Saturday, August 28, 2010

Strip Club 08282010

About once a month a bunch of us get together to work on projects constructed from pre-cut fabirc strips and/or squares.  You've seen our projects before... like the running away from home tote bag or the original log cabin star quilt.  This time we worked on a quilt designed by a Houstonian that is offered in the Moda Bakeshop.

Essentially it is a small (34" x 40") quilt made up of 2 1/2" strips that have been sub-cut into smaller strips.  Every couple of strips you add a solid fabric strip and a ruffle on top of it.

Here are some works in progress -

Mine is not pictured as I am still working on it.  It is black and white, I did not sub-cut the strips and, by the time I was finished putting the strips together, I had a huge headache.  I hope that when it is done the final recipient won't get a headache when they use it!

If you come and play with us you can also work on your own projects.  One woman was putting together blocks for a quilt for her son who just started at Baylor.  Another was putting together a quilt top for her grandson's big boy bed.

I started off putting together a couple of blocks for this month's block lottery.  Fortunately the woman who runs the lottery blocks was there so I don't have to remember to bring them to the quilt guild meeting nect week.
What a great way to spend a day with friends!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

KNOT Name Tag

In Houston there is a guild of knitters called the Knit At Night Gang or KANG for short.  It started many years years ago as a group of knitters who worked during the day and were looking for a way to meet other knitters.  Since then it has grown to a city-wide group with with four chapters.  The original KANG, Chicks with Sticks, KNOW (Knitters Near Out West) and KNOT (Knitters North Of Town).

All of these groups are very laid back and have knitters in them from the very experienced to the ones who are not sure how to do a simple cast on.

I belong to the KNOT chapter and tonight is their monthly meeting that is held in a church hall in Old Town Spring.  Not only do I get a chance to meet up with friends but the location is almost right next door to Twisted Yarns and is just a block or two away from some great eating and retail establishments.

How great is that!  Friends, eating, shopping and knitting all within a couple of blocks of each other.

One of the benefits of joining the guild is that you get a name tag pouch to wear at the meetings.

Typically you would print out your name on a slip of paper and insert it into the clear plastic cover on the front of the holder.

Not me.

It's a knitting group so the name tag should have something to do with knitting, right?

I decided to get creative and instead of printing out my name I decided to write it in yarn on an old swatch.

Here's how it came out:

It sort of looks like it says Alice... doesn't it?

I interfaced the back of the swatch after I did the stitching and sewed down the edges to get it to the correct size.

Maybe not as successful a project as I had hoped, but I think that I can now go on to doing a proper job of it by knitting a swatch specifically for this use and then duplicate stitch my name on it for posterity.

Be that as it may, the name tag above is what I will be using tonight.

Let's hope that some pople can read my name correctly and that the others will not spend the evening giggling at the crazy lady from Kingwood with her wacky name tag.

Fingers crossed that there will be more of the former than the latter!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Betty Hobo - Dimensions etc.

I have had several requests for a pattern for the Betty Hobo.  Here are the basics.

Dimensions - without seam allowances!

Bottom - 8" x 8"
Ends - 8" x 9"
Pockets -  8" x 7"
Sides - 8" wide at the bottom, 16" wide at the top, 9" tall (looks like an upside down pyramid with the point cut off)
Zipper Plackets - 3 1/2" x 16"
Straps - 1 1/4" x 33"
Zipper - at least 16" long

The pattern for the body of the bag (sides, ends and bottom) were all cut as one piece but that is up to you.

My construction steps:

Straps - Cut 4 1/2 " wide, 35" long.  Made by folding the long raw edges to the center of the worng side, folding the whole legth to enclose the raw edges and top stitching both long edges plus one more stitching line down the middle of the straps.

Pockets - Bound the top of the pockets with ribbon.  Attached the bottom of the pocket to the side of the bag about one inch below the bottom edge, pinned the pocket to the sides so that the edges are matching then secured the pocket when the sides of the bag are sewn.

Zipper - attached zipper to the plackets and added topstitching.

Putting it all together - sew up the sides, add the plackets and the straps then sit back, finish off the seams by serging, binding or topstitching and admire your new handbag.

Optional but recommended - a stiff 8" x 8" removable bag bottom to give it some shape and heft.

That's it.

If you don't use double faced pre-quilted fabric the optimal bag should have an outside fabric, fusible fleece attached to the outside fabric (quilt or not the two together), interfacing attached to the lining and lining fabric for a toal for FOUR layers.  Construct the outside and the inside of the body seperately, put the lining inside the exterior then attach the zipper plackets and straps.  A final touch would be to tack the lining to the exterior in several spots to keep it neat and tidy before adding the stiff bag bottom.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Betty Hobo

One of the fabulous women who works on a lot of charity projects has been nicknamed Good Betty.  She is God Betty for many reasons but one is her generous nature.  She quietly works at making many quilt tops every year, mostly from her own stash, that become the backbone of many donations to charities supported by the Quilt Guild.

At a sew-in a week or so ago she came in with a really cute Hobo style bag that she had made in a class.  She was uphappy with the construction but happy with the results as the bag held a lot and was comfortable to wear.

I asked to see the pattern and the other day she gave it to me.  She does not want it back, I think, because she had such trouble wth the construction.

Here's what I came up with:

I used double faced, pre-quilted fabric that I purchased many years ago for a coat project that never happened.  One side is that wonderful floral and the other is polka dots.  I left the interior seams unfinished due to impatience but I can always go back to finish them off at a later date.  I found some ribbon to bind the edges of the pockets and another piece for the zipper fob.  The zipper was from a project that I abandoned  as impossible to complete.

I did not folow the printed instructions as I did not interface, inter-line or do any of the other bits that were avoided by my fabric choice

Thanks Good Betty for a great little purse.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


That's the number of wheelchair bags I have in hand after the Once Upon a Time Bee met yesterday.  We made 25 yesterday with the rest being made by myself and others before we even got together.

Here are Kelis and Kimora checking them out while I was trying to a shot of the wheelchair bags.

At knitting this morning I was disappointed that my friend, who took a lot of our earlier endeavors to her mother's elder care facility, was not there to take some of our more floral creations.  

In the end most of these bags will go to the local VA hospital but I am looking to visit several elder care facilities to see if there is an opportunity to give some away.

Thank you to everyone who has helped with this project!

If you are interested in making some for yourself or others here are my instructions. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Clay Time

A few months ago at an ASG neigborhood group someone asked if anyone had played with air dry clay.  I had used it to fix some broken pottery so I volunteered to do a short program on it.

Today was the day and I spent the last week trying to come up with a successful use of air dry clay.

Here are my notes for today.

Air dry clay is essentially a purified form of the clay we used to dig out of creek beds when I was a kid.  

Yup... it's a form of dirt and as such is something we are all familiar with from when we were kids.

The key word in using air dry clay is WAIT.

Wait for it to dry, wait for your layers of paint to dry, wait for the sealer to dry and, more importantly, wait for some inspiration before you even begin.

Oh, there is one other wait... wait until you have your tools together before beginning.

The clay I used was made by Das, a German company, with its products sold in my local Hobby Lobby.  There are many brands available out there and all seem to perform the same so find one at the price you are willing to pay if you want to play with this material.

Here are the basic materials I used:

food scraper - for cutting and lifting the clay
acrylic rolling pin - for rolling out ven thicknesses
skewers, needle, Nintendo DS wand - for making button holes
slim bastard - also called a slim taper file for smoothing edges of dried clay
Other things I used but not pictured:

acrylic paints - for coloring the dried clay
white glue - to glue bits together
sealer - for after things are painted (I used shellac.. not recommended)
cutters - I used a thimble and egg cups for the circles
non-stick surface - I use an old cookie sheet

Here are the buttons I made:

and a picture of something that might be a button or decoration on a purse.
(copper paint under black ink...looks better in person)

If you want make some unique buttons, pins or other clay based constructions, try air dry clay.  You will not get instant gratification like with other products (think Fimo) but you will get a sturdy and unique construction.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Swap Time

I went to a local neighborhood group meeting of the local American Sewing Guild Chapter for a stash swap.

Imagine fourteen avid sewers clearing out their stashes to swap with other sewers.

It just takes your breath away!

One member brought her Japanese textile 'scraps', another brought another sewer's pattern collection from the 60's and 70's while another brought rolls of silks.

Here are some shots of the loot AFTER it had been reduced by other swappers.

I scored some wonderful lining fabrics, a couple of Japanese prints and a couple of kits to make clutch style bags.

The best thing though was a long curtain made up of many squares of African style fabrics.  I think that will make a great wheelchair quilt for the VA.

Most of th left overs came home with me for the Quilt Guild Garage Sale.  I had a blast going through it one more time before boxing it up for the actual sale.  

It will be hard to keep  my hands off this stuff before I actually put it on sale.

Note to self... I don't need any more fabirc, patterns, buttons, zippers, magazines, books, notions, thread etc. etc. etc..  Repeat as often as necessary.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School

I'm not going back to school but that is the theme that I used for decorating Sweet Sadie's after Independence Day.

Yes that was a while ago, but I had no idea what to do for a quilt until I won a bunch of blocks at a quilt guild meeting.

The process to win blocks is to make one or more of the block pattern of the month.  I usually make the block but rarely remember to take it with me to the meetings.

This time I actually made two of the blocks using some wonderful fabric I got as a gift at Christmas.

Here's how it turned out:

Sorry for the fuzzy picture but I copied it from a friend's Facebook post as I was too lazy to find my camera and take a picture earlier today.

I will try for a better picture later.

BTW Paul thinks it looks like an old video game.  I, on the other hand, believe it gives a nice display of primary colors.

You decide.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Seen on the Road

I drive in heavy traffc a lot in Houston mainly because there is a lot of heavy traffic in Houston.

In the past day or so I saw the following weird behavior:
  • a woman driver eating noodles with chop sticks while driving at about 60 miles an hour while also yelling at a young man in the back seat who was holding a small dog out the  window.
  • a couple on a motorcycle with the male driver fully kitted up in protective motorcylce duds but without a helmet while his female companion, wearing shorts, flip fops and a tank top hung on behind him with a helmet on her head.
  • a car stopped partway into an intersection backed up a tad and bumped into another vehicle.  The driver of the vehicle that got bumped came roaring out his car, removed the keys from the first car's ignition and threw them into the bushes at the side of the road.
I'm sure there are reasonable explanations for each of these bizarre behaviors.

Any ideas?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Photoshop Elements

I spent the day in a class with Margaret Bucklew learning how to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to make applique patterns for realistic looking portrait quilts. 

Photoshop Elements was a blast to use and, once I understand the lingo, will make some of my photos more interesting.

Here's Margaret's web site that shows some of her fabulous work.

Basically you change the photogragh from color to layers of gray scale.  I took this photo of my Dad from this:

to this:

Once you get the layering done you need to spend time refining the layers and eliminating some of the smaller bits so that you can actually use the templates for appliques.  That part could take longer that the playing with the photo but, if you are making the pattern for your own use, you can play with the appliques pieces themselves to get the look you want.

Her appliques are actually done with fusible web and with zigzagging over the raw edges... the simpliest machine appliques technique known to me.

If I actually get this picture into a quilt I will definitely give you a peek.

I wll NOT use the wild colors shown above.

BTW Margaret has an on-line tutorial that looks intriguing if you would like to explore her technique.