Block-of-the-Month · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Mini Update

As promised, I did not have time to do a blog last week. We didn’t get that lovely A/C fully installed until mid-week. When they installed it, they ran all the piping out through what had been a boarded up window, so we spent the remainder of the week installing a new window and bricking around the pipes. The weekend was a family canoe trip, during which we punched 3 holes in our canoe and sank it. Thank goodness for family. We loaded the Snowdog into a cousin’s canoe with their pooch. The dogs didn’t try play at all – just cuddled up in the bottom and went to sleep – so that went well at least. Husband’s brothers tied the sinking canoe up to their canoes to tow it while we tried to bail fast enough to keep the canoe afloat to get back to the cottage. We sank twice anyways. That’s how bad the holes were. 😀 At least we laughed the whole time! It was a very old canoe we got for free, so we just made the best of the situation. Long story short – there was no time for blogs.

What I did have time to do was finish straightening up my sewing room. When the A/C guys came, they asked my husband to move everything … and boy did he ever.

It got worse than this, believe it or not …

I almost cried when I saw the mess … but messes are opportunities for organization!!! 😀 And since I’d just installed Fabrique Estates, it was the perfect opportunity to finish cleaning up and setting up! I’ve decided that painting is going to wait a year or two, but everything is set up where it’s going to go when the painting does happen.

See the quilt-covered dresser next to Fabrique Estates? It turns out that the top is the exact same size as my “small” cutting mat! I now have a cutting station that’s at chest height! No more back ache from bending down to cut!!! I can still put the big cutting mat on the folding table to cut long strips, but most of the time I’ll be using my cutting station!!! I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’ve been seriously considering investing in hardware to get a collapsible cutting station. My back was injured during a car accident in college and I try not to strain it anymore than I have to. Now I have a cutting station!!!

I put the big mat on the regular sewing table to replace the small one getting moved to the cutting station. It got damaged during the AC installation – my husband left it out in the hot sun and warped it badly – but I’m hoping that it will slowly flatten out and be usable. If not, I think my dear mother-in-law may have another unused mat lying about that I can snag.

What I’m also really excited about is my pressing station!!! I made an ironing board out of … well, a board … from Home Depot, covered it in a layer of batting, then covered it in this cute Amy Butler fabric I found in the sale bin at Fabricland! I’m planning on painting the room a slightly more muted shade of the purple, so it’s going to match the finished room perfectly when I get there. And my rulers aren’t lying in a pile by my table anymore! An uncle of mine made this little shelf for me years ago as a girl in high school. It’s been up in most of my places, but I hadn’t found a room for it in our home. Now I have. And did you notice the shelf supports? That’s me! Auntie M!!!

There has been little to no sewing being done, but I did at least get caught up on last month’s block. The assigned block was a Dresden plate (or to be exact, a half Dresden plate). I got three blocks done for the class, which was enough to not get dinged with the $5 failure charge, but I wanted to complete my row anyways. There were five blocks needed. All were cut out and ready to go, so I took a couple hours on my last night of vacation to finish them and sew them together. Aren’t they cute?? They aren’t perfect, but I did the thing and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Now to get at least one of the next blocks done, plus get Grandma’s quilt pieced (due August 12). July and August are shaping up to be busy sewing months and it’s finally cool enough in the house to do the work!! Can’t wait!!!

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing

Retreat Distractions

I meant to get this post up sooner, I really did … but then I changed what I was doing, so I had to wait until I was finished. 😛

The mini-distraction project at quilt retreat was a charm square tote class taught by the always-amazing Kim Boaro of FibreChick. The idea was to have a project to use charm packs from our stashes, although Kim did have fabric and some charm packs for sale at the retreat. Charm packs are 5″x5″ pre-cut squares from a fabric line (roughly 40 squares to a pack). I impulse purchased the most adorable bee-themed charm pack last winter when we were first talking about getting into beekeeping, so I knew exactly what I would use for the project! Of course, that didn’t stop me from replacing the empty spot with a new charm pack from FibreChick … It’s going to be a Christmas present. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!

Since I’ve already made a charm-pack purse (although I cut the fabric myself for the purse, remember?), I decided to go with some of the suggested alterations she had to the pattern. Instead of it being rows of blocks, I decided to stagger the blocks so I wouldn’t have to focus on making my points meet (sneaky!) The one nice thing about this fabric line is that only one of the included fabrics is directional – the ones with the writing on them. I had to make sure that I laid them out the same way for each side of the bag (5 across, 4 down on each side). Of course, I didn’t plan for Morgan error, so when I assembled it, the writing was sideways instead of facing the up-and-down. I actually kind of prefer the look! And the writing is pointing the same direction on each side, so all good! I used the leftovers from one of the fabrics from the husband quilt for the liner and some of the cut off batting from the husband quilt … using up scraps!!! (I also bought the fabric I needed for the strap from FibreChick … IT STILL COUNTS AS STASH BUSTING)

Laying out the fabric patterns

After sewing the squares in rows and sewing the rows together off-spaced, the instructions wanted me to stitch in the ditch around the squares. It does look nice on the sample bag, but I wanted to try something different. When I eventually start to make a hexie quilt (little hexagons), I wanted to use a blanket stitch to machine quilt them. Perfect practice opportunity! And I got to do a little FMQ at quilt retreat, which always makes me happy. 😀 I played two rounds of thread chicken … AND WON!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Thread chicken is where you’re trying to finish your project (or your section) as the thread is running out and you’re playing to finish before it runs out. Also works for yarn – I do not win at yarn chicken ever. Thread seems to be my jam. 😉

I got the bag together just under the wire and thought it looked so cute! It’s an extra-big sized tote – it even comfortably fits a project box! I didn’t completely finish it off – I left the lining opening un-stitched. Why? Because there is supposed to be a pocket inside and I ran out of time to make one with my scraps. I was toying with the idea of not putting in a pocket. Because the tote is so big, I’ll probably be using it to transport large items (LIKE QUILTS!!!) to the beach or weekend visits, but in case I want to bring just the tote, it’s nice to have pockets to easily find keys or phones. So … guess what I suddenly decided I needed to do last night … at 11PM … while waiting for husband to come home from working nights … I don’t do well when I’m left alone in the house.

First step – fix the liner. I had to rip the sides out of the liner so the pocket fit the width of the bag. The only reason any of this worked was because I made the liner too big by accident when I first made it. At the time, I thought it wouldn’t matter because it’s in the big and you can’t see that it’s a little big. Thank goodness I just left it as-is! I also ripped open the bottom of the bag a bit more so I could run the stitches on the pocket sections easier and to add stabilizer better. Since the pocket has lots of fabric and stabilizer, it’s really heavy, which means I have to bolster the single layer of fabric liner so it holds the pocket without collapsing. This is not the right way to add stabilizer AT ALL, but it was what I had to work with. On to the pocket!

I sewed all the liner scraps together to make a pocket, but it was only big enough for one side, so I got the mis-cut scraps from the drawstring bag to make up the other side of the pocket. Popped a little stabilizer on the back of the pieced side, stuck it into the liner, and then re-stitched the liner sides. I decided to use a specialty stitch on the pocket bottom and to create pocket sections. Guess what specialty stitch my sewing machine has … HONEYCOMB STITCH!!! How perfect does this look??

Finished product! Both sides! I hung them in my lilac trees for a pretty background. Love me some lilacs. 😀 Now to finish off a big quilt to carry in it!!!

I mean … go to the beach and get some sun so I stop looking like a mountain goblin …

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

The Distractions Continue

This will be a short update due to the fact that I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a couple weeks. I KNOW … I’m shocked too! I was on vacation all last week and intended to get some sewing done then, but we were just too busy! The weather was lovely all week for a change and outdoor work had to be done. We have an undeveloped bush lot outside of the city. It’s the property my family lived on when I was a teenager. Husband and I acquired it from my parents when they moved further north and we’ve had plans to start developing it. Step one – put in a road. This took up a couple of days worth of distractions scheduled for this week.

We also had some home improvements to complete – and complete, we did, although it took three days to do so.

We were supposed to take one day off to relax, but I couldn’t help myself – I got started on a sewing project. Not one that involves a sewing machine, but one that is going to wind up in my sewing room.

This is an antique Victorian cupboard that my mother used as a book catalog while we were growing up. It’s going to be my fabric storage solution! I’m super excited to see how it works out! The first layer of paint is mostly off (the shiny stuff – it was already peeling off). Underneath is a blue paint and a red stain (the red stain is still on the inside of all the doors). I removed the hardware from the doors last fall before putting the cupboard in storage. One of the clasps needs to be replaced, but I found a website (Old Quebec Hardware) where I can get replacement latch for $8 a pop plus shipping. That sounds expensive, but my next best option was $40+ on eBay! I’ll pay the $8 + shipping (probably no more than $15 for Canada Post) instead thanks. It’s a cheap price to pay to have a beautiful piece for my room! Plus, it’s an exact match to a replacement latch my mother put on the cupboard years ago. It’s probably the same company that still makes them. Isn’t that cool? I’m a little tempted to replace all the latches now as they are obviously starting to reach the end of their life cycle, but I think I’ll wait until I lose a couple more before doing that.

I have an idea for the top. The width and length is comparable to a ironing board. I’m planning on building a padded surface to use for pressing. It will save space as I won’t need to keep my ironing board out. I’m really excited to get this finished! I still have a lot of sanding to do, but I’m hoping to have it finished and installed by next weekend! I was going to try to paint the room first, but I think I’ll hold off on that. I need to get some time in on my sewing machine soon!!!

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Surprise Project!

It’s not a quilt.

It’s knitting!

Crochet, to be exact.

New ball winder!

It all started when I got my new ball winder. I had a smaller, crappier one that would eat and break my wool if the ball was bigger than normal. It worked just fine when I was working on baby quilts and kept ripping out small balls of yarn, but I finally got sick of it and decided to upgrade. I placed an order at my local yarn store, Stix & Stones, and she kindly offered to resell my old ball winder for me. I wound up with half the cost of my new ball winder paid for!

Black Cat Custom Yarn – Transmuation

The second stage happened when Stix & Stones got in a shipment of Black Cat Custom Yarn and as soon as I saw the colour Transmutation – I had to have it! I have mentioned my eldest niece before here. She (and by extension, my sister and her family) are currently working on controlling epilepsy that appeared in April 2018. The doctors aren’t sure what is causing it, which is normal for a large amount of epileptic patients. It can take some time to manage with medication and management can take even longer to do in children. In Canada, some conditions (like cancer) have colours associated to them for fundraising and identification purposes (cancer in general is yellow, breast cancer is pink). The colour for epilepsy is purple. I found out when my niece, who has been a pink princess girl since she could talk, announced that her favourite colour is suddenly purple. While the Transmutation yarn has many colours, including pink, the base colour is a rich royal purple that would be perfect for her. I thought this would make a perfect little sweater. You can see below that a it wound up in a range of beautiful colours when I wound it off my yarn swift. You’ll notice I took a ton of pictures – I found it so cool that this sweater appears to change colour based on the lighting!

I tend to get all my knitting and crochet patterns from Ravelry. I found the pattern I wanted on Ravelry for free, but when I followed the pattern to the designer’s website (KT and the Squid), she had it available for a small fee. If you remember from a previous blog, I like to support designers if I find the cost to be fiscally adequate. Maybe that’s not a fair reason, but it’s a reason I am comfortable with. I found the $3.50 USD (I think was the cost?) to be a fair price and bought the PDF version. You can find the pattern for free on her website if you like it!

Little sweater! (3 days work)

This is technically a quick crochet. By technically, I meant that the body and one arm of the sweater were completed in the span of a weekend. When I got to the second arm, I had a horrible block. For five days … I crocheted the arm, realized I did it wrong, ripped it out, crocheted the arm wrong again, ripped it out, and went to bed mad. 😛 To be honest, I was watching TV while I did it, so while it was annoying, it was my own fault for not counting properly while I was doing it.

My baby doll – Amy! Who doesn’t love a Cabbagepatch doll? (Are my 1980s roots showing?)

Once the sweater was made, I had the better part of a ball left over (the sweater required 2 balls with a third ball needed to do the second arm). What to do with the leftover wool … how about a sweater for her little sister’s toy Bear! I decided to do a first – make my own pattern! Plus, it gave me an excuse to pull my old doll out of my memories box (because I needed a model, of course!).

Blocked project drying flat

Once both sweaters were done, I decided to try my hand at blocking! I’ve never blocked before. Blocking is where you wash your wool projects, shape the wet project to the correct proportions, and let it dry. It’s a bit of a process, so I thought I’d use this project as a test to block. It took two full days for the sweaters to dry out. This is partially because of the time of year – here in mid-May, it’s a little cold and a little damp. The furnace is off for the summer (it’s not cold enough to need a furnace right now, just sort of grey and rainy), so the laundry isn’t drying out as fast as it would in the winter with the furnace or the summer in the sun.

The sweaters!
Another picture of the burgundy button

Final step – sew on the buttons! I dug into my button collection to see if I had anything suitable. I found a beautiful burgundy-red big button for my niece’s sweater. I can’t remember where I found it, but I’ve always thought it was so pretty! For the toy sweater, I decided to use some pearlesque pink buttons that I’ve had in my button box since I was 8. Sometimes holding on to things pays off!

My Saturday class last week got bumped to this week, so I have two BoM classes this week (Thursday night and Saturday morning). It’s going to be a busy quilting week on my vacation week next week! YEAH VACATION TIME!!! I am bound and determine to get out on the lake next week. It’s going to be fridgedly cold, but I can’t wait any longer. In my books – it’s summertime!

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing

A Story About Yarn UFOs

That was not supposed to be the title, but this blog entry earned it.

I’ll explain.

Back when I first started sewing … a year ago … on my birthday in January, funnily enough … the very first thing I made was a pillow case. The class was offered by a local online fabric store (now closed) and hosted at our local yarn store, Stix and Stones. In case you were wondering, yes, I knit (*cough*CROCHET!!) as well. I have … three? … yes, three projects on needles right now. I keep telling myself that I have to finish the oldest project before starting anything new (two years and counting … 😥 ), but I keep wanting to do something different! I think that’s why I’m so focused on finishing what I start quilt-wise instead of having a ton of projects in boxes. The UnFinished Objects (UFOs) can really weigh on you!

ANYWAY … rabbit hole exited … my first project was a pillow case. I had literally never ever touched a sewing machine before this class. I did try to get Red, my mum’s old sewing machine, running during my honeymoon, but that failed for a couple of reasons. Reason #1 – never.EVER. get a puppy on the first day of your honeymoon. You parents out there – remember your newborn? The first few weeks (more like months … for some of you poor poor souls, years) were my first two weeks with a puppy. Up every two hours to pee, like clockwork, and absolutely no rush about doing the business (unless, of course, it’s my fault we didn’t get outside right away – then puddles abound!). I would literally stay up long enough in the morning to make sure my new husband was out of bed and watching the little monster before passing out for 4-5 hours. Even he admits that the Snowdog ruined our honeymoon – and he’s a guy!! They don’t usually grasp these concepts! Back to the sewing machine … Reason #2 sewing failed was because the sewing machine had (I found out much, much later while talking to my mother) never been cleaned in all the years she owned it. She got it before I was born!!!! And I’m over 30!!!! Poor Red! She was so packed full of lint, I was pulling out solidified wads with my nail file. When we got home from the horrormoon ( 😀 ), off Red went to The Sewing Machine for a cleaning. By the time I got her back, I had moved on to better things (the two-years-in-progress yarn project, ironically) and Red was tucked into the cupboard for a later sewing attempt, which turned out to be the pillow case class last year.

See? The train of thought always comes back to the station!! It just sometimes takes the scenic route through my head doing so. Poor husband – the long rambling boring stories are the bane of his existence. 😀

Back on track. Project #1, in January 2018 – pillow case. Definitely an excellent learning project for sewing n00bs (pronounced n-oo-bs, as in newbies – oh, by the way, I’m also a computer nerd by trade. “n00bs” is a nerdy computer gaming term. I know – I’m all over the map today). Project #2, in February 2018 – a lined drawstring bag designed by Jeni Baker. The class was hosted by the same person who taught the pillow case class and she walked us through the basics of actually creating something (verses sewing some straight lines and pulling everything inside out). Again ironically, once the bag got home, I immediately dropped a knitting project into it that I was having trouble completing. The project is still there. Any guesses what that was??

Oh screw it … I’m taking a picture. You get three mentions on the blog, you deserve to have your picture took.

It’s hard to see in the picture, but it’s eventually going to be a Wonder Woman shawl. The pattern (by Carissa Browning) is available on Ravelry. It will be beautiful … when (let’s be honest … IF) it ever gets done.

At this point, I changed the title of the blog entry. I really should be starting the rest of this on a new entry, but I can’t justify posting a yarn project in a quilting blog, so on we go to what was supposed to be the point of this update.

I ordered some scrap cuts of some fabric I love (but am too faint of heart to cut into) from Troll Brothers Quilt Design back at the start of the year. It came in the same package as the Tula Pink Pinkerville collection. The scrap cuts come from the Fairy Lights collection by Lewis & Irene fabrics. I had originally thought of using this line for my niece’s quilt when I get time next winter, but then Pinkerville released and I couldn’t help myself. 😀 I decided to make another lined drawstring bag for my niece, since I was going to be seeing a lot of her while staying with my parents. Just for clarification – I only have the two nieces. The oldest is 4 and the youngest is 16 months. In the future, I intend to spread my love (and treasures) more evenly, but the 16mth old doesn’t understand gift-giving yet. I made sure to spend lots of one-on-one time with her, which I think makes a bigger impact at this stage. She did get one of the two dolly quilts I made last year and I intend to make her quilt after completing her sister’s. I know, I know – I don’t need to make excuses to you, but I like to maintain clear air. 🙂

The scrap cuttings were the perfect size for the project. I think I have a 2″ square of each left for MY scraps pile. The larger print became the body of the bag and the pink-with-white-polkadot fabric was the cuff around the top where the drawstring runs through. As this is a lined drawstring bag, I rooted around in my scraps bin for something that would work for the liner. I found an antique-looking length of thin white cotton. Remember the Ugly Row fabric? This came from the same pile and I never used it. Who ever uses off-white, especially old off-white? It makes a perfect no-one-ever-sees-it lining for a drawstring bag, though! And there was lots to fit!

Did you notice the key word there? WAS. Yeah … There was lots until I cut it wrong …

The first cut was a strip of fabric, 12.5″ wide by 21″ long. It was to be sub-cut in half to make two pieces that are 12.5″ x 10.5″. I successfully cut the first long strip, then moved on to cutting the next two pieces. I cut them one at a time, lining up my ruler and making the cut each time. After cutting both pieces, I thought, “Huh, those look kinda small …”

LOOK AT THAT. I lined it up at eleven and a half and cut it. TWICE. These are relatively big pieces to come out of a scrap pile!! I could have smacked myself! There was no way that the remaining strip would work, it just looked too small, but I measured it anyways …

IT’S BARELY BIG ENOUGH. I usually cut 0.5-1 inch big so I can square off the fabric properly, but I’d already been given a lucky star, so no more wishes from me! FYI – You’re not supposed to use the measurements on your mat to cut because they aren’t accurate enough. I know that. But they’re accurate enough for a rough measurement of how much you need/have.

Now that everything was cut to the CORRECT size, it was a relatively simple job to sew the strips together. Last time, I found marking off the bag opening and making sure the drawstring channels weren’t sewn shut to be a challenge and I thought it was a bit tricky this time too. Not as tricky as properly sewing the flat bottom corners, evidently.

Flat-bottom bags, you make my sanity go bye-bye

Of course, I sewed the right side wrong AND cut it. I did this on both the liner and the exterior. Way to go M! By this point, I just wanted to get it done – I still had to pack for my trip and get to bed. Packing was extra tricky since I was taking the bus and leaving husband the car (I would be gone all week and would be using one of my parents’ cars while visiting). Thankfully, this flat bottom is fixable. See the square marked on the fabric in the picture? I just had to pick out the stitches, pinch the square together at the corner marked, and re-sew. The only annoying thing is that the square didn’t perfectly line up on both sides of the liner. Usually, when the corner isn’t clipped, you just get it as close as you can and sew it to look like the left side. It took a couple of tries, but I got it! All that was left was to flip the bag inside out, make the drawstring, and thread it through!

What a pretty bag for a princess girl who’s favourite colour is pink!
Want to know the real reason I wanted this fabric in particular for her special bag?

IT’S GLOW IN THE DARK!!! I’m telling you, it does not get much cooler than that.

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Creative Solutions

We are having a little family crisis, so I’ve been home a grand total of 10 hours this week. No quilting got done, but the ironing board got a face lift!

I feel like this quilting blog is turning into a home making blog …

What I didn’t realize when I made the changes to the bins and ironing table setup is that the iron rest was facing the wall. I didn’t think about it because I wouldn’t have enough space to extend it, so I just ignored it.
Fun fact: When you iron, the board moves up and down just a smidge and the feet shimmy across the floor, typically in a reverse motion into the wall …

I was getting massive streaks on the wall where the metal was transferring onto the wall. Since the wall isn’t primed or painted (just drywall mud), it picks up marks super easily. The result was lovely iron-grey streaks all over the wall.

See how close? And that’s after I cleaned off the worst smudges …

I picked up a roll of window heat-proofing foam a while ago to use in my bags. I couldn’t find any foam stabilizer at Fabricland (although I now suspect that I can get some at The Sewing Machine because they offer baggineering classes – yes that’s a thing!!) and wanted something padded for making camera lens cases that never got made. I’m going to need them again this year, so that might show up on the blog. Ohhhh and I’m going to need a new purse … hmmm … I’m adding that to my list. Therapeutic, this blogging thing!

Window seal. 😀 There’s an alternate use for everything!

I cut a smidge off the roll and attached it to the iron holder. I used cotton string to help adhere it to the rail underneath and a couple of straight pins to lock it into the fabric cover on top. I don’t want anything too permanent as I’ll probably have to wash it down the road. Or replace it – evidently, Neiko has been happy-kneading the ironing board when he sits up there in the sunshine. For those of you who do not have cats, they knead things with their claws when they’re happy. It’s both cute and SUPER annoying. 😛

I’m glad I didn’t make it too secure because I’m evidently not done with this. First thing I did after setting this up is accidentally run over it with the hot iron. I knew this was going to happen, but thought I’d just be extra careful. I should have known … melted plastic smeared all over the bottom of the iron. I didn’t even notice until it transferred on to the cloth of my project – double joy! 😛 I have a scrap bit of grubby fabric spread over it right now (the fabric hung out in my pocket for the better part of two months during colour matching sprees, so it got somewhat irreparably sullied).

I did manage to make one thing before heading out to the family homestead, but that will get its own blog post next week as I was my clumsy self and botched it a bit. At least the snow is coming down! I swear we’ve lost 2 feet of snow in the last 3 weeks and a foot of that disappeared in the last 4 days. Spring is FINALLY coming!! 😀

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects

Has Issues Focusing …

Sooo … I might have gotten completely distracted by the challenge fabric and worked on that instead. Bad M!

I decided that this challenge would be perfect to try out on a charm-square bag! There are lots of free tutorials online for this if you want to make it yourself. I used this one, but it was just a series of pictures showing how it goes together. Some people may prefer to find something with more words.

http://www.handmadiya.com/2015/10/patchwork-bag-of-squares.html

First, cut out your squares. I cut eight 4″ squares of each colour. I’d recommend going much, much bigger than that, but I’m trying to just use the three FQ fabrics, so mine will be a mini-tote. Incidentally, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love my frosted 6″ square ruler. Every time I use it, I think about getting all the frosted rulers. They just work for me!

Squaring up the squares!

Next, lay out your fabric to see what you want to go where. This is when I realized I was 2 squares short – kinda. I technically had one white and one yellow square left over, but I thought it would throw off the pattern I had going. I didn’t want to use any more of my focus fabric, so I dipped into my stash and came up with this dark royal blue that matched the dark leaves perfectly. Plus, it’s better to have dark on the bottom of the bag – that’s where all the dirt gets picked up!

Square placement

Next, I sewed the rows together. You can do this in whichever direction makes most sense to you. Once I had the whole bag together, I pinned it so I could see the shape that I was going for.

At this point, I switched to the lining. I had great plans for the lining as well. I took the gold and the white left over fabric and ran a seam down it, joining the two pieces together. Then, I folded it and half and placed the unpinned bag on top to see if I had enough fabric for it. I did! I outlined the bag shape with wide margins (a little bigger than a 1/4″). Bag came off the lining, the lining got pinned together so the layers would not shift, and I cut out the outline.

This is where a better walkthrough or doing more research would have helped. I forgot that most bags have some sort of fusible lining in it to had a little thickness and help give the bag some form. To be honest, though – I’m not a huge fan of fusible lining and I love the feeling of just cloth bags. They crumple better too if you’re cramming them into a pocket. What you’re supposed to do at this step is attach batting or a fusible lining to pieced part, turn it into a proper bag, sew the cloth lining into a bag, then attach the two part together so the lining is loose in the bag.

What I did was attach the lining to the bag right away and do some stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around each square. I wanted the lining and the front to have a joined feel instead of the loose bag lining feel you usually get with the standard method. It also made up for not having the fusible lining added. It did halt my progress on another front, though. Part of the reason for the loose lining is to hide all the edge seams on the inside of the bag. Since the lining was already attached to the bag, I can’t nicely join all the sides together to make the bag on the machine. I found a spool of hand quilting thread that I had been intending to take to the guild for the grab table. It’s a nice soft yellow. Hand quilting thread has a coating on it that is horrible for machines because it gums up the tension disks – it almost feels like upholstery thread. I don’t hand quilt at all and bought the thread because it was on sale for 10 cents and I mis-read the label. Since I remembered I still had this thread, I decided to hand-stitch the seams together instead! This will make the seams bump up together with a “hidden” stitch and it will allow me to incorporate my exclusive handbag handle design.

Because of how this bag goes together, the mouth of the bag is more narrow than the hold of the bag (as in ship’s hold … the interior of the bag?). Since I’m building the bag on the small side to begin with, this made the opening very narrow indeed. I could easily get my fist in and out, but I could potentially see having a problem with a super bulky wallet and definitely issues with inserting a book. To fix that, I decided to add a wider handle to the bag. The problem is that this style of bag usually attaches the handles to the upper points. So I changed the design.

I cut the handles out of the remaining square of the focus fabric. I cut on an acute diagonal so I would get as much width out of it as possible. I sewed a seam up the two edges to make an elongated triangle. The ends didn’t match up, but I cut them square after sewing the seam. Once this was done, I measured the length of the two top panels of the bag as the handle will be attached to the side. I marked the top and bottom on the handle and drew a line to follow. Back at the sewing machine, I ran the lines under my walking foot and sewed down the point. I turned just after the edge of the fabric so I would have less bulk bunching when I turned it inside out. Finally, I cut off the excess fabric and turned the handle inside out. I used my Purple Thang to make the point as pointy as possible. Word of caution: while this is a wonderful tool, I have accidentally ripped through fabric with it by pushing too hard, so keep that in mind. The handles got spritzed and ironed and are ready to be attached to the bag!

My hand sewing is really slow and I’m also knitting a birthday gift for someone turning an age on January 22, so it’s not my biggest priority right now. It is coming along though! I’m adding a bonus picture showing one side almost finished. It might look a bit funny at the bottom where everything comes together because of the way I sewed on the first handle, but I figure I’ll put a pale yellow button over that spot on both sides it it does. I’m also thinking of putting a yellow button at the top and adding a fabric loop so you can “close” the bag, but I think the mouth might be small enough to make that redundant.

As punishment for having my dessert first, I also did most of my block-of-the-month. I am really struggling with these block. Not because the patterns are wrong (Kim does a really good job at writing them) but because I evidently don’t read patterns well. All the quilts I’ve made so far have either been completely out of my head or I borrowed elements from a pattern and modified it to suit myself. The modified patterns gave me the most trouble because I was trying to understand how they did what they did so I could change or increase it. All my bags were just a little bit wrong because I would do something then realize I mis-understood what I was doing. That’s learning for me and that’s why I leave my mistakes in. I’m teaching myself to hide the mistakes in plain sight. This month’s block was a pointed flower block and I didn’t realize until I started joining them all together that I’d done it completely wrong. All the piecing was done right, but the joining was not done in the right order so it doesn’t look pointed. Since I didn’t realize this until the end of the process, I’m finishing it as-is and taking it in as an alternative design piece. It doesn’t look bad – in fact, it looks like it’s on purpose because they’re all done the same way. It’s just not according to pattern. When I post the completed quilt top in May, you’ll have to see if you can spot it.

I’m going to blame it on the concert I was watching while I was doing this. I usually watch Netflix, but I sometimes get distracted by the screen and I wanted to concentrate so I didn’t make any mistakes (HA!). It was the memorial concert for “Beard Guy” Mike Taylor from Walk Off The Earth. Like a good Canadian, I’ve always enjoyed their music and have quite a bit of it, but I’m in no way a super-fan or know much about the band’s personal life. Regardless, this concert brought me to tears a couple of times. It’s so amazing to see the impact a single person can have on a large group of people and so sad to think that most of the time, it’s not celebrated until after the person is gone.

This week, find someone who means a lot to you and tell them what makes them so special and why you love them. We should all do this more often, but it’s so easy to get bogged down in life and forget. Try to remember to show your love more often. I wish I could show my dearly departed aunt, Auntie El, how much she had meant to me and how big of an impact her presence had in my life. The only way I can do that now is to reflect her in how I behave in my own life and that will just have to be enough.

~M