A New Purse/Tote Bag

I went looking for a new purse the other day.  I’m headed up to Utah to help celebrate my father’s 90th birthday and needed a new purse so I won’t embarrass myself with my three other fabulous high-fashion sisters, who buy purses like this:

PurseDooneyBourkePradaPurse

I suppose I could do that, but it would eat up my fabric budget for about six months a year. I first pawed through the ranks of ho-hum-department-store purses, then saw a few of these:Purse_chips Purse_fringe Purse_milk

My nieces and a few younger quilters thought they were terrific, but when you are up against Prada, you know Betsey Johnson is going to be just too out there.  (But I did kind of like the milk carton.)  I realized that a purse I had purchased in 1988 looked just like the $150 purses on the rack that I liked, I decided to take that one with me.  But at the very least, I still wanted a new tote bag.Totebagblue_1

The fabric is called Geishas and Gingkos from Lonni Rossi, and it’s not only cool on the print side, but I flipped some around for that peek-a-boo pocket in the front, too. It’s probably the first time I haven’t thrown the fabric in the back of the stash cupboard, but instead turned into something current.
Totebagblue_2 Totebagblue_3

I used Two Pretty Poppets Stand Up & Tote Notice, whose name I tried mightily to figure out, but never did.Totebagblue_4 Totebagblue_5

I wasn’t in love with this pattern, but I can’t really fault it in anyway either.  Her directions are pretty good, with lots of photos, but it took me a day of working up my courage to jump in with printing off the PDF, aligning everything, re-tracing it for a pattern (which often didn’t align with the other part of the pattern) to figuring everything out.  It does earn points for that very cool  front pocket, the interesting angled top and pretty good directions.  I wish it had a picture of all the pattern pieces with their names and what to cut out of what; I kept the PDF patterns close by while sewing. You’ll probably have an easier time of it, so give it a try before you pass judgement on it.
Totebagblue_6I couldn’t figure out how big it was in real life, even though the dimensions were all listed.  I found out only later, that the medium (the size I made) was just about 1″ too short to fit my iPad in below the snap closure.  I can get it in sideways, so I’ll probably do that.  I also change up the pockets in all the patterns I make, so mine are a bit different.
Totebagblue_7 Cool front pocket.  I spliced it so I could enjoy the purple flowers from this fabric line, but used the backside of the fabric at the top.
Totebagblue_7aIt calls for foam in the middle.  I used Soft and Stable from ByAnnie.Totebagblue_7bWhen sewing the lining in, I found this problem again: mis-matched size of pattern pieces.  I made it work.  No big deal.

Totebagblue_8So, I’m all ready now except for the fact that I’m now obsessing about what to wear.

Cross-X Swap, January Update

KristaDecOct Blocks

Krista sent me these too close to Christmas to post (and besides, no one was reading any blogs that week anyway), so here they are on the New Year, now that we’ve all put away our decorations, celebrated, vacuumed and have actually resumed some sense of order in our lives.  Or at least pretend we have.

CrossX all Together 12_13

We are in the (I can never get this right) the Plus and X Friendship Swap.  Or the X and Plus Swap.  I just call it the Cross-X swap, as noted in the title, and all our blocks — thus far swapped — are on my pinwall, above.  Cool, huh?

Cross-X So FarB

As of this post, she is all caught up, but I’m now 4 blocks behind for January.  I can just hear her saying “Neener, neener, neener!”  I’ll catch up, Krista, I promise.  I notice that usually we try to make the background all the same, but in her blocks sent for January, she’s varied the backgrounds.  I’m trying to decide if I like her new twist, but she’s very creative and a really wonderful swap partner, so I need to be open to new ideas.  We try to blog the last Fridays of each month and hey–it’s only the 10th, and I need to get out several blocks promised for a cooperative group quilt, two bee blocks, and I’m working really hard on my Amish With A Twist-2 quilt, too.

Quilt Frolic_front

Quilt Frolic has a new home. During Christmastime, all our children and grandchildren came home, and my youngest, Peter, and his wife, Megan, stayed with us the entire week while waves of family moved in and out of the two other available rooms.

Quilt Frolic_binding

I had this quilt on their bed, and one morning Megan was relating a conversation she had with Peter about how much she like this quilt.  “I mean, I really like it,” she said.  And she asked my son if she thought she could, like, borrow it, or even have it.

Quilt Frolic_back

Megan, that is music to a quilter’s ears!  I gave it to her on the spot.  I was thrilled that she liked it well enough to want it, and I think she was thrilled to take it home.  Megan really liked the fabrics in it–a combo of Amy Butler and some Anna Maria Horner–a kind of fabric that suits Megan well.  She did get it into her teensy little carryon for the trip across the United States, to their home on the East Coast.

Quilt Frolic_label

I am glad that this quilt has gone to someone who loves it!

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

Well.  Almost the last week before Christmas (ten days to go, says the Advent Calendar on our fridge).

Dec MCM Bee Blocks

Given that I’ve been >>sick<< with ick and asthma and blah for too long, and that I have TONS of stuff to do, I leapt into action and made my bee blocks for December for Mary at Molly Flanders.  I mean, that is the prudent thing to do, right?

Dec MCM Bee Blocks_2

It was actually quite restorative working with old-fashioned prints and calming neutrals.  A whole lot more fun than trying to get the last of the Christmas decorations up (but I did finish them today, thank you very much).  I enjoyed the process.  One thing that our bee does, which I like, is that we make each other a signature block with our name, our blog name and our location and send it along with the blocks.  I have a row of signature blocks on the back of my Santa quilt (which has been idling all these past couple of weeks on my sewing room floor while I have graded and rested) which makes me smile when I see them.

Blocks all done

And maybe it’s because I have signatures on my brain.  Here are all the blocks for my signature quilt put up on my pin wall. They lack the sashing and the borders, but what fun to see a flower garden of my friends!

Mistake on block

Whoops.  I had to fix one of them.  Mind you, that block has been like that for nearly eight years, and I’m just now noticing it. What’s fun about working with signature blocks is that you think about the person who’s name you are holding.  Kendy would have a fit if her block were wrong, as she was always perfectly put together and perfectly modulated in all comportment.  (Look it up–I kid you not.)

Tracing Toni's NameI had one more signature that I had to get, and I couldn’t just contact her and get it lickety-split (more on Toni in a later post).  So I found her Christmas card from a few years back, enlarged her signature and traced it onto a prepared fabric square (a square of fabric that had freezer paper ironed to the back of it).

Toni's Block

Toni’s square, all bordered in greens.  She would be pleased.

Often at Christmas, all the relatives gather, or we go to their houses.  If you want to start a signature quilt, have a stack of squares ready for them to sign.  Choose a block with a wide open space for writing, and a simple frame for that signature.  Then cut the center square about an inch larger than you’ll need it, back it with freezer paper.  I drew the 4″ center square directly onto the freezer paper, so that it would show through and give people an idea of their boundaries.

I used a Micron .05 pen for people to sign their names.  Those who I couldn’t get (who lived too far away), I sent the block to them and had them write their name lightly, but legibly with pencil, and then I traced it in the Micron pen when it came back to me (I included a SASE so the blocks would come back).  I only had one that never returned to me, but then that woman get could get her dander up quickly, and she carried a grudge longer than anyone I’ve ever seen.  She was still wonderful to me, though, and I loved her.  I’m sorry she didn’t return the square.

Yes, all this quilt is women.  Relatives, friends, mentors, and the latest batch of my granddaughters.  At some point, I realized I had to cut off the additions, otherwise it would never be done.  So, with the exception of my granddaughters, I stopped adding, even though there are still people who are important to me without their names on my quilt blocks.  I love looking at it.  I drop it at the quilter tomorrow, and since my granddaughters are coming for Christmas, she has promised to have it done by the 23rd.  (I’ve already made the binding!)

Why did I start this?  Because of Toni.  I’ll tell you more about Toni, and why she was the inspiration for this quilt in another post–probably after Christmas, after all the company’s gone home!

Bee Blocks & Winner of Project Folio

Project Portfolio_chair

First, while my husband and I were watching Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in Three Days of the Condor, I leaned over to him and said, “Give me a number between one and sixteen.”

“Five.”

Five it is.  Cindy, you are the winner.  I’ll mail off the portfolio tomorrow.  Thank you to all my very fine readers and followers.  You are such lovely people!

I must admit that I did want to give it to my newest follower: my daughter, Barbara (Hi Barb!), but I’ll make her a new something or other for her work-out clothes (what she said she’d use it for) and send this white one to Cindy.  Congrats!

Arrows Aug ABLbee 2

Secondly, even though it feels as if I haven’t touched a machine much this month, I did get my Bee Blocks finished.  Above is the one for Always Bee Learning.  We were sent some some fabrics, a link, and we were off to making arrows.  It was a real brain-stretcher, but I finished mine and sent them off to Megan.

MCM Aug Block 1 MCM Aug Block 2

And for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, Mary asked for some Cross-X, or X & + blocks as I’ve seen them called, in pinks.  So I followed her linked tutorial at Badskirt’s blog and sent them off.

And now, the to pull the biggest rabbit out of the hat: figure out how to start sewing my projects again.  With this disjoint summer, a bad beginning to my school year (it will get better), and some time away from the sewing machine, it’s like being on a boat being carried down stream from the dock, slowly, and you can see your picnic lunch there in the middle and you are getting kind of hungry but you can’t figure out how to get to it.  Okay, bad analogy, but I think you all know the feeling.

I look at my list of things I want to sew and nothing interests me. I love reading blogs and seeing everyone’s fun projects, and think, I could do that.  But if I do everyone else’s project, how will I find time to do mine?  It’s a double-edged sword, this living in a world of blogs and Instagram and it’s hard to turn off the input in order to find the creative project that is uniquely mine.

My father, aged 87, goes most mornings down to his painting studio on the second floor of a building in his downtown.  There, he thinks, starts his routine, puts on his music, paints, pauses.  Of course, I can only imagine this because it is done in solitude, but every October he opens his studio for a painting sale in his studio, proving that he accomplishes, produces, Gets Stuff Done, sending out more paintings into the world.

I find my challenge to still myself — to enjoy the social media-fied quilt world, yet also to let that project that is interesting to me find its way forward.  I’ve been tempted by another Polaroid Swap, a recent Signature Swap, this winter’s Scrappy Trip-A-Long, and the Medallion Quilt among other recent popular quilts.  But I also know through historical evidence that our quilting grandmothers searched the newspapers for what others were doing, and through imitation, linked themselves together through common projects.

LIke them, I do quilt what is in my universe.  I often think of Nancy Crow, a quilt artist I admire from afar who has seemed to produce what is important to her, to follow her own stream of thinking and creating without regard for what is the most popular.  Perhaps she, and my father, are at one end of the spectrum while the social media/Instagram/blogging crowd, of which I am a part, is at the other end.  No answers here.

Just searching for those oars that will get my boat back to the dock, back to my sewing machine, back to my quilty world.

Owls

OwlCOllection

Our Four-in-Art theme this round is Owls, under the year-long theme of Nature.  When Betty chose it, I went blank.  Then she wrote about it, I did a search on Flickr, and ideas starting percolating.  Slowly.

Owl RingsSocks

This chick has owl rings and owl socks, but is not the same person that owns the collection up above.  I found out my daughter liked owls, as does my niece, one of my husband’s colleagues and Suz, of Patchworknplay.  I had no idea there were so many owl enthusiasts in my life.

KeaganOwl

KeaganOwl1

This card was from my granddaughter when I had my surgery. More owls:

OWL flying OWL harry potter OWL pins OWL1

But how to move an owl idea into a quilt?  What aspect to focus on?  I looked up the meanings of owls, the folklore and those were all over the map, fragmented.  Sometimes they are good, other times they portent evil or bad things, sometimes they bring luck, in other cultures they spell disaster.  Just about anything can be pinned on an owl.

The only “experience” I’ve had with an owl was when we were traveling in Canada around the Sunshine Circle (Vancouver and above).  We were standing waiting for the ferry to take us across one night.  The sun was fading into pinks and golds and it was pretty quiet up there near Comox that evening.  I was focused on the water and thinking about where we had to get to before we could stop traveling, when all of a sudden I heard a whoosh–a rush of air.  I spun around and an owl was just moving away, its wings unfurled and climbing toward the sky. It was eerie, out of nowhere.  No wonder these birds get pinned with all sorts of intents and purposes.

OWL ps desktop

This was my computer desktop yesterday, with all sort of bits and pieces of my owl scattered over the screen.  Whenever I approach these art quilt deadlines, I feel like a child being dragged kicking and screaming toward home.  Deadline, I moan to no one in particular.  I’d better get crackin’ because I know my Four-in-Art-mates will have theirs ready.

But one thing leads to another and to another and pretty soon I hear my husband arrive home and I’ve been working and veering through a creative journey for hours, absorbed in my task.  And then I can’t wait to get back to where I’m headed–which of course, I have no real idea of where it will end.  For now, I know only the next step, and that’s where I’ll go.

Creativity

(from *here*)

We’ve decided to open our group up to four more quilters to participate in our art quilt adventure.  You do not need to be an artist (hey–I’m not), but only want to stretch your creative wings.  We have four art quilt deadlines a year: February, May, August and November.  So far, the quilts are experimental in size: 12″ square. You’ll need to have a blog or a Flickr site, and a sense of adventure.  We welcome beginners, but most of us have some years of experience either in handcrafting or sewing.  I think we went this direction just because we wanted to try something new.

Leave a comment if you are interested, along with a comment as to why you might think taking a jump into this kind of creating is where you want to tread.  Make sure I have a link to either your blog or your Flickr site, so I can get a feel for what type of quilter you are.

Creating is a do to list

Block of the Month: Starts and Re-starts

AWAT2 Strip Sets

I’ve been working on Amish With a Twist–part II, having sewn up some strip sets before I went under the knife for foot surgery, then cut them apart:

AWAT2 Strip Sets Cut

While this is how the pattern recommended we proceed, but when sewing them together I found lots of repeated colors.  Think carefully about where you sew your lights and mediums, trying not to have the same order of colors from bottom to top, otherwise you’ll find yourself with the problem I have below:

AWAT2 blocks2

So yes, today I’ll be unpicking and re-stitching in order to break up the two yellows.  What you see up on my pinwall is where I got a bit smarter and laid out the strips and the stars and the sets, and could mix and match before sewing them up in a rush.

AWAT2  blocks1

Actually, when you open that first package, I’d recommend making yourself one of these:

AWAT2 Swatch Card

A swatch card.  I wrote the name of the color on each clip of selvage, then also coded them as to whether the pattern designer considered it a “medium” or a “light,” as shown by the pink or yellow lines next to the swatch.  While it was true that I was cutting these out while hanging out with my three younger grandchildren, and I was trying to follow the plots of their multiple episodes of Witches of Waverly Place streaming down on Netflix as their mother took a nap, I was also pulling out my hair over which color was which.  The pattern does include a color chart, but as we all know, print colors can vary from actual colors.  So, do your best to sort out which is what color and go forward.

I’m past the initial confusion and aside from the bit of re-stitching I’m going to be doing in a minute, I’m enjoying this process.  I’ve never done a Block of the Month (BOM) before, and it’s kind of fun to get a package and a pattern on your doorstep.  It is fun to pick and choose colors in the fabric shop, I admit, as well as patterns and ideas, but this summer, given all the sturm und drang (aka “storm and stress”) of the surgery, family trips, and other sundry complications in my world, it will be nice to have part of the creative process simplified.  This is my inspiration (the finished quilt top) and I look at it often:

AmishTwist2

Hopefully, if I stay on track and don’t get too far behind (yes, I’m three blocks behind already!) I’ll have a gorgeous quilt like this one.

˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙

Zucchini Cranberry Walnut Bread

On a side note: for those of you with tons of zucchini in your gardens, I finally got a handle on an interesting zucchini bread recipe, with dried cranberries and walnuts.  Recipe *here.*