Friday, October 3, 2014

Pattern Test: The Messenger Bag

I am one lucky girlThis past month I was able to test sew a pattern for my friend Melissa Q. from a happy stitch.   I am not an accomplished sewer - very much still a beginner - but I am keen on adding new skills and giving this messenger bag a test run was a great experience. 

Overall it took under 4.5 hours to cut, prepare, assemble and sew the bag - not bad for something so incredibly functional, unique and awesome.  My favorite feature - aside from the slender, compact size and customized strap length - are the inside pockets.  Perfect for a phone, lip gloss, pens and your headphones.

As a beginning sewer I was a bit nervous about how it all might come together, but following Melissa's photos and clear directions made it very easy to pull off.  She provides lots of helpful hints along the way.

It is quite a professional looking bag and I have gotten lots of compliments on it already.  The lining looks wonderful and fits well.  The bag is also reinforced with interfacing, giving it the right amount of body and structure without any additional bulk.

The biggest compliment of all is that one of my older daughters (9yo) desperately wants to have this. "Mom, messenger bags are WAY cooler than backpacks," she says.  I have to agree with her on that.  Especially when it is this messenger bag we're talking about!

The pattern for this bag should be available in Melissa's Etsy store starting today.  Go pick up the pattern, find some fantastic fabric and sew yourself one.  You won't be sorry you did.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hitofude and Murakami

The inspiration struck when I was about half-way through my very first Murakami novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.  It dawned on me to search for Japanese knitting patterns and off I went.  It had been awhile since I had been inspired with a new project - and this one just came to me.

I wound up with Hitofude and have just a half-repeat to get to the end of the arms.  The construction of this piece is incredible - what you see in the photo is half of a rectangle that reaches wrist to wrist.  I will eventually fold the rectangle in half the long way and seam to make two arms.  Whew.

This is an amazingly clear pattern so far and the knitting has been very, very enjoyable.  I am working it up with Madelinetosh Merino Light in scarlet.  A red knit for a red head?  I think I can pull it off.

The photos I have seen of the finished sweater are lovely (over 2,000 in Ravelry) and I hope to have this one done and off the needles by the holiday season.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FO: Quilts for Daughters #3 and #4

My other goal for the summer - aside from clothes for myself - was to finish two more quilts for my youngest daughters.  Building off the design and look of the quilts for daughters #1 and #2, I went with a stacked coin method again.  The prints are all from my stash but I did purchase cotton on sale for the binding.

These two quilts are very similar to each other, which was a happy accident.  The original two quilts I made in 2009 were on the narrow side so I set out to make these wider.  Each color block measures 4.5 inches by 7 inches.  In my over-zealous attempt I made too many vertical strips; so many that I only had to cut and sew one extra to get a second quilt.  So while I set out to only make one for my 6yo I also finished up a second one for my 3yo.  It is certainly too big for her toddler bed and has been tucked away in the linen closet for a year or so until she moves into a 'big girl' bed.

Something wonky happened towards the bottom of the first quilt (first photo) and I think it was because I pulled the backing fabric too tight when taping it to the floor to make the sandwich.  I caught my mistake for the second one and didn't have any trouble.  Luckily for the first one it seems confined to the second row only.

One back is all the same cloth (the waves on the far left in the photo below) and the other is as you see here - pieced with a few different pieces of fabric from the stash. 

The binding strips worked out great this time - I think after working on bias for armholes I really have the hang of machine sewing binding and bias on.  I hand stitched the backs, however, while catching up on episodes of "Suits".

My 6yo loves her quilt already and has been using it every night.  I think they are a success - and it is nice to walk by various bedrooms upstairs and see the quilts splayed out (but very rarely on their beds, smile.  They are kids after all.).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Crafty (Backyard) Camping Birthday

My oldest girls turned 9yo this past weekend.  They wanted a backyard camping sleepover.  My husband and I went around and around about whether to have a 'theme' or just go with a sleepover party.  Ultimately the theme idea won - if for no other reason than it helped to reign in ALL of the ideas that the girls had about their special birthday party.

I found this great camp cake recipe/idea online and did my best to create one similar.  I think I did pretty well.  In fact, making and decorating the cake with the girls was one of the highlights of the entire party planning experience.

I picked out two crafts for the girls to do as well.  The first was a photo holder: A wooden cube that could be decorated with camping signage, and then add a groove in the top that can hold a photo.  We all loved doing these!  I found the camping signs online at Etsy, each girl got her own sheet to cut from and we used Mod Podge to secure the 'signs' to the blocks.  My husband made the blocks and then used a saw to cut the groove.  Each girl went home with a couple of blocks and one photo holder.  I kept the extra blocks until the next day and then made our family a set of blocks for camping.  I can imagine using them for so many things when we are in the great outdoors - story cubes, conversation starters, etc.

The other craft was creating shadow puppets of northern woodland animals.  The girls (painstakingly) cut them out and taped each on to a chopstick.  They practiced shining the images on the side of the tent with their flashlights (a party favor) and then my husband made up a story and they acted it out.  The whole idea/production turned out even better then I ever could have imagined.  The animal shapes were free templates from a designer on the internet - there are thousands out there to choose from.

We roasted hot dogs over a fire pit for dinner with corn on the cob, watermelon and chips.  We did the crafts right afterwards, then were inside for a movie.  Then outside again for sleeping in the tent.  Luckily the weather was on our side for the weekend.  The girls all slept really well (until 8a!) and after breakfast and some playing it was time for the girls to get picked up again.  It was a great party and after the guests left my daughters ran to me with hugs saying that the party exceeded every dream they had about it before hand.  A very happy Momma moment.

This was our first foray into a friend party - up until now, for all our girls, we've kept these celebrations close with just family.  It was a lot of work to pull of the party for kids but very much worth it.  And the party was in touch with our family 'vibe' which made it really enjoyable.  I even got to craft/create along the way.