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Saturday 30 December 2023

Pushing Pause After Ten Years

Closing the door for a bit...
Closing the door for a bit...
Today marks the unofficial completion of a journey that started over a decade ago. Little did I know at the time that it might actually have the possibility of lasting a decade.

Despite moments of great uncertainty over the past few years about how much longer I could persist, I kept pushing for as long as I could. At some point, this particular milestone seemed within reach and became a goal of sorts.

last scheduled blog post
I've never had only one blog post scheduled... as of today, there's zero.

When I started this journey in 2013, I was still occasionally dabbling in actual work; i.e., doing things for which I got paid real money. Over the years, I've heard so many people make the comment of "what am I going to do when I retire?" I feel lucky to have been doing something quite fulfilling during my final (albeit extremely part-time) working years, so that when I finally decided that enough was enough, the prospect of having all this extra time to devote to sewing – and to this blog – was exciting.

Now I've been asked, what are you going to do with all the extra free time if you're not going to blog anymore? Believe it or not, the first thing I might want to do more of is to sew. While I've cut down on making "things" simply because I don't want to have clutter around the house, the past year has been somewhat ridiculous for what I've actually managed to sew. As in, very little. Whether I actually end up doing more is still to be determined, but I will indeed have more time to consider it!

So what's a good topic for a potential "last" post? Believe it or not, I didn't think too long or hard about this one. Around this time of year, I usually take a step back from all things sewing and ruminate on other stuff... and often hop up on a soap box.

Be well be smart and above all be kind
Good advice to follow...
Because I'm signing off for awhile, I thought that an appropriate use of today's space would be to explore my personal interpretation of the signature line that I've used to close each blog post since the pandemic hit.


What does being well mean to me?

First of all, having a hobby is an excellent way to maintain wellness in spirit, body and mind heading into one's supposed "golden years". (Honestly, that term grates on me. By my early 40s, it was pretty clear to me that there's nothing golden about old age.)

writing by hand is good for you
Writing by hand is a big part of overall wellness...
If your hobby is pickleball, then you've also checked off the "need for exercise" component. For those of us with relatively sedentary hobbies like sewing and crafting, it's worthwhile seeking other more active ways to occupy our time. In my case, I've managed to keep up a morning exercise routine for five years now. Hubby and I also regularly stomp around the neighbourhood and beyond.

This year, I found out that writing by hand is enormously beneficial to us, especially as we age. (Do a search for "20 reasons to write by hand, according to science" and read all about it.) Back in July, I took an old notebook and began writing in it on a daily basis. I make it a point to write slowly and methodically, taking care to form letters the way I was originally taught to do, not the way that I've come to scrawl them over the decades. (Fun fact: back in my early teaching days, I received a comment on a student evaluation that said I was the fastest writer this person had ever seen... luckily my writing still managed to be legible!)

And what do I write, you might ask?

When I set out to do this, I looked for websites that could provide me with good things to scribe. One of them turned out to be a veritable well of goodness, and it's my recommendation that anyone who needs a little help "being well" should turn to it for support.

It's a site filled with inspirational quotes of all kinds, put together by a guy named Maxime LegacΓ©, who started it after losing his girlfriend in a car accident about twenty years ago. One of my favourite quotes of his is, "Life is a mountain. Your goal is to find your path, not to reach the top."
image courtesy of wisdomquotes.com
image courtesy of wisdomquotes.com...

In my daily writings, I also appreciate that some quotes make me think and give me pause, like this one by Marilyn Vos Savant: "Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent." After I copied that down, I felt compelled to compose a quote of my own: "Beating a dead horse is a waste of energy that can be better applied elsewhere." (Being a realist, I think there are far too many "never give up" platitudes and not enough "know when to give up" advice.)

In any case, 2023 was/is yet another year of things going badly for planet Earth and humanity in general. If, like me, you believe that being bombarded by a daily news cycle that focuses on disaster, violence, evil and greed is truly bad for you, then you need a way to counter balance it. This site has given me a sense of calmness in the storm every day since July 10.

What else do I write? I found material via various sites that offer daily thoughts, fortunes, questions, etc. When I want to write more than the single page per day that I usually do, I flip to the back of the notebook and work from there, copying lengthier sections of text from books or interesting articles from the newspaper. If something is particularly uplifting, I write it down and let it sink in. 

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it's fake
Hubby and I subscribe to this theory...
Finally, in a world where we know virtually everything about virtually everyone, part of being well – especially for the younger folks – is to compare yourself only to yourself. (Are you better than you were last year at doing whatever?) I've touched on this before, that nothing good comes out of comparing yourself to others. If such a comparison makes you feel superior, it could lead to an annoying god complex; if you feel inferior, you run the risk of beating yourself down as never being good enough. Believe me, the rest of us don't need the first and you don't need the second.

Avoid unnecessary comparisons and you'll be well positioned to...

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For my daily handwriting exercise, I actually start by transcribing the Word of the Day and its definition. On a few occasions, I've actually learned new words, like abnegate and encomium. But my point about being smart is not really about increasing one's vocabulary, although aiming to learn something new every day is a smart goal to have.

Maxime Legace quote
Being angry also saps your energy...
Being smart in today's world is mostly about how to handle the cyclonic chaos of information and misinformation. Be smart by detaching from social media. (Yes, for some it's hard, but it also helps immensely with the "being well" part of the equation, particularly as it applies to comparisons with the various Joneses.) Just last month, I read that neuroscience researchers have discovered that – wonder of wonders – teenagers who spend hours scrolling their smartphones show more aggression, depression and anxiety. Yes, young brains are especially vulnerable because they are still developing, but no brain of any age is immune to that. What we've seen in the past several years is that some people are just filled with rage for seemingly ambiguous reasons. It's not at all far-fetched to think that it's directly connected to their consumption of social media.

George Santayana quote
Some things are exactly what they appear to be...
Be smart by knowing right from wrong; we were all taught the difference from childhood. Don't fall prey to those who would like to convince you that there is somehow validity or honour in defending a morally, ethically, and/or legally wrong side. A lie is a lie, not a flavour of truth discernible only to those with elevated palates or exceptional intellectual capacity. Be smart by knowing that some basic matters in life don't actually have fifty shades of grey to them. They just have the same two sides they've always had: right and wrong.

Be smart by cultivating and maintaining common sense, and by seeking advice from people with earned expertise. Whether by formal education or years of experience, there are such experts in our midst. Your common sense should tell you that they should be trusted over megaphone mouths who feed on notoriety by spouting outrageous opinions aimed at getting your attention. (Be smarter still by not giving them any attention.)

Nelson Mandela quote
I aspire to be what this man describes...
Be smart by taking the time to listen. Too many of us are impatiently waiting to nab our turn at the podium to truly listen, even during casual, everyday conversation; we end up talking "at" each other. Be the person who actually hears and understands and knows how to add to a discussion.

Be smart by accepting that it is okay to say, "I don't have an opinion on that because I don't know enough about it." That is, be smart enough to know that you can't be smart about everything.

Lastly, be smart by letting most things slide off you. Not being easily offended results in a happier life. Which leads to...


"Please, be kind. Especially when we don't know what's going on."

I watched Everything Everywhere All At Once last year. While I generally avoid multiverse movies, this one was different enough to pique my curiosity. The heartwarming comeback of Ke Huy Quan was a feel good story that resonated with me. It was, however, the above quote that his character said during the film that left a truly lasting impression. (It hit me sort of like how Paddington Bear stopped me in my tracks with his Aunt Lucy quote.)

To be kind is a simple concept, but unfortunately, it's not the first option that many choose. Even in seemingly benign circumstances, the "go to" response is often escalation or aggression, or at best, self-defense.

Waymond Wang Quote
Very apropos for today's world...
I once lined up at a grocery store self check out and heard – it was spoken loudly enough for me to hear, obviously – something like "look how she just jumps to the front". I truly hadn't realized that the line was actually forming along the opposite side of where I was. I walked over to the speaker and offered my apologies, explaining the simple mistake and took my place at the back of the line. She had the decency to look humbled by the time the whole situation concluded, but really, why choose snarky – or anything but kindness, or even humor – as the way to approach something so inconsequential? (Being kind doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the occasional private dose of schadenfreude, by the way. πŸ˜‰)

We're all so busy with our lives that the vast majority of us don't have time to make others miserable (online behaviour notwithstanding). Whatever injustices we perceive as having been done to us – by perfect strangers that we encounter on any given day – are most likely not intended to be so at all. I certainly keep that in mind whenever I'm out and about, pretty sure that I am absolutely not the center of anyone else's universe. Therefore, I choose to keep kindness as my go to response, because I just don't know what might be going on with that other person.

By the way, as a reminder, Paddington's Aunt Lucy said, "If we're kind and polite, the world will be right." How true is that when you look at what's happening around the world today?

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Now before I bid you adieu, let me get some admin details out of the way.

Along with everything else on this blog, my various "shops" will remain operational. I will also maintain a presence in terms of not letting spammers take hold. I cannot conceive of a day when I grow tired of hearing from actual readers, so if you're someone who will be browsing the archives, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email if the urge strikes. (Comments may eventually need to be approved, but to reiterate, I'm still here for that.)

While I'm probably going to remove the sidebar widget for "This Week" eventually, I'll still update the home page on a regular basis to feature a different "This Week in History" post. Point being, this is not going to be an abandoned blog.

Einstein quote
Food for thought for those who don't believe they have the capacity to be creative...

As I've said before, I don't want to promise anything about the future that I'll feel obligated to deliver within a certain amount of time. My decision to push pause was made in the spirit of allowing myself to do nothing (in terms of posting new material) for as long as I needed or wanted. I hope to come back and update once a month, but I have no idea when or if that might be achievable. All I can say is that this little blog – in whatever form it takes down the road – will stay focused on or around sewing. While away from here, I will definitely continue to look for interesting things to make; I will never stifle that creative part of me.

But for now, I'd simply like to sit back and bask in the moment.

Peace out, everyone – ✌(-‿-)✌ – all the best and happy sewing to you!

Saturday 23 December 2023

Quasi-Tutorial: Selvage Planter Cozy

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Make some selvage fabric...
Welcome to what could be my last tutorial; or at least, last for an unknown extended period of time!

Today's project is – as you can tell from the title – made from "selvage fabric". The techniques are wide and varied for how you can create usable fabric out of selvages, so if you already have a preferred way of doing this, by all means go with it.

My preference is to fuse selvages onto medium weight interfacing like Decor Bond. Once fused, edges can be sewn with zigzag stitching or regular straight line stitching. For today's project, I added a layer of fusible fleece to the back because I wanted to quilt it also.

As usual, for a quasi tutorial, I am assuming that you know how to measure for what you need, as this is a "make it any size" type of project.

basil growing in plastic self-watering container
Before pic of "naked" self-watering planter...
So what's the backstory on this?

I've mentioned before that hubby has an indoor garden that keeps him busy in the winter. (Which, by extension, keeps me busy as well, which also partially answers the question of what I am going to do with some of my free time going forward.) I wanted to keep some basil growing at home, so I made a self-watering planter by repurposing a plastic Coffee-Mate creamer jug. (Products common to both sides of the border are often sold in different containers; I'm pretty sure the 1.89 litre jug that I used is a Canadian thing. In the absence of this, a two litre soda pop bottle – which apparently is a thing in the US – will also work.)

While the concept is kind of neat – you slice the container in half and put the top part into the bottom, adding a wick of some sort that allows for the uptake of water when required – I didn't much like the look of the plastic jug by itself, so I had a thought to wrap it in something nice.

Hence, the idea of a planter "cozy".

Since my first selvage project back in 2019, I've gradually accumulated more of them... enough to take on another project. A couple of years ago, I made a canister out of a piece of selvage fabric. In fact, it was this very same canister that made me think about using selvages to make this planter cozy.

The first step is to measure the height and circumference of your planter; mine was 5" high by 15" around. (If your planter does not have straight sides, I recommend you measure with paper and make yourself a template*.) Cut a piece of medium weight fusible interfacing to your required dimensions and then gather up your selvages.

[* Or, copy this link into your browser and see if any of the templates there will work for you; it's a tutorial from Spoonflower: https://blog.spoonflower.com/2023/09/19/fabric-flower-pot-cover/]

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Lay out and pin selvages to the interfacing...

By the way, the edge along the other side of a full width piece of fabric is also classified as selvage, so if your mixture is too much white and not enough colour, you can use a strip from that side to punch it up.

My previous piece of selvage fabric had the selvages running horizontally; I really like the look of a diagonal pattern, so I went for a herringbone sort of effect here.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
A relaxing activity...

I have previously laid out strips so that the raw edge of the fabric on one strip is overlapped by the bound selvage edge of the adjacent strip. In this case, I didn't bother; all of the strips are just right up against one another. (People who have done a lot of selvage projects probably have a preferred way of doing this, but it's not like there are rules.)

Once the strips are laid out, it's time to activate the fusible interfacing and then trim back the overhangs. Then – if you want to do some quilting – add some fusible fleece to the back as well. (I used scraps.)

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Fuse on all required interfacing...

I used red thread to sew a regular straight stitch over most of the edges of the strips, then I did some free motion quilting in white thread over the entire surface.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Sewn and quilted...

I chose to leave the back as is, because this is just a planter cozy. If the unfinished look is just not your thing, you can add a layer of fabric before continuing.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Growth is happening!
I will say, however, that one of the reasons I chose not to add fabric to the back is because this sits in the windowsill where sunlight will hit it. If there is a patterned fabric on the back, the print will likely show through.

And in fact, here is a more recent photo of the planter sitting in a windowsill, with sunlight shining through the container and fabric.

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I ruminated for a time on how to finish this cozy. The first thing I tried was to sew together the two short ends so that it could just slip over the planter. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough material for this to happen easily and I figured that if the fit was too snug, well, I'd have a mess on my hands trying to put it on and remove it.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Edges bound...

But that is definitely one way to approach this if you're considering the project. Add a half inch or so to the circumference so that the ends can be seamed together. Then all you need to do is add binding to the top and bottom edges. Or, if binding is not your thing, you can just zigzag or satin stitch the top and bottom edges.

I ultimately decided that I was going to add some elastic to the ends so that the cozy can be stretched out to fit around the planter. That's what you see in the picture above: two pieces of 1" wide elastic, each cut to 1.5" long.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Join the ends with pieces of elastic...

Getting the pieces sewn onto one end is fairly easy. Just stitch along the same sewing line as was used to secure the binding. (If you use appropriately coloured thread, the stitching should be somewhat invisible.)

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
Flip wrong side out and sew from the front side...

To sew the other end, it's obviously a bit trickier. The best way to do this is shown above. Flip the cozy wrong side out, pin the elastic appropriately and sew along the stitching line from the front.

Flip it back right side out and it's ready to use.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs

I've come across projects that involve sewing an entire pot cover with a bottom – essentially a fabric plant pot – and wonder about the necessity of it all. As in, why bother with the bottom when it's never seen? (Not to mention that hand sewing that particular circular piece is not especially fun to do.) Anyway, I'm all about practical, so to me, this particular design does the job that it needs to do... and I don't have to waste any fabric or effort on my part.

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Since I sort of flew by the seat of my pants with this, you may wonder if I had any specific plans for how to finish it when I originally measured the circumference. Yes indeed: I was going to sew a button on each side and use an elastic to hold the ends together.

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
"Back" view...

That is therefore still another option for making a closure. (I ultimately decided against it because I didn't have the big red buttons that I thought I had.)

Selvage Planter Cozy by eSheep Designs
"Front" view...

I was able to use up some leftover binding for this, so that was satisfying. As you saw, the fusible fleece was pieced together from large remnants. It's always a cause for celebration when something can be made out of almost throwaway scrappy bits and pieces, and that's got to be the true charm of selvage projects.

Speaking of celebration, let me wish you a joyful Christmas if that holiday is on your agenda in the upcoming days. Hope to catch you back here in a week for my final regular blog post!

Until then...
My Christmas Card to You (Tony Romeo)

Saturday 16 December 2023

Celebrate December Solstice With These Sewing Projects

Winter/Summer Solstice
It's both the winter and the summer solstice!
I have readers who live in countries that are far flung from me, situated in the "other" half of the world. Occasionally, our interactions remind me that while we occupy the same planet, our seasons are completely opposite.

Therefore, in celebration of this upcoming 21st of December – which may arguably be my favourite day of the year – let me wish my down under readers a happy and safe summer, while I offer a "stay warm" message to those of us in the northern hemisphere who will be marking the winter solstice.

Regardless of weather, this time of year is still the thick of the holiday season. If you're in a bind for last minute stocking stuffers or small gifts, today I'm going to highlight some past projects that would be appropriate for a quick, last minute sew... with an eye for the differences in temperature.

Yeah, nothing really new here today, apart from my words. If you're short on time, you can run along... although you'll miss out on my third last regular blog post! ʘ‿ʘ

For those who might suffer in summer's heat, I suggest my Icy Cool Neck Wrap.

In the latter part of August, hubby took part in a show and shine with his muscle car. Unfortunately, it took place on a concrete parking lot at the big mall on a 27 degree (Celsius) day. While a few small trees lining the boulevard that separated the parking lot from the adjacent sidewalk provided some shade, there was no real respite from the heat. He took along his icy cool neck wrap and when he put it on, apparently it became as much a point of conversation as his car. (Which didn't exactly thrill him — LOL!)

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
An indispensable item to have in the summer...

If I had made extras, he could have sold them that day. Which is why I'm taking this opportunity to draw this project to your attention. I'm usually not one to recommend making things for sale, because (as I said last week) unless you're really good at marketing yourself, it's not likely to be a worthwhile effort. However, this thing – especially when able to be shown off at an outdoor event such as a car show – just might sell itself.

In looking through my archives, it's clear that I have more projects aimed at staying warm than cooling down. However, there are a couple of clothing related ones that are appropriate for summer. The first is the quick sew crop top that I came up with in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.

This was made with a single Spoonflower fat quarter of my own design, but you can apply the simple technique to any knit fabric you have on hand.

Canadiana crop top by eSheep Designs
A more "mature" take on the crop top...

I am, of course, suggesting it as part of this modest layered look for summer if you're beyond the age of exposing your navel to the world. 😜

The second summery project that I made very early on in this sewing journey was this sun hat from a pattern by Lorenna Buck that I found on Craftsy. (You can still find it easily online by searching for lorenna buck sun hat.)

Coincidentally enough, she states that she first made this for her mom for Mother's Day and then made another for herself. In my case, it was the opposite. I made this first one for me and then another for my mother for her birthday.

Lorenna Buck sun hat crafted by eSheep Designs
My summery sun hat...

I remember being approached by a beach vendor who wanted to sell me a straw hat on one of my subsequent Mexico trips. I took this out of my bag and showed it to him, demonstrating that I could crunch it up with no issues. α•™(`▽´)α•—

I'm still not much of a hat wearer, but this one does the trick when I need one, and yes, it travels well.

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For those who will be shivering under the wrath of winter, my recommendation is these fleece mittens. During this past summer, I took the time to make three new pairs; one for me, one for hubby and one for Mom.

fleece mittens crafted by eSheep Designs
Three new pairs of soft pile-lined fleece mittens...

The exterior of each pair can be made out of one of Spoonflower's fleece fat quarters (30" x 18"), if you're looking to make this out of new fabric. The two identical pairs shown here are made out of my Maple Leaf on Black (Medium) in Polartec® fleece. When purchased on sale at 50% off – although it's questionable whether that level of discount will ever be offered in future, since the last two sales were only 40% off – it's a decent buy at $8.50 for each FQ, plus shipping.

fleece mittens crafted by eSheep Designs
These can be worn with the ends turned out or not...

That said, if you're looking for a more sustainable option, you can repurpose a fleece scarf for the exterior of these mittens. As I wrote a long time ago, we all likely have fleece scarves that we no longer wear. Most are long enough to accommodate this pattern.

For the lining, you may be able to find something in your household or thrift shop to repurpose like I did.

faux fur & sherpa blanket
Got a blanket like this that you don't use anymore?

My linings came from a small blanket that had pile on one side and black faux fur on the other (similar to the one shown above). The blanket was sized for a child and had never found any real use in our household, so it was a successful repurposing. Some of the faux fur got paired with more of the maple leaf fabric to become a scarf for hubby.

Faux fur & fleece scarf by eSheep Designs
Faux fur and fleece scarf...

I first made these mittens about three years ago, using my Luminescent Ocean Dreams minky fabric and some of the leftover sherpa-like material from my refashioned vest. (The free pattern comes from Helen Spencer at Hellosewing.com. Search for free mitten pattern hellowsewing and you'll find it).

minky mittens crafted by eSheep Designs
My original pair in minky...

This time, I made them all in the large size so that there's room for all of us to wear an additional pair of knit gloves underneath for extra warmth. [A bit of advice about the pattern if you want to make this: pin the top and bottom part of the two palm templates together and compare it to the single back template before you commit to cutting any fabric. I found that they didn't match in length.]

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If you're looking for even quicker projects, how about these socks turned into hand warmers? I've been wearing these again since late October and they really do an amazing job of keeping my hands comfy and cozy while at the keyboard.

sock handwarmers by eSheep Designs
Turn old socks into handwarmers...

I will say, however, that someone in your actual household might welcome these more than others. After all, this would be a gift of old socks. (¬‿¬)

On that note, happy summer/winter solstice, everyone!

'Til next...

Saturday 9 December 2023

Living & Crafting Sustainably [Pt 4]: Giving Away What We Make

alt text
How can we sew, craft and live more sustainably?
A long time ago, I accepted the unfortunate truth that unless you're somehow able to build a reputation for making exceptional "whatevers" and are prolific enough to maintain a good supply of stock on hand, it's extremely difficult to sell what you make.

Individuals from designers – who routinely have to churn out several versions of something in order to perfect it – to pattern testers – who often wind up with boxes and boxes of handmade items – say essentially the same thing.

And if one were to attempt it anyway, there is then the tricky business of trying to recoup what you spent to make the item. The cost of supplies required to make handbags and quilts, for example, are not exactly inconsequential. Try to tack on the cost of your time into the mix and you're in for a challenge in terms of finding someone willing to pay your sticker price.

As part of an effort to craft sustainably, however, it seems like a bad choice to keep accumulating "stuff" just because we can't sell it. If the problem is that there are no buyers at a given price, what if the price is $0?

Let me explain...

Towards the end of my second post in this series, I mentioned how I needed to give away some of what I've made — for free — while I have this platform. It's pointless to keep these bags hanging around my sewing room if I'm never going to use them.

While certain handmade items can be thrown into a donation bag destined for Goodwill or the Salvation Army, there is a significant part of me who would like to know that my creations are going to someone who will appreciate and value them. (I would have no inkling if those organizations might pitch these types of donations into their trash or "recycling bin", for instance, and that would just be horrible from all perspectives.)

But another issue is that nothing is ever free, even when it is. For example, connecting with someone who wants what I'm giving away is likely to involve sending the item over many kilometres or miles. And while I am fully committed not to charge for what I'm giving away, covering the cost of getting it there isn't what I had in mind.

Thus, these giveaways come with a condition: the recipient has to pay for shipping. A quick glance at Canada Post's webpage estimates the cost to send to the continental US to be about $10-$20 USD, depending on size. Shipping to a Canadian address ranges from $5 to $26 CDN, again depending on size.

Therefore, if you are seriously interested in any of the items below, send me an email (use the contact widget on the sidebar at left). Give me your postal or zip code and the item that you want and I will get the actual cost for you.

MyTie Makeover Mini Bags

Without a doubt my defining creation as a designer, the MyTie is also my best selling pattern. This bright orange version – very creamsicle-like with its swirly pattern – is lined with coordinating orange fabric. A large silver-toned button covers the magnetic snap closure.

MyTie Makeover Mini Bag by eSheep Designs
Orange MyTie by eSheep Designs...

The chain strap that's shown here snapped several years ago, so while this bag comes with attached D rings, it has no strap.

This red one was my first real test version (you can see it being made in the photos) and as such, it holds a special place in my heart. I was hesitant to put it out as a giveaway, but then there is the question of, what am I keeping it for? If someone else can use it, so much the better.

MyTie Makeover Mini Bag by eSheep Designs
Red MyTie by eSheep Designs...

This one closes with a silver and red button and button hole. The chain strap that you see in the photos was removed years ago for some other purpose, so as with the orange MyTie, this comes without a strap (although it has the lobster clasp hooks attached).

Retro Reticules

Named with a nod to the little drawstring pouches carried by elegant ladies from the Regency era, this little fortune cookie shaped, loop handled pouch/bag is a versatile choice for many occasions. (I've carried the black and white one to a couple of semi-formal affairs; the other has never been used.)

Retro Reticules by eSheep Designs
Retro Reticules by eSheep Designs...

These were both testers for my pattern and were made with an interior divider pocket. I've said before that this is a great option to pack for vacation as you can use it in its flat pouch format to stow stuff in your luggage, while it transforms into an elegant bag for going out once at your destination. (EDIT: The black and white one has been claimed.)

Make It Yours Bag

This brown and taupe MIY bag tester is actually a prototype for a deeper variation of the free pattern, what I once referred to as a Version II. Because of that, it's definitely one of a kind.

Make It Yours Bag by eSheep Designs
Make It Yours Bag by eSheep Designs...

At one time, I was considering releasing this as a paid pattern and was trying to get the perfect version of it before doing so. Needless to say, as time went on, my interest in "perfecting" it waned and I never did incorporate the changed dimensions of this particular tester into the actual pattern before later releasing it as a freebie.

Make It Yours Bag by eSheep Designs
Interior of the MIY...

The interior of this bag features a two slip pocket assembly with card slots on one side and a zippered pocket on the other side. The exterior front is a concealed full width pocket that provides loads of quickly accessible space for your stuff, while the back has a diagonal zippered pocket for secure storage.

This one measures 16" wide x 12" high, with a strap drop length of 11". (EDIT: This has been claimed.)

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While the above selection of purses were the product of testing my own patterns, these next bags were made based on patterns by other designers. All have had modifications made to them, however, so they are unique renditions.

ChrisW Designs' Bella

This is the fourth bag that I ever made, the second of two Bellas that I introduced in this post from 2013. As you may recall from a couple of weeks ago, it's an early rendition of Christine Welsh's current Bella pattern.

Features I love about this design? The side gusset pockets and the open front. I like purses that offer quick access storage options, without having to go into the main interior.

ChrisW Designs Original Bella crafted by eSheep Designs
ChrisW Designs' Bella...

I'm keeping the first Bella that I made, but will reluctantly let this one go. It's a lovely bag, but if I'm not using it, perhaps someone else can.

Sew Sweetness Oriole Bag

My first and only attempt at a Sara Lawson bag, this – Barbie pink! – Oriole (small version) with matching pouch is looking for a new home.

The pouch is my own creation and was made to fit inside the bag to act as a divider of sorts, as well as to provide secure, removable storage. The bag itself does not have any pockets.

Sew Sweetness Oriole Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Sew Sweetness' Oriole Bag (and matching pouch)...

As a crossbody style, it's ideally sized – measuring about 10.5" wide by 8.5" high – not too big and not too small. The strap has a drop length of 22".

Ann Kelle Dubstepper

I made this bag as a "going back to work" project, customizing it heavily to suit my preferences. In terms of functionality, I left out the tablet sleeve. (Anyone owning a tablet likely has a sleeve for it already and the whole thing can be slipped into the full width zippered pocket on the back.)

Customized Dubstepper crafted by eSheep Designs
Customized Ann Kelle Dubstepper...

My modifications in leaving out some Peltex did result in one problem, however: the top part where the grab handle is installed is not study enough to support a filled bag without bending. This can either be resolved by cutting into this top area to insert and rivet in place some plastic canvas, or by carrying the bag with a strap – not included – instead of the grab handle.

Betz White Flight Bag

This bag marked my first experience with Creativebug. I made this Flight Bag during a trial run with the crafty learning site back in 2015. It's a roomy, rectangular, almost backpack-like bag with a top grab handle and a removable snap-fastenered strap.

Betz White Flight Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Betz White Flight Bag...

There are two external pockets, a basic full width slip pocket on the back and a twist lock secured bellows pocket in the front. Given its name, it is a good choice for a carry-on while travelling. 

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People usually make it a point to state that their homes are smoke and pet free when they sell handmade items. I can confirm the same in this case. Also, some of the above bags have been used, but only very lightly and I don't believe there are any visible signs of wear and tear on them.

As for actual transactions, I will need to receive payment for shipping via PayPal before sending the item. (All transactions will be final with no returns.) 

There is no expiration date on this offer. As long I still have these items, they are available to all comers, but of course, the stock is limited to what is shown above. Oh, and I don't know what the interest might be, but for now, it's one freebie per "customer".

One more thing: we are in the thick of the holiday shopping period. I would just as soon avoid the seasonal traffic jam, so any requests that I get will be deferred until January for processing. πŸ˜‰

'Til next...