Wristlet bag

Sewing! So fun! I forget how much I enjoy sewing because I don’t do it very often, but the combination of fixing my machine’s tension issue (read: figuring out where I was threading it wrong) and recently coming into a large collection of fun cotton prints from someone’s de-stash means that right now I just want to Sew All the Things. Ultimately, I’d like to get to a place where I can confidently sew garments — but I definitely need more general practice first.

Enter the DIY Knot Wristlet, a free pattern from 5 out of 4 (pattern | tutorial). I’d been wanting a small bag of some sort that I could hang over the stroller handles when Tertia and I escort the big kids to/from school. In the winter I just shove everything I need into my jacket pockets, but in warmer weather that’s not really practical; my pants pockets only hold so much, and my summer skirts mostly don’t have pockets at all. So I could use a little something for my phone and keys.

This was my first time working from a printed pattern, my first time working with a lining, and to the best of my recollection it was also my first time sewing curved seams. But I did it! I made one alteration to the pattern, which was to omit using any fusible interfacing because (a) I don’t mind if this bag is floppy and (b) Fabricland is on the other side of town and I didn’t feel like going out. You know how it is.

There was one point where I nearly gave up and hand sewed instead: top-stitching the smallest opening, which barely had room to manipulate the presser foot. But I persevered, and if it’s a little janky — well, what are you going to do?

I used two different quilting cottons for the bag: a cream with a subtle print, and this paisley delight. I have enough of the paisley left to probably make a dress, although admittedly, that much pattern might be a little intense. Maybe a skirt, though, one day. Here is the bag all finished and freshly pressed:

And did I mention it’s reversible?!

All in all this was a very satisfying afternoon project. Big crochet projects can take dozens of hours to complete, so being able to make something start-to-finish in an hour or two felt great. Next up on the sewing list, Perpetua wants a similar bag of her own. I’m looking forward to seeing how the experience is different a second time through.

Yarn and thread

Once upon a time, when we were relatively newly married and in our starving graduate student phase, my husband and I bought our first (artificial) Christmas tree, which cost $30 on sale at Rite Aid. We bought a few strands of lights, and I made some ornaments out of sculpy to supplement our small collection. As for the bottom of the tree, all we had for an improvised tree skirt was a white sateen baby blanket someone had given Anselm. It fit very awkwardly — being a rectangle and all — but we made do.

Two years ago we upgraded the tree, but we’ve still been making do with the same improvised tree skirt… until now!

This was made semi-following a pattern I bought from Mary Maxim. I followed it exactly for the twelve snowflake motifs, but then went off-piste for more of the rest. The original pattern isn’t a joined circle, but has two sort of flaps that overlap in order to make it easier to put around the tree. I prefer the security of having it totally closed; we’ll just have to remember to put it over the stand before the tree goes in. No big deal. I decided to go with a single red accent stripe in the outer section mostly because I was running too low on the other colours, but I brought the white and tan back in when I added the tassels. All in all, I’m very pleased with how this came out.

The yarn is also from Mary Maxim, called “starlette sparkle”. It’s nice and glittery, but it’s a fairly rough acrylic. That makes it good for household projects like this one — but I wouldn’t want to wear it. Still, I expect we’ll be using this for decades to come, which pleases me.

Also in the realm of pleasing things, check out this beautiful old girl:

That, my friends, is a vintage Singer 403a, manufactured in either 1959 or 1960. My grandmother was downsizing, and — lucky me — I ended up with with sewing machine. It came with the manual as well as all requisite parts, and after a good cleaning and oiling this morning it runs like a dream. It’s been years since I’ve had a working sewing machine, so I just sat right down for two quick and dirty projects!

I do mean quick and dirty. I neither ironed nor pinned (I know, I know). But I think they came out well regardless. The first used the fabric from Perpetua’s old broken umbrella, which I turned into waterproof tote:

The second is an envelope-style slip cover for a throw pillow (I’ll make its twin soon):

This fabric is very special to me. I mentioned recently that I’ve been sorting through all our old baby things as Tertia outgrows them. Something I couldn’t bring myself to either sell or donate was the woven wrap from Lenny Lamb that I used to carry Anselm through most of his infancy. He was a winter baby, and a heavy one (!), and those long cozy layers were perfect for us as I learned to be a mom.

And so, instead of getting rid of it, I decided to transform it. Anselm’s wrap will live on in our home as cushion covers, and perhaps other things as well — there’s certainly enough fabric for more projects. It warms my heart to have a reminder of those special months that’s so tangible, beautiful, and practical. Hooray for being able to sew again!