Hooray for prototypes

Prototypes (aka “guinea pigs”) are often a necessary step in the design process. Personally, I find them to be extremely beneficial. Since I’m stubborn in wanting my denim pieces to be “all mine”, I avoid Googling for help or for patterns. I ponder matters, like edging a quilt or lining a reusable shopping bag, until I think I have a good idea. And then I go from there.

Sometimes I have success from start to finish, sometimes I get stuck and stay that way for ages. But I always learn what to do, or not to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional. I’m well aware I’m not inventing something amazingly new and unique. Quilts, shopping bags, place mats, etc., already exist. I just like knowing I didn’t follow another designer’s steps.

Late last year, I began what was supposed to be a tote bag/purse of sorts, to be worn over one shoulder and rested on the opposite hip. My current purse is like that and I prefer such a style because it feels safer when I’m in the grocery store or walking through the mall. It would be more difficult for a thief to grab!

However, the design I had didn’t work out so well. My sewing machine wasn’t strong enough to go through the multiple layers of denim, batting and cotton. Until recently, the half completed bag sat on the sidelines. But now it’s done! And it’s a reusable shopping bag instead. With short handles. And wonky stitching up each side 🙂

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Looks can be deceiving! This bag holds plenty of books, so it will do fine for groceries. I wouldn’t have chosen white lining though, for a shopping bag. It will be dirty in no time!

The value in what I learned will aid me in future projects. So even though this bag has it’s flaws, it served a great purpose as a prototype. Handles – check. Lining – check. Band around the top – check. Inside seams – do them differently next time!

I’m in need of a new purse, the zipper on mine is broken. With my constantly growing aversion to buying brand new items, I’m designing a purse in my mind. I can make one! Over the shoulder, snaps or flap? Pocket on the outside? Or inside. Plain denim? Or fabric sporting Winnie the Pooh?

SO many ideas. . . . . and only 2 hands and 24 hours in each day!

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Happy Canada Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day whether with friends and family or staying at home for some rest and relaxation. It’s sunny and blue sky here and promising to be 26 degrees. I’m not a heat lover but I’m glad it will be nice for those that are.

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An old photo of Leroy 🙂 When he was a puppy (and sometimes even now) he was always stealing stuff from inside and running outside with it. If it resulted in a game of chase, he was happy! I usually grabbed my camera and would then indulge his wishes.

And thinking of Canada reminds me of the various t-shirts I have. My plan has been to make reusable, denim shopping bags but now I’m also considering a quilt. . . . . . decisions, decisions.

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Awwww, I just realized I should have made a cheesecake for today!! Strawberries on top. . . . red and white. . . .it would have been perfect for Canada Day. Why do some things only occur to us when it’s too late??

Back to the bags

For me, a vital part of caring about the environment is recycling, reducing and reusing as much as possible. Making reusable, denim shopping bags was a natural path to venture down.

And I did, once I realized how difficult it was to deal with large quilts.

Shopping bags are obviously smaller, and therefore, should be simpler. Not so! Not yet anyway. I ran into issues with them as well. But I’m learning from my mistakes!

In the meantime, I still have this bag . . . . . . .

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You’ll notice it’s missing something! Yep, handles!

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I have two handles (only one of which I could find for picture taking purposes). This bag is fashioned from an old t-shirt my dad bought for me when I was a teenager. I’m now in my (cough, cough) mid-40’s and my dad is no longer here, so this bag has sentimental value for me. I’d like to finish it.

When I decided to make it, I hadn’t actually made a reusable shopping bag before. . . . no. . . .no, hang on. . . . I suffer from a notoriously-horrible-memory and this was a while ago.

I’m having a vague recollection now that I’d made 2 bags in early 2014,

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I did so entirely from my head (no pattern searching on the internet) and have struggled with the handles as a result. My first attempts, I didn’t like, not strong enough.

I truly love the new and improved style of the Big Bad John’s handles. They’re super sturdy and you need that in a shopping bag. Don’t you?

It’s hard on my sewing machine though. At least it was when I attempted the same handle style on another bag (another failure valuable teaching experience)

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Because these handles are 4 layers of denim and the band around the top of the bag is an additional 4-6 layers. . . . . my sewing machine failed me. It’s why I have a handleless bag and bagless handles. I’m currently left to ponder the problem. I need to figure out how to lessen the layers while keeping the strength I’m looking for.

I take great pride in what I do and I want my bags to last a very long time. Otherwise, a person might as well go buy a cheap, made-in-China, piece of crap bag from a dollar store.

I’ll be back one day with photos of a finished product, or two I should say, because the owl bag needs completion as well. I think I have to disassemble the band and handles. . . . sigh. . . . . removing blue-on-blue stitching isn’t something I’m hurrying to do! I’ll have to sit outside with the mosquitoes because indoor lighting is never adequate enough for a job like that!

Writing a post is easy. Titling it is the hard part.

After at least a week with no sign of Mr. and Mrs. Robin, I had hoped they’d realized the folly of their ways and moved elsewhere. But 15 minutes ago I spotted Mrs. Robin settling into the poorly chosen location of their nest. Darn. Now I have to worry all over again. And I have to resurrect the barricade to keep my dogs away from that particular tree. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have concern for little things like a baby bird’s safety. Or a toad’s well-being. Or even sucking a spider up with the vacuum (I did that the other day before I saw it and I felt bad, lol). I suppose I am odd (let’s go with that word) but I can’t help it. I am who I am.

I was out by 5:08 this morning for a LONG overdue walk with my dogs. I very quickly remembered why I detest the pavement and ended up hiking in the bush although I knew the dogs would end up quite dirty. And they did. A good rinse (or three!) with the watering can from my garden took care of that! I’ll try to go again tomorrow as my sister has challenged me to achieve 30 days in a row. I know that’s not going to happen but I’d be satisfied with 20 or more. Out of 30. Not in a row. I’m being realistic here.

I keep thinking it’s Monday but it’s Tuesday. On my agenda for today is cooking and baking (all vegan and yummy) for my sister. Her husband will pick it up later as he works nearby. In the organic gardening department, I need to transplant my pea shoots so they have somewhere to “vine up”. I think I’ll pot them and put them on my deck. I’ve ditched completion of my owl shopping bag for an Oscar the Grouch shopping bag because I do believe I have a better idea for finishing it off! I will also resume production of the Montreal Canadiens denim quilt for my brother. I decided not to make my niece anything. She simply won’t appreciate the value in a handmade item and that makes any effort uber massively unappealing.

I wish everyone a happy and successful week! 🙂

Super long and boring post :)

I finished season 5 of Drop Dead Diva on Netflix yesterday. While I adore the convenience and low cost of Netflix, I hate it when there are more seasons to come and Netflix doesn’t have them! There’s one more season of DDD but who knows when (or if) it will arrive. In the meantime, I searched for a replacement. It’s always a considerable task because I’ve pretty much seen everything of interest to me.

Grace and Frankie with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, a Netflix Original complete with cursing, is now on my agenda. I like it when shows are more realistic and we all curse from time to time 🙂 I remember Jane Fonda from her days of aerobics videos and it sure makes me feel old to see how she’s aged. Lily Tomlin too. However, I still enjoy both of them as actresses so I’m sure I’ll continue watching their new show.  It just premiered this month. I wish them great success!

I’ll finish my reusable, denim shopping bag today. Following sunshine for most of May, it seems odd for it to be overcast this morning. But it IS the long weekend after all and didn’t I say the weather always turns for the worse for long weekends? And I’m right!

Anyway, before this post becomes even more long and boring :), I’ll get to the end. The handles and upper band on my shopping bag are so, so sturdy they make the rest of the bag seem flimsy. I have an excellent concept that requires some tweaking. It’s too hard on my sewing machines to sew through up to 10 layers of denim! Yep. Where the handles insert into the band. . . . 10 layers of denim. And it’s my 28 year old Singer that does a better job! That’s one reason why I love vintage stuff. There once was a time when things were built to last.

My aunt, who lives in Victoria, mentioned the other day how she was going to take her old sewing machine somewhere to recycle it. My immediate response was “Nooooooooooo! I want it”. She’ll be here next month for a graduation in the family so I told her to put it in her suitcase (ha, ha, she’s flying). I know she can’t put it in her suitcase. . . . .sniff, sniff. I guess I’ll have to look into the cost of shipping. It would be worth it to me. My grandmother (who’s no longer here) bought it for her (my aunt), so it has history and I’m infatuated that. Brand new from the store. No history. How bland.

It’s like the table my computer is sitting on. I bought it from an employer probably 15 years ago. It’s scratched. It has chips and nicks. Paint is worn off. It’s fabulous! Someone else sat at this table when it was pristine and new. Who? A young wife full of hope for her future? Is she still alive and now old and grey? Why did she get rid of it? Maybe a bachelor owned it. Or a family. How did it get it’s first dent? It’s first scratch? I love wondering about the history of used items. Buy something new today and it’s most likely made in China! I refuse to support their industry. Google “pollution in China” and you’ll have an inkling why.

Okay, okay! My post has run wild. I’ll sign off now! But I will be back tomorrow 🙂

Up with the birds

Five in the morning seems to be when I wake up once spring is here. I’m not exactly an early bird but if I can’t sleep, I reluctantly get out of my warm and cozy bed. Leroy, my 6 year old long-haired German Shepard mix, is always willing to rise and shine. He’s been out on the deck for a good hour and a half already (speak of the devil, he just came in). Charlotte, my 4 year old Boston Terrier mix, hates getting up early as proven by the lump she currently is under her blanket.

There are advantages to rising early. It’s quiet. No ringing phone. No kids making noise in the neighborhood. The heat of the day has not struck yet. And I can accomplish a lot if I focus.

Yesterday, after a brief fight to keep my computer turned off, I ended up watching Drop Dead Diva (via Netflix) while sewing. As I mentioned previously, the Montreal Canadiens quilt (for my brother) is on hold. I have to was going to design a quilt for my niece who’s turning 18 soon. I decided she won’t appreciate it and now have no clue what to make her, if anything. I worked on a reusable shopping bag instead!

While I have many shopping bags in mind, this is only the 4th one that’s come to fruition (almost). I’ve run out of the lighter denim and have to scour my inventory for a precise match. Handles and a band around the top are all that needs doing. It will be one of my own bags, not one to sell because I like the recycling theme and the super, cool pocket is from an old pair of my jeans 🙂

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Not so sunny day

Well it’s a cloudy day. So much for the forecast! It’s hardly ever correct, I don’t know why I bother checking it anymore. Overcast still isn’t rain and I can’t complain really. My seed pots are outside, it’s important they have air. It will be exciting when they begin sprouting and even more so when I can transplant them to the garden. Yay.

I will continue on with my denim quilts (cow and cat) this morning and hopefully most of the afternoon. I’d like to finish the Big Bad John’s shopping bag also. I should have a certain measure of success if I FOCUS. It’s too easy to become distracted with yard work. Every time I take the dogs into the back, I begin raking and whatnot. Half an hour later, I remember I’m supposed to be inside sewing! My attention span can be short 🙂

A successful search!

Yesterday, completely neglecting my to-do list, I went into town instead. I’ve had an idea in my mind for a while now to make my brother a Montreal Canadiens quilt. He recently purchased a new home and the quilt will be a housewarming gift. It’s a gift I’m confident no one else will be giving. I’m also confident I can write this and publish it because there’s pretty much a zero chance of him ever reading it. He has no clue I’ve begun my own blog.

But anyway, back to the quilt idea. My mom has been searching her local thrift stores for Montreal Canadiens t-shirts without any luck. I’d been to a few smaller ones here with similar results. Our largest thrift store had a 50% off sale yesterday and I hit what I consider to be the jackpot. I came home with 5 suitable t-shirts!! I’d like 6 in total. Plus I found 10 more for other quilts (or reusable shopping bags).

After 2 full cycles in the washing machine, they’re ready for the next step. Unfortunately I have to go shopping again for the iron-on adhesive I use to make the t-shirts sturdy enough to pair with the denim. Once that’s done I can begin designing. I have an image in my head but that’s often tossed aside when I have a pencil in my hand.

I’m looking forward to beginning this denim, couch quilt as I have less than 2 months to finish it. . . . . although I really shouldn’t even be starting it! My ex mother-in-law’s quilt ought to be priority. . . . . I have an idea for a “recycling/green” theme too. This is what I mean when my head gets too full.

Here are pictures of the t-shirts I plan to use. I emailed them to my mom earlier and her underwhelming reply was “very nice”. Nice to me is a standard word one uses when they have nothing much else to say 🙂 I suppose it’s easier to be excited when one has vision and can imagine the end product.

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I won’t use both ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ shirts and am leaning toward the darker of the two. I’m thrilled I’ve found 5 of 6! I was beginning to think I wouldn’t find any. I sure hope I can find a final one. . . . fingers crossed!

Does having a to-do list work for you?

Following a rather lazy Sunday, I’ve concocted a detailed to-do list for Monday.

  1. prepare garden for carrots, beets and radishes and possibly potatoes
  2. pick up leaf piles (they’re killing the grass!)
  3. continue working on Cow quilt
  4. attempt different handles for the Big Bad John’s denim shopping bag
  5. and of course there are the usual chores like laundry and dishes

This may have the appearance of a simple list. It is only 5 things after all. However, my garden is a disaster! My leaf piles are massive and many! And you don’t understand the constant struggle I have with dishes (too much cooking!) I’ve probably made my list overly ambitious. I’m a sporadic writer of to-do lists because I generally never get them done and then I just feel bad. I’ve “cheated” sometimes and created lists with a maximum of maybe 3 items and it was great to check them all off. As long as I ignored the fact that those 2 or 3 things were usually super easy 🙂

If it’s not raining I should spend the entire day outside. If it’s raining I can get plenty of sewing done (as long as I leave Netflix alone!)

Whatever the case, rain or shine, I have to accomplish something tomorrow! Right now, I’m going to carry on with the laziness and watch more Downton Abbey (my new favorite show) and hit the hay early. I hope all of you have a wonderful and productive week!