There’s a magic date in September where I go from having a *relatively* normal life pace to MAD DASH TO CHRISTMAS!! The date used to be Sept 19. My brother and sister’s birthdays are 2 days away from each other (Sept 19 & 21), so family festivities usually started there. Now we have a new date. Sept 18 – nephew birthday!! He turned 1. My goodness – has it really been a year? It feels like a year, but it also feels longer in some ways. I’ve had a lot of changes crammed into one year!
September is just the first stop on family gatherings. Next up: Canadian Thanksgiving (this year: Oct 11), then Halloween, then Niece 1 November birthday (the oldest), Niece 2 December birthday, Husband & SIL birthday, then Christmas.
See? I told you. MAD DASH. And that’s just for my family. Husband family needs holiday visits too!
This September got a bit more funky than usual because … well, life happens. We had in-law commitments one weekend (work party weekend), then I had the Birthday Explosion weekend, then I had an older relative holding outdoor get-together (age and health indicate this may be the last time I see them). Every weekend, booked. I didn’t even get to attend Crazy Quilter’s Zoom session! I KNOW!!! Tantamount to heresy that. You may have guessed that very little quilting was done. Some! But not much. But here’s what we have!
I buckled down and got 4 more Christmas Fig blocks done. I think I may need to rename this quilt. It’s not very Christmassy with the blues. Maybe I’ll call it Skilly & Duff. That’s a seafarer’s treat made with figs/plums – close enough! My commitment this month is 6 blocks quilted and the due date is next week!!!! So that is going to be my focus for any quilting time this month.
I’ve taken another look at my Tula Pink quilt and decided to pull a column out. The finished size of the full quilt is 90”x90”. Pulling out a row will make it 90”x80” ish, which is close to twin size. That’s about the size I was aiming for anyways, so that’s a better fit for me! It also gives me the breathing room to skip the assigned October blocks if I want. I may do that and pick and choose my last 10 blocks from the available 20. Make what I want! I did manage to get the 2 outer rows on each side sashed and sewn together in 4 patches. If I have time this month, I could put the green/blue and blue rows together. Then I’ll only have purple and purple/blue to focus on!
Now that I look at everything, I actually DID get a lot done! More than I expected I would, at least!
I did manage to get 3 more blocks quilted! My personal goal has been met. 🙂 Next month I aim to have 6 done, then 6 more done, then I just need to quilt the sashing strips and bind it! I can see the end! That reminds me – I need to get working on the label. Thank goodness I managed to fix my printer. I have 2 labels to print now, so that’s likely to happen sooner rather than later. First, though, I have to empty the Bubble Jet Wash bin of my side project …
I am making a clothes! The pattern is for the Maria Apron by Maven Sewing Patterns. I tend to wear form-fitting shirts and leggings for comfort and wanted to get some dresses to wear over them for modesty. I’ve always loved the Japanese house apron look and thought “Maybe I could just make that myself??” So – into the internet I went to find a pattern that would meet my standards. The one issue most of them is that they’re open in the back. Since I intend to wear leggings, I didn’t want that part of me sticking out when I wear it in public. The Maria Apron is PERFECT because it has pattern modification where the back wraps around and covers everything up! I’m very excited to get my first attempt together to see how it fits!
I’m using some fabric that I picked up on sale a while back (can’t beat $6 a meter!). I’m starting with the Large size and seeing how it goes from there. That may be a mistake as this is a UK designer and I find their sizes to be a bit smaller than US size standards, but we’ll see! I don’t want it to be too huge, so I’m willing to try smaller first. To that end, I had to use my multi-size method for marking fabric for cutting because I don’t want to cut the pattern down to size just yet. How do I do that? Old fashion magic.
I use carbon paper!! This method is AMAZING! First off, carbon paper is surprisingly cheap (100 black sheets at Staples cost a whopping $20 dollars). Second, it can be used MANY times over before a sheet is no longer useful (I’ve been using the same 8 pages since I got the bundle and there’s still lots of life left). Third, it doesn’t make the fabric dirty. It seems to take a significant amount of pressure to leave a mark, so resting the fabric on top of it doesn’t smudge anything. Fourth, it can come in a range of colours!! I think anything apart from black isn’t strictly carbon paper. It feels different and carbon is only black in nature. The white paper I got is technically called “graphite paper”. It behaves exactly the same way, though! Now I can mark both dark and light fabrics with patterns!
First, I start by laying down the carbon paper, carbon side up. If I’m doing several large pieces, I will tape them down so they don’t move as the fabric shifts around. Next, I put the fabric down, right side up. This means that the marks will be on the bottom. In the unlikely event that I do smudge the middle of the pattern, the marks won’t be noticeable from the front. Finally, I lay the pattern on top and put something somewhat heavy on it to make sure it doesn’t shift around. Sometimes, I’ll even tape the pattern to the fabric to make sure the pattern doesn’t shift. The one disadvantage to doing marking this way is that you can’t see your previous marks, so if the pattern moves on the fabric, you probably won’t be able to line it up perfectly again. That means re-drawing the whole thing, so it’s important the pattern-fabric layout stays the same. After all the pieces are stacked up, I use a tracing wheel to go over the size lines and voila – the pattern is marked!! I can just rotary cut along the carbon lines and I have my shape! I also use this for the small amount of appliqué I do when I need to cut out my shapes.
Now I have everything cut out and ready to sew! I’ve even finished fusing the neckline pieces that required fusing. This was the perfect project to work on for a day where I felt like sewing, but didn’t have the space to work on something other than my quilting (which I really did need a break from). For the coming week, though, there are other priorities on the horizon.
I have been so uninspired to work on my Christmas Fig quilt that I had to make it my UFO homework just to get it started. To be fair, there have been other more fun projects waving at me for distractions. Such as …
A bargello quilt!!! I got this jello role bundle from Troll Brothers this summer specifically to make a bargello quilt. I wanted something I didn’t need to spend a lot of time coordinating together and this fabric is so cute! I’ll explain more about how bargellos work in the future, but basically you sew all these strips together lengthwise, then sew the last and first strip together to make it a tube, then cut the tube different widths to make the bargello pattern. Since this will make a fairly small panel, I got some coordinating fabric to use for borders/binding, so I should get at least a lap size out of it!
But enough about distractions (or, at least, enough on that for today). This weekend was Crazy Quilter’s Zoom retreat, so I thought it best to get started on my UFO goal before I’m forced to cough up money. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bit of incentive!
My goal for the month of September was to get 2 blocks (out of 20 total) quilted. As per usual, I started at the center of the quilt as I find that to be the most challenging part to do. The first block, despite now looking easy, took forever!! I had my handy-dandy quilt design chart pinned up to my easel design board to help, but I wanted to try a couple of modifications to the bow-tie block to see if I could get a different pattern quilted in. Each attempt was a failure, so after ripping out 2 rows, I just stuck to the stitch-in-the-ditch idea I had originally sketched. While I do intend to do quite a bit of stitch in the ditch, I have some original design ideas as well. And for at least one of the blocks so far, I barely followed my original sketch and came up with a quilting look that I LOVE! That seems to be the way for me. I just have to get started, then the ideas will begin to flow. 🙂
All in all, I managed to get 5 blocks done this weekend. I was hoping for at least 6, but when I stopped to make supper I came into the kitchen to discover Chaos reigned supreme! Husband cannot be trusted to entertain himself, apparently. Trouble ensues whenever I do that. By the time dinner was made and a sense of order had been restored, my only thought was movie night on the couch. At least I got a sweet reward for my pain … and 5 blocks really is better than no blocks at all!
We all know I have actual, real work to do. Quilts to quilt, piecing to piece, overall work to be had.
Hands where I can see them – who’s surprised I’m completely distracted?
There are some things in the sewing room that I’ve been intending to accomplish. Things just lined up to get re-arranging done in the sewing room the last few weeks. Here’s what’s new!
Item #1: Mini design boards. I mentioned before at the old house how fabulous it was to have the design wall right beside my machine and how I would do something to make that happen if my situation ever removed me from the wall. Well … welcome to the mini design wall idea!
We start with the board. Now, I could have gone to the hardware store and gotten a bit of board, but those things are expensive these days!! Besides, we’re stylish here! And what’s more stylish than upcycling? What you do is go to the local used book store or second-hand shoppe or garage sale (or in my case, raid the mother-in-law’s stash of old books that didn’t get sold at her old book store) and get yourself a massive hard-cover coffee table book. Then you rip the covers off, recycle the pages, throw out the spine, and you have the perfect light-weight design board! I stopped off at Fabricland to get some end-of-bolt discount fleece out of the sale bin. A very cheap glue gun was acquired on Amazon. The assembly process went seamlessly, surprisingly. I was mildly anxious. The last time I touched a glue gun, I was 5. My mum was making a flower arrangement. She told me multiple times to NOT TOUCH THE GLUE GUN. IT WOULD BURN ME. So, naturally, I waited for her to go get more eucalyptus then reached out to touch the lovely clear globule of melted glue. AND IT BURNED ME!! I started screaming, Mum came running in, and I was shown NO PITY. The glue was stuck on my finger and keeping it all hot and burny and running it under water did NOTHING. Needless to say – I did not have the same experience 1this time around. Fingers did get a little toasty, but I did not touch the melted glue. My husband says I’m completely unteachable. I showed him!!
Now that the board is set up, I put the blocks on it, stick it on the easels I bought on Kijiji for $5, and like magic! Mini design board! I got super into it, so of course I made 4. 😛 This way, I’ll be able to work on one project, put it aside without losing anything, and work on homework when I need to.
Item #2: Ruler organization. This whole time, my rulers have been sitting on a shelf in the sewing desk. The shelf is plenty wide, but I do have to stack up the rulers to make them all fit and when I need more than 2 at a time, it becomes quite annoying to shuffle around to pull out the right one. And should I need the strip ruler, it’s totally impossible to manage. SO – why not use what the sewing desk engineers gave us and utilize the end?
I ordered 3M Command hooks along with the very cheap glue gun. In all honesty, the Command hooks were probably 2x the price of the gun, but they’re not the cheapest item on a good day, so we’ll let that slide. I had to get the metal hooks as the plastic ones are just a little too wide to go through the hanging holes of the rulers. I measured out where things needed to hang, popped on the hooks, let them set for an hour while I made mini design boards, then hung up the rulers. I have to say – this is working out very well!! And those rulers are a heavy acrylic, especially when you’re hanging 3 of them at a time. I think this will work out quite well. 🙂
Item #3: Shelf storage Now that I’m not storing rulers on the shelf, what am I going to do with it? I am sort of using the back part of the drawers as temporary tidy zones when I need to work on something else for a bit, but the front part is not in use. It turns out I was dealing with something else not in use at the same time in another part of the house.
Story time! When we moved in, I had to re-think the kitchen quite a bit. The house was built late 70s early 80s by older people who liked older styles, which means all the cupboards and drawers in our house are super narrow. The drawers are an average of 6 inches wide. I know that’s the way my grandmother’s kitchen was growing up and older un-renovated houses are the same. That means that my cutlery organizer (coming in at a whopping 15 inches wide) was NEVER going to fit in the kitchen. I left it on top of the fridge to stick in storage once I had storage set up in the basement. It was still there when I was cleaning up a mess the other day. When I pulled it down to wipe it out, I thought … I know where you can live from now on!!!
I think this works out really well!! I took everything that was living under my extension table and put it in there. Now, when I’m working on something, I just pull out what I need. When I’m finished and need to get things cleaned up for a different project, into the organizer they go! I love using this. It scratches my organization itch.
4. Accessorizing So … I got a new toy. I was recently making a wallet (next week’s blog will have more details) and decided to use rivets to pin the sides together. I loved the look, but … riveting is hard with my basic setup. When I started making bags and wanted to do rivets, I went with the absolute cheapest option for attaching them. It’s a rivet anvil setup. You get a little tool that pierces the fabric to the right size, then insert the rivet, place one end in the round anvil, and hammer the wand down so the rivet is pinched shut. It works pretty well, but it makes a LOT of noise hammering and brings husbands running to find out what the heck I’m doing to the house!! Plus, it’s a everyone awake scenario, so if I’m bag making at 1AM (like I was last weekend, the dolt that I am), I have to wait to finish it in the morning. Sometimes, that’s not an option when I’m getting up early the next morning to take the almost-finished project as a gift. We’ve all been there … no judgement!! Finally, when working on something very snug (like the wallet), it is VERY hard to put a hole in the fabric then hammer the rivets secure. The rivets go on crooked or can’t be hammered tight enough, so they rattle. Not a polished finish.
SO – I got a rivet press from Emmaline Bags. 😀 I love making bags and wallets and rivets can be a big part of that process. Plus, you can get snap-rivets for clothing! I think I will use this a lot, so the upgrade is worth it. You can see that I also got a hole-punch hand tool. My rivet press came with a rivet die and a hole-punch die, but the hand punch is nicer to use in tight spaces (like a wallet). And it was 10$ at the hardware store. Absolutely worth buying the hand punch – I should have done that the first time!
5. Organization During the riveting adventures, I came to the realization that I absolutely have to re-do my drawer organization now. It cannot wait any longer. SO – top drawer is bag hardware, second drawer is quilting tools and accessories, third drawer is large spools of thread that doesn’t fit in the small thread organizers. I switched around what went where and used some drawer organizers I had a kicking around, not being used. Again – love using this!! I can find everything immediately without a ton of digging around and I love having a place for everything. And I have a fourth drawer available for re-organization in the future if I need a little more room! Unfortunately, this is making the heavy storage unit become invaluable to my space. I may need to break my promise to Husband to replace it if/when we move again. Oh whatever … that’s future M’s problem!!
I apologize for the absence since my last post. I have thought about posting a couple of times each week, but it is hard to post something when you don’t really have anything to show for it. It has been VERY warm here the last while. I’m not complaining!!! I love the heat. BUT … it really is too hot to do much crafting. I have sweat running down my back within 30 minutes, then I bail and go nap in the bedroom with the air-con. 😀 The weather is supposed to break in a couple of weeks, then I’ll be back full time.
I may not have done much, but I have done a little! Shall I show you?
The Tula quilt is carrying on. I spend one-two days picking out the focus fabric for each block. Once I’m ready to start sewing, I just need to open to the block, cut the focus fabric I have waiting there, cut out the solid, and sew! At my worst, I was getting 1 block a night done, but 1 is a step above none, right? And I haven’t missed a deadline yet. We are on track!
This is my wall as it stands. I like how the quilt top is coming together! My goal this month is to get the 2 rows on both sides together and off the wall so I can spread out the remaining blocks. Since I’ve started added the sashing, the blocks are becoming a wee bit squished, but they’re staying up so that’s all that really matters. I’ll have to study on that, though. I was looking at the wall and thinking that I may want to leave out a couple of rows to bring the size down a bit. That would mean … that I’m already done maybe??? I think there’s only 2 months of 10 blocks each left. Hmmmm … that will definitely be this week’s project to decide …
Well, how else should one baste a quilt in a new house??
I’m still short a table (Husband is working on other projects and I hate to distract him just to dig out a table), so the best option for basting the Christmas Fig quilt was to lay it out on the floor and roll around with pins. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, it went very well! I wasn’t even sore from bending over like I usually am when I baste. My legs, on the other hand, complained loudly (I tend to sit cross-legged). Still, I took the odd break to stretch out and made it through. It helped that the Crazy Quilter Zoom retreat was this weekend! It made the job easier by being a distraction. 🙂
The only issue I had was the batting. I bought batting months ago for this project and had it sitting on the shelf for usage. After finishing all the piecing, I carted everything downstairs in a laundry basket, laid out my backing, and opened up the batting … only to remember that I cut out the Brothers Bear baby quilt batting from this piece. I might have enough to proceed, but it would be very close and require a lot of cutting and piecing of the batting. Since the stores are open again, it was much simpler to just run over to Fabricland and buy batting. I need more and why not start rebuilding my supply? Plus – the Pellon 93% cotton batting I usually use was on super sale! Time to load up for the next few quilts! We won’t talk about the fabric that also made its way into the basket …
My father-in-law is spending a few days at our house during the week to give Husband a hand with his projects, so the quilting will not commence until the weekend. I am very excited to get going on it, though!! The first two blocks under the needle are the purple squares and the blue bow tie blocks in the dead centre of the quilt. I once again utilized my iPad to sketch out my quilting patterns. We’ll see how many squares turn out the way I sketch them. Sometimes I get inspired mid-quilt. 🙂
Now that the stores have finally re-opened, I’ve been running around collecting fabrics and assorted goods. Let’s take a look at what the summer holds!
1. Christmas Fig
I got fabric to finish this quilt!!! Finally! However … they did not have any of the same colour left available (surprising that such an ugly colour was that popular, but it is what it is). I was concerned that would be an issue, so instead of just bringing along a sample of the background fabric, I brought an orphan block made up of little fabric pieces from the quilt. Orphan blocks are blocks that go unused or scraps that are put together to form a one-off block that aren’t used in the quilt. I’m starting to amass a collection of orphan blocks for a scrap quilt down the road. 🙂 Using the orphan block, I pulled a fabric colour that I think looks very well with the quilt! It makes the ugly background look nice and adds a cohesive look to all the fabrics. I’m glad they ran out! This quilt looks even nicer than I imagined! I managed to get a trip down to the Fibre Chick to pick out backing and binding. This quilt is going to be so beautiful when complete! I think my father-in-law will love it.
I cut out all the sashing and put the quilt top together in the span of a couple of days. I took a picture from earlier and made marks on it to arrange the blocks so there weren’t touching fabrics or too much purple in one section. It really helped for reference when putting it together. I got so excited to get the flimsy made!!!! Now to get it basted and quilted. 🙂
2. 6.5” panel quilts
While I was at the Fibre Chick, she gave me the suggested assembly instructions for the 6.5” panel squares quilt. I decided to pick out a background, binding, and sashing fabric for the Amish panel of 6.5” squares. I may be giving that quilt to someone for Christmas. That’s not as sure thing and I’m not even 100% certain which person would be getting it, so I’ll say no more on the matter at present. It was a good opportunity to pick up what I need for it! I believe I also got sashing for the calendar 6.5” squares. I may need more for binding fabric when I get there, but I intend to use some rough poly fabric for the back as I intend it to be my first hung quilt!! I have a special idea in mind for that one. 🙂
3. Tula Pink
We are half-way through the Tula Pink blocks! 50 blocks made so far, another 10 to be done in the next 2 weeks, and we’re at 60% completion! To that end, I decided to pick up sashing at Fabricland. I knew going into this that I wanted grey for my sashing to make the colours pop. I’m using white, black, and dark grey/charcoal in the blocks, so it had to be something that would keep the dark blocks from disappearing. After comparing to several different shades at the store, I settled on this iron grey colour. It’s a warm-toned grey, which is unusual of itself. It’s also just light enough not to blend into the dark blocks, yet still dark enough to make the hot colours pop. I cannot wait to see it come together! I will be adding the sashing to the left-hand side as I go and adding a sashing to a finished block when strip-piecing this month’s blocks. I picked out the fabrics for this month, by the way – predominantly purple with some blue. Next month, we’ll be back to random fabric pulls from stash. I love this project so much!!!
4. Niece gifts
Since I already got the nephew Christmas present out of the way (a digger for his next-year sandbox), I might as well get the girls’ presents done too.
When I made the Peter Pan quilts last year, I had one fabric left over that I had no idea what to do with. It was a long panel-type fabric, but the panel was only half width-of-fabric and repeated the same design on the other side. I guess it would be a good border fabric, but who makes borders that are 21” wide?? I folded it up and put it back with absolutely no idea what to do with it … until Fibre Chick’s summer sew-along a couple of weeks ago. That fabric would be PERFECT for travel pillows!! And I even had a left-over pillow from making the Star Trek pillows, so I can get this wrapped up in a day!
Since I was using a fabric that was printed to a certain width, I decided to cut down on the amount of pillow case cuff to get more of the graphic in. It did work, but I quickly found out that the case cuff is supposed to be a specific width in order to make it easier to sew the pillowcase together. Whoops. Now I know for the future. Everything is finished except sewing the thread ends into the seams. That won’t take long, though, so I’ll just leave it until I go to wrap them for Christmas. At least now I can put the serger away to make room for free-motion quilting!
5. Bag projects
I needs some bags for storing things, like my fabric pill shaver and the video game controllers. I decided to dig into my stash to make up some bags from my “ugly” fabrics because WHY NOT. The bag pattern I use has two fabrics on the outside (top and bottom), so the mask fabrics will be bottom fabrics with the blue as a top. The Mountie hat will be a bottom fabric with the province names as a top. The yellow chintz I’m trying to use up will be the liner for one or more bag. Finally, the bunny fabric is something I found at Fabricland. I FELL IN LOVE!!!! I want to make some sort of bag with it … maybe a fold-up shopping bag to keep in my purse? It would be better than the polyester one I have. It does for damp things, but it’s ugly and I want bunnies. 😀
I think that’s more than enough to be getting on with in the near future, don’t you?
Oooooooh wow … this bag took a lot. It’s beautiful and worth it, but wowwy. I think it took almost 40 hrs in total to complete. That’s more than I work in a week at my paying job! Thank goodness I was on vacation last week or I never would have been able to finish it. It probably shouldn’t take 40 hrs, by the way … but I find that the first time I make a pattern, I have to devote 5-10% more time to it to account for mistakes, getting lost on the next step, and just generally not being sure of the full process. Let’s learn together!!
Step 1: Do all the cutting. Unlike making a quilt, you can’t just cut as you go. Actually, I don’t think you’re supposed to cut as you go with quilts, but it’s definitely an option and I find it makes the quilting process easier in some cases. If you’re tight on fabric, definitely cut it out beforehand so you can figure out what you need to do to meet the pattern if you don’t have enough fabric. When making bags, though, you absolutely have to cut before you sew. Simple totes like the Tiki Tote I did for SisterN are an exception to the rule. My first time-consuming mistake was attempting to cut out only what I needed for the first step. After floundering for an hour in confusion, I sat down to cut out everything. Cutting out and taping together the paper pattern pieces: 1hr. Cutting out all the fabric and interfacing – 4 hrs. I was already angry at the bag at this point. 😀 Luckily, it looks SO CUTE.
Step 2: Make the piping. Piping is when you have a fabric cord around the edge of your project. You’ll most often see piping in cushions and on bags. It gives your project a very professional finish. I considered doing a piping on the pillow I made my dad for Christmas, but I was intimidated by the process and already under the gun to finish projects (I may still have had delusions of grandeur that I would complete the bags on time). There are two wonderful videos attached to the bag pattern. You can find them on YouTube under Andrie Designs – Crating and Attaching Piping. The process was actually a lot more straight forward than I expected. Making bias strips is easy due to all my practice with making bindings for quilts, but I had to make the strips on the fabric’s diagonal instead of with/across the grain like I usually do. This allows the fabric to give more easily, similar to how a tee-shirt stretches. If you’re curious, watch the first video on creating piping. She explains and demonstrates how bias works.
I should have cut a 1/2 meter to make my bias strips out of, but I had no idea how much fabric I would need and decided that more is better than not enough … so I did a full 44” instead. 😀 As you may imagine, HUGE overkill. I now have enough binding strips to do another bag and enough excess piping to do a small cushion or wallet … hmmmmmm … Piping creation: 2-3 hrs. This is adding up already, isn’t it? And we aren’t even ready to start piecing yet!!
Step 3: Fuse all the things. Remember I mentioned cutting all the fabric and interfacing? This is where I got to learn more about interfacing and stabilizers. They are roughly the same thing – they get attached to the back of the fabric to provide rigidity. The main difference is that interfacing helps the fabric to keep from fraying after it’s cut. Stabilizers … well, stabilize or stiffen the project. You can think of it as the difference when buying one of the reusable fabric grocery bags that you can roll up into a ball and one of the stand-up reusable grocery bags that you probably use for your heavy products. Those ones are usually stiff due to a vinyl exterior, but the concept should help you visualize the difference.
There’s also sub-categories of these interfaces. There’s fusible and non-fusible (fusible has a thin layer of glue that bonds to the back of the fabric when you apply heat with your iron, the other just gets attached by stitching in). There’s webbing, batting, and light interfacing. I’m not doing a deep-dive on the differences. For this bag, I needed a light-to-medium interfacing (keeps fabric from fraying), fusible batting (exactly like quilt batting except you can iron it on to the fabric instead of using basting spray or pins like I usually do), and a heavy stabilizer to give structure. I used Pelion Deco-Bond which is one of the heaviest interfacing I have. It also happened to be what I had in a drawer. It probably should have been a little more rigid, but I used what I had since the stores are all closed. Fusing layers: 1-2 hrs. At least we get to move on to the sewing!!
The first panel was the most exciting panel to work on (in my opinion) because it highlighted the absolutely adorable Tula Pink skunk fabric I had ordered especially for this project. I LOVE it. It’s the perfect pattern for black-and-white projects. Since it is a Tula fabric, I think no one is surprised that there is still some colour in it, but just little pops that add to the design. I had chosen a mottled coloured fabrics for the piping from my stash. The colours matched perfectly and I think it added to the bag. Husband thinks I should have stuck with a black piping as he thinks it pulled focus a bit. I also took a survey at my UFO club and they told me the coloured piping “made the bag”. Let me know your opinion in the comments! I won’t re-place the piping, but it helps for me to know on future projects that I intend to give/sell.
This panel also introduces a new concept – zipper tape!! There are two options for buying zippers. You can buy lengths from your local fabric store (16”, 22”. 8”, etc.) or you can buy a roll of zipper tape and a handful of zippers to go with it. The advantage to the individual zippers is mostly a range of colour. You can buy zipper tape in many colours, but if you only use them occasionally in your projects, it makes more fiscal sense to buy the individual ones in the colour you need at the time. The advantage to zipper tape is that you get a massive supply of zipper length and don’t need to worry about making a mistake if you cut it too short – you can just cut more! You can also mix-and-match the zipper colours. Since I was using gold rings for the handles, I went with yellow zippers on the black zipper tape. I could have done black zippers to have everything blend in, but it should surprise no one at this point that I would find that too boring to bother with, 😀 The one challenge to zipper tape is that you have to insert the zipper into the zipper teeth. That can be difficult to do. There are lots of hacks online for doing it. My hack was using a very old coat with a broken zipper last winter as my new good coat was stuck at my parents’ house 2 hrs away during a lockdown. I made do with re-zipping the coat each time I got in and out of the car/house/bending down to scoop dog bombs. I got VERY good at threading zippers into the teeth, so doing this part was no challenge. I also got an extra zipper and 20” of tape just in case I made a mistake and needed a second zipper. Smart on me, as I cut the zipper 1” too short on the first pocket. I still have some zipper tape to save and use on a future project!!! Maybe a matching wallet??
The final thing I’ll warble on about regarding the bag is the inner section. I wanted to make this bag big enough for SisterD to transport her laptop in when she starts going back to work after COVID. That requirement dictated the bag pattern I used. I know what model of laptop she has (and her work just issued the new device to her, so she’ll have it for at least 4-5 years), so I could make sure the bag would accommodate the laptop. Issue is, when you put a laptop in a bag, you really do need it to be in a separate section from all your other bag-things or it becomes very hard to fish up, say, your building ID to get into the office. The bag pattern only had one big pocket on the inside, so I included a divider to keep things separate. I also built two fabric pockets into the divider for tucking the power cord & mouse into in an effort to keep the main pocket as clear as possible. This was relatively easy to accomplish. When cutting the liner fabric, I added an extra 1” to the side pieces. I then cut them in half and stitched the divider in between them. One thing I did not do is make the divider go all the way up to the zipper. I feel like this adds too much weight and makes it harder to look for things/get things in/out of the bag, so it’s about 3/4 the hight of the pattern liner. I will be asking my sister to give me feedback on whether this was helpful or if things kept moving between the two sides. It’s a free bag – she can be a guinea pig!
Bag sewing together: 2-12hr days, give or take. Multiple rip-outs and forgotten pattern pieces are included here.
Yeah. On the first day, I literally got up in the morning, had breakfast, and vanished into the sewing room until much later at night than I should have been up. The next couple of days, I spaced in meals and naps. It’s a vacation, for crying out loud – I’m supposed to be taking a break!!! Was it worth it?
Uh, YEAH … I think it was!! I may be biased (and sleep and energy deprived), but I think this looks stunning! After I finished it, I switched thread and made another mug mat to go with SisterN’s tote. I decided the one I made during the sewing challenges wasn’t good enough to give as a gift, especially considering all the work that went into SisterD’s bag and mat. If this seems like an unfair demonstration of giving, rest assured that SisterN is getting the major time-sink gift next Christmas. I had that picked out before I even started the bags. I intend to start it in October – I want to give myself loads of time to get that one done this year!!
For July/August, we don’t have to pick UFOs if we’re too busy. We didn’t pay into the kitty for the summer months, which works out for me. New house does not have central air and the sewing room is WAY too hot to spend large amounts of time in during heat waves. I intend to work on the two 6” feature block quilts I started in April/May whenever we have cool days. If I’m lucky, I’ll have them both pieced and the flimsies ready for quilting by September. If not, that’s okay too. I still have the Tula monthly quilt blocks to do and the Christmas Fig quilt to assemble when the stores re-open, so if that’s all I manage during my summer, I’ll be happy with that!!
FibreChick posted on Facebook that she was hosting a Stay-cation Sew Along this week. She presented 5 projects, 1 at each noon time period. It just happened to line up with my vacation, so I decided to sew along!
Monday: Quick-sew zip pouch I was outside playing in the dirt and forgot to join. 😀 Skipped!
Tuesday: Hexie mug mat This time, I remembered to join in. Kim encouraged us to use scraps, so I grabbed a handful of the scraps from the project on my sewing table: SisterD’s bag. Guess who is getting a matching mug coaster for her desk at work?? I think it turned out pretty cute. Because I was working with scraps, the little skunk face wasn’t centred properly, but close enough is good enough. Husband does not like the “tie-die colour bits”, but I think it adds some interest to the project.
Wednesday: Travel pillow cases Kim has a quick project for making travel pillows for kids to use in the car for sleeping. I would have LOVED one as a kid – I was forever using uncomfortable acrylic fuzzy couch cushions and hated them. I thought they might be cute gifts for my nieces when I see them next! In this mini-class, she was showing us how to make the pillow cases to go on the travel pillows. I just happened to have a pillow case kit that I bought and used a part of for eye mask gifts for a spacey friend. The girls may not even know what Star Trek is, but I think they’ll still like the colourful cases! And if they don’t … I’mma gonna keep them for hammock pillows!!!! I may do that anyways …
Thursday: Kisses mug mat Since the hexie mat was going to SisterD, it’s only fair to make a mug coaster for SisterN’s tote, right? I pulled out that tiny stack of strips I had left over from the tote and followed along to make the Kisses mug mat. However … we once again have a value problem with the fabrics. I thought making the sashing out of different fabric would help, but it did not work. It just looks blah. It may have to do, though – Time is a commodity in high demand this week.
Friday: Quick-sew zip pouch with see-through window This is the same project as Monday, but with a see-through window. Since I didn’t have any clear vinyl to make the see-through window and I skipped the class Monday, I just made the normal zip. My project kind of went off the rails, though. When I cut the fabric, I thought the zipper was supposed to go at the top and bottom of the pouch. Turned out, it was to go in the middle with the pouch wrapping around it. That would have made for a quick project indeed, but since I cut printed fabric that I didn’t have enough to cut a fresh piece on, we proceed with an M-modification (I don’t learn, do I?). It took some finagling, but I finally got it to work … sort of. The picture is upside down now with the zipper below the image. I think it still works, though. You can carry the pouch with the zipper down, right? Either way – it will make a perfect Father’s Day gift for my dad. He loves the OG Star Trek series. Evidently, he has a pill bottle that keeps opening in his pocket, which can make for dosing surprises. This should fit it nicely!
My June UFO commitment is to get caught up on the presents I was trying to get made for Christmas and ran out of time to do. With all the lockdowns, I didn’t bother picking it back up. That’s subject to change, though. We’re supposed to come out of lockdown at the start of June . First thing I intend to do is go visit my family. My sisters were both supposed to get bags (not that they know that), but the niece quilts took priority. Now I get to finish them!!!
I was supposed to finish the one I started in December for SisterD, but of course … I got distracted. I blame my father-in-law. If I hadn’t finished his quilt (mostly), I wouldn’t have all these pretty scraps just BEGGING to be made into a tote bag. That means SisterN is getting her bag finished first.
Okay, maybe it’s partially my fault. I’ve been re-watching episodes of the Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters on my lunch break. I like watching them for inspiration, especially the quilting designs. I’ve already got 2 more quilts planned with fabrics I bought when I first started quilting. Like I need more projects!! One of her episodes was about making a quilted bag. The template was offered for free on Craftsy which became Bluprint which has become Craftsy again … It changed hands a couple of times, hence the re-branding. With those changes, the pattern directions are no longer available on the site. I almost couldn’t find this pattern, but I finally stumbled across a PDF shared on the internet with the pattern! Who hoo! http://static-sympoz.s3.amazonaws.com/email/2019/Member%20Patterns/April%202019/Sew/Tiki%20Tote%20Pattern.pdf
While I have a decent amount of scraps, I don’t have enough to make it totally out of 2.5 strips, so I took all the extra strips and just mix them all up with the standard strips. It gives the strip-units a less-braidy look, but I like the way it’s turned out!
I was so excited to have the exterior done within a couple of days. I’d go in with the intent to do one braid unit and SURPRISE get sucked in to finish 3 or 4. Next step – put the braids together. Because this is a bag and it may not see the most gentle use, I decided to serge the panels together for more rigidity. Yes, it makes the seams a little little bulkier, but it’s a bag. That doesn’t really matter. After serging the units and the top border, I attached some batting and started on the quilting!!
This bag is really busy and the fabric on it is sooo beautiful, so I didn’t want to do too much more than stitching the batting to the fabric. I still wanted to practice a bit, though, so I decided to do some free-motion stitching in the odd strip. I think this looks pretty good! And the ribbon candy design is definitely getting better with practice. I think it like it best on narrow strips – I struggle making it look good on wider strips.
The pattern calls for a pieced liner. This teenie tiny pile of strips is all I have left (YAY almost no scraps!!!), so I’m going to use a single piece of fabric as the liner. Since I’ve got just enough to also make the straps out of the liner fabric, I will use it there as well.
All in all – this is a pretty quick little tote sew. It looks super cute, it’s a good way to use up fat quarter bundles, and who doesn’t like a tote bag!! 😀 Next up: the SisterD work tote.