Beth’s Diaper Bag

My lovely friend Beth is having a baby in a few short weeks and her friends were sweet enough to invite me to her baby shower last weekend.  I’ve had an aversion to registries for as long as I can remember, so I decided to make something for mom and baby instead of buying off the registry.  Enter the crazy what-was-I-thinking moment that brought me much dread and anxiety: I bought a sewing pattern.

You know me.  I can’t follow recipes and I hate to follow sewing patterns.  They confound me and frustrate me, and yet, I bought this one.  This pattern is Butterick 4560 (and despite all of my whining, it was actually fairly easy to follow).  I bought the pattern and the fabric and sat and stared at it for about two weeks, dreading the task.  I finally decided to suck it up and start cutting. And several (many) hours later, I had this!

Cute, right?  The fabric on the inside is “Baby Story” from Heidi Grace.  It has little doodles and words all over and says “A tall bird came and brought me a gift… of all the gifts I have ever received, this was my favorite — the gift was you.”  I’m not sure who to credit for the outer fabric but it was from Jo-Ann, Etc.

I made some changes to the pattern (shocker, I know) like this antique button closure on the side pocket.  It was supposed to be Velcro, as was the closure on the main flap.  I have a weird tactile issue with Velcro and decided instead to use this cute button on the side and a small magnetic snap on the main flap.  I also didn’t make the weird strap pad you see in the pattern pictures, it seemed unnecessary.  And I didn’t make the tab on the inside that would have had a clip for your keys.  That also seemed fussy.  I did add in all of the elastic pockets and pouches and, despite the I spent about 28 hours making it, I’m pretty darn proud of myself for making this bag and for (mostly) following the pattern.  I may even attempt another one for another pregnant friend of mine.  We’ll see.


Cash Flow

I don’t have a problem with money, I am just plain mystified by it.  I’m not a big spender, I don’t have any credit card bills, but some weeks I get paid and two days later I’m out of spending money. Poof! Where did it go?  I’ve tried all of the usual tricks: I track my bank accounts with a program on my iPod and categorize each transaction.  The I can sort things by transaction and see where my money is going.  But that only tells me that I spend a lot on groceries and electricity.  It never really got me to think about the things I buy.

I’m not a fan of using cash; I’m very much in love with my debit card.  Having cash is very novel to me and frankly scary.  What if I drop it?  What if my purse is stolen? What if I accidentally leave it in the public bathroom like I did that one time (when I was like, eight) in Washington DC?  That was terrible! Cash makes me neurotic and I do not like it.

But the other day I saw a post by my blog-friend Heather that, for some reason, struck me.  She was making beautiful, hand-stamped cash budget pouches with labels like “groceries” and “dining out”.  Somehow this system seemed different to me and I was inspired to give it a try.  I talked to Heather at the Farmers’ Market and she was sweet enough not to even bat an eye when I mentioned making a set of my own pouches when I should have been buying them from her and she told me to let her know what I thought of them.

I think they’re magical.

Seriously.  If the me from last week were to read this, she’d roll her eyes and say bla, bla, bla… everyone says you value your money more when you have cash, everyone says you think twice about what you’re going to buy when you’re spending cash, etc, etc.  But the me from this week is here to tell you, surprisingly, it’s true.

I’ve tried spending cash before and it seems to just woosh its way out of my wallet without me realizing it.  Cash from the ATM for day trip to shop and enjoy lunch with my mom?  It pries open my purse and flies away while I’m not looking.  But this time was different because it wasn’t just some cash.  It was ALL of my cash.  It was like a treasure chest that I had to tote around and guard, and guard it, I did.  I was terrified of spending any of it.

Instead of the usual $100 I spend at the grocery store each week, I spent $54 this week.  Instead of buying two skirts and a top at Old Navy and blowing through my clothing allowance, I just got one skirt.  Do I want to stop at Starbucks?  I don’t know, I only have $9 of  “Eating Out” money left until next Friday’s payday.  THIS IS SO WEIRD, I know.

I’m still nervous about having enough money and whether or not I left enough in my checking account for the bills that are automatically withdrawn, but it has been wonderful to not have receipts that need to be entered into my checkbook program or worries that I’m spending too much.  Because I can’t!  I only have so much cash and once that’s gone, I’m out till next payday.

It’s only been a week, but I’m already seeing a change in my spending and I’m hoping that this will continue.  So thank you, Heather, for inspiring me.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress (or regress) into the world of cash.


I finally got around to taking pictures of some of the things I’ve been sewing lately.  First up, hot off the presses (er… sewing machine) the Weekend Away Travel Bag from Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing book.

Putting the bag together, I kept reading the pattern over and over because it just seemed counter intuitive to sew the outer and inner pieces of the bag together before assembling the bag, but now that I’ve put it together, it makes total sense and makes for a nice, neat bag.  I see plenty of these bags in my near future.

Next is, possibly, my favorite thing I’ve ever made.  The I’ll Have One of Everything bag from Anna Maria Horner’s Seams To Me book.  I cannot tell you how proud I am of this bag, I’m not even a little humble about it.  Even my sister said with surprise, “you made this?”  The pattern was so easy to follow – the hardest part was picking out the fabrics – and I followed the pattern ALMOST completely.

The pattern called for casual, braided fabric strips but I went for black canvas straps instead.  Also, the pattern called for the sides of the bag to be sewn up almost to the middle where the shoulder straps are.  I wanted a more open bag so I made some 1/2-inch bias tape and just covered the raw ends of the fabric.  Then I added ties to the sides made from the same bias tape.  It’s just enough to keep the bag closed and I like the look of the loose ties.  I made two big pockets inside for my phone and keys and it’s just the most perfect bag ever.  The funny thing is that if you looked inside of it, the only thing in there is my wallet.  A nice, big bag for my little, empty wallet.

Lastly, another Taxi Tote from the same Seams To Me book.  I struggled a bit with the first one I made, but then it turned out to be a fantastic bag for carrying everything and I decided that my sister needed one, too.  The second time following the patter was MUCH easier and I whipped up the bag in record time.

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

Yes, I did just call myself “Mama” but only for effect, you know, as in “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”.  I’m not actually a mama.  I feel the need to get that cleared up before anyone (hi Mom!) gets their hopes up.

Check it out!  Cute, right?  I made it.  Did too.  Really.  In just over one movie.  This seems to be my measure of time when sewing.  I can make a bag in two episodes of House or one viewing of Stardust including the deleted scenes.  I actually did watch Stardust while making this bag.  I love that movie.  Have you seen it?  I seem to fall hard for the fairy-tales-for-grown-ups-type movies.

Anyhow, my bag!  Do you love it?  The strap is just the right length and it hangs perfectly on my shoulder.  I love it.  It’s puckered funny in this picture because it has my brick of a phone and my iPod in it and they’re pulling on the magnetic clasp.  It’s actually too big for me since all I carry are my phone and iPod and a little credit card holder, but I’m thinking of making a much bigger version for all of those large bag-lovers out there.  What do you think?

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Organized

OK, you can hate me a little. Look at this cute, little shelf I just put together to organize my fabric and sewing things.  I’ve even organized my fabric by color and labeled the totes with little chalkboards.  Sickening, isn’t it?

On a side note, sorry for the grainy pictures.  The tone of the walls in my studio are the perfect shade of light-sucking pink that I am unable to ever get a good picture in there with my little camera.  Now if only I had a DSLR camera like someone I know who hasn’t even picked hers up since she got it for Christmas…

I love these shelves.  They’re by Closetmaid and I get them at Lowe’s.  They’re sturdy and inexpensive and after assembling three of them now, I’ve become an expert at shelf-building.  You can buy doors for the shelves, or these cute canvas cube totes that fit perfectly in the openings.  I’ve used mine for holding fabric.  The other shelves hold my crafty books and sewing patterns, plus some extra bulky pieces of fleece.  The shelf fit perfectly in this empty corner that previously held nothing but dust bunnies.  I needed more storage and more light in this corner so this shelf was exactly what I needed.

On top I have containers of zippers, ribbons, and binding.  Also some fun flea market finds, and a lamp I bought at the Salvation Army and brought back to life.  It was ugly, tarnished brass and cost me $4.99. A light sanding and a few coats of spray paint and it looks shiny and new.  Now it makes me happy to sit at the sewing machine and look over at my organized corner. Sigh…

My Taxi Tote

I’m finding it hard to type this morning, as my fingertips are so sore from being pricked by pins for several hours last night.  It feels like I took a hot pan out of the oven without oven mitts.  Ow.  But nonetheless, please admire my new Taxi Tote.  It’s the first pattern I’ve sewn from the book Seams to Me by Anna Maria Horner which was a much wanted Christmas present.  As I was sewing and stabbing myself last night, I was unfortunately not thrilled with the bag and how it was coming out.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to talk about it here today because I love Anna Maria and her website and her fabric line and the last thing I wanted to do was say something bad about her lovely, new book.

I am, as you know, impatient when it comes to following written directions like recipes or, say SEWING PATTERNS, so I tried to take a deep breath and read the pattern over several times and s-l-o-w-l-y, but still I was lost a couple of times.  It’s a simple bag to put together, I think I was making it more difficult that it needed to be.  I used Alexander Henry fabric from Jo-Ann Etc. for the outside and the lining, readymade bias tape for the binding, and a big, vintage button from my stash instead of the fabric covered one in the pattern.  I got to the point where the binding needed to be sewn on and I had just about had it with the pin poking, the bag was bigger than I expected, and then I read that the binding was to be machine stitched (which I never ever have luck with) and I gave up.  I took a break, made some tea, and decided that if I was going to finish this bag and not completely screw it up, I was going to have to hand stitch the binding.  And so I did.  Three hours later…

VOILA!  The best part was that staying up until 12:30 to finish sewing, I got to see one of my Hollywood boyfriends, Jeffrey Dean Morgan on Jimmy Kimmel.  Totally worth it.  And you know what?  This morning I love it.  It’s perfect for my book and lunch and water bottle and camera  and all the things I take to work every morning, and the strap is somehow magically shaped so that it manages to stay up on my wimpy shoulders!  Amazing.

So the verdict is… Book: Wonderful, Pattern: Lovely, Lisa: Flawed and Impatient.

Narcoleptic Slacker

Last night I failed at being productive.  After a tiring day of work, I had to go return a pair of pants that I bought Luke (eight years we’ve been married, you’d think I’d know what size his pants were…) and then I made a quick trip to Jo-Ann Fabric.  Not that I needed anything in particular, I just missed it there.  After all that, I got home, made some dinner, and promptly fell asleep in the couch.  I woke up at 10:30 with Molly snoring on my chest and the news on the television.  Whoa.  Apparently I was tired.

So in lieu of the things I had planned to make last night and show off today, I give you the cute apple tote I made over the weekend.  I love this fabric.  If I can find more, I think I might make myself a skirt for the spring.  Isn’t it adorable?  One more Christmas gift checked off the to-do list.