Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week 25 or Another Pants Bag

Once again my goal of getting rid of fabric has been thwarted by the failure of fabric elsewhere in the house. These shorts were super comfortable. The pockets were deep enough to hold all the crap I tend to carry around. So they needed a belt, were cut for a man, and did nothing for my figure. I'm generally not the kind of person who cares about that sort of thing. I even put up with the fraying hem for a while. And tolerated the paint stains. But at some point I need to admit that I'm an adult, a mom, and there's no need to look like a poor college student any more. Especially when your kids go to school on a college campus. So off to the scrap pile they went while I took a trip to the classy consignment store for some fresh capri's I can wear like a real mom.

After the shorts had spent several weeks on the pile, I had a morning with a rare combination of time, motivation and space on my desk for my sewing machine. I made 3 bags in an effort to avoid dealing with the real crises in my life. Some people turn to chemicals, other to shopping, but it was too early in the morning for shops or bottles, so I made stuff. The other 2 got posted last week. This week you're left with another pants bag. I love the reactions of the grocery store baggers when they realize you did not leave your clothing purchases in the grocery bag. I find the thought of putting your butt-enlarging groceries in your  old pants. I prefer the khaki-weight bags to the denim ones. They're lighter and more flexible. The denim is heavier to carry but still won't stand up on its own. And these look like I pantsed a Target employee.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Week 24 or The Broken Shade

The cord went on the roller shade in my bedroom last week. After sleeping with the light coming in the window for 4 days, I put up another roller shade. The kind that goes "fwap fwap fwap" when you pull it down really far and let 'er rip! Very bachelor pad, but it works for us.

The old shade was a nice thick fabric, a bit off-white with age, but no rips or major stains. Luckily I saw the potential in it before it made it to the trash barrel. I also found washing instructions when I unrolled it all the way. As it turns out, you can disassemble the whole shade, launder the fabric, wipe down the plastic and put it all back together. You just can't replace the cord. Well, I suppose I could have, but I'd been looking for an opportunity to get rid of that shade since shortly after we moved in.

I made one small, lunch size bag. Which I don't have too much use for, but I'm sure my younger daughter will find some stuffed animals or toys to tote around in it. (So I thought, but it's just the right size and sturdy enough to hold a ream of resumes, a bottle of soda and a banana.) I was going to incorporate the flat plastic pull bar from the bottom as a handle. It turned out I'd need to redo the hem that was already there, so I just sewed on a plain handle.

It looks narrow, but that's only
because the bottom is nearly square.
After making such a small bag, I had lots of fabric left over. I have a large tote with my husband's company logo on it. It's quite serviceable as a swim bag, but it's cotton canvas and if you set it on a wet pool deck, everything inside gets soaked and the bag takes for... ever to dry. I'd been mulling over the idea of making a replacement out of the laminated cotton I bought with the intention of making lots of reusable snack and sandwich bags. I couldn't find it when I had the inspiration, and now I had this thick, plasticy shade material which would do just perfectly. Except that it's off-white and our beaches are definitely tinged with black from the coal-fired power plant in town. Whatever.
The bottom section is tucked into the side seam.
Note the W shape.

The fabric goes from top edge to top edge, with no seam on the bottom to let in water. The box bottom is made by just tucking in the bottom section and sewing the sides straight down. It gives an odd sort of triangle, but it's very efficient. I've seen it on a couple of nice-ish bags, presumably because it's really easy to make the triangles the same size and it doesn't add another step to the construction. It's genius whether you're a Chinese sweat shop or a harried seamstress at home. You fold the fabric into a "W"shape along the side seams. The top of the W is the top opening of the bag. The bottom is the bottom edge. The inner peak is the center of the bottom. The height of the inner peak is half the depth (front to back) of the bag. By varying the total height, the peak height and their relationship, you vary the height and depth of the bag.

Not much of a tutorial, but I made the bag and there's still something to look forward to.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Week 23 or Book Bags

This is a set of two bags inspired by two blogs.

One is Make It Do, which is built around the premise of "use it up, wear it out, or make it do." She has posts about making things, be they food or fiber, and doing things with her family and friends, be it enjoying the outdoors or reading a great book. Recently she made book bags for her kids' teachers as end of the year presents. She had her daughters embroider their teacher's name on a strip of fabric and then she worked it into a book bag. Her son must not be into embroidery because his teacher got stars on her bag. They are very practical, appropriate and hopefully unlikely to end up in the trash next year when someone gives them another. My father was a teacher for 30 years. I have witnessed the rotation of the #1 Teacher mugs. It's not a pretty sight.

The other blog is The Purl Bee. It's not on my daily rotation yet, but maybe it will be. I referenced her tutorial last week, having found it just after posting a bag that could have been made using it. Someone at Craft Gossip must follow her, because her last two posts were both on there. She gives instructions on how to make a lined bag.

Everyone on Facebook is posting about the end of the school year, either that it has already passed or the anticipation. Last year we waited for ever to get out of school. We had about 52 snow days to make up and the school department was negotiating with teachers as to whether they'd rather give up April vacation or summer vacation. We ended up in class until June 30th. This year it's only the 20th. As a stay at home mom, summer vacation is a mixed blessing. It's nice not to have the daily hassle of getting the kids up and out the door and all the other school related minutiae, but now I have 10 weeks of "I'm bored" to look forward to. OK, 8 weeks because they'll be in camp for 2, but still. I'm not rushing the end of school.

So it's early June and while I've been very good about helping out on field trips and PTC stuff and district turnaround issues, I haven't really made anything for the teachers themselves this year. And there's this blog monster to feed, too. Each classroom at the girls' school has a bag. I have no idea what's in it, but they're all the same and the classes are rarely without them. Sometimes the teachers carry them and sometimes it's the students.

I made new ones with the teacher's name embroidered on them. Not heart-melting embroidery done by the hand of a thankful child, but rainbow machine embroidery, just because I can. I put on short handles as well as a long strap. I had thought it would be a shoulder strap, but I pulled an Alexa and just used what was on hand without measuring. So they're really long and can be used across the body like a messenger bag. Except that they've got a portrait orientation instead of landscape. Oh well. Those teachers are smart and can figure it out. Plus I'll be around if they want alterations.

Each bag is lined. One with the embroidery of the teacher's name that didn't turn out well and was oriented in the wrong direction anyway. The other with some lovely butterfly material. The long straps are anchored with more of the same, and I even managed to get the stripes to match up, which pleased me immensely. That little thing sticking out is my label. Even after 22 bags, I still forget to put the labels in the optimal position.

On top of being sturdy and a practical size, they're machine washable and can be used about town if the teachers decide not to replace their standard bags.

Have a great summer vacation, whenever it comes. I'll still be here behind the sewing machine and computer, when I'm not at the playground, beach, museum or library with the kids.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Week 22 or The Mondriaan-Ikea bag

Years ago, I got some upholstery fabric at Ikea. I made a dress for my older daughter and kept the rest. It reminds of the mid/late-career work of Piet Mondriaan, which I love. I just learned there's a whole museum named after him in Amersfoort, the city of his birth, where I happen to have a very visitable cousin! If you're looking for a collection of his works that spans his entire career, check out the Haagsgemeentemuseum, one of several well-curated collections in The Hague. I'm pretty sure they don't let the war criminals wander the museums unsupervised.

I think this is the first time I've actually planned ahead and gotten started on a project well before Friday morning. Woohoo! Also the first time I've really matched up the stripes. It's amazing what you can do when you've got a box of pins and aren't afraid to use them. I even went all-out and lined the thing, too,  in red, to match the handles.

I wanted to make the bag similar in size to a large grocery bag, just shorter. But the  material had a little curve in it that would have meant making it significantly narrower or shorter. So I stuck a pocket over the hole. Which then inspired me to put a pocket on the inside. In a contrasting color.

So after getting started early, I still finished it up on Saturday morning, with one kid curled up in bed and the other asking me which filly collectible is my favorite from each family. I did come out of it with a very sturdy reversible bag with little pockets on the sides and a nice stiff layer to keep the bottom from collapsing completely.

In construction it's exactly the same as the other reversible bag, but the handles are shorter and the materials are both stiffer. And I had to piece together the red side because I'd cut bits and pieces out to make poodle skirts and armhole facings already. You can just barely see a bit of seam at the lower left corner. The other side is rather more obvious with its seams.

I can't wait to take it to the Farmers Market in 2 weeks. Just not to the garden. Which is a mud pit right now. My poor strawberries. But I'm sure the slugs and snails are loving it!

Update: Someone else posted a tutorial on how to make a lined bag with a pocket! Here it is.