Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New... and Let's Party!

Today I posted that Joel Dewberry diaper bag. Of course I still love it. I just don't need to keep one of everything I make. This is an important realization for someone who makes bags, I think.

Another new endeavor in the last few days: I made my first pair of earrings on Saturday. I like them a lot because of the combination of materials: African amber, ostrich egg, and synthetic blue quartz. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. I got all the supplies from a really nifty bead shop in town, The Bead Cafe.
I am having a heck of a time deciding what to stock up on for my upcoming bag parties. I already have a bunch of medium and large tote bags, so I'm torn: do I make a few more diaper bags, or some wallets, or a handful of journal keepers, or something else all together? My husband thinks that people will want to snatch up the wallets. I kind of think I'll have a lot of custom orders inspired by items I've already made.

My first party is May 8. I am SO excited about it. I have these sweet little mirrors and lip balms for people who place orders, and I am almost as pumped about them as I am about the event itself! Christine at http://christinerenee.etsy.com made the mirrors for me--I cut the papers and decorated them, and she did the hard part. And Iva at http://ivaart.etsy.com made the world's best lip balm with a cute little Seat Of My Pants label on them. (I'm serious--I've never tried one better!) For the mirrors, I have made little tiny pouches to keep them from being scratched or finger-printed up. They turned out so nicely. Plus I made them from material I had that I didn't have other plans for. That makes me very happy.
Question of the day: What do you think I should do about my inventory? If you were hosting a bag party, would you like to see more totes, more diaper bags, more wallets, another size of bag, little pouch wallets, or something else??

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Tulips Are Showing Off Today

... and I just can't say that I blame them.  

Diaper Bag #2 makes 
its debut appearance today.  I like it so much that I haven't decided if I can bear to post it on Etsy.  I really just want to keep it.  I love the fabric (Joel Dewberry Chestnut Branches in Eggplant), and I am so thrilled with the design!

I've decided that this will be the "standard size" diaper bag that I post in my shop.  I can't wait to make another one!  It takes about a yard of each fabric (plus a ton of interfacing), and I would like to wait until I sell some totes to buy much more fabric.  Though I do have 2 yards of Michael Miller's Chocolate Animal Crackers headed my way... yippee!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Diaper Bag fit for Quadruplets

Well, maybe not quadruplets, not that I'd know.  It is massive though!  A friend of mine asked if I made them, and I said that I could, but definitely wanted to take a stab at it before I ordered and cut her fabric to smithereens.  Yesterday, with the only piece of fabric that I had that was big enough, I made my very first official diaper bag.  

The thing I'm most pleased with about the bag is its flap.  It's messenger bag style, and in the flap I put a lovely lined, zippered pocket.  My first successful zipper (outside of tiny felt change purses)!  

The design is right, but even for a diaper bag I think it's too wide.  At the bottom, it's 18 x 5--and the 5 is not the problem, but the 18 gets gradually wider until the top of the bag, where it's nearly 2 feet across.  I suppose it is a good design to keep on hand as an option, but I would personally prefer a slightly smaller bag.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Silver Lining to the Sewing Blunder

You know, when you mess up round one that thoroughly, the good news is that it really does only get better from there.  (I have to mention this because it's hilarious: shortly after I posted last night, I went ahead and ironed the iron-on interfacing to the ironing board.  But it really did get better from there.)

The 2nd journal cover turned out beautifully.  It is not quite done--I need to pick up some snaps today--but it is really nice!  I am so pumped to show it off at the bag parties.  I made another one today with that same fabric as the church event wallet, and it also turned out nicely.  It's such a simple, lovely thing--it doesn't take that long to make at all.  

My original thought was to offer custom journal covers for any size of notebook, but after yesterday's fiasco, I think that may be more difficult than I first thought it would be!  I'd love to get some Etsy book makers' books to put in there.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Up From Here!

So I am working on a new design that will be handy when I am doing bag parties: it's a journal / receipt book holder, and this way I will be able to keep notes on orders and all the receipts together.  There's a pen holder, too.  The designing process can only improve from where it is now.

Taking measurements for this thing was an approximation, as I was not sure how big it would actually need to be.  Yesterday I cut the last bits of an Amy Butler remnant (the gold morning glory one--my fave at the moment, I think, aside from the pink morning glory!) I had--cut them into the complete wrong sizes.  Sigh.

This evening, I tweaked the measurements a bit and tried again.  Everything was going swimmingly until I was 2 steps away from being done and noticed that the pocket I'd left for the back cover of a notebook was about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch too small.  A pain, but fixable: I flipped it inside out again and stitched up a new seam.  

Then I burned myself on the iron, ironed the opening and stitched it up too--twice, actually, before I got it so the dang thing would actually cover the whole notebook inside--yes, before I attached the part of the snap that should be attached before the sewing of that seam.  

And THEN I noticed that in the fixing of the 1/8 to 1/4 problem, THAT seam had come undone.  This is a prototype, I thought, This does not have to be perfect.  This is a first try.  So I gave a "decorative stitch" to (somewhat) repair that little error.  (Not very decorative.  Not very repaired.)

And at last, I went to affix the snap that I was supposed to affix before the stitching of the top seam.  I would pay somebody to invent a snap affixing pliers that left more room between the thing that holds the snap and the hinge in the pliers.  Because then I would not have to try and bunch up half a planner in that tiny little spot only to--after I'd affixed the snap of course--realize that such bunching would misalign the outer and inner fabrics permanently.  

Thus ends the first round of my attempt at making a planner cover.

By some grace of God, I have not broken anything in my workshop this evening, and I also have enough of the same fabric to try again.  

I am, however, out of snaps.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'm Going To Bed Early Tonight...

... because I was up till midnight writing a paper last night.  

That's what the plan was anyway.  Then I looked at my clock and noticed that it was already after 11.  (At one point in my life, this time of evening would have been early.  It is not anymore!)

I made a bag tonight, and learned that one should not think to oneself, "My, this has been the fastest bag I've ever made.  How nice," until one is actually done with the bag.  I learned that those pearly snaps are actually very difficult to make work on home-dec fabric with corduroy (all reinforced with interfacing).  I got it to work, but it was no short or easy task!  We'll see if I'm awake before the sun comes up tomorrow morning.

Here is the bag.  It is a donation for the booster club.  I think I will be more pleased with it in the morning.  Ha!

The Blair Witch Photography: A Tutorial

A short tutorial for those who wonder what the effect of photographing your items outdoors using the "close up" function on your camera will have:

The top photo is taken with the "close up" function on.  Notice the creepiness.

The bottom photo is taken without the "close up" function.  Notice the lovely new leaf buds popping out of the branch.

In conclusion, if you'd like creeped out photos or if you are trying to get the background noise of your shot to quiet down a little, use the "close up" function.  If you want some background noise, don't use it.

This has been a public service announcement from Seat Of My Pants.  Thank you for reading it.

PS: I have never seen more of Blair Witch than they showed on network TV commercials. I'll keep it that way, thanks. :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

To Walk or Not To Walk?

I discovered the answer to that question yesterday when I attempted to sew a bag without my walking foot.  The sewing went fine with the wallet, but doing the top of the bag was extremely frustrating (close to impossible!) and the whole thing turned out all slanty.

So to add to the post about the Shark people--yes, turning the screw helped a lot, but getting a walking foot that was not missing a piece and worn out helped even more. 

I should get a picture of that little thing on here... 

Bag Parties, New Feet, and Baby Kicks, Oh my!

I am majorly pumped about a bag party in the making.  A friend of mine saw the bag I was carrying (a bird tote), and said, "You really should be doing that!  I'll have a bag party!"  So I have been working on fancying-up my designs a little bit with the various tote bags.

Along those lines, I have some completely awesome thank-you gifts coming soon for the bag party guests.  There will be lip balm with a customized Seat Of My Pants label on it (complete with an all-white background photo, a new one for me--see photo), courtesy ivaart (http://ivaart.etsy.com) and some funky little pocket mirrors made with scrapbook paper, courtesy ChristineRenee (http://christinerenee.etsy.com).  I just can't wait to see 'em all!

Yesterday I called the sewing machine guy and asked him if he could take a look at my defunct walking foot.  He did--all the parts poured out like a cartoon!  No wonder that thing didn't work.  He gave me a stellar deal on a new walking foot, and my sewing hour this morning went very smoothly.

Our little baby waby has been turning cartwheels this morning.  I think it's almost that time when I'll be able to SEE the movements!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


So I called the Shark people this morning and explained why I had a walking foot on the Husky in the first place (the fabrics shifted around a lot without it--it worked great until The Incident). I wanted to get a walking foot for the Shark too, but he said that the problem sounded like the pressure tension was off (or something like that), and that I could fix that very easily by turning this little screw on the machine.  So I took the now defunct walking foot off the Husky and tightened the little screw, and voila, it sews like a dream now.  I could NOT believe it!  In a good way, mostly.  So things are moving more smoothly through the sewing machine today. 

In other news--the ultrasound went well.  I bought the right color onesie today. :)

I Hearted This Wallet

...with cream-colored corduroy!

This one is a donation for an event at our church tonight.  I really, really love how it turned out, but man oh man do I wish the sewing machine would love me back!  I am starting to think that the other day when I saw something whiz by my face, maybe it actually was part of the quilting foot.  The darn thing keeps slipping off and scooting around in the midst of things.  The guy who fixes machines around here has a 3-week waiting period, and I think that may be bad for my business!  My husband is going to see if he can find a shop that's not so backed up in the town where he works.

In other news, I have discovered that if it's over 65 degrees, it is too hot to sew vinyl, so it's back to fabric pockets in the wallets till the fall, I suppose.  That's OK though.

It is ultrasound day--I can't believe it's already 20 weeks.  Husb felt the kick for the first time last night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Initially Speaking

Just finished up a super-sweet initial tote / wallet combo for a lovely customer who found my ad on craigslist.  It's made from AH light bright green, with a brown cord on the inside.  I am really pleased with how the letters turned out. I have found that my Shark sewing machine (has anybody had any experience with Shark?) does awesome zigzag.  I love my little Husky, but he is feeling a little under the weather zigzag-wise.  I think there's a combination of things going on with his tension, his quilting foot, and the fact that I need to take him in for his check-up.

Anyway, here are a couple photos of the set.  It's going in the mail today! 

Friday, April 4, 2008

Being a Student Today

Have you read any of Yusef Komunyakaa's poetry? Tonight I wrote a paper on "Songs for My Father." I really, really like that poem. The paper is only about 7 pages long, which is not that long considering the poem itself is 5 pages! But I'm pretty happy with my paper. And so I am getting more caught up with school work than I was, and more behind in making new things for my shop than I was, too! Such is life, I suppose, when you are a wife, a mommy, a student, and a bag maker.

I do have a couple of bags to make this weekend: I have a black and white with yellow all over in the plans, as well as my first craigslist order to work on. I can't wait to get to work with those awesome new fabrics!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Today, Relist.

Today I relisted some items in my shop.  The morning has been coming a little too early for me to actually get up the last couple of days, so nothing new today.  I did relist a sweet big tote and matching wallet though.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out.
I am also trying to be caught up with my distance learning grad school course.  It is way WAY harder to keep on top of things than I imagined it would be, that's for sure.
New fabric came in the mail yesterday from catylouquilts.etsy.com.  Beautiful stuff--Michael Miller, Alexander Henry, Joel Dewberry.  It just made my day!  catylou even made a special listing for me.  How nice.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Yay Etsy!

I knew you could do it!  Back up and running, horray!

New Photos Today!

It's finally sunny today, so I took some of my latest bags out to get some brighter pictures of them.  It's just amazing how poorly the colors photograph inside!  I like how they turned out--the colors are much more true to how they actually look.

The wonders of possessed technology continue... just as I was about to finish uploading the last new photo, Etsy's server stops working.  I'm sure they'll get it figured out soon.  They are really good about this type of thing.

(Better photos, huh?) 

Possessed Sewing Machine? Maybe.

Is it possible that my trusty little Husky has suddenly become demon-possessed?  How ELSE do you explain the fact that, after sewing about 20 bags and wallets, it suddenly has come unaligned?  Doesn't unalignment take time??  
The problem, I finally discovered, is that the needle is hitting the foot instead of the fabric.  (I assume this has something to do with alignment somewhere.)  It doesn't hit the foot if there's no fabric under it.  That's handy, isn't it?  And if I take the Husky in for service, I'll be without him for 2 weeks!  What to do, what to do?  (Of course, take it in before someone gets hurt!)
On a lighter (non-possessed) note, I DID figure out how to sew a hem in the vinyl I'm using for the wallets these days.  With a nod to William Carlos Williams, so much depends on the lower tension.