Friday, September 26, 2014

241 Tote and Tutorial Round Up

That's right folks, you heard it here first,
I made a 241 Tote!!!

 The 241 Tote is by NoodleHead Designs.  I just cannot say enough good things about this pattern!
I have never made a tote, bag or purse before, and was very trepidacious about venturing into bag making. I thought; Sooo many pattern pieces, Sooo much cutting, Sooo many words for which I have no meaning. So many weird sections of JoAnn's that have names like stabilizer and interfacing and sound much too much like software developers over for a double espresso and a rehash of last nights error code re-writes! 
But, NO! The Noodle Head 241 Tote is simple to make, very logically and carefully laid out, and very well written. And just so you will no longer fear leaping into places Gucci would fear to tread, I have gathered the very best of the 241 Tote Tutorials and have them here along with a coupla pointers of my own; Ready for you to drink in and drool over, cause you won't be able to wait to get your hands on one of these!!

The 241 Tote is good for Country Living, gardening or picking up the kids.

The 241 tote is great for Urban exploits as well! That Tote makes that
motorcycle look BADASS, don't you think??!!!

Materials used in the making of this bag:
Pellon interfacing (Gasp!!) ES114 
Grey Peppered Cotton by Pepper Cory
Kona Solid in Orange on the inside of the pockets
Denise Schmidt for Joann's Orange and Navy plaid for center body and handle. 
Light Grey polyester thread by Gutermann. I know! But my machine like polyester thread, what can I say?
Pfaff Bi-Level binding foot for edge stitching (I'll tell you why in a sec)

So, to review the pattern:
1.  I purchased a pdf pattern straight from NoodleHead's website. It was quick, easy, and painless. Then I printed it out using my home computer and printer onto regular ol printer paper. Since I now, unfortunately, have Windows 8, it was a bit of a run around to print the pattern out at normal size as Windows 8 wants to reduce everything to fit. Long story fairly short, if you open up the pdf file and print it from adobe acrobat, you should not have any problem Dont forget to check your pattern for size! There is a one inch measurement square on the first pattern piece. 

2.  I then cut the pattern pieces out, taped the A-A and the B-B, double checked that this was indeed the case, and having ironed all of my fabric in advance, weighted the pattern pieces and cut around them using a small rotary cutter. Easy peasy!! Don't pin your pattern to your fabric, as it distorts the pattern quite badly. 
I followed this tutorial by Katy, The Littlest Thistle, for pattern layout and cutting instructions. Ba-rilliant!! Then I read through this tutorial and review by SewSweetness, Sara Lawson. I just want you to know that I clipped my seams about a hundred less times than they did, and they lay perfectly flat. For now, anyhoo!! 

3. I fused the interfacing to the fabric pieces as directed on the interfacing package, and it has stayed on like a champ. And I am not easy on my purses. They invariably end up under the seat, or the dog, or the Boy. You know what I am saying!! I think that the Pellon ES 114 was the perfect weight for the peppered cotton, as that particular fabric is quite sturdy. If I had been using only quilting cottons, I think I would have used one step heavier of an interfacing. But, like I say, I am pretty hard on my handmades. But I can tell you that I am now going to buy it by the yard from JoAnn's and absolutely use a coupon. The little box that I had was just enough to make this bag, and no extra. I know that other countries do not get coupons or have Pellon... maybe an Etsy seller could help??
UPDATE: Walmart now carries Pellon products for $5 a yard LESS than Joann's. Wowsa!

4. I did NOT trim the interfacing back 1/4 inch like the manufacturer suggests. My theory was that I wanted that stiffness to help the seams at the bottom of the bag and pockets hold up to all of the junk that accumulates in the bottom of my purse... I am not going to show you a picture of that, as I do not wish you to cry ;) 

5. When sewing the darts, line up the edges of the bottom of the bag, then pin...
I am about to move into position to sew a dart, but look! The edges of my fabric are lined up!
Keep them this way!

6. I had no problem sewing the sides of the bag to the central pieces because I used my Wonder Clips.., Man, those things are some kinda heaven!! One Tip: pin/clip Starting, NOT at the seam intersection, but out at the ends of the side, and work your way back to the curved seam intersection where the bottom of the side meets the bottom of the center of the bag... This will keep your side centered and ease the complete side into the bag.  Go to SewSweetness's tutorial for a pic of the side insertion. 

7. If you have a Pfaff, and you want to topstitch, you will not be able to move your needle over and use your stitch in the ditch foot, or your edge foot, because there is only a central hole in Pfaff feet. No broken needles, thank you!! So you can either wing it, and risk wandering top stitching, or you can purchase the handy bi-level binding foot.  It has a large and small side to the foot, and a solid front, so that you cannot see what you're up to. If they'd asked me first, they would have known better than to do that. The sides of the foot are undercut so that they help to guide the fabric. Move your needle to the distance from the edge of the fabric that you wish, and go ahead and stitch. This is the first time I have ever had top stitching come out looking like anything that could leave my house. 

You can just barely see here how the right-most side of the foot is undercut. If I was doing binding, I would have the left-most side of the foot cuddled up against the edge of the binding and the rightmost side of the foot riding along the outside edge of the binding. I would move the needle right until it was the desired distance from my edge to stitch... here it is way too far over for topstitching!

8.  If you have a lightweight machine, you are going to want to hand crank your way over the intersections of the pockets. I'm just sayin... no need to break your machine just to have some lovely stitching! 

This is the intersection you will want to hand crank through.
9. I used a titanium needle for the first time. It didn't make it all of the way through the bag before skipping stitches and dulling. I switched to a universal 90/14 and finished up with no problems. Has anyone else ever had this happen??! I was really hoping that titanium needles were the answer to fewer dull needles in the middle of projects... 
    *Update! Read Katy's comment at the end of the page to see why you SHOULD always use a 90/14 needle and trim your interfacing, both! 

That's it, folks!!! Please stop by the tutorials and familiarize yourself with the process, and then jump right in!!! 
I leave you with a bevy of pics of 241 totes other sewists have made. I sincerely hope that you will try one, or a dozen, yourself! I know I am!!!!!!!!!!!!


Denim, Perfect!!

Ooh, Elegant!

For another review, check out Red Pepper Quilts
For info on Interfacing go to Sew Sweetness
And for a tutorial on how to insert a magnetic snap go to Noodlehead 

This 241 tote is a finish for the FAL3 over at The Littlest Thistle! Woohoo!!!!
Linking to:
Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts 

Holy Mackerel! Did you see that Craftsy has 70% off??!!

Check it out!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Really Random Thursday: Alaska Edition

One thing I have learned from being forced to surf the couch for two months, is that the World is a Wide, Wild place. And here are some happenings from around The Frozen north, to prove it…

Party-crashing bear trashes Juneau toddler's birthday cupcakes

According to the Anchorage Daily News, A black bear crashed a toddler's birthday party in Juneau (AK) after it climbed onto the roof of a house, then burst through a skylight and landed in the living room. Fortunately, the guests hadn't yet arrived, the Juneau Empire reports.
Those in the house fled to adjoining rooms as the bear quickly recuperated, spotted Jackson's birthday cupcakes and started licking the frosting off them. The bear was inside the house for several minutes but did not wander back into the woods until Merrill deployed bear spray, according to the Empire, which also reports the bear may have been the same one that entered a  nearby home later that day. 
Talk about your unexpected guest!!
And then there's:
Palmer farm looks to learn lessons from milking musk oxen

Believe it or not, musk ox milk is a real hit in coffee. It's rich and fatty and not the least bit offensive in flavor, at least according to taste tests by managers at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer.
This last Spring, when cows started to wean their babies, managers decided to try milking the musk oxen.

Musk Ox Farm executive director Mark Austin said historical records show mixed results when it comes to how much milk a musk ox can produce. The first known milking of musk oxen at the farm was done in the late 1980s, when the Palmer location first opened. Musk oxen don't produce much milk, but because of that it's rich with fat and protein. Austin said they thought musk oxen could generally produce about a cup of milk a day.
Alexis Daggett, an intern from Wisconsin, grew up with milking goats.  She said milking musk oxen is not that different from milking goats or any other kind of herd animal. The biggest difference is the long guard hairs that cover the musk ox. You have to be cautious not to pull them, Daggett says. 
Earlier this week, they used it to make chocolate fudge. The verdict?"It was delicious," Curtis said. "Really creamy."

And then, the coolest newlyweds I have ever seen...

This  Saskatchewan couple win my award for most innovative use of weather in wedding photography. Don't you agree??!!!
Have a Wonder-Filled Day!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Around The World Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Around The World Blog Hop!! Let's jump right in!!
Who asked you to join the blog hop?
Katy Cameron of The Littlest Thistle,
Check out this incredible improv! Katy is innovative, kind and funny. I love her quirky sense of humor and greatly admire her drive and professionalism. You gotta see her work!!

Sharon McConnell of Color Girl Quilts. Woohoo! Sharon is a modern quilter and designer with a unique aesthetic. Her new webpage says it all. Oh my goodness, you'll be so glad you stopped by!!
These two exciting Modern Quilters exemplify what I believe to be the heart and soul of the online quilting community; Its Quality, Humor and Kindness. And what more can you ask of a world, than that?!

A little about you:
I first came to Alaska when I was 10 years old, and immediately became enthralled with its history, its peoples and most importantly, its stories. Oh, the stories!! Stories of Dogs, Men and Their Dogs, Dogs ditching their men to live free lives among the wolves, Men stumbling about the wilderness inconsolate… you get the idea. Stories of caribou, narwal and the origin of the Aurora Borealis. Stories of people from here, and who have come here, to live lives as close to True Adventurers of old as it is possible to do in this modern world. Stories that play themselves out in front of my eyes on a daily basis and which are woven, by their very possibility, into the days of all who live here. I love to tell stories of life here and to share the wonder and excitement of travel into worlds little seen by those Outside. 
Here are my most popular blog posts to date, I hope you enjoy them, too!

If you would like to participate in the Quilt for Kate, please leave a comment at the end of this post, and I will add you to the mailing list. And, thank you!
I believe in paying it forward in life, and that is a big part of this website.

What are you working on now?
 I am participating in two quilt-alongs, the Polks Dot Bikini Quilt Along at Color Girl Quilts, (I fully expect to come in a year behind everyone else because I am having so much fun with color choices), and the Tesselations QAL with Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness. I will post pics of the tesselations quilt as I go along, along with a tutorial for you. As you have probably seen throughout the blog hop, joining in quilt-alongs (QALs) is an important way to meet other bloggers, learn about how online communities and businesses are run, and increase your sewing skills; all in a non-judgmental, supportive environment. I highly recommend them.
I am also participating in the Instagram #verycherryswap hosted by @EmilyAnnskloset (Tina of One Little Pooh)

A sneak peek of one of my gifts for @Evil_Moogle as a part of the Instagram #verycherryswap. Come back in a week to see more! ;)
Instagram is an excellent way to meet people from all over the world, who share the same interests, and who have vastly differing styles. For instance, my partner in the cherry swap is @Evil_Moogle. She lives in Scotland, loves gaming, and is a roller derby queen!!! How different is that from Alaska?! I am making her several items (which I will have to show after she receives them, so come on back!), that have a Rockabilly theme with cherries. Woo! I’m having a blast!
This Pollen-Nation pillow is a part of the Finish Along hosted by The Littlest Thistle. Such fun and so great to see what so many other people are working on. And the prizes!!!!!!!
A close up of the quilting on the pillow. Inspired by the matchstick quilting of the fabulous Leanne of She Can Quilt. 
I was in a car accident the last day of July and haven’t been able to sit to sew or stand to iron, so I haven’t finished much to show you. But I sure have been inspired!! I want to make a string quilt for a Halloween quilt. I’m thinking a very dark teal or peacock blue background and oranges, maroons and whites as the webs, OR a black background and shades of grey, white and black for the webs, OR… you see how it goes! Check out these beauties from Instagram and Pinterest!! I cant wait to show you what I make!!

Tall Grass Studios spider web selvege quilt.
Mmodern Quilt Guild September pattern designed and pieced by @PoppyPrint, Krista Hennebury. Incredible!!!

Michael Miller Challenge Quilt by CristyCreates. I adore her classes and tutorials!
An incredible version of the MQG September pattern, by Leanne of She Can Quilt. Wowsa!!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I know folks all have a hard time saying how their work is special or different from that of others, and one of the things I hope to do through this blog is to encourage quilters/writers/crafters to drop the comparison of themselves to anyone else. Just go ahead and enjoy what you do or are currently doing. Use blogs and Instagram and Pinterest as a means of finding excitement, not as a means of negatively comparing yourself to others. Use these sources to aid you in upping your game in a space and time that suits who you are. I love it that there are quilters who live for William Morris, and others who only do Improvisational work, and others who despise Improv and really catch their shine from following Traditional patterns that they have chosen to inspire and delight their recipients. There is room for all, and the more different kinds of quilters we have out there, all delighting in each other’s work and supporting each other in our Quests, the better off we all will be.

Why do I write/create what I do?
I can’t help it. I wrote my first detective novel in the fifth grade, and haven’t looked back, since. I love to Share. Share laughs, share loves and lives and living. I love people. I want to know what they do and how they do it, and what makes them tick. But all if a good way, a Celebratory way.

How does my writing/creating process work?
I take walks. I pick berries with the dog. I chat with my quilting ladies. I have to be moving and interacting. Very little happens as far as idea generation, while I’m in the sewing room. I record ideas on my phone, and listen to them, jotting them down onto billions  of post it notes that are placed in order according to category (i.e. quilts: baby, improv, Halloween string: Skills; piping, edge stitching, EQ7: Blog; logo, menu…). Then I can shift the sticky notes around as I need, and cross off and remove items as they are completed. I also have a bulletin board of ongoing projects and what stage they are at, near the desk in my sewing room. It is a very good idea to keep a visual list of what you have accomplished so that you are not only seeing what hasn’t yet been done!! 
Then, after the idea is burning brightly, I walk among the stash and dream of colors, then pull out colors I think will work, put them right back if they don’t, and sort thru others. If I get stuck, I leave the pile with the idea drawn on top and sure enough, the next day, or a few days later, the answer is there. Sometimes the answer is I CANT WAIT!! and sometimes the answer is, never mind, I’ve decided to do something else, and that idea goes back into the idea notebook (one of those little pocket notebooks that you keep with you at all times so that when inspiration strikes, you can write it down), to be pulled out and started another time.
I find that, lately, I feel the need to tell stories with my quilts. For instance, the Bee-Inspired Quilt, and the upcoming Empower Yourself quilts. Even if I am making a quilt for a friend, I like it to tell a story. Their story, or another story, but I am finding that I require meaning if I am going to make a huge Queen sized quilt. The book, Modern Quilt Perspectives by Thomas Knauer, is an example of this ethic. A wall hanging, now, that can be just FUN!! Woo! And mug rugs and improv practice, all provide a means of story-free play.

I care very much about my followers, and the quilting community. And I hope that comes through very clearly in my work.  So long as I am entertaining, informing and delighting other people, I will keep writing, and crafting and quilting, and I hope you do, too!!!

Now check out these other fabulous bloggers on the Around the World Blog Hop!!

Upcoming stories here at SewPsychd include adventures in Chile, on Easter Island, In Santiago, wandering about in northern Argentina, and London, Paris and Rome. And a story of my search for the Ravens’ Lair! In between the stories there is a huge amount of quilting and experimentation with fabric. It’s a big world, let’s get out and explore it!