Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Amy Butler's New Field Bag and Tote

Hi Friends!




I have had a WONDERFUL 48 hours! I drove down to one of my "bestest" friends house (shout out Lori!) for a too short sewing getaway! I decided I was going to tackle Amy's new Field Bag pattern. We'll be getting on a plane in a few days so I thought it would make a great carry-on. From the pattern cover, it looks enormous.




But, I know Amy uses her cute, adorable and petite friends as models so I thought a tall and curvaceous woman, like myself, might be able to pull it off as an average size tote bag. Umm, it's still enormous, even on me! Which kind of made me feel good! I mean, I know my thighs are no where near as gorgeous as this girl but hey, I don't dwarf it!!

See!



So, let's get down to business. This pattern skill level, in my opinion only, would be "beginner" for the Tote and "experienced" for the Bag. The difference? A dreaded zipper! The Bag, which is what I decided to make, has a zipper closure along the top panels. I need to say this, Amy's directions for putting in zippers are good. "What's the trouble" you say? I have to be honest, I just don't know. I read the instructions, they made sense to me. I start attaching it all together and I have issues. Mostly from the bulk. I think I just need to do it once for practice then do it for real! Now that I've put this zipper in, I don't think I'll have a problem next time. It wasn't even the actual putting in of the zipper, that was easy. It was actually attaching the top panels (which had the zipper already inserted) to the bag itself. It's the bulk, man, it gets me every time!


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The pattern instructions are very good. I did have a question about one part of the cording instructions but I emailed Amy's studio about clarification. I just received word that STEP 11 F can be omitted. This is a mistake in the pattern, a very small one and it didn't take long to figure out that step 11 F was not necessary.
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Like I said, I would be very comfortable recommending this pattern to a "beginner" for the Tote (no zipper). I would define this person as someone who has constructed a bag of some sort and someone who has worked with multiple layers. I don't think I would recommend this as your first bag ever. It's a lot of fabric and a ton of interfacing. The investment is too large to let frustration take over and the whole thing to land in a box in the closet (I speak from experience)! The pattern calls for 8 1/2 YARDS (if using quilting weight cotton) of Stacy SF-101, which in my opinion is the only interfacing!! I love this stuff! It also takes some Thermolam Plus which is the best fusible fleece for bags. Now, even though I had a problem with the zipper (it really wasn't a problem, it looks fine, it's just that a good time was not had while trying to put this sucker in), I wouldn't say you have to be "Advanced" to tackle it. Just be confident, read your instructions a couple times before diving in and GO SLOW! If I can do this, you can!


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The instructions for the cording are fabulous. The pleats are no big deal. The bottom of this bag has a wide inset that you'll need to pin and ease in the curve. Easy as pie!







Some "please learn from my mistakes" tips:

1. Make sure all interfacing is completely adhered to your fabric pieces. In some cases, you'll have 2 layers of interfacing or one layer of Stacy with a layer of Thermolam over that. If those layers are not completely adhered to your fabric, you are likely to have some rippling.

2. This bag gets heavy with all of the interfacing. Put your sewing machine on a table that is big enough so the purse doesn't hang while your sewing. It needs to be laying on a table so the weight doesn't make what you are sewing pull to the left. (This may have been the majority of my problem with the zipper.)

3. Don't think this a 4 hour project. Of course, the tote is much quicker because there is no zipper but if you are adding the zipper, give yourself a few days to complete the project. Even without the zipper, you'll need to give yourself a few days. Very few of us have the luxury of being able to sew straight through with life happening all around us. Make sure your family is okay with this project being out for a couple days. It will take a while to cut all of your pieces out, attach the interfacing and fleece and make your cording. That's not even getting to the actual construction. Don't be rushed. Take your time, and enjoy the creative process! Your finished product will be well worth the time invested!

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This cutie will definately hold everything I'll need for a 5 hour flight! Then it will double as my beach bag! I can totally see this as a diaper bag too. It has 4 large pockets, two on each side of the lining. Then, of course, you'll need to scour your local antique store for the perfect piece of vintage jewelry, a la Amy!!

Pattern Rating:

5 super hip and cool stars*****!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bear in the Big Blue Hat

My hat is done! I think it's beautiful. My husband says I'm the Bear in the Big Blue Hat. I don't think I was grumpy today....hmmm.




Recovery



Well, after a few days of living in a comatose stupor...I think I am back. Maybe not 100% just yet, but I'm getting there. Oklahoma City was FANTABULOUS....yes, it's a word. We had great fun and sold out of quite a few things. I've placed my orders and we should be fully stocked by next week. Of course, I endured some pain. The Lotus and Belle lines are disappearing. You don't know how bad I want to take all of this fabric off my web site and hide it in my closet!! After all, this is what hooked me on Amy Butler and what started this exciting roller coaster life I live! Every time I "burned" a bolt and travelled to the trash can to discard that sad, empty cardboard flat, I would glance at the end and read the name, almost in memoriam. I never said I wasn't loony toons. I'm as crazy as they get when it comes to Amy's fabrics. Every time I sell out of one of her items I can no longer get, I sink into this grieving period. I know, I make a great business woman, right? My husband is ready to commit me.





So, now that my shows are over for the year (sniff sniff), I need to concentrate on my web site. We've joined the Fab Shop Network and will be participating in the Fab Shop Hop in September. If you have never heard of the Fab Shop Hop, go to their web site, http://www.fabshophop.net/. This is a virtual shop hop where you go to these great online quilt/fabric shops and try to find the bunny. You click on the bunny and it registers you for great prizes. You can win gift certificates to different shops and the grand prize is always really cool. A sewing machine or a sewing caddy or a ton of fabric! I swear, when I first got hooked on this, John was deployed and I was bored to tears at night after Em went to bed. I would stay up all night and search web sites and try and find that bunny. After I finally went to bed, all I could see was that bunny floating in my dreams. It's great fun and it introduces you to a ton of great web sites with different fabrics. I never knew the amount of fabric out there until I did this hop for the first time.





I'm feeling creative today. I have plenty of sewing orders to fill but I'm feeling a Blue Sky Hat coming on. We'll be laying by the pool in San Diego soon and I need to protect this pasty skin of mine. I've also started cutting out Amy's new Field Bag and Tote pattern. Almost all of the interfacing is cut (it takes quite a bit, this is going to be one sturdy bag!) but I am still debating on which fabrics to use. I was told I needed to make it exactly like the cover. Umm, it's pretty, and I might do that for the shows next year but I'm not feeling it. Every crafter knows, you have to "feel" what you're doing. Otherwise, the inspiration just isn't there. I think I'll stick with the Midwest Modern line but use a fabric that I wouldn't normally gravitate to. Step out of my box a bit. (Well, okay, I'm hanging an arm out of the box.)




Here are some pictures from OKC:








Yes, that is a teal blue Singer Featherweight. Isn't it beautiful?! I want this machine so bad.
Okay, I'm off to see if my noggin is too big for this pattern. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Chillin'

Good Morning!
We are in the hotel room sipping our coffee and gearing up for a busy day. I wish I had some pictures to upload but we were so busy yesterday at the OKC Quilt Show, I had no time to snap any. I will do my best to slip away from the booth today. The quilts here are amazing of course. I'm never sure how my fabric will be received at these shows and since this is our last show of the year, I was extra nervous. I had no reason to be nervous. I was cutting fabric all day! I've sold out of many Amy Butler bolts (of course the ones I can't replace now that Belle and Lotus are no more) and even a few Heather Bailey bolts are gone. I'll be placing a huge order on Monday!

I better finish getting myself ready. It's going to be another busy day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Abilene to Oklahoma City!

Well, Abilene was this past weekend and it was so much fun! I've done this show now two years in a row and I have had such a great time. The guild is wonderful! So full of talented and genuinely nice people! My Mom stayed with Emme so she wasn't hiding under a table at this show which took a lot of the anxiety off of me! The people of Abilene LOVE Amy Butler and Heather Bailey! I am sold out of so many fabrics and I don't have enough time to order before Oklahoma City. I am cutting up more Birdie Sling kits tonight. Those were so popular this weekend! Also the Abbey Bag kit. Who doesn't want a flower pincushion with a scrap bag attached? Who? It was a lot of hard work but I am so proud of where our business has led us. I now specialize in two designers and I have expanded to a double booth at our shows. I just don't know how it could get any better! Take a look at our booth:












So we've been home for a couple days and now we pack up again tonight and head to Oklahoma City tomorrow morning. This is our last show for 2009. It's kind of bittersweet. I really look forward to these shows. I love working and talking with people. The relationships we've formed with other vendors on the road mean so much to me. I especially love it when a true fan walks into my booth. It feels good when someone understands my taste in fabric. It's not for everyone. I'll be the first to admit that. But I can't help that when I look at this fabric or tackle one of these patterns I feel this overwhelming sense of creativity. Like, the sky is the limit! I've never had that feeling before I became involved in the textile industry. I'm hooked! I want to thank each and every person who came by my booth this weekend. It was such a pleasure to see and meet all of you! If the Navy cooperates, we will most certainly be back next year! If you are in the Oklahoma City area, PLEASE come by and see me! This show sounds like it's a big one! I've not done it before but I received an email this morning saying that the 377 quilts are hung!! Sounds like heaven to me! We will be at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in the Cox Pavilion. Hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 am to 6 pm, June 18-20. I think I need a little cat nap before lugging 70 pound boxes into a trailer! See you in OKC!!