The Wonderful Things Blog Tour and lots of Wonderful Things!

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It’s finally here…my day for the Wonderful Things Blog Tour! YEAH! If you have not been following along, I will have the full schedule for you at the end of this blog. And What is this Wonderful Things I am so excited to be a part of? Well, it is a maker’s delight using Bonnie Christine’s, fabric designer extraordinare, collection of fabrics called Wonderful Things! You can find Bonnie on Instagram (@goinghometoroost) and on the web as goinghometoroost.com. Bonnie is a busy mom who wears many hats as a quilter, sewist, and crafter. Oh did I mention, she is as beautiful as the fabrics she designs!

I have been a long time fan girl of Bonnie and her fabric collections, so, when Bonnie asked for volunteers to be part of the Wonderful Things Blog Tour, my hand shot up…actually, I RAN to my computer and volunteered and then held my breath until I found out I was chosen. This was followed by a happy dance all around the house! I had already used some of the Wonderful Things fabric collection, so I knew how amazing these fabrics, produced by Art Gallery Fabrics, were. The entire collection consists of soft feminine colors, flowers and coordinating prints designed just to bring out the very best when all paired together. I knew exactly what I was going to create for the tour when I chose my prints! Two main fabrics and two coordinating:

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Chosen Fabrics – Garden Walk Thistle Border Fabric, Blooming Brook Moon, Words to Live By and Splendid Oath Rain

I knew the border flowered print, Garden Walk Thistle, would be perfect for a Bucket Bag body, the white and blue smaller print,  Blooming Brook in Moon, would be the drawstring top. I had to incorporate the light green, Words To Live By and Splendid Oath Rain, was crying out to be ‘Wonderful” piping and bias trim! The Bucket Bag finished lovelier than I had imagined…always a ‘Wonderful Thing’!

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A Bucket Bag has special meaning to me, because it was my very first bag design when I opened my Etsy shop six years ago. I remember laboring over the design and working on it for months before I posted the first one in my shop. Since then, I have improved it many times over until the interfacings, and the pieces are cut just the right size, but this one is extra special and filled with features, that my shop Bucket Bags do not have…yet! This lovely border print was begging for some decorative hand quilting to frame those Thistle flowers, and I know its a bit difficult to see, but that leather rectangle has my shop monogram embossed on it. I really like the interest the real leather added and I worked diligently to stitch it just right!

Next I used the Words To Live By fabric to create the outside and inside base of the Bucket. I fussy cut just the right sentiment… “Not All Who Wander are Lost”.. for the bottom exterior. Such a great saying for a free spirit like me, don’t you think?

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Bucket Bag Bottom – Words To Live By

The interior of the Bucket Bag is filled with lots of features ready for the quilter, knitter, crocheter or crafter. A quilted pocket with a “handmade with love” snap ribbon, just for those special scissors. A bigger pocket, with more Words to Live By, “To Thine Own Self be True”, will hold a smartphone, EPP’s, tape measure, etc.  And on that bigger pocket a fabric covered matching needle minder…but wait, that’s not all! How about a tabbed split ring just incase you might want to hang something…like a needle book.  Another Wonderful Thing about the Bucket Bag is the way the drawstring top folds over the main body of the bag for perfect accessibility and visibility. Wonderful!

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Bucket Bag Interior Features-1
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Bucket Bag Interior Features-2

What I wasn’t expecting was the fact, that I just couldn’t stop making! Inspired by these lovely prints, I pulled out some patterns and since I already owned other fabrics from the Wonderful Things collection, I just kept going! First up, a pin cushion as delicate and flowery as this collection, naturally, a Rose Pin Cushion Cuff (pattern by Michellepatterns on Etsy) was irresistible. Followed by a Sew Posh Sewing Supply Case (pattern by RobotMomSews also on Etsy) to show off Aquarelle Study Wash fabric and Splendid Oak Rain! The Spending Oak bow and matching bias trim married perfectly on the Sew Posh Case Supply Case, but just one more thing…a matching covered tape measure hand sewn and hand embroidered with a sweet pink heart button to push for retracting! LOVE IT!

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The Whole Collection…almost!

Stop there? I couldn’t! I still had one more Words To Live By piece, cut in a circle, which I could not leave cut and unused. A little sandwich needle book, inspired by one I spied on @sunnysidesupply ‘s IG feed, came to life and was hand quilted all around the saying “You are Capable of Wonderful Things”! I was almost ready to pack my Bucket Bag and start creating, but as a great hand appliqué (r) or English Paper Piecer knows, you need a bit of Thread Gloss to insure a Wonderful thread consistency so I chose a Flower (Rose, of course!) Thread Gloss from RobotMomSews…I know, right!

When I finished (ha!) I realized there were three more days left until my turn on the Wonderful Things Blog Tour. The opposite border of the Garden Walk Thistle border fabric was just staring at me. In addition, a bit of my other chosen fabrics still had potential! Should I stop!? What do you think the over achiever in me, replied? You are lazy if you don’t go on…AHHH!!! Sometimes, these demands are difficult for me to control and the very voice which keeps my head spinning at night. But, what to make? Pillow, mini quilt, doll clothes, another bag…what??? There were possibilities! And with this much fabric still to use, would you have quit?

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I have to confess…I LOVE LOVE LOVE a great border print, like Garden Walk Thistle. I truly do not believe many designers gravitate to this fabric layout,  so they are few and far between. But when I see a beautiful border print, whether, on both borders or just one…I get giddy!!! But I digress…So, my consistent side prevailed and a Wonderful Thing happened…Inspiration! Followed by a decision…thank goodness, because I was at two days out.  Part of the plan included Hexies. Since I used two hexies to finish the drawstring of the Bucket Bag, more hexies were in order, you know, for the sake of consistency! So, I began with scraps and started making Hexies, fussy cutting some and not others, but trying to use every small fabric scraps left. They were so adorable when I finished, I just wanted to look at them, and admire them…but…shook it off!!! Got going!

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So drumroll, please…an Extra Large Zippered Bag, using the Garden Walk Thistle Border print on one side and Hexies on the back…or should it be the other way around? Once I started the creative process it was difficult to choose the front from the back of the zippered bag. But consistency…again!

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I am really into fusible foam interfacing for the exterior of my zippered bags. It makes the exterior “feel” so soft but makes for a strong bag which stands up on its own. For the interior fabrics, I chose the pieces I had left over, and calculated how large the zippered bag could be and worked backwards. I could get a 16″ wide x 13 ” tall zippered back with some creative piecing. On hand was  a lovely blue long pull purse zipper which was 16″ long, but after I added an end tab and installed it just right, it would extend beautifully beyond the back of the bag, making for great accessibility. Here’s a little secret… I purchase most of my zippers from Zipit on Etsy! Best prices, best selection and best service! I’m a customer for life!

So I pieced all the hexies and got them just right, for half of the back of the zippered bag and used the Garden Walk Thistle print on the front. Added a navy blue gusset bottom, to bring the size to snuff, a padded matching zipper pull and voila a great extra large zippered bag! It’s a Wonderful Thing!

Phew… I’m done…really! With just a few pieces of fabrics, and some gorgeous selvages left, I’m out of steam and very happy with ALL the makes! To be fair, I have been following the Wonderful Things Blog Tour from the beginning and found it difficult to measure up (tape measure. LOL) to the creative designers which have participated thus far. They have all truly ‘up the ante’ for this Blog Tour!

Make sure you check out Deanne  (7/27) and Amy‘s (7/31) blogs and instagram feeds as well. But why limit yourself, follow the entire Wonderful Things Blog Tour from beginning to end to have your mind blown by all the creative people from all around the World. If Instagram is your favorite social media, follow along with the hashtags #wonderfulthingsblogtour and #wonderfulthingsfabric. I promise, that once you see what is created from the Wonderful Things fabric collection, you will want to visit every blog, read all about the creator’s inspirations and start your own makes!

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Back of the Extra Large Zippered Bag…see the Hexie flower in the middle?

Until the next Wonderful time,

Maria xoxo

 

Wonderful Things Blog Tour…what is a blog tour anyway???

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The Wonderful Things Blog Tour will feature fabrics by Bonnie Christine (@goinghometoroost) for Art Gallery Fabrics (@artgalleryfabrics), by her fabric line with the same name. I am so super, dancing around the house, making so many things, excited to have been picked for this tour! I can hardly wait 6 sleeps to show you ALL I have created! Yes, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed about making with the fabrics which Christine sent me! The designer provides the fabrics which the maker chooses from the fabric line…these are the fabrics, I chose…can you guess what I’ve made?? If you do, I will send you for FREE what you have guessed correctly! Check my IG feed (@mariaelenabliss) for my former makes and see if you can guess!

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Now, what is a blog tour???

Blog tours can be a great way to drum up early excitement about a designer’s new fabric collection release. A blog tour is a set amount of time, usually a week or two, in which a fabric design line will be promoted across various websites by various makers and various blogger’s  blogs. The dates are set in advance; each maker/blogger knows what material/make it will be posting, and the content and creation should be unique to each blog. By unique, I mean, the story which will feature the makes for the blog! So the blog post should be entertaining and lovely to read.

 

Online exposure is the main benefit of using a blog tour to promote designs. It hits a different audience than, say, an interview, podcast or an Instagram post by JUST the designers or by ONE Blog post. Makers are free to create from the fabric line what ever they feel best represents the fabric chosen. A blog tour is also a great option for designers who want to avoid traveling and or are uncomfortable with public speaking.

Most of all, a blog tour offers so much on line exposure! With Instagram, Facebook, and Blogs from all over the world, so many different lives are touched. It is a great honor to be chosen for a blog tour, as it not only features the designer, but the maker. Great advertising, exposure, and social media reach…a win, win win!

Please join me for my place on the Wonderful Things Blog Tour on July 28th 2017! See you back here, then, on Instagram and on my Facebook page! Follow me on as much social media as you feel comfortable!

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Maria, xoxo

 

The Maker’s Tote Construction Continues…and a big confession!

 

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Hi, Everyone!

So sorry for the delay in writing, but as I waited for a special zipper, I was able to get other things accomplished! At this date, I’m happy to announce my NEW Maker’s Tote is finished! YEAH!

After all that wait, I decided NOT to use the Riri zipper on this tote, as it was truly too long and would match better with my upcoming Explorer Tote, which I will blog about, too! Now on to the real stuff…

Last time I blogged, I had all the pieces of the Maker’s Tote done, and by done, I mean all the features I wanted in the lining piece were finished, and also the zipper facings, gussets, and top corners were rounded on both exterior and lining pieces…oh yes,  and contrast binding was sewn together, ironed and waiting to be applied to the exterior.

Now for my big confession…as you can see in the picture of my Tote, at this point, I do NOT proceed as the pattern directs, WHY? Well, be as I may, and I have tried plenty of times, I cannot get the zipper seams to look “straight” on the exterior of the Tote. Even though I follow the pattern to a “T”, first basting the zipper, then committing to the sewn lines. I think this would be fine, if you made your Tote Exterior with a somewhat busy print, but since I don’t do that…well, I just don’t. And if truth be told, I don’t like those two stitching lines across the front and back of my Tote, but I’m okay with it on the Maker’s Tote that I see. I’m positive, as a bag maker and designer, that the zipper is added the way the pattern calls for, for strength, but I have not found my way to cause any angst, as I use my version of the Maker’s Tote. So, if you like (or don’t mind) those stitching lines, I suggest you follow the construction of the Tote pattern step by step from this point and pay no attention to how I do it….I’m not judging!

However, if you would like to try it my way, here’s how I get the Maker’s Tote constructed without the two parallel stitching lines on the front and back of the Tote. Step by step, this is how I put my Tote Together:

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  1. Sew Gussets to Lining piece – Find the center of your gussets and make sure you sew RST (right sides together) with lining the fabric of the gusset you want to see in the INTERIOR:
    1. GUSSETS: Now, sewing the gussets might not be as easy as I just wrote, because you are sewing a rounded piece to a straight piece. In the picture below you can see how I make slits in the gusset and lining pieces as I go around the curve. By the way this is also in your instructions. VERY IMPORTANT: Be very careful to make small slits that will not extend into the lining or gusset where you will see a hole later.
    2. ZIPPER: After all gussets are in place you will have a U-shaped Lining (see picture above).It’s time to put in your zipper. I use a separating zipper, as called for, however, I have noticed if you use a long enough zipper, others have done it without using a separating one. Personally, I think this would make putting this puppy together even more difficult, so I comply with the directions at this point.
      1. make sure you know which side of your Lining you want to look at when you open your Tote from the front. For instance, if you wan to look at the pleated pocket side (if you have one) then that is the side where your zipper will open from (or will be on the left). If you want to look at your recessed interior zipper pocket (if you have one) then that is the side you wan tot start from. This will make more sense once you have your lining and gussets together.
    3. Apply Zipper to first side of your Tote, (look at instructions for inch position from top of Tote) making sure your separating zipper is facing up and the front tab of your zipper is folded under your zipper and away from the left edge (see picture). TIP: it is helpful to mark a line straight across your lining at the recommended height, so you can follow it as you sew the zipper.
      1. Sew the first side of your zipper along the line you drew, STOPPING, about 1 1/2″ from the right side of your Lining. WHY? Because your zipper will extend beyond the Tote for easy opening. This takes a bit of trust, but do it and you will see how it works! After the First side is sewn and BEFORE the facing…Trim the Front of your zipper (remember, the part you tucked under!) Trimming this end (both zipper sides) will give you a more tailored look (as if you know what you’re doing) and get it away from the binding later. DON’T FORGET THIS STEP…ON BOTH SIDES! (picture below).
      2. Follow your pattern to sew the zipper facing to the first side.
      3. Sew the second side of your zipper! WAIT…
        1. You want the stoppers on the left side of your zipper to match up…so, this time you are going to pin the other side along the line you drew making sure your zipper lines up. Since you have a separating zipper…right?…you can open and close it several times after you pin it in place just to make sure, BEFORE you commit!
        2. You will be sewing the second side of your zipper to the lining starting at the right…again, trust me…(this is the way it will be more comfortable to sew on your machine), so this time you will start sewing 1 1/2″ inches away from the right side of your Tote, so it matches the first side.
          1. Apply facing to the second side as directed in pattern.

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Wow…you did it! You have your LINING together…yeah for you! This is huge! Give yourself a hand, do a little maker’s dance, or get up and admire your work, what ever works for you to get your energy to attach your exterior! I’m not going to lie, it’s gonna get fiddly, so if you’re tired, come back tomorrow, or when you feel rested. You will thank me later! You’re almost there, but your goal is to have an awesome Tote and make it happily!

Attaching the Exterior: Let’s continue…now that you see what your Tote will look like, let’s fix it to the exterior foam interfaced piece! Yeah! Make sure your front pocket (not the back zippered exterior pocket, if you opted for one) is facing you, and “drop in your lining”  so that your zipper front is to the left of your Lining.

  1. Separate your zipper.
  2. Starting at the bottom of your Tote exterior and matching the middle seam of your Lining. Clip, pin, or what ever you feel more comfortable doing, your gussets to the exterior of your Tote.
    1. You will see a seam…this seam gets covered with your binding…clever?
    2. So with the outside of your gusset fabric together, you will refer back to the Sewing Gussets to Lining section in this post, and proceed the same. This time you will be sewing to the exterior.
      1. Don’t forget to CLIP AROUND EXTERIOR round part of your gussets! This really helps, so keep a small pair of fabric scissors, right by your sewing machine.
  3. Once you sew both of your gussets, the top rounded corners as well as the top of your tote should match with your lining
    1. Go ahead and stitch around your entire Tote and lining with a  1/4″ to 3/8″ seam allowance just to hold the Tote together before you sew you binding.

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At this time, I want you to know, there is a YouTube video for this part of the Maker’s Tote here’s the link…watch it…its inspirational and builds muscle memory for the next steps…watch it as many times as you can and listen to every thing Anna says!  That being said, remember, if you followed my instructions you will already have the gussets on your lining. Don’t worry, you will get the idea!

Okay, now when you never want to put this through the machine again…well, you need to apply the binding! I usually hold my breath during this process, but I don’t recommend it. I do, keep saying to myself, “you are a sculptor!” This is so I don’t forget, that I can twist and bend this Tote as I need to get that binding on to the bag!

  1. Binding- I miter sew my binding pieces together as instructed in the patten, so when I start sewing the binding (RST) (see picture), I first trim the end of the binding, so I have a straight cut.
  2. I start at the side and back of the Tote with the binding, as opposed to the top of the Tote.
    1. fold a small “hem” as you start the binding (1″) and as you start sewing just catch the end of the fold.  This is in your pattern instructions!
    2. Refer to your pattern on how to sew you binding, all around your Tote, making sure that when you fold the binding to the right side, you sill see the side of the binding which has NO SEAMS…Oh. Ive done it!
      1. Make sure the right sides of your zipper is out of the way as you apply your binding!!!
  3. Be very careful around the gussets of the Tote and remember….”you are a sculptor!” and you can bend and twist as needed, but make sure you know where your needle is at all times. I sew this one with the needle position down as I sew and take no more than 10 stitches (I count!) as I go around the bag, straightening as I go, checking to make sure I have no bunching up on the exterior of the Tote or in the Lining…YOU CAN DO THIS!! SLOW IS KEY!
  4. SLOW, CHECK, SEW…THIS IS THE TIP OF THE ENTIRE BINDNG PROCESS!
    1. I can’t stress this enough…count your stitches, especially as you go around the gussets again! Make sure your gusset seams STAY OPEN! Don’t worry about dinner, don’t worry about the wash, don’t think about anything else and tell the children you are on time out! 

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Again, another milestone! At this point, I want you to know, I hand stitch the binding to the Exterior! OH YES, I DO! I am not putting that Tote under that machine again, but you do what feels right. If you are okay, stitching the binding on the machine at the end, go for it! I’ve seen it done, it can happen! In the interest of full disclosure, hand stitching the binding take me three hours…YES, 3 whole hours! Whether, I’m making one for me, or selling one, I cannot speed this up. So, this might make up your mind!

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Here’s my Maker’s Tote waiting for hand stitching! LOVE this part! Now, I really wanted the handles on this Tote to be special and bring it to life! As you can see in the first picture, I MADE my handles out of some “special”  (special to me fat quarter) fabric and Foam Interfacing! If you would love to know how I did it, leave a comment, or message me on Instagram and I will Blog about it on Wednesday (Tuesday, I have a Divided Basket Class I’m teaching). If not, follow the directions in your pattern for our handles and you have yourself the most fabulous, amazing, useful, beautiful, eye catching Tote…EVER! Use it in good health, my friends! Hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to use the #makerstoteclub2017 on IG to show off your creations…link/tag me @mariaelenabliss to let me know this was helpful!

Here’s another confession….I am super excited to be part of a Blog Tour! The Blog Tour features the Art Gallery Fabric Line by Bonnie Christine, named Wonderful Things! If you would love to see ALL the Wonderful Things (pun intended) I have made with this fabric collection, meet me back here on July 28th! That’s my day on the Blog Tour. However check out Bonnie’s Blog for the complete schedule! Don’t miss a moment of it!

thanks, guys, for following along, and have a great week! Remember, if you wan to know how to make my Maker’s Tote Handles…leave a comment! Until July 28th (mark your calendars)!

Hugs and Happy Sewing,

Maria

Maker’s Tote- Lining

Hello, Lovely Makers,

Hope everyone is having a lovely 4th of July in the U.S. Mine has been filled with making, house work and laundry…all good! I’m truly not into fireworks and rather dislike them since I have a wonderful Weimaraner which is disturbed by loud noises. Plenty of houses setting off bottle rockets and other fireworks right now!

I hope you have found my tips on the Maker’s Tote helpful and I have continued today and it is as far as I can go without the special zipper which I ordered for this one. Yes, I ordered a Riri, separating zipper. If you are not familiar with this Italian made zipper, you should check them out. It is a splurge on my part and partly because of the beautiful fabrics I’m using on this Tote. All this being said, my zipper may not come. Oh yes, I ordered it a week ago and yet it still has not shipped. It’s not as if they had to MAKE the zipper and in fact, it was marked in stock, but after a hefty shipping charge, no shipping, no response…crickets! So, I have written and asked to cancel my order….crickets! Anyway, thanks for listening. For now, until I hear, I will halt the construction of the Tote. But before I do, I have managed to make the Lining with all the pockets, interfacing, binding and zipper bands…all ready to go.

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I know, when you purchase a pattern, measurements are given for cutting the lining. Personally, I tell ALL my bag classes, not to ever cut the lining pieces until the exterior of their bags are done. Why do I do this? Everyone sews a bit differently. I find in my classes, there can be up to 3/4″ difference between what the exterior of a bag SHOULD measure and what a student’s bag ACTUALLY measures. My instructions are this…work on your bag exterior, then when  you are finished, measure your exterior pieces, note the measurement and cut your lining to those measurements! Believe me, I have found 2″ discrepancies in pattern instructions between exterior and lining measurements. There is no hurry to CUT your lining pieces…truly! And better to be safe than have to go out and purchase new lining fabric, right?. So…with my exterior piece measurement in hand, I cut my lining pieces and began to interface, make the pleated pocket, pieces for another recessed zipper interior pocket instead of the fixed pocket the Maker’s Tote pattern calls for. The gussets where also part of the list…done! After all, it’s my Tote and I am free to customize it for best and highest use. I even add a fabric tab with a silver lobster clasp, for key management. I also use this clasp for yarn management if I am using my Tote for a knitting project bag…or to hold my scissors or notion bag. Lots of options for this little addition.  The binding is prepared and ready to go…feels great! Just wish I had had that separating zipper!!!

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For some tips:

  1. Don’t cut your lining until you have your exterior pieces, complete. That means, interfaced (Foam or other). Make sure you write down the measurements (pin measurements to the exterior pieces if you are going to walk away)…sometimes I forget…but I know you won’t!
  2. If you like an interior recessed zipper, learn how to make them and use them often. I like to zig zag across the end of the zipper (polyester zippers is what I use for the internal zipper pockets) so it doesn’t separate as I am trying to install.
  3. Customize the interior of your Tote/bags just for you! If you enjoy organization, then add those features which will make your creation one you will use over and over. If you prefer an interior you can just throw everything in with plenty of room and pockets are not your thing…don’t add them.

Well, folks, tomorrow, starts Grammy Camp for the rest of the week, so until the weekend or until my zipper arrives…or other. I am taking a short break from the Maker’s Tote blog. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #makerstoteclub2017 on Instagram to show off your Totes. Sure hope you have decided to join the Club!

If you have any questions along the way don’t hesitate to email me,  message me on IG @mariaelenabliss or leave a comment below! Thanks, and have a great rest of your week!

ps. I will post on IG once I start to put the Maker’s Tote together!

Maker’s Tote – Second Day

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Hello, Again,

so you’ve bought the pattern and started thinking about what fabrics you will use. Certainly you’ve read the pattern from start to finish, because that’s what we all do, and you’ve cut out the pattern pieces needed! So did you decide on the Large size or Small Maker’s Tote?

Well, since I’m taking it easy on this Sew Along, my new Maker’s Tote is going to take a few days. Today, I cut my fabric for the Small size exterior, cut the Foam interfacing to fit the exterior and also cut the pieces for the round pocket on the front and the zipper pocket on the back. It took me a few moments to choose the zipper color, but instead of a black metal zipper, I thought a nice dark cherry metal zipper for the back zippered pocket would match nicely with the Cotton and Flax Linen Cotton Fabric. I did not make the contrast binding, but I will.

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I know that doesn’t sound as if I can give you any tips, but here it goes. After I cut my foam interfacing, I always, zig zag around the perimeter of the interfacing. Why? The zig zag stitches compresses all around the interfacing and it makes it easier to apply the binding at the end. It’s a bit of a pain to do and slows me down, but I have learned this zig zagging pays off in the end. Try it…you’ll thank me later! If you have a keen eye, you will notice I also zig zag the middle of the interfacing. You don’t need to do this. I do it because it helps me line up the interfacing with the seam of the exterior fabric, but there’s no need…just a little OCD on my part (or rather CDO the letters in the right order please!)

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Next I added the much thought over recessed zipper to the back of the Tote exterior pieces. The pattern has wonderful instructions on how to do this. It is the way I apply most of my recessed zippers whether internal or external. I say MOST because on Anna Graham’s newest pattern the Traverse Bag (excellent bag, by the way) the external zipper is installed a bit differently and it should be.

I also fused my foam to my exterior piece. Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t usually add the zippered pocket on the back of the Tote. I don’t add it because I don’t like how the foam interfacing looks a bit loose around the recessed pocket pieces. I love a tailored bag. Which is one reason why I use a fusible Foam interfacing…you don’t have to, but I prefer it. If you read the paper which comes with the foam interfacing, you will note, that it calls for a damp cloth. If you use fusible foam interfacing with your Maker’s Tote, make sure you use a damp cloth as you iron. It truly makes a difference to eliminate wrinkles and sagging. But be careful, the damp cloth gets very hot, so watch where your hands. I’m glad I added the zipper pocket to this one!

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Last but not least is the contrasting, oh so clever, rounded pocket! Such a great opportunity to create interest! In the pattern, and on so many pictures of the Maker’s Tote, you will find a heavy duty snap right in the middle of the pocket top. I really love the look of the snap, but honestly, I always have trouble snapping it. So for me, it’s a “fake” snap and a pocket which doesn’t . It’s probably operator error, but I’m happy with just the look. If you find a way to get this snap to work, let me know.  I’m sure it’s me. Now something I had not considered but @robotmomsews added a heart shaped lock closure to hers…check it out…gorgeous! So the message is, lot of options for personalizing on that pocket. You may or may not have noticed that I wait to add my front pocket until AFTER I fuse the foam interfacing to the exterior pieces…I like the puffiness of doing it this way, but again, your call.

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Here’s the trick with getting rounded corners on that pocket and stitching to drop over dead for! Once you sew your (interfaced) outer round pocket piece to its lining (using a small stitch length (2 mm), before you turn your pocket to the right side, trim your interfacing close to the stitches on the rounded corner (see picture) and also trim the corners, to eliminate bulk. BE VERY CAREFUL TO SEPARATE THE INTERFACING FROM THE FABRIC BEFORE YOU TRIM. Use a point turner to work on your points and rounded corners. Oh yes, two more things…I don’t interface the outer pocket piece all the way to the top of the pocket. I usually leave 1/2″ on top without interfacing. This makes turning to the right side and turning an edge to finish closing the pocket crisp. Not interfacing to the very top is easy to forget, but once you forget and your pocket lip is a bit messy, you’ll remember next time! Don’t forget! And now, for the stitching…simple…use an edge stitch foot and a 3mm stitch length! Yes, it’s a pain to switch your foot and change your stitch length, but you will love the look! I promise!

Well, that’s a bit to remember, so I will call it a day. Tomorrow, I will work on the lining and all the great features it has for makers…hence the name! There will be more tips and pictures on that as well. Hope your Maker’s Tote is coming along, or at least the thought of making one, is becoming doable.

until tomorrow!

 

Maker’s Tote Sew Along!

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Monogrammed Maker’s Tote

Hello, Everyone!

When I started teaching bag making classes, I heard from so many of you expressing a desire to attend one of my classes, or at least writing to me to let me know…”if I am ever in your area!” I took these requests to be very heartfelt, so when two wonderful ladies (@bazyquilts and @bobbypinbandit) ,I follow on Instagram, decided to have a Sew Along for the Maker’s Tote, a blog on my part was a close second to you being in one of my classes! I sure hope you will purchase the Maker’s Tote pattern from Anna Graham (noodle-head.com) and maybe one of her lovely leather handles (although leather handles are optional), dust off your sewing machine, gather some great fabrics (cuz you want to make this really special) or purchase new fabrics, and join the CLUB! The hashtag for this endeavor is #makerstoteclub2017.

Now, I have made quite a few Maker’s Tote in my day! It is a wonderful bag with so many uses…make the smaller size, and you have a great project bag (great for any maker and makes) or make the Larger version and you have an incredible carry on, overnight bag, and an extra large project bag! I won’t lie to you, you need some sewing skills for this one and a general understanding of bag making, however a great listener (adventurous) beginner will be able to make one…and hence this blog post! With respect to Anna, the tote designer and pattern writer, there will be no measurements given, and only some techniques which will make sure you can join along and make one at any time. What you will get in this blog is my experience, tips and tricks to be able to make this Tote along with the pattern. I will show you how to get great rounded corners, make your binding and lots of other tips which will get you a finished Tote with a professional look, even if this is your first. In addition, there is also a wonderful video by Anna Graham addressing extra tips and tricks (YouTube Maker’s Tote Video). How can you lose?

It will be a progressive blog over a few days, so we can ALL pace ourselves. I hope you comment to this post, to let me know you are on board. I have a small gift for your NEW Maker’s Tote once it’s done, tag me on IG (@mariaelenabliss) with your progress photos and don’t forget to use the hashtag above!

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So, first order of business:

  1. Purchase pattern (link above)
  2. Choose the size Maker’s Tote you will be making
  3. Pick/Buy some wonderful fabrics and notions necessary
    1. As you can see in both photos, I usually choose Canvas fabrics for the exterior of the Tote, but it’s not necessary, I think Canvas fabrics are great to use for durability. I do shy away from fabrics that fray easily. If you do choose a fabric which frays and you have a serger, you certainly can serge all outside edges once you make your first cuts.

On the Maker’s Tote which I will be featuring in this blog, I am using Essex Linen accents in the color Berry and the main exterior fabric is a Linen Cotton Blend from a NEW fabric line which will be out soon by Erin Dollar (@cottonandflax). There are 45 prints in this wonderful line…45!!! I wish I had a yard of each print in this one. My lining fabric is from Anna Graham’s Rain Walk collection for Cloud 9 (organic). You can still purchase some of the fabrics in this line on Etsy…just search for Rain Walk fabrics.

That’s it for the first blog on the #makerstoteclub2017. Tomorrow, I will give you some tips on what I do to make this Tote a bit easier and tailored. We will address piecing the exterior and use of Foam Interfacing (I use fusible). So, don’t forget to comment, follow me on Instagram (@mariaelenabliss) and make yourself an amazing Maker’s Tote!

Until tomorrow,

Maria

Episode 8 of the Bag Bliss Podcast

Back in Business!

Hi everyone, it has been a long time since my last podcast, I feel as though I should write “confession” instead of podcast here, but I have so many reasons or excuses. The great news, is I am slowing coming back from what was a traumatic event for me, that others would have found easy to overcome. I am working through “stuff” and making my way to a happier place! Thank you all for your patience and understanding and know it might take some time still.

So, let’s begin…again. This is Episode 8 of the Bag Bliss Podcast. The Bag Bliss Podcast is a podcast where sewing and knitting joyfully unite. You can find me on Instagram, FB and Etsy as MariaElenaBliss. On Ravelry and The Fold Line as mariaeb and as MariaBeuttenmul on Twitter and Periscope. I am also on Pintrest as mebeutt. So, that’s about it, almost everywhere.

August is the month for the Where in the World is the #wwMariaElenaBliss IG contest where I randomly select from photos posted to that hashtag depicting your MariaElenaBliss project bags. I am so excited to announce the August 2016 winners which are in prize order starting with first prize-@fitzjulia, @bellylaugher and @curioushandmade. Each will receive a project bag from the shop from an XLZippered Project Bag, a Snap Sock Clutch and a Nifty Notion Necklace, respectively. I will get those tailor made for the winners and ship them out next week. Thank you to everyone who posted pictures and played along and please, please keep posting as the next winner, only one, will be chosen on December 31st (2016). A new Bliss Bulletin was sent this morning to all my subscribers announcing the winners and also offering a code for free shipping available today to all my customers! Thank you all for five years of service, recommendations but more importantly friendship! I feel as though I know my regular customers quite well now and it is a joy to create a project bag for you while I think of you through the entire process…makes your project bag that mush more special!

Lets talk about sewing first as I want to tell you where I was last week…I was so excited for the opportunity to once more, create and learn new sewing and tailoring techniques from one of my favorite teachers, Gail Doane. Gail’s degree comes from British Columbia University and is one of tailor. She is absolutely amazing and her classes are a bit intense, but chuck full of amazing information. I will confess I am not one of her star pupils, but I do learn and after some wielding of the seam ripper, I will get it almost correct. This class featured a smocked dress with a beautiful two tone collar and lots of embroidery and smocking, but the main feature was a full length Italian wool coat which I am making for my littlest granddaughter. It is a size 4 and would never fit right now, but it gives me much time to complete and add all the intricate amazing details which will be a part of this outfit. Gail is a published author and has been published in countless magazines. Her most recent venture has been to be part of the new Classic Sewing Magazine, which I am looking forward to subscribing to.Thank you, Gail, for your patience and direction to all who attended! As per usual you are an amazing and patient teacher.

On the knitting needles: In Episode 7, I had quite a few shawls on my needles and can be deemed FO’s except the Oak Flat Road Shawl by Romi Hill. I truly made this project a lot more difficult than it needed to be by making it a two colors and for this reason I am on time out from it as I needed more instant gratification and in now way is a reflection on this well written and gorgeous pattern! In the meantime I knit Romi’s Headlands Shawl with the yarn I am offering in the Project Bag Clubs for 2017 with the  Yarn Option…check it out! Amber of LunarStitchesAmber is a fabulous Indie Dyer, I know you will love! She is taking a short well deserved break, but I can’t wait till she gets back!

Since then I have joined The Shawl Society by Curioushandmade and have managed to keep up until the Asana Shawl which is #3. I had a false start with lace yarn on this one and have frogged it and started over with fingering which makes me happier. I am using Wandering Wool yarn in the Udalpur Fingering base which has been discontinued. The color way is Cherry Blossom and it’s a 50/50 merino silk. Just lovely and I can’t wait to get to the lace portion and beads. Almost there. I know most of you have joined this brilliant club and am watching your beautiful shawls come off your needles! Also on my needles is Angelus Novus Cardigan by Renee Callahan. I am knitting this with Hazel Knits Lively DK in the White Winged Dove color way. This yarn is amazing and I’m plowing through the pattern and at a point where it’s a bit confusing, but I have it under good authority to just follow the directions and it will all make sense. It is truly a brilliant design and loved how it starts with a lace shawl type of knitting which flew off my needles…until now. I am also knitting off and on on the Song in the Air, MKAL which is my first knit in the round shawl and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. It usually takes about 45 minutes to finish one round and there are lots of stitches, but I am in no hurry for this one. I am creating this out of Prism yarn Delicato which has languished in my stash for years and has tried to become many things, but this time it took! I was lucky enough to get on a test knit for the Hint of Autumn Cowl by Laura Aylor and highly recommend this pattern which would be wonderful for, dare I say,  holiday gifting and cleverly constructed! I knit the test in Madtosh Pashmina in the Burnished color way, but any Sport weight yarn would be lovely. Please check my project page and the test knit thread in Laura’s Rav group for great ideas!

Books I have ordered and can’t wait to get to, are Rugged Knits by Andrea Rangel, The Baby Botanical books by Alana Dakos of Nevernotknitting, and the magazines, Filament by Anne Poldesack and Kathleen Dames and am truly enjoying my first issue of Making magazine by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I also ordered The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar and some natural yarns in different bases. I have been collecting onion skins, avocado skins and pits and even Oak tree bloat to start to experiment with natural dying yarn and slowing consuming all the information in this beautiful informative coffee table style book! So much going on and everything in good time.

Coming up in October will be the last shipment of the 2016 MariaElenaBliss Project Bag Clubs, the opening up again of the 2017 project bag clubs for purchase, with and without yarn options. I have discovered a wonderful Indie dyer whose yarns are beautiful and wanted to add this option next year so you could experience as well, but if you would rather not pay for the yarn, then just choose the no yarn option.  Also in October is The Knitting Pipeline Retreat in Illinois at Eagle Crest. Thanks to all who have ordered their Monogrammed/ Custom Snap Sock Clutch for this event. I am especially excited about this trip as it promises to be such fun but will also include my first visit to SAFF. So if you are going to SAFF this year, I hope somehow we get to meet. If you know you will be attending, please reach out as I would love to make a point to meet you! You can email me or convo me through the shop. I love hearing from you, so please don’t be shy!

I have been listening to the podcast Happier by Gretchen Ruben and find it so inspirational. I highly recommend this podcast and their 80th episode is all about the Love Languages! So helpful and so appropriate for all kinds of relationships, not just your marital but also relationships with friends, family members, children, grandchildren, parents. Check it out!

Well, my friends, I hope your are knitting and sewing and into all kinds or crafty goodness. Looking forward to retreats, fiber shows and meeting your wonderful friends and family as we head into the holiday season. There are lots of great links on this page and I hope you enjoy! Happy sewing and knitting my friends! Until next time!

Music for the show “Springish”was provided by artist Andi Gillicuddy with his permission from freemusicarchive.org site. Andi is a young guitar artist and lives in Germany. If you love his music check out his site: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/gillicuddy/Plays_Guitar/IMG_3548

 

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