Tag Archives: Sewing

Olio – March 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

It is March, the most changeable month of our seasons.  Three days ago it was in the 70’s, then the rain came, the wind blew, trees around the region fell and with them the temperature.  Today it is barely at freezing and this. . .

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Yes, that is snow folks.  Only a light dusting, but this is what we expect this time of year, not 70+ºf.  Tonight it drops into the teens.  If the sun comes out, the garlic will get another blanket of hay or a piece of row cover to keep the 9 inch shoots from burning to the ground.  In town, the flowering almonds, daffodils, and forsythia are blooming. We have a young maple with flowers and tiny leaves.  It is weeks too soon.

The chickens fled back into their coop as soon as the flurries began this morning.  Those birds just don’t like snow.  The dozen new chicks get picked up in 10 days.  Their abode needs to be set up this weekend so that the warming table can get the environment right for them when they come home.  So far, Tractor Supply has done a great job of keeping me from buying a few Welsummers as the two times we have gone down, the bins have been empty.  It wouldn’t work out too well to have 4 chicks almost 2 weeks older than the tiny Buff’s coming home with us soon.  The brooder coop sides that remained plastic last year still need to be enclosed within the next 6 weeks.

Mother Earth News alerted me that the onion sets can be put out under cover.  To do that, another day of moving compost is in order.  There is still a big pile and 2 empty boxes to fill.

Over the winter, steps were taken to make spinning at the Smithfield Plantation House a bit more authentic.  Two antique wheels entered our home, both have had parts made or repaired by Bobbin Boy and returned.  The little Saxony style wheel, the older of the two spins.  The effort to spin on her is much greater than on the contemporary wheel, but yarn has been made.

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It is a bit rougher than yarn generally spun by me, but it is yarn! Yesterday an attempt to spin on the great wheel was made.  Something isn’t aligned quite right and the drive band walks off the back edge.  The wheel does not have a groove and it was suggested that a beeswax paste be thinly smeared down the center to help hold it, but it still moves off the back.  It is hard to learn properly when so much attention is given to keeping the drive band string in place.  Also during the winter, additions were made to the costume that is worn while spinning at the plantation.  A Dormeuse/Mob cap, Apron, and Fichu/kerchief were added to improve the look.  A gown should also be worn, but that is not in the budget right now, plus it gets terribly hot in the weaver’s cottage during the summer months. Here is the new look.

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One of the issues with the petticoat (skirt) was that it was one long panel with a single seam and a drawstring of ribbon.  It was awkward and bulky at the waist.  Some of the re-enactors and seamstresses on Ravelry, the social network for fiber artists, gave me some pointers on how to deal with that issue.  Yesterday, the drawstring was removed, the single panel split into two, hidden pockets added to the front panel and the side seams resewn to the bottom of the pockets.  Cotton twill tape was added to the tops of the two panels distributing the fullness and stitched in place.  The back twill is tied in the front, then the front overlaps the back a few inches on each side and ties in the back.  It is so much more comfortable and now I have pockets for my very nontraditional keys needed to get there and for my Hussif, a small needle book, that has needles, pins, thread, and my tiny scissors.

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The Hussif, a contraction of the word housewife, was carried my many people, women of the house, pages, soldiers, and sailors.  It is a small rolled sewing kit.  Mine doubles as both a small sewing kit and a tiny knitting notions kit with the addition of a cable needle, a few stitch markers, needle gauge, and a tape measure.

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Traditionally, each pocket was made of a different fabric and was used to contain the necessary tools of a sewing repair kit.

Participation as a historical spinner is encouraging me to learn more of the period, customs, and terms.  The location is beautiful, though earlier this week, a very old, maybe 300 year old maple tree on the property fell.  Not during the storm, which is probably a good thing, as with little wind, it fell away from the forge shop into the yard.  During the storm, it might have taken a different path down.  The lead blacksmith rallied a group and the trunk and larger branches have been salvaged and once dried, will be made into tables, benches, handles for tools and knives.  Saving a bit of the area’s old history.

 

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.

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This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.

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The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.

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A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.

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And two different sized Lucets for making cord.

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An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.

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Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.

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A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.

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Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.

 

 

Midweek

The week is moving on, public schools closing at the end of the day today for Thanksgiving.  Today was granddaughter’s preschool celebration of her Thanksgiving Day birthday.  Tomorrow they have a Thanksgiving feast of vegetable stew that each child contributed a vegetable and all helped prepare, but today was her day.  Last evening, I made 3 dozen mini muffins, lemon and lemon blueberry, her request for their treat.  This morning, I put together little party bags with a top, a couple of glow sticks, and one of those compressed wash cloths that bloom when they are put in water.  She is going to see Moana, the new Disney movie after Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and I found some of the wash cloths with those characters on them.

At school, beginning a half hour before the end of their day, they have a special celebration for the birthday child.  First, all of the children help color a banner earlier for the birthday child that is hung above the birthday table and is sent home after.  The birthday girl got to sit at this table and select a songs, one for each year for the class to sing.  Then candles are lit and blown out.

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One of their rituals is for a wooden sun to be placed in the middle of the floor, the child handed a small wooden globe and the teacher explaining that for each year the earth goes around the sun one time.  The child then walks the globe around the sun the appropriate number of times while the rest of the class sits in a circle around her.

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After the trips around the sun, the birthday child walks around the group, either calling their name or gently tapping them to join the train in the middle of the floor.  The birthday child chooses whether to be the engine or the caboose, and granddaughter chose to be the engine.  They have a little song that puts the kids in the cars, they are given a ticket and then they choo choo away.

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After all of the rituals, they get their treat and party bag if there is one and everyone goes home.

Last night, while I was babysitting with grandson with a migraine, I stitched the love tag to go in the Christmas stocking for our newest granddaughter.  Today, after the school party, I cut and sewed the lining and hand stitched it into the stocking and sewed in the tag.

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This is the first time I have been playful with the lining.  Generally, I use a white pillow case to cut, but this fabric was too cute to pass up.

While the machine was out, I mended a pair of work pants for eldest son.  He and his family will arrive tonight or tomorrow, depending on when he was able to leave work today.  He will try again to hunt a bit, we will put the cull chickens in the freezer, and we will celebrate Thanksgiving together with the huge turkey we picked up from the farm yesterday.

Tonight, I will cook the two sugar pumpkins for making pies for Thanksgiving and later for Christmas dinners.

Yesterday, I volunteered to help out at the historic house during their Holiday celebration the first weekend in December.  There were many jobs available and I let the director decide how to utilize me, I will be spinning in one of the rooms in the house and acting as one of the interpreters.  The theme this year is products that they produced and so their will be honey made food treats, hops, and fiber.  This is their last event of the season and I have enjoyed being a volunteer there a few times this year and look forward to the opportunity to do more next year.  I am debating whether I can get a huge undyed shawl knitted from some of my already spun fiber to cover my shoulders during the holiday celebration.  It would be a nice addition to my costume.

 

What to do when it is too wet to play outdoors?

During the night, the temperature at the surface rose above freezing, the upper atmosphere was already there and the freezing rain and sleet turned to rain.  The 11″ of crusty snow from yesterday was reduced to about half a foot of slush with a river running down our driveway.  Because it was nearly 40ºf when I went out to feed and water the chickens, the water in their coop was not frozen, the straw in the bed of the coop was not frozen, the run several inches deep in the slush.  A few quick scoops with the snow shovel opened enough ground in front of the coop to put their food, water, and the kitchen scraps, so I ran them outside.  While they were eating and trying to avoid the remaining snow, I cleaned out the coop from 2 weeks of them being, well cooped up.  The garden got a good pile of damp, prefertilized straw and they got a new foot of clean dry straw inside.

After morning chores and breakfast, I wandered up the slippery driveway to see what the roads looked like.  Our unpaved road had been plowed to bare dirt and gravel with a few slushy patches, the paved road about half a mile up from the house was wet, but clear.  A few of our neighboring counties, especially east of us got freezing rain with lots of iced trees, broken limbs and power outages, we were lucky this time.  Until lunch time, we had sunshine.  It is now overcast, but still near 40ºf, so very mild and lots of melting is going on.  Schools were closed again today, so Mountaingdad, daughter, the 2 grands and I ventured into town and had a burger, then came back to clear a place for son in law to park when he gets off work today.  He went in during the early hours of the storm on Sunday night, 12 hours before he needed to, but knowing that his car wouldn’t make it Monday, nor would any of the cars on Monday.  He spent the night in his office at the hospital, being bothered and awakened by staff all night.  Last night he left the hospital, but stayed at a hotel in the city and returned to work on icy streets this morning.  The roads are clear out here and if he can get to the interstate, he will not have any trouble getting home and I have shoveled the top of the driveway to the bare spot where one of the cars was parked during the storm.

It is wet, slushy, not fun to be in this afternoon, so I pulled out the sewing machine, the iron and board and set about to make our 4 year old granddaughter a little drawstring backpack for her dance clothes.  On Friday after preschool, she and several of her friends are getting dance lessons at one of the girl’s homes.  For the first couple of weeks, she was wearing clothes provided by the instructor, but she wanted her own and her parents bought her a tiny leotard, dance shorts, and a little dance skirt for Valentine’s Day.  Before the storm, I sought some fabric that had ballet slippers or ballerinas on it to no avail.  She adores “Frozen” and the fabric store had plenty of Elsa and Anya fabric.

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A quick search on the internet had provided instructions on how to make the draw string backpack for a toddler.

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On dance days, she has to also pack a lunch to eat at her friend’s house as she gets picked up by her friend’s mother on Friday, so that I don’t have to drive in at nine a.m., noon, and again at 2:30 to pick her up.  Her big brother on a couple of occasions has left his lunchbox at school and he ends up using the spare, leaving her without one, so using the extra fabric and cord, I whipped up a little draw string bag that matches for her to carry her lunch.

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She is excited.  After her nap, we packed her dance clothes in her backpack and she showed it off.  I’m sure that it will have to be modeled for her Dad when he gets home.

I did succeed in picking up the sleeve stitches on my handspun sweater for one sleeve yesterday evening.  I have only knit about an inch so far and will have to figure out the decrease ratio soon.  I don’t want the sleeves to be too large at the bottom edge, I am notorious for not tapering my sleeves enough.

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My friend and I are hoping that this was the last storm for the month and that we will have no difficulty making the trek west to our spinning retreat in a little more than a week.  If it is only flurries, I won’t worry with my CRV, but I won’t drive in half a foot of snow.

An Odd Situation

We own two vehicles, though we rarely leave the house without each other, it is comforting to know that there is a back up available if one breaks down or needs servicing or on the rare occasion we go in different directions.
Son#1 and family, living in Northern Virginia with public transportation to anywhere they need to go, don’t have a motorized vehicle, bicycles yes.
About twice a year, to facilitate them being able to visit both us and DIL’s family on the other side of the state without totally breaking their budget as train and bus fares are much higher during the holidays, we loan them my car.
It seems strange to not be able to hop in my car and go off without too much thought. Of course I can take the other one, but I don’t like to leave Mountaingdad feeling stranded. He has the BBH but that is not transportation in a cold rain, dark of night or snow and ice, nor can he transport more goods than his paniers will hold. He is off alone right now, I am quite comfortable staying here by myself without a car and wonder why I don’t like leaving him alone. Perhaps the two extended hospital stays he has had since retiring here, both that should have been much shorter, but extended due to negative reactions to meds the hospital administered or due to his immobility after breaking his humerus near the shoulder. I don’t hesitate to go off to babysit or help one of our children for days at a time if he has a car or worry if he is away on his bike or in the car, even for hours or overnight.
Today I stay home and clean and wrap gifts that need to be mailed. To make the two doll quilts still waiting on my sewing table.

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Two random scrap tops, but my backing fabric is too busy for them, so a trip to the fabric store must be made to finish the project.
Tomorrow, he will stay and watch football on TV while I go resupply our wrapping station with boxes, ribbon, tape and tags and get the fabric needed to finish the doll bed quilts. For now I will return to knitting and try to finish the third Christmas sweater, second The Wonderful Wallaby, this one for one of the grandsons, the one soon to be moving here.  Pictures of it will be posted once it is finished.  Since a package mailing is in order to them, I really must finish.

Olio, October 6, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

The garden survived a 31ºf night and a 37ºf night through the aid of some row cover over the peppers and tomatillos.  The beans that haven’t been eaten by the deer that have breeched the electric fence also survived.  The pumpkins/winter squash patch is finally beginning to die back and there are dozens of the Burgess Buttercup squash beginning to show through.  So far I don’t see a single Seminole Pumpkin which is disappointing.  Today I waded through the thigh high patch, pulled back the squash vines and tried to dig the sweet potatoes.

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I’m sure there are more there, but the vines will have to die back more before I try again.  Now that they are harvested, they require a few days of curing at 80ºf.  I don’t know how that will happen with the daytime temperatures at least 15 degrees lower than that and we haven’t turned the heat on in the house so it is 20 degrees cooler.  I put them out on a rack in the sun this morning, but then the rains started, so they are in the utility room until we see sunshine again.

In July when visited our daughter’s family in Florida, our granddaughter came out in the cutest sun dress.

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She and her mom love it because she can dress herself in it and it has no fasteners.  Over confident Mountaingmom announced, “That would be so easy to make.”  The bodice was traced on printer paper, the tiers measured approximately and brought home to the farm.  Later two packets of fat quarters were purchased and I stalled.  Before the Spinning retreat, I decided to begin them.  First off, I failed to cut the front on a fold, I do know better.  Second error was attempting to use three strands of narrow elastic to gather the back, I ended up buying wide underwear elastic later.  Third error was in the measurements I had made of the ruffles which I realized before cutting.  Daughter remeasured everything for me and a few days ago, I got serious about finishing the first dress.

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Yesterday after finishing it, I decided that dress #2 was going to be made with a pattern and I purchased a simple A-line toddler dress pattern from McCall.  As I still wanted to use the fat quarter that I bought for the second dress, The solution was to cut wide strips, sew them end to end, then side to side to create a large striped panel that was used to cut the pattern.  I had some unbleached muslin that I used as facing as the pattern called for binding the edges with bias tape and I didn’t want to do that. Dress #2 was much easier to assemble.

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As granddaughter lives in Florida, she will be able to wear them all year with a long sleeve T-shirt under them, so 3 T’s were bought to add to the package.  Also in the package is a giraffe.  Yes, a giraffe.  Two Christmases ago, we bought her a little barn that has various activity parts to it and a collection of farm animals to put inside.  Their dog got a couple of the animals and chewed them up, some of which were replaced, she selected a moose for her farm.  Near their home is a farm that has a giraffe.  We don’t know why or how they obtained it, but it is a source of amusement as we drive by, so her barn will now also have a giraffe.

The Hot Mess yarn that I spun at the retreat, was soaked and hung with a weight on it.  The treatment helped relax the over twist some, so now I have a 106 yard skein of smooth, but tight yarn.

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I have no idea what to do with it.  It is too little for anything other than trim on something.  There isn’t even enough to make a market bag.

The yarn on the bobbin is the random color Merino that I purchased at the retreat.  The color isn’t showing up very well with no sun out and only house lighting to photograph it in, but it is basically lilac color with gold and maroon highlight.  I haven’t finished plying it yet to measure, but it looks like it will be a couple hundred yards of fingering weight yarn.

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Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

 

Where have you been my whole life?

The canning was finished yesterday by early afternoon and Mountaingdad was off riding his BBH (big bad Harley) as it was a beautiful day and beautiful riding days will soon end for the season.   I drove down to the local grocery, a real small town affair with produce displayed outside and much of it local and picked up half a peck each of Golden Delicious and Rome apples and spent hours peeling, coring and chopping them for a batch of applesauce.  Thinking that it would be enough for the season, I jarred it up for canning and realized I only had 7 pints, not enough.  My hands were so sore I wasn’t looking forward to another round of peeling.  Though I am not a big fan of gadgets, trip was made to Walmart for a flat of jars and an apple peeler/corer, but it was a double fail.  This morning, a quick internet search showed that Bed, Bath and Beyond in a nearby town carried the peeler and I knew that Kroger Grocery had the jars, so we made a pre football run to make the purchases.

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Quick work of another peck of apples, peeled, cored, sliced and chopped in about 30 minutes.  Part of that was learning how the device worked.  The apples have cooked down and another 6 pints prepared for the winter.

The Green Tomato Chutney smelled so good yesterday, and made such a small amount that I decided to spend some time gathering and picking just about every green tomato left in the garden, many requiring significant paring of bad spots and making a double recipe of the Chutney.  It is simmering on the stove.

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I wish you could smell my kitchen right now.  I’m hoping for at least 4 or 5 pints from it after it has cooked down.

Last night after the canning was complete, I did finish one of my sweaters.  This is homespun yarn made by a friend and gifted to me by another friend.  It should be a great fall sweater.

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Perhaps I should wear it with a contrasting shirt.  Now I am back to working on the other sweater and the dresses for one of our grandgirls.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Sew Pretty

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My baby girl (well, she a big girl now with two kids of her own, but she will always be my baby girl) and I text back and forth often.  Short little conversations, just keeping up.  Oh course we talk on the phone too, but not daily.

A couple of weeks ago while shopping at one of our two natural food stores, I found the blue market bag on the left in the top picture.  It is a One Mango Tree bag, made in Northern Uganda.  One Mango Tree provides sewing training, steady jobs, a daily meal, school fees stipends for children, bicycles, etc. and the bags are eco-friendly and fair trade.  I texted a picture of it to my daughter.  She at some point had purchased one off of their website to use as a purse and decided it was too large for that purpose.  She asked me how big mine was as it was sitting on the back seat of my car full of groceries and I measured it when I got home.  It is about the same size as hers, but has a matching fabric strap where hers has a braided handle which she says hurts her shoulder when it is full of market goodies.  I asked her what she was looking for size-wise to use as a purse and she gave me the dimensions she was seeking and told her the style of bag would be so easy to make, that I would make her one.

Last Wednesday on my way to knit night, I stopped at the fabric store and selected fabrics in the colors that she likes, taking photos and texting them to her (we live 850 miles apart).  Once the outside fabric was selected via text message, we started on the lining and the questions about whether she wanted it stiffened with Pellon.  She didn’t know what Pellon was but did want it stiffened to use as a purse.  On my way to get bias tape, which I didn’t use, I found a card of buttons that matched perfectly.  The sewing supplies sat in my spinning chair for a week.  I haven’t spun or sewed all week, though I did start a knitting project and read two books, worked in the garden and yard.

Yesterday, I did make a pattern out of butcher paper and added it to the pile.  Today after lunch, Jim went out to do a bit more with the weed wacker and I set about to make the purse.  About an hours worth of cutting, ironing and sewing and my baby girl has a new purse.  A few texts back and forth for her to see it compared in size to the other bag and to decide whether she wanted the button and if so as a decoration or functional and she is happy.  I have plenty of the fabric left and think I will make her a matching market bag them mail them off to her instead of her having to wait for us to visit much later in the summer.

Make It Better

As I sold all of my interchangeable knitting needles and ordered fixed circular knitting needles, I needed storage.  Interchangeables come in clever compact cases that hold the tips and the cables, but fixed circulars come in individual packages and when they arrive, I will have 2 lengths of 10 sizes, a potential snake’s nest if put in a basket.  I have spent a couple of hours searching through Etsy looking for a solution.  I know what I want, something that resembles a CD case and I was willing to pay someone else to design and make it, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t either a roll or much larger than I desired.

My other desire was a means to make my favorite go to bag more organized.

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This bag is a leather tote from Duluth Trading Company, it is my travel tote, my knitting bag, carries my wallet, tablet, notepad, small case with lotion bar, lip balm, comb, pens, camera, and a shawl or scarf.  The bag is 12 x 4 x 13.5 with a zipped top.  Because of its size, it swallows my tiny wallet and keys.  One of my friends used to have a business making bags and she put a liner in them that had pockets around the perimeter.  I sew, but my machine isn’t heavy enough to sew through the liner and the leather.  After approaching this friend, she agreed to help me sew the lining in if I made what I wanted.

Today turned into a craft day as I tackled these two problems after some planning last night and a trip to the fabric store today.

First, I tackled the liner.  I bought a firm drapery fabric, measured twice, cut once and formed just what I wanted.  It is temporarily basted into the bag until I can get with my friend to sew it in place.

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The other project was accomplished with quilting quarters, scraps from the bag liner, and a few inches of synthetic leather.  I still need to sew the button and leather loop on, but it is colorful and I think will fulfill my needs.  The supplies for both projects ended up costing less than a needle case on Etsy that would have been less satisfactory to me.

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