Look, Ma, another engineer

March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

My mother raised two engineers and me, the kid who’d quote lines from Snooky Cerna movies in shouting matches with her sister. Since I’d get an asthma attack at the sight of numbers, I steered myself where words led me and my resume is now a weird mesh of occupations that all bottom line to either the spoken or written word. Well and good. Except that I suddenly decided garment construction was something I wanted to do. And now my weekends are spent measuring tape around the neck and trying to figure out which ruler measures what in pattern-drafting classes with the gracious Tsufa and five other wonderful ladies.

To all crafters and sewing enthusiasts who share patterns they made themselves so generously to the rest of us, I raise my hat (if I wore one) and everything else to all of you. PATTERN MAKING IS HARD. Just taking measurements and trying to do them properly and then drawing a block IS HARD. After each class I feel like grabbing the first tailor I see in a bear hug and saying, “There, there,” to them as I rub their shoulders. It has been an eye opening experience, finally understanding how garments are supposed to be constructed and knowing the importance of (having the patience to) taking the right measurements. But is also frustrating because where I used to just sew willy-nilly, I now sit back and think every detail through before even gathering materials. Which has sadly resulted in no finishes these past two weeks and I’m feeling such a slacker now. And this hasn’t helped:

My (just a few days ago) very timid and docile bunny has decided that she is now going to be a ninja, constantly popping up in strange places when you least expect her to. And because she’s such fun to watch, I automatically turn into a two-year-old and start hopping around the house with her. VERY PRODUCTIVE INDEED.

Anyhoo, I found out at the last class that I did my first draft so badly and had to spend the last quarter sitting quietly taking notes over my useless center front bodice. I MUST MAKE A NEW ONE (emphasis for my benefit) before next Saturday’s class and redeem myself among my more crafty classmates. I must do at least one craft project before Friday. I MUST MUST MUST . . . oh, hey there, Bunny, of course I want to play . . .




One foldover clutch two ways

February 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

Hello! It’s been a crazy week at work and an even crazier one in my sweatshop. Surprisingly enough, I did manage to finish everything on deadline in both “jobs” (just please don’t drop by unannounced because my house looks like a tornado just went through it) and now I can post this week’s finish.

For someone whose bag over the years has been a shapeless oversized carry-all, I am turning out to be quite the bag lady. (Excuse me if you catch me oggling your bag on the train or bus. I am not planning to steal it, I swear. Oh okay, at least just the design :D) I’ve been obsessed with how foldover bags are constructed, so this week’s challenge was to finally make one – actually, two. But because I am me, the best motivations are the challenge of a tight deadline, a schedule waaaaay past my bedtime, and making it special enough to give as a gift.

I like the Lee who crafts. She’s a planner, highly methodical, has a good case of OCD and likes to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I wish she stayed around for the mundane stuff, like house chores. But she’s very choosy about what she does, so I’ll leave her alone to do what she does best: making things.

First, choose your materials. I did a Peter Jackson here and did two bags at one time. Same lining material, different outer fabric and embellishments. One would be black with white lace, the other a spiral blue and purple print. Once you’ve chosen your outer fabric and lining material, cut two pieces each to 12 inches x 18 inches. Your final clutch size will be a bit large and envelope shaped, so you might want to adjust the sizes according to your preferences. Just be sure you have enough length to fold the bag over once finished.

I was very caught up making these bags that I didn’t take as many pics as I usually do for a step-by-step but I think you’ll get the idea. If not, here’s the basic foldover bag tutorial from Noodlehead. Pictured is one of the linings. I used a very flimsy sateen fabric for the lining and lightweight cotton for the outer fabric but I wanted the clutch to hold its shape well, so I used some interfacing. That’s the white stuff you see there over the red lining. I also learned to add a zippered pocket to lining this week from the lovely Lisa Lam, so these bags should be quite functional, with room for coins, keys and mobiles. I finished both linings first and set them aside. Now for the outer bags.

The bags themselves will probably take you about 2 hours to make, tops. What bogged me down was the embellishments. Did I mention that Crafty Lee is astonishingly patient? The lace on the black bag was just the beginning. I wanted to use Modge Podge (which for glue, I found out, is quite expensive at AED 56 a 236 ml bottle) but I experimented on this beforehand and found out I didn’t quite like the finish, so it was back to trusty fabric glue. You can even sew this on, but I didn’t want to risk my machine having another tantrum because of me mixing the wrong materials together.

Now for the other one. I originally planned for the blue bag to have a huge floppy, sparkly bow as its centrepiece.

Yep, there’s me putting on the sparklies one by one using fabric glue and nifty pliers. Yes, there’s an applicator that makes life much easier for noobs like me. But at AED 160 (about $35-$40), it didn’t feel too crafty for a tool I would use very rarely. But that’s not the funny part. I set it out to dry and went to bed, woke up in the morning and decided I didn’t like how it looked. So on to something different.

You could get the tutorial for the fabric flowers at My Sparkle. Shireen, the very supportive guinea pig for the black clutch, told me I needed to figure out my costings now so I could start putting a price to these things. But you now see my dilemma. It’s not a matter of wasting materials and time, it’s about getting it right and being happy with the results for me at this point. We’ll figure out the practical matters once OriginaLee is ready to open its doors 🙂

My newfound sparkle fetish satisfied, now it’s all business.

Sew the outer fabric and lining together. Once you’ve done the whole turning the bag inside out routine, you’ll want to iron the edges so they’re crisp and straight. Take note of the side where the zippered pouch is on. I wanted that side to be against the body when my giftee’s clutching the clutch, so you’ll know which side to foldover and iron.

For the black one I had to put on the lace embellishment before sewing it together. For this one, since the flowers would obviously make ironing the bag difficult, the detailing came later. Whenever you decide to put on your embellishments, at this point you’re about done.

I know a lint remover is invaluable in making sure your projects end up nice and neat. But my inner cheapo just couldn’t stand the idea of spending for something that’s not an actual tool, material, or has more than one use. So I McGyver-ed a lint remover using 3M tape and four oddly shaped fingers. Works perfectly well. Just make sure you don’t use tape with a sticky kind of adhesive, then you’ll be adding extra embellishments to your stuff that you didn’t plan for or want.

Finally . . .

I love it! I think I’m actually jealous and should make one of these for myself 🙂 Happy weekend, mah peeps!

Excuse me while I pat my back

January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Every time I put together something from IKEA I feel very empowered and more than a little butch. For those of you who haven’t seen me, I am 5’2″and all of 50kg. Lugging around a 100cm X 60cm board makes me feel like a lumberjack. I know I should be sewing right now, but I can’t help but just sit back for a minute and admire how my crafting corner is now starting to take exactly the shape I want it to. I’ll just got pop open a beer and count my chest hairs while I’m at it.

The “Do or die” weekend

January 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

So here’s me, once again taking on projects much larger than I am. My dining/cutting table just wasn’t big enough for this one so I had to use my coffee table, which is thankfully hardcore enough to handle all 50kg of me.

I confess, I’ve been lazing about all week with unfinished projects lying around. My excuse was I didn’t have all the materials I needed. Well finally the day has come that I can’t use that as an excuse any more and have set Sunday as a deadline for myself to finish 4 projects, one of which is the one that barely fits my coffee table. Why such a tight deadline, you ask? Because I AM NOT SANE.

Anyhoo, I’ve found out that I can be quite efficient once I do get my butt off the couch (granted, my TV shows haven’t finished downloading yet). This weekend’s system is to get all the prep work on all projects done first and at the same time. That includes cutting, interfacing, and ironing out the seams. All that’s left for me now is to sew everything together (and for such a momentous occasion I have cleaned and oiled my machine in preparation).

Much as I would love to spend all day sewing, there is such a thing called life and it is calling me away so I’ve got to put all this aside for the moment and go out. But tomorrow, tomorrow, my friends, is most definitely a full on sewing day.

Thread Catcher

January 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s one of those ideas so simple you just slap your forehead and say D’oh! Every single day I have to check myself before stepping out the door in case I’ve got some stray threads hanging on me (there are a few 95% of the time, and 100% in a contrasting color that makes them glaringly obvious on whatever I’m wearing). So here’s a simple solution that also solves my gallivanting pin cushion problem. Love it! And the lovely, lovely people at Merriment Design have very helpfully left a tute for it here.

The search for the perfect crafting corner continues

January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

 In my head my crafting/cutting/sewing station already looks like this. But considering that I still haven’t made up my mind where in the house this corner will be, this is a huge case of wishful thinking. Withinaquarterinch will tell you how collecting materials for your crafts could quickly go out of hand and before you know it, it’s taken over your entire house. At the moment, my minimalist plans (hah! when you’ve got a zero budget for interior design, everyone’s a minimalist) have gone out the window, replaced by this chaotic mix of fabric, batting, thread, sewing notions, and-half finished projects that is now my living room. But I have to plan my organization methods carefully since I have limited space and even more limited finances. In the meantime, I’ll keep gawking at how other people have gotten around this.

Daiso Love

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been wanting to make this pocketbook since I stumbled upon it on Insatiable Need (love the name of this blog!). I just got stuck when I saw that “interfacing” was one of the materials needed and went on a research rampage on what that’s all about. Then I found other projects I wanted to do and realized my craft corner is terribly unstocked. Of course I’d start crafting only after I moved to the part of town that ‘s about an hour away from the best (read: affordable) crafts and fabric supplies shops, so I’ve been twiddling my thumbs. It was  a great thing then to visit Dubai’s version of a dollar store and find most of the things I needed just 15 minutes away. Of course I will have to brave the narrow streets and shadowy shops of Bur Dubai and Satwa for more inexpensive stuff sooner or later, but watch out, crafting world, these hands are idle no longer.

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