straps were not on the side seams the zipper would be left out side of the bag. The ends of the zip need finishing. There are lots of lessons on the web about how to make little square covers for the ends and those can be nice. I wanted to try these metal zip "ends". What you see above is the back side of the zip end. The dressy side is all polished and shiny as shown in the previous post and above. The zip ends come with little teensy screws, barely bigger than a pencil lead. They are Phillips head screws but luckily I had a teensy Phillips head screwdriver in my resources and it was just the right fit. The zipper gets its ends stitched across the coil parts, like you would stop any sort of zipper. After that the zip is trimmed, not too close and the seam allowances folded/twisted narrow enough to slip them inside the end. The end is filled with a blop of glue, E6000 recommended, and the zip is shoved into the end. I used a flat screwdriver to push it in as far as I could and to neaten it all up. Once that was done the teensy screw was screwed in with the Phillips head. Done and left to dry!

I got my zip ends and all my hardware from Emmaline Bags. I have found their customer service to be wonderful. I can't wait to make up one of their bag patterns next. Highly recommend and again, no affiliation.


Next bit of bling is the sliders and the swivel hooks and the D rings. This is another issue about the pattern I didn't quite get. The small strap on the right, the one attached to the bag, is one inch wide when completed. It fit the specified D ring perfectly. The long bag strap finished at one and quarter inch wide. I checked and rechecked but followed the pattern. You can see how it did not fit nicely into the one inch wide D ring and slider specified. I can certainly live with this but would have preferred a nice flat strap. I did not have enough fabric to recut. One thing about the pic above. It really doesn't show you the highly polished shine these pieces have. Before I got the Emmaline hardware I ordered pieces from a vendor on Amazon. I was so disappointed with the quality. Anyone need fifty swivel hooks that look inferior? It's clear I can count on Emmaline's quality.


Another detail I like to add to my bags is a key fob. I used a bit of the leftover lining, wrapped it around the swivel hook and then finished the end with wrapping with DMC embroidery floss. It works great.

One side of the lining has a pleated pocket with a flat pocket on the right, the better to deal with one's cell. The pattern suggested ironing in the pleats. I stitched mine first 1/8th inch from the edge. I like the crispness this brings to the edges.


The other side of the lining has a conventional zipper pocket. You can see once again I used the triple zigzag around the zip and the entire pocket.

And last but not least:

 The nameplate! I love this touch. There are many other options for text available as well. It was easy to put in and there is a video from Janelle at Emmaline showing exactly how to install the plate. Glue is involved as well here. It is in there solid as a rock and dang, it sure takes it away from looking "home sewn".

In Conclusion:

This was a challenging project. I had to learn new skills, (installing hardware), overcome what to me were issues with the pattern and also to satisfy my creative vision I dealt with painting the fabric and dealing with faux leather. I really enjoyed it all. I would not recommend this pattern to an inexperienced bag maker but if you have a few under your belt and take it slow, it really won't be hard. I definitely recommend it to the experienced bag maker. I like all the style options available in the pattern too. I was so pleased with the final results that I signed up for the clutch bag class on Craftsy and am looking forward to making my first bag with a new product, for me anyway, Flex Foam! ...More to come, as always....................Bunny