The New "Perfect" Bag!

 A new bag for a new year!

Isn't it a cutie?!   I keep thinking my fascination with bags will wane at some point...but not yet!  There is just something so satisfying about hooking a bunch of pockets together!  

Why, you may ask, do I need another backpack?  Well, to be quite honest, I don't.  But that hasn't stopped me yet.  The somewhat spurious rationale for this one, is that my former "perfect bag" has gotten too big!  When I have the room I tend to fill it up and that means I end up hauling around too much stuff!  In Michigan where most of the time I am getting in the car to go places, having a bag that is a bit heavy isn't too much of a problem.  But here in Key West I am on foot or on my bike and extra weight is very noticeable.  I wanted something smaller that would hold the essentials that I want and nothing more.  

I started with the idea of making a 'fanny pack.'  It would be about the right size....But...it just reminded me too much of a 1980's Saturday Night Live skit.  I just couldn't do it.  I also realized that the reason I started carrying a backpack in the first place was to balance the weight of a bag evenly on my body.  If I am out all day I notice that whichever side has been carrying the bag gets all tensed up.  So I decided to stick with the backpack format.  

Next I got out the 'essentials.'  My phone, my wallet, my glasses (reading and sunnies), my mask and hand sanitizer (I will be glad when these might not be essential anymore), car key and foldable tote...just in case shopping happens! πŸ˜‰  I started sketching ideas and very quickly realized that all my drawings look eerily similar to the backpack I was trying to replace!  Apparently the design and arrangement of pockets is still perfect!  So I didn't reinvent the wheel...this time!  I simply made all the pockets smaller.

Since I was working with smaller real estate I simplified some of the features as well.  I didn't put a zipper on the front pocket, I put the wallet pocket zipper on an angle to get more opening length, I added a snap to keep the main pocket closed.  I kept the cell phone pocket on the side, which has become my favorite feature on my 'homemade' backpacks, I also kept the convertible straps the same.

I will have to use it for awhile to really figure out if it is the new "perfect" bag, but right now it is a strong contender!!  p.s.  I am pretty proud of my pattern matching...😁


12 Shirts a Sewing

 Another year...I will be interested to see how these past two years "go down in history."  Will they be a turning point?  Will they be forgotten in the wake of other events?  I know for me they have been a time of major reassessing.  The idea of living in the present moment has never made sense to me.  How do you live without a "plan?"  But for the past two years plans have seemed superfluous and a bit of a luxury. Living each day and letting things unfold has been the only option.  I do miss a good plan, but watching the days more closely and seeing the small wonders that still find their way, has been important learning.  If there is a silver lining, living in the present moment is it for me.  That said...last year my "plan" to make a white shirt for each month was something that kept me going.  I didn't have major events or occasions to sew for and I really don't need that many pairs of joggers!😝 Finding a new twist on a classic white shirt each month kept my interest and creativity sparking.  

As I look back on my sewing in 2021, firstly I am surprised at just how much I really sewed.  Moving and selling our house was such a major time sucking process that I can't believe I actually had enough time to make anything.  But I did sew...a lot!  I guess that was the balancing element for the stress of moving.  Sewing has always been my "happy place."  

After 25 years in my sewing room, it is a little odd to have two sewing rooms!  I divided my sewing goodies between the two new spaces and duplicated many of my "can't sew without" things.  There are many head scratching moments when I wonder where some treasure or another ended up.  "I know those ceramic buttons that I got at the street market in London are somewhere!?"  But I am finding that I sew different things in each place so, over time I think the things I use in each place will find their way to the appropriate spot.  And collecting new treasures is always and option!

I collected all of my white shirts for this post and wow, they are all so different from each other.  This of course is a good thing since I really don't need 12 white shirts, particularly 12 white shirts that are all the same!!!!  I do find that I wear most of them and don't find myself choosing between them.  The weather and what I'm doing on any given day usually narrow down the choice to one obvious shirt.  Here's the line up....

January...Ha!  Trick question.  I didn't think about doing the challenge until the end of January so the first actual shirt was in February.

February:  My fabric store in Key West is quite limited in terms of garment sewing fabrics.  They have a wonderful quilting selection, yarn, and decorator fabrics, but not much for those of us who make clothes.  I opted for a cotton canvas twill for a shirt jacket.  I used my favorite Tabula Rasa pattern as the starting point and added fun metal buttons.  

March:  I found a hunk of white linen in the meager stash that came with me from Michigan and added a cotton lawn from the Seam Shoppe (my local!) to make a woven tee-shirt.  If I am honest, this is one that I don't pull out very often.  It looks like it would be really cool, but for some reason, the lawn does not breath all that well.  I will see how it goes this season.  The cooler days in Key West are coming up.

April:  It was even hotter in April, so I bought the lightest weight cotton T's I could find, one white and one ivory, and remade them al a Natalie Chanin style into a tank top.  

May:  Back in Michigan....cold springtime in Michigan.  I had ordered an amazing length of a rayon fleece that was just too warm for my first quarter shirts, but just perfect for the chilly days of May in the north.  I worked very hard laying out the pieces, and used every scrap to be able to make shorts and a tank top along with the hoodie.  I used the Closet Core Mile End Hoodie and Plateau Jogger patterns and made up the tank top myself.  It is very luxurious, the rayon is so soft!

June:  Back to linen!  I am loving linen, in both my places.  I love working with it and wearing it, it has become my new go to fabric.  I also started with one of my favorite Merchant and Mills patterns.  It is the Factory Dress without the skirt.  I had fun doing the black hand stitched outlines. 

July:  July was rather disappointing for our 4th of July revelers.  No swimming this year. 😬It was really cold!!!!  So back to the fleece!  This time a sport fleece.  I drafted a hood for my favorite self drafted T-shirt pattern.  I think it is the first time I have done that and it worked out really well.  

August:  Ah, back to more appropriate summer weather!  So back to linen.  This time I dug into my linen scrap box.  I pulled out all the white-ish scraps and came up with enough for a bias cut camisole.  I used a piece that I got at an art fair a few years ago for the center front.  This was the most worn white shirt!  I really love it!

Interlude...I decided, after the fact, that I really needed to make a January shirt.  It just seemed a bit of a breach of protocol to not have 12 shirts, sooooo, this is the honorary January shirt...it is also not quite white!  I used a tablecloth with embroidered tulips in the corners.  It was from the 40's and had that really smooth, worn texture of vintage linens.  I used a series of 40-ish feeling quilting prints to outline the front and back necklines.  This one is really, really cool and easy to wear.

September:  This shirt is a challenge 'twofer.'  Threads Magazine asked the digital ambassadors to choose a designer and make an ensemble influenced by their designs.  I chose Isabel Marant and made a tunic and vest inspired by her over-the-top lacy garments.  Disclaimer, I did work on this more than the month of September ;)

October:  What a glorious October we had!  Warm and full of fall colors.  Just spectacular.  It required another warm weather shirt.  I had collected a whole pile of lace for my Threads project and ended up not using any of it.  A simple square top with lace trim.

November:  I had found a grey sweater knit earlier in the year and lived in it!  So when I saw it in ivory...had to do it!  Love this one just as much as the grey!

December:  Back in Key West!  I had been saving a white embroidered cotton to try out a merchant and Mills top that I wanted to make.  It's the Heron Top.   It feels very feminine and definitely needs a floaty shirt.  I'll add that to my 2022 sewing list!

And there you have it..12 months of white shirts.  Whew!  I really did enjoy having a bit of a plan, so I am busy thinking about what I will challenge myself with in 2022.  In a time of great challenges, I am hopping that whatever I challenge myself with in the sewing room, is the biggest challenge of the year!

I am holding tightly to the idea of a safe, healthy, peaceful new year, filled with creativity and fun!