Me-Made-May 2017

5-28 Striped Oslo
Sewn in and worn in May 2017!  Customized Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork.

It is June!  Which means that Me-Made-May has come to a close.  For those who don’t know, Me-Made-May is a month long event where sewists from around the WORLD pledge to wear their handmade clothes regularly all month long!  Most wear them every day of the month.  If you follow me on Instagram you already know that I participated in Me-Made-May (For the first time!) this year.  Now that the month is complete, I thought it would be interesting to do a recap of all the outfits I documented (some of them never before posted) and share my thoughts on the experience.  I did not pledge to wear me-mades everyday since I work from home and there are many days I don’t leave the house.  Honestly, though, even most of those days I did end up wearing me-made either as lounge wear or pajamas (or both) but I did not take photos.  May was, however, an unusually busy month for me, between birthday celebrations, family visiting from out of town, and my husband being home for a staycation for the last few days of the month, and I ended up being out and about way more than usual which gave me a lot of opportunities to dress in handmade.  We had quite cool weather for a good part of the month which really stretched my options.  In fact, if I had planned better I would never even have repeated an outfit!  (more on that later).  For sharing purposes I am posting my documented outfits by week (Sunday thru Saturday), with a list of the garments I wore.  Most if not all of my garments have been altered from the pattern at least a little (it is rare that I make a straight size of anything) and in some cases A LOT.  This post will get WAY too long if I share all my modifications but if you see a garment you like and want to know how much I altered it I encourage you to leave a question in the comments and I will be happy to share details!

Ok… On to the good stuff!

WEEK 1:

MMMAY17 Week 1 with Number

1. May 6:  Out and About Dress by Sew Caroline in Buttercup Drops by Amy Sinibaldi, an AGF knit I got for my birthday!

This was my only repeat during the month and if I had planned better I would not have had to repeat at all.  I wore this dress to sing for a First Communion.  In hindsight, I wish I picked a different handmade dress since it was my sister who gave me this fabric and she came to visit from out of town later in May so I wore it again when she was here. Not a big loss though since, thanks to my modifications, this dress fits me super well and is super comfortable.  And I was able to get a much better picture when I wore it the second time (it was raining this day).

WEEK 2:

MMMAY17 Week 2 with Numbers

 

2. May 7:  Jasper Sweater by Paprika Patterns in this awesome Ivory Heather Fabric.

3. May 9: Flower Stripe Top and self-drafted mini-cowl.

4. May 13: Cowl neck Renfrew Top by Sewaholic Patterns in Heather Pepper Jersey from the RK Laguna line which I LOVE.

WEEK 3:

MMMAY17 Week 3 with Numbers

5. May 14:  Bento Tee by Liesl & Co. in a Brushed Knit Blend from Cali Fabrics. Worn with a self drafted mini-cowl using my own fabric design:  Party Triangles printed on modern jersey fabric by Spoonflower.

6. May 18:  Lark Tee by Grainline Studio paired with a RTW Blouse.  Obvious selfie photos.  For the right photo, I was trying to show the armpit fit as I would like to have that portion fit a little closer.  This is my first Lark and I think I will size down on top for the next one.  I actually purchased this pattern via Sprout Patterns printed with one of my fabric designs and I couldn’t grade between sizes like I normally would.  So I sewed up a sample of the straight 8 to test the fit.  I think I can grade the top smaller, even on the pre-printed fabric so I will try another practice one like that.

7. May 19:  Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork in this awesome Chocolate Heather Jersey from Cali Fabrics.  This fabric almost looks like wool and has a lovely drape!  Worn with an infinity scarf made from the same fabric.

8. May 20:  Another Out and About Dress, peplum top version.  This was actually my wearable muslin for the dress.  I made some bodice changes for the dress version, but as top I kind of like this fit!

May 20th was actually a family outing day to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and we were a handmade wearing FAMILY that day.  My mom, sister, husband and I all wore handmade!

5-20 Group Me-mades edited
From Left to Right:  My mom wearing a Lane Raglan sewn by my sister.  My sister wearing an Akita top and Oslo Cardigan that she made herself.  My husband wearing a Paxson shirt that I made for him.  And then of course me!

WEEK 4:

MMMAY17 Week 4 with Numbers

9. May 21:  Repeat Outfit!  Out and About dress.  I actually wore 2 different outfits out in the world this day.  The second included the Primrose Peplum but I never got a photo of it.

10. May 22:  Lane Raglan by Hey June Patterns in Shore Remains by Pat Bravo, another AGF knit.  I quite liked my whole outfit that day!  Everything else is RTW.  I did wear this top on April 30 and shared it as a PRE Me-Made-May since I knew I wouldn’t officially start until well into the month, but since it was April when I wore it, it is not technically a repeat!

11. May 26:  Another Lane Raglan.  I call this one my Sunset Stripe Lane.  I think the neckband on this one is a tad too big but there is no way I am redoing it since the body fabric is too thin to risk the unpicking.  This was made very early on in my handmade wardrobe endeavors.  Paired here under a RTW knit blazer I love.  You can see a full look at the top here.

Wanted to share one other photo from this week.  It is of my sister and I BOTH wearing Out and About dresses!  We are long-distance sewing buddies so it was really fun to have her in town and get to see each other’s makes in person!  Her version is her wearable muslin.

May 21 Sisters in Out and About Dresses
Sisters in Out and About dresses!

WEEK 5:

MMMAY17 Week 5 with Numbers

12. May 28:  Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork.  My newly finished second one, that is heavily modified to achieve a better fit compared to the first.

13. May 30: Another Renfrew Top by Sewaholic, this time short sleeved with a scoop neck.  Paired with one of my favorite RTW summer cardigans.

14. May 31:  Renfrew Top, again, in another AGF knit.  This design is Plumage by Bonnie Christine.  No longer available where I purchased it (On sale!), but you can find it here.

Wow!  14 documented days!  I hope all this info is useful to someone 🙂  If you want to read a little bit more about the days activities, more garment details, etc. I often shared more those on my Instagram posts.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

  • Overall, Me-Made-May was a lot of fun!
  • The photos became a little tedious.  I know that sharing photos isn’t really required to participate.  It is ultimately about the wearing and not the social media sharing. But, seeing everyone’s photos throughout the month is so much fun and, at least for me, I like that part of it.
  • I did not share any bottoms!  This does not mean I do not sew them.  It has not been hot enough for me to wear skirts with bare legs yet.  I do have 2 pairs of PJ bottoms I wear regularly but the fit on both is pretty bad (I need to find a new pattern because my current “freebie” one is not very good) so they won’t be shared.  So a definite goal is to have some real pants made for next May!  (Plus I really NEED new long pants too).
  • I did feel a little extra pressure to plan outfits, which did take away from some of the fun. I love my handmade wardrobe and don’t need an event like this to motivate me to wear my me-mades.  I WANT to wear them.  Me-Made-May took away a little of my spontaneity since I was thinking ahead of what I could wear so as not to repeat, etc.
  • Even though my handmade wardrobe is still in the “toddlers” phase of its existence, the small quantity of clothes I have are VERY wearable.  I am happy to report that I have not fallen into the newbie trap of make clothes I won’t wear much.  Although, that also means that I have a lot of basics, which might seem a little boring.

I guess that’s it!  I hope you made it to the end of this LONG post and are still reading to see this!  If you aren’t a sewist, I hope that maybe this post inspired you to consider jumping into the world of handmade clothes! And if you want to learn more about Me-Made-May, Spoonflower had a lovely blog post interviewing the gal who created it!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: A-F

Hey art fans!  Bringing you a little recap today of the progress for the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge I started at the beginning of the year.  If you missed the original post you can find it here.  We have now made it through the first six letters:  A-F!  (And are currently in the midst of the two week time frame for the letter G).  Here is a look at the first 6 animals I chose to create:

Alphabet Animals A thru F by Brenda Zapotosky

So far I am very happy that I embarked on this journey.  I have really stretched myself with some of these characters.  It is forcing me to step outside the box. Here are some thoughts as I reflect on the challenge to this point:

  • Looking back on the first six characters you might notice that the armadillo looks a little different than the rest.  I decided after I created him that I wanted to try for a more “cute” look to my characters and to be a little more playful with them.  I think this has been achieved!
  • I have no idea why I chose bats for the letter B.  It seems a weird choice to me now, although I did have fun creating their “looks”.
  • I thought the deer would be the most difficult for me but in the end it was actually the elephant that caused me the most trouble.  She is actually my favorite so far though, so completely worth the effort!
FIXED E is for Elephant by Brenda Zapotosky
Eleanora the Elephant

Overall, I think I am starting to have a nice collection of characters to add to my portfolio and future projects!  Ideas for incorporating them into seamless patterns are already running through my mind.

I am especially excited about how many others have joined in the fun!  I absolutely LOVE seeing them pop up in the #alphabetanimalart2017 tag on instagram.  Such a wonderful collection of creativity in a wide array of styles!   Here is a look at some of the stand-out designs that were posted for the letters A-F:

I’ll start with the letter A.  And first up is an alligator by Noa of worldofpineapple.  I love the bold colors she chose for her illustration and the clever way she made her letter “A” match her animal.

Print

Guncha from gunchakumar chose an Ant for her letter A.  I love how she decided to have him pose with the letter itself!  (Looks like the A is barely staying put!)

Ant by Guncha small

Next is the Letter B and for this one I have 2 different beavers to share!

Tina from tinatidesign created this adorable beaver!  I love his over-sized teeth:  Perfect for gnawing down the toughest of wood (or carving a pencil-like log!)

Beaver by Tina Ti small

Nehal Desai of designedbynehal also created an adorable beaver. He looks so innocent holding that little branch!  Love her color choices and the tones and subtle textures she achieved.

Beaver by Nehal Desai small

Onto the letter C!  Stacey of peppypattern created a happy crab!  I am a big fan of hatching and fills and I love how she creatively combined them with subtle color variations on its legs.

Crab by peppypattern small

For the letter D we not only have a dog, but it is a dachshund!  (Double letter D) This stunning illustration was created by Jill of jillbyersdesign.  She has placed each of her animals in a lovely scene.  I absolutely love the old German town setting she chose for her dachshund (and his matching lederhosen)!

Dog by Jill Byers small

Last but not least is Brooke from the busybdesignstudio.  Brooke is one of my “real world” friends and we met through the world of architecture (Me, buildings, Brooke, landscape).  I have loved seeing Brooke’s animals for this challenge and discovering a whole other artistic style she has! My favorite of her posts so far is this lovely elephant she has named Esme.  The flower crown she gave her is the perfect delicate touch of feminine.

Elephant by Brooke Slater small

You might notice I have not included any outside artist’s work for the letter F.  Sadly, enthusiasm for the challenge has dwindled as the weeks have progressed and there was not a really another F candidate from an artist not already shown here. (I made the decision to only chose one work by each artist).  I really hope that after this post there will be a renewed enthusiasm for the challenge because as I said earlier I have really loved seeing what others have created!  And if you are new to the challenge (or perhaps got a little lasped in your posts) feel free to jump right in at any letter!  We are currently on the letter G!

I hope you have enjoyed this recap and all the animal creations both here and on instagram!  Excited what comes in the next batch of letters!

Happy creating!

Brenda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fabric Design Tale

This post is a tale of sorts, of two whimsical designs that began as hand drawings and were transformed into fabric.  An appropriate title could have been: From Pen and Ink Hand Drawings to Seamless Patterns to Printed Fabric to Sewing Creations. But that is a lot of words. Hence:  A Fabric Design Tale 🙂

If you read my previous post then you already know that for Christmas 2016 I made my youngest niece and nephew each a raglan tee using my fabric designs.  Both began as hand drawings and so I thought it would be fun to share the process (since it was different for both) in how I transformed those into the fabric and ultimately a finished sewing project.

Fantasy Fish

fantasy-fish-promo-pattern-by-brenda-zapotosky

For my nephew I chose my Fantasy Fish pattern.  I originally created this design for the Great Barrier Reef themed contest on Spoonflower.  This was still in the beginning stages of my learning Adobe Illustrator and creating patterns. For this pattern I wanted to have all the elements inter-connected and I wasn’t yet sure how to do that in AI, so I stuck with Photoshop to create the entire pattern.  To do this I began by drawing a base design by hand, scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and then using the offset function split the design apart.  I then printed the split apart design and drew in more elements to start to fill the space.  I had to do this several times before I had the entire piece filled in and the full pattern tile created.  Below you can see some of the stages of the pattern.

fantasy-fish-pattern-progression-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

I chose to have the design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex Jersey since I would be pairing it with Cotton Spandex Solids purchased elsewhere and I wanted the fabric types to be as close as possible.

fantasy-fish-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

I love how it looks printed out!

Butterfly Party (Midnight)

butterfly-party-midnight-by-brenda-zapotosky-promo

For my niece, I chose the Butterfly Party design, Midnight color version from my Flutter Collection.  I created this design from a doodle I drew in one of my doodle sketchbooks long before I ever started created surface patterns.

butterfly-doodle-by-brenda-zapotosky

Since I never intended this drawing to be a seamless pattern when I created it, I decided to use the elements as components in a new design instead of converting the original composition to be seamless.  For this design, I used the auto-trace function in Adobe Illustrator to render the elements as vector.  From there I did A LOT of clean-up, modifications and redrawing.  In fact sometimes I do so much editing of a traced design that I wonder if it wouldn’t be faster to just redraw all the elements manually.  I do like, however, how auto trace gives a bit more of the hand-drawn feeling and for this print I think it really works.  While I love the black infill with the butterfly silhouettes and polka-dots on the original doodle, I thought it was too busy for the pattern version so I decided to eliminate it.  Instead I used some of the little butterflies to create a coordinating pattern.

delicate-delights-four-colors-small-by-brenda-zapotosky
Delicate Delights design in 4 different colorways.

You can find these little butterflies and many other coordinating prints in the Flutter Collection on Spoonflower.  And here is a look of the fabric (also printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey):

 

butterfly-party-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

 

Raglan Tees

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-2

I used the same pattern for both tees, the Raglan Sweatshirt 015 from Brindle and Twig. Since the kids are so close in age, I was able to use the same size for both of them!  For each shirt I was able to fit the body pieces on one fat quarter of the Spoonflower fabric and used solid fabric leftover from other projects for all the rest of the pieces.  (Huge perk of sewing for littles!!!)  I chose black for the fishes since there is already black in the design and I love how it makes the colors really pop.  For the butterflies I used this aqua I had in my stash that I was happy to see matched so well!  I was a bit concerned about the arms being lighter than the body (I guess when I think of raglans I usually think the darker color as the arms and bands) but I think it adds a lovely brightness!

butterfly-party-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

fantasy-fish-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

For the most part I thought this was a good pattern.  I was surprised at the size of all the bands, which seemed a little small in diameter to me.  I change almost all of them to be a little bit bigger after I sewed the first one (I THINK the neckband on the butterfly shirt is the only place where the band is cut to the pattern size).  I would definitely keep this change in the future.  It made it easier to sew and was still not too big. I made the butterfly raglan first so the tweaks on the fish one reflect what I learned from the first.  My only other complaint is with the pdf assembly.  I found that the aligning box on the pdfs to be a bit confusing.  Perhaps it would not be to someone else, but I thought I would mention it.  I will say that Melissa from Brindle and Twig was very kind and receptive to my feedback when I emailed her, which is huge bonus points in her favor!!!  Customer service and communication goes a long way in my book. I also like the very large size range that comes with the pattern.  I could make these for several more years before the kids will be too big for the pattern.

So there you have it!  A look at the progression of a design from the very beginings to a final finished project!  I’ll end with a couple of detail close-ups.

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-details

And as always,

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda

 

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016

handmade-christmas-gifts-2016
All wrapped up in my gift wrap featuring my design:  Christmas Triangles

I thought it would be fun to do a post sharing all the Christmas gifts I made.  I plan on doing seperate posts detailing a few of the projects so look for those soon.  I was much less ambitious this year than last, which ultimately made the “making” more fun.  It didn’t hurt that I now have a better idea of what I like to sew, so I didn’t take on any project that I would hate.  I also included a non-sewing project gift too.

KIDDO RAGLANS

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-2
Fantasy Fish and Butterfly Party fabric designs by Brenda Zapotosky

These will be getting their own post (stay tuned!) so I will keep this brief.  I made my youngest niece and nephew raglan shirts using a few of my own designs.  I was able to get the body pieces cut out of 1 fat quarter each. The rest of the pieces were cut from solids that I also used for other projects, making these shirts not only super cute, but not too expensive either!  I actually gave these at Thanksgiving when my family was in town so that I could see them being opened (and worn!  They both had them on the next day 🙂 Having them finished so early was a nice load lifted off of me in December too.  Since I am planning a separate blog post, I’ll save more detailed photos for later.  Designs:  Fantasy Fish and Butterfly Party (Midnight) Both printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey.

DRAWSTRING BAGS

two-drawstrings-bags-by-brenda-zapotosky-2
Wacky Bicycles and Cool Guitars fabric designs by Brenda Zapotosky

For my dad, I sewed up two drawstring bags.  He is a man of many hobbies and interests and I figured that he could definitely use a few extra bags for a myriad of what-nots.  I chose two designs I thought he’d love (music/guitar playing and bike riding are two of his interests) and had them printed on Spoonflower’s Linen Cotton Canvas.  I chose this fabric because it is more heavy-duty than the basic cottons but isn’t super stiff.  It also has a lovely texture. Each used one Fat Quarter.  I have made several drawstring bags now and these are the best so far in terms of construction.  I used french seams and double folded over edges, but there were still a few exposed raw edged ends.  I thing I know how to finally eliminate these (guess I’ll need to sew a few more to make sure!).  For the drawstrings I used parachute cord, which was a totally new material to me.  I wanted something a bit more substantial, maybe even shoelace like, but wasn’t finding what I was picturing, and then I stumbled upon the parachute cord!!!  Given the variety of options the stores had, I’d say it is pretty popular stuff.  I loved that were so many colors to choose from too.  A big change from all my previous drawstring bags was the use of TWO SEPARATE sets of “strings” per bag.  Previously I used just one, so you need to use your hands to help cinch it closed.  By using two sets of strings, each curving opposite of each other, all you have to do is pull on the strings and it closes by itself.  I owe this “eureka” realization to my sister, who was the one who clued me into the secret.  Thanks sis!  My dad loved the bags, so overall:  Success!  Designs:  Wacky Bicycles (Off Road) and Cool Guitars.

PAXSON RAGLAN

christmas-paxson-looks-by-brenda-zapotosky
Paxson Raglan with custom designed fabric label

For my husband, I sewed up a color blocked Paxson Raglan (Pattern from Seamwork Magazine).  This is the second time I had sewed this pattern for him.  The first one was one of my biggest sewing disasters ever! (Check out this post for the horrible “Big Blue”) I stuck with cotton lycra this time, a tried and true substrate I knew I could sew well.  This one, however, was not without its own drama!  Originally I had planned a buffalo plaid for the body panels.  I cut one of them, only to discover that despite my meticulous efforts to cut it straight, the plaid was crooked.  Since I did not have enough left to recut that piece and the second one, I pulled out a piece of fabric from my stash instead.  Fortunately I had enough leftover of this lovely Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey Pepper Heather from a previous project to cut the body pieces.  In the end, I think it ended up better than the original idea.  I love the gray and black together, and the fabrics are more similar in weight.  I have not yet taken any “in action” shots of the shirt being worn, and given its size, I went with partial or folded photos instead, but I think it is enough to give a basic idea of the shirt.  I made a straight size L, which fits pretty well.  I think it could be a tad longer so next time I’ll probably add an inch and I might try smaller SA for the body sides just to give it a tad more room.

(On a side note:  Turns out that plaid fabric is printed incorrectly, so it was NEVER going to have been straight.)

TWO-SIDE MINI-COWL

kiku-winter-mini-cowl-by-brenda-zapotosky-words

I have sewn a lot of mini-cowls (both one fabric and two fabric versions) for gifts in the past.  This year I only ended up gifting one.  I actually made 2, since I bought a fat quarter of each design and that is enough to make two two-sided cowls.  One I gave to my mom. The other I kept for myself.  🙂  My mom only had one so far, and I know how much she loves it, so I wanted her to have another one.  For the prints I picked the Winter version of my Kiku Garden design and the coordinating print, Kiku Pops Twilight.

NOT-SO-KNOTTED TOTE

notso-tote-4-by-brenda-zapotosky
Geometric Cactus Flowers fabric design by Brenda Zapotosky

This was my 4th time making a variation of this bag.  (To see my first and learn about how it got its peculiar name check out this post).   I made this for my sister.  I have a full blog post planned for this one too, so I’ll save all the details and more photos for then.  The exterior fabric is the “Shadow” colorway of my Geometric Cactus Flower design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Poplin.

VACATION PHOTO BOOK

san-diego-photo-book-by-brenda-zapotosky

This is not a sewing project, but I do consider it a handmade gift (even though it was “manufactured” elsewhere) since I put in a lot of time designing and creating it!  In October 2013, my family celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday with a meet-up vacation in Southern California (we are currently living in 3 different states).  I was obviously way delayed in getting this book together, but I knew my mom and step-dad who wouldn’t make these books themselves would love a memoir of the trip with our collection of photos all together.  It was a big undertaking, but worth all the time, because they loved it!  And thanks to my coupon savvy I was able to get this book and a copy for my myself for a pretty good price too!

That’s it folks! I hope you have enjoyed seeing on my 2016 Christmas gift makes.  Maybe I even inspired a future project idea too!

Brenda

 

 

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge

2017-animal-art-challenge-by-brenda-zapotosky

I am excited to announce a challenge I am creating for 2017!  It is a personal challenge for me, but I am really hoping that others will join in the fun.  I love all the fun “special” art creation events I see on Instagram throughout the year.  Events like Inktober or month long drawing prompts, etc.   But to be honest, most of them are intimidating in terms of commitment.  Truth is, I really don’t want to commit to something that makes me draw or create everyday.  As a freelancer, sometimes my work time is spent creating new art, but that is just one portion of a bigger picture.  That being said, I would really like challenge myself creatively.  So I came up with a more moderate challenge, tailor made to help me grow in an area that I would like to improve upon: creating animal characters!  Thus, the “Alphabet Animal Art Challenge” was born!  (Say that 3 times fast… ok, I did, it actually isn’t that hard… ha ha ha).

I love this concept for a few reasons:

  1.  By using the 26 letter Alphabet as my structure, it fits perfectly to a 52 week year!  One animal, per letter, every 2 weeks = 52 weeks in total, and 26 new characters created by the end of the year!
  2. There are enough animals that even within the limits of a single letter, there are a lot of options for most of the weeks (we’ll tackle Q and X when we get to those!)
  3. The 2 week time frame gives plenty of time to create without feeling pressured or rushed!

Note, this is not a DRAWING challenge.  You can absolutely draw your characters by hand if you want.  But if you prefer creating digitally go for it!  Painting?  Of course!  You could even do collage animals if you’d like.  I wanted as little restrictions as possible.  So feel free to create your animals in whatever medium you most prefer (or multiple mediums if you want to try new techniques throughout the year.)

Here is the structure of how things will work.  Since 2017 starts on a Sunday, that will be the day I will be posting a reminder on Instagram that a new 2-week period has begun.  I’ll share the letter and some animal ideas to get you started.  You can share the animal you create anytime during the two week period. I hope to post mine near the end of the time period.  I am assigning 2 hashtags to put with your posts:  #alphabetanimalart2017 and #alphabetanimals  So be sure to use those when you post.

This is not a contest or giveaway.  There aren’t any prizes.  This is merely a fun way to motivate yourself to create some new art and connect with others that are doing the same. I would like to do a blog post quarterly to share what has been created so far, so there is a chance I might ask to share one of your animals here on my blog!  (But I can only find you if you use the right hashtags!)

Thanks in advance for following along!  And I really hope some others join in the creating fun!

Brenda

PS.  If you aren’t already following me on Instagram you can find me here.

 

Sammy the Whale and Friends Plushie Project

sammy-the-whale-and-friends-title-photo-smaller

I’m an aunt to a lot of littles and not-so-littles.  In fact I have 16 nieces and nephews between my and my husband’s side of the family.  The most recent additions, one girl and one boy, are cousins born just a few weeks apart.  For their first birthdays (which were late spring/early summer, I am WAY behind on this blog post) I decided to dive into the world of plushie sewing!  I have seen so many cute projects by others and I had the perfect character already in my library in which to create my plushies:  Sammy the Whale!  I first created Sammy for my original Whales and Waves Pattern for a contest on Spoonflower.  I have since created 3 other colorways of the design as well as a second pattern that features Sammy in a new way.  (You can find all the designs in this Collection).  For this cut-and-sew version I enlarged Sammy and a few of his fishy friends to make some fun plush play toys for the kiddos. (Side note:  I did not plan this photo shoot very well and gifted the items before realizing I could have used a few close-ups etc. I apologize in advance for not having detail photos).

sammy-the-whale-and-friends-plushie-with-words-seaside

 

I definitely learned a lot by sewing these, (including the slip-stitch.  So nifty!) But mainly, that I do NOT like sewing plushies!  I had to do a lot of reshaping of the outline to get Sammy’s tail and curve looking nice which was rather frustrating.  The GOOD NEWS is, because I sewed these, I was able to tweak the original design so that they will now be much easier to sew!  The plushies you see here in this post are VERSION 1.  Version 2, which are listed in my shop, have softer, easier to sew curved outlines and more space between the dashed edges and the characters.  So your finished version will have more white space around your sea creatures. I also added a third polka-dot fish!

To supplement my printed fish I decided to add a few extra fish made out of felt.  To create these I traced the outside of the fish onto 2 pieces of felt and 1 piece slightly smaller out of thin quilt batting.  I sandwiched them together and stitched the outline near the edge and then used a wavy stitch on my machine to create ripples on the body.  Using this wavy stitch might have been my favorite part of the project!  I used just one standard little sheet of felt from the craft store and was able to get 2 fish from it.

sammy-the-whale-and-friends-pinky-by-brenda-zapotosky

Construction:  Since I used a lightweight fabric, I chose to add fusible fleece to all the character pieces to give them more structure and pad them from potential stuffing lumps. Then simply stuffed them to desired firmness with loose fill.

Lastly I created a matching drawstring bag to hold all the little critters.  I used one fat quarter of the color coordinating versions of my Confetti Fish print:  Confetti Fish (Seaside) and Confetti Fish (Pinky).  I chose the Basic Cotton Ultra for mine, but if you go for a wider fabric you’ll get a wider bag too.  There are several other prints in the Collection that would work for the bag as well.

BONUS:  I wanted this project to work on ANY of the Spoonflower fabrics.  So I sized it to be 21″ wide to fit the Whale and 3 Little Fish.  If you order a wider fabric you will also get a BONUS character:  Jeremy the Jellyfish!  Here is a look at the 2 widths.  It is all the same listing, and available in both colorways, you will see the jellyfish appear when you pick a wider fabric.  (My version was made with the Basic Cotton Ultra).

whales-cut-and-sew-two-sizes-by-brenda-zapotosky

I was very happy with how these turned out in the end (and they were very light and easy to ship!) but I won’t be making plushies again anytime soon… maybe ever. he he he

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

Travel Jewelry Pouch

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Folded by Brenda Zapotosky with Words

Several years ago my sister gave me a lovely travel jewelry pouch as a present.  She mentioned loving it so much she wanted one for herself too, but when she tried to find another one they no longer made them.  Knowing that she was so fond of mine I thought it would be the perfect gift to make for her.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?  It only required sewing 3 zippers on one item, binding multiple layers of interfacing and materials (a skill I have NOT mastered), and sewing VINYL (for the first time).  But whatever, I could handle it… I thought.

I found a pattern/tutorial online that was similar to my pouch, (and it seemed a little easier to make), so I went with that.  It is officially called the Mini Jewelry Roll by Haberdashery Fun.  You can also download a pdf version of the tutorial at the Pellon website.  I used the pdf since I prefer looking off of a piece of paper rather than a device when I am sewing.  I decided to make mine a little less mini, and it folds over itself rather than rolls, thus I am calling mine a pouch.  But that really isn’t important.  🙂

Onto the sewing!

I asked my sister to give me a list of some of her current favorite fabrics in my Spoonflower Shop and I would pick from that list for her gift. (The actual fabric I went with remained a surprise, as did the gift itself, she did not know what I would be making when she made her list).  Of her picks, I thought the Floral Bliss Coral and Mint (small scale) design would work well for this project.  Since it did not have any coordinating prints I whipped up a simple matching polka-dot for the inside of the pouch.  I chose black zippers and bias tape for the trimmings and really love how they pop against the prints.

Since I had enough length with my fabric and I know that my sister has a preference towards chunky jewelry, I decided to make my pouch a few inches longer than the instructions suggested, I THINK I added 4″ total in length (I should have written it down), giving each pouch section an extra inch in depth and the pouch itself an extra inch.  The pouch is still nice and compact, but I think the extra room makes it a little bit more versatile.

Sewing the vinyl was much less difficult than I expected!  For my first attempt, I followed the directions and sewed with the vinyl on top of the zipper edge (with no pins, etc. to hold it down).  The results were not good.  It was VERY wavy and did not lie flat.  So I removed the zipper and came up with a new method instead.  I decided to put the zipper on top as the finished “edge”.  I liked the fabric of the zipper being the exposed piece instead of the vinyl edge and because the solid black was now on top, I could use Wash-Away Wonder Tape to hold it in place and it would not be seen.  Normally I would not worry about the tape showing since as its name suggests it dissolves away when you wash it, but not knowing if this pouch would be washed I wanted to keep it hidden. Other than that change I pretty much followed the directions for the rest of it (with one other exception as you will see). Along the lines of the cotton ball suggestion, I did put a folded up wad of scraps in all of the pouches before sewing them down to help ensure they would not be too tight to hold chunky jewelry.

As hinted at above, sewing on the bias tape binding was my failure of the project.  I need to blame this partially on the fact that I did not follow the instructions and sew it to the inside first before folding over to enclose the edge and top stitch on the outside.  My mind got a little jumbled about whether bias tape (instead of classic quilt-style binding) could still work like this.  And I didn’t think it was really necessary.  (And maybe I was a bit impatient too…) I really, really, REALLY wish I would have done it.  My single stitching along the binding did not catch all the edges on the inside and I ended up having to do a second line of stitching in places to catch it all. Had I done the inside stitch first, even though the top-stitching would have missed in places, it would have still had that first stitch to hold it down.  The end result is quite ugly and definitely not up to my personal standards (especially for a gift).  But if I had pulled it all out and started over it would have left a line of holes in the vinyl and I wasn’t sure if that would compromise the integrity of the piece.  So, despite my disappointment, I left it.  AND it doesn’t effect the function of the pouch at all.  Yay for that!

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Flat by Brenda Zapotosky

Besides the ugly binding I am very happy with the end result.  If I was to make one again (and I don’t see that happening anytime soon) I would want to have the zipper width better span the width of the pouch.  Right now there are gaps on each side. (I kept the zipper and width exactly as instructed in the tutorial)  Next time I would use the next size up from  7″ to 9″ zippers but only increase the width of the pouch by an inch.  This would eliminate the gap.  Otherwise it is a great tutorial.  And despite the binding flaws, my sister LOVES it!  And that is really all that matters.

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Inside  by Brenda Zapotosky

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Close Up 2  by Brenda Zapotosky
Check out that custom designed label!

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Close Up 1 by Brenda Zapotosky

 

The Not-So-Knotted Tote

04 Tents Purse Brenda Zapotosky with Logo

Is it a purse?  Is it a tote?  Not sure.  What I do know: It is fantastic!  My newest make might just be my favorite so far this year!  I present to you the “Not-So-Knotted” Tote!  This bag began with a cool free pattern by the Sewing Rabbit for the Knot Tote.  But as you can see, there are no knots on my bag.  While I intended to make the bag as instructed, I discovered that I had made a major sewing fail which required a change of plans!  The bag is supposed to be constructed with the bag and straps cut as one whole piece.  To fit the pattern onto my 42″ wide fabric I would have had to flip the pattern piece so that on one side the triangles would be pointing in the opposite direction of the other. (Oops, didn’t think about that when I chose this particular fabric design).  As I did not want upside-down triangles on one side of my bag I needed to come up with a new plan.  I wasn’t crazy about the knot at the top of the strap anyways (not sure how comfortable that would be on my shoulder when wearing it), so I decided to cut my straps out separately.  I also re-shaped the bag portion: I eliminated the tabs (the second knotted portion of the pattern), raised the height of the opening scoop, and added a straight portion where the straps would attach.  I made the straps slightly wider than the original and also made them much longer:  2 1/2″ wide, 30″ long, with a layer of fusible fleece added to the main fabric.

For this bag I chose a design from my Spoonflower shop, Tent Triangles in the Earth color-way printed on Basic Cotton Ultra.  (Part of the Woodland Delights Collection) Since this fabric is lighter weight than some of the other recommended fabrics I also added a layer of super lightweight interfacing to it (as suggested in the directions).  The lining fabric is a premium quality solid quilting fabric I bought at Joann’s.  It is a couple dollars more than their basic cottons but worth every penny!

Since I was already making so many changes I also decided to add a magnetic clasp to the inside of the bag.  It was my first time using one and it was SO EASY to install and it is such a nice extra touch!  (I did add a tiny piece of interfacing behind each clasp as well).

03 Tents Purse Open Brenda Zapotosky

Overall this bag was a DREAM to sew!  I have had my fair share of sewing difficulties with almost every project I have sewn this year, so it was so nice to have one that had practically not problems at all!  My biggest snafu was when ironing on the fusible fleece to one of the straps, I ended up with some ripples and had to redo the piece.  This was a bummer since I would have enough leftover fabric to make a second identical bag if I hadn’t need to cut an extra strap.  Now if I want to make another bag (to gift to someone) I will have to either make shorter or skinnier straps.  Still, I love how my “hacked” method of construction means that I can make two projects with my yardage!  I might try a different style bag for the leftovers, I am still deciding.

I did play with the strap to bag connection a bit.  I tried adding squares of the green and doing a decorative top-stitch to conceal my utilitarian rows of stitching that I used to attach the strap. I tried two different styles, but didn’t like either of them so I ended up removing them.  I think my triple line of stitching looks decent enough, and probably most people won’t get close enough to scrutinize it (you can see it in the close-up below).

If I change anything with the next one, I might add a little space to the outside edge of each strap so that they aren’t quite as close to the side seams.  The connection there is a little tight.  Not a big deal, but a little more openness would be nice. UPDATE:  After using this bag I have now decided that I will DEFINITELY add an 1 – 1 1/2″ open space on each side to allow the bag to open more fully and give the straps some wiggle room.  I also plan on making it about 1″ deeper, this isn’t functionally necessary but more of a personal preference (I carry a lot of stuff 🙂 ). Going to make a second one with this fabric for myself to give these changes a try!

My favorite part of this bag is that very identity crisis I joked about at the beginning of this post.  This bag has the style and cuteness of a purse with all the practically of a tote, which for me is perfection!  I am already dreaming up a second version using some fabric in my stash (pending I have enough to complete it).

05 Tents Purse Brenda Zapotosky

 

 

Welcome to my new blog!

I wanted to start with a short and sweet post to welcome you here to my new blog!  I am excited to begin with a clean slate and have great plans for what will be, hopefully, more regular posts. Whether you are a brand new reader or you have been following me on my former blog, (www.bdoodlez.blogspot.com) I am happy you have found your way here!  I plan on continuing to post about my designs, collections and a variety of artist stuff.  I also plan to begin blogging about my adventures in sewing as well!  Designing fabric has inspired me to start sewing more regularly (several times a week in fact) and I am loving getting back into that endeavor and improve my skills.  Diving into apparel design has been a big part of that and I am quickly finding that I really love making my own clothes!

I hope you enjoy it all and look forward to hearing your thoughts on all I create!

~Brenda