Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Custom Tote Bag - Pattern Adapted from "Easy to Make Totes with Zippers"

My cousin asked me to make her a bag last year.  Yes, last year.  I knew exactly the pattern I'd use, she got the fabric right away, and here it is April and I've just finished it.

She needed a tote bag for work, that would carry "a lot of stuff".  She showed me the bag she was using and I knew I could give her a huge improvement.

She chose black fabric with a wavy grey pattern.  Good choice for work, should wear well and not show too much dirt.

Custom Tote Bag for my Cousin

 I had made a similar bag from this book once before.  It's a fantastic book, Easy to Make Totes with Zippers by Cindy Taylor Oates, from 2003 I think.  The directions are clear and just detailed enough with drawings for anything that's hard to describe.  I'm 99% sure I got the book on Ebay super cheap.

Pattern Book for Totes with Zippers
 The pattern I adapted was the one on the lower right, that shows multi-colored stripes and webbing straps.  Yikes.  So I took the final measurements I needed and just made a single piece and quilted it in diamonds.  And I made her 2" wide straps so that they wouldn't dig into her shoulder.

The striped one at the bottom is the pattern I used.

My favorite part of this pattern is the recessed zipper.  It's actually really easy to put in if you measure everything carefully.  When you put the placket onto the bag, there's about 10 layers to sew through, so I did break a few needles, and had to turn the wheel by hand, but that's a common occurrence with me and making bags...either I'm too rough, or the machine is too cranky...or both.

This is the recessed zipper
I'm so happy with the result and my cousin will most definitely be more comfortable (and chic!) carrying her work in this.

Finished Bag with Extra Long & Wide Handles

Monday, February 16, 2015

Green Living Market Bag - Octopus, Seahorses and Anchors on a Freezing Day in February

I've been working on this queen size quilt for six weeks now.  Since the first of the year.  And I love it, and it's been great, but I can't share it.  BOOO!  So I was itching today for a quick win.  Something that I knew I could finish today and would love.  I went back to my very favorite pattern...The Green Living Market Bag by Bari J

This is my 10th one.  When I say I love this pattern, I'm not kidding.  I've made most of them as gifts.  This one is for a dear friend of mine who saw the fabric on Instagram when I bought it.  It's Tula Pink's Salt Water line.

Makes me think of carrying beach toys and flip flops!

I managed to get the seahorses to line up on the top cuff.  This is one of the benefits of having made so many!


I am also much better at getting the folded up corners on the bottom to be neat and lined up perfectly with the sides.  This is a super sturdy bag that is perfect for groceries or goodies from the farmer's market.

Folded up corners for the bottom
So Kari, here are a few ideas of things you might be able to carry in your new bag...stuffed animals and American Girl dolls.  Both of which I know you have at your house.

Do you have a favorite pattern that you've made over and over again?  What is it?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

More Economy Blocks - I heart scraps

As I try to fill up the last minutes before the Super Bowl starts, it occurred to me that I had more Economy Blocks to share.  I think I have around 20 in total.  Lots of them include some of my favorite tiny Heather Ross scraps, like the horses and tack from her West Hill line in the first one.  I tried stripes, trying to see what it would look like...maybe a bit too busy for me?

Heather Ross West Hill horses

This van and the pink on the outside are both Heather Ross too...from the tiniest bits I had saved.

I think these people are running for the ice cream truck.  I definitely like the look of the solids along with a print...three prints might be too much.

A beautiful mermaid...this one was an attempt to see about not "exactly" solids, just fabrics that had lots of solid space or a tonal pattern.

As you can see, I was all over the place, trying different combinations to see what I liked best.

What does the fox say?
A bicycle that my fussy cutting was...um.."off" on.  But I was not about to throw it out.

I will admit, I do like how scrappy they look altogether.  I'm still wondering if a whole quilt would just be too much.

Do you like the solids?  Stripes?  Or all of the craziness of 3 patterns?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Drunkard's Path - my newest obsession - thanks to SCTMQG

I've been wanting to go a Modern Quilt Guild meeting for what feels like forever.  There are two chapters that are each about an hour away from me.  Last weekend, FINALLY, I had the time on a Saturday when the SCTMQG (Southern CT Modern Quilt Guild) were holding their monthly meeting.  

I met a great group of ladies (all ladies, does your MQG have men?) and already have the February meeting time blocked off on my calendar.  I'm really looking forward to some of the programming that's scheduled for this year, but more importantly the motivation to stretch out and try new things...like this month's challenge...the Drunkard's Path.

I was so excited at the meeting that I forgot to trace the templates they had.  So I found one and tried to make my own thin plastic template.  This was my first try at ANY curved piecing.

Lizzy House Castle Peeps - wonky style
You can see that my square parts are too narrow and my circle parts are different sizes.  It's a miracle I passed kindergarten, because clearly I can't trace worth a damn, and my trimming is WAY off.  Still, I loved how fun it was.

Someone at the meeting had copies of the paper that had come with their template, so I went right online and bought a set from Baycreek Quilting Products (www.quilttemplates.com).  They arrived in exactly a week, they are nice and thick and as you can see, the proportions are right.  

Hard Plastic Templates from Baycreek Quilting - LOVE

Once I had the templates I dove right into my second attempt, with some precious Cotton + Steel fat quarters that I bought for something just so special.  TAAADAAA!

Cotton + Steel - using 5" templates - VOILA!
I'm not sure if it was the sturdiness of the templates, that I had some practice with the first set, or what else, but as you can see, this block turned out MUCH better.  And much more precisely lined up.

Heather Ross - Briar Rose - Test #2 - Officially hooked

Once I got going, I had to try a second one, and I used some of the scraps left over from my most recent finish, my Darling Quilt by Freckled Whimsy, my precious Heather Ross Briar Rose leftovers.

What I love most about the Drunkard's Path blocks is that they intimidated the hell out of me, and now I feel like I can try some of the awesome layouts on this link that was shared with me...

Photo from www.acraftymommy.blogspot.com, in the link above

What's the quilting technique that intimidates you most?

Monday, January 12, 2015

MTB T-shirt Quilt - So good it's hanging in bike heaven

When my husband saw the first one I did, he said "I want one of those".  When he saw the one I made for my son, he started making a pile of shirts and said "the only thing I want for Christmas from you is a mountain bike shirt quilt".  Of course, with that kind of a request, I had to make it.

Hanging in bike heaven
He originally wanted it to actually use, but when he saw it all finished, he was afraid it would end up with dog hair on it, and it wouldn't get the respect it deserved, so he changed his mind and hung it in his bike workshop.

 He chose the most spectacular flannel for the back (when he thought that's what would be touching him).  It's Northcott Man About Town flannel, and it is gorgeous.  Soft, thick, but so easy to work with.  The binding almost seemed to attach itself.

The most AMAZING flannel on the back. It's to die for.

I used a thicker interfacing with his because the t-shirts were all over the place in terms of age and use.  Some had been washed a ton of times and some he bought (yes, he did) just for this quilt.  So the thickness and texture was really inconsistent.  But with the interfacing, they became much more similar and easier to get to line up.  It also made the finished product look much more substantial to me.

The full frontal view

As much as I love giving these as gifts, and I know how much they mean to people, t-shirt quilts are pretty boring to make.  Not that I've got my techniques down, they do come together quickly.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Economy Blocks - WIP? or UFO?

Last year, Economy Blocks were everywhere.  They were filling my Instagram feed, they were in blog posts and Twitter.  Like everyone else, I went to Rita Hodge's Red Pepper Quilts blog and used her great tutorial from August of 2013 to start making blocks.

I didn't have a ton of experience with fussy cutting so this was a learning experience for me.  I loved that I could save (and use!) the tiniest scraps of my favorite fabrics to make these quick and easy blocks.

These are four of the ones I have done.

One thing I realized after I got a bunch made was that I was all over the place with the colors.  I have no idea if these will make it into a quilt or not.  They might be too wild all together.  

Made from Heather Ross TINY scraps. Ice cream TRUCK!!
  I do have a thing for orange. Light, dark, polka dots.  I love all things orange.

Fairy Tale Friends pieces from left overs of a charm pack
More tiny scraps of Mendocino and some of my favorite old Yummy Goods swirly thingys.

Note the ORANGE seahorse
This is one of my Bari J. blocks.  It's a mixture of three of her lines I think.  Look at that bird!! I actually got him right into the center.

Orange and pink

So all together, these four look great.  But wait until you see them next to my experiments with orange and blue.  Yikes!

Have you made an Economy Block quilt?  Was it lots of mixed colors or a specific palatte?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Aviatrix Medallion QAL - Progress is Amazing!

I loved this pattern from the moment I laid eyes on it.  The rainbow color spoke to the 80"s child in me and said "you NEED to make this rainbow quilt".  When I saw that they had a kit and Quilt-a-long at my local quilt shop (Sew Inspired in Simsbury, CT) I went and bought one right away.  It's just piecing I told myself...yeah, a LOT of piecing, but I can do that.  Maybe. Not so much.

UGH.  Thank GOD for the first class...The instructor went over the cutting for the center piece in great detail, noting that although you got a fat quarter for each color, which is what the pattern called for, you needed a FULL, EXACT fat quarter.  If it was a hair short or crooked, you had to get clever with your cutting.

I tried to take a lot of pictures as I went along.  The diamonds were much harder to line up than I thought...and every single one of the eight had to be ripped out at least once.  I used the templates in the pattern.  My cutting techniques and precision need improvement.

My not so exact diamonds for the center medallion

Much pulling and creative pressing ensued.

The first set of grey offsets helped a ton in "making" things straight
 This project has been a lesson in patience.  And also, in taming my perfectionist shrew.  I only tore the center out once, and I am honestly really happy with how the points came together in the very center.

Look at my points in the center!
I absolutely love the grey fabric that was included in my kit. It's got this amazing texture, it's not a quilting cotton.  I'll have to ask exactly what it is next time I'm at the shop.

Center and border #1
It was so much fun to put the first colored border on.  It really started to feel like the rainbow explosion I was looking for.

Border #2
Although the fourth border was a great deal of piecing, it was also sort of addictive.  I wanted to actually see the blocks finished, and I was chain piecing a lot of it, so I didn't get to see what they looked like until the end of the month.

With Border #3, which was a TON of piecing
As my Aunt Pat says, "the pattern is beginning to emerge".    It's so big now, I have to take it outside to get good pictures.  It was very grey the day I took these.

With the squares for border #5
This is a close up of the grey ("neutral") squares for Border #5.  When you sew them on, they're rectangles, and I was sort of surprised they actually came out like the pattern said they would.

Close up of Border #5
I went to the class today as a drop in.  They went over the next two borders.  The final border set is the butterflies, which will challenge my ability to do angles again.  They are also TONS of piecing, wish me luck in keeping up!

At the end, I'll try to include some pictures of the other color/fabric options people in class chose.  They are all spectacular.