Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yet another Necessary Clutch!

Just a quick update on my latest clutch!  I finally got to make one with my embroidery machine, and I think it turned out so fun!  I've had my eye on this pattern ever since I saw someone do an applique with it many years ago...
(I call him Captain BunnyBeard)

I needed a new clutch since the one I've been using I put the clasp too low for it to hold my giant phone, which was a great excuse to make a new one.  I broke into my stash of batik fabric from my very first de-stashing buy.  I can't even remember the name, but it might have been French something... Anyway, first I embroidered the fabric, then cut out the flap piece.  I have a template made of quilter's template, so it is somewhat clear.  I made a mark on the template for the center of the flap, but I am thinking that I might move my mark down a little so the embroidery is not wrapping around the curve as much when the wallet is closed.

(Flap open)
(Flap closed, still cute, but he is right on the bend)

The back shows off the pretty batik pattern of the fabric, but since I only had not quite a fat quarter and it wasn't centered, I had to trim and sew extra pieces on for the width.  The seam lines are hidden in the sides, so it's not bad at all.


I also decided to try double zippers since I was making this just before I left for a trip and didn't have a lot of spare time.  Once I wrapped my mind around them, it worked fine, but I sat and stared at that piece for at least 15 minutes trying to figure out how to finish the seams!  I think I still prefer the extra card slots, but this one worked great for my trip since I didn't take ALL my cards and I needed to keep track of receipts for reimbursement.  The second zippered pocket held them all so they didn't fly everywhere when I opened it!

I also attached the side loops on the zippered pocket for the shoulder strap, and made a matching shoulder strap.  I think next time I'll move the loops a little higher, but this little clutch was perfect for my trip!  It fit nicely into my computer bag and with the strap it was easy to grab it for when we were walking around after the training.  I can't wait to make another one!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pinch me, I might be dreaming! Embroidery machine!

For as long as I can remember, there have been two specialty machines I've been awed /intimidated by and at the same time wanted them for sewing, a Serger and an embroidery machine. I still don't have a Serger, but I finally have the embroidery machine! Besides the price, the thing holding me back was the question of 'would I really use it?'  I'm a great person for collecting crafts, and I've finally gotten to the point where I try (not always succeed, but I try!) not to impulse buy crafting stuff. (Fabric doesn't count!) when a neighbor got a fancy machine of her own several years ago, she told me I could use it, with my own supplies. Then she told me the price and I was afraid to even look at it, in case I somehow messed it up! That machine cost more than my first car!!

My new baby was nowhere near that pricey, but it has all the features I need!

(So pretty!!)

When I started listing all the things I currently make that I could embellish with embroidery, I decided that this would be my next big purchase. Research led me to the Brother machines, reasonably priced and good quality. I love my Brother sewing machine, so I wasn't worried about the quality. Everyone advised me to get the biggest hoop I could afford, but I decide to start small to make sure I really use it. Mine is the brother PE500, with a 4x4 embroidery field. That sounds tiny, but for what I have planned, it is plenty big! I'm actually amazed by how big the designs are.

(It's better than watching TV!)
(My camera picks up the grain in fabric...I should probably try to fix that in my settings)

(My first broken needle.  When I break a needle, I don't fool around!)

(Death Before Decaf, my motto for life!)

(First try with multiple threads, it's almost as thick as a patch!)

(Had to get the Ponies because both my Daughters and I love them!)
Now I need to find the best embroidery websites, so far I'm loving and, but I search Etsy a lot and am always on the hunt for other great sites!

Monday, March 17, 2014

January Bag of the Month - Bye Bye Love!

I finally had an excuse to make the first bag from the Bag of the Month club pack.  My wonderful Mom got me the subscription for Christmas (I only had to suggest it and she jumped at the easy gift).  My BFF asked for a Star Wars purse for her birthday and picked the pattern and fabric, so here it is!  Sorry for the bad pics, was trying to rush them before I ran off to give her the bag and it was hard to photograph for some reason!

(This bag is HUGE!!)


(Pockets with magnetic snaps!)

(Back with inset zipper)

(Inside with a fun Angry Birds fabric!)

Other than one incident of sewing the outside pieces to the zipper crooked, this pattern went together very nicely.  -- Here's a shot of my mistake to prove that I'm not perfect.  ;)

(that is NOT how it should look!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fun little gifts for kids!

I recently had the chance to make a few birthday presents, so I thought I'd share them now that the kiddos have gotten their gifts!

First up was a 'real' wallet for a boy turning 4!  He requested one 'Just like Dad's, except with a zipper'  So I modified the tutorial over at Modestmaven to include a box zipper.

(Inside has card pockets and the zipper pocket)

(Closes with a snap! out of focus, but the only picture I took...oops!)
(Pocket for the cash!)

(I didn't screw the zipper up and it was a LOT easier than I feared it would be!)

 And after making him a wallet, he of course needed something to carry it in!  Since we had the discussion that boys don't really get purses, he ended up with a 'manly' messenger bag!  (Satchel is also a valid name for a man-bag, fyi)  This one is from the tutorial at Merrimentdesign.

(Got to use my decorative stitches on the handle, very fun!)

(Inside with zippered pocket)

After making those for him, I had to make something equally cute for his little sister who was turning 2.  She needed her own crayon roll, and a bag to carry it in!  It couldn't just be a boring bag, so I found some sheer and sparkly fabric, then put it over the top of a pretty pink print.  Add in matching ribbon for the straps, and viola, cute and easy drawstring backpack!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crayon Rolls - a tutorial

There are millions of crayon roll tutorials on the Internet (well, maybe only half a million).  I’ve read several of them and come up with my own version that combined features I liked.  I seem to make them just infrequently enough that I have don’t have the measurements and assembly order always at the front of my brain, so I figured I should write it down somewhere.    I like to use a ½” seam allowance, I feel it is a little sturdier and more forgiving than the ¼” I see on several tutorials.


fabric for the outside: ½ yard if the print runs along the length of the fabric (cut edge to cut edge).  If it is a non-directional or goes the width of the fabric (selvage to selvage), 1/3 of a yard is plenty, or even ¼ yard.  If you pre-wash your fabrics, you may want to get a little extra, to account for shrinking and fraying.  I sometimes pre-wash, just depends on if I have time to wait for that or not.  (need enough fabric to cut 2 pieces of 6"x17")

Lining fabric: solid color, ¼ yard (1/3 if pre-washing - to cover any fraying)

Fusible interfacing – medium weight gives it a little structure while allowing it to roll nicely.  Woven interfacing (Pellon SF 101) gives it a little added strength without as much stiffness.  1/3 yard will be fine, as long as the width of the interfacing is at least 17”. (you’ll need to have a solid piece that is 17”x6”)

Short piece of elastic –I like to use some pretty elastic I bought off a ‘deal a day’ website that was for making headbands.  Mine is between 1/3-3/4” wide. 

Chalk or disappearing fabric marker (test to make sure it actually goes away!), thread to match or contrast, pins/clips, iron and ironing board, sewing machine


Cut :      

fabric – patterned fabric cut two -  17”x6”

Liner fabric - cut one 17”x 6”

Fusible interfacing– cut one at 17”x6”

Elastic – 3 ¾” of at least ½” wide.  (if your elastic isn't super stretchy, you may want a little extra, but not too much or you'll end up looping it around several times to try to get it tightly closed)
(Three pieces, 17"x6")


Fuse interfacing to the back of the solid liner fabric following interfacing directions.  Fold one of the patterned pieces in half, right sides out (will form the pocket) and iron.  If you want, you can top stitch 1/8” from folded edge, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

(Interfacing on back of the lining piece - my fabric stretched a little as I ironed it, so I re-cut it to the correct size after the interfacing was on)

(folded in half - slightly upside down picture)

Place the liner right side up on your work surface (it helps to line it up on a cutting mat, will be easier to trace lines), place the folded piece on the bottom half of the fabric, line up the open side of the folded piece with the liner and pin in place.  Using a ruler, measure in 8.5” (center of fabric).  Line up the ruler and draw a line with the chalk on the pocket, going slightly onto the liner.  If you are using a quilting ruler, you can draw a line on the other side of the ruler also (mine is 6” wide).  Move over 1” and repeat until you have 15 lines drawn.  The 2 end lines will be 1 ½” inches from the edge.  If they aren’t exact, that is fine, but you don't want to go smaller than 1 1/2".

(My chalk didn't show up very well here, but there are lines!)

(Chalk lines, had to make it huge to show up, sorry!)
Sew each line, backstitching to secure at the tops of the pocket. (I start at the top of one, backstitch, sew all the way down to the very bottom of the fabric and sew across to the next line, then sew up that line and backstitch at the top.  Usually I cut the thread, and then move on to the next line.  I haven't tried just pulling and sliding it over, I'm not sure if the fabric might bunch a little from the tension.)


Trim the front strings first and then pull on the back strings to pull any tiny ends through.  I don’t trim the back ones  as close, and I fray check them to add a little security to the sewing.  Don’t go overboard with the fray check, it will soak through to the front and could leave a slightly darker spot, depending on the fabric.  You probably could also tie them on the back, like quilters do, but I’m not that talented.
(Back side with strings that have the Fray Check on them)

Let that dry for a few minutes.  Take the elastic, fold it in half and place it just above the pocket on the lining piece.  I line mine up with the pocket.  (sorry, no pic)  With a ¼” seam, zig-zag it in place.  Place the top of the roll, right sides together and pin in place.  Make sure if your fabric has an ‘up’ that it is facing the right way now.  Starting at the top near the middle, sew using a ½” seam allowance all the way around, leaving a 3” gap open at the top.  Trim the corners, being careful not to clip into the seams (this gives nice points!) and turn right side out.  Use a turning or poking tool to really push the corners out, but don’t go overboard or you’ll make a hole and be kicking yourself.  Iron when it is all done, tucking under the opening to make a nice straight top.  Ironing really makes it look nicer and gets rid of all those crinkles from pulling it through the hole. (I was in a groove and forgot to take pics of this step, but if anyone needs to see them, I can add them in the next one I make)
(Topstitched, ready for crayons and rolling!)

Topstitch 1/8” from edge, all the way around.  Make sure you catch both sides of the fabric on your opening, otherwise they will end up with an unexpected pocket.  You may want to sew back and forth over the elastic, if you are giving this to an enthusiastic child, just for added security.  Trim the threads, fray check where you ended/started (if you want), and sit back to enjoy your handiwork!  Then fill with crayons, roll up and give to a child.  Or keep it for yourself and unleash your inner child.  I love coloring with a fresh box of crayons, something so fun about it and the smell of new crayons always makes me smile.

If you don't have the time to make one for yourself, please check out the Etsy shop!  I would love to work with you on designing the 'perfect' one for your child's interests, I've done everything from superheroes to castles to sparkly penguins!  JustPlainSweet on Etsy

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Messenger bags - a happy little family!

I love messenger bags, they are roomy, fast to make, and fun!  Recently I finished 2 more, so here is my 'family' of messenger bags.  I feel like there is a Poppa, a Momma, and a Baby bag...

The two big bags are a pattern I cobbled together from various free internet patterns.  They include an inside zipper, plus a plethora of pockets.  (I love that word.  Makes me feel fancy to say it)

The smaller one is from this kid sized messenger bag tutorial and was very fast to make!  I added in a zippered inside pocket to that, just to give it a little something extra. 

(Tiny strap is perfect sized for a 2-4 year old, might make it longer for my almost 5 year old if she wanted to wear it across)

(Used a 7" jeans zipper I picked up on clearance)

Be on the lookout for a tutorial for the bigger bags, along with more pictures!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Uptown Girl Bag - Pattern testing

I took a break from the Necessary Clutches to test the Uptown Girl purse from ChrisW Designs.  It is  designed for Pleather/leather, but I wasn't adventurous enough to do it with those materials!  Thanks for giving me the chance to try this one out Christine!

(Pay no attention to the dead grass.  It's winter!)

Instead of trying to force my little machine to slog through the pleather, I picked some fun quilting fabric from Joann's and just added interfacing to all the outside pieces for durability.  I used headliner foam for the structure of the main part since I didn't have enough of the soft and stable, and it worked nicely!  One tip I should have followed was to cut it out of the seam allowance, but other than a little struggle, it still worked fine.  The other thing I screwed up on, er did on purpose, was not getting enough lining fabric.  I didn't take the time to convert the inches to yards, so I only got one yard of lining.  I was able to cut the outside pockets from my contrast fabric (I got extra of that for some reason!) and I think it worked out even better.  Yeah, I totally did that on purpose. 

(Inside has a zippered center divider, plus slip pockets on each side, lots of organization!)
Once again, a GREAT pattern and easy to follow!  The trickiest part for me was sewing on the handles I picked.  My finger tips are still recovering because I was too lazy to run upstairs for my thimble.  It was my first time using pre-made handles, there were some pleather ones I also picked up at Joann's (Yay for 50% off coupons because those suckers are EXPENSIVE!)

This was also the first time I've installed purse feet, which was so easy that I don't know why I haven't done it before!  Once again my husband's leather punch came in as the perfect tool!
(It's like putting brads in, once you punch the hole!  Just make sure the long bits don't get too close to your seam allowance or it could get caught on the sewing machine.  I ended up turning them after I took this picture so they were more horizontal)

(Gives it a little professional touch!)

(The headliner foam - those binding clips are great for this step!)

(If you don't trim the foam out of the seams, it's not very pretty!  Also make sure you catch all the layers of the fabric, which I didn't here.  Time to bring in Jack and redo it!)
(Top has a recessed zipper, so it closes everything in nice and secure!)

(Both ends have these nice slip pockets which hold my phone and car keys!)

All in all, a great pattern and relatively fast!  There are 2 zippers, but they really aren't that hard to install at all!!  The purse is not a difficult one, but the results look great!