Monthly Archives: July 2015

Summer Joy

I’ve definitely figured out my zippered pouch pattern/process.  Still waiting on supplies so I can add a little wrist strap, but I feel good about these and have really enjoyed the process of making them.

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Also been doing some reading.  I read Shadow by Michael Morpurgo, which is a selection for this coming school year’s Virginia Young Reader’s Choice award.  There were things I really liked about the story, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way it was set up, so I can’t give it a glowing review.  I’m curious to see what kids think of it.  Now I’m partway through Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg, and I am liking it much better. (Thanks to fellow librarian Allison for the recommendation!)

Last but not least, I’ve been trying to write every day–for an hour or two if I can. It’s kind of challenging writing to do at times, but it’s the kind of challenge that feels good in the end. I don’t want to get into any details about the project itself (I can be weirdly private and protective about works in progress), but suffice it to say, I’m writing and I feel happy about it.

So, yay for summer productivity!  Next week is another coding camp, but unlike the 22 kids we had in the last session, we currently only have 6 signed up for this next one.  That will be a very different experience, I suspect!


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Alright.  So there’s still one problem with my zipper ends (that’s the crunch in the upper right corner of the second photo), BUT I think I’ve figured out what I did wrong (I sewed through the tabs when putting it all together, when I should have sewn right up to them.  Which is going to be harder to actually do than it sounds, but at least I am aware of the problem!).

But look at it!  Isn’t it cute?  (Those pics are not the same size, but it’s the front and back view of one pouch.)

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It’s a perfect size for carrying a few things, like a wallet and phone, or sanitary stuffs, or whatever.  Once I get the supplies I’ve ordered, I’ll add a little strap that clips on to make it a wristlet.  Future versions will use fabric for that D-ring tab instead of ribbon–I thought I’d like the ribbon, but I don’t.

I’m excited to make more of these! It was fun to watch it come together.

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Failure: It’s a Good Thing

I’m not keen on failure in the moment when it’s happening. It’s irritating and discouraging. Yesterday and today have been full of sewing failures as I try to work out a prototype for a kind of zippered pouch I’d like to make and potentially sell. (They are fun to make when they work out well, and I need to find a way to make a bit of money to pay for fabric for my sewing habit!).

I have, in the last two days:

-cut fabric wrong more times than I can count; my scrap pile is getting fed steadily

-made a pouch that was way too big, and one that was way too small, and one that was just oddly shaped


Cons: Too big. Lopsided. Pros: Learned to do the zipper tabs (little bit of blue at ends of zipper); braved patchworking even if fabric choices weren’t so great

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This one is just sad. The idea was to have a small strip of linen at the top and mostly patterned fabric, but you can see what happened to that idea. BUT, I topstitched the zipper! And the fabric was a decent choice.

-sewn a zipper in upside down

-twice sewn zippers in with the ends turning up wonky (still trying to figure out what is causing this problem, but have a good idea, I think)

-sewn some very lopsided edges because of my stubborn refusal to pin or use clips

-made dubious design choices; oh so dubious

-sewn a tab with a D-ring with a gap that is waaaaaay too long to make sense

(And I also burned a whole pan of cookies.  But that did not stop me from eating them–a burnt cookie is still a cookie.)

But, the bright side of all my failure is that I learned a lot, like:

-I am getting a sense of how cut fabric sizes will translate to the end product–how much is lost in the sewing itself. I’m not there yet, but I get closer each time.

-I can now sew zipper tabs, which pretty up the ends of the zippers.

-I maybe used clips a few times.

-I know how to topstitch zippers, and how to sew zippers on my machine without the zipper foot (that I can’t seem to locate).

-I used fusible interfacing successfully for the first time.  (Have used it unsuccessfully in the past and was afraid of it, but after all the other stuff going wrong, I figured I had nothing to lose.)

-I think I can fix the tab on the D-ring, and next time I’ll know to make it shorter.

-I learned how to do applique, which kind of scared me, but again, I had nothing to lose.

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Applique! But yeah, weird shape and super long D-ring tab. The color is weird in this picture–the bag is a natural linen color. This one has zipper tabs, but they got swallowed up by my overabundance of seam allowance, I think.

My point (and the sewing details are probably boring) is that, with each failure, I learn something.  (Aside from sewing the zipper upside down–I apparently am doomed to do that once in a while, regardless of how many times I’ve done it already.)  I try, when I’m feeling bummed about the way a project turns out because it so radically contradicts my mental vision that started it, to focus on what caused things to go wrong and how I can fix it next time.  It’s like debugging in coding, I guess.  My zippered pouches have a lot of bugs in their code right now, but one by one, I’m cleaning them up.  And I hope that, in the end, maybe over the next week, I’ll end up with a solid process for making these pouches, and maybe even learn some new ways to add some flair, and MAYBE even make a few that would be good enough to actually sell.

One step at a time.

In the meantime, meet my best friend:


Seam Ripper 

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Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

(Read this via Netgalley.  Comes out in August.  Cover image taken from


I love Rebecca Stead.  I love how her novels manage to capture the complexity of being a kid without dumbing things down or ramping up the drama.  They just feel real in a way that a lot of middle-grade realistic fiction doesn’t.

There’s a lot going on in Goodbye Stranger plotwise–friendship drama, crushes and first love, family problems, a sexting situation (handled fabulously, I think–if you are going to write about sexting for a middle school audience, you need to take great care, and Stead does), a mysterious high school character who is hiding out for the day for unknown reasons. Yet, for all that’s going on, it’s a quiet, reflective book.  It flows smoothly.  I felt like I entered a world when I started reading, and it wasn’t a world of high drama–it was just a world like I imagine my own child (of similar age as the characters) must live in. Confusing, funny, sad, interesting, and ultimately defined by love.

I highly recommend this one.  In my imagination, the perfect reader is a 13-year-old, boy or girl, who could stand to feel a bit less lonely in the chaos of being 13.

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