Completed: A birthday backpack

200128_backpack1My daughter turned 3 years old and I wanted to give her a backpack designed and made by me. It was ages ago since I made a proper bag and I loved (almost) every minute of making it.

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I designed a simple bag with a main compartment with an O-type zipper (this was really hard to find so I am happy I found one in a somewhat matching colour) and two outside pockets. One that closes with a zipper and one that is a bit more open that closes with a flap with a snap. I really had to restrain myself from adding more pockets and fancy features. The bag is not very large since the intended recipient is still less than 1 meter tall so there is not really a lot of room to add extra stuff. A 3 year old also doesn’t need all those bells and whistles and they would have added extra weight which is not ideal when you want your child to carry her own bag.

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Years ago I read a blog post in which cork fabric was used to make a bag and I have ever since wanted to try that stuff. It sounded like a strong and durable material which is great for anything made for a toddler. It is also available with silver stuff in it which is great when your toddler likes anything with glitter.

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Not too shabby pattern matching on the top. I love the O-type zipper with 2 zipper pulls.

I paired it with a green Art Gallery fabric with yellow and white flowers, yellow quilting fabric for some accents, a yellow zipper, green and yellow webbing for the straps and some adjustable sliders. The print fabric was also used for the lining. On the outside the print fabric was interfaced with fusible Decovil 1 light which gives it a bit of a leathery stiffness. The front and back cork fabric were interfaced with fusible vlieseline/vilene S320, but that may not have been absolutely necessary because the fabric itself is already quite firm. Anyway, I hoped the bag would stand up by itself and it does.

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back before assembly

I sewed the outer and inner pattern pieces at the same time and finished the seam allowances on the inside with bias binding. On the front and back this turned out to be much easier than I expected. On the bottom this was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever sewn. I was super glad that I now have a Janome Horizon MC9400 because I am not sure the 3160 would have been able to handle all the bulk in the corners. In the end I managed to get it done with a lot of patience and I am happy this binding is located in a place that nobody will ever take a closer look at. If I ever make another backpack I think I’ll have to create a different type of bottom to make the assembly a bit easier.

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Attaching the binding to the front piece and attaching the bottom to the main bag. I am not sure why I ever thought 10 wonder clips would be sufficient for this project…

My daughter loves her new backpack and I hope she will be able to use it for years to come.

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And now I really want to make another bag for myself…

Week 4/2020: What’s on my design wall?

Finally making progress on this quilt top. It’s grown a bit since I showed it last and I added some additional fabrics. I should be able to finish piecing it this week.

As I started assembling I thought it was interesting to visualize how a quilt shrinks with each quarter inch seam that is sewn. I know that you lose half an inch each time and take it into account when I design a top but somehow it still manages to surprise me. Perhaps because the design process often takes quite some time and I get used to the size that it had unpieced?

Completed: Sun cover for the Urban Arrow cargo bike

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I had a second daughter and with her impending arrival came the question of how to safely transport not one, but two of those cute little things. For many people this probably means getting a second car seat, but we no longer own a car and even if we did it would be pretty useless to me since I don’t have a driver’s license. I prefer to use a bike or public transport and on the rare occasion that we really do need a car to go somewhere, we rent one.

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For my oldest daughter I used a bike trailer, but the one we have only fits one child and a larger one that could accommodate two children doesn’t fit through our backyard gate or in our shed. With my growing belly I also started to struggle facing headwinds while cycling home from work.

The solution to both problems was to get the Urban Arrow electric cargo bike. The baby can sit in her maxi cosi car seat that fits in a specific adaptor for this bike and her sister can sit on the bench strapped in a seat belt. I now laugh at headwinds and am still amazed at how much quicker you get somewhere when you cycle 20-25 kph instead of 15.

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Yes, I did take pictures for a sun cover on a rainy day…

You can get a very nice rain cover for this bike, but with the great summer weather we had last summer I worried that my tiny baby would be a bit too much exposed to the sun in her maxi cosi. So, solving the first two problems created a new one. Not being easily deterred by such problems I quickly started brainstorming ways to create a sun cover.

The requirements

  1. Good protection from the sun
  2. Easy to install and remove, if it takes 10 minutes each time it won’t be used
  3. Easy to take the maxi cosi out of the bike as I will often have to take it with me when I reach my destination
  4. The cover should not make it more difficult to seat the toddler on the bench
  5. There should still be a clear view on the baby when I am cycling so I can keep an eye on her
  6. The baby should still get enough fresh air, I could just throw a big blanket over the entire maxi cosi to cover everything but children really need air to breath…

How it was made

I had a stretch fabric blanket with UPF 50 rating that seemed like a good starting point and from there I sort of made this cover up as I went along using stuff that we already had on hand.

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Sun cover attached to maxi cosi handles using velcro straps. Sun cover is folded to the back which is how I carry it without removing the cover.

I added some Velcro straps to attach one side of the blanket to the maxi cosi handle. While the maxi cosi was placed inside the bike I determined where to make two button holes in each of the corners on the opposite site to attach the blanket to the bars located inside the rain cover. To attach the blanket to the bars I used some linky toys. To create a bit more coverage on the sides I measured how much fabric I needed to add and attached a double layer of jersey. It being a sun cover I thought the ice cream print was very appropriate. I could have added a longer piece to get even more coverage, but the baby’s older sister does enjoy looking around while we are cycling and I didn’t want to limit her view too much.

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sun cover anatomy

So, does it work? Yes, I’ve been very pleased with how this turned out. The baby stayed mostly out of the sun while we were cycling. Only when the sun came from very specific angles it reached her, but her face was always in the shadow.

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Linky toy hooped through two buttonholes and around pole inside rain cover. Most creative use of this toy yet?

Now that it is winter the sun cover is not really necessary anymore but I am certainly going to use it again when spring arrives.

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Better than new

I had a second super cute daughter and as a result I currently need a lot more clothes than I used to. My baby spits so often that I can rarely wear something twice and sometimes even have to change outfits during the day. Add a nursing friendly requirement and a severe lack of time and it may not come as a surprise that I resorted to buying some clothes online to fill my wardrobe needs.

But, as it turns out, even with RTW clothes you sometimes can’t avoid picking up a sewing needle.

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With so many threads coming undone it has to be a construction error.

I bought this top that has 4 snaps down the front for easy nursing access and after a while (ridiculously fast actually) 3 of the snaps started to come loose on both sides to the point that I was starting to worry that I would lose one or more if I didn’t do a quick intervention.

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So much better…

As I was doing the repairs I was thinking that I was making this top as good as new, but then I realised that no, I was actually making it better than new because I am quite certain that my stitches will hold and won’t require another mending job 2 months from now. And that thought made me feel pretty good.

Completed: Baby Bandana Bib

Recently one of my daughter’s daycare teachers went on maternity leave. The daycare asked all parents if they wanted to give her a small gift so they could surprise her on her last day. My husband immediately suggested washing detergent to get rid of those inevitable yellow poop stains. I thought that as a day care teacher she is already well aware of this less pleasant part of parenthood and something a bit cuter would probably be more appreciated.

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It doesn’t actually close around my dress form’s neck.

My sewing time is limited at the moment and I have a lot of larger projects going on so progress feels really slow. Sometimes it is nice to make something that only takes a small amount of time to create to experience that “I made something!” rush. I decided to combine the urge to finish something with the need for a small gift and made a bib to catch that endless stream of drool a young baby is bound to produce at some point.

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The pattern is the Bandana Bib pattern from simplysmallwonders.com (the account now appears to have been suspended, so I seem to have downloaded the pattern just in time…). It can be made from woven and knit fabrics, I chose knits because I think knits probably feel nicer against baby’s skin. The tutorial suggested adding an extra layer of woven fabric in between the two knit layers and I think this worked out really well. To make the bib somewhat adjustable I added two snaps on one side and one on the other.

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I made size 0-6 months, but when I compared it to some bibs I used for my own daughter I think they’ll fit for longer. Or the printer didn’t print it exactly to size which I can’t check because the pattern didn’t come with a box to check the pattern printed correctly. For an item like this I don’t think it’s much of an issue though if it turns out slightly larger than intended.

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I am very pleased with how this bib turned out and will probably use this pattern more often for quick baby gifts.

Completed: Another ombre baby quilt

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I finally finished the baby quilt for which I showed a completed back in May and started quilting in July

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It’s a fairly simple design using squares cut from two ombre fabrics by V&Co and the Cookie cutters cinnamon Cotton + Steel print from Kim Kight’s Cookie book collection.  I chose the ombre fabrics because I thought they were a nice match for the colours the parents used for their wedding and the baby’s birth announcement.

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For the quilting I chose a much denser pattern than I usually do. My new sewing machine makes quilting so much more pleasurable that I didn’t mind sewing this many lines. The downside was that I ran out of thread halfway through and had to buy more which caused further delays. As I was doing the quilting I worried that it would be too much but now that it’s finished I am pleased with the result.

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For the back I used the leftovers from the front and the child’s initial was made from the fabric that was also used for the binding.

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I prefer to bind by hand as I find it a relaxing activity and love the look when it is finished. I must be getting quicker as I reached the end much sooner than anticipated! Which was probably the only thing that went fast in the creation of this quilt…

Now, onto the next one!

 

Completed: A cover for my Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 keyboard cover

Yes, you read that correctly, I made a cover for a cover. Which may perhaps at first seem like an odd thing to do but to me it made perfect sense.

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Sometimes I want to take something with me that I can use to easily make notes on and send e-mails. A phone is a bit too small and while a laptop would work, it is also a bit heavy and large, so I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. When I bought it I could also get the keyboard cover for free which sounded like a useful addition for what I want to use a tablet for. I also liked that this tablet comes with a stylus that you can use to simply write on the screen.

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Closed cover

 

However, I wasn’t entirely sold on the design of the keyboard cover when I received it. My main objections:

  1. It looks yawn-inducing boring, I am not sure I could make it look even more boring if I tried.
  2. I am not so sure that the keys won’t scratch the screen of the tablet when it is closed.
  3. There is no real closure, it just folds over and that’s it, nothing is holding it in the folded position which seems like a bit of a risk if you throw it in a bag with other stuff.

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Boring, right?

If you would want to use the tablet for taking pictures there is also no hole in the cover for the camera. Since I think it is a bit ridiculous to use a tablet for taking pictures I don’t really find this an issue but I suppose other people might.

Ever since laying eyes on this cover I have been thinking on how to improve and prettify it. One option I even considered was making a completely separate cover and only using the keyboard cover when I want to use the keyboard, but that would mean lugging two things with me which is also a bit stupid and would probably result in me leaving the keyboard at home.

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Open cover with flap still covering the keyboard.

As I was playing with fabric and the cover I realised I could also simply cover it up and add the features I was missing. I sort of made this project up as I went along and while it certainly didn’t turn out perfect I think it will do the job just fine.

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Outside and lining before they were sewn together.

The outside of the cover contains a very thin layer of polyester batting and is quilted but without a backing. The flap that folds to the inside to cover the keyboard has a single layer of iron on fabric interfacing. To the outside I also sewed a very subtly stretched piece of soft elastic that is used to keep the cover closed. It also contains two tubes of elastic that are used to hold the stylus in place when it is not in use. The keyboard cover came with a thingy to hold the stylus that can be glued to the cover but this sewn solution seemed more practical to me.

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From left to right, the empty fabric cover, the fabric cover with the keyboard inserted and the fabric cover with keyboard and tablet.

The cover lining has a pocket on one side that the keyboard covers slips into to hold it in place. The tablet attaches to the keyboard cover via magnets and this still seemed to work just fine when there was one layer of fabric in between the tablet and the cover. I used the selvedge of the fabric so I didn’t have to do a hem or double layer to have a finished edge. On the other side the keyboard is held in place via two pieces of elastic. At the centre there is also a piece of ribbon for extra security, this was attached after partially sewing the outside and lining pieces together so I could determine where exactly to put it. The lining part of the flap has no interfacing to keep the flap thin.

I am happy with my no longer boring cover. Do you still think it is crazy to make a cover for a cover?

More sewing room improvements or the continuing Malmification of our home

After finding a storage solution for my works in progress and frequently used tools it was time to tackle the next problem.

My sewing room has build in cabinets on one side and these offer ample storage space. In theory enough space to store everything that I have. However, the cabinets are very deep which works great for storing large things like quilt battings, but not so great for small items like spools of overlocker thread and fat quarters.

I often find myself looking for something that I know I have but I just can’t find it because there are so many other things stuffed around it. This is a waste of time and since I don’t have that much time for sewing these days I don’t want to spend it searching for that roll of wonder tape or that specific type of interfacing.

By rearranging my sewing and cutting tables I freed up the opposite side of the room for some chests of drawers. Somehow, when my husband and I are looking for something with drawers we always end up buying an Ikea Malm. I did consider getting the Nordli, because it is a bit more modular, but I realized that for the same amount of storage space I would be paying nearly twice as much. Besides, I knew I’d like the Malm since we already had six of them spread throughout the house.

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Besides offering probably more space than I need for supplies, the two lower cabinets will also be used to store my overlocker and coverstitch machine when they are not in use. This will create even more workspace on my sewing table.

We still need to attach the cabinets to the wall and then I can start sorting through all the stuff that is currently stored in the other cabinets to decide what to put where. I’ll probably find a thing or two that I had completely forgotten I had. I am already looking forward to an even more organized sewing experience!

Week 29/2018: What am I quilting?

I’ve finally started quilting the quilt for which I made this backing. Originally I had planned some simple lines, spaced quite far apart. I changed my mind though after buying a new sewing machine! Several weeks ago, I brought my sewing machine in for a repair job and since I was already in the shop I took the opportunity to test some fancy sewing machines as well. I decided to buy the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400. It offers a lot more harp space, 28 versus 16.5 cm on my Janome 3160. It also has the walking foot option included and this works soooooo much better than the walking foot on the 3160. The stitches are much more even, things move much smoother (possibly also because of the extra harp space). Anyway, this much more enjoyable walking foot quilting experience made me decide to try a much denser quilting pattern for a change. The lines so far are only ½ and 1 inch apart.

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I do wonder whether it would have been better to use a more neutral thread for this denser quilting pattern. I picked the thread when I still had a lot less lines planned and perhaps I should have reconsidered this choice as well because it does stand out quite a bit.