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??

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dogs, Legos and clearing out scraps ...

Legos, Legos, everywhere!

Wanted to do some quick, immediate gratification projects today (instead of finishing the pants that need only a hook). The 21 year old boy was talking about needing an organization method for his (literally) thousands of Lego pieces.

I toyed with the idea for a while, and decided I could use the stiff interfacing I bought on a bolt in a lot at an auction. The pieces started out 5" squares, because I had it left over from his high school graduation quilt, and, I thought it would fit inside the under-the-bed plastic tub. Folded down the top about 1/4" before I serged it to make the edge stiff. We think it's too tall for easy access, so we folded it down. Not a bad prototype. Multiple sizes for multiple piece types might work. He's not sure, may try it for a while. Was a nice, quick project. Appropriately gratified, I moved on:

I've been watching my 11 year old poodle get grayer around the muzzle and more creaky when he gets up and down. I washed his bed a week or so ago and really noticed how beaten down the stuffing was. He's old, he's been a great hiking buddy, he deserves a soft bed. Like most things - I think how can I solve my problems with fabric? Well, I certainly have plenty of fabric - and a renewed interest in clearing out stuff. So, in 5 minutes I amassed quite the scrap pile of wools, fleeces, knits, cottons, even the remainder of a t-shirt I'd cut up for an earlier headband project. I also located a perfectly-sized piece of drapery lining to make the pillow case (yay! one huge cardboard tube gone too!).

The existing bed is 42" x 32" fake fur and fleece. I had just the right amount of drapery lining to fold into the pillow case. I used a weird peacock blue zipper I had on hand from somewhere (why did I have that and where did it come from?) and placed the zipper in one end, sewing around the other 3 sides. Squared up the pillow by sewing across the corners so when it's full, I can replace the pillow inside his bed with something washable.

I had a LOT of scraps ....

But they were too lumpy as-is, so I laid out piece after piece, whacking them into small bits with my rotary cutter.

The pile kept growing ...

It only filled it about a third of the way. I fluffed it in the dryer for a few minutes to get the bits distributed and separated. For now, I spread it out under the existing bed and it's much "cushier"! I think his old, creaky hips will appreciate it.  

Only on days when I sew do I feel like I accomplished anything. So this was an excellent day.