Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New and improved Rescue Bots bags

I decided that since Peter's other Transformers Rescue Bots bag didn't quite fit them all, a new bag was in order.  Since he and his bestie, Ben (who has a set of Rescue Bots of his own), haul those goofy things back and forth between each other's houses on a daily basis, Ben clearly needed one too.  I checked out my fabric stash and wasn't thrilled with the masculine options and took Peter fabric shopping.  That is how Peter's bag ended up with gaudy flaming motorcycles on it.  At least Ben's bag is a little cuter.

The bag fits all six full-sized Rescue Bots with plenty of room left over to throw in the mini figures as well!  Peter was so thrilled by the bag, which is made all the sewing worth it.

I used a pattern from the book Erin got me a while back -- the same one I used for Peter's Batman bag.  Again, while I do like the pattern, I thought the method of making the handles (which I actually followed this time, even though I LOATHE turning tubes) was goofy and the instructions for the drawstring were inane.  Again, I improvised my own drawstring casing structure and added a second drawstring so the bag could be opened and closed easier than with a drawstring stopper.

Peter's bag is lined in a black fabric with a subtle fur-like pattern that didn't photograph well.  Ben's bag is lined in the red version of the same fabric.

Can't wait to give Ben his bag this afternoon!  Now he and Peter can haul their Bots back and forth in style (rather than in the plastic grocery bags we usually use).

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cube pouch for the Rescue Bots

I saw a tutorial for Nesting Cubes and decided to use up some leftover "Cars" fabric to make Peter something to carry his Transformers Rescue Bots in when visiting his friends.  The cube is basically the same thing as the Brick Pouch I sewed last June, just with a bit different dimensions.  I made the smaller size cube (which ends up to be about 6" x 6" x 6", give or take a bit because of my seam allowance idiocy), which is juuuuuuuust big enough to fit four or five Rescue Bots.  I deviated from the tutorial in a couple of key areas, though.

It may look a little wonky in these photos, but that's because the pouch was already stuffed with Rescue Bots.  Here, you can see that I added tabs at the ends of the zipper (something not called for the in original Nesting Cubes tutorial).  I was having a difficult time understanding the directions for making the final seams during construction, consulted the Sweet Bee Buzzings tutorial for the Brick Pouch (which was much more in-depth and had more explanatory photos because Bethany is truly awesome), and decided Petey's cube needed the same tabs to help him with the zipper.  I am glad I had made the Brick Pouch before I tried this one, because the Nesting Cubes tutorial was a little vague in places.  I would say it is more an intermediate than a beginner tutorial.

Because of the tabs, I decided to switch the handles from their original location at the zipper ends of the bag and stuck them on the plain sides.  That way, they wouldn't fight with the tabs.  The handles that I made according to the tutorial directions ended up a tad too short (which threw everything off), so I had to rip apart the bag, make longer handles, and resew them in.  If I made the tutorial again, I would make the handles an inch or so longer than the tutorial calls for so that I can make sure they are the right length and just cut off the excess inside the seam allowance.  The fault is not the tutorial author's -- it's totally my own inability to accurately sew the proper width seam allowances.

The top view of the cube reveals that I should have offset the pattern a little by fussy cutting so that different characters would show up on each side!  I'm just glad I had the foresight to make sure that the directional pattern was going to right way so one side didn't end up upside down.

Look at all those Rescue Bots, just waiting to be dragged over to Peter's friends' houses!  The lining is some pale yellow cotton that I think I have had in my stash for well over a decade.  Wonder of all wonders, I actually used the fusible fleece as called for by the tutorial (instead of the felt stuck on with basting spray like I usually do), but I cheated and used a different interfacing than directed to give the lining its stiffness.  Close enough.

Hey Peter, can you please pose with your cube for a photo?  Nope, Mr. Grumpy (with his wonky post-nap-and-overdue-haircut-hair) refused to hold with anything but the armadillo that Auntie Ernie crocheted for him.  Well, okay then.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quilt as you go and self-binding summer table runner

I have read about the "quilt as you go" technique in many places.  Basically, it's where you sew the pieces to the batting and backing as you attach them together.  I had some more of the Robert Kaufman jelly roll left over and decided to try making a summery table runner for my kitchen island using that technique.  It was interesting to try, but not really all that much easier than piecing the top together and then quilting it to the felt.  Meh.

I added a bit of scrap denim at the ends because I thought that gave it a little interest.  The backing and binding are from an old sheet my friend, Kym, gave me to use for sewing.  The stripes are probably a little too busy for the runner, but I kind of like them.  If I made this again, I would probably use solid red for the backing and binding.

To amuse myself, I decided to try the binding technique where you cut the backing large enough to wrap around to the front to serve as binding (sometimes referred to as a "self-binding" method, which I think gives it way too much credit because it's make it sound like there's less work, which there really is not in my opinion).

The binding technique was cool enough, but I don't like how the mitered corners sort of gape open.  I swear I followed the directions exactly, but somehow this is still happening.  I'm not sure how to fix this, short of hand sewing them shut (GACK!  I hate hand sewing!) or stitching an ugly zig-zag to hold them together.  Hmm.  Will have to research to see if anyone else has a better solution.  I did think the binding technique was fun and want to try it again.

So, although summer is still WAAAAAAY off, we're going to just pretend it's just around the corner and put this puppy on the island now.  Maybe the weather will finally get the hint?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Odie's dresser scarf

My friend Kym's daughter, Odessa, has a brightly painted yellow room with lots of gorgeous colors.  I had some more fabric left over from the fabric bundle I had made my Easter-y table runner from, and it reminded me of Odie's bedroom.  I wanted to try the disappearing nine-patch pattern again (like the runner I made for Charlotte's dresser, and this is what I came up with.  Not sure if you call it a dresser scarf or a table runner if it's quilted like this!

I just used regular old store-bought extra-wide bias tape for the binding.  I hate how see-through it is, so I would definitely use a darker color if I made this again.  I just stitched in the ditch in the seams between the rows and columns of blocks because I figured something with piecing this busy didn't need a whole lot else going on.

I swear that the backing (some navy bottom-weight fabric) doesn't look this wrinkly in person.  You can see the quilting I did here a little better.

I hope Odie likes it!  Charlotte and Odie are very good buddies, and Charlotte declared that OF COURSE Odie will love it.  Good enough for me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wonder Women

My dear, sweet friend, Joslyne (whom I have yet to forgive for moving to Boston, even though that was about four years ago), shares my adoration of Wonder Woman as a horribly kitchy yet awesome heroine.  She is the author of the wonderful blog Fight Like a Mother, which is about her journey with fibromyalgia.  If anyone should be considered a heroine, it's someone trying to live life with fibromyalgia.  But I digress.  Joslyne's daughter, Zoey, was Charlotte's first BFF, and we look forward to reuniting them one day.

After I made Charlotte her Wonder Woman shirt, Joslyne got so excited about it that I knew I had to make some for her and Zoey.  Looks like they like them, huh?

I'm ashamed to admit that I made myself a matching pink Wonder Woman shirt but wasn't smart enough to try it on until AFTER I had washed it and stitched on the WW symbol.  The shirt turned out to be obscenely tight over my chest, so I gave it to Erin (who is still on MY LIST for being my identical twin yet weighing at least 25 pounds less than me).  So at least Erin and Joslyne (who have met and hung out and even planned a surprise baby shower for me together) can be matching Wonder Women.  Looks like I have to find myself a new blank t-shirt and get sewing so I can match too.  Let's hope we can all have a little Wonder Woman convention together again someday!

[By the way, Zoey, Charlotte is SO JEALOUS that you have already lost some teeth!  I'm just about ready to accidentally-on-purpose bonk Charlotte in the mouth just so she can lose a stinkin' tooth.  It's pretty hard for a six-year-old to be patient about such an important milestone!]

Cosmetics bags and a patchwork basket

We miss our Tennessee neighbors, the Marshalls, something fierce.  They were more than just neighbors or friends, and we will never have neighbors like them again.  Faith Carol still sends care packages to Charlotte and Peter, and I decided it was high time we sent her one back with some goodies for her whole family.  I finished these a few weeks ago, but a spring break road trip and general sloth prevented me from posting about them until now.

I was lucky enough to have won a giveaway through the awesome blog Sew Like My Mom (how hilarious is that name?), which included my choice of several patterns from Cozy Nest Design.  I had a really hard time picking between her innovative and adorable designs, but the one that I absolutely fell in love with was the Sweet Escapes Cosmetic Bag.  It's so retro and unexpected!  Like all southern women, Faith Carol loves her a monogram.  I experimented with some iron-on vinyl and came up with this:

How ridiculously cute did this turn out (if I do say so myself)?

I like that it opens up really wide.  You could fit a ridiculous amount of cosmetics in here.  Maybe even a travel hairdryer, too!

The elasticized pocket inside is very cute, but I had a hard time getting it to stay straight while I was sewing it on.  Let's hope FC doesn't notice that.

Here is a shot of the bag next to a very helpful cat.  He looks like he's contemplating whether he would fit inside.  No, Pacey.  Please stay out of the bag.  There is Peltex inside the bag, and it did kind of feel like I had wrestled an alligator by the time I worked my way through a few of the tricky parts.  The result was totally worth it, though.

To coordinate with the cosmetic bag, I sewed up a different one of the patterns from Cozy Nest Designs as well.  This is the Petal Pockets Cosmetic Bag, which I have actually sewn before because it is offered as a free pattern and tutorial on the CND blog.  This would be perfect for corralling the smaller cosmetics inside the big cosmetic bag.  I'm dying to try the larger Petal bags that coordinate with this little zipper pouch.

I lined the pouch with the polka dot material instead of selecting a third coordinating fabric.

And for Alicia, I sewed a version of Pink Penguin's Fabric Basket with slightly different piecework and a bit bigger dimensions.  For this, I used fabric that I also won through the Sew Like My Mom giveaway -- a jelly roll of Robert Kaufman polka dot prints I bought with the gift certificate I won from the Fat Quarter Shop.

I lined it with a scrap of home decor fabric left over from making the fabric storage bins for my mother-in-law.

For David, we sent some tire valve stem caps (or whatever they're called) with Ford Mustang logos on them, because David recently bought himself a Mustang (though a different year than Corey's Mustang).  For Dan, we sent lots of candy.

We love and miss all of you Marshalls, and we can't wait to see you this summer!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Adventures in iron-on vinyl

A crazy wallpaper-removal project and a super nasty stomach virus have SERIOUSLY cut into my sewing time lately.  It's not cool at all.  I do have a couple of things done and in development, but since they are surprises/gifts for people I can't share them just yet.  In the meantime, I got my hands on some iron-on vinyl and decided to try my hand at decorating some store-bought t-shirts for the kids.

First, I had to do something to pay homage to Peter's recently developed obsession with Transformers.  It is seriously a legitimate obsession.  Fueling the fire is the fact that my sweet husband still has all of the Transformers toys from his childhood, and the two of them play with them together every chance they get.  I love the simple graphic of the Transformers logo (the Autobots one, of course), so I dug out my neglected Silhouette and used it to cut out a turquoise version of the logo.

Peter had so much fun posing for the pictures that I just couldn't stop taking them.  Here he is, starting to "transform".

I'm so scared to wash the shirt, and I'm hoping I remember to turn it inside out.  I'm not sure what he was transforming into, but he sure took it seriously.

I probably broke every rule getting this stuff cut out properly.  I am not very confident with my Silhouette (and probably need a new blade for it, actually) and had to set the blade on the deepest depth to get it to actually cut all the way through the stupid vinyl even though the auto settings for the material indicated a much shallower cut.  Who knows what I'm doing wrong.  I just bought a roll of Cricut-brand iron-on vinyl at Jo-Ann's instead of ordering the Silhouette brand, so that could have been part of the problem.  Regardless, I finally got it to work and was thrilled with the result.

I think it's safe to say Petey Pie was thrilled as well.

I bought neon pink vinyl with the idea to make Charlotte her own Transformers shirt as well (she watches the show as much as Peter does!), but she wasn't interested.  After I got over my disappointment, I decided to find out what she wanted instead.  She asked for a big flower, so I just traced and hand-cut a flower on her vinyl.  We stuck a hand-cut turquoise center for the flower to give it a little more interest.  Here is Charlotte, modeling her "crazy smile" that drives me bonkers.  Her crazy hair in the photo makes her look even more insane, unfortunately.

The neon pink vinyl was the type that came as a single sheet (Tulip brand) that I picked up in a different aisle from the Cricut vinyl.  It does not seem to be as good of a quality, and if you look closely at it you can sort of see the black shirt behind.  I'm curious to see how it washes as compared to the turquoise.  Also, the mylar protective layer was difficult to pull off and left strange lines behind on the vinyl.  We'll see if those go away after a wash as well.  All in all, I was not impressed with the Tulip-brand iron-on vinyl and would splurge on the Cricut vinyl if I ever did this again.  When my niece and nephew see the Transformers shirt in a few weeks at Easter, I might have a couple of more orders on my hands, though!

Considering the expense of the vinyl (and the fact that Jo-Ann's coupons don't work on Cricut supplies), I will probably just stick to appliqué in the future.  I would like to try some freezer paper stenciling with fabric paint at some point, but I need to work my way through a long to-do list of sewing projects first!


Update!  After washing (inside out, on gentle cycle) and drying (on gentle as well), the shirts look okay, but not amazing.  I think I might just stick to appliqué.