Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Armed With Good Stuff



Zippers (of course):

I am ready to make bags.

(while also working on Menagerie, don't worry. 
I just finished annotating 166 photos.
That, my friends, is astounding unprocrastination.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Succumbed

I made a zippered bag after all.

Which can be worn three ways - 
over one shoulder, as in the first photo.

Or cross-body,

or split-strap backpack style.

It unzips

to a splash of lemon.

It was my reward for finishing two somewhat large other-sewing tasks, and making headway in annotating the 150++ photos for Menagerie. Sometimes a person chooses nutella, and sometimes a person chooses sewing a bag, is all I'm saying.

Anyway, are you getting excited about how much fun it is to sew zippered bags?

Especially zippered bags in Jessica Jones' new Time Warp barkcloth fabric?

You'll see a lot more bags in her glorious prints when we finally start this tutorial series. I can't wait!

And now, back to editing photos. Gnnhrnrrrnrnrrrrrr...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Send A Softie and Springtime Snapshots

Happy spring!

Let's sit awhile and chat (or "visit", as I've learned is said here in the US). I've missed you guys! This blog is about sewing and cardboard and general child-related adventures, both manic and sweet, but it is also about me and you and the things we are learning. So, what's new with you?

On my end, I have three biggish projects on the sewing table.

One is Menagerie, as you all know. And I took a very short hiatus from it last week, to work on project number two (see next para). But I returned to it today, and I'm making headway in editing the hundreds of photos! 

Project number two is a fun surprise that will go on sale very soon, fingers crossed. 

I think you will like it! It is a box full of useful fabric, is all I feel like saying right now. I've just finished sewing samples to check yardage and quality and durability and other QC-things, but it's close to completion, and then I will share more news.

The third thing is that bag-zipper tutorial series on which I've been desperate to embark since December. See- I've been zipper shopping around the world (okay, just Singapore and Minnesota) in preparation for it:

Sometimes the best things have to be put on hold for a little while, is how I rationalize my frustration at not being able to start yet. I love it when I find a niche in SewingTutorialBlogland that hasn't yet been filled, and I get to write my own angle on it. I tell myself that someday, when my girls are older and reading this blog for instruction (rather than the mere amusement it currently provides them), they will enjoy the weird, concept-heavy lessons therein and understand why their mother had those rabid seasons when all she did was sketch and cut and photograph and sew bizarre bits of things for weeks on end.

And finally, here's an encouragement to anyone who'd like to sew something to bless someone:

You can read more about the motivation behind it, as well as how-tos, here, but in a nutshell:
  • This is a soft toy donation drive that benefits kids in foster care.
  • The deadline is April 30  2015.
  • The team at Sew Mama Sew will be presenting these donated softies at the National Association of Foster Parents convention in June.
  • Send in new hand-made softies - fabric, crocheted, knitted, etc, for girls and boys, and little kids through teens.
  • Do not send in store-bought softies, unless they were themselves artisan hand-made.
  • Do not send in old or used softies.
  • Send in as many softies as you like, to the address on the SMS info page here.
  • Each softie you send in gets you an entry into a drawing for a beautiful Bamboletta doll (see it on the SMS info page as well).

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Two days' worth of template drawing = progress.

Although "progress" is relative, because #3 on a to-do list of 18 (that's only before the testing stage) is just a euphemism for "looooooooong way to go".

Friends, please don't let me give up and start sewing zippered bags. 
Because I really, really want to do that right now.
And I mustn't.
Which makes me think that zippered bags are like a drug.
Which I need.
But can't have.
Which makes me feel un-Whoo!
Which is a state of regress.
Which is the opposite of progress.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Here You Go

I'm home.

Singapore was great, but there's nothing quite like sleeping on your own bed. Or sleeping not-on-the plane. Or just sleeping, really. 

We're slowly coming out of the jet lag - it's always far worse coming home than going there - but the kids are back in school, the husband is back at work and I am . . . well, I'm doing whatever it is I do when everyone is out of the house. 

And one of those things is getting these guys together for a photoshoot. Because you all asked for a group shot, remember?

Here you go then:

This is where the animals live usually - in my gigantic light box (a post for another day). 

Poor things. 

Yesterday morning was lovely, so I released them outside for some fresh air. They were delirious with joy - check out all the slouching and posing and gossipping and faceplanting between takes. 

It wasn't easy getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time, but at least nobody stuck their tongue out and made silly faces. Well, nobody apart from the frog, anyway.

And yes, I'm working on the pattern! I worked on it on the plane, but there is still some way to go before everything is typed and drawn and measured and formatted. I'm aiming to finish before May, so let's see if I can avoid procrastinating long enough to do so!

Alas - I'm already distracted. 

Last night, I stayed up (thanks, jet lag) and conceptualized 16 bags for my new tutorial series. 

You guys are going to love it. 
It's all about zippers. You all love zippers, right?

I can't wait to share it with you! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Menagerie Pattern Coming Soon!

I am in Singapore now.

In other words, I'm procrastinating.
(Like you're surprised.)

However, here is a preview shot of Menagerie!

All those animals in one photo. All from that single base template. No kidding.

I'm working on this pattern, friends. I may be slacking off in the sunshine here, but I brought the pattern with me to slack off with. When I get back, it will go to the testing lab, and then I will let you know as soon as it's ready to buy. I just wanted to do a pre-release post with some info because I've received so many email messages from you guys asking if you'd missed the actual pattern in the deluge of daily creature-features. So no, nobody's missed the pattern. I've not finished it yet. I'm aiming for April sometime.  

Let me explain a few things about it first, though. 

1 Templates! Templates! Templates!
At the time of writing this post, there are 14 pages templates alone. Just templates! But then, that's 14 pages of templates for 17 critters. Which isn't a lot. Because, as we keep mentioning, it's just one base template and a lot of smaller add-ons and extensions. And the same construction sequence. Which means that by the time you've made a couple of these guys, you'll be able to do the rest in your sleep. 

2 Fabric
You don't need a lot of yardage for each animal - about 1/3 of a yard of fleece is sufficient. Obviously, you'll need more colors if you want to make all the different features and contrast panels, and you'll need wool felt or wool-blend felt for the smaller details. And while I made a few of my samples with fancy fur, you can really make them with regular fleece. I'll share the materials list soon.

3 Sewing Level
Can beginners sew these animals? I say yes- especially the simpler variations, although it really depends on what you mean by "beginner". The dragon, having lots of add-ons, and with that curved tail, will require a slightly more adventurous spirit. And remember that there are practically zero straight seams in this project. So if by "beginner" you mean "I've only ever sewn tote bags and zippered pouches and the occasional gathered skirt with elastic and I can't sew a curved seam" then this might be out of your current repertoire of skills. Go try the raccoon variation on Sew Mama Sew to see if you'll be okay with it. Most of the variations will be just like that. 

4 What's In The Pattern?
The Menagerie Pattern will obviously not be the same as the raccoon tutorial, because it's not raccoon-specific. After all, it has to teach you to make 17 different animals (and more). However, the pattern covers much more instruction than the tutorial, contains loads more photos (including detailed how-tos on those ears!) and focuses on the framework and concept of this base template. In other words, rather than paying for 17 repetitive tutorials on constructing the 17 animals, you learn how this base template accommodates the various parts of the animal - how to add limbs, ears, eyes, tails, how to make hooves, paws, bulgy patches, spines, horns, bills, and how to make flat, padded and filled shapes for wings, feet, tails. I wrote it to empower you to create your own animals from this base template, beyond the 17 I've included for inspiration. Think of it as learning to make just one project, but being equipped to turn it into many, many more.

My kids have been beyond thrilled to watch me turn out animal after animal in my sewing room. They were very disappointed when I announced that I was finally stopping! This is one of the pages from my drawing pad - you can see the original concept sketches and how the final versions may or may not have looked like them. You can also see some of the critters that I chose not to make, because they were too similar to some of the others that made the shortlist. 

I loved this project - it came out of nowhere and brought me and the kids so much joy during the horridest and boringest part of the winter. My favorite part was being able to involve my girls so much in the design process. They had so many wonderful ideas!  I found Kate's sketches and took some pictures to show you - it turns out that the fox was hers, after all! 

And she badly wanted a horse, but we never got round to making one. Maybe you can!

I hope you're as excited as I am for Menagerie. I can't wait to share it with you!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Raccoon on Sew Mama Sew!

Last of the menagerie- a raccoon!

Make this little guy on Sew Mama Sew today.

I think you'll love how easy he is to put together, and it'll give you an idea of what to expect with the Menagerie pattern. 

Here are shots of him with Kate, to give you an idea of how big he is. 

I'll tell you a little more about the pattern tomorrow!