Thursday, March 29, 2012

Suitcase Update

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Bottom half complete!

This is probably my last update before the big reveal of Sidekick Suitcase for Ben.

I was thinking about just waiting until I finished,
but I thought I would share my experience so far
especially in regard to my first experience with piping.

Top half complete!

In my last update, I showed you how I had made the piping.
Jodi's tips and tricks really helped in that department.

But I was still feeling overwhelmed by attaching the piping to the suitcase pieces.

Bottom half inside. My lining still makes me swoon.
LOVE this fabric.

Let me just say that it wasn't as difficult as I had originally thought.
However, I did have my fair share of frustrations.
Not with the directions/pattern, mind you.
Those were crystal clear (Thanks, Jodi!)

It was just quite a process to get through the middle steps of attaching the piping
and then sewing all of the pieces together.

Top half inside.

The biggest frustration for me was repeatedly breaking my needle trying to sew through so many layers (some of them being pretty thick fabrics).
This is, of course, my fault (it usually is).
I was rather excited to use an additional accent fabric for the corner patches and the handle,
a pretty, slate gray (thick) corduroy that I had left over from another project.

yes, THIS was the part that gave me the most trouble.
Darn corduroy. If only you weren't so great.

While I'm really happy with the way it looks,
and I did get it eventually,
as I progressed in the steps of the pattern, it became increasingly difficult to get through the layers of fabric without breaking my needle (which I should mention, drives. me. BONKERS.)

zippity zip zip zipper.

Anyway, I ended up sewing with a 120 needle (jean weight) instead of a 100 needle for the heavier parts, and that worked much better.

So there you have it.
I'm almost done... I've gotten a little bit ahead of the sew along and only have a few steps left, but I'll wait to share all of that until I have it completely finished. :)

My Biggest Fan

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Is my mom.
(She's that one person who comments on my posts)
Hi Mom!

My second biggest fan is, perhaps, Grace.
Her blog is, after all, my largest traffic source.
I'm guessing because oodles of people read her blog.

Which was why I was so happy that she won my giveaway earlier in the year.
A giveaway for a knitted cowl scarf, the pattern for which can be found here.

I was even more excited the other day when I saw this...

Grace's husband wearing the aforementioned cowl...
and a (maybe too small) polo.

Whether she talked her husband into wearing it willingly
or he did this of his own volition,
I am just not sure.

But they are equally amazing.
Virtual high five, Grace!

So there you have it. A blog post about a blog post.
If you missed one of the gazillion links to her blog above, click here and check it out.
She'll have you laughing (out loud) and  headed to the store to buy chia seeds in no time.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Noteworthy Events from the Weekend

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because, obviously, you were wondering...

Here are the highlights:

I went to going away party for my best friend, Sarah, who is moving across the country.
Depressing? Yes.
But it was a great party.

I went to my pottery class and make a garlic keeper.
Ha. I know, but I was so proud of myself.

I found myself swimming in fabric and yarn to keep up with the orders from my Etsy shop.
Lot and LOTS of bunny ears.

Continued gardening and prepping of seedlings for the Spring 2012 garden.

I ate a whole (large) bag of peanut M&Ms.

Made continued progress on my Sidekick Suitcase for Ben.

Watched The Descendents which was not what I was expecting, but no George Clooney movie ever is, so why was I even surprised???
This clearly says more about my expectations than it does about George Clooney, yes?

but absolutely NO substitute for potato chips, in case you were wondering.

And, last but not least, I received a gift card for my birthday which I will most likely be using to (don't hate me) purchase theeeeese.

Things I DID NOT do:
Go to the gym.

It's amazing what you can accomplish in a weekend when you aren't wasting your days and nights away anticipating a new episode Downton Abbey.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fish in 7-Up Batter

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Papa and a fish. :)
I had every intention of doing the usual today.
That is, making something and then writing about it.

Unfortunately, though, my mom called to tell me that my Papa, my dad's dad, passed away last night.
And to be honest, I don't really feel like making anything, which is rare.
I'm not trying to be dramatic, trust me.

Anyway, I thought I would share a recipe instead.
It's my Meme's (my dad's mom).
My grandparents both loved to fish and spent their adult lives saving money so they could retire to the lake and fish everyday.
And that's just what they did.

But then my dad died.
My Meme died shortly after,
and Papa got older so I'm sure he couldn't get out on the lake nearly as often as he would have liked.
But that will always be how remember them: 
fishing, that is.
And as cheesy as it sounds I'm fairly certain that their Beatific Vision is somehow fish-related. :)

The original recipe card that Meme wrote out for my mom.

So here's the recipe (in the case that you can't read my Meme's writing on the recipe card).

Fillet fish, making sure all bones are out- Preheat deep fryer to 365-400 degrees. Put fillets in a plastic bag with some pancake mix and shake to coat- remove and let coating dry for a few minutes.

Batter- Add 1 egg to 1 cup of pancake mix- stir in 1 cup (8oz) of 7-up until batter is thin. Dip coated fillets into batter and fry. If deep frying about 4 minutes.

Nothing gourmet, but it is tasty. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

'On the Go' Wet Bag Tutorial... and...

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After months of posting to this blog, I think I can safely say that it was a good decision
if only because I've 'met' other people who have had some of the same trials and successes with their work that I have had with mine.

One of these trials, for me and I soon found out others as well, was figuring out how to sew a zipper without wanting to rip my hair out.

It sounds dramatic, I know.
After all, sewing a zipper is not difficult.
You sew in a straight line, fold, sew another straight line.

Except not, because the first time I sewed a zipper, the straight line was less than straight (to the point where even my non-sewing friends would notice),
and the worst part...
I broke my needle about 15 hundred times.

I'm in good company, though, because it sounds like at least a couple of you have had the same problems.

So here it is, one of the easiest sewing projects there is: a travel wet bag,
and with it, I'm including my tips for sewing a zipper and tips for sewing with PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric).
I love this wet bag because it is small enough to keep in a diaper bag, but big enough to hold 3-4 cloth diapers or an entire chlorinated water soaked outfit from the pool.
It's waterproof, so you can just throw diapers, swimsuits, and whatever in it, and the mess/water is contained. All thanks to the laminated fabric. Awesome.

I hope you enjoy.

Travel Wet Bag

What You'll Need:
about 1/2 yard of PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric, available online or now in most larger fabric stores)
14" polyester zipper
normal "sewing stuff"

100% polyester thread (cotton thread will wick moisture to the outside of the bag, compromising your "waterproof-iness")

Step One: Cut Your Fabric
You'll need one rectangle of PUL measuring 15"x24" for the bag
one rectangle of PUL measuring 2"x10" for the handle


Step Two: Sew Your Zipper

Before I start this step, I'll tell you some of the tips that have helped me...

Okay, okay... I know these tips seem small, but trust me.
It's the smallest thing that can make the difference.

Now for the feet...

I have 3 different zipper feet (see my pic).
Any of them will work, but might I make a recommendation?
My favorite is the one pictured on the far right.
Just make sure your needle lines up with the notch in the side.
I line it up with the notch on the left (when looking at your machine).
That way, you can use the other side of the foot as a measure.

If you run the outer edges of your zipper and fabric along the right side of the foot, you'll have a nice seam right up against the zipper.
And you'll be able to sew that zipper on smoothly. Like butter, in fact.

Okay, now back to the tutorial...
Center your zipper against the short end of your PUL, with right sides facing.
I usually pin from the center to the outside.

Notice how my zipper foot is lined up with the edges of my fabric? That ensures that my needle runs smoothly along the side of the zipper without it being too close. :)

Sew the pieces together, using the tips that I mentioned above.

Note: normally here, you would press your fabric out and topstitch, but you DO NOT want to iron PUL. It will melt the waterproof lining. Yuck.

Now you'll topstitch the seam, also using your zipper foot, but because you can't iron it, just gently pull the fabric out so it lays as flat as possible.

You're now going to repeat this process for the other side of the zipper.
Lay your PUL so it makes a loop (inside out).
Pin your zipper, sew, fold out, topstitch... just like before.

You'll now have a big loop of fabric. Set that aside for a hot sec.

Note: you could do multiple pieces (a separate piece for the back), but again, when working with PUL, the fewer the seams the better to make your project as water-tight as possible.

Step Three: Sew Your Loop

I like to add a loop to this bag so you can hang it in the bathroom or whathaveyou, but if you don't want it, by all means just skip this step.

Take your smaller rectangle of PUL and fold in half long sides together and right sides in.
Sew along this line with a 1/2" seam allowance, so you have this...

Using a safety pin, turn you tube inside out.
(because it doesn't matter if this bit is waterproof, pin away. Also, you can LIGHTLY press it to help with the topstitching. Make sure, though, your iron is set to low.

Topstitch on both sides of the strap like this.

Strap done.

Step Four: Sew Your Bag Together

While your bag is inside out, position it so you have 1 1/2" of PUL above the zipper.
Pin your sides together.
Again, make sure you pin within your seam allowance (1/2" to the outside).
You also might want to pin your zipper stops so you don't forget where they are (you don't want to run them over!)

Fold your strap piece in half and place on the inside of the bag between the zipper and the top fold.
Pin in place.

Now sew your side seams (1/2" seam allowance).
I suggest going over the strap part a couple times to make sure it's extra strong.

Zig Zag or serge your edges.

nice clean zipper

Then unzip your zipper and turn it right side out.
nice little loop

See??? I told you that was simple!

Another useful pool (and diaper bag) accessory.

I really hope that the tips help you all.
If they're unclear, or you have additional questions, just let me know!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Preview

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We've had an incredibly mild winter here in Pittsburgh,
and this southern girl has NO problem with that.

Aside from the lack of snow shoveling and salt stains on my jeans,
I have also been enjoying an extended harvest of veg from my Fall garden, especially spinach.

It's still alive and well! What the heck? I'll take it.

We celebrated Saint Patrick's Day this weekend (obviously), and it was so hot that we had to come inside!
It has been warm enough that my indoor seed trays have been happily soaking up the sun on the front porch and back patio.

I used the premade, biodegradable seed trays this year because I was too lazy to make them out of newspaper. My soil was an organic, premixed seed starting soil from the home improvement store (again, because I'm lazy).
While those seeds are brewing, I'm prepping my beds and cleaning up the last of the Fall and Winter debris from the yard. More posts on my beds to come (I'm building them new this year).
One thing is for sure; it feels great to get outside.
The only downside is that I'm blinding even myself with my pale skin.

Also, remember my plastic bottle "greenhouses"?
Probably not... if you're interested in the back story, click here.
But long story short... they worked!
Rose transplant: success.
I'll definitely be doing that a lot more now that I'm more confident of their efficacy.

If you're interested in more info on the garden this year (or past), you can keep checking in here.
Click on the "Garden" tab at the top of this page.
Or you can follow my "garden shmarden" board on Pinterest for ideas and resources that I like.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sidekick Suitcase Sew Along- Progress Report

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Well I promised to keep everyone updated on my progress
as I continue work on my first sew along.

I've just begun and already feel like I'm conquering so many firsts
which is pretty darn exciting.

I've already shown you all my materials.
I have to say, the more I work on this project, the more I love my fabric choices.
(patting myself on the back)


Having materials you love makes the tedious task of cutting out all of your pieces so much more bearable and even fun in this case.

Once I got over that molehill, the next step was making the piping.

I have never made piping
and I would be lying if I didn't mention that this step was more than a little horrifying to me.

Turns out piping isn't difficult,
but (and this is a big but) like zippers, you'll save yourself a lot of heartache by using the correct tools,
and in this case its a zipper foot.

For some reason I have 3 zipper feet, and they're all different.
After using the foot that I normally use for zippers, my piping was a baggy, lumpy mess.

I then switched to a smaller zipper foot, moved my needle all the way to the left, and I ran the piping through my sewing machine again.
This did the trick, and I now have much nicer, more tailored piping.

So you can see in my picture (above) that I have two seam lines, but they'll be hidden anyway,
so no big whoop. thank goodness.

Next step was the lining. I got to play with my awesome houndstooth fabric again. love it.


Then, I had a little extra time (and thought I should take advantage of it) and I got a head start on my accents.
I decided to add an initial to my Ben's suitcase, so I found a font I liked...

blew up a 'B'

and cut it out to use as a stencil for my accent fabric and some heat-n-bond.


iron on

zig zag around...


cut around my second layer...

iron on

zig zag around...

and done.

Instead of using my houndstooth for the corner patches, I had just enough corduroy to use for the 8 of those. perfect. love it.

So that's it! So far, so good!

More to come so stay tuned.