Monday, 28 March 2016

Bagmaking: Bag Camp

It feels like we've been waiting for a really long time for SEW BRIT  bag camp to happen. Actually it wasn't that long. My husband was still surprised when I announced I was off though!
There was a lot of preparation on my part. I know what he's like. He will muddle along, and spend a load of money on toys to occupy them, but not necessarily get them in the right clothes, or to the correct place at the correct time. So I did my micromanagement thing, and left a whiteboard with full instructions, and baskets of clothes for football, school, kung fu, etc. I then watched Joeys victorian assembly on Friday morning, and then headed to Derbyshire, via Leicester.

First stop - Fabric Guild. Lets just say a lot of money was spent. This place is awesome. I opted for large amounts of Cotton and Steel, and quite a bit of Alexander Henry. I left short of purse but feeling very happy.


Then I thought I'd pay a visit to the town centre. It wasn't much fun frankly. A bit depressing in fact. There are a lot of homeless in Leicester (no longer used to this living where I do) and the smell of weed wafting past became quite familiar after less than 2 hours. 
I had a look at the fabric shops in the market, but they were disappointing and expensive in comparison to the Fabric guild. I mooched around a few vintagey type stores and didn't even go in to the Irregular Choice shop as I knew I wouldn't be buying. Then I had a baked potato in M&S and left empty handed, save for a £1 lippy I got in superdrug.

So. Then was the battle to find Somersal Cottages. It took a lot longer than google maps told me it would, due to quite a lot of 'traffic situations' and me blindly following the GPS, however I arrived an hour later than planned at the village.  This is pretty much the view*:

* I have blatantly nicked some of these photos from Liz as I cannot get mine from my tablet to pc for whatever stupid reason

This was my room:

(it was beautiful - but the bed was really uncomfortable sadly)

Our base was two cottages, the mainstream cottage (ie. where the mainstream class was to be held) which was where I was sleeping, and the advanced cottage, where my class was to be held and where the meals were to be eaten. The living areas are huge, so Samantha (Mrs H) set up her hardware shop on the pool table in the Mainstream cottage, and Katy (the Littlest Thistle) and Lisa (Simply solids) set up shop in the Advanced cottage. 

Samantha was to teach Mainstream, Katy, who designed the Camp Bag - Advanced, and Liz would be flitting between the two giving us lessons on using faux leather.

Meeting everyone finally was fab. As well as the four ladies already mentioned, there was Chris, Jane, me, Lynn, Judy, Rebecca and Pam from Sew Hot, Bernice and Vanessa, Cathy, Lesley and Fiona. We spend Friday evening getting to know each other and making a little faux leather needle pouch guided by Liz. This was done in the Mainstream cottage.

The mess had started. We got goody bags (yey) and the secret sewing sister gift depositing started. I got a bottle of prosecco (from Jane, although I didn't know this until the last morning - hence 'secret' sister) which is always a marvellous way to start. Here are my goodies over the whole weekend from Jane:

I also left my secret sisters (Sam) first gift. I can't remember what that was. I think it may have been lip balm, or chocolate, or something!

One of my gifts to Sam - so easy to make and so cute!

I also made this music case for her - and yes I did iron it before handing it over!

Food was hearty cottage pie. A little too much vino was had by me. NOT a good idea but I was on holiday!

Day 2 was basically a day of breakfast(granola), sewing, lunch(soup), sewing, dinner(pasta bake and salad) wine (which I managed to throw about the table) and sort of vague stab at cutting out a Maisie bag ( I realised when I got home quite how badly this went - don't attempt crafts when intoxicated!)

The Camp Bag was a very large (think cabin bag sized) travel bag. Same pattern for both groups, but advanced group had a separate zipped bottom in faux leather, and a leather flap (I didn't opt for that)
We also had some lessons during the day - Liz came and did a bit of a faux leather talk which helped with our first session 'flaps and straps'.  Later we completed (almost completed in my case) the bottom of the bag. During this time, I killed Queen Liz (my Pfaff sewing machine) Fortunately Katy came to my rescue and let me use her Big Brother.
Its entirely possible I may have bought a bit of hardware from Sam. And a bit from Katy. But I didn't buy anything from Lisa till day 3!

( I won the clover clips for having to do the most unpicking on Day 3!!)

Day 3 was a very similar one to Day 2 - breakfast (I had bacon and eggs this time) sewing, lunch (baked potato) sewing, dinner (risotto) and a bit more wine. But not too much after the previous evenings shenanigans...
We worked on our main bag lining panels, and got a talk from Sam on applying hardwear - such as rivets, using punches etc. We then had a rush to complete our bags. Wahooo!

I also managed to win the 'guess the facts about the other bag camp residents' competition. (not many folk entered!) This incredible box of Aurifil threads was my prize!

So here is my Advanced bag. Quite a lot of blood and sweat and muttering and unpicking was involved. The fabric is some cotton duck from the Cath Kidston outlet (Paradise fields) and I matched it with some red faux leather I already had from ebay.

Day 4 - well we had to leave. It was a sad moment really. All weekend we'd bonded over our love of bagmaking, learned so many new things and had such a great time. Off to work I went (via Bayden the sewing machine man to drop off poorly Pfaff!)

All the advanced bags lined up on Monday, except Lisas as she had to leave on the Sunday.
L to R: Katys (the original advanced bag), mine, Chris's, Lynns and Fionas. Judys is on the table. Judy finished a close second to Chris, in spite of being ill the entire Saturday. Yes - she did that in one day. Amazing!

The mat outside the Mainstream cottage - indicating what happened over the weekend!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Bagmaking: March Bag of the Month - Polaris by Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness)

So once, I attempted to make this:

I got quite far, but I thought the design was so wierd that neither I, nor anyone else, would want to use it. so I put it in a box and abandoned it.

and then Sarah Lawson brought out the Polaris as March Bag of the month, and I thought - aha - my beautiful rabbit Joli Pomme fabric with the gold piping will not go to waste after all! 

So I unpicked all the piping and the rest of the stitching and reassembled my pieces and it turned into this:

There isn't a lot else to say. Its an easy pattern. However I had a lot of issues with the piping. I probably shouldn't have recycled it. Its gone a bit wibbly wobbly. I couldn't 'feel' it when sewing as its very thin, whereas cotton piping which is 'filled' you can normally feel through your layers when you're sewing it.
I like the methods used particularly the tip about sewing your seam allowances together at the top of the bag on the inside to stop the lining sagging.
Overall a cute sew. I'm happy enough but not ecstatic. End of :)

 (from ebay)

 (from Etsy)

 (from ebay)

I have no clue where the crimson lining fabric came from!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Getting Fit: 8 week transformation photos

I think the term 'transformation' may be a bit, um, excessive in my case. I have used the most unflattering pictures, both before and after, because this is what I look like when I hit the gym. But I'm sweatier there.

I'm not looking to be a size 10. At the end of last year though, I was feeling so sluggish and generally unwell that I thought I should probably do something about it sharpish. I was living on ready meals, and drinking a glass of wine every day and not even vaguely monitoring my consumption. I certainly wasn't doing any exercise.

So just around the corner from me is a gym. It looks like this:

A fair few of my friends and acquaintances go, because its handy. In fact one of the instructors sons is in Joeys class.

What I signed up to was three sessions a week of my choice, plus nutritional guidance i.e a complete overhaul of what I was eating - essentially tracking my intake based on 'macros' or in laymans terms, the percentages of carbs, protein and fats that you consume. I also had to drop the dairy, and up the greens. No bread. Minimal carbs in general.

I thought I'd have dropped a size in two months, however I haven't. What has happened is that I've toned up a bit, and improved my eating considerably. My knees are still bad (I have osteoarthritis) and I was hoping to drop some weight as this is the only way to take the pressure off them, but unfortunately I've hardly dropped any.
However. My waist is smaller. I have less back fat ( I forgot to take back pics sorry) I can do a vague approximation of a situp  (as opposed to flailing around like a beached whale whilst failing to move my top half from the floor) And I'm lighter of purse by £79 a month :)

Side view. I can see my tummy has shrunk a bit. Possibly a bit off the backside too.

Front view. My waist goes in a bit more. My legs - I think they look the same. 

When I get my measurements next week, I'll add any changes here.

Bagmaking: The Window Shopper Tote - February BOTM 2016 by Mrs H

I knew when Samantha  said we were going to need a big print for her Bag of the Month  club bag, that I wanted to use this Frida print.

However I didn't actually own it already, so I had to go buy it. Gosh Alexander Henry ain't cheap

This bag has two outer pockets. A full width one on the back (although to be honest you can use it either way around) and a pouch on the front. This required serious fussy cutting to match up the patterns:

Urk! All that wasted fabric! (I also still needed to cut a gusset and a strap at this point) I do keep my scraps though so it won't get binned. There is also enough left to make a handbag. A small one :) 

So lets cut to the chase. Summary: Easy pattern to follow. No issues at all. Made gusset an inch wider. Used headliner to pad it out nicely. Bobs yer uncle! One huge tote finito.