Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oh Spit! Diaper Bag

My sister asked me to make a bag for her best friend's baby shower this weekend...last Saturday. Nothing like a week's notice huh? I've made diaper bags in the past, specifically one designed by Kay Whitt in her Sew Serendipity Bags and it was a great pattern, BUT it was pretty labor intensive (at least the last time I made one it seemed that way, but I was still pretty new to making bags at the time).

I showed my sister some patterns I had on hand, and she picked out the Oh Spit! Diaper Bag pattern from Big City Bags by Sara Lawson. I'll have to admit that although I hadn't yet made that pattern, I was relieved she picked this one because I'm familiar with Sara's patterns and they are all so easy to follow. 

After a trip to JoAnn Fabrics (she apparently didn't like the ones in my stash), she picked out these cute monsters and I had hoped to finish it by the end of last weekend. I quickly assembled the exterior, straps and zipper panel and then set it aside for the week. I was NOT looking forward to doing the hand sewing that would be necessary to finish the binding on the bag.

I bit the bullet and attached the binding last night while binge watching Twin Peaks on Netflix...don't judge. I'm still not great at hand sewing but at least I'm getting better, thank you YouTube.

This morning I finished the changing pad to go with the bag and used my walking foot for the first time. Holy Moly what a difference!! The last time I used PUL, I seriously wanted to cry, it stretched and bunched and was just generally uncooperative. With the addition of the walking foot, getting through the PUL was a breeze. My machine easily went through the layers of PUL, headliner fabric, interfacing and fabric like a dream with NO bunching or stretching. MAGIC! 

I followed the pattern exactly as written, with the only exception of using automotive headliner fabric in place of the Thermolam that is called for. I often use this in place of other stabilizers like By Annie's Soft and Stable or Thermolam simply because it's MUCH cheaper and has a similar end result. As always, the pattern was a breeze to follow and the most challenging part was attaching the binding by hand at the end. Those of you more experienced with binding could probably totally do it by machine, I was just chicken. The top has a recessed separating zip closure, several interior slip pockets and pockets on the front and back, as well as elasticized pockets on both sides. It also has instructions for a coordinating changing pad. I think if I were to make this bag again, I would just place the exterior in the lining, leaving a hole for turning and complete the bag that way, versus leaving the top edge unfinished until the addition of the bias tape. That's just my personal preference and dislike of sewing on binding.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Triple Zip Finished

I did the Triple Zip Swap last year and had a blast, so when Stephanie from Quarter Incher announced round 2,  I jumped in on the fun despite my crazy to do list. Thankfully it takes longer to pick out the fabrics than it does to actually sew a triple zip!

If you haven't given the Triple Zip a go round yet, you absolutely should! It's so much easier than it looks and it comes together really quickly. I think I did the whole pouch from cutting to finishing in about 2 hours. I follow the alternate finishing technique by Marci Girl Designs, because it just seems to make more sense to me.

My partner requested some pink in the bag, and I've been dying to cut into my stack of Safari Moon.  I guess it was meant to be. 

This guy will be off to his new home next week after I stuff some goodies inside. I hope you like it partner!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Coconut oil for the accident prone sewer

I've totally jumped on the coconut oil band wagon. It has become a part of my daily life as a moisturizer, a make up remover and as a cleanser. It has replaced almost all of my cooking oils. There are oodles of sites touting the wonders of this stuff. As someone with crazy dry skin, I slather this stuff on to combat itchy winter skin. 

What I didn't realize is that this stuff has some medicinal properties as well. I've used it mixed with tea tree oil to very effectively clear up my son's athlete foot and help with his eczema. According to some, it has both antibacterial and anti fungal properties. 

I happened upon my favorite use for this stuff purely by accident. As a sewer and a certified klutz, I seem to burn myself with an iron way more than any reasonable person should. After a particularly nasty bout with the iron, I was left with two very painful burns on my arm that I was sure was going to blister and hurt for days. I frantically searched for something with aloe in it to soothe my skin, and having nothing, thought why not try the coconut oil? In my mind it was kind of the same thing. Except it really, really worked. 

I slathered on the coconut oil, hoping for the best and I was quite frankly amazed at the result. Within 30 minutes, the burn barely hurt and by the next morning...IT DIDN'T HURT AT ALL. Not even a little. Physically, it still looked bad, but no pain at all. Looking at the burn, it absolutely should have blistered but it didn't. Within a couple days it had scabbed over. I kept applying the coconut oil and it didn't scar. 

Since then, I've used it every time and had the same amazing results. It's like magic! I've told a few of my friends and they've experienced the same result. It's seriously amazing. 

The next time you have a mishap with your iron, rinse the burn under cold water (which should be the first thing you do with a burn regardless), then liberally apply coconut oil to the area. Repeat frequently, especially for the first couple of days. 

****I should add that I am not a physician and I'm not giving medical advice, if you have a burn that requires medical treatment then please, please do so. Coconut oil should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment for severe burns. I've used it only on burns that were minor enough that I would not have otherwise sought out medical treatment. ****

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Valentine's Gift to Me

So far 2014 has started with some pretty amazing stuff for me, and I'm really excited about the possibilities that are in store for the rest of the year. I still feel like I am such an amateur at many things sewing related, and in many ways I am. I can finally say that I am proud of what I create, even when it's not perfect. I've always been a bit of a perfectionist by nature, but I've learned that sometimes those imperfections are what makes something beautiful.

As I think about what I would like to learn this year and the ways in which I want to grow, the true control freak in me is thinking about how to put these in to concrete measurable goals. I've found so much support and inspiration in the online sewing community and for the first time, I think it's time that I start stepping outside of my comfort zone (in many areas actually). I'm such a concrete person, and I think in many ways that also shows up in what I create. I like geometrics, straight lines, precision and I think this is often reflected in my fabric choices in my projects. It's my comfort zone. A very structured and predictable comfort zone.

I feel like with each completed project, I improve and I grow. I learn a new skills, I see a different way to solve a problem. I become more abstract in my thinking. As much as I thought this would be uncomfortable, it's been refreshing for me. Initially, I followed patterns, because it's what's "known", I didn't have to worry about whether something will work, and even if I thought I could do it in a different way that would be for easier for me, I didn't because I'm afraid I would mess it up. Lately when following patterns, if I have thought my way would work better for me, I just did it. And you know what?  It worked. That probably seems insignificant, but to me it was assurance that I could do something that was outside the box. Maybe I just did have some idea of what I was doing after all.

I am starting to think in terms of what I would like to do, not in terms of what I think I "can" do. And you know what, it's actually a lot less scary than I thought. I'm by no means an expert, or even close to it, but I realize that if I want to learn something, the only person stopping me is myself.

So, as we roll into this year, I've got a changed outlook on what I am capable of doing. I have had this fear of quilting, because I'm not good enough to quilt. I've never made a quilt, so by default I just can't. Guess what? I'm going to make a quilt, I'm going to make a perfectly imperfect quilt and that's ok. I'll make a quilt.

I'm also going to make more clothes for myself, because I CAN. Will I mess up? Yep. Will they be perfect? Nope. And I've finally come to realize that's perfectly ok.

I'm going  to do those things that I said I wasn't good enough to. I'm going to mess up, and I'm going to learn from those mistakes. So, that is my goal for this year. To be good enough to allow myself to mess up, and embrace that as a part of the process...maybe even the most important part of the process. Which, as my fellow type As can agree, may be the hardest goal of all. Sometimes it's ok to do something even if you know it's not going to be perfect.

To everyone out there that wonders if they can do something? You can, you absolutely can. The message to myself and to everyone else who says they can't or they are afraid, is that sometimes you have to realize that imperfections are what make it beautiful after all.

Happy Valentines day :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For the Photoshop impaired

Isn't it funny how sometimes you come across something and realize you've been completely missing out? I came across this completely awesome website yesterday, totally by accident. In fact, it was so accidental I don't even know exactly how I happened upon it. I just know it is awesomesauce. This amazing thing is a website called Canva.

Canva is a website that lets you easily create graphics, without having to use any fancy tools or html codes. This is perfect for those who are completely clueless in this area. Of course it has limitations and isn't a replacement for more advanced graphics programs, but it's great for someone who just wants to create simple graphics without having to spend an hour trying to decode Photoshop.  It's free to use the site, and there are various templates, backgrounds, images and texts that you can mix and match to create your own graphic. They also have pre-sized templates from Facebook cover photos, to blog graphics to business cards, to social media buttons for bloggers. For those so inclined,  you can also save your images as a PDF file if you want to share it.

I took about five minutes and put this together:

And to update my "About me" page:

Elementary yes, but with no need to fuss with 600 dollar computer programs that require hours of learning to sort through. I should also note that I am NOT being paid to talk about this website, I just sincerely thought it was pretty freaking awesome and wanted to share. 

So, if you can't figure out or afford a fancy smancy program go check out Canva and have some fun playing around.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Big City Bags Giveaway winner

Happy Monday! The winner of the Big City Bags giveaway is: Stephanie from The Simplified Home.

Thanks to everyone that entered, Stephanie go check your email :)