Friday, April 27, 2012

A Suitable Purse

Our most recent challenge in Designer Group III  was to use suit jackets (men's or women's) to make a purse or tote.  And the point was to use the lapels, pockets, sleeve details, and other parts unique to the jackets as focal points on our bag.

I took my project outside to photograph it in sunlight, but the colors are a bit too bright.  The jackets I used were a solid green (with a bluish tint), a beige and green tiny check, and a gold, tan, and brown plaid.

I used the upper chest pocket for the front of the purse and added a "hankie" made from the gold and green linings.  That pocket will be a good size and location for my cell phone.  The lapel on the left front is stitched down and accented with the buttons from that jacket.

I used all three colors of the linings to make the piping that separates the various parts.  The right side of the purse front is the sleeve cuff - with added buttons) and that piece wraps around to the back.

The back of the purse is the lower pocket from the women's jacket (the gold plaid).  I added a snap to the inside of the pocket so it wouldn't gap open.  The button is just for looks. 

This shows the zipper and the facing made from the jacket lining.  I like zippers on my purses to keep me from losing stuff every time I set them down.  I used one inside jacket pocket as part of the purse lining and a stash piece of cotton for the rest.  Tabs at each side of the top edge allowed me to sew the strap on with more buttons and avoid having to sew through too many thick layers.

I am very happy with my results - nice color for spring, too.

Be sure to go to our group's blog to see the great variety of bags from all our other members.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


My sewing lately has been mending and trying to finish projects that have waiting WAY too long.  But I keep getting distracted by beads.

Here is a picture of a wall hanging I made for a friend. 

The fabric was pre-printed with 16 hearts in various patterns and colors of green, pink, peach. tan, and ecru.  I started by using embroidery floss and a stem stitch to enhance some of the vine-like patterns.  Variegated green floss and bullion stitch made a cute little rose and extended French knots made flowers to cover some icky colored dots.  White and green pearl cotton was couched over the grid pattern on two of the hearts.  And white floss made lazy daisy flowers to go with the white flower button and green French knots filled in the centers.

Then I put a layer of batting and muslin behind the fabric and started adding the beads and sequins.  See the pretty flower sequins in the lower left corner?  And I had a pink flower bead to add to them.  The ones that were the most fun to do were the 2 hearts that are totally covered in beads (they were ugly colors, so best to just hide them).  One has a white heart shaped bead in the center, green bugle beads and white and pink seed beads to fill the remainder of the area.  The one with the silver colored center was a plastic button.  I painted the embossed flowers on it with acrylic paint and then snapped off the shank and glued it to the fabric.

Here are close-up photos.

After the beading was done, I added my real backing fabric and hand quilted around each heart and along the grid lines that were already printed on the fabric.  Pink binding and it was done.  And done 4 days before her birthday - probably a record for me.

Now instead of making a purse for Designer Group III, I have been working on a beaded necklace inspired by Jenny Schu.  She came to talk to NTGM last week and brought many beautiful examples of her artwork.  Her techniques are wonderful, but her designs show what a true artist she is.  Gorgeous!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spectra Scarf

     I bought this as a kit at the CreativFestival in Toronto last October.  The pattern is by Stephen West and it was included with the yarn - Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn, color S241 and Ella Rae Lace Merino, color 8.   You can see the pattern here.
      I wet the starting end and "blocked" it (laid it on a towel and patted it to the shape I wanted) to see if it would look different.  You can't see the change in the photo, but it drapes much nicer and doesn't look as lumpy where the yarn changes from the Noro to the merino.
     I was working on it at CCC last week and my friend didn't want to leave until I got to the next color change.  Here you are, Brenda!  See the green!  BTW, the colors are much brighter in good light.  Next time we have sun, I'll take it outside and re-do the picture.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Finished Sweater-Coat

     The challenge for our designer group for February was to use wool sweaters to make a garment inspired by the ones at KatWise.  You can see what the rest of the group did at our Blog, but here is mine and my story.

      The photo on the left is on my dress form, but the outside picture shows the true colors better.  I was trying to show how it twirls, hence the blurry edges.

      This was definitely a challenge for me.  I spent a lot of time looking at pictures online, searching by the tag of "recycled sweater-coat", and I purchased the tutorial from KatWise.  One Etsy seller who had coats I really liked was Jill2Day (who has temporarily closed her shop on Etsy).  I knew early on that the long, very full skirt was not my style and the tightly cinched belted waist was not likely to be very flattering.  So I planned on an empire band and a flared skirt - sort of a swing coat type style.

     But when working with felted wool sweaters, having definite ideas about your finished product is not always the best way to go.  When I first cut the sweater for the bodice, the band seam was going to be just under the fullest part of the bust.  As you can see, it is now a waistband.  After serging all the panels together for the skirt with the exposed seams on the outside, I was very unhappy with how it looked.  Some were very wavy, some not so much - not a consistent look at all. 

     So I pulled out all the stitching and sewed them again using conventional right sides together and seams on the inside.  Then I steamed all the seams and pressed them into submission.  So my coat has no exposed raw edges or exposed seams and I am very happy with it now.  I used the ribbing from the lower edge of 2 sweaters to make the band at the bottom of the skirt.  And I removed the sleeves from the bodice sweater, enlarged the armhole opening, and made new sleeves that were not as snug.

     The collar was cut from a FairIsle sweater with a circular yoke.  It was quite tightly felted when I found it at the thrift store, so the cut edges were very stable and  I sewed it to the V-neck of the bodice sweater.  The front is closed with 2 extra large snaps. 

    So far all my sewing and knitting friends have liked it as much as I do.  Hubby thinks it looks like a "hippie" coat and daughter says it's "just weird".  But I am happy - and consider this to have been a great challenge.  Just one question.  How do people manage stacks of sweaters if they aren't lucky enough to have a cat to hold them down???

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pyramid purse

    When a friend spends two and a half hours wrapping you in duct tape and another half hour trying to cut you out of it, she deserves a thank you gift.  And having spotted her much-loved but very worn-looking coin purse last week, this seemed perfect.
    I found this pattern at CraftPassion and since we share a love for all things blue and yellow, I just happened to have fabric in my stash that was perfect for it.  The directions are very well written and if I had actually followed them, I wouldn't have bent a #16 needle trying to sew through the zipper.  But other than that small mishap, it was easy.  I think I'll do one for myself next.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Duct Tape dress form

    While I was pleased with my first attempt at a "Duct Tape Dress Form" 2 years ago, I realized as time went on, it had some serious flaws.  I had over-stuffed it and had not checked the measurements for accuracy as I should have.  My helpers had not marked the required plumb lines on the form before cutting it off me.  And the worst part was the upper chest and neck.  I had used a wooden hanger  at the top of the inner support and that made the neck much larger than it should have been and distorted the shape of the upper chest.

    So my best friend offered to help me re-do it (a huge thank you to you, Barb).  And here she is - the form, not my friend.

    I cut the original form down the middle of the front and back and down each side and then removed most of the stuffing.  I then taped the new form over the old one at the hips and filled the emptiness with the stuffing.

     All the plumb lines are still plumb and the measurements of the form are (almost) identical to mine.

    Notice I splurged on the bright yellow tape for the final layer.  I wasn't sure how much that roll would cover, so that's why the bottom is still silver.  The base used to hold an outdoor patio umbrella - heavy and very stable.  My husband helped me stabilize it all with a closet rod in the base of the stand and screws through the cardboard core of the form into the wooden rod.

    The only downside I can see, is that she is too heavy for me to carry, although I can slide her across the carpet.  So dear hubby carried her upstairs and she is now wearing the sweater destined to become the bodice of my KatWise inspired sweater coat.  Stay tuned for more.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Einstein Jacket

     I finally finished my Einstein coat/jacket that I started 6 months ago during our marathon vacation to the tip of the UP and back.  This is Sally Melville's famous pattern from her book The Knit Stitch.

     I made the medium size, but adjusted the number of stitches because I wasn't getting the gauge Sally specified.  I also used a tip I found in the Einstein group on Ravelry and shortened the height of the sleeve opening.  This reduced the amount of extra fabric under the arm and I am very happy with the way it fits.

     Instead of knitted in buttonholes, I made a short chain with my yarn and sewed in in place across from the buttons.  Hopefully, it shows well enough in the close up picture.

     I used Lion Brand Suede in the color fuschia.
     It's darker than the picture to the left, but not as dark as the full shot.

     I think it took about 14 balls, but I'll have to go count all the empty ball bands to be sure.  I only paid $1 a skein, so definitely a good investment.  The buttons came from  The Woodlot  and I found them last October at The CreativFestival in Toronto.

     I wore it last week to the CCC (Creative Clothing Club) meeting and got a few compliments.  The best knitter in our group even took notice of it - thanks Claudia!

     It's soft and warm, and my new favorite sweater!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Faux Chenille

   Just to help make this new blog a bit more interesting, I'll show you some of the things I made as Christmas presents.

    These 3 blankets were for my nephew's children.  I used the tutorial "Faux Chenille Blanket" from Dana at   made    The boys (ages 4 and almost 6) both love cars and trucks, so that made choosing their fabrics easy.  His daughter is only 18 months, so I chose pink cupcakes for her.

     I used four layers of flannel for the main part of the blankets - the print on the top which showed the stitching, and three layers which I cut through for the chenille.  Last Christmas my family gave me a rechargeable Black & Decker cutter which zipped through those 3 layers in no time at all.  The bindings were made from leftovers.  The orange was flannel cut on the bias, the pink was a stretchy "robe velour" about 20 years old, and the blue was a thin moleskin-like fabric which I also cut on the bias so it would curve around the corners easily.

     I also used this technique to make potholders.  I added a layer of cotton batting under the chicken fabric.  Then 4 layers of fabric, but I cut through only the top 3.  This left a flannel piece over the batting.  They are flexible, but thick enough to be effective potholders or trivets.

     And I  knitted 4 scarves from the Red Heart Sashay  yarn  I bought at the Creativ Festival in Toronto in October.  This was the only one I remembered to photograph before I gave it away.  Yes, that's my duct tape dress form wearing the scarf.

More to come....

Thursday, January 12, 2012


This blog is a new thing for me.  One of our newest members of DesignersIII suggested it, so here I am.  

I attended a wonderful lecture on Tuesday at NTGM (Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan).  Kathy Zasuwa spoke about creativity - you can see her biography on page 3 of     She spoke about what you can do to “make art” and how to overcome the obstacles that occur during the process of creating.

One of the ideas I liked best was surrounding yourself with people who nurture your creative side and encourage your art. I think that is a huge part of our Designer III Group and one of the things that makes our meetings so enjoyable.