Peru’s Mending Kit

Soooo long ago I mentioned how I owed a post about this bag I made – one I was very proud of! – for my last trip to Peru. 

I used the Mending Kit pattern from Michelle patterns and made a few changes here and there to suit my needs. These photos came from after use, so please ignore any use-wear:) Her pattern is brilliant and the result is so very well constructed (I learned about sturdy interfacing options!). I definitely would recommend any of her purchases with the amount of work she put into this pattern.

So, the first obvious change I made was that I added a strap. I just went the quick and easy route and purchased a leather purse strap that already had clips, and then sewed two D-rings to the bag with ribbon as best I could. I could use some more experience with the mechanics here, but it suited my purpose just fine!

The next change I added was a hidden pocket in the flap, using a velcro closure. In here went a thin pocket tissues with extra money hidden inside. Travel guides warn against Peru’s skilled pickpocketers, and the occasional in-your-face give-me-your-money types. The first time I visited, I was trained to keep a decoy wallet so I had something to offer, but not all of my cash. I figured that if my whole bag wasn’t stolen, the secret pocket might go unnoticed in the event I was mugged, and if not, maybe they wouldn’t search the tissues. Luckily, in all my travels, I have never had a negative experience such as this! But I am also a very “aware” person when I’m out and about, so I might not only be lucky, but actually intentionally avoided by thieves. Who knows!

The color choices were new to me. I wanted something more… upscale? Grey was a very popular color at the time, so I found this pretty grey and yellow fabric and then matched it with the interior lining. The little ribbon tab and strap ribbon was actually a salvaged ribbon from some sort of fancy store packaging and the color matched perfectly! The mustardy velcro was something I had in a stash someone gifted me – another bonus match!

I did not get any good photos of the inside of this bag, but you can see the little pockets over at her site. In them, I stashed bandaids, pepto-bismol tablets (another tip from my previous trip – eat them before every meal and you don’t get sick! At least, to date, this science/superstition has always worked for me!), a copy of my passport, and a travel-sized hand sanitizer. The main pocket that these little pockets are attached to held my kindle and sometimes my passport if I was bringing the real one with me. In front of those little pockets is an expanding catch all for ticket stubs, receipts, maps, purchased trinkets, and so on.

I really loved using this bag, and I soooooo want to make more. In fact, I kinda promised my Peruvian family (Hola Daniella and Ivogen!) I would make them some but then reality came back and I didn’t have enough time. This is back on my priority list, though, so I hope to make some by the end of the year if I can find the right supplies. I’ll keep you posted:D

WIP-TAST-ic Wednesday 38

We are skipping WIP-TAST-ic Wednesdays 22-37 since I was out of town. I did craft all summer, but just here and there and without the stability in schedule to photograph or post. Today is a signal that I am back in some sort of routine (I hope!) and so I’ve chosen a project I am almost done with – a french boutis bag through my embroidery guild, purchased from Averyclaire NeedleArts. I chose to do this project just to learn the technique. I didn’t mind it at first…

I learned that a special brand of regular gel pen works awesome for marking (Pilot Frixion Erasables), and disappears with a touch of an iron. This is cool because you can choose whichever color shows up best on your fabric – and pens mark so much better than pencils!

The first thing you do with boutis is sew the “channels” and motifs in a simple running stitch. My stitches could have been better – smaller and closer together, but I know this for next time and I can’t say I wasn’t warned by the teacher, ha!

Then you take a needle threaded with yarn and pull it through between the fabric layers in the sewn channels, and side by side in the motif.

You snip the yarn so its about an eighth of an inch longer than the track. I could have done this better, too. Some of mine were too long, and I thought that it wouldn’t be too much of a deal after finishing the project but there is one specific area where the lumps didn’t disappear and tragically these are all arranged in a circle mimicking the hoop! Augh!

Then you take a toothpick and poke the yarn into the channel, and kind of smoosh it around the very end to fill the space if needed.

It was at this step in the project that my enthusiasm waned. It was not a favorite task, poking in yarn. I wondered about quitting, actually. Here I was, working on a “big” project for my first go and it was overwhelming to think how long it would take me. Originally, I was making the bag for me, to learn and maybe use on my travels. But then I kept thinking how “pretty” the bag will be and how much time I would have to invest in it, and I realized that it was a special piece, and I couldn’t personally appreciate that specialness. I decided it would be a gift for a particular person, and that re-motivated me. I also discovered that it was a perfect car-passenger project, and just brought it with me every time Boy drove. Soon enough, I had this tedious part finished!

We hosted a Norwegian and Frenchman for a long weekend (Hi Ragnhild and Thomas!) and this meant many late night conversations. I kept my hands as busy as my mind and before I knew it, I was ready to finish up the bag!

After all the yarn is in place, you soak it in water to help the yarn fibers expand and really fill in everywhere. Then on to the finalizing steps! You can see that disgusting lumpy ring right in the center in this photo:

I am confident it will become unnoticed, though. And really, it’s handmade so if anyone has a problem with it, they can go play in the street, as Boy would say!

I might never do another full boutis project since I found the stuffing part particularly tedious, but the puffiness intrigues me greatly. I have ideas to incorporate the technique itself in future projects, at least. And for all the beauty of this bag, it is actually such an easy type of sewing – I mean honestly, I don’t see why a child couldn’t pull it off. All you really need is patience! Anyway, I’ve got it trimmed now, and am working on my first “rolled hem”, and then the lining and zipper await! I think I might even make the deadline of getting it done before Someone’s birthday at the end of the month. We shall see.

I’m back!

I know my blog has been quiet for weeks – nay, months – now, but I am back home (at least for now). My anthropology project was awesome, and I’ll pop over a little note on that blog sometime. So, what crafty news do I have to share?

Well, first up, my Heart Mouse sold! That’s two out of three so far, and gives me hope that if I put more items in a shop, more items will sell. Not that I ever want to “be in the business” of crafting, but I would like to craft strictly for the sake of crafting. The trouble is, I would end up with things I certainly don’t need. So it would be cool to have a repository to put them in that maybe would earn me enough money to pay for the cost of supplies. I will let that idea swirl some more in my head.

Second, I’ve been working on a guild project – french boutis. When I got done with the stitching part, the scary part began – stuffing it with yarn. Eep! So far, so good, except I am a little upset there is an “obvious” ring in the very center where I had too much overlap of yarn. I imagine that will be less noticeable once this gets transformed into a zipper bag (and with some use). I have several photos of that process, so I am going to make a separate post about it as a this week’s WIP Wednesday.

Since I’d been out of town, I hadn’t gotten to help all that much, but Boy and I (and his dad) are almost done with the deck. We are ready to start adding the deckboards (some are just laying there for now, uncut). We still will have to buy railings (I want the metal kind, and I might have finally won that debate!), and make the steps, but it will at least be usable quite soon if the weather and busy weekend activities would simply cooperate! People often ask what the tape is for (the black covering on the boards) – with the gaps between deck boards, dirt accumulates on the joists. That holds moisture, which rots the wood. The tape prevents that from happening to the wood you can’t easily replace. 

In other news, I travelled to San Diego with my sister-in-law for conference she was attending and we stayed with a family friend. Upon arrival, we toured around a few places in the car so I could get a sense of the area. On the first full day, Monday, I wandered around downtown San Diego alone and then met back up with SIL to visit Old Town. On the second, I went to the San Diego Zoo with my long lost friend Keith who scored us free tickets thanks to his generous brother. On Wednesday, SIL decided to ditch the conference and we beach hopped up to Newport Beach to meet up with our friend’s son for dinner. On Thursday, SIL convinced me somehow to go to Disneyland. Mixed feelings overall about that, but we had a good time. And Friday we relaxed before boarding the plane again. 

In other-other news, a friend and I journeyed to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. We got free tickets due to #2016FaceGate (a gate fell on me last time I was there; long story). I didn’t buy much, but I picked up a buffalo bone pin as a tip for Moonie (one of my favorite entertainers) that reads “Don’t Screw Up!”  and grabbed a little nail sword crafted by a blacksmith for my husband. Huzzah!

Back to crafting news: I decided to join Kathy Shawkl‘s Beginner Crazy Quilt Class (aka BCQC). She came recommended by my embroidery guild friend – who has also been gifting me some really cool materials. You’ll see them mentioned in future posts, I am sure:D Anyway, the class just began this week so I have nothing to share on that front, yet.

And I am so behind on TAST, but I haven’t cancelled my plans. It is just taking me a while to get back into a rhythm. I hope to sort that out shortly! I had some overhanging commitments to other anthropology projects that I recently wrapped up (or at least wrapped up the first portion), so I hope to be back into a creative rhythm sooner rather than later. It will help that many of the stitches I missed were included in my previous pennants so I don’t need to worry about those again. Phew!

All this to say, I should be back to posting WIP Wednesdays again. I hope. :D