Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tooting my horn

Yay! I was chosen to be featured on Soho Beads' blog. She's a fellow seller and I am very honored that she wrote up a very sweet posting about me!

You can visit her shop here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two Mucho!

There's a bulletin board in the cafeteria at work. On it, people post items for sale.

I noticed that someone continually comments on the cost of these items by writing things like "too mucho," "too much!" and "two mucho!".

In this one, the $90 XBox does not satisfy this buyer. But it has TWO games!!
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Of course, $192,000 is way too mucho for a house! So this person crossed off the "1" in front and made it $92,000. Much more reasonable! I'll take it.
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My favorite is this one. It's "two" mucho. The best part of it is there's not even a price on here.
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I am going to post a dishwasher on here, and I am not sure if I can satisfy Sr. Mucho.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Update on Roady Jane

Roady's ear stopped bleeding, and therefore she stopped shaking her head and spattering blood all over everything.

Her head looks much better. It was so weird how big this bump was, then they took her to the back and three minutes later it was all deflated. It's gross to think about how much stuff was in there.

Now she thinks she's lucky because she gets "magic tuna" twice a day. That would be tuna with her liquid antibiotics mixed in. This worked like a charm with my other cat when she had surgery. At first, I tried to squirt it down her throat. But by the third dose, she'd gag when she'd see the syringe. So then I tried "magic tuna" and she thought she was just really lucky getting tuna all the time.

So I tried that from the get-go with Roady, except when I put the first magic tuna down, she immediately backed up. I think she could smell the medicine even through the very pungent tuna smell. I started to panic, but then she started eating it and there hasn't been a problem.

Remember, everyone, "magic tuna" when your cat needs meds.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My day at the market

Saturday, I participated in The Neighborhood Market in Downtown Albuquerque. I worked nonstop for a more than a month to make sure I had enough items. I guess I worked harder than necessary because I didn't sell a single thing. OK, I did sell something to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, but we all know those were pity sales, and while I sincerely appreciate them, I didn't get ANY other sales.

It was a real bummer, but I'm trying not to take it personally. I am confident that I make cute things. I also have a good variety of fabrics that could suit many tastes. So I don't think it's cuz I have horrible, crappy stuff. And other vendors, including my boothmate, didn't sell either.

At first, there was a steady stream -- not a crowd -- of people wandering through, but after midday, it just died to nearly nothing. It was sooooo hot. I guess that's why. Other vendors said it seemed it was a $20 and under crowd, and my stuff is mostly more than that.

One guy stopped by and gave me a card. He's a professional tailor and said my stuff is really well-made but that it would probably sell better in Santa Fe where people at markets spend more money. So that was a nice compliment to get from someone who sews professionally. I don't consider myself an amazing sewer because I've only sewn for three and a half years and I taught myself, but I am pretty good considering that, I suppose.

I am doing the market again in August because you have to do a minimum of two days. I guess I won't have as high of hopes for selling this time, and I will probably take fewer items. As you'll see below, my area was a bit crowded, and perhaps that's overwhelming. But I guess the hard part is that I have to take time off of work, so it really costs me when I don't sell something.

Now, I know that Susana, who has read my blog before and may read this, and her husband work really hard to promote this, so I am not knocking it. It's just young and getting started. They are doing a great job of trying to get things going, and the entertainment was great!

OK, so here are a few pics:

As a late nighter and late riser, sometimes when I get up early I am surprised at how lovely the world is. I got up at 6:45 thinking it would be cold and dark and snowy and evil out. But it was bright and warm and full of balloons!
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Me and my booth:
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Tamara and the booth:
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Close up of table:
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Close up of rack:
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See, in hindsight I can see how that rack kind of hid the table, and there was just way too much stuff. Too many colors and fabrics and items everywhere, and that can be overwhelming to buyers. I didn't see it that way until I looked at the photos.

Fallen little angel sent from heaven above

Roady is hurt. A few days ago, I noticed a large bump by her ear that was raw and purple. I thought it was fresh from a fight and that hopefully it was just swollen and would go away in a day or two. Two days later, it was looking nastier, so today I took her to the animal hospital.

Backtracking, a year and a half ago, Suggs suddenly had an abscess in the same place explode and there was a big bloody, pussy mess. then she clawed at it and pulled a big chunk of skin and bloody hair loose. I nearly passed out at the sight and had to take her in on a Saturday night for surgery. She had a lot of stitches and had to wear a cone thing for two weeks. She really hated this and was obviously miserable.

I took Roady in early in hopes of avoiding this. She did have a big abscess but it hadn't exploded yet, so they could just drain and clean it out without surgery. But I brought her home and it's still bleeding. She keeps shaking her head and blood spatters everywhere. So I put her in the garage because I don't know what else to do. I hope I don't have to get her a collar and I hope that it stops bleeding because I have to go to work soon and Mark won't be home until very late tonight.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Am I human?

You know what I'm tired of? Those little funny-text code boxes you have to decipher on Web sites all the time. I understand the purpose -- to make sure a human is filling out the form and not some spambot thing. I get that. But I am a human who is young and bright and has great eyesight, and half the time I am not sure what they say.

Take this one, for example, that I just got. It said I needed to prove that I am a human and then gave me this:

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What is the third item from the left? I guessed at an "i" but got an angry error message to try again. Maybe it's just part of the background. I can't tell. I was unable to prove that I was a human and that makes me feel bad about myself.

Is it just me, or should I send these bags to

I've been sewing like crazy, getting ready for The Neighborhood Market on Saturday. I'm not going to bore you with everything I've made recently, but here are three things I especially love:

Chinese lucky cats
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Brown and turquoise brocade with PERFECTLY MATCHING LITTLE FLOWER THINGIES! Imagine when I pulled those from the drawer and that little lightbulb came out on top of my head.
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More of the calaveras fabric. I love this stuff. I sold the other one, and a friend ordered one, too.
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Oompa Loompa

Remember that girl from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" who blew up into a giant blueberry and rolled away or popped or something? Violet, I think.

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Well, I feel like her right now, except less blue. For dinner I had guacamole, chips and strawberry margaritas. Blech. I'm regretting it about now.

And I go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on

Remember this post about my sewing room? And how I'm a beautiful princess? Oh, but that's not the point right now.

Anyway, remember all those boxes of record albums that constantly inhibit my ability to creatively whip up my baggage masterpieces?
The ones Mark refuses to move out of here even though he never accesses them (not that he could if he wanted to, considering all my stuff blocking them)?

Well, he had a carpenter come out and give us an estimate, and we're going to get shelves built for his albums. So, yes, they'll still be here, but it will look SO MUCH BETTER!

And the beautiful princess's husband, who is just a duke and not a prince, can listen to his beloved albums.

By the way, one thing I hate is when I hear an old song I like and I say, "do you have this song?" -- meaning, "on one of your 2,000 CDs" -- and he says, "yes. on a record." And I keep saying that I don't care if it's on a record, just say "no" if you don't have it on CD. Am I going to play the record in my car? Am I going to hold a tape player up to the record player and record it in all of its crackling glory? Am I then going to take my old Walkman in the car with me and listen to my tape? Hello! I've moved on to mp3 players! I now snicker at people who have portable CD players on their desk or at the gym because that's so 1998. I know, I know. I'm the one who until I got my mp3 player still used a tape Walkman at the gym. But I kept it hidden in a small bag with only the earphones coming out. But I digress.

Oh, and I just thought of something else that ruined that whole rant. Mark just ordered from Skymall a record player that allows you to record straight to CD. I forgot about that. And then I could put that on my iPod. But it would still sound crappy, right? All analogy. I like my music digital. ((see, I tried to use "analog" descriptively, but then I noticed it just turned into the word "analogy," so let me do it this way "analog-y"))

You may think I ramble, but I call it typing after drinking margaritas. This segues into my next post...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Freed from the chains of e-mail

I recently was persuaded by my husband to switch to faster Internet service through Qwest. This would require me to give up my dear ISP of several years. This, of course, meant changing email addresses after all this time. At first, I fought. But I swear sometimes I felt like we were using DIAL-UP! I finally relented and agreed to switch, but not without acting very dramatic.

I had a lot of email addresses. A work one, three home ones, two yahoos, two gmails ...
I never use the yahoos or gmails. They are mostly for signups -- like when you join a group that uses a board that requires a yahoo email. I had one that had my name and one that had a silly name in case I didn't want people to know my real name, for example on Freecycle. Who knows what kind of crazies are out there.

What I discovered was how freeing it could be to consolidate the email addresses. Now I have one work, one personal. I do have the yahoos for Freecycle and my Etsy street team boards. I am going to get rid of the gmail ones that I've never used. I also found it to be a nice time for housecleaning. All those annoying places that send you ads every week because you bought something once upon a time -- gone! They don't know where to find me.

I used to obsessively check my email from work. All four of the regularly used ones. All the time. I knew I wouldn't have a message because I'd just checked 3 minutes ago, but I'd still just keep checking it. Now, my firewall blocks my Web mail, so I can't check my personal email at all. (Mostly all I get at work is spam, anyway.) I freaked at first, of course, but to be honest, it's so very liberating. People can wait a few hours for a reply. Maybe they can wait until tomorrow even! Imagine.

More Creepshow

This is kind of hard to write while I'm eating my gourmet dinner, but after having the house sprayed for bugs, I went on the patio today and counted roach bodies. There were about 40 downstairs and 5 on our bedroom balcony. What do I do with them? I don't want to sweep up a huge pile of roach bodies. I also can't very well leave them. Hmmmm... I'll think about it as I finish my crispy fries.

Robyn "Classy" Smith

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Micky-D's and a glass of wine. Perfect midnight snack.
(Oh, stop fretting. It's Two-Buck Chuck)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Going to the market

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Next Saturday, June 23, I'll be doing my first in-person sale at Albuquerque's new Neighborhood Market. It's Downtown, 7th and Silver, behind The Flying Star. Click on the link above for more, but it features a slew of artisans. Everything is handmade. It's great for unique gifts or just if you like things that aren't mass-produced.

I'm a bit nervous. I've really been stocking up, and I have so much stuff, but I don't know how much I will sell. I wanted to have plenty of variety, so I certainly don't expect to sell it all, but I hope I don't sell just one thing, or something!

Stop by and visit if you live in town!

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Amy, this one's for you.

Roaches, roaches everywhere. I can't go on like this. There have been two roaches in my bedroom in two days. I can't get up to pee in the middle of the night because I'm scared I'll step on one. I'm sure they are crawling all over my face at night. I have two mysterious bites, and although I have never heard of roaches biting, I bet they are roach bites. Which means they are in the bed with me. I may end up like that guy in that episode of "Creepshow."

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I dedicate this post to Amy, who was always there for me when I lived in a bug infested apartment in Bakersfield. Any time of night or day, I could call her for sympathy and shrieking about my bug woes. Like when a roach and I danced barefoot in the kitchen, me wondering with every hop whether we'd land in the same place at the same time with a giant squish. When I felt it's squiggly little legs running across my foot, Amy screamed with me over the phone as I recounted the horror.
Or the time when I found a bag of birdseed in my kitchen that was filled with googleplex insects. I saw a few and put it in a garbage bag and tied it up while I cleaned the cabinet. When I looked at the bag a little later, the inside was swarming with thousands of insects that were trapped inside.
Amy, you were always there for me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mmmmmm ... "Taste"

I noticed my loaf of bread now comes with guaranteed taste!
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Sunday, June 10, 2007


The two most annoying things in the world:
1. Roller-skate shoes
2. Chat/text phrases such as LOL, LMAO, ROFLMAO

My complaint: You aren't really.

You aren't really laughing out loud, I bet. You aren't really rolling on the floor laughing. You're really sitting at your computer only slightly amused when you write that.

LOL is the worst because people are in the habit of typing it after each sentence even when it's not funny.

i.e.: I went to the store the other day, LOL, and asked where the carrots are LOL and then I saw my favorite cookies LOL ...

LOL never, ever follows anything even remotely funny. And most certainly not something funny enough to actually make you LOL. Maybe funny enough to bust a mediocre smile, but that's about it.

ROFLMAO is stupid, but at least it usually follows something that is truly funny, though rarely is something ROF funny.

As much as I hate this acronymatic (made that up!) usage, this actually almost had me roflmao:
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Friday, June 8, 2007

Remember Freecycle?

Remember Freecycle?

Here are some good posts:

Wanted: Really big or strange stuffed animals
I decorate my truck with stuffed animals. Don't need to be clean or
even complete. The weirder, larger and stranger, the better. I don't
suppose anybody has a goat toy, do they?

Offer: Frozen Foods
Unopened 2 banquet pot pies
Unopened small box szechuan vegetables

Opened - large bag pizza rolls. my kids did not care for them
Opened - large bag about 1/3 full of mixed peas, carrots, corn
Opened - box of hash browns from Trader Joes, again my kids didn't
like them

Maybe some other stuff as I am cleaning out the freezer.

Juan Tabo/Comanche area.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Business opportunity

A woman contacted me a few days ago saying she had come across my online shop (I think it was my shop. She liked this bag, but with fabric handles:

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She said, "I am a graphic designer working with a local nonprofit garden
sanctuary to develop a cloth bag they can sell in their gift shop."

She wanted to know if I could do 100 of them, possibly more. She wanted price info.

Unfortunately, I don't know if I could get more of that fabric. The place I got it says it's seasonal and each store just got a few yards. She's also looking at other options, and I told her that I realize that she can get a cheaper deal through a manufacturer. I am just one person who would be working round the clock to put out that many bags, and I can only do that for so cheap. I already make a cruddy hourly wage on my bags, when you break everything down. I quoted her at $7 an hour just to be able to reduce the price at all after supplies were taken into consideration (I told her I have a day job, and thank goodness!).

I don't have high hopes for it working out because I'm sure they'll find a cheaper place, but it was an exciting experience to be approached about it. I am sure that my mom, who is very supportive of my business, would help out with the cutting or maybe a little sewing in exchange for a share of meager wages. Heck, she'd probably volunteer her time, but I wouldn't want her to.

I'll keep you posted.

What did the little monkey say to the chicken? Buy a Burst of Happiness bag!

Recent items, click pictures to visit my Web site:

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Step right up and get your handbag tutorial! It's free!

Magnetic Snap Handbag Tutorial

All my secrets, right here. Oh, alright. So this style of handbag is pretty basic. I didn't invent it. It's a common pattern type, but these are the steps I take to make this bag. I thought it would be the easiest bag for a good tutorial.

This is the Karen style bag. First off, please excuse my ugly ironing board. Every time water drips on it, it turns brown.

TIPS: Set your iron to high steam (except for the interfacing -- many of those need a dry iron to stick).
Don't worry if every bit of fabric isn't perfectly cut. It doesn't really matter.

This is the bag we're making. There are a lot of photos on here:
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1. Assemble all of your pieces.
I'm not going to go into measurements. Here are the basic shapes. You'll see how they fit together as we go.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOuter pieces and outer straps
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPockets

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOuter bottom contrast and bottom of straps

2. Iron heavy, fusible interfacing onto wrong sides of outer pieces and top of straps.
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3. Pin right sides of straps together. I have the pink fabric for the top of the straps and the black for the bottom. Interfacing is ironed to top of strap. Here is one strap shown from the top, one from the other side.
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4. Pin and sew top outer piece to bottom outer piece by placing right sides together:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPinned
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSewing

Now, iron the seam flat from the inside and then topstitch from the outside. This gives it a nicer, more professional look:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPressed, both sides shown
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTopstitching
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOuter pieces.

5. Prepare pockets:
Fold over upper edge and press. Then fold again and press. Top stitch top seam of pockets. The smaller one is going to be a pocket with a flap and the big one will be a divided pocket. The flap (top left) is sewn on three sides (it's two pieces, right sides together).
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFolding tops and pressing
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTopstitching pocket tops
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSewing around three sides of flap

6. Prepare straps:
Sew each strap on both sides. I find it better to sew on the side with the interfacing because it feeds more evenly. Sometimes if you sew on the other side, it will bunch up.
Then attach a safety pin (I put it on the interfaced side because there's less chance of it ripping through the end of the fabric when you've got it only halfway turned) and turn the strap inside out by scrunching up along the pin inside and then pushing the scrunched part to the bottom and turning it in. Do this just a little at a time or else you end up with a big wad at the bottom that won't turn.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSafety pin in
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHalfway turned
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOne done, one not
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOne pressed, one just after turning.
As you can see, it's a bit ugly right after it's turned right-side out. But a bit of pressing makes it look much better.
Then, to make it look totally fab, topstitch:
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7. Back to pockets:
After I stitch the pocket flap, I turn it right-side out, press and topstitch. Then I serge the open edge:
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8. Let's take a short visit to hell and back.
What's the difference between these two pictures?:
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The difference is the thread tree is down against the thread in the first one and properly extended in the second one. The fact that it was down is a very big deal. It means that the thread breaks when you use the serger.

Question: What is the worst thing that can happen to a person? You might say such things as famine, nuclear war, murder ...
But you're wrong. It's when your serger has to be rethreaded.
Pull back the front panel and you get this nasty mess:
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I spent a good 45 minutes trying to get it rethreaded and chaining again. It just kept breaking. The key is that you have to thread in a certain order, so if thread number 3 breaks, you have to cut the threads to 1 and 2, rethread 3 and the rethread 1 and 2 again. I didn't do this for about 40 minutes and it just kept breaking again and again.

9. Back to pockets.
Now that the tops are sewn, fold under the bottoms and sides and press. Then pin them to the lining pieces and sew around the sides and bottom.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe pieces
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPinned to lining
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSewing ...
Now it's time for the dividers. I measure and mark three 1-inch intervals and sew lines. This makes the pen holders. Then I divide the rest of the pocket in half and sew a line to make phone, iPod holders.
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10. It's time to sew the outer bag together. Place the outer pieces right sides together. It's very important that the seam where the pink and black come together matches on each side or else you'll have an uneven line where they meet on the sides of the bag. I start matching and pinning at this point and move outward.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPin right sides together
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMatch the seams!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSew sides and bottom. Ignore the little cut-out squares for now.

Now it's time to shape it. This is where the little cut-out corners come in. First, I press open the seams a little. Then what you have this:
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Squish it together and flatten the corner down so that the bottom seam and side seams are parallel. Here, the seam on top is the bottom seam and the seam underneath is the side seam:
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Now, sew parallel to the small edge of the cutout:
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You end up with this. This is the bottom of the bag sticking up, wrong side out:
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Now turn it right side out. It's coming along!:
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11. It's time to attach the straps. The straps are already done. Now measure a bit from each side and pin the straps on. Keep in mind that you want right sides together. Since I want the pink side of my straps to face upward, I pin the pink side against the right side of the bag. You want your straps hanging toward the bottom of the bag. Now stitch close to the edge. You don't want this stitching to show when you finish the bag, so it needs to be within the seam allowance. I use 1/2" seam allowances. I stitch a bunch of times back and forth to make the straps more sturdy.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSewing the handles on
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEnd result -- black side faces up now, but won't in the end.

12. OK, here's my least favorite part: attaching the magnetic snaps. I find that even with a piece of interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, the stress of pulling the snap apart again and again is too much. So, in addition to a scrap of interfacing behind the snap, I also cut out a scrap of fabric, fold it in half so it's a double layer and sew it to the seam allowance. I then put the prongs of the snap through all four layers: the lining fabric, the interfacing on the back of the lining fabric, and both layers of the sewn-on scrap:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis is from the wrong side of the lining. I have folded back the scrap so you can see the layers.

Then, from the front, I press in with the snap and make little indentations. I then use a marking pencil or pen to mark where the holes need to go. Make a little snip and insert the snap. Here, you might be able to see where I made marks a tad lower and then tried to erase them. I should have kept my snap in the lower location because if it's too high up, once you sew the lining to the outer bag and turn it, when you try to topstitch you may run into the snap. This is what happened to me with this bag and I had to remove all my topstitching and redo it closer to the edge. Keep this in mind when placing your snap.
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFinished snap, from the wrong side. You push the prongs through, then put the little flat piece over them and bend the prongs. I use a little tool, shown at the top, because they are sort of hard to do with just your hands.

13. Now, sew the lining pieces together in the same way as the outer bag, but leave a hole to turn it through.

Here is the lining of the bag, wrong side out. It will stay this way. You can see the hole that I left. You can't forget this hole!!!
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14. Sew the lining and outer bag together.
Here, it can get confusing the first time you do it: Place the outer bag, right side out INSIDE the lining, which is wrong side out. You want the straps to be facing downward and between the lining and outer bag at this time. Pin along the top. Anything sticking out of the top at this time will be stuck INSIDE the bag between the lining and outer bag, i.e. misplaced handles. The inside-out, right-side out, backwards, forwards logic can get confusing here at first.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPinned
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSewing

And turn right side out through the hole:
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15. Now you need to close that hole up. If you want to do this invisibly, you have to hand stitch it with a slip stitch. I hate hand stitching and usually do a more obvious machine stitch. In this case, I waited until I was completely done with the bag because I needed to change thread from pink to black. It's hard to see what this picture is. It's the hole in the lining stitched close to the edge from the right side.
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16. The next step is to topstitch the top of the bag. This holds the lining in place and also gives a more professional appearance. Despite taking a gazillion pictures for this tutorial, I couldn't find any of this step. Basically, push the lining into the bag and smooth around the top, pushing the lining to the correct side and pinning around the top. Press to keep in place. Then topstitch around the upper edge, no more than about 2/8". At this point, your straps should be facing UP and away from the bag, otherwise you would topstitch them down against the bag.

17. Press, press, press! A pressing ham helps you get the outer bag 1 side at a time without squishing the bag.
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Here's the finished product, inside and out!
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Let me know if there's anything confusing in here that I could clarify!