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September 26, 2007

baby tote

baby tote

pattern: baby tote, my own
difficulty (1-5): 3.5
pattern size: n/a
fabric: 1/2 yd of amy butler's lotus in cherry wall flower, cream cotton linen and kaffe fassett's light yellow cotton for lining
notions: 1/2 yd of cotton batting, 2 inch wide leather for handles, bias tape for binding, wood button, 1/2 inch wide leather for closure, buttons

the journey of making this diaper bag was such an adventure. initially i was going to use amy butler's patterns, or some japanese craft book patterns. discussions went back and forth with me and my sister. i finally decided to just make my own version of what i envision a diaper bag would be. of course, we all learned now that leather strap may be detrimental to personal sewing machines. but i do love the end result. it's a baby tote for a chic mum.

i love amy butler's bold prints. but sometimes it could be a little bit overwhelming, like vera bradley. i wanted the baby tote to look chic so i just added the print to the mid section, keeping the rest of the design minimal, and somewhat japanese (the black leather strap, wood button and bias binding solidified the look of eastern flair).

the interior was my favorite part of the bag. it had two large compartments for baby clothes or diapers. and the other side to put paci and momma's cell phones. i had so much fun making them. also, i added a layer of cotton batting in between. so the bag feels soft and plushy.

using leather was a rather impromptu decision. i was browsing at my favorite fabric store, looking for webbing, but their collection of leather was too tempting. in retrospect it probably was not a good decision, for the sake of my sewing machine. but i do love the combination of texture. anyway, this project will be the first and last with leather. and honestly i may not recommend you to try. my machine is working fine now, after a trip to the shop, but i paid too much for the repair it kind of sucks.


now the best thing, i feel, about the bag was that i would even use it. for work! it really does not look like a diaper bag. it's big, it's cute and at one point i even consider keeping it for myself. oh well, i will probably make another one. sans leather.

September 12, 2007

in the shop

thanks to everyone who provided me the possible cause for my sewing machine problems. when i was searching online for such information, it was surprisingly sparse. i am so glad to see so many of you have had similar experiences and provided me some solutions.

a couple things about leather: i did use leather specific needles, and upholstery thread (100% nylon, very sturdy), and adjusted the top thread tension to -2 (which i think is looser?). and increased the stitch length. when i tested it was sewing just fine. but when something happened, it happened really fast (ie, the timing belt slipped off...). and the breakdown was rather an immediate event.

anyway, i finally succumbed to having the professionals checked out my machine. my husband took it to the repair shop and brought along the evidence (scraps of leather) of before and after stitches. husband said that the guy told him these types of machines (ie, basic household models) are not meant to sew such thick leather, it would require industrial strength sewing machine. i guess i better not tempt faith and sew leather again, after it's repaired and readjusted. what do you think?

which will probably change my plan for this cute diaper bag. maybe linen handles then. maybe that would work as well.


now something fun... remember this piece of gorgeous wool cashmere alison spoiled me with? i am going to pair it with equally decadent piece of light gray cashmere and make my first ever quilt. to make it even more luxurious, i bought some liberty of london cottons. among other cute prints.

i'm hoping the end result would look somewhat like this:


i can't wait to get started! it'll be a lap blanket to curl up in during winter. though i foresee this would be a cat blanket, too. my cats are used to luxury. they would not lay on hardwood floor, or even sit their cat butts on without any cushioning. i'm sure they would love to test how soft cashmere really feels.

September 10, 2007

caught by bobbins

loops and loops of nightmare

it was not a pretty sight.

i had some great plans for my sewing projects, the baby package for my sister was coming along so nicely, i designed and made this cute diaper bag for my sister. last weekend, while attaching the handles, my machine decided to quit.

this was the last thing i sewed before the breakdown:

beautiful stitches, even stitches. attaching leather to fabrics

pretty nice, i think. leather straps! i was really surprised to see how well my little machine could do. however, before that thought was properly formulated, i heard a loud pop, a tangled mess. after cleaning up, i realized that the bottom half of my machine seemed to not respond to anything i did. i knew then it was impossible to diagnose without looking inside.

so we did, my husband and i. we split open the sewing machine.

inside the machine

messed up part

my job had me trained to not be afraid of instruments, as i deal with them on a daily basis. i work with robots. so sewing machine is not intimidating to me at all. the moment we peeled the case open (it was really difficult to open, brutal force was needed). it was obvious that the timing belt had popped out. timing belt, driven by the larger belt, runs the lower shaft that drives the movement of bobbins/shuttle. so we decided to put it back where it should be. this particular singer model had what's known the automatic lower thread tension, but in the process of putting the belt back on (wrongly, the first time), we messed with the tension a little bit.

anyway, after we thought we had repaired it, the feed dog seemed a little off. it moves the fabric to be stitched a little jerky. then i realized the stitch length was messed up. so we split open the case again (last night), readjusted the tension, even checked to see if the belt was off, after that, it seemed to work okay. with thin threads and fabrics only. not okay with nylon threads and leather anymore. why?

before the breakdown, i can easily sewed leather, with desired stitch length, now, doesn't matter what stitch length i put it in, it sewed up these micro stitches. any ideas?

ugly micro stitches, what's going on?

even the stitches underneath look really weird. see:

thoroughly confused...

i'm a firm believer in that if i can sew leather before, i should be able to restore the instrument back to where it supposed to be. right?! i am very reluctant to send it in for repairs, as the basic price is like 1/3 of what i had paid for this machine. i think i can fix it (we can!). my next step is to oil the parts, as during the repair process i wiped clean the bobbin thread area. if that still doesn't work, i will probably need to reconsider sending it in for repair.

till then, i can't really sew.

September 04, 2007

ripple skirt

ripple skirt :: silk panel
click for more views

pattern: ripple skirt, my own
difficulty (1-5): 3.5
pattern size: small
fabric: 1 yd of satin silk and pinstripe linen, buttons

ripples from silk, from the lines of pinstripe linen. shades of blue, it's like colors from various depths of water, with lusters created by two different types of fabrics. it's also about asymmetry. uneven hemlines, unexpected silk panel and an exaggerated tie.

my first attempt of taking a concept, an idea and making them into a skirt.

like i mentioned in previous post. it started with wanting to selvage a pair of old pants. i thought a wrapped skirt would be wonderful, as far as making it from scratch goes. linen was limited so i bought some silk, wedged in between the front and back linen pieces, and added a large silk panel which overlaps the linen.

in theory, it's really not that difficult. but i think just like any design projects, i really did not know what to expect. i think working with silk brought enough challenge for me. i also had to make my own bias tape from slippery silk, and lots and lots of hand finishing.

i love the end result, to say the least. it was really satisfying to wear something i have put a lot of thought and work into. and most of all i have recycled many parts of the pants, that includes shell buttons (which can't be seen from the outside, it was sewn hidden to secure the wrap skirt), and belt loops, to secure the silk tie.

it's also a very wearable skirt, i know it's now officially the end of summer, but i think linen still has its place in early fall. especially with long sleeved cotton tees, or, a thin cashmere sweater.