What’s Next

Naturally I have started work on Christmas projects.
First, a “big boy bed” quilt for my younger grandson, which is ready except for binding.  Here are some of the cute fabrics and the cozy flannel backing:

I made a set of Christmas place mats for a quick place mat class I’ll be teaching in December.And I’ve finished the top for this quilt to be given to some special people who presumably do not read my blog!This is a modification of a pattern I found in a Quilter’s World publication called Autumn Colors:I kept the size of the squares and the idea of wonky stars. I love wonky stars! However, I added a row of squares all the way around, repositioned the stars, and eliminated the big borders. I’ll show it again when it’s quilted and bound.
What are you up to?

A Few Extra Projects

Have you ever noticed that, whenever you try to finish a big project, other little projects just creep in?
Since I always have at least one “big project” going, I guess it’s inevitable that the other things that need doing have to be fit in sideways. Lately there’s been a lot of that.
First, I appliqued an orphan block to a bag for a speaker I invited to our modern guild.

orphan block on bag

This is a great use for orphan blocks. Just attach to a bag, and you have a handmade gift!

Then I found a tutorial for a pyramid bag and had to make a few…plus one more this week!Finally, our travel wine glasses (they are Lexan, and disassemble for safe travel) needed a travel case:In the midst of all this, I started having trouble with my walking foot while trying to quilt another project! Does a walking foot wear out???

In any case, I think I have procrastinated with little projects as long as I can, so I’d better go bind a few quilts.  Have a good week!

Asheville Quilt Show

So I went to the Asheville Quilt Guild’s annual show, which usually has lots of inspiration.  There were many nice quilts, but two quilt makers stood out, in my opinion.

The first is Diana Ramsay, whom I know from the Modern Quilt Guild, which used to exist in Asheville.  Here are her quilts:

Fascinating Rhythm by Diana Ramsay

modern quilt, Asheville Quilt Show

Bulls Eye II, by Diana Ramsay

Although I don’t know Linda Fiedler, I was very impressed by her quilts, as well:

Moonglow, by Linda Fiedler

The guild’s gift shop always has something I wish I had made, and this year it was a little pyramid bag.  Of course I bought it.

I’ve always liked pyramid bags, which I first saw years ago in a craft store in Berea, Kentucky.  I had a pattern to make one, but it seemed pretty complex.  The internet to the rescue!  I found several sets of instructions and even videos.  Here are the instructions I used:

http://www.loganberryhandmade.com/sew-triangle-zipper-bag-pyramid-pouch-sewing-tutorial/

And here is the first set of pyramids. 

They were quick and easy!  Do I hear a Christmas gift idea?

Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer” and A Busy Week

I have a number of pieces of antique furniture, as much out of obligation as desire. These belonged to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and in one case to my great-great-grandmother. One of them contains Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer”.

Granny once commented on it, saying that whenever her sister, Bess, had a sewing project that “fizzled”, the project went into that drawer. I’m not sure what happened after that. This would have been in the early part of the 20th Century, but I don’t even know whether the “fizzle” items were clothing or something else.  By the time I inherited the furniture they were long gone!

I think some of my UFOs probably should go in the “fizzle drawer”, but I don’t know when to quit, so I keep working on them.  This next one was a class I did not especially enjoy, but I’ve converted it to 4 large blocks to be combined into a donation quilt.

This next one is not a fizzle, it’s a set of place mats I made for a quick holiday class to teach this fall.  I developed this pattern YEARS ago for McCall’s Quick Quilts and have made many versions of it since.  Place mats are a nice hostess gift to have on hand.

We went to the “apple barn” this weekend and got some apples–must be fall!  Here is the view from the apple barn, looking across some trees heavy with red apples to the mountains beyond.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

How was your week?

Another Kind of Sewing

A friend and her dog visited recently, and luckily the friend enjoys cooking and sewing as much as I do, so we had a great time.

Australian Cattle Dog

Michele and Cowboy

Unfortunately, I did NOT get pix of all the yummy food.  However, we did make a cover for Cowboy’s portable crate.

Cowboy is a very talented dog but also a very “reactive” one who is curious about anything he can see.  So his portable crate needed a cover to let him get some rest between trials at the doggie events in which he competes.

Cowboy’s portable crate

Michele had been throwing a 20-year-old fitted sheet over the crate with reasonable result.  However, we made a dee-luxe cover with many fine features 😉

There is a little door at the top for giving treats.

There is a screen in one side where a fan can blow in cool air.  The screen has a flap to cover it when Cowboy needs rest more than he needs a breeze.

And of course there is a big flap over one end of the crate that can be thrown up to let Cowboy in and out.

We enjoyed the many challenges involved in making the crate cover.  Naturally, we had to make a few little bags for ourselves, as well.  A good time was had by all.

Cowboy is an Australian Cattle Dog

Teaching Paper Piecing and Seminole Patchwork

This next quarter I will be teaching two classes at Studio Stitch in Greensboro (NC). The last class there was a lot of fun, so I’m really looking forward to these.

The first class, on Friday, August 11, will be a modern paper piecing project using the Lombard Street Pattern from Sassafras designs.  Here is my version, which you’ve seen before.  The pattern comes in 3 sizes, so I’m going to make a smaller one as well, just for fun.

Quilt pattern review

“Amish on Lombard Street”, my quilt made from a Sassafras Lane pattern

The second class will be Friday, September 15.  We’ll be making place mats using linen (if desired) and decorative strips of Seminole patchwork.  Here’s the class sample, though I’m making another set using a variety of patchwork patterns.

Seminole Patchwork

Seminole Patchwork Place Mat using a linen blend for the main fabric

If you’re in the Greensboro area, please come join us. You can find Studio Stitch online (click the name) or come by the shop at 3215 B Battleground Ave, Greensboro, NC.

Fabric Postcards Again

I’ve been blogging about the monthly challenges and programs at my modern guild, hoping it will be helpful to some of you who need challenge or program ideas. Here’s a recent one: we made fabric postcards.

I gave out pieces of Peltex 71F cut 4″ x 6″ to use as the stabilizer and backing for the cards.  I gave no further guidance, though I did bring an example to pass around.

fabric postcard

Here is the example

I probably should have provided a handout with some basic instructions, since we have members with quite variable skills, as do most guilds.  Anyway, here are some of the postcards people made.  As you can see, they varied in technique quite a bit, and all were fun.

fabric postcard

Kim’s clever Bee Kind postcard–she paper pieced the bee!

Somebody had some cute quilt lady fabric and put a nice frame around it

Coffee is always popular, and the fusible broderie perse worked well

Somebody else stitched elaborate designs like Zentangles on hers

Bev made a bird with a nest of torn strips and beads sewn on for eggs

Mine was titled “A Different UFO”. I’ve had that UFO button a long time!

Review: Annie’s Soft and Stable

A while back a bag pattern called for “foam interfacing” and I had NO IDEA what that was. Luckily, the folks at my local quilt shop DID know!  They sold me Annie’s Soft and Stable and it has worked out very well!

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

The bag above was the one that initially required foam interfacing.  I used the foam interfacing again recently, when I made a new version of the Market Tote from Bijou Lovely.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

It worked just as well on the larger bag as it had on the smaller one.  It gives the bag lots of structure with little weight.

The very BEST part was making handles with foam interfacing rather than the usual turn-the-tube method!  I just cut strips of foam interfacing, wrapped them with fabric (turning under the last edge), and sewed three straight lines–one down the middle of the handle to close the fabric and one about 1/4″ from each edge of the handle as decorative top-stitching.  It made comfortable, sturdy handles for the bag. Definitely making handles that way in the future!

There are several other brands of foam interfacing, including a couple (from the reliable Pellon company) that are fusible.  It also comes in more than one thickness.  I haven’t really tried any of the other brands, but this one worked out well.

Giving Kraft-Tex a (Second) Chance

I made a couple of bags using Kraft-Tex for a sturdy bottom section a while back, and wasn’t that happy with it.  My review is here, if you want to read it.

Kraft-Tex review

Tote bag made with Kraft-Tex for the bottom section

However, when I got some lovely bird fabric in a guild swap, I decided to make another tote bag and use Kraft-Tex to protect the bottom again. I pre-washed the Kraft-Tex to soften it a little, then crumpled it in my hands to soften it a little more.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Since I didn’t really want the thick Kraft-Tex in the seams, the shortage worked out OK

I had BARELY enough for a shorter-than-recommended bottom section, but it worked out fine.  I used the same pattern as before, the Market Tote which is free at Bijou Lovely.

Market Tote from Bijou LovelyAs you can see, I had some beautiful birds-in-the-grass fabric (a Moda print) for the inside.

Kraft-Tex for tote bagI used a buttonhole stitch to secure the top edge of the Kraft-Tex.  Overall, the Kraft-Tex was much easier to use this time.  It makes a sturdy bottom for the bag, is washable, and presumably will wear better than a plain fabric bottom.

As before, the Market Bag tutorial was very well done and easy to follow.  The only change I made was to revise the way the bottom was attached so that I didn’t have Kraft-Tex in the seams; that would have been quite bulky.  I laid the Kraft-Tex on the top fabric and secured the edges with buttonhole stitch just inside the seamline, so it wasn’t necessary to have Kraft-Tex in the seams to hold it in place.  That worked a lot better.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

In other words, I am now revising my opinion of Kraft-Tex and probably will use it for this purpose again!  It still does’t really look like leather to me, but in this case that isn’t the point.

A Cute Apron and a Pattern Review

Kitchen apron

Photo courtesy of Indygo Junction

My husband recently discarded some shirts, so I was interested to see this “Kitchen Shirt Tales” pattern from Indygo Junction.

It looked pretty simple, and I’ve made dozens of aprons over the years, but I decided it was worth the money to buy the pattern rather than having to figure it out on my own.  The pattern was downloadable, which added to the appeal–instant gratification!

I was pleased with the way the apron came out, but only because I abandoned the instructions part way through construction.

The instructions were MUCH too complex for a simple garment like this.  For example, rather than providing a pattern for the garment in different sizes (if, indeed, one needs a choice of sizes for an apron), the instructions were to measure yourself and then derive the cutting lines through a rather complex formula. After figuring out these measurements, you were instructed to draw the curve for cutting out the top by connecting the measurements..  I did get it drawn just fine, but  it would have been so much simpler to just have a pattern piece for cutting out the main body of the apron!

As you can see below, the apron looked just fine on two of my colleagues who are different sizes.

At this point, the instructions became confusing and there were VERY few illustrations.  I usually do pretty well with verbal instructions, but the most commercial patterns have a drawing for each step for a reason.

This pattern would need many, many more drawings to be clear.  I quit the instructions at that point and made the rest up as I went along.

I still think it is a great idea to recycle a shirt into an apron, and this is cute the way it came out.  The pattern, however, could be greatly improved by the addition of a pattern piece for cutting and many additional illustrations.