Monthly Archives: June 2010

Eeny, Meeny…..

June turned out to be a very busy month – most of it was preparing for the show, but some was also loading up the shop with items as well. Now that the busiest part of my summer is behind me, it’s time to figure out ‘What’s next?‘. While I have several BIG deadlines due over the next three weeks, I still would love to squeeze in one more project before I buckle down. Now the problems is, narrowing down which one to make first!
I’m feeling the urge to make a bag. Nothing complicated, just something fun. Two that I would love to tackle is the Milano Bag (thanks to Material Girl Fabrics for the pattern) and The Junk Bag (which is available for sale, by the way). Patricia Bravo patterns are a new one for me (and I love to try out new designers), but the Junk Bag is a great stash pattern and looks to be fun to embellish.
I also broke down and ordered two new Hot Patterns – Classix Nouveau Dolce Vita Slim-Cut Pants and Classix Nouveau Kaleidoscope Tops. While I think I might wait on the pants, I think I might see a new top in my future (now which one to try first?).
My new issue of Burda arrived in the mail – and I simply LOVE this issue! I found several things I really want to make, including the dress on the cover.
Amazon also sent my most recent order: Small Stash Sewing: 24 Projects Using Designer Fat Quarters and Sew Serendipity (reviews are coming up soon). I’ve had a chance to glance through both of them and found several projects that look promising!
Of course, I could just work on, well, work – then I could just dive right into my list of ‘must sews’…. uninterrupted!

Reusable Soup

Well over a year ago, I purchased 6 yards of a fabulous silkscreened fabric – Andy Warhol’s Tomato Soup. My original intent was to make some fun reusable grocery bags to use and sell in my shop. While I had made a few items (an insulated lunch bag, messenger) from it, I had never gotten around to sewing up those reusable grocery sacks. Finally, last week I was motivated to sew one up!
I decided to try my hand at BurdaStyle’s Charlie bag. I went with this one not just because it’s an open source pattern (so I could sell this without having to worry about copyright issues), but also because of it’s shape, size (it really does hold a lot), and the fact that it folds up inside itself. While the finished product is cute, the instructions are, well, disappointing. There is no mention of seam allowance, the photos are unclear (they used a light colored fabric and it makes it very difficult to tell what you’re looking at), and the written directions are vague (I actually attached the pouch that it folds up inside itself wrong the first time I made it, be sure to attach the pouch to the wrong side of the bag!). With that said, if you have some bag making experience and you spend some time ‘figuring out’ what you need to do, it’s a great little tote.
I did make a few changes to the bag. First off, I didn’t serge all sides of the pieces – frankly, it’s not necessary if you intend on serging the tote’s seams. The only pieces that need it is one short edge of the pouch and the ’rounded edges’ (i.e. handles) of the sack. The next change I made to the pattern was boxing out the corners. The directions were very unclear on this, so I just did it my own way – cutting off a 1 1/2″ square on the bottom edges and then sewing them together, matching the seams (the same technique I used for the box bags). Lastly, I finished the edges of the bag. The pattern originally called for leaving the edges serged, but personally I like a ‘clean’ look to my totes.
Now that these two are sold, I definitely think I’ll be making more. I may make a few more changes to this bag….. and may try my hand at a more boxy tote too. OOOOh, the possibilities!

A Few Things Learned

Wow, what a weekend! Not only did it go extremely fast, but I have a new found respect for those who make their living selling their wares at craft, quilting, and art shows – it’s a lot of fun, but there is definitely a lot of hard work involved. After having one under my belt, here’s a few suggestions:

  • If you intend on saving money for your show(s) plan ahead and start shopping garage and estate sales or going out of business clearances for racks, shelving, and unique fixtures. Some shows will have tables or shelving available fro free, so be sure to check with the organizer to see what’s available.
  • Come with a plan as to how you’d like your booth to look, but be prepared to alter it – you never know what sort of unexpected twists might happen (in my case, my booth size changed).
  • Bring more than what you think you’ll need – or at the very least, bring lots of business cards. This makes it easy for customers to find you to order custom or out of stock items. I severely underestimated how many business cards I might hand out – thank goodness Bret was able to print some off and run some to me within the hour.
  • If what you make is ‘wearable’ (or even ‘totable’), definitely show it off… on yourself! This not only gives everyone a good idea as to what it looks like on, but when you ‘take a break’ (even if it’s only for a trip to the restroom) you become an instant billboard for your booth.
  • If you have a portable craft that you do, bring it with you. You never know when there will be lulls in traffic. Not only will you have something to bide the time, but you may make a dent in your next project! You can replace this with ‘internet on your phone’ and this works just as well.

Now that everything is (mostly) unpacked and put away, it’s time to get the house back in order…. with Bret ‘being in charge’ since Thursday, it’s a mess, groceries need to be bought, and there is a mountain of laundry to tackle. I’m hoping to save just a bit of energy to make it into the sewing room. Being around all that fabric and fabulous talent, I’m totally inspired to make something!

More Show News

They said that yesterday would be one of the busiest days of the show, and they weren’t kidding! There was a steady stream of people all day (so I got to meet a lot of fantastic people), but I did manage to take in a bit more of the vendors and pieces around me. Although I’m surrounded by some of the most beautiful quilts, there are a number of other entries and guest exhibitors as well – in fact two of my favorite works happen to be an embellished children’s table and chair set and the beautiful art doll (shown at the left). As much as I would love to give something like the doll a try, I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t have results like these, but I can appreciate all the work that goes into them!
I also found another vendor to fall in love with – Closures. She uses vintage buttons, typewritter keys, tiles, and ‘luggage tags’ to create the most beautiful jewelry and cufflinks…. they were so unique (and did I mention beautiful) that even Taylor is planning on going back to shop. I thought it was a creative way to use (and show off) your notions stash. I also loved a vendor who made her own art glass – I have a very soft spot for necklaces made from it.
Besides jewelry (I am attempting not to add to my fabric stash), the other ‘big’ items were these gorgeous woven baskets. They were created by single mothers in Africa and all proceeds are given back to their community. Not only are they beautifully handcrafted and sturdy, it goes toward a good cause….. needless to say, we got one (unfortunately, they don’t have a website to share). There are also several vendors who sell the most brilliant rhinestones to embellish quiltsclothesbagsetc. I have some that I’ve used in the past, but none of them shine as bright as these do. I’m not sure what I would do with them, but I believe I may buy some and give it a try – I love new products!
Now it’s time to head back to the last day of the show. For anyone who does lots of shows (quilt, craft, or otherwise) – hats off to you! It’s lots of hard work involved – totally rewarding and lots of fun, but let’s just say I’ve been sleeping very good at night!

The Show, Day 1

Whew! The first day (and the longest – 11 hours) of the Quilt Show is over! While quilts are really supposed to be the ‘star’ of the show, I think the true favorite of everyone attending has to be….. the vendors. Thankfully, Taylor came along with me yesterday, giving me a chance to ‘browse’ around when the traffic was light.

By far, my favorite (fabric) booth has to be Material Girl Fabrics. They have some of the most amazing quilts (most of them are sold as kits), gorgeous fabrics (lots of Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butlerish prints) and a few (bag) patterns that I hadn’t seen before. I think before the weekend is over I may pick up this bag just to try it out.
One surprising (sewing) fact about Wichita…. we have several pattern designers living amongst us! I already knew that fabric and pattern designer, Jackie Clark was based in Wichita (I’ve been to her studio and I have to say, it’s gorgeous), but had no idea that Jen Eskridge (pattern designer, blogger, and quite possibly… author!) was here as well.
Now it’s time to grab my stuff and go for day two!

The Booth

For those of you who can’t come to the Common Threads Quilt Show, I thought I would share a few photos of my booth. I wound up with half the size I originally intended – there were over 900 quilt entries so some guest exhibitors had to share. There’s a bit of everything in there: home dec., clothing, costumes, bags, plush. If you’re a frequent reader of this site, you’ll recognize some of the projects!

If this is your first time visiting, Welcome! Have fun looking around: you’ll find my Etsy shop is full of goodies (although most Superhero Aprons will be up sometime in the next two weeks), projects are (generally) on the sidebar, tutorials can be downloaded (you can also find more at The Sewing Republic), and there are lots of links to explore!

Linky Thursday

Recycle your old plush – turn them into hand puppets! [link via We All Sew]
Turn fabric rectangles into a super-simple tunic dress.
I really love the idea of using the Patchwork Pattern Maker, but I think a great end result is dependent on your original image (high contrast?).
Win an autographed copy of City Quilts or a Kona Cotton Hot Spice fat quarter bundle. Read this entry for more details.
So it’s a bit late for Father’s Day gift giving, but this Car Kit has to be one of my favorite projects for guys.
Summer is the best time to wear dresses, so why not start with this Little Black Pinafore?
Everyone has that one shirt that they love to wear again and again. Now you can learn how to recreate it so you have a whole closet of favorites!
Did you read my post yesterday about the yummy Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler thread that Rowan has put out? Now you can win a set for yourself! Hurry this one ends…. TODAY!
Not quite a tutorial, but a bit of insight into how to make a fabulously large zipper necklace.
I have always had a soft spot for Chia Pets. So much so that this Easter, I got the kids a chia head (even Easton liked it after the ‘hair’ hair came in). Now you can skip the commercial version and make your own.
Learn how to make iron-on transfers with Lotta Jansdotter.
It’s not sewing, but I’m a sucker for a cute pinwheel.
Too bad Easton is too little for this great Sesame Street project created by Vickie Howell…. he just loves Cookie Monster.
Sewing for a good cause: Sew a tote bag to be auctioned off at AFCF events. Money raised will go to Operation Orphan Education. Read here for more details.
Make a yoga skirt for yourself than stitch one up for you little girl or toddler!
Do double needles scare you off? Learn how to sew with them at Jalie.

Beautiful Thread

A few weeks ago I received a press release that Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett had teamed together with Rowan and had come up with a new product. Considering how much I love both designers, I asked for a press kit. I had only expected something like yarn or fabric swatches, but was totally surprised that two boxes of gorgeous thread arrived in my mailbox last week. This new line of 100% cotton thread complements Amy’s current Love and Soul Blossom‘s line and Kaffe’s Stones and Circus collection. I’ve had the chance to sew with it over the past week and it is fabulous – the colors are vivid, they blend beautifully, and my machine loves it (there’s no lint flying off)!
Besides matching your fabric perfectly, why should you use quality thread? Here’s a great article on the difference between the ‘bargain’ spools and high quality brands. Now I need to get my hands on some Soul Blossoms fabric and thread…. I am so in love with the prints from this collection – it may be time to re-do the sewing room in some new fabrics!

Overwhelmed, In A Good Way

I was beginning to think that I wasn’t going to make it on the computer (I can feel the withdrawal jitters as we speak) at all today. While it looks like I spent all day packing for a (tropical, perhaps?) getaway, it’s really just some of the bags I plan on taking to stock my booth for the Common Threads Quilt show this week! I have a rough idea of what I want my area to look like – supplied with a variety of projects that you’ve seen on the site including some clothing, aprons, bags, home decor, plush, baby items, etc. As I was gathering all the items (I called it the ‘Great Roundup’) to show, I was overwhelmed at the number of things I’ve made…. I had no idea that so many of the projects I’ve made adorn my house (or closets). It was a neat feeling to see everything together and to see all the hard work, love, and sometimes curse words that were used to make it all. I highly encourage you to do the same – you don’t have to put it all together, just go from room to room and spot everything you’ve made (sewn, knitted, crocheted, embroidered, etc.) – I think you’ll be surprised and encouraged at how busy you’ve been even…. especially when you’re going through a period of ‘low productivity’!

Finished Duffel

With a bulk of the work behind me, all I had left with my Echino duffel was to attach the ends. This was really straightforward, but the only drawback is that the inside leaves you with some exposed ‘raw’ edges. I fixed this by zigzagging the edges to give it a bit of a cleaner look – I may just serge them in the future.
So, what were my overall impressions? This particular bag wasn’t as easy as what I found other Echino patterns – not all the steps were illustrated which makes you stop to think what you should be doing in between. Consequently, I’d recommend this project for someone with some bag making experience or at the very least an intermediate sewer. Additionally, if you’re turned off by exposed seams, I wouldn’t recommend this either as the way this duffel is constructed, there’s no way around them. I’m also not thrilled with how it’s put together, especially the zipper area (you can read more about that in yesterday’s post) and the handles. I think in the future, I’ll take a different approach with both of these. With that said, I do love the finished bag – it’s size is perfect for making it an overnighter (although it turned out much smaller looking than I anticipated even though the measurements are spot on….. could it be the camera angle on the pattern cover?) and I think the outside pocket is a cute touch. Best of all, I got try out a new foot for my Bernina…. a piping foot! This was the first time I’ve ever used one (I’ve been using the zipper foot method previously) and loved it! I’m hoping to put together a tutorial in the coming weeks as I get more adept at using it.