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

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing

Returning to Responsibilities

It’s time to catch up on my block-of-the-month quilts! I’ve been slacking so hard lately.

First- bye bye coral orange peel block!! I’m going to miss you!!!

It’s so lonely in the project box!!!

Second, my FibreChick BOTM. I still had a week left before it was due, so I got working on it. My block has 4 main colours, 1 accent colour, and the background colour. Most of the other colourways have one main colour. Usually my blocks get rotated with 1 of 4 main colours, but for this block, I got all four colours in it.

It’s a cute little pinwheel block!

I rather enjoyed putting this block together! We were using 4-at-a-time and 2-at-a-time half-square-triangles (HSTs). It gave me a chance to use my magic wand!! 😀

See?? Literally a magic wand!

It is so handy! It gives you a perfect 1/4″ line to sew along for HSTs. In some cases, I drew a line from point to point. On others, I just lined up the ruler on the points and drew the stitch lines with the mechanical pencil. It beats using your 1/4″ foot to make sure you stitch a straight line.

It’s magic, baby. 😉

The last time I had a block that had all four of my main colours was my first block, so I pulled my first block out. I think I’ve made a lot of progress since I started class back in September.

First and second-last block of the class

The next class is the last class of this year. Since that will leave me with 10 blocks, I intend to buy two extra blocks to bring the total blocks up to 12, which will give me A COMPLETED QUILT!! Whoot woot!

Third – my Cottage Quilter BOTM. It is a Dresden Plate this month. We have to make 5 half-plates. A Dresden Plate is like a big sunflower or sun. Cutting out the petals took me TWO WHOLE DAYS. ugggggggh. It did give me a chance to watch HBO’s Chernobyl. WOW. I’m not a huge fan of HBO shows – too much jingly-jangly people parts for my taste – but this show was INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend! Although, full disclosure – the miners were mining in the nude (historically accurate) and they did not … strategically frame the scene. Everything was captured. Other than that though – I actually want to re-watch it already. It was that good.

Next week – hopefully finishing the Dresden Plate so I don’t get dinged with a failure charge.

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Adventures with Humans

I did another first! I went on a quilt retreat!

My table and my table mates!

Basically, people show up for a weekend to sew in the same big room together. They can be at a remote location where you stay overnight, but this one was in town, so I got to sleep in my own bed and get woken up by my own dog at 6 freaking AM dog … The tears are real. Especially since my own husband kept me up to 1AM because he missed me all day (AWWW).

I went into this retreat with one objective: get started on the quilt that I’m making my brother-in-law for his wedding. Since none of my in-laws are aware of my blog, I can discuss it here without ruining the surprise 🙂

Log cabin block

I am planning on making a log cabin quilt. Traditionally, it was one of the first quilt patterns that a new bride would make with all black blocks on one side, all white blocks on the other, and a red “chimney” in the middle. I decided to modernize it a bit by working in some grey. I mocked up this block with some spare fat quarters (quarter-of-a-yard of fabric, in case you’re wondering) and I like the look. It makes a nice, big block that shouldn’t take too long to make up into a quilt. 18.5″ blocks, 5 blocks across by 5 blocks down will put it somewhere around 95″. I’m putting 5 different different colours in the chimney from a fat quarter pack. I intend to use the rest of the pack to make matching cushions for them for Christmas. I asked Kim from FibreChick to put together a kit for me and picked it up last week. It’s going to be SO PRETTY!! 😀

Step one to making a log cabin kit – pre-cut all the strips. As you can see from the sample block, it’s made up of a bunch of strips – in this case, 2.5″ strips – cut to different lengths. THIS PART IS SOOOO TEDIOUS. The first cutting to make up enough strips to do at least one block took me an hour. The subsequent partial cuttings (just cutting the strips you ran out of piecing the last block) took 30-40 minutes every time and I had to cut between every block. It’s just a lot of cutting. On the second evening, one of the women took pity on me and introduced me to a magic device.

The June Tailor version of the Stripology ruler

It’s known as a Stripology ruler. You put it on top of the fabric and cut in the gaps in the ruler to cut a bunch of matching widths. The one I used let me cut a bunch of 2.5 strips out of all my fabric at once, which will cut down my cutting time down (see what I did there???? 😀 ) as I’ll just have to grab a 2.5 strip and sub-cut it the proper length. I can get a block sewn in about 15-20 minutes once I have the strips. The quilt needs to be pieced and quilted by September. I can do this!

I got 7 blocks done over the course of the weekend! I started playing with the layout of the blocks to see how they look together with the colours and figure out the pattern. Log cabin patterns can make a lot of cool sub-patterns. Because this block is so big and there’s only going to be 5 each way, I’m just going to stick with the standard pattern for now. I totally want to do another log cabin in the future, though – the cross pattern looks SO RAD.

I feel pretty good about that, especially since I got distracted by a hosted project that took up a whole day. Guess what the next blog post will be?? 😀

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Orange Peel Problems

Right from the outset, I want to say that I’m glad I did this pattern this way and I intend to finish it this way. You appreciate the easier ways and other people’s amazing work when you slog through it the hard way first.

I completely understand the appeal of applique now! 😀

Don’t be afraid of curved piecing. It is not that bad – just go slow! I will be doing more curved piecing in my future. The secret to curved piecing is using a small rotational cutter or scissors. So remember – I’m using a cardboard template. I can’t use the rotary cutter against the template as it bites into the the cardboard and changes the shape of the template. I traced around the template with a marker or chalk and used the small rotary cutter to cut along the line. The only issue with cutting the curved bits this way is that each piece is a slightly different size. If I were submitting this quilt for a competition, this would matter. Since it’s just for me, I don’t care!!! 😀

Something I need to be aware of when I do the next pieces is cutting the center for directional fabric. I cut this fabric the same way for each center. It didn’t really matter on this fabric because it points a bunch of directions and you can’t even tell. 😉

When cutting the outside charcoal bit, I made sure that the corners were square by lining them up on the square on my mat.
Look at that orange colour pop in charcoal!

After assembling the blocks, I had to put my four test blocks together. In a traditional orange peel, they’re set to make a circle and the star or “wings” pattern comes through as a secondary pattern. Because I’m using several orange fabrics, I decided to make the alternate pattern called “Pixie Wings”. I use the same fabric to make the wing design and the orange peel design comes out of the “wings” getting put together.

This is where I started getting frustrated with the piecing. Getting two points to meet was terrible. Getting four points to meet evenly in the middle was miserable!!! I literally ripped this block apart six times and re-sewed it together. You can see from the back that all the attempts and extra thread botched any hope of having my usually nice spun centers.

Now to do at least three more!! 😀 I’d ultimately like to do more than just four blocks – 12 maybe, do a lap quilt. I won’t be able to do the whole thing just now for two reasons. First, I just don’t have the time to do more than that. There’s a Grandma quilt and a wedding quilt to get finished before the summer is over. Second, I don’t think I have enough of the background fabric for 12 squares ( I might be wrong, but I don’t think I am). If that’s the case, I’m going to find two more fabrics of similar colour and do a slightly scrappy look.

The quilt guild had a full schedule on Monday, so no extra blocks were assigned this month. That leaves me with a bit of time to try something extra special! Stay tuned!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · Quilt Designs

New Skills

One of my Block-of-the-Month classes is actually a Row-of-the-Month class. It’s hosted at a local library by The Cottage Quilter and we’re doing the Piper Girls’ row-by-row sampler.

This week, we were assigned the pinwheel row and some homework. Check out my pretty pinwheels! I’ve also included the other rows we have done to date.

The pinwheel row was actually Row #4. Kelly (our instructor) didn’t want to assign Row #3 until next week because it’s a new skill for most of the class (yaaay!! I’m not the only n00b!!) and she wants us to practice at home before doing it for real on the quilt. It’s called machine applique. It’s “machine” because you do it with your sewing machine and not by hand (which is what many people prefer). What is applique, you ask?

Applique is when you take a piece of fabric, cut out a design, and stitch it on to your quilt top. A lot of quilters make large portions of their quilts this way. I’ve never seen the appeal of it. I like doing piecing, not applique. And yes – I did do one bit of machine applique when I first started (as you can see above). My first issue was that the applique was a star. I have always had problems making star shapes and it has always bothered me, even as a small child. It looks wonky to me and I don’t like it. My second issue was that this was done back in … September? Maybe? I was still very new at quilting and I think I took on a little too much too soon.

I decided that my class practice is going to be a for-real practice … maybe. 😀 I got this beautiful fabric from Troll Brothers to make an orange peel quilt. As soon as I get around to picking out a background fabric, I intend to start! The problem with the orange peel design is that 90% of the patterns are an applique pattern. You can do a pieced orange peel block, but there aren’t a lot of tutorials because it’s curved piecing and I think most people prefer applique to curved piecing.

I have to veer off a bit at this point to talk about acquiring patterns. I try (whenever possible) to purchase a pattern instead of just looking at the design and doing it myself. It’s not that I can’t do that (and for husband’s quilt and niece’s quilt, they are my designs), but if I’m going to use someone else’s creativity to make a project, I’d like to compensate them for the effort. Plus, they’ve done all the maths to figure out the right sizes of things so you don’t wind up with pieces that don’t fit together.. 😀 I’ve been doing this more frequently with my knitting projects. The nice thing is that yarn patterns are usually only a few dollars on Ravelry.com. I only make … sorry, start (see last blog post) … a couple of things a year, so it doesn’t break the bank. Quilting patterns are different. The “professional” patterns can be quite expensive. You can often get blocks for free, but doing applique or curved piecing requires having a template of some sort. Ordering acrylic templates for this pattern has been a huge pain in the butt for me since the only places currently offering the orange peel templates are out of the US of A and the UK. I absolutely refuse to pay a foreigner’s tax (aka the import fees or duty) on something someone in Canada probably has for sale but I just can’t find. After 3 days of searching, I finally found an extremely old free paper pattern that has the templates included! In the spirit of doing the old thing, I cut out some cardboard using the paper pattern as a template and pulled out some test fabric to figure out what I want to do.

First, I made the curved piecing version. I don’t mind sewing curved piecing that much, but my scrap fabric decision made pressing the fabric a bit onerous. You’re supposed to press out away from the peel. Since my peel was a very dark fabric and my background was a very light, see-through fabric, there would be serious ghosting happening. Ghosting happens when you can see the seam right through the fabric – this is why most quilters press with the seam under the dark side – less chance for ghosting. When I do my quilt, though, I’ll be using a darker background fabric, so this won’t be a problem in the official version. The other issue was the cardboard template itself. Because I’m using a rotary cutter, I have to be very careful that I’m not accidentally trimming the cardboard. Not only does this dull the blade and make a mess, but it changes the size of the template over time. The last block might end up smaller than the first block. When I go to make my quilt, I will either need to invest in acrylic templates or mark the shapes from the cardboard template with a pen before cutting along the pen line.

With the curved test out of the way, we move on to the applique test. The interesting part is that these blocks will end up a little bigger because I’m not losing 1/4″ on each side of each piece to a seam allowance. It’s good to keep in mind.

I cut out the orange peel from scraps first, then I cut a couple of squares to use. I was going to go with scrap squares, but I thought it would be fun to play with the opposite dynamics by cutting squares from the original matching fabrics. I did make a mistake, though. You have to attach fabric stabilizer to the back of your applique pieces to give it some rigidity during sewing and to help keep the edges from fraying if you’re doing a raw-edge applique (more on that later). Usually, you attach the stabilizer to the fabric, then cut (so you don’t see the white stabilizer showing). I forgot to do this part, so I had to attach the cut pieces to stabilizer, then cut around the shapes with scissors. It wasn’t bad this time, but making this same mistake with the star applique was the part of the reason it started looking wonky. I was very careful about setting the pieces in the dead center with the same amount of background space on the mirrored sides. This isn’t super crucial because you can re-cut the block properly square afterwords, but I’m aiming for right the first time.I loaded up my bobbin with dark green and selected a yellow embroidery thread for the top. I’ve used it a little bit in the past – it comes up as a golden colour. It might not work out, but this is a test piece and I wanted to know how this thread will hold up on future projects (since I’ve got 6 spools of the stuff to use).

Note: I should have posted this blog last week in keeping with my one-a-week resolution, but this was as far as I got before my busy week and away-weekend ended my spare time. I did consider posting just this much, then decided to do a two-blog week so I could finish out this story. 🙂

My sewing machine has preset stitches specifically for machine applique. I didn’t know that when I made the star piece, so I made my life a little harder by having to manually set up my stitch type. This time, I just used my presets and it made life so much easier! I have three sizes for an applique satin stitch. In the samples, you will see me use sizes medium and small.

I started with the green-on-plaid piece under the medium satin stitch. The pictures should show why this is called a satin stitch – it looks soft and shiny when it’s done. After running for an inch or two with the default settings, I tightened up the stitch width to give it a bit more of that satiny sheen. In machine applique, the big challenge is points and turning corners. From the very limited reading I did on this (because why wouldn’t I want to learn the hard way with no pointers?? 😉 ), the two main ways of turning corners is to slowly walk around the point or to stitch slightly past the point, stitch backwards, turn the corner, stitch back again to get a sharpish point, then continue forwards. With green-on-plaid, I decided to try the walkaround method. From what I understand, the key to this method is making sure you always have your needle stop on the applique-side of the stitch, turn the fabric slightly, make another two stitches so you land back at the same spot on the applique side, and re-adjust again. You keep doing this until you are completely around the corner. As you can see, I needed a couple of attempts to get it looking okay.

Next up was the plaid-on-green with the small satin stitch. This was much harder as my margin for error with the edges of the applique piece was much tighter. With the medium stitch, all I had to do was make sure that the edge was somewhere between the two 1/8″ marks. This also allowed me to make a more gradual curve if my cuts were a little choppy (putting the interface on after cutting the shape only makes this worse). With the smaller stitch, I had to follow my cuts exactly. There are a couple of places where you can tell I didn’t schwoop very nicely in my cuts, but whatever – practice pieces! I also tried the back-and-forward corner method for the points this time. I think, in some ways, it actually works best with the small satin stitch because the tiny size hides the stitches a bit. In other ways, not so much – because stitch is so small, the edge of the applique was fraying a bit as I attempted to sink my stitches into the edge without having the applique fabric show on both sides of my stitches. At the corner, this fraying gets worse because I’m going back over it two extra times. Time will tell if the applique stands ups with the small stitch.

Look at me! I can machine applique!

My two completed looks! I had already decided before stitching that I didn’t like the green-on-plaid near as well. The patterned piece just looks better as a focal point. I’m still glad I went ahead with it, though, because I learned something else. When stitching on the applique, the background fabric got a little warped. It’s not bad and it will almost completely vanish once the the block is stitched in place, but it is a lot more obvious that it’s happening when you use a pattern fabric as your background fabric. Learning things! I also think I prefer the look of the small stitch over the look of the medium stitch as it starts to take emphasis away from the applique. I can’t even begin to imagine how the “big” satin stitch would turn out! I want to make two more of these blocks so I can make a completed orange peel block – maybe I’ll try the big satin stitch on one of them, just to see!

Orange peel quilt colors … so much in love!!!

Finally, I’m also glad I waited until after I got home before posting this because … I found the background fabric for my orange peel! Won’t it look nice with the charcoal grey?? I was in Ottawa, Ontario for the weekend visiting a friend and I made them pull over at a local fabric store (Sew For It) to see if I could find something. Good news – I found something! Bad news – there was only maybe 1/2 a meter left on the bolt. Not very much at all, maybe not even enough. I have to measure it out and see. I took what they had left just in case – worst case scenario, I’ll stash it and get something else. Oh darn. 😀 Because there’s so little of it, I will definitely be doing the curved piecing over the applique because I won’t have fabric to spare hiding under the orange peel. It was still worth doing the applique work just to learn how to do it. 🙂 No time is wasted time if you learn things!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing

Scrappy Bits and Pieces

Remember Ugly Row?

Ugly top row 😀

You may want to keep Ugly Row in mind. I’ll be referring to Ugly Row whenever I reference this quilt.

The two pinks are slightly different tones

The next row is called Holding Hands. I thought I’d take the chance to play with three colours, two of which are very close (we’ll call them medium pink and dark pink). The cutting went as follows: 2.5″ squares, 1.5″ squares, 2″x1.5″ rectangles, and 1″x1.5″ rectangles. Once all the cutting was done, I did not have enough for one last 1″x1.5″ rectangle of medium pink. No scraps big enough, no discarded pieces big enough, nothing. Sooo … I had to decide how I was going to replace the piece.

I briefly considered using the Fairy Lights scrap from the last blog post, but it was just way too different to be used in this block. My option was to use one of the dark pink squares or a new light pink square (that’s 3 pinks, for those of you counting) from my stash. I didn’t include a picture of the dark pink as it didn’t show up in the image. Using the dark pink made it look a last minute fill-in (Can’t have that!! 😀 ). The light pink looked quite nice, even though it’s significantly lighter. I decided to swap out the center square for the light pink and cut down the existing medium square into a smaller one to match the layout.

The first of three batches of holding hands. I thought the mix of light and dark pinks looked good at this stage, so I continued to make up the blocks. The piecing media of choice today was Youtube, watching how-to videos by Barnyard Bees. Husband decided on a new hobby for this summer – beekeeping! We’re going to attempt to make our own honey out at our wooded property this summer. I’m getting pretty excited!

Remember when I was talking about the design wall ideas and I had a brainwave?

Surprise!!

Flannel on the clothes line!!!

I bought a hanging design wall by Fons and Porter. It’s meant to be strung up on a curtain rod and hung on the wall and is usually purchased for travelling or going on retreat. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying a piece of flannel of the same size, which was my original plan. I thought the clothes line was a rather clever, unique idea … turns out, most of the women in the guild used this as their starter wall . 😀 Oh well – nothing new under the sun. The line can drape closer to the deck, so I can weigh it down on windy days. On rainy days, I’ll just have to make do in the house or wait for the weather to turn nice again. And when the sewing room gets its coat of paint and mini renovation, I’m going to make this the window blind! Two birds, one stone!

I laid out my blocks and played around with the look of the mixed pinks on the row. I think this layout will work, although that light pink extra block really stands out. I’m still hoping for a miracle piece to appear in my stash …

Row #4 – done!

And all together! The new row was a smidge small, making me think that I’d messed up by sewing my seams too large or something … Nope! I tucked the blocks in my pocket when I came in from outside and one block stuck to the flannel lining of my coat pocket. 😀 At least it was the end piece! I didn’t have to pull it all apart to fit the block in! Lining this row up with the others makes me think that Ugly Row isn’t so ugly after all – having the same colours show up in other rows in the quilt makes it fit a lot better. Maybe Ugly Row will make it to the final quilt?

Light pink extra square on the end

What do you think of this project so far? Does the light pink square stand out too much? Do the medium and dark pink blend or clash? Does Ugly Row really just need to be eliminated? FYI – this quilt might just end up super ugly, despite everything we try. The next three available colours in my scrap protation are red, black, and white … scrappy-looking quilt indeed!!

~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