Monday, January 30, 2012

Pattern testing complete!

Three out of four, at least.  I don't know what happened to the fourth tester.  After an initial email, I didn't hear from her again. Oh well.

Here are the finished bags of the ladies who so kindly volunteered for the job (and finished it!).

From Jenny

From Mimi

From Susan
Aren't those lovely?

I've already done a number of patterns/eBooks and tutorials before but this was the very first time I've had my pattern tested by someone else.  What did I learn from this experience?

First of all, the comments and suggestions from these ladies were very helpful.  There were a few steps and photos that I wouldn't have thought of fixing up had they not told me to do so.  Overall, they did find the instructions clear and detailed and the photos very useful (which is a relief for me!).  If you've ever bought any of my patterns or tried any tutorial on this site, you would surely know that I do not skimp on photos!

What I would probably try do the next time around is have a pattern tested by people I actually know.  Like my friends here perhaps, or my sister in-law (who lives in the next suburb), or mums from my kids' schools. That way, as they sew, they can ask me and show me their work personally.  It would definitely be easier to explain things especially when something is unclear or when something goes wrong.  Sometimes, it is very hard to communicate via email alone and misunderstanding results from it.

Anyway, I am just about ready to release this eBook on "How to make a Cosmetic/Make-up Bag".  This 34-page eBook includes patterns for two bag sizes and aside from instructions on how to sew the bag, I've also added instructions on how to make your own bias binding tape.  It will be available shortly in my Etsy Shop and also on Simple Things.

Thank you once again to Jenny, Mimi and Susan.  Thank you for taking time out from your busy life to help me out.  Hope you learned something from me as I have from you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pattern testers please!

Yesterday was a really good day.

Firstly, after a couple of months of anxiously waiting, my eldest son has been offered a place in his preferred university and at the course he really wanted.  The news came as a great sigh of relief.   The university, apart from being a reputable one, is just a 30-minute train ride from our home, making commuting super convenient. I was truly happy for my son! He is turning 18 in a few days, a milestone in itself, and this blessing is certainly a huge icing on his cake.  Yay, we now have an Accountant in the making!

During the day too, I was in the mood to sew another cosmetic bag.  Since I rarely get the urge (and the time) to sew these days, I really had to take advantage of the opportunity.  I also had that strong feeling that I could "perfect" this pattern after a third attempt so I took out our camera and decided to take photos along the way.

And I was right!  The bag turned out beautifully.  The pattern seemed flawless.  I was so satisfied with my sewing...and that doesn't happen very often!

Anyway, you know what comes with a pattern...the instructions, of course! I fixed up all my photos, typed up everything, read, reread and edited, then finally printed the whole thing as a PDF.  Even I am surprised to have come up with a new eBook in such a short time. 

Before I release the eBook, however, I do want the pattern tested.  I had some difficulty constructing my sentences so I want to make sure my instructions are ultra clear.  

Do you want to be a pattern tester?

To be considered, you must have some experience in sewing, particularly in installing zippers, bias binding, and sewing around curves.  You must also commit to:

1.  Finish the bag within a week after I email the PDF to you. (It only takes a couple of hours to make this from start to finish!)
2.  Blog about the pattern if you have a blog then email me the link so I can post it here;  or if you don't have a blog, send me a write-up with photos of your bag so I can share it here too.

Please express your interest in the comments section below.  Do not forget to leave your name and email address.

I will choose up to three (3) pattern testers.  Hopefully, there are a lot of volunteers out there so I will actually have people to choose from!



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Just clowning around

I enjoy making gumpaste cake toppers immensely.  As a child,  I do not recall being into moulding clay or playdough, so I guess I am sort of feeling like a child again.  In the beginning, I relied very heavily on video tutorials and/or instructions from cake decorating books to make them.  Now, I am a little more confident just looking at pictures then I mostly figure out the process by myself.

My current favourite cake topper is the most recent I made.

The inspiration for this clown came from here.  The mom of the birthday boy wanted to match the cake with the theme of the playcentre where the party was to be held in.

A 12" vanilla chiffon filled with caramel custard and frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream.

I also made matching cupcakes to give away to the kiddie guests.

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.
These are the kinds of cakes that give me the most satisfaction. It makes me smile just looking at them.

In between baking and frosting these cakes and cupcakes, I was able to squeeze in some sewing too.  Kind of a miracle because I never get to do these two things in the same day.

I made my second cosmetic bag, yippee!  It was much easier this time because I already knew exactly what to do.  I like the first one better though.

I can certainly see a third one coming soon.  Maybe I will take some step by step photos next time...

That's all for now.  Hope you had a fruitful week just like I did.  Have a great new week ahead!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Project #1: Cosmetic Bag

I have this old cosmetic bag which I bought just before we moved to Australia.  Been wanting to sew a replica for the longest time because it wasn't like the usual zippered pouch that everyone makes.  It's edges were finished with binding. But truth be told, me and binding are not friends so that explains why I have always resisted the idea of making one.

Yesterday, as I was rummaging through stuff in our garage, I stumbled upon my old bag.  I held it in my hands and it just felt like it was about time.

Love that owls fabric!

Dimensions: 5" (H) by 7" (W) by 2.5" (D)

Completely lined and interfaced with fusible fleece too.

Nice-looking side!

Filled with toiletries I took home from the apartment we rented when we went to Gold Coast last June!

I started with this around 9pm last night.  With some interruptions along the way, I finally completed it at 1am, binding and all.  Just couldn't wait till morning.  It was too darn cute to leave unfinished.

The bag is not perfect in some places but overall, I think it's great! Much better than the original even. I will attempt to do a few revisions to make it even expect a new pouch here soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My 2011 Recap

Happy 2012!

I don't want to sound like a killjoy, but ever since we moved to Australia (11 years ago this month), new year's eve and day have been pretty much ordinary days to us.  We do not normally wait for 12 midnight on the 31st nor do we do anything extra special on the 1st (except go to mass).  Occasionally, we do get invited elsewhere.  Like today, we had lunch at a friend's house. I was requested to bring a mango cake.

The best cake for summer!

What do I look forward to or hope for this new year?  One thing is that my eldest son is starting his university studies soon.  Unlike in other countries, the kids here do not have to live on campus on their first year.  And also, they usually go to universities within the state.  The nearer to home, the better.  That saves me the anxiety of a child leaving home, at least for now.

I do know I will be baking more cakes. In 2011, I had over a hundred cake orders! Not a bad effort for a homebaker, if I may say so myself.  It wasn't something I ever expected to happen. I was also pleased to know that I've inspired a lot of stay at-home Filipino moms from all over the world to bake. Some of them have in fact started their own little homebaking businesses as well, making cakes using recipes I've shared on this blog.

Some of my favourite bakes in 2011.

Unfortunately, sewing was something I again ignored (though not completely) in 2011.  I managed to sew a few things during the first half of the year: baby stuffthe errand clutchthe prince charming suitlaptop sleevemore baby stufftoddler jackettoddler coat, and a travel wallet. Around August though, baking totally ruled over my life.   So sorry to admit that I have abandoned making the travel wallet pattern for now.   Hopefully, I will get into the right frame of mind soon.  Within this year????  Let's just wait and see.

I did squeeze in some sewing just before 2011 ended.  Bought the hobo bag pattern from Sweet Pea Totes and made a bag in this matryoshka print for my daughter as part of her Christmas present.

And then, I quickly followed it up with another one in this sweet owls print for a young mom/friend.

I wanted to do more sewing but I think my overeagerness got the best of me, so some of my other attempts didn't go too well.  My confidence level in sewing seems to have completely gone down, having been away from it for a long time.  

Anyway, that's about it for my past year, crafting wise.  Personal life?  Well, it certainly wasn't as colourful or as varied. More than anything, it was challenging and confronting. There is some hard work ahead.

How did yours go?