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11  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Zippered Handbag #2 (VERY Pic Heavy!) on: February 10, 2009 04:37:10 PM
This is essentially the same style bag I posted about here, except it's a bit larger and obviously I used different fabric! I'm calling this one Prototype II.

I used the softest, most real looking imitation leather I've ever seen. It feels like a bag you would buy at the store. Too bad I only bought a remnant, now I must hunt for more! It's a great color too, not sure if the pictures come across accurately but it's a really nice chocolately brown color. I accented it with apple green cotton duck and antique bronze hardware. Here's a shot with the flash. It's not shiny fabric but it's still very hard to photograph! Especially at night with a crappy camera.

Close up of some of the detail. I used green topstitching to match the green duck cloth. I LOVE it!

This bag is zippered just like the other. I used a heavy jacket zipper. I love how the bottom is square and deep but the top is pulled flat because of the zipper.

The lining is Amy Butler's Wallflower in Green. The light green parts match the other green accents perfectly. I love surprise linings. Smiley

Just a size reference. You have no idea how hard it was to get this picture! Sorry about the yuckiness of my bathroom mirror.

And finally to show the size in comparison to the original bag.

Old bag measurements: 15" wide at top, 12" wide at bottom, 4" deep, 10" high
New bag measurements: 18" wide at top, 15" wide at bottom, 4" deep, 12.5" high

Also this one is a bit slouchier than the other one because I was afraid to use fusible fleece on the vinyl. The less ironing on it the better. It's thick fabric but still kind of floppy. I think I like it this way though.

What do you think? Is it better than the original?
12  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Zippered Handbag - inspired by a Coach purse on: February 08, 2009 06:54:56 PM
While at the Coach store yesterday I saw this purse and I really liked the shape so I decided to make a similar bag. The fabric is Red/Orange Calliope by Jessica Jones. I love this pattern! I accented it with a matching pink canvas on the straps, the label and the bottom.

My measurements are a bit different and I couldn't figure out how to get a pocket on the outside that looked good. Unfortunately I had already made a little mark for the center (in pen of course) so I put my label on a rectangle of the pink fabric to cover it up. I think I'll use this on all my bags now! The bottom is flat which I like, I sewed on a panel of the pink canvas reinforced with very stiff interfacing.

I don't usually make zippered handbags but I thought it might be a good thing to try and now I love it! I used this bag today and I didn't have to worry about my stuff falling out when I threw it in the backseat. I will definitely make more zippered bags, and I've already started cutting out fabric for another one of this style.

The lining is Purple Stars by Prints Charming. This is seriously the softest cotton I've ever used. I was so sad to cut into the fabric but when I look at the finished bag I'm happy I did! Inside there is a zippered pocket and also a slide pocket for my keys since I like to just toss those in.

For some reason the photos are looking really pixely on my screen, so hopefully I can get some better ones! **Edit: new photos are up!

I'd love to hear your comments! Thanks for looking.  Grin
13  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Crafty Business Discussion / At what point does a giveaway hurt you? on: January 29, 2009 01:06:39 PM
I'm sure a lot of people are experiencing slower sales right now, but I have slower sales and no craft shows lined up until March so I'm doing a promotion to try to make up for that. One point that my boyfriend brought up is that if I'm giving away so much, won't it just hurt me in the end? He made a point that I'd have to sell X number of bags just to make back my profits from giving away one. My argument was that it increases awareness of my items and encourages people to come back, but he seemed to think I was giving away too much. Here are the specifics of the promotion - what are your thoughts?

"Book a "Design Your Own" Purse Party with london purple for you and at least 5 of your friends for any
weekend in March and receive your first purchase FREE! Plus, sell over $500 worth of merchandise
(excl. sales tax) and you get your next bag half off, and every guest gets a free zipper pouch and a
10% off coupon good for any purchase in my etsy shop. And there's more! If a guest books their own
party that day, both of you receive a bag half off. Book now before all the spaces are filled!"

My bags tend to run between $30-$50 (I won't be giving away the really expensive ones) and I have a feeling the one most people will pick is my $34 bag. Is this too much? With 6 people I'm not even sure sales would reach $500, but you can't make it too easy right? Plus the promotions encourage people to buy more later, like a coupon and booking another party.

Also I was thinking about adding something so I wouldn't have to wait so long for sales, like if you book your party for a weekend in February get all of this plus everyone gets an additional 10% off [a particular bag of my choosing]. What do you think?
14  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Westminster Pleated Handbag - my newest style! **now with new pics!** on: January 27, 2009 06:05:40 PM
This design is my newest handbag style. It's based my design called the Westminster Tote, which is basically a largeish pleated tote that's reversible. I wanted the same look in a more structured bag so this is what I came up with!

I love this Jessica Jones fabric! It's a very nice weight canvas so it holds the pleats well, and the pink canvas matches perfectly. I cinched the sides with button tabs so the bag isn't floppy and open, and it also closes with a magnetic snap. The inside is lined with a matching orange cotton, and there's a zipper pocket inside as well. Both sides have the pleats but I'm considering just doing those on one side, and having the back just plain canvas. What do you think?

I made another one just like it with black canvas and some curtain canvas from Ikea. I actually turned it the opposite way though and I like how the squares go vertical now. On the inside is Sandi Henderson's Petal Party in green, and there's a zipper pocket in this one too. Somehow it ended up an inch taller and an inch narrower than the pink one, but I used the same pattern pieces!

And here is my original Westminster Tote that it's based off of. I actually used the same pattern pieces except I shortened and flattened the bottom, and added the gussets to make it deeper. The handbag is not reversible like this one unfortunately.

Sorry for the really horrible photos. My camera is really bad with light. I can post new ones after my photographer takes some nicer shots! **New photos have been added (it's really obvious which ones...)**

So what do you think of my design? Smiley I love to read your comments!
15  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Hanging Mail Holder *NOW WITH TUTORIAL LINK!* on: January 26, 2009 06:51:45 PM
I came up with this because I needed a place to put my custom order forms in my sewing room. After I finished I decided it would also be great for holding mail so I made another one to go in the kitchen, since we always just pile the mail on the island and it drives me nuts!

This is the one in the kitchen. The front, back, and pockets are made of linen and the inside of the pockets/binding are chocolate brown cotton with big white polka dots. I'm actually really sad about the binding, in some places it's just plain because the dots are so big. I was going to use a different fabric but after much debate, the boyfriend and I decided it was actually black and this was all I had that was brown. I'm worried it looks bad.

A closer view of the pockets.

This is the one in my sewing room, the original! I wanted something with several pockets so I could separate new orders, in progress, and completed but not delivered. Since I don't really have a lot of free surfaces in my sewing room, especially near my cutting table, I decided it should be a hanging organizer and this idea popped in my head!

This organizer is also linen and the accent fabric is Amy Butler's Wallflower in Mustard.

Now I need some advice! I'd like to put labels on each pocket with our names or whatever category it is, but I'm not sure how to do it. My sister suggested whatever I make, I could attach it with safety pins instead of sewing so that they can be changed out so I think I will do that. I could use printable fabric, iron on, or I could also stamp on fabric or a ribbon. How do you think I should write our names and what medium should they be printed on?

Thanks for looking! I'd love to read your comments!  Smiley

EDIT: Due to the massive amount of photos, I've posted the tutorial on my blog instead of here on Craftster. Check it out!

EDIT: The photo of the pattern for the pockets isn't exactly clear. To clarify the measurements:

bottom piece: bottom - 5.5", straight vertical side - 5", angled vertical side - 5.5", top - 8"
top piece: bottom - 8", straight vertical side - 1 1/4", angled vertical side - 1.5", top - 8 1/4"

Also I didn't mention, but this is just half the pocket. Trace pattern with the flat side on the fold of the fabric.
16  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Wine Bottle tote in Jessica Jones fabric! on: January 22, 2009 06:55:22 PM
I threw this together about half an hour before my mom's birthday dinner as part of my gift to her. And it only took 15 minutes! Let's just say she's a big fan of wine and also this fabric so the gift was a big hit.  Smiley

The fabric is by designer Jessica Jones. It's called "Fireworks" and it's from her Amusement Park Collection. I love it so much! I've used it on bags and it's such an eyecatching print. My mom loves it because it's so summery.

This was the only bottle I had in the house. I made the bag a lot bigger because I wanted it to be able to accomodate those giant bottles of white zinfandel...you know the one! I think it's Sutter Home. Her favorite  Grin.

And this was the birthday card that inspired the bag! I got this at Bazaar Bizarre last month. In case you can't read it says "I have created an anti-age potion for your birthday. Bottoms Up." I just had to have it because I'm a chemical engineer so I thought it would be funny to give to someone. And as I was looking at it to decide if it would be appropriate to give to my mom, I thought "Hmm, well it would need to have some sort of potion with it to make sense...duh!"

I whipped up the bag so fast because I just used my serger to construct it all, so there's no lining. It's still very strong though even if it's a bit flimsy. And the straps are just webbing so nothing to make there either. All in all a quick and well received project!
17  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / More patchwork coasters in pink and yellow! on: January 22, 2009 06:43:15 PM
I made some green coasters awhile back posted here out of the scraps in my green bin. So last weekend I raided my pinks/reds and my oranges/yellows bins to make more coasters!

At least the green ones have a place on my coffee table since my living room is green/brown/white. I don't really need six coasters anyways. The others will probably be donated to coaster-less friends and family.

I hope to make lots more so I can get practice at making my patchwork even. As you can see the squares don't always line up...I tried to make my seams as straight as possible! I guess it doesn't matter how straight your seams are if the square isn't cut straight. The pink is particularly bad because one strip ended up really short somehow and it threw everything else off. Eventually I'd like to put these in my shop or at least have some as the "cheap" item on my table at craft fairs.

If anyone has patchwork tips please share! I'd appreciate any advice. Smiley
18  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Anyone have the Singer 7463 Confidence? on: January 20, 2009 09:56:05 AM
I just bought this machine last night. I haven't attempted to use it yet, so I'm just wondering if anyone has discovered if it has any little quirks or major problems before I open it up so I can return it! The reviews on joann.com were awesome so I'm confident, but maybe the complainers just found other sources to vent their frustrations? The reviews I read for the other machines I was looking at were horrible though and it doesn't seem like this machine has the same issues.

Really I only bought it so I can have a spare machine that has one-step buttonhole capability. My sister will use it occasionally to help me out when I get busy (I have an etsy shop where I sell handmade bags and purses), so I would prefer for it to be able to handle multiple layers of canvas but I still have my main machine so it wasn't necessary. I wanted to spend $200 at the most so this was not on my list due to the price. When I told the saleslady which ones I was looking at she literally laughed in my face! I was told that this machine was the lowest you could go that would sew the thick material I use. I was hesitant until she demonstrated (it looks awesome!) and told me it was on sale. Since it fell within my price range I figured why not go for the better machine that's the same price?

So...anyone have problems with it yet? All tips and tricks are appreciated!  Grin
19  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Pretty Patchwork Coasters on: January 11, 2009 05:36:17 AM
Sometimes I feel super motivated to do patchwork and quilts even though I'm horrible at it. I also wanted to get rid of some of my scraps, and so these coasters were born!

It's the perfect project! I can use those teeny tiny scraps that you save even though there can't possibly be a use for them because the squares are only 1.5" x 1.5". Plus there's not too much patchwork involved. And it's such a small project if I screw it up nobody notices!

These scraps are left over from all sorts of projects so I was happy to reuse them. I have four different bins of scraps sorted by color and I noticed my pinks/reds bin is getting quite full so I may be making some more! I chose green because it matches my living room, there's just plain brown cotton on the reverse and there's also a layer of insul-bright. I don't think it will really help keep our drinks cold but it was the right thickness.

Please let me know what you think!  Smiley
20  COOKING / Dessert / Ammonia Cookies - don't worry they're completely safe! on: January 09, 2009 03:04:14 PM
Awhile ago I posted this topic asking if anyone knew where to find baker's ammonia. I wanted to make some cookies that (in my family) are a tradition to eat around the holidays. Here are some photos! Recipe and more about baker's ammonia below.

See how thick they are! Sooooo good.

This is all that's left...well not anymore. They were consumed immediately after the photo session.

They're not as soft as normal cookies, the ammonia makes them a bit crisper. They're not as crisp as a cracker though, they're definitely still cookies. If you look inside it's almost like there are layers.

Well I was able to find the right ingredient at a local Greek grocery store so I got cooking right away! The recipe is:

3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 pt milk
1 oz baker's ammonia
1 cup shortening
small bottle oil of lemon
pinch of salt
enough flour for stiff dough (5 lb)

Roll out thin. Bake at 350 degrees until brown.

This makes about 10 or 12 dozen cookies! The jar of baker's ammonia was only 0.75 oz but the cookies came out exactly how I remembered them. I sent my sister to pick up the ingredient but didn't tell her how much to get. For the lemon oil, I used lemon extract and I poured in just over half the bottle. And I used not quite 5 lb of flour - but almost! These cookies actually destroyed my brand new hand mixer after adding only half the flour, so be prepared to mix it up by hand. I will be phoning Hamilton Beach about this...

And here is the ammonia I was able to find! I know the cookies sound dangerous but they're not! The substance is actually ammonium carbonate and they are not poisonous, the ammonia gas bakes off as the cookies rise. If you open the oven before the cookies are ready you'll get a strong whiff. We alternated between batches of ammonia cookies and regular cookies so the smell didn't get too bad! I wouldn't eat the dough though.

My whole family loves these cookies but my boyfriend did not. They have a subtle lemon flavor, and they're definitely not sweet like most cookies...this makes it a lot easier to eat a whole bunch of them though! If someone does take on this recipe, be prepared for many hours of rolling out dough! You could always cut it in half too.

If anyone makes these I'd really like to know what you think!  Smiley
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