Monday, December 28, 2009

Modified Markt Bag

A couple of International Festivals ago I learned how to make a Japanese Market Bag. In October of this year the Saturday Strippers made a wonderful variation. Instead of using two pieces of fabric, this variation uses an exterior of pieced, pre-cut 2 1/2" strips, an interior of plain fabric and an interlining of batting.

I chose a Jelly Roll made from the Cotton Blossom fabric line from Moda, a lining of flannel and an interlining of Warm 'n' Natural batting. Here's how mine came out:
This bag is huge... about 38" wide by about 50" long. The picture above has a queen size quilt in the bag and there is plenty of room for at least one or two more.

I used flannel for the interior so that the bag, when unfolded could be used for a design wall in a pinch.
I did use the same construction as the original Market Bag while the others in the Saturday group used magnetic snaps to close the top and straps that went all the way around the bag in one continuous loop to carry the bag. Both techniques work equally well.
Once you see the bag all flat it inspires other uses for ths type of bag. How about it made up as a nap mat for an infant, or as a play surface for a toddler or as a beach bag? There are lots of possibilities.

Another UFO off the pile so now its time to do my Chrstmas sewing that I didn't even start until after the holiday. I hope the recipients don't mind!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Humphrey Bogart Socks

Yesterday there was a Humphrey Bogart festival on television. I love him, especially when he played opposite Lauren Bacall.

Knowing that there would be some serious movie watching going on here I decided it was about time to finish a pair of socks that have been on my to-do list for a couple of months now.

What do you think....

There really is another one I just couldn't figure out how to get both of them on the chair without Alex and the Girls jumping on me.

The yarn is wool with aloe in it. I think the aloe is to make the wool softer to wear.

These were knit from the toe up and include a bunch of cables. Fortunately the yarn's colors hide any mistakes I made in the knitting. I've worn them all day and have now realized that they do not go with any of the shoes I own so I guess they will be house socks for now.

Another UFO done.

EZ Screen Print

I read about the EZ Screen Print system in the Amy Karol book Bend the Rules with Fabric. I have always enjoyed using purchased silk screens but I never semed to be able to find the ones I wanted when I needed them. I bought the book back in August and have been mulling over purchasing the system since them.

A couple of weeks ago I took the plunge and, until a couple of days ago, it sat on the kitchen counter waiting for me to try it out.

Sweet Sadie's has run out of staff T-shirts so I took that as a sign to make some for them.

I started with some stained while t-shirts I have lying around here and, after runing one screen, got this result:
Imagine how it would look on an unstained T-shirt!

I then tried out my silk sreen on a black T-shirt..

Not as good a result because I didn't have the right ink but in a pinch it would work.

The way this system works is that it uses the sun, or another UV light source, to harden the emulsion on the screen where you don't want the ink to penetrate. Where you do want your image, you mask it from the sun (like the Sweet Sadie's which was printed in black on a transparency sheet) and the emulsion stays soft. Scrub off the soft emulsion, dry and put the screen out in the sun for a final hardening and your screen is ready to use.

I now have three different sizes of Sweet Sadie's silk screen bits, from one big screen, to try on other T-shirts to see what works best.

I hope Paul likes them.

Now to what I really want on a silk screen.... some smallish leaves to cover up stains on other T-shirts. Just need to find the right images.

If you would like try your hand at making silk screens, try this system. It's relatively inexpensive to begin, then if you like it, you can then invest in more screens.

I think 2010 will the year of the silk screens.

Could be worse!

Merry Christmas To All...

And to All a Good Night... even you Kelis!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee

One of the joys of collecting items for the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild Fish Pond is that I get to see all the goodies that people donate to the cause. Some of the goodies are not so good and have to be discarded but most of them are in good condition and provide me with hours of pleasure. Among all the fabrics, patterns, notions and magazines that have been donated, I came across a quilting magazine called Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee.

Begun in 1962 by Glenna Boyd (1919-2006) this publication was considered one of the best in the market from 1962 until it ceased publication in 1980. Printed on glossy paper with some fuzzy black and white photograghs, this publication gives us a wonderful look at our quilting heritage. Aunt Kate also re-published patterns from the the 1920' and 1930's, crocheted edgings from a book originally published in 1916, contemporary apron and potholder patterns as well as original quilt block patterns from her readers.

The issues I have had the privilege of purusing come from 1976 and 1977.

How things have changed in 30 years.

Back then it was all about the blocks.
Most of the quilts discussed were made up of multipes of one complex block that was meant to be hand pieced. There were lots of curves and lots of pieces in each block. Now its all about the overall quilt design with blocks designed to be machine pieced. If you were lucky enough to get a block published in Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee you could make up to $9.00 if you completed all of the elements required in good order. Now the magazines pay between $150.00 and $300.00 for each quilt they accept for publication with the magazine's staff writing the actual instructions.

As a subscriber you were expected to create templates from the printed instructions and gather the pieces into labelled file folders or large size envelopes for future use. There was a section every issue where women asked for other block patterns to be swapped or bought. Blocks by Nancy Cabot were much sought after in the requests I have read. She published block patterns in the Chicago Tribune in the 1930's and published two pamphlets of bock patterns in 1934 and 1935. What a find these booklets would be today!

One interesting part of the publication was where subscribers' wrote in looking for pen pals and round robin opportunities. Not only were their full names and addresses printed, but birthdays and wedding anniversaries as well. In this day of identity theft I wonder how such notices would be handled today?

Even though there are quite a few typos and the use of the opening phrase of 'Now girls..' just grates on my nerves, this is magazine is a delightful look at quilting from the 60's and 70's.

If you come across this periodical take the time to look it over and read some of the charming articles. I don't think you will be disappointed with the time spent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sewing Holiday Parties

I was at a party today with a group of sewing friends and the hostess offered a special gift to the youngest person there. It turned out that the youngest was 51!

I remember thinking many years ago that there was no way I could ever make it to the year 2000 as 48, my age in 2000, was so ancient.

Now I was sitting in a room of bright, beautiful, creative women and they were all over that ancient age of 48.

How my feelings about age have changed!

But enough about age.

We're talking about Sewing Holiday Parties and, for them, its about the location, the food and the loot.

Most of the parties have been held in private homes and the hostesses seem to go all out to decorate to the hilt. Today's home was a prime example. There were towers of glittery ornaments and lots and lots of green wired ribbon bows everywhere. This home was so decorated that the wire mesh waste basket holding a standard green garbage bag had lots of the same green ribbon looped and draped all around the upper edge.

Now that's decorating.

The food for these parties ranges from packages of exotic cookies from the grocery store to dishes that have been in people's families for generations. I brought food from Sweet Sadies to a few (beans or brisket) and salads made from kits to others. I am so going to miss sampling all the fine eating of this season . Going back to lunches of peanut butter sandwiches will be a real let down.

The loot is the icing on the proverbial cake. Each of these sewing related parties has included a gift exchange of some sort. In general, those that participate collect some sewing related items and wrap them up. The participants choose one of the secret gifts or can steal a previously opened gift. The number of times a gift can be stolen is usually limited and its fun watching people trying to figure out out if their targeted gift will still be in play when their turn comes around to pick.

The party today had an unusual twist to it in that gifts were not swapped but each of us was challenged to create an apron using only stuff that we had on hand in our resource centers.

I created a reversible apron using a pattern in Lotta Jansdotter's 'simple sewing' book. The fabric was from Clothworks retired fabrics called 'Well Done'. One fabric had lots of cooking words on it like baste, saute and grill while the other fabric was full of cartoonish restaurant staff.

I received an origami apron done in a lovely peach and cream linen blend fabric. Here's a link to a similar creation.

With a week to go before Christmas, and two weeks before New Year's Eve I am partied out. I still have a couple of small gatherings I plan to attend but there are no obligations attached to any of them.

Little did I know when I started to get more active is various sewing related groups that my hoiday schedule get so interesting.

I wonder what it will be like next year?

I better start dieting now so I can enjoy the wonderful food even more that I have this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

When looking for UFOS to finish up before the end of the year I came across a project that I thought had great potential and decided to complete it.

I must have been drunk.

The project came from a class with Gabrielle Swain back in June 2008. If you go to that post you can hear me gushing about what a wonderful class it was and how excited I was about my work that day.

A year and a half later I finally go far enough along in the project that I can see that my joy was entirely misplaced.

What I have come up with is butt ugly because, although the design was good, my over-use of hand dyed fabrics makes the whole composition muddy. I should have added some plainer fabrics, at least for the background.

What do you think? Does this look like two leaves, one behind the other?

Ugly... right?

I don't think there is anything I can do to make it better so I am folding it up into a very small packet and filing it away in the back of a drawer behind a lot of beautiful hand-dyed fabircs where it may not see the light of day before the end of this century.

Next time I try an 'art' piece I will try to restrain myself and add some plainer fabrics to the mix otherwise I will have too much of a good thing...again!.
BTW, the fabric is from Judy Robertson of Just Imagination. If you go to her site you can see wonderful quilts made completely with her fabrics with much more pleasing results.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fabric Collage UFO

For many years I have been entranced by the creative possibilities inherent in Collage. I subscribe to both Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors which feature a lot of collage techniques. I have taken classes on how to put fabric collages together with June Colburn and other instructors. I continue to collect bits and peces of deritus to eventually use in my collage masterpieces.

I love collage BUT I suck at actually doing collages.

I can gather lots of related things together and can come up with a great concept but when it comes to actually putting one together I have rarely gotten results that I would be proud to display.

Many years ago I took a class with June Colburn here in Houston on her fabric collage technques. June has the uncanny ability to take many different, but related, fabrics and collage them together into a new piece of fabric that looks like it was manufactured as whole cloth. This was my second or third class with her and thought I could produce something pleasing to both of us.

No such luck.

After spending a couple of hours cutting and placing fabic on a 16" x 20" muslin foundation, June came over and pointed out obvious flaws in my masterpiece. I was hurt but not daunted and spent the rest of the day reworking my piece.

It never measured up to the potential I saw all around me.

The other day I dug it out again and began to re-work it ... again.

I had the inspired notion that I would complete the origianl piece but this time I would just try get all the pieces of fabric attached to the foundation and not worry about the piece's eventual use.

From well thought out concept to slap on the fabric in one easy step.

Here's how it came out:

Not pretty but there are bits that are quite pleasing like the Japanese lady and the fish motifs.

Not letting it go into the trash bin after the huge investment in time to had spent, I decided to use the bits I liked in several little projects.

From one 16"x 20" ugly fabric collage I came up with a holder for my iPod Nano Touch:


Attached to my purse

A cover for my address book,



And, a box to hold paper and pens near my sewing machine.

Not bad for an ugly piece of collage.

I hope your weekend is going well and that the typical pre-holiday cleaning is not getting you down. I have set a small goal for myself... getting all the laundry done AND put away in the right drawers and closets. Somehow laundry gets done here with great regularity but not everything gets put away correctly. Tea towels end up piled on the counter, socks to be folded languish on a dresser top and towels get re-used before even seeing the inside of the linen closet. For just one day I would like to see it all done and put away.

And while I am working towards laundry nirvana I will be on the look out for more UFOs that I can complete before year-end.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sewing Gifts

In keeping with the time of year, many people who know sewers are out trying to find something to feed the sewer's need for more stuff. Instead of opting for a gift certificate to their favorite fabric shop you may want consider going to the electronics, office supply, grocery and hardware stores to find great gifts for the sewer in your life.

Not that a gift certificate would not be appreciated but there are other places to find great gifts and stocking stuffers for sewers.

For instance, at the electronics store, you can find an iPod phone or iPod Nano Touch. This gift would give the sewer not only a nice MP3 type musc player but a lot of applications are out there that would appreciated like a quilt block sampler or a set of videos on how to do several complex sewing related tasks.

While you are there you can also get the little vacuum attachments for sucking up dust from delicate computers. Great for getting all the thread lint out of the bobbin area of any sewing machine.

Over at the hardware store there are a lot magnetized gadgets that are a real boon to those of us who work with dangerous things like pins and needles. One that I use a lot is a pointer type thing with a magnet in the tip. They even make them wth an LED light in the tip as well. Just run it under the sewing table and pins and needles just leap onto the tip ready for re-use.

Another thing I have heard about, but not personally seen, is a magnetic bowl that mechanics use to corral nuts and bolts. I must get one of these as I have heard you only need to fling things in the direction of the bowl and the pins and needles just jump into it for re-use.

At the office supply store there are a lot of things that sewers need. Pick up some extra paper and printer cartridges. Not galmorous but they would save a lot of cursing when the sewer finds out that there is no paper or ink in the printer when they just have to print out 25 pages of how to sew a particular project. Files folders, plastc sheet protectors, newsprint sheets, colorful binders and file boxes are always in great demand when the urge to re-oganize somes upon the sewer.

And don't forget the grocery store as a source of stocking stuffers for sewers. Skip the flowers and pre-made dinners and find the freezer paper. My freezer paper has not made it back into the kitchen for months as I have been using it a lot to make applique templates. A not very galmorous gift but a great stocking stuffer would be washable glue in sticks or bottles. Don't forget to pick up some colored pencils, marking pens, Sharpies, lead pencils, art erasers or crayons. All are things that are needed by the sewer and just never seem to be on hand when needed.

If you must go into a sewing store, consider an expensive add-on for the sewer's current sewing machine, new embroidery disks, or, if you must, a new, top-of-the-line sewing machine. More modest needs are straight pins, size one safety pins, big spools of the sewer's favorite neutral sewing thread or pre-wound bobbins.

For as little as a $1.00 even a cash strapped little kid can make a sewer's life brighter.

Happy shopping!

Lazy Girl!

The other day I mentioned to a friend that I was going to drop off 'One Yard Hugs' to Sun Flower Quilts. Apparently I had mentioned this project to her earlier this year and she took all the flannel in her stash and made about 50 'One Yard Hugs' for this project. She dropped them off the other night for me to deliver.

Here's the lazy part... she made 50 based on my mention of this project. I, on the other hand, only made twelve.

Its nice to have inspired someone to contribute so much but I feel a lot of guilt that I made so few.

What's a 'one Yard Hug' you ask?

Basically you take one of yard of cute cotton flannel, hem or serge the edges, then donate them to a local hospital that gives them to new moms who may not have any receiving blankets for their new babies.

With cotton flannels on sale everywhere this time of year this is an inexpensive project and, if you serge the edges, it only takes about five minutes to get one done.

Please consider this project if you are ever looking to use up some stash flannels or searching for a group giving project.

The moms and babies will be greatful and your stash will thank you for the breathing room.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In The Mail

I am part of a Flickr swap group called 'Fat Quarter Swap with a Twist'. Every month there is a new theme for the fat quarters to be swapped plus some addtional requirements. This month the theme was cupcakes and the requirements were:

3 "cupcake / sweets themed" fat quarters (fabric that measures 18"x20" at minimum)

1 yummy cupcake recipe

1 sewing notion min.

1 or more cupcake paraphernalia

I was lucky enough to draw a Home Ec. teacher as my swap buddy and here is what she sent:

She included a bunch of fun things including some cute fat quarters, a handmade cupcake-like pin cushion and a cupcake shaped placemat. The recipe is for Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (how good does that sound?).

I have only participated in this swap twice and have enjoyed evrything that I have sent and received, which can be a rarity in swaps. The problem with swaps is that I originally joined thinking I would be able to reduce some of my surplus resources but, in most cases, I have ended up with more than I actually sent!

I hope your weekend is going well. As most people know, Houston had about four inches of snow during the day yesterday. Snow is not a complete rarity here as Houston sits right below the Great Plains so storms can sometimes roll right down from the north without anything to stop it. Unfortunately I hear that there will be another chance for snow next week. Personally I don't mind the snow but the Girls hate it and have to be forced outside to go for walks. Alex, on the other hand, doesn't seem to notice and just loves to be anywhere I am... even if it is only twenty degress out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Art Bags

As mentioned last time I picked up some art supplies to donate to a local charity. In order to keep the bits and pieces together I made some bags to hold all the loot.

Here's one of the bags I came up with:

The fabric was from the Vogue Fabrics bargin bn at the Quilt Fetsival. Th embroidery is a standard font on my sewing machine done in varigated cotton thread from YLI. The size and shape came off the top of my head.

The weird thing about this project is that I made four bags and each turned out completely differently. Each time I went to cut into the fabric I made little changes in the size and shape of the body and the length and postioning of the handles. Because I couldn't stick to the original size, shape and handles it took me longer than planned to get these done.

Fortunately this project is completed and ready for donating tomorrow. I hope whomever gets these little art bags enjoys the contents as much as I enjoyed putting them togeher.

Now I can go onto another UFO. Unfortunately I think it will turn out to be one that will be cut up into dog bed filling as I think it is pretty ugly. I will try to salvage it but have little hope of turning it into a silk purse rather than the sow's ear it is already.

You'll just have to tune in next time to see the results.