Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017: PART 1

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Part 1 Rectangle

Today I am excited to finally start sharing with you all the gifts I made for this past Christmas.  I think it is fun to do a post like this, not only to share sewing details, but also to perhaps inspire ideas for handmade gifts. If you want even more inspiration you can read my Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016 post!  I am finding there are A LOT of details to share, so I have decided to break it up into a PART 1 and PART 2 so that the posts are not overwhelmingly long.  Today I will focus of the gifts I made using my own fabric designs, since that always adds an extra layer of information.

It is a tough business sewing for Christmas:  deadline looming, personal projects get delayed or on hold, and you have to keep a lot of secrets!  (really tough for me when I am excited about a make).  Learning a lesson from past years, I started REALLY EARLY this year and yet, somehow STILL found myself down to the wire.  In my defense, I added a few gifts not originally planned AND lost some sewing time I expected to have.  So I was still sewing on Dec. 23!!!  But I got it all done and everything was well received!

NAPKINS AND TRIVETS

Stacked Picnic Napkins by Brenda Zapotosky

First up is a set of cloth napkins and matching trivets I made with one of my own fabric designs:  Picnic (Sunny).  This is actually the newest colorway for this design and I created it specifically with this project in mind.  I chose this print because I think it is a modern take on both plaid and check and perfect for a kitchen.  The colors were picked to match the recipients’ dinnerware.  I really love how this palette turned out and might need to look into offering all the designs in the Flutter Collection in this new colorway.  I ordered 1 yard printed on Spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen.

Since this print has a natural cutting point built in, I let the white space breaks in the pattern squares determine my size options for the napkins.  Ultimately I decided to make 8 out of the yard I had.  They turned out a little small… but not unusable, just smaller than you would expect.  (Perhaps I could have made a smaller hem).  This was my first time sewing mitered corners.  32 mitered corners!  Yeah.  That got old pretty quick.  I found this tutorial from Colette very helpful.  I did the sewn and topstitched version.  Below is a zoomed in look at the corners as well as a “styled” photo with silverware.

Picnic Napkins 2 photos by Brenda Zapotosky
Design: Picnic (Sunny), printed on Organic Cotton Sateen by Spoonflower

I had a good sized strip of fabric leftover so I decided to make a few trivets to go along with the set.  I went with a slight rectangle instead of square for two reasons: 1.  I thought they would be a bit more practical for oblong and rectangle serving dishes and 2.  The fabric shrunk more in one direction than the other, so even if I cut it an equal number of design pattern squares wide and long they would not be square.  (In fact the napkins are not exact squares for this very reason.)  I backed the trivets in a light yellow quilting cotton.

Picnic Trivets by Brenda Zapotosky

KIDDO HATS

Checkered Christmas Hats by Brenda Zapotosky 2

These are created from the FREE pattern for the Blizzard Bonnet by sweetkm. It didn’t take long after seeing this project to know that I wanted to make them for my niece and nephew.  They are both 2 1/2 yrs old, born just 3 weeks apart.  It is hard to resist making them something matching and I thought this little hat was so adorable!  Like a little Gnome hat.  In hindsight, maybe I should not have gotten caught up in the cuteness so much, as I am not sure how much they will actually wear these.  (Although my niece did request to wear it at a birthday celebration!  Ha Ha Ha!  It is a party hat!)

They were surprisingly fun to sew up.  Even the bias binding, which I usually loathe, sewed up so well!  I think because it is sewn twice, instead of just sandwiching over it the edge, which made it “ok” to miss the back side edge in places as it was already sewn down.  I actually changed the sewing of the bias tape from the directions.  I first sewed it to the INSIDE of the hat and then flipped it to the outside.  And I edge stitched on the front instead of stitching in the ditch.  Aside from that, the only other change I made was to lengthen the ties.  I do want to note that SIZING  was a conundrum for me.  The toddler size, which is what I consider a 2 1/2 year old to be, look super small to me.  (I sewed up a quick tester with a scrap of fleece.) I ended up making the small child size and it is perfect.  (My mom did do a stealth head measure of my niece for me.)

Checkered Christmas Hat Festive by Brenda Zapotosky

Checkered Christmas Hat Merry by Brenda Zapotosky

I used my own fabric design for this project as well.  I actually created a brand new design: Checkered Christmas, to coordinate with my Classic Christmas Collection.  I ordered 1 fat quarter of both the Festive and Merry colorways on the Lightweight Cotton Twill.  After getting my fat quarters I decided to tweak design a little, so the designs as listed are slightly different than what can be seen on the hats (Same overall look and colors, just in different places).  I used white fleece to line them and Jungle Green bias tape (by Wrights) for all the finishing (That color is a very good match to this print).  Even in the second largest size, thanks to wider width of the fabric, I have a lot of this twill leftover for a future project.

I am ending with two ADORABLE photos of my nephew and niece “modelling” their hats!  Shout out to my brother-in-law Jacob (of The Traveling Photo Booth) for taking these great photos and to my sister Deanna (of DLynn Design) for using her AMAZING Photoshop skills to crop out all the Christmas chaos in these photos!

O and C together in Checkered Christmas Hats

If I left out a detail you would like to know about please ask in the comments!  And stay tuned for PART 2!!!

Thanks for reading,

Brenda

Sewing and Design Meet: Floral Bliss

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another installment of Sewing and Design Meet.  Actually it is time for the second installment… I started this series last year and then never did a second one!  Oops!  Hopefully this year, there will be more regular posts for this series.

Today I am sharing about my Floral Bliss design and several projects I sewed with it. I currently have 4 different colorways of the design plus coordinates all available in the Floral Bliss Collection in my Spoonflower Shop.

DESIGN:

This design has a really fun story, since it began as a doodle in a doodle book I kept a long, long time ago.  Here is a look at the original, non-repeating doodle:

Floral Bliss Doodle by Brenda Zapotosky

As you can see, this doodle was not created with a repeating pattern in mind, and thus, there was a lot of work involved in turning it into one.  It was a multi-step process, where I would split the design apart in photoshop, print it out and add more elements by hand, re-scan it, erase elements, digitally tweak etc. Here is just one in-progress look.

Floral Bliss In Progress Pattern Creation by Brenda Zapotosky

At this point you can see the original page outline was still present.  Once I went through all those steps mentioned above (some more than once) and had a repeating tile with all my hand drawn elements, I next started the long process of recreating it as a vector tile in Illustrator.  I did auto-trace it as a first step, but there was a lot of time spent editing and tweaking, etc again in Illustrator.  This is not a fast process!

The original use of this pattern was for a Spoonflower limited palette contest. There was no theme other than the colors: Coral, Mint, Black and White, so it was a perfect opportunity to use an abstract pattern. Here is the look at that colorway of the pattern for the contest:

Floral Bliss Coral and Mint by Brenda Zapotosky
Floral Bliss (Coral and Mint) Design by Brenda Zapotosky

This is one of the most “hearted” designs in my shop.  Because of its popularity and the amount of time invested in the pattern, it made sense to offer it in other color versions as well.  I also added a second, smaller scale version.  I currently offer it in 4 different colorways and 2 different scales!  I have sewn with 3 of those colorways.  Here is a look at the other 3 versions:

Floral Bliss 3 Color Versions by Brenda Zapotosky
Colorways Left to Right:  Pink and Gray, Tropical, Winter Blues

 

 

SEWING:

The first project I made from one 8 x 8 swatch:  A Travel Eye Mask.

Floral Bliss Eye Mask by Brenda Zapotosky

This was made with the Floral Bliss Pink and Gray (Small Scale) version of the design.  I am not 100% sure which fabric type this is… one of the woven cottons.  I created my own sewing pattern by tracing a freebie eye mask that I had (modifying the shape and size a little bit and adding seam allowances). It is backed in raspberry pink flannel with a layer of batting in between and I kept the piece of 1/4″ elastic I used “raw” (which I rather like).  Bonus:  All the extra materials were already in my stash!

The second project I made used the original colorway of the design in the Small Scale again combined with a coordinating Polka Dot:  A Travel Jewelry Pouch.

Floral Bliss Travel Jewelry Pouch 4 views by Brenda Zapotosky

This was a gift for my sister and Floral Bliss was one of the patterns I knew she liked. (She also loves polka dots).  It was quite an ambitious project for me at the time I made it.  It was my first time working with vinyl, had multiple zippers, and a LOT of bias binding.  I actually wrote an entire blog post about this one where you can read all about it in great detail.

The third, and final project so far is an Infinity Scarf.

Floral Bliss Winter Blues Infinity Scarf by Brenda Zapotosky

This scarf features the newest color of the Floral Bliss design, Winter Blues, in the larger scale.  (The small scale version has not been added to my shop yet.)  It is printed on 1/2 yard of Cotton Spandex Jersey.  I don’t like my infinity scarfs to be too voluminous so 1/2 yard is the perfect size for me.  I used Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Yard function to get 1/2 yard of this print and a different print for the other half which I also plan to make a scarf with.

I created this colorway specifically for this project.  I wear a lot of scarves in the wintertime and keep them on even inside, so I like a lot of variety.  This print, at this scale, in these colors will work well with a lot of what is already in my wardrobe and is quite different than my other scarves.  Here it is styled with another recent make of mine, a Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade sewn up in RK Laguna Knit in Navy.  I think this is the 7th Lane Raglan I have sewn.  It is definitely a TNT (Tried and True) pattern for me!

Floral Bliss Scarf with Lane Raglan Brenda Zapotosky

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I think it is apparent from the above projects that Floral Bliss is a very versatile design!  I sewed these 3 very different projects quite far apart.  It is fun to see that it is a design that I continue to return to and use in different ways.  I have not sewn anything up in the Tropical colorway yet, but there is the chance that I will in the future should the right project come along!  A skirt or dress for summertime would be lovely in that version of the print.

How about you?  Which version is your favorite?

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

Announcing the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge!!!

I super excited about this post and to share the theme for the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge!  If you are new to this Challenge you can read all about the first one, The Alphabet ANIMAL Art Challenge, here. You can also read each of the quarterly updates here, here and here.

And so without further ado, and perhaps a little drumroll…. The 2018 theme is:

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!  (At least, I am hoping that is what you are thinking.)  I am very excited about this theme.  While the Animal theme was a great challenge to me personally, and I will be sharing a lot of thoughts about it all when I do the final recap of the year, I am looking forward to having a little bit simpler subject matter this time around.

The OFFICIAL name for this challenge will be the Fruit and Veggie Challenge, because that is more fun in my opinion, and makes for a shorter hashtag:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge

2018 Alphabet Art Challenge Announcement by Brenda Zapotosky

For this theme I have a very distinct vision for the style of the art I will be creating.  Since my days of doodle books, starting way back in college, I have LOVED hatching.  And one of the style methods I employ a lot in my artwork is creating “geometric” versions of common objects.  So for my fruits and vegetables this year, they will be geometric in style and employ hatching as part of the rendering.  I already created some patterns that use geometric fruits and vegetables, so I will be building upon that small library.  Here are a few examples (Which are available as fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap in my Spoonflower shop) :

Geometric Pumpkins by Brenda Zapotosky

Tropical Pineapples Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky

As an added “bonus” this year, I have also decided to create a new geometric font to go with my fruit and veggie illustrations, which will add an element of Art to the “Prompt” posts that I do at the beginning of each letter. (You can see examples of the prompts on my Instagram feed.)

Ok, so onto the official “rules” for this Challenge.  There are 52 weeks and 26 letters, so that means 1 letter for every 2 weeks.  Since 2018 starts on a Monday, that will be our starting day for each new letter.  So Monday, Jan. 1 will kick off the letter “A”.  On each Monday where a new letter begins I will post a reminder on Instagram with the letter for that 2-week period and some ideas of fruits and veggies to get you started.

Like last year, this is JUST FOR FUN!  There are not any prizes for participating.  Use any type of medium you like to create your art.  And if you are late to join in or miss a letter or 2, that is totally fine!  I would like to do an artist round up like I did for the first quarterly recap of 2017.  Sadly participation last year drastically tapered off after that first quarter, so the other recaps did not include other artist’s work.  I hoping that there will be more participation this year and I will able to share a bit more of other’s work.

So get your artistic thinking caps on and start mentally prepping for a year of Alphabet Art Fun!  I really hope you will consider joining me!

Brenda

ps.  If you are not already following me on Instagram, I highly recommend it.  It is where I will be posting all the prompts and fruit and veggie creations.

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: G-M

Well folks, we have officially reached the halfway point of the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge and it is time for the second recap for the year!  As time has progressed, I have found that participation from other artists is dwindling.  Bummer? Yes.  But… this began first and foremost as a personal challenge to myself and alone or with a crowd, I will continue until the end!  I certainly miss seeing other’s people work inspired by the letter prompts, but I totally get the difficulty of sticking with any challenge for a full year!  Honestly, it has been hard for me for a few of these letters to want to spend the time creating anything, especially when I was uninspired by the choices.  If not for my determination to stick to my goal I might have stopped too!  (Or at least skipped some letters).  But I persevered and am happy I did. Today I am sharing a look at the second batch of animals, G-M, and sharing some designs I created that incorporate animals from both the first and second round of creations.

Letters G-M  There was definitely a lag in excitement when I hit the middle of this batch. Letters I and J were not very inspiring to me.  I came up with the idea to do multiple insects for I, which ended up kind of fun.  But J… the jellyfish you see here was actually just a re-working of an old illustration (and then scaled twice to create 3  different sized ones).  Thankfully the Koala helped me get some of my enthusiasm back!

Alphabet Animals Letters G to M by Brenda Zapotosky

I think my favorite of this batch is the Hedgehog.  I would definitely like to create a pattern for him using a maze of green hedges!

H is for Hedgehog by Brenda Zapotosky

Pattern and Cards:  So far I have incorporated 4 different animals from the challenge into either cards or a pattern.  These include my giraffe from this batch of illustrations and 3 other animals from my first round  (Letters A-F) of illustrations.  I absolutely love that I am building a library of animal illustrations, in my style, that are all ready to be used in other ways.

I created a seamless pattern with my flamingo for the Birds and Blooms Design Challenge on Spoonflower.  I absolutely love the bright, happy palette and am in the process of creating an entire collection around the signature print:  Flamingos and Flowers.

Flamingos and Flowers Pattern Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

The collection is not finished yet, but you can find the first two coordinates of Floridian, as well as the flamingo print available now in my Spoonflower shop.

I also created some greeting cards using my animal art designs too!

Animal Art Greeting Cards by Brenda Zapotosky

The cat card was a birthday card for my husband.  The giraffe card was actually a MOTHER’S day card (my mom loves giraffes) but I kept the greeting on the front generic to give it better flexibility for future use.  I had both a niece and nephew turn 2 in June, so I actually did 2 different colorways of the elephant card.  In my “girl” version (below) the elephant has pink toenails like in the original illustration, although in a brighter shade of pink!

Birthday Elephant Greeting Card Pink by Brenda Zapotosky

These cards were a lot of fun to put together.  I could see an entire line of animal cards along with maybe some matching gift wrap being developed at some point.  For now, I am enjoying creating them as the need arises.

Overall, I will call round 2 a success!  It is quite incredible how many different animals there really are!  I have discovered many “new to me” animals along the way.  Next up is the letter N, which marks the beginning of the second half of the alphabet.  So if you wanted to join me, or jump back in if you started and fell behind, this is a great time to start!!!

And be sure to follow me on Instagram, to see each animal as I finish them and see the reminder posts and animal idea prompts each fortnight!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Sewing and Design Meet: Canvas Bags

Canvas Bags group picture by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I am thinking of starting a new regular series of blog posts:  Sewing and Design Meet.  A place to showcase those projects where my fabric designer self and my sewing self come together to create a project!  (Or in simpler terms: When I sew stuff with my own fabric designs 🙂 ).

I am kicking off the series with a trio of bags created from 1/2 yard of my Hip Sequential (Cool) design printed on Eco Canvas by Spoonflower.

DESIGN:

A look at the pattern:

Geometric Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

This pattern was actually created during a special Spoonflower design challenge last spring.  The theme for this day of the challenge was geometric and I had a little flash of inspiration! I really liked the idea of solid and divided rectangles slowing getting smaller in width in sequential order. The end pattern worked so well with my existing Hip Geometrics Collection I have since added it in all four collection colorways as well!

SEWING:

When I ordered my fabric, Spoonflower did not yet offer their Fill-A-Yard service so I had to create mine manually by uploading a full yard design file divided into two patterns.  My thought was that 1/2 yard on the wide fabric should be enough for two bags/totes of some kind, although I did not have a specific pattern in mind when I ordered.  I chose Eco-canvas as my substrate as Spoonflower was having an amazing 1/2 price sale on it at the time.  A look at the printed fabric:

Hip Sequential on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky

I had the fabric for quite a while when I saw a few free tote tutorials by Purl Soho and knew I had found the right bag for this print!  For this pattern I chose the Railroad Tote.  I thought the rectangular shape was a good pairing for the geometric print.  To pair with my fabric I purchased some Kaufman Big Sur Canvas in Solid Gray.  Buying online is usually a bit of a gamble (unless you have purchased the exact product before) so I was quite excited to see how perfectly the canvas I chose matched both this print AND the other pattern, Transit Lines, I had printed with it.

Railroad Tote by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I mostly made the tote per instructions.  Since I had plenty of the canvas and I like pockets on my bags I decided to add the pocket to BOTH sides of the tote.  I also changed the finishing order a bit so that I could have the tops of my side seams enclosed in the folded over edge of the top of the bag.  This required a few more steps and was a bit trickier to sew this way, but well worth it for the final result!

I am very happy with how the bag turned out but I would make a few tweaks for the next one.  The side pockets end up being very tall and skinny.  While the look from the outside is quite lovely I would prefer them to be less deep, so next time I would modify them somehow.  I also plan on making it bigger overall.

I had a long skinny piece of this print left over and plenty of the gray canvas so I decided to sew up some zippy pouches with the left overs.  Originally these were supposed to be a bigger and smaller pouch in two different styles and the zippers I purchased for them are 2″ different in length.  However, I did not anticipate that the style of the bigger pouch made it appear smaller and the extensions I added to the smaller pouch would increase its size so much.  In the end they are almost the same size!

Hip Sequential Zippies by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

For the “larger” pouch (Top bag in the photo) I used another free bag pattern: The Open Wide Zippered Pouch by Noodlehead.  I have used this pattern before and it is a really nifty design!  (Do people still say nifty?)  I can’t remember for sure which size I made but I think it was the smallest one as I am fairly certain I used a 9″ zipper.  I know the pattern calls for 10″, but you really can’t find that easily at any stores by me.  Not sure if I made the bag smaller to compensate, but having made it before I knew that the zip overhangs a lot so there is definitely wiggle room there.

The “smaller” pouch is just a basic rectangle lined zipper pouch using a 7″ zipper.  To give it a little extra flair I added the little canvas loop to the side.  I also chose to add canvas extenders to each side of the zipper so that the ends wouldn’t pull into the sides of the pouch.  I used the technique outlined by my fellow Spoonflower designer and friend Ceri for her cut and sew pouch project: The Hand Strap Clutch.  You can see both details in the photo below.  You can also get a small glimpse of the lining.  For both zipper pouches I used a “textured look” quilting cotton, “Crosshatch Sketch”, that I purchased from Hawthorne Threads.  They no longer have the color I chose:  Fog, but there are several other colors available that might pair well with this print.  There are of course many color match choices in my Spoonflower shop too, including this teal color version of my Hip Shapes design.

Hip Sequential Small Zip Close Up by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

One last note:  The Eco-Canvas is not as stiff as normal canvas (definitely not as stiff as the Big Sur Canvas I paired it with) and tends to flop around a little.  I highly recommend using interfacing if you want a bit more structure to whatever you are making with it.  I added a very light interfacing to both zippered pouches and really liked the bit of structure it gave.  Unfortunately the inside of the canvas is exposed on the tote so you would have to give it a lining if you wanted to add interfacing there.  I have the other 1/2 yard of my Eco-Canvas left with the other print I chose to use for a second tote and I am currently brainstorming ideas of how I can add lining/double layer to the top pieces, so I can interface that one!  If anyone has any suggestions, I will be making the Everyday Tote with it.

I’ll leave you with a few more views of the bags!

Canvas Bags details by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

Thanks for reading!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

 

 

Sammy the Whale and Friends Plushie Project

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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