Saturday, November 5, 2011

learning to sew

 Today was a proud day.  My daughter had her first sewing lesson and oh how well she did.  I was planning on waiting until she was at least 5, but she's been showing signs that she is ready, so today was the day!  First I cut everything.  (We are making a table topper for her Nonnie's birthday.)  Then I gave her the task of matching up the shapes so they would make a block.  It was like a puzzle to her!

Little sister wanted in on the fun and Jasmine loved that she could help her now that she knew how to do it. 

Almost ready to be sewn!

To a mom who as an avid sewer this is an awesome sight!  I let her operate the presser foot, lifting the lever on the back of the machine up and down. 

With a little help from a foot stool she did all the foot work!  And to my amazement she was able to control the speed quite well.  With me guiding the fabric through and operating the backstitch, we were able to make it through about 2/3 of the topper before she starting getting a little too silly and then wanted me to finish it. 

Trimming the threads was a definite highlight for her too.  Not only was I proud, but she was even more so.  All we kept hearing the rest of the day was I've never sewn before like this, this is fun!  Now I know she'll really enjoy that little sewing machine I already bought for her for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

new bags

I am getting back my bag making groove...thank goodness.  There was a point when I had only one child and I was making 4 a day.  Now with one kid in school and the other at the height of her toddlerhood and 3 businesses to work on...  I'm lucky if I get one bag made in a week.  This Sunday it just hit me and I made 2 great bags in one day! 

I've been wanting to make an adjustable strap bag for a long time.  I don't know why I was thinking it was going to have some difficulty to it.  It was too easy.  I'll be making more of those soon.  And I really love that pattern.  It's not one of my designs, however, I did revamp a pattern I picked up on sale last week.  Sometimes it's just so much easier to make something with someone else's pattern.   It also gives me a new way of looking at something.  I'm to the point in patterns though (bag patterns) that I just use the pattern and throw out the directions.  That feels good to know I've been sewing long enough and feel that comfortable.

The purple bag is one of my very first bags that I designed.  It has lots of space and I really love the wide opening.  I'm the type of person that I need everything in view in order to remember I have it.

Since I was on such a roll with the bag making on Sunday and I was so in love...and still am...with the pattern on the black bag way up there, I decided to tackle a bag repair for my mother-in-law.  A while back we picked out this beautiful batik together.  The bag that I first made with it though was horrible.  (I can say that because I don't think my MIL will ever read this.)  It was my design and for some unknown reason I decided not to use interfacing in the body....what was I thinking??? so it had no shape and was way too floppy.  Actually I was newer to pleats and thought the drape just wouldn't be the same if I used I know better.  I can't even show before pics because I was too disgusted with it.  She so graciously took it and said she loved it.  Anyways it got a hole in the fabric on the bottom and needed to be fixed.

I completely disassembled it except for the strap.  I re-cut the body and added a new black top.  The over all bag is slightly smaller but way cuter than the first one.  Now I really do wish I had a before pic to show to appreciate the improvement.

Monday was Halloween and I let the girls get dressed up for a day at the shop.   My husband paid us a visit and actually caught me in the act on camera.  He, he...

Off to trick or treat!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tutorial: Kids Backpack

Finally a full tutorial, pictures and all.  I can't tell you how many of these I have started and need to finish.  I've set my mind to post this all tonight!

This is a perfect overnight bag!  The drawstring is sewn in so it won't slip out and frustrate little ones. 

What you will need:
1/2 yard fabric for main bag
1/4 yard fabric for drawstring and straps
rotary cutter & mat
loop turner
safety pin

First use the 1/2 yard and leaving it folded exactly how it comes off the bolt - trim the top selvage edge off so you will end up with an 18" square of fabric (folded in half).  Around 4" of the selvage edges will be cut off.  If the fabric is laid out flat it would be an 18" by 36" piece. 

Next cut a 4" strip the width of the fabric. It will be a 4" x 45" strip.  This will be your straps.

Then cut a 1 3/4" strip the width of the fabric.  It will be a 1 3/4" x 45" strip.  This will be your drawstring.

To make the drawstring:
Fold the 1 3/4" piece in half the long way and stitch using a 1/4 seam.  Cut back to about 1/8 after it's sewn.

Stick the loop turner in and turn it right side out.  This is a handy new tool I just picked up and totally worth it!

Tuck the raw ends back inside so you can't see any loose threads and tie a knot on both ends.

To make the straps:

Take the 4" wide x 45" piece.  First fold down both ends 1/2" and press.  Next fold the 4" piece in half lengthwise and press.  Open up and fold in each raw edge to meet the center crease and press.  The picture on the right is what you will end up with.

Run the strap through the machine stitching about 1/8" from the edge to close that open seam.

Assembling the bag:

On the main bag fabric fold over the two side top corners that will meet when the bag is assembled about 1/4" and approx 3" down and press.   Then fold down the top edge toward the inside and press first a 1/4" then another 3/4".  Stitch close to the lower edge as shown to close the casing for the drawstring.

(Yes, this is a different bag fabric.)  Find the center of the top of the bag by measuring in 9".  Then measure 1" down from the top of the bag and pin your strap that is folded in half and laid flat in a triangular position as shown on the photo.  Stitch around the triangle.

Pin the ends of the straps to the bottom of the bag approx 1" from the side and a 1/2" from the bottom fold of the main bag.

Stitch in a square to make it nice and secure.

With right sides together on the main bag and using a safety pin stuck to the end of the drawsring, thread the drawstring through the top of the bag starting at one of the hemmed edges bringing it all the way around and coming out at the other hemmed edge.   Even it out so it when the bag is laid flat the drawstring looks even where it exits the bag.  On the opposite side make sure there is no extra drawstring hanging out then stitch down the entire side of the bag including the going through the drawstring.  This is what will keep it in place so it won't fall out.  See the above photo.

Stitch the other side of the bag making sure this time to leave the opening for the drawstring.  Turn the bag right side out and your done! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

bags for girls

I'm without children at the moment.  We shipped them off to the grandparents for an overnight last night.  My 2 year old's second overnight.  I love the quiet but I'm really missing them right now.  I'm so used to getting done what needs to be done in our schedule of preparing food, diaper changes, drying tears... that I'm finding it difficult to get anything done this morning.  Last night I indulged in laziness.  It was so nice.  I never watch tv.  There's just not any time or someone else is watching it.  Seven hours and 3 1/2 movies later, I've gotten my fill.  Since I'm thinking about them I thought this would be a good time to share some the recent bags I've made for my girls. 

Everything I make is times 2.  Life is so much easier when they have the exact same thing.  First their long awaited dance bag.  During my quilt shop hopping last year I searched in every fabric store I could find for just the right fabric.  I'm not sure if this was it but I do think it's cute.

Bag no. 2.  Travel bag.  Fits small book, crayons, change of clothes.  I thought this was cute fabric sooo they got a bag out of it.  These are the simplest bags to make too.  I will share my quick sewing tip for these soon.  

Next, is our shell bag.  Throw in the shells and the sand falls right through.  This one also has a zippered pocket for the really small shells that will fall through the holes.  I have a tutorial for this somewhere.  I'll have to dig it out.

Drawstring backpack.  This is super easy.  I made these as party favors for my daughters b-day party.   Only a half yard of fabric per bag.  I will definitely make a tutorial for this bag.  hhmmmm, lots of tutorial promises made today.   This is just what I needed to get me back on track.  Guess I better get up and do something. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This month the cover of the Country Living magazine caught my eye.  Purple linen slip covered couch paired with bright whites...I just couldn't keep my eyes off it.  I still have it sitting on my coffee table and sneak glances at it every once and awhile.

Then I was at my sister-in-laws the other day picking up some yarn she was giving me when she handed me this box.  I opened it up and to my delight several pairs of.... purple and ivory large checked Country Curtains.  A long while ago she took them from a tag sale my mom was having and was always meaning to list them on ebay, since they were just too nice to bring to the Goodwill.  Lucky for me, life got in the way and she didn't ever list them.

I do have them on my windows at the moment.  I'm in the very beginning stages of redoing my living room.  It literally takes me months to pull everything together for a room.  It's just how I work.  I have to live with something for awhile and then gradually add to it.  In about a year I might have it all together.

I do have a natural, almost white colored slipcover in mind.  The fabric (painters drop cloth) has been washed and thrown over the couch until I get around to actually sewing the slipcover.

Now that I'm into purples, I'm seeing them everywhere.  I think it's the new purple colors.  I'm seeing softer and deeper hues and I'm in love.

Monday, September 12, 2011

sweater to leg warmers = quick tutorial

I found this sweater the other day while at a thrift store.  I could not pass it up with those sleeves.  I instantly thought - leg warmers.  I'm surprised my mind was thinking winter wear when I've been having the toughest time lately getting into this seasonal change going on up here.

I don't know why an adult would wear this...probably the reason that I found it at the Salvation Army.

First thing, chop off the sleeves and cut off the seam so they lay flat.  Then I measured my little legs circumference.  Nothing technical, just held them up to her legs, wrapped them around then marked the spot.  Stitch up a new seam.

Fold down that raw edge and stitch.  I used both a straight stitch and a zig zag.  This is where a serger would come in real handy.

You can see here one is hemmed at the top, one is not.  She was loving them at the moment and yes, she is standing on the horse.  She is my crazy girl...more than offsetting her shy, soft spoken, gentle older sister.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

first sweater

My first sweater.  I thought it a good idea to start with something small and easy.  I used a free pattern I found in an easy baby sweater search.  Now that I'm done it seemed easy but I was stressing about how I was going to figure it all out.  I'm very new to knitting and have several projects going and this feels so good to get one of them finished.

It went together relatively fast considering my inexperience and the fact that I had the first sleeve almost finished 3 times and had to rip it out 3 times.  Even so, you can see that something went wrong with those sleeves.  The one on the left is noticeably larger than the right.   They looked to be the same size before it went together So I'm thinking it was the final assembly.

The pattern called for a backstitch for attaching the sleeves but in my search of figuring out exactly how to do the backstitch I came across a blog knocking that stitch and swaying me toward the mattress stitch.  And again in my inexperience, I accidentally started stitching it so the seam faced outwards, which I carried throughout thinking it looked pretty cool.  I was most surprised with how fast it all assembled together.

I used a worsted weight Encore yarn and size 8 needles.  This is sized for a 12 month old.  I actually had in mind this as a gift for my friend who did not yet know the gender but I guess I was leaning towards a boy.  Of course we now know she's having a girl.  The colors are pretty neutral but I'm thinking that since it's a first try and the sleeves are off quite a bit, it will make a nice doll sweater for my girls.

The buttons make this great for getting over baby's head.  The button holes were made with a quick yarn over and then two more rows of stockinette.

I think that this would be really cute without the buttons and just stitch up the top opening maybe 1/2 way where the buttons are now.  Hmmmm....I may be getting some pink yarn and giving that a try.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

moving ahead....

Opening day for the Smith & Sargent Stitch Lounge has been set for this coming Monday.  I'm a little nervous because now that I look at my space it seems too empty.  I guess I should just be ok with it since it's not supposed to be primarily a retail space.  Still I want people to come in and think it's really great.  My opening is just a soft opening and I will do a formal grand opening later this fall.

I am pretty happy with the overall space especially the "lounge" space.  The rug needs to be replaced but this one will have to do for now.  I have to stick to the budget at some point and it's reached it's limit.  I can't believe all the stuff that I've taken from my house and added to the space.  Looking around my house I'm wondering why it doesn't look less cluttered.

I love before and afters.  How about this one from my side entrance.  Bottom trim, stairs and door have all been painted.  And can you tell the difference in the window?  I love being able to actually see out the new one.

This area needs a little help but the ideas are here.  Hardware on a home-made board.  There's the start of zippers I will be carrying, interfacing and some exclusive Stitch Lounge patterns.  I'm working on my own designs.  It's taking some time but I found an awesome tutorial that's given me the professionalism I was looking for.  

Some of the supplies I'm carrying are the ones I most use.  I hope I can expand when I start getting customers.  My 4 year old helped with every step of getting these up.  From the dividing up into bags and labeling, painting the board they are on and putting the nails in.  She even hung up all the bags.  I love that she is getting to be so helpful and she loves it too!

Any every store needs a checkout.  I happened to have an extra computer.  My friend donated the desk and i added the skirt...attached with a little velcro.  That was so easy!

It's all coming together and I can't believe that opening day is less than a week away.  It's going to be weird to open this space up to other people but I'm really looking forward to it.  I hope that this community understands what I'm trying to do here.  I keep getting "so what exactly are you doing?"  It's really not that difficult.  Come in and sew with me!