Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crafts: Poolside Tote #2

I knew I wanted to make a lightweight water-resistant version as well as a more structured one. I've had this water-resistant fabric for years, and Noodlehead's Poolside Tote seemed the perfect way to showcase it.

Doesn't the bag look like a LeSportsac?

I interfaced the exterior pieces with Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex, mostly because the water-resistant fabric is thin and I didn't want the lining visible through the exterior. I also added pockets on both sides of the bag to reinforce the bottom.

I went with neutral-colored straps, but would have used a vibrant cotton webbing if I had any. As it is, the straps are from one of my husband's decommissioned desert camouflage uniforms (read: sturdy and special). But I did add an extra pop of color with the facing.

A few notes about water-resistant fabric:

1. Not all water-resistant fabrics can be ironed and pinned without adverse effect; experiment with scrap fabric.
2. Use a sharp needle, and be patient.
3. Double or triple-stitch each seam; one line of stitches isn't strong enough.
4. Seams are difficult to match because the fabric slips and slides, even with pins.
5. Once a seam is sewn it cannot be removed without damaging the fabric; needle holes are permanent.
6. Fusible interfacing becomes sew-in interfacing, because water-resistant fabric is also glue-resistant.
7. When topstitching, the bobbin thread may be visible, no matter what.

I learned a lot while making this tote, and, despite the imperfections, am so very pleased with it! It'll get a lot of use at beaches, pools, and amusement/water parks!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Crafts: Jamie Christina Mission Maxi

For my muslin I cut a size 10, and it fit like a glove. The problem: I felt overexposed. The dress hugged every little curve, and that's not something I'm comfortable wearing in public.

But I liked the skirt portion of the dress.

To make a Mission Maxi skirt I added two inches to the pattern's sweep (making a 7-inch-wider finished bottom opening) and a yoga-style waistband at the pattern's narrowest part. I'm very pleased with the end result and will wear this skirt often.

I used a medium-weight bamboo-blend knit, and I love its thickness and drape. I want another maxi skirt in a solid color, maybe green or dark teal. Wouldn't that be pretty with a white tee and sandals?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Crafts: Poolside Tote

Ideal for Fourth of July celebrations, here's Noodlehead's Poolside Tote:

It's large enough to hold multiple towels, sunscreen, goggles, and assorted pool toys. And it comes together with ease thanks to Anna's excellent instructions.

I made this particular bag with two meters and a scrap of medium-weight cotton linen fabric and interfaced the exterior pieces with Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex. It's very sturdy but not so stiff it'd stand up on its own without being partially filled.

The only pattern omission I made was the key ring, because I didn't have the supplies.

This bag is a birthday present for a friend. She told me she wanted a bag to take to the pool and prefers earthy colors, so I know this bag will be perfect. Happy Birthday, Susana!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Crafts: Happy Drawing Baby

A friend of mine is having a baby boy later this month. She requested a quilt, but I also made matching burp cloths and a bib.

Most of the fabrics are from Ed Emberley's Happy Drawing line for Cloud9. I also used a couple of Lizzy House's bracelets, a spotty fabric by Denyse Schmidt, and Robert Kaufman flannel.

For the quilt, I followed a pattern I've had for some time. But once the blocks were cut and sewn I decided I didn't like the pattern's orderly arrangement. I mixed up the various-sized blocks and did some generous trimming to get the effect you see here. I rather like it, although it's nothing like I had planned.

I quilted in the ditch, but only after trying free motion scribbles and echo quilting. I have a special foot for quilting in the ditch, but I had the best results with my walking foot.

I used Cloud9's contoured burp cloths pattern and tutorial. The organic cotton and flannel make soft, lightweight, absorbent, non-slip burp cloths, and the contours make them easy and comfortable to wear. I wish I had some when Cole was a baby.

I don't have a model for the bib, but it's long enough to double duty as an apron. Hence its name: Bapron (pattern available here). The armholes and tie closure won't allow the baby to pull it off during mealtime, too. Messy bapron, clean clothes.

I hope these Happy Drawing baby gifts will be well used and loved! Congratulations, Mai!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Travel: Pisa & Florence

We traveled from Naples to Camp Darby this weekend. Camp Darby is just ten minutes from Pisa and one hour from Florence, making it the ideal base for day trips to either location and the rest of Tuscany.

We took advantage of Camp Darby's inexpensive lodging options and stayed in a pet-friendly deluxe "cabin" for two nights. It provided the necessities (and we saved on pet sitting fees), but it wasn't especially clean. We did visit during the low season, however, so perhaps housekeeping is better in the summer. Either way, lodging at Camp Darby allowed us to visit two famous cities for under $150.

Shawn and I have visited Pisa before, but this was Cole's first time. He wanted to climb the tower so badly, but no one under eight years of age is allowed. So we made do with walking the lovely grounds, admiring the buildings, and taking multiple pictures. Cole also purchased a foot-tall Leaning Tower of Pisa night light as his souvenir.

Florence was a first for all of us. We visited the more famous sites: Il Duomo, Brunelleschi's Dome, Battistero San Giovanni, Campanile di Giotto, Piazza della Signoria, Galleria degli Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, and Galleria dell'Accademia. We climbed to the top of the Campanile for some gorgeous views of the city and sought out Michelangelo and Botticelli's work in the museums. It was the ultimate Renaissance experience.

I'm sure we'll stay at Camp Darby again, once Cole turns eight. We want to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, hike the Cinque Terre, and visit Siena.

This part of Italy is just beautiful!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Crafts: Apron Parade

I gave aprons as part of our Christmas gifts this year. There are a lot of apron patterns available, but I used these two:

1. Amy Butler's In Stitches Short Pleated Apron (p. 48)

We lived in Japan for nearly ten years, and my mother and brother's girlfriend spent time there with us. This project gave me the opportunity to use a few prints I've been hoarding, and to reminisce.

As for the pattern, I had no issues whatsoever. The directions and diagrams are concise and easy to follow. And I think the apron's proportions are spot-on.

2. Rashida Coleman-Hale's I Heart Patchwork Patchwork Bordered Apron (p. 50)

I went with a Christmas hostess theme for my sisters-in-law. My husband says their mother always wore an apron in the kitchen, so maybe they'll like wearing this one during the holidays.

The lining and patchwork make this apron more time-consuming than the first, but it's still easy to assemble. I did opt to follow Amy Butler's directions for attaching the waistband and ties, as they produce a cleaner finish (and I was already familiar with the process).

Now that the holidays are over, I want to make The Sometimes Crafter's City Girl Apron for myself.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Travel: Cuma Scavi

In 5th century B.C. the Greeks established their first trade post in Cuma, Italy.

Parts of their temples to Apollo and Jove still stand, but the main archaeological attraction, Antro della Sibilla (Cave of the Sibyl), remains fully intact. This 400-foot long tunnel was carved from solid rock, and, according to Virgil's Aeneid, is where Aeneas asked the sibyl (oracle) for directions to the underworld.

The site is rather large (and excavation continues), so wear comfortable shoes. You'll climb many sets of stone stairs and walk along uneven stone and dirt paths. You're rewarded with gorgeous views of the Gulf of Gaeta and Ischia and a fascinating look at the past.

Admission: 8 Euros for 2 adults, 1 child (also includes entrance to Baia Museo Archeologico Campi Flegrei and Pozzuoli Anfiteatro Flavio e Serapeo)

Travel time: 1 hour round-trip from Naples Support Site

Time on site: 2 hours