Leather Bottom Pouch

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I am obsessed with sewing zippered pouches, especially this one: the open wide pouch by Anna Graham, the brilliant mind behind Noodlehead. I have made roughly 15 of these beauties and enjoyed every minute of sewing them.

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I love this pouch because the design is utterly practical. It opens wide (hence the name) and you can get at everything inside easily. This is perfect for me…the woman who throws everything into a bag willy nilly and then has to rummage around to find it later. My packing skills are truly atrocious.

The exterior fabric is from Pat Bravo’s Indie collection with Art Gallery Fabrics. I savor this print, and it’s hard for me to cut up the yardage from that collection, but this bag seemed worthy of the honor. The lining is a print from Anna Maria Horner’s versatile True Colors collection.

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I have been experimenting with sewing leather, and I decided to incorporate some into this bag. The bottom of the bag was cut from leather upholstery scraps generously given to me by my mother-in-law so that I could explore some of my sewing whims.

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I used a leather needle to sew all seams on the bottom portion of the bag. I also switched from my usual 100% cotton thread to a 100% polyester thread for the leather base. Cotton threads can be eaten away by the natural oils in leather, and I wanted this bag to last. Even though it added a few minutes to the process to re-thread the machine, I feel it is worth the extra time to have a durable product.

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Tiny Pocket Tank: A Garment Sewing Venture

I am scared of sewing clothes for myself. I can’t explain this fear, because it doesn’t make any sense. I used to sew apparel all the time when I was a 4-H member. I made skirts, tops, dresses, and suits (I only made pants once, and that was hard). I sewed knits and used a serger. But I did all of it under the watchful eye of my mother, who had a lot of expertise in the area and could help me figure out the hard parts.

My last attempt at sewing a garment for myself happened back in 2010, when I tried to make a blouse from a Colette pattern. It turned out ok, but I didn’t have a serger at the time and was dissatisfied with the interior seam finishes and the quality of the fabric I had chosen. I never wore it in public. It was discouraging.

I got the itch to sew garments again after sewing the ultra cute Tiny Pocket Tanks made by talented ladies with sewing blogs. The examples from Pink Chalk Fabrics were particularly motivating. So I jumped in. I downloaded the pattern, used some Anna Maria Horner Little Folks voile from my stash, and sewed myself a tank top.IMG_0989

The pattern was so simple it was almost astonishing. I used french seams for the sides and shoulders, because I am not quite mentally prepared to tackle the serger yet. I followed the neck and armhole finishing instructions to the letter, and I am grateful, because the outcome was lovely. I have never had a curved edge lay flat like that before. Neat!

IMG_0991I did made a tiny alteration to the directions. Instead of using a straight stitch for the under-stitching, I used a narrow three-step zigzag stitch. Nancy Zieman recommends this for under-stitching, and back in my 4-H sewing days I always relied on the three-step zigzag stitch to help my facings lay flat. It still works!

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(Can you see my zigzag stitches? I think I need a better camera.)

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Here’s the finished garment on me. There are some minor fit issues around the bust, but I don’t have the confidence yet to do pattern alterations…

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…so instead I will cover it up with a cardigan! This is how I would have to wear it to work, anyway.

The minor success of the Tiny Pocket Tank has inspired me to try some more garment sewing. Nothing too fancy, just a few other tanks that can be sewn with french seams and worn casually. Next up is the Wiksten Tank. Then I have my eyes set on the Eucalypt Tank. Brianna and apparel sewing – a saga to be continued…

 

Glug Glug: Ginger Press Cocktail

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There is nothing new under the sun. I remember being in a dramatic literature course back in high school and discussing how there are really only a few basic story plots (think man vs. nature, man vs. self, etc.). Although humans have been writing stories and plays for centuries, each tale can be broken down into the essential elements of those basic plots. It’s not a bad thing – it simply means that we take the existing structures available to us and build upon them with our own ideas and talents.

I think that lifestyle blogging can be like writing a story and trying to come up with a new plot: you can’t really do it. There are so many lifestyle bloggers out there doing creative things, and it is challenging to come up with something new. So you just have to be inventive with what you have, respect the work of others, and add your own ideas to the mix.

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This cocktail is my version of someone else’s excellent idea. One of my favorite places to eat in southeast Wisconsin is Cafe Sourette, a farm-to-table concept restaurant in West Bend. Every time I eat at Cafe Sourette, I order the ginger press cocktail. It has this wonderful, bright flavor. The spicy tang of ginger wakes me up every time. After craving the cocktail numerous times and ruling out the possibility of driving an hour round trip just to have one of my favorite drinks, I decided to create my own approximation of the ginger press. It is so easy to whip up on a hot afternoon, and it makes me feel fancy. Especially with the paper straw.

IMG_0969Ginger Press Cocktail

2 oz. Domaine du Canton ginger liqueur

Lemonade (homemade is good, but I was lazy and used Simply Lemonade)

Ice

Lemon slices

Fill a tumbler with ice. Pour in 2 ounces of Domaine du Canton ginger liqueur. (I recommend wiping down the lip of the Domaine du Canton bottle after you have poured, because it is a syrupy liqueur and you will thank yourself later when you don’t have to strong-arm the cap off of the bottle next time you open it.) Top with lemonade. Garnish with lemon slices. Candied ginger would be a nice garnish too, if you have it on hand. Add a straw and sip in the sunshine.