Handmade Wallet

handmade-walletThe Academy Awards is for women what Super Bowl is for men, and I am unapologetically addicted to it, from the red carpet to the post-show interviews. I was pleasantly surprised to find this year’s show extremely entertaining, thanks to Hugh Jackman’s flawless and charming performance! I truly enjoyed the part where past winners came out to salute the current nominees for Best Actor and Actress awards. And I want to give bravos to two Japanese winners for Best Animation Short (domo arigato, Mr. Robotto) and Best Foreign Film for representing Japan’s talents!

While I enjoyed the show, I kept my hands busy to continue my dry run for my sister’s birthday gift. The idea #2 was a handmade wallet. It would not be an overstatement when I say that I started sewing because I wanted to make a wallet, so I was really excited to finally dive into this. I got the inspiration from The*Darn*Kat when I found this Quilted Wallet Tutorial. I didn’t follow the tutorial entirely because I wanted to keep the design really simple and not use the patchwork, but this tutorial definitely gave me great pointers on how to make the credit card slots. I used the wallet I have as a guideline for the positioning of all pockets and the placement of the magnetic snaps.

I’m really happy with the way it came out and I think this is the winner. I’m hoping that the new fabrics I ordered last week will arrive soon so I can make the wallet using one of Amy Butler or Joel Dewberry’s designs for my sister’s gift. I wish I still had some Belle fabrics left because they are so beautiful but I’m afraid I don’t have enough to make another wallet (shucks). I still have a long way to perfect it though — urgh!

(And sorry for the awful picture here!)

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Oven Mitt

oven-mittMy sister’s birthday is coming up and I really want to make something handmade for her this year but don’t know exactly what to make. She and I are both very practical people and we only surround ourselves with things with a real purpose so as beautiful as handmade quilts may sound, that’s definitely out as an option. After thinking about it for a while, I narrowed it down to several choices – either some kind of kitchen accessories or organizational gadget.

I decided to take my ideas on a test run this weekend, sewing them up to see how useful they would really be. The first project I tackled was an oven mitt – something I’ve wanted to make for some time now. I own a book called Pretty Little Potholders, which has lots of cute ideas for oven mitts, but I decided to take the idea from Skip to my Lou’s Oven Mitt Pattern for this one because I loved her easy-to-follow instructions. Cindy from the site gave a great advice that I should sandwich the outer fabric, insulating lining and the inner lining together and machine-quilt them before cutting out the pattern. This simple but important advice made the entire process so much more pleasant.

Unfortunately, I did not have Insul-Bright insulated lining on hand so I used a fleece batting instead, which, will not be what I will be using if I were to make this for my sister. Fleece batting is too thin, and while it may be suitable for little things like removing cookies from the baking pan and transferring them to a cooling rack, it’s definitely not appropriate for removing a piping hot casserole from an oven!

I drew the pattern by tracing the outline of the oven mitt I have in the kitchen and I liked how it came out. I may, however, make it a little wider and shorter next time. Oh, and I love Amy Butler’s Belle in Coriander Seagreen!

Shoulder Bag

shoulder-bagI couldn’t sleep until late last night (technically this morning). I stayed up later than usual to catch Conan O’Brien’s final show as the host of Late Night (I’m so excited that he’s coming to Burbank) and was unable to go to bed after that. It must have been the couple cups of hot green tea I had earlier that night. But I knew I had to force myself to sleep when informercials started showing on all channels!

My insomnia did, however, lead me to complete the Shoulder Bag from Tiny Happy’s tutorial that I had started earlier that night. I love any project that I can finish in one day and I especially loved this pattern because it didn’t require any intricate techniques or time-consuming steps (making cute things don’t need to be difficult!). It was pretty much cut the fabrics and sew them together! The instruction was very easy to follow and the pictures accompanying them really helped me understand the process.

I really liked how the bag turned out and I’m certain that I’m going to use it. I used Amy Butler’s August Fields Bright Buds Moss for the bag and a brown fabric with little tiny flowers that I bought from local Jo-Ann for the lining. I had purchased this green fabric by Amy a while back and although I loved it, I really didn’t know what to do with it until now. It slept in my stash for almost three months before turning into this lovely bag. I love it when a good fabric meets a wonderful pattern that gives the breath of life to it. Next time I make this (and I’m sure I’ll make more), I will probably use a different lining though. The brown color, I realized a little too late, didn’t go so well with Amy’s vibrant green and looked too dominant and overpowering. I used the batting fleece to hold the shape together.

shoulder-bag-strapInstead of sewing two straps together as the instruction stated, I decided to connect them using Velcro strips because I felt that this bag could give a different look with different lengths of the strap (it gives a feeling of a messenger bag when long, and a cute fashionable bag when short) and didn’t want to commit to one just yet. Having the Velcro will allow me to adjust it depending on my mood for that day. I was afraid that the shoulder part would come out too bulky with the Velcro but it didn’t. I would probably make the entire strap a little thinner next time (I made mine 4” wide thinking that wider straps would give more stability but it was just too wide. I should have struck with the 3.5” suggested on the pattern).

I can’t wait to take this around town this weekend!

Spring Fabric Shopping

I picked up sewing by accident, really. I went into a neighborhood mega store a few months back to pick up a DVD and instead came out hauling a giant box of Singer sewing machine that was on sale for about 75 bucks. I don’t know what came over me since I didn’t even know how to sew, but I’m so glad I did because I can now attempt to create whatever clothes I want to wear or bags I want to carry, instead of some overpriced department stores dictating what I should. I would love to fill my closet with all handmade things someday — knitted sweaters, hand-sewn dresses and creative bags — but of course, I fear that my friends will think I’ve become a tree hugging, anti-establishment unibomber sidekick. They already think I live the life of a 60-year-old grandma with 15 cats.

I was attacked by an intense urge to replenish my fabric stash last night and ended up ordering these fabrics from Fabric.com. Spring must be in the air because I found myself ordering all floral designs with vibrant, spring-y colors by Joel Dewberry and Amy Butler, two of my favorite designers. I also noticed that many of the designs are somewhat similar, which I tend to do. I’m definitely one of those people who have her favorite shirt in different colors. I’m also not afraid to have duplicate garments even if it risks people thinking that I’m wearing the same shirt for two consecutive days. Maybe I’ll make something out of (gasp) a red fabric (I don’t like red on me) someday, but not now. Not just yet.

fabric-shoppoing

(Clockwise from top left: Joel Dewberry Ginseng Orchid Celery, Amy Butler Daisy Chain Deco Rose Navy, Amy Butler Lotus Tree Peony Ivory, Amy Butler Nigella Twill Passion Vine Grey, Amy Butler Nigella Twill Grandiflora Maroon, Amy Butler Daisy Chain Water Garden Forest).

Fabric Basket

fabric-basket1With plethora of free knitting and sewing patterns available online, there’s really no good reason to purchase books anymore. All the information you’ve ever wanted are just a mouse click away. With that said, I am still a recovering book junkie who cannot live without her glossy, shiny, beautiful books (whether they be knitting, sewing, baking, or cooking), but I am beginning to appreciate and try to take advantage of those lovely online tutorials fellow crafters have so generously prepared for us.

Some of my favorite sewing tutorials can be found on a blog called, “Pink Penguin,” a blogosphere candy store where you are guaranteed to walk away with a bag full of delicious ideas and inspiration. I’ve made several things from here and so far, this fabric basket is my favorite. Ayumi’s instruction is really easy to follow and her blog is too cute for words.

You can find the tutorial for the fabric basket here.

Tote Bag

tote-bagI’ve been a fan of tote bags as long as I can remember. There is something very comforting about carrying a big, durable tote bag on my shoulder, like having a fluffy Akita beside me, instead of a little Chihuahua. Hervé Chapelier makes wonderful tote bags and I brought many of them home from Paris when I was there a few years ago on a holiday. The airport custom thought I was a reseller because I had so many of them stuffed in my tiny suitcase!

I also like those eco-friendly grocery bags. They are so cute and practical, and I would love to carry them everywhere but I’m a bit hesitant to haul around a bag with the giant Trader Joe’s logo on it. So I decided to make my own, taking the durability of the grocery bag and combining it with the bright color inspired by Chapelier.

I used Joel Dewberry’s Ginseng Wildflower Rust fabric for this project. I fell in love with this beautiful, orange and turquoise, nature-inspired design the moment I saw it here, and knew immediately that I wanted to make a tote bag out of it.

I used my own pattern for this bag, partially because I did not find the pattern I loved and partially because I’m still terrible at following instructions. I knew that this would be a big risk (since I picked up a sewing machine only a few weeks prior) but I was willing to go for it.

I’m really happy with the way it turned out and I carry this bag everywhere I go. I put a pocket inside for keys and other little items that often get lost in the black-hole of tote bags. I was pleasantly surprised how durable it is and how much stuff it can hold.

I’m thinking about writing up a tutorial for this bag in the near future so stay tuned!