Week 1 Complete: My Long-Awaited Lap Belt Backpack is Finally Finished

Two short weeks ago I challenged myself to complete one project a week for the next seven weeks.  I’ll be honest, I already kind of failed, but I figure if I have seven projects done at the end I’ll be proud of myself.  I made the rules after all right?

I say “kind of” failed, because my week one project took about one and a half weeks as it was a bit more complex than I had planned for.  If you’ve seen my Instagram, you know that a few weeks ago the two lap belts I ordered finally arrived and I was excited to get them onto a project.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my week 1 project completing the lap belt backpack I decided to use the blue buckle on.  This was a fun and challenging project, because I had no pattern I was using for the project, just a collection of pictures from Pinterest I wanted to combine and make my own. Usually, I would take these pictures and make a detailed sketch of what I wanted my result to look like…

This time around I must have fell and bumped my head, because I never competed a full sketch of the project!  Instead I just started from what I knew how to make and strove to make it look as much like my main inspiration picture as possible.  It either says something about my reverse engineering skills or my sheer luck that the backpack tuned out as well as it did, but that’s a discussion for later.

uber cool bags made from recycled car seats and seat belts from rePack (on FB).

My main project inspiration

Looking at flap backpacks on Pinterest I figured that a flap backpack or drawstring backpack are in general nothing more than a tote bag with flaps and/or drawstrings added.  Luckily, I have making square bottom tote bags down to a science.  All I had to do was measure another backpack I had that I liked the size of and add some extra L X W for the seam allowance.

I decided I wanted the bottom of the bag cut on a fold so that the base would all be one piece and the sides would need to be stitched up.  Next, I added the accent leather (pleather?) fabric on top of the main upholstery weight leopard print fabric.  I debated putting an outside pocket on the back of the backpack, but in the end decided to leave that for the bags next improved iteration.

Embarrassingly, I accidentally stitched all the accent fabric on before adding the bottom half of the lap belt and had to remove some of the stitching, so I could slip in the lap belt.  It was no big deal but felt like a rookie mistake.

It was at this point that I took a break to think out the design more before I made a mistake that would be hard to fix.  Since I didn’t have a detailed sketch I spent a lot of time mentally working out the different options for reaching my end result.  I asked myself questions like: When should I add the flap, should the top half of the buckle go on top or underneath the flap, how do I keep the heavyweight Pellon interfacing in place at the base of the bag?Although these were important questions to ask myself, I think they were also mixed in with a good amount of procrastination.  In the end, I inserted the bag lining with an added pocket (see the cute bee print fabric) and then added the flap.  I decided on splitting the top portion of the buckle into two pieces.  I left the adjustable strap out and the part attached to the buckle was sewn onto the end of the flap.  I also used some of the leftover belt to make a grab handle on the top of the backpack.

The most stressful part of making any bag is always inserting the lining for me.  I’ve tried all the methods, but somehow, I always seem to misjudge the lining and must adjust. *Facepalm* The thickness of all the layers is also a stressor for me and with this bag it was especially stressful.  With my upholstery weight fabric, lining fabric, two-layered flap and two-layers of belt buckle I had my machine put to the test!

Ruby did remarkably well given all I (literally) put her through.  Honestly, all the needles I broke on this project are entirely on me.  I learned a whole lot about the right mix of speed, needle type and stitch length making this backpack.

Anyways, sorry there aren’t more pictures of the process!  I’ll do better next time.  I think with my lack of planning and extemporaneous sewing (is that a real phrase?) I was afraid the process would be especially ugly; I wasn’t wrong, but I’m sure now that would have only made it that much better to share with my readers.  Embrace the process and all that.

In the end, I ended up with a beautiful, heavier than standard backpack, that’s great for carrying the essentials and a light laptop or tablet.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  I’m already preparing a list of what I’d do better for next time.  See you in a bit, when I reveal how Week 2’s project went.

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Stay sweet, Sweeties!

How I Started Sewing

Bear with me, Sweeties, because it’s been a while. But today I’m going to tell you how I got started sewing…

I think I started around 8 years old. It’s funny how as you get older you may still remember things from years ago, but time has a way of messing up the timeline in your head.

However, my earliest memory of sewing is my mom getting me one of those little sewing machines that are meant for little kids (me). I loved that thing! It was super loud and so tiny, but for 9 year old me, it was everything. I used to take it with me to the summer camp (daycare, lol) I went to that was inside a woman’s house. Me moms coworkers daughter and I along with some others there, would spend the day sewing. I honestly can’t remember anything I made, but it was tons of fun.

Sometime after this I went to “Camp Mary,” my Aunt Marys house for the summer and enrolled in a week long (?) sewing camp with another girl my age (around 12) from my Aunt’s church. I had so much fun that week making a beach bag, cup coozie and other beginner items. To this day I credit that beach bag for inspiring me to get really serious into sewing and even start creating my own patterns.

A little while later my mom let me use her old sewing machine. It was a beautiful old Singer. We had some good times together, that machine and I, until one day I was sewing and it broke! I still feel guilty, but it’s hard to say if it was me or the machine was old… Luckily my mom wasn’t too mad.

My mom mustn’t have totally given up on my sewing because that Christmas she gifted me a Brother Project Runway sewing machine that had so many stitch choices I didn’t know what to do with them. Sometime after this I took a Home EC class at school with one of my friends. I think that class is the reason I still don’t like making clothes. Ugh!

Sometime after that, circa 2013, I entered the dark times of my sewing hobby. A friend of my brother asked me to do a sewing job for him that seemed simple enough, but OMG it was not. He sent me about 20 ties and asked me to turn them into bow ties. Simple. Not! I’ve always had sewing talent, but this project tested me. Not to mention my procrastination, which I recently realized was my anxiety taking form (can’t mess it up if you don’t start, right? Not!)

What seemed simple enough at first got so stressful and complicated. I made a few prototypes to start and asked for the requesters approval. He had many requests. One of which, was to make sure the design of the tie was horizontal so it wasn’t turned on it’s side when it came time to tie. Maybe it wasn’t impossible, but it was impossible for me. There’s only so much fabric to work with when you’re taking a necktie apart, not to mention the fabric constraints and working with the bias.

Honestly I’m nauseous just remembering the disastrous saga that was the bow tie project. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a year to finish. And oh boy was the guy heated. I was too far into the project to stop and too far from finished to find it worth it. Long story short. I did it! I even still got paid too. Check out the pics. I may be embarrassed of the journey, but the final product is definitely something I can be proud of!

The Before

Anyways, I was downtrodden for a while. During that whole year with the bow tie project I found myself unable to sew anything else knowing I had that huge project looming over my head. Ugh, but with the completion of that project came inspiration to really start sewing.

I’ve never been a real beach person. Like the beach is awesome, but it’s not really my thing. However, I do enjoy time spent outdoors and the fashion that comes with going to the beach. This inspired me to create a pattern for a beach bag and make my own.

Of course this meant I had to head straight to Pinterest. I love Pinterest and Pinterest loves me, haha. The great database that Pinterest is inspired me to get creative with the fabrics I chose.

Burlap is an awesome fabric. It’s seems so boring and rough at first. But you can really make a bag stand out using it. I have the very first beach bag I made using burlap and duck cloth somewhere… Here’s some low quality pics for your enjoyment. Ignore the mistakes. Just kidding, they made me the BA sewist I am today. *flips hair*

The burlap accented beach bag led to the tote bags I started to make that use the same idea of wide burlap ribbon with a duck cloth binding. Here’s one I made one of my aunts.

I love these bags! I left a gap where the strap crosses over the burlap so you can stick your sunglasses through.

Well, it’s been fun taking a look back at my sewing journey with you Sweeties! There’s certainly more I could say. But I’ll leave that for another post. This one was about how I got started sewing after all and I’ve already taken you through my first ten years of sewing.

Hope you enjoyed reading how I got started sewing. Leave a comment and let me know how you got started sewing or if you don’t sew, what you’d like to see me make next!

I Made Travel Themed Luggage Tags!

Look at me go! Almost a month in and I am absolutely loving my Designer Ruby Royale Sewing/Embroidery machine. It was made with the sewist at heart and it showed on my latest project! Be on the lookout for a comprehensive video and blog review of the machine soon.

Anyways, my machine is awesome and I’ve been feeling inspired to try new things! I’ve always wanted to do an in hoop design, all or most of what you are making is created in the hoop, I just never got around to it. It just still seemed too complicated. Boy was I wrong. In the hoop embroidery is the stuff!

I decided to make travel themed luggage tags, because they’re the perfect gift for my friend who’s retiring and vacationing in Paris. Not to mention they go hand and hand with the big launch I have been working towards for my Etsy shop.

I downloaded the designs from Embroidery Library’s website. You can download the luggage tags here. They can be purchased separately or in a design pack.

They fit in a 4 by 4 hoop if you leave the design as is. I decided to make mine a little bigger, so a business card would fit. However, don’t fret if you decide to keep them as is; there’s a link they give you to contact card printouts that we’re made for the tags.

I used my Brother Scan and Cut to cut the fabric for the project. Highly recommend! This made the already simple in the hoop project ten times easier. Then I just followed along with the detailed instructions and watched the magic happen. It’s like appliqué on steroids!

For extra depth be sure to go over the final design elements more than once. If you want the appearance of even more depth pick a slightly lighter shade the second run over the design. It really makes the design pop!

The whole design only took about 15-20 minutes to complete when I had all the materials prepped and ready to go. My machine even allowed me to add an eyelet hole right on screen on the design, so I didn’t even have to use any metal hardware. How cool is that?!?

Pictures are below. Let me know what you think. I’m pretty sure once you take a look you’ll have the travel bug. Do not fear! My tags will be here in my Etsy shop. Stay tuned and remember… Not all who wander are lost.

I Signed Up for a #FabFitFun Annual Membership

Anyone else drowning in advertisements on the socials for FabFitFun or do they just know their demo? I was only two flashy reviews in and they had me. What is FabFitFun you ask? Well, it’s just as it sounds. A quarterly subscription box to fabulous items for beauty, home, general fun and fitness! All for $49.99/quarter or $179.99/year. Since it’s quarterly the items are all full size. See the box below! Summer fun!

If I’m bias? This is the reason 😂 #🍓

But did it live up to the hype? I think so! The major draw with the (sold out) summer box was the Luna FOREO Fofo that bragged it used tiny sensors to sense your skin type and give you personalized skin tips (including skin age) through connection to the FOREO app. I was pretty excited about this, because I already use a silicone pad with bristles to wash my face. Highly recommend, btw, but more on my skin routine later. 🙈

So there it is! The coveted Luna FOREO Fofo (what a name!). You can see it’s about palm size. On one side you have the silicone bristles that you see there in the photos and on the other side is the power button and two little silver sensors for awkwardly touching to your face. Fun!

Right out of the box I was eager to give it a try, especially since it was mid-day and my face was no doubt at its oiliest. Hello, combination skin. Who knew a person could have both dry and oily skin all at once?!? Anyways. I took it out of the package and installed the FOREO app on my iPhone. Once installed you set up an account, tell it your age, how your skin reacts to the sun and your skin type. That was the part that made me wary. If I’m telling you I have combination skin, are the sensors really doing anything?

Anyways, then you follow the steps in the app that lead you through pairing the device and then moving the sensors on the back of the device from one cheek to the other then your forehead and finally your nose. I found the nose to be a bit awkward. There’s not a whole lot of flat space there to reach both sensors at once. After some adjusting, so it sat sideways on my nose, I got the confirmation the data was recorded.

It was interesting to see my skin age; it matched my real age. I again, found this suspicious as I had told the app that information… But I’ll take it. At least it didn’t say I had skin of a ninety year old at my young age. What a relief!

Next it says it saved your info and is ready for you to wash your face. I got my hands wet and rubbed on some soap (I highly recommend Dr. Bronners, but again more on my skin care routine later.) Then you hold the power button on until the device begins to vibrate. On screen, in the app, there is a visual that shows you the order to wash your face zones and the device changes vibrations to signal you to move to the next area. Awesome!

All and all I thought it was a great experience and I’ll definitely integrate the little guy into my skin care routine; though I’m not sure if it was not included in the box if I would have forked up the dough myself. However, if it really is doing all it says, I’d argue it’s a pretty great value in the box or purchased separately.

The verdict? Luna FOREO Fofo: 8/10

Okay! Next up and I promise the remainder of this review of the FabFitFun box won’t be so detailed.

Coola Sport Classic Suncreen – SPF 50. Full disclosure I have yet to use this in the sun. 🙈 Never been much to use sunscreen with my skin tone and if I do it’s usually a lower SPF. However, as far as value for the price ($34 on Amazon – almost the cost of the whole box), size and skin feel goes: I vote 9/10

Next up. Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel. Smells awesome! Not too overpowering and has a light feel on the skin too. I’m currently using some as I write this review. As far as a value rating I give Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel a 10/10. Feels great on the skin and can be bought on Amazon for around $15. So I’m not mad at it. 😉

Next. The Aromatherapy Associates Muscle Gel. Gonna be honest. Used this right out the box. I had just come home from work and my shoulder was tense. This bad boy both smells so good (essential oils, is that you?) and had my shoulder feeling ten times better within a few minutes. Definitely a 10/10 for the Muscle Gel. Currently selling for a whopping $40 on Amazon. Once again, I ain’t mad.

Now, the Pier One display plate (what do you call this). Anyways. It’s super cute. Love the gold accents. Seems well made and is totally versatile. A place to set your jewelry, a bar of soap and maybe even a glass. The possibilities are many! Pier 1 display plate: 10/10. Oh, time for a shameless self endorsement. I will have a similar item that you can get customized with your name in my Etsy shop this July. Prepare yourselves. 🍓

Tarte Tarteist Pro Glow. Not a lot to say here. Super great quality. Has not one, but two mirrors when you flip open the flaps and the colors inside are perfect for contouring my skin tone. Could even do some neutral eyeshadow. Tarteist Pro Glo? 10/10

Maji Sports Resistance Band: 10/10 It would be hard to go wrong with this one, honestly. It’s well made and would be great for a little resistance work while sitting at your desk.

YumiKim Cosmetic Bag: 10/10. I love this cosmetic bag. The print is cute and vibrant. It’s a great size. And there’s a lot of pockets. A big space at the bottom and a second opening at the top for makeup brushes and things. There was even a promo card for future shopping (though you have to spend $200. Yikes, but it’s something, so not too much complaint there).

Last. But not least (sort of). An eco-friendly WCS Straw. Can’t say this one didn’t pull at my Millennial-environmentally-contentious heart strings. NPR has me feeling that guilt early this week. So, I thought it was a cool little include. The straw (single-use?): 10/10.

In conclusion, if you have the money and want a fun quarterly subscription box with stuff you can actually use? Go for it! I’m excited to use all the products!

And of course you can use my link for a discount. For everyone I refer I get $15 and they get $10 off.

Enjoy, Sweeties!

FabFitFun $10 Off

5 (Simple) Tips for Successful Embroidery

Embroidery doesn’t have to be complicated.  Here are five (simple) steps to help your embroidery shine!

  1. IronThis might seem obvious, but this is definitely the most important embroidery prep you can do.  Skip this step and what might have been a flawless embroidery design becomes a beautiful embroidery design with distracting wrinkles or creases.  Not to mention, that stitches might not end up where intended.

    img_2748

    Even the most beautiful designs can suffer when the fabric isn’t pressed beforehand.

  2. Label Your Thread.  Right away!  There are lots of ways to do this, but if you purchased a variety thread set online you’ll find that once you put the thread on the spool rod the label is gone; a hole punched right through the middle!  I have found that what works best for me is grabbing a sharpie and labeling the top.  An Exacto knife is also a great tool for making a small slice through the base that you can use to keep your thread from unraveling.  See below. 

  3. Use the Correct Stabilizer. 
    • Tearaway – Tearaway are just like the name implies, they are temporary and easily torn away when embroidery is done.  This is most often the choice for embroiders using a stable fabric, like towels (see Solvy), scarves and basic woven fabrics.
    • Cutaway – Cutaway are permanent stabilizers that should be used when you need your fabric to stay stretch resistant and keep stabilizing the fabric through washing and wear, like on sweatshirts and polo shirts.
    • Peel & Stick – Generally for hoop-less embroidery or areas hard to hoop, like on collars and shirt cuffs.
    • Poly Mesh – Great for more elegant fabrics or combined with a cutaway for extra stability when embroidery polo shirts or like fabrics.
    • Cap Backing – A heavy stabilizer that tears cleanly to help maintain crisp lettering/small artwork in cap designs.
    • Water Soluble/Solvy – Solvy generally sits atop your fabric.  It can be used as a design template, a pattern guide, and as stitch support.  The best part, is it dissolves and disappears when soaked in water!  It’s great for embroidering towels and other fabrics where you don’t want to lose the stitching in the texture of the fabric.
  4. Use Spray Adhesive.  Temporary spray adhesive is a must for keeping your fabric and stabilizer together.  Slack between your stabilizer and fabric can cause stitches to land out-of-place and just generally cause you heartache.
  5. Listen & Learn.  Who doesn’t want to be able to walk away from their embroidery machine and get some other tasks done?  Then I recommend that you become attuned to the many sounds of your machine.  What does your machine sound like when: everything is running smoothly, your thread has become frayed or when it’s time to check the threading?  Knowing what each of these situations sound like is crucial to being able to walk away from your machine and come back to some awesome stitching!

Hope this helps!  Stay tuned for my next post that’s all about keeping your project space organized.  In the meantime, be sure to comment, subscribe and visit SewStrawberrySweet.com.  Happy stitching, Sweeties!

Sweet Things Coming Soon

You guys, I’m sew excited! Maybe it was crazy. Maybe it was wild. Maybe it was a bit of an impulse buy (though I’ve been considering it for years)… Whatever it was, I am the new owner of a Husqvarna Ruby Royale Sewing/Embroidery Machine. And oh my, it’s a beauty. I cannot wait to share with you as I begin to learn the machine and create. Stay tuned for biweekly posts! Check out a little sneak peak below (I promise future video quality will be better)