Monday, June 30, 2014

Creating bags with no pattern (or making it up as you go)

For roughly the last week, I have been working on this duffle bag after I received my first shipment of Tula Pink fabrics.  I am absolutely NUTS about this fabric designer.  Her use of color is insane, and her patterns are awesomely fun.  I've had a duffle bag on my to do list for over a year now, and it was high time I kicked into high gear.

I browsed tons of websites looking for patterns for duffle bags, watching tutorials, and looking up travel bags on Pinterest.  I didn't like any of the patterns, they all seemed either really juvenile, dorky looking, too small, or just not finished enough.  

So I made a list of all my "must haves" and decided to write my own pattern.  I had all my fabric out and ready to go, and got to work in my sketchbook drawing out measurements and the order of construction steps.  Turns out I didn't even so much as cut a piece of fabric until 2 days later.  If you haven't ever written a pattern before, you might take for granted how much time, trial and error, and re-writing goes into it.  

The project took me about 5 days start to finish (my husband's family was in town for the weekend--I may have been able to shave one day off if I worked all the way through).  

The one thing I just really was not satisfied with was that I did not put any interfacing in the zipper panel that goes in the top.  In the picture, I have two huge sacks of fabric shoved inside to keep the middle from drooping.  I'm pretty confident that adding the interfacing would fix that.  Maybe there will be a duffle bag 2, but I'm thinking about naming this bag "The Body Bag".  I could literally fit all three of our dogs inside and still zip it up (Border collie and 2 heelers).

This bag has all over free-motion quilting in four different thread colors, a three-section elasticized pocket on the interior, a 3-section pocket for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, another smaller elasticized pocket, and another 3-section pocket.  The exterior has two zipper pockets (one on each end), and 4 exterior pockets.  And enough room to pack for a week and a half without needing anything.  Those were my requirements, so I guess if the middle is a little saggy, I'll get over it!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My first Quilting class to TEACH!

Many of us sewing enthusiasts dream of one day being able to actually do this for a living...am I right?  I didn't realize that sewing and creating brought me so much joy until a few years ago.  Now I wonder how I ever did without it.  I wonder what I did with my free time with no project waiting for me in the other room.  

This past week, I visited with a local store owner in the San Antonio area.  It's a new quilt shop in Boerne, TX, called Sew It Fabulous.  The owner is ridiculously awesome!  She is allowing me the opportunity to teach a beginning quilting class on August 2.  


And this is a portion of her shop's newsletter.  I'm so excited to do this, even if it turns out to be a one time thing.  I hope that I can help other people to become excited about sewing--because I know how frustrated those first stitches can make a person.  I remember when I first started using my little rinky dink Singer and how all of my seams would be off and unfinished, and I was still so proud of myself for what I had made.  

Last week, I also prepared a step-by-step tutorial of how to do the wall-hanging applique project that I had posted about (spent hours on it!), only to find that when I went to upload it that this host does not allow you to upload PDF.  GRRRRR.  I will find another way to post the tutorial, because it really is a great project-even for beginners.  So I guess this post is mostly just an update that I WILL post the tut...eventually!  More to come soon!

Joanna

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Redecorating your bathroom on a budget

Bathroom Re-Do for $212.00 

How many times have you gone in your bathroom and hated it?  I could not stand how our guest bathroom looked.  The wall paper was from the '60s, everything is trimmed in bright gold finish, the mirror on the medicine cabinet is cracked, and I had a huge picture of a monkey chugging a bottle of liquor on the wall in bright yellow.  The cabinets had water stains on them.  The wall paper had designs of ugly flowers and vines, that if you looked really closely, you could make out the outline of a woman and her breast.  None of the towels matched.  The decor really worked well together!

You are going to love the bathroom as much as I did!

                   


My husband and I live in a 1970's model double wide that I have been taking strides to update and make into a home.  We got it for free.  F-R-E-E.  Now I know not everyone is blessed with a free house, and there were some definite drawbacks to it.  It's gotten new shingles, new siding (it had been through a hailstorm and tornado), new electrical wiring, basically lots of new just to make it livable.  

So now that it is comfortably livable...I've been "decorating".  I'm making air quotes with my fingers, because I'm a firm believer that I have an absolute lack of style when it comes to picking curtains, decor, etc.  This year, I've learned about myself that I really just don't like what there is to purchase for decor.  I want to make it myself.  Partly because I didn't even know how to use a sewing machine 5 years ago, and I am so excited that I can actually do something useful.  And when you make it yourself, you can save a ridiculous amount of money by making your house look AWESOME.  

Working on a budget!

The first thing I did was move all of the mis-matched towels out of the bathroom.  I made a trip to TJ Maxx and purchased some really nice dark gray DKNY bath, hand, and face towels, then I purchased two coordinating rugs.  This was the biggest purchase I made for the bathroom.  I spent about $40.00 on the 2 rugs and $50.00 on the towels.  I could have gone to Wal-Mart for the towels, but the ones TJ Maxx has are really, really nice.  They are soft and plush and not thin and flimsy like the cheapies at Wally World, and I was okay with spending a little extra on those.  

When I got the towels home, I cut pieces of fabric and hemmed the sides.  Then I just trimmed all of the towels in a variety of different fabrics that coordinated with the color scheme I was planning on using--gray and teal/turquoise.  

This was the end result:


I have a hard time deciding on just one fabric, so I used all of the ones I liked.  I'm not a matchy-matchy personality, so that worked for me.  

Step 2 was getting rid of that awful wall paper.  I actually grew up in this house, and I have loathed that wall paper for as long as I can remember.  It gave me great satisfaction to paint over it.   

I purchased one gallon (I probably only needed a quart) of gray paint in the shade that I wanted at Home Depot for about $25.00.  I always buy the kind that has the primer mixed in with it so I don't have to do double the work.  I probably should have used Kilz, but my husband insists we are building a house, so I didn't want to spend the extra money if it was temporary.  I already had the bright teal paint that I had used to repaint our kitchen, but if I had purchased it, I would have needed a quart--so let's add about $10.00 to that.  I already had the paint brushes and painter's tape, but let's say I didn't and I spent another $30.00 on brushes and tape.  

The key to working on a budget is to work with things you have already purchased!  I really liked the paint I already had, so I just bought a neutral to coordinate with it.  And I am really careful about cleaning paintbrushes after they're used so they don't get stiff and ruin.  

I taped off the bathroom and painted the walls and cabinets.  Painting the cabinets was much cheaper than replacing them.  And if you use a really fine brush, it can make the room really pop.  (if you had a larger budget, you could actually fill up the cabinet with towels :)





Step 3 was wall decor.  I'm pretty picky about what I like and what I don't like.  So I made my own.  Before I painted I took down the hideous monkey picture, and there was no way it was going back up.  I bought that myself, by the way.  I told you I had good taste.

After I painted, the walls looked pretty bare.  Don't get me wrong, they looked GREAT without that dated wall paper, but something was missing to tie the room together.  

I made another trip down to the Wal-Mart and purchased some pretty decent frames.  I spent $12.00 on the smaller one, and $30.00 on the large one.  I could have gone way cheaper, but I wasn't replacing the bathroom counter or the linoleum, so I figured I had a few extra bucks.

Mind you, I had no plan for what I was going to put in these frames.  I'm shocked that I came up with something.  For the 4-picture frame, I decided to put our last name in applique on some Tula Pink fabric that I had.  It was pretty time consuming, but worth the effort.  That was one picture.  The other three, I went with a nature-y theme and just did some free-motion quilting samples on solid colored fabrics that coordinated with the colors of paint I used.  I did pebbles, all over leaves, and wood grain.  Each one took me about 45 minutes.  


                                      

 



Helpful hint:  The glass in the frames I picked up was FILTHY.  Be careful when you take the glass out to clean it prior to mounting your decor.  I sliced the crud out of my finger and nearly bled all over the things I had spent so much time on, but luckily I noticed in time to get a band-aid.  

The second frame I picked up had three places for pictures, so I decided against quilting again and did something a little more "manly".  I used google images for outlines of the state of Texas and a buck.  Then I appliqued them onto another Tula Pink fabric that I had.  Are you seeing a theme here?  (I love Tula Pink!)  If I have time, I'll post a tutorial on how to do this--it's really easy!




To sum it up, I spent $212.00 total to make this bathroom look a little updated.  I added in $15.00 for fabric-you don't need much...that's probably over estimating the cost.  

I could spend a little more and replace the sink and counter top, and I do plan on replacing the mirror (which I am getting for free).  

You save a ton of money by doing everything yourself, and you get the satisfaction of seeing your work put to good use.  

And the best part is I don't have to look at an abstract picture of a woman's breast every time I'm in there.  

-Joanna



My disaster of a sewing room...organizing to be more productive

I am starting this post by literally cleaning out my closet!  Or sewing room, if you will.  Most of us that sew (not as our numero uno source of income) have limited time to do projects and orders.  That being said, you have my excuse for the disastrous pictures you are about to see.  Consider yourself lucky (or unlucky!) that you are getting to see the nightmare that my sewing room had become.  With a full time job, it is difficult to remember at the end of the day to tidy up after yourself.  

Lighting was also a huge issue.  It always seemed really dark, especially since I just had to paint the walls teal and the ceiling an even darker shade of said color.  So that was addressed as well.

I finally decided something had to change when I gashed my leg open on the corner of a rotary ruler that I had propped up against my sewing table.  Notice that I said rotary RULER.  Not rotary cutter.  Yes.  I am that much of a slob that I cut myself with a ruler.  

I know it has been a LOOOOONG time since my last post, and I'm determined to make a change...as you will see in the after pictures!  I have spent the last week thoroughly enjoying myself in my sewing "studio" now that I actually have the space and organization to get some work done.  I would estimate that I spent roughly $300 on shelves, bins, containers, hardware, etc.  But I would do it all again and then some.  It also took me 4 days, and I usually do not stay committed to a project that involves cleaning and organizing for that long, so I was extra proud of myself.  And...drum roll please!  It's been clean for over a week now.

BEFORE...you know, the hot mess pictures...






Whew!  AFTER!  






I know I have probably given some of you a panic attack with the first 5 pictures.  But take comfort in knowing that if I can do it, anyone can.  

Even if you don't have a room devoted to your hobby, you can't get anything done if you can't FIND anything in the area without tripping over a body.  

The only major changes I made in the room were the following:
-took all my textbooks from college that I never use off the bookshelf and put them in boxes.
-purchased Closet Maid shelves from Wal-Mart and Home Depot and installed them
-moved all surface areas (tables) to walls 
-purchased organizing bins from Wal-Mart and used them to group similar objects together
-purchased and installed new lighting fixtures above the sewing machines

Hopefully, your situation is not as dire as mine was...but if it is...hop to it so you can be more productive!

-Joanna