Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Donation Blankets

There are a lot of knitters, crocheters, and general crafters who often make items for donation for a variety of charities. Sadly, I am not necessarily one of these people, because there's a lot of things that actually do take up my time. Instead, I tend to donate monetary funds to my chosen charities to use as they see best fit. (Charities often get better pricing for bulk items, so cash can be better utilized.)

One of my favorite charities (Nine Lives Foundation) uses an Amazon Wish List to request items, which are then delivered to the shelter. It's an interesting way to solicit donations. I noticed that they wanted pet blankets to send home with foster families for young kittens as well as to use within the shelter. I noticed that these were rather "pricey" for the amount of fabric used in what little construction the blankets used. These blankets were a 26 x 24 inch rectangle of fabric that were very badly blanket stitched at the edges.

Well, heck, I can churn out a polar fleece blanket in minutes. So, I went to my fabric store, which was having a 50% off sale on their polar fleece fabric.

For the price of three blankets, I bought 5 yards of 60 inch wide fabric. I washed it to remove any chemicals.

Then cut out rectangle pieces at 30 x 30 inches, and used the serger to overlock all four edges. At the end, I had 10 blankets ready to be dropped off at the shelter (along with a donation check).

When I got there, I also found out they had a bunch of fleece fabric donated, but that weren't cut up into blanket sizes, so I offered to do it, so it would free them to do other important things.

Like taking care of these cuties. Because, these little guys deserve all the help they can get.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Making My Own Tardis Bag (Part 5): Straps & the Final Bag

One of the changes I made to the pattern was to change up the actual closures. I really liked how my Patagonia bag had parachute buckles on the outside, and I sought to emulate that look.

I picked up one inch parachute buckles and strap adjusters. (I really wanted the 3/4 inch version, but I couldn't find a nylon webbing strap of that same size, so I went up to 1" instead.) I picked up a dark blue version of both the buckles, adjusters, and the nylon belt.

I decided to have the straps come from the "POLICE SIGN".

I added the other end of the strap to come from both ends of the bottom of the bag.

  • A short nylon strap and the separator came out from the front of the bag
  • A longer nylon strap and the other parachute clip came out from the back of the bag.

The finished strap looked pretty good.

I also decided to add a handle at the top of the bag. I find this particular feature very useful in a bag. It becomes easy to pick a bag up from the floor or table. I used scraps of the black denim and added some of the blue nylon webbing for a bit of added strength.

Attaching the lining to the outside of the bag was a bit tricky, but do-able. The inside of the bag is pretty roomy (as shown by my Warcraft Wind Rider stuffed wyvern)

In terms of size, I'm comparing it to my daily Patagonia bag:

  • Patagonia 15" x 12" x 5"
  • TARDIS: 16.5" x 12" x 3.5" . 

The Patagonia serves as my daily use bag, and can fit an iPad mini, two sock projects (or a sweater project), my wallet, phone, water bottle, book, and assorted small items.  The TARDIS allows me to fit slightly bit more, and should be perfect for running around a convention.

All-in-all, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. There's a few things that didn't come out perfectly but then again, what ever does? I also would have done things slightly differently for a few things. However, I like how it looks and while I make modifications to any other ones I might make, this one is perfectly serviceable! I can't wait to try it.

Now, I'm ready for a Convention to happen so I can test this out! Onwards to GallifreyOne!

You can also find more posts about making this bag by searching on TARDIS MESSENGER BAG or click on the following links:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Making My Own Tardis Bag: Part 4 - Windows to the Tardis

The front flap was one of the last things I created for the messenger bag.

Why? Because the rest of the bag was relatively straight forward, but the front flap needed some careful consideration in how it was constructed.

One of the things I wanted to add to my Tardis was the set of windows that you see on the front of the actual Tardis. My initial drawings also have the iconic windows on the flap of the bag.

I looked at various resources including the Tardis Handbook, which we have on our bookshelf. There are several different variations of the Tardis, depending on which Doctor and which season. I opted to do a stylized version of the windows.

But, the question is HOW to accomplish the windows themselves? This question would dictate how I would create the flap for the bag, which I had left as the last task to do on the bag.

There were several ways to do it, including:
  • Painting the windows using white fabric paint -- by far the easiest option, but one that looks flat and one-dimensional.
  • Quilting techniques -- I wasn't sure how to accomplish this, but I'm sure actual quilters would be able to figure it out.
  • Applique of some sort -- I'd have to create each window pane separately and sew them onto the fabric.
  • Embroider the windows -- this would be relatively simple using my embroidery machine, but I still didn't have access to my software.
  • Cut-out window panes using fabric -- probably the most difficult, but would give me a three-dimensional look that I wanted.
I opted to do the cut-out window technique, which meant that my flap pieces would look like the following drawing:

 There would be two pieces:
  1. the Front Flap piece -- it would comprise of three separate fabric pieces: Top, the Police Box Sign (already cut out), and the Window Pane
  2. the Back Flap piece -- it would be the size of the actual flap, and I would sew onto it a piece of white fabric the approximate size of the window panes.
The window pane portion would be the biggest pain to create.

First, I determined how big the window portion of my bag should be, cut out the fabric (with the appropriate seam allowances), and marked out where I wanted the windows. It took several tries to place the windows adequately. (The windows are 2x1 inches.)

I added iron-on stabilizer to the back of the fabric, and sewed the outlines of my window rectangles.

Then using very sharp scissors, I created a "Y" cut within the box itself to make the windows.
I edge-stitched of the small triangles after cutting. This left me with "windows".

 (This is a small sample that I used to test out my technique. I tried different cut methods.)

Then, I assembled the front piece together. There were additional items, such as attaching the front closure straps, etc.

Afterwards, I made the Back Piece by attaching white fabric to the wrong side of the back piece of the flap.

Then sewing the whole thing together, as well as stitching down each individual window pane (again) so that it wouldn't shift too much. I had some issues with the edge corners of each pane, but some trimming and fabric glue helped control the edges.

All-in-all, it took about 2 hours of fiddly work to sew the front flap together that primarily consisted of getting the window panes cut, pressed, and sewn down. (It also included the time to do the sample set of window panes on scrap fabric.)

Viola! The finished front flap.

Next up, finishing the bag!

You can also find more posts about making this bag by searching on TARDIS MESSENGER BAG or click on the following links:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Making My Own Tardis Bag: Part 3 - Bigger on the Inside

If you have a Tardis bag, the implication is that acts like a Bag of Holding or at least a bag that has had an Undetectable Extension Charm placed upon it (which makes it a bag of holding....). In essence, it is nondimensional space that makes it bigger on the inside or (if you prefer slightly different terminology) it transcends dimensions.

Now, to accomplish that (lacking Timelord technology) is to simply add a lot of pocketsess (sorry for the Hobbit references) so that the bag can hold a lot more than appearance should dictate, or at least stay very organized. For me, it also means holding knitting projects, a book, maybe an iPad, a small notebook, pen, and all the little extras necessary to traverse a given convention, including a sonic screwdriver --- because if you're going to walk around with a Tardis, you need a sonic screwdriver, naturally!

When I made the original mockup, I noticed that many of the inner and exterior pockets designed into the bag weren't really all that usable.

I looked at my own favorite bag that I use nearly every day, the Patagonia Black Hole Mini Messenger Bag, which has some very usable (and not so usable) pockets.

I also wanted to be able to add this embroidered patch to a pocket. I had picked it up at some convention, which had originally given me the idea for making a Tardis bag. The pocket had to be the size of the patch so I could sew it as a front covering.

So, I redesigned the pockets a little bit more to my choosing. I did the following:
  • Made the pocket area slightly larger than the mockup.
  • Resized one of the pockets to actually be able to hold my smart phone securely.
  • Added two extra pockets to the front, as well as transforming one giant pocket to a divided version that hold pens, pencils, crochet hooks, knitting needles (you get the drift).  This pocket was the size of the embroidered patch.
I added a zippered pouch and a separator to the inside, as well as adding a "bottle" holder to the inside lining (or in my case, a Dalek cup, because...well, I can....)

(Inside bottle holder and zippered pouch)

The finished outer pockets turned out fairly well. I used a heavy duty "purse" zipper with double zippers.

In addition, I added a key fob to the inside zippered pocket. I used a swivel hook and some grosgrain ribbon. I find this feature useful on my other bags -- it allows me to attach my keys and find them relatively quickly.

The rest of the pattern pieces were fairly straight forward, so I followed the instructions for the pattern (McCall M5824) for the larger pieces of the bag (front piece, back piece, gusset, and all of the lining).

Next up, sewing the front flap!

You can also find more posts about making this bag by searching on TARDIS MESSENGER BAG or click on the following links:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Making My Own Tardis Bag (Part 2) - Embroidering the Sign

After I made my test embroidery piece, I sized it on my mockup bag to determine how wide I wanted the final sign. It turned out that including the seam allowances, the sign would be approximately 5 inches (12.7cm) wide and 16 inches (40.64cm) long.

Here's how it looks on my machine.

Here's the final piece on black denim. The hoop is 360 x 150 mm. I used a stabilizer on the back of the fabric. It required a bit of babysitting (mostly to prevent the cats from jumping up to see what was happening).

Unfortunately, I had to make two signs. On the very first version, the "X" of box got mangled when the bobbin thread managed to "catch" somehow. I managed to fix it, but it wasn't quite perfect, so I opted to make a second version. Luckily, the second version had no issues.

(The first version of the sign)

I made the piece about 18" x 5" to give me enough of a seam allowance to create the front flap.

Next up...making it bigger on the inside.....adding pocketsess!

You can also find more posts about making this bag by searching on TARDIS MESSENGER BAG or click on the following links:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Making My Own Tardis Bag

I love bags, especially messenger bags, backpacks, and small daypacks. I also love Doctor Who, and decided that I needed a Tardis messenger bag, especially to carry around at conventions (especially Gallifrey One -- the Dr. Who Convention!)

I took some measurements of one of my favorite messenger bags that I wanted to emulate, and sketched out how I wanted my Tardis bag to look like, including the inside pockets.

I was pretty much prepared to create the pattern from scratch, but then I found this pattern (for sale at JoAnns for $0.99), which I would use as the basis.

I made a mockup using this pattern, and while it was approximately the correct size that I wanted, it had a few things that I didn't like (how the pockets were arranged, how the gusset was added, and a few other nitpicks). However, the mockup helped me figure out the placement of all of the pieces (such as the Police Box sign and the window pieces). Also, by making a mockup, I opted to change some of the pocket designs around a little bit to be more usable for me.

For the fabric actual bag, I decided to use: 
  • navy blue denim  -- leftover from Han Solo pants
  • black denim twill -- leftover from my Han Solo A New Hope Vest
  • a planetary cotton print that I found at Joanns -- I was looking for something that reminded me of the Time Vortex, but this worked just as well.

As part of my Tardis bag, I needed the iconic sign that read:

I could opt to make this piece by using fabric paint and a template OR I could embroider it. And as my sewing machine has an embroidery feature, guess which I decided to use?

After doing a bit of checking, I discovered that the official font from the BBC is Gill Sans, but, unfortunately, that font requires a purchase. However, I found a close enough (not really, but it looks good) font called London Tube.

Unfortunately, I had some issues with my embroidery software -- I had to reinstall it and it no longer recognized the software "dongle" that is used as a license. I opted to simply digitize the font (which didn't require the license), and then use that font and create the sign in the machine. However, because I didn't have full use of the software, it meant I couldn't actually add the phrase, "PUBLIC CALL" in the sign. So, I simply opted to have POLICE BOX instead. (In the meantime, I have a support email to the software company to help diagnose my issue with the dongle.)

My font digitizer did a decent job translating the font. I made several different sizes (1.5", 2", 0.5", etc) to test. For my first test run, I used 1.5" font size, which worked out well.

So, after some additional testing, I got to actual sewing the bag.

You can also find more posts about making this bag by searching on TARDIS MESSENGER BAG or click on the following links:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Catch-Up Post: Knitting Start-tosis

Wow, it's almost the end of the year, and I realize that the past two months I have not been writing as much as I should be, all things considering. However, as these two months coincide with the holidays, it's not surprising that I've been busy.

Of course, with being busy, I've also had a lot of bouts of start-itis ...or is it start-osis...over the past two months.

Despite not having finished my 3-in-1 sweater (although I am working on the sleeves), my Unleaving shawl (called the Scottish Thistle), and my Portland Fall socks, I started two new projects because I couldn't help myself.

In the beginning of November, I received in the mail two balls of amazing hand dyed self-striped yarn from Stray Cat Yarns (in New Zealand).  They are superwash merino (75%) and nylon (25%).

The yarn came in these wonderful little boxes. (Presentation is a definite 10!) The colors are amazing, and I just absolutely had to start on knitting socks right away (even though, I hadn't yet finished my Portland Fall socks yet).

(Colors: Milly Molly Mandy & Electric Avenue)

I cast on a pair of socks out of the Milly Molly Mandy, which apparently is a children's book series that I didn't know about. I love the colors, and the yarn is a lovely knit. And best of all, each series of 3 stripes is nearly one inch, which makes determining the length of the sock really very easy!

In addition, during the Thanksgiving holiday, I cast on a shawl (Eagle Twist) using Dream in Color Smooshy in red & gold. I love how the shawl looks. However, it does contain a lot of short rows (and I dislike short rows).

Have you ever noticed that you tend to like patterns where you're not particular fond of parts of the construction? I don't like short rows, and yet here I am with two relatively large projects that have short rows (this shawl and my 3-in-1 sweater). Go figure.

The Dream in Color Smooshy yarn is wonderful to use and is taking a beating with some frogging that I had to do (because I couldn't count). I'm really liking it, and will probably acquire more in the future.

The other project hasn't quite made it to the actual start stage as of yet. However, I did have all of the skeins wound up into balls, bought the pattern, AND gauge swatched. I'll post more on that later.