Sunday, January 31, 2016

Turning Jackets into Totes

These are Arabesque purses, a free pattern from Sara Lawson at Sew Sweetness.  It's one of my favorite purse patterns - see the  Index on the right bottom of this blog.  While I would normally use Soft and Stable as the purse base, these purses are actually quilted jackets that I made - look at the December 3, 2007 and the March 17, 2009 blog entries.  The first jacket has traveled with me many times - look at this wonderful picture of me with two Turkish friends in the capital city Ankara.  But these two jackets have just been taking up valuable closet space since I haven't worn either of them in two years. So obviously deconstruction was called for.  This makeover has been very liberating, something I need since I'm gearing up for a new focus in February - more of this soon...
The straps are from the jacket.  So is the Exterior Pocket and the Interior Pocket.
These purses will allow me to continue to enjoy these fabrics in the most utilitarian of ways.
These sleeves will make perfect little zip pouches. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

For Julie

One half of this 98" x 114" quilt
Julie is the middle of my stepchildren, the older of the two girls. She just turned 50, has made some serious life changes, and works very hard. She was out of town a few months ago, and I slept at her house so that hs junior Brandon wouldn't be alone. And I discovered the quilt I made her over 10 years ago was shredding. She was too busy to get involved with selecting fabrics for a new quilt, so I chose for her - a lovely gold, a rich Merlot, and a floral batik. The night I showed her these fabrics for her approval, she was wearing very similar colors.  I've been lukewarm about this quilt, but what changed it all was the quilting.  Terri and Frank of T and F Quilting in Lemont are my long-arm quilters, and I love them.  Terri chose the gold thread, and I asked for a wool batting and this lovely basket weave pantograph.  Frank's tension is always perfect, and the dimension the quilting added was just what this quilt needed.  A word about the back:  I thought of using browns from my stash for the backing, and Julie loved that idea and that this quilt will be reversible. 
 My hope is that this quilt conveys to Julie how much she is loved and how proud her dad and I are of her. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Process Pledge

Kitting Trail Totes with zippers and hardware
Do you know Rossie Hutchinson?  She's from the Ann Arbor area and one of the first who made me aware of modern quilting with her quilt Double Plus Good.  In 2010 Rossie initiated the Process Pledge, urging bloggers to write about the process and not just the finished product.  I try to do that.  And this post is a process post.  The Sloan Bag I just wrote about yesterday had 5 main pattern pieces, each of which needed a lining, an interfacing for the lining, an exterior piece, and Soft and Stable interfacing.  There were 7 pockets, each of which had several pieces.  And then the hardware - 4 D rings, 3 zippers, and the purse feet.  I should have taken a picture of all these various pieces and parts when I was ready to assemble.  Here's what's in process this week.
This quilted jacket has just been sitting in my closet.  Today I cut it apart and am going to turn in into an Arabesque bag, a free pattern from Sara Lawson.  

This is the start of 30 log cabin blocks for friends who just bought a place in Wisconsin.  She likes bright and cheery, and I am working out of my stash and scraps.  The backing might even be from my stash!

 The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is hosting a Medallion Quilt-A-Long, and I'm using this project as an opportunity to work with my growing stash of scraps in my favorite colorway.  Already I'm excited about this.

In order to make any more Sloan bags or Arabesque or even little zippered bags, I need more zippers.  All I have are some pastels and brights, and I need mostly blacks and reds.  So I ordered from my favorite zipper source, Zipit.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sloan Travel Bag

This is the Sloan Travel Bag by Sara Lawson, and I like this one very much.  Diligent blog readers know that I am crazy about Sara's Aeroplane bag and have made several.   It's been my go-to bag for overnights and weekends.  However, I think the Sloan might be my new favorite.  It's larger than the Aeroplane, and I think it's more practical and larger, especially for plane travel.

There are 7 pockets, enough to keep even the sharpest person confused about where things are - one exterior zipped center, two exterior sides with magnets, two interior sides and two generous zipper interior pockets.

Purse feet in hopes of extending the life of the bag.
The use of Soft and Stable as a base for all exterior pieces along with a lot of Shape Flex interfacing gives this bag a polish and durability.   In fact, this Aeroplane bag to the left has been to Viet Nam twice and washed several times.  I traded this bag to Jenny for nail services.  Recently one of her grandsons caught one of the straps and ripped it.  I was able to fix it, and Jenny will continue for sure to use it.  I love this bag because of the fabric and because she has gotten such great use out of it.  I hope this Sloan bag wears as well!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Two-Week Old To-Do List: a picture-heavy post

One of the many perks of finishing a big quilt, like "My Answer is Yes," is the freedom to work on lots and lots of smaller projects.  This list was made on January 7th in preparation for a sewing weekend.  In high school I had a job in which I was paid by the amount I did - I made minimum wage while my friend Cathy made three times what I did because she was so fast.  Good thing my quilting is not based on speed!

Two more Sew Powerful purses

These nine went in the mail for the 2/1/2016 deadline.  This project is picking up steam, and I think there will be more of these to come!  If you're looking for charity sewing or a good place to donate money, investigate the link above.
I love this Molly Market tote, and I love this combination of fabrics.  I keep giving them away, but only after ensuring that I have the fabrics to make another. 
This was a Scoop Tote by Green Bee was a kitted pattern at Craftsy on sale for $20ish and included 2.5 yards of fabric.  This 'crossword' fabric is a Cotton & Steel quilter's canvas, and I saw it at Quilters Quest for $22/yard.  SCORE!
A zip pouch still waiting to be made...
I'm putting the finishing touches on this Sloan Travel Bag by Sara Lawson.  I like this pattern very much and went to sleep last night thinking of which fabrics I want to use for the next Sloan bag.  More on this once it's finished...
In conclusion, a pretty picture of "My Answer is Yes" in situ.

Monday, January 18, 2016

"My Answer is Yes"

"My Answer is Yes" is my first big finish of 2016 - it is 96" x 108".   I started it in October when my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild had young modern quilt author Amy Garro as our speaker.  Her book is Paper Pieced Modern.  During her lecture/trunk show I struggled with whether paper piecing is a good tool for the modern quilter.  But then I saw her quilt The Bachelor and decided to give this paper-piecing pattern a go. 
This block is one of six paper-pieced blocks that are 12.5" square.  Here's a link to the first block I did and a picture of Amy's suggested layout.   I struggled with what do do with them - whether to incorporate additional fabrics, and what to use as a background. By mid-November the backing arrived (a gorgeous Art Gallery grey with a shimmer of gold), and by the end of the month it was pieced - almost.  By  mid-December it was delivered to Terri and Frank Karls for some custom long-arming.

 Frank took a picture of the quilt, and we talked about how to quilt this.  I loved Amy Garro's pebbles - this linear quilt needs the softening, and I am so pleased with what Frank did.  He did minimal quilting in the six big blocks, so that I could do some hand-quilting in them.

 This is the entire back of the quilt.  This quilt?  It's all about the texture.  The wool batting gives additional definition to all the quilting Frank did. 

 As a modern quilter there are so many tools and techniques available to us.  Did I use paper-piecing in this quilt?  Did I use improv piecing?  Did I use some plain fabric for blocks?  Did I use new fabrics?  Did I use some old fabric?  Did I machine piece?  Did I do some hand quilting?  Did I have the quilt custom long-armed?  Can a modern quilter use paper-piecing and improv quilting in the same quilt?  Can a modern quilting combine long-arming and hand stitching?  Will the results be overwhelming and breathtakingly beautiful?

My Answer Is Yes. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Thou Hast It All..." *

 In Act III, scene 1 of Macbeth, after Macbeth and his wife have murdered King Duncan and Macbeth is now in line to become king, Banquo says to him:  "Thou hast it now - King, Cawdor, Glamis - all as the weird women promised."  And this is what John has to say about the new tables in my studio.  "Thou hast it all."  And I do!  My favorite handymen of the Handyman Frank organization reworked my flimsy cutting tables and have converted them into these wonderful sturdy work tables.  Both are 36" by 60" - the guys reused the tops of the tables I had.  My contribution was to buy sets of locking casters so that reconfiguring the workspace is a snap.  Above is the 36" by 120" configuration, so important when basting quilting.  Below is  72" by 60".  Notice the shelving.  The top shelf is perfect for tools and project boxes.  The bottom shelf holds rolls of batting and Soft and Stable!  

 My favorite configuration for daily work is this L shape - it allows me to work on both sides of a project, something this left hander finds a necessity.  I'm going to have great fun doing some reorganizating with these shelves.  About Handyman Frank:  brothers who went to the high school at which I taught.  Nice, talented, reasonable.  I for sure recommend them!

 (* The one blip is in this blog title is that I am still losing my hair.  Doctors whom I see professionally and personally agree that my body is still in recovery and healing from the events of August.  But for the most part, I do have it all!)
This just arrived. See?  I truly do have it all...

Monday, January 11, 2016

No Quilter's Angst with This Quilt!

 Quilters fall in and out of love with projects.  It's par for the design and execution process. But this quilt?  I have loved every step of the process - from the six paper-pieced blocks to figuring out what additional fabrics to include to the little improv blocks.  I loved working with Frank and Terri Karls on the custom quilting.  I love every decision they made and executed in the longarming of this big quilt - 98" x 112".   This quilt (which needs a name) is based on The Bachelor from Amy Gerro's book. 

The paper-pieced blocks have some light quilting on them, enough to stabilize their position.  And once the quilt is bound, I think I will do some simple sashiko in the larger spaces of these complex blocks.  When John saw this quilted, his response was that this quilt cannot be given away.  I do a bedroom photo once this is complete and see how it looks there. This cold snowy January week is perfect for plowing through my to-do list and listening to 'XRT mourn David Bowie's death. 
This week's To Do list, next to the 1971 Low Spark of High-Heeled Boy's album cover that buddy Sarah S made.  Which brings to mind the sad news today of David Bowie.  I grew up with him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lunacy vs Madness

The lunacy is me thinking I am going to make clothes.  I do this - or at least think it - periodically.  The last time was when my dad was dying.  I decided then I needed to make an outfit for his funeral.  Ha.  Yeah.  That didn't work out so well.  Maybe this won't either.  Craftsy had these patterns and fabrics bundled and on sale.  So this isn't a huge expense.  A couple of my guildsters are interested in making clothes.  I see some clothing hand-holding in my future.

But the madness is realizing all the UFO's I have tucked in various corners.   Like this Drunkard's Path that I started five years ago.  Seriously.

Or this Jinny Beyer Spectrum kit just waiting to be turned into something.

Not to mention the 2 Molly Market totes I have started.  Actually, these might take precedence since I have given all the others way.

AND there a WOW tote of five Trail Totes all kitted and ready to sew sitting next to two more purses for Zambia (those will be purses 8 and 9 with a February 1 deadline) and a Sloan Bag that I have kitted.  

Today is the first day of the new year that I have had heat in the studio.  So enough with the sashiko quilting and on with the real sewing!  It would be sad to not have enough to do.  But it is a form of lunacy and madness to have so much to do.  I'm so happy that I want to do them all!  I guess the lunacy and the madness is a good thing...

(I find this simple blogging is so useful.  Seeing these pictures and looking at them all does truly help me prioritize what I want to do first)