Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dress-up Schlep Bag

Last May I was shown a great bag called a Schlep Bag. I made one out of 5" squares of coordinated fabrics and was quite pleased with the results. The pattern I used is referenced here. Recently I was given a challange to make somehing from twenty different home decorating fabrics with at least five of them showing on the public side of whatever was made.

I was given a sample book of fabrics and have been staring at them for several months without any inspiration. Finally I came across a bunch of lovely fabrics in the giveaway pile at the ASG Houston retreat and have substituted them for the original fabrics.

From my new pile of decorating fabrics I have created a new Schlep Bag to be used for carrying around knitting projects in style. Sixteen of the twenty fabrics are on the outside and the final four are used in a little zippered pocket to hold small bits and pieces. The lining is silk dupioni that was originally sold as drapery fabric. I used six inch squares for the exterior and created the interior as you normally would for a tote bag. The base came out to be nine inches squares and the whole bag is about thirteen inches high. I added a pocket on one side of the interior for instruction sheets a small zippered pocket on the other side of the interior for scissors and things.

What do you think?

I did not decide to make a Schlep Bag out of the blue but from an article in one of the quilting magazines I have been getting for the Quilt Guild Fish Pond. It was from the early nineties and used strips of Japanese fabrics for the exterior rather than squares of fabric. The interior was a regular bag and there were little loops along the top for a drawstring handle arrangement. Obviously there is more to discover about this design and I am strangely satisfied to know where this design originated and how clever quilters transformed it into something that can pieced.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Words to the Wise

Never make paper with a bunch of sixth and seventh graders.

The materials are awkward and heavy to haul around, the kids will make a real mess with the materials, most of them do not want to work with the materials, those that want to work with it have lots of fun making comments about vomit, glitter gets everywhere and they will break something.

Enough said?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crazy .... Again

I'm crazy for Crazy Nine Patch quilts. The fabrics don't matter, seam allowances don't matter and the final size is completely up to you. All these things could matter but good results can be had even if the fabrics are ugly and your seam allowances are huge. Unless the final size is an issue, this is the quilt pattern for you. I just finished up three tops last night and here are my results:

For these tops, which are about 36" x 48", I started with twelve 12" squares of fabric. When I was done I ended up with twelve 9 1/2" squares all pieced and ready to join into a top. The borders are about five inches wide. There are many places on the internet to get instructions but this is a good one and so is this ....both of these are more controlled in their fabric choices than the random donated fabrics used in my examples.

I put these tops together for the Inter-faith Quilting Bee. Two of them will be quilted now and one has gone out to be used as an example of how these quilts can be made.
If find yourself with a variety of fabrics left over from other projects with or without a unifying element, try a Crazy Nine Patch for a fun untility quilt.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Easy Reversible Tote

A couple of days ago I showed the reversible tote from the Stitchin Heaven monthly tote program. I promised to show you a couple of the short-cuts I took in the construction that made this tote a snap to complete. Here's a picture of my new tiny reversible tote:
For my mini tote I used two fat quarters from my stash. To start, cut two of each side of the tote. In this case I cut two 91/2" squares of the wavy stuff and two 91/2" squares of the brick pattern. In addition I cut one 2" x 22" strip of each fabric. Put the fabric squares right sides together and stack as shown:
Sew through all four fabrics to form the bottom of the tote. Then separate the fabrics and sew the side seams, pressng the bottom seam open.
To bag the bottom of the tote, form a triangle at each bottom corner and sew across the triangles:
After the triangles are sewn:
Unfold one side and form around the other side of the tote, wrong sides together.Fold in the top edges into the wrong sides of each fabric about 1/2" or more and pin for security.
Create handles in your favorite manner. In this case I formed one long tube by sewing along the long edges, right sides together. I then turned the tube right side out and cut the tude into two lengths. The ends of each handle are inserted into the top of the bag and pinned:
Sew around the top of the tote two or three times to secure the handles and join the two sides of the bag.
And Voila... a simple reversible tote.
I learned a couple of things during this project which you may already understand. When going for reversibility you need to be sure that both sides of the tote are of similar fabric weight and color/pattern/hue. Without extra interfacing or batting, very different colors/patterns of fabric can result in show through and the handles can really look awful. Canvas is great for larger totes but larger seam allowances should be used rather than the little quarter-inch many of us are used to using. By sewing the bottoms together at the beginning you don't have to keep rearranging the lining side every time you reverse your tote.
I hope your weekend went well. Alex and the girls came back, after a week at son's, on Saturday and I have spent a lot of quality nap time with them over the past two days. Not just napping but a lot of quiet time finishing two different mystery novels as well as napping. In between, I have spent a lot of time going through bags of donations for the knitting club, arts and crafts club and for the Quilt Guild Fish Pond. I will be gald to get my house back when the quilt show and school year are over!
Have a good week!

My thanks to Megan Amy for designing the original tote in the traditional manner which forced me to find a faster, easier way to make the tote in the thirty monutes I had available to make the project.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Whatever activity I am involved with I like to have all the accessories. If I am quilting I like to have all the rulers and cutters available... and not just in one size but every size I could possibly need. Not that I can find them when I need them but I like having them.

Knitting is just a bad as quilting. I have a pretty full range of circular knitting needles and my supply of double pointed ones seems enormous. Imagaine my joy and surprise today when a friend that I am helping to knit handed my a set of stitch markers with little Dachshunds hanging off of them. They came from the Etsy Shop called Better Bead It Designs and are very cute.

What do you thnk?
(I just realized that they look like they are sniffing each others' butts... a typical Dachshund activity.)

I'm off to put them to good use this weekend on my next sock project as well as having fun running down to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for their loading dock sale. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Philly Big Bag

The monthly purse series I am enrolled in came up with a great reversible tote this month. The city was Philadelphia and the folk at Stitchin' Heaven came up with an oversized reversible tote using fabrics based on items in the National Museum of the American Coverlet and reproduced by Windham Fabrics. The fabrics were canvas weight and at first I thought the fabrics were like cut velvet or a carpet. The bag turned out to be about 22" square. I shortened and widened the handles because, for some reason, I did not end up with the right width after I straightened the fabric. Shorter, fatter handles means it does not fit on my shoulder... which is probably a good thing considering my bad shoulders. Anyway, here are a couple of shots of the bag.

One thing I did that was different than the pattern was that I added a little pocket for my cell phone. To maintain the integrity of the reversibility of the tote I hung the pocket on some ribbon so I could flip it from one side to the other.. depending on which side is considered the inside. I guess I could have added more pockets but the one thing I hate fishing for in my bag is a ringing cell phone. So I can't find my wallet buried under a lot of parcels, I can at least find my cell phone.
I did change the construction from a typical reversible tote bag. Normally you would construct the outer bag seperately from the inner bag; slip the inner bag into the outer bag and then sew them together at the top... inserting handles if necessary.

In this case I put the outer fabric right sides together, the inner fabric right sides together, stacked them on each other and sewed the bottoms together. I then opened out the bag, sewed up the sides, boxed the bottom corners, opened out the outer fabric and continued like it was constructed in the normal order.

Sounds complex but it really isn't. I'll try to put some pictures together.
Until then I will enjoy my new tote as my knitting group bag. I tend to carry books and yarn and needles to knit with friends so something bigger that my middle school knitting bag is really needed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ETA Dallas

ETA Dallas stands for Education of the Textile Arts in Dallas. This past weekend they had their fourth conference at a nice hotel in Dallas. Many of my colleagues had been to the earlier gatherings and I felt that this was my year to go. Besides taking three classes on fitting garments correctly I also took advantage of five (that's right five!) hands on workshops.

On Friday, the pre-conference day, I was scheduled to take a jacket class with Barb Callahan. I was her only student and she was more than willing to give me a three hour personal turtorial in making her Lola Jacket. (I don't see it on her web site, probably because it is brand new.) It is a nice loose fitting swing jacket that takes only a yard of fabric that she had embellished with bits of silk flowers. I was disappointed as I already have made four different versions of similar jackets and don't see a need for any more in my wardrobe. She and I came to a compromise and I selected a different jacket - the Window Jacket. As I had paid a kit fee, she also gave me my choice of her wonderful linens. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for her, the jacket I chose requires a lot more fabric than the Lola Jacket. I have not cut into the fabric, yet, but I will as soon as I get a chance to pre-wash it. Instead of a formal class Barb and I spent an hour going through al the construction and embellishment details. She went back to setting up her booth while I went out to the local Crate & Barrel outlet. A very good class!

My first official hands-on class was with Karen Erickson. It was about making a cushion cover.. something I need to do soon. I am sure she may be a good teacher in a different venue when all is to her liking but, frankly, her notes were disorganized, her lesson plan non-existent and if she complained once more about our lack of a zipper foot, I was going to throttle her. I walked away with a half finished mini-cushion cover without the necessary information to finish it correctly... but I will try.

My next class was with Evy Hawkins. Athough the project seemed very frilly, I really wanted to work with dimensional embroidery. I have not finished the complete project but I will post pictures when I do. Her kit was extremely full and allowed us to get right down to work. The best part of this class was a tip she gave us on working with little light bits of fabric. Spray a piece of card board with temporary adhesive. Lay your little bits on the board and spray again. Take your little bits off the board as you need them and stick them on your base fabric. When you are working with one inch bits of silk organza this tip was definitely worth the price of admission. Pictures to come when I find the right backing fabric.

My next class was also with Evy. In this one we worked with the Babylock Embellisher to make a fancy little purse. Once again Evy's kit was very well put together and I got to spend some extra time working on my project after class as I was free for a class period and the room was available. I was really looking forward to this class as I am already booked into a two day Cristopher Nejman class in April and wanted to get a feel for this type of work. Evy did not disappoint! Here is the purse I completed yesterday:
I love this stuff and I am now eagerly looking forward to my April class.

BTW, if you are intrigued with this type of work, Babylock has come out a twelve needle Embellisher so the seven needle one, which I have, has been deeply discounted... like well less than half price.

My last hands-on class was with Cindy Losekamp. This was a class in how to construct a reversible jacket from two t-shirts and then how to embellish it with silk screen designs. I have a friend who is great silk screener so I felt no guilt in leaving after I had constructed the jacket. When I get the silk screening done I will deifintely post pictures. It looks like a great garment for the hot Houston days when you need a little something indoors to keep the frigid air off your shoulders. Cindy wrote out great instructions and was very patient with those unable to comprehend that step two really does follow step one!

Those classes on fitting? It was great to spend time with some of the icons of the home sewing industry but I walked away with little practical knowledge. For instance, I have a real problem with a teacher who keeps saying 'Do you get that?" every two seconds who only repeats more slowly and more loudly what they just said as an answer to a question. Also, each of these women has their own way of approaching fitting issues and they are pretty much mutually exclusive. Peggy Sagers, the founder of ETA Dallas said it best - find what method works for you and stick with it. Sounds like good advice to me.

Would I go again? The price is not an issue. It was quite reasonable for what we got... including wonderful buffet lunches on Saturday and Sunday plus another one on Saturday evening. The classes were worth it but the fitting ones seemed to be directed toward fans of the teachers. Hands-on was a lot of fun even though the provided sewing machines were pretty minimal. I may go again in a couple of more years, if it is still around, just to catch up on new techniques, but, until then, I'll give it a a pass.

Freebie Joy

At the ASG sewing retreat I picked up a pattern with the fabric already cut out. The pattern was Vogue V7854 and looks very much like an updated Nehru Jacket. The fact that it was already cut out seemed like a real bonus. AND it was free for the taking so how could I resist?

Last night and part of this morning I made it up all the while anticipating that it would probably be too small for me. I figured I could get someone else to try it on so I could see how it looked on a real body. It is quite slim fitting with the lack of ease in the pattern offset by side slits.

It was a pretty easy sew and I took it to the Bee Charitable meeting this morning to have different people try it on. It turned out that it fit several of the women there and it even fit me. I decided that I didn't really like the fabric as it hid the nice design details and when one of the women expressed an interest in having it I gave it to her.

I'm thrilled that I now have a preview of how it will look on me (need to fix the shoulder slope) and the recipient was even more thrilled to get a new garment! I didn't finish it off with a closure so I hope she has fun working out how to do that.

Here is a shot of the pattern with a swatch of the fabric. I don't have a shot of the garment as I forgot to take one. (I made View B)
Freebie joy all around... what could be better that that on a gloomy day in Texas?

Friday, February 13, 2009

And the Children Shall Lead Us

February 12th marked the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln's birth. Humble Middle School had a special after school program that I was pleased to witness. Instead of the knitting club, about 100 kids celebrated Lincoln's life with music, speeches, questionaires and, of course, birthday cake and ice cream. A custodian, with a voice that rivals Aretha Franklin's, sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The school string orchestra then followed with its own, slightly sqeaky, version of the same song. A teacher presented a wonderful powerpoint with great background music. Three students read short essays emphasizing the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation. A special poster of Lincoln and a replica of the Gettysburg address were presented to the school and a picture was taken of all who participated. The photo will go to a group in Washington, D. C. to be included with other memorabilia on how this day was celebrated around the country.

A very moving moment was when a very small boy read the Lincoln quote that the students had decided as the most important to them. It was "The struggle of today, is not altogether for today - it is for a vast future also, with a reliance on providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed to the great task which events have devolved around us."

Just think, about seventy years ago Humble, where this school is located, voted to exclude blacks from the town. Not only did the blacks have to move outside of the town's legal limits but the local black cemetary was dug up and moved out of town as well.

Now the middle school celebrates Lincoln's life. Amazing! Definitely worth giving up a knitting club meeting.

One amusing moment - just before the photo was taken, one girl said that she wanted to be in the picture so that President Obama could see her celebrating Lincoln's birthday. I wonder if he will?

Crate & Barrel Outlet

One of the great shopping gems out there is Crate and Barrel's Outlet stores. What you don't see on the website is that Marimeko fabric is offered as well as their standard store fare. Marimekko was a fabric that defined mod back in the day. Many of us who can remember that far back remember wanting some of their fabric stretched on wooden bars for instant Finnish inspired decorating goodness. This 54" wide mid-weight cotton fabric normally sells for about $32.00 a yard and more but is available at the outlet stores for $4.95 a yard. I was recently at the Dalas outlet store and scored three pieces that I love.
Example No. 1- Bright, almost fluorescent, orange designed by Fujiwo Ishimoto in 2002 and called Sudenkorento.
Example 2: One of the early designs by Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi in 1958 and called Rotti. Seems perfect for a mid-century decorating scheme.
Example 3 - Wonderfully weird earth tones by Katsuji Wakisaka designed in 2001 and called UTA.
Not sure what I will do with these - they all seem perfect for Bog coats but I have a couple of ideas so that this fabric will not become well-aged.

Thirft Store Product

Check out this great sweatshirt Jacket that I bought for a pittance the other day. The buttons and sweatshirt (and maybe the fabrics) were from the thrift store outlet I mentioned previously. That top button is amazing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So Long Craft

Craft, one my favorite magazines, has decided to call it quits after only ten issues. The publisher has another magazine (Make) which has been around for a while and the publisher says that articles contracted for Craft will be available in Make. I was a Make subscriber for a year and found most of the material completely useless and uninteresting to me like how to make skittles floavored Vodka or complex open source technology updates for my cell phone ... who cares!?! Craft was something I read cover to cover each time it arrived in the mail box. Sometimes there were technology related articles but they made sense to me like installing LEDS in a tank top but they also had articles I could easily relate to like how to make a fat quarter friendly kimono style jacket. Heck, one of the staff even reviewed the Sanda Betzina sewing school in San Francisco. I'm not sure if I will shift my subscripiton to Make and see if Craft type articiles will negate the other stuff or ask for my money back. Which ever I choose I know I won't be happy. Rats!


What do you get for $2.17 (including sales tax) these days? Not a gallon of milk, not a loaf of bread, not a good pair of socks and certainly not a fancy coffee at Starbucks - none of these would come in at $2.17 at most stores.

How about five wool sweaters, one wool blazer and two sweatshits?

That was my loot today when I went shopping at the local thrift store outlet. Yup, we have a thrift store outlet in this area. When a Family Thrift store is finished with its merchanize it moves it to the outlet store (on the north side of Little York Road between the Hardy Toll Road and Hwy 45). I don't know if that is what it is called but every Wednesday afternoon and evening this store is completely restocked with merchandize and re-opens on Thursday morning with everything priced at $1.75 an item. Friday everything is priced at $1.50, Saturday $1.25 and so-on until by Wednesday morning everything is $0.25.

Today I decided to drop in and see what they had for $0.25 and scored great items for felting (all that wool) and transforming into jackets (the sweatshirts). The store closes at 1:00 pm on Wednesday for restocking and I got in and out with about 10 minutes to spare. What surprised me is that the clothing was all in good shape, did not smell and there were still some great items left... like the size 10 women's navy blue linen blazer and a black silk woman's jumper - both of which I passed on.

This store is not my discovery. A wonderful woman in the quilt guild is a real thrift store aficionado and she had been talking about this place for months. She even guided some of us on a road trip to the best thrift stores in the area. I never went on the road trip, so this was my first experience with extreme thrift store shopping. I am now forever in her debt. In fact, on a previous trip she found a jacket with great buttons. She kept the buttons but gave me the jacket as she thought it would look good on me. It does look good on me... I just have to find some buttons!

And wait until you see what one of her friends made from similar finds that I got to purchase from her for a mere pittance this morning... its spectacular! Photos soon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Sew Sew Project

One of the things I wanted to get done this weekend was a challenge project for the 'Seams Possible' neighborhood group. Last year we were each given an inexpensive floral print to use as inspiration for a project. The project is due Tuesday and, of course, I left things until the last minute. Here is the picture I am to use as my inspiration:

This first thing I noticed about the picture is that the tulips were a color I did not recognize and that they were sagging in a most un-natural manner. My first idea was to make a skirt the color of the tulips using a pattern called, appropriately enough, The Tulip Skirt. The pattern was in one of the Japanese sewing books I have. When I realized how many adjustments I would need to fit my non-Asian form I decided to find something else to fulfill the challenge.

Until yesterday, I did not know what my other idea would be. Then I found a pattern in the loot I have been collectiing for the KAQG Quilt Show. The pattern is called the "No-Sag-Bag", published in 1983 by Cloth and Sew On based in Ontario, Oregon. I have been unable to Google the pattern or the company but, then again, after 25 years that should not suprise me. My thought was I would correct the sagging tulips and make a bag out of them. I didn't say it was a brilliant idea.

What makes this pattern unique to me is that a center pocket is incorporated into the structure of the bag so that it really can't sag.

Here's a shot of the pattern packet and its one pattern piece:

And here's what I came up with:

As you can see I have a few problems. The hand dyed fabric I found in the stash is a good color match but there was not enough of it to make the bag as shown in the pattern. I rescaled the pattern to fit the amount of fabric available. When I rescaled the pattern I did not leave certain bits at the original size like the seam allowances for the zipper and the sides of the bag thus the pathetic article shown above.

I may try this bag again because it really is a clever bag design. I just need to get it done quickly so I can return it to the Fish Pond items.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Strange Week

Theoretically a week is seven days but in this case I am calling it quits on this week right now.

From the depths of depression on Sunday afternoon (you don't want to know) to the high from a class I gave this afternoon this whole week has been a bunch of ups and downs. So here's what I am going to do... the week is over and I get to start fresh tomorrow. I know Saturday is not typically the beginning of the week for most of us (sorry Ms. M.) but I need to put away the bad stuff and relish all the good stuff.

I taught a great sewing class, introduced some friends to knitting, received a 'Heartfelt Thanks' from the Quilt Guild, participated in two middle school knitting club meetings, worte a pretty good post on making pillowcases, taught a fun bead class at YesPrep, got some Fish Pond stuff out of the house and recieved a cute 'Devil Doxie' figurine in appreciation from ASG.

Of course this was inter-twined with a bunch of CRAP but I don't care. I have a challenge project to finish, a doll quilt to make, another quilt to get borders on and some great 'new to me' fabric to sort and store. My name may not be Pollyanna and I may not wear rose colored glasses but I can't let a small part of the world drag me down.

Have a great weekend. I will.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Three Times Longer

I was in Petsmart today picking up Greenies for the crew when I saw a cute Loofa style toy that said it would last three times longer than other Loofa style toys. Since I had a coupon I thought I would try it out. The last Loofa style toy I bought for Alex lasted about fifteen minutes so anything that lasts more than that is not a bad buy in my book. Well, its about nine hours later and that thing is still, more or less, intact.

Here's the link to the product at Petsmart. I got the one that looks like a cow.

Here's what it looks like now:

The head is empty of stuffing, so is the butt and the legs. The ears, horns and tail are gone. The rough stuff on the outside of the body and the little black heart shaped spots that made this such a cute toy are scattered all over the house.

This toy gets a qualified thumbs up. It has lasted but I had to disembowel it a lttle while ago to remove the squeaker thing before Alex could find it. I did put all the stuffing back, and then some, so he should stay amused for a couple of more hours tomorrow.

I just wish these doggie toys were more durable without sqeakers!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pillowcase Making

This past weekend I saw some incredibly complex ways to make a pillowcase. I thought I would summarize all of them here but realized that there is no way I could do it all in a readable format. There are two methods however that I think are particularly noteworthy and I will summarize them here.

Common to all pillowcases:

Finished size - approximately 21" x 32" with the opening at one of the short ends.

Fabric - cotton or a cotton linen blend. Does not need to be quilting cotton so check out the drapery fabrics for some interesting choices. Pre-washing is a personal choice. I usually wash after I have made the pillowcase to ensure there are no wonky edges.

Equipment - A serger makes a nice clean edge for the long seams, just shorten the stitch length for good results. A sewing machine is needed for hemming, french seaming (if desired) and adding decoratons.

Simple Pillowcase

Cut or rip your fabric approximately 2 yards long by 22 1/2" (which happens to be half the width of standard quilting cotton as it comes off the bolt). Fold the fabric, right sides together, to approximately 1 yard by 22 1/2". Serge the long sides together using a short stitch length. When you are serging remove the selvedge edge at the same time. Press the open edge to the wrong side with a 1/4" hem. Fold to the wrong side again about two inches to form a hem. Sew the hem from the wrong side. Turn right side out and press. Because you are working with two yards of fabric you can get two identical pillowcases from one length of fabric. Here is a picture of a simple pillowcase with a peak at the interior.

I got this fabric many months ago from J Caroline Creative and I think it is an older Amy Butler fabric design.

Complex Pillowcase

Cut or rip your fabirc (assuming quiting cotton again) approximately 3/4 of a yard long. Cut or rip another accent fabric about 1/3 of a yard long. Additional trim can be added of 3" of fabric or 45" of covered piping. Attached the trim and accent fabic to one raw adge of you fabric with a tight serger stitch. With right sides together, folded to approximately 22 1/2" by 27" plus accent fabric, serge the plain end of the fabric and the long side removing the selvadges. Fold the raw edge of the accent fabric to the wrong side about 1/4" then fold and press again to line up with the serged edge of the joining to the body of the fabric. I try to fold the 1/4" hem over the serged edge for a neater look. Sew the hem down, turn right side out and press. Here is a finshed example of this complex pillowcase with a look at the interior:

This pillowcase is made from several Moda Fabrics that were sold as a kit by Sun Flower Quilts here in Houston.


Use lace for the accent and trim fabrics. It saves the step of making a final hem or you can add another strip of fabric to have a clean finshed fabric, non-lace edge.

Finish off with a french seam. Essentially a french seam is constructed with the pillowcase serged with the wrong sides of the fabric together. The pillowcase is then turned wrong side out and the serged edge buried in a sewn seam.

Drag out your embroidery files and embroider the accent fabric before attaching it to the pillowcase.

Add a pocket to the backside of the pillowcase to keep the pillow from slipping out. Basically you will be making a simple pillowcase with an extra long back hem doubled over to make a little cover for the edge of a pillow. Extra fancy pillowcases you find in the stores usually have this feature.

Try the 'burrito' method of attaching the accent and trim. Essentially you pin the accent and trim to one end of the pillowcase fabric right sides together. Roll the body of the pillowcase fabric into a tightish roll then bring the right right side of the accent fabric over the body and re-pin. Serge/sew the accent/trim edge, pull out the body of the case, press, then top stitch the accent and trim into place.

These are very basic instructions but pillowcases are almost a no brainer once you have made a couple of them. They make great presents by themselves or as additions to the present of a quilt. One great place for inspiration is at an upscale bed linens' department. Check out the construction methods and adapt them for your own use. You will probably find that the even the fanciest pillowcases are made in one of the two ways I have shown above.

Good Luck!

Retreat 2009

I spent two solid days at this year's Houston Chapter of the American Sewing Guild's 2009 retreat. As last year, we went to the Northwest Conference Center just north of town. I arrived on Friday afternoon and spent until about 2:00 pm on Sunday sewing, eating, sleeping and chatting with 26 other sewers. When you get a group of women together with such varied tastes and skill levels you could have a disaster but, once again, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. There are members of the chapter who only come to the retreat so it was good to catch up with them again. Then there are the folk that you seem to see at all the events. In that case it great to see them in action.

The National Charity project this year is pillowcases for Ronald McDonald House in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Some people brought fabric and the storage locker was cleared out of all its cotton. Although some of us did not even make one at the Retreat, 89 pillowcases were finished and no kits were leftover for us to take home and finish. I made a dozen of them last year and I am trying to limit my participation this year as projects like this seem to take over my life sometimes. I did see about a dozen ways to construct pillowcases and I willl try to post a summary of the techniques I saw demonstrated.

I went to the retreat with two quilt tops to complete, one bias rayon scarf I have been wanting to try and a checkbook/wallet kit I won at the KAQG as a door prize. Back in 2006 I bought a Charlotte Angotti quilt kit and I have worked on it off and on since then. I got that top finished but now I realize that I need to add some significant borders if I want to use it on any of the beds in this house. I also started on another Angotti quilt top. That one will take a while a get finished but I am about one-third of the way through the construction and I am quite pleased with how it is coming together. Here is a shot of the quilt top (minus borders) that I completed.

I did not get anything else completed but I am quite content to have only one thing to show for all my hard work.

One of the best thing about these retreats is that people show up wth stuff to share with others. This year about 10 cartons of fabric from the storage locker was available for taking as well as one woman's stash of bolts of fabulous fabric and another woman's wonderful silks, patterns and other bits that she was giving away before she moves homes. It was like a feeding frenzy but very polite. We all have enough in our own resouce centers (read 'stash') to last us quite a while but some fabulous corduroy and several good patterns really caught my eye and made it home with me. I guess I better start culling out some well aged fabric in my own resource center to make room for the new, to me, acquisitons.

Oh, and if the fabulous Joanne is reading this... you can now start talking about the threes B's again... that is boobs, butts and bugs. You had to be there!

Have a good week!