Thursday, July 28, 2016

But who's counting?

These 12 purses for Sew Powerful have been finished for over a week, and now I'm cutting/making kits for more.   It's a slow process because each of the 11 pattern pieces needs to be interfaced.  So to make this process a bit saner, I have established a little cutting station just for interfacing.  I'm cutting out as many as I can - hopefully another 12 - in preparation for an upcoming sewing weekend.  But who's counting?

Favorite client Roberta (the grandmother who likes to create quilt kits for each of her grandchildren but doesn't like to sew) brought over a kit for her last grandchild. Normally she brings enough fabric. While she had enough for the front, we really scrambled to create an appropriate backing out of  my white-on-white scraps, and the back of this quilt is pretty cute.  I love my work tables and their under-table storage, which make doing two baby quilts in one week easy.  But who's counting?
Quilt all ready for pin-basting

Today is the birthday of our first grandchild - Ryan Patrick Sheehan is 21 today.  I skipped parenting and went directly into grandparenting, thanks to John's kids. I have been totally taken aback by how much joy  being a grandparent has brought me.  Even better has been the geogrphical closeness we have shared with Ryan and his little brother Brandon.  The boys thought we were here for their climbing, lounging, and listening pleasure.  What precious days.  Can't believe Ry is 21.  But who's counting?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

And now for something completely different...

Soon-to-be parents Patricia and Luis are both elementary teacher who have read The Hungry Caterpillar countless times.  They wanted a wall hanging for the baby and asked if I would make this quilt.  The kit made it easy, and what a change of pace from what I have been working on.  Today I'll finish the quilting, and I made the binding yesterday.  One a hanging sleeve is added, it'll be ready to go! 

Here are the leftover fabric from the kit.  I think these could be put into a minimalist baby quilt - what do you think?

I love how easily I can reconfigure my cutting tables to be the perfect basting table.  This quilt is 70" x 46". 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Raw-Edge Sashiko

Before I get back to pink Sew Powerful purses, I have been wanting to try a raw-edge Sashiko project using a pile of shot cottons that don't seem to be going anywhere.  (and yes,  I know how much these loosely-woven cottons will fray). Latifah Saafir's talk at the Chicago MQG yesterday on creativity was the perfect push to get busy.  A few months ago I wanted to replicate this quilt that I love so much.  So I made a smaller template, got started, and then became distracted.  Meanwhile, I have been missing working on a hand project.  These 4" by 8" shot cotton bricks have been laid out on a scrap of wool batting.  Grey No 8 Perle cotton.  I'm ready to stitch.  After I do a couple of purses. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pink: Not One of My Favorites

 There is a team from Sew Powerful in Zambia right now distributing purses, working with local seamstresses, and doing some farming.   One of the team commented that the girls really like pinks and purples and whimsical fabrics.  And while I think each purse I've made is charming, I am taking this observation to heart.  I found my pinks and what a perfect way to use them.  There is enough for two more purses.  And then?  Check out these fabrics below.  Whimsical and fun enough?  So far this month I have made 11 - that's what I sent off last January.  But now I am hoping to double this amount before the October deadline. 

Such crying needs in the world.  I am spending the rest of today on the Chicago MQG current charity, Sarah's Inn in Oak Park in preparation for tomorrow's meeting.  Individually efforts may seem small.  But I know they do add up. 

So, back to the pinks - and other things...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Current Addiction

These three purses for Sew Powerful are ready to join the other completed ones.    A team from the Sew Powerful organization is currently in Lusaka, Zambia right now, an area of the country with the highest concentration of people affected by HIV/AIDS.  Out of a country of 14 million, there are 1 million children orphaned by AIDS, TB, and malaria.  That these purses are part of the clinic and sewing cooperative is good.  So is any money sent to this organization.  Last year I sent off 11 purses and bristled when the organizers asked for $5 a purse to help with the shipping.  But slowly I am understanding the overwhelming need Sew Powerful is trying to fill.  The next deadline for shipping purses is October 1.  So this addiction?  It's a good one.

Which to cut into next?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Brighten the Corner...

When I was so seriously ill last summer, my sister asked me - among other things - if I had my funeral song ready.  And I do:  Brighten the Corner Where You Are.  The news the past few days has been extremely violent - innocent black men being shot, out of control gun violence, suicide bombing in so many places.   My solace is my faith and my sewing.  This is a perfect time for me to be working on purses for the Zambian health initiative for young women.  Read about it at

These four are complete.  I used up the last of this interesting print and even had to piece some of it for the last purse.  And the red batik?  I love.  I still have 3/4's of a yard of it left.  Each purse is a bit different.
 I confessed in a Facebook Sew-A-Long that I was having trouble threading the elastic for this little front pocket.  One of the participants suggested a bodkin.  And Joann's had one.  Doing this step is now a breeze.  Who knew that my answer has been in one of Shakespeare's soliloquys (.."To be...)

Here's a preview of the next three purses for Sew Powerful.

So much is out of my control.  But I know I need to feel these losses of life as deeply as those intimately involved.  More guns being the answer?  I just don't think so.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Getting my head out of my ...

Self-absorption - it's so easy to get lost in the minutiae of  life - appointments, dates, weekly appointments, daily chores, exercise, walking, reading.  It's time to look outward.  So I have put aside the various techniques on the design wall - all from Glampalot - and have sequed into purses for the SewPowerful initiative.  I worked on these last January.  Last month Louise Ambrose, a lovely Brit, suggested a Sew Powerful Purse sew-a-long beginning on July 3.  And this suggestion was just the push I needed.

So I found my pattern, all 10 pieces, and the directions.  This is a tricky but clever pattern.  And it is perfect for using up precious bits of older fabrics.

Here's a finished purse and a look at the clever front flap with an elasticized pocket.

This flap lifts up, revealing the body of the purse.  There's an outer pocket as well as the inner part of the purse as well.  

I looked through my stash and identified some fabrics that would work well together for these purses, and I got busy.

Straps for four purses

Using two fabrics, each one of these four purses will be just a bit different.

This is the point at which the magic is about to happen.  All parts of the purses have been prepped.  I anticipate some finishes early tomorrow.  That will be a total of five.  And then I can go into a new pile of fabrics.  These purses, part of a hygiene education initiative for girls in Zambia, are satisfying to work on. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Today's Adventures

Mors Bags from Brookfield Jazz Society's t-shirts - by John's request

Quilted pillow tops for Sara's Inn, an organization which focuses on domestic violence.  It is my Chicago MQG's current charity focus. 

Some mostly open-wide medium sized zippered bags from Noodlehead's tutorial.  See the link above for more tutorials.

But this is what I really want to be working on and will start shortly - some paper piecing from Carolyn Friedlander, part of the Glamp Stitchalot weekend. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Father's Day

Maybe I should have just titled this "T-Shirt Quilts Make Me Cry."  This quilt is Jeff's Father's Day present - he's a Chicago policeman married to Sheila, a teaching colleague of mine.  Sheila's mom, who was my age, died 12 years ago, and Sheila gave me her mom's shirts.  Here's a picture of this first "life celebration" t-shirt quilt I did.  We made baby quilts from the leftover and from pj botttoms - all three of Sheila's kids and her nieces have used this quilt (see below).  To watch someone go through such grief with death and such happiness with marriage and children is a privilege.  Some of Jeff's t-shirts are from the "Brotherhood of the Fallen" and remembering and honoring his colleagues.  I'm happy that Sheila has entrusted me with such valuable work.

I may have to make my dad a chocolate cake for Father's Day - he loved them so. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fabric and Pattern Crushes

I love this Art Gallery Fabric by Bonnie Christine from her Hello, Bear line and keep reordering it because I keep using it.  I have made Sloan Bags from this.  I just took my Sloan Bag to Eastern Europe and kept waiting for women to tap me on the shoulder and say, "What a beautiful bag - where did you get it?"  And while that didn't happen, I know that's what many were thinking!  I also love this Arabesque pattern from Sara Lawson at Sew Sweetness (it's a free download - have you been wanting to try one of her patterns?  This is a perfect starter pattern). I made one of these Arabesque bags for my sister-in-law's birthday two years ago. and she has requested a new bag and chose this fabric.  (Yippee!)  As long as I was making one, I decided to make a second one.  Just because.  And a couple of little key fobs.  Because...  Why not?  At Terry's request I added an exterior pocket, a necessity.  See the side index for other Arabesque bags.