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Showing posts from 2011

Handmade holiday handbag

Being on vacation is great. Lots of time to finish projects or completely ignore those and start on new ones. Like this handbag for my aunt, which was a Christmas gift.

I made a comparable style for my mom many years ago when I was newer to sewing. This one took a lot less time. The best part is that I got to use some of the high quality fabric I scored at the FiDM Scholarship Store at bargain prices. I played with putting on some buttons on the pocket flaps for decoration, but in the end this bag seemed to say to just leave it plain.

The pattern is adapted from Vogue 8214 and uses a lovely black tweed. If I had more of the fabric and I sewed clothes, this would make a glorious Chanel-like tweed jacket.

Memory quilt

I made this quilt for my dad; it was supposed to be his birthday gift, but ended up being his Christmas gift.

Each square means something and references a life experience. In some cases, the fabrics are souvenirs of those experiences that I had held onto and were just waiting for the right moment to reappear. Like the blue batik (bottom row, middle square) that is from a shirt that was bought in Gambia so many years ago when my dad and my youngest brother were there. Or the screen print of the woman (top row, farthest left) that was bought when I traveled to Kenya with my dad.

Figuring out all the squares took some time, much longer than I thought it would, and a lot of searching for just the right fabric.

Here's a close up of one of the sections. The princess square is a scan of an actual drawing that my niece did and transferred to fabric. That was fun to figure out. The quilt finished huge - about 79" square.

Workhorse totes

For lack of a more creative name, I think of these tote bags as workhorses. They are sturdy, hold a lot of stuff, are reasonably stylish, and make great gifts. Plus, they can be made in just a few hours. The fun part is pairing the lining fabric with the outside fabric, which means lots of comparing this and that.

The one on the left started with fabric that was 22" x 14". I like the elongated shape. The one on the right started with fabric that is 21" x 17.5" and that shape is great for deeper things and seemed to hold a bit more. Perfect for moms on the go. My mom made the red flower pin and it adds a nice punch of color, I think.

The outside is this really soft chenille-like decor weight fabric that should hold up to a lot of abuse. The lining is similar to wool gabardine and has a nice texture although it holds lint really well, unfortunately.

This one makes me think of the beach. The size is smaller than the two above and made up of leftover cuts of fabric jus…

In miniature

My mom crocheted the cutest little purses following a pattern in a Japanese crochet book. They are so twee!

The blue and white tote bag is 3" x 3.25" and the green one, my favorite, love the pearls, is 2.5" x 3.5". They would make great ornaments or charms. She now has to make me scads more.

In other ornament news, I learned that friend loves owls. So for craft time together she made owls, which I then stuffed and stitched up later.

Now they just need to be mailed to her... ideally before Christmas, I suppose.

A well-dressed table

Pretty place mats deserve pretty coasters, so I spent a portion of Thanksgiving weekend sewing up matching patchwork coasters.

The coasters are large enough to use as trivets and are layered with batting and insulbright so that they can handle hot pans. In a pinch, they can also be used as potholders.

I think the coasters aren't much to look at by themselves. They're a little too random, but with the place mats, they look just fine and coordinate well.


The upside and downside to sewing things is all the leftovers that quickly multiply and overflow. In an "aha" moment, I used two leftover blocks to make one long-overdue and much-needed pin cushion. Total sewing time 5 minutes; total procrastination time 4 years. No more stumbling upon needles in random places.

And I used the bits and pieces of flower parts that didn't make the cut into the Fanciful Flowers quilt for four mismatched, but colorful, place mats.

Rather than appliquing the flower by hand, I fused the shapes onto the background fabric and blanket stitched all around and finished with all over stippling. The stems were an easy fix, too. I cut double-sided fusible interfacing into thin strips and ironed the ribbon onto the fabric and then used a fancy stitch on my sewing machine to secure the ribbon in place.

Finished!! Fanciful Flowers quilt is done

After one year, it's finally finished. Bound in understated grey and waiting to be washed.

The quilt only took one year to make, three sewing machines, countless broken needles, and oodles and oodles of thread.

And the back is a fun riot of colors. Happy dance.

Slow, but steady

Slow, but steady progress on the Sherbet Pips quilt.

25 chain units...

24 star blocks...
and 1 mistake...

Working on a new quilt

I really like the Sherbet Pips and Little Apples line from Moda, but had difficulty choosing a pattern that worked with the fabric. Finally I settled on something very simple - an Irish chain pattern with star blocks.

The fabric line has these great little drawings and fussy cutting them into small blocks seemed to be the best way to showcase the cuteness.

The blocks finish at 12" square and I'm almost done making 25 of the X blocks.

On to the star blocks.

Echino Weekend Boston Bag Redux

So very happy with how this bag turned out.

The first one was a great muslin and helped me think through a better design to include an interior zipper pocket, cell phone pocket, slip pocket, over the shoulder straps, and even purse feet.

I especially like that this bag has a finished seam inside instead of having to use binding like I did on the first try. That meant having to slipstitch the openings, but I'm learning and starting to appreciate that a little extra effort and more attention to detail can really pay off in improved craftsmanship.

Super deluxe travel bag that is perfect for carting home all those souvenirs. And if I went to the gym, it would be a perfect gym bag, too.

As expected, this bag took a while to make, but the pay-off is a sturdy, well-constructed carry-on. Plus unlike the cool Target Missoni bags, this one is lead-free.

Echino weekend boston bag

Bag #2. The shop sample is made using an Echino patchwork print and is lovely, which is what tempted me to buy the pattern in the first place.

The sample bag finished at 18" x 15" x 5". Fairly sizable, but also completely squishable so that I can pack it away in my carry-on and then use it to bring back the numerous souvenirs and purchases that I will inevitably buy.

Some variations: I added a front pocket because extra pockets are always nice. And I finished the interior seams.

The bag took 5 hours to finish from start to finish so my "real" bag probably won't be finished until just before I leave because a lot of time will need to pass before I muster up the desire and enthusiasm to make this again.

Echino gathered shoulder bag

I'm trying out different bag designs to find the perfect one to take with me on an upcoming trip in the fall. First up is the Echino gathered shoulder bag.

I made a test bag to get a sense for the bag's construction and to see how easy it would be to alter the design to add pockets and the like.

The widest measurement is 20" and the opening is 15". The depth is 12.5" and the handle drop is 9". The bag looks and feels smaller in real-life than the picture on the suggests.

Because the interior is gathered too, I couldn't figure out a way to add a slip pocket without ruining the bag's structure. Good thing the lining is bright; makes finding things easier.

The only small alteration to the original pattern was to add a magnetic snap. Even though the pattern instructions are in Japanese, the drawings are so well-done that it's easy to figure out how to make the bag.

I wanted to see how other sewers had made up the bag, but for whatever reason I coul…

Vinyl hanging organizer

Riding the happy experiment of my vinyl envelopes, I made a vinyl organizer for my mom so that she could have a nicer way to organize and access her jewelry making tools.

The organizer is modeled after the ubiquitous over-the-door shoe organizer, only the pockets are vinyl so that you can see what tool is in the pocket.

The organizer is 20" x 24" so that it fits perfectly into its little space on the wall. Boy, sewing is great. Once again, thanks to my sister for having the baby that started me down this crafting road with the gateway drug to quilting: the baby quilt.

Linen patchwork tote with leather handles

The local public library carries a fantastic collection of sewing books, including the latest titles. So for the past few months I have been exposed to and absorbed the Japanese crafting aesthetic of linen and patchwork. I finally got around to making my version of a linen patchwork tote and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

There are a lot of things that I like about this bag: the patchwork uses up scraps from a previous quilting project so there is minimal waste. This also means that each side is unique and every bag will always be one of a kind. The leather handles are simple, but add to the overall design of intentional minimalism. The single rivets are also a fun design element. The bag itself is wonderfully slouchy, but still sturdy enough to hold some serious weight.

The bag is lined with some heavier weight cotton than the traditional quilting cotton and finished with a magnetic snap and finished so that it could theoretically be turned inside out.

I see many more …

Getting organized

Some people get inspired while in the shower; I get mine while idling in traffic. Ever since I started sewing and quilting, I have collected a lot of tools to install snaps, grommets, eyelets, etc. and those things have been sitting haphazardly in a shoebox. As of today, no longer.

While at Joann, I saw a bunch of vinyl pencil cases on sale for back to school preparation and I thought that they were cute, but that was it. But on the way home, I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a more organized method to store my tools and not just organize them, but to be able to see them too.

Need for organization + extra vinyl at home + vinyl pencil case = vinyl storage envelopes (eureka!)

Now my tools sit pretty in their home and it's easier to grab what I need.

Making them was super easy. Just cut the vinyl to size and sew up the sides. For a more aesthetically pleasing look, I rounded the flap corners. Sandwiching the vinyl between tissue paper prevented the envelope from ge…


A quilt in progress... I wanted to make my brother a baby quilt that he could gift to some very good friends of his. I fussy cut a fat quarter of some very cute cowboys and cows. Only a fat quarter does not a baby quilt make.

Pieced around the fussy cut blocks and made this quilt up as I went along, so putting this together is taking much, much longer than usual.

The key, I think, is keeping the color palette simple and neutral. That and lots of staring at the blocks and rearranging them over and over on the floor to group the blocks to tell a mini-story and also balance the arrangement of characters with the log cabin blocks and pinwheels.

And, of course, the baby's name to personalize this one-of-a-kind quilt. The back is finished in super soft minkee.

Update: My brother told me that when Cohen, who is 1 years-old, was given the quilt, he immediately hugged it and then put his face on it. Ahh. That makes my heart happy.

Behemoth Baby Bag

Friends commissioned me to make them a baby bag and I was happy to oblige.

The bag needed to be big enough to hold all the stuff necessary for a baby (which is a lot) and also have some room for their own things. This one finished at 16" x 12.5" x 5.5". The straps are adjustable so the bag can either be worn cross-body or over the shoulder. The bag also comes with stroller straps to hang the bag from the back of a stroller because this one will not fit easily beneath the stroller seat.

The bag needed to have lots of pockets. The back pocket is secured with a magnetic snap. The front pockets are open and pleated so that they can expand a little.

One of the side pockets is lined in flannel to hold sunglasses. The other side is elasticized to hold a bottle.

The inside is separated into two sections with a zippered divider. The side closest to the back can be used much like a regular purse: key fob, pocket zipper, open pocket, and not show in the picture, yet 3 more open po…