Accessories

Undercover Cat Lady

Don’t tell my dog, but I’m a total cat lady.  It’s not really a secret or anything, but the dog did come first, and she’s the jealous type.  For what it’s worth, I’m an absolute dog lover too!  (We don’t have to choose between our loves, right?)

Thanks to Erin’s Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, I’m finally throwing up a blog post, and I’m even including three hand-made items.  In honor of our cats and all the hours they permit us to spend at our sewing machines, here are my cat themed garments:
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Meow!

Maybe you can’t tell, but there is definitely some cat hair on both these garments.

It wasn’t my intention to hide my cat fabric, but that’s what ended up happening.  The jeans were next on my sewing list, and after a blouse that turned into a wadder, I swore to never use quilting cotton for garments again (I didn’t really mean it) and lined my jeans with the last of my cat fabric.
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While I really wanted to let my cat freak-flag fly and use this fabric on the outside of a garment, it just didn’t pan out.  The blouse I made was looking like pajamas and I knew I’d never wear it.   I decided to be practical and incorporate the fabric into my jeans instead.  I love the results.  Every time I go to the bathroom, I admire this charming fabric.
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I copied a pair of jeans that fit me well to make this pattern about a year ago.  I brought the rise up a little higher and widened the waist band too.

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There are double lines of top stitching all over the place, but the navy blue thread conceals those little details.  I don’t have anything against gold thread for top stitching, but I do think it adds to the casual look of jeans.  So I guess that makes these my fancy pants. I’ll get around to stitching some up with gold thread, maybe when I try out the new Ginger jeans pattern.

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There are a few wrinkles in the back, but as the denim relaxes, they become less noticeable.  The denim is 2% stretch, and that little bit of stretch goes a long way in forgiving fitting errors.
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The shirt is an older make, but it seemed the most appropriate top to wear for this blog post.

I used the Archer shirt pattern and left off the cuffs.  The leopard print fabric is featured on the under collar and inside collar stand, as well as the inside of the yoke.  This was my attempt to make a black work shirt a little more fun.

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I promised a third make, so here’s a little glimpse of what I’ve been spending most of my time on lately:
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I’ve been dying and sewing up leather.   This piece is a croc print clutch.  You can see more photos in my Etsy shop if you are interested.

I look forward to the day I stumble across a light weight cat print fabric.  In the meantime, maybe someone wants to host a dog themed sewing challenge?  I have a black silk fabric with dogs woven into it that needs to be made into something useful.  :)

 

Leather Tote Bag

So my sister came to visit me a week ago, and we did some sewing–she a circle skirt and I a leather tote.  I have to say she came away the winner since both items went home with her, but I’d do it all again for a few more days together.
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Her skirt is sewn from a heavy canvas type of material with a directional print.  In order to keep the print more or less upright, she cut four pieces to form the circle.  This strategy worked out quite well, and with all the fabric and print gathering around, the seams  are hard to spot.

While she utilized my Janome, I was busy on the Consew with leather.

 

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This is the first leather bag I’ve completed!  I’ve been working on my bag making skills, brushing up on some leather techniques, and generally working towards this moment for months now. There’s nothing like tackling a big project to gauge what I’ve learned and what I have yet to learn.

 

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The exterior is cut from a veg-tanned cow hide that I dyed with Eco-Flo water based dye in the color Dark Mahogany.  The interior is an upholstery weight fabric that Jessi picked out at Hancock Fabrics, and the pockets are lined in red cotton.

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Working with leather does require some special tools (besides the upholstery weight industrial sewing machine).  I wanted to add metal rivets for strength and visual appeal, and  I had to get the appropriate hole punch, mallet and rivet setter.  As I plan to use them extensively in the future, the extra tools were a worthy investment.  I was very impressed with how sturdy the handles felt after adding the rivets compared to when they were only stitched on.

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As far as construction, sewing this bag up wasn’t so much different from a cloth bag until I tried to turn it right side out.  The leather is quite stiff (I’d guess the hide is 4-5oz) and the seam allowances can’t be pressed open.  I literally wrestled with the bag, pushing and pulling for 10-15 minutes just to turn it.  Once it was turned, Jessi and I took turns pushing out the bottom of the bag and working on the seams.  It was at this point that I became tired and frustrated.  There has got to be a better way to do this with leather!  I’ll be experimenting with thinner/softer leathers, smaller seam allowances (I used 1/4 inch S.A.), a beveler and other designs to improve the experience and results.

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Another detail that differs from working with cloth is how one finishes the edges of leather.  The handle edges as well as the top of the bag are all cut edges that require some sort of finishing to improve the look and durability of the leather.  I used bee’s wax and a slicker to finish them on this bag.  I like the way this method looks, but it takes a fair amount of time and effort.  The other method I’m aware of is to use Edge Kote, which is simply painted on.  This method sounds easier, but in my experience, it cracks over time (ever had a purse with a handle where the edges are cracked all over?)

All in all, this bag was a lot of fun to make and I’m pleased as punch with the results.  I’m already working on #2 and planning #3.  Have you worked with leather?  Any resources you could recommend for learning leather techniques?

The Oversized Tote

To recover from my rayon dress experience, I made a tote bag.  Easy, quick and perfectly practical–the best kind of sewing project.

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I realized I needed a giant tote bag when my husband and I went to Lake Belton.  I didn’t have a tote large enough to hold 2 towels (make that 3 because the dog needs her own!), a water bottle, my phone, wallet, etc, etc.  (I didn’t want to carry my purse and another bag).  I really needed a giant bag to put everything in one place.
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So, I whipped up this tote using materials I had in house (except I decided I had to have web handles that I picked up at my local Hancock’s).  I based the size off of two towels folded and stacked, plus a little more room for all my extras.
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The exterior fabric is a heavyweight home decor type fabric that was given to me.  I applied fusible interfacing to give it a little more body.  The interior fabric is a quilting cotton.

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The straps are attached about 2″ below the bag opening and across the bottom of the bag.  I used a full 3 yards of the webbing material for the straps, bringing the two ends together on the bottom of the bag.

I was debating whether to sew them in place all the way around when my husband noticed that by leaving the straps loose, I could fit a yoga mat under the straps.

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I’ve never needed to carry a yoga mat, but I like the option!  It seemed like a practical design feature as well as an excuse to be lazy and leave the handles as they were.

Honestly, I attached the handles last, as an after thought.  I originally planned to make fabric handles and only attach them at the top of the bag.  But I decided a contrasting color as well as the strength of webbing would be better suited to the size of this tote, so I added them on last.  If I make another such tote bag (or if you, dear reader, should like to make one), I would attach the straps to the outer fabric before sewing up the bag.  It would be so much easier to ensure the straps were properly centered on a flat piece of fabric.
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I took my tote down to the pool for a photo sesh, and I loaded it up with all the goodies one might take to the pool, lake or beach:  two towels, yoga mat, water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, ipad, phone, keys, camera, and room for snacks.
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The bag easily accommodated all I needed (plus the yoga mat that I didn’t need!)

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An interior pocket would be a nice addition, now that I think about it, to keep my smaller items from getting lost in the bottom of the bag.  But I’m really happy with my new bag, and I can’t wait for the next trip to the pool or lake.  I’m ready now.

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Where do you go to cool down on a hot summer day?

Robe for a Crazy Horse Lady

My mother is one crazy lady.

And I mean that in the very best way.  I admire her.

She is a vaulting coach.  Vaulting is her passion.  And although the vaulting didn’t stick, she managed to pass on her love of horses to me.
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This is me and my two sisters vaulting (I think I’m the one in the middle… it was 12 years ago, and I have an identical twin sister.  Sometimes I have a hard time telling us apart in photos.  Especially photos where we are in the same exact outfit.)

Mom was our coach.  None of my siblings or I vault anymore, but my mom is still a very busy coach and horse trainer.

She picked up another hobby in the last few years as well–Roman riding.
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I tried it one time–it’s hard!  My mom is so strong!  She is twice my age, but she is way stronger than me!  (And much braver too for that matter)

Anyway, enough about how awesome my mother is.  On to the sewing project.

She recently had surgery and needed a robe to wear while she was recovering.  Enter her over-achieving aims to please daughter who loves to sew.  And the BurdaStyle Kimono robe pattern.

This pattern is wonderful and easy.  I even forgot to add the seam allowance (ahh!) and it still fit well thanks to all the ease of a robe.
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The outer fabric was very lightweight and a little sheer, so I underlined it with an equally lightweight white fabric.  The pattern included inseam pockets, but I wanted to add a special patch pocket for my mom instead.

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I found this circus girl image on etsy and used transfer paper to print and transfer the image by ironing onto my fabric.  It worked quite well.  I interfaced the pocket as well as the main fabric where the pocket would be attached to make sure it was sturdy.  Well, it’s good and sturdy and a bit too stiff really.  I may have over-done the interfacing just a little.
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If you have need of a robe, I highly recommend this pattern.  It was a quick and satisfying project.  But don’t forget to add your seam allowance ;)

Loop Scarf

I’m a complete beginner at crochet.  After several youtube demos, I think I’ve mastered something that resembles the most basic pattern.  I’m not confident that I’m doing it correctly, but I did manage to make a scarf!  and it’s holding together just fine.
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My first attempt involved the thickest yarn I’ve ever seen, in a beautiful green color dubbed “cilantro.”  I made it too short and tight though–it wore like a neck brace.  A very warm, lovely colored neck brace.

My second attempt was this thinner teal colored yarn.  I tried to keep it loose, and I made it longer and wider.  I’m much happier with this scarf–it actually drapes and hangs a little.  Plus it didn’t make my neck itch–score.

Time to put up the crochet hook and start cutting out the negroni pattern.

Sometimes I think I just need a week or two between sewing projects to rest and relax before tackling the next adventure.  Although I love to sew, I get caught up in the work and stay up too late.  It’s not exactly a relaxing hobby for me.  Crochet has been my “relax and watch tv” activity.  Sewing is more like reading Harry Potter–it draws me in and keeps me up past my bedtime.  Which hobbies help you to relax?