Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Make a Cute Purse (part 3)

Hello Again,

Welcome to day 3 on making a purse.  I wanted to let you know that although I am posting the instructions in multiple days, the purses themselves didn't take that long.

So, now onto to adding the lining

Step 20 - Adding Darts to the Lining
Just like in step 3, you will need sew the darts into the lining of both the front and back sections.

Step 21 - Upper Inside Edges
Stitch upper edges of front and back lining sections together in a 1/4" seam, pivoting at small circles as shown like in step 4.  Now the lining will be held together at only these sections.

Step 22 - Press Edge for Zipper
Turn in 1/4" on upper edge of front and back lining and press

Step 23 – Stitch Lining
For this step, they have you sew closed the lining, however, then you will need to hand sew the zipper to the lining – YUCK!  I tried.  It was messy, ugly, time consuming and not as strong.  Instead, skip this step until after the zipper is in.

Step 24 -  Stitch Lining to Zipper
They would have you slip-stitch the lining to the zipper.  This is how bad I did on that!
For the next purses, I sewed the zipper to the lining first, trying to stay as close to the pressed edge of the lining and the zipper without getting too close.  If you are too close to the zipper, the lining will get caught in the zipper you open and close it.  I pinned the lining in place and then machine stitched it in place.  I should warn you that I did have to go back on some sections since my lining slipped a little and my stitch missed, but it was easy to correct.  I tried to follow the same line as my outer bags seam.

Step 24b – Sew Lining
With right sides together, sew the lining MOSTLY CLOSED, leaving a 2-3” section un-sewn in the bottom (not near the part that you would see).  You can now turn the purse right side out through this hole.  Once it is the right way, you can slip-stitch the 2-3” hole that you left in the bottom.
Step 25 – Tabs – This was done already
This is the step that again, they would have you hand sew a part that was done much easy by machine.  In step 14, I sewed close the entire bag, including these tabs.  I actually sewed over them twice to give them double strength.   I can’t imagine slip-stitching these.  They would not have been very strong and my ugly stitches would have been right out there where everyone could see them.
Step 26 -28 – Strap (this could have been done at any point earlier)
Turn in your seam allowance on long edges of strap and press.  It also makes things a little easier if you clip the corners a little to allow the fold.
With wrong sides together (right sides out), fold strap along foldline, press (I think I did not press).  Stitch close to pressed edges. 
Turn in seam allowance on each end of strap and press.

Step 29 – Attach Strap
Insert each end of strap through D-Ring on tabs, turning back 1” on ends.  Stitch close to inner pressed edge, through thickness.  Again, I double stitched this.  This was one where they show machine sewing and I could not fit this much fabric through my machine, so I hand sewed this part.

Step 30 – Zipper Pull
If you wanted to add a zipper pull, you would sew on your beaded tassel onto your finished zipper

You are done!  Congratulations. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How to Make a Cute Purse (part 2)

I am sorry that I did not get this posted before.  Life took over for a few days.  I have had sick kids in the family and so took some time to get them better.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my blog on making these little purses.  Now that I have ironed out the kinks of the pattern and instructions and can share it with you.

Before, we finished the interfacing, darts and adding the facing.
Step 7:  Starting the Zipper
You need to whipstitch the zipper tape together on the upper end.

Step 8:  Prickstitch?
Say what?  I did this step as suggested the first time and it sucked.  It took a lot of time, made a mess of the zipper and the benefit was minimal.  It is supposed to keep the zipper in place until you sew it.  I skipped this step for the next 2 purses and was much happier.
You have to whipstitch it by hand and knot each stitch, which left strings everywhere for the sewing machine to catch on.

Step 9-11:  Creating The Tabs
These steps can be done at any time, but I found it odd to work on the zipper in 8, put it down to do these steps and then finish it in 14.  Their steps are also a little strange for the tabs.  I did it differently.
First, cut out your 2 tab squares.  No need to transfer the lines that were put on the pattern.
I did it the first time (again, I like to follow instructions), however, I found that it was pointless.  This was a waste of time.  They wanted you to turn in at these lines, press, and glue or baste in place.  Then fold, press and sew again.  Silly!
 Instead, I did this:
Sooo much easier and such a time saver. 
Fold the square in half and sew right sides together (inside out) about 1/2" in.  This change saved about 20 minutes or more per purse!  Then, turn right sides out.  I ended up doing a double stitch since this is what the strap holds onto.

Another thing that I did was to do the strap at the same time as the tabs, but they do not do them until step 26, so I will leave it until later.   Just know that you can do these early

Step 12 - D-Ring
Insert the newly created tab through the D-Ring. They have you baste, but you don't need to.

Step 13 - Attach Tab
Again, they made this step so much harder than it needed to be, not to mention weaker.  They wanted you to stitch it here and then later hand stitch the opening.  Yuck!  Way too much hand stitching listed for this project.  Hand stitching should be avoided at all costs, so instead I stitched it to the outside and then sewed in place.  I should look like this:
Use the machine to sew into place on one side of purse.  When you sew purse closed later, you will sew right over this and hence machine sew in place.
Step 14 - Sew Zipper
For this you need a zipper foot for your machine.  This allows you to sew right up to the edge of the zipper.  Change the foot on your machine.
Open Zipper.  Stitch front and back sections together at sides and lower edge.  Instead of the whole whipstitch thing, I merely pinned the zipper in place and sewed! In this step, they merely want you to sew the outer purse closed.  I sewed it all the way closed, including the upper portion with the tabs.

Steps 15-17 - The Pocket

Start by pressing the upper edge of your pocket IN 1/4", then take that same edge and turn it OUT along fold line.
You will then need to stitch ends and trim.  After you have turned the upper edge to inside, it will look like this:
You will need to press in all the edges in, folding in the fullness at the corners

The last part is to sew close to inner pressed edge.
Steps 18 & 19 - Adding Pocket to Lining
Pin the pocket to the front of the lining sections, matching large circles on the pattern.  Stitch close to sides and lower edge.  Stitch along stitching line to create a divider within the pocket (like for a phone or ipod).  Reinforce inner corners of upper edge.
For tomorrow, I will show how to put in the lining and then finish the bag (10 more steps to go).
Later for now,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Make a Cute Purse (part 1 How to Start)

This Christmas, I decided to try to hand-make as many gifts as possible.  I have always preferred something that someone put their heart into and to give something unusual and unique.  In our family, we have a set of triplets that are in their early teens and I wanted to make something that they would like.  Something that would be unique to each of them, while still being similar.  A little purse is the perfect answer.  I could make the same style purse, while making the fabric each different.  I took detailed pictures of each step to share with you.  Because there are so many steps, I am going to break up this into more than 1 day's worth.
I would like to start by saying that as I have mentioned before, I am by no means an expert, especially in the sewing arena.  If you are a total beginner, maybe this will give you some confidence to try it out.  In fact, I had to bring in my mother for advice on my sewing projects.

Her first tip:  Don't read the directions.  "What?" I say, "Why did I get a pattern if I am not supposed to read it?" (I am a big direction reader - it goes against reason to NOT read them).  I guess with sewing, you are just supposed to know and use the pattern and not the directions
To Purchase
Here is the pattern that you are NOT supposed to read :)  See & Sew B5124
I chose the bottom purse - purse A.
I purchased 1 yard each corduroy fabric in 3 coordinating colors:  Coffee Brown, Teal blue, and aqua with flowers.  Then I purchased 2 yards of a lining fabric in regular flat cotton that coordinating perfectly with all three (dots of brown, teal and mustard).  I purchased a little extra of each than was called for.  It also called for sew-in interfacing of "heavyweight hair canvas".  After purchase the wrong thing, I asked my mother who said that you could use anything for interfacing that was heavy weight.  I had already a ton of this pink cord, so I used it.  For notions, you need 2 D-Rings each and a 14" zipper.  It also has a beaded tassel listed that I skipped.  Fabric cost $23 (after coupons and tax) and the notions were $13, making each purse roughly $13/each.  This project would have been too expensive to do full price!

Step 1 - Cut it out
Completely cut out your pattern and locate all the parts that are needed.  In this case, there are 5 pattern pieces.  You will end up with 13 pieces of fabric total:  front & back of purse in cord, interfacing and lining, strap in cord and interfacing, facing in cord, tab in cord, and pocket in lining.

Step 2 - Pin Interfacing& Baste
I pin the pink "interfacing" to the back of my cord fabric and basted in place with the baste stitch on my sewing machine.  (Basting is just a really big stitch that holds everything together, but you can pull it out later.)  You do this for for the purse front, back and strap.  

I used the 20 basting stitch setting (I think it means it skips 20 stitches, but I don't know, just that it works)

You will want to transfer the markings from the pattern for the triangle dart to be done in the next step.  I used pins on the points of the triangle and a highlighter on the interfacing to mark for sewing.  Since no one was going to see the interfacing, I just drew the triangle right on there.

Step 3 - Darts
Stitch the darts in each front and back so that the triangle is on the pink interfacing.
This is the triangle on the inside
This is the outside, which is not a cute dart to make the bottom flat.

Make sure that your darts line up, before you sew it together.
Step 4 - Upper Inside Edges
Sew the upper edges together just to the circles on the pattern.  Right sides should be sewn together and attached by these 2" section.
Do this for both sides and for facing
Step 5 - Facing
Open the facing and bag and pin the right side together.

make sure to match seams
stitch all the way around making square ends
you need to clip diagonally to stitched corners.

Step 6 - Press & Baste (optional)
After this, you turn facing to inside and can press, although honestly, I didn't. They also wanted you to baste the raw edges together

There are more steps, so stated tuned for more

Monday, January 24, 2011

Project 365: Week 4 Completed

Happy Monday!
We have had a pretty busy week last week.  My 9 month old finally got his first tooth and we had a very long sleepless night because of it.  He is also learning to walk which is very cool.  With all that fills our busy lives, I made sure to stay on track with my Project 365; taking a photo every day and here is my weekly layout:

I wanted to remind you that it is really easy to stay on track.  I ditched all the themes and "plans" for taking pictures.  I found that only made me feel like it was too much.  But it has been easy to find time to click of picture of something, anything, at least once a day. You should give it a try.  A photography project like this can be started at any time.

We have had some beautiful sunny days.  After so many cold, rainy, and/or foggy days, this weather has been a welcome change. 
In addition to this page, I also was able to work on my own album and to work on my album of authors that I have met and books that I have signed.  I have always wanted to showcase all my special books and photos of authors in one place.  Once I have it further along, I can share it.
I hope you have a beautiful day and a nice week,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mommy Review: Disney's Epic Mickey

I recently talked about spending time with my family playing video games, so I thought that a review might be helpful.  I am not a video gaming expert - not by far!  This review is from a mom to other moms.

Summary of Epic Mickey (for the Wii):
Mickey Mouse has to return through the mirror to where the Sorcerer has created a special land for lost and forgotten characters to repair the damage that he (Mickey) created by spilling paint, thinner and magic on it.  Mickey has to use his paint brush to fill in things with paint, thin out others, and battle "blots" and other creatures that he had accidently set loose on this world populated with characters like Oswald the Happy Rabbit.

Family Pros:
It is very engaging and everyone seems to enjoying watching what happens next.  I loved that you can repair this land and help creatures.  Another cool thing is that it is a mock Disneyland.  Each of the lands in Disneyland are represented here with a slight name change - Tomorrowland becomes Tomorrow City, Main Street is Mean Street,  etc.  Rides are changed as well - Space Voyage, instead of Space Mountain.  While exploring each area, you can go up to a character and it will ask for your help (ie there is a pirate that wants helping getting a gift for his love interest. You have to ask her what she likes and then find them and get them back to the pirate. In this case, you have to go to multiple lands to find the 3 things and then only offer the right one to the pirate.)  In a time when so many video games are all about shooting and killing, I like that in this game you stop the bad characters by thinning them or best is to cover them in paint and making them your friend and helper.  They get little blue Mickey heads over their head like hearts and they will help you stop other bad guys.  My entire family can play this game, too, although there are some parts that are difficult (like the battling parts) and we hand the remote to the more experienced players.  There are a ton of parts though that younger members can just paint and thin to their hearts content, exploring an area.  The more you explore each area, the more that you can discover hidden items like e-tickets, pins, film reels and extra content.  The controls are fairly easy to do (move with nunchuck, paint with B, jump with A, and thin with Z.  You can change you view with the directional pad and see the map and quest list by pressing 2.  Later in the game - and + are used as well.)  Another cool element is that when you travel from one land to another, you do via an old film reel of a Disney cartoon (Steamboat Willy, Clock Cleaners, and even some Oswald ones).

Family Cons:
It is a 1 player game, so all the rest of your family will have to sit and wait for their turn.  It is also a very dark game, meaning some of the screens are very hard to see.  Periodically, you end up in a spot for some reason that you can't see what's happening, you view shifts radically away from what you were looking at or it won't let you look at something.  Because the "bad guys" are made from the blot (a dark blob of paint and thinner), there are some area that are a little scary.  Not so bad that my kids left the room, but they really worried for poor Mickey.  There is no talking in this world, so all dialog has to be read.  If you have younger pre-readers, it has to read to them.  Most of these, you can take your time reading, but some of it goes really fast and even I had trouble reading it fast enough.  There a ton of side quests that it seems you can never complete.  It keeps track of them for you (I hated seeing "failed" under a quest).  They published a guide to help out.

All in all, it is a great family game, but probably best for the 10+ crowd.  We did not buy the guide and are almost to the finally battle, but I could see use getting the guide and replaying to find what we missed the first time.  It keeps you interest enough that you want to go back time and again.  I give the game a B+.

Good luck on your gaming,

Friday, January 21, 2011


I hope are enjoying my blog so far.

I would love to know if my knowledge is helpful to you.  Two things that I seem to be good at is figuring out how to do something, but also I know when to call in reinforcements.  There are many times that I would not be able to accomplish anything without help from my family and friends.  Every single one of us is good at something.  I would be remiss if I did not allow them to share their expertise with you as well.

So, look for upcoming posts from some of my experts!

BTW, if you have a specialty that you would like to share, please drop me a line

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Keep Track of What You've Read, Want to Read and Should Read

If you are like me, you have read a ton of books!  If you, too have struggled with keeping track of what you have already read (to make sure that you don't reread), what you want to read, or even get an idea of what you might like next, I have a website for you!

In the "old days", you could only make your lists via a spreadsheet program or table within a text document.  I wanted to keep track of my books, especially ones that I had that were signed or special edition for some reason.

In the "really old days", you had to do it by hand in a tablet or what I had "A Booklover's Journal".  Although, sadly, my journal is markedly unfilled, even though I had read enough books to have filled more than a couple of them.  Even my spreadsheet is not a complete list of my books.  It was just too hard to enter the books.

I stumbled across a new website in my search for information on how to blog.
As someone who LOVES making lists (I know, weird, huh?), I used a spreadsheet for everything; books, movies, addresses, etc.   I found that while different programs have come and gone, you can always transfer or import using a .csv file.   I really love how easy this site is to use.
1. First, you must create an account to start.  It was VERY simple.  I used my existed gmail account and added my name and password.  That's it.
2.  It also allows you to add friends by uploading your address book.  I skipped this step.
3.  You can of course just move forward and record books.

Since I already had an extensive list made up in excel, I imported my list.  It took a few minutes for it to verify the books.  It prefers isbn (international standard book number - or the number that you see on the back of a book by it's barcode), but you could also use title and author.  Again, very simple.  I clicked the "import" box and searched my hard drive for my spreadsheet.  That's it.  A note:  The first time that I tried, it did not like what I titled my columns and was not set up for the newer excel.  It prefers .csv, but it can use .xls or .txt files, too.  I changed my column headers and file type and done.

Another option for adding your titles is to use search what they have already.  They have an extensive list of books and it brings up the jacket cover and everything.  Very simple to type in the author or title, etc and find the book that you want.  Once you have found the correct title, you can either click "add to my books" and choose "read", "To read" or "currently reading" or you can just click the rating star that you want to give it and it will automatically add it to your list of titles that you have read.

They have 2 other options that I have not tried just yet.  To upload from your Amazon wish list and worse come to worse - to simply add a new title manually.

I have started the task of adding my insane list of books that I have already read, but you could just start fresh with what you reading now.

It also gives the option of seeing and sharing reviews of your friends, joining book discussions, reading reviews and more.  It is a neat system.  I figured that I would post mine for you via a widget they offer.  I have made a pledge on their website to read 20 books this year.  You can select any number you want and it tracks your progress.

Enjoy a good book!

      Wednesday, January 19, 2011

      Vote on the next how to

      I would love to hear from you about what topic I should blog about next and you would like to know more about.
      Please vote either via comment below or e-mail by Thursday, January 20th at 9 am (pst)

      Your choices are:

      1.  How to make a quilled card
      2.  How to make a hobby horse
      3.  How to make a cute purse
      4.  How to make a knapsack
      5.  Your choice

      Can't wait to hear from you!

      Tuesday, January 18, 2011

      How to be Inspired

      I took a trip to the library today.  I had originally planned to go to the storytime for my little guy, but since he was asleep, I spent the hour wandering the aisles.  I found so many treasures.

      Whenever I look for new ideas, the best thing that I do is to visit the library or book store.  Combing the rows alone will show you how much is out there to learn.  I love to own books (obviously!  as per my previous posts), but a good library visit can unearth tons of neat ideas.  I came home with so many books that they told me that I was 2 way from my limit!

      book glutton?
      So, what did I get?
      Monsters Eat Whiny Children (to read to my kids) :)
      Cake Art (for cake inspiration)
      Parties That Wow (for inspiration in planning parties)
      Button and Stitch - Supercute Ways to Use Your Button Stash (for kids to make stuff)
      Crafting Fun Stuff with a Crowd of Kids (for my mom's club)
      A Zombie Ate my Cupcake (just because it was a funny cookbook)
      Blonde Bombshell (to read)
      Meet Bill dvd (never saw this one)
      Angels & Demons dvd (I couldn't ever remember watching this one - unlike the rest of the world, I did not enjoy his 2 books, so I was not quick to run out and watch the movies)
      Bionicle Graphic Novel (for my 10 yo)
      Miss Spider Scavenger Hunt CD-Rom (for my 5 yo)
      Piano for Kids CD-Rom (for my girls)
      Neverwhere (to read)
      Cirque de Freak bk 1 (for my 10 yo)
      Peter& and Starcatchers (for my 10 yo)

      It was such a nice time browsing the shelves that I may make a weekly visit.  Soon, I should have some new "How to" topics for you to enjoy.  So, the next time you need a little inspiration, take a trip to the library.

      Monday, January 17, 2011

      Project 365: Week 3 completed

      I am staying on track with my Project 365 and have completed my 3rd layout.  It really is fairly easy.  I have ignored the themes and topics and am just taking pictures of what is happening in our life.  It will be so nice to get to the end of the year and have a completed album for that year.  I am so far behind with my other scrapbooking, I am looking forward to this.

      Sunday, January 16, 2011

      How to Throw a Sparling Tea Party - the cake

      I thought that I would give you some more information on how I made the tea pot cake.  While it may look difficult, it was very easy.  As 3-D cakes go, this one is much easier than others that I have worked one.
      This is my Handle and this is my Spout. . .
      One of the first things that I started with was the handle and spout.  I hand formed them out of store bought fondant.  As I have said before, I have since learned how to make Marshmallow Fondant which knocks the store bought out of the water.  Also, if I were to redo this cake, I might try to either make this out of gumpaste or even shape it out of styrofoam and just cover in fondant.  Two problems that I encountered with them were that they were so heavy, it was hard to keep them attached to the cake, and while they dried, the backside flattened.  After I formed the pieces, I dried them in a pan.  It would have been better on a soft surface, so that they didn't flatten, but I reshaped a little.  I attached them to the cake with skewers.

      The bottom cake is a basic 8" round with a light pink fondant "tablecloth". 
      The round cake was made using the Wilton Sports Ball Pan:

      There are so many uses for this pan.  You simply fill each half with your chosen cake batter (I used white) and bake in the oven using the little round "feet".  After baking and cooling, I placed buttercream between the halves and a little buttercream where you place it to stick it in place.  At this point, you would crumb coat it.  Crumb coating is where you place a thin layer of icing, usually buttercream, all over the cake,  This seals the crumbs so that your top layer looks nice without crumbs.  It also smooths the surface for the fondant.  Probably the only hard part of this process was getting the fondant smooth on a round object.
      I added all the elements together.  I used flower fondant cutters and colored pink fondant to make the flowers and a leaf cutter and green fondant for the leaves.  You can attach the embellishments with water, but it can run easier.  Clear vanilla extract is a better thing to use.
      The lid is a small piece of the round cake that I cut off the cake top and covered in fondant and then used a gumdrop for the lid handle.

      All in all, pretty easy and simple.

      I hope you can use my information to throw your own fabulous tea party!
      btw - feel free to send me any questions as always or any suggestions for future how tos.