Friday, May 25, 2012

Weeks 20 & 21 or More Shirt Bags

It's been a busy 2 weeks. We had a big birthday party last weekend, complete with homemade piƱata and bean bag toss. Each of those took several hours of work. Not to mention the shopping, invitations, keeping track of everything and trying to talk the girls out of adding yet another complicated activity to the schedule. In the end, we did not have the multi-level jump pad set up, just a couple of little trampolines. Which the guests didn't seem to mind. Add in the drawing board / water balloon target Dad, and everyone's happy. The treasure hunt ended up being plastic coins and rings scattered on the grass by my kids, but again only a few of the older kids commented on how it wasn't much of a "hunt." This week I've been trying to recover, but a very cute school choral concert and plans for a popsicle stand have taken up a lot of time.

I did find a shirt half taken apart already, so I started with that. I gave  away my favorite shirt bag to a grocery store bagger, so I wanted to see if I could make another just as good. As before, I used the body for one bag and the sleeves for another. The body bag folds up for storage and closes with a cuff. I attached the cuff to the side with the button placket, so now it doesn't work for closing the top when it's in use, but it holds it closed better when it's rolled up. It was handy to be able to shut the bag, but I was tired of having them get untidy in storage. I'll let you know how annoying that ends up being. If it's really bad, I can just add a button to the other side and call it a day.

I decided not to add fabric to make the sleeve bag bigger. It was going to be a quick and dirty lunch-size bag, but I ran out of time to finish it in one sitting. So it sat for a day, along with the hem scraps, and inspiration struck. I trimmed the hem section to about 3" wide. I set the sewing machine for "stun" (aka increased thread tension and stitch length to maximums) and turned it into a ruffle. I was going to turn the top edge of the bag to the outside, but the sleeve placket then showed and looked bad. So I used the shiny white webbing to hide the raw edge and for the handles. I made a ton of the ticking stripe handles already, so you'll see them in future bags. 

As with most of the bags on this blog, the handle straps are tucked into the hem on the inside. That way there are no raw edges to deal with. The handles end up being stitched in twice, so they're quite sturdy. And if you have a key clip that's the right size, you can attach it there. It may not look as sturdy as a box with an X, but I have not run into any problems yet and it's a lot quicker to sew. 

Now off to make a chocolate cream pie with Oreo crust (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, the recipient said when asked if she'd prefer this to a graham cracker crust), attempt to catch my layout in trapeze class, get the girls from school, run the popsicle stand and take them and a friend for swimming and pizza before I collapse in an exhausted heap.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Week 19 or Reversible boutique bag

No long story of my life this week, but I am proud of the bag. At last, an intentional bag finished on time.

There are a couple of lovely consignment stores downtown, and they like to wrap things up nicely, maybe to make up for the fact that you're buying second hand, but more likely because they really like clothes and they treat their customers well. I feel guilty every time they wrap something in pretty tissue paper only to have me shove it in the plastic bag I carry around in my pocketbook. I also don't like taking another giant sturdy paper bag, because I have a whole closet full of them already.

So I took one of those bags and used it as the pattern for this one. I was going for a bag that would look good being carried to the limo by the bellhop at the Plaza. A sleek black lined with a Lily Pulitzer print might have been more appropriate, but this is what I had on hand, and I think it works well enough.

I used some sturdy black ticking for one layer and fresh yellow quilting weight cotton for the other. There's a layer of painted canvas sewn into the bottom to stiffen it and all the layers are sewn together to keep them from shifting and to make turning the bag inside-out easier. The handles are a shiny webbing that looks good either way. I might use a double layer of grosgrain ribbon next time, just to have something wider and more colorful.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Week 18 or Last-minute gift bag

At some point, I was making enough bags that I felt compelled to write down dimensions. Finished, fabric and handle dimensions. What I assumed I'd remember was how to assemble these cut items into a finished bag. Alas, I made an ass out of u and me by sewing the gift bag sideways. The box of Harbor Sweets chocolates still fit, and nobody said anything, so I guess my ass is covered.

Yesterday I had the privilege of being at a party for library construction. I used to work at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. I bet you didn't know there was a state agency that dealt with libraries. Or a federal grant program that funds things like homework centers and construction. Well, Massachusetts has one of the best, and I was lucky to work there helping administer those grant programs, with an amazing crew of women (and a couple of decent guys, too) at a critical time in my life.

I had been out of college enough years that I should have had a career plan going, but I didn't. I was young enough that I should have had a full set of parents, perhaps even grandparents. But that ended. These women (and men) gave me the support I needed to get through that. (My mom had been a librarian for a short time. She had an MLS and even was the director of a small rural library. But her opinions got the better of her and she couldn't quite keep her mouth shut around the board of directors, so she found another career to pursue. But we kept going to our local library.) They were the mothers I needed when my mother was no more.

There I was, a child with so much to offer, but very little confidence and even less direction. This crew, several of whom are still on the job, took me in and they keep on saying nice things about me, even 15 years later. They encouraged me to take a course on industrial design. (My marker skills can still attest to that.) They got me interested in how buildings work and made me think I might like to be an architect. (I don't really, but I have a better understanding of public building design. Chances are, if you can't find the bathroom, it's because the place is poorly laid out, not because you're a moron.) I learned from them how to run a grant program and they will be there as I move into my first year chairing a grant committee. They're decorating my children's school library with their excess ALA swag posters. Even the ones who came on board after I left have been kind and generous beyond their pay grades. In short, I can't thank them enough for what they've done and who they are.

I really should have planned ahead and made a bag last week. I really should have gotten Patience a present before the morning of the party. I really should have had it wrapped before I had to leave for the party. But I didn't. Oh well. Move on. Work with what you have. Which is a sewing machine, friends who pick up random supplies while they're looking for things for their classroom, and neighbors who sell off exorbitant lengths of fabric for a song. So I made this little sideways bag to put the box of chocolates in, and it went over well. In the making, I was reminded of the first such bag I gave away as wrapping for a present. Mary Litterst, wherever you are, I hope you are still enjoying many a fabulous lunch in a fancy bag.