Tuesday, June 30, 2009

fabric and odds and ends and thoughts...

Thoughts first, and then I'll move on.

#1: I swear if I see Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson jump on someone else's band wagon one more time, I'll scream! They are the biggest media whores I've ever witnessed and they turn my stomach. Joe Jackson doesn't do a lot for me either.
#2: I hope Michael Jackson's children (who look so adorable, and so normal) stand a decent chance of growing up outside of the crazy media frenzy that will follow them the rest of their lives. But I doubt it will happen.
# 3: I love Michael's music, I will always love his music, and I swear if they play his songs at my funeral I'll crawl out of my casket and dance.
Eccentric or not that man was a musical genius.
Ok, on to fabric.

As soon as I got the call from the cleaning company that they were hiring me, I jumped on line and started looking for the appropriately themed fabric (I love the internet!!!).
I wanted Wash Day (I think it's a Michael Miller print but I can't be sure) , and of course it's no longer available. It was on EBay however, but it was something like $22.00 a yard.
I don't think so!!!
But I found this instead and I like it a lot more and for two yards plus shipping it came to around $20.00.
I can handle that.

Isn't is too stinking cute?
Wash tubs, scrubbing boards, clothes pins, hangers, bubbles.... it goes on and on.

I plan on making a tote bag or back pack or both I'm just not sure, but I have it sitting out where I look at it daily and wait for inspiration to hit.

I wish inspiration would hurry up.

Hans gave me a stuffed lion for our first anniversary (he's a Leo) and our collection has grown over the years. We also have a teddy bear, a moose, and a beaver amongst our menagerie.

They're placed on our bed every morning with orders to guard the place but I don't think they look very threatening.
Actually I wanted to take a picture of the quilt that Hans' late step mother made many years ago. It was one of those printed cross stitch bedspreads, not counted cross stitch.
However there is a tremendous amount of work in this cover and after it was done, it was quilted by hand, not machine.
We found it in storage when Hans moved into the apartment and it covers our king size bed.
I believe in using things and I'm sure his step mother would be glad it's being used.

Hans mother passed away when he was 19 and and when his father remarried he became very close to his dad's new wife. He can't say enough nice things about either lady, and that's probably why Hans is such a nice person.

Here is Chlorox joining the party.

Isn't she one pretty kitty?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recycling....After (and purses of course!)

Since blogger loaded my pictures this way, we'll 'do' purses first.

Here are two of my Passport Purses. The one on the left is for my niece and the one on the right is for a friend who liked mine and wanted a black and white version.

I ended up keeping the Dragon print version for myself because the strap was too short for Baby Girl.

I knew that was going to happen!

But I'm glad because I really like it and I've been carrying it everywhere.

Each bag has its own matching change purse.

A view from the top.

Each has a zippered gusset closure at the top.

Here it is, open.

And closed.

There are pockets on the front and back of the bag and they are held closed with velcro.

The fabric that lines the pockets and creates a border at the top of the pockets is also used as lining for the inside of the bag.

Now the Recycled After T-Shirts.

As you know I recently took a job cleaning houses and I love it! It feels so good to just put my hair up, and go clean houses. Everything looks so nice when we leave. Floors are polished, bathrooms are clean, pet hair is gone, stoves and counter tops are de-greased, and everything smells good!

I'm not stuck behind a desk all day. I don't have to deal with office politics. I don't have to talk to customers all day and then listen to their financial woes! No more working evenings and weekends.

AND the pay is better.

But it's hot sweaty work and I needed some very light weight shirts. So I bought 8 X-Large Men's T-shirts and using Simplicity 4076 I made them into work shirts for myself.

I was able to cut out 5 shirts in all so that means the cost of each shirt is about $3.00

Not bad.

Here are three of them from the back.

I eliminated seam allowances on the armholes and neckline.

After sewing the shirt together I ran all the raw edges through my serger.

This was all about fast and easy!

Here they are from the front.

I have one cut out and ready to sew and I wore one (not shown here) today and it worked well.

This was on the front of one of the shirts and I have a feeling it was on the wrong rack at The Good Will and should have been in with the women's clothes.

I sincerely doubt that any man wore this.

This picture was on the back of the T-shirt so I just cut it out and sewed it onto the front at the bottom.

I couldn't let it go to waste!

This shirt just says it all!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recycling... Before....

Today I went to the Good Will.

I haven't been there in ages so I left Hans at the apartment and took off.

I was disappointed to find that they no longer have any half off specials. Even the cashier said it was stupid and we both agreed that they'd move inventory through a lot faster if they offered some incentives. So it's no wonder that I spent over $45.00 but I got 8 men's T-shirts (for a project of mine, not for Hans), about 5 tops for me, a shirt for Baby Girl, and a $1.99 purse from which I intend to steal the hardware.

You can see my little helper, Chlorox decided to check things out for me. She went nuts when I threw these shirts on the floor and spent a lot of time happily sniffing everything. I'm half afraid to even think about what the attraction was!

Here are two more of the men's T-shirts.

I have a project in mind and will for the most part need two shirts for each one.

In some cases I'll only need one.

I didn't realize until I got home that these two actually match. See the next picture.

Is that not adorable??!

And the other peach t-shirt matches the little doggies skirt.

Back when I was two years old we acquired a dachshund and believe it or not I remember the trip, in my mother's friend's VW Beetle, to the house where we got out new pet. Yes, I was two but I do remember it.

His name was Pee-Wee, he was the runt of the litter, and for sixteen years he terrorized our neighborhood by biting everyone. He really did. Almost 50 years have gone by and just this week two of my friends were discussing him on Facebook.

And it wasn't pretty.

I was mortified!

So as I was saying, I had a plan for these shirts. I finished one tonight and I believe it will work. I will post pictures as soon as I finish all of them.

Tomorrow, Hans and I are going to a local tourist attraction that boasts being known as, The Best Architectural Design of the 20th century in the world! Even though Hans has lived here for over 30 years he's never been there. We're going to take our bikes with us and make a day of it.

You've seen my Recyclling ...Before pictures and I'll show you my Recycling....After pictures on Monday or Tuesday and I also have two passport purses I'm working on; one for my niece's high school graduation, and one for a friend who wants one.

Have a great weekend every one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Simplicity shirt

This is the front wrap version of Simplicity 4076. When I wrote about the one I made with the twist front I said I would post pictures of this one.
Well, here it is.
This is a very stretchy jersey knit that I bought in Paris. I made a BWOF shirt from this same fabric last year and had a horrible time with it. The unbelievably simple answer was to use a stretch needle as opposed to a ball point needle.

Anyway, I like the top (I made a 10) except for the back neckline. It's way too baggy.
I think I'll make the neck band a little bit shorter on the next one and then use a size 8 on the back.

I pinned my hair up so you could see the back but it really doesn't look too bad here. But believe me it's very baggy.

Anyway, we found out we're going to Dublin, Ireland early next month, and I'd like to be able to wear some comfortable shirts that I've actually made on my own.
This trip came up suddenly so that means I need to get my new lap top back pack and matching passport bag made too.
I find that I work much better with a deadline.

On the job front, I started my cleaning job this week.
Wow, talk about working up a sweat! And boy did I ever sleep well after my first day.
I've already had the extreme of one house that was very sparsely furnished to a house that has more toys than I've ever seen in my life (and they were everywhere!!!) Since a lot of people work out of their homes these days there's been someone at each house we've cleaned and each owner has been very nice and pleasant.
If someone had told me a few years ago that I would have sought out this kind of job I would have said they were nuts but so far so good and I really think I'm going to like it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unveiling my Passport Purse

Well, that's what I'm calling it anyway.

Actually there's no real compartment or pocket in this purse that's designed specifically for a passport (although I will add an inner pocket in my next one for just this purpose).

This was my first attempt at this bag and I just got plain old lazy and tired of it by the end of the day, and decided that two pockets on the outside were enough for now.

I decided to use the dragon fabric remnants from this bag. It's all used up now but I kinda think I like this dragon thing!

Sally Stitch is wearing it across her chest like she might do if she were in a hurry and trying to catch her flight. (I let her have her dreams).

I made a 44 inch long fabric tube for the strap (1 inch folded in half, sewn with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, trimmed, and then turned right side out) and inserted a 1/2 inch cord with the help of a bodkin (isn't that a funny little name?) as I'm sick to death of safety pins coming undone halfway through the threading process and causing me all kinds of problems.

I hammered a grommet into the outside pocket panels (BEFORE sewing them to the outside of the actual bag). One grommet per pocket on opposing sides to balance the bag.

In order to keep things more secure I added a zippered gusset (I learned this technique from Nicole Mallalieu's purse patterns. She has the most professional patterns available, complete with very generous directions).

I lined my outside pockets and made the lining fabric longer so that when folded the lining would create a border at the top.

Here is a pocket that's been pulled open and if you look hard enough you can see the strip of black Velcro sewn in place. I did this on the other side too.

Looking straight down on the bag here is the zipper gusset and I added a tab on the zipper for easier opening.

See the grommet? There is another one on the opposite side too. I threaded the handle through the grommet before sewing it and the pocket to the bag body.

I made this for Baby Girl but I just bet she complains that the strap is too short for her. If so I'll have her pick out the fabric she wants and she can give this to a friend. (But I'm really liking it so if she doesn't want it I think it will stay with me!)

I need to make one for myself (with an inner pocket) but since I want to make a new lap top travel bag, I'll co-ordinate it with whatever fabric I pick out for that.

That's it folks! Happy Sewing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A new shirt and a new job

I'm growing weary of purse sewing, even though I've got a lot of new ideas floating around in my head.
But anyway I took a break from purses and decided to try the very popular (according to Pattern Review) Simplicity 4076.

I don't have a picture of the wrap style top I made yesterday (It's in the washer, but I'll get to it tomorrow) but I do know that I'll have to cut a smaller size. I made a size 10 but it sags across the back of my neck and just looks a bit big. That's ok though since it's comfortable.

Here is the twisted front view. It's also a size 10 but it fits a lot better than the crossover version. I may use a size 8 on the back for the next one though because I had to yank up the shoulder seams by about a half inch.

This is why I love a busy print. It's very forgiving!

(Ignore the air conditioner and garbage can in the background, just more fun Big City living)

Recognize the print? I used the remnants from this dress. What's nice is that this top requires very little fabric!

I'm a little dismayed at this view. My almost 5o years are starting to show. Saggy arms and a big butt are taking over. I run 3 miles a day but I could really be doing a bit more! I have a Pilate's chair but never use it because it's boring. I think I'll get it back out and use it. I have no excuse!

Now for the big news! Tonight I filled out the official forms for a background check for the job I want. Hold on to your hats! I'm embarking on a career of house cleaning!

You heard me, house cleaning.

And I'm very excited.

All of my life I've worked in an office and was told by everyone at my first job (when I was 18)that I had a job for life. Well, life has a funny way of not working out the way we think it should, I remember getting married and thinking that was for life too (although life sentence would be more like it, but I won't go there). Ten years ago (after having lost that stupid 'job for life') I ended up in a low paying office job and had to add waitressing to my evenings and weekends in order to survive.

Now I'm in the Big City and need a job but I'm burnt out on waitressing and the only good shifts are nights and weekends. If I wanted to do that I would have just stayed back in my swamp town.

I hate to have to start all over in an office and end up being the low woman on the totem pole.
At a new office job I don't want to figure out :
Who the resident back stabber is (while smiling in your face); Who shares a juicy piece of gossip and then tells everyone you're the one who said it; Who wants to be the boss, will never be the boss, and therefor bosses you around.
You get the idea.

I think it's wonderful that I don't have to be trapped in a conventional job and I'm very fortunate to be able to take a side trip off the main highway of life in my effort to earn a living.

Last winter I read about this small cleaning company and something just clicked with me so I emailed them, telling them that I would be coming to The Big City this year and would be interested in working for them. Imagine how surprised I was when they contacted me last month and asked if I was still available! I want a physical job (ie: big butt in above picture), I don't want to work in an office, and I would love Monday through Friday with no evenings or weekends. What better job than house cleaning!

But of course I never do anything the easy way. Last week we met at my local Starbucks for my interview and we agreed to meet there again tonight to finalize my paperwork.

I got there exactly on time but no one was there to meet me.

I ordered a horribly fat, double chocolate whip cream topped concoction, and proceeded to drip it down the front of my shirt.

After a few minutes of waiting, I agonized and tormented myself by wondering if I'd gotten the day wrong, or heaven forbid the time wrong. Maybe I was supposed to be there at seven and not seven thirty, maybe they'd waited for so long and decided I was a no show and a total loser and left. Maybe....

But by now with the chocolate stains all over my yellow t-shirt I half hoped that I was right and that I wouldn't wouldn't be seeing them after all.

I called Hans and asked him to look at the table where I keep my computer and see if he could find the note I'd written to myself about the meeting. He found many notes but nothing that could help me, and then I saw my future employer literally running down the sidewalk.

She was very apologetic (stuck behind traffic, ambulances, trains, etc... welcome to The Big City!), and thought the chocolate on my shirt was funny.

Anyway next Tuesday will see me helping her clean two houses.

I'm moving on up!

And I was relieved to find, upon checking my reflection in the mirrored visor of my vehicle after our meeting, that I did not have a tell tale chocolate ring around my mouth.

Heavens no! That's never happened to me!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thanks for your thoughts

Thank you everyone for your kind comments about my poor Beast's death.
I'm sure she strolled with confidence over the Rainbow Bridge and is now having a high old time bossing everyone around.
She wouldn't have it any other way.

Here she is after an exhausting day of sewing.
I hope she gets to do a lot of this. She loved escaping from the house and really thought she was pulling one over on me every time she got out. The funny thing is, she never went very far.
She just had to prove she could do it.
I used to say she was cranky because her shoes were too tight. Can you see her tiny white shoes?
I'm still having a hard time believing she's gone. But at least during her time with us she was well taken care and as God was her witness, she never went hungry again!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The passing of a Diva

Late last night our Beast passed on.

Back in December of 2002 she arrived in our lives via one of my many jobs. It was a bitter cold day when the man in charge of our warehouse came into my office with the announcement of, "Look what I found!"

It was a half starved, wild eyed, calico cat. Jason had discovered it hiding in our warehouse and he said it looked like it had spent the night under our Dumpster. He could tell because we'd had a lot of snow and her little paw prints were everywhere.

I immediately ran home, stole food from my own two cats, and raced back to work to feed the new stray.

In her eagerness to get to the food the poor starved kitty knocked the bowl over. When we put a dish of water down beside her she assumed that it too, was food, and buried her head (to the neck) in it! That poor cat had only one thing on her mind from then on, and that was to never stop eating.

The owner of the company where I worked (a fellow cat lover) had the new kitty dewormed and deloused, and the vet said the cat was about a day away from death when she found us. I volunteered to take the kitty as a 16th birthday gift for my daughter (the future vet tech).

My worries about her being bullied by my other two cats were completely unfounded as she kicked the sh*t out of both of them upon being released from her cage and from there on in, the other cats bowed to her supremacy.

Because she was supreme.

She was The Beast!

As she ate, and grew (and grew) I came to realize that I'd never encountered anything quite like The Beast. I've been the owner of countless animals over the years but this one will forever stand out as the most human of the bunch.

Every morning when I got up and ready for work, The Beast would burst through the bathroom door and with a deep sigh, she would heave herself onto the floor and commence to groom herself for the day. And upon discovering that, because she was so obese, she couldn't reach her bottom while hoisting her hind leg off the floor to wash her behind, she would leave her leg up in the air and would instead, furiously scrub her front paws.

It's all in the attitude.

She did this every day.

She loved shoes and it was a bit disconcerting to find her with both of her front feet thrust into my shoes.

Way too many times.

One day I walked into my bedroom to find her wearing one of my blue jean skirts. Luckily for me, her waist (at that time), was bigger than mine or I'm half afraid she would have figured out how to fasten it.

Another time I caught her, elbow deep, rooting through my purse. Looking for my car keys? I'm not sure. But I shakily told my boss the next day that if I were to arrive at work, slightly heavier and hairier to please go across the street to my house and make sure I wasn't bound in duct tape!

Hans, who's only ever had one pet in his life, was pretty sure that The Beast was a reincarnation of his paternal grandmother. As a child, Hans' grandmother's family had been well off but World War I was their ruination. The family factory and money may have been gone but Grandma's pride remained for the rest of her years.

As a child, Grandma loved riding in cars.

So did The Beast.

Grandma loved to rule the roost.

So did The Beast.

Grandma was a large woman.

So was The Beast.

The Beast was a meeter and a greeter. While my shy cat Chlorox, can disappear at the hint of company, The Beast was there to greet everyone including my grand-dog Duncan the Pit Bull. Even Duncan quickly learned who was boss.

This past winter I started my move to the Big City and The Beast went to live with Vet Tech Girl who put her on a diet. The Beast lost about five pounds. Her dandruff disappeared and she became very active. However she has always been FIV positive, most likely having been born with this affliction and I wonder if this is what took her life at the very young age of around seven.

Here she is with her neck through the loop of a JoAnn's bag.

I didn't say she was smart.

With her beads. She loved her beads and I dug them out this morning and left them at Vet Tech Girl's apartment. She may need them in her new life.

I hope so.

The Beast


She was truly loved.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A completed Amy Butler Bag

I've had this Amy Butler, Velma Bag pattern, for about two years and had yet to sew it.

Until today.

For some reason it seemed to be a bit daunting and I just wasn't sure what to expect.

My main sewing pleasure is bags, and believe me I've made quite a few of them in the past couple of years.

I've learned one heck of a lot in those two years too, let me tell you.

So I decided that it was time to drag this pattern out and give it a go. Unfortunately a lot of the reviews of this bag, on pattern review, no longer have pictures attached to them. I guess people dump there flikr accounts etc.. and the pictures are then lost forever. But at least the comments remain.

Here is Sally Stitch showing everyone the general proportions of the bag. And since we have no sun today my colors aren't very true.

This is the front view.

It's hanging off of Hans' mother's grandfather clock. There is no good place to hang a purse in this apartment!

Here it is on the ironing board. I used a magnetic snap closure (as opposed to Velcro. DO NOT USE VELCRO!) and then I added a covered button (with some ugly, hanging fabric fringe) on the front flap for decorative purposes.

The back view, hanging yet once again from the grandfather clock.

Instead of a fabric handle I decided to add a matching cord attached by tabs.

I also used fusible batting on the fashion fabric instead of canvas as I always use batting. I did interface the lining. This bag needs (screams for) stability!!!

An inside view of the very tiny pocket.

Can you see what I did to the sides? I pinched them in and then I hand tacked them into a permanent pleat.

Hang in there and I'll tell you why,

Okay, I'm sure I won't be popular after I rate this pattern because everyone is in love with Amy Butler.

I wasn't impressed with this purse but I was prepared ala pattern review.

If you use a Velcro closure, be prepared to lose everything in this bag if it pops' open. That's because the handle is anchored between the flap and the back of the bag and creates an unfriendly imbalance. Put it this way, if the bag opens unexpectedly it flops forward very heavily and very suddenly.

Like a hippo's mouth.


That's why I tacked the sides in place permanently. It becomes just a bit more secure. I also fused boning in the front and back panel, horizontilly side to side, about 1 inch down from the raw edge and 1 inch in from the side raw edge (leaving room for seam allowances and top stitching). This just makes it stiffer.

I have no idea what you're supposed to be able to store in the inside pocket. Maybe one credit card.

At most.

It's a cute enough looking bag but I won't make it again.

I like my fabric and almost wish that I hadn't wasted it on this purse and I will not make it for anyone else. It's simply not practical.

I'll be sure to add my opinion to pattern review.

Remember, I did make two of Amy's messenger bags (even though I'm working on my own back pack/computer bag pattern) so don't hate me for having problems with this pattern.

That's about it for now. We did get back safe and sound from our trip down to Annapolis to visit our sail boat. The only casualties, besides bruised shins and broken nails, were the Strip Steak that got dropped into the bay before it reached the grill and one of our window screens that fell out and immediately sank.

For that we consider ourselves to be very lucky.