Saturday, September 28, 2013

a handmade purse for fall... made of pleather!

That's right. Pleather. I've never used pleather before BUT I found some soft, not-so-plastic-feeling, brown pleather at Joann's (originally for a bookmaking project which worked fabulous) and thought I'd give it a try. I'd been wanting a new purse, as mine is falling apart pretty bad, but haven't found one that 1.) was the perfect fit for my style/lifestyle and 2.) was not outrageously expensive! That's when I stumbled upon this on

From "Make It Handmade" Blog.
"Hmm, I bet I could make that into a perfect fall purse!" And then this happened:

I followed Palak's excellent tutorial, making just a few changes to turn it from a tote to a purse. First, I scaled mine down in size, as her's was a nice big tote. As you can see, I left the top handles off for now. I may add them on later after I use it a smidge.

I also added a lining, partly because I had this fabulous fabric in my stash that was just calling to be a purse lining!

Isn't it lovely? I don't usually buy fabric without an idea for a project already in mind, but this was an exception 'cause I just loved it! (And I still have another yard and a half left for a future project.) To make the line I just followed the same instructions as the bag body (minus the D-ring tabs), to end up with two identical-shaped pieces. I also added an interior pocket for my cell phone and keys to the lining, just below where the bag folds over.

You can't tell from the outside, but I also double-stiched all my seams, just to add some extra strengh.

There is one thing I will do differently from the original tutorial next time. Notice how the top of the bag tapers in slightly, so that the fold over flap isn't wider than the bag body when worn. Palak has you start with two rectangles, stitch the entire sides, THEN measure your desired taper for the top, cut (through the original stitch line) and sew the new sides catching the D-ring tabs in the stitching right where your new taper begins. The problem I found is that I had to unpick some of the original stitching in to get the D-ring tabs to go right at that spot. To make a long story short, if you do this tutorial I suggest measuring and cutting your desired taper BEFORE you sew any side seams.

Over all I think it turned out pretty well, especially with all the fussy-ness of learning to sew the pleather! But that, my friends, is a whole 'nother blog post...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

i'm a cover girl (in my made-by-me dress)!


MY MADE-BY-ME RECEPTION DRESS made THE COVER a magazine! Not even a sewing magazine! A plain old wedding magazine! So flippin' cool. You want to see inside?

In case the cover wasn't cool enough, here we are with the letter from the editor.

My bouquet featured in "INSPIRATION: FLOWERS."

I love this picture of my bouquet (made my my mother-in-law), against my parent's old barn door, photographed by the super talented Andrew Davis Photography.

And that's all before you even get to our "love story" article! I love the title Debra Bell of MarryME Magazine chose:

I've got to send a little "thank you" out for Andrew for recommending us, and Debra for her work putting this togeher, and giving us this really fun way to look back at our wedding now that we've just celebrated our first anniversary. I hope you had fun seeing it, too!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

a yellow, linen, picnic blanket skirt!

First off, CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG BADGE! ------------->

And second, I made Tilly and the Button's Picnic Blanket Skirt!

I'd been pining after a mustard yellow skirt for a couple seasons (even though yellow is usually NOT my color), pinned some inspiration photos on, then spied some yellow linen on sale at Joann's a few months back and took the plunge! I originally planned on making a pleated, paper-bag waist skirt using the Adventures in Dressmaking tutorial, but eventually concluded that a paper-bag waist may not quite be the most flattering look for me. I'd been wearing my Gertie Gathered Skirt a lot, so decided to try Tilly's skirt which had a similar silhouette.

I made only a few changes from Tilly's design. Her's calls for cutting one rectangle for the skirt back, and two rectangles for the front, once stitched becoming a long piece roughly 2.1x your hip measurement. I had two yards of fabric, and my hips measurement is 38", so I decided instead to cut just my fabric lengthwise for the entire skirt piece putting me at just under Tilly's recommended measurement BUT a seamless piece. That did mean I had to omit the side pockets since there were no longer side seams. In retrospect, I wish I had dealt with the extra two seams to have had those pockets.

I also didn't include the interfacing in the waistband, but not on purpose! As I was moving along I thought to myself, "weird how she doesn't put interfacing in the waistband..." Actually, she does tell you to do that in an earlier step that I obviously wasn't paying enough attention too! It's totally wearable (I've already worn it on more than one occasion in fact!), but it would lay a lot nicer with the interfacing.

Another thing I will do differently in the future involves the placement of the buttons. I put the first one on the waistband then  the rest evenly 3" apart, but the skirt likes to pull apart that section where the waistband meets the skirt. Interfacing may have helped with that as well, but in the future I will start with the waistband button, then a button directly below the waistband AND THEN start with spacing them 3" apart.

On the plus, the linen was lovely to work with! It held a nice crease when creating the plackets, and it was just nice to work with a simple woven again. Remember how I needed to re-learn to use the automatic buttonhole foot on my mom's (now mine) machine? It turns out most of the feet she gave me don't actually go with the machine, including the buttonhole foot! I know it had a buttonhole foot so next time I'm there I will search for it, but in the mean time I FREE-HANDED THE BUTTON HOLES AND THEY CAME OUT AWESOME! (Can you tell I'm a little proud?)

 And topped it all off with lovely brass buttons. :)

Lastly, here is my mother-in-law's cat that kept photo-bombing my photo shoot. Until later!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

what's rachel sewing today?

Here's a hint:  I have to now re-learn the automatic buttonhole feature on my mom's old machine AND when I'm done I'm getting a new button for my blog!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

our first home improvement project - a little sewing diversion

You all know by now that we've just moved into our first house (yay!), and part of why we chose this house is that it didn't need much work done to it (yay!). BUT just because it doesn't need and work mean there's not things we want to change.  So before you continue on here is fair warning that there is no sewing in this post. If you read this blog just for sewing feel free to skip this read, no feelings hurt. But if you want to take a peak into my new house and what I've been doing to make it my own, read on!


Here is our bathroom, renovated recently by the previous owner. I'm sure that when he picked out that sink he thought "the buyers are going to love this!" In a different bathroom it would be a great sink. But as the only sink in the only bathroom in the house, it just wasn't cutting it. Without an under-sink cupboard there is no storage in the bathroom, the little side piece of glass is the only surface for soap or your toothbrush right next to the toilet, the clear glass basin showed every spot and speck, and when you turned on the water it shot out of the bowl and kit you in the stomach! Not good. Also notice the toilet paper on the back of the toilet; no TP holder.


Much better! We got the simple black vanity and white porcelain basin on sale for $99, installed it ourselves (in only 5 easy trips to the hardware store... hey, we haven't done this before!), had to purchase and install a smaller mirror to fit, put up a towel bar and some art (that we purchased on our 1-year anniversary get-away last month), and  bought a matching free-standing TP holder.

We also painted the walls grey to match the tile in the bathtub surround (a good choice on the previous owner's part) and installed a little matching hook to hang your towel on while in the shower! I love how it all came out and am so proud of our first project! Thanks for letting me show it off! As a reward for all you awesome readers, here is a picture of one of my house rabbits, Miss Maggie May Bunny!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

fall fashion on pinterest

September in Maine means sweaters and hot tea one minute, tank tops and flip flops the next. I'm not ready to give up my summer outfits for good, but it has got me thinking about what to sew for fall. One thing I love about living in a temperate climate is that I get to completely change up my look every few months, and by the end of one season I'm ready for a change. I've started a pinterest board to start thinking about to make to complete my fall 2013 look.

So far I'm seeing black, brown and ivory layered with summer florals. I'm trying to think about making items that will go with lots of other pieces, things I will reach for over and over again, like my grey, fold-over waistband maxi skirt this summer... "cake" if you will. Right now my make list includes a slim ivory skirt to dress up or down, a fabulous black maxidress like this fabulous, silk, Sewaholic Saltspring by Reves Mecanique seen here:, and another cotton gathered skirt using Gertie's tutorial, in a soft floral. I've also added a coat to my board, so I can start thinking about that before it gets too cold!

What are you planning for fall sewing?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

sewing at grammah's

Well it's been a very busy month full of changes! We are in our new house (our first house!), my brother's wedding went off perfectly, and I'm starting on a new adventure career-wise which means this is my last week at my workplace of the last 4.5 years. Needless to say, I've been busy! BUT before I continue I'd like to say a little "thank you" to Zoe of "So, Zo... What do you know?" for her aptly timed post on Monday titled "Sorry But No More Apologies."

So... on to the SEWING!

While we were living out of boxes in my Grandparent's basement for the three weeks before we closed on the house, I was able to set up a little sewing space in the corner of my grandmother's office! I saved out a few supplies for some specific projects, and actually got 2.5 pieces made during that short

My little temporary sewing space in the corner of the office.

I first made another jersey maxi skirt. The fabric was a Joann's clearance special, and was a perfect example of why people are afraid to sew with knits! It stretched and moved when cutting, it was full of cling that I just could seem to get rid off (I was afraid it would cling unflatteringly to my body as well, but thankfully not so!), and it pills after only only two washes! I still really like the skirt and wear it all the time. I used my modified fold-over skirt pattern, but this time made a casing for and elastic waistband instead of the fold-over waist-band.

Then I decided to tried and draft MY OWN pattern! My favorite sleeping shorts were starting to fall apart, so I finished the job and ripped out all the seams so I could trace the pieces. Using my new pattern pieces I recreated them in this fabulous purple bunny quilting cotton, with an elastic waistband and mock fly. They came out pretty good! I'm going to tweak (not to be confused with twerk...) the pattern then post them online for all of you!

Old comfy shorts.

Falling apart :(

I made a pattern!

Ta da!

So that's 2 makes... now the half. Remember that bridesmaid's dress I was making to wear in my brother's wedding on August 31st? I was using Butterick 5750 and a lovely, lightweight, emerald green, modal knit. I got it all together enough to try on and... it looked terrible on me. So just a few days before we moved into our new house I tore it all apart. I was so disappointed and overwhelmed... cause it should have looked so good and I did not have time to alter and re-sew it! Thankfully, I found a fabulous, silk J. Crew dress at a consignment store the next day. Problem solved. I was still disappointed that my dress didn't come out, but at least I looked good at the wedding and didn't have to stress myself out in the process, and the other bridesmaid loved the dress I made for her.

And that is what I made at while at Grammah's! We are now settling in our new house and my sewing room is not fully set up but functional (I'll post pics when it's all set up, because it will be fabulous!). I've been able to spend a few days sewing here already, but can't show pictures yet because it's Christmas sewing (Sorry, but expect an awesome post once presents are open in December!).