Sunday, February 1, 2015

Big bag homage to an Ozzie

No real details, but here is my weekend project. I've never done a quilted bag before.
I even had to post to a question to Whistlepig Creek's blog mid-week, because they used quilter's jargon and acronyms. Thankfully, they were responsive. 

A week ago I picked up two Australian themed cottons at the sale of a fabric stash of a past ASG president who passed away last year. She was from Australia so this bag is my homage to Dallis.

I only had enough binding in white and didn't feel like making my own. While I liked the look of the white, I was concerned about it getting dingy with use. I solved it by using one of my few "fancy" stitches to decorate the binding. Took awhile but it was a great echo to the dots on the fabric. 
Thanks for the inspiration to try something new, Dallis. You were a kind, encouraging woman who had great  talent!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend sewing (Jan 6-7): Saf-t-Pockets, Neck Gaiter and more Travel Cubes

The best way to feel like I'm actually sewing up the stash is to journal it. I used to take pictures (when you printed such things) and put them in a photo album. That was always nice to see my progress. Then I stopped doing that. I think because I stopped printing photos. Then I started the blog a couple years ago but didn't post much. Well, duh. This is a journal.

I enjoyed a weekend of classes with Marsha McClintock in November when she visited our guild. I bought a couple patterns. I made up the v-neck T-shirt Trifecta right away when I found a double-sided knit perfect for it (at Joann's. no, really. they actually had a nice quality fabric!). As is the style in her pattern line Saf-t-Pockets, there are pockets. (And really ... women's clothing should have more pockets!) Then I cut out the cowl neck pattern before Christmas. And it sat until now. In my defense, I did accomplish gift sewing of a pair of flannel pants and 3 fleece vests.

The cowl neck top's fabric was also double-sided: dots on one side, stripes on the other. I was going to do the striped side with the cool chevron effect but, sigh, I didn't pay attention to the stripe direction. One should not wear stripes going AROUND your hips. To save the work, I flipped it inside out to make it, skipped the pockets and used the stripes from the other side for fun. It's cozy.

Made a few more travel cubes using my newest method (which I had to look up my own instructions because I got myself confused). I timed it this time. Took about 30 minutes for one.

I'm planning on a trip in May and the weather may be if-fy. I've been haunting Pinterest for travel and/or convertible clothing. Among other things, I landed on a pattern for a neck gaiter that doubles as a balaclava. It's not necessarily for the trip, but it's cold in the Midwest, so I cut a piece of scrap Malden Mills 200 Fleece I had. Did a flat-felled seam. And when I was zig-zagging the edges, I slipped in some 3/8" clear elastic to help it keep it's stretch. It took maybe 30 minutes because I had to change thread and throw in a ball point needle. I think I will make it a few inches taller next time, but it works OK. Very easy to just keep your neck warm or pull up over your chin, ears and/or lower face. Easily folds and fits in a pocket. Finished size is 24" around and 13 inches tall. If I make it again, I'll make it a bit taller. This is my kidnapper look:

Lastly, this weekend, I made McCall's 5241. Only two pattern pieces and supposedly an hour to make it. I believe that would be true if you had the pattern cut out and pressed. And you'd already tested what to do on the edges. And you didn't try to watch a comedy at the same time. It took me about 2:20. Oh, and that included two (albeit short) phone calls. It's supposed to be flow-y and able to wear it multiple ways if made long. Um, no. Looks kinda dumb. I think I'll cut the front down (the back's short-ish, jacket length). It was fun though, because it's fast.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Travel Cubes aka Packing Organizer II

While the last version of the packing cubes work, I don't like how the zipper only opens the top "lid" half way. So, I've re-worked it. It's a little fussier to make, but still easy enough. I didn't worry if the edges didn't match exactly or the corner didn't match particularly well. They're just for organizing, no one will see them except you. And if you look at RTW (RTU? Ready-to-use?) manufacturers certainly don't worry about perfection.
Cut fabric as pictured above. The blue is the fashion fabric, the pink is the mesh. "s.a." = seam allowance              

The fashion fabric and mesh will look like this when it's cut. Just the top two pieces in the picture to the right. The other one at the bottom of the picture is so you can see the end of the mesh.
My ruler is covering the part I want to keep. I am cutting in from the long side. See next picture.
Here is one side cut out. The mesh will wrap along the sides to make items more visible.
 Here is the fabric back, top and bottom (the blue part in the schematic above).
 I serged along the top edge to finish the seam before installing the zipper on my conventional machine.
 Lay the zipper face down on the top of the fabric and stitch. Then repeat with the mesh.
Then I folded it back and topstitched to strengthen the zipper seam. It will receive a bit of abuse.
Unzip past the edge and abut the teeth. A stationary, wide zig-zag, will work as a zipper stop. Do both ends and cut off the extra zipper (with your cheap scissors, not the good ones).
Before you go on, remember to open the zipper, at least enough to get your hand in. You'll have to turn it right-side out at the end. Really ... do it now ... you'll forget ... I know ....
 Match the bottom edges of fabric and mesh and stitch.
This is the the most confusing part. It will create the boxed corners. But if you match yours to the picture, it will work. Those outer corners that sit out there on their own - fold from the point and match the edges. It will make a triangle. Serge (or stitch, trim and finish) either alongside the zipper tape or on your stitching line. It's not beautiful, but it functions. We're going for quick, not a construction contest.
Repeat for all 4 corners.
After the 4 corners, you end up with this. And now is when you might have to fudge. Those two open edges should match up fairly well.
If not, fuss a bit and make it work. You'll kind of pull the "lid" up out of the way to get the two raw edges to match. You could even take a tiny tuck at the bottom, or go at a slight angle to make the length match up. Serge that matched up edge.
 Turn it right-side out.
 Looks like this from the top.
 A zipper pull helps. I used a scrap of selvage, cut thin since selvage doesn't fray. Fold in half, push it through the hole in the zipper pull.
Push the ends through the loop and pull snug. You can see here in this pic, the corner stitching didn't match the zipper seam. But it works fine.
And it's done!
You'll want them in multiple sizes. You can look online for travel cubes for size ideas. I stacked up 5 or 6 t-shirts and measured it, then compared to a popular size. They work great inside the suitcase, makes packing things easy (and unpacking when you realize you forgot to add shoes at the bottom).

And speaking of shoes, make drawstring bags out of lining fabric for your shoes. Doesn't add bulk and keeps dirty shoes off the suitcase (the cubes keep the clothes off the shoes). But the lining is NOT waterproof, so keep that in mind if you're packing hiking shoes after a muddy slog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quick Therapy

After a couple difficult weeks at work and then the church District-wide conference Friday evening and all day Saturday, I was ready to blow a gasket. First, on the way home from the conference on Saturday, I squeezed in a 4 mile hike to burn off some energy. Then after slacking for dinner by buying a pizza on the way home, I grabbed the yarns I bought in September at the Fiber Fest at Young's Dairy.
Winding it into balls was an interesting endeavor. I whined and complained to my oldest, a knitter, for quite a while. She told me to get over it. But it would have been infinitely easier with her swift and winder. Or at least an extra set of hands. 

I spread newspaper on the floor, laid out 72" of Sulky wash-away stabilizer, sprayed it with Sulky temporary adhesive and started randomly laying out the silk strip yarn. Then I layered the spun sari silk yarn on top. I sprayed it again, and then sandwiched a top layer of the stabilizer on top. (sorry, I hurt too bad crawling on the floor for an hour dorking with it, I didn't think of getting a picture of that!

 I added pins every few inches to keep it together. and started stitching in long rows to hold it together. I also stitched across the ends pretty early on. All in an effort to keep it from shifting too much. It still shifted, but it didn't end up being a big deal - I just re-arranged it while stitching.

Here's a close-up of stitching the sandwich.

I chose an interesting rayon thread I happened to have on hand by Coats & Clark, "Twist Rayon". It had pinks, teals, purples. While the colors faded from one to the other, there were always 2 colors twisted together, so it looks nice on the mixed yarns.

After washing it for 4 minutes in the washer on the super-gentle handwash cycle, I pulled it out, hung it on a hanger in the shower overnight, and it was ready to wear the next morning! It took about 2 hours total, and I felt so much better after completing it! I always feel better when I have time to sew!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lingerie Laundry Bag

At Sewing Guild meeting last week, I demonstrated my travel organizer and another lady demonstrated a similar bag for washing lingerie. It is made with tulle, decorated with lace and closed with a zipper. It's made pretty much the same way as my travel organizer except the last step of boxing the corners is left out.
At some point in the chapter's history, someone has donated a bolt of tulle and a bunch of lace. I brought home a piece of tulle and a few pieces of lace. I made a laundry bag for my oldest daughter. And just made a second one tonight as a baby shower gift for a family at church. I'll put some baby socks in it for the gift. Those silly, adorable, tiny socks always get lost in the wash. Hopefully, they'll appreciate the bag.

Here's the bag:

I selected the size based on the tulle I received. It was about 12" wide. The tulle is doubled. I sandwiched the lace with the zipper, sewed it, then flipped it and topstitched.
The next size of the zipper was flipped around, but this time, I just put wrong side of the tulle (inside of bag) on top of the zipper tape. I figured out which side went with which by laying it together and pinned.
 Then I unzipped, pinned it the rest of the way and topstitched. Then it's just zipping most of the way, leaving a bit open to turn right side out later, bar-tacking the zipper at the edge of the tulle, and cutting off the extra zipper length. Stitch up the sides and you're done. I did take the time to zig-zag the edges to make it tidy. I was too lazy to change the serger to white thread, but that would be a very slick finish.
And done:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Travel cubes aka Packing organizers

Travel cubes are popular, but expensive. I have used drawstring bags to sort and organize clothing in a suitcase, but these work better. They make it easier to keep your packing focused/light and definitely easier to pack everything. I usually put tops in a medium sized, bottoms in large and undergarments in a couple smaller ones. Tossing in my shoes (which I put in newspaper plastic rain sleeves) on the bottom, toiletry bag (which is always packed) and then the packing cubes, I'm done really quickly. And if TSA roots through my stuff, I don't have to worry about things getting handled much. Yes, officially they could open them up and root through them, but frankly, they're probably not going to bother. 

You can make them any size. Google "travel cube" or "packing organizer" and you'll get a plethora of selections. Or you can look at them at Target, etc. You can pick a size from any of them, the sizing is pretty simple to calculate, just use your own desired Height/Depth/Width measurements. Here's a couple size suggestions:

Small - finished size approx 6" x 2" x 6" (Height x Depth x Width)
Medium - finished size approx 12" x 4" x 7"
(because the zipper takes up a little length, sizes are approximate)

Small - (1) 10" x 9" (Height x Width) fabric
           (1)  7" x  9" (H x W) mesh
           (1) zipper at least 9" long (W) - easiest to use longer and cut off excess

Medium - (1) 19" x 12" (H x W) fabric
               (1)  13" x 12" (H x W) mesh
               (1) zipper at least 12" long (W) - easiest to use longer and cut off excess

(at end of posting, I have the calculations you need to select your own size)

1. Right sides together, place short side of fabric on zipper and stitch.

2. Flip zipper over place short side of mesh on top, 
matching edges with fabric piece. Stitch short side of mesh
to right side of zipper.

3. Open the zipper at least 4-5" so you can turn it right side out later!

4. Right sides together, match all edges. The zipper will be a little more than half the Depth down from the top. Stitch the open edges. Finger crease the top edge enough to locate it in the next step. If you're nervous the zipper will come apart, zig zag across the teeth inside the seam allowance. Trim off the zipper ends.

5. To box the corners, about 4-6" diagonally in from the bottom corner, grab front and back and separate, the corner will look like a cone or 4-sided pyramid. Line up the corner side seam with the corner bottom seam. Flatten into a triangle. You will stitch across the triangle. Use a ruler to lay across the triangle until the stitching line is the Depth you chose - this is where you stitch. Repeat for other corner.

6. The top corners are done the same as the bottom
corners. Make a triangle out of the corner and stitch as close as you can to the zipper tape. If you want a loop handle, from the inside, you can tuck it in one of the top corners before stitching.

7. Turn right side out, pushing out the corners.
You're done!

This medium sized travel cube has 4 t-shirts folded inside.

If you want a different size, calculate needed fabric/mesh by knowing what finished size you want (Height x Width x Depth - H x W x D):

1) Fabric = cut a piece H + D + 1/2D + 1"   by  W + D + 1"
2) Mesh =  cut a piece   H + 1"                     by W + D + 1"
3) Zipper = at least W at minimum

           For example: if I want a large cube 15" x 10" that is 6" deep (H=15, W=10, D=6), I would cut
                                fabric 24" x 17"  (15 + 5 + 3 + 1  by  10 + 6 + 1)
                                mesh  16" x 17" (15 + 1  by  10 + 6 + 1)
                                zipper has to be at least 10" long.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bruce Seeds and the One-Block Wonder

After getting permission from the subject artist, I wrote this for our ASG (American Sewing Guild) May newsletter. I'm more than a little slow at posting it on my own blog. Love seeing Bruce Seeds' work, I think I may have to make a quilt yet! Here's the article, along with pictures of two of his quilts. Below the article, I have my own version as well:

Bruce Seeds and the One-Block Wonder
I am not a quilter, although I've long admired the artistry. I even made a signature quilt for each of my three children to commemorate high school graduation, however I was uninterested in doing more. But I was intrigued when I was introduced to Bruce Seeds' work on a Sewing With Nancy episode, probably in 2012. He was an architect suffering from a strained economy who did web design, when he was at a quilt shop in 2008 with his mother and saw Maxine Rosenthal's book "One Block Wonders". He creates what he terms "quilted textile mosaics" from fabric which has large repeats. He proceeds to stack 6 repeats precisely together and cuts them into equilateral triangles. The resulting 6 matching triangles can be matched in 3 different possible kaleidoscopes. While the hexagons are individually fascinating, Bruce Seeds' particular genius is in his arrangement of all the hexagons together. According to his introduction at, "It's only when I get to the very end that I can see each quilt for what it wanted to be."
I was so taken by his work, it pursued my creative psyche ever since I saw it. I started following him on Facebook.  I bought the book and one of Bethany Reynold's "Stack-n-Whack" books which use similar techniques in multiple shapes. Again, I had no intention of quilting! But along came the ugly Christmas fabric challenge. The pattern was a bit small, but I thought I'd give it a try. I was glad for the push and pleased with the results. I'm leaning very heavily towards doing a full sized work.

Two of Bruce Seeds' work:
The Deep


The inspiration of Bruce Seeds' work led to my own take on it... 

The "ugly Christmas fabric challenge" mentioned in the article was a guild challenge to any member who wanted to participate. You received a piece of this fabric and were challenged to make something with it. It's always good to force yourself be creative, so I accepted a piece of fabric.

I stacked 6 identical pieces, sliced them into equilateral triangles, then played with each set to find the kaleidoscope effect I liked best. Once two sets of three were stitched for each hexagon, I played with them until I found a grouping I liked. I didn't have enough fabric to do a center piece, so I dug in my stash and found a piece of maroon velvet to complete the project (leftover from a costume I made for a First Lady Lucy Hayes re-enactor!).
I liked how it came out. My mother bought some large print fabric on a family vacation to Hawaii which she's made into stack-n-whack quilt squares. She's currently putting it together. I lucked out and she left the fabric at my house, so this Fall or Winter, I'm going to attempt my own version. Yikes! When did I decide to do quilting??