Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up [Camping & My Craftsy Pattern Shop]

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 What a fun weekend of camping with my daughter, her Girl Scout Troop and 2000 other Scouts from North Carolina.  We were celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouting... Wow!  I was a Girl Scout in 1st & 2nd Grades in Germany, my Dad is US Army Retired; it was awesome to be able to share this once-in-a-lifetime event with my chickie.

Of course we were super tired when we got home yesterday afternoon... basically we just laid around the rest of the day to recoup.

How exciting, though, to come home to some brand-spankin'-new SoChick business cards?! 

I ordered these from and couldn't be happier with them!  It's great seeing "Fabric" and "Sewing Patterns" listed as an offering from SoChick!  Truly a dream coming true! (Is that over-use of the word 'true' or what?! But, it's the truth! *wink*)

Pretty fabric is on it's way to me and I can't wait to get it all checked in, photographed, and listed so that it can then make it to you! (Soon, so soon!)

In the meantime, my Pattern Shop is OPEN!  Currently I have the SoChick! Market Tote Sewing Pattern listed for sale.  I felt this was a perfect pattern to start with because it's fairly easy to sew, teaches skills that can be carried over into other handbag & accessory construction, and can easily fit your personality when using your own fabric combos.   Bag Making Kits will also be available in my SoChick Shop as fabric is listed.

What I love about the SoChick! Market Tote as a bag... well, it's super versatile, the gathers in the bottom sides add a feminine-chic touch, it has two inside pockets to help organize (you can fit a TON in this bag), the sides fold in for a different look and it has a magnetic tab closure.  What's more, it's interlined with canvas which really ups the durability factor.  I love it!

I've also started a Flickr group, SoChick! Sewing.  Now, when you make something using one of my patterns, you can share it with myself and others!  I can't wait to see your spin on my sewing patterns!

P.S.- If you've purchased an item from SoChick!, you can share customer appreciation photos in the SoChick ~Customer Love~ Flickr group, too!

Have a wonderful Monday!!
XxOo~ Melissa

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gone Camping and a Custom Order

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A super quick post today as I am packing up to head out for a weekend Camping trip with my oldest Chick-a-dee, her Girl Scout Troop and about 2000 other North Carolina Girl Scouts as we celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting.  Good Times.

I wanted to share this custom order diaper bag I made recently.  Again, I used Lisa Lam's Multi-tasking Tote pattern, from The Bag Making Bible... which I love.  I also love my customer's choice of the black/white Damask with Red combo.  So Classy, So Chic, So Chick!!  I also included a coordinating Wipe-able, Roll-able, SoChick Changing pad... which is topped with Vinyl for easy cleaning. 

Bag Exterior and Accents: Black & White Damask and Polka dots 100% Cotton Home Dec. Canvas

Lining: Red 100% Organic Cotton Twill

I included a Removable Base Insert for easy cleaning as well as the vinyl-covered, roll-able changing pad.

What an awesome bag to take you through the baby years and beyond!

Have a fabulous weekend!  I'll update you when I make it back to civilization. *wink*

P.S.- This is my 200th post!!! Ahhh! Can you believe it?! *happy dance* I all of you for following along with me!

XxOo~ Melissa

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric [Part 5: 'Other' Fabrics I Love; Q&A]

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I have enjoyed working on this fabric 'road map' I call "The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric"; I hope you have been able to learn enough about quilting cottons to get you started on your sewing journey with a bit more confidence.

Is this your first time seeing The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric, you may want to start here to see what it's all about: [Looking for Fabric 101? You've Got It]

[Part 5: "Other" Fabric, Q & A]

Since I have based this Fabric Guide largely on quilting cottons (my favorite), I thought it would be a great time to share some of the "other" types of fabric I enjoy sewing with, as well as some tips for difficult fabrics that I have learned along the way.

{Home Decor Fabric}

'Home dec' fabric is a pretty broad term in my world, seriously.  When I hear "Home Dec" Fabric" I think anything from Dupioni Silk to Cotton Duck Canvas to Jaquard... Yikes!

My favorite "Home Decor" fabrics are Linen, Cotton Canvas (including duck), and Cotton Sateen.

I have used all of these fabric in handbags and have to say they are pretty simple, with the exception of Linen being a little slinky to cut... but, it makes for some beautiful totes!

Tip: Use Linen to add shabby chic accents to items by fraying the raw edges.

Cotton Duck is great for bags that are going to get a lot of use, i.e. Messenger bags, diaper bags, overnight, etc.  I like adding prints to the mix to freshen things up a bit.

Custom Diaper Bag & Custom Messenger Purse

Cotton Sateen is great for adding body and durability... here is my most recent use of Cotton Sateen: 

Another fun material to work with is Cotton Laminate, this is quilting cotton that has a laminate overlay, so it can be wiped clean, is great for raincoats, placemats, table coverings... etc.

Here is a great link to Pink Chalk Studio's post about Working with Cotton Laminates

Here is my first major use of working with laminate, lining a diaper bag:

Tip: A Teflon foot is recommended for sewing laminate so that things move smoothly without getting caught up under the needle.  Fact: I do not have a Teflon foot.  Fact: Tear-away embroidery stabilizer works wonders for sewing over Laminates AND Vinyl.  Also, I've been known to stick some masking tape on my foot and presser plate to help things along... though the tear-away has worked the best thus far.

I could go on and on about fabrics and tips, but for now I'm going to wrap up this series with a little Q & A.  I posted on twitter a few days ago and was happy to receive some Questions as well as a comment on the blog the other day:

Q: What is the best stabilizer to stiffen my bags (stand up on own)?

A:  There are a few options here, my preference is to use fusible fleece for the lining fabric and a heavy weight sew-in for the interlining.  This is what helps to give bags like SoChick Savannah Tote a tailored look.  

Another option is to use Craft Fuse, which is a heavy weight fusible interfacing.  I tend to use this only for smaller items, as I'm not thrilled with how it bonds to fabric.  

Finally, Pellon makes a very heavy-duty stabilizer called Peltex.  This comes in a sew-in, single sided fusible, and double sided fusible.  This adds serious strength and shape to bags, it's important to trim within the seam allowance when using this product to save your needles and reduce bulk in your seams.

Q: How do I best reinforce the area under magnetic snap closures?

A:  It took some time for me to figure this one out, as I don't like to also feel the back of the magnetic tab through my bag.  Typically I will cut a square of fusible interfacing to put on the wrong side of my fabric, where I plan on applying the snap.  If I am using a heavier weight fabric without interfacing, I will double-up on the fusible squares for extra reinforcement.  Often, I will cut an additional square of heavy-weight sew in to put behind the snap, before applying the metal backing.  I find that this gives my snap a little something to "hold on to" and doesn't stress the fabric.

Q: How much fabric should I expect to use in making a handbag?

A:  Of course, this will vary depending on the size bag you are making and it's style, but I have found that, generally, you can get away with purchasing 3/4 - 1 yard of fabric to make a medium sized handbag.  In Part 3 of this Fabric Guide, I mention using Fat Quarters... I use three Fat Quarters to make my Daisy Handbag.  Those FQ's cover the Exterior, Lining and Accents; this is great if you tend to snatch up smaller cuts of fabric for your stash.  There are a lot of bags out there that work with FQ's.

Q: Any tips on sewing with knits?

A:  I'm not super experienced in garment sewing, but I have some experience with using knits for projects.  My number one tip is to be sure you are using a ball-point needle.  This allows your needle to pass through the knit of the fabric without piercing it and creating holes.  Another fact about knits is that they don't fray. This is nice for items, like the ruffle scarves I make, where you leave a raw edge, because the raw edge tends to curl into itself.  Yay. 

Ball-point needles also come in handy for sewing heavy-weight fabrics... it's true!  I use a ball-point needle when I  am working with canvas bags, again, since the ball-point doesn't pierce the fabric, it finds it's way through the weave of the fabric, which saves from broken needles!

Thanks so much for your feedback!  I am always open to answering questions to help you with your sewing adventures!  A lot of skills are learned through trial and error, and you may find that what works for others doesn't always work for you.

Happy Sewing!

XxOo~ Melissa

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend-Wrap Up & I Want Your Sewing Questions

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This past weekend was another good one, though it rained all day yesterday and got a little chilly... I'll survive, I guess.

I have another custom order I'll share later this week as well as finally sharing about the Sewing Expo I went to weeks ago, and will be attending again in June, in Raleigh, NC.

Today, though I want your feedback.... have you seen my Guide to Fabric?

Well, I need to wrap that up... I have one post left where I'll tell you about some fabrics I enjoy working with, other than quilting cotton, but I also want to use it as a Q & A... So here's what I'd like from you:

What tips & tricks do you want to know to help you on your sewing journey?

Any questions about bag making you'd like answered?

How about sewing in general... need some tips?

Ask away in the comments, I'll take your questions and include them in my final Guide to Fabric post.  Sometimes finding the answers really is as simple as asking a question!

Happy Monday!

XxOo~ Melissa

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gust Posting for Bubblewrapp'd [Chalkboard-Makeover DIY]

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I'm visiting my friend Andrea's Blog today [Bubblewrapp'd] and telling you all about my Chalkboard-Makeover DIY Project... go check it out.

Also worth checking out is the celebratory GiveAway that I'm having over on my SoChick! Facebook Page!  

Happy Wednesday!!

XxOo~ Melissa

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up [Back to Market and a Diaper Tote]

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This past weekend I went back to the New Bern Farmer's Market, here in NC.  I attended the Market at the end of last year and decided to take time off through the winter.  Now that my business is preparing to expand, carrying my sewing patterns and premium cotton fabrics from today's designers, I felt it was a good time to start back at the market again... not to mention, I love the socialization and everyone is so nice and kind.

Mostly I will be carrying smaller accessories and embroidered items while I'm there, leaving larger bags to be ordered in my shop.  What excites me most about this arrangement is being able to get into embroidery more often... I love embroidering fun and whimsical designs, it's exciting to see what my machine can do!

Here is my set-up from this past weekend at the market:

This weekend was Spring Fest at the Market and there were a lot of folks out and about.  I enjoyed my neighbors, meeting new people and catching up with familiar faces!

Next up, I want to share a recent custom bag that I made for a great friend of mine.  She and her husband recently welcomed their third child into the world and she and I chatted about a diaper tote that she could use past the baby years... She picked the Laura Gunn Poppy fabric for the front of the bag and said she wanted "organizational features"... here's what I came up with:

This bag is a slightly larger version of the Savannah Tote found in my Shop, the brown fabric is organic cotton twill and it is lined in 100% cotton from Michael Miller Fabrics.  The overall colors are Turquoise, Aqua and Brown with the pops of red and green in the poppy print.

 Inside, I included a removable base insert (which is found in most SoChick! handbags with a boxy base!), 5 elastic-topped pockets (three on one side, two larger ones on the other), a small pacefier/lipgloss pocket toward the top of the lining and a hook for keys.

I love how this bag turned out, I don't think it looks like a diaper bag and all of the pockets will keep it super functional beyond diapers and bottles.  I'm happy to tell you that my friend said she loves it, too!  Hearing that is why I love what I do!!

* * *
Pssst~ Have you been to the SoChick Handbags Facebook page? I am seriously ONE 'like' away from 400 and I would LOVE to give something away when we hit that milestone... 

and P.S.~ Thank you for reading and following along with me here, on facebook and on Twitter.  You are all such a huge part of SoChick! and why I love and continue to do what I do! XxOo~ M

XxOo~ Melissa

Monday, April 16, 2012

Computer Trouble... Happy Monday

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Happy Monday! I hope it was a lovely weekend for you. It was great here, beautiful weather, the Farmer's Market was a blast and we put the loft bed up in our girls' room!
I had this great plan to get a bunch of blog posts scheduled this morning so that I could share some of what I've been up to... But, as is my luck, my computer is not wanting to work properly... Making editing photos very difficult.
While I work to get that figured out, I am still available on Facebook and Twitter... So come hang out with me over there until I can get bugs fixed and this little blog up and running again!!

P.S.- I'm posting this from my iPad... Aren't you impressed with my skillz?! *laughs*

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up [Vintage Style, Sew Serendipity, and Such]

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I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.  Today was the first day back to school for my chick-a-dee number 1, and yesterday stared a seriously busy work week for me.  Though, April is shaping up to be a pretty busy month... which is okay, as long as I stay on top of things.

I have a few things I want to share, like a recap of the Sewing Expo I went to in Atlanta several weekends ago, some order's I've been working on, the progress in my girls' room, and something else that I've added re-added to my plate, but those posts are going to have to wait for editing and such.  Today I'm just sharing a few photos that helped to top off a great Easter Weekend. (Even though yesterday was a weekday, ha ha.)

I picked up this magazine  in the grocery store yesterday... I love it.  It's full of great ideas and inspiration.  A fun read.

After browsing my new magazine, I was pleasantly surprised by the mailman delivering my early Mother's Day gift (From my Mother In Law):

I am sew stinkin' excited to try something from this book!  I'm not exactly sure when that will happen, so in the meantime, I'll just read it from end to end and over again. 

Do you have Sew Serendipity? What is your favorite pattern? 

I promise to be back to regular posting soon... and wrapping up The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric with the final two posts! 

XxOo~ Melissa

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Want to Know What's Coming to SoChick?! [An Exciting Announcement!]

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When I started my handmade business a few years ago I focused on making professional-quality handmade handbags using fun and fresh fabrics.  I always knew, though, that one day I planned to share my passion for handbag design and beautiful fabrics with others who sew and want to learn.  My dream has always been to encourage others to make beautiful things, after all, handmade is beautiful!  And, it's quite obvious that I have a thing for fabric, so...

I am beyond excited to share a few things that will be new to SoChick! Handbags & Embroidery late this Spring 2012....


My designs will be available for sale as full-color Sewing Patterns, in a downloadable PDF format!  I love the thrill of creating something new and am excited to share that passion and sense of accomplishment with you... I know you will love creating your own items that are "Everyday Chic for Everyday Chicks!", whether for yourself or for wow-ed friends and family!


Not only will you be able to get creative with SoChick! Sewing Patterns, I will be offering fun and fresh fabrics to help you along!  Of course use of this fabric won't be limited to SoChick! Sewing Patterns... with premium quilting cottons full of fresh prints in beautiful colors, you can create all kinds of wonderful handmade goodness, and that, my friends, is what it's all about!

I am practically jumping for joy sharing this news with you and hope you are, too!  

Be sure to sign up for the SoChick! Monthly Newsletter (in the right side-bar) because, as the time nears, I will announce release dates as well as the manufacturers and designers I will be carrying.  Also, newsletter subscribers will be the first to know about great deals, specials, and how to snag great prizes as I celebrate this big, happy, step into the future of SoChick! Handbags & Embroidery.

Thank you so much to my super wonderful customers and friends who have been along through this journey, I'm happy to share this next step with you and excited for the new friends SoChick! will meet along the way!

XxOo~ Melissa

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric [Part 4: Interfacings & Interlinings]

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Welcome back to The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric.  My little road-map to fabric, mostly quilting cottons, to help jump-start your sewing journey!

[Part 4: Interfacing & Interlinings]

Interfacing and Interlinings are used in bag making as well as other crafts.  I'm going to be talking mostly about it's use in bag making, since that's what I mostly do.

Not only will Interfacing and Interlining bring your handmade bags up a notch with a professional look and finish, they also help them to last longer by reinforcing your pretty fabrics!

Fusible and Sew-In:
For the purpose of my Guide: Interfacing refers to fusible products that adhere to your fabric.  Interlining is what you sew into your bag for stability and shape without fusing to the fabric.

Sew-In Interlinings:
Light-weight Sew-in is best used for sheer or light-weight fabrics to add support without affecting the drape of the fabric (the way the fabric falls/drapes).  I like these for lining pockets and accents on my bags, when I need just a touch of extra shape.  Light-Weight sew-in is also nice on slouch-style bags, again, lending support without making the bag too stiff or boxy.

Heavy-weight: This sew-in is great for bags requiring a tailored look.  I love it paired with fusible interfacing, which I'll get to, for bags with crisp details, like the SoChick Savannah Tote.
SoChick! Savannah Tote
Canvas: Canvas is great for not only bringing shape to a bag but really upping it's durability factor.  Not to mention, natural canvas is usually very reasonably priced and at 60 in wide, it's an economical choice for making all kinds of totes.  I use it in the SoChick Market Tote for shape but mostly reinforcement/durability.
Canvas interlining adds durability to the SoChick Market Tote
**All of these Sew-in Interlinings would be sewn into your bag between the exterior and ling fabrics.

Fusible Interfacing:  This is a product that is fused, using the heat of an iron, to the Wrong Side of your fabric.  Different Fusible Interfacings can be used to acheive different effects, from light reinforcement to being able to shape your fabric for tailored-look bags and even fabric bins!

[Woven vs. Non Woven]

Woven Interfacing is exactly what it's name implies; it is essentially woven fabric that has lengthwise/crosswise grain and stretch with a layer of adhesive on the back that, when heated with your iron, will fuse it to your fabric of choice.

My pick for Woven Interfacing is Pellon SF 101.  This particular product is a little more expensive, but it gives great feel to quilting fabrics and I love the professional looking finish!

Here is an example of adding woven interfacing to a piece of Kona Quilting Cotton:
I chose to have the light in the back to show how interfacing helps add some weight to your fabric.

Notice how the woven interfacing (back) supports the fabric but still allows for movement? The piece of fabric in the front has no interfacing and is a little floppy.

Non-Woven Interfacing does not have lengthwise/crosswise grain, it is made like a web with little to no movement.  It comes in different weights much like the sew-in interlinings.


Pellon 906F - you may choose to use this for smaller accessories and bags, for adding a little extra support to your fabric.  I personally feel like this would be the non-woven counterpart to the SF101 I mentioned above.  *remember, though, that non-woven will not move with your fabric the way woven interfacing will, so if you are making slouchy-styled bags, I'd stay away from non-woven.


Pellon Fusible Peltex -This is a ultra firm fusible interfacing that provides serious stability to your projects.  It can be shaped and pressed and will continue to hold its shape... A popular project using Peltex would be Amy Butler's Weekender Bag.  I will also use it for the base of some bags which need additional support.  Also, it's great for crafting fabric baskets and bins!

Fusible Fleece:
 Fleece is a great way to cushion your bags, provide a bit more body and it helps to make them look professional, too.  You can use fleece as a sew-in, but fusible fleece makes life a little bit easier by also helping to reinforce your fabric... kind of like a 2-in-1 step. (Again, I prefer Pellon Brand)  I used it in this pleated tote:

** It is important to know that when using firm Interfacings and Interlingings, you are more than likely making a bag/item that is not going to be machine washable.  Machine washing can break down the product's ability to keep it's shape; I would take that into consideration when offering care advice... I usually recommend ScotchGuard brand fabric protector, using it according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

All of the photos I've shown in this post are examples of bags using different types of interlings and interfacings.  Here is a photo of my very first handbag, I didn't use anything other than a piece of Warm and Natural for the quilting... notice that my poor bag never kept shape and even after pressing, is still pretty slouchy! (Not to mention the handles are super thin)... lessons learned. *wink*

I encourage you to try Interfacing for your projects, you will be amazed by the results... be sure to follow manufacturers instructions for best results. 

Looking for other parts to the guide? Check them out here:
[Part 1: Fabric Grain], [Part 2: Prep & Cutting], [Part 3: Pre-cuts]

XxOo~ Melissa

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up & Craftsy BOM Progress

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Time to get back into the swing of things around here.  Last week got a little hairy as I have been finishing-up custom orders; this week is full of them, too!  I did take a creative-break to finish up some hand towels I embroidered, sew a mini-tote and work on my March blocks for the Craftsy BOM Lesson... here's the proof:

I really enjoy machine embroidery and applique, mostly doing it during the holidays, but I am thrilled with how these all came out... I may have to start doing them more often!

I really love the Hawaiian shirt print in the ruffle of this "Beach Bum" towel.

The "R" appliqued towel has a pleated fabric border, instead of ruffles.  "Mel's Cafe" is for my kitchen...  I'm a coffee lover, so it's retro coffee fabric ruffle is perfect for me.
And, who doesn't love a sassy little "Bite Me" cupcake?  I paired that with a retro cupcake print ruffle. 

A few weeks ago, the awesome folks at Art Gallery Fabrics announced on their Facebook page that they had scraps to give away... of course I was like "Me, Me, Me.. pick me!!!" and was lucky enough to get in on it.  (Pssst, I saw they were doing it again, so you may want to start following them on Facebook... or not, more scraps for me! *wink*)

I was super pleased with the awesome scraps I received and used some for a new Mini-Tote:

The prints used here are both from the scraps I received, the lining and handles are from the Floral Elements line, but I'm not sure which line the outer print belongs to... if you know, tell me in the comments!  Either way, they pair so nicely and of course are super awesome to work with... like AGF says, you can "Feel the Difference", for sure! 

Finally, I got around to working on my Craftsy BOMs for March... yes, I know that I did them on April 1st... but what can I say, I'm a busy gal!  In my defense, I did watch the lesson in early March, that's the joy of it, though... easy to go back and re-watch/catch up on Blocks!

The March Blocks worked on Foundation Piecing, and as with the past lessons, we tried two different methods:

Top (Block # 5) is a String Block and Bottom (Block #6) is a Broken Spider Web.

I'm doing blue and green as the colors for this quilt with Kona Ash as the background fabric; so far I've used all scraps and fabrics that I've had on hand, with the exception of two I purchased when I went to GA a few weeks ago... but I didn't buy them specifically for this project... not that it matters if I did.  *wink*

Also, I made a second version of the first Craftsy BOM Block, the Asterisk Block.  I felt that my first version (right) wasn't doing anything for me color-wise.  I'm much happier with my new fabric choices (left block) and think it's going to fit into my end quilt much better.  Honestly, though, I think I'm just not a fan of this block in general... though I think it's a great beginner block! 

Okay, that's all for today. Tomorrow will be the Interfacing/Interlining post for The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric! See you then! 

XxOo~ Melissa
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