Tuesday 13 January 2015

And Now For Something a Little Different

When I started sewing about four years ago I did not know I was going to end up being addicted to making quilts. For about the last three years I pretty much have not made anything other than quilt (hey, do what you love, right?). I recently have been stepping out of my comfort zone, particularly because at work my one group of colleagues exchange "birthday bombs" (which essentially means spoiling that person on his or her birthday) and I have tried to make something for each of them.

Quilting I generally can figure out on my own. Sewing leads to texts and phone calls to my more skilled sewing friends (especially A, who seems to know all the little tricks). I wanted to share a couple of things I made that were so out of my zone!

I have a friend who is turning 40 this month. His wife is buying him an iPad mini so I decided I would make him an iPad mini case (with his wife's blessing) and use this tutorial and some Star Wars fabric (he is a Star Wars nut).

I got all the supplies (thanks to some advice from A while out on a shopping trip) and was stumped pretty early on when it told me to trim the 12" zipper down to 10.5". Wait. Which side do I trim??
Trim this side?

Or trim this side?
Thankfully A responded quickly to my text and told me to cut on the closed end, not the zipper end (picture one not picture two). I tried googling this answer before checking with A and I could not find the answer! Imagine that!

I also pulled out my zipper foot for the first time ever. I have sewed maybe three zippers in my life (this being the third) and I do think there was a difference using the correct foot.
I top-stitched with my walking foot which was a good call, I think.
Once it was all together (ish) I used my wonder clips- and a few pins- to hold it all together for the final top-stitching. This was by far the most challenging part, especially because the instructions were not all that great and I ended up having to pull out two sections of the top seams to "save" the project. My hubby helped with fixing the issue, actually, because he is good at visualizing in 3-D. He told me where to pull the stitch to save my pocket (I had attached the inner lining slightly wrong) and it fixed the project!
Slow and steady- and lots of clips.
The final result is not perfect, but it is cute and it does fit an iPad mini (I checked the dimensions, cut one out of cardboard and slipped it inside to be sure!). I am just waiting for the zipper pull I ordered from Etsy- a Darth Vader light saber. I think he will like it!
I used a Cotton+Steel print in black for the lining, and the outer fabric was picked up at a Jo-Ann's in the U.S. ages back and used for my The Dark Side quilt.
The design is good in terms of the accessory pocket- I love that you can put the charger right with your iPad. I did not love the quality and detail in the instructions. Lots of assumptions are made about your skill level. I also think something is wrong with the pattern piece for the tab that holds the case shut. The pattern has it much too small, in my opinion, and as a result the way I had to attach it leaves a gap that I don't like. In the tutorial the shape of the tab is quite different, so I think there might be an issue with the template itself. Trust me, draw your own to the size you'd prefer.

Next up was a birthday bomb item for one of the men I work with. He is young and fabulous and he is very stylish. I knew that whatever I made him had to use the Dapper Fox print from The Fox and the Houndstooth. I ended up deciding on the journal cover pattern from Stitched in Colour. He loves carrying around notebooks and journals (comes with the job, I think) and he can reuse it by buying a new journal. Masculine? Check. Useful? Check. Stylish? Check. I knew I had a winner.
I picked up a composition book from Staples and got to work with the grey colourway of this line.
The pattern gives you two options: lined or unlined. She recommends testing the fabric on the journal cover to see if it is opaque enough that you don't see the pattern on the composition book coming through. This was a GREAT tip. I needed a lining. I chose this tone-on-tone Pearl Bracelet in the recipient's favourite colour. I did not know at the time that you would basically NEVER see this pattern except when switching out the books, but that is okay!
This was before I trimmed the corners. It is inside-out here.
I had a lot of frustration with my machine with this one. On the edges with the folded sides my needle would not pierce through. Thread kept breaking. The machine would come to a halt for "safety reasons." Fortunately no needles broke, but I was going nuts. I switched needles, tension, thread, everything. Eventually I just powered through. Anyone else ever have this issue? Usually my Janome is a BEAST and can power through any fabric!
It hated these edges.

Trimmed, pressed, ready to turn.
The finished product fit PERFECTLY. This was a well-written tutorial with detailed, helpful pictures and instruction. I really like the results.
And my co-worker loved it too!

This is what it looks like on the inside cover. A very polished final result I think.
I was proud of myself for trying something different, but I was not 100% happy with the results. I did come to the realization that the quality of pattern makes an incredible difference. I knew that already from quilting, but it is almost more important when it is outside your area of experience and you really need clear instructions.



  1. Both projects are great. Give yourself a pat on the back.

  2. I think your projects look great - don't be so hard on yourself. If you have problems at a "hump" there is a notion called a "hump jumper", or something like that - you can also life the foot a bit - I have to show you cuz it's hard to describe.

  3. A good pattern definitely makes a huge difference. If you ever want to sew a bag I highly recommend Noodlehead's patterns. Clear, easy to follow, and great visuals! (Love the foxy fabric, by the way!)

  4. You apparently have a strong talent for customizing gifts to match the recipient's personality. You fabric choices are terrific and your attention to detail admirable.. even down to a specialized zipper pull!

  5. Your non-quilty projects turned out very nicely! The main motor of my Pfaff overloads on me sometimes when I'm doing projects that involve multiple layers... I find that sewing slowly and sometimes doing the really thick sections with the hand wheel helps. A larger needle can be good too - topstitch or denim weight.