Current projects

I have had this pretty rose fabric for a while now.

[This photo doesn’t really show the colors very well. The rose fabric is pretty close but is prettier in person.  The solid fabric is a light yellow that coordinates with the background yellow of the rose fabric.]
I was looking for the “perfect” project for the rose fabric. It sat in the closet for a long time. I realized that there is no “perfect” project, and that any project was better than no project. I broke out my beginner quilting book and picked out a pattern.

There was one critical criteria for the pattern… I only had 1 yard of the rose fabric. I could have cut it up and used it in a scrap quilt but I really wanted to have something that showcased this fabric. I found a pattern, bought some coordinating fabric, and started chopping and sewing.


I didn’t get too far along before my back started screaming. I don’t have a very good set up for sewing. I sit at the dining room table on a dining room chair. The ergonomics are excruciating.

I tried adjusting the sewing machine height with yoga blocks.

It was better but my back still hurt.

After much research, I ended up putting the sewing machine back on the table. I put the yoga blocks under my feet and a lumber pillow behind me. Raising my feet and supporting my back was a 80% improvement. I think the final 20% will require tilting the sewing machine somehow and using an office chair. Also, better lighting would be lovely.

And, just in case you think I’ve forgotten how to knit, I started working on this:

I don’t know what “this” is going to end up being. Does anyone else ever knit for the sake of knitting? No pattern just knitting? I do have some ideas for it but it is definitely a “I love to knit for the sake of knitting” project.

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The tote bag made me do it

I’m sneaking in… thank you all so much for your well wishes.  The cheesecake, both virtual and real, was fantastic.

I made a tote!   An old client requested it, and I didn’t want to disappoint her.  I already had the machine out for another project so I made the tote.  Here it is:

From September08

And the inside:

From September08

I’ve done some other projects too. If I can track down the pics (or take new ones), I will post them.

Bag versus bag… bag wins.

The weather this past Friday was awful… there were tornado and thunderstorm warnings all day. We spent the day inside… BC spent his time grousing about what was on tv while I groused (to myself) about grocery bags. Plastic grocery bags are wonderful and awful at the same time.  Wonderful because they are so thin and utile.  Awful because they are plastic and will never go away.  You’d think I would have already solved my personal grocery bag dilemma seeing as how I make tote bags and such. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy. Being stuck inside all day with a ton of unfinished housework finally propelled me 3 feet across the office from computer to sewing machine.

My mission: an easy-to-make but strong grocery bag that MC and I will actually use. I had 2 basic patterns in mind: one based on plastic grocery bags, and one tote-bag style. An additional goal was to use stash fabric or recycled fabric.

Bag #1: This first design was based on plastic grocery bags. I took apart a plastic bag to make the pattern. I used a thrifted bed sheet as the fabric of choice.

(no, that is not my hairy arm in the picture!)

Results: Exactly like a plastic grocery bag… except that the handles are a bit cumbersome because fabric doesn’t squish down like plastic does. The recycled bed sheet was awesome except the color and pattern were too emasculating for any man to carry even with the best of green intentions.  At least that was my interpretation of MC’s reaction which went along the lines of “You made this one for me?! Couldn’t you use more macho colors??”

The pattern was also a pain in my neck (except it wasn’t my neck that was in pain, the pain was at the other end of my spine). Curves and single piece handles were awkward and required too much work for my peace of mind.

On to style number 2 (which I was hoping would not be number 2 like the first style).

Bag #2: This design is a tote bag… but different from the style of tote bags that I usually make.

Results: We have a winner (the man held the bag so it looks wonky but it lays perfectly flat). I modified the bag design because the original tote bag I based it on was made from heavier, unlined fabric. I used newly purchased fat quarters for this bag and some muslin from my stash. I didn’t have enough “manly” stash fabric, and Joann’s was having a sale, and BC was pitching a tantrum about something so I distracted him by asking him to pick some fat quarters for daddy. Whew! That was a mouthful… and then we went to the park for 2 hours where I managed to get a sunburn despite being bundled up because it was in the 50’s and the wind was blowing straight through my clothes and I was freezing, and why was I the only one there wearing something heavier than a sweatshirt including my family? Seriously.  They didn’t get a sunburn either.

Bottom line: This style was quick and easy to sew. The seams are strong. The material is strong because it is lined. The handles may be too short but I won’t know till the man actually uses them for groceries. I didn’t tell him about the handles because I didn’t want to influence his evaluation, and I don’t want to take the bag apart to put longer handles in (lazy, remember?). I did manage to use some of my stash… I can use more stash when I make bags for myself seeing as how I like feminine colors and patterns.  And wear sunblock if you are going to spend 2 hours at the park.

As you can see, I liked the pattern enough to duplicate it.

The colors are still “cute” according to the man but what do you expect when you let a 5yo pick them out after you stirred up a hornet’s nest of a temper tantrum… at least they aren’t emasculating pink flowers.

(BTW, BC insisted on putting back his original choice after MC said how much he liked the fabric… me thinks the boy wanted daddy to suffer.)

The house is still a mess… I’m thinking I need at least 10 of these bags!

Lambkin notes

I didn’t say much about making Lamb when I posted his/her (a little of both according to BC) pictures… too busy being lazy, I think.  The pattern is easy peasy with some caveats.  If you use flannel (or another loose weave fabric), you might want to apply interfacing on the backside.  Lamb’s stitches are pulling out in the most embarrassing places.  Also, if you are hand stitching, make it worth your while and use small, back stitches (or something similar).  Oh, and mark your seam allowance… trust me.  Learn from my exploits or you too will have a misshapen lambkin that is pulling seams and tearing its weave open.  Despite her idiosyncrasies, Lamb is much-loved.

Banff and Clutter … revisited

I finished the reconstruction of Banff. I added 3 inches of stockinette then reknit the 2×2 rib bottom. It fits! And it is so comfy and warm. I have been wearing since the cold blast of arctic weather arrived this week.

If you look at the middle of the reconstructed sweater (on the right), there is a horizontal line where I started the reknit. The line was not created by as a result of reconstruction. It was created by accidentally using US3’s instead of the larger size required.

I used the smaller circs to pick up the stitches before cutting, and then forgot to replace them with larger needles. If I wasn’t lazy, I would have unknit back to those stitches and started again. But I am lazy. And the lazy in me has decided that the stitches will loosen themselves up over time without my help. This yarn is so limp, it might work.

Pattern: Banff
Yarn: Noro Cotton Iroha (70% cotton, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon). Probably discontinued.  I have 5 skeins left in my stash.

Next up, a scarf:

The lace is a simple, 2-sided pattern: yo, k2tog, repeat.

I think the yarn in my stash is multiplying on its own. I keep knitting using this Sirdar yarn but the pile never seems to get smaller. I used all but one skein of navy to make this scarf.

Pattern: Openwork Scarf from Vogue Knitting Scarves Two (a big thanks goes to Kristen at AudioKnits for this book!)
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Aran (55% nylon, 45% acrylic)

And my clutter revisited. You all had great suggestions on how to handle clutter.  Thank you so much for your ideas.

I may have mislead you though… I do have storage. I have very little organization but I have storage. Like the smalled plastic drawers on wheels that Lisa, the Domestic Diva, suggested. I have other types of plastic drawers as well. By the way, if you need help reorganizing your craft space, definitely visit Lisa!

I also have shelves on the wall next to my sewing machine. Ribbons and fabric scraps are in ziploc bags. Larger pieces of fabric are folded and stacked (oh so carefully too). The green pillow on the bottom says something about cats at work, but the dog sleeps there.

I have more shelves behind me and across the room. The wire shelves hold my son’s toys (smaller toys are contained in baskets).

I still need to reorganize all these shelves.  I can never find what I need.

Currently, I have decided to keep the bag parts on a big board that I can pick up without disturbing the fabric. When I want to sew, I can move it temporarily.  After I put use this stash, I won’t be cutting out multiple bags parts again… only what I need for one bag at a time.

Bag Tutorial – alternate top seam method

In my last bag tutorial (Gusseted Tote Bag Tutorial parts 1-5), I used the pillowcase method to attach the bag’s lining to the shell. I don’t usually use the pillowcase method. This is strictly a preference thing. So, if you like the pillowcase method and are happy with your results, keep using it. If you want to try something new, or maybe you don’t like the top of your bags, try this next method.

I am now presenting to you the “Cathy is a perfectionist and the pillowcase method ruffles her feathers” method, aka the “CIAPATPMRHF” method. I won’t lie to you, this method is like it’s name… it takes longer and is a little more labor intensive than the pillowcase method.

Step 18A (the “A” means it is the alternative method): Place the liner inside the shell with wrong sides facing.

Step 19A: Start folding down the edge of the shell and the edge of the liner (fold the shell to the inside, fold the liner to the outside… this way the folds are facing each other).

Fold the lining so that it is set slightly lower than the shell. This gives the top of your bag a clean edge.

When you pin the lining to the shell, make sure that the side seams of both line up. What I usually do is fold down the shell first, then line up the side seams. Then I go all the way around pinning the lining to the shell.

Step 20A: Lay the bag flat. This way you can make sure that the opening is even.

This picture shows how the lining is lower than the shell.

Step 21A: In this step, I sewed the lining into the bag without the handles in place.

This particular lining fabric was so slippery, I could hardly keep it pinned in place. If you are using a cotton lining, you can sew the lining and handles at the same time. See step 22A for placement of the handles if you are sewing them with the lining.

I like to sew with the lining up because I can see exactly where it is.

Step 22A: Mark the center of the bag with pins. Then measure out to where the insides of the handles will be.

If you sewed all the way around the bag like I have shown, you have to rip open the seam to place the handles. More precise sewers would have left small openings for the handles. I’m not that precise and I love my seam ripper.

You will want to open the seam slightly wider than the width of the handles.

Step 23A: Slide the handles into the openings. Pin into place. Make sure the handles are the same length by holding them next to each other.

Sew the handles into place.

Go back to the Gusseted Bag Tutorial for hard bottom instructions.

Voila, you are done! Sit back and enjoy your bag.