Autumn in August?

Ok, so I know it’s barely the start of August, but as most of you crafters and those of you in retail know, it’s basically already Thanksgiving.  Well, as far as the retailers would have us believe.  Even though it’s been this way for years and years already, I STILL get so shocked when I see stores roll out new seasonal merchandise at least 3 months prior.  And of course, there’s ALWAYS the grumblers complaining that it’s waaaaayyyy too early to be thinking about the upcoming season.  

As much as I still get shocked, in a way, I understand the early jump start.  We’re constantly taught that the early bird gets the worm, right?  To stop being lazy, and that procrastination gets you nowhere.  That successful, organized people plan ahead, no?  If you think about it, if the stores waited until summer actually started before they set up summer themed merchandise, we wouldn’t have time to get the perfect swimsuit for our Hawaiian vacation.  We might not have the money all at once to get all of the awesome Christmas decor, and still have time to set it up and enjoy it long enough before it’s time to tear it all down.  As a crafter, you know it’s essential to start early in order to complete your projects in a timely manner.  The older I get, the more and more I try to remind myself that this early planning is much more beneficial, at least for me.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am such a bad procrastinator!  I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but it’s still something I work on and am trying to improve about myself.  


Over the last couple of years, I’ve been surprisingly proactive when it comes to seasonal decorating.  Since switching jobs, I’ve had much more free time to get things done.  Now that all of the fall decor has rolled into retailers, my bank account hopefully won’t suffer!  Im such a sucker for the fall and winter months (you wouldn’t think so living in So Cal!)!

I’ve had a grapevine wreath in my stash for like 2-3 years now…seriously.  I made it a point that I was going to finally sit down and use it up.  I headed to my local Dollar Tree and grabbed a few great floral picks and pumpkins before they’re all gone.  If you’ve never ventured into a Dollar Tree, you’re missing out!  Now, obviously floral items from craft stores are going to have a bigger and somewhat better selection, but honestly, the Dollar Tree floral is pretty amazing!  I guarantee you, nobody will ever believe you only spent a few dollars!  

*I hate the little bald spot above “give” so I fixed it after the picture was taken

The only *major* purchase was the tiny owl from Jo-Ann Fabric.  I had a roll of 2″ burlap in my stash that I cut up to make the mini banner.  I wrote out the message in sharpie to act as a guide for the black acrylic paint.  I was planning on using some heat transfer vinyl with my cricut, but I got too lazy.  In retrospect, I kind of wished I had used vinyl, but I still love it!

I really love how it turned out, and I can’t wait to make some more!  I want to put it on the front door already, but I know that’s pushing it!  

Till next time!

Nik

Handmade Faux Leather Shoulder Bag – Made From an Ardente Design Purse Pattern

Wow!  It’s basically been a month since I last worked on a purse!  So much has been going on that I just haven’t had any time to tackle one.  I’m super excited for this one because it’s the most detailed bag I’ve attempted in quite some time- maybe ever.

It’s also exciting because it’s for my own personal use! My current purse has served me well for a lot of years, but it’s just worn beyond it’s time.  The edges are peeling off, and the straps are falling apart.  I realized I better retire it before it falls apart while I’m out and about.

I normally try to create my items without patterns if I’m able, but sometimes it’s too much of a hassle trying to figure out all of the dimensions and steps.  I found a PDF pattern on Etsy from Ardente Design, so I was able to get started on it right away.

The pattern itself was a little…frustrating.  There are a lot of important details not mentioned and a few differences in lingo that could really confuse a beginner.  Some areas really took me a moment to sort of “decode” what the instructions were trying to say.  The upside is that there are a lot of pictures provided to help.

For the bag, I tried to use as much fabric that I had on hand already.  I used a soft, tan vinyl for the main body, a linen remnant for the main lining, and a plain beige broadcloth.  All fabrics were purchased from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I was so fortunate to have zippers on hand already as well!


My favorite part of this pattern was making the straps!  I LOVE the technique and I know I’ll definitely incorporate it into future bags.


I wanted to use the black and white linen for the entire lining, but since it was a remnant, there wasn’t enough.  I think the beige fabric ended up giving it an interesting contrast so I’m pleased!

Surprisingly, the part I struggled with the most, was the smaller zipper pocket in the main lining!  I don’t know if I was just too tired, or the linen moved too much, but I had to put it away for the night or else I was going to throw it out the window!!  The next day, I ended up ripping out the stitches and starting again.  It was worth it!


Overall, I love it.  It’s super sturdy with lots of room.  However, I do wish it was slightly smaller.  I wanted a large shoulder bag, but it’s just a little wider than I thought it would be.  Can’t wait to make another one!

Handmade Mini Quilted Suedecloth & Faux Leather Tote Handbag

I hate when I get the urge late at night to start making something because I just know I’ll stay up waaaaay too late working on it.  Of course, that was the case last night.  The result, this mini quilted handbag:


You wouldn’t believe, but this started out as something COMPLETELY different.  I was just sort of “wingin’ it” so it’s no wonder it ended up totally opposite of what I originally had in mind!  I’ve been wanting to do a large shoulder/tote bag out of this material so this made a great miniature mock up.  

This was the first time making handles like these, and it was easier than I thought.  It wasn’t wise however, to attempt sewing them on while being so tired.  What a pain to put on!  It also didn’t help that I had to put them on once the main body of the bag was already constructed (due to my “wingin’ it”).


I can’t wait to make a full size quilted tote, but next time I’ll be more prepared.  It would be super cute to add some rivets, a snap closure, and a pocket inside.

Stay tuned!

Black Vinyl/Faux Leather Bucket Bag

This is one of those projects that seems like it’s on the right path until you get about half way done, and realize you want to throw it across the room.  Even though it came out basically how I envisioned, there are quite a few things that need to be fixed.

I even went back and forth on whether it would just be a shoulder bag…no, a bucket bag…wait, shoulder? No, definitely a bucket bag.  Lol most of this happened because I was too lazy to write and plan out my process before starting.  The whole point is to build prototypes and patterns anyways so it’s not entirely a bad thing.

Overall, I’m happy it worked out and I know I’ll be super pleased once I make the necessary tweaks that will really up the quality of the handbag!


Brown Faux Suede Fringe Clutch Handbag

Stayed up waaaaaay too late last night working on this clutch.  It took me so long just to get motivated to start, but once I did, I couldn’t stop.  The original vision I had in mind was for a crossbody bag, however I didn’t have any matching hardware to make it possible.

This was the first attempt using both faux suede and fringe in a sewing project.  It was surprisingly easy to work with.  I didn’t need any special needle and my regular machine foot worked fine.

The whole basis for the clutch was actually because I wanted to use the Aztec print fabric that I used as the lining.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it for some reason.  Even the woman at the cutting table was drawn to it and wasn’t sure why.

I love that it is colorful and fun, and stands out so well against the faux suede without being overly bright and loud.


I still have some faux suede left over so I want to play around with it and see what else I can come up with!

Handmade Baby or Infant Onesie Part 2

Just a quick post for the second handmade baby onesie I just finished.  This time I chose to use the sleeveless style from the same Mammacandoit pattern found HERE.

I decided to use the same main fabric instead of a woven for the snap area, and I like it much better.  It was a little more difficult to maneuver, but I prefer the way it looks.  It also caused a difficulty when putting the snaps on because it was thicker, but they came out more aligned and more neat than the first onesie.

I wish I had enough matching thread to use in the serger, but I wasn’t about to go buy more just for one project.  Considering it won’t show, the white was fine and more importantly, I didn’t have to change the threads!  

I thought I picked out the same knit material, but I soon realized this one was much thicker and stretchier.  It was a little bit more difficult to work with so I did get some pinching and bunching in some areas.

Loving making these and I hope more of my friends start having babies so I have an excuse to make more!  Next up, I’ll try out the long sleeve style when I pick up more fabric!

Handmade Baby or Infant Onesie

I know I always say it, but I really am so excited and pleased with my most recently finished craft project!  It’s something I’ve wanted to learn for awhile, but I’ve just always seemed to put off.

I absolutely love making baby items because they’re all so cute and tiny, and it’s an excuse to use all of the absolutely adorable fabric prints available!  I was a little disappointed this time though, that when I went shopping for fabric, the selection wasn’t as great as it has been in the past.

I found this cute little dump truck fabric that would work cute for a little baby boy’s onesie.  I believe it was an interlock, which is a nice stretchy knit that is a little thicker than jersey knit.


It’s been sooooo long since I’ve worked with a knit fabric.  I was actually a little intimidated getting started again because it really is different than working with wovens.  It was a perfect excuse to pull out the serger again so that I can get some practice in before the secret project I’m working on.


I don’t believe you always need special equipment to make things, but a serger seriously helps take your handmade items to the next level.  It’s amazing for creating beautifully finished seams like the manufacturers.  I’m such a perfectionist that it’s a MUST if I’m sewing apparel items.

If you’re planning on using a serger for your knits, don’t be intimidated by playing with your machine’s features.  More specifically, the differential feed.  The differential feed refers to how the fabric is fed through the machine.  Knits tend to curl or wave when passed through the machine at the standard machine setting.  For my machine, the standard is 1.0.  By increasing the differential feed to greater than 1.0, it tends to “gather” the fabric as it’s being serged, rather than stretching it.  You will have to check your machine’s manual, and I also recommend doing a test swatch to find the right setting.


Always do a test swatch on a scrap of the fabric you will use.  Below shows the importance of adjusting your serger’s differential feed:

Above: standard differential feed setting vs. increasing the differential feed

I found a pattern on Etsy for the baby onesie that included a wide range of sizes and different sleeve styles.

The link to the mommacandoit shop can be found HERE.

The instructions for the baby onesie were very easy to follow and it finishes up fairly quickly.  I used both my serger and my regular sewing machine, and I think it helps add a more professional finish.  The only thing I wasn’t fond of was using a woven in the crotch area where the snaps are adhered.  I would prefer just using the same knit fabric, or binding the edge like the the neck and legs.

Finish the seam edges with a serger, and use your machine to topstitch for a polished look


It was at this point that I realized I had placed the first set of snaps on wrong!! Luckily, it wasn’t too much of a pain to remove and correct them.

I was a little bummed that after correcting them, I put the second set on crooked.  It’s ok though, I’ll get it right on the next one!


Overall, I loved making this baby onesie!  It is so cute and tiny and can’t wait to give it to the sweet little baby boy.  I’m happy I took the time to learn how to make a onesie, because it will make another great gift to go along with my baby blankets!

Gray and Navy Blue Vinyl Faux Leather Wristlet Zipper Pouch – Finished Object

The very first project I ever sewed was a small coin purse with a metal clasp closure.  I found a nice little kit years ago on Etsy.  It came with a cute little instruction booklet and all of the necessary supplies.  I was immediately hooked!

I’ve since gone on to learn various other sewing projects, including some apparel.  I love the different techniques each different project can teach you.  I’ve recently taken a small pause from making baby blankets, and I’ve been making bags and pouches once again.

I realize now, it’s what I seem to enjoy most.  I think part of the reason is the instant satisfaction.  They are pretty easy to make so they finish up fairly quick.  I also love that it’s an excuse to use all kinds of fun or wacky prints of fabric that I otherwise wouldn’t use for anything.  The amount of supplies needed is also minimal so that’s a huge plus!

This past weekend I was able to finish up a small wristlet zipper pouch.  It gave me a chance to use up some fabrics I’ve had in my stash for awhile.  The finished dimensions are 9″ x 5.25″, with an 11″ strap.  It’s the perfect size for holding a phone, keys, and a few other on the go essentials!

The main body consists of three different fabrics.  The tan fabric is a soft vinyl/faux leather-like material.  The printed fabric is 100% cotton from Quilter’s Showcase, and the dark blue is a home decor weight fabric similar to duck canvas.

I used a regular poly zip that I had on hand.  I didn’t have the exact size needed, but they’re so easy to shorten that’s it’s not worth buying a whole new one.  I like the look of using zipper tabs because it gives a nicer finish than when the side seams are pinched at the ends of the zipper.  I still managed to accidentally pinch the ends of the zipper.  Whomp whomp 😢.  I’m still working on perfecting using zipper tabs so hopefully the next one!


Once again, I used the plain dark red fabric as the lining.  I had a few of these fat quarters on hand, and I don’t have any other solid colors so I’m trying to use them up.  I wanted to attempt making card slots in the lining to add an organizational element.  Sometimes, I hate when you have to just throw everything into a clutch or bag, and you have to sift through it all to find what you need.


Overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out!


DIY Blackout Curtains: Semi-tutorial

With all of the crafting I’ve been doing lately, it feels so strange when I don’t get a chance to work on anything for the week.  In fact, I feel guilty if I don’t get some practice in.  I know I’ve still got a ways to go, so I feel like I should be getting practice in daily.  Between work and personal time, it isn’t always possible, or even practical to craft a lot.  

Last month’s craft to-do list was a little bit long, but I’m happy to say I at least finished a little more than the previous month’s list. I still need to increase the time spent making things, so I know I need to get more control of my scheduling/time management.

One of the things that I enjoy most about crafting is when the finished product is a functional piece to the home, office, or wherever necessary.  After finishing the curtains for my fabric storage shelf, I wanted to finally tackle the blackout curtains I’ve needed.  I originally wanted to make all new curtains, but I decided I’d rather save the money and just repurpose the existing curtains.  It’s also a cheaper option than buying pre-made blackout curtains.

**This process will also work for any lining you want to add to an existing curtain panel, not just blackout lining.

I picked up some Roc-Ion Blackout Lining Fabric from my local Jo-Ann Fabric.  It could technically work as either a main fabric, an attached lining fabric, or a second layer that just hangs behind the main fabric.  I chose to use it as a lining fabric directly attached to the main fabric.  Another benefit to using the existing curtains is that you already know the finished dimensions needed, and the hems are already pressed into the fabric for easy guidelines.

I unfortunately didn’t take any photos of the process because I originally wasn’t going to post about it since I wasn’t really “creating” anything.  I figured it might help someone else out who’s looking to make their own blackout curtains, so I’ll try to write out as many details as possible.  

**Disclaimer:  I’m in no way a professional, and this is certainly not the only way.  It may not even be the best way, but it was easy and worked for me, so hopefully it can help someone else!

1). READY…SET…RIP!

Begin carefully seam ripping all of the existing sewing lines from the manufacturer.  This will give you one large rectangle of fabric (as if you’re starting from scratch).


2). CUT THE BLACKOUT LINING FABRIC:

Length:  Cut about 2″ less than what the FINISHED curtain length will be.  For example: if the finished length from top of the rod pocket to the bottom hem measures 60″, cut the blackout lining to 58″.  This will make sure the raw edges of the lining are encased within the hem while reducing bulk for sewing.  It’s not vital, you could still make it the same length of the main fabric, but it may increase the bulkiness when sewing the hems.

Width:  Cut 1″ less than what the TOTAL width of the main fabric measurement is (the measurement from side edge to side edge after seam ripping).  We’re cutting it shorter to create a self-binding effect that will hide the raw edges and keep the blackout lining from rolling to the front of the curtains.

3). SEW IT UP!

Place fabrics right sides together.  Line up one side seam, pin.  Since we cut the length of blackout fabric shorter, be sure center it in the main fabric so that equal amounts of the main fabric are at the top and bottom.  

Sew side seam only using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Repeat along the other side seam.  Do not sew top and bottom seams.

4). ALMOST THERE!

Turn fabrics right sides out, press.  You will start to see where the front fabric naturally pulls towards the back, creating a border along the sides.  Pin side seams if desired and topstitch.  Repeat with other side seam.  This creates a really nice, professional finish to the backside of your curtain.


5). HEADING FOR THE FINISH LINE

Now all that remains is to fold down the top to create the rod pocket, and fold up the bottom hem.  Use the manufacturer hem lines as a guide and it will make life so much easier.  When you fold and press the main fabric towards the back, it should cover up the raw edges of the blackout lining.  If for some reason it does not, give yourself more slack in the seam allowance until the lining is covered.  Pin and topstitch in place and you’re done!  Repeat process with any additional curtain panels you may have.


I love that there are no raw edges exposed and that the lining and main fabrics work together as one unit.  

Fabric Organization and Sewing New Curtains

I recently did a major spring cleaning through my craft closet and it feels great!  I let go of some things I wasn’t using and just didn’t really need anymore.  I needed to reorganize some areas so I could actually get to my supplies more easily and use them!

I normally keep all of my fabrics and yarns inside plastic storage bins so they don’t get dust buildup.  The problem with this is that I can’t ever get to the ones I need.  I also end up forgetting what I have on hand.

I decided to make mini bolts of fabric and put them on shelves so I can see everything.  I must say, I’m liking it much better already!


I didn’t want to spend any money because I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like the new way.  I had a package of 8 1/2 x 11 chipboard pieces from scrapbooking days, so I figured they would suffice for now.  All small remnant pieces are just folded for now.  

I don’t want them to get exposed to dust (and mostly Karla’s pet hair!) now that they’re out in the open, so I made some curtains to help keep them dustfree.

I picked up some Keepsake Calico fabric from JoAnn Fabrics.  I think it’s a nice print without being too bright or busy for my taste.


A simple rod pocket style curtain and cheap tension rod did the trick!