Travel Makeup Bags

What a shame that I am now blogging for projects that I completed 3 months ago! But these bags are so much fun to make and I sewed four of them in last December! They are totally worth a blog entry.

They are inspired by the Sew-Together-Bag. I saw many cute ones on Instagram and fell in love. Without the pattern at hand, I simply made up a size that is large enough for stuffing in facial care products and makeups for travel.

The first one is a 9 inch wide one that I made for my sister. She was having a 3-week Japan-Hong Kong-Australia trip last December, and she loved the bag.

Her complements encouraged me to make more.

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For the next two bags, I made them 10 inches wide, simply because I wanted to utilize the 40” wide quilting cotton without any waste. The bag lining and inner pockets need exactly 4 strips of 10” wide fabrics.

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I tucked in the zipper ends in a different way.   Instead of concealing the zipper ends with tabs and later sew to the bag under side, I finished the zippers with raw edges but later tuck each end inside the bag binding. Love this finish.

Then, for the last bag, I found a simpler way of sewing the inner pockets: they can be made individually instead of sewing in the continuous manner (those who have sewn the Sew Together Bag know what I am talking about). Sometimes, sewing without a pattern is a great way to encourage creative construction!

For all four bags I used By Annie’s Soft and Stable for the outer shell interfacing, and fused light weight interfacing on the inner pocket lining fabrics. The result is fantastic! The bags are light weight but have just the right amount of structure to hold their shape. By the way, the 30" zippers from By Annie's are perfect for closure. 

These bags are perfect for using up my half-yard prints. Will definitely sew more in the future!

Christmas Stocking - Free Pattern!

After I made three quilted stockings and hung them on my family room fireplace, I wanted a smaller and quicker-to-make version. To save time, fusible batting/fleece was used this time. Also, I had some small amount of faux fur trims from Mokuba for several years already, and finally they found their purpose! The trims really bring some wintry and Christmassy accents to the stockings! Lovely! Nordic themed Christmas fabrics were used for the body. The red piece is Folk Art Holiday by Gina martin and the green piece is North Woods by Kate Spain. 

To celebrate Christmas, I made these stockings a free pattern! Enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I wish you a prosperous and cheerful 2018. I will keep my hands and sewing machines busy, de-stashing my fabrics and fibers as much as possible!

Barcelona – Paris Trip: the Dior Exhibition and Fabric Shopping

Ben and I were married in October, 2012 and we did not had a honeymoon at that time as I was still finishing up my graduate studies and he just started working.Then in 2013 we had our ceremony in China, which was a bustle hustle one month trip (our families are 1500km apart) that spared us no time for a real honeymoon. We always wanted a makeup honeymoon and finally we did it!

We had an evening flight from Toronto to Barcelona on September 29 and spent 4 days there (just in time for the Catalonia Independence strike!!). Then we took the high speed train to Paris on October 4, and spent another 4 days there. It was a short trip but we had great time (though Ben complained too much walking and museums but not enough time for relaxing and chill lol… gotta improve our itinerary next time!). 


Highlight of the trip includes visiting of the Christian Dior: Couturier du Reve retrospective show at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. It’s just a wonderful experience to be able to immerse in the masterpieces of the masters in Haute Couture. The exhibition is dreamy, dramatic and simply unforgettable. I had seen the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2008, the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010 and the Issey Miyake exhibition at the National Art Center of Tokyo in 2016. The Dior exhibition is the best of the best. There is a retrospective Dior exhibition at ROM now and it’s a must-see this Christmas for me!

We visited two fabric shops in Barcelona: Ribes & Casals and Nunoya.

Ribes & Casals is huge! I am quite impressed with their high ceiling and lofty space, with vast selection of home-dec and fashion fabrics. They have nice tweeds and silks. Unfortunately making a suit or an evening dress is still beyond my skills level and hence I left the shop without any purchase.  

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Nunoya is not far away from Ribes & Casals. This is THE PLACE for sumptuous Japanese fabrics! Here you will find Echino, Nani Iro, Kokka and lots of other cute Japanese prints. They also have lots of beautiful quilting cotton weight prints from the US and Europe. My only complaint is the price! It’s too hard to decide what to get when every bolt of fabric is so nice but also so expensive (plus a hefty addition of tax). In the end, I brought 3 meters of fabrics back home - the Echino fabrics that I used to make some of the cushions.

Before the trip I envisioned spending at least an afternoon for fabric shopping in Paris. But that did not come true. We spent too much time in the museums and walking along the Seine River. In the end, we went to only one of the many places in my list: Anna Ka Bazaar, a little cozy fabric and needlework shop in the 11th arr and not far away from where we stayed, the CitizenM hotel near Paris Gare de Lyon. The shop owner designs the beautiful Atelier Brunette fabrics. I picked about 5 assorted meters of their cotton lawn as souvenirs for myself.  

Since I still have many destinations in Paris that I want to visit and revisit. It’s a great excuse to plan another trip here...maybe for our 10th anniversary.

Stockings, Socks and Baby Booties

Stockings for Christmas. Tried not so Christmas-y fabrics, not bad. But I think I can make them better. 

Socks for me. My favorite Wendy's basic toe-up pattern. 

Baby booties for a friend's newborn. Based on a Debbie Bliss pattern but used finer yarn (hence more stitches and rows). 

Holidays are coming, and I will keep my hands busy for more home decors, gifts and to keep myself warm!

Cushions and More

I have always wanted lots of cushions in the living room. And I wanted the cushions made with invisible zippers. Now I have the Bernina invisible zipper foot and lots of cotton-linen medium weight prints. Hence no more procrastination!

In the past two weeks or so I made 13 cushions! And more are under construction!

That visible line of zigzag stitches BUGGGGGs me!

This is the first pair of cushions made. The fabric is Rifle Paper Co.'s “Les Fleurs” collection in Rosa from Cotton and Steel, a beautiful medium weight cotton-linen blend. I love its chic, Bohemian, unconventionally vintage floral look! It's more expensive than typical quilting cotton, so I purchased only a meter from our local fabric store, the "Workroom". I had just enough fabric to make two 18" cushions! At that time I was still learning and experimenting with invisible zipper installation. To make the zipper stop spot stronger, I zigzagged each end but displeased with the "visible" outcome.

Improve my technique...

Now it's much better!

On my next pair of cushion construction, the technique was improved that the zigzag stitches were only sewn on the zipper itself -- a much better result!

Matching table runner

Also purchased from the Workroom, this print by Lecien is from a Yoko Seito collection called “Etoffe Imprevue”. Again I had just a meter of fabrics. With careful cutting, and using a solid color linen fabric for the backs, I was able to make two 20" cushions and a short table runner. 

After four cushions, my love for cushion making exploded, so I went to IKEA and Chapters-Indigo to purchase 12 more pillow inserts!!! Looks what I have accomplished! The little 16" cushion is for my Eames shell chair, with fabric purchased from Nunoya in Barcelona this October. The yellow-linen cushion cover fabric is also from Nunoya. Both are by Echino (Etsuko Furuya the “Hill” print and the “ni-co Sign” print, respectively). The two light blue, 20" cushions covers are made with fabric from Suzuko Koseki the “Writers Series” collection by Yuwa.

Some of the prints are light-to-medium weight, which I interfaced with either cotton flannel or cotton twill. All raw edges are overlocked.  Since these are more expensive fabrics, for the back side, I used mostly cotton duck canvas from IKEA. 

The last four cushions are for my parent's house:

Dwell Studio the Vintage Blossom Sluc print in Citrine, 20" cushions

Liberty home-dec weight cotton sateen, purchased in Swany, Japan last year, 18" cushions

And finally, an apron for MIL. I love this print purchased in Nippori fabric town in Tokyo. I had just enough fabric for one apron. It's been washed several times but still holds up its shape pretty well. Definitively better quality than what I can find here in Fabricland.  

Two Knitting Projects

Recently I completed two knitting projects. The first is a baby booties and hat gift set for one of my coworkers. Her baby will be due next month! I based the booties on a Debbie Bliss design called Beaded Moccasins featured in her Step-by-Step Knitting Workbook but substituted the beads and color knitting with simple seed stitch diamond motifs.

Ahh the booties look so cute! I blocked them by stuffing with leftover batting “rolls”. The blocked shape is so nice! It’s definitely not the case when they are just off the needles. Blocking made the whole difference! And, a little hat (my own improvisation) makes the set even cuter! Here is how I made the hat with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino:

Cast on 84 stitches with 2.75mm needles. Work on gather stitch for 10 rounds. Change to 3.25mm needles and work in stocking stitch for 3 inches. Divide stitches in 7 parts, and decrease every other round until 4 stitches left. Knit a 4 inch tail.

I think the set fits a 0-3 months old.

Next is an almost UFO – a blouse for myself that I started maybe 7 years ago. The yarn is Jaeger Trinity (Jaeger disappeared for almost 10 years I guess, but they used to produce nice yarns and elegant patterns by the the Rowan design team). Trinity has a nice fiber content: cotton, silk and viscose; but the yarn is paper-like, has no elasticity and breaks easily. Not a great pleasure to knit with but hopefully it’s good for summer wear.

The pattern is from a Japanese knitting magazine called World Knitting in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue (all decade old stuffs =P). I particularly like the front panels and the crochet border. But somehow the yarn I chose does not have very good stitch definition.  

Nevertheless getting rid of a UFO makes me feel so good.