Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Sewing & Hazel Pattern Review

Wow, so here it is, Christmas Eve. And not only am I just now finishing my final gift, but I managed to take a bunch of pictures so I can do a review of the pattern. Talk about multi-tasking!

Before I continue, I must say, that Twitter (my name is @restitcherator if you'd like to follow my tweets) is just about my favorite thing in the world these days. After I post pictures or talk about doing one pattern review or test, I get a request to do another one! It's like heaven! I follow quite a few fabric designers, pattern creators, sewing book authors, but also a ton of other crafters and sewistas like me.

My most recent project was from the very talented and wonderfully friendly Trish Preston, of Two Peas in a Pod Designs. She also has an Etsy shop where you can buy this great pattern for a hipster bag.

The pattern comes with multiple variations, pockets, no pockets, smaller, larger, etc. I made the basic version as a purse for my cousin for Christmas. She hates to carry big, heavy purses, so I thought this would be perfect for her. I used Sandi Henderson's new Meadowsweet fabric, which I think is absolutely GORGEOUS. It was everything in me not to keep the bag and get something else for my cousin!

The pattern was very well written, with great "tips" along the way for important notes to remember. One of the things I liked the best, was that there was a blank line between each of the numbered directions. And the font was a decent size. So often I get patterns that have tiny print on a page that's folded up 10 times and I flip back and forth and get myself confused.

Trish's steps were easy to follow, and I am super pleased with the results. What do you think?

I will most definately be making more bags with this pattern. It took me maybe a total of 3 hours including cutting, pressing, and sewing (and even the pictures). And I will be looking at Trish's new patterns when they come out too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Annual Christmas Trip to Beantown

It's actually become and annual tradition..we started going four years ago when we were just getting to the "serious dating" stage. We take a trip to Boston for some great food in the North End, some Christmas shopping, and a quick little getaway in the chaos that is holiday time.

This year we stayed at The Langham, Boston. It's right in the heart of the financial district. The room was very nice, but no free breakfast. A pretty big drawback in my book! We decided to walk to dinner, although it was pretty windy and cold, and saw this along the way, and I just loved it.

We got to dinner, at Trattoria di Monica on Prince Street in the North End. It came pretty highly recommended, and being the research geek I am, I read tons of online reviews. It was exactly the type of restaurant we love. Small, great atmosphere, romantic (ok, that's my favorite, not Rob's), and amazing food. Very cozy on a cold wintery night.

Even though it was tiny, Rob managed to snap a few pics, and caught me smiling at the amazing choices. At least this time I wasn't tweeting, or updating my Facebook page, which is what he usually catches me doing.

After dinner we stopped at Mike's Bakery, on Hanover Street, which was actually rockin' at 10:30. There were literally throngs of people going in and out. Some sitting with coffee, some taking boxes of sweet deliciousness home. That I did manage to tweet about.

I got a decaf cappucino, and about 8 different chocolate treats. Giant peanut butter cups, giant chocolate dipped pretzel rods with toffee crumbs on top, coconut clusters...oh lord. All of them were amazing, and we actually have a few left.

When we got back to the hotel, the concierge actually managed the truly rare and elusive photo of Rob AND Rebecca. These don't happen often, so I was glad it came out as well as it did.

The next morning we went to Sowa Holiday Market, which is a fantastic show featuring 80 amazing artists and craftspeople. I tell myself that I'm there to buy gifts and then manage to come home with presents for myself! My favorite artist was there, James Polisky. He designed my logo.

He has an amazing perspective. He manages to show the darker side of people, kids, animals, you name it, with what to me feels like a beautiful, funny overlay. For some reason, his work just speaks to me.

As we were eating lunch on Newbury Street, I was looking out the window and saw all kinds of people in Santa hats run by one block up. As luck would have it 5 minutes later, the Speedo Santa Run went right past us. I had never heard of it, but I guess it's to raise money for a few local charities. Needless to say Rob got TONS of pictures, but just to give you a flavor...these people were CRAZY.

As always, it was a wonderful, memorable trip. We will most definately be going back next Christmastime.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pattern Test for Patty - Flora & Fauna Blossom Pillow

Once again, thanks to Twitter, I was given the fantastic opportunity to test a new pattern for fabric/pattern designer Patty Young.

Patty launched a new set of patterns this week, and I was asked to test one of the decorative pillows from her "Pillow Trio" pattern. This time around Patty sent me her new Flora & Fauna fabric, and a suggested layout for the fabrics.

The fun part is that my finished test pillow gets to be in the actual pattern once it's printed, and Rob's great photos of the pillow get photo credit in the finished pattern too!

Overall, the pattern was super simple to complete. Something a new sewer could make with ease, and get some super immediate gratification. All of the pillows are a finished 18", so they really look fantastic and stand out on a chair or bed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Super Duper Tote with a Zipper (& pattern review)

Unfortunately, more than one of the projects I've worked on the most lately have been TOP secret. So I am very happy to be able to share this one.

It came as a special request from Rob's cousin. She asked me if I could make a tote bag with a zipper. She said she was looking for something that she could carry snacks and drinks around in, but that could pass for a handbag. My two kids are ALWAYS asking "what do you have to eat?" and oddly enough, there's usually something rumbling around in my purse. But I love the challenge of custom requests, so I started hunting.

I asked my fellow Tweeps for suggestions on a pattern to use. I figured that I at least needed a place to start. Melanie, (owner of Above All Fabric) who has now pretty much become my "go to" fabric/sewing resource suggested this book:

It looked like it had exactly what I needed so I ordered it right away. I decided on the tote from the back that has pink and purple stripes and black buttons, but I knew that I was going to choose a single fabric so I thought it would be pretty straightforward.

Well, pretty straightforward. I am a huge grosgrain ribbon fanatic. So I try to put it on just about as many things I make as possible without it looking silly. After two other fabric choices which ended up getting cut and then re-folded and re-stashed (that's a whole 'nother story!) I found this Joel Dewberry Tiles fabric and knew it was the right choice. I have the most awesome huge amount of siler/grey ribbon in a few different sizes, so I dug in.

The pattern was pretty clear, and well written, but as with many other patterns, it was really important to read through the whole thing a few times and have all of the pieces they told you to cut, ready. I tried to skip right to the directions, without being properly prepped and it didn't make any sense at all. Once I got into the meat of the pattern, it was easy to follow.

I will say that because the fabric was home dec weight, by the time it had a front, back, lining, and padding, it was pretty thick. I broke not one, but TWO needles going around the outside edge to finish it.

But finish it I did and I love the end result. I worked very hard to line up the sides,

and outside of the zipper...

and the inside is lined with some pretty plain, tonal cream color paisley fabric. It does, however, have a pocket made from my precious stash of Pussy Willow fabric from BariJ's Full Bloom line. These birds just make me HAPPY, so I fit them in where ever I can.

I am totally thrilled with the finished product

although it is much more than the quick bag I thought I was going to throw together. I realize with my horrid photographic skills the grey grosgrain actually looks like reflective tape! But I promise it's not.

Now I just hope Jessica likes it!

Next up, I"m going to do a little show and tell about my day of Serger School on Thursday. It was fantastic...