Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mail Organizer - Happy Dance

I ran across this idea for a mail organizer from Cotton Time. I forget which blog I was looking at that had a screen shot of the magazine page. Not having the measurements or directions, I winged it and am very pleased with the result.


I first drew a scaled picture on graph paper  and decided that the best size would be 18" x 20" for the background. Then I thought about what I wanted this organizer to do and drew in the pockets and determined what each pocket's size should be. When all was finished, the actual size is more like 18" x 21".

To make it, I used two fat quarters for the background and trimmed them to shape. I interfaced one fat quarter with decor bond and the other with fusible batting for some rigidity and shape. The fabric for the pockets comes from a repurposed 2009 fabric calendar from Japan. Each pocket was interfaced with decor bond. The pockets were then secured to the background with a zig zag stitch. At the bottom are six buttons to hold hanging type things.

Overall I'm very happy with the end result, although I'm slightly annoyed that the deer pocket is crooked. I have no idea what the zipper bear pocket would hold, but it's a nifty little touch. The zipper pull is an elephant charm. 


The dark circles look more like buttons that they are in the picture below.


This took a few hours to make... maybe 4-5 hours from start to finish, but my entry way looks so much better now.


Were I to make this again, I probably would reinforce the the background mat just a tad more. It's fairly strong and keeps its shape reasonably well, but it does bend a little when there are a lot of things in the two bottom pockets. It's not a deal breaker though.


The little crocheted bags hanging from the buttons were made by my mom. Each bag takes about one hour to make and the pattern is from a Japanese craft book. They are all functional and would make great ornaments.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lisette Foreign Exchange Bag - View D

I was on a bag-making roll and decided to make view D of the Lisette Foreign Exchange Bag pattern.


Working with a more muted color palette than suggested on the pattern cover, I used some Japanese taupe fabric. It's hard to see in the picture, but the fabric has a wonderfully nubby woven texture and feels just a bit more expensive than normal quilting cotton. And I also got to use a fun super large button.

View D (12" x 17") is a much smaller bag than the View B bag (14" x 18") so all I needed for the exterior and handles were 2 fat quarters of the lighter color and 1 fat quarter of the darker one. The interior used the remaining bit of the darker fat quarter and one additional fat quarter of a coordinating color.

I also wanted to alter the pattern a bit and try to install a top zipper for the first time. It was a lot of fiddly work and the zipper didn't come out perfectly, but it's a solid first attempt.


Were I to make this bag again, I would fuse batting on both the exterior and the lining. This one only has batting on the lining because I didn't want the exterior to look wrinkly, but the fabric is such that wrinkling adds to its charms. I also would use a different interfacing for the handles. Maybe some thinner batting for cushioning. The one I used was the sew in kind and the result is a bit of crunchy feel to the handles. Interfacing the inset and zipper parts with decor bond was a good idea. It helped to have that extra firmness and solidity when working with the zipper. Also, I hate basting, but when making this bag, basting was my friend and it helped everything from getting frustratingly wonky.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Field Study Quilt - some progress

All 148 hourglass blocks made a quilt that is 60" square, but it looks a little plain.


After spending way too long thinking about how to finish it, I've settled on creating an arrows border to reference the arrowhead type print in the Field Study collection.




Or now that I'm looking at it again, maybe feathers instead?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tote bag - Simplicity 2396

The Simplicity 2396 is a fairly quick bag to make and does not use a lot of fabric - maybe about 2 hours max from the time of cutting out the pattern pieces to slipstitching the lining to finish the bag.


In a bit of excellent product photography, the bag on the pattern cover looks like it has some body, but in reality, the bag is really quite flat and one-dimensional.


There are no pleats, darts, or boxed corners to give the bag some shape, but the pattern isn't bad if a gift needs to be made in a relative hurry, so long as the recipient is sure to enjoy the shape. Personally, I find a narrow bag opening to be annoying because getting at what's inside can be more difficult than it needs to be.

Again, the bag on the pattern cover doesn't seem to have as pronounced a shape as the one that I made.


In my ongoing effort to get all my sewing stuff under control, I was very, very happy to use the fun Prints Charming print and finally find the perfect home for the flower button.


The birds show up again on the inside pocket.


Finished dimensions: 11" x 14"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Swoon quilt blocks

The Swoon quilt block is a very clever reworking of the traditional carpenter's wheel block. This search brings up both the Swoon block and the carpenter's block. The Swoon block simplifies the construction so that it's much, much easier to piece.

All you need are some half square triangles, rectangles, squares, and flying geese:


I made mine based on the 10" square. To make one 32" square block (which is a baby quilt in of itself with a bit of a border), all you need are three 10" x 40" strips of fabric, plus a little bit more of the white (or whatever you choose to substitute for the white).

Then sew the pieces row by row, and you get a pretty nifty giant quilt block or a quick and easy baby quilt. I've had this fabric for at least 3 years; it's nice to finally find a home for it.


Free online tutorials:
Flying geese: Freckled Whimsy
Half square triangle: That Girl, That Quilt

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Field Study hourglass quilt - in progress

I visited a new to me quilt store The Sewing Party in Laguna Hills. A bit of a drive, but what a fun store with amazing products. I ended up buying some fat quarters of Kaffe Fasset shot cottons and a charm pack of Anna Maria Horner's new line, Field Study. Now I understand the fascination with shot cottons. They're gorgeous, have a sheen, and amazing texture.


The fabric is actually woven with two different colored threads, so in the case of the fabric above, a turquoise thread is woven with a pink thread, like so


So cool. The fabric behind it has threads of purple and red. And, serendipitously, the random fat quarters I picked (they were so pretty; I was like a magpie picking up shiny object after shiny object), match perfectly with the Field Study fabric line.


I love that orange on top. So as not to waste any of the fabric and show it off optimally, I opted for the hourglass quilt block. I ended up making 146 hourglass blocks.


The blocks took a while to sew and then finish. I think the quilt will be the blocks set on point across rows and then a pieced border using the remaining shot cotton.



30 - 6" squares of Field Study
 +
2.5  yards of white cut into 6" squares
 +
15 coordinating fat quarters to cut 43 - 6" squares
 =
146 - 5" hourglass blocks

Some great tutorials re: making hourglass blocks the easy way:

This is how I make mine: Diary of a Quilter
Another option: Red Pepper Quilts
And a video: Missouri Quilt Company 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Boy quilt - blues, grays, and browns

It's so much more fun to make a quilt with a recipient in mind. A friend is having her first child: a boy. Not knowing the color scheme, if any, of the child's nursery, I figured the classic boy colors of blue, gray, and brown would be safe and perhaps a bit more sophisticated than the traditional baby blue.


I picked out a fun mix of colors, textures, and shapes to make the quilt. It's a simple, but classic, square design. The quilting is parallel to the seams for stability and then diagonally for some additional strength and as a design element.


Each of the fabrics has a story and come from as far away as Tokyo. The fabrics are flannels, quilting cottons, linen, and organic cotton.


The mom is musically gifted, so using the musical fabric for the binding and some of the squares is perfect.


Finished size: roughly 35" x 40"
17 different fabric lines cut into 5" squares

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Double hourglass quilt

The New York quilt remains on hold waiting for inspiration to strike. In the meantime, a double hourglass quilt:


Stupid me though. Instead of making the quilt the easy way by strip piecing (see this tutorial), I painstakingly cut up my strips into 5" and 10" pieces to make each of the quarter triangle pieces (a la the Short Story quilt pattern in Schnibbles Times Two), which meant the quilt took way longer than it should have. Different methods; same quilt block.


In a nod to New York, the back of the quilt:


And the final touch, diagonal stripes for the binding. In a bit of a lucky break, I chose the colors and layout for the quilt independent of the binding, but then remembered I had the striped fabric in my stash and that the colors coordinated perfectly.


Final size: about 44" square with lots of straight line quilting for added stability and durability.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Garden Party quilt

Many, many years ago, I came across this pattern on the old Moda web site. It's still available online here.


It's such a clever reworking of the traditional Dresden plate block. I printed the pattern out and stored it for just the right marriage of fabric, time, and recipient. The day has come.

Using the Strawberry Fields fabric line from Fig Tree Quilts and some fabric from my stash, I got caught up in making the petals.





But now I'm stuck. I had enough fabric to make 15 flowers, but to make a symmetrical quilt, I need 16. Sigh. I'll have to wait again until the motivation hits to figure out a workaround. Ideally the motivation will hit before Christmas.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Easy wins: a camera roll

Sometimes it's more fun to sew up a quick and easy project. And when it actually looks even better than I envisioned, that's a bonus. I based the project on the Pink Penguin's super simple camera case. The item is essentially a glorified fabric envelope. There are numerous tutorials online. The distinctive part about the Pink Penguin tutorial is the use of binding.


I still have a ridiculous amount of scraps left from my Fanciful Flowers quilt, so I used those to make this roll. The camera roll took, I think, maybe 1 hour max from start to finish. That includes making the binding. Normally I don't like gold decorations, but there is something about the button with this fabric selection that works. Even better, the button is part of a set I snipped from some old clothing, so the entire project is made with leftovers and scraps.


I think I like the roll more than I like the camera.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Go Raiders?

I'm not much of a sports fan, so it's always a bit bemusing to see parents indoctrinate their children at an early age to root for one team or the other. However, never one to pass up an opportunity to help someone give the perfect gift, I've begun piecing this baby quilt for a budding Raiders fan.


My cousin asked me to make a baby quilt for a friend's newborn. Can't say no to family. Having access to some licensed fabric was a big help. This quilt is made up of 4 types of blocks sort of randomly laid out. The quilt is relentlessly dark and not my usual color palette. Originally, I thought of sashing the blocks in white, but I think virginal white doesn't go with Raiders Nation.


block 1: 4.5" square framed by 2.5" squares


block 2: 16-2.5" squares


block 3: the large squares are 4.5" and the smaller ones 2.5"

block 4 is an 8.5" square of the team fabric.

Once pieced, the quilt measures 40" by 47". A decent size for taking to the stadium.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lisette foreign exchange bag 1905

Simplicity partnered with Liesl and Co. of Oliver+S fame to produce some patterns, including this bag. Joann had a sale so I bought the pattern super cheap. I made bag B.


It's a good size bag (14" x 18"). I couldn't find any reviews online from people who made the bag, so this one was made cold. I heavily interfaced this bag and so it's super sturdy. Having made it once though, I would not follow the directions as provided with the bag. But only because I like to do things a certain way. For example, the instructions say to construct the main part of the bag first and then attach the band. I would prefer attaching the band to the front panel and then stitching the full panel together.

The instructions seemed to omit some steps and a bit of common sense is needed to make sense of the bag's construction. For example, the instructions for the lining don't explicitly state to attach the bottom panel so if a person reads the instructions and infers the construction from the drawings, then I could see how a person would simply sew the lining panels together and omit the bottom. Or maybe that's just me. Still the bag is cute and would make a great gift.

The instructions for installing a zippered inside pocket were easy to follow, but it helps to have done the technique before.


I was sloppy when slipping the lining inside the bag and ended up with the zippered side flush with the front of the bag so that when I open the bag, the zippered pocket is facing me instead of being flush against my body. Not a deal breaker, but definitely a "doh!" moment.


The other side has a slip pocket for phones, pens, etc.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nautical quilt 2 finished

This quilt was a lot of fun to finish. There's just something about red, white, and blue that is so uplifting and cheerful.


The design is fairly simple. A panel in the center with the pieced blocks acting as a border and a very fun blue and white stripe fabric for the binding. It actually took me some time to accept this simple design. I kept wanting to fussy it up a bit, but sometimes simple is best.


For the back of the quilt, I had a variety of nautical themed fabric that I wanted to incorporate. The pieced back also was a great way to use up some of my fabric stash.


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