I'm pretty sure most you have already heard of pinterest, and use it daily...am I right? Well, they've just launched Pinterest UK and as part of the launch have got a few of us blogging types to share the news and introduce a fellow UK blogger and pinner that you probably haven't heard of before.
So, I'd like you all to meet Michelle and Vicki from pocketful of dreams. They are event planners for weddings and parties and have a great eye for design with the emphasis on fun. No dull stuff here! Check out their pinterest board for DIY and crafts - they have some really cool pins full of really handy ideas that I know I'll be pinning for future reference.
I love pinterest, I have to admit I wasn't sure about it when I first heard about it but as someone who has spent far too much of her life ripping out pictures from magazines and saving scraps of fabric, wallpaper and interesting bits I've seen and kept them in a drawer or stuck them on my noticeboard, once I started pinning I realised it was going to be a really cool way to keep a check on my habit. Every time I see something I love online I repin it so I can find that idea or project later on - it links back to the source I saw it so I'm never having to screen shot a quilt or pattern, print it out and scrawl the website addy on it (because I actually used to do that - bookmarking stuff started to get too confusing).
I'm sharing my board 'my stuffs' - it's where I pin all my projects to keep them in one place, you'll find all of my quilts, and the things I've made in one place.
go join and pin now! If you click on the widget below you can find out more about the pin it forward campaign and follow other great UK based pinners! Better grab a coffee first though - you'll be there for some time!
Ok - that was fast. I'm so sorry about the flying visit, but I really should have left the house an hour ago. I have to drive to my mum's down in Suffolk and then get the train across to London at the crack of dawn to teach at the Village Haberdashery. And I still haven't packed!!!
I think going to Camp has had a huge effect on me and my confidence when it comes to new things. I wasn't expecting that to happen at all!
I attempted dressmaking and it was a success (so much so that I've made a second staple dress -I'll share pics as soon as I get the shirring elastic sewn in), and after watching some of the other campers making bags I decided to bite the bullet last week and make the aeroplane bag that Sara designed.
It has always been my plan to make the Amy Butler weekender, but the constant discussion over issues with the lining being too big, the piping being a bitch and the amount of needles people seem to break when making it has put me off. Maybe I'll make one eventually, but for now I can survive without it. My weekender bag itch is scratched thanks to the aeroplane bag.
Sara told me it was simple, but she makes bags all the time, so I wasn't hugely convinced that what she found easy was the same as what I find easy. Then I saw a few pop up around instagram and it was Pippa that finally convinced me. I'm not being mean when I say that if Pippa found it ok then I knew I would, I know that our bag making skill-set is about the same (ie - none) and she is always honest in her assessment of things (yes Pip, I'm saying if you don't like something you tell us. That's a good thing).
I ordered fabric from Kate. Did you know that the Ginger Monkeys are Lu, Tacha and me, from our trip to quilt market a couple of years back? After the trip Melody asked a few people to design records for the fabric, and that was Lu's. Cool, no? As this bag will be going to the Fat Quarterly retreat in July and the Ginger Monkeys will be reunited, it was the obvious choice.
I had a red/pink moda crossweave in my stash and I've been saving it for something special, because it's an out of print colour now (something with a similar look is the wickerweave in red chambray from andover). The bag handles are a webbing I had in my stash too, I wanted a jute handle rather than a fabric one, I like the look of jute. It feels a bit scratchy, but it looks nice and we all must suffer uncomfortable situations such as scratchy bag handles for the sake of aesthetics.
I used the interfacings that the pattern recommends - soft and stable and peltex (because Sara sent them to me, and having her as a friend definitely has it's advantages). For those of you living in the UK or Europe you might find those things harder to come across, so here's some suggestions for you (with stockists if you click on the links).
Bosal In-R-Foam sew in foam stabiliser is a perfect alternative for soft and stable
If you struggle to find that, then try using a fusible fleece or a batting and then use cotton duck cloth or canvas such a curtain lining fabric to create a similar effect. You use the soft and stable for the top part of the bag (the records on mine). Another alternative would be the kind of thin foam that you use in upholstery - like car interiors. Something that sits between the main body of the seat and the fabric. Or used to pad out laptop cases etc. An upholsterers would definitely be able to help you out here - and there are always upholsterers locally, so you could phone one and ask them what they'd suggest. I bet they'd help. One of the parents' at Ginger's school is an upholsterer so I'll ask him when I'm doing the school run if I remember. I can picture the stuff in my head though, I know it exists thanks to Charlotte I now know what it's called - 3mm scrim foam. You can buy that on ebay and I found a stockist that sells it quite cheaply here. Maybe the polyester upholstery batting you can readily buy online or locally would be a good alternative? I know in the studio duffel by Cherie she uses an 8oz upholstery batting - which is kind of thick and fluffy, but it comes in a variety of sizes/lofts, check hers out so you get an idea of the finished look. You might want to try something thinner, it is on the floofy side. You know what? You are using this to make the bag shapely but not stiff, the bottom part is the stiff part, so use what you have to hand if you don't want to go shopping. Make a sandwich with some batting and a layer of lining and quilt it so it is reasonable sturdy. That's what Hadley did when she made hers, and hers looks pretty much the same as mine, so use your initiative and work the pattern into what you have to hand.
Peltex sew in interfacing is a stiff interfacing like bosal craf-tex lite (you can also get double sided fusible bosal - Hantex are the distributors in the UK, you can use the search option on their site to find product stockists, but Jacqui from Hantex is also really helpful and I'm sure she wouldn't mind helping you out if you need advice. I pester her quite often and she's never ignored me yet!) . You use this for the bottom part of the bag (the pink/red crossweave on mine) You could also use a medium weight buckram, or a pelmet interfacing or something that would be used to make those traditional type of stiff and flat curtain tie-backs. Heavy weight buckram is too thick and stiff, light weight buckram is too floppy. Most haberdashery stores and places that make curtains will be able to guide you in the right direction here. You want something like a stiff interfacing because this will give the bag shape at the bottom, so although I'm sure you could use a batting it will be softer and less structured so the base of the bag might droop, especially when it's full (you could help avoid this by inserting a cardboard base though, between the lining fabric and the outer fabric after you turn the bag right ways out).
The other interfacing is pellon SF-101 shapeflex - that's a basic lightweight interfacing. No need for anything fancy here, just use what you can find locally. That is used for the fabrics (although I will admit I forgot to use it for my outer fabric. Oops), both the bag outer, and the lining and also on the handles.
I do not have a big fancy sewing machine, or even a sewing machine that is a work horse. I have a small Bernina Activa (mine is a 240, but I'm not sure they make that one any more - the 215 is the same basic machine), it is a lovely sewing machine and I would highly recommend it to anyone because I love love love it and when the time comes to replace it, I will definitely get another (although it is a Bernina, it's likely to last forever). It doesn't like thick layers of things, so I was expecting a lot of tears and needle breakages but it was surprisingly smooth-going, and although I did have to just finish off the ends where the zippers are with a couple of hand stitches I was shocked as to how easy it was. Not a single needle broke. (I use organ needles in a size 90/14. They're cheap, they're great. I buy them by the 100 and they work really well. I am not one for fancy needles for my sewing machine, and I have never had any issues with these. I only use these, ever.) I am not especially good with zippers, and I think I might do my second one ever so slightly different (I am already on my second bag, and this time I'm using interfacings I can find locally), and have the end of the zipper extended from the bag, like when I make pouches (because I find it easier that way to finish the edges neatly).
Another thing I didn't do, because I was too impatient, was to add pockets inside. My bag is for my sewing machine when I go away, so it wasn't really necessary to have pockets. And I'm lazy. Maybe I'll add the pockets next time round. We shall see. They do look nice, so it might be a nice touch.
So, what did I think overall?
The pattern was really easy to understand and each step was clearly photographed and explained.
It was simple to construct a big bag without any major issues despite my small machine and my lack of bag making skills. It's a big bag - Snoop fits in no problem, with plenty of room to spare.
If you have made a zipped pouch before, you can do this. That's the truth. It follows the same principle throughout, theres really no complicated steps or unnecessary bits added to make it a headache.
I made the larger size which is plenty big enough for a weekend away, a sewing machine, or anything you might want a large bag for.
Would I recommend this pattern to you? Wholeheartedly - yes. Without a doubt, it was a fantastic pattern and I made the bag in half a day. I cannot stress enough - I do not make bags, I am not good with anything 3D, and I had no issues. If I can do this, you can. Seriously.
The aeroplane pattern is $8 from Sara's website, it's a PDF pattern, you get 2 size options and you need it in your life.
If you are looking for a book with a lot of great instructions and every kind of 'how to' you can think of, then you really should check out Lisa Lam's books. There's a to die for satchel in a bag for all reasons. If you're new to bag making or want to develop your skills a little further to make really professional looking bags then check her stuff out. The bag making bible was her first book and that is also a fantastic book for reference as well as gorgeous patterns. Worth adding to the wish list. I have to admit, I think I'm bitten by the bag making bug now and would like to develop my own skills a little further.
Every weekend I do 2 blog posts - one on a Saturday for the readers of my blog that are US and Australia based with a round up of what's new or latest news from the shops that sponsor my blog in those respective areas. On a Sunday I do the same, but for the UK shops. (Unless I am super busy or away) I do these posts each week. I used to just do the one post, but it got a bit crowded and I felt I could better represent the sponsors and my regular readers if I separated it into 2. That way, if you are only wanting to look at places more geographically local to you, you can check the blog on the appropriate day. Hence we have what's new international pussycat and what's new British pussycat. I agree, there is so much available for us in the UK these days, so much so that it deserves it's own weekly blogpost! I hope that helps! (And if you are ever interested in me promoting your shop, please shoot me an email ImaGingerMonkey@gmail.com)
So, what is new this week?
Kate from M is for Make has 2wenty thr3e from Eric and Julie Comstock (aka cosmo cricket) in store now. These prints are great. You have some really nice stash builders like fox trot (available in 2 colours - clementine and grey)
and some stand out focal prints such as kodachrome
There are new Megan Nielson patterns in the shop too. The tania culottes look super cute. Don't worry - you can adjust the length if your legs aren't your best feature (or if, like me, you think you could do with keeping your thighs covered up...I am pushing 40 you know). If I could get away with it, I would go that short though. Maybe with leggings or tights...they are culottes so they wouldn't fly up and flash my bum.
A must have for dressmaking is chaco liner. Kate has them newly in stock!
Annie at the village haberdashery has a lot of patterns - the socialite dress remains a firm favourite of mine. Now I have made 2 staple dresses, maybe I can attempt it? It's pretty simple, I think (heads up - the staple dress will soon be available in printed form not just PDF download. Pester your local/favourite shops to get it in stock, April is also working on a couple of other patterns so keep your eyes peeled for those on her site).
Annie has a lot of voile as well, plenty to choose from - maybe make a whole wardrobe full of socialite dresses?
If your dressmaking skills aren't up to much, Annie has a class for you. Over 2 sessions (June 3rd and 10th, evenings) make yourself this lovely skirt...
One of these days I'm going to try out some knit fabrics. This nani iro knit is so beautiful.
Annie also has plenty of tools for the dressmaker such as covered buttons kits, tailors hams (I need one of those actually, that has just reminded me), interfacings and elastic. All very useful. She also has zips, and they are far more reasonably priced than the £7.60 I just paid for a really ugly grey plastic chunky zip at my local sewing shop (seriously - are people really surprised we shop online when it costs that much for a bloody zip???)
I think there are still a couple of spots available on my modern sampler class which is next Saturday (May 18th) and the following Saturday (May 25th). It'd be fab if you could come and hang out with me.
Justine has a lot of kona solids on back order - the time just before quilt market is tricky for deliveries and things seem to slow right down, which can be frustrating if you're waiting on a colour coming in stock (it's frustrating for shop owners too, especially if they're not going to market). If you're looking for something in particular give her a shout. Either tweet her @simplysolids or shoot her an email via the contact me page on the website, or you can leave her a message on facebook. She's never far from the interwebs, you know.
Jessie has some lovely solids in stock that would be perfect for the quilt along too. As well as some fantastic retro prints that make me happy just looking at them.
and this dot is just about as perfect a dot as you will ever see, I think
That's it for this week. Have a lovely Sunday my little pussycats. I shall be trekking over to the back of beyond to watch Ginger playing in a friendly football match. Neither of us are much interested in going, to be quite honest, so I'm praying for a torrential downpour over night or some freak snow. It feels so cold it really wouldn't surprise me if I woke up to a thick layer of the stuff.