Bag Obsession

I still dream of making the perfect bag for me someday! I get closer each time…

I just finished this Lombard Bag and am so happy with how it turned out.
I like to learn something new with every project, and this one did not disappoint. I am going to make this bag again, only smaller for everyday use. This one will be great for travel, because it is almost briefcase in size. It even has a special padded pocket for your tablet computer or e-reader.

Kudos to Chris at http://blog.chriswdesigns.com for writing patterns with great directions!


Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

I saw this book and on impulse, purchased it. I rarely do that, really. I guess I felt a little guilty.

But, as I leafed through the book, I remembered the cookie tin of old buttons I bought at a garage sale. I began pawing through the buttons and making little piles of those that played well together. Before long, I had them all sorted by color.

Sometimes, it is good to follow an impulse. I have already had so much fun with these buttons, and I haven't yet made anything! I look forward to making things with them and tapping into the skill of another maker who shared her ideas in a beautiful book. All I have to do now is decide which project to make first!

P.S. When I was a kid, my mom taught me how to play a game called Button, Button, Who's Got the Button, a game that her mom taught her. My sibs, cousins and friends sat in a circle and passed a button from one to another's hands held together in a way that you couldn't tell if the button was passed on or not. I can't remember what happened next. I suppose you got a point for guessing who had the button in the end. Anybody else ever play this game?


What Do You Call Someone Who Sews?

If you sew, what do you call yourself? Here’s my take on the terms I’ve found while out and about blogs, magazines, books and classes.

Sewer: Not fond of this one. It looks too much like, and in fact is exactly like, the word for underground waste pipes. Yes, it’s pronounced differently, but when I run across it in print, it conjures the pipe thing.

Sewist: This appears to be an attempt to update “sewer” and I kind of like it. Short and sweet, has a nice snap to it, and does say “someone who sews.”

Sewista: Probably a combination of sewist and fashionista. I like its dash. It’s fun to say.
Seamstress: An older term, but also exact. She is someone who makes seams, so it’s hard to apply this to male sewists. I guess they could be seamsters. Could apply to the gals, too. Did I just invent a new one? I like it!

Tailor: Doesn’t quite apply, as this is someone who sews clothing with lots of inner construction that some sewing does not require. Doesn’t apply to me at all, but it could work for others.

Threadbender: Several years ago, when I was more into knitting, crocheting, and tatting, I called myself this. I thought I made it up, but have seen it elsewhere now. I like that it has action to it.

Fiber artist: This is what I say instead of quilter when someone asks me what I do, because I make wall art more than bed coverings. But it sounds kind of high-fallutin’, like I’m looking down my nose at someone who makes bed quilts. Bed quilts can be artful, too.

So, I’m back to wordstitcher or just stitcher when I’m working with fiber instead of words. Have you found other words for stitching that I could add to my collection?


Uncork Those Bottles!

I just finished a small wall quilt or table runner for my cousin who lives in the wine country of California. She and I have had some mighty wonderful visits over a few glasses of wine. She just moved into a new house and I wanted to make something quilty for her.

This is "Thanks for the Memories." It is paper pieced and machine quilted and is about 18 inches by 27 inches. After I had it nearly completed, I wished I'd thought to leave at least one cork out of the bottle so I could name it "Uncorked."

But my friend DB always says, "It is what it is!" Here's to a few drops of wine being spilled on it in its new home!


Sweatshirts Make a Great Blanket or Throw

I have found a way to enjoy the comfort of old sweatshirts that I didn’t wear any more, by successfully sewing them into a cozy throw.  

I just cut out the shirtfronts and backs and sewed them together in a quilt-like grid. No sashing, batting, or backing needed. To finish the edge, I sewed on a strip of bias-cut flannel. In a few hours, I had the perfect blanket for watching TV or reading by the fire.
Complete directions, should you wish to make one yourself, are posted on Craftsy.com in Projects at http://www.craftsy.com/project/sewing?sortBy=relevance&name=sweatshirt+blanket+throw.


Something From Nothing -- And a Discovery

The other day I wanted to sew in a therapeutic restful way. No worries about perfection. Just sew and listen to the rhythm of the machine and enjoy the vision of stitches adding up across the fabric. I remembered a placemat-size leaf I had pieced together with scraps of green fabrics and a bit of brown for the leaf’s spine. I pulled it out of the drawer, laid it on top of a piece of batting, and put a piece of muslin underneath for backing. I could skip the basting because the piece was so small. I found a variegated green quilting thread and began.

I stitched along the spine of the leaf. Looked great, but it needed more, so I did it a few more times. Now for the veins. Because the piecing lines are straight diagonal lines radiating from the center, I wanted to quilt curved lines. So I did a few lines in intervals down one side and then on the other. I thought it would look better with even more lines, but what if I did all that stitching and didn’t like it?

Then I remembered I was working with scraps. I should just keep going and see what happened. I’d learn something. It’s called creating! It’s called freedom!

Now, every time I look at my leaf on the end table in the living room, I smile. I designed it myself. I didn’t go out and buy fabric or a pattern. No wonder I love it!

PS: This was the first time I tried bias binding, and wow! It worked great for those curves.


A new finished project...

After spending an evening with my writing group, I look forward to reworking a piece of writing to make many (most!) of the changes they suggest. In other words, they make my writing better.

The same goes for my stitching sisters.
One day my friend Sue http://arrasheiress.blogspot.com/ emailed a photo of a set of gorgeous blocks she had finished. She had arranged them on the floor. They beckoned me, saying, "You. Make. Now!" So, I made one block to try the partial-seam technique involved. I loved the block and made four more. I decided five blocks would make a fine table runner.

Now, every quilter knows that once you get your blocks sewn together and sandwiched with batting and backing, you have to decide how to quilt the piece. This time I challenged myself to go beyond "stitching in the ditch" (stitching along seamlines where pieces are sewn together). I am quite pleased with the way it turned out, especially that the angle of the quilting is not exactly 90 degrees from horizontal, which habit screamed I should do. No, I said, that’s too easy. What would happen if I rotated it a little more? I tried it on one block and liked it so much I kept going.

That done, I had to face another issue.

Because I had only one block with red in it, I had played with adding a little red interest elsewhere; such as prairie points, tabs or streamers; but had yet to come up with something I liked.

Enter another stitching sister. I had taken the table runner with me to a sewing/quilting retreat in Sisters, Oregon. Naomi http://home.earthlink.net/~howl-moon/ suggested I put some red in the binding. I liked the idea, but didn’t know how to plan the binding so the red would end up in the exact places I wanted. So, I "guestimated," sewed two sections of red into the binding strip, and let them fall wherever they ended up. I found out that it wasn’t that crucial where they were. What was important was that they were there.

Each time I look at this piece, it reminds me of good times and good friends. And pushing myself. That’s what stitching sisters and writing groups are for.