Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reusable grocery bags

I have been using the standard issue reusable grocery bags for quite some time now and they were desperately in need of a wash. After a quick spin in the washing machine they looked disastrous and quite a few seams fell apart. Instead of buying a new set decided to sew my own which would be a lot more sturdy and washable.

Snagged some outdoor fabric from the end of summer sales currently going on and made a few bags with the help of this tutorialThe fabric is 100% polyster so it frays easily and the seams have to be reinforced properly. I made the bags a bit smaller than the dimensions in the tutorial. They are the same size as my current grocery bags. I think it is a good size. The bag in this tutorial is fairly big and would get too heavy when filled with cans and bottles. I kept the width the same but reduced the height for the top piece to 9.5"  and 7" for the bottom piece. So far I have made two bags continuing with the rest.

I used a denim needle - size 18/110 and C&C dual duty all purpose thread. Made the bags with different strap types just to experiment. Plan to make each bag a bit differently. Keeps it interesting. While making these bags I was impressed at how easily the Bernina sewed over bulky seams. Like a knife through warm butter. Ah the power of a good machine. :)

With a short strap

With the strap running along the side of the bag. 
These bags are pretty sturdy and not too shabby looking. The fabrics shown here are:
  • Richloom Solarium Outdoor Solar Praline (solid brown),  
  • Richloom Solarium Outdoor Sumter Ikat Vineyard
  • P Kaufmann Indoor/Outdoor Conservatory Garden
Linking up to Sew Happy Geek and off to make some more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Craft Book Project

September is the craft book month at craftbuds and having read about some amazing projects inspired by craft books, decided to link up to it. I love to browse through craft books, look at pictures and be inspired by them. 

Early on I made the kitchen windows quilt for my mum which was based of a design from The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman. This was a queen size quilt with flannel backing and quilted it on my Brother sewing machine which had a very small throat. It was a daunting task but this book helped me plod along. I can say I learnt how to quilt from this book so it holds a special place in my bookshelf. I would love to make one more quilt from this book, hopefully some time soon.

And now linking up to craftbuds.

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quilter's take Manhattan

Attended the Quilter's take Manhattan event hosted by Alliance for American Quilts at FIT yesterday. It was a really fun event and got to meet some big names from the quilting world. The biggest highlight for me was to see the actual quilts made by Denyse Schmidt featured in her book and get my own personal copy signed by her. I was amazed by the simplicity and neatness of her work. She uses bold colors but not in an excessive fashion. Her designs blend the old and new very well and have a timeless feel to them. Her interview with Meg Cox had such an genuine feel to it. Meg was great too. Don't  miss the keystone quilt hanging in the background, reminiscent of our improv blocks.

There were lots of door prizes, a few freebies, good food and overall very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Definitely plan to go again next year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Improv piecing

Just realized it's been a year since my first sewing project. I have sewn a lot of different things along the way and the journey has been incredible. What better way to celebrate a year full of sewing than with improv piecing. I was totally out of my comfort zone in the beginning but by the end I realized it works for me only if I extract the creative from the technical.

I had a bag of scraps which were randomly picked from a collective bin at the quilt guild. What I pulled out of the bag was a total surprise which made it both exciting as well as challenging. Started with a clean slate and let the creative process take over. The first few blocks were quite color coordinated. I had a lot more fabric choices to play with and predominantly resorted to lights. I found that looking at a picture of the block helped with the color distribution and balance. Put my phone to good use.


As I progressed I pulled a bunch of bright red fabrics (very unlike me) and was running out of neutrals and lights. I had pretty much exhausted my color options. At this point I switched gears and began to concentrate more on the block construction than fabric colors. The next few blocks were the result of trying different block formations.

The last block was created with whatever was left of the scraps. This was the utilitarian block.

Ultimately I came up with these individual blocks.

Now I set about creating three blocks that were at least 12.5" in one dimension which was a requirement for our improv blocks. Put the pieces together and squared them up. (Apparently I did not know when to stop as they were the much larger than the other blocks at the swap, I guess they can be cut down again. Isn't this improv after all. :))

Since one block is for a swap, one for charity and one for me, now need to decide which block I like best. Decisions decisions......

Overall I enjoyed the improv process but would adopt it with a few modifications. I would rather stage the scrap bag with similar color tones and equal distribution of color which will help the final blocks look more coordinated. The process was quite liberating as there are no mistakes and each block is unique like a fingerprint.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hand quilted and bound.

Just completed the hand quilting and binding. 

Since it was the first time I hand quilted, I kept the pattern very simple. It did not start of very smoothly. I had to experiment a bit to figure out what worked for me. Once I got the quirks ironed out it settled into a good rhythm. I switched the thimble between the 4th and 3rd finger a couple of times and finally settled on wearing it on the 3rd finger. Changed the needle a few times and found that a smaller needle worked better for me. I would try to take 2-3 stitches at a time but found that 3 stitches at a time worked best for me. I do need to work on the length of my stitches. I could not decide if I liked the look of a smaller or longer stitch. 

I used this tutorial to knot the thread. Pulling the knot through the fabric was an un-nerving process. I could not get used to it till the very end. It does require a nearly perfect knot to make it less un-nerving. If the knot is too big you could damage your fabric.

Since the backing fabric has a busy print, it does hide the stitches very well. I thought that was a plus but if you have a nice pattern you may not want to do that. A solid fabric will show off the pattern more effectively.

For the binding, I just turned the backing around and hand stitched it. On photographing the quilt I think it could do with some more quilting on the outside borders. Let's see.

More: here, herehere & here