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May 30, 2006

ruffles shoulder bag

remember this bag i talked about a while back?

i made my version this weekend...
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... with some modifications- size, from super big to moderate; material, from linen to denim. and, i also added lining to the bag, as well as a magnetic snap.

pattern: shoulder bag from japanese magazine 4860670973
difficulty (1-5): 2
pattern size: one size
fabric: 1/2 yd of denim yarn and vintage fabric from chloe's closet for lining

bags are so great to make, not only they are functional but also with endless possibilities of style. make one for each outfit, each day of the week; make one for summer in dupioni silk, cashmere tartan for fall and winter. but oddly, as much as a fashion slave that i am, i own very few bags.

i was quite taken by the fact that bags should be leather, ideally you should spend money on a good bag and use it for the rest of your life. like, louis vuitton and prada bags fall into this category. with fashion trends moving faster than wind, i want more than just one good bag. and honestly, making it from scratch is more fun than buying one from the store.

now all i need is inspirations. i turn to zakka and several cutest japanese magazines i bought from yesasia.

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counterclock-wise from top: isbn 4579109988, 483472235X & 483472316X

what i never thought possible had suddenly appeared in front of my eyes. i'm overwhelmed but more than ever excited about making bags.

here are some of my "must have" bags:

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this is for summer, hawaiian print, quilt stitching, leather handles... just perfect

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whimsical polka dots with matching case, i love the red, white and black. so primary in color, so cozy for the winter!

May 28, 2006

rejuvenate

i got tired of working on the napkins (well, i haven't really worked on it since my last post...), sewing squares are really not all that fun. there are so many other interesting things i can do with my sewing machine, like, renovate an old pair of diesel jeans, which was too small when i bought it and i never lost the critical inch to fit in.

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i added half an inch to each side and did a really ghetto job of joining the waistband (which you can't see here). i actually used yellow thread to accentuate the ghetto-ness. now my jeans look sort of pin-stripey but fits so much better. i love it.

really, i was on a creativity high today. i even made a semi-log cabin fabric art with some scraps. laziness finally won so this creation actually involves no sewing at all. i may stitch them in place one day. or, maybe not.

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May 23, 2006

everything linen

coincidentally, my knitting and sewing projects consist exclusively linen at the moment, a silent welcome for my first summer in georgia.

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i'm so loving this cornflower tunic (pattern from rebecca 29). doubling the thin linen thread really makes the stitch less hollow yet the drape of linen still shows through beautifully. i quite enjoy working on plain stockinette, so soothing and mindless! the only worry i have right now is if the hem would be wide enough for the dress to be a little floaty. also, when i cast on the stitches, i had only this teeny bit of yarn left which was not enough to do a solid darning. this little piece of yarn keeps poking out... oh well. i'll worry about this later.

so the sewalong community has just announced the next project: a top! just so happens that i already had a cute pattern in my stash. more on that later. now, i want to show you the bag i made for the sewalong.

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hmm... it did not work out well for me. i was not getting the amy butler magic. my intown bag was sadly transformed into a linen hanging pocket for our take out menus. it was probably too excessive for such purpose but i hate throwing something i made away, especially with the most beautiful linen fabric!

what went wrong? well, i have just one word: interfacings. i read from others' comments that this pattern did not involve any interfacings, so lining the fabric would provide some shape, which i like for bags. however, i decided to use the stiffest interfacings... hence, when i needed to turn the whole thing inside out, it was almost impossible. so, i couldn't even top stitch properly. so sad. but it was a good lesson and now i have the posh-est take out menu holders so i can't really complain.

there will be another intown bag, soon, i promise!

speaking of home improvement, my sewing ego had extended to making some linen table napkins. i went by the store to get some matching color, 100% linen fabric to make napkins and cocktail napkins per williams-sonoma standard. boy, was that a touch job. sewing squares were much more labor-intensive that i thought. it involves:

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dinner napkins in the making

washing the fabric
ironing linen fabric (which was difficult as it was really wrinkle after washing)
squaring off the fabric
drawing the cut lines
drawing the seam lines and fold lines
cutting carefully
pinning, folding and ironing along the seam and fold lines
sewing the lines and mitered corners

honestly, it was really exhausting! i made two dinner and four cocktail napkins this weekend and still had some more to make in order to complete a set. but it really was worthwhile. look just how much more sophisticated a glass of water now looks on my 100% handmade, tailored cut cocktail napkin.

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tailored made napkins make water tastes better

for the first time, i told my husband to wipe his mouth on my FO project. and don't worry to stain it with red wine or spaghetti sauce. it was made to wipe off dirt.

May 17, 2006

everyone needs a pair of good shoes

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even pumpkin has sexy feet, but i guess she prefers to move around without shoes

my dream red sandals were out of stock. can you believe this? i guess that's $130 i'm not going to spend. instead, i found this funky number and they are coming to me as we speak.

but let's move on to other things... my extremely neglected sewalong bag. i got my fabrics and the pattern yesterday, while i love amy's fabric, i had a feeling that this lotus pattern may be way big for the intown bag i want to make. so, although i had bought the fabrics, i felt like i still had nothing...

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see the out of proportion gigantic lotus pattern?

the linen fabric i got from joujouka, however, kind of jumps to the plate. i originally had plans to make it into table napkins, but, what i had was only enough to make three. which is a very odd number as far as a set of table napkin goes. i am now thinking of interfacing it and make that the exterior of my bag. linen equals summer, summer linen bag equals super chic. right?

i'm still using the cutsy blue flower print as the lining. that still looks great, i think.

this is the first time i came in physical contact with amy butler's patterns. they are a bit different from what i had expected. patterns i've had had been printed on those flinsy paper while amy's were in real paper. and, the pieces look extremely simple and straight forward, so much that i felt like 12.95 per pattern is a bit pricey. still, i would pay for her originality and creativity. but, as a consumer, i may need to make like 12 bags to make my money well worth. i'm even thinking of making it bigger (or smaller), re-drafting the pattern to suit my needs. yes, definitely.

obviously i'm not the only one rolling around in amy's fabrics. my cat has a good taste, too.

May 14, 2006

fairy paisley skirt

while waiting patiently for my bag material to arrive, i found myself thinking of a skirt to match the bag. hence i decided to sew on sunday.

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an turquoise a-line skirt, fabric by amy butler

and we all know how quickly sewing goes...

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pattern: butterick B4461
difficulty (1-5): 2
pattern size: 12 (with wide seam allowance)
fabric: amy butler's charm collection in fairy paisley

determination is a scary thing sometimes. my photographer is not here so i had to do self portrait again. this time, it was not so easy. i only had this decent front shot to entertain you.

this is my second sewing project, and, honestly, i am soooo pleased with the way it turned out. i love the fit! it was probably beginner's luck but i am still thrilled.

i did make some modifications: after i cut out the pieces, the front and back looked gigantic... even with some seam allowance. so, instead of blindly following the instructions, i used 1" seam allowance for the sides to make it smaller. which worked out great. however, my facings did not align as nicely as i would have liked because of this. but, it really did not bother me at all.

the skirt from the pattern seems to sit pretty high on the waist, and i think making it size 12 allows my skirt to sit lower, and, i just adjusted the hemline to the desirable length.

this is also the first time i installed zippers. i followed the instructions, changed out zipper foot, and it worked out quite nicely. no more fear for zippers!!

now, who thinks i should get a pair of red sandals to complete the amy butler look, raise your hand.

May 12, 2006

intown bag

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if i can trade a day with an artist, amy butler is definitely on the top of my list. or, the top seven so i can live a week in her clothes, her studio, bags and inspirations.

honestly, i was never a fan of country style, it dulls me... but, amy's style is just so modern, so clean and so surprisingly rich in colors and calming in their combinations. she is a genius.

anyway as i was comteplating on what to make of the next installment of the sewalong, i could not decide on which bags to make, although all of them were amy butler's. i wanted the weekender bag, the messenger bag, the chelsea... then, i saw the cafe apron, the cabo halter, i was completely lost. before i knew, this sewalong for bags was coming to an end and i still could not make up my mind.

but soon, i'll have amy butler's intown bag in my stash, with her sunbloom fabrics called gracious lotus. i'm making this simply chic and posh bag for myself. i may lined the bag with a matching (i think it matches) floral fabric from here.

eventually though, i'm making a weekender bag. steph's version has totally convinced me. i'm also thinking of making the cafe apron set. they are just so cute. if i can't live in amy's life for a few days, at least i can wear her fabrics all over me for as long as this obsession lasts.

May 06, 2006

just a yellow lemon tree

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yesterday you told me 'bout the blue blue sky,
and all that I can see is just a yellow lemon-tree

i love this song - lemon tree by fools garden. in fact, i heard it for the first time as a translated version by a female taiwanese artist. i did not find out who the original artist was until years later when i played this song again on CD, my american friend told me.

anyway... i feel the need to knit something simple, something spring. colors of yellow, blues and green seem to be so appropriate for my current state of mind. i am making a pair of ribbed socks. i am calling it lemon tree.

lemon tree is going to be at least 10 inches long before i make the heels, that is if i can decide what kind of heels to make. nonetheless, i think the cotton is going to be wonderful to wear in summer.

i wore my blue cobalt cardi to work on friday and i totally loved it! it was a cloudy day with a bit of chilly breeze, i wore a pair of very broken in jeans and a very worn out grey t-shirt with the cardi, it felt so perfect and comforting. like having a bowl of beef stew. all day long i was immersed in this wonderful feeling and thinking about the generous comments from all of you. you guys made my day.

so i want more blue. but don't say blue, say cornflower. i am making this tunic from rebecca 29 with 100% linen yarn from joujouka. this is going to be a cornflower tunic to be worn over a tank top, with a little slip dress or even a pair of linen pants. i am loving it already!

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cornflower tunic with my favoriate liuli paper weight

the yarn is surprisingly strong, but very very thin. it feels hard at first but once knitted, it has a beautiful drape. i am doubling up the yarn and using US5 needles. it is going to take a while no matter how i look at it. but luckily it is just mindless knitting.

it is getting late... i am thinking of having a cup of baileys latte and perhaps listening to some fools garden before i go to sleep.

May 01, 2006

blue

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knit project: interweave winter 01/02 - cobalt blue cardi (aka tweedy aran cardi)
difficulty (1-5): 3
size: 33 in
yarn: rowan's rowanspun aran in midnight blue (discontinued)
knitting specs: US 6 & 8 cir.


i'm finally here. my cobalt blue cardi is seeing the sun and i'm doing the photo shoot myself. because who can capture this blue like i can?

i have been working on this project on and off for the past several months. it was an engaging knit and i'm really happy to see it all seamed up and ready to wear. it feels surprisingly warm (maybe because it's already late spring) but soft. and i know it will only get softer with time and wash. rowanspun is 100% wool so it may felt a little with time. i just realized that the yarn is actually quite brittle. not sure what to make out of that. perhaps felting will thicken the yarn a little.

the fit is perfect. i actually knitted this with a bigger gauge so the finishing size falls between 33 and 38 inches. and, this cardigan is probably meant to be worn with a little ease so i am overall satisfied with the length, the width and even the buttons! mari is my enabler for those buttons. they match up so well, like they were never meant to be apart.

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yes, it really fits perfectly and pairs well with my floor sweeping floral skirt!

the highlight of this traditional aran design is really the stitch pattern all over. the back piece in particular is my favorite part. i'm loving everything about this sweater and will wear it to work tomorrow. rain or shine.

happy may!

edited to add:
the pattern source and some more thoughts of the cardigan: i used approximately 700g of rowanspun aran. there are so many tweedy yarns out there, i chose this particular one because of price and color. my first choice of yarn was actually jo sharp's silkroad aran tweed. that would've been a great yarn to work with and to wear. however, it would also be much more expensive. karabella came out a new tweed yarn, i am guessing that would be a wonderful choice, too.

i used tubular cast on through out and tubular bind off for the collar. it is a really minor thing but i love how such details give the sweater a little more professional look. i used short row shaping on shoulders and did a three needle bind off for shoulder seams. stitches were kept alive for the back neck so i only picked up stitches along the front edges for collar. this also makes the finishing a lot neater.

last i googled, i found several knitters had also completed this cardigan, if you are thinking of making one, their notes will be useful. before you start, though, check the errata on interweave's website. it is a minor correction but it provides comfort to knitters like me.