Sunday, February 11, 2018

Project Quilting 9.3: Amethyst Project Bag

Project Quilting Challenge Three this season is "Bold & Brave". I knew exactly which project I wanted to tackle this week for the challenge: the Amethyst Project Bag by Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness). 

Amethyst Project Bag

I sew my fair share of bags, but this gorgeous pattern has something that brings on the doubts and worries: a curved zipper. A few years ago, I tried another pattern by another designer that required the zipper to be installed around curved corners. I was NOT successful. Since then, I've avoided anything with similar requirements.

Amethyst Project Bag

Sara Lawson makes awesome videos to go with many of her patterns, and watching them makes me feel empowered to stitch pretty much anything. She shows how even these difficult techniques are completely doable, and great bags with fancy attributes are absolutely achievable.

I replied to a comment on Facebook last night saying how Sara's videos make me feel calm and zen about sewing and also excited at the same time. Although that sounds dichotomous, somehow it's true, and it feels really great. I recommend any of her pattern & video pairs/bundles if you want to tackle a nice bag. I suggest making her projects with exactly the supplies she recommends, at least for the first go-round. She knows what she's talking about, and the types of interfacings and other components she uses all add up to make very polished, professional bags.

Zipper Pull Charms

Sometimes my instinct is to use whatever I've got in my sewing room and stash that I think "will work OK" when stitching up a new pattern. You all know what I'm talking about, am I right? I've learned to RESIST THAT URGE with Sara's bags, because they're usually a slight disappointment when I use fleece instead of foam or the wrong kind of elastic, etc. When I'm able to invest the kind of time it takes to make a nice bag, I want it to come out great. Sara's patterns are all GREAT when you do and use what she says.

Amethyst Project Bag
If you spot some flaws in the pics of my bag, don't hold it against Sara's pattern. This was my first attempt, and it's not perfect. It turned out pretty OK, though, and I'll certainly be making more.

Find Sara's Amethyst Project Bag here, and check out her other patterns as well. I just picked up the Minikins bundle last week, and I'm SO EXCITED to start making those! I even joined a Minikins swap. Unfortunately, the swap sign-ups just closed, but these bag patterns would be awesome for a lot of other swaps as well (I'm thinking of the Modern Stitching Affair swap here, hint hint). They would also make awesome gifts; there's a bag for everyone in that bundle.

Before I go, check out these new snips I won from Project Quilting Challenge 9.1 a few weeks ago! They were generously sponsored by Warm Crochet, and they are awesome: beautiful and really sharp! I'm loving them. Thanks Warm Crochet! Thanks, Kim, for being an amazing host and organizer!

Warm Crochet Scissors

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Project Quilting 9.2: iPad Stand

The second Project Quilting challenge this season was “Triangulation”. I knew I wanted to make some sort of useful accessory, since that’s my goal this season, and I was initially at a loss of what to do. Then I remembered how badly I’ve been wanting an iPad stand for my sewing area, so I can easily view PDF patterns and videos while I’m sewing instead of having to print everything. I found this tutorial with a quick Google search, and it looked perfect.

iPad Stand

This project was quick, easy, and very practical. I appliqu├ęd a Mac Apple onto the front, so my project would qualify as “quilty” for the challenge, and because...well, it’s awesome. I cut into “my precious” Carolyn Friedlander stash and shocked the world! (Well, I shocked my best friend at least.) She knows how obsessive I am with my CF fabric; I almost never use it. It has its own big drawer. But alas, I have a layer cake of this particular line in addition to a fat quarter bundle, so I figured I could go ahead and take the plunge.

iPad Stand

The free tutorial worked out great. The only thing I’d change if I made another stand would be to use rice in the little front roll section to add some weight. It’s a great stand, and an incredibly fast and simple project. This would make an excellent little gift for anyone with a tablet.
iPad Stand

iPad Stand

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Project Quilting 9.1: Santorini Totes

If you haven’t heard of Project Quilting, stop what you’re doing and click here. Actually, finish reading this first.

Project Quilting is an awesome, annual, short season of quilting challenges for which you have one week to start and complete a project for each challenge. My friend, Kim Lapacek, at Persimon Dreams started it nine years ago. It has grown over the years, and she’s  gathered awesome sponsors who give prizes to random winners for every challenge. Our friend, Trish “Quilt Chicken” Frankland is now Kim’s Project Quilting  co-hort, and she comes up with the challenges. I was one of the lucky random winners for the first challenge this season. Look at the awesome scissors I won from Warm Crochet!! Aren’t they gorgeous? They’re also super sharp and functional.

Warm Crochet Scissors

This season kicked off on January 7th with “Hometown Proud” as the first challenge. My favorite thing about Project Quilting is that you don’t necessarily have to make an actual quilt to participate. A handmade object that includes quilty attributes can also work. See any of the PQ Challenge posts at Persimon Dreams for the actual rules. I made three quilted bags for the first challenge.

Santorini Tote

Two of my friends and I are knitting temperature blankets this year, so I thought we could each use a nice big project bag. Coincidentally, my friend, Natalie Santini, over at Hungry Hippie Sews was looking for some help testing one of her patterns: the Santorini Tote. I thought this pattern would make an excellent big-knitting-project bag, so I went for it. I pieced the top half of the main panels for the bags with charm squares from my group of "Strip Poker" players mentioned in my last blog post. I'm always looking for ways to use the strips and charms that I take from my fellow fabric gamblers!! HA! The bottoms of the panels (and straps) are Essex Linen. Everything I used for the bag was from my stash, except the zippers. I ordered those from my favorite zipper supplier: Zipit Zippers on Etsy.

Project Quilting

To make the bag extra perfect for a knitting project, I added some pleated pockets on the inside to hold yarn and a grommet through which to feed yarn, so it doesn’t get chewed up by the zipper teeth while we’re working on our blankets.

Knitting Project Bag

And how about those cool zipper charms, eh? You can find plenty of those in my Etsy Shop for your own zipper projects. They also work well as row markers!
Zipper Charms
Zipper Charms
Zipper Charms

I used two layers of batting instead of the foam interfacing that one would usually use for the Santorini Tote. I chose to use batting, because I’ve never quilted on the foam. Normally I’d be up for trying something new, but  I wanted these bags to look great since two were going to be gifts. As a result, my bags are a little floppy, but I love them for their intended use. They work great.

The Santorini Tote is an amazing pattern, and it includes two sizes. I made the smaller one for the knitting project bags, and I plan to make a large one (with foam) for travel. Get the pattern here.

Follow Persimon Dreams to join in the Project Quilting fun! If you’re not a quilter, you can still play along by voting on your favorite projects during the week following each challenge.

Here is the first month of my two temperature blankets. I'm doing one for my new hometown in Walworth, Wisconsin and one for Calais, Maine, where I grew up. Each of my two boys will get to keep one at the end of the year when they're done. I'm excited to see how these two similar climates differ throughout the year. I think Walworth is a tad warmer with a slightly longer warm season. Good thing, too, because I LOVE it here!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

The StripperStashSamplerSociety

Hey there! Remember me? It's been so long, but I'm back to clean off the cobwebs and start sharing stitchy things here again.

I won't make a lot of excuses, but I will say that I'm now a Mom of two (boys), and my desktop computer is in a not-kid-friendly zone in our home (aka: the finished basement that also houses the sewing space). Sharp, pointy things and my 2.5 year old don't really mix well. Today I finally broke down and got a new laptop, because there are a jillion things I need and want to do on the computer that get put off and put off due to my lack of time to sit down at my desktop in the no-kid zone. Sharing stuff here is one of those jillion things.

I'm going to jump back in with my most recent and beloved quilty finish. Here's a little background info:

A few years ago I joined the MadModQuiltGuild in Madison, Wisconsin. I met a fabulous group of women there, and I was even lucky enough to forge great friendships that extended beyond the guild meetings with some of them. One of these gals mentioned a "strip poker" game she'd heard of in which quilters would gamble with their fabric strips. I decided to invite some of these gals (as many as I could squeeze around my dining room table) over one evening to play "strip poker." Except we didn't actually play poker. I honestly can't even remember what game we played that first night, but whatever it was involved betting or swapping our fabric strips, having a few cocktails, snacks, and a lot of laughs.

That first gathering was such a load of fun that we decided to turn it into a monthly gig. From then on, we've taken turns hosting at our homes once a month. The host provides snacks and perhaps a beverage or two, and we all gather (strips or charm squares in hand) to eat, drink, gamble our scraps, and be merry.

We're a motley crew with a wide range of ages, backgrounds, political views, and family circumstances. However, we all share one common passion: quilting. We could also be called "a little sweary" (a phrase stolen from one of our own). So there's also that...

After we'd been meeting monthly for while to play "poker," I suggested that we might start our own quilting bee together. We chatted about how we wanted it to go and concluded that we'd each pick two 12" quilt blocks to make for each bee mate. The "queen" for the month would provide a piece of focus fabric for each of us to use in our blocks, and we would add our own stash fabric to go with it, according to her chosen color palette. Ten of us participated in the first round of the bee, and we coined ourselves the "StripperStashSamplerSociety."

Last week I finished my quilt from the first round.


When it came to my turn, I decided that I wanted to give each of the gals a piece of red and a piece of green from my stash (instead of the aforementioned single focus fabric), so that I would end up with a scrappy Christmas quilt made with the help of all my besties. This quilt means a lot to me, because of the wonderful women who all had a hand in its creation.

Next week I'll be giving a little talk with my friend and fellow "Stripper", Trish "Quilt Chicken" Frankland, at the MadModQuiltGuild meeting at Blue Bar Quilts about quilting bees and other ways to sew with friends and cultivate your own sewing clan. All of us have been working hard to finish our round one quilts, and they will be on display for the meeting. I can't wait to see them all together! It's been a blast to see everyone's photo updates on their assembly progress, and also to see how the same 20 blocks can make such different and unique quilts.

Quilting, man. It's a whole thing. ;)