Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pretty Pint-Sized Packages for Trinkets and Treasures!

In other words, a Tutorial on How to Make a Tiny Fabric Purse!

Now.....I know that when you see the photos you'll be saying- "yes, I know how to make that. It's so easy. I don't need any directions or tutorials for something this simple! Why are you showing us such a simple craft?"

And I say, "I know you know!"  But the point in providing such tutorial is to dig into that creative corner from the nooks and crannies of your brain where this is hiding, because, if you're like me, until you see something created by someone else - no matter how easy it is - you don't think about making it or doing it! Isn't that right? And I say - "how come I didn't think of this earlier?"

And this is the point of this post - get my readers to enjoy something very simple, and provide them with a pretty and cute idea for gift-giving.

I purposely made the size of these petite purses to fit my calling card for when I ship jewelry to my customers. The card also provides a bit of stiffness to the purse. I usually place the pendants inside a cello sleeve along with my card and then wrap it up in pretty tissue paper before packaging it inside a padded bubble mailer. Wrapping a necklace or earrings inside a tiny felt purse is more fun to receive.

These little felt purses can be also be stitched by hand if someone doesn't own a sewing machine. Instead of stitched buttonholes, just making a slit in the felt would probably work okay, but stitching them gives more stability to the opening for the button.

Here's what you'll need:

felt pieces cut into 4 x 7 inch rectangles (or whatever size you want)
scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
matching thread, sewing needle
buttons of your choice
pinking shears
any other decoration you so desire to add

You can use other fabric but then you have to contend with raw fabric edges that will ravel. Felt won't ravel and is quick and easy to work with and has more body and stiffness. Using a cutting mat makes measuring and cutting easy.

Here are several rectangles cut out with the buttons I chose.
Fold up the bottom edge so it comes up approximately 2.5 inches - enough to cover a business card. Your side seams will be 1/8 inch wide.
 Side seams are pinned.
 Before I stitch the side seams, I fold down the flap and mark the top and bottom of where I want the buttonhole to be sewn.

Open up the flap, sew the side seams, add buttonhole, and sew on button.
Use your pinking shears to add a decorative edge to the flap. If you are overly zealous, add lace and other trimmings to your petite purse! I made mine simple so they'll be quick to make.

Perfect size for my card and initial pendant! I'm sure my future customers will enjoy receiving their jewelry packaged this way, wouldn't you?

 All buttoned up and ready to ship or give to a friend!
 After I use up my multicolored stash of felt, I think I should stick with one or two colors for my Etsy shop - red or black - or maybe both! I wonder if I can find felt with polka dots? That would be cute!

The next time you present your loved one with a gift card, jewelry or other trinket, why not make one of these petite purses? It will add an extra touch of uniqueness to their gift. I'm sure they'll love it!
The past few weeks I've been mulling over a new project for my Etsy shop on the subject of friendship. I won't be saying what I'll be doing with it or what I'll be creating. You'll have to wait and see. I have some of the materials already but am still brewing over the execution of it!

In the meantime, let me remind my subscribers that if you only read my posts inside your email inbox, and not click on the link to take you to my blog, you will miss the little bits of information that I have pinned and will pin to my blog sidebar from time to time. Just so you know!

Until next time......
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:6

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer Sewing!

The sight of lupines dotting the countryside means summer is here! 

Though the majority of these lovelies have gone to seed, a few can be seen around the island and in my little perennial garden at this late date. These two photos were taken back in 2014 in French River, PEI where tourists pack into the side-of-the-road lookout area to take photos of this massive collection of lupines the latter part of June. Eye candy at its best!

It's such an amazing view! 

And since it's summer, the warmer weather invites me outdoors to ply my trade - sewing machine and all the necessary accouterments pertaining to such trade.

I'm thankful I have a room dedicated to sewing and a place to cut and stitch and store such things, along with my ironing board. Some don't have a choice and others probably prefer storing their sewing things away. I wouldn't enjoy stuffing everything in a clothes closet - out of sight and out of mind - because sewing would become drudgery. Every sewing session would then involve setting up the machine somewhere, digging through my supplies, finding table space - or the floor - to cut fabric and also drag out the ironing board.

OH! It would be so much work and - for me - it would take the joy out of creating. Even if your space were limited, isn't it nice to just sit down and stitch away? Even a tiny sewing corner can be made a delightful oasis with the right decorating - spools of thread, knick-knacks, and all things pretty.

When we were first married and living in an apartment, I found instructions to make one of those sewing tables that open up and out and that store your machine and equipment inside. When you are done, you stash everything inside and close it up. It even had a flip top with a special surface for cutting fabric on. There are a lot of those on the market today. I waited a whole year for this table to be made by a carpenter friend of ours as he made it in his spare time. It was quite beautiful - a dark stained wood, two sides opened out where I could store spools of thread and my machine. The opposite side had shelves for fabric. Sorry - no photos! It would take me forever to find where they are.

When we moved to my childhood home, this custom sewing table was set up in the tiny bedroom in our upstairs, which was about the same size as the sewing area you see below. My parents used to sleep in that room once - just big enough for a double bed and space to walk next to it! Well, my special sewing table did fit - just - but opening it up and gaining access to the storage got to be cumbersome over the years. There was not enough room for maneuvering around it comfortably and so I sold it! I'm not sorry, even now, as I much prefer to have things out in the open and not have to open and close a piece of furniture, however beautiful it may be. Some sewers probably like that - to stash everything out of sight.

Later on, I eventually moved my "sewing room" to the very small area at the top of the stairs. If you saw my post about my sewing room in my current home (see post here), it is "spacious" compared to the one I had in Burlington. I am still using the same "cutting/sewing" table that is covered in black floral fabric. That "table" spanned the width of my "sewing space" in front of two windows as you see in the photo below.  It's so nice when there is a view while you sew! 
My Burlington house sewing space upstairs.

I am still using the same wooden desk for my sewing machine now. In this photo, the desk sits very close to the top of the stairs, so you see my area was tight on space. At that time, I had two machines - my first sewing machine was a Singer Genie that I purchased in 1975 and in 2000 I purchased an Electronic Elna. When we moved to PEI, I gave my Genie to my sister, Heidi. And just last year, I sold my Elna to a lady on the island who needed it for a missionary sewing circle. I was glad she was able to get the reverse stitching fixed! Now I LOVE sewing on my Singer Featherweight. Am SO glad I found her two years ago!

Those little dolls you see above the windows - Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Fancy Ball Lady - I still have those dolls, but they are in poor shape - head-wise! I need to get new dolls. They are stored in a drawer right now. They are quite old. I've had them since a young girl. My Aunt Esther, who will be turning 92 (I think) next month, made the clothes for these dolls. And she sewed several outfits for my Barbie doll back then, too. But I digress! 😊

I love sewing outdoors! Several times I take advantage of the warmer weather and temporarily move my sewing project outdoors on our back deck. Only on these occasions do I put up with the "drudgery" of lugging things out of my comfortable sewing room, traipsing downstairs and out to the back deck. It's worth the view and feeling the warm air and sunshine!  Everything goes on the umbrella table. The heavy duty extension cord powers my machine and iron and I have a small portable ironing board that comes in handy for these outdoor sewing sessions.
The bugs are very minimal in our neighborhood - thankfully - and viewing the backyard is very calming, even while husband is mowing the lawn at the same time! But enjoying the outdoors depends on how hot the sun gets and if the wind is too windy. An open umbrella's life span can become precarious and fabric and thread flying through the breeze doesn't contribute to a successful sewing session. Sewing outdoors is not a regular habit, but it's nice to be able to do it when the conditions are right.

On this particular outdoor sewing session I was making a zippered panel for one of my blue corduroy carpet bags for a potential customer. She wanted the bag to have a more secure closure than just cinching up the cords. I never heard back from her but at least I now know how to put a zippered panel in a carpet bag, if the need ever arises. I didn't fully finish attaching it to the bag so the bag is still available without the zippered panel. In fact, I have two in my Etsy shop (here).

How and where do you spend your hours sewing, stitching, or knitting in the summer? Maybe you have an enclosed porch with screens. That would make a lovely spot to while away the hours creating wonderful things without the worry of bugs or heavy breezes thwarting your creativity. If my enclosed front porch were a back porch, I might have considered that a perfect place for a sunny sewing station, but as it is a front porch, it serves as our front entry and sitting area. 

Have you set up a special place in your home for sewing and creativity or a temporary summer spot? What are you creating this summer that brings delight to your soul?
"Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."  Ecclesiastes 11:7

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Inspiration from The Great British Sewing Bee


Today, I'm showcasing two garments I made in May for The Charlottetown Legion Choir spring concerts, which I am pianist for. The ladies' attire consists of white tops and black bottoms (skirt or pants). For the men  - white shirts, black pants, and the Legion striped tie of gold and blue. For this past spring concert series, the choir voted on two choices of attire - black and black - white and black. I voted black and black, as I prefer to wear black on top. I don't particularly care to wear white on top as there's an obvious lack of color, you know, and I think black goes with everyone and is elegant. I just feel washed out. But....the majority overruled and we went with white and black for now.

As we island people have been without a regular fabric store since last November - Fabricville was forced out of their leased space downtown and couldn't find another spot to set up shop yet - I was forced to shop around for a warm-weather white blouse/top to wear for choir. It's not very convenient, to say the least, that we sewers who want to make clothing have no fabric store to shop in locally. All there is left on the island is one home decor fabric shop and the rest are quilt shops. If a person needs fabric for clothing, the options are to go off island and drive two hours to Fabricville in Moncton, or three hours to St. John, and don't forget the bridge toll! Shopping online for fabric is not for me. Seeing and touching fabric is a must.

I did go off-island but AFTER the concerts were over! I had an appointment in St. John, NB and I took advantage of the opportunity to shop at Fabricville for a few pieces of fabric for future garments and carpet bag.

Okay...back to my white outfit. Since I didn't want to spend the gas money and toll to go off island for fabric to make a white blouse, I spent some time perusing the shops downtown for a suitable blouse to wear. Not finding anything that looked good on me, I ended up at Value Village and found - to my surprise - a perfectly fitting white t-shirt for $7! In the back of my mind, I had a plan to embellish it. Plus, make a vest to go along with it. And that's where the Great British Sewing Bee came in to play. It gave me inspiration!
Photos taken from the Great British Sewing Bee Facebook Page

For a great number of weeks, this program has been airing on TV (on the MAKEFUL channel), and I've been loving it! Each Sunday evening at 10 p.m. they air another episode. They start out with 10 contestants and the ages are all different AND a number of men have participated! The contestants come from all walks of life. Even a young man in his teens!

There was a policeman who regularly sewed garments for his wife and daughters. Another man sewed for his family. His wife didn't! Another man was an exercise/fitness instructor. And then there was the stylish 81-year old lady with her white hair all done up nicely who's known to have sewn almost every day of her life for 75 years! The first time I watched the program was the semi-final of the contest she participated in, and she won!

The two judges.

Some of the challenges the contestants were faced with sewing were a boned corset and a Scottish pleated kilt! Another time, the made-to-measure challenge had to be a dress-up three-dimensional outfit, which included two peacock style garments and an elephant!

One of the peacock outfits modeled by a young girl.
And the elephant costume, of course!

I don't know if there will be more new episodes but I don't tire of watching repeats of most any movie or program. That's me. And watching reruns of this sewing bee is still fun for me. I enjoy watching the participants select their fabrics, struggle with sewing procedures they've never dealt with before, and stressing along with them with the time constraints they are given.

The contest runs several weeks. Each week consists of two days of sewing. The first day they make two garments. The first one is a pattern challenge and the second project an alteration challenge where they're given a garment - such as a large oversized t-shirt - and they need to make something totally different with it. The second day consists of  a made-to-measure challenge - such as a long evening gown or leather jacket - and the participants get to choose their own pattern and fabrics. They also get to do a practice garment at home with measurements from an unknown model. On the day of this third challenge, they meet their models at the sewing bee work room. Sometimes the contestants are surprised because family members/friends/spouses have been invited to be their models!

81 year-old winner!

Of course, at the end of two days and three garment challenges, the two judges make their determinations on who will be sent home. And each week, the group of contestants are whittled down to the semi-final and three contestants vie for the grand prize.

And another winner! He made clothes for his wife and daughters.

I've included a clip from one episode here for your viewing pleasure!

Back again to my white top....

For my white choir top to have some pizazz and become dressier, I had some left over lace from when I made my daughter's wedding gown back in 2007. Worked out perfectly! Here is the t-shirt with the lace added to the sleeves. My model here is "Dolly" whom you've met in a previous post. 😊

And here is a side view and close-up of the lace.

To complete the outfit, I added a vest with fabric from my stash. I had some left over white lace that I used to make cafe curtains for my kitchen and front porch several years ago. And a white striped fabric for the lining.  That particular fabric was used to make a deck awning several years ago (I will post about that later). Here are photos of the vest. I also added some lace trim on the shoulder seams.

And here is the inside of the vest showing the white striped fabric.

For this spring concert, we ladies got to wear new scarves. Our choir president, Colleen, ordered yellow and blue fabric and secured some volunteers to sew up these simple scarves - one blue and one yellow - that we could wear around our necks in whatever fashion we wanted.

I did receive several compliments on my outfit. One choir member liked the long lace on the sleeves. She said it was very fitting for the pianist to wear sleeves like that!

For the sewers out there, I hope I've inspired you to keep on stitching or to take it up again if you haven't created anything in a long while. And for those who haven't stitched at all, perhaps you've gotten the itch now to stitch! Even in little ways!

We all need and receive inspiration in our lives - even on a daily basis - from people, things, places - in all sorts of ways - to get us motivated and be more productive in our daily lives. Responsibilities keep us motivated. And wouldn't you include reading and meditating on scripture to be inspirational and the most important way of all to lead a more productive Christian life? Inspiration in the form of exhortation, admonition, and instruction.

For..."who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies....She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple...Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come....Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:10, 22, 25, 30

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An All-Night Sewing Dilemma but a Delightful Day to Remember

A good weekend to you dear friends and lovely creatures!

This weekend - Friday - was a special day 10 years ago - June 30.

Before I get to the story, here is some background. I have a reputation - in the past - and a little in the not too distant past - of staying up ALL night working on a garment or other sewing project till the sun comes up!

I've had several of these all-nighter sewing sprees - mostly during my daughter's teenage years when she needed a special formal dress for our church's youth group's annual spring banquet. Since I was working full-time during her school years, sewing projects were delegated to the evenings and weekends. When it was deemed necessary to go through the night, I would usually take my sewing paraphernalia downstairs so I wouldn't bother my husband or daughter while they slept. I had a tiny sewing area at the top of the stairs. That would have been our house in Burlington, MA.

I am a night person, so sewing through the dark hours of the night and into dawn's early light doesn't phase me. But this time, I planned ahead for my daughter's wedding!  I finished my dress and I finished her wedding gown and veil a week ahead of time! So there was no excuse to sew through the night at the last minute. you're wondering now. Did something happen out of the ordinary?  Yes! And here is what transpired! Photos will follow after the story.

Friday, 10:30 p.m.  Time for bed. Postpone that thought! Groom's mother (Martha) called to use my machine for some last minute sewing. They were from out-of-state and staying nearby. I told her it was not a problem.

11:00 p.m. She and her daughter Amy (bridesmaid) arrived with a sewing nightmare that transcended my comprehension. My mouth gaped open. There were no words to describe what I was looking at! I needed more help. I telephoned my sister, Cindy, who had just gotten into bed. She and her family were staying with friends nearby as they had moved to SC and were up for the wedding. For some reason, she had decided to bring her serger on this trip. She brought it to my house.

11:30 p.m.  The bridesmaid's top - the fabric, a beautiful silvery blue brocade - was sewn by a friend of the groom's family. Cap sleeves they were not and neither "sleeve" was the same size! One armhole was larger than the other, allowing wonderful views of the wearer's underclothes. A scalloped hem on the front was missing and the button holes down the back were irregularly spaced. Add these elements together and you have a skewed and non-fitting top. Bad sewing job, indeed! I felt sorry for the seamstress.

I called my friend, Monica, next door whose daughter (Heidi) was a bridesmaid and asked if we could borrow her top (to use as a guide) and the pattern and any extra fabric. Now, this bridesmaid was not the same size as Amy, but we were desperate to fix this sewing dilemma.

I dug into my pattern stash for something to help the situation. Maybe a sleeve pattern that would fit Amy's top. That didn't work. I kept looking at the clock. Maybe by one o'clock we'll be done, I thought. That turned into two o'clock. And time ticked away as we all tried to figure out what to do with this ill-fitting and lop-sided top.

Poor Amy! While we three women wracked our brains to make her top fit and look respectable, she dozed in the living room, exhausted from her plane trip fraught with cancelled and rebooked flights. She had slept overnight on the floor in a New York airport, only arriving in Boston that afternoon.

Fortunately (thank the LORD!), she decided to try on her outfit after the rehearsal - not the morning of the wedding! Incidentally, she only got possession of her top that day, it being hand-delivered by other wedding guests arriving from out-of-state!

3:00 a.m.  Martha desired coffee. Soon the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafted upstairs and a sleepy husband wandered down to see what was going on. Seeing the bright lights and the wearied and strained looks of the women in the kitchen, he retreated back to bed, not wanting to get involved. I wanted to join him!

4:00 a.m. I heard the birds outside and thought about breakfast. But I really wanted to crawl into bed.

5:00 a.m. After multiple fitting sessions, we removed the lining and all the darts, and basically started from scratch. Fabric was added to the sides and we closed up the armhole gaps. Darts were added in places you wouldn't normally put them. We ignored the irregularly spaced button holes because we couldn't do anything about them. We ignored the lack of a scalloped front hem and the misshapen "cap" sleeves. Since we couldn't remake the lining, all the edges of the top were serged, and a narrow hem was sewn. Thank the LORD Cindy brought her serger with her from SC because I didn't have one!

6:00 a.m.  We were done! The top fit with no gaps and almost looked like what it should have looked like! We did a quick check of the skirt and decided that even though the bad invisible zipper job on the skirt wasn't invisible, no one would notice it. This was one outfit that would never grace a body again. It was a sorry situation, to say the least.

My sewing helpers left and I trudged wearily to bed to catch a couple hours of sleep passing my husband on the stairs as he had just gotten up to get ready for the big day! 
Heidi/neighbor friend - we borrowed her top for help in fixing Amy's top.

Amy with Holly, my niece, behind her. You can see Amy's top is slightly different than Holly's. We did what we had to do with what we had!

My niece, Abigail - flower girl, with her wings. All the girls/women in the wedding party had dresses that were hand crafted, not purchased.

My daughter, Melody, and husband, Bill

Kim/neighbor friend and my niece, Audra - they were candle lighters.

Melody & Adam - the beautiful bride and handsome groom!

If you didn't know the story, you may not have even noticed that Amy's dress was slightly different than the others.
I've included a few more photos of the rest of the wedding party, the groom's family and our family. Sorry - not everyone. Some photos I don't have digital copies of right now.

Me and my honey.

The groomsmen and groom.  From left to right - Ben/neighbor friend, David/friend, Adam/groom, Dean - Adam's dad and Best Man, Keith/neighbor friend, and Tim/our nephew.

The groom's family:  Amy, Adam & Melody, Martha & Dean; Front row left to right: Rachel, Heidi, Emily

And my mom, siblings, and relatives on my side. Cindy is standing in front of me.

Unless it's for someone else's wedding, I certainly hope this doesn't happen again. I was a little tipsy that day from the lack of sleep, but the rest of my daughter's wedding day moved along without mishap! It was beautiful!

And I was very thankful I had planned ahead for my own sewing projects. You couldn't have dreamt up this sewing nightmare. It was surely a NIGHT and a day to remember!

A Happy Anniversary to our dear daughter, Melody and her wonderful husband, Adam!