Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creating Shapes

I quilt because I like flat, textured things.  But then I started boxing the corners of tote bags.  And now look at this.  Thanks to Emily and her blog entry just before the retreat (read this last part with sarcasm mixed with gratitude),  I had to try these little boxes.  My first one turned out like a turtle, and Erika of Miss Sews It All assured me that I omitted one simple little step.  And she was right!  These are pretty darn cute and easy.  (and yes, I know I got the little zippered tabs too big and that they look are ears.)  Emily's blog post includes a link to the tutorial as well as another link about size. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sisterhood of the Travelling Prints

Workout pal Linda recently had a weekend with two of her sisters.  She brought over fabrics she had, did the ironing and measuring, and we put these Mors bags together.  I made zippered pouches out of the matching fabrics, and then she stuffed the bags with all kinds of goodies.  Clever idea!

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Spring CMQG Retreat

The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild's spring retreat ended yesterday.  It was our third retreat at the Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin, and we have already booked for next fall and spring 2013.  It is such a lovely place for our work.  Our spacious room had three walls of windows overlooking Lake Michigan. 

The 24 of us retreatants attended this weekend for various reasons.  Some are full-time working women; some are full-time moms.  Some fall into both categories.  I have a lot of dedicated sewing time, so for me this retreat was about working out of my safe zone and trying something new -. in this case light and a bit off-kilter This first project has sixty 8" blocks so far - here are 16 of them assembled.  I ran out of the Kona Bone background, and our lovely treasurer Sarah Evans sold me some of her extra yardage (because she's just that kind of gal who travels with bolts of fabrics).  Now I think I want to add some plain fabric blocks and work with the whole negative space concept. 

The other project I worked on was a Drunkard's Path that I die-cut at the retreat a year ago but never finished.  Ebony gave me some tips about piecing this block, and now all the small blocks are done - I just have to work on the layout. 

This weekend I was inspired by the work of our veteran quilters and definitely by some of our newer quilters.  I am constantly surprised at how much I love this group of multi-skilled, multi-aged, multi-racial women. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Working and Planning

When I am dithering and trying to decide what to do, sometimes quick short projects are useful.  Here are two Mors bags using fabric given to me by one of John's cousins.  And two little zippered pouches made from leftovers of tote bag fabrics.
Here are two more tote bags, almost completed.  I love constructing these bags on a foundation of Soft and Stable I've got piles of fabric all over the studio for tote bags I want to work on in April
And I know I'm going to do more of these over-the-shoulder totes and already have the fabric picked out. The outgoing president of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild Beth is getting one of the black-and-white ones, and I'm curious to see how this blue-white striped fabric works with this pattern.

Having finally decided on what to work one at the retreat, I'm getting ready. Here is my inspiration piece, Peace and Comfort, by Jacquie of Tallgrass Prairie Studio. More of this project later as it gets under way!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Angst Reduction

I've joked about needlepointing "Get your head out of your ass." Unfortunately that's truer than I care to admit. I haven't decided what I want to do next. But I did make a present this afternoon for one of John's jazz friends who turns 60 next month. Focusing one someone else is a great angst reducer, isn't it?

This zippered tote went together neatly - I love using these fabrics. And I think the birthday girl will like this.


Is it this bizarre warm weather? Is it Spring Fever? Is it the clean studio? Whatever the cause, I'm having some quilt angst and cannot decide what I want to work on next. Part of my issue is that I'm on inspiration overload, thanks to the 100 Days of Modern Quilting project. Such fabulous ideas. The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is having its third retreat the end of this month. And I'm trying to decide what project I want to work on. It can't require massive concentration because there is just too much fun and merriment at these retreats. And it's got to be something modern. So many of the modern quilts are light, and I have a hard time working light. So that's part of the angst. My scrap pile also contributes to this unease I'm feeling. I have so many fabulous scraps and think I should start another scrap project. Yet I want to do something big and bold. So I'm looking through my design books and web site and am just unsettled.

Meanwhile, I make little zippered pouches - for me, for my sister, for anyone who even hints she needs a little zippered pouch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Trip Around the Studio

Quick! Look while it's clean-ish.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Totes

Following a pattern is like following a recipe. Sometimes I have to follow a pattern or recipe exactly so I can then know in which direction to modify it. The first bag, the one following directions exactly, is the one on the right. As I was working on this first one, I knew the top band was too narrow. I wanted to use a bold lining but then wimped out and used a plain white solid. As I was applying the zipper and pocket, I knew I wanted to use a different technique to make a more genuine and sturdy pocket. But did I? No. I followed the directions except for making the straps longer.  I like this bag on the right.

But I LOVE the bag on the left. I doubled the width of the top band and decided to go with a solid black batik for both the band and the straps. There's a scarlet batik for the inner band, which contrasts wonderfully with the lining, a great print of pattern pieces. There's a lime green zipper to match the lining. And the lined pocked uses the last of a lime green gingham. Once this bag was almost finished, I realized I could still attach some magnets to hold the top band together. One thing both totes have are scarlet pulls so that the zipper tabs are easily located.

The bag on the left is going to niece Jen Peters who dances for the Jennifer Mueller/The Works and teaches Pilates in Manhattan. She's always carrying a change of clothes or two. Jen's going to pilot this bag and let me know whether this tote is practical for this kind of application.

Any takers for my practice bag, the one of the right?

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A New Bag

 As I was making this bag from the pattern in this book, I knew I should modify the bag.  Doesn't it look huge on the cover of the book?  And now I'm a little sorry I didn't make this cute this bag a bit bigger.  The model on the book cover must be a midget - the bag really isn't that big.

So, with the next bag, I will make it a bit bigger, be bolder with the band and the handles, make the quilting more visual, and do something fun with the lining. 

This one still has pins in it - once it's finished I'll show the interior.  I did however finish the home dec totes.  Pretty cute, huh?

Sunday, March 4, 2012


 Synthesis is taking what you learned and applying that knowledge to something new.  Quilting + totes + little zippered pouches + zippered opening in tote + home dec fabric + hardware to attached little pouch to tote + Soft and Stable foam batting = one pretty terrific set. 

There are still two more to be assembled, but all the parts are there ready to go!