Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Status Report

More Moby Nose

I was debating whether to write yet another post title with the word "quiet" in it, as I seem to have given two posts that moniker recently. But I haven't been doing much sewing lately and therefore, there's not much to blog about and there's no reason to post just for the sake of posting, so "quiet" is still relevant this week. Just keepin' it real. Also, I didn't have a good photo to start us off, so here's one of Moby's nose. Keepin' it even real-er.

Lots of existential quilty discussions going on around blog-land. They've certainly opened up a broader discussion about quilting and I've enjoyed the posts and the comments for the most part. They've made me think, too.  I'm not going to link to the posts or give a long spiel other than to say that this blog is a record of my sewing projects. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't plan on trying to amass lots of followers (I am tickled beyond belief that there are any at all - and that none of them are related to me!) or to monetize my blog and I likely won't post tutorials. This blog just a place for me to put pictures and describe processes of stuff that I might forget as time goes by because, let's face it - none of us is getting any younger :) So, I thought I'd put that out there straight away.

So, without further ado - the few things I have gotten around to sewing:

A little late but still under the wire. I got my April TwitterB blocks out in the mail. Jessica picked a ticker tape style block for her block. She sent parts of jelly roll strips and a larger piece of fabric from Fig Tree and Co's Whimsy line.

April TwitterB

These were a little challenging to put together without interfacing or webbing - a consistent 1/8" seam was elusive. The circles were particularly putzy. Here's the bonus second block and a really blurry photo!

April TwitterB

Laura sent her fat quarter for May and I'm trying to get back on track. Got a quick question for her, then it's off to the races/sewing machine.

May TwitterB fabrics

I signed up to do a little fabric matching for the FQS Bella Parade, which means that Shruti assigned me a Bella Solids color: Peach - 78.

I have to head on over to the Fat Quarter Shop and find 3 coordinating solids and 3 coordinating prints. Each Bella solid will be featured in a post and I guess Peach is one of the earlier colors, so I have to get my picks into her by Saturday. Peach is definitely not really my signature color, but I'm gonna rise to the challenge and do my best.

I also picked up my yard of fabric for the Gen X Japanese Imports Swap.

elephant scatter

I picked mine up at SuperBuzzy. The key was to remember that these are going to be cut up into 5" squares, so we had to keep the motifs relatively small. You can see other adorable picks in the Flickr Group.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Japanese Import Charm Swap at Gen X Quilters!

Gen X Quilters

AnneMarie over at Gen X Quilters is holding a Japanese Imports Fabric Swap. It's a centralized swap. All you need is 1 yard of Japanese import fabric (cotton or cotton/linen blend) cut into 5" charm squares and $4.00 s/h!

Gen X Quilters

I'm IN. Are you?! Go check it out!

PS - no need to be a member of Gen X to swap along :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All's Quiet

bag pieces

Well, it is April 19th and it is snowing here in Madison, WI. I always try to remind myself at this time of year that it is not unheard of to have snow in May and the one week of spring we can expect will get here eventually, but it just makes for a very long winter...

What else is going on here? In a word (or two), not much. This weekend, I cut out pieces for three bags - another 241 tote (I have already gifted the first two I made) and two Cabrio totes (that link takes you to Sew Spoiled's Etsy shop, I bought mine at SewMamaSew). (Sew Spoiled had a sewalong a couple months ago and there are gorgeous versions in the Flickr group.) Not too much quilting going on, though.

On Sunday I put together one of the Cabrio totes and I am 99% done - it just needs the final topstitching.

Cabrio tote

I think the only change I made was to use fusible fleece for the lining pieces. The pattern seemed well-written and was easy to follow - I mean, I made it, which means most anyone could make it! One thing my photos don't show well is that the straps run from the bottom of the bag, around the sides, giving it a little more support, which is nice in a roomy tote. The top is a bit narrow, to give the bag that lantern shape, but it's workable.

Cabrio tote

Personally I find it really helpful to have a photo, either in a blog post about the pattern or in the shop photo, showing a person actually holding the bag or purse, so you can have some idea of proportion rather than just design. (Both of these totes have photos on the respective blogs.) Of course, most patterns give you dimensions, but I still like a visual.

The only thing that irks me a little are the straps. This bag is meant to be convertible, so that you can wear it backpack-style, as well. So, where the two straps meet when it is in shoulder-bag position, they don't lie flush with each other. (I didn't take a good example photo...) I probably won't use it as a backpack, so I may just go with one strap next time or fiddle around with the two straps so they lie together, since I do like the added support of the longer straps. But otherwise I really like the bag - you can get a lot in there!

And this is just a piece of red pleather.


Yes, indeed, the 80's are back. Actually, I found this at Joann's in the red tag section and since it was Daffodil Days, red tag stuff was 50% off and I thought this might make a nice bag some day!

And finally, I'm about to say something controversial. 
I'm about to choose sides in an ages-old debate. 
I am a dog person.
There, I said it.
I like cats fine and I love many self-proclaimed cat people, but since I have family members who are deathly allergic to cats, we never had cats, just dogs. I have two right now. A little 'un and a big 'un. The little one is 11 years old and she has two beds and some pillows and a nice crate and a million blankets and a flannel sleep sack I made her (she burrows!) but for some reason, she really just likes to sit in the plastic bin that is full of extra leashes, toys, blankets, and even a bottle of "doggie relaxer" (it doesn't work, FYI). 

Also, she wraps herself up like that - frigid winter, sweltering summer, she likes to be swaddled!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quiet Around Here

Well, I am back! (OK, I got back on Monday evening.) I haven't done any sewing, but I did try to do some reorganization of my sewing area because my dad was getting rid of some plastic bins and I couldn't pass them up. So, not too mant photos to share.

Susanna Prints from Ikea

While in Minnesota I was able to run to Ikea and get a couple more of the prints from the Susanna line (destined to become bags) and I found another Fabler print. So, now I have five mini bolts (3 yards each) and it's time to make them into baby/kid quilts. Adding it to the list!

And I need to run to JoAnn's and hit up the Daffodil Sale. Now that I'm a crazy bag-maker, I need varieties of interfacing and now is the time to snatch them up!

I'm getting to work on the April TwitterB block, which is a ticker tape-style block. I don't have too many fabrics in this particular color palette, but I am adding in some Fandango and it seems to work ok. Now I just have to sew them down!

April TwitterB in progress

After seeing people's finishes in the Bloggers' Block-a-Palooza Flickr group, I am resolved to rip mine apart and start afresh with basic sashing between the blocks.  I'll leave the lettered panel (picture at the bottom of this post) for the back.

Are you participating in Amy's Bloggers' Quilt Festival next month?  I'm not sure if I am yet, but I love the parade of quilts and finding new blogs.

Amy's Creative Side | Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Maybe whatever I choose for the Naked Bed Challenge would be good. Better hop to!

It's my sister's birthday tomorrow, so I have offered her the choice of bag/purse or pillow. We'll see what she thinks! That'll be one of my next projects.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Into the Great Wide Open

Hostess Gift Box

I'm off this afternoon to Minnesota, where I will be stopping in at my office, attending a riveting 3 hours continuing education course on ethics (snore), and then I'm going on girls' weekend with my friends! My friend has a cabin in Wisconsin (yes, I'm driving to Minnesota from Wisconsin, so I can drive back into Wisconsin with my friends... It makes more sense if you look at a map, but anyhoo...). This cabin has no cell coverage (gulp!) and no internet (ahhhhhhh!). But I'm looking forward to being unplugged for a little bit. I can only imagine what my google reader is going to look like when I get back!

241 Tote

Anyhoo - so, no sewing (or blogging) this weekend but I whipped up another 241 Tote this week. I added some really (unintentionally) wonky zig zag stitching around the magnetic closures because the lining fabric (even with a piece of fleece and lightweight interfacing) seemed a bit too thin. I may put a little padding on the exterior part as well, next time.

241 Tote interior

I also made this little fabric bowl/box for my friend who's hosting us this weekend. I'm going to get some candy or something to put in there (maybe some Easter grass and some Easter candy?).

Hostess Gift Box

This is a free pattern at SewMamaSew. I did make mine larger - I started with a 15" piece of heavyweight interfacing (It was a Pellon remnant at Joann's, but I think it was the 71F called for by the pattern).

Hostess Gift Box (arrow)

My only gripe - and this may have more to do with technique than product - is that when you turn fabric piece right sides out, the interfacing/stabilizer gets all crunchy and consequently the interior fabric does as well. I spritzed and ironed as much as I could, but some of the wrinkles and crinkles wouldn't come out.  (See arrow in photo above.) There's probably a better way that I'm just missing...

In other news, my Bloggers' Block-a-Palooza quilt is languishing in half-donedness. I fretted about it for a while. I'm not really a sampler kinda gal, aesthetic-wise. The experience was totally about the process and the community - which were both awesome. I probably should have just done a traditional sashing layout, but I decided to tackle the sample layout, minus the applique flowers. Typically, I need to trim my blocks to 12.25" (from the intended 12.5"), which made the math problematic. (Layout 1 involves placing the 16 blocks in a ring around a center appliqued panel, so you have to do the math from the outside in, which was weird.) Had I just made the blocks the proper size this wouldn't be a problem.

Here's my center panel (still needs to be stitched down):

Block-a-palooza center detail

I don't love it, but I don't want to rip everything apart and make sashing. So, that's how it's gonna be. Despite all of my calculations, I stil made a mistake in my math, so I need to add to the width of the quilt and that's why it's been sitting on the design wall for about a week. (That, and I got obsessed with bags.)

Speaking of languishing, my Rainy Days Parisville quilt blocks are also just hanging out, waiting for me to get back to them. A couple more blocks to cut out and then I just need to sew them together, so that should be short work. Unless I get distracted by something else, of course.

Finally, I'm thinking about joining up with this sew along. Click on the button for more info.

Looks like fun and awesome prizes. The goal is to make a bed-size quilt.  But I think I'll probably go off of a pattern (or use one for inspiration), rather than creating my own.

And that's what I got for today. 
Be back some time next week. 
Unless I don't sew anything. 
So perhaps we should just say - until we meet again!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bag Lady

Buttercup bag detail

Well, I took a brief respite from sewing last week because my right arm was hurting from wrist to shoulder. But I jumped back in on Friday with some bag patterns that had been languishing in my "patterns" folder on my computer. Bags are great because they come together relatively fast, in comparison to quilts!

Per my usual complacence, I made a variety of mistakes design choices on each of the bags, which I will now point out to you :)

Here is my attempt at the Made by Rae Buttercup Bag, which is a free pattern. You can see many versions in the Buttercup Flickr Group. I was going to make a muslin version first with some fabric that I didn't really love and then save the precious Parisville prints for after I had some experience. But my muslin fabric bled a little when I washed it, so I decided to bypass the dress rehearsal and go straight for my pretty fabrics.

Buttercup bag

But, being the moron that I am, I taped a piece of the pattern incorrectly, which meant that I had to do a little fudging. Since I'm a fudge-ologist, I made it work. I made only two pleats and had to narrow the band. I used actual muslin as the lining, so I used lightweight woven interfacing for a little structure, but I think it could use even more. I'd like to try it again (with the pattern properly taped this time!) maybe a little clutch with a side strap?

I also attempted the Phoebe Bag, another free pattern, from Rebekah at artsy-crafty babe. I used a Jennifer Paganelli Flower Power print in Sky. I used a remnant of a sheet that I'd used for a previous project for the lining. This pattern uses fusible fleece, which I hadn't used before.  It also has an interior pocket. (Check out my classy lamp/purse-holder!)


My mistakes - I fused the interfacing and fleece to the exterior fabric instead of to the lining, which is what the pattern calls for. I was also so excited to have all my pieces together that I completely forgot to sew the darts before I assembled the purse. I was able to back out and put some make-shift darts in the exterior pieces. So, those parts could be better but this is a really versatile pattern and could definitely be amped up with some different hardware - zippers, d-rings, strap.

Finally, I purchased my first PDF pattern from Anna at Noodlehead, the 241 Tote. The pattern also has a version with two interior pockets (that's why it's called the "241 Tote" - 2 bags in 1 pattern). The directions were very clear and the pattern includes numerous helpful photos.


I really like this pattern and I can't wait to make a couple more! Shockingly, I only made a small mistake on this one, which is that I did not leave the turning hole (not sure what that's called) at the base of the lining but instead at the joint between the exterior and lining. So, it didn't make a major difference in the final construction. I used some of the Ikea canvas/home dec fabric that I picked up in the Twin Cities and since it was a heavier weight, I didn't need to interface those pieces. At first I was concerned because I didn't have any black thread for topstitching, but I decided to just go ahead and use the white thread and now I really like the effect, kind of sporty.

So, I had several firsts on these projects - first fabric button, first time using fusible fleece, first time using magnetic closures. And, since I was using a variety of fusibles, I also pre-washed my fabrics, which is unusual for me. I'm constantly amazed at the free tutorials and patterns that are available out there on the inter-web. You can learn so much and try so many new techniques. I think I was in such a hurry and so excited to make these projects and that always makes me careless. Even still, I think these are great projects, especially for newbie bag ladies, like me. I'll definitely be making more.