Monday, April 26, 2010

How many covers can a Kindle have?

Well, I guess the answer is more than one, at least in my family!

This weekend, in addition to working on the flats with a friend, I finished up putting together a second Kindle cover. This one was a different style than the last as it was a padded pouch with a velcro closure inspired by this tutorial by Junie Moon. I'd cut the pieces out last Sunday, but hadn't had time to finish working on it during the week. Since I was running off of a sewing high on Saturday after finishing the flats, I decided to just bite the bullet and finish up the project.

I had some trouble following the tutorial, but I figured it all out in the end, with minimal grumbling. Voila! A handy little pouch to protect our Kindle when it is in my bag.

Kindle in the closed pouch

Kindle in the pouch, with velcro closures

Kindle tucked into the outside accessory pocket, just to show the pocket off since it is tough to see otherwise!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


As mentioned in my previous entry, a good friend, R, is off on an around-the-world trip soon. In order to keep in touch with her niece and nephew while away, she wanted to employ a Flat Stanley or Flat Annie. Originally she was going to go the traditional paper route, but she discovered fabulous instructions at Moda Bake Shop on how to make a set of flats - out of fabric!

So of course, we had to spend all afternoon on Saturday whipping two of these adorable little flats using the Moda Bakeshop tutorial and whatever fabric we had on hand! This was a completely tandem effort - she was brave enough to start out sewing the boy, and I finally mustered the guts to tackle the girl. We did modify the plan to accommodate R's plans. We realized that having different clothes - while cute - wasn't as practical for her as she traveled. As such, we skipped the step of attaching velcro, and just sewed the clothing on permanently. We also got a bit more creative and whimsical on how the flats looked (hence the wonderful orange and purple hair!)

Adding on her clothes - she looked like a gingerbread girl without them!

What a fun afternoon! We both worked completely through lunch, taking turns with sewing (we were sharing one machine), cutting, and pressing. This is such a great idea. I'm looking forward to making a set of flats for someone, sometime - imagine how creative one can get with the doll clothing: ruffles, beads, buttons... the possibilities are endless!

Close up of the Flat Girl
Aren't they a cute couple?

Fabric fun!

This weekend, I seem to have hit the mother lode for fabric goodies and sewing-related fun!

First, The Thriftress and I went a-thrifting together on Friday. I've wanted to hit up a thrift shop for a while now to try and find woolen sweaters to felt (I've never done it before, but I wanted to try it). I also wanted to try and find some fun bedsheets to cannibalize for material. I was inspired to do this after checking out the gorgeous pictures of fat quarters gleaned from vintage bedsheets at My Tiny Robot Heart.  

A good time was had by all. While at the shop, we found two sewing cabinets with sewing machines still attached. I thought this gorgeous creature needed a home, but alas, my 744 square foot apartment is already bursting at the seams, so it won't be my home. Still, I could admire her and wish she could fit into my life!

I also snagged a couple of lovely used linens, though no woolens. Two of them are definitely NOT vintage, though the pink flowered sheets and yellow flower pillowcases might be. It doesn't matter - I just liked how they all look, and even more because they provided me with yards of fabric for only $14 bucks. I adore the pink one and think she is destined for to become an apron for me. The butterfly pattern will be great for some little girl dresses - now I just need some little girls to sew for!

In addition to the thrifting fun, my stash also grew this weekend when my good friend R, who is off on an around-the-world adventure for the next year (so jealous!) entrusted a huge variety of fabrics to my care and for my use while she is gone. Exciting!

The best treat was a mini-chest of barely-touched Madeira embroidery threads. I know nothing about using them, especially on my not-fancy machine, but the colors are so luscious, I could eat the spools. I might just spend the next year staring at their deliciousness.

All in all, a great fabric weekend!

I'm linking up to:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Strappy goodness!

This weekend, I completed another little project I am quite excited about, just because it is exceedingly practical and was super easy to make!

For my 30th birthday a few years back (ahem, I'm not saying exactly how many) my husband got me a wonderful little point and shoot camera. It had a high # of megapixels, and was quite a camera for the time. In the intervening years, I hauled that camera around the world and took thousands upon thousands of pictures. Honestly, we are probably talking at least 10,000 pictures. I go a bit nutty with the picture taking when I travel. Well, it started to finally die this year (it literally smokes when you use the flash) and I finally decided to take the plunge and get a really nice DSLR with changeable lenses. Talk about a splurge!

I am very happy with the new camera - except for the scratchy strap! Seriously, it is totally uncomfortable and no fun to wear around your neck. I treated myself to a beautiful custom made camera bag from Etsy, but I couldn't bring myself to shell out more money for a $20 custom strap cover. So, I decided to make my own.

After reading some tutorials for different designs (there are a variety online) this is what I would up making from some fat quarters I picked up cheap at Joann's and some fusible fleece! The fabric wasn't quite long enough for the whole length of the strap, but I got around that by sewing smaller pieces together. I really didn't want to break into the 'nice' fabric for this experiment so it was a necessary evil and kept the overall cost down to mere dollars.

This isn't the best picture, but it shows the two fabrics I used:

And, a close up of the original strap, with the cover for comparison:

I think I'll give this another go, in another color combination, later on down the road. I'd also like to add on some pockets for the camera lens since I always seem to be trying to find a place to stash it!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Every Kindle Needs a Cover!

I'm a bibliophile. I love books. I can devour a stack of them - almost literally - in a weekend. I also travel for work quite a bit, and these are long trips - as in 18-hours-on-one-plane long. Even though I am working, I inevitably pack a stack of books for these trips, which is heavy and inconvenient. Enter the Kindle. After a lot of thought, my husband (also a book lover) and I decided to take the plunge. We were both unsure about reading off a Kindle, since we like the tactile component of reading, but it has been a purchase we don't regret. I can't wait to take it on the next work trip.
So what does this have to do with sewing? Considering you spend a good chunk of change for a Kindle, you would think it comes with a protective cover. But... it doesn't, and since I am cheap, I decided to make my own last weekend, using this tutorial for a book-style cover posted at One Pearl Button.

Since I decided to make this first cover for my husband's use, I was looking for a less-girly fabric, and I found it in the unlikeliest of places: my bathroom. I know it sounds crazy, but it really makes sense. Last year, my favorite pair of winter dress pants ripped and were were not repairable. I loved these pants, and so rather than just throw them away like a normal person, they found their way to the bottom of my laundry basket, and never left. Fast forward to last week. I'm brushing my teeth, and spy the back pocket of the pants, which had a great button loop detail and it struck me to use the pants to make the cover.

And that is exactly what I did. I spent a Friday night ripping out seams on the pants (learning a lot about pants construction in the process) to salvage the material.  And I spent a Saturday putting it together. All in all, I am fairly pleased with my first project after a long, long hiatus, though I do have some gripes. First, the material was a bit stretchy, which means the shape of the cover isn't great. This alone would probably be okay, but I also didn't use thick enough cardboard, so overall the cover is floppier than it ought to be.

Even with the gripes, I am pleased. I am especially happy I was able to use the button loop how I'd wanted. I think I might try this same material (and closure) on another version of a Kindle cover sometime soon, though this time around I'm going to choose a version more forgiving of stretchiness. I am also very happy that Bessie and I seemed to get along much better this time around.

Meet Ms. Bessie

This is Bessie, my Singer 5825c sewing machine. I don’t know a lot about her background, as I can’t find much info about this model online, though she appears to have been meant for ‘school use’. I’d like to think that means she was meant ‘to take a licking and keep on ticking’ just like a Timex watch, which might be necessary with me at her helm. My mother-in-law bought her for me sometime between 2001-2003, but I am not sure of her actual manufacture date. Like I said, it’s tough to find information about her, and what little I did find was specifically about the 5825, which is a little bit different (though very similar) to my girl.

I really wanted to sew, but I was terrified and didn’t know what I was doing, so while I played with her a bit when I first got her, she mostly sat in my closet taunting me. Finally, I took a sewing class in October of 2009 at a local fabric shop, making a tote bag and a pair of pajamas for my husband. I was excited to sew, had a tiny bit of confidence after the success in the classroom, and so I got out Bessie and gave it a whirl at home.

It wasn’t pretty. I couldn’t get her to thread correctly, and drama ensued. Broken needles. Bird’s nests of knotted thread. Loud cursing in various languages. Bessie’s manual is awful so it didn’t help much at all. I was convinced she just sucked and wasn’t going to work, and I needed a different machine. You know, like the fabulous Bernina that my sewing class used. The fabulous $8 million Bernina (yes, I'm exaggerating, but it may as well be $8 million right now, since it isn't in the budget!)

Due to a really rough time in my family, the sewing machine got put away for a bit until I was less overwhelmed by life. The turning point was us buying a Kindle. I know, I can see the perplexed looks out there – how could a Kindle motivate my sewing? Easy – I needed a cover for it, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and I wanted something that I liked. So, I decided to break out the sewing machine and make a Kindle cover myself! And, by extension, to give Bessie a proper go again. How could I forsake her, when I barely gave her a chance? How did I know she was the problem in this relationship?

I’ll talk about the Kindle cover in another post, since this is about Bessie. What a difference this time around! Oh, there were certainly some moments where she was *this* close to going out the window, but they were much fewer than before. Threading got much easier, and took fewer tries to get it right. Bessie and I will keep courting, and see what happens. She’s not as fancy as a lot of machines out there - she's only got 5 stitch types and not a computer chip in sight - but she’s mine, and I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt. At least for now.