Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How to Sew a Drawstring Placemat Purse

Do you ever have a day that starts out great but by the end of the workday you feel like you've had the wind knocked out of you? It doesn't happen to me often, but today was one of those days.

Needless to say I was glad when the end of the workday came around and I could head home. I even felt a bit out of sorts as I went to my sewing room...usually the one place that where I can completely unwind and relax.

However, when I checked my email and blog - well, there were all of these wonderful comments on my faux wrap knit dress! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Today was a day that those kind comments were especially appreciated!

Since I couldn't quite decide on a new sewing project I pulled out my brand- new, hot off the press, autographed by the author, copy of the Low-Sew Boutique book.

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One of my purses in the gallery section is the embroidered drawstring purse (that can be seen on page 123 in the book).

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I brought this purse into work last week in an ill-disguised attempt to get some compliments. Hey, what can I say? I'm only human and sometimes I'm a bit too self-centered. LOL! My co-workers thought it was pretty cute and I promised that if they found the placemat I would sew the purse for them.

You, however, know how to sew. So let me show you how simple it is to create this particular placemat purse.
  • Purchase an embroidered cloth placemat. I found mine at Pier 1.
  • Cut two pieces of pre-packaged bias tape to use as the casing. I used double-fold because that was what I had on hand in the color I wanted to use. You could also make your own bias strips with coordinating fabric.
  • Sew the casing on the wrong side of the placement, positioning it 1" down from the top of the placement and ending 3/4" from the side edge of the placement.
  • Fold the placemat in half, right sides together, and stitch the sides together in a 1/2" seam allowance.

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    • To make the boxed corner at the bottom of the purse, open the side seam so that it forms a triangle at the bottom (the folded edge). Stitch across the triangle 1-1/4" from the tip.

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    • Insert ribbon or cording into the casing.
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  • The finishing touch is to sew a coordinating trim on the outside of the purse 2-1/2" to 3" from the top.
  • Pull the drawstring tightly to close the bag - either from both sides so you have two loops to hold on to (as pictured in the book) or on one side creating one large loop with which to carry the bag.
  • The final product is an adorable little bag that is the perfect size to carry my cell phone, car key, lipstick and a bit of cash or a cash card.
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All for a total cost of under $12.
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Knit Faux Wrap Dress - New Look 6429

I finally got around to sewing the faux wrap dress from New Look 6429. I had read a number of reviews on Patternreview and it looked good on everyone who had made it, so of course I needed one also!

The pattern is marked "easy" and it really is a simple to sew knit dress. I used a lightweight floral print knit that was purchased during my shopping spree at SR Harris last fall. An almost invisible detail on the fabric is the tiny horizontal gold thread lines running through it. I originally planned on using the knit for Simplicity 4076 but thought with its hint of gold it might make an interesting dress.

I did eliminate the neckline facing that is included with the pattern. Instead, I used clear elastic at the neckline to add stability and to pull the neckline in slightly. I cut the clear elastic about 1" shorter than the neckline and serged it to the wrong side of the fabric.

Next I turned the edge over and top stitched in place.

The back of the dress has a very nice design. The back of the bodice dips to a vee at the center back with the back skirt seams curving down slightly. Its a very flattering line and allows the skirt portion to flow nicely.

I tried hemming the dress using a three thread rolled hem with Woolly Nylon thread on my serger, but it didn't work very well. The hem wants to roll out. I think the knit is too lightweight and needs the weight of a small turned under hem to help it lay properly.

The pattern runs a bit large but I didn't realize that until after I was almost done. I guess I should have read all of those reviews a bit more closely. Anyway, I took it in at the waistline but it is still just a bit too large at the waist and too large and low at the neckline. It will probably need a pin or snap to keep the cross over in place.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the dress and DH really likes it. This particular one is too low cut for it to become work or church attire, but it will be perfect for our belated anniversary dinner. (Hint, hint honey! - yea, like that's gonna work. DH has yet to read my blog!)

Full review can be read here.
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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

National Hunger Awareness Day

Today - June 5, 2007 - is National Hunger Awareness Day. Click on the logo above to see what events are scheduled in your area and to find out what you can do to help. Pin It

Monday, June 04, 2007

Looks like June is going to be a GREAT month!

Not only is it National Candy Month (and you know I'll be doing my part to celebrate) but I won a yard of fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew!

Oh yea, that's right, I won something! Cool huh? My first, second and third choices were sold out, so I'll just have to place an order when they're back in stock right? LOL.

Turns out it was a good thing they were sold out because I never would have found this adorable 1930's reproduction feedsack print from Maywood Studios otherwise! It is called White Cherries on Blue ~ Maywood Vintage Flower Garden III.

I'm envisioning this fabric made up into a very feminine apron with white eyelet fabric used as a contrast. And for some odd reason, I just can't get the picture of me wearing my new apron holding a cherry pie (fresh from the oven!) out of my head. Pin It

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Instant Gratification Sewing - Simplicity 4076 and Reading Diva Sashes

Today is the very last day of vacation - sigh.

I had hoped to get more done, but isn't that pretty typical? The days in the future always seem so full of hope with their promise of never-ending time. In reality the days fly by quickly and every project takes twice as long as you thought it would.

I knew I wouldn't do much in terms of home improvement or sewing projects yesterday as yesterday was a parade day. I volunteer with a number of other fun-loving ladies and perform as part of a book-cart drill team. If you haven't seen one yet, check out these photos from an actual competition that was held a few years ago! And no, we weren't there, and no, we don't do back flips and other fantastic feats of agility.

We perform as "Reading Divas" and spin the carts a few times, maybe throw in a pinwheel formation to really wow the crowds. Mostly we smile, wave and blow kisses while pushing a book cart. We wear old prom or bridesmaids gowns, flashy tiaras and sashes. It's silly and should try it sometime. As one former reading diva commented, "if I'd have known what a guy-magnet a gown and tiara was I would have worn one all the time when I was single."

Anyway, in preparation for the parade I had to quickly sew up three "Reading Diva" sashes. I thought we had enough sashes from past parades, but when I counted them out we were short by three. Thank goodness that I know how to sew! (And that I live really close to a Joann's store.)

I didn't make the original ones but it was easy enough for me to figure out. Just in case you decide you ever need a sash (to go with that tiara you have tucked away) here's how I did it.
  • I purchased two yards of white polyester bridal satin (60" wide) and iron-on letters to spell out "Reading Divas".
  • For each sash, cut out a length of satin that is 2 yards long and 11" wide.
  • Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together.
  • Stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving an opening the center of the sash for turning right side out.
  • Turn right side out and press.
  • Place letters on the sash and iron in place, per instructions on the letter package.
  • Slip stitch the opening closed.
There you have it! You're very own "reading diva" sash, guaranteed to raise eyebrows and spur questions.
On a more serious sewing note....

We're still finishing the kitchen painting project. I got kicked out of the kitchen this morning by DH because I wasn't doing a good job of taping the cabinets, so I decided to quickly sew something before tackling the house cleaning.

I pulled out Simplicity 4076, which has received multiple positive reviews over at Patternreview. I used a remnant (I sure seem to buy a lot of those don't I?) and sewed view D. It took one hour...from cutting it out to taking the photograph. You can read the full review here.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Nordstroms - Customer Service Gone Bad

Today was a day off. A day off from work, a day off from sewing, and a day off from home improvement projects. Apparently, it was also a day off from Nordstrom's famous customer service.

Today was a mother-daughter day with a trip planned to the Mall of America (MOA) with two goals: 1) have a professional bra fitting at Nordstroms for both of us and 2) find two or three new trendy summer outfits for DD.

DD was super excited about the professional fitting at Nordstroms and had set aside more than $100, willing to part with the cash for one or two well fitting, professionally fit bras.

I had a professional fitting done about six months ago at Nordstrom's at the MOA and had been thrilled with the customer service. So much so that I have shared my story many times.

Six months ago, when I arrived at Nordstroms inquiring about a fitting, I was greeted pleasantly and told how long the wait would be (minutes). I was brought into a large fitting room, complete with a comfy chair, where the fitter introduced herself, took some measurements, explained that I was wearing the wrong size and why, talked about proper fit, and then said she would go get some for me to try on.

She returned with almost ten different bras, all different colors and styles and the uncomfortable (for me) part began. As I tried on the various styles she would comment immediately on what fit well and why. We also exchanged pleasant small talk. She was extremely courteous and friendly. I decided on three new bras that day and she took them to the register for me.

As the sale was being rung up, she carefully explained how to care for them, how long they should last and then asked if I would like to be on her mailing list. She explained that she would call if a style arrived in the store that she thought would work for me, or if one of the styles I had just purchased was going to go on sale or be discontinued. Well, of course I said yes. She also handed me her business card at the end of the transaction and invited me to call her if I had any questions or needed anything else.

Doesn't that sound like a wonderful shopping experience? Can you see why I shared it with so many people always adding "no wonder they are so well known for their customer service."

That is why my DD was so excited to go today. She too wanted to have a shopping experience like that (and find a great fitting bra). Unfortunately, today was an entirely different experience. Honestly, if I hadn't been there six months earlier I would seriously be questioning the Nordstrom's customer service reputation.

Everyone in the department appeared to be extremely rushed and busy. It was a Friday morning at 11 a.m. While it was busy it didn't seem crowded like we had seen it on weekends. We deliberately choose to go on a weekday morning so it would not be as busy.

When we inquired about a bra fitting we were told to go "sit over there" and that it was "kinda busy so it might take awhile." We went and sat where we were told. No big deal, we had all day open.

Someone came out and asked who was first and DD chose to go first. Off she went to be fitted. About five minutes later a fitter asked who was next and off I went.

Lucky me...not only did I get a fitter but a trainer, and neither one introduced themselves this time. Okay, fine, they were busy training and had other things on their mind.

When all three of us were in the large fitting room - which had no chair this time - I explained that I had been professionally fitted six months ago but had a problem with the fit of the one I was currently wearing. I had brought all of the tags from my previous purchase in case they didn't have my information on file. Not only did they not bother to look up any information, but they didn't much care about what I liked and didn't like in my previous purchase. Okay, maybe they don't keep the information on file and I misunderstood her the last time I was there.

The fitter listened to the problem I had with the one I was wearing, offered a few reasons why it might be happening, took a measurement and left - - - with the trainer - - - leaving my dressing room wide open - - - because the door wouldn't close unless you pushed it closed. (Think about it...what do you do in a store dressing room? That's right, and you certainly don't want the door wide open do you?)

And wouldn't you know it? Every time they left the fitting room they left the door open. Okay, fine, I just remembered to close the door after them. But, in my opinion, closing a fitting room door isn't even considered customer service - that's common courtesy.

They returned with three for me to try and I hated all of them. I explained what I thought was a potential problem with one of them. Fitter explained why it wouldn't be a problem. I explained that I didn't wish to spend $80 only to find out it wouldn't work. Fitter wondered why I didn't know it could be returned. Hmm, I guess if no one ever explained to me that it could be returned that would explain why I didn't know. With the return policy in mind, I said I would consider the one she suggested.

I think they were irritated with me because I kept asking for different bras. Isn't that part of what they are trained to do? They know the styles, the brands, and where they are located in the department - I don't.

The styles they brought in were not what I wanted. I knew what I wanted - something identical or very, very close to what I was wearing. So they left again - leaving the door open behind them - and returned with a few others. As I tried them the trainer just stood in the corner of the room. It was a bit of an uncomfortable situation for me and I sure am glad DD didn't get two of them as she was already unsure of the whole process.

The additional choices they brought were okay and fearing that I would not get any other choices I decided to go ahead and purchase two of them, knowing I could return them if I didn't like them. They took the two styles I choose and said they'd meet me at the register.

As I left the fitting room I saw DD browsing in the bras. I asked her if she had purchased hers already and she replied no. Turns out her fitter had only brought in two for her to try and then left the room. DD didn't know what was going on. She didn't know if she should wait, if the fitter was coming back, or if that was all she was going to bring her. She waited a bit longer then got dressed and left the fitting room. Perhaps I'm being a bit self-centered here, but I would think it is Nordstrom's fitter's responsibility to explain to their customer the process.

DD decided to just purchase one off the rack, guessing at her size, knowing that she could return it if it didn't fit. All of the staff at the register overheard us discussing the obvious miscommunication in the fitting room with DD's fitter - the fitter herself was right there and said she had been helping "one of those two ladies" (pointing at us) and no one even said "oh I'm sorry about the mix-up".

This time when we rung up our purchases we didn't get the smiles, or care instructions for our new purchases, or an invite to be included on the mailing list. Obviously we were taking up some of their precious time and they couldn't wait to be done with us so they could move on to the next customer.

DD thinks I'm nuts for even suggesting that we go there for the professional bra fitting. She didn't think there was anything special about it at all.

Me? I was amazed that I had not been treated the same as the last time I was there. I have to admit I am extremely disappointed as my expectations were pretty high based on my last visit. Granted, it wasn't horrible customer service, it's just that I can get that level of service from any department store - Macy's, JC Penney, Bloomingdales...I expect more from Nordstroms.

So, what was the problem? Did a co-worker just suffer a family tragedy? Did the sales staff just receive notice that there was going to be layoffs? Did the commission structure change? Did we come at break time? Did we not dress properly? Did we look like we didn't have money to spend?

I don't have the answers. I do know that I plan on returning my purchases next week. I can't keep them as every time I would wear them I would remember today's shopping trip.

I also know that I once couldn't wait to share my great Nordstrom's customer service experience. Now I can't share it without adding the flip side of the story. Pin It


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