Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Basting, Sleeving, and Gifting

 Steps for basting my scrappy log cabin:

1.  Prepare backing from various leftover fabrics
2. Spread on the studio floor
3.  Call John to help arrange the batting and top
4.  Put the studio tables together lengthwise (love those locking casters)
5.  Gently fold the whole shebang together, transfer it to the tables,  and begin the pinning process

Once this quilt is basted, I need to put it aside and return to my knit project and put two sleeves on quilts that will be displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Rosemont in April.  My Elliptical Drunkard's Path and My Answer is Yes were both accepted - I'm pretty happy about this!  Since sleeving involves hand sewing, I think that's what I'll do at this Saturday's Chicago Modern Quilt Guild Sew-In in Lockport.
My sister-in-law Kim told me that my great nieces are requesting little purses, and she gave me the dimension and asked for Velcro closures.  But the Velcro was giving me fits - it was just too gummy.  So I went the magnetic snap route.  And kind of like with snaps, there's a bit of dyslexia that happens.  But, the three are done.  I hope the girls gives the ickiest one to Isla - she's only 4 and won't notice it's poorly made! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two Sloan Travel Bags, Completed

These Sloan Travel Bags (pattern by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness) are completed, and I am very pleased with them.  Our trip to New Zealand last spring was of the nature and hiking variety, not the shopping kind.  We did run across one fabric store outside of Auckland which seemed to special in Civil War reproduction fabrics.  And I pretty much reconciled myself to not finding any fabrics indicative of New Zealand.  However, on the South Island in the relatively small town of Oamaru which we went to for the penguin nests, I found a fabric shop directly across the street from our "Fawlty Tower"-esque hotel.  And here were a handful of New Zealand fabrics.  The black and white one represents the various weaving patterns the Maori used.  The red-black-cream fabric uses Maori symbols.  Can you see the black-and-white ferny fabric on the side of the red/black/cream bag?  Ferns are ubiquitous, and there are some kiwis hidden among the frond.  The outer pockets on both bags are a black-on-black print featuring fern fronds. That one highly-saturated red became the pockets in the lining of both bags. 
My favorite part of the bag-making process:  the outer bag and lining bag ready for the magic!

This bag has a wide zippered closure at the top. 

Two zippered pockets on the inside, two pockets on each end, and a fob for a key, a feature which I think is a necessity in a travel bag.

The two outer pockets with a magnetic snap

Meanwhile, this scrappy log cabin is in one big piece, and I have decided to do an inner yellow border and then an outer piano key border.  I've done this once before and remember loving the look.  And if it's one thing I have, it's more scraps.  There's a little reminder in the bottom corner of this picture that I need to get moving on this knit clothing project.  Maybe not this week, but certainly next!

6.5" logs awaiting assembly for the piano key outer border

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bags in Process

Did you see this fabulous Sloan Travel Bag I finished a few weeks ago?  I love how it turned out and decided to use these fabrics I bought in New Zealand last spring to make two more bags.  These fabrics are based on Maori designs, and I was thrilled to find them in Oamaru on the South Island .  This bag is 19" x 15" by 7" and perfect for travel.  But - and this is a pretty big but - it has a lot of parts.  I have spent two days cutting the outer, lining, and interfacings.  There are 7 pockets - 3 with zippers and two with snapping flaps.  The bag itself has a zipper closure.  But here's the other but:  the payoff is a big one.  These bags are designed well (thank you, Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness), absolutely practical,  and meant to last. 
My bolt of Soft and Stable ready for cutting

In some ways purse and bag making is like doing a jigsaw puzzle.  Which fabrics to use and how to use them are part of the fun.  First you have to make the pieces and then you have to figure out how to assemble them.  Good thing I have always liked puzzles! 

A couple of little zip pouches, just to use my machine on these days of cutting and interfacing.  Fellow retired English teacher Carol got the bag with commas.  She was pretty happy with it. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Scrappy Log Cabin in Process

I have scraps.  My scraps have scraps.  Seriously, I have several baskets of scraps.  And every so often I use them.  This project is one of them.  But don't confuse a scrap project with a crap project.  I have done some fabulous things with scraps.  Long-time friends Ed and Marge (John and I taught with Ed at Farragut, and then Ed and I were transferred to Englewood HS together) just bought a home in Wisconsin, and this quilt is for their new place.  Marge likes bright and cheery and is fairly traditional.  So, what a great opportunity to use some of my scraps and revisit what is perhaps my favorite quilt block of all time - the log cabin.  These blocks above have  3" center because I found a stack of blue blocks that were 3.5"   Using 2.5" for the width of each log, the finished block is 11.5" square.  There are 10 blue-yellow, 10 green-blue, and 10 yellow-green blocks.  As I was putting these blocks together, I began to realize that the greens and blues are darker than I intended.  So here's how I first put these blocks on the design wall:

I left two inches between the blocks and auditioned some yellow sashing in the upper left corner and a green floral sashing in the upper right corner.  Sashing would be more work but would also create a bigger quilt.  This arrangement creates a diagonal design - sort of.  Then I began to think about group the blocks to create on-point squares:
Can you see the blue and green clusters?  I can't because the yellow dominates.  So I decided to go with letter the yellows be the star.
At the first QuiltCon in 2014 I heard Heather Grant give a talk about the growth and development of modern quilting, and she observed that the affordable digital camera has been an absolute game changer.  And she's right.  What a luxury it is to be able to look at these design changes and be thoughtful about what I want to do next.

My decision - although I will take a day to let all this percolate - is to go with the first design and use yellow to sash and separate these blocks.  Although I did think about incorporating some purple:
Maybe it's time to get Marge involved in the decision-making...

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Die is Cast

For almost two years I have had three yards of a knit print - Dotted Boulevard, an Art Galley Jungle Avenue knit designed by Sara Lawson.  I even bought some patterns.  But truly I don't know how to work with knits.  When I muttered something about being unsure how to finish knit seams, several friends told me to google and look for tutorials.   A great idea but I haven't done it yet.  Meanwhile, Craftsy had several end-of-the-year sales that were too good to pass up.  And I bought the above - patterns with fabrics.  And seriously, each kit was under $25.  I do want to tackle these, but I haven't had great success with clothing in the past.  And I'm the one who just cut up two jackets and turned them into purses. 

Over the weekend Sara Lawson emailed and asked if I would be a guest blogger at Sew Sweetness in March, evaluating a class of my choice from Craftsy.  I looked at the classes, and - amazing coincidence - there are several involving sewing with knits.  The one that appeals to me the most is Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits.  So, the die is cast. 

My plan for February:
  1. take/watch the class and apply what I've learned to the patterns/kits I bought
  2. document/photograph the process
  3. evaluate the class
  4. write the blog entry in time for the March 7 posting
Ok!  We've got a plan!