Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lunch Bucket Pattern!

I am excited to say that the Lunch Bucket pattern is now available for purchase!

First, though, a shop update. 

Thank you all for stopping by to buy buckets yesterday! Nine of the dozen are in the post, on their way to good homes. There are still three left, if you'd like to adopt them. 

Some important technical information before I tell you more about the Lunch Bucket Pattern - and this is all based on exciting personal experience with selling you my patterns in the past. 

Like ALL my other sewing patterns,

1  it is a pdf pattern. 
This means you get an electronic file (a document) to download and print out yourself. This also means you need a printer and a program to read pdf documents, like adobe reader. You can download adobe for free - there is a link in the Patterns For Sale page here. You will also need to supply your own letter-size printer paper. Please, please do not wait weeks for something to arrive in the post and then file a formal complaint with paypal or somebody, saying I didn't deliver the goods. I will not contribute to the histrionics by hiring a lawyer to sue you back in court but shall we agree to save ourselves the unnecessary waiting (you) and the heartache of dealing with claims department staff (me)? You will get an email link, not a package. If you don't get the email, and you've checked your spam folder, you most certainly should contact me to say so. My email is in my sidebar at left. I check my email at least 10 times a day, people, and even more often just after releasing a pattern, because I believe in Murphy's Law.  The bottomline is this: if you paid for my pattern(s), I will find a way to get you those pattern files, OK?

2 it is an instant download pattern.
This means that once you've paid for the pattern, you'll get an email with a download link in it. Do not click on that link UNTIL you are at the computer onto which you want that file to go and get saved. Here are just a few things people have wrongly done with that link:
  • clicked on it to "check" that it was working.
  • clicked on it while they were reading that email on their iphones or other portable devices.
  • clicked on it while on their work (when they wanted it on their home) computers.
  • clicked on it to "open" rather than "save".
The same fate befell them all: the file downloaded immediately and went to the wrong place and that was the end of it. Or it literally opened for them to take a look and then disappeared forever when they closed that screen. They couldn't download it again and so they freaked out. If this happens to you because you ignored my warnings, fear not. I am merciful to ye that are fallible. Just email me and we will get you the pattern again. I only ask that you not be rude or -at the very least- civil. I will not be rude back because I am not like you, but you need to remember that it was a misunderstanding, with most of the misunderstanding not being on my end.

3 it downloads best if you avoid using Internet Explorer.
I am soooooooo tired of telling people this, especially since they can easily download superior web browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox for free. I am not saying those other web browsers are bug-free, or that all IE users are doomed to have failed pattern downloads, especially if newer versions of IE have fixed the bugs in question. I am saying that in almost 100% of the download failure panic emails I have received, the web-browsers have been IE. I'm just sharing statistics here, friends.
Now, suppose you have IE and have no way of using anything else, fear not. Of course you can still buy my patterns. Just don't be surprised if the download hangs or crashes totally. When you try to download the thing again, it won't work, because well, see explanation above. In this case, email me. We will get you your pattern some other way. Again, there is no need to be rude. And I will not say, "I told you so" because I know you are already in hysterics. I empathize- computers drive me bonkers, too. Just remember to direct your wrath at the appropriate recipient (IE).

4 there is currently no commercial license to sell items made from this pattern for profit.
This means that by buying my patterns, you are agreeing to only use them to make items for personal use or as gifts. It says so on the cover. This does not mean I am forever not considering making a license available for the Lunch Bucket. However, there is work to be done (including forwarding drafts to a legal source etc) before that becomes a reality. If/when that license becomes available, it will be a separate thing from the actual pattern and not a package deal. This is so that you can buy the pattern first, with no strings attached, at a decent price, and try it out before deciding if it's something you want to mass-produce to the point of insanity or not (although I've done it, and it's fun). 

Now for some info specific to the Lunch Bucket Pattern. Here are some questions I anticipate:

Q: What sewing level is it suitable for?
A: Someday I will write an entire blog post on how this particular label (i.e. "sewing level") annoys the living daylights out of me. But that is a tirade for another day. Now, re: the Lunch Bucket. I will not say if this pattern is suitable for beginners/intermediate/advanced level seamstresses. That is not a helpful way for people to decide if the pattern is within their current sewing ability or not. I will say this instead:
You do not need to be experienced in bag-sewing to use this pattern. I wrote it for people with little bag-sewing experience. This means words like lining, piping, home-dec fabric, drawstring and oilcloth may be new to you and you will still be able to make a Lunch Bucket with this pattern IF you already have some experience using a sewing machine. Specifically, you are expected to have the ability to

  • sew straight seams
  • sew curved seams
  • sew a straight edge to a curved edge - the pattern has instructions, of course, but those shouldn't be your first experience of this technique.
  • backstitch
  • top-stitch
  • use an iron
  • use a measuring tape
  • hand-sew buttons
  • sew buttonholes (or substitute these with some other way of fastening something - the pattern has suggestions)
  • snip/notch seam allowances
  • bind edges (like with bias tape)
  • know how to tell if fabric print is the right-way up or not

While the pattern includes detailed instructions and photos for every step of the construction, including making and attaching piping (because that's sort of a non-typical sewing skill) it will not make detours into mini-tutorials.

Q: What's it like, this pattern?
A: It has 18 pages of instructions, 6 pages of full-size templates (some of which need to be assembled with tape), 40 full-color, annotated photos and 2 diagrams. The price is $10. 

Q: Do you need a sewing machine or can I hand-sew the Lunch Bucket?
A: You will need a sewing machine to make the Lunch Bucket. If it comes with a free arm, that's even better, but there are ways to make the bucket without a free arm, and the pattern will show you how. You will also need a regular presser foot, a zipper foot and a buttonhole foot (or hand-sew the buttonholes, or choose an alternative fastener, some suggestions of which are included in the pattern). No other special/out-of-the-ordinary sewing equipment is needed.

Q: What sort of fabric should I use? Do I need any unusual materials? 
A:  You will need to be willing to use fabric that is heavier-duty than quilting cotton, for the outer layer of the bucket. I recommend canvas or duckcloth but home-dec weight is good, too. You can use (and I did) quilting cotton for the accent portions of the bucket, like the colorful band around the bucket, and the trim on the strap. Here is the materials list:
Here, I will introduce you to the precursor of the Lunch Bucket - the prototype, if you will. Let's go back about two decades back into the past to meet the original Bucket at the end of this post:

I still have -and love -my prototype bucket! It's a little different from the modern lunch buckets in that it has no interfacing, piping or handle, and holds its shape because of a layer of 600 denier nylon packcloth and some batting. So, unlike interfacing (which creases) I could fold it and morph it without it getting softer or crumpled over time. Plus, it's waterproof. I use this packcloth in my wallets, which makes them feel like real wallets and billfolds, not homemade interfaced-fabric wallets, and I'd pick this to stabilize my bags any time over any kind of interfacing. BUT I did not use it for the modern lunch buckets because it is sort of a specialty upholstery fabric that is best bought by touch, from odd, industrial-warehouse-type places most people don't pass by on their way to the supermarket. And there are so many grades and finishes (not to mention color) that I couldn't recommend online stores just based on their feeble descriptions of possibly-similar materials. 

Is there a point to all that? Yes - it was to say that when you sew bags and buckets, it is possible to improvise different materials to get the structure you want. You shouldn't be frightened or intimidated by what people say you should use. I doubt if anyone in blogland has used waterproof packcloth for their fabric buckets, or lined their backpacks with old bassinet mattress protectors, but those are the best stabilizers I've ever used for mine - certainly beyond superior to any kind of typical interfacing. 

So back to the Lunch Bucket pattern and the list of recommended materials: I picked materials that are easily available and familiar to most people. But it is completely possible to experiment with other materials, too. Especially if you are adventurous. Even features of the bucket can be substituted or omitted. If you are terrified of buttonholes, for instance, you can always use something else, or sew the strap directly onto the bucket itself, for instance. 

And finally, the Lunch Bucket pattern was tested by my lovely friend Grandma G. Some of you might know her as the mother of Jessica Jones, the fabric designer extraordinaire who blogs at How About Orange. Grandma G is an amazing, talented, assiduous seamstress, with impeccable workmanship and a very sharp eye for detail - all things that make a good pattern tester! Thank you again, Grandma G! You can read her post and check out the bucket she made from the alpha version of the pattern here

So...... you're probably saying, "Shut up already and let us buy the pattern!" Right - here's the page where you can get the pattern. And guess what? All that wordy stuff at the top of that page that you're supposed to read before buying? I already made you read it in this post, so you can skip to the bit where you can go shopping! You're welcome.

Again, if anything goes wrong, email me. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lunch Buckets In The Shop!

Finally, finally, there is something in my shop
one dozen Lunch Buckets, in all kinds of designer prints.

 Check out the gallery of familiar names:


Jessica Jones, Amy Butler, Heather Ross,

Rashida Coleman-Hale, Robert Kaufman, Michael Miller.... I didn't even know half the names before I listed the buckets in the shop. I thought completely solid buckets weren't quite as fun and just picked some prints that looked nice. I had to google them to find out their names, designers and manufacturers! 

I have a favorite among them. Did you spot it?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is quite possibly the first time there has actually been an ikat bag on this blog. 

Although.... it isn't real ikat because it's ikat print. Grrrr. Now, you probably know that ikat designs are everywhere these days, because people are finally catching on that it's superior. However, almost all of those are ikat print. Which lowers the superiorness somewhat. As I said earlier, grrrrrr. Still, an ikat print bag is better than none at all.

Not to make the other eleven feel inferior in any way, let me just say that I like them, too. 

There are buckets for kids,

buckets in ocean and stone,

and buckets for lovers of sunsets.

All those pretty buttons!

And wipe-clean linings! I used oilcloth, laminated cotton, thermaflec (that silver ironing board fabric).

And covers.

And straps.

And piping. 
Oh, piping
Thin piping, 
thick piping, 
solid piping, 
gingham piping,
print piping,
coordinated piping.
And aligned piping. 
Want to know a secret?  Sewing with print fabric is not for the faint of heart. You have to treat print with respect (which is why I use solids most of the time). 

So.... I made these buckets for three reasons:
One, I haven't mass-produced anything in a while, and it felt like I was unhealthily repressing something. 

Two, when I first made that Owl Lunch Bucket, people wrote to ask me to sell them.

Three, people have been asking and asking for instructions to make their own Lunch Buckets. So I made you a pattern!

It will be on sale soon. Very soon, I promise! It's just back from the testing department and I'll tell you more about it in a few days. But that's why I made 16 buckets. Nothing like doing something 16 times to be sure it works, right?

OK, an update on the specs - they are all in the individual listing descriptions, but I'll mention them here, too: These buckets are 7" across and 7" high to the rim. With the strap up, they are about 13" tall. They're canvas or duckcloth on the outside and lined with either oilcloth, laminated cotton or thermaflec on the inside. The individual listings will tell you exactly which fabric is on the inside - they're different for different buckets - along with other details.

And now, let me invite you to the shop so you can take some of these home! 

Gifts for Teachers Part II

Finally finished the second half of the girls' Teacher Gifts. I doubt if you even remember Part I, it was so long ago. 

These are Lunch Buckets, similar to the Owl Bucket I made ages ago. I always try to give teachers something practical at the end of the year and this usually turns out to be some sort of receptacle, like last year's wallet-to-tote, 2010's insane market baskets and 2009's reversible tote bags.

With the graduating classes, I also try to include the kids' artwork. No reason other than me being sentimental. And also a retired teacher. Who was sentimental about the kids she said goodbye to. Even though her kids were 18 years old, and couldn't technically be called kids, especially since many of the boys physically towered over her. 

Back to the present -this mustard bucket was for Jenna's teacher. This is Jenna's last year of preschool so I got the kids to draw themselves on fabric patches, which I put on a bucket, surrounded by copious amounts of piping. There were only six kids in her class this year, which is awesome for any class, but especially for a preschool class. 

Kate's teachers, who will get to see her again next year, got regular print buckets in their favorite colors.

I especially like this next one, because I've always loved yellow and this chrome yellow is absolutely delicious.

That last floral bucket in the photo below is for Emily's teacher, who will get it in two weeks, when Emily is done with school. 

The buckets are lined with oilcloth, laminated cotton or thermaflec, so they can be wiped clean if they get food on them. But they can also double as pails for craft supplies, a knitting project, small toys or anything else their teachers find use for. 

These four are for the teachers, but wait till you see the ones I've put in the shop for you! They're not there yet (must take photos and we've been having deluge after deluge of rain recently) but they will be very soon! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scenes from Our Home

What a blessing older siblings are.

A couple of days ago, Emily set up a crafting station in her room and invited her little sisters to make a craft.

"We're making ice cream cones!" she advertised excitedly. They crafted till bedtime, and this morning, while Emily was at school, Kate and Jenna continued.

She raided my art supplies closet to set it up, but it was for a good cause. 

This afternoon, she set up an incredibly elaborate and messy painting station at the kitchen table. It involved every single palette we owned, plus our stamp pads, all our paintbrushes and our entire set of tempera paint bottles. It was wonderful and chaotic all at once. I had to clean up big time after, in spite of them helping. Paint is that way. No complaints, though. It kept the girls occupied for a long time while I sewed on the deck swing and played music videos.

This morning, she asked me if I remembered when I would set up craft stations on the coffee table late at night for her to find the next morning. "So we could make a craft while you slept?"
I remember. How was it possible that I was that organized, with one child nursing and two in diapers? Must've been the nutella. 

These days though, the Oldest Sibling has inherited that job. 

And I am punching my fist in the air, saying, "Yessss!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Made straps this week. I love sewing straps so much. And I can never take enough photos of them, like this time and this time. Or this time or this time

Especially when they're fancy and colorful.

and I can do as much top-stitching as I like

and stack them up

and turn them into rainbows

and make them stand to attention. We do not make flaccid straps in chez ikatbag (unless they're mistakes). 

And that's just the straps, although they could be a stand-alone (pardon the pun) project, they're so yummy. They're part of something else, which I will share soon!