Monday, April 24, 2017

The Reincarnated Handbag

Back in 2016 I decided I could do with a dark brown handbag, and I couldn't seem to find one I liked for a price I could afford. Dark brown isn't in just now -- it's all about the butterscotch browns. So I thought I'd make a smallish dark brown handbag in vinyl to tide me over until I could find a suitable handbag to buy, but I'd then make sure any handbag I bought was a larger size in order to have both a small and a large brown handbag rather than two the same size.

I found this bag in a secondhand shop on Bloor Street for $20. As you can tell, I bought the bag for the purse frame and handle alone. In the months it took me to get to this project, I kept seeing the bag in the chest where I keep my materials, and every time I opened the chest to take something else out, I'd think, "Man, that thing is as ugly as sin."

Once I had the frame, I bought some brown vinyl. I already had a suitable lining fabric on hand. I re-used the old bag's cardboard insert and also used a heavy interfacing to give the new bag some stability.

I wasn't crazy about the daisy detailing on the frame -- it's a little too girly and fussy an effect for my tastes -- but I decided I could live with it. I was unlikely to find a purse frame online for $20 or less.

The first step in the bag-making project was to take the purse completely apart so that I could use both the the outer fabric and the lining as the pattern for the new brown vinyl bag.

Here's the finished bag. It's definitely much less of an eyesore than the previous incarnation.

The purse also has a chain that can be tucked inside the bag if not currently wanted. I had to tie a slip knot in it to make it the right length for me.

A side view.

Bottom view.

The lining with its pockets. The old bag had only one small pocket, but I improved on that.

And a few weeks ago I finally found a nice, new-to-me brown leather shoulder bag on eBay. It arrived in the mail last week, and I've finished this smaller bag, so now I'm all set for dark brown handbags.

I've also had a hard time finding dark brown shoes, but alas, I am no shoemaker, so I'll have to keep looking for those.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wardrobe Malfunction Insurance

Sometime back I decided I wanted a sewing kit that I could keep in my suitcase in case of any possible wardrobe malfunctions that I might experience when away from home. They sell such kits at Fabricland and at craft and dollar stores, but I never felt inclined to buy any of those kits because they weren't attractive and often didn't appear to have decent quality items. I know from experience that commercially made sewing kits sometimes have very poor quality thread. Then one day when looking for fresh knitting post shares for my knitting blog's Facebook page, I caught sight of some of the homemade sewing kits on Pinterest (I seriously cannot believe what some crafters can do with old Altoid tins), and decided to put my own little kit together.

First I bought this eyeglass case from Value Vilage for $1. I picked a coppery brown one because it matched my brown-checked luggage set. Then I made a list of all the things I'd like to put in it: scissors, a thimble, a measuring tape, a stitch ripper, a thread card, and a needle book containing pins and needles.

I bought the scissors, the thimble, and the tape measure as a kit from Fabriclands. I got it 75% off, and even at that I was still paying too much for it, but it *is* such a perfect and pretty little set of tools for my purpose.

I got the stitch ripper at a discount at Fabricland too. The thread card I made myself out of an old greeting card and a selection of the threads I had on hand. I tried to include every reasonably possible colour. Then I just needed to make a needle book, which is something else Pinterest has a jaw-dropping array of.

This is the needle book I made. For the sake of accuracy, I might as well say that this is the *second* needle book I made. The first I made out of a scrap of gold-embroidered satin I had left over from an ugly old secondhand purse I took apart so I could use the handle. Hideous as that satin was when part of a purse, it was the perfect fabric to go with the rest of the kit. And the needle book turned out pretty well except for one thing: I used glue to attach the felt pages to the embroidered satin cover, and the glue showed through the satin as black smudge-like marks. It ruined the look of the needlebook, and I had no more suitable pieces of that embroidered satin.

For take two of my needle book project, I hunted through my fabric remnants to see what I had that would go with the rest of the sewing kit. The best I could do was some pieces of red velvet. I decided to link it to the other things by detailing it in gold. So, as you can see, I made little gold embroidery thread ties, and added two little gold beads to the end of the ties -- the last two of that kind that I had left in my box of beading supplies. I also embroidered a little floral design on the front in gold embroidery thread, even though I'm not much of an embroiderer -- it had been many years since I'd done any real embroidery, and I never did know more than a few basic stitches. My stitches look a little crude, but I suppose they'll have to do.

I also stitched the felt pages together with embroidery thread. And this time when it came time to attach the pages and the cover, I used sewing thread to tack the outside page and the cover together at the corners and in the centre. I was taking no more chances with the glue.

There are much cuter and more artful hand-assembled sewing kits on Pinterest, but this one is presentable enough, and will certainly prove as handy as any other sewing kit should I ever have to deal with a popped off button or ripped out hem while away from home.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Frost to Flame Pullover

This project plan began to form when I happened to see these two skeins in my box of worsted yarns, and was struck by how well the shades went together. I thought a third shade in a different shade of orange or teal would really pull it together, as well as making it possible to knit anything I liked. I've had these skeins a long time and their ball bands are long gone. I am almost certain the orange yarn is Patons Classic Wool Worsted in burnt orange, but I don't know what the teal yarn is, though I do know it's pure wool.

I searched Ravelry for a pattern that required 100 grams of two contrast colours, and found this one, which is Frost All Grown Up, designed by Unnur Eva Arnarsdóttir. Then I went to Romni Wools and bought 500 grams of Diamond Galway Heathers yarn in teal. My colourway, instead of being the stark, wintery colours of the sample, would be in the warm and vivid tones that look best on me.

And here's the result. The pattern was pretty well written and the sweater knitted up with no problems. I was a little disgruntled that the project didn't require nearly as much yarn as the pattern said. I used about 315 grams of the teal heather (the pattern called for 500 grams) and about 25 grams of the dark teal yarn and approximately 20 grams of the orange worsted (when the pattern called for 100 grams of each). This means that this project, which was supposed to reduce my stash size, increased it by 40 grams -- I can at least return one skein of the Galway Heather. I do love the resulting sweater, but I didn't really need it, and the lesson learned is that I need to be more careful about planning my stash busting projects. I should have realized that this sweater would use up less yarn than specified, and I also need to avoid buying a lot of yarn to use up a small amount I already have.