Enthusiasm all round for Emmaline’s Retreat Bag

I belong to a Canada Birthday Group. It started last year as a way to gift to other crafty women (we’re all women in the group). Last year’s group fizzled out after a few months but the seed was born. This year there are 15 of us. The concept is that as seamstresses, we donate and give away a lot of what we make without receiving much of anything in return. In the birthday group we have committed to send a gift to the birthday gal within 3 months of her birthday. The gift can be homemade, a gift certificate, fabric or notions. In fact anything that as creative people we’d appreciate.

I really didn’t know what to make for the first three presents. Canada Post prices are pretty horrendous, but I wanted to make something rather than send a GC. One of the ladies asked if I’d make Emmaline’s Luxie Lunch Bag for her sister. I wasn’t planning to buy the pattern but saw there was a similar freebie pattern, The Retreat Bag. I haven’t made any of the Emmaline patterns yet, so decided to try it. After all, a free pattern will give me a good idea of the designer’s written and visual instructions, and more importantly how I work with them. The added bonus is that Emmaline’s owner and designer, Janelle, lives in Alberta. A great complement to our Canada Birthday Group!

Whenever I make a bag (purse) or purse (wallet), I also make myself one as a trial run. I figure that way I can iron out the wrinkles (literally). For Christmas Himself bought me a professional steam press. It has become one of my favourite pieces of sewing room paraphernalia. It gives a great burst of steam and manages to fuse interfacings in less time than it takes the iron to warm up. Anyone, who has made a bag will know just how long you can stand at the ironing board pressing interfacing onto the back of the fabric, and praying that it doesn’t wrinkle as it cools. The steam press is great because it adheres the interfacing’s sticky side to the fabric in one foul swoop! I now take the sheets and pillowcases to the steam press for a good pressing.

Emmaline Bags has an easily navigable website, a great blog and tutorial links, as well as the usual social media sites. I am a FaceBook girl with a sprinkling of Twitter, and find the main FaceBook group a great resource.  Janelle has recently recorded a Craftsy class, which I understand is still on sale. No hints, but I’d love to try that one! Reece from Happy Okapi has written a great review on her blog; here’s the link.

The website is a one-stop-shop for all the notions and supplies needed for your project. I bought the internal wires to hold the bag open. They come in two sizes and I bought the large ones .. No guessing which bags I made! There’s also a discount for multiple purchases, so yes, I bought lots of them. I must admit to being surprised when I was re-credited some money when the postage was less than expected.

But I digress …

I have a bunch of Tula Pink Eden fabric. It is very whimsical with obvious designs overlaying more subtle ones. I like that. Himself doesn’t. Enough said? The women in the birthday group all seem to like it though, so I thought I’d use some up. As one lady said: “Yeah, husbands hate it. We love it. They just have to live with it”.

The pattern is well written, doesn’t have me printing off obvious rectangles when I could measure and cut them out, and I managed to follow it pretty easily without asking for help. That’s promising! I also like the visual instruction. I’m a visual person and if there are diagrams or examples in the pattern it helps to have obvious colour differences, so I can understand what the pattern means. I decided to give my bags sturdier bottoms; and most encouragingly there is also a tutorial to do that! The bag is in two sizes, and the wires are optional. That said, I’d chosen my notions and decided that if I could fit them in a jiffy envelope then I’d continue with the large wired bag.

Feeling enthusiastic I set up a production line, got out my size 16/90 Jeans needles and the jeans top-stitching thread, and set to choosing fabric combinations. Then life happened … and a month later I looked at these strange rectangles with cut out corners and thought, ‘ahh, I know what that relates to!’ Bonus!

The sewing part was the easy part to be honest: Well apart from sandwiching long zippers into several pieces of fabric. I tried the heat and bond tape (literally pressing the fabrics together with double sided (sticky) fusible web). I also tried using my fabric glue stick with better success. In the end I basted the zipper to one side of the fabric before adding the other piece on the other side. I’m glad I’m used to dress zippers, but boy oh boy, those little buggers almost had me at times. Inserting the (optional) wires means the bags stay open when unzipped. I call them my ‘Wide Mouth Frog’ bags. It’s a real treat to be able to see my bags contents when I open it.


The end results: Bliss! I’m so impressed at how professional they all look. As always I learned a lot about fabric placement amongst other things. The recipients love them. Himself also loves one of the colour ways that I really didn’t think he would. I’m enthused to make some more, mainly because they have gone over so well. They also flatten nicely to fit into an envelope, rather than having to box them to mail them. I look forward to trying the Necessary Clutch Wallet (NCW) and a whole bunch of the other patterns. If you’ve in doubt, I hope I have encouraged you to make one. If you’re lucky enough to receive one of Emmaline’s patterns: Well, you’re a lucky person.

Disclaimer: These views are my own. I did not receive anything bar a lot of thanks from the recipients for making The Retreat Bags. 



My 21 Day Fix …

I’m fed up being on Prednisone permanently. A lot of people take it, and it is a life saving drug. The problem is that it has some nasty side effects. For me that includes weight gain and turning into 51% Bitch 49% sweetheart, instead of the other way round! I also have worked out over the years that when I am unwell I don’t want to move, exercise, or cook healthy tasty food. The steroids affect taste in my mouth (actually it feels pretty foul in there most of the time), so I’m craving stronger tastes and salt. Continual steroid use has resulted in poor adrenal function meaning I crave sugar. I can eat a perfectly good meal then patrol the kitchen searching for something sweet; the sicklier the better. Will power is needed! As a fish, seafood and sheep’s cheese eating vegan who is also Celiac and tree nut & peanut allergic I think I eat well. We don’t eat a lot of processed foods due to contaminants and ingredients, Himself is on a low cholesterol diet, so little fats are consumed. I know my diet needs tweaking to ensure I have enough protein in it, and have been told I probably don’t eat enough. I am though, a dreadful snacker; especially when bored or feeling crappy.

I usually follow Dr Joel Fuhrmann’s Eat to Live eating plan. With all my food allergies and gut problems his philosophy of ‘eat 2 lbs of veggies a day’ works for me. That said, without resorting to complete veganism it’s hard to follow, and I struggle with the 1 lb of uncooked vegetables in winter and when I don’t feel good. A TV informercial led me to 21 Day Fix. I must have been taking some painkillers at the time because, unlike my usual Piscean attitude of ‘think it out again … and again’ I went on line and ordered the kit. I then wondered what the heck I was doing? Could I, as a chronically unwell woman with a recent broken ankle and significant health issues actually commit to a workout programme and follow an eating programme for 21 days?  I guess there is only one way to find out.

Through one of my FaceBook sewing groups I discovered that an e-acquaintance is a 21 Day Fix coach. Ha Ha! I now have a coach and I am accountable.  The coach is a freebie designed I think to encourage you to stick with it and possibly buy their supplements and products. That said, she checked the allergen information on supplements and told me to keep well clear of them. She also informed me that the workouts all can be modified for those less able. Double bonus! It looks like my excuses are being pulled from under me.

Did I say I haven’t told my husband yet?

The box arrived yesterday .. I hid it under the coffee table. Not a great start. I’m also struggling with a flare up of something not yet diagnosed and taking strong painkillers … I used to exercise lots though and know that the more natural endorphins I produce, the higher my pain tolerance is and therefore the less analgesics I require. Plus, vegetables and fibre are good as they help with the side effects of codeine.

Day 1: I couldn’t eat all the food. Im certainly not used to eating all that protein. Himself came home and I told him. his response ” Cool! What can I do?” I do love that man. Meanwhile by 8pm I am feeling very very full of food still, despite not overeating. I do miss my evening cup of cocoa though. Now to think about tomorrow’s food …

February Loving in Jocole

Who doesn’t love Jocole? After all, the patterns are really well written, explained and have loads of visual images. For this Blog Tour I thought I’d buy some lovely red knit and make myself an outfit or two in honour of Valentine’s Day. Then life happened … somewhat big time. The only part that really matters is that I lost the pattern that I was to make up … Well, it’s still lurking in my laptop, but the printer printed off another pattern altogether. Honestly it wasn’t me! I tend to have the larger patterns printed off on A0 at the printers, and I print and paste together the smaller ones. My printer said they are the best patterns he has printed, but he had to use his plotter, which resulted in a mighty fine pattern at a premium price.

But before we get to sewing, let’s look at Jocole patterns and Jocole generally. I like that the patterns contain a link to ‘Knits 101 – Everything you need to know about sewing with knits’.  The patterns all have a little stretch guide and instructions on how to calculate the stretch needed to make the garment. I found the information washing and drying fabrics very useful. I rarely use a dryer, but I also didn’t realize that knit fabric shrinks so much. The patterns are a mix of woven and knit fabric; more knitted than woven I think. I first made the Ladies’ Cross Over Tunic as a dress last year. I then participated in the Ladies’ Skinny Pants sew-a-long, and it motivated me enough to finish them.

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Loving my Cross Over Dress

The website has a 50% off day each Wednesday. The discounted pattern changes each week, and is worth watching to build your wardrobe. There is also a ‘sewing school’ tab, which gives a good refresher on how to measure yourself and that trusty knit guide. The FaceBook page has over 4000 members, and is a very supportive environment.

I finally decided to print off all the Jocole patterns I own, then chose and made up the Ladies Classic  Knit Tee.  The pattern size ranges from an XS – XXXL, and has a myriad of options. I chose to make the regular hip length with a scoop neckline and long sleeves. I have made the cross over tunic and skinny pants before so thought I’d add a little length and see how it went. The fabric I chose was a little sheer for winter but matched the pattern instructions for a lightweight knit with 75% stretch – and my skinny pants! I added 1″ to the body, and cut the mid-hand, long sleeves to the next size up cutting length. They finished right where I wanted them too at the ball of my thumb. I also have an aversion to making my own knit binding, so bought a wonderful product at the local fabric store. It’s a 90% cotton: 10% lycra binding. Yes, it was white but I thought I’d give it a try. The one I purchased was only 1.16″ wide, and the pattern called for 2″ neck binding. A little creative hemming resulted in a pleasing result, so I returned to buy a wider width in black and white to use in future projects.

Like most people I am enamoured by a lot of the patterns that appear on the internet, in the sewing store and in magazines. I’ve made my fair share of illegible, non-understandable and frankly, ‘I’m not sure how this ever got to press’ patterns. When I make something from Jocole (and a few others, it must be said), I do a little head shake and say to myself “C’mon now, just stick with the good ones’. It’s harder than it looks though as buying patterns is like buying fabric. It can be irresistible on the spur of the moment. On a final note I plan to make most if not all of the Jocole patterns I own this year. They’re a good investment, fit wonderfully and flatter my figure no end. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do.

Note: While I did receive a pattern of my choice to sew, it is somewhere in the internet ether. The views expressed are my own. I write and sew for pleasure. I hope you enjoyed the read.

Be sure to check out all of the blogs on this tour! Which is your favorite so far?

Feb 8- Larissa from Connected By a Thread

Feb 9- Tibeca from Sewing by Ti

Feb 10- Robin from My Little Lady & Gentleman

Feb 11- Patricia from Sew Far North

Feb 12- Linda from Sew Happily Ever After

Feb 15- Larissa from Connected by a Thread and Essence from Amazing Adventures of Bubba and Bug

Feb 16- Amy from Wally and Grace

Feb 17- Melissa fron Rebel & Malice and Sharon from Sweetpea & Pumpkins

Feb 18- Ula from Lulu & Celeste
Feb 19- Teronia from Crazy Crafty Haute Mama and Cindy from Cindy Parrett.com

Patricia, Oh Patricia and Other Stories!

Who can fail to love a pattern when it bears their name? I know, it’s a bit narcissistic, but hey, I’m not complaining. I’ve been sewing SisBoom & Scientific Seamstress patterns since 2014, and they were the first PDF patterns I bought. My wardrobe seems to have quite a lot of them, and they are worn in all seasons. Why, you might ask, do I keep making the same patterns? Well, these ones are very well thought out. They have brilliant written and visual instruction. As a hater of printing and taping the PDF patterns together I preserve my patterns by printing them off and rolling them up for next time. If I want to make something new I am more inclined to go with something that works. I also make mock-ups or muslins for fitted patterns. Mine are usually made in white cotton. I scrawl all over them in red ink with changes and the date I made that change. The muslin is folded in the drawer for future use as well. Sad, but true. There’s an active FaceBook group, SisBoom Pattern Company Etsy shop, and the website has a well written blog. With lots of support and action on the FaceBook page, something is always going on. Follow them to know when the latest sale, new release, or pattern test is coming. Here’s a round up of some of my patterns … Enjoy!

*****NOTE: My opinions are my own. I did not profit from this blog except by being happy to share my love of sewing! You can probably tell that by my fun, non-professional photos***** 

My first sew was Devon, the loose flowy top. I added a bit of shape for daywear but have a lovely gingham one for summer or nightwear. Judy Fancy Pants came along – twice! I have a hippy pair (not shown) and my corduroy Bootcut pair.

Not every style fits every shape despite the efforts to be all inclusive. I wasn’t a fan of Shana. It’s still in my wardrobe, but despite modifying it I don’t wear it. Maybe its time to recut it into a Tortola. I love that little top! I’ve only made it once but there will be more!I don’t feel the Easy Fits are as flattering either. That said, I made them for my friend, who loves the fit once she identified her ‘front’.

Patricia is my favourite pattern, being so versatile and flattering. Her latest reincarnation was for Christmas in flannel. The flannel had been earmarked for christmas cushion covers but it feels lovely on me instead. Plus, it feels like I am out in my pyjamas. My husband loves the flannel as its easy to iron.

Looking in my closet I see I have sewn up a storm of Meghans, and here are a couple. I love me a peasant dress and Meghan gets hacked depending on my whim. The beauty of these patterns is they cater to all heights, widths, and booty or boobylicious. I’m still coming to grips with Angie though: she and I need to get intimate in the fitting front.

Jamie is my new love. I made her twice last year, one floor length and one tea length. I changed the skirt for an A line, which again is more flattering to my shape. I’d love to change the bodice to allow for some shoulder coverage … maybe one day?

So come join in the fun and get your SisBoom / Scientific Seamstress on! I don’t think you’ll regret it, though you might regret the amount of patterns you buy