27 February 2011

weekender bag

The Weekender Bag is done! Now I need to make an "I survived the Weekender Bag" t-shirt. I just love the way it turned out though. It has such a pretty shape and I love the fabric Mom picked out. The piping and lining are a simple blue and white ticking which is a nice contrast to the bold print.

The construction of this bag really isn't that difficult--I don't want to scare anyone away from the pattern. The instructions are very thorough and easy to follow, and I really enjoyed the whole process. It gets a bit tricky in parts because the interfacing makes it so bulky and unwieldy. Sewing the main panels onto the gusset was, quite literally, a workout. I don't think I've ever broken a sweat while sewing before, but maybe sewing should involve more sweat (better than tears anyway). There is also a good bit of hand sewing to do at the end to secure the lining inside the bag, but it comes out looking so nice both inside and out.

At the last minute I decided it needed a little something, so I made a little silk flower using this tutorial (awesome and easy). I had bought a scrap of dupioni silk over the winter and this seemed like a great use for a little bit of it.

A beautiful bag for my beautiful mama. Happy happy birthday.

21 February 2011

yoga mat bag

We celebrated Matt's mom's birthday this weekend with some great pasta from our little local pizzeria and then some antique shopping. It was a lovely day. Joan has been doing a lot of yoga lately, so I made a bag for her to carry her mat to class. I used the pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing, and it's a super-quick, very satisfying project.

The bag is constructed like a rectangular sleeve with a drawstring at the top and a handle down the length. Other bags I've seen are sewn as a tube with a zipper, and Lotta's version is so much simpler. Awesome. And it's got a cute little pocket on the front for your car keys or yoga accessories (socks?).

Speaking of bags for Mamas, I am also knee-deep in an Amy Butler Weekender bag for my Mom's birthday. This one is not a super-quick project, though it is an immensely satisfying one in its own way. It's a doozy: bias-covered cording, lining, zipper, pockets, and enough timtex to hold up the wall of China. I love it. And I think the end product is going to be absolutely awesome. I've had this pattern sitting in my stack of to-do's ever since it came out, and I'm so happy Mom gave me a kick in the pants to get it out and start sewing. So more on that soon, with pix. :)

07 February 2011

a visitor

This is Rayley, or "RayRay", as Matt has nicknamed her. She's a 4 month old puppy we've been fostering for a short time. A friend of Matt's rescued her from a shelter with plans to transport her to a rescue organization in New York.

We don't know anything about her life before she came to the shelter; the only clue is a bite-sized chunk that is missing from her left ear. But despite any hardship she may have known, she is a very trusting, sweet, and gentle little soul.

It's interesting to compare her to how Abby was as a puppy. Abby has a seriously stubborn streak and has always resisted her position at the bottom of the "pack." She's scrappy and independent, and was very stand-offish as a puppy. Only recently has she begun snuggling up to me for a nap now and then.

This little puppy just seems overjoyed every time a human or another dog interacts with her. She chases along after Scout and Abby, no matter how roughly they play or how much they pick on her. She burrows in beside you every time you sit down. She discovers every new toy (and, of course, every other thing around the house that she thinks must be a toy) with delight.

It sounds like I've fallen in love with this little puppy, doesn't it? Maybe. I blame her sweet wrinkles. She must have some sharpei in her, since she seems to have enough skin to cover a dog twice her size.

We've considered keeping her. Questions rise up: How big will she get? Do we have enough time to give her the attention she needs, and still do all the other things in our lives that we want to do? One thing I've come to realize is that, like with any endeavor, the more time you invest in a dog, the more you get back. A dog wants nothing more than attention, exercise, love, and a sense of purpose.

I have been surprised, though, at how well the dogs take care of one another. It reminds me that dogs are indeed pack animals and are hard-wired to look after their own. No matter how much Abby and Scout appear to be picking on Rayley, or ignoring her with weary, resigned expressions on their faces, I know they are teaching her how to live in our family.

Whatever our final decision, I have an increased respect for all the kind-hearted folks who work to find homes for stray animals. There is such a lot of heartbreak in this work, and I very much admire the brave people who undertake it.

RayRay says "Happy Monday (and let's go play!)"

04 February 2011

birthday season

Between late January and mid-February, I get to celebrate birthdays for one husband, two mothers, one uncle, and one grandpa. It's a lovely bright spot in the winter.

Mom got coconut cake last weekend, and tonight I'm making a boston cream pie for Matt. During Mom's birthday celebration last year, Abby (who was still quite a puppy in behavior if not in size) managed to eat about half of the chocolate birthday cake. She reached up and craned her snout over the side of the kitchen counter, licking furiously until she had sculpted the cake down to one half its size. One frenzied internet search later, we realized that the only likely effect was an upset stomach. She's only done this a couple times, and she seems to resort to these bad behaviors only when the prize is extra tasty. She's quite a gourmand. She did the same thing to a log of goat cheese I had sitting out for a salad, and another time she licked all the whipped cream off the top of a trifle.

Scout (above) is much too dignified for such bad manners. She just gazes and sniffs longingly.

On to the boston cream pie. Which I will not set on the side of the counter. ;)