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R.Kay Design: June 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making A Pattern

I feel like I've been absent, no new projects to show, no sewing techniques to teach. I've been working on making a purse pattern and it's not as easy as I thought it would be.

I first drew my idea on paper with the measurements I THOUGHT I wanted. Then I used Adobe Illustrator to draw the pattern. That wasn't too hard except that I haven't used Illustrator in several years and my skills are rusty, but I worked through it. Next I was off to make a prototype out of muslin.

That's where I found my problems. Until you actually see it all put together, it's hard to visualize. It was too wide so when I put it on my shoulder, the middle drooped. Also the strap was too wide and the ruffle was too big.

Back to the pattern and Illustrator.

I ended up making three prototypes and I think I finally got a good pattern. Now I need to make a couple of REAL purses with it. I plan to give several options so the person making the purse has some choices as to how they want it to look.

So, I have some purse making to do. I'm glad I have a three day weekend coming up. My hubby has to work on July 4th so that will be a sewing day for me, yay!!! I love to sew!

I'll show you what I'm up as I start creating.

Until later ~


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sewing A Curve

When I was making the Wavy Zip Top Tote designed by Bethany Rapp of Sweet Bee Buzzings, I thought it might be helpful for you to see detail of how I sewed the curve, so I took pics.

First, notice that the band and the main piece both were cut with the same curve. I was tempted to place the right sides together matching the curves. Not all curves will have cuts that are the same but for this project I could have easily goofed up. Had I done that, instead of the pretty wave between the main piece and the band that lays flat, I would have gotten a pooch that either pooched in or out.

Instead, as Bethany explains in her instructions, lay both pieces on the table like a puzzle, side by side as if they were already sewn. Then turn the top piece over onto the main piece. The curves will be opposite of each other almost leading you to believe that there is no way they can be sewn together.

Well think again, they can go together, you just have make it happen. When I was sewing this tote, I marked the middle of both pieces with a pin by folding them in half and putting a pin on the fold. I then matched the pins together and pinned the two pieces together at that point and worked outward, one side and then starting in the middle again working outward to the other end.

You just match the fabric and pin, then move a little along the fabric matching and pinning. You will need to manipulate the fabric with your fingers somewhat. Use lots of pins.

Then, it's a little hard to sew. The fabric will want to pleat in some places especially where there are tight curves. You just have to work it with your fingers and go slow. If it should pleat, just continue on to the end. Then go back and rip out the portion with the pleat with your seam ripper and resew it.

After sewing - clip the curves. This will help it lay flat and take away stress on the seam making it stronger.

Most items you'll sew that have a curve will look good with a topstitch and that will hold the seam down on the inside and help the curve to lay flat. Before topstitching, iron the seam to the side where the topstitching will go. Then the topstitching will hold the seam flat. Sorry, forgot to get a pic for that.

Good luck with your project.

Until later ~


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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Purse Sew-Along Finished!

I finished the purse I was making for the Sew-Along over at Sweet Bee Buzzings and it really turned out great. I wanted to go ahead and post the finished product before I talked about how I made it because I want to get it on my blog and ready for the linky parties this week.

Bethany at Sweet Bee Buzzings did such a great job on the pattern and instructions. I want to thank her being so generous to share her design and time to walk those who followed through all the steps.

If you are interested in making this wonderful purse you can find links to the pattern and all the instructions at the link below:

Sweet Bee Buzzings - The Wavy Top Tote Sew Along

You'll see it on Etsy really soon!

Until later ~


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Friday, June 17, 2011


I remove the pins as I sew.
I mentioned in my post this morning that I wanted to do a post about topstitching. Topstitching is not easy for me, it seems the slower I go the more I get off track. But going fast doesn't help either! So, I had to find a way to help me make the line straight.

Most of you can probably use the methods shown in Wendi Gratz's very good video tutorial and do just fine, so I thought I would give you a link to that tutorial on her website, Shiny Happy World. She shows you how to have the edge of your fabric follow the edge of your presser foot or to place blue painter's tape on your machine so you have a line to feed the edge of your fabric against. Very good information as is all the tutorials found on her site.

Satin Stitch Foot
Use the edge to guide the edge of your fabric.
However, then there are those who still can't get it straight, like me. So I found another way. I happened on this only because my sewing machine came with a satin stitch foot.  Take a look at my photos, I hope you can see what I'm talking about. Down the center of the bottom side of the foot there is a tunnel. Basically there are two strips of metal on each side of the foot that run parallel with the stitch. These metal strips rest on the fabric leaving the center of the foot hollow. This creates a tunnel for the satin stitch to run through.

The edge of each piece of metal is 1/8th inch from the needle on both sides. I use that edge to run the edge of my fabric against and the stitch goes exactly 1/8th inch from the edge. It works perfectly, I hardly have to guide the fabric at all and I get perfectly straight topstitching.

My machine is a low shank presser foot and the different feet just snap on and snap off. Easy as pie. I trade feet back and forth constantly changing to the correct foot as needed.

If you have a satin stitch presser foot, give it a try.

Until later ~


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Purse Sew-Along Progress

I was able to work for a couple of hours on my Sweet Bee Buzzings purse sew-along last night. I finished Part 1 and got about half-way through Part 2. I feel really behind as I noticed Bethany (our leader) has already posted Part 3. But I'll catch-up this weekend, promise.

While sewing last night I took lots of pictures of how to do "the wave" at the top of the purse and thought I might add a little more about how to do it. For anyone who is just starting to sew, this may be a new technique, so I'll do a post tonight or in the morning on just that.

I also want to share my secret on making your top-stitching straight. It may not be text book sewing technique but it sure works for me. I'll do a post on that sometime this weekend.

For now, I've got to go to work. It's Friday and I can wear jeans - YAY! The small stuff really excites me huh? So...

Until later ~


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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Interfacing is Fused - Ready to Sew

Fusible side of interfacing on wrong side of fabric
I'm still working on the "Sew Along" over at Sweet Bee Buzzings. Bethany posted instructions yesterday but I didn't get a chance to work on it yesterday. Here's a link to Part 1. I worked for about 1-1/2 hours tonight and got all the interfacing fused to the cut-out pieces, as well as pinning the loop straps and shoulder straps. I'm ready to sew but I'll save that for tomorrow. It's hard to work at my full-time job all day and then spend too many hours sewing - I'm tired!

Bethany didn't say much about using interfacing so I thought I'd fill-in. I just started making purses and even though I've been sewing for years, I didn't know what kind of interfacing to use when I made my first purse. That's where Amy Butler's Style Stitches book was very good. She not only tells you what kind of interfacing to use, she gives you the manufacturer and the stock number so you know you have the right stuff.

After using several kinds of interfacing for both my purses and my Kindle covers, I've learned a lot. For this purse I'm using fusible WOVEN interfacing by Pellon - Shape Flex SF-101. It's 20" wide and when you buy it you'll see that it's not folded in half like the fabrics. I purchased mine at JoAnn's and it's $4.99 a yard.

Woven interfacing is perfect for purses as it's woven like fabric so it moves like fabric. It's not too heavy but gives your fabric a heaviness that purses need. It makes them feel like they have quality without making it stiff.

The fusible fleece I purchased is fusible Pellon Thermolam. Again, JoAnn's and it cost $8.99 a yard, yeah, I know, not cheap. It is 54" wide so it's actually cheaper per square foot than the woven interfacing. Both types of interfacings are essential in making your purse look good.

Hold iron for a 10-count. Press cloth should be dry.
When fusing the interfacing to your cut pieces, use a wet piece of quilting cotton as a press cloth. Place the fusible side of the interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric with the interfacing on top. Place the wet press cloth on top of that. Heat your iron to the hottest steam setting and place it on top of the wet press cloth while you count to 10 slowly. Move the iron to a new spot overlapping the old spot, count to 10, repeat. When you have gone over the entire piece, turn it over and press it on the right side of the fabric from the middle out to the outer edges.

When you're pressing, the press cloth should be dry after the 10 count. If it's not dry, you may need to hold the iron a few seconds longer. Be sure to cover the entire pattern piece especially the edges. Be patient, this is not a fast process but it really makes a huge difference in how your purse turns out. Like I said above, all I did tonight was fuse the interfacings and I worked on it for 90 minutes. Never even stitched a stitch and I was tired...of standing at the ironing board.

I'll report back tomorrow. I'm going to try to get through Bethany's first day post and maybe get caught up with her on Thursday.

Until later ~


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Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet Bee Buzzings - Sew Along - Got Mine Cut Out

So, how far have you gotten on the Sew Along Project over at Sweet Bee Buzzings? I got mine cut out on Saturday but didn't have time to do any more. We had a party last night and I had tons of other things I needed to do.

I checked in at Sweet Bee this morning and there was a post explaining that there was an error in the pattern. Here's the post with the adjustments, be sure to read it before you start sewing, preferably before you cut. At first I got a bit tense but then read on and found that it's totally fixable even if you've already cut out the pattern, which I had. So if you're just getting started or if you already cut it out, be sure to check this post for the adjustments.

I thought I'd talk a little about my method of cutting out this pattern. I'm making the large bag.

I worked with the lining fabric first. I first cut my loop straps by measuring 4-1/2" and cutting cross-grain (long-grain runs with the selvage and cross-grain is perpendicular to the selvage). That gave me one piece that was 4-1/2" x 44". Then I cut that down to three 14" pieces. The pattern called for four 4-1/2" x 14" pieces so I ended up cutting the last one from elsewhere.

I then cut the shoulder straps in the same manner.  I had to make two cross-grain cuts getting two 4-1/2" x 44" strips and then cut those down to 32".

Next I took the remainder of the fabric and opened it up so it would lay flat out in a single layer with no fold. It's easiest to do this on a big table or if you're young or flexible (not like me), you can do it on the floor. Then fold the fabric pulling the selvages toward the crease where the middle fold was. Your folds will run parallel with the selvage. You only have to fold over enough so that you can lay your pattern on the fold and have it fit on the folded part of the fabric. Fold both selvages toward the middle crease and you will now have two folds to use for cutting instead of one in the same length of fabric. In between the two selvages you will have a single layer of fabric you can use for other pieces like the pockets, straps etc.

I went one step further and folded the fabric again in the middle. That allowed me to cut both pieces needed at the same time.

I then cut the zip pocket and the other loop strap utilizing the piece that was between the selvages after doing my two folds above. I had plenty of fabric.

I followed the same steps with the main (exterior) fabric only cutting what was needed per the instructions (no straps). Then the interfacing pieces.

Since there was a lot of interfacing to cut as well, and working four different sets of fabric/interfacing, it probably took me a couple hours to get this done but I'm not real sure, I forgot to time it. Sewing is the one thing I like doing so much that I lose time doing it. It seems like five minutes have gone by but hours will have passed.

I'm so tired tonight that I just might go to bed without sewing (remember, party last night) but I'll be back tomorrow to let you know what I get done tomorrow night.

Until later ~


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Friday, June 10, 2011

Follow Along With Me While I Follow Along

Bethany over at Sweet Bee Buzzings is having a sew-along and I'm going to participate. If you follow the link you can download the pattern and materials list.

I went shopping tonight and purchased my fabric, it's really pretty, if I do say so myself. I'm making the large bag and I didn't realize how big it would be until I went to buy the zipper - 22 inches! So I'm wondering if the top of the bag is 22"...that's REALLY big, I normally don't carry the really big bags but I can always sell it.

This will be the first purse for me with a zipper top. I've added zips to the pockets inside and added zipped pockets on the outside of my Kindle covers, but not a zipper across the top. I purchased a really nice purse zipper. It's a little more sturdy than the nylon zippers like you use for clothing. It also has two pulls, kind of like a gym bag zipper. Only thing is it only came in either 18" or 22" - the materials list said to get a 20" but that she liked using a 22" and trimming it back. This one is a bit more sturdy and I'm not sure if I will be able to trim it or not - I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

This is also the first time for me to put a hard bottom with feet on a purse. I read about it in Lisa Lam's Handbag Bible book but this is the first time for me to actually do it.

Sweet Bee BuzzingsI'm excited to get started but I won't get a lot done this weekend, I'll be lucky to get it cut out. My hubby's cousin is a coach for the Atlanta Braves and they are playing the Houston Astros tonight, tomorrow, Sunday afternoon, and Monday. We're going to the game tomorrow night and having a party Sunday night. I have a lot to do to prep for that. Everything in my sewing dining room will have to be put away for the party.

So I'll get started as soon as I can and show you every step of the way.

If you want to join Bethany and follow along with me, you can get the pattern at:

Let me know if you're going to follow along - and what do you think of my fabric choice?

Till later ~


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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Milk Silk Roving For Needle Felting

I ordered roving the other day to use with my needle felting machine. Roving is the term used for fibers before they are made into thread or yarn.

The roving I purchased is milk silk roving. I'm really not sure what that means, I just know I wanted silk as I plan on using it on the flaps of my clutches. Basically, I'm going to make a black silk clutch and do a piece of art for the the flap. I'm not sure what the art will be like yet, but I ordered four books to read through to help me decide!

I bought this roving from a company on Etsy called Greenwood Fiberworks and so far I'm pretty impressed. I ordered on Sunday evening and got my package today - that's pretty fast. They included a nice note and a sample of a different roving they offer. If these purses turn out to be good and they sell, I'll definitely purchase from them again.

The books I ordered haven't arrived yet, normally when I order from Amazon on the weekend the package arrives on Thursday, so I expect them tomorrow. I'm kind of excited.

So you can see what I have planned, look at the cover of the book to the right - my designs won't look exactly like that but I'm hoping they will have the same feel, kind of artsy, but maybe not as busy. See the roving in the design?

As I learn and practice with my new machine I'll keep you updated. There's not much information on the internet about using a needle felting machine and a lot of what is available comes from the U.K. and Australia. I guess we're just catching on here in the U.S. but hopefully I'll be able to create some beautiful artful silk clutch purses to sell on Etsy! I'm so excited!

I won't have much time this weekend to 'play'. We have company coming in from out of town and we're having a party Sunday evening. I'll try to do a little something so I'll have something to post about next week. In the meantime, feel free to comment and ask questions, and I can contribute by comment.

Till later ~


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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pink & Green Hobo Bag - Finished

This bag really turned out cute. As I mentioned in my other post, I used a Sweet Pea Totes pattern with Michael Miller fabric.

I only had a couple problems getting through this project. First, I thought to myself that the flap needed to be stiff, so I used Pellon DecoBond interfacing. That was a big mistake and I realized it right away, thankfully. As soon as I put the flap on the exterior piece, before the lining was sewed in, I flipped the flap closed to see what it looked like. Because the flap goes across the top and the folds down the opposite side, the DecoBond crinkled and wrinkled. It was not pretty.

As the pattern suggested, I added fleece between the exterior and the lining. This gave the bag a wonderful squishy feel. The flap made with the DecoBond interfacing, had no fleece, so it was not as luxurious as the rest of the bag.

I knew right away that I had to re-do it. Thank goodness I had extra fabric.

I really wanted to make the strap adjustable but when I went to JoAnn's to buy the buckles, they were out. Boo! The only other fabric store that's close to me is Hobby Lobby and their notions area is quite small. I could have driven out to Hancock but that store is 10 or 15 miles away. I didn't want to go that far for two square metal rings. So, I just put a straight strap on it.

Lastly, I gave a review of Sweet Pea Totes patterns in another post - here. Since then I found out that some of her patterns can be purchased through Simplicity. That is fabulous. The patterns are really cute and simple to make but purchasing using a PDF was tough because there were photos instead of drawings and the documents were over 40 pages. Way too much ink involved. I haven't purchased the pattern from Simplicity but I would imagine it's just like all the other Simplicity patterns with good instructions that you can keep next to your machine, plus, you can find them on sale all the time for $1-$2 at JoAnn's and Hancock - much less expensive.

Okay, I have to go to work now. Till later ~


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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Black & Yellow Clutch Still Not Listed On Etsy

I really wanted to get my Black & Yellow Clutch listed on Etsy this weekend but I wanted to add a black flower broach to the flap where it closes first. I shopped and shopped and just did not find anything that I thought would "finish" the piece properly.

This evening I decided to see if I could make a flower broach. I found a great tutorial at the "Gone To Earth" blog. I changed it a little because I didn't need it to be so big.

The pic on the above shows it before it's finished, I still need to glue the covered button to the petals and I hope that will make the petal stay evenly spaced. I also need to add a bit of felt with a pin to the back. It's really cute and will look great on the purses flap. I'll post an update when it's finished but I need to go buy some fabric glue. Since I'm going to sell it on Etsy, I want it to be done right, otherwise I think I'd just hot glue it.

Oh, I also thought I'd tell you about something I ate today that was just "out of this world" good. It was a Strawberry and Goat Cheese Muffin! Yes, you read right, strawberry and goat cheese. It was a vanilla muffin with strawberries in it and goat cheese mixed right in. The sweet cake and strawberries aside the tart goat cheese was scrumptious! My hubby and I eat it with a fruit salad of pineapple, strawberries, bananas, and grapes - with just tiny bit of whipped cream on top. Perfect with our Sunday morning coffee.

We got these fabulous culinary confections at Central Market - it's an H.E.B. gourmet / whole foods type grocery here in Houston. Anyone living in South Texas knows H.E.B., I grew up shopping in their grocery stores in Corpus Christi. Central Market is their high end store and it's a wonderful place to shop if you can stand the crowds. Anyway, if you ever get the opportunity to try one of the muffins, don't pass it up. And if you can figure out how to make them, please post and let me know the recipe.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about my new needle felting machine! I bought some books on Amazon tonight so I can make some beautiful silk purses!

Till later~


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Saturday, June 4, 2011

J. Crew $36 - You Make $5

J Crew Bhati Beads Silk Planets Bracelet $36
Seriously? $36? Really?

You've gotta see the post over at Henry Happened...there Stephanie Gerber shows you just how to make this cute little bracelet for only $5. And I dare say, it probably only took about 5 minutes.

I wouldn't even worry about it being silk, use some cute cotton or muslin, just tear it with the grain and you're on your way.

Why do you think they call the brass hex nuts "Bhati Beads" and and the silk fabric "Silk Planets"? Maybe so they can charge $36!

Super cute, easy and cheap to make, great tip from Stephanie! Thanks girl!

Till later~


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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pink & Green Hobo Bag

Yesterday I started making a Hobo Bag from a pattern that I purchased on Etsy. The shop that sells the pattern is called Sweet Pea Totes and she has some really nice patterns. The fabrics are the Michael Miller I originally purchased to use for a second Amy Butler Cosmos but decided to never make that bag again because it took so long, you can read about the Amy Butler Cosmos here.

This is the second pattern from Sweet Pea Totes that I've used and both patterns were fairly easy to follow with lots of pictures and very good instructions. There were only three problems I had with the first pattern and I'm having similar problems with the second one.

First, the patten comes as a PDF file like most patterns you buy on Etsy, however, she included so many pictures in the file that it was over 40 pages. I like to print the instructions so I can keep them by my machine as I sew. Forty pages with pictures is an awful lot of ink and ink is expensive. I'm not sure how to fix this problem but maybe have a short version and a long version. The short version would have just the text in steps. That version could be printed and if there's a question that needs a pic, one could go to the computer for clarification.

Second, and on both patterns, she doesn't have the cutting instructions first. She'll cut a piece, then iron on the interfacing, do some sewing. Then the instructions have you cut another piece, interfacing, sewing. Repeat. I like to cut out the entire pattern while I have the fabric laid out. So before I can start cutting, I have to go through the entire pattern and write down how many pieces of each needs to be cut. A cutting layout would be nice too but one's not included.

Lastly, on the first pattern I made, I printed the materials page and took it to the store. When I got there I realized she did not specify how much coordinating fabric to buy for the exterior. The picture that I bought the pattern from had two coordinating fabric on the exterior, the material list only gave one measurement for the exterior. I had to guess how much to buy and over bought. She also indicated that I needed 2 yards of interfacing. It seemed a bit much but I went ahead and purchased just in case, I knew I'd always be able to use it on another purse. In hindsight, the 2 yds was probably a typo, it should have said 1/2 yd.

All in all the patterns are good and an experienced sewer will have no problem using the pattern and lining things up in a more efficient way. This Hobo Bag I'm making is a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be but it's still going to be really cute. I definitely will buy more of her patterns since they are easy to make and I can alter them into other designs.

I should be able to finish this tomorrow night - watch for it on Etsy Saturday. It's going to be a really cute bag!

Till later ~


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zipper Tutorial

I ran across a great video tutorial this morning at Wendi Gratz's Happy, Shiny, World Blog that shows how to sew an exposed zipper.

The technique she uses in the video is the exact same as the one I use to make the outer pocket on my Kindle covers. When I first started making them I didn't add a lining but as I got faster at putting them together I thought it would be a nice addition. I use zippers with nylon teeth and it's hard to 'feel' the edge when the zipper is sandwiched in between two pieces of fabric. So instead of doing it the way Wendi describes, I use two steps, first sewing the zipper to the outer fabric and adding the lining in a second step.

I leave more tape showing than the video shows by sewing on the opposite side of the zipper foot from the teeth. Since I use coordinating colored zippers, I think it looks nice to have most of the tape showing. And I don't add the top stitch either as I think it distracts from the overall look.

Overall, the video is a fantastic tutorial. Click here to see Wendi's Video Zipper Tutorial.

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