Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Penguin Purse and a Bone to Pick

I guess I'll start first with The Bone to Pick.

I have a lot of stuff I'm supposed to accomplish this week and I'm a little behind and while I really hate to lay blame, I'm going to anyway.

It's mostly Katie Alender's fault.

Katie, a fellow sewist and dog lover, recently became a published author. Her book 'Good Girls Don't Die was released last week and my copy arrived yesterday.

Now just so you know, it's a Young Adult Book aimed primarily at a teenage audience but if a book is good I don't care who the intended audience is.

Well to make a long story short (something I'm not good at), Hans had a business dinner last night and I was invited (I was absolutely giddy as I don't talk to anyone but the cat all day long!), but he ended up being about 45 minutes late and I happened to have Katie's book with me.

That's all it took.

When we got home I should have started in on my sewing but I continued reading Katie's book instead.

Please understand that if I didn't like it I wouldn't be mentioning it.

But I do like it.

I really do, and I've been a book-a-holic since about the third grade.

Take a look at the reviews and if you know a teenager who likes to read, this might be for her.

So thanks a lot Katie, because even though I was in the middle of an Olivia Goldsmith book (author of The First Wives Club), your 'Alexis' has taken over!

In my last post I showed you pictures of my latest bag which is a backpack/sling bag.

I liked it so much that I went out and bought this penguin fabric (I also got some soccer fabric but it's still uncut).

Anyway, my first bag may have gone together slicker than snot but this one didn't. I made so many mistakes! I ripped out seams, I resewed the same seams, and then realized the damned things needed to be ripped out again!!

I also decided to sew a casing for the draw string as opposed to eyelets (which can run into a bit of an expense), and I ran into trouble with that too.

But in the end I did get it finished and I'm happy with it.

I had it with me last night and a friend expressed interest in ordering a couple of them and I couldn't get to my Vet Tech Girl fast enough to tell her. If you recall, she told me NO ONE would want one!

The back of the bag with its Velcro pocket.

I added a zippered pocket insert to this bag.

So tomorrow I'll finish up 4 more bags for the winery down in Annapolis ( on the eastern shore) as we're leaving for the boat on Saturday.

And I'll try to limit my reading to tonight only!

I'll try.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bonnie and Clyde (or Hans and Laura) strike again.

First of all don't let this 'I'm Pumping Air in the Tires Because I'm a Boy Scout' look fool you because Hans is a rebel at heart. It's really not his fault, it's in his genes.

Like the time Hans Sr. and family were returning to their Miami Beach home (Hans was in high school) from an overnight sail. The Coast Guard was requesting that everyone entering American waters please anchor and wait until the following morning so that the Coast Guard could inspect boats for drugs.

"I have nothing to hide! We aren't carrying drugs! This is a complete violation of our rights!" raged Hans Sr., so they blew past the Coast Guard and headed home. The first Coast Guard helicopter landed in their yard just as the first bag from their boat hit the dock.

The fine for this deliberate flouting of authority should have been in the tens of thousands of dollars (just by putting a bag on the dock was a $5,000 fine and remember this was over 35 years ago!) but somehow Hans Sr. managed to get the fine into an affordable range.

You would think this would have sent a message to the younger Hans.

It didn't.

Hans still has great contempt for 'stupid laws and stupid rules.'

That's why I'm quite sure if I continue to hang around with this man I'm going to end up with a police record some day.

Today we decided to take advantage of the 80 degree, sunshiny weather and go for a bike ride. This Big City has bike trails to die for but unfortunately there is no way to get to one from the apartment without hauling our bikes with the SUV.

No problem for Hans. He decides we'll just jump the fence at the Railroad track (The one with the huge No Trespassing sign that threatens jail time, fines, and public humiliation).

I have no idea how I became the first one to use the huge lock and chain on the gate as leverage to hoist myself over, or how I ended up carefully handing the bikes down as Hans heaved them over after me.

But I did.

I only hope my mother never finds out half of the stuff I get into when I'm with Hans.

Here's Hans lifting his (huge and heavy) bike over the fence.

He reminded me that taking pictures was just making things easier for the authorities should we get caught.

And now the Big Guy attempts to cross over without hurting himself.

But get this. On our way back Hans decided that since we were on the wrong side of the tracks already we should just continue on for a bit and see where we would end up. We found a dusty lane that goes to a factory that's right beside our apartment.

I kid you not. Hans has lived here for over 4 years and we had no idea that all we had to do was go behind the factory and we'd be right where we want to be.

I think Hans was a little sad though. No more Mission Impossible for us.

Jumping fences is so much more fun!

Now on to some sewing. The other day I was in line behind a woman who had a leather backpack/purse. I've seen them around and while they're nice, they're kind of boring. So I decided to make one of my own. Luckily she had her back to me or she would have been alarmed at the intensity of my stare as I really looked it over.

Here's my version and even though I used a leftover piece of fabric and really didn't think I'd like it, I loved it.

I used it today for our bike ride and it worked out perfectly.

I made Hans take these pictures of me using it.

Here it is as a back pack.

Another view. The white thing at the top of the bag is my water bottle (and yes it was water!!).

This is the back and that's a patch pocket with a velcro closure. The next time I'll just use the same fabric. And while I'm not a huge fan of velcro, this just made sense. This is the part that goes against your back and it should be smooth. I carried my license (in case the police want to know who the hell I am!) and insurance card (remember who I'm riding with) in it.

Now, see the smaller looped handle? You can hang it up by this loop, or carry it on your wrist, or...

...if you pull the longer straps through it, it makes the bag easier to carry as a sling bag... in this picture. Here I'm just carrying it on one shoulder.

I've seen some bags that use a stategically placed zipper between the straps that allow you to zip them together for a sling bag or separate them for a back pack. However I don't want a zipper against my shoulder (imagine having a sunburn) or the thought of a zipper snagging a top.

This works for me!!!

I took a water bottle (wrapped in Thin-sulate) and a couple of sandwiches with me. I get the shakes if I don't eat every couple of hours and even though I don't like to drink water I guzzle it on our bike rides.

Here's a view of the front.

But while I liked my bag, Hans liked my bag, and Baby Girl liked my bag__Vet Tech Girl did not.

I showed it to her after our bike ride but before I took her ill behaved dog for a walk.

"You know that's already been done," she said. "Like way back in the 90's. No one's going to want that." She remarked.

"But it's so practical and yet pretty" I pleaded. "And it's very well made and I have a couple of other design ideas for it, and I'm going to use different prints!" I found myself scrambling for her approval.
She just shrugged.

I don't mind honesty but it seemed to me like she went out of her way to be snotty and I ended up feeling like a deflated balloon.

This chick had no idea what she signed up for when she met Hans!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's a Great Day for Sewing (and Hockey!)!

With the hockey play-offs going on right now all I hear these days is 'It's A Great Day for Hockey'! But for me, today was a Great Day for Sewing.

Actually I don't have a picture of the purse that's really got me worked up but I'm very happy with it.

I've found that when I'm running I get really great ideas for projects, so as soon as I get home I draw a picture so I have time I look it over later.

Yesterday I started in on such a project and at first I was horribly disappointed. I'm cheap at heart so I use as few materials as possible when I first start. What I had was a bag with no interfacing or support but I was just trying to get a feel for the design. When I ended up with a floppy, horrible failure I decided to go ahead and try some batting, and I even cut up some of my boning. It didn't take long to realize I was on my way to something I was pretty sure I could like.

So first thing this morning after my coffee and Raisin Bran, Chlorox and I got started.

Each step of the way had me getting my hopes up but I know that sh*t happens so I kept steeling myself for disappointment.

It was a success.

I love it.

It's just a simple bag and I've seen many of this kind around but they always looked so cheap but I think mine is better.

I'll try to post a picture tomorrow.

And finally, here's a finished picture of the 'Bag that Almost Wasn't'. The one that Hans gave a thumbs down to when I had it (and its twin) halfway done.

His issue was the fact that the bottom (which are 2 pockets on both sides by the way) was a wine bottle motif and the upper part was of a more natural theme. He could see that I liked the fact that both prints had grapes and that the vines on the grape print matched the color of the background on the wine bottle print.
But, "They just don't go together." was his thought.

I realize the Bamboo handles might be a bit oversized for the bag but, tough!!!

I don't care.

Here's the inside zipper pocket with a cork zipper pull and my Knotty Cat label.

Just another shot with the pockets empty. The first picture up above has a folded piece of paper sticking out of a pocket so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Here's the structured bottom using Nicole Mallalieu's technique.

I use it all the time.

I didn't realize that Chlorox was condo shopping...

...until I saw this.

After shopping around she's decided on the lower floor of the duplex.

She says it's roomier.

Now this has me slightly pissed.

Our mailman cannot grasp the fact that I'm in apartment 2, not apartment 1, and my daughter gets my mail on a daily basis.

I've been waiting for this cork fabric (I already have the cask fabric) for a custom order request and I knew I should have had it this morning. When it didn't come I started in on the bag that I really had a good time with but I still have to get that damned cork bag done by Saturday.

Guess what?
The fabric was at my daughter's all day and I just got it this evening when she got home from work.
That means tomorrow will be a sewing marathon as the purse I'm supposed to make takes all day long to sew (8 covered buttons to be hand sewn in place and button holes!), and I really wanted to make a new bag for myself for my daughter's lacrosse game on Saturday!

Sh*t Happens, right?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm supposed to be sewing so why am I blogging?

Because I need to let you in on some great news and a contest.
Katie Alender (a fellow blogger and sewist) has just had her first book published by get this, Disney-Hyperion!
And it's a hard back book, not a paper back.
I think that's pretty big news.

It's called Bad Girls Don't Die and even though it's directed toward teens I'm buying it anyway as I still don't feel very grown up most of the time and I can remember my teen years like they were yesterday.

The rules for the contest are here. Even if you don't want to enter you should take a look at her site anyway. She has a book trailer on her side bar that her husband helped put together and it's really great!
So take a look at Katie's blog and if you have time, check out her dog Winston. He's a cutie and just possibly more spoiled than my parent's dog.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon working on two more tote bags (with a wine theme) to take with us to the winery in Annapolis where the manager has offered to consign them.

I should have checked with my personal Design Critic named Hans (He's the only man I know who rates Hockey teams according to their uniforms. I kid you not!).

He took one look at the almost finished bags and said,"No."

And I felt my blood turn to ice.

Hans said he understood why I did what I did but in his opinion they're 'not right'.

I said (hopefully) that maybe some stupid woman with absolutely no taste (like me) might like it.

He said, "Maybe."

So, I desperately scrambled around and grabbed up cording and handles and fabric (I felt like Scarlet O'Hara when she ripped the draperies from the window to make her dress) and presented them to the King (I mean Hans) for his approval.

He finally relented and said that the bamboo handles I've been hanging onto would probably work.
So today I'll finish these damned totes but you can bet I will not start another project until I consult with his highness!
I've taken over a lot of spaces in the apartment for my sewing supplies and that includes Hans' mother's buffet (I seriously doubt that she ever envisioned it being used this way).
I had wandered over and reached inside when I encountered a fuzzy mass that made me jump back in terror.
Yes, it's my Chlorox Kitty and I don't know why she felt compelled to get in there. I would have loved to see her do it though as it's a tight fit and it had to be a comical sight.

BTW, those wine bottles on the buffet (again Hans' mother would probably be horrified!) are not how I get through my day (although don't think it's not tempting), are what I use to test the look and strength of my wine bags.

Just a close up of my little Knotty Cat.

I read somewhere that with photo-shop you can fix the glare in animal's eyes.

I think I need to concentrate on sewing first.
And I'll post pictures of those bags when they're done.
But don't be surprised if they're wrapped around Hans' head!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm such a bone head!!

I've been very busy these days which is a good thing, but I've had very little computer time which isn't such a good thing.

My days are spent thinking up new purse designs (which sometimes work and sometimes don't!), trying to get decent photos of the purses I've actually made, and dealing with day to day issues.

Last week I got my mammogram and pap smear thing out of the way.

And if any of you out there are over forty and don't get mammograms because you fear them.


I am the biggest coward on the face of the earth and I also have no tolerance for pain (getting my teeth cleaned is painful and my eyes tear up when I get my hair cut as I can't stand the hairdresser running a comb through my hair!).

A mammogram takes no time at all, IT DOES NOT HURT, and then you're out of there.

It's as simple as that and if you don't have insurance (luckily I do) you can get one for free (you need to find out what's available in your town).

As for the bone head thing.

I have to drive a couple of miles to the place where I do my daily runs and today when I got back to my vehicle the remote wouldn't work.

I pushed it and pushed it, but no response.

I didn't know what to do and my cell phone was in my purse which was of course in the LOCKED VEHICLE!! I yanked on the door handle (just in case), but yes indeed it was locked.

I was just getting ready to put the key in the door (which will set off the alarm but it will stop as soon as you put the key in the ignition), when something caught my eye. The name of the model of this make of vehicle was right there on the front fender, and it wasn't at all what I drive.

Oh My God!!

I'd been standing there yanking the handle of a car door that wasn't mine, and I was in full view of the huge windows of a restaurant where I'm sure the owner was eating his dinner and watching me.

So I did a casual look around, spotted my car, and nonchalantly walked on over and jumped in. The fact that it had been raining and my hair was a mess and I had dead bugs all over my face didn't make me feel any better!

I had a similar situation happen to me years ago (and it involved the police) but I'll post about that another time.

Anyway! I mentioned in one of my previous posts that the manager of a winery asked me if I would make some bags for his store, so I'm trying to get some made because we're going to be in his area next week. And then just recently we were out and another man said something to me about my purse (even Hans said he couldn't believe that men notice my purses!) and asked me if I could make enough for a store he manages.

I have to think that one over.

I find this so hard to believe.

I really do.

So I've been busy getting my Etsy shop ready, loading some of my stuff there, and then I have a few purses to finish for people who've made requests.

This has turned into quite an endeavor.

And there's nothing wrong with that!

I'll be loading this 3 in 1 purse into my Etsy shop (which I have yet to put on my sidebar) tomorrow if I have time. This is one of my favorites.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Easter Beagle, The Easter Bunny, A Trans-Gender Cat,

A Cowardly Doberman, and a Pathetic Pit Bull. These are just a few of the characters with whom I spent my Easter Sunday.

Also included were Hans, all of my kids, my parents, and some of my parent's friends.

The Easter Beagle was very generous and brought a basket for my parent's cowardly Doberman.

She's a love bug!

This year's offering was an ostrich and it squeaks in a delightful way when Kissie Pooh chews it. This dog has her own toy box and it's filled with stuffed toys and bones.

This is just a better picture of the poor unsuspecting ostrich that will soon be chewed to pieces.

Kissie Pooh also received a squeaky parrot (from my parent's friends) and a stuffed goose (I loved the way it honked and I spent far too much time squeezing it).

Smokey the Cat, who ,thanks to a chronic urinary blockage, recently had surgery thus changing him from boy to girl, is now a Trans-Gender cat (at the tune of something over a thousand dollars!!), checks out the Easter Beagle's gift.

And yes, he/she's on the kitchen table (but since my parents just spent big bucks on said cat, are you really surprised?).

And this poor little guy was relegated to the porch. My little grand dog Duncan has a bit of a reputation.

In other words, he has no manners.

I took this picture (without the flash) through the storm door and I felt just awful.

He sat outside and whined for about 2 hours.

In addition to celebrating my son's 26th birthday it was also Kissie Pooh the dobermans' 4th birthday.

Both received cakes made by my mother.

My son's cake was not in the shape of a bone!

Ever since I can remember our pets have received and opened their own presents and Kissie Pooh is no exception.

Here is a short video of Kissie Pooh opening up just one of her gifts.

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times; in my next life I want to come back as one of my family's pets!!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Purses and a touch of PMS

Here are some pictures of my latest purses. In addition to my weekend trip, I made yet one more visit back to my home town on Tuesday as I had a birthday party to attend, and my gift was supposed to be one of my 3 in 1 purses.

I'm sorry to say the birthday girl got short changed. She only ended up with the tote bag (the bag in the middle of this picture) part of the deal.


Because the weather here in the great Northeast sucks, that's why! Since there was a weather advisory (calling for at least a foot of snow) issued for my little swamp town I decided to get an early start and there was no way I could finish this whole combo in time. And let me tell you, this is a labor intensive purse.

Here is what it would have looked like if I'd finished it in time. I made 2 of them, so this one will end up in my Etsy shop.

The outer bag is buttoned in place and becomes pockets for the tote bag.

Since the inner tote bag that belonged to this outer bag was given as a gift, I didn't bother to put button holes in it. The button holes serve two purposes (1) they allow you to attach it to the bigger tote bag and (2) if you carry it by itself you just button its handles to it. When not in use, the handles lie in the bottom of the bag.

And since this one is all on its own I just added grommets for the straps.

This is now a fun bag or a wine bag.

Here is the tote bag once it's been unbuttoned from the outer bag.

Here is the outer bag in its wine bag mode. I stood the bottle up so you could get an idea of its size.

Here's the bottle of wine lying inside. It closes with a magnetic catch.

The inside pocket of the inner (bigger) bag, with my Knotty Cat zipper pull.

A view of the inside of the inner (bigger) tote.

I mentioned in a previous post that Baby Girl was to help me with PhotoShop this weekend.

First of all I had PMS so I was already a little moody. Hans had offered to help me but I still remembered when he offered to show me how to download pictures from my camera to my computer (this was last year and I've mentioned many times that I know nothing about computers!) and things didn't go so well.

That's all I'll say on that subject for now.

Of course now I can download pictures in my sleep but that's because I do it all the time.

So I decided instead of getting frustrated and mad at Hans I could always get frustrated and mad at Baby Girl because she can't dump me. I also offered to pay her because unfortunately Baby Girl recently had the misfortune to suffer from the all too common malady striking college students these days.

The inability to balance a check book.

So on Sunday, I showed up at Baby Girl's apartment all bright eyed and ready to learn.

Baby Girl wasn't so bright eyed ("I went out last night.") and pulled a Hans on me.

After attempting to install PhotoShop on my computer...

Baby Girl: "When's the last time you checked for updates on your computer?"

Me: "Um, I'm not sure?"

Baby Girl: Deep sigh, "I'll take that as a no." And then typed far too hard on my keyboard as far as I'm concerned.

Once Photoshop was installed, Baby Girl got my Etsy banner done, and then tried to explain PhotoShop's basic functions to me. She was all over the place, right clicking and left clicking like crazy and not explaining anything at all. Finally at one point when her little fingers were doing a wild Irish jig all over the keyboard I had to stop her.

She got snappy with me and I found myself blinking back tears.

I finally got her to write some stuff down and I really felt like I had a good grasp on things.

Until I got home.

I opened a picture in Photoshop and proceeded to absolutely butcher one of my purse pictures. Luckily for me (but not so lucky for Baby Girl) we're headed back to my swamp town for Easter this weekend and I intend to get my moneys worth out of her!

It's so not fun feeling stupid all the time and I wonder if my sheer denseness has anything to do with the fact that my mother smoked while she was pregnant with me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Some purses and a computerless weekend

Baby Girl has a lacrosse game today so I will be travelling back to my house (that's currently on the market) and staying there until tomorrow. Since I shut off the cable and DSL connection, I'll have no TV or computer.

That's something I'm just not used to!

I'll also go visit my parents and their menagerie of pets, I'm also taking my running clothes, and I've got a new library book. Anything to take up my tv-less and computer-less time!

Here is a very bad color combo on my 3 in 1 purse. In the store the colors looked really great together but after making it and showing it to my color/fashion guru Hans, he vetoed it.

Too busy and just not right, was his comment.

Sh*t!, was my comment.

So I pulled the inner bag out.

And added it to this outer bag.

Hans says this is acceptable. It's still busy and bright but I love busy and bright.

My mother once told me when I was little that only her mother made worse color choices than me.

I guess it's something I'll never outgrow.

So here is the outside of the original bad color combo and it's sitting on it's new inner bag fabric. (not the fabric next to it, that's for something else).

Much better!

This is for yet another bag and I really do love this combination. I didn't use a flash so it appears kind of dull here.

On Sunday I'm going over to Baby Girl's apartment and she's going to try to teach me photo shop and how to make a banner for my etsy shop etc... Like I've said before, I need to be shown how to do something and then I'm ok. I just can't figure things out on my own.

Just one more thing I'll never outgrow!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today is my son's 26th birthday, and that's no joke!

Leave it to me to have a baby on April Fools' Day! Of course my mother's constant warnings to not have the baby that day (her own parent's disastrous marriage began on April Fools' Day) may have something to do with it.

I hate being told what to do!

This was my first baby and I have to admit that the Lamaze Classes really did come in handy. It was a pretty typical labor other than the fact that all 8 pounds and 4 ounces of this kid got stuck like a cork and I pushed for the last 4 hours for nothing! Later, one of the nurses was kind enough to inform me that she'd never seen a doctor, while using forceps, actually brace a foot on the birthing bed to pull a reluctant baby out of a mother. Thanks to anesthetic, I was numb from the chest down, although the doughnut that came home with me was my best friend for about two weeks!

To this day I still laugh because that kid was a week late and even after 14 hours of labor he was in no hurry to be born. Growing up he was always the last one out the door and when he played hockey in high school, the staff at the rink would just yell into the locker room, "Hey First Born, remember to turn the lights out behind you!" This was while I sat steaming in the car because I knew once again he'd be the last one out.

And he always was.

Today he has a job that requires a ton of flying but I think he's learned that while Mom may wait for him, the plane won't!

Here he is when he was around 16 showing us how the Amazing Flash Cat turned into The Amazing Stretch Cat.

Flash Cat is no longer with us (and we still miss him), he died at Thanksgiving a few years ago and that is a post that needs to be written.

We will celebrate First Born's birthday at Easter as we always do since that seems to be the best time to try to get everyone together.

And in addition to being born on April Fools' Day it also happened to be on Good Friday that year!

And I guess it really was!