Someone Needs a Yoga Session

If you’re not a musician, you may not understand how frenetic December is for working musicians. Churches, clubs, performing arts organizations—they all want to provide lovely entertainment or worship experiences for their members or patrons. That means we working musicians must learn music, attend rehearsals, and then perform. And when it’s all done, we’re exhausted. Many of us are totally disinterested in hearing one more note of holiday music. Speaking for myself, I prefer to skip the whole Christmas celebration. I really don’t want gifts. I don’t want an enormous dinner. My best Christmases have been either ones over which I took a vacation (Hilton Head Island is my idea of heaven!) or days when I had popcorn at the movies for dinner. This year I’ll leave home around 3:00 p.m. to drive my granddaughter to the airport an hour away. We’ll stay in a hotel, have dinner together, and watch a movie before an early bedtime so she can catch an early flight to spend some time with her girlfriend in a distant city. This may become a new Grandma Time tradition!

Yesterday around 4:30 I played my last paid set of black dots for the year. After my Saturday night performance, I came home and cut out a bag to make for my Spousal Equivalent’s sister-in-law. It will become the “gift wrap” for her L.L. Bean Christmas gift card. When I got home after my final performance yesterday, I went to weekly Sunday night Mexican dinner with friends, then came home and sewed up the bag. This is an easy sew! And this is the second time I made it; fortunately, I was able to remember a few little tricks about the bag.

Here’s the blog post I wrote about the previous make. Well, to be honest, that post has more to do with the machine than the bag. And about my trip to the Cincinnati area to meet a DNA cousin. ❤️ And, by the way, that Singer sewing machine that is almost the same age as I am now lives with another sewist who lives just a few blocks away and was so happy to adopt it.

And here are the details about this bag. First, how cute is that Yoga Frog fabric, which I found on Etsy. If you want some, open Etsy and search for “yoga frog.” And equally cute, how about that frog charm for the zipper pull. Another Etsy find. The seller is beyondfindings. But, really, just search “frog charm.” So much cuteness!!

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My elder brothers (five and seven years older, never quite sure what to do with the much younger adopted sister) nicknamed me Toad when I was 10 or 12 or whatever. Okay, it was Toadster, then they shortened it to Toad. I thought it was cute until I became an adult. And then I came to a personal realization that maybe it wasn’t meant lovingly. Maybe they should have left it at Toadster. That’s cuter. And less demeaning. Or insulting. Or whatever. Oh, the angst of teenagerism.
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Oh, yes, the details. The fabric is from Robert Kaufman Fabrics and is ID number AJW-11128-184. The real name is “Back in 5 Minutes.” But “yoga frog fabric” in Google will bring you a number of results. Hancock Fabrics of Paducah has it, and Bug Fabrics has some in stock. If you’re reading this in Hawaii, Kawaii Fabrics has it in stock as of this writing.

The bag is from Sew Sweetness. It’s the Bellevue Pouch from Minikins Season One. Don’t let the price of that pattern package throw you. There are a lot of Very Good patterns in there, and they’re under $7 each, for bags you’ll make over and over again.

For me, the only challenge on the Bellevue is turning and topstiching that zipper-on-a-curve. But it’s not awful. Just take your time and keep holding those top seam allowances flat.

And do use foam on it. I used ByAnnie’s Soft & Stable. I think I used headliner on the first one I made. Using fleece or just Shape Flex (Pellon SF-101) is not going to give you the lovely crispness that the foam gives you. I always use non-fusible foam and baste it all around the pattern piece. The finished result is worth the extra effort.

That’s all I’ve got for you. I’m on break now for three weeks, and I’ve got a lot of sewing to catch up on! Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Happy Hanukkah. Whatever your deal is, I hope it’s wonderful and brings you joy. Like the joy looking at these yoga frogs brings me. 😊

Same Show, Different Bag

In my posts, “Meet the Paladin” and “A Pineapple for You,” you saw a bag I made for one of the leads of the Youngstown State University production of “Cabaret.” (Note: The recipient loved the bag. 💜) In the show, an unseen 🌟 is the person who records a song (the Nazi national anthem) to be played from a gramophone at a critical point in the show. The recording is supposed to sound like the voice of a young boy, scratchy like an old 78 RPM recording would be. The director of a local youth stock theatre company recommended one of the young singer/actors who studies with her, a lovely 11-year-old girl with a stunningly clear voice and a great musical ear. I never was able to meet the young singer, but a few weeks after she made the recording for us, I worked with her dad in a local production of “South Pacific,” and friended him on Facebook. This afternoon I will drop the bag off at her home on my way to my final holiday performance weekend of the year. 🎉

I wanted a musical print fabric, and chose Art Gallery Fabrics’ Hearts Melodies collection, using “The Key of Hue” for the exterior and “Tuner Tumbler Viola” for the lining. At one of my local Michael’s stores, I found an antique gold treble clef charm adorned with three tiny rhinestones. Perfect for this star of the show. The pattern is the “Paladin” from “Sew Sweetness.”

I have nothing new to say about the construction of this bag that I didn’t already say in the other two posts. I will add, however, that this is a tricky bag to make—at least it feels that way to me. There may be other Bag Ladies and Bag Dudes who think it’s a piece of cake. However, I have to watch the video a couple of times and proceed very cautiously when I’m at the point of sewing the exteriors and the interiors together. Definitely watch the video. That’s the best advice I can give.

But, difficulty aside, this is a great bag. It’s worth any cursewords that escape your brain during the sewing process. Just sayin’.

What do I love about this bag? I love that, especially in the large size, the middle pocket is just right to hold most phones. I made sure the pattern pieces that would become that middle pocket both had fusible fleece to protect the phone that might be nestled there. I love that, on first sight, it’s just a zippered pouch. It’s only upon unzipping and spreading it open (a benefit of the overhanging zipper!) that you realize the zipper hides three pockets. Three! And I love that the medium and large sizes both include an interior zippered pocket. Kudos to Sara Lawson, the owner and designer of Sew Sweetness, for a brilliantly designed pattern.

Bag Photo Gallery

A Pineapple for You

You know that feeling of joy and satisfaction when you finally finish a project that took a lot of thinking? I have that feeling this morning. I have just finished a bag for a student who played Fräu Schneider in “Cabaret.”

The Youngstown State University production of “Cabaret,” for which I served as rehearsal accompanist, closed just over two weeks ago. That was just in time for Thanksgiving week, the last week of the semester, and finals/juries week.

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If you’re not a musician who had applied music lessons in college, you might not know the term “jury” as it is used in college music departments. When you take voice or piano or oboe or … lessons, instead of having a final exam, you sing or play some or all of the repertoire you studied during the semester in front of a panel of instructors or professors in your particular instrument. For YSU voice students, you are allowed to choose the song you wish to sing first, then the various instructors on the panel tell you what to sing next. Stressful? Yes, stressful. Very. And you do this the same week you’re taking all your finals in your other classes, either required academic classes or music classes. I’m spending my week practicing all of my accompanees’ repertoire, and hold one or more practice sessions with each of them. I let them schedule with me as many times as they want at no extra charge, as I want them confident when they walk into the classroom for that performance.
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What is the significance of this bag to that beloved student? The elderly landlady falls in love with her elderly tenant, Herr Schultz, who runs a fruit market in Berlin. When he is beginning to court her, he brings her a pineapple as a token of his affection. She is touched by his generous gift, and they sing, “It Couldn’t Please Me More” (The Pineapple Song) Our student who played Fräu Schneider, Ace Lowry, is one of my accompanees and I love them dearly. Talent oozes from their every pore. I wanted to do something special for them, so I searched every fabric website I could think of and came up with “Hawaiian Colorful Pineapple – Beige” from Trans-Pacific Textiles (fabric .com). For the lining I chose a batik, “Island Batik Fresh Pick’ins Large Eggs – Nasturtium.”

I snuck 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there to make this Sew Sweetness Metro Double-Zip Pouch, which is part of designer Sara Lawson’s Minikins Season Two set of thirteen patterns that use a minimum of bag hardware and are quick sews and fairly easy for beginners. (Let the record show I am not a beginner bagmaker, but it’s always nice to be able to grab an easier pattern when one needs a quick gift.)

I had showed Ace two bags, without telling them about the pineapple fabric. They saw the Paladin Pouch and the Metro Double-Zip that I made for myself earlier this year as a travel bag. (Here’s my blog post of the group of Metros I made.) Ace chose the Metro, made with the pattern hack that creates a separate pocket between the two zippered pockets, and includes a crossbody strap.

I made the crossbody strap out of the pineapple fabric, then realized it just wasn’t long enough, but would be a nice addition if they wanted to carry it over their shoulder rather than crossbody. Then I ordered some of Sara Lawson’s fabulous cork fabric to in brown to match the brown in the pineapple print. The cork that Sara stocks is the nicest cork fabric I’ve ever touched or sewn on. I will not buy cork from anyone else after this. (I had purchased some cork from a local store a while back. When I made a bag for a friend with it, the cork cracked. Not a good thing to happen!)

Using Sara’s video on adjustable straps, cut four pieces of cork, each ½” wide and the full length of my one yard of cork. I pieced two strips together using a diagonal seam, and top-stitched the seam allowance open. Then I stacked the two strips, being careful to offset the diagonal seams by about an inch, and adjusting the total length accordingly. (My total length for each pieced strip was about 45″.) I laid one strip wrong side up, attached a &quarter;” strip of Wonder Tape (water soluble tape for sewing) to that strip, then place the second strip wrong side down, carefully aligning the edges. Then I topstiched all the way around the strip at about ⅛”. And for the final touch, I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves and a small paintbrush and applied Fiebing’s Black Edge Kote all the way around the strap. Here’s Sara’s video about Edge Kote, which I only just found—I wish I had watched it before I applied the Edge Kote. Knowledge is a good thing!

Today I’m practicing with Ace and will give them the bag then. I’m hoping they feel the love I poured into this bag.

Special touches: The lampwork bead attached to the zipper on the front pocket it one I made when i lived in Tucson and was trying my hand at torching beads. Note the zipper pull on the top zipper—a pineapple, of course. My bags are all marked with tags that say “Jananza!,” the name my youngest granddaughter gave me (with help from her mom) when my younger son married her mom. The bags are lovingly handcrafted in Youngstown, Ohio.

Something New: Odicoat

I’ve been hearing about Odicoat in several Facebook groups recently and decided it was my turn to try it. I actually ordered a container before I had the water leak in my sewing room about six months ago. When I moved everything out to get the plumber in, I somehow misplaced the jar. When I realized there was no way I was going to find it during the school year (i.e. lack of time), I ordered another off Amazon. Here’s the link so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Odif coating

Sidenote: There are two products I see on Amazon, and I can’t tell if they’re the same thing in different containers, or what the deal is. The one above is what I got. Here’s the other one.

I make a lot of Sew Sweetness bags. The owner and designer, Sara Lawson, creates frequent videos for her thousands of followers. (Her Facebook group currently has more than 45,000 members!) She recently created a video explaining what Odicoat is and how to use it. If you’re interested in experimenting with Odicoat on your own, you might like to watch Sara’s video.

I treated some fabric on successive nights last week after getting home from rehearsals. You paint three layers of the coating on the fabric, waiting at least an hour between coats. Per Sara’s instructions, I painted the first one horizontally, the next vertically, and the last diagonally across the fabric. After the final coat, you wait 24 hours before pressing. I think I waited 48 hours. You wrap the coated fabric in parchment paper to press it.

A close-up look at the treated fabric. (Also look at the lining fabric in the previous photo.)

When you’re ready to sew, you cut it just as you would untreated cotton fabric. You just have to be careful with pressing.

I made my favorite gift-in-a-hurry bag, the zipper pouch from the JediCraftGirl blog tutorial. This tutorial is my go-to for quick gifts. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we’re headed to Columbus to the Jazzman’s niece’s house for dinner. I need four bags to take along for all the ladies who will be here (plus a spare, so they can choose their favorites). So I killed two birds with one stone—experimenting with the treated fabric and making a waterproof cosmetic bag for one of the college-age great-nieces.

My zipper pull is a furnace glass bead. It has a large hole, so I slid three small turquoise beads on the head pin before adding the larger bead. The smaller beads inside the hole keep it from wiggling on the head pin. Pulls like this always make me happy I learned to wire-wrap while living in Tucson.

Meet the Paladin

As I started writing this post featuring my newest bag-make, I wondered where Sara Lawson, the owner and bag-designer of Sew Sweetness Patterns, got the name Paladin. Google tells me that, over time, it has come to refer to high-level officials in imperial, majestic and royal courts. Here’s my spin—high-level court officials need to keep a lot of information under wraps, to not let their subjects know what’s going on behind the scenes. Paladin hides three pockets under one zipper, giving you a lot more room than you think you have when you first pick up the bag. It’s a handy little—or not-so-little—bag. The pattern comes in three sizes: small–7” long x 5” tall x 2½” deep, medium–9” long x 6½” tall x 3” deep, and large–10½” long x 8” tall x 3½” deep.

I put the Paladin Pouch together in 15 minute snatches of time during a two-three week period when I was in final preparations for a cabaret show with about 20 musical theatre students, a three-rehearsal gig for a semi-staged version of “South Pacific,” and near-final rehearsals for “Cabaret,” along with keeping up with the repertoire and rehearsal needs of my eleven students, musical theatre or classical voice students at the local university. I didn’t sit down and watch Sara’s entire video, which would have helped. I didn’t sit and read through the pattern before starting. I just cut, fused, and sewed. I made a couple of mistakes, but it’s done and it’s okay.

The bag has three pockets that are contained under one long zipper that extends beyond the edge of the bag, giving you the ability to open the bag wide so you can access everything in all three pockets. The middle pocket has a clever bit of stitching that makes it a smaller pocket. You can put change or a lipstick or some folded paper money or coins in that pocket. It’s a versatile design!

I will make the two larger sizes once I’m out from under the workload I’m currently carrying. These would be nice holiday gifts for shoppers to buy. I have a stash of great fabric that will make them good additions to a couple of consignment shops near me.

The fabric in this bag is designed by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit. I believe the collection is Modern Meadow. The exterior fabric is Dogwood Bloom; the lining fabric is Herringbone. The color name for both is Pond. You can find several vendors on Etsy who still carry this fabric. Or you can search for it on Google and find a few shops who have done a good job with populating their fabric databases. 😉 (Once a geek, always a geek.)

I’ll enjoy using or gifting this bag, and will look forward to a freer schedule so I can make more.