Sunday, July 24, 2011

When crafts transcends all languages

On my recent trip to Penang for work, I came across this Japanese book on bags.

In the last two years or so since I started making bags, I have been buying quite a number of Japanese craft books, but I have yet to make anything from any of the books. I always end up getting intimidated by the Japanese instructions. I still am, but, for some reason, when I bought this book, I saw something I really like and want to give it a try.

I forced myself to get over feeling intimidated, and try to figure things out from the photos instead. That's one thing good about Japanese book - they come with good photo instructions, and our crafts transcends all languages.

I took about 2 days to figure out the instructions and on the 3rd day, I started tracing out the templates.

I had another problem though. Not being able to understand Japanese, I could not figure out the instructions printed on the templates. I couldn't make out the dimensions where dimensions are written and not drawn.

That's when I had to get creative and luckily, with the basic knowledge on bag making that I have, I made some educated guess and with some adjustments along the way, this lime green and orange bag was born.

I think I shall call it the Box Pleated Bag.

The original design calls for the handles to be made of 1 1/2 in tape sewn in the way I would always attach handles to the totes I make.

But when I had a visit from Sally last week, I had asked her to bring along some of her lovely bag handles. I wanted to get a brown one for another bag that I was in the midst of making.

But when I saw this lovely lime green bag handle, I knew it would be perfect for the Box Pleated Bag that I was going to do.

I think I was right in choosing this handle. It gave the bag some class.

The bag is quite small actually, measuring only 11 inches wide at its broadest, 9 1/2 inches high and 3 1/2 inches at its side, but it could comfortably fit in Sam, my Samsung Galaxy Tab, with still plenty of room for my purse and make-up pouch.

The side pockets are perfect for my two handphones!

I also added an internal  pocket which was not part of the original design.

I had also omitted the buttons as I could not find a button in my stash that would go with the bag.

I did not want to wait till I could get to Kelvin to get some buttons as I want to try to finish the bag when I still have some free time.

Besides the language barrier in trying to understand the instructions in making the bag, my only other problem was that of thickness or bulkiness due to the layering when doing the box pleats because the fabrics had already been ironed with interfacing.

If ever I make this bag again, I think I will make the pleats first, only then will I iron on the interfacing so that I won't end up with bulk at the seams.

Overall, I enjoyed making this bag, and might even consider taking orders to make a few more! *wink*

I have another bag I am making from the same book that I got the pattern for this bag, and again, I had to make some adjustments and some educated guess to try to figure out the instructions. That bag is also nearing completion. I just have the accessories to add.

I will post photos of that bag too when it is fully completed. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sewing Area Makeover

This is another long overdue posting. OK, so what else is new, right? Heheheh..*wink*

My cousin, Idah, reminded me that I have yet to post about the makeover of my sewing area. I posted on Facebook more than a month ago that I went out shopping at IKEA to get my sewing area reorganised. My Father-in-law calls our house, or, rather the corner of the house where I do my sewing, a tailor’s house or corner.

Hmmm.....I’d rather it be called a creative and design area, as that is where my creativity comes to life! LOL! *wink*

Anyway, I must agree that the area is starting to get a little bit (ONLY a little? LOL!) disorganised. I have my sewing things almost everywhere, and the dining table no longer looks like a dining table. My hubby always jokingly says to anyone who comes to our house, “I don’t know where the dining room is anymore in the house since I can’t seem to find the dining table.” LOL!

OK! OK! I get it! I have to get things organised. I heard you, Dia! *grin*

So, on one of the Saturdays in June this year, I got started on organising the area.

First, I went to IKEA and got myself two black table tops with red legs. I had initially wanted to get the solid beech wood table top which I had bought before which I had put in my craft room upstairs. But, this time, I thought that, since the tables are going to be placed in the “almost gone” dining area, I wanted it to be a little bit more presentable and they are to match the existing decor of the house, which is a mix of red, black and white, with peach walls.

However, I had failed to notice that the black table tops are made of only particle boards whereas the beech wood table tops are made of solid wood.

It took less than an hour after putting it up and placing my two heavy sewing machines on it when I realised that the table top had started to warp. I felt like kicking myself for not seeing this. Now what do I do?

I am worried that before long, my very precious machines might come crashing down under its own weight. Shudders!

I could pack the tables up and return them in exchange for the beech wood table top like what I should have done in the first place. But, it wasn’t going to be that easy. It was quite a task already getting them home in the first place, the table top being very long. I could barely fit the long table top into my cute Kembara, and having to drive ever so slowly as my vision was partly blocked due to the length of the table blocking part of my vision of the side mirror. I am not about to go through that again. I had to do some quick thinking so as not to further exert more pressure onto the table top.

Luckily at the same time that I bought the table top, I had also bought a set of wire baskets with large drawers. The height was just nice and would fit in nicely under the table top, acting like a second leg or support, which would help to take in some of the weight of the machine and distribute it evenly across the table top, and I did exactly that.

Hubby suggested that I monitor any further warping of the table by drawing a line on the wall to see if the table top goes below that line.

It’s coming to 2 months already since I organised the sewing area and had the table top assembled, and so far, the warping of the table top has somewhat stopped! Phew! I hope it will last for as long as possible.

So, here’s the before and after photos to give you an idea of my sewing area makeover...

BEFORE: Gosh! What a mess! No wonder hubby said he could not find the dining table! LOL!

AFTER: Looks so much better, right? *wink* Not the best, but still better than before....

I think I should think about sewing a skirting or something so that I can hide everything that's under the table. What do you think?

BEFORE: Now you see it.....

AFTER: Now you don't!

BEFORE: Here's a quiz. Can you find the dining table?

AFTER: Tada! Here's the dining table, and I even have flowers on it, though I think I need a new vase of flowers. This one's wilting already, and they are artificial! *grin*

Here is a close-up of the sewing machines neatly lined-up next to each other. I can have Em embroidering while I work on the other machine without having to move much.

There is also a corner for my embroidery threads and anything else to do with machine embroidery.

Yesterday, 16th June, I went out to IKEA and got myself this red swivel chair so that I can sit and adjust the height just nice so that I won't end up having a backache when I do lots of sewing.

Here's a close-up of my work and cutting area. I am in the midst of doing a new bag.

What do you think? Not bad, huh?

It still needs more organising, but it's a start. Or, shall we start looking for a bigger house? *wink*

I just hope that it will stay neat and organised for as long as possible. I have returned the dining table to its original usage as it was meant to be. *grin* But, to have a large meal at the dining room would still be a tight squeeze, but it is still better than what it used to be. *grin*

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let’s do yoga!

This is another overdue posting, but I want to put it up anyway because I want to share with friends here who are into yoga or my crafting friends, a mat bag I made for my cousin, Ima, sometime early this year. Yup! EARLY this year! To be exact, in early March 2011. That long ago! LOL!

My cousin Ima had asked me if I would make a yoga mat bag for her to replace the one she bought a long time ago but was no longer big enough to carry around her yoga mat. She had innovatively expanded the bag to suit the size of her yoga mat by adding some length of stretchable band, but, over time, the band was getting out of shape.

I was more than happy to make the mat bag for her. It gave me the opportunity to try out something I have never done before.

Using her old mat bag as a basis to make a template for the new bag but almost twice the size, I worked on it over 3 weekends. Ima had chosen the fabric from the stash of fabric I already have in stock.

I must say that I am quite pleased with the results though I must say that it was quite a challenge to make the pockets for the bag as Ima wanted it to be roomy enough to put in her car keys whenever she carries the bag to go for her yoga classes. I can’t quite explain how the pocket is and I also forgot to snap a photo of the said pocket. *sigh*

Maybe Ima can do it for me, pretty please?

I also had to make the flap long enough to be able to securely hold the yoga mat in place so that it will not slip.

What do you all think? Nice? *wink*

All in all, it was an interesting project and that I wouldn’t mind doing it again should anyone else be interested to order one. *grin*

Thanks, Ima, for modelling it for me.

Gosh! Must go look for the notes I made when I was constructing the bag! LOL!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Birthday Gift from Carla!

This is a post long overdue. In fact way way long overdue! Carla must think I am not appreciative for her gift to me for not blogging about it. But, the truth is, I have been exceptionally busy these last few months. I have loads of work, and I have been travelling more often than usual. In fact, I have been travelling weekly, when before this, I only travel every 2 weeks.

This coming week will probably be one of those few weeks that I will actually be in the office, or, rather, I am not outstation. I am hardly in the office even if I am not outstation as I can sometimes be chairing project meetings back to back.

A driver asked me the other day how do I remember everything about each and every project that I manage as he is usually the one that takes me from meetings to meetings. I currently have about 30 odd number of projects to handle.

Now, I can’t be telling my ‘trade secret’, can I, when I know I have a few readers of my blogs here who are people I know from work. *wink*

Anyway, back to the current matter in hand, this year, once again, I participated in the Birthday Exchange at NNC and for this time around, my partner is Carla from the United States. Her birthday isn’t until November though I am about ¾ done already on her present. I don’t want to suddenly end up rushing to do her present like what happened last year when I had Diane as my partner. I kept it to almost the very end before finally deciding on what I wanted to do.

At the end of the day, I ended up sending Diane’s present 2 weeks late. *blush* Headmistress Margaret wasn’t too pleased. *head held low in shame*

I can’t show what I did for Carla until after she receives it in November, but, in the mean time, here is what I got from her.....

I got from Carla a box of variegated silk ribbons in 2 lengths of different width, a bag handle in black and white and a pink pincushion with my name stitched on it.

Here’s a closer look of the very sweet pincushion.

I don’t know what bag would suit the handle just yet. It is so lovely; I think I might just keep it in its packaging so that I can keep on admiring it. *grin*

Thanks, Carla, for all the lovely things. Sorry it took me so long before I blogged about it. Do know though that I did not forget, but time was simply not on my side. Thanks again and hugs!