I've seen the #MakeNine challenge around on Instagram for a few years now, but I've never participated before this year. Usually I have waaayyy more than 9 projects that I want to accomplish in a year. And to be honest, I still do have more than 9 for 2019 as well. But the problem with having SO MANY ideas and plans is that it is SO EASY to get side tracked and bounce around from one thing to the next. Which is exactly what I do. So in any given year I do make a lot of things, but I also start and never finish a lot of things, and I often have projects that end up on my to-do list for years that I keep meaning to do.
Which is why I have decided to partake in the #MakeNine challenge this year!
Of all the holidays, Halloween has always been my favorite. And of all the silly things that Eddie and I have been excited for about having a baby, dressing up for Halloween was one at the top of the list. which is why i decided to make two costumes this year. Which is slightly insane. I'm definitely the person who ends up finishing a costume on Halloween night, if at all. But I couldn't resist aiming high! And believe it or not, I finished them both. Before Halloween! It's a Halloween miracle!
For those of you who are new around here, I live in Indiana. And I love where I live. Soooo I tend to create a lot of fun little projects that use the shape of Indiana. And I recently realized that Indiana makes a perfect tote bag shape!
For those of you who are NOT new around here, this newest creation will come as no surprise. I'll admit, I am slightly obsessed.
This is a guest post by Sonia Spence over at Fabric & Flowers. Go check out her awesome blog full of tips, tutorials, and patterns!
When I send out my patterns during the testing stage, I always make sure to tell my testers that they should go ahead and make any changes that they want to the pattern. I do this so that my testers can end up with a finished product that they actually love and will actually use! I also do this because I find it so inspiring to see all the different ways that people can take my patterns and make them their own.
This blog post is going to highlight some of my testers, their bags, their thoughts on their bags, and some of the changes that you can make to The Huxley Bag!
Make it your own:
I didn’t use leather over the webbing, also no rivets, I sewed boxes with an x in the middle rather than rivets
That pattern is amazing. I have gotten so many compliments on the bag this week. I make all my bags, but this one people have been surprised to know I made. I am happy to know that it worked using home dec and canvas fabrics in addition to leather.
I posted a pic of it on my FB page and all my friends were so impressed and said the bag looked awesome! Great design is also what my husband said, so I'm so happy I was selected to try this pattern. Given how complex the bag looks, and the big package I printed for instructions, I thought the sewing was going to be super complex. To my surprise, it was much easier than I imagined. My husband keeps saying he's surprised I finished it as soon as I did. :)
Make it your own:
Use a contrasting fabric for the front.
Make it your own:
Used one rivet instead of two on the straps, and added an inside zipper pocket to the lining.
The waxed canvas is great and holds the bag shape
I found the conversion great! Ingenious idea! Someone asked me if I was going to start producing them (I said NO!!)
I would advise anyone making this to spend time cutting out this whole pattern before starting to sew. If you leave parts for later you really need motivation to go back and cut. Besides that, it brings you to a halt if you are being especially productive! I also recommend using a walking foot to sew cork. I changed to a regular foot at one point and actually curled one of the straps! I won't make that mistake again! Last, but not least, always put a thick board under your anvil when you are installing your rivets. Otherwise, you will hammer a hole in your nice Ikea tabletop! Don't ask how I know this!
I was a bit intimidated by this pattern because it held a lot of new-to-me skills. I'd never used leather (or cork) before and I'd never used rivets or this type of snaps either. I've discovered that I LOVE rivets! I plan to use more cork in my bags because it makes everything look so professional! Thanks for making me try something new!
Make it Your own:
Love the idea of converting the straps to have a multi functional bag. Plus, with it having detachable straps, you can also make different ones and interchange them.
I think you did a great job with this pattern! It was fun and challenging but not too hard. I think with the leather/webbing parts, I overthought a lot of it but once I started to change a few things and make it my own, the project was a breeze! I was so happy seeing the final product at the end.
My foot did not like the faux suede. For the topstitch on the flap, I actually had to put paper on top of the bag to sew it and then peel the paper off. It helped make for a smoother line.
Make it Your own:
I only used one snap on the front straps and I left off the bike straps and made the bag so it's just a cross body/backpack.
I would say this pattern is the hardest I've ever completed; I found it to be harder than a button-up, but maybe that's my pregnancy brain. I really like the end product (it looks so professional and makes my awl wound acceptable lol) and can't wait to use it for school and as a small diaper bag.
I'm happy to report that it fits my wallet, phone, changing pad, 2 pacifiers, 2 onesies, a swaddling blanket, 5 disposal diapers, a full pack of wipes, and an adult shirt. It also comfortably fits my husband (he's happy to wear it).
Make it your own:
I did a fusion of the two styles (zippers plus flap). I used denim rather than leather. For the straps, I used a double layer of a decorative trim I had on hand (rather than covering with leather). The trim was 1 ¼”, so I needed to get wider hardware. I used a scrap of ultrasuede for the reinforcement and strap for the technology pocket, zipper pulls, and (double layer) for the guide for straps on the front.
My tween daughter LOVES the sample that I am making.
Here are some more modifications that I've thought of, or seen pop up on the #HuxleyBag on Instagram:
- Leave off the front straps and handle for a minimalist look
- Print your own fabric with a site like Spoonflower
- Use a fabric or article of clothing with special significance (like dad's leather jacket)
- Use velcro for your closure
- Add in more pockets
- Get rid of pockets you don't want
- Add in more rivets or studs as decoration
- Use a contrasting topstitching
I want to see what else you all can come up with for your own Huxley bags! Keep tagging me on instagram!
Along with having a baby in July, we also moved apartments. I'll spare you the long dramatic story of the stressful moving. Here's the short version: newborn baby + postpartum packing + new apartment issues + cockroaches + moving everything we own three times + breaking the new lease + living out of an empty apartment + finding a new apartment last minute. Fun stuff. But the end result is that we now have a great new apartment in the suburbs of Indianapolis. And it has TWO BEDROOMS. Yaaasssss!
With all of my business stuff taking up so much room in our apartment, we knew that adding in Finnegan and all his baby stuff would mean needing more space than our downtown one bedroom. And because Finn is sleeping in our bedroom, and doesn't actually need his own space yet (we rarely tell him to "Go to your room!") the second bedroom is officially the craft room! And I cannot be more excited. I've never actually had a craft room before!
Between lots of feedings and nap times, I've finally managed to put all of my stuff into some sort of semblance of organization, and I'm ready to give you a tour!
Starting off on the right side of the room, I've set up my industrial machine, along with giant cork boards on the righthand wall. The space in front of the wall is where I'll put up my 6 foot folding table when I need to, for cutting and paper patterning days.
To the left of my industrial machine is the desk, which is actually a shared desk for both me and my husband.
Just to the left of the desk, I have my large paper patterns. These are my own designs, and also the printed out PDF patterns that I've bought. I roll them up, rubber band them, write the name of the pattern on the outside, and store them standing up in this laundry basket, along with my large roll of patterning paper.
I also have my new magnetic sweeper stored here. It's a telescopic pick up tool meant for nails and screws that I got from the hardware store. I use it to sweep along the floor and pick up any loose pins that I may have dropped before I vacuum (or before Finn comes in to play).
Next is the big utility shelf in the corner. On the bottom I have all of my sewing books and magazines, along with my camera. The next shelf has my serger and our filing box. Up one more has four cute baskets full of different odds and ends (one is full of zippers, one is full of everything I need to tag and price my physical products, etc etc). The top shelf has my Huskystar sewing machine, the printer, and the large basket full of all my shipping supplies.
The setup to the left of the utility shelf is kind of a catch all storage unit. Anything from needles to rivets to chalk paint to elastic to buttons to glue is stored here. The top part is a hardware organizer that I picked up at the thrift store and the white middle section is actually a shoe cubby, and my colorful boxes that I use for drawers? Kleenex boxes. It's the only thing that I could find tat was the right size when I first set it up.
To the left again, we have the kit shelf (also I store my rulers in between these two shelves). All my DIY kits that are ready to go, along with the supplies I need to put the kits together are stored here. And then also my notebooks and my enveloped sewing patterns.
The last wall of my craft room has my mannequin, my spinning wheel, and the rocking chair (according to Eddie it's so that he can feed and rock Finn while visiting with me while I work. Or vice versa.)
Hidden behind the rocking chair is the closet for this room. Which is STUFFED with all the rest of my sewing supplies. It actually reminds me of this dorky show I used to watch as a kid called Zaboomafoo with this now-terrifying puppet lemur. The Kratt brothers would always have to get into this closet to find something and everything would fall out every time. I'm not QUITE at that point yet, but I'm gonna have to watch myself. Here's a peek inside. The baskets have different types of fabrics in them that go to specific products, and the hangers are full of the rest of my selection of fabrics (that I have here with me. I have a ton more at my parents house. Sorry mom! I love you!) The top shelf of the closet is full of already made products ready to be shipped out or head to a craft show.
Whew! That's the deep dive into my current organizational setup. I'd love to answer any questions you guys have, or hear how you organize things like fabric and patterns. I love to get new ideas from other people, and I'm sure that we will be completely reorganizing once Finn actually needs his own room. But for now I'm super excited to have this space to keep all of my work in one place and keep it from taking over the entire apartment again! Ok except for my rolls of fabric. Those are under the bed. But that doesn't count, right?
I've been so excited to write this blog post because it's about my first time helping someone test a pattern. I didn't know people in the sewing community did that for each other! I've been discovering a wonderful group of people on Instagram and one of the people I follow is @GoheenDesigns. One of her posts said: "Pattern Testers Needed!!"
So I thought to myself "what's the worse that could happen?" and decided to write and said I'd be willing to volunteer. My fear was that this bag looks soooo complicated to make, and as y'all know - I'm still a beginner-ish at the art of sewing. But even with that, Madeline (owner of Goheen Designs) said she would love for me to try it.
I received the instructions on May 4th and she said she would be interested in getting all feedback back by the 28th. With me going on a trip to Orlando on the 24th for the rest of the month, I needed to get working on this right away. I wanted to make sure that if I found it too challenging, I would have that feedback for Madeline before I left for Orlando.
THE PATTERN FILE
I received an email from Madeline with a ZIP file. Within the Zip file, there were 8 files: 2 A0 format files, 2 Tiled, and 2 Wide format files. There were 2 files of each because the Huxley bag gives you a Large and a Small version of the bags. In addition to the patterns, there was a file with instructions (all 47 pages of it!), and a file with testing parameters.
I decided, based on the suggestions in the instructions that I will go with the View A in Large. Why? Because the instructions had the View A as the primary, with the zipper option as the alternative view. And Large because I wanted to use it for my Mac laptop and the instructions suggested to use the Large version if I wanted to make one that fits a laptop. Once I find some free time, I might try the alternate view and make the one with the zipper, I've seen some pictures online already of this view and it's also oh-so-pretty.
PRINTING THE PATTERN
The next day, I went over to FedEx office to get print the pattern out in wide format. I've never done this, and I don't even remember the last time I went to FedEx/Kinkos to get something printed. It was probably 10+ years ago when I had to do a school project. Anyway, the rep knew exactly what to do with the file I provided and soon after, I was walking out of the store with this really long print out that was rolled very nicely. Wow, did this exercise just saved me an hour of printing out, cutting and taping the pattern? Yes it sure did! Totally worth it! FedEx charged me like 12 bucks for it, so yes, definitely worth it!
When I first started reading the instructions, I got really scared! I've never seen sewing instructions that would take 40+ pages to describe, so it was really overwhelming. But when I showed it to the beau and he said in a nonchalant tone of voice: "this will be so great for you babe, you'll learn so much going through it", this alone encouraged me to move forward and instead of overwhelm feelings, I was now super excited! I immediately went upstairs to my fabric stash to see which fabrics I will be using for the bag, soon to realize I didn't even know how much I needed of each. Oopsie - back down to read the instructions. :)
Once I started with the instructions page by page, it didn't seem as scary anymore. It's like when you have a huge project and if you look at the big picture, it can get very overwhelming. But if you break it into sub-tasks, you're like "I've got this". This is how I tackled this pattern testing as well. I started thinking - "ok, let's do page 1 and 2", and next thing I knew, I was done and onto page 3. The directions were super clear and easy to follow. I did have a small hiccup with the handle reinforcement, but a quick email to Madeline and a fast response, straighten my confusion and was able to move forward in no time.
MATERIALS I USED:
THE HARDEST PART
Believe it or not, it was the rivets. I've never used rivets before, and I didn't know which tools to use. I googled and youtube'd several resources and at the end, I was still confused. I purchased a set of snap and rivets setters kit on Amazon based on this YouTube video on How to Set Rivets, but when I tried using the tools, mine didn't come out good at all. When I used the hammer alone, it came out ok. I mean, it totally makes sense to use a tool that's concave so that when you hit the rivets with the hammer, it doesn't flatten the cap. Perhaps I had rivets that didn't need the concave tool? Or maybe I had the wrong tool? I don't know, I'm still confused about this one...
And here is the result of this pattern test - I am in LOVE with it. It's super cool that you can switch how you wear the bag from one shoulder (messenger type) to backpack to hooking it on your bike and go! I've gotten so many compliments already from my friends and I'm sure this pattern will be such a good seller! In all honesty, it's a really good challenge and I feel like I've learn many more useful skills now that I've gone through this. Yes rivets - I'm looking at you!
All in all, the project took me about 10 days from start to finish. But it's not like I worked on this bag every single day. I didn't have all the materials, so some days I'd be sitting here just waiting for the items to arrive. And other days - well, I got distracted with other sewing projects. :) I would say though, if I did this continuously - it probably took me 3-4 days to finish.
What do you guys think? Like the bag? Want to join the challenge? If you're interested in sewing your own Huxley bag, head over to GoheenDesigns|Huxley as she has now officially launched the pattern! Hurray!
Sometimes it is so exciting to create a totally new me-made garment! That excitement can get other things pushed to the bottom of the list, like repairing the clothing I already have.
I'm pretty good at repairing anything me-made, I think because I really appreciate those pieces more. But I've been trying to get better at repairing, altering, and refashioning not just the things I've made, but the rest of the clothing in my closet as well. I've been doing better (see my invisible jeans mending post) but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
I would say that about 80% of my closet is second hand clothing, which I love, but they often come with little things wrong with them that, if I fixed them, would make me love them even more. A lot of them are easy fixes too! But my intentions to fix them often end up leaving me with a pile of mending that sits there for months at a time.
Me Made May has been very inspiring for me in terms of finally getting these things mended and altered. I decided that since my me-made wardrobe is pretty limited while I'm pregnant, that I would include
wearing things that I've mended and altered as well as the completely self made pieces. And I'm loving it! It has really motivated me to do those
alterations, and to appreciate those pieces more!
Here are a few examples of my alterations:
The polka dot top:
I got this shirt at a second and shop, and I love the color and pattern, and the style of the shirt! Whenever I go swing dancing, it always pops into my head as a perfect little retro looking top to wear. The problem is, with swing dancing (as with many things in life) you have to be able to raise your arms with ease. And this shirt did not allow for that. What an easy fix! I just had to take off the sleeves, and turn under the raw edges. And yet... it sat in my mend pile for about a year before I touched it.
The Striped Dress:
This dress is another second hand piece of clothing that just wasn't quite right. It was a strapless dress, but had absolutely no support on top, which led to a lot of yanking up to make sure everything was covered. On top of that, the white of the bust area was not only slightly see through, but also had some staining in the pits.
Solution: take off the top!
This was another really simple fix. I seam ripped the top from the bottom, cut the zipper down, (safety pinned the zipper down so I wouldn't accidentally pull it off during alterations) and then hand tacked the zipper in place and a hook and eye at the top of the elastic. Voila! Skirt.
Altering the ready to wear clothing that I already have is such a quick easy sewing project. Sometimes it's nice to sit down and be able to accomplish an entire project in a half hour. I also feel like RTW clothing often gets the short end of the stick. I know the quality isn't always great, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be using all the discarded second hand clothing that already exists. Wear it out. And then repair it! RTW deserves to be repaired too! I just need to make it more of a priority....
I've got a great little downloadable freebie for you guys!
I've always loved the idea of Me-Made-May, but I've always been intimidated by it. For those of you who don't know, MMMay is a challenge started by Zoe Edwards of SoZo to help sewists develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe. It is a huge deal on instagram every year, because most people pledge to wear all handmade for the entire month, and post a selfie every day on instagram using the #MMMay18
Which is super intimidating right?? My handmade wardrobe is not nearly filled out enough to wear only handmade all month. And posting a picture of myself every day to instagram is quite a commitment for me.
But then, I listened to episode 38 of the Love to Sew Podcast, which featured Zoe and the MMMay challenge. And Zoe emphasized that this challenge is NOT a photo challenge, and it is NOT the same challenge for different people. You get to choose what you want to challenge yourself to do. You don't have to wear me-mades from head to toe. And you don't have to post an instagram selfie every day. You can track your challenge however you want!
So of course, my mind jumped straight to bullet journaling!
I'm obsessed with my bullet journal, and I love creating new spreads to help me keep track of my life, so I whipped up a few pages to help me track my newly inspired MMMay!
I made a page for writing down my pledge, and another with a space to review at the end of the month. I also created a fun spread for cataloging my handmade closet!
I made a monthly overview spread, to make sure I had a place to mark off each day that I succeeded (I love crossing things off) and to write out any big events that may affect what I'm wearing that day.
Lastly, I created spreads for the individual weeks. Each day gets its own space where I can draw up a little flat sketch of my daily me-made, and write a couple notes, like the weather for the day, what the rest of my outfit was, or what I did that day. And there is even more room for notes at the end of each week, to jot down some ideas on how to fill in wardrobe gaps, or record your favorite outfit of the week!
I love my Me Made May spreads, and I think it is going to really help motivate me to stick to my pledge this year!
I started wondering if other people may want to use a fun tracking system like this too, and I decided to throw them up in my shop as a free printable for you! It's a fun way to participate in the challenge without the added pressure of selfies! I'm still gonna try to put pictures up on instagram, but somehow it seems more doable if I don't HAVE to do it.
A couple of my pattern testers made a particular request after reading through my Inara instructions. After seeing one of the photos of my grey robe at the end of the instructions, they each let me know that they would love to read a blog post about how I added the lace to it. The good news?? It was super duper simple to do!
The great thing about lace (most lace anyway) is that your can cut it, and it doesn't fray. So really, this beautiful lace overlay was really as simple as cutting out pieces of lace that I loved, pinning them in place where I thought they looked good, and then I chose a matching thread color and topstitched the pieces down. Easy as pie. I'm not sure why people say this, pie seems like a rather intimidating dessert to make. Easy as.....no bake cookies. There you go.
If that sounds wayyy too simple, here are a few details and tips of what I did, in case you are planning on replicating it:
- I placed the lace onto the robe after sewing the side seams but before the bottom hem step, and before adding the binding. In retrospect, the stiffness of the lace did weird things to my hem, so next time I'd hem and THEN add the lace overlay, and then put on the binding. I added the sleeve lace after hemming the sleeves, and as you can see it lays much nicer!
- The lace sleeve bands are 3" tall. The lace around the hem is about 4", except at the sides where it goes up to 8" above the hem. I LOVE the way the higher lace on the side seams accentuates the curve of the hem.
- As you can see in a photo below, I didn't have one nice big piece of lace to work with. There are actually several parts that are pieced together. But the beauty of matching your thread color is that you can only tell that it's pieced if your eyes are about a foot from my butt. And I don't usually let people get quite that close to my rear end.
- I added a final touch of lace to the center back neck of the robe. I love that it brings the triangular motif of the hem to the back of the robe as well.
- Unfortunately I cannot point you in the direction of this beautiful lace I used. It was a small sample piece in my stash from when a local fabric store was downsizing. #makeyourstash
I would LOVE to see how you guys hack The Inara pattern to make it your own style, this way or any other way! And if you have any questions about what I did, just comment below! In the meantime, I'm now going to go make myself some no bake cookies....
creative business owner. designer. hoosier. crafter. runner. sewer. swing dancer. outdoor enthusiast. entrepreneur. wife. material hoarder.
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Madeline Stage email@example.com
"Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."
- Earl Nightingale