Happy New Year, all!
…so it’s been awhile, yeah? I thought about doing a 2013 re-cap post, or maybe a “goals for 2014” post, or possibly an in-depth analysis of why exactly I’m so terrible at blogging on a regular basis, but frankly all of that just felt like WAY too much text for a return after such a long (long) absence. Too intense. I figured I’d ease us in gently and see if I can manage to get myself moderately into the habit of maybe posting more often than once every quarter. So, partly inspired by Pepperknit‘s WIP Wednesday (love that idea for a regular post; don’t count on it happening here though) let’s talk instead about sewing!
The latter half of December (after all the frantic holiday knitting) was mostly taken up with Boring Sewing. I tend to think of most “house” sewing as boring: curtains, sheets, covers for things, bleh. They’re all necessary, usually easy (hence boring), and for the most part, it’s wonderful when you’re all done, to be able to look around and see your own taste and personality jazzing up the place. Sometimes, however, house sewing, no matter how necessary, is just plain boring, and for me boring stuff kind of puffs itself up into a giant Task Of Dread that I keep putting off until guilt makes me begrudgingly tackle it, usually muttering darkly the entire time about how it’s never going to work out. (I have a mysterious inability to be able to sew anything rectangular properly, no matter how many times I measure.) What a way to wrap up 2013, right?? If you’re curious, my biggest Task Of Dread is hemming sheer curtains. Oh I can’t even type that without shuddering! Ugh! If I could take that nonsense to a dry-cleaner and have them do it for under $20, you bet I would.
Having gotten a whole bunch of necessary-but-not-rewarding sewing done in the late days of December, I figured that since I seemed to be in a sewing kind of groove, that I would reward myself with some “fun” house sewing in January!
The first was something that I’d seen in The Rhythm of Family at least a year and a half ago: a handkerchief bag. As my collection of hankies has slowly grown*, it has occurred to me that maybe storing said hankies somewhere other than my bedside table drawer might be nice.
* I’m not sure where they go, but I do seem to have my fair share of vanishing hankies, so although I replenish periodically, I think my hankie collection is still on the modest side.
Slightly before I saw that pattern, my aunt had gifted me with a black button-up corduroy shirt with the cutest embroidery on it. I knew I’d never wear it (leaving aside the whole issue of black corduroy for a girl who lives with two cats and a furry tumbleweed of a dog) but I couldn’t bring myself to Goodwill it. Aha — a match made in heaven! (Seriously, with the laundry line? And the adorably backwards “bear”? So cute!)
If you clicked on the link to the bag and are wondering why exactly I needed a pattern to sew together a zip-up pocket bag with a hanging loop, let me just say that historically speaking, rectangles and I don’t get along, where a sewing machine is concerned. I don’t know why; it just IS that way. Add in the fact that I was trying to re-use a shirt with some pretty tight fabric margins, and I figured it’d be best to go safe. (Of course I did modify the pattern — no doubling of the fabric, since the corduroy was already so thick, and a button for the loop (I just cut off a cuff — so handy!) so it could easily be removed from our linen closet door handle.)
I am ridiculously proud of the fact that everything for this project — fabric, zipper, thread, button — all came directly out of stuff I’ve been hoarding. I hesitate to use the term “stash-busting”, but it felt pretty good to just sew something without needing to run to a store for supplies.
And now my hankies have a cute new home!
So that was the first thing. (If you’re wondering, yes, it does still filll me a little with glee every time I walk past it in the hall.) The second project was one I’ve been thinking about on and off for probably about the same length of time.
The Boy and I go through a fair amount of bread… but not always in the way that I’d want to. We’re not huge sandwich people, but we both love crusty baguettes as-is or with cheese and snackety sausage, and both of us love toast. The Boy will argue that soup+bread does not a dinner make, though I think the correct combination of soup and awesome bread is hard to top. The point is that we love bread; however, there’s only two of us, and our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs when we visit bakeries. Anytime we buy bread, it comes in either a paper or plastic bag. Our “bread station” area does get afternoon sun, and consequently after 3 or 4 days, any remaining bread we have is either rock hard (paper) or mouldy (plastic). In either case, I am blue.
The internets seems to be convinced that the solution here is to ditch the bag, wrap bread in wax paper, and then stuff it in a cloth bag. I had considered the (many) patterns out there that suggest cutting the edges off linen tea towels and sewing them up as bread bags (the edges make perfect drawstrings, apparently) but… frankly our towels seemed kind of thin to be providing adequate protection and… I’m not really that into drawstrings.
Fabric hoarding intermission: of course I had the perfect fabric for this. I’ve had two cotton canvas bags, carefully folded in the corner of the laundry room, for years. I had no idea what I wanted them for (so thick!), but they were undyed, 100% cotton and it seemed wrong to just throw them out. You see where this is going, right?
Buoyed by my handkerchief bag success, I decided to just jump in and sew up a couple bags: one square-ish bag for round loaves (12″x12″), and a longer one for baguette-style breads (18″x9″). To get around the drawstring thing, I just planned for 4″ flaps to fold over the open sides of the bags. (The bags are pretty generously sized, too, so a fair amount of the bag ended up folded under the loaves.) Although I love that the fabric was undyed cotton, I thought that having just plain bags would be a little boring… so I also decided to try out appliqué for the first time!
It’s definitely a little sloppy in places, but I think I did alright for a first try. In terms of the structure, these bags were super-simple: just boxes with a fold-over flap.
I put a ‘b’ on the longer bag for “bread” or “baguette”, and a ‘p’ on the round-loaf bag for “pain” or possibly “pumpernickel” — which it actually contains at this very moment! When I finished the bags up and showed him my handiwork, The Boy bemusedly pointed out that I had made bread bags with his initials on them. I informed him that although that might be true (it is), it does not mean that he is allowed to Eat All The (Bread) Things. He retorted that it didn’t mean he wouldn’t anyway. I guess we’ll see.
Again, a very simple sewing project… but surprisingly satisfying for “house” sewing. I still smile every time I walk through the kitchen now, and I’m curious to see if they’ll protect our precious loaves.
So that’s it — my two “reward” sewing projects that I’ve snuck in the evenings this past week or so. An excellent start to the year, I think!