Bag Obsession

bag3

I’ve been making these little cosmetic/chotchke/jewelry bags now for a couple of days.  So easy and fun to make.

They’ve become an obsession.

All the ones I’ve made (8 of them in total, so far) are made from Art Gallery Fabric, Sketchbook.  The look of the fabric is artsy and lends itself well to these small bags. They are approximately 6 x 8 in. finished.

These are all done in embroidery, by the way.  I digitized the lines for the bags, and all the work is basically in the cutting of fabric.

First stitch is a placement for the zipper, then you lay down the zipper, then folded fabric with batting in the middle across the top of the zipper, stitch a line, same thing with the bottom layer of fabric, stitch a line, then lay the lining/backing down (a quilt sandwich) and stitch around the outside.

bag4Voila! That’s it. You’re done. Trim and turn it inside out.

You use a sticky back stabilizer, so you end up picking that off the back at the end, but other than that, these bags go REALLY FAST.  Use batting in between every layer to give the bags a nice hand.

I’m thinking these would make great holiday gifts. I have gone through my stash and have come across some old home dec fabric that I think would be fun.  Denim would also be great.  Who doesn’t have an old pair of jeans that need to be repurposed into new life?  Add some embroidery or a little bling…anything is possible.

These in-the-hoop projects are great stash busters.  Gotta run, I need more zippers.

bag2

 

Quilting Using Machine Embroidery

machine embroidery quilting4I have wanted to try this technique for a long time now.  And I’m going to teach a class on it in the fall.

If you have a sewing machine that is capable of embroidery, you can do it too.

Many people love the look of a quilt that has long-arm quilting.  It gives a very polished, professional look to a finished quilt.  Most of my quilts I use free-motion and do them at home.  As you know this is awkward with larger quilts, twin size and up. But using your embroidery module to quilt is really worth trying, especially if you are someone who is comfortable with embroidery (hooping and hooping over and over…and if you’re not familiar, what a great way to get good at it).

embroidery quilting 1For this particular technique, I followed along with this book from Amelie Scott, “Edge to Edge Quilting on Your Embroidery Machine.” 

She provides special quilting embroidery designs that have an easy start and end point.  All the work is in the positioning and the time invested in the stitch-outs and hooping.

machine embroidery quilting2As you can see on my quilt, you will still be hefting around a a lot of fabric.  And by far, the trickiest part is calculating the number of hoopings and working out the positioning.  But that’s just a little bit of math and little bit of decision-making.

machine embroidery quiltingYou use 2 different files…an “A” and a “B” file.  You alternate them in rows so that the design looks randomly spaced. This really does work and the finished quilting technique is lovely.  While I can free-motion some great spirals or stippling or loops or hearts, I know I would never be able to get the perfect consistent quality of these daisies.

This 60 x 60 in. quilt took 32 hoopings, and my time invested was somewhere around 7-8 hours at the machine.  I love the way the quilting looks  — whimsical, yet professional.

machine embroidery quilting5 Would I want to do this for every quilt?  Of course not.  I like to be able to customize some of my quilts.  Is this great for gift-giving and finishing some of those UFO’s?  A resounding yes!  And a terrific way to get more use out of your embroidery module.  Your local quilt shop should be able to get you the book.

What are you waiting for?  Let’s get those quilt tops quilted!

 

Shipshewana Dreamin’ – Part 3

Don’t worry, this is my last post about Shipshewana.  I’m not a travel brochure.  But it was a peaceful getaway not far at all from home and so I just wanted to share.

I had the opportunity to meet an Amish woman who sells hand-quilted Amish quilts from her basement  —  some of them she works on herself, some of them she contracts out from others, and some she sells on consignment.

(An aside: the stark contrast between an Amish basement and my own is embarrassing. Hers was empty, with a few things on shelves, not a dust bunny or piece of anything unnecessary in sight.  Mine is filled with boxes from outdated electronics, old toys, old furniture, old books, old pictures.  What a cluttered, junk-filled life we live. )

Here are a few of the quilts she showed me.  This is just a sampling as she had many more. Make sure you scroll to the bottom, because at the end is an absolute masterpiece.

While she gave me permission to take the pictures and put them on a blog, she did not want her name given.  “What if someone sees a quilt and cannot live without it?”  I asked, in my total blundering non-Amish way.

She smiled and gave me a card.

So if you cannot live without one, leave a comment and I will privately give you her info. The prices are very reasonable for the amount of work.

While I did purchase a piece from her smaller-sized collection, everyday I think about driving back out to get the whole cloth quilt.  And who knows?  Maybe she already sold it.

But we can all still appreciate it.

This is one she did herself.  She pieces by machine and quilts by hand.

This is one she did herself. She pieces by machine and quilts by hand.

SHe chose the colors for this, but asked others to do the piecing and quilting.  She said she's not good at curves.

She chose the colors for this, but asked other Amish women to do the piecing and quilting. She said she doesn’t like curves.

amish4

Hand appliqued and hand quilted.  A beauty.

Hand appliqued and hand quilted. A true beauty.

This one is a masterpiece.  She told me an Amish woman in Pennsylvania gave it to her to sell on consignment.  It is a whole-cloth quilt, and the hand quilting is so perfect it almost made me cry.

This one is a masterpiece. She told me an Amish woman in Pennsylvania gave it to her to sell on consignment. It is a whole-cloth quilt, and the hand quilting is so perfect it almost made me cry.

wholecloth4wholecloth3

THe whole quilt was for queen size but with overhang, so very large.  the entire edging was in scallops with these lovely feathers.

 The edging was in large scallops with these lovely feathers.

 

 

Shipshewana Dreamin’ – Part 2

My first stop of the the day was Yoder’s Department Store which opens at 8 am.  Honestly, they have a TON of fabric, and every book, (including modern quilting books) imaginable. I love this place.

yoders3 yoders4I had vowed to myself during this whole trip that I would only purchase items unique to the area.  I love Moda fabric, but I can get that at home.  So I began hunting for “local” goods.

First thing I ran into was this display of reproduction toweling.  I could purchase by the yard and got myself a vintage-looking design.  They had some very cute tablecloths in carriers that looked like handbags and I’d really like to use the toweling to make a handbag…add a little ricrac and I’m good to go!  Also in the display was a special edition “Yoder’s 70th Anniversary” hand towel.  While waiting in line to check out, another woman told me she was going to use hers to create a quilt around it.  What a great idea!

yoders2Of course, I purchased a little bit of anything that had some local charm.

yoders1Do you collect Row by Row?  Get your Shipshewana version at Yoder’s.

rowbyrowNext stop is the Davis Mercantile where you can find many stores, but I just had to see the famous Lolly’s Quilt Shop.

lollysLolly’s is another wonderful place with everything you could want or need — current fabric lines, reproductions, batiks galore, and plenty of solids, books, patterns. Found a wall of Kaffe Fassett florals, with an opposite wall of all his colorful stripes.  Really the largest selection of Kaffe I’ve ever seen.

Lolly’s has a “sister” store downstairs at the mercantile, called Cuddle Corner.

Don’t miss it.

I was amazed at the wonderful things being done with minky!

cuddlecornerFresh textures, colors and patterns…all in minky!  If you have a baby in your life, you need to stop here.  You won’t believe how soft and cuddly this stuff is.  If you’re like me, you’ll want one for your own home for winter snuggling.

Special tip from the gal at the counter: a stretch needle works best with minky.  We have this discussion at work from time to time…what needle for minky?  This gal says stretch is best and I believe her, but I will try for myself as soon as I sew up my quilt.

cuddlecorner2cuddlecorner3Around every corner in Shipshewana, you’ll find merchants that are selling hand-quilted quilts.  Having done a bit of this, I fully understand the time, effort and work that goes into these kinds of handmade masterpieces.

wallofquiltsIn the next post, I’ll share a few Amish handmade quilts I was shown when an Amish woman showed me the quilts she sells for herself and for other Amish women from her home.

Hint: absolutely breathtaking.

Quilt Market Mash-Up

quilt market springQuilt Market 2015 is in full swing in Minneapolis this year.  If you’re not familiar with Quilt Market, it’s the place where all the fabric designers and fabric makers and product developers present their new products to potential buyers (shop owners).

It is a twice-yearly event, spring and fall.  I am hoping to attend the one in the fall, but we’ll see as things get closer!

For this year, I am content to live vicariously through social media.

If you want to follow along with all the chatter and visuals and news, here are a few ideas for getting the scoop.

On twitter, instagram and facebook, follow the hashtags:

#quiltmarket  #fqsquiltmarket #showmethemoda #modagoestomarket

Fat Quarter Shop’s blog site will be live tweeting, updating, creating youtube videos and much more.

Art Gallery Fabrics is streaming live at certain times during the show.  Find out more here.

Want a visual overview?  Head over to #quiltmarket’s Instagram stream.

That’s enough social media to hold me for awhile — especially since I’ll be working into the weekend.  Have fun and enjoy all the new and exciting stuff out there!

 

Adventures in Transfer Artist Paper

I love transfer artist paper.  I’ve used it a number of times with differing effects.

transfer artist paperYou can purchase this online or at craft stores, possibly your local quilt shop.

It works only with an ink jet printer, and your results will come easier to you if you have a little bit of experience in photo software, like Photoshop or Corel.

You print the image onto the paper and then iron the image onto your fabric.  The BIG difference between TAP and printing directly onto fabric paper is that the transfer actually becomes a part of your fabric…any fabric.  It never washes out.  It’s permanent.

botanical transferYou can see on this image that this botanical transfer prints right over the fabric and the underlying pattern shows through.  This particular print worked beautifully because it ended up looking like dew on the plant.  The instructions say you can print on wood, glass, stone, basically anything, as long as you can iron on it.  It takes a little practice but here are a few tips:

–Always use a hot DRY iron —  no steam.

–Remove the transfer while it’s still hot.

–Illustrations tend to look more interesting than photos, but worth trying both.

–Reverse anything with lettering before you print it on TAP or it will read backward.

–Cut as close to the image as possible before you iron it on your fabric.

–Try ripping the edges of your paper before ironing.  It gives a torn, aged effect.

–Experiment, experiment, experiment!  If you are a photography junkie like me, this is a great way to play with your images.

Here’s an example from the upcoming Software Inspirations program I’ll be teaching next week:

transfer artist paper 3I also added some embroidery to this project, which is actually a travel pillow.

cameraThe final image is from a Messenger Bag, the project I created from a previous Software Sampler lesson — a good text example of using Transfer Artist Paper to convey an emotion, a worn timelessness.

I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite quote from Macbeth:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

transfer artisp paper3

Quilt Market Prep

It’s that time of year again. Quilt Market is coming up and the fabric designers and manufacturers are revving up their marketing engines. Come May 15-17, they will be at full throttle and social media will be abuzz with new product, new designs, new fabric and quilty fun.

But I’ve always loved a good preview.

And fabric manufacturers are getting good at it.

One of my favorites is Art Gallery Fabrics.  Young, hip, fresh, at least by my standards.  I love what new designers (read: young people) are doing in the industry.  Art Gallery has released a Look Book of their new Spring 2015 fabric. 

Take a look and let me know your favorites.  Mine so far is Sketchbook and Happy Home, but I have to admit, I love them all and would be hard-pressed to choose.

Moda, the pop queen of fabric manufacturers, is also starting to tease some of their new lines. On their blog, we get a glimpse of the new Bonnie and Camille,  as well as Minnick and Simpson, Zen Chic and Fig Tree Quilts.

Stay tuned, as I will try to distill some of the quilt market info as it becomes available.  In the meantime, quilt on, friends!

grandneice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New quilt in progress for my  grand niece,  pattern is free from Me and My Sister Designs.  Fabric is Airmail, by Eric and Julie Comstock.

 

 

How Do You Redecorate?

This is the time of year when I look around my house and everything looks stale.

The bathroom needs new accessories and new towels, the pictures on the walls have been there a hundred years.  Well maybe not that long but they might as well be.  And I don’t really have a lot of enthusiasm and energy (read $$$) for a huge renovation.

Then along came this fabric collection.  I LOVE it.  And I’m not even into roosters.

IMG_3403It’s called El Gallo by Deb Strain for Moda.

With all the blacks, grays and reds, I just thought it was elegant and fabulous.

I had to have it for our kitchen.

We have one large window and one small window in the kitchen, and I quickly grow tired of the valances, so I make new ones whenever I have the time.  I decided I would make this set reversible.

Now, this is so easy to make, it’s unbelievable.  Simple valances for a kitchen or bedroom are nothing but straight lines.  I can’t tell you how many people think that’s some sort of inborn talent. Really it’s not.  It takes a sewing machine, some thread, and the will to practice.

For a simple reversible valance, you need two types of fabric, preferably contrasting in some interesting way.

1.  Measure your window.  You’ll need 2 to 2 1/2 times the width of your window in fabric to get a nice gathered appearance.

2.  Decide the length of your valance and add an inch or so for seam allowances.

3.  On mine I included 2 inches of contrasting fabric on the bottom, which I laid out the opposite way on the reverse side. See the picture below.

4.  Place the fabric right sides together and sew all the way along the top and bottom, making a large tube.  I used a serger because it finishes the edges at the same time.

5.  Turn the whole thing inside out and press the seams along the top and bottom.  This is the most time-consuming part.

6.  Next, I serged the ends of the tube…not shut, just all the way around.  if you don’t have a serger, just fold and press the sides under twice, about a 1/2 in. on each side.  Don’t sew the front to the back just yet. We have to add the rod pocket.

7.  About 2 inches from the top, sew a line all the way across the valance.  Make sure your rod will fit before you sew the second line of the rod pocket, usually down about 2-3 inches from the first line. Sew all the way across.

8.  Now you can use a topstitch to sew the sides together leaving the rod pockets open.

9.  I also added topstitching along the bottom contrasting fabric.

10. Done!

IMG_3383Once the valances were up, of course I needed some accent pieces with roosters on them.

Now, frankly, I thought roosters were yesterday’s news. Washed up, used up, replaced by chubby hens with skinny legs.  I don’t know, just not current any more.

But I went into Strawflower Shop in downtown Geneva and asked them if they had any roosters. “Oh yes,” the gal exclaimed, “upstairs in our furnishings. I’ll call to let them know you’re coming up.”  By the time I reached the top of the stairs, an elegant woman greeted me.  “I understand you’re looking for roosters,” she said, as though I were buying fine wine or maybe a new car.

“We have quite a nice selection in our kitchen area. Roosters are always in demand, you know.”  I didn’t know.

But I did find a lovely rooster for the kitchen wall.  Who knew they were in demand?  I guess I’m cool. Again.

IMG_3397

Looking up at the valance you can see that it's reversible, with contrasting detail.

Looking up at the valance you can see that it’s reversible, with contrasting detail.

 

 

 

Just another Blizzard/Snowstorm/Super Bowl Sunday

Yesterday after work, at about 5:30 PM,  I stopped at the local Meijer.

You would have thought that none of us had ever eaten before or would ever eat again.  The shelves were cleared of chips and salsa, although I found some on an end cap.  The stockers were angry and the check out clerks were exhausted.  The gal at the counter told me the store had been packed all day.

I couldn’t find any potatoes. They were gone.  Yes, all the potatoes were gone.

The Canadian bacon I usually purchase had been replaced by rows and rows of real bacon and Velveeta. And ribs. Sour cream shelves were empty. And I couldn’t even find my son’s yogurt.

The combination of Super Bowl Sunday and a pending snowstorm….excuse me…. BLIZZARD…were seriously almost causing the end of civilization.

suuperbowlblizzard2

Today, the snow IS falling, thank goodness.  The plows in the neighborhood have been few and far between. I heard one last night at 3 am, then again once during the day today, and that’s pretty much it.

Of course, I have been sewing.

I used a new pattern and assembled a couple of cute table runners for Valentine’s Day.  My goal is to get them to the point where I could spend the Super Bowl doing hand work by putting on the binding.

The pattern is called Rock Candy from Jaybird Quilts and the accompanying ruler is called a Sidekick.  This is truly a simple pattern to do using the ruler, and a fun shape for a table.

jaybird quiltsI did manage to get the binding on, and now I’m ready to sit and watch the game.

jaybird quilts 2The fabric is adorable, called Kiss Kiss from moda.

So get out your chips and dip, salsa and sour cream, your chocolates and cheeses and crackers and cookies. Turn on your big screen, enjoy the screaming crowds and the silly, raunchy, depressing, goofy, and tear-jerking commercials and half-time show.

As for me, at 8 pm I switch to Downton Abbey. Pass me the stress-reducing herbal tea.

 

 

When Your Quilt Needs a Time-Out

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know I participated in a polka dot fabric exchange last year.  I received 60 – 10 x 10 in. squares of polka dot fabric from all around the world.

I resolved to include them all in a quilt somehow, and managed to cobble together a tree with the fabric as leaves.

But then I had to put the quilt in a “time-out”, as a friend of mine likes to say.  Quilts need it, you know.  They become unruly, arrogant, resistant.  Or sometimes they just become passive or apathetic.  Either way, when a quilt reaches that stage of behavior, it’s time to put it in time-out.  It makes absolutely no sense to argue or to fight your way through.  The quilt needs time to find its way.

So I put it in the guest bedroom where it could have some time alone to ponder its future.

I checked on it  occasionally, offering ideas and solutions, a way out.  But the quilt obstinately refused.  “OK for you,” I would think.  And walk away again, to work on another, more cooperative project.

For months it sat, sulking, pouting, depressed even.

Then one day, shortly before Christmas, when I walked in to check on it, the quilt looked eager. Just a hint of it, you understand, but there it was:  a small little whisper of earnestness.  It had formed an idea about its future.

So I listened.

And I let the ideas float around for awhile with no pressure or desire for any of them to be successful.  Tentatively, we tried something.  And then another thing, after that.

And now, the polka dot quilt and I are moving forward together, both listening, both asserting, both with renewed vigor.

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Truth and LoveGandhi