Monday, September 30, 2013

Improv Bags, Here They Come!

I had these bagful of cut-up strips of soft canvas-like cotton fabrics originally intended for kids' project that my friend, Suzette, left me. She simply ran out of time to utilize the craft supplies for youth group at church before she moved to Egypt. The supplies sat in my garage for good five years, not knowing what to do with them. I finally took them to the church summer camp this year along with three of my sewing machines, hoping that some inspiration will hit me.
OMG, it did! I stared at the strips of soft canvas for a while. Then, BINGO!  I also had a box of random fabrics loaded up in my car, just in case. I quickly ran to my car to drag the fabrics out, and began sewing. Here is my first one. The accent fabric was also a nice thick durable woven cotton, very suitable for market bags. Formerly a curtain!

That was totally fun. Totally an improv sewing. I took no measurements, just picked the fabric up (the soft canvas was already cut into these strips of mostly same but varied length so I just needed to pick the ones with similar length), cut the accent fabric, not even pinned them as the fabrics didn't slip at all, and just sewed away!

The bag looked rather plain, so I added a heart applique. The straps were made with the same soft canvas material of the same size strip. One strip cut in half and patched up to make it longer, produced one strap.

This second one I made had shinny, glitter accent, and it was very popular. All these bags ended up being sold for a fundraiser, and I received requests to make more with this purple/lavender shinny glitter accent fabric - a former pillow case/sham.

This one was with rainbow butterfly accent fabric. Very sunny. I decided to sew on a few different colors of cotton fabric pieces onto the strap.

 Oh, I just love this daisy print. I picked up about a yard of it, totally unused new condition, at a recycle shop a while back. After sewing into the bag here, I loved it so much that I actually looked up the source of this fabric. I found it. It's called Daisy Path. I liked it so much that I ended up making two more bags with this fabric, with only about 1" x 3" of the fabric left! I may get more now that I know where I can get it.

More of the purple lavender shinny pillow case/sham accent bags.

I recently sew, I mean, saw this book at a bookstore and immediately picked it up.  Improv Sewing. Oh, YES! Somehow my mind was trapped in the idea that I must use a pattern, I must follow directions, or at least I must take measurements in all things at all times.  The book freed me up. "Oh, heck. It's just a market bag and these are leftover fabric pieces which were otherwise going to be thrown out. Nothing to lose." FREEDOM! Formerly a certifiable control freak (I've come a long way, I now consider myself a recovering and expanding control freak) of a creative type, now on the loose! Watch out! The ladies who wrote the book has a blog. They even made a book trailer! I love it.

Anyway, It's a beautiful book. I haven't made anything that's in the book yet. But I am inspired. That was the whole purpose of the book anyway, right?  For now, I'm possessed with bag making and I'm loving it. I pick the base fabric for the bag, but don't really have a plan for the accent fabric or the size or the design, and just make it up as I go. So freeing and different from the traditional garment construction. I still love and do garment construction the old fashion way, but for now loving making bags.

By the way, the three sewing machines I took with me to the camp and sewed every single day, all day long, (so much so that I didn't do anything else! Really!) were these three cuties. I got to know them, especially two very well. 6 hours of non-stop sewing daily would do that.

Here is my Singer Genie. She's so sunny and cute.

My red "S" Singer Featherweight. I didn't sew much with her since she is straight stitch only. But I made her an extension table cover with a leftover jean leg from hemming, inspired by Tammy's blog. Well, I just re-read it and the idea apparently originally came from Michelle of Life With Lou, who by the way was the FIRST official visitor to my blog leaving a comment! Such an honor!
 I also brought my trusty Kenmore Ultrastitch machine. Oh, nuts. I don't even have a photo of him! (For me, I think it's a he) Well, another post, maybe entirely dedicated to him as he is special.

I got distracted a little. Back to improv bags and improv sewing.  Do you ever sew and make something without having an exact plan? What do you make? How is the result? What do you think this way of sewing does to your mind, heart, soul, your brain, etc?


  1. Awesome! And I loved seeing your machines. I made a little protector for my Singer 301, and one for my friend Kay for her featherweight. I will make a blog post about that, and refer to you so hopefully people will come meet you!

    1. Oooo, lovely bed protector which doubles as a sewing pouch - genius! I'll have to make one myself when I find my 301! BTW I first found you when I was feeling a bit guilty about getting so attracted to a pink Singer Merritt, and trying to find more information about her. I felt better when I found out that I wasn't the only vintage sewing machine lover who got seduced into getting a pink, yet plastic-key, Merritt 2404!

    2. Don't feel guilty.It seems like everyone who found that machine was missing the manual, and you wouldn't believe how many people found my blog and emailed for how to find a manual for it. LOTS of people have this machine!

  2. Oops I already posted about mine here: Next time!

  3. Hi Micki, I love your canvas bags and your sewing machines. The Singer Genie and Featherweights are so adorable, eye candy as well as wonderful stitchers. Would you please add "follow this blog" gadget to your blog? Then I can follow you. :D

    1. Hi Tammy, thanks for visiting! Yes, I will add "follow" gadget. Mmmm, I'm still new at this and am slowly adding more gadgets. Gush, just like my house, it's a process, right?!

  4. Hello Micki,
    I just found your blog. I found a bernina riccar aka benina in japan (1230). Can you tell me if the voltage onthe motor is the same in the us?
    I really wanted. And I live in Hawaii only 5 hours from Japan.

    Let me know

    Happy sewing

    Aloha from Josie

  5. Hi Josie, the voltage isn't exactly the same. I believe the US is 120V and Japan is 100V. However, the energy consumption of small appliances such as sewing machines is so small that you can use sewing machines made for the Japanese market in US without any issues, without any converters. I checked that with a sewing machine tech in Japan before I bought my Riccar/Bernina 1230. I've been using it for over two years now and it's totally fine. Just plug and play. Transporting it was more of an issue! Anyway, good luck getting it to your home safely. It's an amazing machine. Japanese ones tend to be maintained so well or have hardly been used, so you should be able to find one in good condition.