Family life

A lot more goes on around here than just sewing and I can’t even remotely claim to be the only one with old-fashioned domestic skills! In the last few days my multi-talented, software developer/database administrator/musician/handyman husband has made raspberry gin, peanut butter ice cream, coconut ice cream and butter! I think that is pretty impressive.

As it is the summer holidays and our children are still young enough that they like spending time with us, we set aside time to go on fun outings together on a regular basis. Generally we make the most of the many (free) family-friendly events and locations on our beautiful island, and this week was no exception. Early in the week we went to the amazing Barton & Leier Gallery. They have a lovely gallery/gift shop, but the highlight of the place for us is the incredible, quirky and inspiring garden that is open to the public. Here are some of my favourite shots:

Hippo in the pond

More garden art

Bright and beautiful

Arbutus bark

Old Fargo truck

We also had a picnic at Blue Heron Park and a lovely walk in Hemer Provincial Park.

Yesterday we took advantage of Philippa’s birthday gift – tickets to Butterfly World – and headed up to Coombs for the afternoon. I have to admit, we were prepared to be disappointed, but we had a wonderful time. There was plenty for us all to enjoy, from the 3 year old to Grandma and all of us in between.


Another butterfly

One more for good measure

In addition to butterflies, there were tortoises, turtles, koi, quail, spiders, insects, lizards, finches and some lovely garden areas outside.

Passion flower

Water lilies

Post to Twitter

Posted in family life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The crazy days of summer

My life isn’t just about sewing. Well, not entirely! We are enjoying our wonderful summer on the west coast of Canada, taking the girls to the huge variety of parks we have in Nanaimo, to the beach and to community events. There is so much to do here in the summer months, much of it geared to families with young children, which suits us perfectly. Even better, many of the events are free, so everyone can join in. If you are looking for a holiday destination, you can’t go far wrong with Vancouver Island. Here’s a teeny tiny sampling:

Rathtrevor Beach. Parksville

Kite Festival

Car shows

Canada Day, Maffeo Sutton Park

This photo was taken on July 1st, Canada Day, during the celebrations at Maffeo Sutton Park in downtown Nanaimo. It was a fabulous day, with a good turnout, despite the rain. We haven’t had rain since that day. We get so much during the winter months that the return of the sun, blue skies and heat is always welcome!

Sea star

Post to Twitter

Posted in family life | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pattern review

I have bought a couple of patterns from the lovely Nikki Mallalieu of You Sew, Girl and I’m taking part in her Review Round-Up Competition. This review is for her adult hat pattern. If there is interest in this as a potential product, please let me know and I will see whether it is a viable option. Hat making requires precision and accuracy and is not something that can be rushed, but I am hoping that with a few more practice runs I can perfect the process to make them at an acceptable price. So here goes!

1. Name of the pattern
Adult Hat pattern

2. Difficulty rating

Advanced sewing skills

3. Were the instructions easy to follow? (And did you learn anything new from them?)

I have used this pattern three times so far. The first hat (orange polka dot one) came together quite well, with a couple flaws that are not immediately obvious to anyone but me. It has a narrow brim, using 3 layers of medium-weight interfacing.

The second hat (narrow wale raspberry corduroy with fancy purple satin lining) also uses medium weight fusible interfacing and turned out well, though the plain fabric highlights an error in my construction, which I think was a problem with attaching the brim pieces together. I should have sewn more rows of stitching around the brim – as instructed! It does not pay to be impatient when making a hat! Other than that issue, I really like this hat.

My latest attempt is my absolute favourite of all. I LOVE this hat! I decided to try the large size this time, having made the previous two in medium. They fit ok, but left a slight mark on my forehead, so I decided to move up a size, which was a good call. (Please note – the instructions indicate to go up a size if you are borderline, but I didn’t listen!) The hat is constructed with quilting weight cottons, medium weight fusible interfacing and bias tape trim for the brim.

On the whole, the instructions were very clear. The only part I struggled with was understanding how to  join the ends of the bias tape together on the third hat. Colour pictures would have helped make this clearer, but I figured it out in the end and was really pleased with the result.

The instructions were easy to follow and I learned how to make a variety of hats. The pattern allows for multiple brim widths and orientations and has small, medium and large sizes.

4. Did the finished project look like the one on the pattern cover or did you ‘tweak’ it? (If tweaked, what did you do change?)

My hats looked like the ones on the cover, though obviously not perfect like Nikki’s hats, but not bad for a novice hat maker!
For my second hat I reduced the height of the sideband slightly, but reverted to the original pattern for my last hat.

5. Were you happy with the finished project?

As you may have gathered, I love my hats!

6. What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I particularly like that I can now make hats for myself! I love the versatility of the pattern, in that I can make a wide variety of hats, each with a  different look, depending not only on fabric choices, but also brim widths and orientation. The next one will probably be a wider-brimmed sunhat, then a winter weight one.

7. Would you make this pattern again? Would you recommend it to others?

I will absolutely be using the pattern again and would recommend it to others – if they have more than a little sewing experience. Definitely not for beginners, as indicated by the rating. My young daughter likes my latest hat so much that she wants one of her own and is encouraging me to buy the children’s hat pattern too!

8. Review must include photo/s of your project.



1st hat

2nd hat

3rd hat

Post to Twitter

Posted in business, sewing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Woodgrain messenger bag

I have been wanting to start making bags for men to broaden my experience and my product range, even though, thus far, there hasn’t been much demand. I figure, make it and they will come! I recently made a messenger bag art satchel for a young man and used a modification of this design to make a messenger bag for my brother. I used a woodgrain print (Joel Dewberry) for the exterior, in combination with a hard-wearing striped fabric and a coordinating print for the interior and pockets. The bag has a wide, adjustable strap, key clip, parachute clip closure, pockets under the flap, large, divided pockets inside and a large pocket at the rear. It will easily fit all the essentials they need, whilst not looking like a traditional diaper bag.

Woodgrain bag


Pockets under the flap

Rear of bag, with large pocket

Post to Twitter

Posted in man bag, sewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga mat bag

I have just started a restorative yoga class to help me restore some core stability after my back injury last year. Of course, this was a perfect excuse for a new project! I have been wanting to try making a yoga mat bag for ages, but as I didn’t do yoga there wasn’t much incentive to get it off the to do list. In the midst of sewing a big order, I set aside some time to work on a project for myself and here is the result:

Yoga mat bag

Side view, showing adjustable strap

View of interior with contrasting lining and drawstring

I’m going to test it out a few times to see if I need to make any modifications, before making another. I’ve been asked to make one as a donation for a fundraiser for the local Child Development Centre, so I have another perfect excuse! Mind you, at this stage of the game, do I really need any excuses to justify doing what I love to do!

Post to Twitter

Posted in new product, new product ideas, one of a kind | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

First masculine bag

Obviously, most of my bag orders are from women, but I have just completed by first order for a young man. He is very artistic and likes to carry his supplies with him, so I designed a unique messenger bag that allows him to carry 24 pencils, his large sketch book and sundry gizmos and gadgets. He chose a somewhat eclectic selection of fabrics and I did the rest. The bag features an adjustable strap, large pencil pocket with a flap with magnetic clip closures, a zippered pocket, interior divided pockets, large rear pocket, waist strap and a panel for concealing the strap.
I used a variety of fabrics in this bag, including a snakeskin vinyl, outdoor fabric, cotton, fleece, polypropylene strap as well as various metal hardware and a parachute clip closure.

Art satchel

Flex frame sunglasses pouch

Rear of bag with waist strap out

Post to Twitter

Posted in custom order, new product, sewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another neutral

As mentioned in the previous post, I made two bags using neutral-toned fabric. The second bag was also a roomy, yet sleek messenger bag as a Mother’s Day gift. The exterior is constructed using a faux lizard skin vinyl. The lining is a very pretty and soft sage green print from the home decor department, with a pattern of swirls and circles. It also incorporates some of the double sided print I used in the last bag.

Faux lizard messenger bag


Rear magazine pocket

Just don’t tell Mum!

Post to Twitter

Posted in handbag, sewing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Put it in neutral

Many, many bag makers these days use very bold, vibrant prints which immediately catch the eye. They are incredibly visually appealing, but that certainly does not mean that they are practical or necessarily well thought out. Even if the interiors are pretty, they often have just one or two pockets. These two bags which I made recently are just the opposite of this. A custom order for a neutral, understated bag – without flowers – was a new challenge, as many of my fabrics are brightly coloured and/or incorporate floral elements. I’m also steering away from lightweight cotton exteriors at the moment, as I like more of a structured feel in the messenger bags. I know adding interfacing will help make cottons more suitable, but I also want to make sure most of my bags are washable and that they will retain their original look and feel. Anyway, a trip to the store was in order and I found a number of fabrics that I hoped would fit the bill. The client’s requirements were: beige/blue/black, no flowers, subtle, goes with everything. The end result was just that! The bag features a wide, adjustable strap, rear magazine pocket, divided pockets under the flap and inside the bag, a key clip, zippered pocket and parachute clip closure (aka side release buckle). I used three different drapery/upholstery fabrics, one of which was double sided, so in effect four fabrics, plus fleece interlining for structure and durability.

Neutral-toned messenger bag


Demonstration of capacity

As you can see, this bag is deceptive! It looks small, but it can hold so much! This is a large wallet, essentials pouch with countless bits and pieces, pencil roll, sketch pad, pens, notepad, cell phone, shopping bag and a magazine in the rear pocket – and there is room for more!

Magazine pocket

Post to Twitter

Posted in handbag, one of a kind, sewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another custom order

I have just completed an order for a custom messenger bag. The lady chose a selection of pink and yellow fabrics and is going to love the way it all worked out together. The bag features an adjustable strap, parachute clip closure, a magazine packet at the rear, multiple pockets under the flap and inside the bag, as well as a key clip. She is going to be a very stylish and organized mom on the go, with her one of a kind bag!

Pink/yellow messenger bag

Open messenger bag

As always, the interior is just as beautiful as the exterior.

Post to Twitter

Posted in handbag, one of a kind | Tagged , , | Leave a comment