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.