Sunday, October 23, 2016

A few things I've learned.............

You know I have been on a bag marathon lately. Right now the boy bags are complete. I decided to make one for my other daughter's son as well and had to order another frame which should be in this week. Pics coming as soon as all the frames are in. I am pleased with the results and my favorite man thinks they are awesome. My latest project, also nearly done, is another mini NCW for our other granddaughter. So the machines have been humming and the cutters rolling! Here are a few tips gleaned from facebook groups that focus on bagmaking. I really appreciate all the knowledge they share and these tips really help me out.


These can be the Wonder Clips by Clover. Some order large bags of generic clips through Amazon. I just hightailed it to KMart (limited resources in these parts) and got a bag full of binder clips. They all work. Why clips? They remove the distortion of pins. Bags can have some real shifty, bulky spots too. It is the nature of pins to go in and out and therefore get a bit bubbly. Clips keep everything flat and they squoosh any thick parts right down and hold those parts solidly. It really prevents the layers from sliding. Love my clips!


This large piece on top is the same paper that backed the clear vinyl I used to waterproof the linings of the boy bags. This stuff is gold if are ever going to iron any kind of faux leather. I've sewn with tons of faux leather over the years. Ironing is next to impossible. Fusing? Forget it. What I have come to do is fuse the interfacing to batiste and stitch that in with the vinyl like an underlining. It works but it is more work. Appear this slick backing paper. You use it on top of the vinyl while you iron the clear vinyl to your fabric. You let the fabric cool and then slowly lift it off.

I decide to take a chance. Nearly every time I've used faux leather I've had some of it come off on the press cloth despite low temps. I had enough extra on my latest project to do an experiment. I laid the paper down on my steam press slick side up. I next laid down the faux leather, leather side down, touching the slick paper. Then came fusible interfacing on top with the glue side facing down on the faux leather. On top of this a dry press cloth. Fingers crossed, I lowered the steam press, gave it a burst of steam and then held it down for ten very long seconds. I was convinced it would be one melted horrid mess. I lifted the steam press and voila! One perfectly fused piece of faux leather. I let the pieces cool, slid them off the press, cooled them some more. Then I carefully peeled the slick paper from the faux leather. NOTHING! Nothing was damaged, melted or transferred. The fuse was totally solid and the leather looked perfect. I am sure this same process could be done with a regular iron as long as the same layering is done with the release paper. It was a Eureka moment.

Now don't think you have to run out and get clear vinyl to get the paper backing. The paper behind mailing labels  is the same thing, just a smaller page. I use Avery labels a lot at work and take home every sheet of paper when a page is used up. It is the same stuff and works perfectly.


Need to push out the corners of those pocket bags? No, you don't stick the point or the blunt end in the corner. Instead, take the blunt end and starting a couple inches away from the corner, rub the blunt end along the seam line. The garment or bag would be right side out. Push that blunt end along the seam and right into the corner. Now run the chopstick along the other seam line on the opposite side of the corner in the  exact same fashion. You will be amazed how well this works and how stress free and simple it is. You have to push that stick right on the seam line starting a distance from the actual corner. I don't get the physics but it really works. I am a total convert for corner points now.


This is used to cover that nice hardware once it is installed. It keeps the scratching down and I will do this the minute any hardware is installed from now on. This turn lock tooks some serious chiseling to get installed but in the end looks great. This is Sophie's bag that I worked on today. It is so close to done and there is a lot of color in  it that you can't see.  I'll show yo later. Look at all those clips doing their thing!


This week has found us leaving  months long drought status. While we were blessed with incredible weather all summer and fall a deluge the past three days has filled the wells and given everything a good solid drink before winter sets in. At the end of the rain event, the temp dropped,  the snow began and the sun came out. I thought I'd share a few pics Ern and I took on our sojourn today.  This is an area called Red Tavern Road where everyone lives off the grid and the river is running wild. 

 A little blowdown. 

And this last pic I took in the rain a couple days ago on my way home from work. It's a half mile from the driveway and it just took my breath away. What a beautiful goodbye to a lovely Summer and Fall....Bunny

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A bit of fabric painting

Let's start with a salute to the incredible colors of fall in the Northeast. We are in peak color right now. Early in the morning the surrounding "earth" is just golden with the morning glow and the changing colors of fall. It is spectacular.

Maybe that's why I was inspired to paint this weekend. I didn't do much painting because this is only a small project, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Several months back I found this unique fabric at Joanns. It was in with the "faux leathers". It is made from 100% rayon for the top fabric and definitely has a leather look to it.  Who knew rayon could look like leather?  In reality it is a quilted leather look, even better. I knew when I bought it I wanted to paint it and I knew I wanted it to be some sort of bag. You can see here where I traced out the outline of a flap for an NCW wallet. Another gift? Maybe mine? Not sure but it will be fun to make.
I started by building my paint palette. I took the lid from an old candy can and covered it with low tack tape. Masking tape would be fine as well. Why? Well, it gives the paints a bit of texture to be rubbed off on. ( There's something grammatically wrong about that last sentence.) I am going to use Shiva Paint Sticks.

Shiva paint sticks are oil paints in stick form. They are unique in that they have a skin that forms, preventing them from drying up into little blobs of pigment. You remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. This exposes the moist paint which you then rub on the textured tape on your palette. They have a rather lovely glow and allow the base to show through the paint. They are usually put down with stencil brushes and that is what I did. They can be blended in the palette like any other oil paint. Downside? They take a long time to fully dry. A heavy application can take a week to dry. Once dry you heat set them to make the paints permanent and they are permanent.

 Once I was done with the Shiva paint sticks I moved on to Lumiere fabric paints. I needed the finesse of a thinner brush and thinner paint and the both are made permanent by heat seting so they are both used on this project.

I took the tape out of the lid and used it for the palette for the Lumiere dyes. The white you see in the lid is textile medium.

Here's the completed flap. It will dry for a week before being heat set with an iron. It has that Jorge Guttierez  look which pleases me. I love his work and he has really been inspiring me lately. We will see how the final project looks.

ETA: Here is a link from Dharma Trading with more info on the paint sticks.

Right now I am waiting for the frames to insert into the Boy Bags which are complete otherwise. The diaper bag is off to its recipient and I thank all of you for the lovely comments. I will leave you with a few pics around the yard of our lovely Fall colors:

It is really a gorgeous time of year.........

. Most of the furniture has been put away till next year but I am still holding on to my underdeck porch, my favorite place for a quiet moment.............Bunny

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Stella Weekender

Here it is: the Stella Weekender from Swoon Sewing Patterns. I waited a bit to get some lovely fall background for the main pic. I  think it will make a nice gift for my nephew's wife and new baby girl. It was not hard at all and it's size and softness made it quite manageable under the presser foot.

This is my first Swoon pattern and it is a PDF. The Stella Weekender is available from Swoon Sewing Patterns. It has regular handles on top and a removable long strap for some more convenience. There are two different sized cargo pockets on the front and a large zipper pocket as well. The outside of the bag has slip pockets on the back side. The inside is lined and there are slip pockets inside, too, but you can do an optional zip pocket inside if you like. I didn't.  Piping is not mentioned in the pattern itself but many of the versions shown on the site and on the Swoon FB page are piped. You know I love piping and this was a great opportunity. The PDF comes with clear pattern layouts.At no place does it tell you to fold the main panel to make the pattern for the Open Pocket which did flummox me for a while. I eventually figured it out and it was really no big deal.

One thing I like about PDF bag patterns is that there may be many pieces but they almost all are small and fit on one page or even several to a page. Other pieces are cut from measurements and that is fine with me. Rotary cutters and mats make that easy. This bag has 37, yes, 37 pattern pieces to be cut out and 31 pieces of interfacing as well. The biggest chore with the pattern, as with most bags, is all the cutting and fusing. Once that is done the project flies. Another thing I like about the PDF directions is the size of the pages and the white space on each page. I've made copious notes in that space as I've gone along and that will be really helpful for the next time.

The exterior fabric and lining are quilting cottons from Joanns. The exterior fabric was one of their "premium" quilting cottons and the lining was off the shelf. For the piping I used a poly/cotton blend called Symphony.

All of the lining is fused with SF101 from Pellon, a fusible cotton woven. The exterior gets fusible fleece and some SF101 as well. The gusset has a piece of Peltex fused in at the very end before adding the lining. Peltex is that really hard fusible often used for bag bottoms. In the end this is a soft bag. I've worked out a personal preference  for a different interfacing configuration that I use for most of my bags. That method adds more structure. But this bag is really meant to be rather soft and I think it looks fine that way. I also always like to try the construction the way the pattern specifies before I do my own thing with it.

There is black hardware on this bags to go with the fabric and black zips. I used black D rings and swivel hooks that I got on Amazon. It's not easy finding the black in the size I needed from the bag purveyors but Amazon had it no problem.

I followed the pattern sentence by sentence and checked off  each sentence with a pencil as I completed it's task. You do have to pay close attention but nothing is difficult and the directions are definitely clear. It is critical to read through all of the instructions before starting.

Things I'd change next time: In the straps I would use Decor Bond on one side and fusible fleece on the other. I think it will fill in the pieces better and still give stiffness. I also think it would eliminate some of the wrinkling, not much, that happens normally on the concave side of the strap. I also really like to triple zigzag my bag zippers instead of topstitching. I find that attractive and sturdy, just my signature thing.

When piping I got a little overly enthusiastic and piped all around the cargo pockets. DON'T DO THAT. It totally messes up the measuring and placement and took me a lot of unnecessary fiddling to get right. Just don't do it, trust me.

Make sure you move the inner pocket of the big exterior zipper pocket out of the way before sewing down those cargo pockets!  I didn't and  my seam ripper got a workout!

If I made this bag again, I would do the flaps and gusset out of a black faux leather. The bags I've seen on the site, after mine was cut out, that had contrasting flaps and gussets  out of a contrasting solid really looked polished.

I also would make my piping smaller. I am used to tiny piping for heirloom garments and I think a thinner piping would make a sharper, crisper look. But, again, that is sort of my signature thing.I just like tiny piping.  I don't know what size cord I used here but it was home dec cord, may 3/32.

In conclusion:

I recommend this pattern but just not as a first attempt. I suggest contrasting flaps, gussets and straps for a sharp look. Be prepared for some serious cutting and fusing, the norm for bag making. The actual construction, especially if you don't pipe, should move right along. This could be really nice in a heavier tapestry or home  dec fabric.


My boy bags are complete except for the addition of the frames. I bought the wrong size, my fault.  You can see that reality hitting as I tried to put the too big frame in the casing. The right size is on order and as soon as the frames are in I'll show you those. Not sure what my next project will be. I am toying with the idea of a fur backpack. Love what I have seen of those.......Bunny