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R.Kay Design: December 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm In The Movies! Intro Video: How To Make A Purse Using Simplicity 2685

Well, I got the first video done! It's live on YouTube!

It was much harder than I thought it would be. I thought I could just "wing it" with the intro but after about 15 takes I ended up writing a script and even making a cue card of sorts. It's going to take some time to get used to being in front of the camera, but I think I'll get there (probably with every pound I lose I'll get more and more comfortable!).

I needed video editing software that wasn't too expensive so I searched Google and found It's only $29.95 for 1 year or $59.95 for unlimited lifetime. I chose the lifetime since I plan on doing this for a while. The software is very comprehensive for the small amount you pay. I was able to do lay-overs, text, and transitions, and you can add audio overlay too. I imagine if I want to get "really" in to video editing I would need more but this will do me for now. Oh, and with the unlimited subscription you can download all their software. In addition to the video editing software, yesterday I used their video file format changer. It worked great to change my MP4 to a WMV. If you need a good, but inexpensive video editing program that's easy to use, give it a try. Below is the link, I signed up for the affiliate program but don't have the link yet - when I get it - I will change the link to be my affiliate link.

Anyway, here's my debut...

I'm going to try to get the next video done tomorrow, maybe edited too. I'll post if I do. I tried today but I'm using a Flip Video and it ran out of juice. It takes 3 hours to charge and I ran out of light. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

In the next video I'm going to cover how to cut out the fabric. My fabric has a design that needs to match at the seams so I'm going to cover that as well.

Please let me know what you think...I can take it. Critiques make my products better. Oh, and I know this one is a bit boring, I'm sure I'll get better with time (and weight loss!).

Looking forward to hearing from you - until later ~


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mod Metrics Result In Cute Purse

I made a trip out to Hancock Fabrics today to see what's new. I ended up shopping their marked-down upholstery fabric as they really had a nice selection. I could have bought enough fabric for five or six purses because there was so much cute stuff and I was only looking at the marked-down items.

I ended up getting the cute mod geometric fabric in the picture for $7 a yard, yeah, I said $7! And it's 60" wide too! I found the cream fabric to match for $5 a yard. There was only one yard but hey, that's plenty. The other fabric is a quilting cotton for the lining, it was $4 something. And check out that cute button! It matches the feel of the fabric perfectly.

I was going to make an Amy Butler pattern but decided to take a look through the pattern books. They had McCalls patterns on sale for $1.99 but I didn't see anything I liked so I splurged on a Simplicity that wasn't on sale. I don't normally do that, I usually wait until they are on sale but I really wanted to get this started while I'm on vacation. The pattern I picked is Simplicity 2685 and I'm going to make View D. They show it made in only one fabric but I'm going to use a combination with the mod geometric pleated on the bottom and the cream on the straps and the band around the top. It's really going to be a cute one.

Today I tried talking in front of the video camera. It was quite shocking to see myself on camera. I'm definitely going to need to lose some weight in order to get comfortable. But who said I need to be comfortable? After adding make-up and about 15 tries, I think I got a good intro done. But it was still testing, I didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything right. but I think I got to the point where, if I prepare before turning on the camera, I could get out some instructions.

So, after talking it through with my hubby, and showing him my 'takes', I decided that I'm going to make this purse on video. I'm going to sew a little each day, not every day, but several days each week, and do a sew along on video. This will be my test run before I start making more professional sewing instruction videos to teach how to make purses and handbags using various patterns.

I'd love for you to follow along and make the purse with me. I'm not sure when I'll post the first video, I'm going to try to do some tomorrow but I'll need to edit the video and all. I'll post it as soon as I get something that you can follow and at that time I think I'll be able to post a schedule. Wish me luck! I'll let you know how I do tomorrow.

Also, I hope everyone had a blessed holiday and I'm really looking forward to this new year. I'm planning on growing this website with lots of info, video, and instruction and love that there are great people like you who follow along. I'd love for you to post below anything you want me to cover here or tell what you've enjoyed in the past.

Lastly, I want to share a great pic I took of my kitty. She really loved Christmas with all the paper, bags, and boxes on the floor. She just couldn't stay out of them. She's such a toot!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Until later ~


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is finally here, well, is Christmas Eve but in our house we start Christmas in the evening of Christmas Eve.

Today will be a busy day. Our tradition is to have some kind of soup and appetizers for a late dinner. My poor hubby works for a large liquor store chain and they don't close their doors until 9:00 p.m. He left this morning at 8:00 a.m. and will be serving customers until they close their doors tonight, so we'll see him about 9:30. One of my daughters lives with us and she will be helping me today. The other, along with her hubby, will come over later, like 6 or 7 this evening.

Before we go anywhere to do some last minute shopping I want to make the soup. We chose Emeril's Tortilla Soup. It's a great recipe and will be delicious tonight. Brittany and I went to Whole Foods last night and picked up a ton of cheese and crackers. We also bought a wonderful baked brie that has cinnamon and walnut praline inside and is wrapped with pastry. We'll bake it tonight and serve it hot, it's sooooo good.

Tomorrow we're having Martha Stewart's Perfect Roast Chickens, another fabulous recipe. We're going to keep it simple with mashed potatoes for the gravy and fresh green beans. We have cheesecake for desert. And there's a ton of cookies, we have sugar, oatmeal, and we're baking some peanut butter today.

We're hoping to do a Skype video call with my hubby's family tonight if everything works out. Isn't it wonderful that families can share time face-to-face even when there's many miles between them. It's so cool.

Merry Christmas to all. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a Super Happy Holiday Season.

Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others,
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing,
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing,
Returns to you glad. 

- John Greenleaf Whittier

Until next time ~


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beautiful Diaper Bag - Finished!

I finally finished this beautiful diaper bag. It took so long because of my day job, I'm just too tired to work on it after I get home and get dinner done, but since I had yesterday and today as vacation days, I was able to just whipped it out.

I used McCalls M4403 as the base pattern but I made several changes. And I would have made more but I wanted to see how their instructions compared to how I would sew it.

First I eliminated the fold out palette, it was too small. I instead kept the flap and added a big pocket underneath. I also rolled the handles and made the shoulder strap adjustable and removable with hardware. I decided to not use Velcro on the pocket flap but instead used a magnetic snap. I also used woven interfacing on the lining which gives it a little more body.

The McCalls pattern was okay, here's what I liked and disliked:
  • LIKED - I liked McCalls instructions for constructing the bag and lining sides and bottom. 
  • HATED - I hated their instructions for the zipper, I ended up ripping it out and redoing my way. I started writing a post about it, I'll finish it and post it tomorrow. 
  • HATED - The instructions for the straps and handles definitely had you do it the hard way, not the way I would do it but I think I already talked about that in another post here.
  • LIKED - As for joining the lining and the outer bag, it was okay. That's always the hardest part of making a bag, but it turned out nice.
  • HATED - I think I kept myself awake last night trying to figure out how the instructions wanted me to join the lining and exterior, I just couldn't get it straight in my head while I was laying there in bed. But once I got the fabric in my hands again, I figured it out quickly. I really think the instructions could have been a lot more explicit.
  • HATED - The pattern had so many views and different things to sew it made for a ton of pattern pieces.  They mixed up the pieces too much, for example, they may have had five pieces I needed on one tissue and one on another tissue with seven pieces that I didn't need. It took me over an hour to separate the pieces I needed from the ones I didn't.
  • HATED - The view I was sewing (view D) was similar to another view (view C). The instructions were written for the other view with the pattern pieces for my view in parenthesis. Sometimes my pattern piece number wasn't referenced in parenthesis. It was confusing.

Anyway, here it is and it turned out beautifully. It's for a girl and my daughter wants it if we find out that she's having a girl. She goes for the ultrasound that tells the baby's gender next month. However, if my new grandbaby is a boy, I'm going to sell it on Etsy and make a new one.

If I end up making a new one, what changes would I make? Well...
  • My daughter wants a ruffle around the pocket flap on the front. She may change her mind if it's for a boy but we'll see.
  • I will add more fleece to the pocket flap. I used fleece on the exterior piece of fabric but medium weight woven on the lining. I think I'll use fleece on both to give it more stiffness as it's kind of curling out as is.
  • I'll add pockets on both sides inside, as well as elastic bands on the ends to hold bottles.
  • I might leave off the short handles, I think they get in the way.
  • I'll use my own technique for making the straps.
  • I'll just do things the way I want to do them and forget the instructions that came with the pattern!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Oh, also, here's a pic of painting last Tuesday! It was really fun! I'm the one in the back with my painting in front of my face. My oldest daughter, the one that's pregnant is on the far right. My youngest, the one that's going to Europe to play volleyball next month (going to miss her) is up front. I work with the lady in the blue and the one in the middle is my sister-in-law. Great fun, great peeps.

Until later ~


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Monday, December 19, 2011

Love Your Gathers - Use The Best Method

Gathers made with zig-zag over thread method - they are
big and uneven, super hard to control
The other night I was working on the diaper bag I've been sewing and it was time for me to add the side pockets. The side pockets have elastic across the top and the bottom has a gather. This adds a lot of volume to the pocket so the mother can carry baby bottles or tons of stuff.

When I make gathers, I normally use the traditional method of sewing two lines using a long stitch, then pulling the bobbin thread to gather the fabric along the sewn lines. You can find this method explained in my Molly Handbag Pattern, just click the link and sign-up for my mailing list to get a free copy of the pattern with instructions. But getting back on track, I love this method because it makes a beautiful gather and the edge of the fabric doesn't twist around the thread because there are two sewn lines that hold it flat.

Last week I ran across two new methods for gathering fabric. One was especially intriguing to me so I decided to use it on the diaper bag side pockets. For this method, you put your fabric under the zig-zag foot and set your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. You insert your needle into the fabric one time and lift the needle while holding the top thread. Watch carefully and you will see the top thread pull the bobbin thread to the top. Catch that bobbin thread, I used my seam ripper, and pull it to the top through the fabric.

Gathers made with traditional method - makes nice tight even
gathers that are easy to control
Now pull out enough thread, both bobbin and upper thread to go to the end of what you're gathering. Hold the threads so they lay across the fabric where you want to gather, you can twist them a little if you like. Now sew, using a zig-zag stitch over the threads. The zig-zag stitch should sew over the threads, do not let it hit the threads. Using the center of your foot as a guide, hold the thread in the exact middle.

When you get to the end, stop sewing and cut your zig-zag threads but not the threads that are in the middle of your stitching. Remove from the sewing machine and pull the center thread to gather the fabric.

When I first saw this method I really thought it would be a cool way to do all my gathering going forward, but boy was I wrong. I followed the method exactly and it turned out perfectly, exactly like it should. However, the quality of the gather couldn't hold a candle to the traditional two line method. The gathers were uneven and there was no way to adjust them where they would stay. The edge of the fabric curled over the pull threads.

The finished pockets turned out okay as it was a short gather at the bottom of the bag, so I used it. It would have been a nightmare to pull out all that zig-zag! I can't imagine making a ruffle for the Molly Handbag with this method, I'd pull my hair out and it would look so unprofessional. Check the two pics in this post - doesn't the traditional two line method make a much nicer gather? I think so too.

So, needless to say, I do NOT recommend this method for gathering and I will never use it again. I'm just really glad I wasn't gathering a larger section.

Oh, the third method of found was to use clear elastic. I guess it's made of some kind of plastic or rubber. I didn't even know that kind of elastic existed, I'll look for it the next time I go to the fabric store and give it a try. I'll let you know how that turns out too.

Until later ~


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Need A Great Way To Carry Your Sewing Project To Class?

Find instructions for this fabulous project bag at Sew Daily!
Surfing around the internet today I found a nice sewing resource over at Sew Daily. It's a free download that had some good info about how to organize your stash fabric. It also has five patterns to make things to organize your sewing room. I only liked one of the patterns, but I liked it a lot... you guessed it, it's a tote.

This tote is for carrying your sewing stuff with you when you need to be on the go, like to a class, or to a friend's house. It's not too big, just big enough for one project, and it has lots of outside pockets for all your notions and tools.  The pic is one I copied from the pdf file, I figured they wouldn't mind since I'm sure they'd love for you to stop by and get a copy. Here's the link to the page where you can download the file:

You may be familiar with the Sew Daily site but it's fairly new to me. It's owned by the publisher Interweave.  I found it the other night and signed up for their message board, but quickly found that it was overrun with spam. I made a post saying such and asked if the moderators had abandoned the site. There was a reply concurring with my comment.

A couple days later I got a reply from one of the moderators saying they are trying to get it under control and to please be patient while they clean it up and install something to help. I think I'll give them a little time and then check back. I'd like to have a place to go talk about sewing and I love Interweave books and products. Maybe, if we're nice, they will set-up an area for sewing purses and handbags! Here's the link if you want to go check it out as well:

Lastly, there are some very good videos and such on the Interweave site. I signed up for their affiliate program and would appreciate it if you used my link if you decide to make a purchase. I'm going to post a graphic with the link in my sidebar as well so if you decide to click over later.

Thanks! Until later ~


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Last Minute Gifts You Can Make In Less Than 3 Hours

Make this beautiful bracelet - tutorial at
Christmas is around the corner and we're all scrambling to finish our shopping. Some people are so hard to buy for, they have everything they need, you know it and they know it, but you still want to give them something because you love or appreciate them.

For those hard-to-buy-for people in your life, have you ever thought about giving a handmade gift? If you can sew, a handmade gift is the ultimate treasure. Even if it isn't perfect, your special person will know you took time to craft it yourself, and giving your time is one of the greatest expressions of love and gratitude you can give.

I scoured the internet for these wonderful gift items you can sew in less than three hours and the patterns or instructions are free. Hope you can use one for your special someone.
Instructions for this FAB Chef Apron
  1. Beautiful Rosette Bracelet at -
  2. Cute Braided Ribbon Headband at -
  3. Petite Strawberry Pincushion at -
  4. Fashionable Infinity Scarf on -
  5. And for guys - A Chef's Apron at -
I'd love to see your creations. If you send me a picture, I will post it with a link back to your blog or website if you have one. If not, that's fine too, I'll still post it so other readers can see your handiwork. Or if you have a sewing project that would make a perfect gift, go ahead and post a link in the comments.

Until later ~


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Would I Change On This Commercial Pattern?

I'm currently making a diaper bag from McCalls Pattern M4403 and I'm finding tons of things that I would do differently. Do you make changes to patterns after you figure out that there's a better way to do it? I thought it would interesting to outline the changes I would make - so far. I've only just started sewing this thing!

The picture to the left shows how the front will look when it's all sewed together. I only have the flap and handle laid out so you can get a good idea. I love how the design on the flap over the pocket matches the design behind it. It gives it a really professional look. It takes extra time and care to get it right but it's so worth it. 
If you want to know how I did it, check out my post - How to Cut Fabric With A Directional Design For A Professional Look
  1. First thing I decided to change on this pattern was the palette on the front. Really? Like a baby would really fit on that palette. Well, maybe, but only for the first week of her sweet little life. I used the flap but removed the palette and added a big pocket on the front. It will close with a magnetic closure, I hate Velcro in that application.
  2. I should have realized when I was cutting out the pattern that the bag would be WAY too small. It's only 14" across. Good for a trip to the grocery store but you would need three of these bags for a day trip. It needs to be at minimum 18"-20" across. Most Amy Butler purse patterns are four times this big...okay, that's an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.
  3. Next, the pattern calls for fleece to be sewn in to give it the cushy feel. Okay, that will work but don't they know that we have some great interfacings on the market now that are fusible? I used fusible fleece on the outer pieces and fusible woven on the lining pieces. If you need to know more about the interfacings I use for purses, handbags, and yes, diaper bags, see my post - 3 Best Interfacings I Use When Making Handbags
  4. The next thing that I should have changed but decided to follow the pattern (next time I'll do it my way) is how the straps sewn to the front and back of the bag are done. I also would change how they made the handles and strap. The pattern asks you to press 3/8" down both long sides and then sew to the front and back of the bag. For the handles and strap, it has you do the same and then fold in half and edge stitch along the open edge.

    It was hard to iron the edges with the fleece, so I cut back the fleece before I fused. Still it was hard to get the folded ironed edge straight. My method would be to cut the pieces twice as wide as I want them to be. Then cut the fleece half that width. Press a fold lengthwise down the center to use as a guide. Then fold each long raw edge to the middle fold and press. Place the fleece in the center between the two folds and fuse. Then fold the edges over the fleece and press. This gives the pieces straight edges. If you want a better explanation with photos, check my Molly Handbag pattern, there's a full explanation - Free Molly Handbag Pattern
  5. Lastly, for this post anyway, I may have more suggested changes before I finish, I made the handles rolled. It gives it a much more professional look in my opinion and it's so easy to do. You just make the handle as normal with topstitching, then, fold it in half in the middle portion and sew again on top of the topstitching being sure to back-stitch several times to make sure it doesn't come unraveled. It looks really nice.
So, that's it so far, as I run across more items I feel could be done better, I'll post.

Until later ~


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tangerine and Tango - Yum!

I saw the announcement this morning that PantoneĀ® named their color of the year to be Tangerine Tango 17-1463. I immediately went to my Pantone chart to see it in living color (I used to be a graphic artist, my Pantone chart was an essential tool) and it is as beautiful as I thought it would be. I have been in love with deep oranges for some time now, just look at my first Molly Handbag and then Molly Loud Flowers and then Uptown Molly, all had deep oranges in the fabrics. 


If you don't know what Pantone is, I'll give you a little info. Pantone is a company that has been around for about 50 years. I know them from my graphic arts days. Pantone provides color charts where each color and shade of color has a specific number thus standardizing every color. When you're talking about orange, there are probably over 1000 different hues of orange, ranging greatly with varying amounts of red and yellow. By giving each hue and shade a number, you can specifically pinpoint the exact color you need. This is especially important when printing on paper, fabric, etc. Because Pantone is such an authority on color, they use that authority to name a "Color of the Year".


Quoting from the Pantone website, here's a little more about the "Color of the Year" process and what influence it has.

About the PANTONE Color of the Year
The color of the year selection is a very thoughtful process. To arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.

I love this color. I've actually had to tell myself, "no" at the fabric store because I wanted to buy more fabrics with orange. Here are a few swatches I found on using colors that are in the same family as our new "Color of the Year". I would buy these in a heartbeat. What cool purses I could make from you agree?


Click to Enlarge
Until later ~


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to Cut Fabric With A Directional Design For A Professional Look

There are so many cute fabrics on the market today and many have fabulous large designs. I purchased some fabric last night to make a diaper bag. This bag will be a practice bag for me and if it turns out, I'll sell it on Etsy. I'm going to make a diaper bag for my daughter but she wants to pick out the fabric and she wants to be sure if it's a boy, we don't use any pink (we don't know if it's a girl or a boy yet). If this bag is really cute, she may make me wait until we find out...I'm using pink.

Anyway, back to cutting out a large print so the seams match and the print doesn't appear broken. Unfortunately I didn't realize that this would be a good post until after I cut out the fabric, but I purchased extra so I went back this morning and took some pics to reenact what I did.

First, I laid out the fabric unfolded. To do this correctly, I had to iron the fold out and make sure the selvages were flat. So first, iron your fabric. If you're making something that will be washed in the washing machine, it's important to pre-wash, especially cotton.

Since my specialty is purses and bags, I'm going to talk about making a bag, not something that will be worn.

Once you get all your pattern pieces in order, find the pieces that will be the front and the back. Start with the front piece and lay it on the fabric encompassing the part of the design that you want on the front. When doing this, try to get as close to the end of the fabric (where it was cut by the fabric store) and the selvage as possible. Otherwise you will waste more fabric than necessary.

For the pattern I'm working with, there is a pocket on the front with a flap. So I had to match where the flap meets the top of the bag and where the flap laps over the pocket, as well as where the back meets the top. I decided to not worry about the side pieces because both sides have a gathered pocket and matching would be almost impossible and probably frustrate me to no end. I also didn't worry about matching the bottom because even if I matched where it meets in the front, the direction on the print would change on the back and wouldn't match anyway.

So, I first laid out the flap on the fabric so I got the butterfly and a bird. That was my first piece and I matched everything to it. When cutting this first piece it is super important to make sure it is lined up with the grain of the fabric. If it's not perfectly lined up, you will never get a clean match on your other pieces.

To make sure your piece is lined up perfectly, measure from the grain line on the pattern to the edge of the selvage. Take that measurement several times along the grain line and make sure it's the same at the top of the line as the bottom.

I used my large clear ruler and made sure the grain line on the pattern was straight on one of the lines of the ruler and checked to be sure the edge of the fabric was straight as well. I adjusted everything until it was all lined-up. Then I pinned the fabric and cut it out.

Now find the repeat in the design and place your cut piece with the pattern still pinned and lay it on top of the fabric matching the print perfectly. 
First cut piece laid on top of fabric matching the design perfectly.
Adjust until perfectly matched to the fabric underneath.

Once it's lined up, take the pattern piece that will be sewed to it and place it on top of the already cut-out piece matching up the seam line. Most patterns will also have dots, match those dots. This will line up the pieces perfectly. Pin this next pattern piece in a couple of places and then you can remove the first piece. You are now ready to cut-out the next piece. See pics below.

For my diaper bag, I started with the pocket flap and matched the top piece (above). Then I used the pocket flap again to match where the flap hits the front of the pocket. It was a little more difficult to match this piece as the top of the flap and the top of the pocket are not on the same seam. So I had to use the front piece in conjunction with the flap to get the placement correct.
I'm altering the pattern somewhat to add the pocket. There was not a pocket pattern piece, instead a fold out pad was supposed to fold up under the flap. I didn't like it so I'm putting a pocket instead. At this point, if I had a pocket pattern piece, I would lay it on top of the front piece, then remove the other two pattern pieces without letting the pocket pattern piece move. Then I would pin and cut.

Since I didn't have a pattern piece, I cut using the front pattern piece and cut it short at the top where I thought the top of the pocket should stop. Here is a pic with the pocket front with the flap laying on top. When all is sewed together, the design on the pocket will flow to the front of the pocket.

Cool huh?

You'll then repeat for the back-side where it matches the top. I cut the back-side piece first and then cut the top to match. And since it was the back I considered fabric waste instead of the design.

Now, remember, in order to get the seams matched perfectly, you WILL need more fabric, how much is hard to say, at least one extra design repeat but I'd buy more, maybe two or three. If the design repeat is 12 inches, then buy at minimum, 1/3 yd extra, but to be safe at least 2/3 yd extra. If you sit down with the pattern before you purchase the fabric, you can figure it out more precisely but I still have a hard time with this and I'm good at math and geometry. You have to take into account how many seams need to be matched and what part of the fabric you want to show on the front.

Lastly, there may be other ways to do this but I have never been able to use any of them and get it right. I'd love to hear your technique if you can save fabric or time.

If you want to see larger versions of these pictures, just double click on the picture and it will open full-size on another page. Then click your back button to return to the post.

I'll post pics of the diaper bag when I'm done. I'm considering adding video to this site so I'd love for you to let me know if you'd like me to do a tutorial for this pattern on video. It will be a big job figuring out how to do video but I'm up for it. Please, let me know if something like this would benefit you - also, I'd love to know if you'd pay for access to videos like this and how much you'd be willing to pay - I'm still trying to figure out how to make a living sewing!

Until later ~


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