Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Selvage Bag # 2

I only have to add a closure to this bag and it will be finished. You can click the photo to enlarge.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Selvage Bag, Almost Finished

I had great pictures of the process of adding the divider and making the handles of my new selvage bag, but the camera's flash card went all crazy on me and I had to reformat it, so I lost all those pictures. Oh well.

I hadn't really worked out what I would do with the handles. I thought I would make them using some black and white fabric, but when push came to shove, I didn't like that idea, so I made them out of selvages. I cut two long pieces of foundation fabric 3" wide and added the selvages in varying widths. Then I sewed the long strips lengthwise, right sides together, trimmed the long edge and turned them inside out. After pressing them flat, I attached them to the bag.

Here's the inside of the almost finished bag.
My mother is in lust. I told her that after all the practice I've had with the first two, that hers will be -perfect-!

Yeah, she laughed too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


There was never a worry about how the divider should look in the bag. My concern was getting it sewn in at the bottom and the sides. I wasn't sure how it would go together. So I decided to do a mock-up.
The key was in how I boxed the bottom of the bag. There are two ways to do it.

One is to line up the side seam with the bottom seam, and measure out from the corner, draw a line perpendicular to the side seam, and stitch. The other is to to cut out a "notch" in the corner, then line up the seams and sew.They both look the same in the end, but cutting the notch helped me to figure out how to get the divider panel attached to the sides and bottom seam of the bag.It turned out to be a classic "sew into the corners" kind of a problem. I had to "box" the bottom first, then sew the bottom seam, catching the bottom edge of the divider between the front and back panels.

Now that I have that worked out, finishing the bag will be comparatively simple.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Selvage Bag # 2 is for a very special friend. She asked for pockets for her cell phone, wallet and keys. I like the idea of a tethered clip for keys.I added a zippered pocket on the other side. She also asked for a divider. I'm not quite sure how that will go together. I know how it should look, but I am unsure how to make it happen. I'll work it out somehow.

I decided to have some fun with the colors and fabrics of the bag lining, as you can tell.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sneak Peek into Bag # 2

Iron Chef Sugar, you like?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Tote Tute

Here is the center bottom of the bag. You can see where one selvage slightly overlaps the other.Here's a sneak peek into bag # 2, coming soon...
The first seven strips (from bottom to top) are sewn down, the other six are still auditioning for the remaining spots.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shopping Bag How-To

There's nothing mystical about making a tote bag. Cut a rectangle, fold in in half, sew up the sides, box the bottom, turn the top edge over and add handles... (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can see my sister giving me the eye-roll already. "Easy for YOU!")

First you need to figure out how big you want your bag to be. Do you want to carry library books? Measure them. Do you have a bag from someplace like Wally World or Osco except you think theirs is ugly? Measure it.

I decided I wanted my bag about 12-1/2" wide and 13" high. At first I thought I wanted it 8" deep, but there's no way I could get the bottom to be flat, so I changed it to 6". Later I changed it to 5". Don't forget to add your seam allowances and enough fabric to turn the top edge over. So that means the big piece of fabric I needed for the body of my shopping bag had to be 19" x 36".I cut a piece of foundation fabric 19" wide. I would trim to the 36" when I finished adding my selvages. I used a piece of grey fabric I had hanging around my stash.

(Note: You can make this bag without a lining if you want to serge the raw edges together after sewing the side seams. If you plan to do that, choose a foundation fabric you will like to look at. One note, though.. I can never find anything in a purse if it has a dark lining. So I make all the linings of my tote bags in a light-colored fabric. It's up to you. But if you want a pocket on the inside of your bag, you'll need to use a lining.)

I folded it in half to figure out where to sew the first selvages. I lined up the first selvage edge with this fold, pinned it into place and sewed it on. I use grey thread. It disappears equally well on both white and dark fabrics. Trust me, if you're using selvages, the whole thing will be so busy, nobody will notice. I sew as close to the selvage edge as I can. You can click the picture to get a better view.I spaced my selvages 1" apart. That's one inch from one edge of one selvage to the edge of the next one. Yes, I used a ruler. My selvage pieces 1-1/2" wide. I didn't trim them. I could set four or five down, pin them, and then sew them all at once. Then I ironed them, and arranged the next batch. I planned about four or five strips at a time.

It didn't take me long to figure out that many of my selvages were 1/2 yard, which is 18". The foundation piece for my bag was 19". I decided not to worry about it and just make the bag a little bit smaller. (You could sew two together if you wanted. Knock yourself out. The Quilt Police probably have fits just -thinking- about using selvages, so they'll leave you alone.)

I planned the layout of the selvages so the letters and color dots on the selvages would be evenly distributed across the bag. Since I don't think a white bag would be very user-friendly (gets dirty easily), I let the colors show. If you don't want that to happen, squeeze yours tighter together. Go ahead, I won't mind.When I had enough on one side, I worked on the other. I turned the bag around, and added selvages going in the other direction (because, I wanted to read them from both sides). If you look at the middle picture, you can see that I used dark fabric selvages on the bottom of the bag, and how the Jinny Beyer and the Floral Elements selvages face in different directions.

When I had enough selvages, I added a 2" strip of the black and white at each end. I did this because a nice wide strip would be easier to turn over at the top edge than several thicker layers. It won't show on the outside of the finished bag, so use whatever fabric you like.

Numbers are not my strong suit, (unlike Wanda) and I'm not always good at counting, but you if you space your selvages out like I did, you will need between 36 and 40 of them.

ONE FINAL NOTE:If you've never made a tote bag before, it's worth making one of scrap fabric (without the selvages) so you understand how the bag goes together. This way you won't completely stress out when it comes time to sew your precious bit of selvage fabric into a bag, and your seam ripper will stay where it belongs. In the notions drawer.

Click here to get to the post with the finished pictures of the selvage shopping bag.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Selvage Shopping Bag

I love tote bags. I've been using reusable canvas grocery bags for 17 years, but many stores now accept a bag you bring in, so I decided to make myself a shopping bag. Many of these new bags have a small loop on one side so the checkout person can keep the bag open. For general shopping, a big grocery-sized bag is too big, so this one is smaller and, of course, made from selvages.
The body of the bag is from one big piece of fabric; the sides are sewn and the bottom is "boxed." I made a lining, to keep the inside of the bag neat. After that I added a small loop, and then long handles, as I like to carry the bag over my shoulder.

I used a few dark selvages on the bottom of the bag.Here you can see the giant polka dot fabric lining, and the handles.The bag is 13" tall, 11" wide and 5" deep. The handles are 24" long.

***For those of you who want to make one of these, go right ahead. You don't need my permission. If you want a tutorial, I'll make one, but it will take me a few days (since I am a member of the working world), so have patience. In the meantime, do some thinking about how big you want your bag to be, your handle length preference and select fabric for lining, the straps and the foundation for the selvages. And gather your selvages. They'll need to be at least 18" long.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Selvage Sisters

My sister likes to make quilts too. She makes wonderful scrappy quilts. She is completely unencumbered by worry of the Quilt Police. She made this delightful pink quilt for my three-year old niece, Cassie. (you can click the pictures to enlarge.)

We collaborated on this Queen-sized quilt. We each made 10 blocks and then alternated them. You can't tell which are hers, and which are mine. (That's her on the right, trying to look angelic.)She isn't as good a sewer as I am (she's a Black Belt in Karate, so it evens out). I went over to her house yesterday to help her make some potholders and to have dinner. (OK, I cooked.) While trying to decide what colors to use, she asked if I wanted some selvages, because she doesn't like selvage quilts, or things made with them.

Is the sky blue?

So she gleefully went through her stash, tossing fabrics with selvage dots in my direction, where I lined them all up and sliced off the selvages.I brought home this gigantic stack.I love my sister.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Harder Than It Looks

1. Finish a doll quilt
2. Hold it up in the mirror
3. Take a picture
4. Don't use a flash because of the "hot spot"
(Take another picture)
5. Make sure to hold it high enough so the whole quilt is visible
(Take another picture)
6. Don't cover your face
(Take another picture)
7. Shine a light on the quilt so it shows up
(Take another picture)
8. Hold the quilt up higher
(Take another picture)
9. Stand on your tippy toes (because you're only five feet tall)
(Take another picture)
10. Don't hold the camera in front of your face
(Take another picture)
11. Smile
(Take another picture)
12. Hold still, dammit!

It's harder than it looks!

OK~ Just take a picture of the finished quilt.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Surf and Sand

Here is the finished top of my swap quilt. It's really much prettier in real life. The colors are much warmer.

The pieced area is about 18-1/2" wide by 17-1/2" tall. I don't know how much of the white on all 4 sides will stay, or what color the binding will be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not Me!

Last year, when I made Violette's quilt, I wanted butterflies. So I devised a way to make them without paper-piecing or traditional patterns. I've used them several times since, notably in my Alphabet Sampler Quilt. I even posted a tutorial, and asked folks to send me pictures if they ever tried the butterflies on their own.

Well, Barb made these, and I think they are great.
She deliberately made them different, extending the bodies, and making the wings narrower, and trying different angles.

I think she's done a terrific job. I really like them, and find myself drawn to the dark purple one in particular. The next time I make some of these, I'm going to use some of her ideas! Thanks for sharing, Barb!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Homage to the Square

The other day I was with somebody somewhere and we were talking about quilts. "Why don't you work with curves?" this person asked.

"Because I'm not done with straight lines yet," was my reply. "Hell, I'm not even done with squares!"

"Will you ever be?"

"Probably not."Here is another seminole patchwork band. This is the same three strip band, every other one rotated 180 degrees, and then offset and resewn together. I've photographed it as it goes together, so you can see, because this one can be confusing.

To Bebe's Boutique, who said I must have my 1/4" seam down pat, I say, actually no. As long as you use a -consistent- seam throughout, you will be okay when you sew these together. My 1/4" seam is actually a bit wider, but since I always sew that seam consistently, and I don't get all worked up if a block is 14-1/4" instead of 14-1/2" I am not worried. (Because -all- the blocks will be 14-1/4" and that's the most important thing.)

Remember those points will all get cut off when the band is straightened out.

Here are all my finished bands, in all their repetitive "square" glory.Next up, adding strips to line the bands up, then sewing them all together somehow.Hmmm... which one of these two do I like better? This light blue with the calligraphic lines...or this one with the blue leaves?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Seminole Band

Here's another Seminole Patchwork band. If you look closely, (and you can click the picture to enlarge) you will see there are two different browns. This is another one-strip band, with alternating "slices" rotated 180 degrees, giving this effect of the squares being stacked up in pairs. Looks complicated, but isn't.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Doll Quilt Swap 6

I'm participating in the Doll Quilt Swap again. I have selected fabrics, soft blues and browns with a white on white.
I have decided to do some Seminole Patchwork bands. Here are some possibilities: (you can click the pictures to enlarge.)
These are all one strip bands, meaning the same strip is used in each design. In the top band above, alternating cut pieces are simply rotated. The second band, with the brown squares is just like the rows of "dots" I used in my Alphabet Sampler Quilt.In this band, the strips are cut at a 45-degree angle and then offset and sewn together.This band is just like the rows of dots except there are five colored strips instead of one. So far, this is my favorite. I need to make a couple more bands.

Yes, these aren't really "my" colors, but I am making this for my swap partner. It's a secret, so I can't give out more information than this.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I like the wider sashing strips. I like that abstract, graphic quality, and that's what I am going for. So here are the narrow strips that I ripped out last night while watching TV.
I painted the coffee table a few years ago.Oh, look, it's a quilt design.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Wonky Blocks

These are some more wonky blocks I am making for the Reading in Bed variation quilt.these I haven't trimmed yet...And now a confession. I goofed. I need your help to figure out what to do. I bought fabric for the sashing of these blocks, and cut about a yard of it before I realized I was cutting the strips too narrow. Here are the blocks with the narrow strips:And here are the blocks the way I originally envisioned them.Two Questions:

1. Can you tell the difference?

2. If you can, which do you prefer?

Thank you very much!

**update, 12:15 PM
Here's my take on it. Both would work.

The narrower sashing shows off the blocks better. The blocks "pop". Indeed, they move forward visually. The blocks become the focus, the sashing is secondary. It would make for a "tighter" composition.

The wider sashing pushes the blocks apart physically, but also visually, and flattens the "depth of field" and makes the design more 2-Dimensional, more "graphic" or "abstract", if you will.

Even with the wild colors, the wonkiness and the deliberate choice of the unconventional sashing fabric, the narrower option makes the quilt very slightly more "traditional" in feeling, and the wider one, more "contemporary".

Who would have thought 1/2" could make such a difference?

I think I have made up my mind.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bargello Vest

Over 25 years ago, when strip-piecing was in its infancy, and nobody but folks who did needlepoint knew anything about bargello, I made this vest for myself. (I loved needlepoint and bargello.)

It is strip pieced, and it was quilt-as-you go.It is made from three pieces, two fronts and a back. They were each made separately. (Meaning I didn't make one big panel and cut it apart.)The quilt is completely reversible, and is made without bulk in the side and shoulder seams.* The fabrics are all cotton and the batting is also 100% cotton.

*My biggest issue with quilted clothing is its bulk. It's hard to make a garment that's flattering when you use a filling and quilt it. I also dislike the bulky seams, so I devised a way of making this vest reversible, but eliminating the bulky areas where the sides meet and the shoulders join. I figured it out by myself, and I'm not telling.

Well, maybe. (Not sure I can remember, actually...)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Aztec Two-Step

Here's a blast from the past. I made this quilt back in 1982. It's called Aztec Two-Step. I had attended a class with Michael James in which we learned to design our own quilt blocks. This quilt is made up of 16 units of the same block, rotated in groups of 4. It is an asymmetrical block. I have outlined one block for you, below.
After working out the design, I added the black points around the edges. The quilt is machine pieced and hand quilted, because in 1982, if you machine quilted a quilt, you were considered a heathen and a sinner.

It's about 36" square. My mother owns it, and recently brought it out of storage to hang in her dining room.

Gotta love those 1982 fabrics.