Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crafts: Military Monster Tote

I give you the Military Monster Tote (p. 51) from Deploy That Fabric:

This tote is aptly named, as it's large and an absolute beast to make. It has many pieces, layers, pockets, and requires multiple steps, lots of fabric, and patience. But it's perfect for day/overnight trips.

It has two pockets on the exterior and seven inside - more than enough pockets to keep you organized while on the go.

My only complaint is how the interior's bottom pockets are constructed. They have exposed seams (not pictured), which I don't like. Next time I will create French seams, and gladly lose half an inch of pocket space, or bind the exposed edges with bias tape.

I used hemp tape for the straps, which I don't necessarily recommend. While its color matches desert camouflage and is soft to the touch, it stretches and might not hold up as well as webbing.

If interested, other fabrics used are Loulouthi by Anna Maria Horner and Flea Market Fancy Legacy by Denyse Schmidt.

There's one more bag from the book to make: the Grommet Purse (p. 28). I know it'll be easier than this monster.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crafts: Hipster Purse

This is the Hipster Purse from Deploy That Fabric:

I took a few liberties with this pattern. Instead of making a welt pocket on the exterior, as directed, I used my husband's uniform blouse pockets and made a welt pocket for the interior.

The bag is petite, so it was really difficult to edgestitch the top. I did my best, but the stitching is not as straight as I like. I'm sure it would have been easier to sew without the bulky exterior pockets, but I think the pockets make the bag.

More to come.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crafts: Grocery Tote

Here's the Grocery Tote (front and back) from Deploy That Fabric:

I wouldn't use this tote for grocery shopping, as it's only large enough to hold a few small items. Instead, I recommend using this tote as a gift bag, or to cart small craft projects and necessities. Regardless, this is a well-proportioned and constructed bag, and it comes together quickly.

The bottom of the bag is made from uniform scraps, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell at a distance. Still, the uniform fabric does make the dainty bag sturdier. The Amy Butler and Denyse Schmidt fabrics and satin ribbon make it soft and feminine.

I deviated from the pattern and didn't use ribbon to separate the body and base of the bag (I thought the ribbon tie was enough). Otherwise, I followed all directions.

Up next: the Hipster Purse (p. 16).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crafts: Armed Forces Day

In America, Armed Forces Day/Armed Forces Week pays tribute to the men and women who serve in our military. I'm fortunate that my husband is one of these men.

Today I am repurposing some of his old, decommissioned uniforms to make wearable goods for the women in our family. I know they'll be proud to wear and give new life to the uniforms their father/brother/uncle/son-in-law wore. And perhaps the bags will help remind passerby to recognize, respect, and remember our military service members year-round.

I am using patterns from Jen Eskridge's Deploy That Fabric. If you're part of a military family and unfamiliar with the book, please get acquainted. Jen offers 23 inspirational, practical, and fashionable patterns that mix military uniforms and designer fabric (accessories, quilts, home decor, as well as holiday and baby items). Also be sure to check out her website, ReannaLily Designs, for more uniform upcycle patterns and ideas.

I've completed one project in the book so far: the Reversible Tote (p. 39).

It's the perfect-sized tote for everyday wear, and because it uses quilt batting instead of stiff interfacing, it's also comfortable against the body and easy on the shoulder. Of course the upcycled pockets and nametag are my favorite parts of the bag, but I also love the featured Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner prints.

Notes: The pattern calls for 1 1/8 yards of print fabric, but you only need a single yard (or two half yards). To simplify matters, baste the batting and fabric together before constructing the bag.

I fully intend to make the Hipster Purse (p. 16), Grocery Tote (p. 20), Grommet Purse (p. 28), and Military Monster Tote (p. 51) in short order. I'll post my progress.

I also plan to make a quilt with my husband's uniforms, but not until after our next tour (I'll then have a greater variety of uniforms to work with). Wouldn't that make an excellent retirement gift?

Hug a military service member today!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crafts: Mother's Day

Last year, my parents moved to a lovely part of Tennessee. The view from their living room is full of birds and other wildlife, flowering plants, and hill after hill of trees. I knew the prints in Cloud9's Alegria collection, designed by Geninne D. Zlatkis, would coordinate well with my parents' new surroundings.

Since my parents own two navy blue La-Z-Boy recliners and are on the hunt for a neutral sofa, I thought pillows would be a great way to tie the current and would-be furniture and outdoor views together. I chose the blue birds, walkabout, and blooms in blue prints (the blue birds are my favorite).

I usually make pillows with an envelope closure, but I opted for a hidden zipper this time (see this tutorial: Add a Zipper to Your Pillow). And I don't think I'll go back. The pillows are reversible, look more polished and professional, and require only a few more minutes of work - well worth the effort.

I hope Mom likes her pillows, but if not, she better return them to sender. I'm quite taken with them.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crafts: Teacher Appreciation

Teachers in America are undervalued, amongst other things. That’s why it’s so important we parents get involved in our children’s education and do what we can to help our nation’s teachers. Of course our time is the most important thing to volunteer, but giving little gifts for holidays and Teacher Appreciation Week (7 - 11 May) is another way to remind teachers we support them and their role in our little ones’ lives.

My son has two teachers (one he sees each weekday and another twice weekly), and I wanted to make something that has an academic bend yet is fashionable and functional for work and beyond. Keyka Lou published the Swatch Book Cover Pattern, and I thought it the perfect choice. As an added bonus, I'd be able to utilize fabric scraps to make both covers.

While I was at it, I made two more: one each for the preschool director and owner.

The pattern offers two size options (small and large), the small being roughly 4 X 6 inches and the large 6 X 9 inches. Both are quick and easy to make, with well-drawn directions. Moleskine Cahier journals (sold in sets of three) best fit the large version, but less expensive journals easily fit the small size (Target brand journals, for example).

I noted one discrepancy in the pattern, however: the velcro placement on the body of the small cover should be the same as the large version. As written, the size large flap closely hugs the body of the cover, whereas the size small flap leaves a sizable gap. I prefer a tightly bound journal.

I did alter the pattern slightly. I used patchwork instead of a single focus fabric, and I used fusible fleece instead of interfacing for the body of the cover. As directed, I used interfacing for the lining and pockets. Nevertheless, the thickness of the cover is scarcely more than it would be with the prescribed layers of interfacing, and I find the quilted cover more pleasing to touch.

If interested, I used 2.5 inch squares of various Denyse Schmidt, Bonnie and Camille (from their Ruby line), and Lizzy House fabrics. The large cover has 5 X 6 = 30 squares (no trimming necessary), and the small cover has 4 X 4 = 16 squares trimmed to size. I quilted all covers with a crosshatch design for durability.

My son wrote the inside message, and we hope his teachers enjoy and use their gifts.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!