Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sewtogether Bag Tips, Tricks and Links


The Sewtogether Bag is a project bag designed by SewDemented. It has three interior pockets, and space for a needle keep and a pin cushion, if you'd like. I made mine to use for crochet or knitting, so I did not add the rest or pin cushion. My finished bag is 9 3/4" long and ~4 1/2" tall. Excellent for so many uses! Have an artist in your house, hook them up with one of these to keep their drawing supplies organized! Have that special Aunt who has everything? I bet she doesn't have one of these made by your loving hands to hold her sewing or crafting supplies! 
I have to tell you, this was my first experience, EVER, putting in zippers... this bag had four zippers, and, honestly, they were what was keeping me from jumping in and making one, despite the fact that I regularly searched the hashtag #sewtogetherbag on Instagram and drooled over examples made the world over.

But no more!! 

To review the pattern:
Things I liked,
  • You can make it with scraps, or F8ths. No need for yardage.
  • It becomes addicting to pull fabrics for future bags, it is so much fun to make!
  • You can tailor the outside and inside to look anyway you like. Like solids? Use solids! Like large florals? Flower away!! Like a mix? Mix it up!! 
  • The making of the bag is in small steps that are easily accomplished, but which look incredibly polished. 
  • It really is EASY.  Even the zippers!! And I love how Sewdemented thinks! The way this is put together is really eye opening when it comes to designing purses. Her method makes it so easy to make pockets. 

Things I didn't like,
  • There are almost no pictures of the steps. I used Quilt Barn's excellent tutorial, as my main source of info on how to sew this pattern. Really, just go and read it through and keep it open as you go. You'll just zip right through. 
  • You really do need to have a machine that can go through a LOT of layers for the final binding. Luckily, I have one. Otherwise, hand sew the binding on, and hand attach the handles. It's still easy, just wanted you to know :)
Tips and Tricks:
  • Use a Jeans or 100 needle so that you don't have skipped stitches. I now use them for every bag I make. 
  • Follow the order of operations from the Quilt Barn tutorial.
  • Use Wonder Clips to hold your layers together, that way you won't end up with alot of bent pins,

  • Use a thin interfacing. I used a thicker one for my outer layer, and that exacerbated the problem of having too many layers to easily and neatly sew through at the end,
  • Take your time and take pains with your topstitching. It'll really pay off! 
  • Have fun choosing your fabrics and zippers! The zipper choice really shows.

  • Use Quilt Barn's technique of filling bobbins with your threads, and sewing from them in the bobbin and as your top thread. Did you know you can do that??! I never thought of it! Having a bobbin on my top post that matched one side I was sewing, and one in the bobbin that matched the other side, gave my stitching real polish, as every stitch matched the fabric it went to.  Then, when I flipped the bag over to stitch the other side, I just switched bobbins. What will they think of next??! I'll be doing this on all of my small projects!! 
  • I will use a 20" or 22" zipper for my top zipper from now on... it will allow my Sewtogether Bag to lie more open while I am using it. My quilting ladies point out that if I do this, my stuff may fall out... Whether or not you do this depends on your intended use... and besides, who doesn't want to see my stuff all fallen out ;0
  •  Make a test bag, and then make 3 or 4 at the same time, after that. 
  • Remember to assemble the pockets/insides in the manner suggested. If you chain piece each pocket separately, you'll have to assemble the inside unit upside down and backwards brain bendingly blah blah blah... ask me how I know!!! Stick with the sequence Quilt Barn shows you, quick, easy, polished!
  • Be prepared. Cut all of your pieces, fuse your interfacings, and have your bobbins wound, in advance. Then you can just sit down and go!
  • DO NOT show this finished bag to your friends. Don't say I didn't warn ya!! You'll be making hundreds and hundreds of them in no time. 

Outer Bag - Tula Pink Darkside
Inside pockets - Tula Pink 10" squares
Outside pockets - Kona solids; Aqua, Olive, Moss
Binding - Kona Moss
Zippers - 3, 9" polyester, 1, 18" polyester all from Joanns. They were ironable, which helped when topstitching the pockets.
Thread - Gutermann polyester in Celery, Moss, Dusty Blue, and Dark Teal. I had no problems with thread breakage. 

You can find the pattern on Craftsy, here

I can't wait to see yours!!!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily'sQuilts 

Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh  Quilts

Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Aurifil Thread Shopping Recommendation

It's time for Sunday Stash over at the Mahvelous Molli Sparkles!! Woo!

Today I want to introduce you to Pumpkin Vine Corner.

Pumpkin Vine Corner is a shop in Cartersville Georgia, USA. I came across them in a desperate search to find reasonably priced Aurifil thread. And I've never looked back!!!

Aurifil thread card = Bliss!

I needed to acquire an Aurifil thread card, and pronto, because I'm participating in the Oakshott Scandinavia Blog hop where my project will also be published as part of an Oakshott Ezine. How awesome is that??! Check out the EZine from the last challenge, they've made it into a Memory Game! Fun!! 

So, needless to say, I wanted everything to be tip top quality, and that meant that I needed threads to accent my quilt. And since Oakshotts are definitely heirloom quality, I wanted a thread that could go the distance with them. 
You know how much I love my Kona color card, and how many happy hours I have spent drooling over the fantastic rainbow of colors, during our dark winters, dreaming dreams of far away places and quilts yet to come. Well, now I have a new obsession! No fair!! I really needed to get some stuff done.
But no!! Instead, I stand dreaming and plotting, over these awesome threads!

Each card has sections that explain how much thread, and of what weight, are on each kind of spool. Spools range in yardage from 220 yards (200m) to 11592 yards (10600m, check out those big bottomed babes)!! You KNOW I need one of those!! But what COLOR???
Yellows to Reds, to Purples to Greens...
Blues, Greys, Black(s), and Variegated!!! You just TRY and choose only one!! 
Oh man! Now I gotta wipe the keyboard off!! Sooo Good!
Check out this post from Lynne Goldworthy about Aurifil thread and spool color indicator. It's great and tells you what amount of thread and thread weight come on each color of spool, what each thread weight is for, and if that size thread comes in cotton, wool, etc. 

So, now you have to get yourself over to Pumpkinvine Corner and STEAL some thread from them. Honestly, I don't know how Jean does it! My thread was $6.50 less PER SPOOL than at my LQS!!! And get this, when Jean uses a flat rate envelope, she goes back into your order and reduces the postage! (Do you hear that!!) I have just been so pleased with the service at Pumpkinvine Corner. And to wrap it all up, my thread arrives two days after I place an order. I think Jean packes mine at 4 am and ships it the day I place my order. Or she has elves. 
But you'll have to check them out to see ;)

See that orange spool? That means it's 50 wt thread.


Ps, I am not an affiliate of Pumpkinvine Corner :) 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mini Messenger Bag - An Easy Beginner Purse You'll Love!

Welcome back to Finish It Up Friday!!

It's been quite a week what with deliveries of long awaited materials, and a new lens for my camera! Woo! 
But what I really want to show you is this just Adorable Mini Messenger Bag by Katy Cameron over at The Littlest Thistle. 
Pics taken with my iphone, pre-fabulacamera ;)

Katy is an experienced bag designer, with more than 10 years of pattern design under her belt (or over her shoulder, as it were;) )

I tested this pattern for Katy. I've been testing a lot of patterns lately, and I can tell you that clear and concise is not everyone's forte! 

But it IS Katy's :)

The pattern is well written and laid out, and SUPER EASY!! 
Who would ever think that a messenger bag with pockets, lining, magnetic snaps, and hardware would be easy, but it IS
I have now been conscripted to make many many more for my family members. I hope I get the chance to make one for myself!!

Here are the things I like about this pattern:

  • There are no zippers, so beginners don't have anything standing in their way
  • The directions have clear photos that accompany them and show you what to do. I love that! 
  • The bag is just the right size. Not so mini that it's only good for kids, and not so large that you can fit the Universe in there. I can fit my Nook, wallet, keys, assorted lip junk, the mail, and a candy bar (or heck, three!) in there, easily. You go ahead and stuff yours full. You know you want to!! I like to travel light and fast. In case I need a speedy get-away!

  • You can easily add pockets anywhere you like. I might add one or two in the gusset, inside and out, to put extra stuff into... I like getting to some things without opening my bag. (See aforementionned candy bars/gum/pens)
  • I LOVE the instructions for magnetic snaps!! Again, PICS, and makes so much sense. 
  • I like an adjustable strap when I am making for other folks, because then they can tailor the length to their likes, and not hate me because the length of their strap isn't just right. I know you know someone like this.
  • It is so much FUN to choose fabrics for this bag!! Mix and match, and you don't need very much fabric! 
What I don't like about this pattern:
  • Nothing. Really! It went together so quickly!! 
  • You will have to make dozens for other people. You better make one for yourself, Pronto!
I made this bag for my Niecey, who is 9. Here are the particulars:
Raccoons by Tula Pink
Dragonflies by Could 9 Fabrics, Across the Pond
Purple Decorator weight stripe, Joanne's 
Pellon TP971F Fusible Thermolan from Joanne's 
Scraps of Eggplant Kona Cotton
Aurifil thread. The Best!

 Note: When the purse has anything in it, the inside pocket does NOT show, as it does in my pics. 

To buy this pattern, click HERE. You won't be sorry! Post your pics, we have to see them!!


Linking up with the wonderful Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday! Woo!


Sunday, April 5, 2015


This is a story that I've had to wait a whole year to tell. 
Because the telling of it makes my heart beat faster.
Makes my palms sweat.
Fills my soul with horror. 
I do not want you to live this story...

No sh*t, there I was. 
Walking along the dirt road just down from our warm, springtime home. Just the Dawg and I. A meandering walk to end a happy busy day. A walk to enjoy the freshness of the air and watch the stars begin to come out as the sun sets. A walk of silent joys. And then...
Not a big SNAP, but a little wood twiggy snap, off to my left, slightly uphill from me. 
I turn to see what has made the twig snap, curious.
There, silhouetted against the evening sky, a perfect, huge, outline of a Brown bear's head. 
The Head and shoulders begin to move swiftly and silently down the alder choked hill, toward me.
I've never seen a live Grizzly bear out in the Wild before. I wished I wasn't seeing one now.
I knew I shouldn't run. I knew I couldn't stand. I knew there was Nothing between us but my son's raincoat I was wearing and a coupla branches. She was coming closer, fast. If I'd fainted, I'd have hit her in the nose with my head. 
So, I backed up.
Up the road in the direction I had come, she was keeping pace with me, her bulk appearing out of the alders, easily brushing through them, without a sound. 
Time and space slowed to bare movement. Don't Breathe, raise foot, she keeps pace, put foot down... 
I carefully take my bear spray out of my pocket, hoping not to incite an attack. Slip the guard off, and step back one more time. 
I spray a wall of spray in front of me, like I had just seen in a video from the Colorado Fish and Game. 
She stops. Lowered head and bulk of body directly in front of me and oriented towards me. She raises and lowers her head at me. 
Shit shit shit shit SHIT!

 I think. What the hell am I doing out here on this road, with no one around, at this time of night, and the immense emptiness of nothing between me and this absolutely undoubtedly pinnacle predator, but AIR. Clear. Insubstantial. 
Nothing. But. 
Her claws extend a good six inches past the end of her toes, and their impact on the ground arches her toes upwards. She looks exactly like the pictures. I marvel at her. I realize I haven't breathed yet. I take a deep slow quiet breath. 
 I yell. "Bear!"
Despite the fact that it was actually a squeak, all of the windows on the house nearby are thrown up. A woman's voice silences a barking dog. A hairy man in nothing but boxer shorts and an enormous colt 45, comes bounding out onto his porch. 
The Bear huffs, and turns towards the man in boxers. 
Another huge bear pops out of the woods, and steps up behind her. They are the Same Size. 
I only have 1/4 of a can of bear spray left. The rest is slowly precipitating out of the air in front of me, between me and the bears. 
The man waves his pistol in the air. I look at that second bear, Think of how little spray I have left, Think of how the first bear will Obliterate me right there in the road with nothing around and no where to hide, if I hurt her cub by spraying it with bear spray, and speak quietly to the woman inside the house. 
"It's just me, here in the road. Please don't scare the bears."
"ok." She whispers. 
The bear starts towards the man, and what I realize must be his trash can, out on the porch, 25 feet away. I breathe again.
Look down and realize the Dawg is by my side. I take her collar in my hand, grateful she is ok. She is not scared, but alert and on point. 
She is looking at the Second Bear. 
He has begun to roll towards the house, stiff legged. He disappears behind the bare trunk of a large pine tree ahead and to my right. 
Then he charges me.
Time slows to a point so small it squeezes and hurts. I see the wet spring turf spurting up behind him as all four of his feet and claws dig in as he charges at me. I cannot bring myself to focus on his teeth, but I can see past them, right down to the start of his throat. 
I hold my 1/4 can of bear spray, arm out, pointed straight towards his face. Stand as stock still as I can. I don't want to spray him. I don't want to die. 
I can't pray because I have to be brave. I lean slightly towards him, my focus on his face is so sharp. Just my arm, and a rattly can between us. 
He stops quickly in front of me,Front legs straight and stiff; the moss covered clay from his approach rolling down and hitting my foot. If I lean more now, I can hit him with my hand. 
He stares at me, mouth agape. I stand. Arm out, not moving. Everything is silent. 
He shakes his head back and forth at me, lowering it. I stand, arm out, intent on him. The silence is so deep it's a burden upon us. I wait, suffocating. 
He growls. And turns slowly away. The First Bear has huffed and called him. He walks stiffly toward her, turning to charge back at me every 3 feet or so. I stand with my arm out. Can at the end pointed at him.
The two of them proceed along the outside edge of the house, 20 feet away, the second charging me every few feet until they go around a curve in the road, and are,
I lower the can. I look down. I have the dog's collar in my hand, and have tightened up so much, that her front feet are off of the ground. She is looking up at me. I quickly put her down and let her loose.  "Leave it" I say. She does. 
I blink and breathe and time starts up again. Color seems bright. I want to pet the dog all over.
The man in the boxer shorts and the enormous useless Colt 45, dances across the wet, pitted grass up to me. 
He hasn't seen the second bear, or the charge. He wants to hear what a hero he is for saving me. I wish I could smack him with that gun. Can you hear it. Ca- CHUNK, right upside the head. But that would be wrong. His trash can is on the porch, overflowing onto the boards. 
I call my son, who is home for a break, to come and get me in the old pickup truck. The sound of my voice scares him so badly he gets lost coming the mile to me; tears stain his face when he arrives. 
"It's ok, I tell him. Please don't cry. Did you see the bears?"
I have not told him this whole story. 

At the time, and now, all I can think is,

"What if I had been a 10 year old kid on a bike???"

So I am here begging you. Please use bear proof trash cans. I've spoken with my neighbors who don't have bear proof cans. They don't know this story. They feel they have the right to use what ever can they want.
I don't think they have the right to kill someone else's Kid. 
And that's my point. Not that I was scared. Not that I shouldn't have been out walking in the late evening. Not that you should always carry bear spray, no matter what (I now carry two cans). But that someone unaware, could have been killed because you refuse to keep your trash in the garage, with the door closed, and use bear proof cans. 
Every time a bear gets reward from eating from your can, you are teaching them to forage and defend their food, where your neighbors' kids play. And that is inexcusably selfish.

Dave Battle, from Alaska Fish and Game, called me the next day to tell me that they had had to shoot the bear that charged me. It had charged another family, while raiding their trash cans. They figured that his sibling (not his mom) would be so traumatized at seeing him killed, that she would stay out of the neighborhood for the foreseeable future. 
I am watching for her this Spring. I hope she has found good forage out in the State Park, and won't go back to making her living from trash cans. I am hoping she won't be able to because my neighbors will take care of their trash. I don't want to see her dead. Or someone's Kid.
Dave Battle says never to spray a wall of spray between you and a bear, but to use the spray you have more effectively by spraying the bear right in the eyes and mouth. Will do, Dave!