Coin Purses

fabric is knitting in grey by wantit

I have a habit of getting excited about something, diving in head first, investing a lot of time and money into making it work and then, as quickly as I started, I lose interest.

Rewind to sometime last year. I order 25 purse frames through AliExpress on a whim. I have no clue how to use a purse frame, half the time I don’t carry a purse myself, so why I got excited about it is beyond me. I probably saw some awesomely cute project on Pinterest. Who knows.

you sexy thang by dejachic available on Spoonflower
fabric is you sexy thang by dejachic (that’s me!)

Anyhow, the purse frames arrive and they are much smaller than I had imagined. I was thinking purse, while this nickel plated thing-a-jig was saying coin purse. I’m lost and not interested.

Flash forward to about a month ago. Cleaning out my sewing room closet and lo and behold, purse frames, loads of them! Well, 25 of them. They are 3″ wide, a good size for a coin purse, a spectacles case and just big enough to squeeze through my cellphone.

fabric is rolling hearts love by dejachic (moi again)
fabric is rolling hearts love by dejachic (moi)

After a little searching on Etsy, I found what looked to be a decent PDF pattern for the frame size I had and so I purchased my very first downloadable and printable pattern through GiftsandBobs for $5.39US. (Here is the pattern I purchased).

I had no idea what to expect with a PDF fabric and even more daunting was buying the pattern through Etsy, but in the end, the pattern was relatively good and reading and printing it out was a heck of a lot more convenient then getting my boots and scarf on and heading to the fabric store on a cold mid-december day.

meaty monday fabric not for sale
meaty monday fabric not for sale

At first, the pattern seemed to be very clear and easy to follow, however, once I cut my pattern pieces out, I was little lost. Outer fabric and lining is not marked and there were a few other odd issues I had with it. However, overall, it worked out alright and I was able to use it as a basis to create my own pattern with a shape and finish that I find much more appealing.

The hardest (actually longest, most tedious) part of making these is sewing the purse to the frame. Each one takes me about 30 minutes and hand fatigue sets in really quickly.

I’m thinking glue-in next time. Thoughts on glue-in vs sew-in frames?

Read my pattern review here.

Comfort Keyboard Wrist Pad

20150116_114951As much as I love sewing, it is not what pays my bills. Instead I have the pleasure of being that person people rely on for transcription or data entry work. It affords me the luxury of not have to actually get dressed for work, nor leave the warmth of my PJ’s for the cold harsh reality that is winter in Quebec. It also means that my wrists are constantly at risk for repetitive stress injuries.

Though manufactured keyboard wrist pads are not expensive per se (they run from as little as $10, up to $40 or $50), I do find that most are made with leather or some similar fabric that becomes sticky and often irritates my skin after hours of use.

Expanding on the idea of microwaveable warming pads, I decided to go about making my own wrist support. Not only can I make my version useable hot or cold, I can even tweak the height and girth to offer a more customized support.

20150116_115320After measuring my keyboard to figure out length (I use the k120 by Logitech) and figured my final length to be 17″ as I wanted to keep a bit of space open for the numeric keypad.

It seemed that the ideal height of my pad would be 1″, that’s a scant higher than my keyboard when flat, but lower than the keyboard when I use the tilting legs. And about 3″ deep, to support my wrists.

I sewed up the inner tube, and filled it with rice (but not stuffed as I wanted plenty of give throughout the pad). After a test run I realized that the pad was too wide and I cut it down to 2″, removing a good deal of rice and reducing the height to 3/4″. This configuration proved perfect!

To make your own you’ll need to cut:

  • 2 rectangles of quilting cotton 28″ long by 3″ wide
  • 1 rectangle of muslin 27-1/2″ by 4-1/2″
  • 1 rectangle of fusible fleece 27-1/2″ by 4-1/2″  * this is relatively safe since the pad is microwaved for under 40 seconds but if you are not comfortable with this option, omit it, I used it to help keep the rice in place
  • rice or flax seeds

20150116_115241Fuse the fleece to the muslin and in half lengthwise, fleece to fleece together. Sew one long side and one short using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Do not trim.

Fill your tube with rice (or flax seeds) until 1/2″ for the top. Use a basting stitch to close, then test the pad in front of you own keyboard. Make any adjustments needed. When you have found the perfect level of support, sewing the end closed at the 1/2″ seam allowance. Don’t trim anything!

Create the outer cover: sew your two quilting cotton fabric right sides together around three side, leaving just one short side open. Don’t trim!

Turn right side out and slide the filled muslin tube into the quilting cotton tube. folding the muslin seam allowance to one side and the quilting cotton allowances to the other side as you go. Once in, fold the outer fabric seam allowance to the inside then stitch shut.

Tada! At the end of your day, throw the pad into the freezer for use in the morning, or throw it into the microwave for 10 seconds at a time (I usually go for 2 blasts as my wrists are very sensitive to heat) for some wrist soothing warmth.

Sew Organized

everything in its place

In real life, I am not at all organized. Outwardly, I manage to make things appear neat and tidy, but open that closet door and I won’t be responsible for the avalanche of random items that will, more than likely, tumble upon your head.

But there is one place I am obsessively organized: my sewing room/office. I tidy up in here every day, refolding fabrics and ironing patterns (who am I?), arranging my bookshelf and compulsively dusting.

I am always looking for ways to make my sewing room more user friendly and a few years ago, I discovered this free pincushion pattern at Sew Mama Sew and have sewed these up regularly, as gifts, or to update the look of my sewing space.

coordinating sewing machine cover
coordinating sewing machine cover

It is very simple to make, a perfect project for a newbie and it will prove to be extremely useful. Trust me! With three (or more) little pockets it is easy to keep what you need close to the areas you will need them in. And because they are weighted with rice it stays put.

I have one by the sewing machine and it houses thread scissors, a seam ripper and a button holer. Another sits on the end of the ironing board, in it you’ll find a point turner, scissors and another seam ripper. Still a third pincushion guards the cutting area and has all the little notions I need for marking patterns and clipping notches.

matchy-matchy pattern weights
matchy-matchy pattern weights

If you are a new sewist, I highly recommend you make one two three of these pincushions because they will prevent you from losing your mind. Having what you need, right there, when you need it is essential.

Read my review of the pincushion pattern here

Clover Suburban Plus Handbag

suburban Plus handbag using the Trace’n’Create Town & Country templates by Nancy Zieman

So, not long ago I got romanced by the Clover Trace’n’Create line of templates by Nancy Zieman. The concept seems so, so obvious! Obvious, but those templates don’t come cheap (they average about $20) and I just wasn’t willing to take a chance on them at that cost level, particularly because the patterns seem to be very plain and unexciting.

magnetic closure and long straps strengthened with white grosgrain ribbon

Sometime in December, Amazon decided that I have spent enough time looking at these templates and popped up an offer for The Town & Country Collection of handbag templates for a little over $10. Even though the style of the bags in this collection didn’t appeal to me, I figured it was a good way to decide if this type pattern would be worth splurging on one I do like. Plus, the style is generic enough that they would be easy to make with interesting fabrics and give as gifts or sell at craft fairs.

When the pattern arrived the next day, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the template pieces. They are the weight and thickness of those rulers you get with daily planners, tinted pink yet still clear enough to see through, with openings for making your pattern markings where needed. All in all, quite clever.

If I could figure out how to use them.

cute kitty cats lounge about the bag while a mouse and ball of yarn stripe across the lining

You see, there are these longer spaces all around each of the templates (a brown line?) and in the video I saw, Nancy is using these to trace her pattern, but on the pattern it says to follow the blue line. I’m confused already and I haven’t even begun!

Anyhow. Let’s just say, all the instructions are unclear and confusing. When/if you get this, throw the instruction sheet away, you’ll be better off.

One of my main gripes with this pattern is the over peddling of Clover products with no clear information on how or what to substitute with. It calls for using Clover 1″ Create-a-Strap and Clover Shape’n’Create. What are these things? I can research it and find out, but why force me to figure out if I am using the right thing or not?

20150113_092307Some requirements are missing key information: magnetic snap closures, should tell me what size to use. Same issue with the double-sided basting tape. What size?

Finally, there are no options for pockets or pouches for cellphone or other modern day items us people in the 21st carry around with us. This pattern is stuck in the 1980’s! But that explains the banana/hobo shape of it, doesn’t it!

though I wouldn’t go out in public with this purse, I think it is rather cute

I just winged the process of creating the purse, which, any semi-experienced sewist could look at the pieces and know exactly how to put it together, so no mystery there.

I used a strange combo fabric set I bought on sale at Walmart a year or so ago. I probably paid about $5 for the 2 coordinating yards of fabric and I don’t know what my initial plan for it was, but this is probably the best I could have expected to make from it.

The reality is, I kind of like it. It is pretty cute. Meow.

Read my pattern review here.

French Press Coffee Cozy

coffee cozy from The New Handmade sewing book

I love my Grolsche Madrid French press coffee maker but I am the only one who drinks from it most of the time. That being said, it means the coffee is pretty cold come the third cup and though I could pour it into a thermal jug from the outset, I don’t like hate doing dishes and I’ll do anything I can to avoid adding to my daily burden. I am working on training flying monkeys but they tend to break most of the dishes so in the mean time I aim for less.

Flipping through my bookshelf last night looking for a quick and uncomplicated project to close off the day, I came across this coffee cozy in The New Handmade sewing project book I have had for quite a while now. It looked cute enough and definitely met my need for simple.

quilting cotton by Joel Dewberry in burlap colour way

My nitpick: this coffee cozy has a pattern piece you have to blow up by 167%, my problem with this is that it would have been simpler to give me the measurements to work with, not force me to print out a pattern on 2 pages all with straight lines. Argh.

For your information, the measurements are as follows: 16.5″ tall by 6.5″ wide with a 1″ by 3″ cut out on two sides of the top of the rectangle. Included is a 0.5″ seam allowance.

The pattern is pretty self-explanatory, you cut out the pattern on 3 pieces, an outer fabric, a lining fabric and a piece of insulated batting. Sew all around leaving an opening for turning. Trim away batting, trim seams and turn right side out.

thermal batting will help keep my coffee warm longer

I used two pieces from a gorgeous Joel Dewberry fabric I bought through Etsy seller Fresh-Squeezed Fabrics who was very fast and efficient in posting my order and have an absolutely awesome selection of designer fabrics!

So making the cozy part was easy. Except. It calls for using Velcro.

I don’t use Velcro very often, but when I do, I usually won’t sew it, but it was 10:30PM and I decided to go ahead and do just that.

Did you know that sewing Velcro sucks? I knew this, but I forgot why. Do you know why? Because Velcro has a glue on it, and even though I was using a sew through Velcro, it glued up my needle. That sucks. or stuck.

the lining side is also useable, but a little awkward

My opinion. If you are going to tell someone to sew in Velcro, give them some tips to avoid the gummed up needle problem. Or, or. Tell me that I can find non-glue backed sew-in Velcro or even fusible Velcro!

Buttons. Next time I make anything that asks me to sew Velcro, I’ll use buttons. Or one of the Velcro options mentioned above.

That said, this was an easy project that can be used to add a little colour to your table, would make a great hostess gift with matching mug rugs and is actually quite useful.

Check out my pattern review here.

Colette Patterns: Meringue Skirt

finished meringue skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook

I have had The Colette Sewing Handbook in my library for some time now and I did sew up this skirt and the pastille dress when I first got it, a little more than 3 years ago. Since then, sewing clothing for myself has kind of fallen to the wayside. Along with disappointments with fitting my ‘voluptuous’ frame and other lumpy parts, like many parents, I often put others before my own.

This New Year, I vowed to start being a little more selfish and doing things just for me, putting myself ahead of others for a change; even the kids.

One of my favourite fabrics that I managed to scoop up at a deal (3m for under $10) is a lightweight denim embossed with a red velvet damask design. It is very playful looking, but has a sophisticated quality to it as well, which speaks to me and my personal style quite well. Being down to my last meter, I decided that I was going to keep this all to myself and remembering my first meringue skirt, realized that the style would be an awesome way to show off this sumptuous material.

zig-zag finished edge of waist facing

As I mentioned, I haven’t sewn for myself in quite some time. Sewing for children, especially young ones, rarely involves zippers and so my zipper install was by far the most triumphant failed and rescued attempt I have ever encountered. But let’s start at the beginning.

Late in the evening on a cold and sleepless night (yet again) I decided to start making the meringue skirt. I cut out the pattern pieces to a size 14 and crossed my fingers that this size would still work for me. The cutting went wonderfully well, it is amazing how a cooperative fabric can make this part so much more relaxing than say, cutting out pattern pieces from jersey or a slippery silk.

In the morning I set out to work. Put in a new needle, filled up two bobbins of thread, set out the tools I would need to work. I was a changed sewist! I was completely prepared and ready to make a great skirt for myself.

The sewing went splendidly and even though I hated the jumping around with pattern pieces the instructions offered, I was sailing through each section with ease. I even took extra time to finish the seams in a pleasantly simple and neat fashion. Oh, and my darts: FABULOUS!

neatly finished inside seams


Then came the zipper. After a little fiddling, I had a 99% invisible zipper installed and even managed to attach the facings with very little issue.

I tried the skirt on. Perfect!

Then I decided I wanted to take pictures wearing my new skirt, all stylized and photoshoot-y-ish. As I zipped up, the slider body popped right out of the teeth!

I stood in disbelief, agape.!

Of course, yes. I would have to pull out all my stitches and redo the entire zipper. And, of course, I didn’t have another invisible zipper of the right size. And you know what, I don’t really care for invisible zippers anyhow.

Sweating and weeping, I managed to sew in a new visible zipper, but not before sewing in the zipper backwards first, because. Zippers.

Read my pattern review here.