Monday, August 10, 2015

Change Your Mind Slipcover Bag

Do you ever make plans for a fun the pattern...and the fabric, but then never make the project? Yeah, me too. Until now that is. Back in July of 2013 I wrote about my plans to make a new bag for Selfish Sewing Week on flickr, (click here to read about how this bag journey began) - even commenting on how I may not wait for the official start date to begin...two years later the bag is finished.

Change Your Mind Slipcover Bag - brown dots exterior

After completing the Social Climber quilt for the Faith Circle I decided it was time to take a quick break from large projects and do something smallish and fun. My eyes landed on a beautiful trio of Flea Market Fancy fabrics neatly folded on a shelf and I knew it was time to make the Change Your Mind Slipcover Bag. I had almost everything I needed on hand: fabric, interfacing, thread, only needing to purchase a zipper.

Change Your Mind Slipcover Bag - main body
Main Body of Change Your Mind Slipcover Bag

For the main body I used this Leaf & Dot print because it was a good neutral and {I thought} my least favorite fabric of the trio. Well...once I finished the main body I discovered the simple elegance of this print and it quickly became my favorite! The pattern calls for heavy weight interfacing to be used on all bag parts, but I wanted to add a bit more substance to the bag so I used iron on fleece for the main body instead. The interior of the bag includes patch pockets on one side and a zipper pocket on the other. More about this neat zipper installation to follow :o)

The whole purpose for this pattern is to create slipcovers for your bag so you can change up the look as desired. Now the pattern calls for making the slipcover with a lining fabric on one side and your chosen "new look" fabric on the other. To me that seemed a bit of a waste. Instead I decided to make one slipcover and have it be reversible.

Reversible slip cover
Flea Market Fancy fabrics

Here you can see I used Flea Market Fancy Bouquet on the outside and Posie on the inside. There just seemed to be no good reason to make two separate slipcovers. For the slipcovers I used the heavy weight iron on interfacing like the pattern called for. You can see that I experienced some bubbling - I've never had this issue before because I'd always used the heavyweight interfacing with home dec fabric, not quilting cotton. Not sure what's up with this. Debbie, over at A Quilter's Table, just happened to mention this same issue in a recent post.

Change Your Mind Slipcover Bag - the interior
Interior of bag

This is what the interior of the bag looks like with the slipcover attached. See how it folds over the top of the main body and is held in place with buttons? I learned some new skills while making this bag:

  • a completely new way to install a zipper into the lining fabric {so cool!} I don't know what this method is called, but it creates such a neat zipper opening and is not at all hard to do
  • make and attach facings
  • how to sew buttonholes!! Oh my goodness...if I'd have known how simple buttonholes are, and how fascinating it is to watch my sewing machine make them, I'd have done them long ago!

Change Your Mind Slipcover bag - orange plaid exterior

Here are the modifications I made to the bag:

  • slipcover is reversible
  • I added the additional brown dot and orange plaid fabric bottoms just for fun
  • top stitching was added to both the main bag and the slipcover to make them a bit more dressy
  • on the recommendation on someone's pattern review I installed the buttonholes to the facing before attaching them to the slipcover
If I were to make this bag again I would put some type of divider and additional pockets inside. It's a pretty large bag and some interior organization would be a nice addition. In fact, I will probably go ahead and make something for this one and hand sew it in. In addition, I think I'd add either a zipper or snaps to the top to close it. As stated it is a pretty large bag and feels a bit open. All in all it is a very well written pattern and I enjoyed making this slipcover bag :o) 

What new sewing skills have you recently learned? I'd enjoy hearing about them - leave me a comment :o)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Setting a New Table

In my previous post I mentioned a wedding gift I had the joy to make early this summer. A dear young lady, K, whom I've know since before she was born was to get married to an equally dear young man, M, {is it okay to call a young man dear} and this happy occasion called for special gift. I knew I wanted to make a set of placemats.

+ Plus Block Place Mats +
Plus Block Place Mats

While looking through their online wedding registry I noted a decided bent for neutral colors...specifically cream, brown, and gray. This not being a typical color combination for me I inquired of the bride's mom if I should add a pop of anything else? She consulted with the bride's sisters and it was established that all neutral was the way to go.

For color inspiration I used a photo of a shower curtain they included in their registry. A friend of mine had just finished a sweet mini quilt featuring the Plus Block and I immediately thought it would be a great pattern to weave these colors together. Following my usual design path I pulled out my composition notebook and drew up a plan. Next up I pulled a large variety of fabrics from my stash and set out to begin piecing.

I love the combination of these neutral fabrics! A good reminder to step outside of my creative comfort zone more often :o)  To verify that this really was going to turn into a desirable placemat I made the first one up complete with quilting. Instead of using batting I used two layers of flannel - I wanted the placemats to have some body to them, but didn't want them to seem heavy.

Organic quilting on Plus Block placemat
Placemat front - close up

For the quilting I used a favorite method: organic straight lines closely spaced. A run through the washer and dryer really brought out the great texture. Even the placemat backs look nice! At this point I was convinced this was the plan and proceeded to make the remaining three mats.

Organic straight line quilting
Placemat back - really shows the texture!
No placemats are complete without a set of matching napkins to accompany them. While visiting my brother I happened upon a fabric store and stopped in. I found both a tan and a gray fabric that seemed like they would work nicely for the napkins. They are reversible with tan on one side and gray on the other.

Reversible napkins
Reversible napkins

All in all this was a fun sewing project to work on. I wish this new couple many, many years of happiness and God's richest blessings upon their marriage. 

Placemats & Napkins - the complete set

Monday, July 27, 2015

Social Climber - Faith Circle Style

I just finished reading a post by Debbie at A Quilter's Table about how quickly a quilt can be made from start to final binding stitch. It seems that 7 hours is a real possibility for a baby quilt. Contrast that with my decidedly un-quick work on the Social Climber quilt. The Faith Circle ladies stitched up the blocks last October and mailed them off to me. At that same time I was spending every free moment working on the Snowflake Among the Stars wedding quilt for a dear couple. It had to be ready for a December wedding date. Then, of course, came Christmas and New Years - not a good time for finishing large quilt projects. As soon as the holiday season was over I knew I'd need to dedicate all my time to completing Mixed Flock in time for the Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt Show in April. Fast forward to the end of the school year and another wedding gift (soon to be revealed) and Social Climber was just not getting the attention it so deserved.

Well, I'm so pleased to be able to say Social Climber is now complete!

Social Climber - pattern by Villa Rosa Designs

With a burst of dedicated effort I was able to finish the quilting, binding, washing, and photographing in a two day period. How's that for getting a second wind on this project?

My inspiration for the quilting came from a Craftsy class I bought, Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot, taught by Jacquie Gering. One of the lessons teaches how to do sectioned curves. Needing something a little more at my comfort level I divided quilt into three sections and did straight line quilting instead of curves. I used masking tape to space the lines at 1" intervals - just moving the tape with each line of quilting.

Pieced back for Social Climber

For the back I used one large piece of My Sunshine, a Riley Blake Designs fabric and then finished out with several smaller cuts from my stash. This photo of the quilt back also shows the quilting better. I was looking through my stash trying to find enough fabric to do the binding, however there just was nothing that would work. As I trimmed down the quilt top I noted that there was significant backing fabric on all sides being cut away. It turned out I had enough fabric to cut down into binding strips - Hooray! No extra scraps created!

All in all this turned out to be a lovely quilt and I'm so happy to have it finished!


In the interest of ensuring a sturdy binding I machine stitched it - folding to the front so I could make sure it had the best results possible. I went ahead and used straight stitching and although not perfect, it's not bad! My sewing skills have greatly improved since my last attempt to attach a binding using this method.

The Faith Circle donates it's quilts to Restore Innocence. A Colorado based non-profit which aids in the restoration of young women rescued from human trafficking. You can read more about them here. Thank you Faith Circle ladies for your work on these blocks - you're a great group of ladies to sew with :o)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Let's see...where did I leave off?

Goodness, it hardly seems possible that my last blog post was in March. I knew as Spring was approaching things were going to go into high gear: I'm a teacher and Spring is "testing season," I've also spent a tremendous amount of time working on design plans for our log home, and working on the occasional necessary gifts. Something was going to have to give and blogging was it. Let's pick up where we left off.

The largest project I worked on and finished (Oh yeah!) is Mixed Flock. It appeared in the Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt Show in the newly created Modern Quilts category.

Mixed Flock ~ Finished (at last)
Mixed Flock: designed stitched and quilted by me

In my last post I drew out possible quilting plans that included some pretty labor intensive straight line quilting. In the interest of actually getting the quilt finished in time for the show I ended up spiral quilting the center section and grid quilting the borders. I'm happy with how it turned out. 

In addition, I entered four of my mini quilts in the show:

Mini quilts

Clockwise from top left: Baby Nova, Dashing Geese Mini Quilt, Apple Blossom Celebration, and Wonky Crosses. Most of the time these mini quilts hang on the walls of my office at school. Making mini quilts is very enjoyable because they are so much easier to finish up on my small Janome sewing machine.

It was fun to participate in the quilt show. It's a biannual show so the next one is in 2017...maybe I should get started on a quilt now so it will be finished in time :o)

Well, that's enough to get us started. I'll be back soon with more of what I've been up to. Happy quilting!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Random Sampler & Other Progress

Hooray! I've made progress on my Random Sampler! Going with the idea to build one section at a time I took inventory of the blocks I've already made and began grouping them into a section. Then, I worked to fill in the holes. Here's what it looks like so far:

Random Sampler section one

The top row features a squash blossom, an applique branch, maple leaf cluster, and several flying geese blocks. The second row includes a basket, a wheel, Rocky Mountain Puzzle*, and finally Duck Tracks*. (Patterns for these last two blocks can be found on Quilters Cache.) This section measures 20" x 32". Due to the odd size of the maple leaf cluster I added a strip of fabric to the left side of the squash blossom block to bring the string of blocks up to the correct length. 

I'm so happy to have made a bit of progress on this quilt! Now I have to discipline myself and return to two quilts in the process of be quilted. One is the Social Climber quilt from the Faith Circle, and the other is my Mixed Flock quilt for the local show. I've made good progress on the Social Climber quilt and it shouldn't take too much longer to have it finished. 

Mixed Flock has me wondering how best to quilt it. To try out some possibilities I took a picture of the quilt top and lightened it up on the computer. Then when I print it out I used a pencil to draw out quilting ideas. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Quilting ideas

I need to stick with straight line quilting because I don't think my free-motion is where I want people giving it close inspection. I still have not figured out how to quilt the colored stars. I'm hoping that as I begin working on it additional inspiration will come. 

Finally, perhaps the most exciting progress!! On Saturday we met with a log home builder and walked over our land to select a house site! We gave him the plans we'd put together and now have to wait for a quote to come back. We'll see what comes of this once we have some solid numbers. That patch of woods up there in my blog header just may have a house on it!  For now, I need to hold myself in check and not get too that's possible :o)

Happy quilting! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Planning Randomness??

In my previous post I noted how Anita, from Bloomin' Workshop, is once again leading a group of quilters on a journey...this time to finish the Random Sampler quilts we started some time ago. Earlier this week she posted The Finishing Plan. Until reading her post I had no idea how to take a mish-mash of blocks and turn them into a layout that would end up as a quilt top. 

To begin the process I decided to take inventory of my blocks - how many different block sizes have I made, and how many of each size. At this point I have blocks ranging in size from 2.5" square to 15" square. I know! Where did this weird quilt block come from?

Quilt blocks grouped by size

This maple leaf block is the odd-sized one. I'll probably add borders to bring it up to a more workable size. I can't even remember how many years ago I made this block - early in my quilting career. It's a bit wonky, but I love it :o) When we first started this quilt along I pulled this block as my cornerstone to build the sampler around. 

Maple leaves - inspiration for colors came from this block

I've pulled my instructions for Moda's Modern Building Blocks quilt and I'm looking at the breakdown of this layout to inspire me how to divide my quilt top into sections. 

Planning a random layout :o)

My quilt will be in the neighborhood of 60" x 72" so I'll play around with the mental challenge of how to best divide that into sections. Then, as Anita suggested I'll work on filling one section at a time. This will be fun!

Happy Friday!!