Thursday, June 12, 2014

Man Candy

I wanted to share this amazing sky with you; the promise of the rainbow arching over the moon.

Since the beginning of May I've been super busy. We've had guests three times and traveled out of state twice. Now I'm trying to finish everything up so we can take the kids to the beach for a week. I'm washing a mountain of laundry as I write.

You won't ever hear me complain about traveling, though. I spent many years home with young children and never went anywhere other than to Ohio or Michigan to visit family. I missed the adventure of travel immensely. My grandmother told me, "This is just your time for that" (of child care and laundry). "It will pass," and of course she was right. Everything happens in its own time. There is no way to rush it or change it. You just have to try to enjoy each moment as it occurs and know things will happen as they're meant and when they're meant to happen. I am very grateful to have spent that time with my babies and toddlers, but I'm thrilled to visit new places again.

The bag I used as a model.

Just before we left for Seattle my best customer, Sean, asked me to sew nine bags to give as gifts at the next Barbie convention. That's not until the end of next month, but I'd really like to finish them before we leave since I'm on a roll. I don't know if it will happen, however. We have a swim meet tonight and I have to work the concession stand. Yesterday was sucked up by swim practice, a meeting at school, and the latest eBay webinar. The webinar focused on marketing, and particularly on writing real store newsletters instead of allowing eBay to send a generic one. So, there's another thing to add to the list. If you subscribe to my newsletter expect to receive a real message at least every two weeks, at least if things go as planned.

I drew the pattern for the bags using one of my favorite pool bags, an old Body Shop premium with purchase. I like it because it can stand up when filled, is lined, and has a tie closure. I've shown how to copy a pattern from an existing piece a couple times before, but it bears repeating. If you learn to replicate a textile through this method you will be able to sew anything without a pattern. So, if you want another shirt just like your favorite, or your friend wants a bag exactly like yours, you can make it.

Trace oddly-shaped pieces.

First, trace any odd shaped pieces, like the front of the bag. After tracing, fold the tracing paper in half to make sure each side is exactly the same. You can also just use half the piece as the pattern. To do so, simply fold the fabric and place the piece on the fold to cut it out.

Measure square or rectangular pieces.

Any square or rectangular pieces can be measured and copied. The side and bottom of the bag is one long rectangular piece, like 19 inches by 5 inches, so instead of drawing a pattern I just measured and cut a rectangle. I did the same for the straps. Please note, in normal circumstances you would add seam allowance to your pieces before cutting the fabric. A typical seam allowance is 5/8 inches. In this case I used a 1/4 seam allowance. Just measure and mark this along the edge of the traced pattern and draw a new pattern line by following the marks, like dot-to-dot worksheets.

A few finished bags

I did not add the seam allowance to these pattern pieces. Usually, I would draw out my pattern and measure it to figure out how much fabric to buy. In this case, however, I had a set amount of material so I had to calculate how to get nine bags from the fabric Sean sent. Naturally, being me, I couldn't just do the bare minimum. I figured out if I didn't add seam allowance to the pattern pieces (making the bags 1/4 inch smaller all over than the original) and supplemented a remnant of white lining fabric I already had I could line each bag to make it reversible as well as use contrast on the sides and base! I had just enough fabric to squeak out nine reversible bags. I did have to use grosgrain ribbon for the ties instead of bias strips.The bags take a long time to sew since this pattern is more complicated than I'd originally planned, but they're so nice! As a designer I often over-extend myself because I just get so excited about a concept I have to try it, even if it's difficult. I do appreciate these custom commissions. I find myself working on many things I'd never have thought about myself. I certainly never thought I'd be sewing hunky guy favor bags!

One side of a reversible bag

Sean chose these cute fabrics and sent them so they were waiting when we returned from our trip. The cowboy print is called "wranglers" by the Alexander Henry fabric collection, and the construction worker print on blue or cream ground, is "heavy equipment" from the same collection. I think it's really interesting to see someone, especially a male designer, using men as sex symbols. We are used to seeing beautiful women adorning everything from mud flaps on trucks to perfume bottles, but men are rarely portrayed in this light. It's fun and kind of rebellious, which I love. You can order your own custom pieces from my store, or purchase already-completed items:

The bag reversed

As I was sewing I listened to a radio program about women's clothing and how it's changed over the years. The presenter was critical of the very tight, low-cut and revealing fashions that are normal for fashionable women because she feels they keep women from being taken seriously. I think it goes even further than that, however. It seems to me women are no longer allowed to age.

I remember when my first son was born I got to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly, but nothing was in the same place anymore, if you know what I mean, so I couldn't wear my college clothes. When I tried to shop for new clothes, though, I couldn't find anything between teen girl jeans and club wear and old lady knit pant suits. The message, I feel, is once you can't wear belly-baring low rise jeans you might as well hang it up and go buy a bunch of grandma house clothes. I think the shopping situation is a little better now, but it's still a problem for me and I resent it. Just because I'm a mother I don't think I should have to feel like I'm finished as a woman. Unfortunately, we women are more at fault than anyone, I believe. My own mother calls me every week to suggest I get a job outside the home so I can afford various cosmetic procedures, such as braces or a boob lift or tummy tuck. She obviously has a skewed idea of what a part-time graphic designer commands in terms of salary! We should emulate the men on this front. Design clothing for and celebrate young men with great bodies, but acknowledge the existence and worth of older men as well!

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