The Space Between Breaths

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It has been a long month and I have no idea where things have gone off to but I feel like this short hiatus from blogging has given me the deep exhalation I needed.  I even had to take a break from quilting for a short time.  It was a result of procrastination, poor time management and feeling like other things needed priority.

Plus, I’m at a rather painful juncture in The Birchen quilt that involves matching up endless seams and pressing everything open to reduce bulk.  If I were a stronger person I would do a few rows a day and knock it out within a few weeks, but I have balked at it.  Each row has been taking about 5-10 minutes to match and pin. You might ask, why are you pining at seam intersections instead of “nesting” them? That’s because there are so many intersecting seams that everything has to be pressed open.  This helps the whole quilt to lay flat, but makes extra work when it comes to aligning seams properly.  There is a reason to the madness but darn it if it’s not a tedious affair.

I also took on another seasonal job! This one at a local garden center.  Just in time for their busy planting season.  This will not help my flower addiction in any way, but it will be outside with green things and really that’s a win no matter how long I’ll be working there. I’m not planning on doing any vegetable gardening this year as I’m preparing to solarize the soil to kill off the bad stuff that’s been lurking there for some time. Jump over to Garden’s Alive to find out more.  It will only work if we happen to have an actual hot summer though and if our climate pattern holds we might not see much constant heat.  Fingers crossed it kills off most of the crud!

I also did a quick pattern test for Betz White and her newest pattern: Tutti Fruity Penny Pinchers.

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 I opted to use mine to store my Garmin watch cord and it works out splendidly! Just the right size for storing small cords in or gift cards even.

I also have been knocking out a good chunk of books so far and have even made it 4 books into the Wheel of Time reread! Look for a few updates to What I’m Reading to pop up soon.

Here’s to making time for all things big and small.

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Soft Mod: The “Gentle-Lady’s Travel Case”

You might recall my book review for Present Perfect by Betz White and in it was the pattern called The Gentleman’s Travel Case.

I worked on this pattern as a tester and found it to be surprisingly easy to make. I don’t usually make bags or things of that nature very often, so I enjoyed the natural way the directions flowed together.

This is what I’d like to called a “soft mod” of a good pattern.  There were only two things I changed, the strapping on the top and handle and the colors.  Easy changes to make it a bit more girly.

The strapping that lays over top of the case is actually covered with the same fabric that I used for my bag interior.  I had plain, ol’ white strapping and it was boring.  To jazz it up, I took double-sided fusible webbing, fused it to the flower fabric and then cut it the length of my straps. After that it was only a matter of fusing the fabric to the straps being careful to fuse both the front of the strap and the back.

I did the same for the handle and if you wanted you could even do it to the little pull tab at the end of the bag.

Insta pretty!

It’s also fun to use coordinating thread in a bold color.  In my case I matched my thread to my pink zipper.

I love the way the interior came together in this particular bag.  It is a little tricky to sew it closed at the top near the zipper because there’s not a lot of space to maneuver well.  I did wonder, in hindsight, if I could have turned the bag inside out so the interior would be on the outside making it easier to hand sew along the underside of the zipper.  I can’t say if that would have worked out well, but if you end up making this I’d say give it a try!

Happy Sewing!

Present Perfect Book Review

About a year ago Betz contacted me with a handful of new patterns to test for her new sewing book.  Unbeknownst to me they would all end up making the cut and becoming part of Present Perfect.

First, let me just say that this is most likely her best sewing book to date.  I’ve tested quite a few of her patterns over the last 4 years and each time the process from her initial design and testing to seeing the final product gets easier and more cohesive.  I could not wait to have a copy of my own in hand and it’s everything I’d hoped it would be, a visually gorgeous, practical, easy to understand and follow sewing book.

There’s a nice beginning section called The Gift of Sewing that talks about how her mother, Janice, inspired her love of sewing for others and why that is so important.  It’s like a love and thank you letter all rolled up in a tidy bundle. She’s dedicated this book to her. It really is touching and a meaningful introduction.

All the patterns in this book are wonderful and the materials to make each of them easily sourced from either upcycled materials, your own fabric stash or your local sewing shop.  But most importantly, they’re fun and practical!

I helped test on 3 of the patterns in this book, the Pasha Pleated Clutch, the Gentleman’s Travel Case, Patchwork Bears Baby Quilt.  Each one held it’s own unique challenges while sewing, but the results in the end were none-the-less satisfying.  Please note these are not my own finished projects in the pictures below.

While I no longer have my Pasha Pleated Clutch on hand (it was gifted to my niece early last year) I do still have my Gentleman’s Travel Case and the Patchwork Bears quilt.  I’ll blog a bit about those later this month once I get pictures of them both.

Another thing I love about this book, aside from the photography, at the end of each pattern there’s an excerpt at the bottom called, Stitched with Meaning.  It gives the sewer additional ideas on how to reuse and upcycle fabric from clothing castoffs, old bridesmaids dresses and even dad’s outdated ties.  It’s very Betz-like to add this as she’s quite fond of upcycling just about anything into her current projects and patterns.

The very end of the book she gives a technique overview and a nice list of resources used for all her patterns.  And on top of that the book even includes templates for every pattern that needs one.  This is SO handy as most sewing books that use templates do not include ones that are already scaled up.  I don’t always like taking things to the copier at the library to get a template blown up to the proper size.

It’s a testament to the editor and Betz that this particular book is as simple and complete as it is.  There’s no extra fluff and every section and detail as a place and purpose. Well done! I can’t wait to try out a few other projects including Hexie the Turtle Floor Pillow, Tagalong Teddy and the Sweet Life bumble bee pillow.

Thank you for letting me help you out again Betz! As always it was a great pleasure and alot of fun along the way.