Sunday, June 22, 2014

Car Seat Cover Redux

So back in the day I made a car seat cover for a friend. I learned how from the blog Cluck Cluck Sew: Car Seat Cover (aka Greeter Deterrent) How To. This is a great and easy project. The pattern is super easy but as you have come to know me, you know I am not going to do anything the same way twice.

The bit of feedback I got back from the mom who received my first car seat cover, was that she tore or ripped the seam (I haven’t seen it yet so I don’t know for sure) on the Velcro straps. The Cluck Cluck Sew's strap is rather big. What that told me is there was some kind of combination with the amount of Velcro, fabric with no stabilizer or interfacing, and/or the straps in general are too big. Because the amount of Velcro it was probably too intense for the fabric or seams when taking off the strap. Anyways, I decided to make a smarter strap for the car seat’s handle.

I feel like I am doing you a disservice since I have yet to make one of these covers having the car seat in front of me. Yes, that’s right folks, I have remotely made another car seat cover. So the added pressure of making it right the first time when I am totally changing the pattern up had me shacking in my boots the whole time.

I made many sketches, this is the one is the one I landed on. On the next page there is a sketch of the straps I wanted to make. Do they look weird to you? I was inspired by a frog's feet & toes. Mother nature is the best engineer right? I wanted to make a strap that had less Velcro on it to prevent it from being too strong. Because I was making it remotely I wanted to be insured that the straps were adaptable.

After that I just figured out where things will go and how. Nothing like a little preplanning and strategizing to figure out how to piece it all together.

The second picture is to show you the final size of the straps. I made them long so that way after being sewed into the seam it came out to about 3 inches.

First I folded the fabric in half, cut it down to size (a little bigger of course), then cut a 3 inch strip down the middle. I made my strip down the center however (I imagine) you can move the strip to where you need it relative to handle. Also this method also allows you to use different fabric for the panels or make the ‘front’ bigger than the ‘back’. Customization rocks.

Alright so what you see below are 4 sets of straps and 36+ inches of cording cut down into 4 sections (the cording I wanted to make came from My Poppet: Handmade Scrap Fabric Twine. However I tried to figure how to it but I couldn’t, but I wanted to…. Bad! Because it looks so cool so I’m sharing like a good little seamster.)

So you can see on my ruler that I placed the straps 8 inches apart and the cording another 3.5 inches from that. On the right you can see how I CAREFULLY folded and pinned the cord and the straps to the center strap. I didn’t want to sew them into the seams of the center straps when I sewed them RST. So once I got it all pinned down I sewed the center strips and the two side planels RST.

I of course left a hole in each of the sections to make sure I could flip them inside out. Ironed it all out and this is what you got….

Here is what that looks like. Two more seams to sew and you’re all done. Take this center strap and sew it (once again) RST with the two panels.

Yay! I can’t believe how great it turned out. That's not the car seat the cover is going to, but I tested it when I was near by one. Because of the straps, the way I made them and placed them, it should be great... hopefully!

I loved the experience, love the fabric -- got the last two  yards of it at Nob Hill Fabrics. It’s perfect for the recipient since they had a boy and its like a fancy camouflage. Very Wisconsin – Go Packers.

I learned a little something on this project, and here what I learned this time:

  • I was really proud of myself for trying something outside the box.  I was a fun discovery.  Even though the pattern was simple, I still made it and it worked.
  • The straps really worked well! They are cool. The tinier, cording straps are the best!
  • I've already thought of two different ways to make this car seat cover.  I hope I get to try it some day.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Day Care Bag

Like any sewing projects that I have done, it all started out because I saw something on a blog I wanted to try and make it.

On the blog Kit’s Crafts, I found a Knitting Bag Tutorial. The bag looks so cute and was such an interesting shape that I became inspired. So after work yesterday I started this project.

First I started out by reading the blog and tried to envision the instructions. I clicked on the link for the pattern and found it a little intimidating. You don't have to be though, its actually really cool. I think if I would have printed it out versus making the pattern - it would have been a lot easier. But all in all it went well. Once you make the pattern, the rest is super easy.

I had to hand draw the pattern onto brown paper bags. This was not easy. I messed up the pattern several times before I finally cut out the right sizes. And let me tell you something, typically I’ll cut things a little larger to leave room for mistakes. But If you have to make this pattern by hand too, gurl you better do exactly what that measurement says. After you get some experience with this pattern then I can totally see altering it to make different size bags.

Anyways when the patterns were cut out I laid them out on the fabric. These pictures show how I folded the fabric over four times and cut around my pattern once.

Next I worked on sewing the exterior and interior pieces together and making pockets. The interior triangle pocket were just something I made using a scrap or two off remnants. The exterior of the bag I accidentally cut it out two front center panels, so I made the second one into a tall exterior pocket.

I need to take a moment and say I need practice with pockets. If look at the Kits Craft Tutorial, you can see her accents on the front pockets. Her bag looks so good because of that step number 4. I don't have ribbon so I couldn't do this application, but my pockets are super sloppy & I need to start stepping up my game in that department.

Well I messed up a couple times doing different things in this project. Here was my first major stupid mistake. I sewed the bottom up wrong… somehow. I don't know why this happened, maybe cuz it was late I thought I figured out how to do it so I just did it and I should have stopped and looked and checked on it along the way it but I didn’t. Anyways, if your’s looks like the picture above, its wrong......

Anyways the bag turned out okay. I really love it, I just don't know if I am in love with it. I would make this bag 100 more time because it was so cool and so versatile. But I guess where I’m a little off about it is the overwhelming nature of the striped print. Don't get me wrong I freaking love the print and how I made it all the edges mitered, but I guess in combination with everything it makes the bag look super busy. Like looking at this bag makes me feel like I am having some kind of an optical malfunction or something…. Like when I look at it, I feel like I am going to have a freaking seizure over here. So me not liking my bag is all on me, the bag its self is awesome and so is the blog it came from.

Then again that little animal baby print is so freakin cute. I love that giraffe. I wish I had a stuffed animal that look like that giraffe. Anyways the Kit Craft blogger called it her knitting bag, I'm calling this The Day Care Bag. It's functional enough for mom to stuff all the things a baby might need for a day at the babysitter. Because of its dimensions it could fit a change of clothes, maybe a bottle in the front pocket, toys, diapers, the works. Its so cool,  I am very interested in working on this pattern again sometime. Its very functional and because the print is so loud it can't be lost easily and won't blend in to the background. :)

How I feel about making this bag....

  • Don't start a project unless you can finish it. At first it was… I'm just going to cut out the pattern tonight, then it was…. well I'm just going to cut out the fabric, then… but I can just sew the pieces of lining and exterior together, then I said…. well crap I just want to finish the front piece first before I go to bed, next thing I know its 2 in the morning and I say…… F**k it I'm just finishing the whole g**damn thing tonight.
  • I know why they call it fussy cuts now, they make you feel a little fussy when you are cutting them.
  • Pay attention to what you are doing. Don't be distracted because mistakes, they’ll slip right in you'll never notice they happened until it's too late. Lets just say that in addition to sewing the bottom wrong I also had to rip out an entire set off super strong stitches because I put my strap in wrong.
  • Speaking of my strap, you notice I gotta freaking gigantic strap going on there. I don't understand how the Kits Craft blogger’s strap only looked like it was two and a half inches wide. I was weired out cuz the top of my side panel was like 5 inches. So unless I messed up making my pattern I didn't want a tiny strap in a big 5” panel. Anyways the strap is cute and I don't mind that is freakin ginormous, it is what it is.
  • Also the next time I might alter the pattern a little and I will probably repeat the front pockets on the back of the bag instead of a one big panel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Gym Bag Tutorial - Get Your Workout ON In Style!

Alright here is the origin story of this sewing project. I'm sure you could tell by now I like using the word “totes”, as in the abbreviation for the word totally. I think it's freakin hilarious and so do my friends and so we use the word totes ironically and hilariously all the time.

When I started sewing all mi senoritas gave me spare fabric. My good friend’s mom (I'm friends with her too though) gave me two windbreakers/raincoats made out of nylon – one pink, one purple. The brand is called “The Totes Coat”. Anyways we found this label infinitely hilarious.

One day my friend and I were talking Pinterest and I asked her if there's anything she wanted me to make for her. She said that she wanted a gym bag. I said do you want me to make it out of your grandma’s raincoat? She said hells yeah! I said fuck yeah!
So what we did is trade some pins back and forth until she found a pattern she wanted. Luckily out of the options I gave her she chose an easy tutorial that had great pictures and instructions. It came from the blog The Ginger Monkey (I love this blog so much) and it was called The Jeni Gym Bag. And so it begins…. Here is my tutorial on how to make your very own gym bag.

Step #1:  The first thing I did was make a trial run version of the gym bag. I wanted to get a feel for how I was going to be sewing this bag before I started cutting into the limited amount of resources that were available from the raincoat (Plus my trail run bags went to some very grateful little girls). 
Here is my example of the practice gym bag. This was a brilliant idea to do a test run. I never tried the whole grommet thing before. And I learned how to avoid certain sloppy mistakes that could be made when creating the final the gym bag.

Step #2:  The next thing I did as was examine the raincoat and try to find inspiration. For example this picture shows a shoulder detail that I loved so much.  After carefully cutting it out I managed to sew it together. (Yes, those are pins. Don't tell anybody it'll ruin my rep). Anyways I sewed the two shoulders together and I was lucky enough to create a really cool looking front of the bag. Plus, because it was the shoulders, it sort of poof-ed out in a cool way.

Step #3:  Now let's address the grommets portion of this project for a moment. Left over from the Christmas ornaments project, I had some really heavy duty stuff…. I don't know what this stuff is called exactly…. I think it’s called interfacing? (Do you need me tell you what it is?) Anyways I used that interfacing to add dimension to the flimsy nylon before punching holes in it for the grommets.  Essentially I didn't want the grommets to rip through the nylon. I figured that using this heavyweight interface would be a great way to secure the grommets. Turns out I was right haters.

Step #3: With the exterior pieces done I moved onto the lining. Because it’s a gym bag I wanted functionality to be paramount above all else. As you can see from this picture I used the exterior pockets on the purple raincoat to be the lining on the inside of the gym bag. What could be better than a pocket for you to store your phone and other private objects inside your gym bag, right?

What Step are we on...again? I feel like this took longer than making the bag....
Step #4: Anyways, I added some additional features to the interior, lining of the bag. I used the buttonholes on the front of the raincoat over the pocket of the purple rain coat. What that created there is a clip for her to snap her keys to, or some portable hand sanitizer, hello!?

Step #5:  The other side of the interior, I flipped the rain shear, sewed a couple of lines up and bingo-bango you got some additional (albeit tiny) pockets.

Anyways I'll let you follow the tutorial online that I used (not this mess).  Here are my end results and I loved making this. It was so fun exploring on my own how to make something so pretty…. all the while using a really super helpful tutorial that guided me along the way!

(Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the finishes… I got some cool pink nylon rope to go through it and some clamps, I just didn't take a pic of it.... chill-lax mom.) 

Want to know what I learned making this adorbs gym bag? Well, here’s the breakdown: 

  • Maybe you noticed that the front of the bag in one of the pictures early on doesn't have buttons on the front of it …. Even though the finish product does. I'm not saying that this will happen to you…. but when you cut a hole into the nylon fabric you have to find a way to stitch it back together. I chose to cut out some buttons, stick them up through the holes, and sew them down. Deal with your mistakes, I had to. 
  • Working with nylon is super easy and it was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. 
  • When working a project, just know that you're going to mess something up. There's no way around it. But try to limit the amount of mistakes you make. In my case, the back of the gym bag did not turn out how I wanted it look at all. But I managed to make it work and its fine – fineish… like fine adjacent. Fuck it, its functional.  Sometimes that's all you can hope for ladies, you know what I mean? 
  • Making pockets out of pockets is the shit.

Stepping Up My Tote Bag Game!

After making like a gazillion tote bags, I decided I can't keep playing in this kiddie pool arena anymore and decided to try to make something harder and more complex. I was looking through the fabric I purchased from the sewing convention and saw some fabric that my mom would love so I decided to try and make The Free Lunch Tote Pattern and Tutorial.
I chose this tutorial to do because the image of the bag seemed really cute and it incorporated quilting. Recently I have been toying around with the idea to do more free motion quilting so I thought I could make my mom something nice and practice my freestyle quilting (Sorry, I know its called free motion quilting but I like freestyle better). Although …………. the free motion quilting didn't go as planned. The test runs sucked because I couldn't move the fabric swiftly enough under the needle to achieve any sort of smaller curves or swirls (Found out I gotta put those dogs down!). What I ended up deciding to do is the scallop quilt pattern. And even though it wasn't what I wanted to do I really REALLY really like how it turned out.

The tutorial was super easy even though I should have followed the instructions are closely on the last step. My mom loved the prints (like I knew she would) and other than the fact that I thought I had two fat quarters of the blue background flower print… turns out I only had one. This is why there are two different prints on the purse, one on each side of the bag. Just another fumble – or as I as I like to call them “establishing my Mother F’ing learning curve”. I'm telling you folks, pre-planning is the key! Double & triple check your work before you start. Anyways that's the last of that fabric I used on the handles, sigh... I loved that print.

With that tote bag/purse under my belt I decided to do something I really wanted to do even though I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it. And that is the Noodlehead Blog Tutorial: Messenger Bag from Cargo Pants. I wanted to make a bag for my best friend now that I made my obligatory gift for my mom. My bestie is the epitome of this style of bag/purse. I've known her since I we were 11 years old and I also know what she likes, I know that she wanted a bag that was functional that she can wear across her chest and I know she wanted to be a little cute and a little butch. So I hacked up my khakis and a pair of cargo shorts and made this!

I messed up on the sewing bias tape, but it was my first time ever doing it so give me a freakin break, JK. Anyways this is really fun, I have been exploring doing piecing work (I don’t know if that is the right word for it though) and you can see some of that here. For example where on the inside the bag, instead of getting a whole piece of fabric, I used a piece of khaki pants that had the exterior pant leg seam on it (also check the strap). The most fun was picking out the cargo pocket. It really ended up dictating the size of the purse. Everything came together really easy over all. This tutorial is so excellent, I cannot stress that enough to try it!!! In fact I have orders on hand to make a few more of these for some of my friends. BTW the binding and the interior for the strap was just made from a jelly roll - I find its good to have some of those around.

What I learned from making my first freaking purses:

  • Go for it go for it go for it go for it!!!!  You have to try to make something that you don't know how to make.
  • Don't be scared to deviate from the instructions. Even though the tutorial for the cargo pants messenger bag was awesome, I had to deviate from the suggested sizes. Gurl you just gotta make it work sometimes.
  • And just like I will always say it like I mean it you should always make it how you want it!

Shout out to the Quilt House & all you ladies at the Sewing and Quilting Convention!

I just wanted to tell you about a quilting and sewing convention that I went to last month here in my hometown. My mom scored me some tickets and so I went with her and it was hella fun. I saw an iron from Italy for 200 bucks that I would sell my left kidney for and I'd probably use for a change. I also attended the class tutorial where the teacher taught some sort of modified version of a Cathedral window quilt block. Lastly I wanna give a shout out to the Quilt House in Gardnerville Nevada. I bought all the fabrics below from them and the price was great, the variety in the packs they had was really nice, and the fabric was top quality (plus my mom even actually like some of them). I am going to have so much fun cutting and sewing it all up……. that sounds a little crazy. Plus with my purchase I got a free pocket sized Constitution! What!? What?!

What I learned by going to a sewing convention:

  • I have so (too?) much in common with middle age (by middle age I of course mean that they have been graced by time and wisdom). No for real everybody there with super great. 
  • Don't buy anything that you can get for free, sorry vendors
  • When you get the feeling you want to impulse buy on the state-of-the-art rotary cutter or iron, don't hold back just fucking Do It!
  • And go to your next/nearest convention. Support the vendors and the cause!

Dontcha Just Love A Good Tote?!

I can't remember why I started making totes but it was probably because after all making all of these baby toys and quilts I wanted to move on and make something different. Although, honestly, I think if I remember correctly it was because the holiday season was upon us all and I decided to make a bunch of ladies tote bags for gifts (Oh! I stuff them with some sachets as gifts). 
Anyways.... I DO remember that I was apprehensive about choosing a tote bag pattern to learn from, so after some extensive googling I found a pattern and tutorial that was really easy and simple to read and understand on HGTV’s Make an Easy-to-Sew Lined Tote Bag. What’s really nice about it is that it has a lot of photos which I cannot stress enough is so critical to us noobs.

Once I got how to make the tote bag down, I started exploring making different quilted patterns. Quite possibly my favorite tote bag I've ever made was created from those designer sample pieces that you can buy at the store. When a girlfriend of mine found out I was sewing she sent a bunch to me (middle picture). Anyways I just love how the bag turned out and I learn so much doing piece work (you'll see what I mean soon). Oh and the lining is a napkin another friend gave me.  All scraps baby, woot!

Now because I'm still new I don't know why this happens but I still get lectured about not sewing together different types of fabric from my mom. So far I have not experienced any problems combining fabrics. However in the immortal words of advice from Tim Gunn I know that it can be problematic to do so. Tote bags have become my number one favorite thing to make it has fired me up to try and make all sorts of different new bags.

I love making tote bags now and I am always exploring and finding new ones to make. Check out my pinterest page if you want to see the tutorials and blogs that I love The Maverick Seamster:: totes, bags & purses

And if anyone makes one of these before I do then SEND ME PICS!  The Foldover Tote or the Ikat Bag

Thanks! :)

Things that I totes learned how to do:
  • How to make a cool and easy corner.
  • It was in making tote bags that I realized I needed to know how to make straps. As I mentioned before check out this cool tutorial where I learned:  Emmaline Bags, How to Sew Bag Straps
  • Don't be scared to try making a quilt pattern on your own - I like how mine turn out

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stuffies and Other Stuff

I had some other friends who were either having kids or have kids currently so I decided to make some stuffed animals and other gifts for them.

Owls are popular and trendy so I made a couple of variations of them.  First I tried the Zakka Owl.  Super cute but I probably won't go out of my way to make this again because of the amount of hand sewing.  Hand sewing sucks and it doesn't make sense to me - why the fuck would you hand sew something when we have machines for that?  Anyways I learn how to make these at a great blog called Lisa's Craft Blog: Big Stuffed Zakka Owl

The picture of the two owls is what I have settled on if I need to make a stuffed animal gift on the fly.  They're easy and fun to make.  You can make them out of scraps and get it all done on your machine.  Need I say more?  Plus you can make them any shape you want.  I have made tall ones and short ones.  I found lots of variations of this style of stuffed owl, but the tutorial I recommend is Stubbornly Crafty: Stuffed Owl PDF Pattern

Okay, this next stuffed animal I made for someone who is into dinosaurs for some reason.  Anyways this is a hand sewing project that I will gladly do again because they turned out SO FREAKING CUTE.  Plus I think you can do this with a serger - I don't know what those machines are or if I have one, but I betcha you can do it on one of those. I'm not sure who this Runo chick is or why her interests are making stuffed animals and panties, but she knows her shit!  Check it out at the Nuno Life: Stegosaurus Tutorial.

Lastly, I made some quick baby gifts for an expecting mommy friend of mine.  I made a bib.  This bib was historical because it marked the first occasion that used my machine to make a button hole opening and sew a button on using my machine.  I really didn't know how to do it, but I pressed some buttons on my machine and gave it a go and it worked!  Later on my mom showed me how to do it properly, but you know how I feel about being proper.  I lost the original blog that I did this one from, but the next time I do one it will be from the 30 Minute Crafts Blog: Quick and Easy Baby Bibs.  These make more sense to me and look adorable.

So... what the hell did I learn this time?
  • Hand sewing is for suckers - avoid it at all costs.
  • Make it your own way, it may look a little funky but you'll learn more than just following someone else's instructions.
  • Don't be scared of your machine and what it can do for you.