Posted in Bloggity Blog

The little bag that grew up

Summer has finally arrived!  This summer is shaping up to be an amazing growth for me design-wise.  My popular design of wristlets have grown up to be other bags!

The hardware that I put on the front has always been a unique feature.  It adds a little style and function that is a little boho, a little chic and just a lot of fun.  Now, I’ve added the same design features to crossbody bags!

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Ba-Bam!

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How fun is that?  Summer is the time to go outside and enjoy the music, the sun and the warmth.  Walks and bike rides are just better when you’re not weighted down, am I right?

These are so fun to make.  I know it might sound odd, since I already make wristlets with these features, but a crossbody bag is just a fun little twist for these little bags.  Plus YOU get a great little addition to your bag collection!

I’ll be adding to this line through out the summer along with a few more variations AND something that will be entirely new.

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Stay Tuned!  More exciting updates to come.

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Posted in Bloggity Blog

A few deviations

Lately I have been sewing many other things besides handbags and wallets.  I’m not sure why life has taken me in this direction, but I’ve just gone with the flow.  It started when we got new furniture.  IMG_7529Pretty huh?  The old furniture was 15 years old, so it lived a long furniture life considering what it went through in our house.  The ottoman is seriously HUGE.  It is the spot for the dog to lay on, and our old covers weren’t big enough for this new big thing.  So I decided to make a quilt, of sorts.

Traditional quilters may not appreciate how I made it.  I’ve been known to not follow the rules, so that applies to this too.  I saw some table cloths on clearance at Target that I decided would do.  For the batting, I used a bunch of old towels that had been taking up space in the linen closet.  I just sewed them together with a zigzag stitch to make one large piece and then cut it down to size.  It’s pretty heavy duty with all that terry cloth in the middle. (Did I mention it’s for the dog?)  I had enough material that I cut off of one of the table cloths to make the bias tape, so it worked out well.  IMG_7523IMG_7525

I’m also working on one more cover.  I actually bought batting for this one though.  It is using a medley of fabrics that my sister sent me from her quilt shop.  By the way, if you are in Lincoln, Illinois, you should go check out her shop!  I should be finishing this project in the next few days.  Here is the cover: IMG_7534

Another completed project was a jean jacket.  My online friend Cherie provided a link to a Craftsy class.  She is a pattern maven and a Craftsy instructor and you should all visit her page for some awesomeness.  This particular class wasn’t hers, but the sale was $19.99 for the pattern and video class.  I had the denim from a previous job, and it was sitting there taking up room, so I thought, “Hey, let’s do it.”

So first let me say, I’m not one to sew clothing.  Pattern sizes and fabric hang are just not something I can easily figure out.  I think there is a little bit of a dance between the technical sewing and the art of fabric craft that hasn’t quite clicked for me yet with clothing.

This pattern has 19 pieces!  That’s quite a few, but they all came together quite well.  The video aspect showed more than just how to sew this particular pattern.  There were some trade skills taught too, and the instructor, Janet Pray makes it fun and very easy to follow along.

I didn’t take many photos while I was making it.  I guess I was in the zone.  I also didn’t know how it would turn out and didn’t think about blogging about it.  (how’s that for self confidence?)

This photo is about halfway through the class.  The front panels have a breast pocket and a welt pocket, as you can see here.  The back panel is finished here.    IMG_1974

Having used the heaviest denim known to man and the sizing of the pattern, which for me was XXS, meant there were many challenges for me.  I have a few strong sewing machines that can handle denim and leather without too many challenges, but the top stitching of the seams of this denim was quite a challenge.  I got it done, but if I were to do it again, I would use lighter denim, for sure.  At the very least, I would make the yoke, cuff interior and collar underside in an alternate fabric to lessen the bulk.

So here is the final piece.  IMG_1981

It doesn’t have buttons or button holes on the cuff or front.  Cherie suggested using snaps with the thicker fabric.  I agree.  Buttonholes would be crazy frustrating.

Now that I have all these side projects wrapped up (nearly) I will be returning to my leather handbag line.  It’s been a fun little deviation.

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Leather Wristlets Galore

Well, I know it’s been a while since I posted here.  My year has been full and creative.  As I wrote before, I decided to add leather to my product line.  It’s been fun, challenging and frustrating all at once.  I guess that’s the world of creativity though.  If you’re not challenged and stretching your abilities, you’re probably bored.  Well, I am certainly not bored.

Last December I got this machine.  A Rex walking foot sewing machine.  It’s a little scary, and CRAZY strong.  My biggest fear is getting a finger in its way.  That would just be oh so horrible.  I’ve bought a few tools to push the last inch of leather through as it’s sewing, just to keep my fingers from getting too close to that needle!

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Since then, I’ve been able to bring a few of my designs to production.  I started with this design, which was my experimental work with the new scary machine.  I like just a little color to keep the black leather from being so predictable.

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Next I progressed into a little bit ‘o bling.  Rivets have become so much more than just fasteners.  Fun fact:  That rivet on the corner of your jeans pocket that serves no purpose?  It’s to prevent wear and tear and keeps the fabric from fraying.  These are the result of me playing with rivets.

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Next I went in a few different directions at once.  I do that from time to time.  I can’t decide which direction to go, so I go in both.  My most popular wristlet is this little wristlet.

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I’ve lost count of how many of these I’ve made.  Many people are carrying this one around.  So, I used that design and made it in simple black leather.

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Next, I made my most favorite wristlet so far.  It’s bold and it’s fun.  It’s also RED.

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So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  If you want to see what’s new and next, keep looking at my shop.  It’s gonna be exciting!

 

 

Posted in Bloggity Blog

FREE Bow Tie Pattern

This is a post that I’ve been planning for a while, but didn’t write, because life.  A few years ago, I added a men’s accessory to my Etsy shop, a pre-tied bow tie.  I noticed that those who wore bowties, were pretty distinct with their styles, and I have an appreciation for unique style.  Like this guy.

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I mean, who wouldn’t like to know him?  He wears a pocket watch around his neck on a chain!  Then there’s Mr. Intense:

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I might be a bit apprehensive about meeting him, but I appreciate his determination.  Also, who doesn’t dresses accordingly to read?

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So, I simply had to do justice to an understated accessory that brings so much to a man’s personality.  It took a bit of research and trial and error, (lots of error) but I finally made a pattern that cut and fit well on many fabrics.

circuittieFor the fabrics, I’ve used cotton, satin, linen and polyester and they all work well.  Really, it’s hard to find a fabric that doesn’t make a great bowtie.

Now, the purists insist on cutting ties on the bias.  I have cut this pattern on the bias and not and it looks great either way.  Since I use interfacing, I found that the weave direction has no bearing on the final look.  This tie can be made with a fat quarter of fabric, if you don’t cut it on the bias.

I use sbrownsquarestietiff sew-in interfacing for the bow itself.  I have found that fusible interfacing on the bow makes the fabric pucker too much with the gathering of fabric in the center.

For the neck piece, I use a very lightweight fusible interfacing, but it’s not necessary.  It’s a personal preference.  I just like to see a crisp structure when I finish a piece.

If your local fabric store doesn’t have the hardware, and mine didn’t, you can find it at Wawak.  Link

So, let’s get down to it shall we?

  • Bow tie pattern – 4 fabric pieces, each 8 in x 3 in
  • Sew in interfacing (I use Pellon 50) – 4 pieces, 8 in x 3 in
  • Center piece – 1.75 in x 3 in (No interfacing)
  • Neck Piece – 2 in x 22 in
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (Optional) 1 in x 22 in
  1. Trace and cut all the bow tie pieces from the fabric and interfacing using the pattern.
  2. Put fabric together, right sides facing, then interfacing on top and bottom to make a sandwich.
  3. Sew around the edges with 1/4 inch seam leaving the small end open. (yes the small end)
  4. Fuse neck interfacing to half of the neck strap piece (on wrong side) if applicable.
  5. Fold the 3 inch center piece and long neck piece in half lengthwise, right sides facing and sew the long edges of each with 1/4 inch seam.
  6. Personal note: I use pinking shears to trim the ALL the edges after I’ve finished sewing, to cut down on bulk when it’s turned out.
  7. Fun Part! Turning out all the pieces.  Use a safety pin on one end and push it through to turn out the two tubes.  They will be a hot mess when you are done.  It may not be easy, but it’s doable.  Trust me.  I use a wooden dowel to push out the corners of the bow.  Iron those bad boys flat.
  8. Put the two bow pieces together and sew the small ends together to make one long piece.  Then make a Z of the new long piece to form the bow.  The new center seam will line up with the narrower part of the bow pieces.
  9. Gather the center of the bow.  It might take a little work, but try to fold the center in half lengthwise and put the center piece around it.  Pull the center piece tight on the back of the bow.  Use a pin to hold it once you get it tight enough.
  10. Hand stitch the center piece on the back side of the bow (not to the bow).  How finished you want this part to be is up to you.  I put several stitches on the center piece in the back, then trim off some of the excess fabric and make a small fold of what’s left of the fabric and put a few more stitches to hold the fold down.
  11. Neck Strap Time!  Feed one end of the neck strap through one side of the slider piece and down through the other.  Fold over enough to sew in place with your machine (or hand sew if you prefer).bow-tie-hardware_main-1
  12. Loop the loose end of the neck strap through the loop piece, and then back through the slider.  bow-tie-hardware_main-1
  13. You should have formed a loop of fabric that will make the tie adjustable.  Use a safety pin to feed the loose end of strap behind the center piece of the bow.
  14. After you’ve pulled it through, remove the pin, and loop it through the hook piece of the hardware and sew the edge.  bow-tie-hardware_main-1-copy

I’d love to see what you make, so please let me know how you get along with this and share photos!  You can always find me on social media.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Posted in Bloggity Blog

The Crooked Smile Anti-Social Network

I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at using social networking.  Putting myself out into the online world isn’t something that comes natural to me.  It wasn’t until maybe two years ago that I got a smart phone.  It’s not even the latest, greatest one.  It’s one that my husband had that I started using when he upgraded to the latest, greatest one.

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Facebook has been around since 2004.  I joined after I opened an Etsy shop, which was in 2010.  I probably wouldn’t have joined at all except a personal page is a requirement for a business page.  If you have been so gracious as to follow me on Facebook, you will understand when I say I am no good at this online presence stuff.  My Instagram account is also in a sad state.  My sister and husband suggested I use Snapchat, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use the app.  The only site I probably use with any consistency is Twitter, and I’ve heard it’s not so relevant any more.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  There are so many other sites like Pinterest, Periscope, and I’m sure others that I’ve never even heard of.

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All of this is to tell you just how miserable I really am at using social media.  I just do not remember to photo, catalogue and share what I’m up to each day.  Really, I don’t remember to do it once a week.  I didn’t go through my teens with a phone in my pocket and a camera pointing at every moment of my day.  I am no more proficient at taking a selfie than I am at speaking Swahili.  It’s just not natural to me and I never have the thought to capture and share things until it’s completely over.  Then I have the thought, “Oh, that would have been something to share…”  Yeah.  I’m guess I’m slow like that.

It all seems to be a bit overwhelming from a business perspective.  Those in the know will tell you to set up a schedule and use software to share and post automatically for you.  It should have a curated theme and composition well thought through and projected a week in advance.

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Me too kid, me too

Ugh.  Will I ever be good at using social networking?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  All I can say is, I will certainly try.  If you do follow me online, I thank you, and appreciate your patience.

 

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Crooked Smile Creations for Lyfe

If you’ve been in and around the handmade world for long enough, and ventured to learn some of the behind the scenes details, you will hear LOTS of ideas being thrown around.  Some are good(ish) and others, not so muchoffice-620817_1920.  As I wrote in a previous post, you have to do what is best for your own business, life, and mind.  One of the areas that seems to be a big deal, is branding.  Branding is how your business is known, from the name of your shop, all the way to the colors, packaging, and ‘feel’ of your business, and that’s before your product is even considered.

You’ll understand what I mean if you consider how you feel walking into a Starbucks, or Home Depot.  If you feel fresh, young, hip and popular when you walk into a Starbucks, then you have been influenced by their branding.  If you were to go back in time and ask someone in the 1960’s to pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they would have laughed at you, and asked, “What’s a Starbucks?”  The business and brand have been meticulously developed and marketed for their targeted customer.

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When I began this little handmade journey, the first challenge I had was the business name.  Naming a business is like naming your child.  So many questions and considerations pop into your mind.  The idea came to me late at night, as most of my ideas tend to do.  I wanted it to reflect me, and I knew that the name, Crooked Smile Creations, was it.

grin-303704_1280For whatever reason, my smile, and I suppose my whole face is a bit lopsided.  Some have been so gracious as to point it out to me it in my life and I was always self-conscious of it in my younger years.  Now, I’m a bit older, a tad wiser, and considerably more apathetic to people’s opinions of me.  In short, it doesn’t bother me.

So, what better name could there be?  The very thing that induced such horror in me is now going before me to broadcast the products I’ve designed and made with my own two hands (and make a little money if possible).  It’s perfect, and I think it’s just grand.

Why explain this now?  Well, it’s a New(ish) Year, and I am doing some branding changes.  Oh, I’m not changing the name.  Oh Heck No.  I’m simply redesigning my signage.

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My crooked smile is as much a part of me as my own breath, and will be for all my days.

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Rabbit Hole, 2017 Edition

So, remember me?  I’m like a long lost friend you run into on the street every few years, and wonder where she’s been.  Well, I’m always here, but I’m not great at blogging.  I really wish I were, but I’m pretty undisciplined when it comes to writing down my thoughts.

Anyway, here we are at 2017.  Some people reflect on the previous year and plan, schedule and set goals to outdo or undo what was done in the previous year.  That’s not me.  I’m not really into the past, but I do understand the need for reflection.  I really don’t schedule or set goals for each month or have a list of what I want to do in these 12 months.  Truth be told, I don’t know what to eat for lunch from day to day.

I’m pretty ok with it considering in my leisurely schedule of soft pursuits, I came up with the design of my popular keychain wallets.  Let’s call that a non-scheduled win.

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I did set some soft goals over the past year.  For instance, I have wanted for a long time to use leather in my bags and have dabbled a bit over the past year to do that.  I started incorporating suede into my wristlets and came up with this little bag which was quite popular over the Christmas shopping season.

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Sueeeede!

I even bought a stronger sewing machine.  This beast.

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It sews leather ‘ok’ but not great.  I have to keep trying to get it to work for me, using walking feet, teflon presser feet, stronger thread, etc.  When it comes down to it, it simply doesn’t do what I want.  So, I have looked for a walking foot machine off and on only to see the scary priced tags that make it prohibitive.

Well, fast forward to current day and feast your eyes on this lil gizmo.

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Holy Hannah!  It’s a walking foot semi-industrial sewing machine.  It’s the first walking foot machine I have bought.  It is a little scary.  I may lose a finger.  Or my eyesight.  There’s no lights on this bad boy.  Apparently lights are for sissies.

So.  Here we are.  2017.  A whole new twelve months worth of possibilities.  Let’s see where we end up, shall we?