Three Bag Patterns That Were Worth Paying For

Just as there are lots of great free bag patterns, there are many excellent patterns for sale on the internet. Here are 3 of my favorites.

1. Divided Basket.  This is another pattern from Noodlehead, who also designed one of my favorite free patterns.  The instructions are excellent and the divided basket is cute.  It was just right for a diaper basket for the changing table for my grandson.  It is available here.

fabric basket

Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

2. Clothesline bag/basket.  This pattern is from Indygo Junction and was much easier to do than I had anticipated.  You can read my review of it here, or buy it here.

3. Sweetpea Pods, by Lazy Girl Designs..  This little bag was so.much.fun that I made more than a few!  Once you learn the zipper trick it is easy, quick, and so satisfying.  I’ve given away many of them and I keep a couple on hand for when I need a little gift for someone.  (Of course it should contain chocolate!).  I even gave one to a male friend, and rather than ask “what the heck” he said he’d use it to carry his guitar picks!  The pattern is available here.

And so you know I’m not just blowing sunshine, here’s one I thought was more trouble than it was worth, even though it is very, very cute (and was all over the internet for a while):

Which bag patterns do you recommend?

Three Great Free Bag Patterns

There are so many free patterns on the internet that it can be overwhelming. Therefore, I’m here to tell you about 3 of my favorite free bag patterns.

1. Pyramid bag, I adore this pattern, and it is so easy that I’ve made a few many.  Available with an excellent tutorial at Loganberry Handmade.  After you’ve made one per her instructions, experiment with different sizes.  So cute and so fun!

2. Tote bag.   The instructions for this “market tote bag” at Bijou Lovely are very clear, with great photos.  I’ve made several of these because they are an excellent, practical size. Of course, I’ve modified this pattern, but it is great just the way it is on her site.

3. Noodlehead’s Open Wide Zippered Pouch.  Anna Graham is the queen of bags of all kinds, and there are some great free tutorials on her site, Noodlehead.  Of course, she has excellent patterns for sale, and I’ve bought some of those, too.  Anyway, go try her free zippered pouch tutorial if you’ve had doubts about zippers.  Her instructions and illustrations are clear and easy, and you CAN do that zipper!

I’ve made a bunch of these in different sizes, as well.

Please tell me if there are free online patterns or tutorials that you love!

Meet Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs

You already know that I took an excellent class with Cheryl Brickey at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium recently.  She kindly agreed to an interview, as well.

Cheryl and me with the partially completed quilt I designed and made in class

Cheryl has written a book and numerous patterns; all are available on her website.    She is an engineer and works 3 days a week writing patent applications for high-tech textiles used in things like tires and military applications.  On top of all that, she has two children and a very busy life, so I asked for her top time management tip.  Her answer: “Don’t have any [time].”  She explained that, because her time is so limited, she knows exactly what she needs to do when she enters her studio and gets right to it.

Cheryl’s book, which she wrote with her friend Paige Alexander

Cheryl started quilting when her children were small.  She had always been involved in crafts, but started making quilts because it was something that “stayed done”, unlike the dishes, the laundry, etc.  I think we can all understand that!  She says she read somewhere that a woman should do something every day that can’t be undone.  Both she and I have searched extensively for that quotation without finding it, so I think we’ll just attribute it to Cheryl!  Anyway, quilting meets that need for her.

Cheryl identifies “modern traditional” as her style of quilting, and you can see what she means from the pictures below of some of her designs.

Samples for Cheryl’s class on minimalism in design

She blogs at Meadow Mist Designs, where she has just announced her next free mystery quilt.

Click here to be taken to Cheryl’s blog, where you can read about her mystery quilt

This mystery quilt will start in July of this year and run through April of 2020.  She will post a new set of directions the first Thursday of each month.

Cheryl says there is a non-mystery option, and about 25% of those who sign up for the mystery quilt elect to get a picture of the finished product from the outset!  (This meets her “engineer need”, she says.)  The only caveat is that those who elect to see the design from the beginning have to keep the secret so as not to ruin it for others.

Cheryl was a delight to meet and interview.  Her workshop and lecture were very well organized and presented.

Here are two of my favorite patterns from Cheryl, because who can resist pretty pictures?

You can check her out here.

Clothesline Basket Fun

It’s been over a year since I purchased the Indygo Junction pattern for a basket made of covered clothesline, so I expect everybody else in America has tried this already. Anyway, it was fun.

The pattern gives basic instructions for starting the basket, shaping the bottom, and then shaping the sides.  Instructions are given for two types of handles, and for making the lining.  The basket itself was easier than I expected, then the lining was a little tricky.  Probably my fault because I changed the instructions 😀

My husband sometimes asks, “What is this one for?”  The answer is, “For making something I’ve never made before.”  Which means I have no idea of a use for this basket, but I do want to make at least one of (almost) everything just for the experience!  (Bonus: this used a lot of scraps!)

What about you?  Do you have a plan for everything you make?

Making a Strip Set

I was excited to get Maria Shell’s book Improv Patchwork a while back, because I’m an admirer of her quilts.  (This picture of the book is from her website, where you can order an autographed copy of the book.)

I first encountered her work when I saw this quilt:

Maria Shell

No Borders Treasure Map, by Maria Shell, from her blog

The quilt above appeals to me because I am OVER all the plus quilts that have been everywhere for years now, and Maria’s quilt is a fun allusion to the plus sign without being the same-old-same-old.

I read Maria’s book as soon as it arrived,  She has lots of suggestions, including making strip sets and cutting without rulers.  Just for starters I made a strip set.

I based the arrangement of strip sizes on the first few bars in the bar code for the word “quilt”.  Yes, I’ve done something similar in the past when I used a QR code from Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest’s condom campaign to make this quilt.  This time, with the bar code, I didn’t even try to get the whole code in, or to make it scan.

I like it!  What I don’t know is what I’m going to do with it!  It seems to need to incubate for a while.  Any suggestions?

To be continued…

A Travel Sewing Machine

As I was carrying my sewing machine up the steps a few weeks ago, it occurred that the price of repair for my shoulder (if I hurt it, which I haven’t yet) would be a lot more than the price of a lighter sewing machine for travel. Of course, I have a wonderful rolling travel case for the heavy machine, but that case doesn’t do stairs.

I considered for quite a while, since it seems to me that my home already contains enough “things”. I decided that, since I’m planning more sewing travel in the coming year, a lighter machine was worth the investment.  (A little more self-justification: I was the only serious sewist I know who owned only one machine!)

After some research, I settled on a Bernette 33, which is made by Bernina and sold by my Bernina dealer.  It is just what I was looking for:  smaller, lighter, with no computer parts to worry about.

Bernette 33, my new travel companion!

So far it performs just fine.  I’ve mainly used it for piecing, since that is most of what I do when I go to sewing gatherings or teach.  It certainly doesn’t feel as sturdy or sew as smoothly as my Bernina, but I think it is “just right” for travel.  And the price was right, too.

Of course I made it a cover to match the bag that carries its accessories:

This fun fabric came in prints of two sizes, so I had one of each to use

How many sewing machines do you own?

 

Ironing Spray

I’m a big fan of Mary Ellen’s Best Press because it does a great job of getting out wrinkles and smoothing fabric without leaving flakes like starch can do. I recently tried Flatter and found that it works just as well.

I’m also a fan of Pinterest and recently found a recipe for “Quilter’s Moonshine” ironing spray. The original post, by Joanne Hubbard, gives the recipe here.  So off I went to the liquor store to buy the cheapest vodka I could find.  I guess if your quilt isn’t turning out you can drink your ironing spray 😀

Another ingredient in the Quilter’s Moonshine is liquid starch, so I went looking for that, as well.  Not, of course, at the liquor store.  The only starch I’ve seen in years was in a pressurized spray can, but sure enough, there was actual liquid starch in a spray bottle at the grocery store.  They also had powdered starch that had to be mixed with water, but I passed on that.

To my surprise, I found another ironing spray right there on the shelf in the grocery store!  I’ve tried it now and it works really well.  My only objection is that it has a strong scent.  Not unpleasant, but not something I really want to smell all day, either.

Finally the ingredients were assembled!  The recipe makes over a gallon, so I cut it in half.  I used a funnel to get it into the best empty spray bottles I found around the house, and voila!  Ironing spray!  It worked just fine and the faint scent was not a problem.

So check out the link to Joanne Hubbard’s blog and give it a try!

 

An Unfortunate Event

But luckily just the one, not a series.  Here goes…

I’ve said before that I enjoy Pinterest and I use it to save everything from quilt ideas to recipes.  I mostly ignore the ads, though I do note that they somehow have me pegged as needing plus size clothing, which is not the case, thanks!

I know there’s a lot of “profiling” going on at Pinterest as well as most other sites, but usually I don’t worry about it.  However: I recently found an idea I thought I’d blog about, so I started a Pinterest board labelled “blog”.

Oh. my. goodness.  Pinterest immediately sent me a bunch of suggested pins concerning how to “improve” my blog.  The first one I clicked on led to an obviously fake blog post (meaning this person doesn’t really have a blog, she’s just a front for an advertisement).  That was bad enough, but the product advertised is designed to “spam” Pinterest for you by posting your stuff several times a day with “no effort” on your part.  This is supposed to drive traffic to your blog, and it probably does.

Now I wonder how many people are using the strategy of spamming Pinterest to have their stuff put in front of me looking like a genuine pin, when really it is an ad?  I’m always cautious online, but this is ridiculous.

You’ve been warned.  And I’ll go back to blogging nice pictures of quilts next week.

Anybody had a similar experience with Pinterest?

Favorite Quilt Tools 2017

There are lots of great tools on the market these days to make quilting easier.  Here are my three favorites of 2017.

(As always, please note that I receive no payment or product in exchange for these recommendations, and the links are provided only for your convenience.  I do not profit in any way from these opinions.)

Matilda’s Own rotating cutting mat.  I’ve actually had this for several years, since trying it at a retreat.  It’s great for trimming blocks because you just rotate the mat without having to move the block. The picture here is from Nancy’s Notions, where I found one of the best prices on this admittedly-expensive item.

rotary cutter review

Photo from Connecting Threads catalog

The Martelli ErgoCutter.  I’ve written before about how handy this item is.  After I cut off a piece of a finger with an ordinary rotary cutter a couple of years ago, it seemed worth looking for something safer.  I was not happy with the cutters that run on a groove along the ruler, so I kept looking until I found this item.

This cutter is, as the name suggests, designed for more ergonomically correct cutting, resulting in less strain on the hand and wrist.  And, because it is guided by the index finger over the front of the blade, it is less likely to get away from me.  It comes in right- and left-handed versions.  My only complaint is that the blade is slightly more difficult to change than in a traditional rotary cutter.

The Tucker Trimmer I.  I am not a big fan of buying every ruler on the market, but after seeing a friend using this one, I was sold.  It makes construction of accurate half square triangles, combination blocks, and hourglass blocks easy.  I use it with the rotating cutting mat to trim down these blocks, and it is a winner.

What are your favorite tools?

Two Links You May Like

The Quilt Alliance auction of donated art quilts has started.  I’m sorry I didn’t get this announcement out last week, but there is still time to bid in Week 1 of the auction if you hurry!  My quilt is in Week 2, which starts November 27.  Check out the auction here: http://www.QuiltAllianceAuction.org

This is the “promotional image” for my quilt, which is 16 inches square per the contest requirements:

But really, I encourage you to check out all the quilts.  There is one I really like (other than my own!) and will be bidding on.  If you don’t know about the Quilt Alliance, I encourage you to check out their activities here.

Second link:  My friend Melanie at Catbird Quilts recently pointed out a little research project she found.  Another blogger, Vicki Welsh, posted about testing a variety of methods to save a quilt that has been washed with bleeding of one (or more) fabrics.  The results are very interesting, and are also useful for those of us who pre-wash (at least some of) our fabrics. Check out Vicki’s post here.  Vicki encourages you to share her test results, and I encourage you to be sure to link to her original post when you do.

Have a good week!