Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Using heavy weight cotton for the Cargo Duffle bag

My first finish for 2017—the Cargo Duffle, by Noodlehead. What do you think?
Cargo Duffle. Pattern by Noodlehead.
Heavy cotton oxford from Alexander Henry Fabrics. Multi-colored stripe by Diamond Textiles.
This is my first foray with a heavy weight cotton fabric. This beefy cotton oxford, used on the outside of the duffle, has a 2 x 2 basket weave structure and is ideal for a durable tote that can lug around 20+ pounds of fabric samples, which is what I need it for.
Heavy cotton oxford and quilting cotton from Alexander Henry Fabrics.
Multi-color stripe from Diamond Textiles.

This lovely bird and flower print is from Alexander Henry, called Larkspur. The accent fabric is a multi-colored stripe from the World Fabrics Collection by Diamond Textiles and the pink lining is a quilting weight cotton, also from Alexander Henry.

This was a good project on which to try free-motion quilting on a heavier weight fabric. The front and back pieces of my bag measured 21" x 16", which were enlarged for my use from the original pattern. 
Free-motion quilting. Front panel of duffle.
A print like this—with large motifs and open background areas—is great for practicing hand-eye-coordination of free-motion. Just outline quilt the large motifs that are printed on the fabric. It also eliminates the need to come up with a clever quilting design on your own! You can see how the birds are highlighted with the outline quilting surrounded by a sampling of free-motion fillers.
Free-motion quilting. Back panel of duffle.

This Cargo Duffle pattern has a very interesting and streamlined way to make the bag's two-toned handles. A nice detail!
Handles using two fabrics.
The handles were straight-line quilted with the walking foot. For extra support, I did sandwich a strip of batting inside each handle. It was fun using a new 12 wt. variegated thread [Fruitti by WonderFil Threads] to topstitch rows across the striped fabric. The color scheme of this thread was a perfect coordinate for the stripe. 
Topstitch quilting the handles with 12 wt. variegated thread.
Inserting the zipper flat is easy and manageable (and pattern instructions are very good).
Zipper inserted in the top gusset.
Liking a tab to counterbalance the opening and closing of the zipper, I added a tab at each end of the zipper using the fabric's selvedge.
Using the fabric selvedge to create a zipper tab.
Tab at the zipper stop.

The accent fabric used on the handles (the stripe) is also used on the bottom of the duffle. In the original pattern, this accent fabric covers the raw edges and secures an outside pocket. For extra security, I lengthened the handles and sewed them down the front/back of the bag as I knew my bag would carry a lot of weight. By omitting the pocket, I used the accent fabric piece to secure and cover the raw edges of the extended handles. (The construction details of this duffle pattern are functional as well as decorative.)
Accent fabric is decorative and functional.

The pattern says to bind the raw edges if you choose. If you have a serger, I say to "fire it up" and finish the seam allowances lickety-split. Some raw edges were serged before duffle construction (the front and back pieces, for example), and some after.
Serged seam allowances to finish.

This bird is ready to fly!
My free-motion quilted Cargo Duffle is complete.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's purging, repurposing and recycling

Happy 2017! Here's to a new year of good health, inspiration, productivity and meeting whatever goals or resolutions you set for yourself. Below are two 2016 year-end-review photo montages that I posted to Instagram. After scrolling through my photo library, I was surprised I accomplished as much as I did. Yay!
2016 accomplishments and finished projects: EPP Glorious Hexagon program,
kitty quilts, novelty zipper pouches, a fun sewing workshop with Diane Hall,
"Making Faces" workshop with Melissa Averinos.
I made lots of garments this year. Hmmm.... must be inspired by the wonderful new fabric companies I'm working with.
2016 accomplishments and finished projects: electronics on quilts,
Bedroom Dressings featured in "Dressed" exhibit, free-motion quilting
and rulerwork, ikat jacket and long vest with Diamond Textiles,
denim vest and cotton knit Tees with Art Gallery Fabrics.
Purging fabric swatches from discontinued
fabric sample cards.
I'm not much on New Year's "resolutions," but I do like to end an old year or begin a new one with a [somewhat] organized work space. In doing so, I sort through my fabric/yarn/UFO stash that I've amassed in my studio space and find new homes and other pairs of creative hands that will make good use of them.

This year I went through a couple boxes of old fabric sample cards and pulled off the usable bits. After taking a class with Lynn Carson Harris at the Chattanooga AQS QuiltWeek this summer, my eyes were opened to aaaaaallll kinds of possibilities for using up fabric scraps. No scrap is too small as you can see in this quilt that's in her book, "Every Last Piece." I also use these fabric bits for improv kitty quilts and for practicing free-motion quilting.

But alas, I will never... NEVER... have time to use up all these scraps on my own. So, as a quilter, maker and fabric aficionado, I need to find other creative hands to help.

After purging the old swatch cards, I had quite a pile of fabric swatches—all sizes, colors, prints and themes. These will be going to one of my quilt guilds for its community service project—making cuddle quilts for the Chambliss Center for Children, a child care center in Chattanooga.

I separated the novelty and kids prints from the others. The novelites would be great for I-Spy quilts. If anyone knows of a good pattern for 6" x 8" pieces, let me know in the Comments.
Novelty prints for my guild's Cuddle Quilt project.
The other bits filled a grocery bag... well over 9 inches by the time I was through.
A grocery bag full of colorful prints for making cuddle quilts.
And this big pile of paper cards is going to the recycling facility.
For paper recycling.
Thanks for following my blog over the years and I hope you have a creative, prosperous and productive 2017! Let me know what you do to ring in a new year of quilting possibilities. I'm glad to find new purposes for these good fabric bits but also to make room for the new creative adventures that await me in my own studio space. Onward and upward...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Giving the promise of a quilt

We've all heard the axiom, "It's the thought that counts." As quilters, we also know that sometimes a deadline draws nigh and there's no way in you-know-where that a bed quilt is going to be quilted/bound/labeled in time to be gift-wrapped before that deadline. So, the next best thing is to give the "promise of a quilt"—the quilt top with an enclosed label. You quilters know that this is totally legit! 
"Parasol Blossoms" is going to a new home on Christmas this year.
In this box is the "Parasol Blossoms" quilt top and a label. I designed and pieced the top and my friend and very accomplished long-arm quilter, Pat, from Stitch 'N Quilt, will be doing the quilting in the near future. My husband and I shipped the box off to its new home and someone in our family will be receiving this "promise" on December 25 as a gift from her spouse. I hope she likes it.

The other axiom of which we're all familiar is, "Last-minute planning on your part doesn't necessarily mean RUSH on my part," (especially during the holiday season). So we do the best we can and send it with our wish for a Merry Christmas!
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