Thursday, December 17, 2015

Another long overdue update

The last few months have felt like the longest of my life and the shortest at the same time.  I'm still reeling from the loss of my beloved cat, Shadow, in August, and I feel like I'm just now starting to catch back up on some of my projects including my poor, neglected blog.

However, from a sewing standpoint, the last few months have been pretty epic. I've had the opportunity to work with some pretty incredible people, and I am quite flattered and thankful to have been part of it.

I'm going to do a separate recap post about some of the work that I did for Quilt Market, but I was pretty excited to see some of the things that I made wind up on various social media posts.

In early November, I attended the Glamp Stitchalot retreat sponsored by Pink Castle Fabrics in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  With the most amazing group of instructors, Tula Pink, Jeni Baker, Violet Craft, Sarah Fielke, Alison Glass, and Katy Jones, I had the chance to learn some new techniques.  Best of all, I got to meet some extremely awesome people.

Now, I feel like I'm finally starting to catch up on things, and that's a good thing. So, stay tuned for a recap of Market projects, pattern reviews, and more of my thoughts on a variety of sewing/quilting related things as we transition into the new year. 

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Blogging Fail - A quick update

It's been almost a month since I last posted anything, so I apologize for that. I don't think that it's epic fail, but it's still fail because I know that I can do better. It's been a bit of a madhouse here (even more so than usual). 

With Fall Quilt Market rapidly approaching, I've been working to make bags for 2 different booths.  I'm happy with how things are coming together, but there is still a lot to do.  I have 7 bags already out the door, and I'm *fingers and toes crossed* REALLY hoping to send out 6 more on Monday.  That leaves me with 2 to go. I'm teaming up with some new people and some favorites of mine. It's been genuinely exciting to work with everybody involved.  While I can't get into the details yet, I promise there will be plenty of pics and info to come. 

I know that I'm really excited to see what all of the designers/companies have been up to over the last few months, and I doubt that I will be disappointed.

After the craziness subsides, I have a couple of quilts to finish and a pouch/project bag to make for my assigned swap partner at Glamp Stitchalot in Michigan. I can hardly believe I'll be there next month! I already have fabric selected, and I'm about 95% sure of what I'll make.  It's a little up in the air right now because there are so many awesome patterns available. I will make a decision and hope that my partner likes it (I do confess to being a wee bit intimidated by my partner, especially with this being my first swap). 

Anyway, that's about it for right now.  I will have lots more to share soon! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Color cards are awesome (plus a handy tip)!

Ok, I love color cards. I collect all of them that I can find. They can be a fantastic tool for picking fabric/thread when you can't actually see things in person or when you decide to start planning a project at 1 in the morning and no shops are open.

I have to buy almost all of my much loved handbag zippers online (2 stores near me stock a limited quantity of sizes and colors) which can be a little tricky for people like me that are fussy about their colors.  Not too long ago, I decided that I would start saving some of the trimmed off bits of zipper tape and make my own color reference card.  I used one of the pre-printed color charts that I received in an order from and a little piece of double sided tape to stick the zipper tape to the card.  It was a piece of cake.

It's obviously a work in progress, but I'm going to keep plugging away at it. 

I recently ordered a full set of my favorite ByAnnie zippers to act as a complete color card, but it wasn't an inexpensive option and I know that I will start pillaging them at some point in time (and probably forget to reorder a new one).  Hey, I'm a realist. ;)

Anyway, that's it for my quick tip.  Now, I have to go chop up some fabric!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

1,000 followers giveaway!

I was shocked and amazed when I saw that I hit 1,000 followers on Instagram over the weekend.

In honor of that milestone, I am hosting 2 giveaways. One will be on Instagram and one on this blog post!  What better way to celebrate such a milestone than to do a giveaway that includes the pattern that really "started it all" so to speak, the A Place for Everything Bag.  I've written about this bag on several occasions on my blog and on Instagram, and I really couldn't love this bag any more than I do.

These are the 6 bags that I've made from the pattern!

Before I get into the giveaway details, I'm going to have a super sappy moment and say thank you so very much to everybody that has been a part of this journey to 1,000 followers.  There are a couple of people that I deserve extra thanks:  Annie Unrein (creator of amazing bag patterns and Soft and Stable), Tula Pink, Katy Jones, and Teresa Silva, the three brilliant, amazingly talented ladies that have given me the opportunity to make the bags for them, and last, but certainly not least, and my family and friends for just being the people that you are.

So, yeah, now we're moving on to the good stuff...  You ready?

The giveaways

On the Instagram giveaway, I will be giving away a copy of my favorite pattern, the A Place for Everything Bag and a yard of Soft and Stable courtesy of Annie and her amazing team at

For my 2nd giveaway (on this post), I am doing an even BIGGER prize. In addition to winning a copy of the A Place by Everything Bag pattern and a yard of By Annie's Soft and Stable (also courtesy of Annie and her team), I am including a finishing kit for making the bag. The kit includes the mesh, vinyl, and zippers that you will need to make my favorite bag. 

The rules

You may enter both giveaways, but you can only win once. If the same winner happens to be selected by the random number generator, you will win the larger of the two prizes (the pattern + Soft and Stable + the finishing kit).

To enter, please leave a comment and tell me either which fabric you might use or how you will use your bag (or both). **If you are commenting on this blog post, please make sure your email address is listed (if you are commenting with a Google/Blogger/whatever profile) or leave it in the comment so that I can get in contact with you.

The giveaway will close at 9 PM Pacific Time (Midnight Eastern Time) on Saturday, August 15. 

I will send a direct message to the Instagram winner and an email to the blog winner to get your shipping addresses.

Good luck to everybody, and thank you again to each one of you for being part of this journey.

UPDATE (as of 9:04pm on 8/15/15)

Congrats, Darcy!  You will receive the pattern and a yard of Soft & Stable courtesy of Annie and a finishing kit from me so start planning!  I'll email you shortly to get your color choices for the mesh/zippers and address!

Stash and Dash Sew Along (Day 16-21)

This is it!  We are at the end of the road for the Sew Along.

In the detailed Sew Along posts on Annie's Blog, the first 15 steps are now done.  So, I'm going to link each section back to her original post, and I will give you my running commentary on this page.  Please remember that my comments are MINE. You've probably seen the disclaimer on TV saying views expressed on this show may not reflect the views of the producers or whatever blah blah blah. The same thing applies here. If I do something differently, that's fine. It is what works for me, and your mileage may vary too. :)

Make the Bias Binding

(Go here for Annie's post)

I think Annie's blog post is clear and concise.  There's not much that I do differently except that I *do* press my binding.  I tried not pressing it once, and it twisted more than the pressed binding, so your mileage may vary.

Bind the Edges, Part 1:  Attach the Binding

(Go here for Annie's post)

In my list of tools that I use for making this bag, I mentioned the Binding Tool by TQM Products.  The ruler has directions printed on the top that specify the amount of a tail that should be left to use the Binding Tool.  With the amount of binding that is prepared in the instructions, there is more than enough needed to use the tool. The big thing that seems to snag people up on the Binding Tool is that you need to leave the appropriate amount of gap between the start of the stitching attaching the binding and the end of the stitching.  With the Mini size tool that I used for this project, I had to leave a 6" gap.  If the gap is too small or too large, the binding ends will not be cut to the appropriate length and the end results will not make you a very happy camper.

My general rule of thumb is to use a 1/4" seam allowance when attaching 2.25" binding (3/8" seam allowance with 2.5" binding).

Bind the Edges, Part 2:  Join the Ends

(Go here for Annie's post)

If I didn't love my TQM Binding Tool so much, I would probably use the method that Annie demonstrates in her blog entry.  If you want to see more about how the Binding Tool works, you can check out the instructions on

Bind the Edges, Part 3:  Finish the Binding

(Go here for Annie's post)

Oh, how I love thee, Clover Wonder Clips!  I don't always clip all the way around my project to hold the binding in place, but I like to do it when I'm working on a smaller project (or usually 1 or 1.5 sides of a quilt).  I like the quick visual clues for seeing how much I've done (because I remove them as I go) and how much I have left to go.

As I've said before, I prefer the look of hand finished binding.  It takes more time than binding by machine, but the prettier finish beats the speed for me every time.

The only part of hand binding the bag that was troublesome for me was stitching through the vinyl on the back of the bag.  It's hard to see in the 2nd photo, but I was going through the vinyl in the picture.  With a sharp needle, it's doable, but it is more painful (literally).  Thankfully, the pocket isn't very large.  As I mentioned previously, the first Stash and Dash bag (in the photo below) was the only one that I made with the vinyl pocket on the back..

Make and Attach a Zipper Pull

(Go here for Annie's post)

I'll be honest and tell you that I'm not the biggest fan of the zipper pulls on this bag.  I love them on my other Patterns by Annie bags, but I'm not as keen for using them on this particular bag.  With the longer pulls on the handbag zippers, I don't think they are entirely necessary.  I may leave them on mine, or I may untie them and stash them in a drawer just in case I change my mind in the future.

So, with that said, if you are going to make them, I highly recommend using a bias tape maker.  The strips start at 1" wide and finish at a mere 1/4", so there are many chances for people like me to give themselves multiple steam burns (hey, at least I'm realistic about the likelihood that it will happen to me AGAIN).

On mine, I use 2 knots - the one that is created by pulling the ends of the fabric through the loop and another at the end of the pull.  Once I'm satisfied with the length, I trim the ends of the fabric away leaving a 1/2" or so tail beyond the last knot and I brush Fray Block on the cut edges.  Cutting the fabric at a 45 degree angle leaves you with a bias edge that is resistant to fraying, but the ends of the thread can still start to come apart.  The Fray Block helps to keep that pretty well minimized.

The Finished Project and Ideas for Using It

(Go here for Annie's post)

There are so many ways that you could use your Stash and Dash bag, but here's how my husband and I are using ours:

In my first bag, I'm keeping part of an ongoing (and seemingly never ending) English Paper Piecing project
I'm not going to pretend that I know what all of this electronics stuff is, but my husband says his Stash and Dash bag is perfect for holding it.

So, that's it for me on part four of my recap (days 16-21 of the Sew Along).  I hope that you may have learned some tips, laughed at my perpetual randomness, or gazed upon my posts in horror at my terrible attempts at photography.

If you haven't done so, be sure to head over to Annie's blog and snag a copy of the free pattern (before October 1).  While you're there, check out the official Sew Along posts and be sure to keep up with what Annie is doing by following her via social media or signing up for her newsletter.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Stash and Dash Bag Sew Along (Days 11-15)

Welcome back to Round 3 of my recap of the Stash and Dash bag Summer Sew Along!

In the detailed Sew Along posts on Annie's Blog, the first 15 steps are now done.  So, I'm going to link each section back to her original post, and I will give you my running commentary on this page.  Please remember that my comments are MINE. You've probably seen the disclaimer on TV saying views expressed on this show may not reflect the views of the producers or whatever blah blah blah. The same thing applies here. If I do something differently, that's fine. It is what works for me, and your mileage may vary too. :)

Make the Back Vinyl Pocket

(Go here for Annie's post)

Making the vinyl pocket is pretty straight forward, and Annie's post will give you some great tips that will save you time and frustration.  I find vinyl to be pretty easy to sew with once you learn the tricks.

This is pretty redundant, but I really couldn't agree more about my Teflon/Non-Stick feet being worth the expense (mine have been $15-30 depending on the machine).  The one in the picture is the Janome Ultraglide foot that fits my Juki TL-2010Q, and I have sewn a lot of the same vinyl with the Non-Stick foot on my Pfaff machines.  If you're wondering why my picture looks a little weird, I had the extension table on my machine, and the vinyl was sticking to the plastic so I rotated it 180 degrees (the vinyl piece is small enough that it easily fit within the harp space of my Juki).

Make Placement Lines and Attach the Strap Closure and Slider

(Go here for Annie's post)

The best tips that I can give you on this section are to make sure that your slider is facing the correct direction.  With the metal slider that I used, there is a slight curve.  You want to make sure that yours is oriented properly so that it will operate correctly once installed.

This is just a side view showing how the strap works with the slider.
The other tip that will save you a lot of frustration is to double check your line placement.  As you can see in the picture below, I was double checking that my strap was positioned properly before stitching it down.  This is also another time where Wonder/binding tape can be very useful.  I put a line of tape on the center of my original seam from sewing the fabric tube.  I left the tape short enough that it wouldn't cross my marked lines, but long enough that it would keep my fabric in place for easier stitching.

Attach the Back Vinyl Pocket

(Go here for Annie's post)

I'm admittedly a super big fan of Clover Wonder Clips.  While I use the small clips 99% of the time, the large size (they are usually green) is handy.  On the left side of the picture, you can see that I've used the small size clips to hold the edge of the vinyl.  The top/right side of the picture shows 3 large Wonder Clips holding the bound edge of the vinyl pocket in place for easier stitching.  The large clips have a long enough reach to allow the fabric to remain flat.

I will also note that for my purposes, I chose to omit the vinyl back pocket (except on the first bag that I made in the picture) because I didn't find that it was necessary for how I was planning to use the bags.  The instructions were great, I just didn't need it.  If I'm making a bag, with few exceptions, I will follow the directions as written.  It's usually on bags 2 and on that I'll start making modifications. 

Attach the Inner Zippered Mesh Pockets

(Go here for Annie's post)

I think Annie's post covered this section really well.  I will add that in my 3rd Stash and Dash bag, I opted to use vinyl pockets instead of mesh.  I was making the bag for my husband, and the mesh pockets wouldn't have worked very well for how he was planning to use the bag.  I could have gone with a finer mesh, but it would have really obscured the view of the items.  I cut the vinyl to the same size as the mesh, and I used the same method as described in the pattern to stitch it down to the bag (using my nifty Teflon/non-stick foot).  In my next post which covers finishing the bag, I will share more pictures of how my husband is using his Stash and Dash bag.

Here's the finished bag for my husband with the vinyl interior pockets.

Round the Corners of the Organizer

(Go here for Annie's post)

So, here's where the button templates that I mentioned in the first post of the series comes into play.  I really like the spool of thread trick that Annie talks about, but I have about 7 or 8 different threads, and they all have different sizes of bases.  I marked the template to indicate that it measured 2.5" across, so I don't have to continually re-measure every time I want to make something that requires a curve of that size.  I use it frequently enough that I keep it in my A Place for Everything bag.

To make the correct size curve using these templates, you want the edge of the round object to kiss the edge of two sides of the fabric and mark the curve using an appropriate marking pen.  For this project, I selected a purple Frixion pen because it would show well against the pink background of my fabric.  I've also marked the same curve on dark fabrics where I used a white pencil.  I don't often scissor-cut fabric unless I really have to do so, but I do use scissors to cut along the line that I've just marked.  I don't worry about making sure the marks are totally removed (as I would do if the line would be visible,but for this purpose, the line is your cutting line and it will be hidden inside of your binding.

With a line that is very visible against my fabric, it was a piece of cake for me to round the corners with scissors.

So, that's it for me on part three of my recap (days 11-15 of the Sew Along).  I hope you are having fun with this super fantastic little bag.  I know that I have.  I love them so much that I've already made 4 (as of when I'm writing this post), and I have 3 more to make as gifts.

If you haven't done so, be sure to head over to Annie's blog and snag a copy of the free pattern (before October 1).  While you're there, check out the official Sew Along posts.  Be sure to check back with me in a few days for more progress updates on this fantastic project.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stash and Dash Bag Sew Along (Days 6-10)

Welcome back to Round 2 of my recap of the Stash and Dash bag Summer Sew Along!

In the detailed Sew Along posts on Annie's Blog, the first 10 steps are now done.  So, I'm going to link each section back to her original post, and I will give you my running commentary on this page.  Please remember that my comments are MINE. You've probably seen the disclaimer on TV saying views expressed on this show may not reflect the views of the producers or whatever blah blah blah. The same thing applies here. If I do something differently, that's fine. It is what works for me, and your mileage may vary too. :)

Make the Strap Closure

(Go here for Annie's post)

As I mentioned in the first post, I love my tube turning set from Fasturn.  It's a little bit different from the one that Annie uses, but the general idea is the same. Why do I love this set?  The tubes are copper and sturdy.  There are 5 different sizes to choose from to make a tubes including a super skinny tube for making spaghetti straps for garments.  It comes in a hard plastic case for easy storage.

The other thing that I want to really note about this step is after you have the strapping/webbing fed into the tube, you want to turn the fabric back into the tube itself as you can see in my picture.

Prepare the Zippers

(Go here for Annie's post)

I think Annie's post pretty much sums it up perfectly.  I use a lot of handbag zippers with my projects, and I will often buy a longer zipper (plus extra pulls) than needed and cut it into several pieces.  While I haven't seen it as often as with other products (thread, yarn, fabric,etc), I would rather have a single item to use throughout a project instead of having to deal with potentially different dye lots.

I also have a few colors of zippers that tend to be my go to colors, so I find it to be more economical to purchase the Zippers by the Yard set from Annie's website.  That way I can cut my zippers to the appropriate lengths for each project.  With 4 yards of zipper tape and 16 pulls included in the package,  I can almost always make multiple projects from one (the A Place for Everything bag is the big exception to this for me).

Bind the Inner Mesh Pockets

(Go here for Annie's post)

I don't have much to really add to this section other than the fact that I love Clover Wonder Clips.

Attach the Mesh Pockets to the Zippers

(Go here for Annie's post)

I love Annie's tip for using basting tape.  The only thing that I do differently is to use Wonder Tape instead of basting tape.  Why Wonder Tape?  It can be removed with water, and I find that it gums up the needle less than basting tape because it's less sticky.  Any sticky stuff on the needle is easy to clean off (I normally will wipe it off with a little bit of rubbing alcohol).

Bind the Top of Each Zipper

(Go here for Annie's post)

Another great post.  The only thing that I really do differently is to attach the binding to the right (front) side of the zipper instead of from the back.  I feel like I get a more even edge that way.

So, that's it for me on part two of my recap (days 6-10 of the Sew Along).  How are you feeling?  I hope you are having fun with this super fantastic little bag.  I know that I have.  I love them so much that I've already made 3 (as of when I'm writing this post), and I have 4 more to make as gifts.

If you haven't done so, be sure to head over to Annie's blog and snag a copy of the free pattern (before October 1).  While you're there, check out the official Sew Along posts.  I'll be back in a few days again with more comments from the peanut gallery!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Stash and Dash Bag Sew Along (Days 1-5)

When I heard that Annie, the creative genius behind Patterns by Annie and Soft & Stable was working on a new free downloadable pattern for the 2015 Summer Challenge, It's from Annie, so of course I jumped at the chance to make it.

The Stash and Dash Fold-Over Organizer is a wonderful bag.  It features 3 mesh zippered pockets, a vinyl pocket on the back, and an adjustable closure.

In the detailed Sew Along posts on Annie's Blog, the first 5 steps are done.  So, I'm going to link each section back to her original post, and I will give you my running commentary on this page.  Please remember that my comments are MINE. You've probably seen the disclaimer on TV saying views expressed on this show may not reflect the views of the producers or whatever blah blah blah. The same thing applies here. If I do something differently, that's fine. It is what works for me, and your mileage may vary too. :)

Gather the Necessary Supplies

(Go here for Annie's post)

Ok, you've downloaded the free pattern, and you are ready to start pulling everything together. Fantastic!  Here's some things to think about when you are choosing your supplies:

Is your fabric directional?  Annie recommends not using directional fabric for this project. Why? There are 2 reasons. The first is with the wrap around style of the Stash and Dash bag, part of it will be upside down. Now, if this isn't a big deal to you, then you can go with whichever fabric you like the most. The second reason is because of how the fabric is cut. To make the pattern, you need a fat quarter, and to be able to cut a 10" x 20" piece, you will be cutting across the fabric. So, if you want to use a directional print, you will want to make sure your piece of fabric is at least 20" long. 

Mesh. This will cover up most of the interior fabric, so I usually try to pick my mesh color so that it will be the least distracting choice. For example, I would be more inclined to use white mesh on a fabric that has a lot of white background.

The white mesh doesn't totally obstruct the view of the lining fabric.

Zippers.  You can have a lot of fun with zippers. I normally select a color that is less of a contrast than most people while keeping in mind which fabrics the zippers will touch. 

Tools You Will Need for this Project 

(Go here for Annie's post)

So, here are some of my thoughts on the recommended tools for making the Stash and Dash bag.  My disclaimer is that I am a bit of a freak for notions/tools. I just love them. Not all of these items are essential, but I use them on a regular basis for making bags.

Rulers.  I don't use as many rulers as Annie lists, and I wouldn't recommend that you run out and buy a bunch of them just for this project. If you have a bunch of different sizes on hand, I'd use them. They can make things easier. I primarily stick to a 6.5" x 24" ruler and a 4.5" x 8.5" for smaller tasks.  My favorite rulers are by Creative Grids.  

Marking implements: I've used chalk, Frixion pens, water erasable pens, air erasing pens, and a Hera marker throughout various projects. The best recommendation that I can make is to pick the method that works for your fabric and be sure to consider how long you expect the marking to last. For example, you probably don't want to use an air erasable pen on a project where you need the mark to last more than a day or two. Also, most importantly, test your specific fabric with the marking pen you want to use. Do not skip this step because you may seriously regret it. For example, I've seen Frixion pens leave a faint white line on fabric after ironing. It doesn't do it on every fabric, but it's not worth the risk to me to not test it. Same thing with some of the chalk colors, especially blue and yellow in my opinion. 

If you look closely, you should be able to see the lines that I marked using a pink Frixion pen.  I also opted to quilt from the lining side on the off chance that the marker did not remove completely (even though I did test it).

505 Temporary Adhesive Spray: I'm not huge on the idea of spray basting large pieces, but I think it's a great way to prepare your fabrics for quilting to the Soft and Stable (more on this later) section.  I use 505 by Odif.  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

The Clover Bias Tape Maker: I tend to be one of those people seems to be determined to steam burn myself on a regular basis, so the Clover Bias Tape Maker helps a lot.  The yellow one (size #12 - 1/2")  is the size you will need for this project.  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

The Fasturn Set: This is not a tool that I use on a daily or even weekly basis, but I love my Fasturn brass tubes.  I'm always glad that I bought it when I use it (more on this to come in a later post).  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

Dritz Cover Button Templates:  I bought this set of 7 templates from Dritz for fussy cutting fabric buttons last year for a project that needed a fabric covered button.  I didn't like that I couldn't see through the cardboard template, so I picked up this set at a local shop.  With several sizes to choose from, I use it for rounding the corners on my bags (more on this later).  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

Fray Check / Fray Block:  I keep both of these on hand for keeping the edges of cut fabric from fraying and keeping the ends of serger thread together (more on this later). For this project, I used Fray Block. 

The Binding Tool:  I use this handy tool every time that I bind (more to come later). It's made by TQM Products, and it comes in 2 sizes.

 Cutting Instructions

(Go here for Annie's post)

I don't think that I have much to add in this section other than the recommendation to either print/copy the page with the labels for your fabric or to write out/use sticky notes to label your pieces. It's easier to tell these pieces apart than on some other projects, but it's a wonderful habit to establish. 

Quilt the Fabric and Soft and Stable

(Go here for Annie's post)

505 Basting Spray:  Start out by laying fabric on one side of the Soft and Stable, and I spray the 505 in sections. So, for this small item, I spray half of it at a time. After the fabric is smoothed out on the Soft and Stable, I lift one half of the fabric and spray the 505 directly on the S&S. From there, gently smooth the fabric onto the Soft and Stable working from the center outward. You can do some repositioning of the fabric if necessary, but you want to be careful not to tug on the fabric and stretch it.  Repeat this for the other half of the piece and then on the other side of the Soft & Stable with the fabric for the opposing side. As with all items, please read the manufacturer's instructions. You will want to make sure you are using this in a well ventilated area. I'm asthmatic, so I also wear a mask. I work with some people that do a lot of spray basting, and they aren't bothered by the smell or fumes, so your mileage may vary.  Depending on the size of the piece, I may still use some pins near the edges, but I didn't for this project. 

The actual quilting part:  I have 2 sewing machines that I switch between on a fairly regular basis. One of them, my Juki TL-2010Q, does not have one of those funky shaped guide bars that are so helpful for sewing parallel lines. So, I have to mark each line on my fabric.  For my first Stash and Dash bag, I used a pink Frixion pen (after testing it) and drew 3-4 lines at a time. I would mark the lines, sew the lines, press to remove the previous marks, and draw a few more lines. Rinse and repeat the process until you are satisfied with the quilting. Quilting can be more than lines as Annie mentioned. I like the look of straight lines or a grid, so that's a go to design for me. I have also done wavy lines, long arm quilting, and stippling on my home machine. It's really what you want for your bag. 

Trim the Quilted Fabric and Seal the Edges

(Go here for Annie's post)

Cutting accurately is very important, so take your time!  Sealing the edges is super important for a couple of reasons. Not only does the fabric stay in place at the edges (this can be critical to a nice, finished look), it also keeps the lines of stitching that you so patiently quilted from coming apart at the ends. Cut ends of threads (the ones that happened when you trimmed the fabric) don't necessarily like to stay nicely together once they've been sliced up.

So, that's it for me on part one of my recap (days 1-5 of the Sew Along).  If you haven't done it already, head over to Annie's blog and snag a copy of the free pattern (before October 1).  While you're there, check out the official Sew Along posts.  I'll be back in a few days with more!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Welcome to Charleston!

Hello from Seattle, and welcome to day 2 of the Charleston Blog Tour!

For those of you that haven't visited my little corner of the blogging world, my name is Leslie, and I love making bags and quilts (and more bags and more quilts).  I am quite honored to have the opportunity to participate in the Tour, and I can't wait to reveal my project and some extra goodies (including 2 chances to win some fantastic prizes)!

Charleston, the first collection by REVIVE, brings the glitz, glamour, and undeniable Art Deco style of the 1920s-1930s to sewists of the 21st century.  With the combination of rich, bold colors and metallic ink, Charleston is ready to hit the town. 

When I think of the 1920s and 1930s, one of the first things that comes to mind is travel.  The automobile and air travel were beginning to change how people moved from point to point, and the large steamer trunks covered with colorful labels from exotic, foreign locations were being replaced by suitcases.  After feeling lost in a sea of bland, garden variety black bags that populate the airports and cruise ships of the world today, REVIVE's Charleston collection was my source of inspiration to bring Art Deco style to a bag suited for a traveler in the 21st century.

To do my part to combat the menace of the plain black bag, I made the Get Out of Town duffle from Patterns by Annie (the pattern is available through her site as a hard copy or check with your favorite local quilt shop for availability).  The bag is a small duffle style bag that measures 16"L x 10"H x 7"D which makes it a size suitable for a weekend getaway or as a carry on bag.  This would also be a great size for a teenager or an older child.

To make the bag, here's what you will need:

  • 1 yard main fabric (I used Puttin' on the Ritz - Revive-CM4201-Coral)
  • 1 yard lining fabric (I used World's Fair - Revive-CM4202-Multi)
  • 1 1/4 yard coordinating fabric (I used Jazz - Revive-CM4210-Blue)
  • 1 yard of Soft & Stable
  • 5 1/2 yards of 1" wide webbing/strapping
  • 1 - 10" or larger zipper for the front pocket
  • 1 - 18" or larger zipper for the main zipper
  • 2 - 1" D-Rings
  • 1 - 1" Strap Adjuster or Slider
  • 2 - 1" Swivel Hooks
  • 7" x 18" piece of fusible interfacing (I used Pellon SF101/Shape Flex)
  • 6 1/4" x 16 1/2" foam core or heavy cardboard for use as the stabilizer for the bottom of the bag (I used foam core)
  • Thread to coordinate (I used 40 weight Aurifil in colors 2225, 2310, and 2785)

I opted to purchase a finishing kit from which included the strapping, zippers, metal hardware, and the fusible interfacing.  I chose the antique brass hardware optionand I love that the kit offers a choice of zipper colors (my pick was navy).  With the amount of time and gasoline that I would spend driving around to different shops to collect the materials, it was more cost effective (and super convenient) for me to order the kit.

Part of what sets this bag apart is its use of materials, especially Soft & Stable.  Soft & Stable is a foam stabilizer that allows a bag to keep its shape while still remaining lightweight and flexible. It works extremely well on both quilted and non-quilted bags. I chose to quilt a grid pattern with lines spaced at 1.5" apart, and I selected a thread color that blended with the fabric so the gorgeous colors and prints would remain the stars of the show.

I love that most of the bag is assembled while it is flat, and the sides are sewn and bound on the interior of the bag. The pattern also incorporates webbing/strapping into the handles and straps to provide comfort, strength, stability, and flexibility.  A foam core insert keeps the bottom of the bag from sagging (it's in a removable sleeve).  To add even more support and durability, the straps continue under the bottom of the bag.

Annie's patterns are designed for functionality and her attention to detail give her patterns a professionally made look and feel.  The exterior of this bag features 4 open pockets, one zipped pocket, and a removable, adjustable strap with pad.  On the inside of the bag, a series of 3 slip-in pockets are available to assist with organization. 

I love the clean finish of the zipper installation.

I didn't find the pattern to be difficult, but managing thicker materials and wrangling the Soft & Stable would make me inclined to say that it would be more suitable for an advanced beginner to intermediate level sewist.  While the Soft & Stable is quite easy to sew, you may occasionally find that you need to remind it who is in charge (hint:  it's you).  Using handbag zippers will also make this project flow smoothly.  With the wider zipper tape, I can install the zippers without having to use my least favorite foot, the zipper foot!  The large zipper pulls are also easier to grab than their smaller cousins and more durable.

The front of the bag with the slip in pocket (top) and zippered pocket.

As with most items I sew, I can't seem to make a pattern without any modifications.  For this bag, I opted to bind it by hand as I would bind a quilt instead of finishing it by machine.  The other modification that I made was to to cut the fabric for the exterior 1" longer than instructed, cut the fabric into two pieces, re-orient the fabric to account for it being directional, and sew it back together with a 1/2" seam allowance before I could quilt the body of the bag.  Looking back at the entire project, I would make the same modifications again.  It was a great project. 

My original intent was to make just the duffle, but I found myself in need of a quick project with near instant gratification.  With only scraps remaining of my Charleston fabric, the Bon Voyage Passport Cover pattern by Lee Chappell Monroe of May Chappell was the perfect companion project for my travel theme (the pattern is available as a PDF for instant download or as a hard copy on Etsy).  If you are following the Charleston Blog Hop, you will see more from Lee later this week.

While it isn't necessary, I chose to quilt my exterior fabric to the Soft & Stable so that it matched my bag.

To make this pattern, you will need:

  • 3 fat eighths - I used the Puttin' on the Ritz, World's Fair, and Hollywood Revive-CM4203-Navy
  • 6" x 8 1/4" piece of Soft & Stable
  • Thread to coordinate
  • Optional: 6" fold over elastic (I prefer the matte finish of the wrong side for this project)
  • Optional:  Embroidery floss (there is an design for an adorable embroidered ship included in the pattern)

If I hadn't needed to make a trip to the fabric store to buy the navy blue elastic, I would have had it finished in less than an hour (including quilting the exterior).  The pattern is designed for a quick finish, and it would be a great project for somebody learning how to sew, plus it's super cute and useful!

The cover of the passport can slide into the two side pockets so it remains open, but my passport has no stamps to show off.  :(

I made 2 changes to this pattern.  The first, as previously mentioned, was to quilt the exterior fabric to the Soft & Stable, and the second modification was to sew a line down the center that will help encourage it to fold nicely.

Maybe I should try to pry myself away from my sewing machine for a day or two and drive to Canada so I can use my pretty new passport cover and bag!

Now that you've seen my projects, it's time to hear about the goodies that I promised. 

The first of the two giveaways is a big one.  THREE lucky winners will win this beautiful fat quarter bundle of the complete 28 print collection.  To enter, this grand prize giveaway (via Rafflecopter), you will need to visit the SewTimeless blog and find the post for the Charleston by REVIVE Blog Tour or click this link to go directly to the page.

Thanks to the generosity of the team at Timeless Treasures, I am also hosting a giveaway for folks that visit my page and leave a comment.  In your comment, I'd love to hear what you would like to make with the Charleston fabrics.  The winner, to be determined using a random number generator, will receive a yard of fabric from the collection.  While receiving a yard of any fabric is pretty fantastic, it's even better when you get to pick which of the fabrics from the collection that you win!  Once the winner has been determined, I will be in contact via email (please make sure that you have a valid email address when you submit your comment) to obtain your mailing address and find out which fabric you've selected.  From there, Timeless Treasures will send you the fabric.  It's that easy!  There's only one catch, you MUST leave your comment before 9 pm PDT (Pacific Daylight Time) on Saturday, July 25. So, that means you have almost a full week to enter the giveaway on my blog.  The winner will be posted no later than 10 pm, so please check back in to see if you've won.

I'd like to take the opportunity to say thank you for spending a little bit of time with me today, and a huge thanks to the folks at Timeless Treasures for sponsoring the Hop.  There are many more projects to see (and more chances to win) on the Charleston Blog Hop, so please make sure to visit my fellow bloggers to see what they've been cooking up for you.

Monday, July 20:
Shayla Wolf, Sassafras Lane Designs

Tuesday, July 21:
Leslie Meltzer, 50 Sq Ft Studios
Kim Buffington, Make Something/Dritz

Wednesday, July 22:
Rebecca Silbaugh, Ruby Blue Quilts

Thursday, July 23:
Kim Brackett, Magnolia Bay Quilts
Lee Chappell Monroe, May Chappell

Friday, July 24
Jessica VanDenburgh, Sew Many Creations/The Straight Stitch Blog

That's all for me on the Charleston Blog Tour.  Thanks again for visiting, and don't forget to visit the Sew Timeless blog to enter the big giveaway and leave a comment below to win a yard of your choice from the beautiful, Art Deco inspired Charleston collection.

UPDATE as of 9:30pm PDT on 7/25/15: says that #17 is the winner, so congrats to LeAnne on winning a yard of your choice from the collection!  I'll send you an email in just a few minutes to find out which fabric you'd like to have sent to you from Timeless Treasures.

Thanks to everybody that visited.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thread, glorious thread! So blendy and luscious!

A few months ago, I was asked if I would be interested in playing with an upcoming special collection of Aurifil thread.  With my super fan status of Aurifil already being well documented, and the side of my personality that makes me want to collect them all, of course I jumped at the chance.

Even if you don't piece many quilts, this versatile thread is great for small bags and accessories! 
The amazing team at Fat Quarter Shop sent me a 10 spool box of 50 weight thread from one of their exclusive sets with Aurifil.  I received the Tart colorway of The Patchwork Set in the mail last week, and I was challenged to go forth and sew.  So, I started off by looking at the colors of thread in the box, and I was thrilled to bits to see what I had to work with.  My love of aqua punctuated with pops of pink and red make this set an amazing fit for me.  I was inspired.  A quick browse through my stash of patterns and fabric led me to a handful of projects that filled some very specific needs that would utilize 7 of the 10 colors of thread in the box. I can't say that I expected that with only 4 projects, but I'm not complaining.

Top row L to R: 2024, 2606, 2425, 2530, 2250
Bottom row L to R:  1135, 2888, 5006, 1148, 2745
Before I share more about some of my projects, here is a handful of few reasons why I am Auri-obsessed:
  • Color, color, color.  Aurifil makes 270 different colors of thread (including variegated), and all of them are available in my 2 most commonly used weights - 40 and 50 weight.  On top of that, they are available in both small and large spools!
  • It's so versatile.  I do all of my quilt piecing (both machine piecing and english paper piecing) with 50 weight Aurifil.  I've machine quilted, hand bound quilts, and made bags with it too.  It's thin enough that it won't eat up a lot of space in your seam allowance which can greatly impact the accuracy of your piecing, but it's strong enough to survive my husband, my cats, and many trips through my washing machine and dryer.
  • I'm a blendy kind of girl.  While I can appreciate that many people opt to have their stitches be a key player in their projects, I tend to go the opposite direction.  I pick fabric because I want them to be the stars.  By picking thread colors and weights that will virtually disappear, the fabric and pattern combination gets the attention.  Does that mean that I don't ever pick a thread for some contrast?  Absolutely not.  I will occasionally pick thread to contrast or highlight something, but it's not the norm for me as most of my sewing projects demonstrate.
  • Low lint.  One of the negatives about using cotton thread is lint. It's a natural fiber, and lint happens.  It's just part of the game.  One of the reasons that I really got hooked on Aurifil a few years ago was that I was seeing far less lint build up than I was getting with Mettler (both Silk Finish and Quilting), Gutermann, and Superior threads that I had tried (I even blogged about my Aurifil love 2 years ago - Another Edition of A Few of My Favorite Things:  Thread Edition).  I'm also pleased to say that most of the shops that I frequent now stock a large assortment of the 50 weight thread.
  • Thread Boxes/Sets.  I love pretty packages of pretty things.  Aurifil has teamed up with shops like Fat Quarter Shop and several fabric manufacturers to release collections that are specially coordinated to a theme, a designer, or a fabric collection.  These sets can take a lot of guesswork out of trying to match thread with fabric especially for people like me that are fussy about matching colors.
  • Alex Veronelli, aka Mr Aurifil.  He's good looking, he knows a ton about thread, and his accent is dreamy.  Yes, I totally went there.
Now, it's time to share the projects!

First up was a wallet.  I used my favorite small wallet pattern, the Little Wallet by Valori Wells, to include as part of a birthday gift for the daughter of one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She earned a spot at a prestigious ballet intensive in New York this summer, so I wanted her to have something that she could use that would hold things like cash and a MetroCard on her trip.  For this project, I used colors 1148 (Light Jade) and 2530 (Blossom Pink).  Just in case you are wondering, it was a huge hit. :D

Exterior fabric is Woodland Animals and interior (not shown) is Butterflies and Flowers from the Fairyville collection by Heather Rosas for Camelot Cottons

The next project on my list was to re-make my falling apart at the seams herbal neck pillow.  I paired the red sock monkey fabric from Erin Michael's 5 Funky Monkeys collection for Moda with Aurifil  2250 (Red).  I've used this fabric for several projects including the a robe for me, a set of flannel PJs for my mom,a robe for one of my sock monkeys (I made it from scraps from the PJ set), PJ pants, and a quilt from the flannel substrate and PJ pants, PJ shorts,and a quilt from the quilting cotton.  I only had a fat quarter left, so I stitched the pieces together, turned it right side out, calculated and marked lines that would divide the pillow into sections (so the filling would stay pretty evenly distributed), and I sliced into the pillow to re-use the yummy smelling filling.  I filled one section at a time and stitched a line where I had marked to close each segment. Knowing that I would heat my pillow in the microwave, using 100% cotton fabric and thread was essential.  I'm not usually one to "wing it", but that's precisely what I did for this.

My awesome "new" neck pillow in Erin Michael's adorable Sock Monkey fabric all ready to be used when it isn't 90+ degrees outside.

With those two projects out of the way, I wanted to make Anna Graham of Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch from the tutorial that she has on her blog.  I've seen some seriously adorable pouches made from this pattern, but I had never made one.  I have been saving a fat quarter of an adorable novelty Sushi print from Timeless Treasures for the right project, and this was it.  I paired it with a black and white dot for a contrasting bottom (yup, I used polka dots again) also from Timeless Treasures, and a bright yellow rain print from, you guessed it, Timeless Treasures for the interior and zipper pull tab.  These matched colors 5006 (Light Turquoise) and 1135 (Pale Yellow) from my Fat Quarter Shop + Aurifil The Patchwork Set in the Tart colorway, but I added in 2692 (Black) that I had in my thread stash.  With only a fat quarter of the Rain fabric on hand, I made largest size I could, medium.

While I don't really enjoy eating sushi, I sure do love sushi fabric!

While one is great, two are better!  Anna provided instructions on how to make this bag in 3 different sizes, so I made one in the largest size using Tula Pink's Fox Field fabric.  More specifically, I used the Foxtrot, Vintage Stars, and Scribbles (for the lining) prints.  I thought the large size would be great for showing off both of the exterior prints.  I used colors 2606 (Mist) and 2888 (Fern Green) from my FQS thread set.

I fussy cut the Foxtrot fabric so one side shows the bunny and the opposite side of the pouch features the fox

Well, that's about it from me for now.  I'm so excited to have been given the opportunity to play with this amazing box of thread, and they have quite a few other sets that will certainly cater to different needs.  With Aurifloss and 12wt options (in addition to the 50wt) in 4 different color themed sets, I think Fat Quarter Shop hit it out of the park.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Senna Tote by LBG Studio for Willow & Co

Yes, another bag.  I can't help it.  I love things that hold things.  Bags or boxes, it doesn't really matter.  On my last trip to visit my parents, my mother pulled a plastic box out of the closet that was evidently mine from when I was quite young (I know this because I had written some of the letters in my name backwards).  I guess my affinity for organizing is deeply rooted.  Hey, at least I'm consistent!

This time I decided to make a Senna Tote by LBG Studio for Willow & Co.  Not shockingly, this is another bag pattern that I first noticed on Instagram, and it's one of those projects that leaves you wondering why you took so long to actually make it (initially it was due to indecision on fabric, but I figured that one out several months ago).  It has a curved top that folds down onto itself and creates a distinctive shape that isn't all that common among the bag patterns I see.

I used the Cigar Box and Expedition prints from Tim Holtz' Eclectic Elements collection and paired them with Michael Miller Cotton Couture Burgundy solid fabric for the bottom of the bag and straps.

Let me start off by saying that this bag was far faster to make than I had imagined (once you get the pattern, fabric, and interfacing cut and fused, of course).  It was also pretty simple to assemble.  I think I would rate this as an appropriate pattern for somebody that is some sewing experience because the materials and zipper installation can be a little more challenging.  I wouldn't say that it is difficult, just a little bit more of a challenge.

This bag relies on duck cloth as an interlining to give the bag its structure.  The biggest problem that I have with using duck cloth is that it frays easily and rapidly.  If the project is a longer term work, I'd even recommend serging the edges or a zig zag stitch along the edge to minimize the fraying.  Another issue that I have with duck cloth is that it smells when ironed (I've bought it from higher end fabric stores in different weights and colors from several manufacturers, and I've noticed that it all seems to smell).

There are only a couple of things that could be more problematic, in my opinion.  The first is the materials.  Duck cloth is heavier weight and more dense than quilting cotton, so some machines might have a hard time punching through the layers.  Using a larger size denim needle (a 100/16) would make it more doable as would slightly increasing your stitch length.  You also want to stick to a thread that is more durable such as a polyester or my beloved 40wt Aurifil.  For this bag, I used colors 2460 and 2370.

The other semi-tricky spot is with the zipper installation.  It is done on a curve, but it is a pretty gentle curve.  My best advice would be to use a lot of pins and take your time.  As with almost every bag I make, I prefer to use handbag zippers (not the chunky teeth jacket zippers).  They have a wider zipper tape which can increase the ease of installation and a longer pull.  The nylon coil can still be sewn through like the standard, lightweight zippers with which most of us are probably pretty familiar.

Check out the cool shape that you get from the curved zipper installation.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make a couple of modifications.  The first one was to lengthen the straps about 2 inches to give it a little bit of extra drop length.  If it make the bag again, I'd probably add another inch or two beyond that so the rounded top could be left extended instead of folding it over.  It would give a little bit of extra room in the event that I wanted to carry more stuff in the bag.  The other modification was to rectify the lack of lining in the exterior pockets that caught my attention when I read through the instructions before starting to make the bag.  I simply cut a piece of lining fabric using the pattern pieces for the exterior pockets.  I basted the duck cloth to the main fabric and treated it as one piece before following the instructions for how to assemble the pockets.  I wanted the pocket lining to remain soft, so that is why I opted to baste the duck cloth to the exterior/main fabric.

Yes, I am pleased with my choice to line the pockets and not have the duck cloth exposed.

So, would I make this bag again?  Yes, I would, but I think I'd expand my modifications to one other thing.  The bag has 2 exterior pockets.  The front pocket is smaller and is the width of the straps.  The larger, back pocket extends the width of the tote.  I would either eliminate the larger pocket or modify the bag to have a second smaller pocket.  The straps are sewn through the large pocket which divides it into 3 sections.  The center section has a snap closure while the other 2 do not have a closure.  I don't find the outermost pockets to be entirely useful, but that's my preference.

The bag is quite roomy on the inside and it features a single pocket with a line of stitching to separate the pocket into multiple compartments.

Anyway, that's about it for my experience with the Senna Tote.  It's a very cool bag with a distinctive look that was quick to put together.