Super tote to the rescue

Two kids means a lot of stuff to carry around these days.  We often head out for an adventure with everything tucked nicely in our diaper bag.  But by the end of our trip we have sweaters, hats, treasures, and snacks exploding everywhere.  Then we had a yogurt spill in our old diaper bag and I figured the time was right to make a new bag.

super tote : lizzieville 3This is the Super Tote pattern with no modification.  I love Noodlehead patterns and have a (probably unreasonable) hope to sew all of Anna’s patterns some day.  I bought the main fabric (linen I think) a few years ago and have been saving it for a bag.  I used yellow linen for the handles and piping with an older Moda/Wee Play print for the front pocket and upper panels.  For the lining I used a Kaufman chambray in herringbone.

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I love that this bag is so big.  No problem fitting in all our stuff and the top zip is perfect for keeping everything contained.  I used the recommended interfacing and this is a super-sturdy bag.  The four inside pockets are great for storing diapers and wipes and snacks.  The pieces all came together perfectly, as I’ve come to expect from a Noodlehead pattern.

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There wasn’t anything tricky about this (even the zipper went together smoothly) but it was a slow project.  There’s a lot of pieces to decide on fabrics, cut and interface, and sew together.  I usually work on projects one at a time but I put this one aside a few times for other projects.

super tote : lizzieville 5This is not advertised as a diaper bag but that’s how it’s mostly been used so far.  If I make another one for the same purpose I would consider some changes.  The straps don’t fit easily on a stroller and I prefer an adjustable strap to wear across my body if I’m going to be carrying a bag a long time.  I haven’t found a great place to store keys, phone, and a wallet in this bag. The front pocket and inside pockets are deep so smaller things tend to get lost.  I might add a smaller pocket to the front or make a higher inside pocket.

super tote : lizzieville 2But overall, I’ve loved using this bag.  Making bags is just so satisfying.

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This and that: winter sewing

Two holiday gifts to share today, both simple but satisfying projects.  Before I made any clothes for E, I spent years making little quilts and other small projects.  I love using little pieces of fabric.  I  love how fun it is to experiment.

First, I made a birthday gift for a friend who has recently started quilting.  This pincushion pattern is the first I’ve made from Modern Log Cabin Quilting.  This book is full of big and little projects that I hope to someday try.

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The blue fabric is the last of some Robert Kaufman linen that I’ve used on countless projects and the blue flower print was more from my grandmother’s fabric collection.

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I made a pin cushion a while ago and stuffed it with cotton (thinking it might give a better feel than polyfil) but I ended up being quite unimpressed.  It doesn’t have the right weight and it is difficult to stick pins in- so really, a total fail and I don’t know why I keep it around other than it’s a really cute little tomato.  Anyway, a little internet searching turned up a wide range of alternate stuffing possibilities and I decided to give crushed walnut shells a try.  Which must be a common enough thing to do, because when I wandered into the pet store looking a little lost (crushed walnut shells are apparently used for lizards and birds) and asked for walnut shells, the helpful man said “are you making a pincushion?” Well, yes I was.  And it worked so well!  And it came in a really big bag, so I can either make many more pincushions or find some other use.  Just in case you’re curious, crushed walnut shells look like this:

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I sent the pincushion off with some fabric scraps (I loved having new little scraps when I was just starting out quilting) and some stork scissors.

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My other holiday sewing project was another great basket using this pattern from A Cuppa and a Catch Up.  This is my fourth go at this pattern and I love it.  My original idea was to make a 6-piece set of nested bowls in rainbow order (the pattern has sizes 4-9 inches) and I’d even picked out the fabrics.  But then reality set in and I only had time to make one, so I set those other fabrics aside.  Maybe another year.  Filled with some gingerbread cookies, mandarins, and cards, this was all ready for E’s preschool teacher.  The polka dot fabrics are both from Moda and the blue is Robert Kaufman essex yarn-dyed linen.

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And for future reference, 8 inch handles feel much too large for the 6 inch basket.  But they do make for easy carrying…

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J’s wallet

A few weeks ago I noticed that my husband’s wallet was starting to fall apart in a few places.  I thought it would be fun to try sewing a new one for his birthday.  I’d noted this great wallet by Cheri at You & Mie but needed a little more direction with sizing, etc.  I then found this wallet tutorial from Anna at Noodlehead.  I’ve used a bag and basket pattern from her in the past.  She does such a great job with her explanations and her construction methods are quite clever.  I ended up altering the inside pockets to be more like Cheri’s design as it better matched my husband’s current wallet.

wallet :: lizzieville.wordpress.com

Pattern:  The boy’s wallet tutorial from Anna at Noodlehead

Fabrics:  Robert Kaufman essex yarn dyed linen blend in black (exterior and card pockets), Robert Kaufman essex linen blend dusty blue (interior), and unknown green print (inside)

Modifications:  Altering the card pockets

wallet collage :: lizzieville.wordpress.com

I figured this was a trial run and I can whip up another one of these once I know what changes to make.  Since it’s a pattern for a boy’s wallet I probably should have made it a bit bigger.  But it was a fun project for my fabulous husband, the best guy around and such a fabulous father to these two crazy kids of ours.

Preschool Lunchbox

Es will be going to a morning preschool program a couple of days a week this year.  The program ends right after lunch, which means I got to make her a lunchbox!  I can’t tell you how excited that made me, and I love how little this lunchbox is.  Perfect for three-year old hands and appetites.

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You can see here that it fits her divided Lunchbots and silverware container perfectly:

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Pattern: Love Your Lunchbox by Gingercake Patterns

Fabric:  Robert Kaufman essex yarn dyed linen blend in denim (main exterior), shot cotton of unknown color (exterior flap), floral quilting cotton (pockets), and an unknown laminated cotton (interior)

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Modifications:  I added the pink shot cotton trim to the top of the pockets (and as a pocket lining).  In doing so I must not have measured everything correctly because the pockets ended up slightly taller than they should be.  This makes the pockets difficult to use and probably messes up Es’s plan to use them to carry her “cell phone” around.  I had to laugh when she told me that plan.

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This is a nice, clear pattern.  The directions are chatty and detailed.  They tell you what to do (with pictures) and often give you a nice explanation of the why behind the method/step as well.  It’s a relatively quick sew.  Cutting out the pieces and applying the fusible fleece actually took me longer than sewing it up.

Es tried it out this morning and seemed pleased.  On a side note, this morning she picked out the Oliver + S bubble dress that I made her last summer and that she hasn’t worn since.  It’s the 18-24 month size with 3 added inches of length and is fits almost perfectly.  That’s the beauty of making clothes right to your child’s actual size!

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I did learn that sewing with laminated cotton is a pain.  I used a new, heavy-duty/jeans needle, as suggested.  This went through the many layers of fabric just fine (and there are a lot of layers!).  But the laminated cotton bunched and stuck and refused to cooperate unless I sewed with it the on bottom and ensured that the fabric was actually feeding through correctly (i.e., pushing it through the machine every time it got stuck).  I ordered way more laminated cotton and insulbrite batting than I needed for this project so I have plenty of extra to make a few more.  I think these would make a nice little gift.  Once I’m ready to tackle some more laminated cotton, that is…

Sidekick tote #2

My second go at Noodlehead’s sidekick tote in two weeks!  It is always fun to make a pattern for the second time.  You have a sense of what’s coming next, which steps are harder/easier than they look, and adjustments to try.  I enjoyed this pattern even more the second time and didn’t find the zipper steps quite as trying.  I made the large size bag for my sister as a birthday gift.  She picked out the fabrics over Christmas vacation.  Now it is a few days before her birthday and I’m finally finishing it.  Sometimes it takes a deadline to get me moving!

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My sister wanted something muted and simple-  only black visible with no pocket.  Skipping the pocket would have made it go a heck of a lot faster.  But it just seemed like this bag needs an outside pocket.  I love pockets.  So I decided to add an in-seam pocket that it hidden from view.  The outside fabric is some slightly-stretchy/stiff black with tiny white dots.  I also used some solid black, some raspberry-colored shot cotton for the lining, and a polka dot fabric for both pockets.  It made a much less lightweight bag than last time.

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In case you’re curious about the inseam exterior pocket I took a few pictures and I’ll try to explain the steps.  It was actually pretty easy to construct.

1)  Cut out all the pieces the same, except cut two additional rectangles.  I used 6.5 inch squares.  Here are the exterior pieces (with the Pellon/reverse showing) and the polka-dot rectangles:

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2)  Follow all the steps as written through Step 3 d).  Before completing e), sew the exterior pocket pieces to the exterior body and exterior top band.  The right sides should be facing.  Use a slightly smaller seam allowance than you will for the rest of the bag.  I used 1/2” for the main bag and about 3/8” for the pocket.  That will ensure that the pocket fabric is well hidden.  This was a little tricky because the pocket pieces are not curved.  I did a little trimming and then just figured it was close enough.  When sewn, the pieces should now look like this:

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3)  Iron the pocket pieces to look like this:

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4)  Continue with e) and f).  The pocket pieces you added shouldn’t be in the way.

5)  For step g) align the top band and top raw edge as well as the two pocket pieces.  You’ll be sewing around the edge except in the pocket region, where you will sew the three sides of the pocket.  You can do this in one continuous seam.  You can see my sewing here, with the blue arrows.  Don’t sew across the top of the pocket.

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6)  For step h) the pocket is in the way of topstitching all around.  I’m sure there is a better way to do this, but I just snipped the top pocket seam a bit and was able to topstitch all around, like so:

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Your pocket should now be functional but mostly hidden:

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Then you can continue with the instructions as written.  The way the dotted fabric on the curved pieces line up can play weird tricks on your eyes.   It occurred to me that this might be a fun use for piping between the main body and top band.  Maybe next time.  Anyway, Es was willing to model a few shots.  She was particularly interested in the strap hardware and wanted to make sure I got a picture of that part:

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Hopefully it is acceptably muted.  It heads off to New York tomorrow with a few other goodies tucked inside.  Happy birthday to my dear sister!

A sidekick tote for Mother’s Day

A little bit at the last minute, I decided to make a bag for Mother’s Day.  I often give my mom flowers for her garden at this time of year, but I had this pattern and thought it would be fun to try instead.  The pattern is Noodlehead’s Sidekick tote and I made the smaller size.  I used a heavier-weight purple fabric for the exterior, the same lightweight denim I’ve used on so many projects for the lining (I don’t recall how many yards of this fabric I purchased but I’ve almost used it up), with a little Joel Dewberry print for the interior pocket and the zipper tabs.

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I had a lot of fun making Anna’s divided basket and this pattern was just as much fun.  There are so many pieces and options to play around with for mixing and matching fabrics.  It does take a lot of initial prep work, though.   There are many pieces to cut out and lots of interfacing.  Instead of purchasing the Pellon SF101 that is recommended I used up scraps of interfacing because I was on a short time schedule.  I also used fusible fleece for the top lining.  In retrospect I probably could have skipped the interfacing because the exterior fabric was so stiff already.  It was a little tricky sewing through all those layers of fabric and interfacing.  I am thankfully to be borrowing a machine from my mom rather than the Singer Featherweight.  But the heavier fabric makes the bag feel so sturdy and substantial and I love how the strap feels (even if it was  tight squeeze to get the thick straps through the slider bar).  I’ve never made a bag with hardware before and it was such fun!

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In addition to the strap hardware I got to use all kinds of other tools on this project.  The pocket I picked used bias tape so I pulled out one of my bias tape makers (they come in a variety of sizes).  You could also purchase bias tape for the project, but I didn’t know that bias tape makers existed until recently and now I look forward to using them any chance I get:

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I also used my new tailor’s chalk (order from Oliver + S along with my jumprope dress pattern– so excited to try this pattern out!).  I didn’t previously have a good way to mark darts, button holes, etc. on my fabric and used a mish mash of pencil marks, tailor tacks, eyeballing, and regular markers.  I think the tailor’s chalk will work nicely.

And I used my newly sharpened scissors.  They had gotten so dull that it was getting kind of ridiculous.  I also got to use up all kinds of thread from my eclectic (and poorly organized) collection.  There was a lot of thread/bobbin changing needed for this project, what with all the topstitching and various fabric combinations.

IMG_1660Once you have everything prepped the bag itself goes together quite quickly.  If you picked the Pocket Option A (without bias tape) I imagine it would be even faster.  I did feel like I had to wing it on this pattern, more than say an Oliver + S pattern, because it’s not quite as specific.  But this only really got me into trouble with the zipper steps and the zipper is not quite right, but functional.  I do love the little zipper tab on the end and I added a zipper pull too for added color and ease of opening.

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I’m pretty happy with the results and look forward to making this pattern again for myself and as gifts.  Here I am modeling, with my huge 6-month pregnant belly as well.

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I hope my mom likes it.  She is a fantastic mother, incredibly supportive, and one of Es’s favorite people ever.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!