Sunday, June 20, 2010

Something I Finished the Other Day...

This is a tote bag I had been working on since last year.  I finished the piecing of the outside of the bag, but it wasn't the right season for the bag and I had other things I needed to do, so I didn't finish it then.  I came across it again the other day and thought I would finish it up.  It's the Victoria bag by Sue Spargo.  I have trouble sticking to patterns because I always want to make it my way.

Sue Spargo is well known for her wool applique patterns and she fearlessly combines all kinds of fabric in her projects.  So I used home decor fabrics along with the wools and cottons.  I had to improvise, too, because I didn't have enough length of the blue and yellow fabric.  So I added a few extra strips of the coordinating fabrics here and there.

Sue didn't call for quilting the bag in her instructions.  The lining had batting fused with it to provide the fluffiness.  But I actually made a quilt sandwich and quilted it with big stitch quilting and perle cotton, then made the lining separate.  I worried it might be too heavy, but it really isn't.

The inside, which I didn't photograph (what was I thinking?), has a patchwork pieced big pocket to hold stuff I don't want to lose in the bottom of the bag.

The top edge of the bag has a binding around it, which is different from many patterns.  I must say I like the finished look of the bound edge.  The fabric I used looks like it is burlap but it is a soft home decor fabric, so it isn't rough to touch.

The back is supposed to be plain, but I couldn't leave it alone.  I added this strip to give continuity between the front and the back, using the tan square just to mix it up a bit.  Then I added the yo-yo's and quilted around them is red to add a little punch.  I love the empty quilted circles against the striped fabric.

The handle instructions called for long strips sewn with batting to be turned inside out.  It was a painful and tedious process to turn the long tubes inside out.  This is not a method I would choose to do again.

Do any of you have experience with turning tubes made with heavy material?  Do the FastTurn tubes work with heavy stuff?

When I am making things, I try to make choices that are "out of the box", but then when it all comes together, the choices don't seem so bizarre.  My original main fabric I thought I'd use was much more muted than the one I chose.  I thought the vivid blue and yellow paisley would be "wild".  When it all comes together, it makes sense and nothing really stands out as not matching or fitting in.  I like the "bohemian" feel about the bag and the fact that I got to use so many techniques--wool applique, embroidery, yo-yo's and quilting.

I got to use my new bag when I went to the NQA quilt show in Columbus, Ohio, yesterday.  It held all my stuff just the way I like it.  Which is why we like to make our own things!

Thanks for watching my blog!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My First Day in the Club

I love to tell the story about how I joined my local quilt guild.

We live just outside a small town in northern Indiana. We moved back here a few years after we married because my mom was having some health issues. Within a year, she passed away. I found out I was pregnant with my first son the day she died. We had just bought our first house and were still getting to know the community.
One day, when my son was just a couple of months old, I came home from work and my husband met me at the door. He was all excited. The local paper is delivered free to everyone on Tuesdays and he had read in the paper about a Quilt Club that met at the local Purdue extension office. I had been interested in quilts for a couple of years, but didn't have a lot of time to sew, what with the job, the house and the baby.

He had called the number in the paper and talked to Sue H., the president of the club. She told him what time they met and that they usually had a carry-in meal. So, he met me at the door and said (practically in one breath), "There's a quilt club in town that meets tonight, I'll take care of the baby and here's a dish to take to the carry-in meal!"

Off I went with my casserole dish. Of course, everyone wanted to know what was in it and could they have the recipe, and of course, I couldn't tell them because it was one of his make-it-up-as-you-go-along casseroles. This was a first for the women in the club--a husband who signs his wife up for a quilt club and also cooks! Sue is still telling the story today.

There were about 20 women in the group at the time. Now, we have over 50 members and we long ago outgrew our meeting place at the extension office. These women have been an important part of my life and I've made a lot of friends there. They make this town a community for me. I've learned so much from all of them.

So, do you belong to a quilt guild? Every group is different, but I find that the support I get from my club is very important in my development of my craft. Sometimes I'm discouraged because I'm not as productive as the others, but they support my little successes as well as my big ones.

I couldn't ask for a better group of quilting friends.

The people I meet here in blogland are another group of fantastic talented artists and, while it is great to have the convenience of getting together anytime of the day, I do encourage you to find a quilt group in your area. I have found it to be a great source of sharing and community.

It's all good.
The picture above was one of my favorites from the Appleseed Guild Quilt Show from a couple of years ago. (It's not mine.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Out of Sight

Sometimes my world is less than fantastic, even though my blog name might suggest otherwise. My computer crashed this week, presumably from some evil virus, so now I'm on my husband's laptop. Oh well, better than nothing.

I've been soooo busy with getting the kids finished up at school. Two weekends before Memorial Day, I went on the overnight fourth grade field trip to southern Indiana. We visited Squire Boone Caverns, climbing an ungodly number of steps into and out of the cave. We also saw the first state capitol in Corydon. After "sleeping" overnight on the floor of a school gym, we visited the Capitol building in Indy and the Indiana State museum. This is my second year to do the trip, but much easier, as last year I had had knee surgery 6 days beforehand. Whew!

The same weekend, I took my older son on his first Boy Scout camping trip. Fortunately, they let us stay in some rustic cabins because no one else was there and it had rained horribly that day. It would have been a wet and yucky weekend. Again, we had a great time, but I must say that indoor plumbing is not to be overrated...

So, have I been sewing? Well, I have, but I can't show you yet, because of the computer business. I'm making slow progress on my pink and yellow promise stitching quilt, although I did take it on my field and camping trips. Gotta love the portability of hand work!

I'm also revisiting a project I started last year. It is the Victoria bag by Sue Spargo that is pieced and has wool applique. I had completed the bag panel, sewing it from bits of home dec fabric as well as wools and cottons from my stash. In the pattern, the bag is lined with batting, but it is not quilted. I decided to quilt it using perle cotton and big stitch quilting, to add to the bohemian look of the bag. I can't wait to show it to you.

I'm going to a quilt show in Columbis, Ohio in 2 weeks. Since it is so close to her hometown of Uniontown, Ohio, I'm hoping that Sue Spargo will be there. I have been fascinated by her use of mixed fabrics in her projects. She uses everything--home dec, wool, quilting fabrics--and then embellishes the projects with all kinds of fancy embroidery stitches, beads and trims. Wow!

I am also working on three different colorways of the backpack I made in the orange batik fabric last fall. I want to practice more FMQ on the panels and make some things for a few friends. I'm also trying to use fabrics from my stash.

At our quilt club meeting the week before Memorial Day, one of our members talked about her methods of organization. She was lucky enough to attend one of Bonnie Hunter's workshops a while ago and shared her scrap organizing ideas. So, this week I started taking a more liberal view toward my fabrics as I cut them. As I cut, I make extra cuts in the sizes I want to save, 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 5 inches, and I make larger squaring up strips to use in string piecing. And each item has its own box to go in. It's so nice to see the strips piling up. It's like making your own jelly rolls!

Summer has officially begun, now that the kids are out of school. They aren't going to camp this year, so I want to come up with some new ideas for them to creatively expend their energies.

I'll show you some pics as soon as my sick computer comes home. Maybe I'll have a finish or two, as well.