Monday, August 31, 2009

Works in progress

My goal of doing handmade toys for the girls for Christmas is coming along nicely. Mostly I am obtaining their presents through swaps and Etsy trades. Of course, this means I've been stupidly busy sewing stuff to send out! Not to mention working on a few other things, like L's long awaited Mei Tai.

As it gets closer to Christmas I'll take some pictures of the amazing stuff I've swapped and traded to get for the girls.

At any rate, for the swap I'm involved in one of the things I'm offering is the above bag (unfinished in the photo!) Very pretty, if I do say so myself, although in that particular photo the purple isn't quite as purple as it is in real life.

Shot of the interior (here the purple looks TOO purple! I need to retake these photos with better light. I feel like my life has become a quest for better light lately). Cell phone pocket, key loop, interior pocket that is divided into a large pocket and a pen pocket.

No strap yet, because I have a weird mental thing where I hate sewing straps and always tend to leave them as long as possible.

So that's swap bag #1 - I'll have better photos once it's completely finished. If no one takes it in the swap it'll go in the Etsy store, if I don't keep it for myself! I'm kind of in love with it.

The second swap bag isn't going so well, the proportions are all wrong and I need to take it apart and make some adjustments. Also the denim I use for the body is SUPER heavyweight stuff and it's a royal pain in the ass to sew. I'm going to take the strap attachments off and remake them in a lighterweight fabric, because as they are currently they are impossible to sew through, and that'll only get worse when I add the lining and do the final topstitching.

It is going to be a very pretty bag - it has red dupioni silk and black and silver brocade on the flap. Very fancy. The interior will be red to coordinate with the flap stripes. I just need to figure out where I went wrong with the proportions! I think I might have used some older pattern pieces I put together before I adjusted the measurements.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Custom doll mei tai

Been doing a few custom pieces lately. I'm particularly proud of this one, I think it came out really well! The customer was looking for something specific, and I hope this works for her and her daughter. It's black twill with brocade - the brocade is something I've had in my stash for a while, with the idea of using it for purses, but I think this was an excellent use of a bit of the fabric!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tutorial: Sewing over thick seams

Anyone who has ever made a bag has probably encountered the same problem: eventually, usually on the last seam, you have so many layers of fabric coming together at the seam line that your sewing machine throws a total fit and the final seam - usually a very visible one! - gets all wonky as you try and force the machine up and over the layers.

Fortunately, there is a VERY easy solution to this problem, and it will cost you nothing. Sure, you can buy little plastic doodads (one is amusingly name the 'Hump Jumper'), but why bother, when a simple piece of white paper will do the job.

So here's the problem. I'm sewing along, and I arrive at the point on the bag where the strap attaches. All of a sudden we're going from four layers of fabric up to about 12, 14 layers, including two layers of fleece! The difference in thickness is large, and most sewing machines do not cope well with sudden height changes like that. They do a lot better if the presser foot can somehow remain level.

So here's my easy and free solution. Fold up a piece of paper to whatever thickness you need to raise the presser foot to the same height as the seam. With the needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot and tuck the paper underneath.

Then, lower the presser foot and start sewing.The paper will keep the presser foot level as it transfers onto the seam, and your stitches should stay nice and even and your machine won't struggle! It's as easy as that!

My machine doesn't cope well with sudden height changes coming off of a seam, either, so I do the same thing on the other side. Stop with the needle down, tuck a folded up piece of paper underneath the presser foot, sew off the seam, and then you can remove the paper. If the seam is narrow, you might need a piece of paper on either side - whatever you need to do to keep that presser foot level! Just remember whenever you need to add or remove the paper, stop with the needle down, raise the presser foot, and make your adjustments. And don't forget to lower the presser foot again when you are ready to start sewing!

Here's the bag I was working on when I decided to photograph those steps for this tutorial. Just needs a strap and it's done.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garden - After the Tornado

So it was definitely a tornado that hit Milton. Crazy stuff! And the garden is looking kind of rough. Fortunately, the tomato plants don't seem too perturbed by the whole thing. They've all fallen over and are all tangled up, but the actual fruit is fine. This is today's harvest!

Sweet 100s. I love these. There's nothing like them fresh out of the garden.

Assortment of other tomatoes, including a few of the weirder heirloom varieties. Some aren't quite ripe - one of the results of the tornado (and my lack of proper pruning!) is that the plants are sort of fallen over and when I'm rooting around the bottom looking for ripe tomatoes it's sometimes hard to tell just how ripe they are, so I wind up picking a few that aren't quite ready yet. Fortunately, a day or two on the windowsill and they are ready to go.

I've got pizza dough rising - I think rather than doing a full-on pizza, I'll dice up a bunch of the tomatoes with maybe some garlic and basil and olive oil, and spread that over the dough with some mozzarella and maybe the boccocinni I have in the fridge and call that dinner. Sort of a bruchetta, I guess. The tomatoes are so good I don't want to cook them and lose all that fresh tomato flavour!

And the best part it, assuming we don't get a really early frost, there's lots more tomatoes coming!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming soon: better photos?

At least that's the theory. Spent part of yesterday constructing this light box out of stuff I had lying around the house. The idea is to get better light and a nice consistent background.

First attempt. Not bad. I need two more lamps, though, for more light, so I'm hoping to hunt some up for free. And I have to figure out what the various white balance settings on my camera do!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Child's Mei Tai - Funky Animals

I'm working on a pattern for these, so I'll be making a bunch of them as I test it out. This is a super cute IKEA print that I've been looking for for about a year! They had it on their website but I could never find it in the store until finally this week I stumbled on a bolt.

Reverse side. Adorable!

The kiddo likes it too, although since she already has three Mei Tais I'm not letting her keep it! It's for sale in the store.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Or something tornado like, anyway. Big Huge Storm hit Ontario yesterday, resulting in multiple twisters. It's possible one hit Milton, and specifically landed in the area of the community garden. Or if not a tornado, one of those things that causes a lot of destruction. microburst? something like that.

Anyway, lots of trees down and property damage. Fortunately no injuries. Just got back from checking over the garden, and it looks like my plot came through relatively unscathed.

My tomatoes look OK, just kind of all over to one side! I'm going to leave them for a few days (other than harvesting the ripe stuff) and see how they recover before I try and straighten anything out.

Other people weren't as lucky, like the person growing corn:

And a lot of people's tomato plants look like they broke off at the base, so are starting to wilt.

This person's garlic? onions? will probably recover:

And it's a good thing this didn't fall on the garden:

Since it's right next to my plot! Hopefully when the work crew comes in to remove it they don't trample anything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doll stuff

A new product, sort of. I mean, it's just a blanket, so it's not like it's super complicated! But I've noticed when kiddo #1 plays with her dolls a blanket is a key accessory, so what the heck, I'll make a few up and sell some doll diaper/bib/blanket sets.

This set is currently in my Etsy shop.

Edit: Hey, it sold already! Go me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I have my niece staying with us for the week, and the amount of energy it takes to keep three kids entertained has me wiped out. So no sewing.

Instead, enjoy these tomatoes, fresh from my garden. Oh wait, you can't! Because I already ate half of them! And it's only a picture!

They are seriously yummy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good news/bad news

The good news is I finally learned how to do a blind hem, and I now can now make beautiful professional looking hems.

The bad news is my husband's new dress pants now have one leg about 2 inches shorter than the other. Apparently I haven't quite worked out all the details on this blind hem business!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So close

Almost there. Almost.

I did pick a few things this morning! That's the last cucumber, as the plants have committed suicide. Ah well. And the carrots could use another week, probably, before I dig them up, they are still on the small side. The tomato is one of the heirloom varieties; you can't see it in this picture, but it's not completely red, it has orange blotches all over it. I think I'll slice it up to try it at lunch today.

My battle to keep the basil from bolting is becoming increasingly difficult, so I've started pulling it. Going to make pesto this afternoon, and probably tomorrow as well when I pull the rest of the plants. Stick it in the freezer, and we'll have lots of pesto on hand for quick meals! I'll be interested to see if the purple basil tastes different from the regular basil.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The diaper stash

It's a rainbow! Of, well, diapers. Yeah. This is probably not that entertaining for the vast majority of people!

Why cloth diaper? Well, honestly, I just like sewing the diapers. But it is awfully nice not to have to spend money on disposables, and hey, they're pretty.

Brights. I have an orange one cut out, just haven't sewn it together yet. Not sure when that'll happen, the orange is VERY orange. But eventually when I sell these as second hand it would be nice to have the complete rainbow set.

These are all All in Two diapers, so they have a waterproof outer shell and an absorbant inner that fastens inside the diaper but is removeable so it dries faster. I use snaps because velcro is annoying (gets all tangled up in the washer and dryer).

Pastels! The baby approves, clearly.


My complete current stash, 100% made by me. On the right are a bunch of covers (which I really need to go through, there's a bunch of mediums in there that don't fit anymore) and the spare wetbags. Far left are a few fitteds that I use for nighttime since they are a bit more absorbant than the AI2s. Then there's the white AI2s and then the rainbows.

So, that should keep us set for diapers for a good long while! The really good thing about these is that a certain baby is becoming VERY wriggly, and I can actually pre fasten these and pull them on like pull ups if I have to.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009



The bigger one will go into BLTs tonight. The baby and I consumed the others on the spot. She cried when they were gone. I am so cruel to my children. The weather is calling for about 4 solid days of sun and heat, so hopefully there will be many more tomatoes in a few days!

What I have to figure out, however, is how you tell when a green tomato is ripe. I have a green zebra plant that is just loaded with tomatoes, but since they stay green, how do you know when they are ready? I picked one and took a bite, and they clearly aren't ready yet.

I think I'll give the carrots another week or so, but they're coming.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hey, I sewed!

Daughter # 1 is off to a birthday party this morning, so this will be going to the birthday girl:

(good lord, is my photography getting worse?? I think it is. I choose to blame the camera. Well, ironing the sheet I'm using for the background would no doubt help. I need to make a light box, is what.)

And I wanted to list something in the shop (with Etsy, search results are displayed with the most recently listed item first, so it's good to list items frequently to keep your shop towards the top of the list - even if they don't buy that particular item, it's always good to have eyeballs looking at your site!), but my brain was kind of fried last night so I went simple. A set of cloth wipes:

Once you go to cloth diapers, it's not a stretch to switch to cloth wipes, too, since you just chuck 'em in the wetbag along with the dirty diapers and wash it all at once. The nice thing about cloth wipes is they are much sturdier than the disposable ones, nice and soft (these are made of flannel), and I like to make them nice and big! They work great. I have a container full of cloth wipes next to the changing table, along with a squirt bottle of water. Just wet one with the bottle and you are ready to clean up the baby.

So these will be in the store. Probably will make up some more sets on those nights when I want to sew but don't have any strong inspiration. Or when my brain is foggy and sewing anything other than a straight line is a challenge!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


That sums it up. Not making a whole lot of progress on, well, anything at the moment, although I am almost done making large diapers for the baby. Three more to go, and I'm hoping to get those done tonight.

I'm having zero luck locating suitable strap fabric for L's Mei Tai, which is the thing I really need to finish soon, and I haven't found anything for other L's doll Mei Tai either. Time for a trip to the bigger fabric store, it looks like!

Pictures later of the garden - at least it makes progress no matter what I do!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A watched tomato never boils.

Or something like that. Eventually they have to turn red, right? At some point?

I mean, at the rate we are going here I'm going to have two weeks of eating nothing but tomatoes, then we'll get an early frost and that'll be that. Man, the weather has sucked this summer.