Can’t Do Without the Fabric

This is what I bought at Quiltworks Northwest. I hadn’t been there in a long time and they had a TON of fabric. It was everywhere. This is where TFQ bought the bag pattern. The Quilting Loft is a new-ish store in Ballard and well worth the trip to visit. Angie, the owner, is really nice and has great taste in fabric.
This is the fabric I bought at the Quilting Loft.

The Many Fabrics of Sawtooth Stars

The Sawtooth Star is a great block. Lots of options, but if you just make them out of two fabrics, they are fabulous as well.

Here are TFQ’s 4″ Sawtooth Star blocks: all 685 approximately of them. Sit back and enjoy the fabulous fabrics!





This project was a “clear out my scraps project” and a precursor to the Fabric of the Year project.

Series of Bags

TFQ and I went to Quiltworks Northwest in Bellevue on Friday. At the shop, TFQ saw this bag made up and bought the pattern. The pattern is called Eco Market Tote and is from Favorite Things. I don’t normally buy or even think about non-quilt things, so I didn’t pay much attention. I was interested, but not from the making point of view. I am not sure what lit the spark, but after we visited the Quilting Loft and saw the Alexander Henry Home Dec fabrics, I knew I wanted to make one. TFQ suggested that we make them and it was a great idea. I would have never finished mine if TFQ and I had made the first ones together/at the same time. While we were working with our own fabrics, we puzzled out the directions together. We, unfortunately, got the first printing of the pattern and there are a few mistakes, which have, since, been corrected (TFQ contacted the company). We also made some adjustments, like making the handles wider than the pattern calls for.

The fabulous thing that I found is that this is a great opportunity to work in series. No, it is not a quilt, but it is a great canvas for showcasing fabric combinations. There is also a lot of room for creativity – different types of pockets, different fabric combinations, different fabric ratios and even embellishment. I know that TFQ has picked out fabrics for two more and I would like to make more as well. I have several large conversational fabrics in the quilt backs stack that would really be great as bags. I also have some great French fabrics that a friend brought me from France that would make excellent totes.

This is my bag. As mentioned, the fabrics are from the Alexander Henry Home Collection. They feel like canvas, but may be a kind of cotton duck. I am actually kind of stunned that I picked them out as the accent fabric has a lot of brown and all of the fabrics are very 1960s looking.
This was a great project to branch out in the fabric department and try something new. I wouldn’t buy these for a quilt, but for this bag, they are great!

Back of the bag in construction phase.Front of bag with pocket pinned on. The back and front are the same until you put the pocket on. The above picture is how that back looks and the picture below, as you can see from the picture of the finished product, is how the front looks.

This is the third bag. TFQ made it today.

She added two more pockets on this side to break up all the black. The new pockets do a good job of bringing the red fabric back into the limelight.


The lovely piece below has the distinction of being the first bag we completed. It is TFQ’s bag, but I think it was a real collaborative effort – at least int he brain power department. This was also the bag we learned on. The fabrics are fabulous and it turned out really well.
Detail of the the reinforcing X stitching to keep the handle secure.

Moving Right Along

I have been trying all week to get a few free moments to show you some pictures. I am off on a trip tomorrow and don’t know if I will get to posting until the first weekend in March, which is why I want to post!
These are the retail therapy fabrics that I bought. I have already washed and ironed them do I could use them in the 2008 Fabric of the Year quilt (see below). I was pretty disappointed in the quality of the fabric in the whole top row except for the multicolored dots on the light background (right). The green and yellow fabric with the white dots are really, really thin. You can see through them and I am sure the seams will show through if I press towards.

I found the other two by searching for violet on the site that shall remain nameless. It turns out that the fabrics are very, very dark. Not violet at all. At least not my definition of violet. [I could go into a whole dissertation on taxonomies here, but I’ll spare you. I’d like to keep a few readers.] That wasn’t the main problem with these fabrics. When I tried to press them from the front, the iron kept getting caught on the fabric. I don’t know if ‘caught’ is the right term, but I couldn’t smoothly move the iron over the front of the fabric. I had to turn the fabric over to press it.

The color is printed on the front and something about the ink makes it not smooth. I love shopping online, because I don’t have to leave my house, but this is a good example of one of the pitfalls: I can’t feel and look at the fabric before I buy it. I could return the fabric, but I have already washed and cut into it. When it is cut into smaller pieces, I am sure it will be no problem.

Here are the two newest members of the Pineapple family. They are both a perfect… 14″. Sigh. They are supposed to be 12.5″. I made these so carefully, I don’t think it is possible to have been anymore precise. I measured each strip to ensure it was 1.75″. I also made sure the blocks were square as I sewed each row on.

I am bringing all the blocks with me this weekend and will work on them when I have time. I also spoke with TFQ about them and some possibilities are:

  • the new iron
  • the service on my sewing machine last fall.

I decided that I would finish this quilt even if it meant making all the blocks over. Blocks never go to waste, so I could make a lot of pillows!
Here are the new fabrics that I cut for this week.

Here they are all sewn together and integrated into the blocks I made last week.

Mind Sorbet

The Chocolate Box quilt, which I talked about in the post about the retreat is what is discussed in Judy Martin‘s February 2008 newsletter. Kristin, one of her readers writes:

“I agree that there is nothing wrong with fast quilts. In fact, in the past after completing a challenging project, I would often use a fast and easy quilt as a “mind sorbet” to cleanse the mind before beginning the next project. They are nice for showcasing big or odd prints, or for picnic quilts or for kid quilts for gifts. I do think though, if we are not challenging ourselves and not enjoying the process, we are missing something.”

The Chocolate Box is mind sorbet. I felt thick and full after working for so long on the Pineapple. I needed something to cleanse the palette and the Chocolate Box did it.That is such a great description and I hope I will be able to add it to my lexicon.

Really Look!

Friend Julie is really taking her course with Gabrielle Swain seriously. I wouldn’t expect any less, of course. It is great that she is sharing. I have been working on REALLY looking at things when I draw in my journal and this post talks about the same thing. I think I can never have enough reminders to slow down, really look at things plus what Julie says here about distilling things down to what you really need.

After the Rain, A Closeup

One of the assignments I’ve gotten to do for the Creative Sparks class with Gabrielle Swain , was to take a macro walk around outside with my digital camera. Looking for the details. The veins in the leaves. The essential shapes. Taking out the big picture look and lasering down to the basics. This is all to help us learn how to distill our designs down to what really needs to be there.
  blog it

One Night Stand

I don’t know what got into me last night, but I had a one night stand. Not the kind you are thinking of, but an art encounter where I finished a small book. I am calling it the Be Brave book.

What happened was that I had a few spare minutes while Darling Boy took a shower and my Artgirlz order was still on the floor where I had left it after I photographed it last week for you to see. I picked it up, opened up the Artgirlz creativity packet and looked at all the stuff. I was surprised to find a little bound book. I thought it was a bunch of paper. All the pages are different colors, which is fun and cheerful.

I sewed the felt to the front and did a bit of handwork on the flowers. Then I got out my rubber stamping ink and tried out many of the stamps in the Artgirlz rubber stamping pack. Then I just kept stamping and sewing and suddenly I was done.

I don’t know how long it took, but not very long, perhaps a half an hour. I could do more, but it is not a project that is sitting half done on my worktable. I can still do more later if I want. Close up.

Finished product. I also used some of the Stampin’ Up letters on the little marker/tag.

New Way of Drawing?

I saw Sketchcast on one of the blogs that look at occasionally. I thought it was an interesting concept and have been exploring it a little bit this evening. The intriguing part is that they provide the code so you can embed the drawing in your blog. I was surprised that they didn’t have a tagging feature. It seems to have some elements of social networking just not tagging. I didn’t find any sketches on quiltmaking.
Check it out.
clipped from sketchcast.com

Supergirl in color

blog it

Fabric of the Year Project etc.

I decided to do the fabric project that I discussed in two previous posts here and here. This project uses fabrics I have recently purchased in some project right away.
This is the fabric I recently washed (a light load). They are arranged in no particular order. I cut the pieces and slapped them up on the wall.

Above are the fabrics after I rearranged them a bit and sewed them together. You can see the test block in there as well.

I did run across a few situations I had to decide about as I pressed the fabric, so here are the complete new rules:

  1. 2.5″x4.5″ pieces of each fabric purchased.
  2. Fabrics that have been washed, but not pressed are ok to add to the mix, even if they were purchased last year.
  3. Fabrics purchased twice in the same year should be included twice.
  4. OK to rearrange fabrics as desired.
  5. Press to the dark.

I did find it to be fun, as TFQ said it was. I did find one fabric that I really didn’t like and will put in the Freecycle pile.


Needing some retail therapy this week and still having Friend Julie’s post on my mind drove me to the Artgirlz site. I was amazed to find that the creativity pack and the rubber stamps came within a few days, even though it was sen from Rhode Island. Nice service! The thing I have to figure out is how to mount the rubber stamps. I know how to mount them, but don’t have the mounting thingies. Perhaps there is a rubber stamp store somewhere where I can buy some. Artgirlz have some, but they have a variety of sizes in one pack and not enough of the little ones.
A few months ago when I was really trying to get inspired to do some visual journaling, I bought a few writing/drawing instruments to inspire me. I finally tried these NeoColors last week. They are like crayons, but more waxy. I wasn’t that impressed as I was looking for something softer. I probably won’t be buying more of them.
Finally, there is good news and bad news on the Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowball). The good news is that I finished another block. I have been working on this one for several weeks, which means that it was mostly languishing in my handwork bag. It is displayed above with some new fun fabrics.

The bad news is that I seem to have lost the templates. In a frenzy of tidying, the stack where the templates lived for months was swept away and no longer exists. The templates are gone now, too, and I can’t think of where I might have put them. Darn! I wanted to cut some more pieces. I can reprint them and start over, but I don’t want to get into a problem with piecing (I have had enough of that!), so I will look for them some more. Cross your fingers that they show up.

Coalescing Ideas Continued…

If you don’t go back and read the comments to some of my posts, I encourage you to do it every once in a while. I don’t get a lot of comments, so it shouldn’t really be a hardship. You can also subscribe to them on the comments page and then they will come to your e-mail! WOW! Isn’t technology great!?!

In the post I wrote about Jane Blair’s quilt, Things Change, and my friend TFQ’s project to use a piece of all the fabric she bought last year, Jeanne commented:

“I like the 2.5″ x 4.5” block; the pieces are a better proportion to the block overall.

I’ve been really happy with this project over the past year. I liked the way it got me to cut into my fabrics right away, not just for my swatches, but to actually use them. Nothing seems too precious to use once I’ve cut into it and made something with it. I actually did go out and buy more of some fabrics that I fell in love with as soon as I used them, and I actually gave away some fabrics that made me want to tear my hair out trying to use them. Well, I made napkins with pieces of it and gave the rest away.

Warning, though: do not engage in this project unless you are prepared to be confronted by the number of blocks you end up with at the end of the year. I just finished the blocks for 2007 and counted them: 685 blocks.”

first, I think Jeanne is right about the 2.5″x4.5″ block being the right size. In looking at the two hanging on my design wall, I realized that the larger one will not really go together very easily, but the 2.5″x4.5″ would go together like Jane Blair’s quilt’s setting.

And, as I said in the post, I really like the idea of knowing whether I will like to use a fabric or not. TFQ made Sawtooth Star blocks, I believe (I am going up there in a few weeks and will take photos of everything she has been working on), so the blocks were more complicated than I am proposing. That doesn’t alleviate the fact that I may end up with over 600 blocks. How many quilts would that make and could I stand to put them all together. I do love to make blocks, so it might make a difference.

I just washed a bunch of fabric, so we will see if I start this. Right now the fabric is laying on the back of my sewing chair. Stay tuned!