Saturday, March 27, 2010

This UFO is finally "F" - Fig Tree Bon Voyage Pattern Review Garment Bag

I'm on a roll folks! And I'm going to run with it. If I've learned anything in life so far, it's how strong and powerful momentum can be. I've had this unfinished project on my sewing table....wait for it...since November. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift! I do realize in the grand scheme of sewing lives, that's not even "long", but it's been taking up valuable space and taunting finish it, I did.

The garment bag is for my mother in law. Every time she comes to visit us for the weekend (yes, weekend) she brings bags, and bags and BAGS of stuff. I decided that she needed something personal to carry it all in. After much digging, the Fig Tree Bon Voyage bag looked to be exactly what I was trying to find for her.

After reading the pattern, and realizing my own limitations as a quilter, I decided to go ahead and buy pre-quilted fabric. I know, I know...I can hear the gasping and choking and see the chest clutching from here. But really folks...I'm a sewer first, and a quilter, like, 10th. My quilting skills are still very mediocre at best and I wanted to be able to focus on the construction of the bag. Besides, this print is SO my mother in law. I know she'll love it. (AND, it took me over 4 1/2 months as it was!).

Here's my finished product:

A few things to note about the pattern before I start. I didn't use a contrasting gusset fabric, as they did in the photo. Nor did I add on the optional pocket. I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out the placement of the pocket, and how it would work without your things all falling out, and I made the executive decision to just not add it. (Again, it took me over 4 1/2 months as it was!)

What I liked about the pattern the most, was the labeled pieces diagram at the beginning, which were also color coded. Had it not been for these, I would have struggled even more than I did. The steps were laid out well, and the overall directions were written very clearly.

What I didn't like about the pattern was the lack of detail around how you got the two gusset sides to come together at the top. I couldn't for the life of me envision it while I was putting it together, and there was no graphic or diagram in the pattern. I ended up trying a few different ways before I got it work out the way I think it was intended. Now that it's done, it looks great, and actually is pretty straightforward, is often the case, I overthought it.

Another thing I really love about the pattern is this:

All of the interior seams are bound and it gives the bag a really lovely, "finished" feel.

I also did add a little zipper pull, beacuse there wasn't any mention of one, and the only zipper I could find that was long enough was brass and isn't as smooth as I'd like. The long pull makes it much easier to slide it up and down to open the bag.

One photo on the back of the pattern shows the bag folded in half using the loop, and I really liked that feature. Especially if you have to travel on a plane or somplace that you are super limited in hanging space. You could fold the garments in half, and the bag looks fantastic, and I think, given it's structure, will hold the clothes nicely.

All in all I'm happy with the final product. Please, under no circumstances ask to see what the inside looks like, or for detail shots. This is most definately a "prototype" version.

I would say this pattern is for an intermediate sewer, at least. It's certainly not a beginner pattern. But the end result is polished and chic looking. If I had actually chosen the fabric and quilted it myself it would make a downright gorgeous bag.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Once and Someday Former Life

I've been having a lot of trouble balancing things lately. My life is really full. I have a full time "day" job, two kids, a husband, friends, family, and then...I have my dream. My dream of turning my love of fabric and creating things, into a career. My latest big step forward is taking a class in Illustrator and Photoshop so I can feel confident in getting my design ideas into reality. But that adds to the "really full life" thing. It's a lot of work. And going back to homework every week is ROUGH. But it is oh-so-worthwhile. I love the class, and it's only until mid-May.

My bigger news, is that I have...ready??? Bought a plane ticket. I am GOING to Quilt Market. That's right. I AM GOING. I have roommate to stay with (I cool is THAT?) And it's not just any roommate. It's Bari, as in Bari J. Fabric and now pattern designer Bari. I KNOW. I also already have my pass to get in. Is your heart pounding like mine yet???

So I thought I would give you a glimpse into my day to day life as it is now. Because as I see it, it's only a matter of time, and it will be different. Here goes...

I drive to work every day, after waiting with the kids at the bus stop. I live outside of Hartford, CT. Small as cities go. I park my car, and this is what I see.

I try to park on the roof of the garage every day I can. Just so that when I come out of work, I can breathe real (non-re-circulated) air. And look around. It's spring time, so for's pretty nice.

I work for Prudential. The Rock. Mother Pru. You know who that is. Enough said. I live in the insurance capital of the world. Pretty much everyone works for an insurance company in some capacity. Overall, as much as I beef, it's a great company to work for, and I love my co-workers. (Especially the crafty ones!) So, I go into my building, and head up to the cube farm.

I'm the Treasurer for Pru's Bank. So it's a geek fest every day. Accountants, actuaries, and finance types everywhere. Part of me loves it. The challenge, the number-ness of it. But I've done it what feels like forever. And in my heart of hearts, I know I will be fulfilled in a whole new way when I'm creating for a living. When I sit down to work (or dream) this is what I see. The edge of my cube, my sweet little owl from WBR (with it's italian translation, because I want to learn to speak Italian, but that's a whole different post!), and the wide, blue yonder.

This is my CFA charter. It took four years of misery, self study, discipline and many, many brain cells to get this. It basically says I'm about as finance-geeky as they come. I am very proud of this. has served it's purpose. I'm ready to get a CFA in fabric design. help myself along, I write things on my white board to look at every day and inspire me. What's there right now is this...

When I shared that on Twitter, Whipstitch had this to say "Burn the boats, Baby". THAT is the kind of awesome inspiration, comraderie and community I thrive on.

So, without further ado...onto my Once and FUTURE life.