Quiltmaking Go Bag

At Sew Day the other day people were asking to borrow various items from each other. I dont’ mind loaning thing, but am a huge proponent of  quiltmaking Go bags. Even if you have a Go bag, there is always something not included. One of the advantages of Sew Day and group sewing is being able to continue with your project because you can borrow something. This whole scenario led me to think about quiltmaking Go bags.

A ‘Go’ bag is just like what they talk about in spy films except with quiltmaking supplies you take to class, retreat or Sew Day rather than clothes and new identity credentials. I have one that I have developed over the years. It is a great help to just pick up the bag and know I have a rotary cutter, mat, rulers, snips, and other basic supplies that I need for my projects. I like not having to hunt for them around my workroom to take to class. I like not having to cannibalize my workroom supplies to go on retreat. The downside is that I have duplicates of a lot of tools and they have to live somewhere.

Small Go bag supplies
Small Go bag supplies

The way my system works is that my Go bag has static supplies. As mentioned, I consider static supplies to be things I won’t use up like fabric or thread. Rulers, mats, rotary cutters, scissors, etc are all static supplies. I can just grab this bag when I am packing for a class or Sew Day and know that it is ready. For supplies like fabric and thread, patterns, etc, I toss all relevant items for a project into one of my Chubby Charmers. When I return, the Go bag is slotted back into its home and the Chubby Charmer gets unpacked.

I don’t like to have to hunt around for static supplies, which is why I have worked on gathering duplicates. Having duplicates is also helpful when someone comes over to sew.

Quilting Go Bag
Quilting Go Bag

My current, actual Go Bag bag, made of some kind of washable slick-ish fake leather/plastic, was a premium from some makeup I bought about 1,000 years ago. It has one main section and six pockets around the outside. The main pocket zips closed although I have no idea when it was last zipped closed. It can be set down on a damp surface with no harm to the contents. It looks ok, but it is showing its age. The handles are getting especially worn.

Small travel sewing supplies
Small travel sewing supplies

In the bag I have a Tupperware box that has a removable tray. This box holds all the small static supplies I might need such as rotary cutters, snips, writing implements, latex gloves, WonderClips, etc. All the small things that need to be corralled are contained here. This box is starting to be too small and I am considering replacing it. I made the Tool Tote last year with the intention of replacing the box, but never made the exchange. I am not sure why. The making drama I experienced sewing the Tool Tote, perhaps?

Runs with Scissors Tote
Runs with Scissors Tote

After the Sew Day discussion, I started to think again about replacing my Go bag and the Tupperware box. I think I really need to upgrade my bags and totes. The problem is that they are working fine, except for the Tupperware box tight squeeze, but are showing their age.

During this thought process, I remembered the Runs with Scissors tote I mentioned in a January Various & Sundry post last year. Mrs. K was kind enough to gift me the pattern. It might be the right tote to replace the Tupperware box. The problem is that I need a bag that will hold the tote. I need this imaginary tote to be large enough to fit everything currently in my Go bag and made of a material that will not allow damp to seep through. A special Chubby Charmer might work, but I am thinking that I might need to buy something.

Quiltessa Ultimate Carryall Bag
Quiltessa Ultimate Carryall Bag

The other bag I am thinking of is the Ultimate Carry All by Quiltessa Natalie. Natalie was kind enough to allow me to post one of her photos. I bought the pattern and have started to assemble the supplies, but haven’t dedicated much time to this project yet. In terms of going to class, I am thinking that the Runs with Scissors tote could hold more flat items like scissors and this Ultimate Carry All could hold more dimensional items, such as the small iron, extension cord, light, pincushions, etc. If I used both, I would still need a larger bag in which to place them.

This is still a work in progress, as you can see. Questions:

  • Do you have a quiltmaking (or other craft) Go bag?
  • Do you have duplicates of your static supplies or do you have a system for swapping them in and out.

Finished: Jelly Roll Rug

Finished: Jelly Roll Rug
Finished: Jelly Roll Rug

The Jelly Roll Rug is finally finished. I finished the sewing a few weeks ago, but Gretchen said I needed to steam it.

I finally did the last step on the Jelly Roll Rug over the weekend, which was to steam the living daylights out of it.

It is now pretty flat so all I have to do is send it off. I was going to have my YM take it to Portland to its new home, but he has a super cheap flight that doesn’t allow baggage.

This was a good experience. I think I will make another one, but square or rectangular.

A Couple of Donation Blocks

Zipper Pouch Day Donation Block
Zipper Pouch Day Donation Block

I took some packs of leaders and enders at Sew Day. I wanted to make a couple of blocks in between sewing the zipper pouches. I used the packs that Peggy always has available.

This is the first time I have made the postage stamp blocks in awhile and it was kind of fun, though my fabric placement was a bit off.

Donation block from Sew Day
Donation block from Sew Day

Community Giving Sew Day

I spent the day yesterday sewing for good. It was the guild’s Sew Day and we made zipper pouches for the Grateful Garment Project. The project provides a variety of items to assault victims. You can read more about the project on their website.

31 BAM zipper pouches
31 BAM zipper pouches

We ended up with 31.5 zipper pouches. I have one that I need to finish, which is the other half. 3 of us made over half of them, but everyone contributed. Mary talked to me about a production line where we could more done in the same time frame. I like that idea and hope we can do it again soon.

I also like the variety we came up with. Peggy, the awesome, put out a bin of fabrics and we were allowed to choose the ones we wanted. This meant there were fabrics with which I had never worked and that expanded my horizons a bit. I think some of them will be suitable for men, too.

Green & Yellow Zipper Pouch
Green & Yellow Zipper Pouch

I chose fabrics I liked, but I concentrated on producing as many well done zipper pouches as I could in the allotted time.

The first zipper pouch I made was the hardest. It came out fine, but was a challenge to get oriented to the pattern. After making the first one, I consulted with Mary on the zipper. We traded tips and after that our zippers came out as well as can be expected. I made two using the green and yellow fabric combination.

Purple Zipper Pouch for BAM
Purple Zipper Pouch for BAM

The second one I made was from purple fabrics. I liked the various motifs and like to use fabrics I enjoy.

I wasn’t a big fan of the white zipper, but there wasn’t a lot of choice in zippers. Peggy bought a bulk packet and there were no purple. Needs must and all. I think it looks fine.

Dots and Stripes Zipper Pouch
Dots and Stripes Zipper Pouch

Midway through I made two bags from the dots and stripes. I couldn’t, of course, resist the dots and the stripes were just great.

I like light interiors for pouches bags and handbags. Black interiors: blech! The light insides/linings allow one to see what is inside the bag. Light can also reflect on the light fabric to aid seeing what is in the bottom corner of your bag. I am sure I have said this before.

Dots with white zipper pouch
Dots with white zipper pouch

I had a lot of the dots, so I made a third pouch with a different interior. I liked the stripes better, but the light white on white (or maybe a very light pink) is fine. It does show the red dot fabric through a little bit, which is a shame.

By the time I made all of these pouches, I didn’t need a pattern. I was just making them over and over and refining as I went along. One thing I should have done was sew the lining with a larger seam allowance so that it fit inside the pouch better. It didn’t occur to me until I was almost done. I’ll do that on the last one.

The pouches I made
The pouches I made

 

 

 

Book Review: String Frenzy

String Frenzy: 12 More Strip Quilt Projects; Strips, Strings & Scrappy Things!String Frenzy: 12 More Strip Quilt Projects; Strips, Strings & Scrappy Things! by Bonnie K. Hunter

I wasn’t really interested in another project book until I saw the Straits of Mackinac project somewhere. I love the block and the way the overall quilt looks like it has curves even when there is no curved piecing. I looked at buying the book, but decided to see if my library had it first. I have many library cards and use them to excess! The system with the second closest branch didn’t have it so I ordered it using interlibrary loan (ILL). Then it occurred to me that it might be available from another branch in the system and I could have it delivered to the closest branch to my house. I thought ILL would take forever so I requested it again. Then I promptly forgot about the whole thing until both books came in on the same day!

This is basically a project book. It is about 95 pages, most of which are filled with patterns for the 12 quilt projects. The projects start on page 16 and end on page 89.

The book starts off with a dedication and acknowledgements (pg.3). A brief table of contents follows on page 4. One of my favorite things for project books is an overview of the projects page (pg.5), which is included in this book. The layout of the page shows a detail image of each project, gives the name and the page number.  I like this because it is useful for going straight to the project in which you are interested. I, of course, went straight to the Straits of Mackinac project (pg.26)!

“…to think of stitching all of these small bits back together simply to cut a shape to sew to another shape and then another. But something happened when I did. I was no longer simply following a pattern or a design, but creating something unique that danced and dazzled before my eyes” (pg.6). This quote explains the true wonderfulness of quiltmaking. I am not completely sold on string piecing, but my strip donation quilts have brought me back to this concept. I may not want to make blocks from tiny pieces all the time, but I do see the allure of creating something unique that nobody else can create. I also see the value in using a lot of different fabrics to make a quilt shimmer.

I have found that “there is magic in the piecing. Every scrap is full of memories of the project from which it came – every color, texture, and bit of contrast. They might not look like much on their own,these humble little pieces, but together they are a symphony of beauty, each scrap a spot on the timeline of your life as a quilter” (pg.6). This sentiment is so true for me. Every morning I wake up and look at Scrapitude Carnivale and it makes me happy. I pull scraps out of my scrap drawers and think about the project in which I originally used it. That is one of the beautiful things about scrap quilts.

Of course, there are basic sewing guidelines, as every book seems to have. Bonnie has put her own stamp on it by assuming readers know what tools and supplies they need. She does mention a sewing machine in “good working order (to avoid frustration)” (pg.7), which is straightforward and useful. Since the projects use scraps, she tells readers how she calculated yardage and more about the project instructions (pg.7). You’ll have to wing it a little if you are using scraps, since they are usually not full yards or even FQs. Bonnie Hunter is famous for using scraps, so the “About Project Instructions” section briefly talks about the ins and outs of using scraps. She also mentions cutting binding strips (pg.7), which I don’t remember seeing in books like this.

Bonnie Hunter designed a specialty ruler called Fast2Cut Essential Triangle Ruler. This ruler helps make HSTs, QSTs and Flying Geese units. Hunter provides a picture and a brief description of the ruler in this section (pg.8). The ruler is a good addition to my Triangle Technique when you want to make one or two HSTs units rather than eight at a time. Not only does she show the ruler, but she shows how to use it for HSTs (pg.8), QSTs (pg.9-10) and Flying Geese (pg.10-11) units as well. Bonnie provides as chart near the Flying Geese instructions, so the reader can make different geese sizes. The ruler instructions have accompanying images, which make them easier to interpret.

‘Strings’ haven’t come up thus far in the book, but the author starts explaining what they are, how to make them and why to use them following the discussion of the Fast2Cut Essential Triangle Ruler (pg.11). The discussion includes the definition of a string and how wide strings should be (pg.12), using foundations with strings, easy paper removal and pressing (pg.13). One tip, which I didn’t know is not to use tracing paper or vellum since they will curl or shrink when touched with an iron (pg.13). Interesting!

After reading this book, I also now know the difference between a crumb and a string (pg.14). It turns out that the way I make my Improv donation quilts is crumb piecing and I use string piecing for the strip version. A project book can teach me something new, too, which is why I like to take a look at as many new books as I can. The book teaches the reader to build crumb blocks (pg.15) with briefl but mighty instructions.

Patterns start with Geese on a String (pg.16-21). No lifestyle shots in this book, just a nice flat photo of the whole quilt (pg.17), with sizes for blocks and the entire quilt given (pg.16). I like it that there are no surprises.

My favorites in the book are Serpentine Web (pg.22-25), which reminds me of my Spiderweb quilt re-imagined in a new and fun way. The yellow is a bit much, but also may make the quilt. Straits of Mackinac (pg.26-33) is my absolute favorite in this book. It has the feel of En Provence, with a new,  different twist. I wouldn’t make it with the strips in the Peaky & Spike blocks like Bonnie does (too lazy?), but I would use a variety of fabrics. I also like Indigo-a-Go-Go (pg.84-89), thought not in those colors. The chain effect is a good use of 9 patches.

The patterns have a photo of the quilt flat so you can see the whole quilt along with some text that explains Bonnie’s inspiration or the fabric, which I like. There are also extensive materials lists, which do not include notions, machines, etc. These lists are for fabric, batting, etc. Hunter references tools, such as her Fast2Cut Essential Triangle Ruler in various places. Each pattern has some tips and tricks boxes, extensive construction notes from blocks to quilt assembly. As per usual, the finishing instructions are brief. The ‘At a Glance’ section in each pattern gives visual instructions for putting the quilt together.

The book ends with some foundation piecing patterns readers will need for various patterns. I recommend this book for a few projects you can sew as leaders and enders.

View all my reviews

Supporting Young Artists

SF View towards Coit Tower
SF View towards Coit Tower

A few months ago, a college friend contacted me and told me her daughter was coming to San Francisco to attend a summer art program. We made plans to see each other while she was in town and I offered to be emergency mom, should the need arise. Wouldn’t you like to go to school at a place with that view?

Identity by Jillian Taylor
Identity by Jillian Taylor

A few weeks (or a month?) later, I got another call inviting me to the young artist’s reception. I drove over with my BIL to view the art. The art was very interesting. Some good, some not to my taste. My friend’s daughter’s art was very appealing to me, though it wasn’t all sweetness and light as I usually like.

Her work has a mystical quality that invites the viewer to come closer. I told her about my attempt to reward viewers with surprises if they come close to my quilts and she said she does something similar.

Jillian’s work is definitely worth walking up closer and looking at carefully.

Visions of a City by Jillian Taylor
Visions of a City by Jillian Taylor

The students were given assignments and one was about buildings. I forget the basics of the assignment, but I thought her interpretation was fun and interesting.

She talked to us about wishing the cat that ran away was still in the picture when she took the photo and then delighted in describing how she realized she could add a cat even if it wasn’t in her reference image. I was delighted as well! Sometimes we feel we have to stick to the truth when doing realistic work and that just isn’t true.

Strings by Jillian Taylor
Strings by Jillian Taylor

The students explored all media, including sculpture. I haven’t really ever done much sculpture. I was fascinated with the airy, flying/breaking out of the wall quality of the Strings piece.

As you know, I am fascinated by 3D in quiltmaking. You have seen some of my bags, right? And the textured cube? Jillian’s piece is a whole different thing that I don’t think I could ever achieve with fabric and thread. I suppose something like this wouldn’t be the same with fabric in and thread.

Obviously, there were other works by other students as well. I looked at some of them and enjoyed them as well. I love the 3D aspect of the white vase. I don’t mean the vase itself, but the flowers and vines.

Hellish and Full of Heartache
Hellish and Full of Heartache

The first piece the young artist did when she arrived was a directed painting. The professor told them what to paint and they interpreted the directions in their own way. This painting started off with three triangles.

There is a lot going on in this painting. One thing I thought was interesting was that I could not see the three triangles. They were pointed out to me, so they are still part of the painting (an aspect of the assignment?), but I couldn’t tell you where they are now.

Finally, Jillian had an installation piece. I have to admit that I didn’t understand it very well, but it had that same mystical quality that some of her other work had. Her mom was pretty distressed when it was taken down – all the work had to be removed so it could be shipped home.

Diego Rivera mural at SF Art Institute
Diego Rivera mural at SF Art Institute

The San Francisco Art Institute not only has a great view, but it also has a Diego Rivera fresco. The information said that it was painted in 1931 and was a gift of William Lewis Gerstle when he was president of the SF Art Association. There are other works by Rivera at City College of San Francisco.

This exhibit was outside of my normal daily ramblings. It was good to get out and see something different. I encourage you to do something similar.

FOTY 2019

FOTY 2019 Summer Squares
FOTY 2019 Summer Squares

I am moving slowly on gathering fabrics for FOTY 2019. It might be a small quilt! This slowness is because of working with the scraps for the strip and improv donation projects and also because of how long it is taking me to piece Flying Around.

Most of these are light and I know you can tell what I have been working on from what you see. This is sort of the beauty of the Fabric of the Year projects. I can remember the fabrics I bought and used that year. It reminds me of various projects and trips to great shops.

FOTY 2017 Finished!

FOTY 2017 Finished
FOTY 2017 Finished

After having to redo the sleeve (too long), I spent some time away from the half hexie project stitching away on the binding and sleeve of FOTY 2017. The piece is finished!

Others were able to see the skyscraper/tall buildings that I was intending when I created this layout. I am pleased that it is finished.

FOTY 2017 back Finished
FOTY 2017 back Finished

For once I also photographed the back. I know I have been slack on that lately.

Orange Strip Donation Top Finished

Orange Strip Donation Top: finished
Orange Strip Donation Top: finished

I finished the Orange Strip Donation top & back yesterday. It came down to finishing the back, which took longer than expected in a busy week.

My quilt holders were around so I was able to get some photos in a timely manner.

The blue is an unexpected choice, but I talked about it before, so I won’t go into it again. I kind of wish I had more orange strips so I could do a version with a white background. I don’t, though, so I’ll have to do that next time I get a plethora of orange scraps.

Orange Strip Donation Back
Orange Strip Donation Back

I used some odd oranges for the back. These are nice fabrics that I don’t think I will use for something else. I had a hard time curating the fabrics for the back as I really like 90% of the oranges I have left. I guess I had better use them for something if not for donation quilts.

Using up fabrics makes me wish I hadn’t stashed so much fabric when I did. On the other hand having so much fabric on hand means that I can put my hands on almost any color I need for any project. It also means I can make almost any quilt I want without going to the store.

Recent Donation Blocks

I have been remiss about posting donation blocks lately. I have also not been making the standard postage stamp blocks that my guild collects. Here are a few I have made recently.

Tuleberg Community Quilt Day

Tuleberg Finished Pillowcases
Tuleberg Finished Pillowcases

On Wednesday the YM and I went to Stockton to spend the day making pillowcases with the Tuleberg Quilt Guild. My mom is a member. She told me about it and since we haven’t had a chance to get together alone this month, I decided to go. When I found out the YM would be home, I convinced him to tag along. He wants to learn to sew, so this was a good opportunity to start.

It is a far drive for us, so we go there a little late and, after setting up, he went off with my mom to get something to eat. Is tarted cutting up fabric to make the first pillowcase and quickly realized that he wouldn’t be able to make a whole pillowcase on his own. I decided to do the cutting and have him sew.

YM Sewing Cuffs to Bodies
YM Sewing Cuffs to Bodies

It has been a long time since he sat in front of a machine, so this was a good decision. He carefully guided the fabric through the machine, encountering the stop and start problems of the feed dogs not grabbing the fabric, thread bunnies and backstitching. We used the pillowcase tutorial I have cobbled together from experience and a variety of sources. He chain pieced the cuff/body burrito together. I also had him turn the burritos inside out and do a little pressing when I got behind. By the end, the three of us were all working together to finish the pillowcases.

Mom working on pillowcases
Mom working on pillowcases

I brought some yard sized pieces of fabric I didn’t think I would use, but cutting bits out for other projects does help with this. Fortunately, I have realized this and started cutting up the side of yardage, so I have a chance of having enough for a body (yard sized length) and cuff (half yard sized length). Newer fabric is easier to use, but so far I still like it enough to not want to use it for community quilts/projects. I suppose that is something I have to work on.

As a team, we made 5 pillowcases in about 3 hours. This is probably a bit slow, but I do French seams so everything is enclosed and that takes longer. I don’t have a serger, so this is the best way for me to achieve my goal.

They also had an ice cream social, which was make it yourself sundaes and banana splits. I love banana splits and made myself a small one. They brought real glass sundae holders, which was really classy.

Tuleberg Pillowcase display
Tuleberg Pillowcase display

The guild ended up with 121 pillowcases for the day, which I thought was a good effort.

Inspiration Lake Street

I spent the other day picking up FOTY 2017 from Colleen and having lunch with a friend. It was the kind of lunch where we solved the world’s problems.

Steps near Katherine Delmar Burke
Steps near Katherine Delmar Burke

On the way I drove down a different street and ended up at a dead end that continued up these stairs. Aren’t they gorgeous? It makes me wonder why we can’t, aside from the cost, incorporate this kind of beauty into new, modern building projects. I know there are a lot of reasons aside from cost, but it seems that seeing beauty in our daily life rather than an unrelenting landscape of depressing concrete would make the world a better place.

Evolution of Strip Tops?

If you have read for any length of time, you have seen the various color strip donation tops I have been working on.

I am really liking the way they are coming out, the slight variations I have explored and the way the shift in colors makes the top look different. Also, Tim’s quilting adds a whole additional dimension.

Julie Sefton's Inspi(Red) quilt
Julie Sefton’s Inspi(Red) quilt

My mind was slightly blown the other day when I looked a a post from Quilt Diva Julie. she covers a lot in her posts and I was just about to click away when I saw her quilt, Inspi(red). I love the little sparks of color that show up against the red. This quilt gives me another idea for these color scrap quilts on which I have been working.

Julie was kind enough to give me permission to post her quilt here. She writes “INSPI(RED) is the red quilt on the blog today with inserts that are the trimmings from the center strips of Luminous.   Inspi(red) is my own interpretation of a pattern named Bright Birch Trees by Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts)”.

N.B. Crazy Mom Quilts is no longer being updated and some of the links no longer work, including the link to the Bright Birch Trees pattern. 🙁 If you are patient you can see the Bright Birch Trees image, which uses a variety of different colored backgrounds.

Thin Orange Strips
Thin Orange Strips

I never really know how images out on the web will hit me. I am so grateful that people are still posting on blogs and talking about their work. This quilt made me think of the thin strips of piecing that come out of the strips quilts after I trim. I can add them to larger pieces to make them useful, but they are little gems on their own and get lost, to a certain extent in the improv piecing of the larger donation tops where I mostly use them. Julie’s quilt makes me think of add them to larger blocks as a featured element in the block.

I don’t have enough in scraps to make the blocks as she has done, but I do have yardage that would be well used by people in need.

I don’t think I have enough orange to make a whole quilt in this design after I finish the Improv version. I’ll have to see. I have a lot of blue and pink scraps so those colors might be my test bed.

Apparently, I now have about a million more ideas for donation quilts. It is so great to have that outlet as I can try as many quilts as I want without my house being floor to ceiling with unused quilts!

Stay tuned!

Orange Strip Donation Top Finished

I thought I would finish this top before the meeting, but I didn’t. the last few weeks have been harrowing. Nothing bad. Just a lot. That means I haven’t taken much time to sew. Some, but not as much as I would like.

I did work on Sunday. I worked on Flying Around a little, fixed the sleeve for FOTY 2017, finished this top, worked on the Orange Improv Donation Top and started on the back for this piece. Not bad, but not as much as I wanted and not a lot to show here.

Orange Strip Donation Top
Orange Strip Donation Top

Still, I am pleased with this piece. I like the blue and hope it doesn’t overshadow the orange too much. Ever since working on the Wonky 9 Patch, I have been unconsciously looking for an excuse to use this color combination again. I am really glad Friend Julie and AQ reader Sherri mentioned it.

BAM Meeting

The meeting was Saturday and it was a raucous and fun meeting. Kelly was visiting and she came to the meeting to hangout. SIL #2 and I went to lunch with Kelly and Angela, so we had a bit of extra time to catch up. At the meeting, Kelly gave a slideshow about her life in Scotland. I forgot what a fantastic quilter she is. She showed some of her recent quilting and it is amazing.

We also had a great show and tell. Maria brought a two sided quilt, which had really effective quilting.

Tri Valley Modern Quilt Guild Charity Quilt
Tri Valley Modern Quilt Guild Charity Quilt

I loved the Tri-Valley Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon Charity quilt. Alison brought it for us to see and the colors really spoke to me.

Sheila's 3D Flowers
Sheila’s 3D Flowers

Sheila is a new member and she is showing some amazing work. She showed this vase of flowers. The flowers are made with Peltex so the petals are 3D. they look really great. Her woven background reminded me of my 3 woven quilts. Her woven background is much more controlled than the weaving in my pieces.

Almond Rhubarb Cake
Almond Rhubarb Cake

Finally, I brought this cake. It is a recipe from Allrecipes.com that I saw on Friend Julie’s website. I am always saving my rhubarb for pies, so I used cranberries and blueberries. It took a long time to bake – maybe 3x as long as the directions say, but when it finally finished it looked delicious. It wasn’t as sweet as some cakes I have made. I brought it to the guild meeting and only brought home one piece. Sue wasn’t there so my cake didn’t have to compete with her delicious brownies. I am pleased it was mostly eaten.