Bagmaking Hazards

The other day I made a Retreat Bag. These bags are free patterns from Emmaline Bags. You do need a frame if you don’t want the bag to be a super widemouth with no structure.

Frame Injury
Frame Injury

Somehow I made the casing too small and really had to tug and push the frame through. My finger came out the worse for wear, which is a good reason to make the casing the correct size.

I rubbed the skin off, but got the frame in place just before the bleeding started. It is very painful, so make sure you made the casing the correct size.

Tools Bin Again

Tools Bucket - 3rd pass
Tools Bucket – 3rd pass

I worked on the Tools Bin again on Saturday. I decoupaged paper on top of the blue described in the last post on this topic.

I found some pictures I liked and decoupaged them over the blue paint. I was still not thrilled. For some reason, it wasn’t working for me.

I am building up nice hard layers, however.

Contemplating Creativity

I have had a couple of slams in the face about my own creativity lately. I have projects; I just don’t seem to be interested in working on them. I have plans for working, if I had days straight just to sew. I guess I have to face up to the fact that I seem to be stalled, even though I am limping along.

The first slam was the Peacock. I was excited when I put the blocks up on my design wall. I really was. The excitement faded as I contemplated putting the blocks together. The work involved, the actual sewing, seemed too daunting and I realized I just didn’t really want to do it. I can hardly believe I am feeling this way. Sure, I get stuck on projects, but to simply not want to sew the blocks together is a new one on me. I think part of the problem is the design wall. (Sense a theme??). I really, really dislike this design wall and this project may just propel me to really, finally do something about it.

Freddy Moran's Applique'
Freddy Moran’s Applique’

The second was a lecture with Freddy Moran. I went to the SFQG, because she was going to speak. Yes, I will write more about the lecture. In the meantime, a quick overview: She is over 80. She is the one who made the brightly colored house quilts and did a long term, two book collaboration with Gwen Marston. She always pieced, almost never quilted her own quilts. She has had some personal changes in the last year that have made her look at her creativity. She has been encouraged her to change her style completely. She still pieces, but is doing a lot of applique’ as well. She can, perhaps I should? I don’t think I am happy with what I have been working on lately. I don’t hate any of my quilt projects, but they seem…..boring. Perhaps I need to change my style?

Finally, the third was a lecture with Jane Dunnewold. She talked about her new book, Creative Strength Training. I don’t really think I need creative strength training, but I think there are things I could do to improve my creativity. She talks about cross training. Yes, of course, I do cross training for my body. Running as well as weight lifting. I wonder if changing crafts for a short time would improve my creativity? She also talks about writing. Not angsty teenager stuff, but writing for creativity: capturing ideas that tether them to the ‘earth plane’. ( <– this is how she described getting the perfect dream or shower idea on paper before it floats away).

I write a lot and Dunnewold says that writing begins to open people’s eyes to the idea that you have all the stories inside of you to make great art. This makes me think about what stories I want to use for my art. One of my quilts was made from deep in my heart and was very poorly received. It did not make me want to do such work again.

I do feel that I was smug earlier when I was reading about other people’s struggles with their work and creativity. I feel like now I am getting my just desserts. 🙁

Sewing Machines….Blergh

There is good and bad in my sewing world lately.

The Good:

  • plenty of fabric
  • good projects on which to work
  • finishes
  • more fabric
  • nice IRL quilt friends
  • #Twilters

The Bad:

  • #$%^&*(@## sewing machine

Yes, my 9K stopped sewing again last week.

“Really?”, you ask.

After a string of curses, not directed at you, “Yes,” I say.

What is the problem? I don’t know. I just stopped zigzagging in the middle of my ATCs a week ago. Since something was stuck under the feed dogs last time I had in the shop, I took off the sole plate and cleaned out everything that looked linty and like it didn’t belong. I didn’t see anything scary looking. I put it all back together and it sewed again.

Hooray, I thought, it was just a recommended stoppage to avoid permanent damage. I was happy.

For about 5 minutes, then it stopped again. I took off the sole plate again and nothing was in there. Well, the area I could see was clean.

I was done.

Backup Machine on top of cabinet
Backup Machine on top of cabinet

I got out the backup machine and put the 9K on the floor in timeout. Saturday I went and picked up the insert. Perfect timing, because I am thinking of quilting the Wonky Nine Patch.

Also, I have been waking up in the morning with tingly fingers and wrists (old injury that flares when I am naughty), which I know is from not having my machine flush with the table. I see a lot of people sewing without their machine flush and I envy them, because it makes for so much more versatility when they sew. They can go anywhere and sew. I can sew for a very limited time without the machine being flush with the table or I suffer.

Why have I been sewing like this, you ask? Denial? No, I MUST sew. I must get the creativity out of my body or I will probably explode.

Backup machine flush in cabinet
Backup machine flush in cabinet

My backup machine is ok. It is a good machine and it is working, which is a bonus, but it doesn’t have a knee lift. I don’t know it as well, so I always have to go hunting for various stitches and feet. It isn’t my 9K, which I do love.

The insert is nice, though it is a little strange to be able to see down under the machine. As of this writing, I haven’t sewn with it yet and I don’t know how that will be.

Raising the backup machine
Raising the backup machine

The bed of the the backup machine isn’t as tall as the 9K, so I had to boost it up to make it flush with the acrylic insert/table. I used the wooden closing insert (see picture above) and a magazine to get it to the right height. I might add some clamps to the whole assemblage if the slickness of the magazine makes the machine move around.

I took the 9K to Serge-a-Lot, my new best friend sewing store, after Sherri invited me to do so. She assured me that her man, Brad, could work on my machine. She came through with the insert and if Brad can’t fix the machine, then I am no worse off. She did see that the feed dogs weren’t advancing when she turned the fly wheel, so I didn’t come across like a complete lunatic. Of course, when we put thread in it in the store, the machine sewed fine.  WTF? I told her to service it if she thought it needed it.

I am thinking that a new machine is in my future sooner than I had hoped. I hope Serge-a-Lot can get it running and that it can give me a few more years of service. I don’t know, though. I better start saving my pennies.

All I can say is BLERGH!!!

Sewing Machine Frustration


My iron died earlier in the week. I did find a spare, but it smells funny when I press. Fortunately, Amazon has the iron that I wanted, the Panasonic Sarah recommended in her DVD/online class,  and it arrived yesterday. I haven’t tried it yet, but do not anticipate any problems. Of course, one has to sew things together in order to have need of an iron to press them.

Yesterday my machine refused to continue stitching the decorative stitch I was using to finish a bag that will, with any luck, be a part of a Christmas gift. I had done half the top stitching and then the machine switched to straight stitch.

This is really unfair. I have two weeks ahead of me (minus the holidays) to stitch and my machine acts up? It couldn’t wait until January 5th?

As luck would have it I got a brochure from my ‘local’ dealer for new machines at Holiday prices. I don’t want to buy a new machine now for a number of reasons:

  1. Money doesn’t grow on trees
  2. I like my machine and want it to just work
  3. I don’t want to buy a machine in a rush; I’d like time to do some research
  4. I don’t want to learn to use a new machine right at this moment
  5. I’d rather buy my dream machine when the Young Man is out of college and we have some spare funds.
  6. If I buy an interim machine now, I will feel like I have to wait longer to buy a dream machine….unless I win the lottery, of course.
  7. A new machine would have to fit in my table, because I certainly don’t want to buy a new table and the machines with the larger harp space don’t fit.
  8. I would have to get a new insert for my table

The machine that caught my eye in the brochure is the Janome 6600P. It seems like it would be a good interim machine. It has similar features to the machine I have without the embroidery module. In looking at the web page, I can’t tell what kind of decorative stitches it has.

Well, hopefully, I can get the last bit of decorative stitching done and then switch to the Jem for regular piecing.

What a pain.

Holiday Weekend

Almost two days through the holiday weekend and I have done no sewing. Partly, I can’t decide what to work on and partly, I feel distracted.

We went to a small BBQ yesterday (the BBQ was normal sized, but the party was small), so I didn’t do much sewing. When we got home, we spent time watching Castle, yes, one of our favorite shows. I didn’t even do any handwork (I really could use a couple of bindings right now). I don’t know what to think.

Orange Donation Quilt
Orange Donation Quilt

The obvious choice to work on is the t-shirt quilt. It should be a no-brainer since I am nearly finished, but somehow it isn’t calling my name and I don’t have the mental strength, at the moment, to power through. I feel terrible that it isn’t calling my name, too, because the Young Man is so excited about it. He is excited even though the piece has a lot of steps to completion before we can put it on his bed. I am hoping he just wants to check something off his list.

I also have a donation quilt in progress that I have been working on as leaders and enders. Tfun orange scrappy pieces at the top are just there to add some fun to the photo. They are not part of the quilt. They might become a journal cover some day, but right now they are just leaders and enders.

The problem with the donation quilt is that I am just short of some orange, so I have to cut some more orange squares.  Not only do I have to cut more squares, but I am out of appropriately sized scraps, so I have to go find some orange for which I don’t have a plan. I am just not up for crawling around my fabric closet even though I’d like to be able to send this with Kelly to the August meeting.

Wonky 9 Patch Sewn
Wonky 9 Patch Sewn

I also thought of working on the Wonky Nine Patch. That means quilting. The thing is already basted and I have an idea of how I am going to quilt it. If I had started today, I probably could have finished it by Sunday. I didn’t start it, though and I am not sure I want to start it now.

I guess I have to admit that the biggest problem is my computer. My old (3 year old, which doesn’t seem that old to me) died. It sort of died. The hard drive was acting up, which turned out not to be the problem. Then the motherboard was the potential problem and I just ended up buying a new laptop. It is a nice laptop and I can mostly get it to do what I want, but the set up and passwords, etc, not to mention I wasn’t planning on spending this money today, is all making me a little anxiety ridden.

I guess I should really title this post Quilt Angst, because I really do feel, as we say in German, aengstlich about sewing this weekend. What’s up with that? Perhaps I’ll lay on the couch and read and hope that tomorrow provides more inspiration.

Open Letter to Longarmers

Dear Longarm Quilter,

Thank you for taking the time to quilt my quilt. I really appreciate your assistance, your artistry and your attention to detail.

I want to support your small business, which is one reason I come to you. I want you to be successful and I want to be able to recommend you to my friends. I was a small business owner in the not-too-distant-past, so I know it is hard work and can be thankless at times.

I have very high standards, which I will warn you about in advance. I have even higher standards for charity quilts. I do my best work on these quilts, so the recipients know I care. I expect the same from you. If you feel anxious about meeting those standards, please send me away with my quilt. I want my quilt done well and I don’t want to increase your anxiety level.  I will respect you for being honest.

Please remember that this is a collaborative effort and what I say to you in our initial meeting is pertinent to how I want my quilt quilted. I have worked hard on the piecing and want your quilting to fit well with my piecing design. Please do not overshadow my piecing with inappropriate quilting. Please do not try to sell me on your designs. Listen to what I want and tell me if you can’t, or don’t want, to do what I want. My quilt is not your playground to show off the quilting that would be much better suited for a whole cloth quilt.

I will tell you that my backs are always pieced and I don’t always press the seams open, that my quilts are almost never square (though not terribly off), and that I use fusible and raw edge applique’. If you can’t, or don’t want to, deal with any of these peculiarities, please tell me upfront. I’d rather know and find someone else.  I will respect you for being honest.

Please act professionally. Do not whine, after the fact, about my unsquare quilts, pieced backs or fusible applique’.  If you whine afterwards, I will suspect you are blaming me for your own poor longarming skills and I am not interested in excuses. If you have, or think you might have, a problem with my quilt, please don’t take it on in the first place.   I will respect you for being honest.

Please be generous about your competitors. Making snide comments about them does not endear me to you or make me loyal.

Please make sure your machine is in good working order. Please make sure you know how to load the back tightly so there are no pleats. Please clean the oil up so it doesn’t stain my quilt. If you do get a pleat or have a problem, I expect you to rip out the quilting and do it over AND not charge me for the time. Your mistake = your problem.

Please have the quilt done when you say it will be done. If it isn’t done, please call me and we can work out a new time to get the quilt. If I arrive and the quilt is not done and you are not working on it, I won’t be happy. Please be realistic about your commitments. Can you really finish my 5 quilts this week? REALLY?

Finally, if someone else picks up my quilts for me, don’t tell them that you screwed up and are glad they picked up the quilts instead of me since you knew I would be angry. If you think I will be mad, fix the problem. I have a phone and can call you. I can be angry over the phone.

Thank you, Love, J

Various & Sundry 2011 #15

I do like these various and sundry posts. I feel a sense of freedom when I write them. I don’t have be terribly organized, magnificently coherent or make all the words relate to each other. I can’t point you in various directions and send you off on journeys, hoping you will return and tell me what you think.

The weekend of the 6th saw a huge event in NYC to support the Alliance for American Quilts. they are having an event called Quilters Take Manhattan. I think all of the unexpected hoopla surrounding Infinite Variety gave new life to quilts as art. All of the quilting glitterati were there and I followed the action as best I could from 3k miles away. Some blog posts I saw about this were:

In the course of following the events, I was pointed to Marianne Fons blog. I like her writing style and hearing about her family. She is a sensitive writer who records her observations in a delightful way. In a way, she reminds me of Rosamunde Pilcher, my personal gold standard for descriptive writing. She writes about her personal life and family, but doesn’t give too much away, but she does write about her daughter, Mary’s, illness a bit, which I had only heard about in passing. I was curious, of course, but such a thing is none of my business, so I wouldn’t ask, even if I had someone to ask.

Marianne, in turn, pointed me to Mary Fons blog, which I will look at and, perhaps, add to my blog reader.

I saw that a show called Why Quilts Matter will be coming to PBS in the Fall. I am looking forward to watching it. The website has a video trailer. It is 9 part documentary in which Shelly Zegart is heavily involved. A lot of the people in the trailer are from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I wonder if Frances will be able to take advantage of any lectures or anything? 😉 There are a lot of other contributors as well. I checked my Tivo and the show isn’t yet listed, but I have a ‘quilts’ keyword search, so, hopefully, it will come up in that search.

Stitched, the movie, came out a few months ago and I still haven’t seen that. My libraries don’t have it yet and I am not a Netflix member.

I think there is something to be said for quilt companies to be small businesses, well any companies really. I am not enamored with large companies right at the moment. Small businesses seem to care more about their customers, though that is a generalization and a stereotype and I know it is not always true. The ones that have been taken over by larger companies, such as Fons & Porter, have become impersonal and don’t really seem to care about their customers. Fons & Porter is now owned by New Track Media LLC, which is further owned by a person and a private equity firm. They also own Quilter’s Club of America, Keepsake Quilting, QNM and others. What is their interest in quiltmaking? Money, I am guessing.

I watched one of the Fons & Porter episodes #1201 on the Spin Wheel quilt project (definitely a repeat), which said that the updated directions for using the hexagon ruler and their pyramid ruler to make the Spin Wheel with these tools would be available on their website. I bought the DVD with the pattern from the magazines, both rulers and went looking for the adjunct instructions. They weren’t on the website. I searched over and over to no avail, so I contacted customer service. The customer service people (called Answer54) were diligent, but supremely unhelpful. They had canned responses and I became more frustrated as it became clear that my question did not fit into their list of responses. Somehow I was transferred to Keepsake Quilting and the person contacted me and responded to me several times, but ultimately didn’t have the instructions. I also posted on their FB fan page. No response. I can make the block without that adjunct sheet of instructions, but it just seems so lame of them not to be able to find a sheet of instructions. I guess New Track thinks of their quilting properties as cash cows. This seemed like a simple request: M&L said the adjunct instructions were on the website, they are not on the website, please send them to me. I guess New Track Media thinks their brands are so awesome that they don’t have to provide customer service. Customer Service is everything, New Track. Get with the program.

SeamedUp is having a fundraiser (you, too, can be a venture capitalist!) to get more server space and a bunch of other stuff. They are a small, women owned company. Only one person has contributed, as of this writing, which is kind of sad. If all of the almost 2000 people who are members contributed $5 that would be $10,000, which is much more than their goal. Go for it and if you are not a member, join up! You can read more about their plans, the campaign and everything SeamedUp on their blog

Tools, Books  and Supplies
I bought a new iron when I was out shopping for the Young Man’s school uniform parts. It is the most expensive iron I have ever bought – $29.99. I figured I should splurge since I have two in the closet downstairs that were cheap and, clearly, not up to my pressing needs once I got them out of the box and heated up.  It is really nice to have steam again. I also like this iron, because it doesn’t beep at me all the time. I need many fewer irritating beeps in my life.

Did you enter the book giveaway I announced earlier this week? Check it out!

Are you interested in how thread is made? Coats & Clark made a video which I saw on

BryeLynn of SeamedUp and Sew~Stitch~Create did a review of the Frixion pen. It is really nice when someone else does the heavy lifting for you!

As I have mentioned a few times, I have helped to organize a class at Always Quilting on August 27, 2011, 10-4. It will be taught by Lynn Koolish of C&T fame. It is open to everyone though the BAMQG and CQFA folks have had a headstart on sign ups. The class is now on the shop’s website. You can register via the website or by calling their shop at (650) 458-8580. Hope to see you there!

ArtQuilt Tahoe is coming around again. There are still some great teachers available. If you are able to attend and haven’t taken a class from Libby Lehman, sign up immediately. She is a wonderful teacher – giving, not stuck up, a great presenter, personable. I’d like to go sometime, but this isn’t the year. I’d love to hear about it, if you attend.

Hooded towels are very popular in our house. The Young Man thinks about things in the show and likes to tell me about them when he emerges from bathing. They are great to wrap up in on cold bath/shower nights when bathrobes are too fussy. The hooded towels have the added bonus of drying the hair with very little effort. They are harder to find as children get taller. I saw a tutorial for a hooded towel. For larger children, I would use two towels. Use a very sharp needle when sewing the two towels together, so you don’t break a needled or jam up your machine. Since you may be having the same issue, I thought I would share.

Yesterday, I posted about the gift I made for Grama. I took it to show a friend visiting from New Zealand and realized I hadn’t done the topstitching from the top hem to the bottom corners. DUH!. It would really help if I read the directions once in a while!

Last week (?) I posted the finished Kona Challenge quilt. Yesterday I saw a blog post about the responses to the challenge from the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild. Some of them remind me of Angela’s Kona Challenge quilt (which she was binding at the last meeting!!!)

Chair Pillowcase
Chair Pillowcase

Due to my ongoing machine issues, I am working on easy projects, or projects that don’t require complicated piecing. The Jem just can’t handle it. I bought some more of the Tufted Tweets chair fabric when I went to New Pieces the other week and cut out a pillowcase to go with the purple quilt. I sewed the whopping 3 seams it took to put the thing together and will send it off this week, hopefully.

Other Artists
I had heard about Claudia’s blog, Machen und Tun from Frances, but had never gone to look at it until I saw one of her quilts in the Quilting….for the Rest of us Flickr group. She is a working on the Attack of the Hexies project and is doing a wonderful red and white color scheme. Why didn’t I think of that? I went to her most recent post (8/4/2011) and was thrilled to see a, mostly, aqua and red sampler quilt. If you scroll down she shows some more blocks and the whole effect is quite wonderful. She talks about looking at the Fresh Lemons Summer Sampler Series blocks inspiring her, but also encouraging her to go off in her own direction. She might select different blocks that weren’t as difficult or required no paper piecing. She also talks about making the blocks a little differently to make them her own. What a great idea for inspiration! I noticed a circle tutorial, which looks very similar to the Dale Fleming method. The other thing about her blog is that she writes in English and German. This is great practice for me. Thanks, Claudia! Her blog is definitely worth looking at.

Angela has posted over 240 photos of quilts from the UK Festival of Quilts. She posted the photos in a Smilebox format on Creating the Hive, so you can scroll through them fairly easily.


Really good reminder of how the inner ambivalence can affect outer life.
Amplify’d from

Art therapy? How do you connect your anti-passions to your passions? And when you are talking about passion you must talk about Jesus at some point anyway. Look, Jesus didn’t know what magazines were so lets cut him some slack here. Lots of people’s coffee tables are cluttered, so maybe that was a lucky guess. But her violent reaction to it mirrored her real frustration with her job situation. Her inner and outer, as far as she understood them were the same – even though it was hidden to her. What I offered her gave her a chance to actually take the advice from Jesus above and expand her vision of herself and experience entry into a new kingdom.



A Second Cup of Tea

I was incredibly pleased for The Child when he received a package from famous quilt artist, Pamela Allen last week. In it she had created a quilt-let inspired by a drawing that The Child did while she was doing a teaching-visit last year.
It is so fantastic to see her interpretation of The Child’s drawing in fabric. I especially love her quilting designs. Can you see the trees at the top?

The Child, admittedly, was a bit mystified, but I told him that Pamelala was a famous artist who had interpreted his fabulous design in her medium. I think that his reaction was a good example of how we, as a society, devalue, and as a result squelch, what children can do. I will hang the piece in his room to remind him that he has value and that other adults, besides his adoring family member-fans, think he does good work.

Normally, Saturday mornings, if I am not rushing off somewhere immediately, are filled with Qi Gong, cups of tea and bottles of water, Saturday morning cartoons, and me trailing around the house in my pajamas picking up the debris from the week, loading the dishwasher and generally reveling in being unfocused. This morning is somewhat different. The boys took off at the crack of dawn for a hike, so I have the house to myself for several hours. The peace and quiet are a treat.

I have been struggling for at least a week, probably longer, with an exhausted kind of malaise that has no discernible medical cause. A large part of it stems from my day job, which has turned, somewhat, into a source of anxiety and stomach problems. I am on the BRAT diet almost full-time now, daring to eat salsa and guacamole only on Friday nights, so I have two days to recover before the week starts again. Some of it stems from the creative juices that constantly inhabit my mind, demanding attention, about which I have no time to do satisfy their greed. Some of it stems from the fact that my wireless network is not working properly so my workroom does not get Internet access very well anymore (those of you with no wireless or who have dial-up connections are calling me a spoiled brat right now and you would be correct). This forces me, if I am working up there to constantly run up and down the stairs to look up something on the web or write in my blog. With the malaise, I haven’t been doing it and you, dear readers, have suffered. Some of it stems from the constant drudgery of modern living. Finally, the constant blaring of bad news on the radio and headlines creates a feeling of limited options that produces further anxiety and is not conducive to anything more than going to sleep early or writing book reviews on Goodreads.

On the positive creativity front, I think there was only one evening this week that was so packed that the Child and I did not engage in our creativity time. Oh the Fury and Wrath of the Child for the few activities he deigns to engage in that prevent him from drawing with me at night! The other nights, though, while The Child draws cartoons furiously with his Sharpie in a giant drawing book, I have been cutting purple squares for a new sibling to Feelin’ Blue and Seeing Red, called, for the moment, Passionate Purple. I may change it to the Passion of the Purple, but I don’t want people to think about Lent and the death of religious figures when they look at my quilt, so I may not.

Friend Julie and Friend Adrienne have already cut their squares. The ones I need to work on arrived from Julie yesterday. Thus, I am the only slacker in this project right at the moment. Despite my incredible exhaustion, it was mentally easy to allow The Child to drag me upstairs for our creativity time. I have to cut 40 squares of 10×10″ each. I was able to cut about 25 last night, so I am well on my way. I can finish today and send them off on Monday.

One fun thing about this project (and all of the bullseye projects) is that I get to look at fabrics that I haven’t looked at in a while. I cut into some fabulous purple batiks and looked at some pieces that had strange shapes cut out of them, trying to remember what I made!

In the last little while, I made two more of the Eco Market totes in 15 minute increments over the period of several weeks (damn straps!). I did spend all day last Sunday sewing the bags together, breaking the cycle of 15 minute creativity.

This is my bag. As I mentioned in a previous post, the idea of these bags is wonderful to me. These bags make a relatively easy series (except, of course, for the damn straps!) and they use fabric in a different way than quilts. They are also useful.

In this version, I made the straps with a piece of fabric filled with batting. I like them even if they were a bit fussy to make. The straps are a bit fluffy, but don’t look fluffy. Since I usually drag around two books, a journal, and a bottle of water MINIMUM, I am glad to have straps that aren’t digging into my shoulder.

The fabric was a gift from a friend, who lives in France part of the year. She brought me back some big pieces when she first bought her French house. Awhile ago, I used some bits of the fabric for a small decorative bathroom curtain before we remodeled, but had large pieces of it left. I decided that those big pieces would be great for a bag, so I made two!

Above is the bag for my friend. It came out well (above), as well, but the thing I learned is that it is too confusing to make two bags at once. I had a problem with the fabric (not enough!), so I had to dig around around to find some fabrics that would go with the real French fabrics. If I had made one bag first, I would have known I wouldn’t have enough fabric to make the second and could have arranged the fabric differently when making the second bag.

Nevertheless, it should come as no big surprise that it was no problem to find a couple of extra fabrics that were suitable. One was an old fabric (see the blue kind of swirly fabric next to the fabric with leaves in the picture below? or the straps in the full picture of my bag a couple of photos above). That blue was one of the first quiltmaking fabrics that I bought. I found that I could never cut into it, because I really liked it. I wanted to use it in a project that I could admire frequently. The color blue is not really a color that I use or wear a lot, so it has been languishing. Now I know why. 😉

The gold with the blue jaggedy, swirls motif is another I found as well as the one from which I cut the vase motifs.

At the last minute I decided to add the large pocket to the outside of my bag. A large pocket is very useful and I don’t know why I considered NOT adding it. As you can see from the photo above, I had to piece together some leftover pieces of fabric to get a piece large enough to make the pocket. You need double what you see there, because the pocket is lined. This task, though frustrating, because it felt like I could never finish these bags, was great because it allowed me to fussy cut that little vase and use it on the outside. Also, instead of finishing the pocket with a button, I sewed down one side of the vase to create two pockets out of the big pocket. There is a smaller pocket on the inside and by sewing over it, it was divided and I created a perfect spot for a pen or pencil.

The smaller pocket looks like the above, but the one pictured is inside of the bag pocket not the inside of the big pocket pocket — if that makes any sense. I turned one of the bags inside out in order to get a picture of the pocket. Shooting into the bag didn’t work very well for various reason, especially because I don’t have four hands.

This is the entire bag turned inside out so you can see the placement of the pocket. This pocket is not in the pattern and I realized, as I was about to sew the bag together, that since the inside pocket was not part of the pattern it didn’t remind me to sew the raw edges. DUH. I turned under the edges and sewed them neatly so that pocket wouldn’t fray apart with use. This pocket is good for a transit pass and, perhaps, a bit of emergency cash.

This is the same vase as is on my bag. I did the same fussy cutting for my friend’s bag as well.

So, dear readers, I am on my third cup of tea and if you have made it this far, I hope you haven’t given up on my musings. I am still musing away. I’ll try to figure out the new work processes that I require so I don’t leave you hanging again.

Hello? Anybody Home?

Christmas is here! My Christmas decorations and gift bags are still in storage. The cabinets for storing all the stuff are still sitting in the middle of the laundry room floor, though some progress has been made. As a result, I need gift bags. A few weekends ago, I sat down and made about 8.
I think I bought this funky red and green fabric last year and it is what I used for this bag making foray. I love how cheerful it is! I have some more fabric in the same line that has a white background. We’ll see what I get made with it! Of course, you’ll hear it here first. 😉 In the background are bags I made last year, which you can read about in this post.Last night we went to a party where there was a gift exchange – the kind where people can steal from each other. I saw the bag above and didn’t care much for what was in it, but really liked the bag and wanted to get my hands on it, so I could see how it was made and decorated. I am thrilled that I got to keep it, because it can really add to my repertoire of bag tricks. It is felt! DUH! Why didn’t I think of that??? Also, the hem is folded over about 1.5″ and then holes have been made in the hem and the string has been run through them. I love this idea, because it gives more substance to the closure. Also, it is so easy to decorate with felt – just glue the decorations on. I think this would be a great project to work on with kids. Sadly, I gave away all of my extra felt recently, so if I want to make some of these, I’ll have to buy more. Happily, felt is cheap.

Laume, over at Beach Treasure, writes “There are a lot of gorgeous blogs out there this time of year, filled with images of smiling children, beautifully handcrafted gifts, and gorgeously decorated homes. I ooh and ahhh at the pretty snow scenes and sigh at the glittery soft edged vignettes of holiday trees. These posts inspire me. They make me want to jump up and make my own home look just as beautiful. I want to have the perfect holiday too!”

This is soooo not me this year. While I have been preparing for Christmas pretty consistently and have most of the cards and gift buying complete, I don’t feel the joy of the season in my heart. I don’t have snow or smiling children wearing plaid vests and skirts in front of a perfectly outfitted Christmas tree. I look forward to Christmas, but I can never seem to enjoy the preparations that much and this year is harder than the past. More time is what I need.

More time, also, for sewing. I have made none. Note that I don’t say “I have had none,” because I have had some, but have chosen to ignore the messy sewing table, the incorrectly sized Pineapples and everything related to needle and thread. The reality is that the momentum for the Pineapples is gone. I am dejected about them and don’t want to continue to work on them anymore. This makes me feel even worse, because I really, REALLY wanted to work on one project from beginning to end. I just don’t feel that I need to work on a project that isn’t bringing me some kind of joy. There is so much in my life that does not bring me joy right now that I don’t need anything else.

The worse part is that when I haven’t been sewing, I don’t write to you. I can’t promise that I will turn over a new leaf on that front, but I am going to try do some sewing, at least some more Christmas bags.

So, I am going to put up the Pineapple and do something else. I am thinking the chocolate box, but we will see.

and, BTW, Laume is a very smart woman with a good head on her shoulders. As well, she can tell you what you need to know without harping or lecturing. Go read her entire post!

Oh Joyous Day!!

I had a lot to do today, as is par for the course, I guess. I needed to be out of the house early, because I had an appointment and wanted to stop by my designer as well as take my machine in for a service before the appointment. (Just to cut the drama, I accomplished it all!).

I was feeling quite sad as I packed up my machine, knowing that it would be at least a week before I would be able to work on the Pineapples again AND that now I had to spend valuable time going in search of a thimble. The thought of no fiberwork was too upsetting to even contemplate, but the machine really needed the service. My dealer went out of business and the subsequent dealer who serviced my machine was subpar IMO, so I hadn’t taken it in for service in a long time.

I sucked he drame, uncertainty and all of my worries up and took the poor machine in. Then I went about my business of the day. Eventually I made it home and went up to the workroom. The first thing I saw, sitting smugly in the middle of the floor looking like it had just returned from an illicit rendezvous, was the thimble. I was elated! And puzzled. The floor of the workroom was somewhere that I searched and, unless I am going selectively blind, the thimble wasn’t there.

Regardless, I am thrilled. I can make progress while the machine is gone and I don’t have to go and try to replace the thimble. I will definitely buy a second thimble the next time I am at a quilt shop or show that has them.

Blog Reflects Work

the dearth of posts to my blog reflects the dearth of quilt work in my life lately. I did take it upon myself to dust off the old sewing machine this weekend and finish up those napkins that have been languishing for months. JCN sent me some lovely new napkins and, although I had planned to get to these languishing bits of fabrics, her work shamed me into it.

I also mended some pants that have been on the ‘to mend’ pile for months as well. Now I have some templates out as I need to get going and make the basket block that my students were assigned before the Christmas break. Immerhin, I suppose. Photos to come.

No Progress on Feelin’ Blue, Too

I am worried about the quilting. My quilter is gone until the end of the month and I am anxious that I won’t get the two quilts back in time to bind and sleeve them for the show. I am so worried that I have been contemplating quilting it myself. Not sure the body can handle it, though, so I haven’t actually committed to the quilting process. And before I decide, I have to doodle my quilting idea for awhile to see if it will actually work.

My mom assured me that she would help me finish the quilts no matter what time it got back. Why can’t I have faith? This is a theme lately and it tells me that I am in the wrong space.

Sitting down and doodling the quilt design, working on the sleeve and the binding would all help me move forward. I need to break the process into baby steps and JUST DO IT. I could also decide to forget the whole thing.