Wear a little tie-dye on your hip

A few months ago I posted photos of some beautiful hand-dyed fabrics in Great Weekend for Dyeing. I felt they were too pretty to cut up, but I finally took the plunge and made a few things. Here are two fold over bags.

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I sewed on leather handles. A first for me. I just got a new machine that can do this. (40 year old Elna Super – I still love you and will always keep you.) The inside is fully lined with an Amy Butler print fabric. (Side note – I had the good fortune of attending an Amy Butler workshop in Los Angeles this past Saturday, and she truly is a rock star. Also the nicest – and possibly tallest – woman on the planet.)
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DSC_0642These bags are both for sale on Etsy.

Jasper and Hanna’s Halloween, a costume retrospective

My husband Michael and I have been empty nesters for two months. I am not “regularly” employed and my professional résumé of the last 20 years is spotty. Without a child at home to distract me, I have been looking back and asking myself, “What have I done all these years?”

I find myself looking at the blogs of 30-something mothers of young children posting adorable photos of their kids in the cute clothes they have made for them. I feel like I have something in common with these women. I feel drawn to them because I can relate to them. They are having a great time doing creative projects for and with their children while possibly putting their professional careers on hold. However, I feel ageism at work for me. I doubt they would be interested in me. I am a seamtress, not a sewist; I use McCalls, Simplicity and Butterick, not indie patterns with first names. I am an early 50-something, and I blog about handbags and purses.

So I am posting what follows for two reasons. First, here is one of many, many things I have done in the past 20 years. And, second, young mothers, we do have something in common. I’ve been through it and enjoyed every moment!

The first costume I made for Jasper was a bee, and there are no photos to be found. When he was three, he wanted to be a dinosaur.
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When Jasper was four, he wanted to be Simba. Well, fine, but I wasn’t making that, so we bought one.
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However, Hanna was one, and old enough to dress up, so I made her a bunny costume. Confession: I don’t think I asked her what she wanted to be, I just decided.
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From about age one to six, Jasper was car fanatic, and I mean FANATIC. When he was five, he was Jeff Gordon, Nascar driver #24. This prized costume was a joint effort between my husband and me. I painstaking made the outfit – letters, numbers, logos and all. Michael contructed the cardboard car.
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Currently, Jasper goes to college not far from home, so he was able to indulge me with this recent photo. That costume will always be loved.

Jasper at twenty-one.

Jasper at twenty-one.

When Hanna was two, we did the basic princess costume.
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At six, Jasper was an Indiana Jones, adventuring, sort of guy. I made the vest. Hanna, at three, was Miss Potato Head. I think I pushed for this one. This costume is one of our all-time favorites. Hanna has actually worned it multiple times, as recently as a year or two ago, only it came up to her waist, the armholes were tight and the velcro didn’t close completely in the back.
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Another great year, I made Jasper, now seven, an Anakin Skywaker inspired costume. And, Hanna, four, was a beautiful, handcrafted mermaid.
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All good things must come to an end. This shiny cape was the last Halloween thing I sewed for Jasper to go with his alien mask when he was eight. Hanna, five, insisted for some reason, that she wanted to be a tiger. I remember we had an Indian summer on that Halloween day, and I think she was roasting in that costume during the school parade.
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At nine, Jasper was now in charge of his own costume. He might have been pushing the P.C. boundary, but those Billy Bob teeth he borrowed from his dad are pretty funny.
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Hanna, at six, asked me to make her a glamorous Cleopatra costume.
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Jasper at age ten, crafted a pretty clever costume as a headless man. Hanna, seven, chose to be a pioneer girl. Did I mind that it was a separate dress, pinafore, and hat, and required yards of fabric? Of course not!
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The last costume I made for Hanna was Carman Maranda. It was very cool, but no photos can be found.

Well, this brings my costume retrospective to an end. Young, sewing mothers, I hope you see that we have a lot in common. And I’ll look forward your posts of your handmade prom dresses ten years from now.

Hanna at eighteen.

Hanna at eighteen.

Now trending – cat pouches!

Is it just my imagination, or are cats suddenly super cool? I have been noticing cute cat pictures and videos everywhere on social media, many posted by young, hip, style makers. I think there was a time when only “crazy cat ladies” freely admitted their love for cats. I’ve always loved cats, so I’m glad they are getting the public adoration they deserve.

So I thought now is a good time to use up my cat fabric straps and make some pom pom pouches with them. Maybe some cool cat lover will buy one!
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They are all made with over-dyed cat print fabric and tie-dyed fabric. They are lined with a contrasting print fabric.
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All three of these pouches are for sale in my Etsy shop.

Fun, Day of the Dead totes

I had been waiting since spring for this Andover fabric to be available. The collection, “Mi Famalia,”  is designed by Jesus Cruz who is an artist that lives in my city of Riverside, California. Both my husband and I are thrilled by this fabric – me, because I sew, and my husband, because he actually had Jesus as a student in a printmaking class several years ago at our local community college when Jesus was beginning his art career. My husband, Michael, can say “I knew him when…..!”

So far, with the fabric, I’ve made two totes. Same pattern with variations.

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The totes are also lined with fabrics from the collection. They have two interior pockets.
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The long strap tote sold before I had a chance to list it (I’m sure I’ll make more!), But the short handle one is for sale on Etsy.

These square bags are not square!

I seem to alternate between using new fabric and fabric from my stash. These two bags were made from fabric from my altered fabric stash. I had a lot of fun piecing together patchwork designs to make these classic square totes.

This varied patchwork is made from fabric that was tie-dyed in several small batches.

This varied patchwork is made from fabric that was tie-dyed in several small batches.

This square patchwork was made from fabric from JoAnn's that I bleached and over-dyed.

This square patchwork is made from fabric from JoAnn’s that was bleached and over-dyed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are lined with hand-dyed fabric and have two interior pockets. They are have a layer of cotton batting for stability.
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Here are some close ups.

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These bags can be snagged in my Etsy Shop.

Refreshed – new handles for Sandra

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There are few things I love more than knowing that a bag that I have made has been well-loved and well-used. My bags are made of fabric, and while I pride myself on craftsmanship and functionality, it’s just a fact that fabric does not last forever. My dear friend Sandra came to me with a bag that I had given to her probably about eight years ago. The handles were completely broken. The sight of those broken handles distressed me, but I also felt pleased that she had used so much that the handles had worned out.
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Now Sandra lives green, she always looks for ways to save and re-use. I love that instead of tossing the bag out, she brought it back to it’s maker, and said, “The rest of the bag is still in perfectly good shape. Is there any way to replace the handles?” Argh, repairs and alterations, the two things I dislike using my sewing skills for. But because it’s Sandra and one of my bags, of course, I will think of some way to replace the handles.

I went through my hand-dyed fabric stash and was pleased to find a piece that would work perfectly with the purse. I removed the old handles. Instead of sticking the new ones between the layers, I sewed them on the outside.
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Now I’ve been inspired to “refresh” my own bags with worn-out handles!
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Sandra cooking on the left, our friend, Audrey in the middle, and me on the right.

Sandra cooking on the left, our friend, Audrey in the middle, and me on the right.