Archive for December, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I am spending the Christmas holidays with family and will be taking a vacation from blog-writing until the new year.  I am using my hubby’s laptop to write this post which means my choice of photos is limited to demolished buildings, technical drawings and about 500 Nascar shots.  (You should see our vacation photos, I have pictures of sewage treatment plants from our first trip home and he taught me to search for “elevated standpipes” from the airplane.  Got to love a man who knows his standpipes! 🙂  )

But Christmas will come whether my blog is decorated for the holidays or not and I hope you will all have a wonderful and blessed time with family and friends and I will see you all in the new year!  I promise I’ll grab the camera out of my husband’s hands from time to time so that I will have something to share with you other than metal joints and beams (which is what is on there right now after arriving at the airport!)

Merry Christmas!

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6

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When Sew, Mama, Sew! launched their re-useable bag sew-off they included a number of links to tutorials.  When I set out to make mine, I, of course, had to make one of each, even though it would have been so much easier and faster to choose one and put them together in an assembly line (I am trying to learn to accept this “let’s find the hardest way possible and take that route” part of my personality….)

Anyway, I tried all three tutorials with the plan of sticking with the one I liked the best.  Although they were all great, each one had something about it that I wanted to change.  So, in the end, I kind of combined them all together into one hybrid bag that will now be my standard fabric bag pattern.  Here’s the line-up:

Green Bag Lady Bag

This bag was super-quick and super-easy.  There was even a how-to video to watch, although I just used the printable directions.  If you wanted to make a whole bunch of bags in a really short period of time, this would be the one to make.  The only problem with this one for me was that the ends were all left unfinished.  With the non-fraying fabric I chose when making this one, it’s not really an issue.  But if I wanted to make it out of a fabric prone to fraying (like the decorator fabric I used for two of my other bags) I would have had to do something about it.  There are easy ways to fix this, but it would increase the time it would take to make the bag, and it would make it look a lot like:

A Morsbags bag

This bag took a little more time than the Green Bag Lady’s but with a more polished result.  French seams took care of the exposed seam issue and I love the look of all the extra stitching.  My only problem with this bag is that there is no bottom.  The straight sides are perfect for carrying all sorts of things, and I would happily use this bag for everything except for groceries, but I really like the flat bottom for grocery bags.    There is a very quick fix to this problem, but then the bag would be almost exactly like…

Irene’s Classic Tote

This tutorial is very similar to the one above, but with the addition of a pocket on the front (which I left off mine) and the handles are done a little differently.  This was definitely my favourite handle and my favourite way to do the top seams (it’s the same process as the Morsebag but done after sewing the side seams which I think makes it look a lot neater.)    I am really just being picky when I say I have a problem with this bag, but I don’t like the look of the triangle seams on the inside of the bag.  I know, I know, no-one is going to be looking at the bottom of the bag, but I know they are there and for some odd reason it bothers me. 

All 3 are great bags, and I could be happy with any of them.  In fact a lot of the bags I use on a daily basis have unfinished seams and triangles on the inside and I never noticed or cared, but for some reason when I am sewing it myself I notice every little detail (see “hardest possible way” comment, above).     But since I am terribly particular (and trying to love myself anyway), this is the “hybrid” bag I came up with.

Start with a square of fabric 18 – 20 inches depending on the size you want your fabric, or the width of the fabric scrap you are trying to use up.

Cut 2.5 inch squares out of the bottom.  (This is from the Green Bag Lady).

Sew French Seams on the sides and bottom.  (From Morsebags and Classic Tote)

Back to the Green Bag Lady.  Squish the bottom seams together and sew first wrong sides together:

Then right sides together:

To make a nice French Seam on the bottom. 

Complete the top and handles according to the Classic Tote. 

Ta-da!!  From this:

To this:

So now I have 5 bags ready to go, a new go-to tote pattern, and a better understanding of my all-too-picky-and-perfectionistic self!  Not bad for a day’s work! 🙂  Hey…if you’re out there and still using plastic bags – stop!  Grab some fabric and a sewing machine (or a sewing friend) and whip up a few bags, even a beginner could make these in less than an hour.  Call it a Christmas present for the planet! 🙂

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Last Two Monsters!

I finally finished the last two!  Here they are:

I’m giving them out to my students tomorrow.  Hope they like them!

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Last night a bunch of friends got together for our annual Christmas gathering.  We get together every year at this time for lots of food, lots of laughter, and a gift exchange…with a twist.  “Yankee Swaps” are really popular around here, and they are a fun way to hold a gift exchange (if you don’t know what a Yankee swap is, check out this e-How post.)  Usually there is a monetary limit set to the gifts, around $20 for most. 

My group, however, does it differently.  Instead of buying a gift, you have to bring something that you already have that you don’t want anymore.   It makes for a wide range of gifts (this year we had a pair of shorts, fake Hallowe’en teeth and a mini green house among the gifts…)  It’s also a great way to have fun and give and receive gifts, without spending any money!  (and good for the environment too!)

Here is my contribution to this year’s swap:

A candle I received as a gift but never used, and one of the scarves I crocheted last winter when I decided to pick up crocheting again, but don’t really need as I already have 6 scarves and most of them are handmade.

What I came home with is this:

If you know what these are, you already understand my excitement on opening up this gift!!  (And even more exciting is the fact I actually got to keep them when I was only the second person to pick a gift!).  If you are not enlightened into the use of these wonderful words – they are fridge words, meant to be placed all over your fridge so you can make poetry like this:

Or, so relatives can leave you messages about their wonderful home provinces, like this:

Or, just for general messages meant to instruct or inspire:

And it makes your fridge look like a poet’s playground.

We also have fridge chess and a magnetic puzzle on our fridge, you really can’t go wrong with fridge fun!

I’m not always that lucky at these exchanges – last year I ended up with Christmas ornaments which I actually gave away before I even left the party!  But hey, if ten ladies can get together with junk from their houses and turn it into an event that is the cause of a tonne of side-splitting laughter, than I would call it a success! 

Hope you are enjoying some pre-holiday fun too!

By the way, what’s on your fridge?

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I am not going to bother posting my menu this week.  It is “clean out the kitchen” week in our household as we prepare for our Christmas holiday.  So, even though I have a menu, it really isn’t that exciting – everything on it can be found in one of my previous menu posts.  We are even going to break with tradition and have “Friday Night Pizza” on Wednesday!!  I know, I know, very daring of us, but I figure it’s the holidays and we can live a little!

I do have a recipe worth sharing, though.  On Friday I realized I still had a lot of whipping cream left from the White Christmas Pie and no idea what to do with it.  Off to Google (really, what DID our ancestors do without the internet?) for recipes containing whipped cream and I found this Creamy Apple Pie recipe.  This was perfect, as I also had a bag of apples in the fridge I needed to do something with.  Here is the beautiful finished product:

I know, I know the wire rack it’s sitting in is upside down.  I know I’m not the only one who makes mistakes like this, right?   

I did have a little problem with the cream overflowing (this is what happens when you use an 8-inch pie crust for a 9-inch pie) and a bit of a mess in my oven to clean, but it was totally worth it!  This pie is delicious!  Creamy and sweet with vanilla undertones (the vanilla wasn’t in the recipe, but it seemed like a good thing to throw in). 

Hope there are good things cooking at your house this week!

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A Few More Monsters

It’s been a busy sewing day!  I tried out 3 new tote bag tutorials (review of the tutorials and my revised “hybrid” bag will be posted soon!) and finished 3 more monster friends.  They are just so darn cute I might have trouble parting with them! 

 Only 2 more to go!  I’m off to finally tackle the pajamas that are still waiting to be cut….

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Child-Drawn Monster Friends

Next week is the last week of school before the Christmas break.  Every year I usually buy books to give my students as  a little Christmas gift.  This year I really wanted to make something for each of them instead.  They are a pretty special group as I taught most of them as Kindergarteners and now I have them in my class again as Grade 1/2 students.   Ever since seeing this post  I have really wanted to try to make child-drawn monsters and thought it would be a perfect gift for them.  This week as part of art class I read my students a book with many different monsters in it and then asked them to draw me a monster that they would want to have for a friend.  Their pictures were so sweet and all of them were oh so different!  I excitedly purchased a bunch of felt and my superhero hubby searched around town to find me a bag of fiberfill (there was a big sale this week and it was sold out in the first two stores he checked!).  After finishing my hot cocoa project last night I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start this project.  I picked up the first drawing:

Awesome monster – but oh so much detail!  With only this week-end left to work on this project, and all the other projects still left to do (no I still have not yet cut out those pajamas I mentioned yesterday) I began to worry that I would not have time to make 12 monster friends.  😦  Back to the computer for a little more inspiration and I re-found this project.  Perfect!  Pencil toppers would take less time than full-fledged friends and I could glue and paint some of the features on instead of sewing.  Half an hour later my first monster was born!

Kind of cute in a monstery kind of way.  After seeing these my hubby wanted to draw me a picture so I could make him a monster too!  If my big kid likes it, hopefully the little ones will too.  Here are a few more I finished this morning:

More than half-way there, but I’m feeling in need of a bit of a monster vacation.  Maybe I’ll go cut out those pajamas….

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On Monday a group of friends and I went to a beautiful old house where 12 young woman reside; either with their babies, or waiting for their babies to be born.  It is a place where young mothers in need can go and receive support as they navigate pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent.  They are given help to finish their schooling and are offered classes in essential skills such as nutrition, finances and parenting.  Monday is their “in house” night and we have gone before to play with the babies (giving the mom’s a break) and offering some fun activities for them to do on their night in.  On Monday we wanted to provide them with an opportunity to create some of their own Christmas presents.  These girls love to make things and it is so much fun crafting with them!  One of my friends found these sweet little jars at the dollar store and knew they would be perfect for something, but wasn’t quite sure what.  In one of those “12 o’clock at night I’m trying to sleep but my brain is working overtime” moments I remembered finding a web-site about making gifts in jars and that hot chocolate was one of the recipes.  A quick Google search located this recipe, I bought all of the items and the girls had a great time mixing up their own batch and filling the pretty jars, along with all of the other crafts we had planned for them.  One of them even decided she had better “test out” the recipe (I’m actually allergic to chocolate so I just had to trust the reader’s comments) and she said it was good enough that she thought she just might keep the jar of hot chocolate for herself!    I still had some of the ingredients left over, and had a few people I wanted to give a little something to for the holidays, and thought this might be perfect thing to make for them.   I always love finding ways to use glass jars as they can’t be recycled in my neck of the woods and I can’t stand the thought of throwing them away!  I usually have a large number of them taking up a whole cupboard of their own, however, due to the large number of items in my freezer at the moment I actually only had a few left to choose from, and two of them had stubborn labels on them that just wouldn’t come off.  They didn’t look so nice like this:

And then I remembered that I had just bought a huge pad of Christmas scrapbook paper (whatever did I do before I had scrapbook paper in the house?) and thought it would be the perfect way to cover the label.   The jars now looked like this:

Which was much better, but that yellow plastic lid just did not look right so I added a little old-fashioned fabric and ribbon. 

And here are all of them all finished:

I must say that I do love the snazzy jar lids from Bernardin!  I did have a fifth jar, a really pretty mayonnaise jar with a beautiful blue lid and a label that had come off completely (a rare thing, indeed!), but when I was testing out some fabric for the top the jar slipped out of my hands and crashed on the floor.  No more pretty blue lid.  It could have been worse though, the jar could have broken and I might still be vacuuming sticky chocolate off of my sewing room floor (which would have been really bad since I have fabric laid out on the floor at the moment ready to be cut into PJs) so I am trying to stay positive and not mourn the loss too much (although in the moment I think I was pretty mad at myself because my hubby came in and told me to take some deep breaths…)  In the end, four pretty jars all dressed up and ready to go!  Not bad for a Friday evening and there is still some time left to do something else – off to tackle the next project!

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I’m a Winner!

Giveaway day was so much fun and I was really excited to get my blue bag all packaged up tonight and ready to pop into the mail tomorrow.  I have also been excitedly checking my own mailbox every day (even though I know it is too early) because I won 2 prizes on Monday!!  It really was a very nice way to start the week! 🙂  The first prize was from Sew, Mama, Sew and actually not related to giveaway day at all but a comment I made on a Handmade Holiday post.  The prize….  a copy of Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee.  Woohoo!!  This book hasn’t even been released yet!  And…it’s all about applique, which I would love to do more of.  I still can’t believe I won such a great prize – thank you Sew, Mama Sew!    

The second prize is equally as exciting  – I am going to be the proud recipient of a Green Bag Lady bag…AND…free fabric to make a second Green Bag Lady bag for a friend.   I love the premise of this project – a free cloth bag as long as you agree to use it instead of paper or plastic.  I think this is a great way to reduce plastic bag use and I am looking forward to being a part of it!  (I may even have to have a shopping bag giveaway on the blog…)   This particular prize is also going to fit in well with Sew, Mama, Sew’s Quilting for Peace Project as they are planning on holding a grocery bag sew -off over the next week.  (There is also a quilting portion of this project that I want to be a part of…a good opportunity to try free-motion quilting again, stay tuned for that in a future post!)  So…there are exciting things happening around here.  I have a feeling my sewing machine is going to be humming non-stop over the next week or so!

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And the Winner Is….

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment on my giveaway post.    I enjoyed reading all of your comments and loved hearing how you recycle fabrics into new items – I even got a few ideas for some projects to try out!  I wish I had prizes for you all.  However, since I only have the one, I used random.org to pick a winner and the winner of the mini-messenger corduroy bag is….. 

Erin D.

Thanks again to everyone for visiting my blog and sharing your re-using and recycling ideas.  Feel free to drop in again anytime!

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