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Green Pepper F559 Full Moon Baglet

May 20th, 2021 No comments

It’s a baglet because, even though I made the largest size in the pattern, it’s still quite compact. But for my purposes, it’s a great size, and the design is just plain fun. Contrary to what you see here, this bag is more or less bright red, because all the black and white clothing I’ve made lately needed something bright to offset that starkness.

Stuffed to the brim.

As with Green Pepper patterns generally, the drafting was on point and the instructions were clear. Naturally, though, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I changed things up a bit. And, equally naturally, I got into a bit of trouble along the way.

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Categories: 2021, Accessories, Bags, Covid Tags:

Take-Along Compact Backpack

April 16th, 2021 No comments

Somewhere, in a bookstore (in Massachusetts?), in the Before Times, I found a clever, light, fold-up nylon backpack. I theoretically bought it for Mr. Noile, because we tended, in those days, to buy used books in vast amounts which were difficult to carry home using flimsy paper or plastic bags, and he usually ends up carting them.

The backpack I bought was really nicely designed, but I soon realized that we — not just Mr.Noile, but I, too — needed something similar, but different. Above, the original purchase, i black, from Flip & Tumble, a woman-owned firm in Berkeley, California, and my altered version, gray, below.

Read on for more details.

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Categories: 2020, Accessories, Bags Tags:

The Buttoned Cardi-Shawl

January 22nd, 2021 No comments

This is an unpublished post from a few years ago, so pre-Covid.
No museum-going, or any other travel, is happening here these days!

This is the perfect, throw-it-in-the-day-bag, off-to-the-too-cool-museum wrap. When it’s made of a lightweight knit, it’s just the thing for warding off a slight chill, but easy as pie to wear in a bunch of different ways: As a “cardigan”, a Grecian-style stole; as sleeves over a shell; as a snood or hood; as touch of color around the neck; as a conventional long scarf, and even as a wrap skirt. It’s also compact enough to toss in a bag or purse so that it’s available when needed.

Cardigan look:

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Categories: Accessories, Adventure/Travel Tags:

Pocket for a Power Chair

January 18th, 2021 No comments

A dear relative uses a power chair (which she amusingly calls an “electric chair”, an accurate, if perhaps misleading, description) and, naturally, likes to have a “pocket” to hold small things when she ventures forth in her chariot.

A few years ago I made one for her, but over time it’s gotten a bit battered, so a new one was in order.

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Categories: 2021, Accessories, Bags Tags:

Jalie Flair 4026 Headband, etc.

January 1st, 2021 No comments

Masks — so simple, so essential, so bothersome! In cold weather, it’s a pain juggling a hat, hair, maybe glasses, and maybe other behind-the-ear gadgets.

Canadian pattern maker Jalie has come up with a sleek, clever solution to the behind-the-ears problem.

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Categories: 2020, Accessories, Covid, Masks Tags:

Denim Work Apron

December 8th, 2020 No comments

Sometimes you just need a quick, satisfying project. And sometimes you need something practical that somehow you’ve never managed to acquire. Sometimes the stars align and pouf! Everything falls in place. So it was one day when I needed a denim apron. (And so it may be for you, if you need to make a fun quick-ish gift!)

To be fair, is there anything easier to draft than an apron? The shape is classic, easy to replicate, and you get to make it exactly the right size for you — or an intended recipient.

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Categories: Accessories, Other Tags:

Dogbone Pillow

October 27th, 2020 No comments

So I’ve had to learn to sleep  on my back (ugh) . This has not been a nice process, and has involved a lot of more-or-less ineffectual trial-and-error experimentation. The latest iteration — and one that seems to be working! — involves this triangular pillow.

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Categories: 2020, Accessories, Covid Tags:

Vogue 8407: Boarding Pass Case

February 18th, 2014 4 comments

I’ve been meaning to make a boarding pass case for  me and one for Mr. Noile for quite a while.  Now that both our passports have RFID chips, I decided the time had come.

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There’s really nothing to drafting one of these things; it’s essentially a set of pockets on a string.  I had this pattern in my stash from years ago, though, so I started with it.  Then I changed it up as needed for my own requirements. Here is side 1:

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(Bad photo:  The case is squared properly, honest!)  I used dupioni silk to keep the case as light as possible.  My boarding pass cases go through TSA in the same clear plastic bag as my personal electronics, so I used the brightest colors possible to ensure that I can track the packet easily as it goes through the screening process.

The pattern called for cardboard as a interior reinforcement, but that strikes me as really unwise, since there’s nothing much worse than rotting cardboard inside anything one depends on for travel, and getting wet sometimes happens.  Instead, I cut support pieces from the thinnest quilting template plastic I could find, then rounded the corners slightly so that they would not cut through the silk.

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Because RFID chips broadcast to anyone with a reader — that would be anyone who’s interested, not just your friendly snoopy government — I wrapped foil around the templates.  Aluminium blocks the radio frequency. Commercial pass cases are available that theoretically have the same protections, but tend to be bulky, heavy, and expensive.    Here’s a snippet from CNN describing the effect:

Wrapping your passport in aluminum foil actually works. It is called a “Faraday Cage,” and it’s the same thing that protects you from the microwaves as you watch your popcorn pop. The foil blocks electromagnetic waves so a nearby chip reader can’t force your passport chip to perk up and say “howdy.”

Accordingly, I cut heavy-duty aluminium foil to size

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and wrapped the templates.  I lined all of the pockets with foil, since many credit cards now also come chipped, which makes them vulnerable to remote ID theft,  too.

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This pattern is another one of Vogue’s failures: There are lots and lots of small rectangular pattern pieces which Vogue (or whomever) has avoided labeling, even though there is plenty of space to do so.  I transferred the information, but, come on, that was a pain, and why was it even necessary?

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Really, Vogue?  You couldn’t be bothered?

The pocket edges are meant to be bound;  here are two very unhelpful pattern pieces for the binding, which, bizarrely,  don’t even have the pattern piece numbers printed on them.  That information is on the swath of otherwise blank tissue paper proximate to these pieces.

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Instead of binding the edges, which would have been a huge pain in the silk, I ended up reinforcing the pocket tops with narrow grosgrain ribbon.  We’ll see how that holds up.

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This project was sewn on my vintage travel machine:  a Kenmore 1030.   That’s the zipper foot above, doing double duty as an edge stitcher.  I hadn’t sewn on this machine in a while, and was reminded all over again what a excellent little powerhorse it is.

The pattern calls for an around-the-neck ribbon.  That’s cute, but a lousy idea for something worn while travelling, and the instructions didn’t provide for any length adjustment, which might matter depending on how, and over what, you wear the case. bc-cl

I used round cord — nicer against the neck — and added a cord-lock so that I could control the length.  I strung a  bead — a really ugly plastic bead! — onto the cord to keep the toggle from sliding off the end.

Most, if not all, of the pockets in the pattern are open.  That’s not a very good idea, either, in my opinion.  I prefer to ensure that crucial documents and cards — not to mention currency — are locked down, so I added zippers to two pockets, and hook-and-loop fasteners to a third.

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Above is side 2.   The shadows on the red pocket are dips in light caused by two sew-on hook-and-loop fasteners inside the pocket. The ridge on the right is a pen sleeve; that’s a nice touch.  I’ll keep a small notebook or a few index cards in the pocket next to it, since the ability to jot a note is a fine one to exploit when on the run.

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I did leave one large pocket open on  side 1 for quick access to a boarding pass.  And I made one other change:  The lower front pocket on this side — the bright blue one here — is meant to have a clear window into which you can pop your ID.

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Since the whole world doesn’t need to know who I am, or where I’m from, or what my address is, and since I travel on a passport rather than with a driving license, I made this pocket opaque.  And I added a zipper, so that anything in it can be safely contained.  I stitched grosgrain ribbon along the zipper edges for support, and for a cleaner-looking finish.

Since this project is essentially just stacked rectangles, it would be an easy one to draft yourself, and not much more trouble than figuring out where Vogue has hidden the many unlabelled pattern pieces on the tissue.  That’s the route I’d have taken if I hadn’t already owned the pattern.

All that’s required is to figure out what pockets you want, stitch them to each backing piece (front and back), put the right sides together, add a neck string, stitch around the main pieces, turn and close up the opening.  As I wasn’t much of a fan of the instructions in general (cardboard support, ribbon neck tape, open pockets, failure to label pattern pieces)  I’d give this pattern the rare “D” grade — barely passing.

Categories: Accessories, Adventure/Travel Tags:

Modifying a Pacsafe Bag

March 10th, 2013 2 comments

I’m generally a fan of pacsafe bags, which have metal mesh screening inside to make them travel-safe — or at least slash-resistant — in environments where that might be a risk.

I like this bag, a citysafe 350 GII, especially, because the herringbone exterior does not scream “travel baggage”.  I hope the fabric wears as well as more typical ones do; the jury’s out on that.  In use, though, this bag had more than one flaw.  The most serious of these is the lack of an exterior pocket, something almost every reviewer has complained about (and with good reason!).

True, there is a small hidden pocket in one rear seam, but that’s not convenient for anything larger than about 4 inches by 6 inches.  (And it’s got issues, too, since pacsafe calls it a “passport pocket”, but lists an RFID-blocker as a feature of the GII 350.  The RFID pocket — meant to block radio frequency waves emitted by passports and financial cards — is actually inside the bag and isn’t relevant to this particular pocket.)

After being annoyed once too many times by my inability to stick a guide book, a subway map, an e-reader, the outgoing mail, or anything at all into an easy-to-access outer pocket, I took a brave pill or two, and cut into the bag.  First I marked it carefully:

No, whoops, that’s not what I did first. First, I cut a piece of plastic quilting template into the shape I wanted for the finished pocket. Slipping the quilting template into the finished pocket keeps the pocket from riding up when it’s used. The template holds the pocket in place, but is thin and light enough to be almost unnoticeable.

(Note the round corners instead of angled ones that might have cut through the pocket.)

Then I cut two pieces of lining material for my new pocket, the same shape as the template, but with seam allowances — and forgot to photograph them. (Can you tell I haven’t had much practice, lately, at being a sewing blogger?)

Then I marked one piece of the pocket lining, and pinned it to the outside of the pacsafe bag.

In my fantasy, I was going to be able to do this on my machine . . . that was a nice dream.  Instead, I ended up sewing by hand.  Happily, the herringbone helped to keep my stitches even.  Once the placket was sewn (twice-stitched for strength), I blanket-stitched the edges to stabilize them, and to prevent raveling.

Then I turned the lining to the inside, and attached the back of the pocket to the piece that formed the placket — that was tricky, but feasible, with a little patience.

I sewed the seam around the pocket bag three times; this fabric is probably fake dupioni, and frays like crazy.  Once that was done, I tucked the new pocket into place inside the bag, and hand-stitched, invisibly, all around the placket opening.

Once the placket was reinforced, I inserted the zipper.  Huge improvement!  I use this external pocket every single time I take this bag out:  Ironically, it is the single most useful feature of the bag!  With or without “anti-theft” features, a bag that is a pain to use every minute of the day isn’t really a useful bag; one external pocket changed all that.

While I was inside the bag, I solved one other nagging problem:  The side phone pocket wasn’t anchored at all.  That meant that every time I took anything in or out of it, the lining came with it.  Even worse, the lining floated out every time the zipper was opened, and regularly got stuck in the zipper coil.  Really, pacsafe, you couldn’t be bothered to anchor the pocket???

It took only a stitch or two to remedy this, though anchoring the bottom edge one was tricky, since there wasn’t much room to maneuver.  This is something that should have been done during construction.  These bags are not inexpensive; there’s not much excuse for missing something so basic.

The straps on pacsafe bags tend to be quite stiff; this is really obvious on the skinnier ones. That is an inevitable result of  designing them to limit the damage that might be caused by random cutting by bad guys.  Sadly, the buckles pacsafe put on this bag — a backpack — are completely useless for holding the straps once they’ve been adjusted to the size the wearer prefers.

The buckles are slick, with no teeth or gripping mechanism on the underside.  Even slight movement causes them to slip — it’s maddening! It’s also really dumb; buckles with teeth molded in aren’t any more expensive to make than buckles without them.  Really pacsafe??? Did anybody actually test this bag before sending to market???

I sewed tabs of athletic elastic to the bottom edge of each buckle.  This kind of elastic has grippers running along one side.  It isn’t a perfect solution — the rubber doesn’t grip quite as effectively as the right buckles would — but it’s a whole lot better than the constant annoyance of having to readjust the straps every ten minutes.

There is room in this small pack for a regular-sized water bottle, and since there are no exterior pockets for one (that’s OK with me; that’s in keeping with the more sophisticated, urban-ish look of a herringbone bag), I added an elastic loop to keep mine upright. (It’s a covered hairband, attached to the side seam.)

This really attractive bag is finally practical, and less annoying, to use, now that I’ve hacked it. At the price, though, I shouldn’t have had to do this myself.

Here’s a brief summary of the pros and cons of this bag, unmodified, pros first:

  • urban appearance that doesn’t scream “travel bag”
  • padded interior pocket for tablet or iPad
  • “RFID” pocket which may or may not block RF waves (I’ve seen articles claiming that most don’t), and won’t do anything for financial cards even if it works, unless you just dump them in the bottom of the pocket
  • key clip inside (but the clip is difficult to use and too small)
  • wide, easy access opening
  • zipper tabs lock with hidden clip
  • locking snap hook, allowing bag to be secured to stationary object (but see “cons” below)
  • “exo-mesh” on bottom of bag to thwart slashing
  • wired straps, ditto
  • grab strap on top

Cons:

  • no exterior pockets at all, not even one in the back panel, which is almost standard in the industry
  • terrible buckles on straps, which slide freely
  • only one strap has a clip; the other is permanently sewn in place, which limits strap configurations and potential ways to secure bag
  • hidden pocket lining gets caught in zipper, pulls out and catches in zipper when used
  • only two pockets inside (why not another one, or another couple, on the other side of the lining?)
  • room for a water bottle, but no way to keep it upright, which might matter if carrying electronics

These bags are not inexpensive.  As sold, I’d give this bag a C — or maybe a C-minus for the awful non-adjustablity  of the straps.  It’s just fine, though, now that I’ve made these changes.  I’m glad I sew.

Categories: Accessories, Adventure/Travel, DIY Tags:

Whimsical Purse Mod

April 13th, 2012 2 comments

I love Baggallini purses; there’s one for (almost) every occasion, and I own way too many as a result.  Usually I want a purse that can be used as a shopping bag as well as a handbag, and Baggallini has plenty of those, but sometimes I want the most minimal thing possible.  That would be Baggallini’s surprisingly well-thought-out Teenee Baggallini.

What I don’t like on this small bag, though, is that metal plate on the front.  It snags inside my purses when I use the Teenee as a wallet, and it adds an unwanted few ounces when I’m wearing it cross-body.  So I remove them.  This is tricky, but possible if you’re careful.

First I take a small, thin, screwdriver and carefully lift the plate from the front of the bag.  Then I cut a very, very small slit in the lining behind the nameplate and gently pull the logo support from the back, on the inside.

This leaves two holes in the front of the bag, and a small slit in the back.  I use a bit of clear repair tape over the slit in the back ( you can buy it at camping/recreational supply stores).  Because these bags are kicky and fun, I cover the two holes left in the front with an embroidered patch from Demeritwear.

Here is the cookies and milk  badge for my orange bag:

I choose this one for the color, of course, but I also for the whimsy of the motif.  The embroidery is bright and clear; the patches are meant to be ironed-on, but I hate ironing stuff, so I just stitch them in place.

If you don’t know Demeritwear, you should!  They make cheerful, kooky, silly and yes, even dippy, little “merit badge” patches for all occasions.  (Theoretically they are “demerit badges” — maybe because scouting has the originals all wrapped up? — and there’s a story, but it’s not necessary to go into that here.  Check out the website if you’re curious.)

These nicely made embroidered badges would be fun as faux buttons on tee shirt shoulders (or amusing faux epaulet-like decorations) , as identifiers on kids’ back packs or lunch bags, as logos on jackets, hoodies, or sweatshirts, or as a decorative touch on rear jeans pockets.  I use them on and in my packing system, too, so that I can tell what’s in my packing cubes.

Other ways I’ve used these badges:

Case Mod

Packing Cube ID

Disclosure:  Please read it a the bottom of the Case Mod post.

Categories: Accessories, Bags, DIY, Fun Tags: