Thursday, October 27, 2016

I won the Pattern Review Handbag Contest 2016!

Me and my handbag on Tuesday night.

I found out on Tuesday morning (from velosewer, who commented on my IG feed around 7:05am that morning) that I won the Pattern Review Handbag Contest 2016!   As I wrote on IG, I am excited, thrilled, and filled with gratitude.  Thank you for your support, kind words, encouragement and votes!

It has been a longtime dream of mine to win first place in a PR contest and I'm so excited that my dream has come true.  One of my coworkers asked me how many PR contests I have entered.  I counted 10 between the online contests (coat 2008; sewn hat 2009;  refashion 2010; activewear 2015; handbag 2016) and in-person contests at PR Day (LBD in NYC 2013--second place)  and PR weekends (badge holder in Chicago 2011, bag in NYC 2012, bag in LA 2015, accessory in Chicago 2016--second place).

It's also the perfect early birthday present--my birthday is on Saturday.  :)  My prize is a $100 credit to the PR site. I will have fun spending it!

My coworkers have been asking me what my next project is and while I have several ideas percolating (gray shrug, piped pajamas, red patent leather tote, denim dress with contrast topstitching), I'm just enjoying the moment and the win for now!

The full gallery of all entries sorted by votes is here.
My blog post about my completed bag is here.
And the post with the pix of the bag under construction is here.

Thank you again for your support, encouragement, and votes!

Be well!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Construction photos of the Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag + Voting is Now Open!

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Me Holding the Bag

Voting is now open til Oct 24!  I would be beyond thrilled if you would consider voting for my entry in the PR handbag contest. If you've been a PR member (free or paying) for at least 3 months, you can vote.  The gallery of all 33 entries is here.

Since my last post focused mainly on the finished bag photos, I thought I'd show some "construction" photos here.

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: the embossed pig leather
Printed the pattern 4x and taped it together....ha ha for printing pages double sided.  Here it is on the pig leather from Kashi
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Connector strap samples
I made a lot of strap samples before sewing "the real deal"
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Connector strap excitement
Connector strap assembly line--As far as I can tell, I am the only entrant who used contrasting thread for topstitching on leather (it's gray to match the crosshatch pattern)
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Making sure the straps are 5" apart with a 5" quilting ruler
Trick for making sure the connector straps are really 5" apart--used a quilters ruler (which I use a lot in garment sewing) which is 5" and lined up the middle of the ruler with the middle of the fabric
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: I used 0.75" tape to know where to stop stitching
How I knew where 3/4" from the edge of the rectangle ring was--with 3/4" scotch tape.  Also because the connector is folded around the rectangle ring and then under, I used a scrap of folded leather under the back of the presser foot as a "hump jumper".
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Pulling the thread tails to the back with a hand needle to then tie them off
If I stitched up, over and down on my strap samples, the corner stitching kept popping out, so I stitched up, kept long thread tails, pulled them to the back.  Then I stitched down, kept long thread tails, pulled to back.  Then I stitched across with long thread tails and pulled to the back.  By "pulled them to the back" I mean I threaded the tail on a leather handstitching needle, brought the tail to the back and then tied it off.
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Pellon Flex Foam wonder clipped to the exterior
Wonder Clipping the Pellon Flex Foam to the bag.
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: installing foam with a walking foot
Walking foot excitment (cue "walk this way" played over and over and over again in my head)
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Exterior construction.  Pellon Foam Flex already installed
With rivets and feet and bag bling--installing all of that is SUPER easy.
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: this lining didn't work out; not on grain and too thick overall
The lining that was an utter fail (too thick, heavy, and off grain to boot)
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Lining in stages
The lining that did work out!  Silver quilted brocade with NYC subway map interior zipper pocket of course!

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Making straps
Making straps with a piece of tape on my 1/4" quilter foot so that it doesn't get stuck on the leather
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag:  Rivet installation for the straps
Just add more rivets!! and done!
  Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag ECU straps
Take shots of the sexy straps
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Purse feet and close up of the "girl with the ponytail" zipper pulls
Take photos outside
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Front view
Rejoice! The bag is finished! :)

There are more pix in this Flickr album.

If you'd like to vote (and have been a member of PR (free or paying) for at least 3 months), the gallery of all 33 entries is here.  Thank you for your support, y'all!  I really appreciate you!

Be well!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Entry for the PR Handbag Contest: Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag

MAYBE angle YES?
I clearly remember one time when I was looking through picture albums with my mom.  There were so many pictures of me when I was little--for the standards of that time.  She said that my great-grandfather remarked, "She is one well-documented child".  And this, my sewing friends, is one well-documented bag!
I created a Flickr album for this bag--it's in reverse chronological order, so if you only want to see the finished photos, they are at the front of the album, with construction pix toward the end.  All photos are captioned.  Depending on screen size, you may need to scroll down to see the captions.  You can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard to quickly move through the photos.  Or you can use slideshow mode by clicking on the "toggle slideshow" link in the upper right corner, but you can't see the captions, unless you use this link which launches the old-style Flickr slideshow and click on "Show Info" in the upper right corner.

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag On my Shoulder
I've been working on my Pattern Review handbag contest entry since Sept 24, finished the bag on the Oct 9, and am planning on posting my review by noon tomorrow (Friday Oct 14), I posted my official entry tonight (10/13) which is due this Saturday night at 11:59pm EDT.

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Composite photo PR # 4
The pattern is one I found on Instagram, the Boronia Bowler Bag by Blue Calla.  It's a downloadable PDF pattern and I recommend printing out multiple copies so you can tape it full size together and not have to cut on the fold nor trace any pieces.  Although I have sewn bags before, this was my first time installing rivets and purse feet, as well as my first time using Pellon Flex Foam, and I will be using all three again!  It is super easy to install rivets and purse feet (I used this tutorial recommended on which gives the bag a professional looking finish.  The Flex Foam gives really nice shape and support to the bag without being stiff or heavy.
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Interior (better?)  PR photo #2
I used black pig leather for the bottom and straps, and used a super stable double knit black and gray crosshatch fabric for the exterior, both from Kashi (Metro Textiles in NYC).  The interior is a quilted metallic brocade from    The interior zipper pocket subway fabric is from The City Quilter.

Zippers, rectangle rings, and purse feet are all from Botani in NYC, and the rivets and "handmade" tag are from

Interfacing is in abundance!  The leather and all fabric was interfaced using Fashion Sewing Supply interfacing, and there is also a piece of Pellon Peltex sewn into the bottom of the bag, as well as the Flex Foam attached to the exterior.  The Pellon Peltex and Flex Foam were from Joann's.

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Handmade Tag
Of course I obsessed over perfecting my gray contrast topstitching!!!
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag PR composite photo # 5

Above you can see the Pellon Flex Foam, and my in-progress top-stitching.
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag ECU straps
Topstitched handles
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Strap detailing FOR BLOG
Loving these "girl with a ponytail" zippers!
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Strap Detailing

Sexy 30" zipper.
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Closed Side View

Pocket for my phone
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Patch pocket
Back of the bag
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag Back View Angled
Below are some shots of sewing the bag with the interfacing and lining installed, and then "birthing" the bag through the interior zipper pocket!
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag: Birthing and other tricky bits
Below is the "craftermath" or the aftermath of all my samples that I practiced on during construction of this bag.  Practice really does help!  And I had to abandon my initial lining choice because it was way too thick, heavy, and off-grain to boot, so I ripped that out and started the lining over with the brocade.  Also jeans topstitching thread was way too thick for this project, and I used regular Coats and Clark thread instead.  And along the way I accidentally dented my anvil for rivet setting and had to run out to Michael's on Sunday night at 5:30pm before their 7pm closing and hope they had one in stock (they did!)

Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag : All the practice samples and the lining that I had to rip out because it was too heavy and bulky
All the details about this bag will be in my PR review which I will link to once I finish writing it and post it  have now been posted in my PR review!   The gallery of handbags currently entered on the PR site is here.   If you are a PR member, (joined PR prior to July 15 of this year), you can vote from Oct 18-24.  Both paying and free PR members can vote!

More pix are in  an album for this bag on Flickr--including detailed "in progress" construction photos.

Be well!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Epic Jean Jacket Post #6: The Jean Shank Buttons, Drafting a New Facing, and Misc.

Welcome to the final post about my StyleArc Stacie #epicjeanjacket:    The jean shank buttons, drafting a new facing, and other miscellany.

To apply the jean shank buttons, I overlapped the placket and pushed a pin through the center of the buttonhole, then used chalk to mark the spot on the placket on the other side.  I also used a ruler to make sure my shank buttons would be in a consistent row instead of haphazardly placed.   After double and triple checking, I used a *really* sharp awl (purchased at SIL Thread) to then make a hole in the placket.  I inserted the nail part of the shank underneath and through the hole, then put the jean button on top.
Since my shank buttons had a compass on them, I made sure North was pointing up, covered the shank button with a cloth and whacked it with a hammer (the base of the nail was on the wooden apple that came with the buttonhole set).  Since the shank buttons were flat I didn't worry about denting them.  If they were convexly curved I would have had to use the concave side of the rivet setter so as to not dent them.

At that point I whacked in 8 shank buttons and thought I was done.....took pix, posted on IG, relaxed.

That night I unbuttoned the jacket and....the bottom button was having trouble unbuttoning.  Then the top of that button FELL OFF.  It just fell off and left the remainder in the jacket, in such a way that I couldn't pull the shank out.  I didn't take a pic of this, I just wanted to FIX IT IMMEDIATELY.

So....I got out my pliers and cut the remainder off the top, removed the nail and hammered in another one.   Huge lesson learned:  BE SURE TO BUY EXTRAS!!!  If I did not have extras, I would have been totally sunk as Pacific Trimming does not have any more of these shank buttons.

Another lesson learned is that the shank HAS to be hammered in perpendicular to the jacket--no angles allowed.  I'm still trying to figure out the best way of doing that. I can feel that some of my shank buttons are at an angle...but they haven't fallen off yet.  I do have a few more extras so I am holding them in reserve, just in case.

Some Misc:

1.  I used the Islander directions to burrito the back yoke.  The Style Arc directions only have one back yoke cut, but I think cutting two looks really nice.  I sewed my label onto one of the yokes first before sewing it all together--that way the stitching for my label does not appear on the outside of the jacket.

2.   I added this little loop so that I can hang up my jacket in a locker at the gym.  I made this little loop by cutting a strip of fabric, folding the long raw edges to the middle, folding that in half long ways again, and then stitched along the edge.   I then sewed on the loop before attaching the collar.

3.  I drafted a new facing that started at the shoulder seam and went all the way down the CF.  This is because somehow my collar wound up 1" too short on either side to reach the facing that the pattern came with, which only over lapped the collar a little bit.  After watching the Craftsy class again, I preferred the Islander method because it completely encloses the collar pieces.  After installation I did have to sew down the facing indiscreetly under the collar so keep it from flipping out.

On the left: the original facing piece
In the middle: I taped the front CF piece to the front yoke, overlapping seam allowances
On the right: I then used Swedish tracing paper to make a new facing that would go all the way up to the shoulder seam.  I gave it extra length at the shoulder seam and at the bottom for SA and "just in case"
One side of the facing is installed.
What it looked like after the buttonholes were installed too.

Drafting the new facing is something I never would have done 5 years ago, but it was so easy and really elevated the jacket, besides finishing off the CF and the collar nicely.

4. I used the Gertie directions for installing the bottom band.

5.  I serged as I went--using purple serger thread.  I have come SO FAR in my sewing over the past 10 years when Project Runway got me into sewing again.  5 years ago, the insides of my clothes were not so great, but now I am proud to show off the inside of my jacket too.   I don't have anything to hide!

So, there you have it, achievement unlocked!!  A 3 year old dream of mine has finally come true.  When I first sewed it, it was still too warm to wear it but lately it is cooler in the mornings and even some days, and I have really enjoyed wearing it.  It really feels like a delight to have this jacket and I feel really proud of myself.     The fabric is wearing really nicely--it doesn't get overly wrinkled and since it has stretch it is comfy to wear.

A selfie of my self-stitched day:  In my office on Wed morning, wearing my StyleArc Stacie jean jacket, Sewaholic Davie dress, self-made elastic belt and metallic bag (both unblogged). My self-stitched sashiko is hanging on my office wall.  It's amazing how adding one key piece like this opens up a whole world of self-made ensembles.

Lots of pictures of me wearing the jacket are in this post

Links to all posts:
Post #1:  Choosing the Pattern, Cutting it Out, etc (lots of pix of me wearing it)
Post #2:  The Topstitching
Post #3:  Turning Faux Pocket Flaps into Real Pocket Flaps
Post #4:  Fitting the Sleeves and Sewing the Cuffs
Post #5:  The Buttonholes
Post #6:  This post you're reading now.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know my next big project is in progress: my entry for the Pattern Review handbag contest!    It is due on Oct 15!!

Be well!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Epic Jean Jacket Post #5: The Buttonholes


This is the penultimate post for my Epic Jean Jacket, focusing on the buttonholes!
I used my BabyLock Soprano to stitch the buttonholes on the jacket.  The Soprano has a few different buttonhole styles, so after examining my 3 RTW jean jackets, and making a few samples, I went with the tapered keyhole style just like them.

Before attaching the pocket flaps to the jacket, I stitched the buttonholes after everyone on IG agreed it is better to do that step at that point before actually attaching the flaps, even though the Islander and the Gertie instructions said to wait til the end.


I remembered from Jennifer Stern's PR jeans class that she recommends using regular thread for buttonholes that is the same color as the topstitching thread instead of using the actual topstitching thread, but I had no thread in my stash that matched the "velvet fog" topstitching thread.  I decided to try a few samples first and see if my machine could handle making buttonholes with topstitching thread up top and regular purple Coats and Clark poly thread in the bobbin.

Making a few samples was not a problem as I had already made many flaps for topstitching practice, and it turned out my machine could handle it very well.

However, when it came time to make the buttonholes down the front placket, I realized that the very top two buttonholes would be visible from both sides (since the jacket could be worn buttoned to the top or buttoned with the top two undone, or left totally open).   By this point it was the next weekend, and while I could have gone to Joann's during the week to buy matching regular Coats and Clark thread, I had not.  Of course I was not going to make the one hour round trip to Jo-Jo's (and on a weekend at that) to buy matching poly thread.   Instead, I decided to push my machine and see if it could make buttonholes with topstitching thread in both the spool AND the bobbin.
Front of the jacket--this is after it has been worn several times now

Interior of the placket--this is after it has been worn several times now.

I made a few buttonhole samples using the placket samples I had practiced topstitching on and they were ok.  They could be better, and I had to push my machine at times into stitching them, but they were good enough so I proceeded.

I started at the bottom (so that by the time I got to the most visible, topmost buttonholes I would be a buttonhole expert ha ha) and worked my way up.  My machine got hung up on the third buttonhole from the bottom and so I stopped and started again with the 4th was fine until the 7th when it totally choked---this was because the long buttonhole foot was getting stuck on the pocket flap located directly behind the 7th button which I didn't realize until it was happening, UGH.    It then made the 8th buttonhole just fine.

(I stitched the buttonholes down the placket horizontally instead of vertically, because that's how they were done on my RTW jackets.  If I had stitched them vertically, the 7th one would not have gotten stuck on the pocket flap.  If I wasn't stitching keyhole buttonholes but ones that looked the same in either direction, I could have started the buttonhole on the other side of the placket closer to the single row of topstitching instead of the side of the placket closer to the double row of topstitching).

I went back and removed the stitching on buttonholes 3 and 7 which took a LONG time.  Looking back, it probably would have been faster to drive to Joann's on a weekend, 1 hour round trip plus waiting in line to buy regular thread that matched the topstitching thread than to have stitched and unpicked those buttonholes, but it all matches now.    When I stitched the 7th one again, I pinned the pocket flap up and out of the way and kind of had to push my machine into stitching the buttonhole even more than the others.

These buttonholes are not as nice as the pocket flaps, but from a distance they are ok.

Before slicing the buttonholes open, I applied Fray Check to the buttonhole, then let it dry, then flipped the placket over, applied Fray Check to the other side of the buttonhole and let it dry.

To slice them open, I used this buttonhole cutter I bought online from Nancy's Notions.  I *highly* recommend this device.  I had never used this device before (usually used a box cutter or snipped with my embroidery scissors or sliced it open with a seam ripper with some pins around the buttonhole to keep me from slicing through the buttonhole) but I am totally SOLD!!!   Just whack the end with a hammer with the wooden piece underneath (shaped like a cute apple slice)  and it is done.  The set comes with an eyelet cutter as well, but that eyelet hole was too big for the diameter of my keyhole and on my practice samples had sliced the threads. For that part I used my embroidery scissors and snipped in a radiating pattern to open the keyhole up.   I then applied Fray Check again to the front and back of the sliced buttonholes, waiting for them to dry each time.

Next time I'll write about the jean shank buttons.  I had a little drama there... but ultimately it all turned out ok.  I'm sure you can relate.  :)

Be well!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Epic Jean Jacket Post #4: Fitting the Sleeves and Sewing the Cuffs

Thank you for all your kind comments about my jacket!

Confession:  I did not make a muslin before starting my #epicjeanjacket, the Style Arc Stacie.  I had sewn a StyleArc knit top several years ago in size 12 and it fit very well, except for the sleeves which were a bit tight in the bicep.  So, I was feeling pretty confident that the jean jacket would fit me, but when I wrapped the paper sleeve pattern around my bicep, it seemed like it was going to be too small.  Of course, my fabric has 15-20% stretch and paper has 0% stretch, so I decided to just test out the sleeve.

My fabric is Pacific Denim, and while I did not have enough purple to cut out two sets of sleeves, I did have some of the exact same denim in red, which I had ordered from I cut out the red sleeves from the straight 12, and basted them into my purple jacket.

I tried it on with a shrug, as that would be the most likely way I would wear the jacket, over a sleeveless dress with a shrug, and the sleeves around the bicep were FINE!!

At this point, I decided to check the sleeve length.  I totally misunderstood what was going to happen in the cuff area, and I wound up taking an inch out of the length of the purple sleeves because of this misunderstanding.  Of course when it came time to actually sew the "cuff", I finally understood what was supposed to happen, and in actuality I could have added an inch to the sleeve length.  Oh well!

So the "cuff" isn't a real cuff, it's basically a really long sleeve that has a 3.5" hem.  This means you can turn the end of the sleeves up and it creates the look of the cuff.  The fold line on the pattern is the fold line for the HEM, not for turning it up after hemming.  So, hem it at 3.5" and then turn it up.

Because the hem is so long, and it is in an area where the sleeve is really narrow, I took my very first BabyLock sewing machine out of the closet because it has the narrowest free arm out of all my machines.  I had to turn up the sleeve a bit too to be able to stitch the hem.  I used my white Chakoner to draw the line for the hem.  I did not sew in the round because I wanted to see my stitching on the outside of the jacket.  I stitched this part in purple though, so it does all blend in.  I guess I could have stitched in the round after all, but I didn't.

I did stitch the topstitching in the round, and with the topstitching thread in the spool AND bobbin, since it would be seen from both sides if I ever wore the sleeves down instead of cuffed up.

Next time I would interface this whole area (all 3.5" x 2 = 7") so that the cuff would be more sturdy.  It also would make topstitching way easier.  Since my fabric has crosswise stretch, I had to put tissue paper underneath the cuff so that it wouldn't stretch while stitching.  Tissue paper would have been unnecessary if I had interfaced!!

I also felt the topstitching looked better on the interfaced parts of the jacket than it did on the non-interfaced cuffs.
So, next time I will talk about the buttonholes and the jean shank buttons.
The last photo before buttonholes and jean shank buttons!
This is going to be my largest #pumkinette ever!!!  As long as nothing eats it.  Check out that stem!!

Be well!