Monday, September 30, 2013

You Can't Have Too Many Totes, Right?

When I saw these vintage-look fabric panels in a quilt shop last spring, I just loved everything about them. The neutral colors, the sweet images, the vintage-photo look. So they took their place in the sewing room awaiting their time, which arrived last week. We had a guild program on sewing an easy tote bag. I machine quilted the panels using the serpentine stitch and a thread with just a bit of glint in it. So that was simple enough.

Then we watched the demo which included how to create the stand-up bag bottom and the use of the woven nylon webbing for handles. The handiest tip for using the webbing is to slightly burn the ends of the cut pieces of webbing. This melts the fibers and keeps them from unraveling.  I made the small tote which seems to be my favorite size. It holds a project, books, and other items without becoming too bulky or heavy.

Here are the images from the other side of the tote. I'm sure this will get plenty of use. I often use the tote bag method of filing and storage and there's already an assortment doing duty in the sewing room. The totes have nearly become a collection all by themselves.

I was surprised when I saw that it had been several weeks since I last posted on the blog. Where does the time go? It's nearly October, and that promises to go by as fast with a quilting retreat and a travel opportunity coming up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shaggy Chic?

Shaggy, yes. Chic? Maybe. Perhaps you are scratching your head wondering just what this is. While it's difficult to photograph, you may recognize this as a pillow. It looks a little misshapen, but that's a trick of the camera (and not a good trick.) You know how sometimes you see a unique project and you just have to give it a try? That's what led to this creation. I saw a pillow like this one in a quilt shop and bought the pattern by Atkinson's Designs titled "Shaggy Chic." There are instructions for a raggedy rug, too, but I've stopped at the pillow for now. The project was lots of fun to sew, using 5" strips cut from various red fabrics.

Here's a close-up that shows all those narrow fringed strips.

I wondered how I'd cut all those strips, but then I happened upon this June Tailor strip cutting ruler among the supplies at our local sewing group. Voila! Narrow, even cuts were easy to make. You can see how a folded strip was cut to within a fraction of the fold, resulting in ready-to-sew strips.

I then sewed the fringed strips in evenly spaced rows across a marked background piece, using a top-stitch foot to guide the sewing lines. After assembling the pillow front and back, even those wide edges were fringed. I tossed the whole thing into the washer and dryer, and it fluffed and buffed itself right into the shaggy chic pillow you see. Now how easy was that? I had fun making it, but now what to do with it? It doesn't really go with anything in my home. But, after all, that's not really the point when we start playing with fabrics, is it? If I needed to know what to do with things before I began a project, it would really slow me down! So the project was fun, kept me happily occupied in the sewing room, and I learned some things. All of that counts big with me. And isn't that vintage hexagon quilt top behind the pillow a dandy? I just love those fabrics and what the quiltmaker did with them. Someday I'll have to do a post on some of the old quilts and tops in my collection.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Oh, You Beautiful Dolls...

Although I didn't make these dolls, 60+ of them have joined me in my sewing room until I can deliver them to the Dollies Without Borders program. The Dollies  project, which is part of an Arts in Medicine program, distributes dolls on mission trips to children in developing countries. The founder of the program visited the inmates in a women's prison crafting program to introduce them to making the Dollies. Of course making dolls is a big hit and a project the women look forward to. Using donated materials, the women in the program sew, crochet and create a variety of items that are donated to community and charitable organizations. I'm a volunteer with the program, and enjoy being part of their efforts. They meet daily in a secure workroom, and spend their time creating and completing projects like these cute dolls.

The program has value in the prison setting as women get a sense of giving back to the community, a feeling of being productive, and a boost in their self-esteem. They were a little sad to see the dollies leaving when I took them out last week, but they offered a prayer for those children who will receive them. I love to see the variety of faces, clothing, and styles in the dolls they make. And they'll be creating lots more.