Patchwork Duffle

I don’t have PS on my laptop. I use my iPhone for maybe 99 percent of the photos I take these days. I’m waving the white flag and giving up on any pretense of polished perfection in favor of actually writing more than one blog post a year. So if less-than-perfect pictures offend you, you probably want to stop reading my blog.

Life happens. A lot. So here I am, seven months since my last blog post, trying to start anew. So how about I just dive back in?

At Quilt Market in Portland this past spring, I snagged a copy of Bari J‘s Holiday in London Duffle Bag. Bari is one of my favoritest people ever and I really love her aesthetic, so I pretty much had to pick up one of her awesome bag patterns, especially one that had the potential to become my go-to travel bag.

I was itching to make something with a gorgeous range of Michael Miller fabrics we had at the shop. Norwegian Wood plus a bunch of other gorgeous, graphic brights. Elizabeth Hartman’s patchwork Weekender came to mind but I didn’t want to make the Weekender so the patchwork Holiday in London Duffle came into being.

Holiday in L

I picked up 10 fat quarters plus extra cuts for the handles, strap and binding. Oh and separate lining fabric. Yeah, not doing twice the patchwork. As it was, the patchwork, quilt-as-you-go method probably added about eight hours to this project. Why? Because I’m slow and sometimes mess things up and have to figure out a fix midstream.

Holiday in L

I did an easy piecing job by using strips of different widths to fill the space. If you do this, you’ll want to cut the Soft n Stable at least an inch larger all the way around to compensate for how much it pulls in during the quilting process. I forgot this on a couple of pieces and so my bag turned out a wee bit smaller because I had to trim things up to get them to fit together properly. Whoops!

Holiday in L

I tinkered with the straps and handles (and tabs) and just made them into casings to slip cotton canvas webbing through. I really like using webbing for the durability factor and having them covered with fabric pulls together the whole look. I also used my favorite, favorite, favorite Fuse n Wrap piping because it is one of the best inventions ever. Seriously. (Soft n Stable falls under that category, too.)

The instructions were easy to follow and I like how the seams are all encased. If I make this again (and I probably will because I think it will be a great graduation gift), I will attach the bag bottom a little differently because I’m too lazy to do the hand sewing. (What? Have you not met me?)

Holiday in L

I skipped the “faux piping” step at the end because it’s a little on the bulky side and I just wanted to be done with it and start using it. I immediately took it upstairs to show off to Miss L and my Honey because nothing says “I’m done!” quite like show and tell. Ok, I really wanted someone who was not me to ooh and aah over it because it is FABULOUS. I love, love, love it and am so glad I put in the extra effort to do all that piecing and quilting. If you’re thinking about making this bag, I highly recommend checking out Bari’s fantastic sew along.

Playing with Patchwork

I had a bunch of squares left from some Christmas presents I made, so I decide to put them to use and make a little bag I’d been mulling over. No pattern. No idea if it would turn out. Just arranging and sewing and crossing my fingers.

Overall, I like it. It’s not a huge bag but just big enough to wear on a park outing or to an art festival. The strap is sewn in such a way that it lays flat against me while keeping the bag flat against my hip, too.

I lined the exterior of the bag with fusible fleece and like the somewhat cushy feel it adds.

The only thing I really wish I’d done differently is the zipper. It’s too short and keeps me from opening the bag as widely as I’d like. Of course, I was trying to use what I had on hand and the zipper seemed to work nicely with the fabric.

Just a fun, practical little bag that I think will make a nice addition to my gift-making repertoire.

Camp Goodies

Can I brag on my campers one more time? They were such awesome girls and I had so much fun with them last week. They also were amazingly prolific during the course of camp. Clothes, bags, quilt blocks. You name it, I threw it at them and they knocked it out. Out of the park, even! LOL!

Friday was our last day and they came in that morning and whipped up their fourth A-line skirt before tackling the big final project: crazy log cabin blocks. Because I only had two girls in the camp, I could let them work on different projects so one girl chose to make a little bag and the other a pillow.

They used 7″x7″ pieces of muslin for the blocks and I had them foundation piece their log cabins. Why? Well, I think it’s easier to keep the shape — especially when using different sizes of strips — if there’s a little something to help guide the block formation.

The girls kept me busy cutting strips. One decided to use only the fabrics she’d sewn with all week for her blocks while the other was willing to dip into my stash for hers. Of course, she also wanted to use her favorite fabric — Paula‘s Par Avion from Flights of Fancy — for the centers of all her blocks, so I spent some extra time fussy cutting them.

I could not be more proud of their finished projects and they were so happy with them, too. And they promised me they were going to wear and use everything they made (in fact that’s why one pair of PJ pants is missing – they were worn the night before at a sleepover!). Also missing from the photos are the gifts they made their moms as a thank-you for enrolling them in summer camp: another wristlet and a tote-style purse with pre-made handles (which I hear were much appreciated).

Pssst! Live in Atlanta? I’ve got a second week of sewing summer camp in August.

Andalucia Warm

Six weeks of the winter blahs — compounded by some kinda stressful personal stuff — has meant that I’ve had a hard time getting motivated to do much of anything. Including sewing. That seems to be changing and I’ve spent more time sewing in the past few days than I probably have since right before Christmas.

Among my favorite new projects is this sweet Andalucia blanket. It’s from a pattern by Seams & Dreams, the Sleep-Away Quilt. I’ve been itching to sew with Patty‘s new line of fabric for Michael Miller (Sarah just got in the whole line!), so when Miss L latched onto it, I knew it’d be a great choice for the pattern.

The pattern isn’t particularly complicated and I finished the whole thing in about a day (spread out over two). I really haven’t done any actual quilting, so I opted to hand-tie this one instead of experimenting. I like the effect and definitely the speed of hand tying. The binding was easier than I expected, although it made my hand cramp up to stitch it down on the back side. I’m planning to make more of these for gifts and I think future ones will just be done blanket style instead of bound for expediency.

It’s a pretty gender-neutral style, so it’s going to be easy to change it up with fabric and make one more suited for the boys in my life. I think it’d look super cute with the new Robots fabric by David Walker. (Hmmmmm. One more to add to my project list! LOL!)

The pockets are stitched on after the blanket is done, so the stitching shows through on the right side. I thought it would bother me more than it does, but you may not feel the same way. I think the finished product is super cute and it’s definitely a hit with the little miss, who insists on using it constantly.

It did bug me a little that the binding instructions weren’t included with the pattern. Instead, it refers to the Seams & Dreams website for directions on how to attach the binding. A minor annoyance but when I’ve dropped $10 on a pattern I kind of expect everything I need to be included and accessible at my sewing table. It’s a very minor complaint, though, and I’m overall quite happy with the purchase and the final product.

Multiplicity

One of the requests I’ve had regarding the Crafty Christmas Countdown is for gifts that can be made in bulk. Boy, can I relate to that one! With so many people on my list, I find it important to have one or two gifts I can make lots of, especially if it’s something that works for either gender.

Probably my all-time, No. 1 gift I make in bulk is food. Cookies, breads and the like are always a hit. And if you have freezer space, you can start making them up to six months ahead of time (assuming you can stand to heat up your kitchen during the summer).

My friend Katie has a great tutorial for creating patchwork fabric bookmarks. They’re probably not enough to give as a solo gift (better for stockings and maybe as gift toppers for a little something extra) but worth making a stack to have ready for giving.

I think scarves are always handy (depending on where you live, of course) which makes them great for gifts to crank out in multiples. I don’t crochet but I’m still tempted to try one of these Crocheted Ribbon Scarves from The Caffeinated Crafter. This Patchwork Scarf tutorial from the Sew, Mama, Sew blog is designed for kids but I bet it’s fairly easy to modify for grown ups. Or make this Scrap Scarf from JavaJem.

One of the gifts I’ll be making this year will be reusable grocery bags. I’ve made the switch myself and bought about 15 bags (and another dozen for my folks) but really wish I had made them now that I’ve seen all the great tutorials out there. These would be great for using up old (or thrifted) bed linens or some clearance fabric that was too good of a deal to pass up. Plus, they’re such a handy gift that can be used over and over again. Check out these great bag-making tutorials: