Saturday, March 29, 2008

One Step Forward But First Eight Steps Back

I was going to save this post for Monday but it seems some of my California Contingency needs a little love today.

After the inaugural bag outing it was clear that a pocket was needed. Let me state for the record that if you think you may want to put some pockets somewhere do it before you sew the thing together, trust me you will save time and cursing.

So I pondered the afterthought pocket. For those knitters out there let me say that I was longing for the great Elizabeth Zimmerman’s afterthought pocket. Sadly sewing is not the same as knitting, at least in this respect.

I figured I could be sneaky about it and open up one lining seam and take off one set of handles (those closest to the opening). This might have even worked if I hadn’t gotten distracted on the phone and took off both sets -sigh-

I decided to make lemonade out of my lack of handles and add two pockets. And having both sets off proved to be an asset making the whole thing easier to maneuver in the sewing machine. I reinforced the back of the fabric with more fusible backing.

I am quite proud of the expandable pocket, which means I will no longer have to hunt for my cell phone in the bottom of my bag.

I also added a handy dandy metrocard pocket.

Perhaps the best part of posting on the weekend was that I had the help of my lovely assistant, that's right those fingers belong to my guy who was very helpful while I tackled the challenge of photographing the inside of the bag for you all. Proving yet again that more hands are always better.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Coolest Thing Happened

So I took the little green bag out for it very first spin on the town and as I was getting on the subway, a mere 3 blocks or 5 minutes from home, someone stopped me to tell me how cool it was. How cool is that? Very!

And after its first outing I can say it needs an inside pocket or I will never find my cell phone. So it is back to the sewing table and back to Tim Gunn for putting in an after thought pocket.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Did I Mention I Love Green II

I managed to pull myself away from frontline long enough to put the handles on my snazzy new green bag. I may still put a pocket in but I can’t decide. I thought I would take it out for a test ride today and see if needs one. Of course I will most likely just end up deciding that it needs a lot more pockets and then I will have to remake the whole thing.

But here is a progress shot.

For those of you out there thinking about starting a craft blog let me say this: taking good pictures of bags is really hard! This is why my bedroom door is now becoming a feature on Mahka Crafts.

On a separate note: Spring is in the air here in NYC. Walking home this week I discovered one of my neighbors cherry trees has bloomed. All the other trees in the area think it’s crazy, they are just starting to bud, but this little cherry is strutting its stuff.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Problem with a Long and Narrow Hallway…

So I didn’t finish the green bag as planned last night. Instead I sat riveted to my tv watching Frontline. Which does make me ponder politics before craft? Usually I craft while listening to the radio or the news but there was something about “Bush’s War” that kept me glued to my seat gasping.

But because I have a California contingency that has demanded I not fall off the face of blogging earth I thought I would tell you all about a little apartment craft that happened not that long ago. We have the world’s longest hallway into our apartment that has been begging for something cool for a long time. I think I got the idea from the purl bee website but it might have been somewhere else. I know I got the idea a long time ago because I bought the hoops last summer and the idea had been simmering for a while. The problem with having a really long narrow hallway is that it is really hard to get a good photo of everything on the wall.

But I tried and here are a couple close ups to help.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Did I Mention I Love Green?

I meet this green fabric last spring at City Quilter’s. There is something about spring fabrics that really excite me; they are a breath of fresh air after winter’s dark colors. Oh and did I mention I love green? I love green in all shapes and forms. I wasn’t really sure exactly what I was going to do with it but I thought it might need to be a bag.

My craftiness had a wrench thrown into it when my guy took a couple days off from work this week. We had lots of fun but it did put a cramp in my crafting time. By Sunday I needed to make something. So I cut out the bag and started sewing it together. I wanted to make it a bit sturdier then the average fabric so I used a fusible fabric batting. I have never used anything like it before and it was a bit more rigid than anything I have sewed with thus far.

I think there must be a better way to cut the backing and the fabric. I cut my fabric first and then pined the backing down, cut around it and ironed the whole thing together. It was a bit cumbersome but it worked. Maybe it would be better to iron the whole thing down to the fabric and then cut out the pieces, but that seemed wasteful.

So here is what I have so far. I am going to attach the handles tonight. I lined it which was an event in itself. Next time I think I am going to sew the lining a bit smaller then the bag seam. But all and all I think it went well. I was going to put in an inside zippered pocket but chickened out at the last minute. There was a lot going on. However, I am pondering an adding an outside pocket.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tote Bag Happiness

Despite my professing my love of Tim Gunn, the sewing machine, I have yet to post anything about sewing. Here is a picture of the second love of my life and my little sewing station.

I promise it is not nearly as dreary as the lighting makes it look. It is actually quite perfect. I am able to have my sewing station set up pretty much all the time which is a great help. I don’t have to put things away at night and try to remember where I was once I sit back down. I can even leave things in the sewing machine over night! One day I might like an additional table or a bit bigger workspace but there is something to be said for being able to have my cutting mat, ironing bored and Tim on one table. The only real thing I would change is the table height; it is just a little short for me while sewing. And if I am being honest a cutting surface that I didn’t have to bend over would rock. But other then all of that I am a happy clam here.

One of my first projects with the new machine was grocery store totes. Although I love to cut up plastic bags and find new uses for them, I also love not acquiring them in the first place. I feel like no matter how hard we try we still end up with an overflowing pile. So my goal was to make us enough totes that we could do a big grocery shopping and not need to get any plastic bags. Or my guy could leave a few in his car or at work and we could still go grocery shopping. I am still working on acquiring that magic number. I haven’t found out what the magic number is it yet. I have managed to get my tote making down to a pretty fine science. I have been using old sheets and upholstery fabric scraps thus far. I have also made a couple out of those weird fabrics that seem to be passed down through families and must have been on sale because there is such a large amount of such an ugly thing.

Somehow my tote making went from practical to a little fancy with this one. But I love it. It is the tote I take everywhere for all that spill over stuff one takes with them: extra sweater, knitting, large books. I have even transported a pie. I drew a simple flower pattern and traced it onto fusible web and then in a true obsessive moment hand stitched each flower around the edge. The flowers are actually not this pink and more modeled. You can tell it was one of my first projects with the new machine because I added the feather stitch to the handle for no other reason then it was cool.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Love of Reusing Plastic Bags

I have a love of reusing plastic bags. It started a couple summers ago when I was visiting some friends with an outrageous collection of plastic grocery store bags spilling out from under their sink. I was feeling a little bored with the knitting project that I had brought along so I decided, with great encouragement from the crowd, to knit a bag-o-bags. Before long I had help cutting up bags and what was born was a giant grocery store tote- which come to think of it I don’t have a picture of, I’ll work on that. What was also born was my love of reusing plastic bags.

I came home and immediately began experimenting with different techniques and size of plastic strips. I have discovered that I love to sit and watch bad tv while cutting plastic bags into long strips. I must advise that this can be an annoying project to someone you live with as it is a very loud and crunchy process and they might not enjoy watching bad tv with you as much while you are doing this.

My first nano case was fairly simple. It was a slip in crocheted case so when I wanted to change the song or adjust the volume I had to pull it out of the case. A few years ago I cracked an ipod screen (which is a pain to fix) so I sewed in a screen protector. Under the advisement of my number one craft advisor, AKA my friend Mary, I used that plastic cross stitching template you used for 2nd grade craft projects.

Last Fall I decided to update the case. I used Chinatown red plastic bags. I don’t know if other Chinatown’s have red plastic bags but in NYC it is part of the fun of Chinatown. I still sewed in a screen protector which I hide under some fancy paper scraps I had around.

Recently, I have been pondering making my guy a clear case using plastic bags from Sahadi’s, a middle eastern specialty food shop in downtown Brooklyn, which has a fine quality of clear plastic bags. I think I have enough bags now but I can’t quite decide on a design. I’ll keep posted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And so it begins...

After spending the last several months threatening to create a craft blog I have taken the leap. I just left a job that I was very good at but wasn’t so good for me. My solution: quit and buy a Bernina. Here you will find the tales of a girl and her sewing machine, which incidentally I named Tim Gunn, and any other craft project that caught my eye recently. I am also a ferocious knitter which I try to keep in check so that my wrists and I can remain friends.

Picking my first project to post is harder then I thought. I realize that there has been a progression and a big learning curve to many of my projects. I am also someone that needs to have a couple projects going at once in case one gets frustrating or tedious.

With that in mind I give you the beast.

I have been working on and off and off again on the beast for over 4 years now. But I feel we are finally in the home stretch. Of course once the crocheting is done the real work begins as I procrastinate sewing in all those ends. I might as well state this right up front, I hate finishing projects. I hate sewing in ends and blocking knitting. I have been known to let a small and large quilting projects languish for months or years as I put off the actual finishing. I am hoping that having a blog will encourage me to finish some of this finishing I have hidden in the closet.