Monday, December 20, 2010

Crafty Elf

For anyone following me on Twitter or paying attention on Facebook, it was clear I have been busy. I was not clear about what I was doing exactly, because I was busy in Santa's workshop aka my office/sewing room, making holiday gifts.

In total I made 4 no-sew fleece throws. I think these make wonderful gifts and L can help. She cuts the fringe or even ties some knots. The advantage to these, is the sky is the limit. You can make you own, by buying the fleece of your choice and trust me there is a pattern for everyone. JoAnn's even provides a tip sheet.

I have seen kits at all sorts of stores, naturally JoAnn's is my store of choice. Some kits will come prescored, which makes the entire process much easier and some you have to measure and cut, which takes more time, but is not fantastically challenging.

There is a variation on this theme, the patchwork fleece blanket. I made it a few years back for my mother. It was a challenge and I was sort in over my head. I have a kit, stashed away, which I may make this winter, but seriously, if you want to make a gift and you really feel you can't sew, the No Sew Fleece Throw is a great alternative. There is a throw pillow variant which is nice also.

The fleece throws got me warmed up, then I went for a sewing challenge.

In the summer I bought the book, One Yard Wonders after seeing it featured on a blog I used to follow. In truth, I have read it twice and made nothing. My sewing skills are basically decent, but I lacked the confidence to really go for it. The advantage is this book does have detailed directions and the internet has tons and I mean literally tons of tutorial videos. The sewing class this fall also helped to boost my confidence.

I wanted to make all the ladies in my book club something for the holidays, but I wanted to make it, not buy it. I wanted it to be the same, but unique.

I settled on the collapsible shopping bag. Great for shopping, coming to book club, going to library, and so much more. I had a variety of fabric around, some I had bought on whims and some I inherited from my mother-in-law or my mother. I only had to buy matching bias tape. (something I have never used before, but found easy enough to do, once I got the hang of it.)

In true sweatshop fashion, I cut out the five bags first, then I learned how to do a french seam. It is covered in the beginning of the book, but this tutorial helped alot too. (Tip: there are so many great sites out there, showing you how to do so many of these projects. So very helpful for the novice.)

Then I pinned the bags and then I slowly started sewing.

This charming bag I made from two tea towels, I picked up at World Market a few years ago. I love the pattern.

These bags, I had roughly 3.5 yards, so I was able to make three matching bags, are out of  the fabric I picked up at Walmart many years ago. It is whimsical. It was hard to work with though, the patchwork was wonky. I had a hard time creating the french seam.

This bag is out of exactly a yard of fabric. I have no idea where it came from. Ironically it was the easiest fabric to work with. The texture and weight seemed just right.

After I finshed these bags, I was SO excited. I wanted to Tweet pictures and post to facebook but it would ruin the surprise. So I waited and then I decided to make two more. I had the fabric and thought they would make charming presents.

I found this fabric frayed a bit, making the french seam a bit of a challenge, I did finally on these two master my bias tape technique. I finally was comfortable with using it and feeding it and then creating a clean edge.

Sewing really is about practice. You cannot learn to sew by just reading or watching You Tube vids, you have to just go for it. Each of these bags is unique, each had many flaws. They are perfectly imperfect, but they were made with love and there is not a single other bag in the world just like it.

And yes - I have given all of my handmade gifts away. Tonight I started on something for myself. I have truly been inspired and I am planning to tackle more projects after the holidays. I have proven, to myself, that I can in fact sew.

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