Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Avoiding the Swamp

Avoiding the Swamp

Creative Brain gets a pass, despite its recent obnoxious behavior, because the two bag projects currently underway (yes, there are two now) are going extremely well. If Creative Brain had led me into the swamp and left me there to flounder, it would be in time out at the moment.

I had to go to town yesterday morning to do the errands I didn’t do on Friday. Joann Fabrics was my first stop. I found, on the remnant rack, an entire yard of the most perfect black damask fabric for the base of my bag. I almost couldn’t believe my luck. And the fact that there was a whole yard meant that I could also use it for the second bag project.

There are projects that seem to make themselves and there are projects that seem to require endless troubleshooting at every step. The first bag project has firmly established itself in the former category. I came home, spread the damask out on the cutting table, and laid out the pattern pieces for the second bag. They fit. I cut them and was still able to make the base of the first bag from what was left over. This damask is also a directional print, albeit a subtle one, so rather than cut the base as one large piece, I cut two pieces and seamed them so that the pattern would be oriented correctly on both sides.

I made the front of the bag (with another fussy-cut pocket that left me with mere scraps of the toile) and assembled the exterior. I have to be careful as I go along—because I’m not really following a pattern anymore at this point—to consider the steps that still remain and how to accommodate them. For instance, I’ve still got to add the straps and interface the damask on the base. Conventional wisdom would have dictated that I interface the damask bases, sew them to the toile, add the straps, then seam the bases and side together. I wanted to make sure the base was the proper size, though, so I seamed it anyway. (That damask also wants to fray terribly, so the edges are all getting finished on the serger.) I don’t have enough of the 1-1/2” seatbelt webbing that I want to use for the straps, so I had to order more. It needs to be secured within the seam at the base, but it will be a simple matter to open up the seam a bit, slip the webbing in, then re-sew the seam to secure it. Or undo the base seam entirely. And rather than interface the base pieces separately, I am going to interface the base as one piece.

We have arrived at this point:


(Seatbelt webbing for placement purposes only.) This is going to sit while I wait for the seatbelt webbing I ordered to arrive. I can always work on the lining in the meantime. For what was supposed to be a “practice” bag, it’s coming along nicely. Practical Brain just needs to keep Creative Brain from becoming too full of itself.

Seriously, though, it’s in the back of my brain to write this up eventually and offer it for sale as a pattern. I did it with knitting patterns; I am sure I can do it with sewing patterns, too. JC, how are your sewing pattern tech editing skills?

[Someone probably should now hit me upside the head with a 2 x 4 and knock some sense into me.]

The other bag currently underway is the Bohemian Carpet Bag from Sew Liberated:


I have had this bag pattern forever—I think it’s one of the first bag patterns I ever attempted. I’ve tried it twice and both attempts have been unqualified disasters. However, I now have three things I didn’t have before: 1) More experience making bags; 2) An industrial sewing machine; 3) A Teflon foot for sewing vinyl. I think the third try will be a charm. I’ll use the damask for the bag, seatbelt webbing for the straps, and black vinyl (or possibly leather) for the corner accents. I already have the 16” tubular clasp for the top. I interfaced the main body pieces last night with fusible fleece.


We are moving ahead on the garage project again. I went over the budget and cash flow with the husband—my nickname is Louis Goldstein, which is a joke that only my Maryland friends will get—and he is going to make a materials list and order lumber. He just hasn’t had time to work on it until now. Hopefully concrete work will finally slow down a bit, although projects will start ramping up again in March. He can get a lot done in a month, though, if he has the time to work on it.

I am going to order seeds this week. If by some quirk of fate we get a warm spring instead of the long cold one we had last year, I want to be ready to take advantage of it.

The dogs were awake in the middle of the night a few nights ago. I think there must have been a pack of coyotes out there, because Lila started singing the song of her people at 1:58 a.m. and serenaded us for about 10 minutes. Then she barked for a while. I got up and looked out the bathroom window but didn’t see anything around the chicken coop. The electric fence is still on so I am not worried about anything breaking in, but I’m not excited about the idea of a mountain lion wandering around.

Poor Rusty is really starting to show his age (he’s 15, as near as we can tell based on when we got him). He is a bit deaf and a bit blind and he forgets that he just came in and wants to go out again, or forgets that he just went out and wants to come in again. It seems like he declines physically, stabilizes for a bit, then declines a little bit more. We’re just going to continue to give him the best life he can possibly have. The two of them had bacon scraps for breakfast yesterday, so I’d say their lifestyle is pretty cushy.

My Many Things

My Many Things

Another Fight Inside My Brain

Another Fight Inside My Brain