Sew Together Bag WIP (+ Fat Quarterly Retreat Link-Up!)

I’m writing this post to share a project, but also to take part in the Fat Quarterly Retreat linky party! It’s only a couple of days away now and I’M SO DAMN EXCITED! I never thought I’d get the chance to go, so it’s an extra-special treat for me and I seriously can’t wait to meet everyone!

There’s me, up in the right corner over there, and I’m taking the hand quilting, screen printing, lampshade making, Touchdraw, Getting Into Print, and Fracture quilt classes. PHEW. We’re going to learn all the things! It’s like nerdy sewing summer camp!

As soon as I was sure I was going, I decided to make a Wiksten Tank (so, so far out of my comfort zone, but been on my list for ages) and a Sew Together Bag (also on my list for ages, and I’d need to carry all my sewing junk around anyway, right?). Well, I ran out of time before I even got to the tank, but my Sew Together Bag has been an epic journey.

Not that it’s that difficult really, just that I managed to make an already high-maintenance project even more complex. Because I couldn’t just make a zippered pouch with three zippered pouches inside. I had to make it with a hand-stitched, paper-pieced exterior –

Sew Together Exterior

– which I quilted (even more than this progress photo) and then stitched –

Stitching on Sew Together Exterior

– using a vintage embroidery pattern from the 1930s. Naturally.

Sew Together Interior

Here’s my interior, basically finished. I couldn’t find a piece of felt that matched (how do I not have a piece of felt that matched?!) so I skipped the needle landing, though I did want to include it. Maybe I can hand-stitch one in later. And I used some of the Cotton + Steel pretties that I’d pre-ordered from The Village Haberdashery – I cut right into them almost immediately upon delivery. (And now I’m slightly panicked and will absolutely need more, STAT. Especially those tigers. Oh, the tigers!)

I hope to get it the last bits of construction done today. I better, because I still have a ton of materials to gather and prep before Friday. If you’re coming to the Retreat, I can’t wait to meet you – just look out for the goofy American with dark hair and glasses, or my high-maintenance Sew Together Bag. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or Flickr, you’ll probably recognize me by my avatar, ’cause I’ll wear my stitched nametag while I’m there!

And for the rest of you, I’ll show you my finished bag next week!

Vintage Sunday: Amazing (Creepy) Plate-Cat

Amazing Vintage Plate-Cat

Have you seen my new amazing vintage find?! This plate kills me – it’s a kitty inside a plate. It’s an actual (well, not actual-actual, that really would be creepy), 3D fuzzy kitty with a tiny heart nose and toy eyes – under glass. The man at the charity shop implied that he’d seen these before, but I certainly haven’t – is this, like, a thing I don’t know about?! I’m calling it a plate-cat, because it’s just so much more than a cat on a plate, don’tcha think?

Amazing Vintage Plate-Cat

There’s just so, so much to love about this ridiculous object, but my favorite might be that the Eyes. Don’t. Match. Seriously – check out the close-up above – they’re different eyes!!

Amazing Vintage Plate-Cat

Oh, the happiness. Best vintage find EVER.

Vintage Sunday: Bettie!

Singer Featherweight - Bettie!

Following up from the other week, when I shared the new love of my life with you all – I’ve made my Bettie a little slipcover!

Singer Featherweight - Bettie!

Of course, Bettie (her new name, obviously – the name because there are so many great vintage ones – Bette Davis, Betty & Veronica, Betty Rubble, Betty Boop, Betty Grable; but with an ‘ie’ as a slight tribute to the saucy and charming pin-up Miss Bettie Page) has a great carrying case she can live in, but I want to be able to keep her out on a table for convenient sewing and I wouldn’t want her to get all dusty!

I needed a little project for Bettie and I to get to know each other with. Something that wouldn’t have serious consequences if it wasn’t perfect. I used some of my most precious scraps and whipped this patchwork up, which was perfect for getting to know a new machine with – basically brainless and speedy, so I could focus on the machine rather than the piecing. I had to fiddle with thread tension and presser foot tension, back and forth until they were just right, and oiling and then re-fiddling with the thread tension when I realized halfway through this project that I had it slightly mis-threaded. D’oh! So all these little kinks were worked out and, together, Bettie and I made her a charming little cover. Which I embroidered with her name. Of course. ‘Cause I’m a giant dork.

Singer Featherweight - Bettie!

A friend shared some Sugru with me, which is bizarre and magical stuff, so I was able to make a new bed cushion (aka rubber foot thingamy) since Bettie was missing one and bed cushions in the right size for the white Featherweights are apparently impossible to find. But it’s all perfect now!

Singer Featherweight - Bettie!

Oh, and I asked Singer about her age – they weren’t incredibly helpful, to be honest. They told me that they thought my Bettie was made in Edinburgh in 1968 because she’s a white model, which I’ve seen references to online. But her serial code indicates that she was made in 1964, according to Singer’s own charts. I’m not sure why the discrepancy, and Singer made no attempt to explain it, so for now I’m just calling her a 1960s model.

The motor buzzing I’d been hearing stopped for a while – but then came back, so I’ve gotten some recommendations for places I might have her serviced. But that’s just noise – I’ve sewn a great deal on her now, and not a single stitch is out of place or even so much as crooked! Best vintage buy ever!

Vintage Sunday: Help me save this tablecloth!

Vintage Tablecloth - Stained but salvageable?

Here is another treasure I saved from the trash at the charity shop – a stunning tablecloth made of, I’m not sure, some kind of rayon? There’s no fiber content on the German tag, but it’s all slinky and shimmery – definitely not even a little bit of cotton in there. Only some of it visible in this photo, but this tablecloth is very, very badly stained – there’s large yellow stains, little pink ones all over – it’s a mess. But I absolutely have to at least try and save it – it’s so beautiful (those bright colors, they kill me!), I’d love to be able to use it as a tablecloth for special occasions.

So – this is an open call for help! Any washing / stain-budging advice to share? Any experience with saving vintage textiles that might help me out? Pretty please, shout it out!

Vintage Sunday: 1950s Sewing Box

I’ve been thinking for a while that if I want my blog to represent me (rather than just some projects), I need to include some of the other things I love. One of my major loves is vintage, in nearly any form, which is something I really only touch on from time to time. So I hereby introduce Vintage Sundays, where I’ll share some part of my vintage love: a project, some awesome thrifted find, a recipe – who knows?! It could get crazy up in here, 1950s-style! My love of anything from the 1930s all the way to the 1970s is widespread, so I don’t want a limit on what might appear here, just trust that it will be of the past.

My new 1950s sewing box!

Good timing for this new post too, because I went out with my pals to the local Vintage & Handmade Market yesterday and was (easily) convinced to take this beautiful sewing box home with me. I’ve been thinking for a while now it’d be nice to have one on legs (these are detachable, which is very handy feature), to be level with me and easy to reach while I work, especially since I do more hand-sewing now than I used to. It’s a little bit of a fixer-upper: it’s got a few dings and scratches and the hinges are a little rusty. But who loves a project more than me?!

My new 1950s sewing box!

I think I’ll give her a coat of paint and maybe replace the hinges – weather permitting, I’ll tackle this project at the end of the week / next weekend. Right now I’m thinking white on the outside, with a light aqua / robin’s egg blue on the inside for a nice 1950s look, but I’ll think on it and do a little research before I decide for sure. I hope I can share a revamp with you for Vintage Sunday next week!

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