Monday, May 31, 2010

Crossbody Canvas Random Patchwork Bag

Today is the first day of the school holidays. What I like most about school holidays is I get to sleep late and wake up late. You have no idea how much I love to sleep! My mother is one of those folks who wake up at the crack of dawn. I prefer to be unconscious.

I had been feeling slightly weird these days as I see my kids growing up and my son becoming a teen and no longer wanting to share every little detail of what's going on in his life. It's so much work being a parent and when it gets too much, you still have to keep trying! So, this morning I woke up at noon (yes, nicely rested) to discover my dear sweet son who's now a teen had cleaned the floor all on his on initiative! Is this what being a proud mom feels like? I love this kid. Even though it was noon, I wanted breakfast instead of Dad's instant noodles lunch. I asked son if he would prepare breakfast for me and he did! He made my hot Lipton tea and 2 slices of raisin bread with margarine. I feel so spoilt.

A day earlier I had been feeling so pissy. I don't know what to blame. My hubs commented that I get angry easily and hold on to the anger for a long time. Everyone gets punished for my bad mood. I noticed my kids would ask me occasionally if I was angry. My girl would say, "Mummy, you're thin." just to make me smile. My son would ask to hug me. I had thought all these while my son needed my hugs. Now, I'm not so sure. I think he wanted me to feel better. Honestly, I have nothing to be unhappy about. I do realise I worry too much and want things to be nice and perfect. So it's going to take some effort on my part to let loose and take things as they come.

One of the stress factors affecting my life, I realise is coming from my sewing. I know I have overcommitted myself for June/July as I have 7 craft market days to sell my bags. This means I have to make many more bags than I usually do. But churning out bags isn't fun if you don't get to explore. So I had opted to do what makes me happy - bags with some details that I enjoy. But such details take up time and the result is I don't make as fast. The fear of not having enough bags to sell is starting to take its toll on me. And that's probably what makes me grouchy these days apart from exam results and the hot weather. Yes, that's it. I'm blaming the weather.

Also as I get better at sewing, I get worse at accepting criticism. I think I have to accept that what I find great may be ugly to others.

Take my latest random patchwork bag. I have this secret desire to be a random patchwork artist. I think some folks call it crazy patchwork. But I'm not too good at it. It requires such a good eye for matching.
 Sorry about the quality of the images. The sky is really overcast today. This is a crossbody canvas random patchwork bag. I used the last of my webbing for the handle. It's my 14th bag for June MAAD.
I did a random patching for the flap with a little Sashiko embroidery. I wanted an Oriental look so I used my Japanese cotton fabric. If you're wondering why I don't use Chinese fabric it's because they're usually made of silk, rayon or some fabric I don't use.
I'll be honest with you. I really like it. I thought it looked great. My husband tried his best not to say anything negative but you can tell from the trying! My girl said she was speechless. If you know my girl, she's never speechless. Btw, she posed for me again. This is such a great day.
I had noticed such bags in Singapore - you know with the top of the bag folded over as a pseudo flap in the late 90's. Remember the 90's? They disappeared for a while and seem to be back. Someone actually wrote a tute for this kind of bag. Go to Noodlehead if you're interested in making one for yourself. It's a pretty good tute. I got to know of Noodlehead only recently through another blog I visit. She has a ton of other tutes too. So give her a visit.

So, seriously. I must not care too much about other people's opinion of my bags. All I need is one person who likes the bag enough to buy it.

I have the apartment all to myself. My hubs took the kids out for some holiday fun. I'm resisting the urge to do housework! For some strange reason, whenever the apartment is empty, all I really want to do is some big, mother, over-the-top housework. But I shall resist and make a couple more bags.

Have a happy day. I'll see you soon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Desperadoes Under The Eaves

I was listening to Desperadoes Under The Eaves by Warren Zevon while I sewed blanket stitches on the ankh applique for my denim crossbody bag. Do you listen to Warren Zevon? My hubs introduced his music to me when my kids were little babies. WZ is now dead. His music lives on. WZ writes lyrics like poetry. Like Desperadoes Under The Eaves.

See? I can relate to this song. Not so much I have alcohol issue. But I can understand addiction. I'm addicted to making bags. I'm addicted to listening to my favourite songs over and over and over again. And once in a while, I'm addicted to eating raisin bread.

I remember introducing this song to my son when he was little and he was really puzzled about the end bit when all you could hear was humming. The singer is humming the sound made by the air-conditioner, I told him. I see, he said. So we spent hours listening to WZ and his humming.

Kids. They grow up fast. My son turned 13 this week. I can no longer call him Boy. He's entering the MYOB phase. For 13 years I devoted my life to him... I guess this is life. One minute you're listening to a singer humming the sound made by the air-conditioner together with your boy.... Now I'm listening to his songs. I managed to like one a lot. It's called Number 1 by Tinchy Stryder. It's a rappish kind of song. If you don't have a teen at home, have never stepped into Topman/Topshop, don't work as a DJ, then you would not know this song. I must remember not to ruin this song for my son by playing it too often.

Happy birthday son.

My girl posed for me today. How sweet of her. We made progress in Math. She aced fractions. Last week, her tuition centre rewarded her with a $20 Popular Shop voucher for coming in 2nd in the centre's exam. What idiots. They couldn't believe my girl did not do well in her school Math exam. My girl is blowing all $20 on stationery! Believe me when I say my entire home is filled with stationery. When they were younger, my kids would get gifts of stationery from every darn person we knew.
This denim crossbody bag is darker. There is very little of this denim left. Maybe enough for a couple of pouches.
I used webbing for the handles for these 2 bags. I wanted to give it a try. It's surprisingly easy to sew on webbing. I've used nylon handles before. My sewing machine shuddered.

13 bags made for June MAAD. I would really, really like to make another granny bag. Oh, it did rain. But it's the wrong kind of rain. It stayed just as hot after. I'm suddenly very envious of igloo inhabitants. Ta ta.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teeny Totes

You know what's worse than hot and sweaty? Hot and clammy. No, it didn't rain today. It looked like it would for the longest time. You know how the weather gets blamed for stuff? Well, have you ever blamed the weather for your sewing machine problems?

True story. In July 2007, I bought my current Brother sewing machine - my third during the 2007 Great Singapore Sale. My first 2 sewing machines were very basic. The Brother I bought was something else. It had the works but the best feature was the auto needle threader. Can you imagine? No more going blind whenever I need to thread the needle. The strangest thing was I was afraid to use the machine. After I bought it, I left it boxed up for a while. My hubs was getting nervous that it would remain boxed up forever and kept nagging me to try it. One day it occurred to me that I had only 1 year's on-site warranty and if I was smart, I would use the sewing machine to death within the warranty period. And so I did.

Long story short... okay, not possible. It's a long story. One day, it happened. My auto needle threader stopped working. It would not thread. I called the service centre and they sent someone to fix the machine. They sent Dr Brother. He wore sunglasses, dressed in office attire and carried a metallic briefcase. He spent half and hour cleaning my sewing machine, replaced the auto needle threader parts and declared the machine good again. I tested it. It worked again.

Of course the needle threader broke down again. And again. Each time I would summon Dr Brother and he would clean my machine, replace the auto needle threader parts and it would magically work again.

This went on for a while until the last week of my warranty in July 2008. I complained a little that there had been so many repairs yet.... Dr Brother gave a long sigh. Then he looked out of the window.
"You live on a low floor," he said.
Yes, I do.
"You know why your auto threader keeps on breaking down?"
"It's the humidity. Low floor and humidity. Sure die."

Sure enough. The auto threader broke down again. I decided I would thread the manual way. Then one day, I used a different batch of needles and the auto threader worked again! I tested all my needles and realised that different batches of needles gave different results.

This reminds me. I need to yell something in Dr Brother's ear: It wasn't the humidity you moron! It was the needles.

I made 7 teeny totes. The phone in the image gives you an idea how small they are.
I'm a little surprised by how much time it takes to make a teeny tote. I imagined I could make tens or twentys. The little handles took the most time. I've completed 11 bags for June MAAD. I think I can make 5 more.

Good night. Hope it rains.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feather Stitch 2 Way Crossbody Bag

Singapore is no longer habitable to me. In the late morning I had to leave my home to go to the MRT station which is only 5 minutes away. Just 2 min in the open and I started to sweat. I don't like to sweat. Sweating is a big deal to me. I would often report to my hubs, "Look, I'm sweating!" It took another 5 min for the train to arrive and the MRT station where I live is the open-air kind. If I'm out in the open air for too long, my brain goes into Desert Mode. You know, the mode where in my mind I'm crawling on the hot desert sand, lips parched, the sun beating down mercilessly on me seaching desperately for air conditioning. Of course when the train finally arrived, I had to stumble into the cold air dramatically.

My home is equipped with 6 ceiling fans and 1 standing fan so no danger of me feeling hot at home. Otherwise it would be impossible for me to do any sewing. I made another 2 way crossbody bag. I love making this kind of bags. I'm sure I've mentioned this many times before.

As a tote.
As a crossbody bag.

I embroidered feather stitches.

My 4th bag for June MAAD. 11 sewing days left.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tote Bag

The sun was setting when I took this photo of my latest bag - a striped tote with green-yellow handles and do I see a glimpse of purple?
You did. My 3rd bag for June MAAD. 12 more sewing days left.

Btw, I've modified my How To Draw A Bag Bottom Pattern tute. After I read a comment by Lesley, a former lurker, (thanks Lesley!) I realised I needed to make my tute simpler. So I did. I wrote a Easy Method and a Hard Method. I'm guessing most people would go for the Easy Method. This process has made me think hard about what I want to achieve with my tutes. And I'm happy to announce that as soon as I'm free, I'll do a Super Easy Method - How To Draw A Bag Bottom Pattern. I promise there will be no formula involved.

Till we meet again, sweet dreams.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How To Draw A Bag Bottom Pattern

This is a little tute to show you a simple way to draw a bag bottom pattern which looks like an oblong.

*22 May 2010*
Thanks to feedback from Lesley, I have modified this tute. I have broken it into Easy Method and Hard Method.

Easy Method
For this example, I want to draw a bottom with circumference = 20".
All my curves are drawn using a radius of 2" and they make up a quadrant.

What you need:
A compass drawing instrument

1) Take your compass, measure off 2" (let's call this R) and draw an arc length such that you end up with a quadrant. The image above show you what you should get.

2) Next, you need to calculate the total length of the curved line you have drawn.
We need 4 arc lengths in our bag bottom.
Since each arc length make a quadrant, together, they make up a circle.

Total Arc length = Circumference of circle = 2 X pi X R
where R is the amount(radius) we measure off to draw our quadrant, pi is 22/7 or 3.14

Total Arc length= 2 X 22/7 X 2 = 88/7" = 12 4/7" (let's round off to 12.5")

3) This next step shows you the thought process. You don't need to construct anything yet.

Total arc length calculated in previous step is 12.5"
Total circumference of bag bottom we want is 20"
Look at the image above. What we need to figure out next is how much "a" and "b" should be.

For my example, I want 0.5" for a.
Therefore b = (20 - 12.5 - 0.5 - 0.5) / 2 = 3.25" or 3 1/4"

4) Now complete the pattern by drawing in the "a" and "b" and the remaining 3 quadrants. You should get the same pattern as seen above.

5) If you want to construct your own bag bottom pattern, just change the following variables to suit your needs:
circumference of bag bottom
R (step 1)

If you sew in cm, there's no difference in the formula. Your variables (step 5) will be in cm.

This is an example of another bag bottom you can achieve by just using 2 semi-circles. The only difference here is the variable "a" is omitted. The formula remains the same.

Note: Please go thru' Easy Method first before using Hard Method.
Hard Method
What you need:
A compass drawing instrument

1) Take your compass, measure off 2" (let's call this R) and draw an arc length.

2) Next, you need to calculate the length of the arc you have drawn.
 Use the protractor to calculate the angle of your arc.
In my example (see image above) my angle is 50 deg.

Arc length = R(2 X pi X C) / 360)
where R is the amount(radius) we measure off to draw our arc length, pi is 22/7 or 3.14  and C is angle of arc which we measured with our protractor.

4 Arc length  is 2 ( (2 X 3.14 X 50) / 360 ) X 4 = 6.97" (round off to 7")

3) This next step shows you the thought process. You don't need to construct anything yet.

Total arc length calculated in previous step is 7"
Total circumference of bag bottom we want is 20"

Note: If you don't understand what "a" and "b" are, please refer to Easy Method.
I want 2" for a.
Therefore b = (20 - 7 - 2 - 2) / 2 = 4.5"
4) Now complete the pattern by drawing in the "a" and "b" and the remaining 3 arcs.

5) If you want to construct your own bag bottom pattern, just change the following variables to suit your needs:
circumference of bag bottom
R (step 1)

This image gives you an idea how you can combine 2 different arc length constructed using different radius.

Any errors or questions, please put in the comment form. Thank you.

Tute guideline: All content on my tutes are my original ideas. Please don't copy or re-distribute or lift content from my tute. Please don't re-phrase my content and write a similar tute. You are however free to link to my blog or my post. Thank you.

Lastly, some notes on matching the base of a bag to the bag bottom.
If the circumference of your bag bottom pattern is 20", the circumference of your bag base is logically 20" (after having side seams sewn). But take note when you sew the base to the bottom, the base will be slightly bigger. You will end up with some pleats.

My personal preference is to have the circumference of my bag base (after having side seams sewn) 1" smaller than the circumference of the bottom. That way, I have fewer pleats to take care of. You can experiment to see what suits you best.

If you like having a lot of pleats on your bag base, just make the bag bottom much smaller than the bag base.

Happy sewing!

* * *
Below are my bag patterns which are available for sale at Etsy (instant download). Clicking on the images will take you to my Etsy shop.

hand sanitizer holder pattern

For more Applique Resources
For more Tutorials

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Drawstring Pouch

Drawstring pouches. They were the first item I learnt to make when I first started out. I figured drawstring pouches have all the basic requirements of a bag. They can be small so don't require a large amount of fabric and if I can make a drawstring pouch, I can make anything else. If you'd like to follow my previous adventures in making drawstring pouches, just go to the sidebar Labels and click on "Drawstring Bags".

If you are keen to learn how to make your own drawstring pouches, here are 2 tutes which I've personally tried and they will provide you with the basic techniques:
Happy Things
Pink Penguin
Happy sewing!
For this little bag, I used a colour scheme which I don't normally go for - green-yellow and that strange tone of red/pink/peach stripes. I kinda like it. Does it look weird to you? I like this green-yellow and I'm thinking of making 1 whole bag with the fabric. I'm not sure if customers would like it though. I know most customers like the beige/brown tone because it's safe and easy to match with their clothing.
I'm counting this my 2nd bag for June MAAD. Are you checking out my cane basket I used as a prop?
If you see any dust on the basket, it's just your monitor.
Isn't this basket a beauty? Sylvia Toh gave it to me many years ago and I use it to keep my embroidery thread. Once I used it as a prop when I sold at MAAD and a customer wanted to buy the basket!

I only have 17 more sewing days to go till June MAAD and it's not looking good for me production wise. Worse, I've signed up for 3 additional craft sales dates in mid June/July! Every year there is a Great Singapore Sale from May 28 to July 25 and this year I wanted to be part of it. Yep, I really need to summon my elves.

Some good news for me. My kids managed to pass their Chinese overall so mom didn't faint. It's a good thing that Chinese subject comprises several components like oral, listening comprehension, creative writing and multiple choice kind of questions. But I'm not leaving their next results to fate so I did the most Singapore thing. I went to Popular bookshop and bought a ton of workbooks for my kids to work on. (many other parents were there too!) Popular bookshop sells mainly workbooks for students to practice in the hope of obtaining higher grades. In Singapore, outside-school enrichment programs and practice worksheets are a big business. A nice lady helped me pick out the Chinese stuff. I picked the audio/visual books for my girl as I think it'll help keep her awake. For my son, there was very little choice so I had to take the printed workbooks.

The big problem with getting my children to learn more Chinese is they won't do it on their own. Mom has to listen in too. I suffer from a Chinese-sleep. It probably started during my school days when the Chinese language teachers read from the textbooks and my eyes go glassy and...... My husband suffers from this disorder too. He's worse. He goes into a coma!

It's really expensive to educate a child in Singapore. It's not enough to go to school to learn. The schools are really crazy competitive and they set the bar so high that the parents have to fork out huge $$ to tuition centres to ensure their kids pass their exams. My son attends outside Chinese lessons once a week while my girl attends Chinese and math lessons. I had to transfer my girl to a different math class this week because her results plunged. At $17 an hour, I expect the tuition centre to deliver at least average marks. Nowadays, when I hand over my money to the education sharks, I convert the amount to the number of bags I have to sell, it really hurts!

Now that I have to tutor my girl Math at home I'm finding how hard Primary 5 math is. There are many problem sums I'm unable to solve. School in my days was never this hard!

Gotta wake my girl up for her Chinese enrichment class. See you soon.
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