New Passport Wallets

Passport Wallet

Back in January I made some new large passport holders for my Etsy shop. It was time to restock the small holders that can hold up to four passports, and a couple of big ones that have been waiting around to be photographed.  I might have gotten carried away choosing fabrics.  I just kept cutting out “one more”.  I hope they find their way to exciting travels with new owners eventually!

May Believe Circle Blocks

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This month my fellow stitchers of the Believe Circle from do. Good Stitches Charity Bee are getting our Spring on making some colorful nine-patch blocks in bright pink with accents of lime, orange, or purple.  Kinda makes me want a popsicle!  Laura posted a great tutorial on her blog for us to follow.  Here’s how mine turned out.  Apologies for the “misty” evening photography!

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If you’re looking for a great opportunity to sew for others, I really recommend joining the do.  Good Stitches waiting list.  They add new stitchers and quilters all the time and it’s lots of fun!

Use it Up!

I think most quilters hate throwing out scraps, so we collect drawers full of them.  For me, those scraps include leftover quilt batting.  Since you need to leave a border in your quilt sandwich there are always lots of extra batting pieces left behind when you trim up the final quilt.  I can’t bear to throw them out and I tell myself I’ll make coasters.  Lots of coasters!  But I never do…

A while back, I took an hour to get those scraps organized and it’s made a big difference.  I sorted them roughly by size and then quickly measured them and labeled them.  I mean quickly, too.  I was only looking for an “at least” measurement – I didn’t stop to square them up or get precise.  I threw out any scraps that weren’t at least 4″ wide.

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I folded each scrap into whatever way it would best fit into the plastic shoeboxes I already had and then pinned a sticky note with their size on.

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I sorted them by width, so I’d be able to go back and grab just what I need for a small quilting project.  I’m happy to report that it was worth it!  I am using up those scraps on lots of small projects I was making anyway, like zippy bags and purse straps.  I love that I can open the batting cupboard without it all falling out on me, too!

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Accidentally Awesome

Every once in a while I have the pure joy of making something that just makes me want to squeal, “Eeeeeee!”.  Even before it’s finished, I know I have something I’m going to love.  Today was one of those days.  Oh, and if you don’t love it, just keep it to yourself, Buzzkill.

Meet my Fauxberry Disco Clutch.  Not since Tollhouse Cookies has a domestic catastrophe ultimately turned out so well.  IMG_0079Back in December I sat down at my loom to try to make a Burberry inspired scarf I’d seen on Ravelry.  I think I was so eager to get weaving that I got lazy in the vital prep stages.  Weaving is not nearly as forgiving as knitting or sewing.  If you make a mistake setting up the warp threads or miss a few strands as you’re picking the weft, it can be hours of work or downright impossible to fix.  No seam rippers here.

I like to warp directly on my loom (if you’re not a weaver, just go get a cup of coffee here and catch up in a minute…) because it’s faster, but if you don’t pay careful attention to the tension you can have problems.  I have experienced this before with other pieces I’ve woven, but as they weren’t plaids I could ultimately salvage the piece.  In this case, the more I wove the more wonky my warp tension (and my plaid) became.  When I stopped and attempted to “fix” it I just made it worse.  There was no way to save this puppy.  It was a tragic waste of yarn.  I cut the 20-30″ of fabric I’d made off the loom and just couldn’t bear to throw it away.  It was pretty, but it was never going to be a scarf.

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It sat orphaned in my workroom, mocking me, until I saw the pattern for the Discotech Clutch from Sew Sweetness.  It was cute, small and simple.  Oh yeah, did I mention it was also free?  Sara, from Sew Sweetness, makes the most amazing bags, and I own and love two of her books, but this one was a freebie.  Maybe, just maybe, I could make something of that mess after all.

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Since I’ve never actually CUT anything I’ve woven – you know, because I’m not insane – I wasn’t sure how this would work out.  I may have gone overboard to stabilize the fabric. It’s a loose weave wool and I didn’t want it unravelling on me.  Ever.  I fused lightweight interfacing to the wrong side before cutting out the pattern.  Then I applied a bead of Fray Block all around the edge inside what would become the seam allowance.  Then I ran an overcast stitch all around the edge with my sewing machine. Then I sacrificed a live chicken to the gods.  Only then did I begin to assemble.

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The actual assembly of the bag was a snap.  It’s a great pattern.  It even has handy pockets on the inside.

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If there’s anything I don’t love about the bag it’s that handle.  I chose a cheap one because I was experimenting.  The pattern calls for a similar, but nicer quality handle. But this will do, and hopefully I’m the only one who’ll notice.  When I cut the holes for the handles there was more Fray Block and some UHU fabric glue, swearing, and finger crossing.  And, oh Lordy, were there some serious fumes!  Thankfully they dissipated in about 30 minutes.

Here’s the other side:IMG_0081I wish I’d photographed this from the side, because I’m seriously proud of how the plaids all align at the seams.  I’m so fancy.

As soon as the fumes cleared, I filled it up (it’s tiny so it didn’t take long…) and headed off to do some shopping looking extra chic.  I’m pretty sure I was the envy of everyone at Petco.🙂

 

 

 

Compose Yourself.

Time for a little Etsy shop sewing:

Composition Books

Spent the weekend making quilted composition book covers.  I love the way they have enough surface area to highlight a great fabric and they’re not hard to make.  It’s the kind of project that makes a great gift for so many different types of people just by modifying the fabric choices.

When I started making them I used a great tutorial at Ellison Lane, and I’ve adapted it to suit my style.  My version has pockets on the interior flaps and I omit the ribbon.  I often piece an accent fabric with my main fabric.  I also like to round the corners to reduce bulk .

Because these are a sort of blank canvas, it’s fun to experiment.  I used some colorful triangles left over from another project and raw appliquéd them to one.  Since a covered notebook will get some handling, I quilted this one in a tight grid that you can see in the upper left photo.  The triangles will fray with use and gain texture, but they should stay put for the most part.

See that amazing jelly fish journal?  That’s a great block print done by my sister-in-law at SentimentalAsylum.  I’ve put this one on sale, but I have to make another for myself because I love this so much.  Actually, she has so many great prints that I’d like a journal made from each of them, especially her sweary ones! I’m also proud that I have managed to overcome my fear of cutting into the fabrics she printed for me!

Need a gift for yourself or someone you love?  They’re in the shop.  Happy sewing!

UPDATE:  Adding the cover below to The Bluebird Sew Off.

Composition Book Cover with Cotton & Steel Octopus Pearl

Composition Book Cover with Cotton & Steel Octopus Pearl

PS.  I’m linking the Rainbow Triangle Notebook to Scraptastic Tuesday:

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In Praise of Scrappy Socks (…and maybe the Internet)

The internet is a constant source of inspiration for me.  I don’t think I would be half as crafty without it.  I could easily lose a whole day in visiting sewing and knitting blogs and pinning on Pinterest.  Time wasting?  Maybe some days, but most days I learn something new or become inspired to see new possibilities in the yarn and fabric stash I already own.  It also leads me to creative people around the world.

This latest project is proof of the value of browsing.  Pinterest recently recommended these socks to me. I just loved all the color and stranded colorwork knitting is my favorite type.  They were made by a knitter & blogger, Jenny F, in Finland.  Her blog has beautiful photos of her work, but is in Finnish or Swedish or something I only normally encounter in IKEA.😦.  It seems from her Ravelry page that she was inspired to make her socks by some fingerless mitts from a knitter in Reno, Nevada.  See what I mean?  All these connections  wouldn’t happen without some serious internet browsing, right?IMG_0062

 

Every time I knit a pair of women’s socks it seems I end up with leftover yarn.  I’ve never stopped to measure, but I’m guessing somewhere around 50 – 100 yards on average.  It’s too much to throw away, but it seldom gets used.  I took Jenny F’s socks as my inspiration and worked out the pattern and started knitting using up leftover bits of yarn from my stash.  I’m smitten.

IMG_0066Like so many scrap projects, scrap can look an awful lot like just plain crap when you’re just starting out.  Put 3 or 4 random colors of yarn together and they can be hideous, but something happens when you start adding more.  I especially love throwing in a neutral, like a gray or a brown to give your eyes a little rest now and again.

IMG_0061Hopefully, I’m not the only one who loves the cheerful, rich mix of colors.  I think there are a few things that help in scrap knitting.  First, the cuff, heel and toe are all one color.  I also made sure as I knit the first sock that I had enough yarn to knit the second sock in the the same color pattern so I’d end up with identical twin socks.  I think it gives a little more polish to the scrappiness.

The color work pattern also helps this scrap project.  By carrying the previous color into the next band of color, it helps to blend one color into the next, carrying your eye along with it.  I also forced myself not to think too hard about what color to use next.  If I don’t do that I tend to slip into ROYGBIV color patterns too easily!

Some technical details for anyone thinking of scrap busting their yarn:

Each band takes far less yarn than I would have imagined – the photo of the balls at the top was taken after my socks were more than 3/4 done.  I look forward to making more!

Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  I used all superwash fingering weight wool yarns, because thats what I had for leftover sock yarn, but there are solids, tonal, and kettle-dyed yarns, and yarns with glitter here!  I like the gypsy feel that this mix gives off.

I think Jenny F cast on 60 stitches to make her socks.  I cast on 64 and would probably think about going up to 68 next time.  Any even number will work.  I’m using a 1.5 needle here.

I wove most of my ends in as I knit because colorwork finishing is a bitch otherwise🙂.

Next time, I think I’ll take the time to make jogless stripes.  These socks are for me, and I don’t mind the jog, but with so many color changes, it might be nice.  This time I arranged my stitches so the jog line runs down the back and along the bottom of my foot where it will be less noticeable.

A great resource for making socks is Charlene Schurch’s book Sensational Knitted Socks.  It might be out of print, as it only seems to be available from third-party sellers on Amazon.  If so this is very sad, because this book really teaches you everything you need to know about making socks in any size with virtually any yarn and it includes really great patterns, too.  I refer back to it all the time when making projects like this to guide me through stitch counts for heel turning  and gussets, etc.

It’s so satisfying in a “waste-not-want-not” kind of way to use up my scraps and end up with something pretty!

 

 

New York Beauty Pillow

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Like so many people who craft, I have materials everywhere.  I’m lucky enough to have a designated room to sew in, but it is jammed full.  Every once in a while I go tearing through a drawer or cupboard and discover something I’d forgotten completely. The other day I rediscovered a few yards of Benartex Foundation by the Yard fabric.  Have you heard of this before?  I hadn’t.  My friend Melissa and I found it during a Korean fabric shopping trip a couple of years ago and bought some because it seemed cool and the price was right.

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It’s a pre-printed muslin panel.  Each panel has 12 foundations for New York Beauty quilt blocks and complete instructions for how to piece them are printed along the sides of the panels. Apparently, Benartex makes these panels pre-printed with lots of classic quilt blocks.  I’ve always done my foundation piecing on paper, but this works just the same way only the muslin stays on the back of your finished block.  No picking bits of paper out of the seams?  Sign me up.

I’d been wanting to make a pillow with a Valentine’s feel to it, so I decided to try making a few of these blocks in shades of pink and red.

I started with foundation block pieces:

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I decided to use solid shades of pinks and reds for the points and text prints for the background.IMG_3203

Originally I was planning on making this a square pillow with four blocks forming a circle in the center, but I got to this point and had an idea:

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About a year ago I bought a couple of down lumbar pillow forms for a pair of chairs in our family room.  I never got around to making the covers I had planned.  I liked this half circle so much (and – amazing – the measurements worked out) I decided to make covers using just 2 squares each for those instead of a big square.  Lazy or brilliant?  You be the judge.

I quilted in arcs on the background fabric using the edge of my walking foot as a spacing guide.IMG_3206

I added an invisible zipper and some backing fabric from my stash using this helpful tutorial.  IMG_3210

And voila – a finished pillow!

IMG_3213The colors are right for Valentine’s Day, but I think I can get away with leaving it out a little longer!

Block Printed Goodness

I always have too many projects in my head.  I wish I could make them all.  After making lots of passport wallets for the Etsy shop on Saturday, I indulged in some more selfish sewing on Sunday.  There’s a backstory to it.

My lovely sister-in-law is a such a talented woman and my dear friend, too.  She’s a poet, college professor, animal lover, intellectual badass, and recently, a block printer.  She and my big bro’ (who also does not suck) have been carving away at linoleum blocks in their free time.  Their prints are so much fun that she finally gave in to all the requests from friends and family and opened an Etsy shop of her own, SentimentalAsylum, to sell some of their work.  Isn’t it great?

 

Of course, when I saw all their work I immediately though: “How do we translate that onto fabric?”  God love her, she went out, bought quilting cotton and got to work. She’s brought me several yards of printed fabric to play with.  I have a secret to admit:  I’m afraid to cut it!  I mostly just stare at it and admire!  This did not make Sista’ Friend happy, though, so I made a teeny attempt to actually use my printed fabric on Saturday:

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This was a safe choice with the small-scale print, but I love how it came out so much that I can’t wait to try to sew more with some of my bigger block prints.  Wouldn’t the wave print above look great as a fussy cut on a bag?  And those leaves as an all-over print?  Must get her to print some leaf fabric next… Can’t wait to make more.

They taught our whole family how to carve blocks when they visited a few weeks ago and we were all hooked.  My kids haven’t spent this much time away from electronics in ages! My snapshot isn’t great, but this kids and Super Uncle moment was too cute to miss:

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After all the lessons, Sista’ Friend says I don’t need her to do my fabric printing anymore, but with designs as cute as theirs, I plan to keep begging for more yardage!

 

 

Wanderlust

Spent yesterday making some new Family Passport Holders for my Etsy shop. These are great for keeping everyone’s passports together on international trips.  I’d sold out of all the large ones I’d originally made (yippee!).

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I started with a really great pattern sold by Amber of One Shabby Chick Hawaii, but I’ve given it quite a few mods for sewing ease, mostly.  I find installing snaps fiddly , so I’ve switched out snaps for velcro, and instead of a wraparound skinny strap, I prefer a wide short strap.  It holds everything just as well, but takes less time to close back up at the airport.  This project has a lot of bulk what with all the pockets and interfacing, so I find it much easier to get a nice result by rounding the corners using a thread spool as my template before stitching.  It reduces the corner bulk nicely when turned right side out and makes topstitching easier.  I also use a heavy interfacing  just on the strap and exterior fabric to give the wallet more structure when empty.  I don’t want it to feel flimsy when customers pick it up before they’ve added their passports.

I think it took me almost as much time to photograph and list these on Etsy than it did to make them!  I’m awful at photo editing and uploading!  Putting our passports into each of these in order to photograph them made me nostalgic for our travels as we haven’t used them in over a year.  I do wish we could use them more – without an overseas move!

Need a passport wallet for up to 6 family members?  Try Amber’s pattern or pick up one ready-made in my shop.

 

 

Snowed In

When it looks like this outside, there’s no excuse for not getting some sewing done!  I’ve been chain piecing for hours and days working on my Postage Stamp Quilt.

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I’m not done piecing all those strips together yet, but I’ve already got enough squares to fill up my design wall.  When I slapped up the first 3 or 4 squares, I have to admit I was thinking “Eyesore!” but now that more of the squares are on the wall, it’s really grown on me.  Scrap quilts are greater than the sum of their parts.  I like all that color, but I think in future I’d also like to try a scrap quilt with a more limited color palette, too.  The only rule I had when cutting for this one was no black, brown, or gray (though there are little bits of it in some of the prints).

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Still haven’t figured out how big I want this one to be.  I’ll have to see how many squares I end up with when all the piecing is finished.  I have lots of ideas for any orphan blocks.  Table runners? Accent strips on bags?  The possibilities are many!

 

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday!

 

Scraptastic Tuesday