19 Jun

Pirate Booty

I received a package from Katrin the Couch Pirate today. We swapped handmade purses — one of my Süße Sacs for one of her Candy purses. We told each other what we liked and absolutely didn’t like, so she wouldn’t send me a purse out of poppy fabric if I hated poppies! “Ha,” I told her, “I LOVE poppies…”

Today I got these cute little parcels:

Pirate Packaging

If ever a skull and cross bones could be cute, this is it! I opened the card (hmmm, poppies) and Katrin’s note said that the purse was NOT blue, but that “there was just no getting around this fabric.” Woo hoo! She was right, this is the cutest purse ever. Now I have something to wear with my red T-shirts. Plus she included some suprise goodies, red beads and sequins, and a felt star garland. I love swaps 🙂
Poppy purse and goodies

A general wrap-up of my poppy madness:

Poppies, poppies

19 Jun

Dye Day

I bit the bullet yesterday and dyed fabrics at home. I was quite apprehensive as this was my first time without any hand-holding and I was quite worried that I would ruin the yards of fabrics I had, and make a big muddy mess with nothing to show for it.

I have some tendencies toward excessive organization (kids keep them pretty well subdued though), so I sorted all my wet fabrics by the technique or color I wanted to use (with notes so I wouldn’t forget):

Sorted fabrics

Here’s all my jars and dyes ready to go:


Here’s the big mess I made. I dyed leftover yardage from my class with Dijanne Cevaal, pre-printed fabrics just to see what would happen, overdyed stuff I wasn’t quite happy with, silk for Nuno felting, and shopping bags for my current quilt project. The colors look pretty nice and intense here. I was very concerned that my pink would be too dark.
Big mess

Here they all are batching for four hours in the sun (Dijanne says that the chemical reaction of the dyes dissipates after an hour, and Mrs. Mel suggests batching four hours if you have a sunny day. I certainly couldn’t wait 24 hours to see my results).

Batching in the sun

Here’s some of the rinsed fabrics drying. More color washed out than I had hoped for:


And, after washing and ironing (did I mention I had a sunny day here? With the sun out until past 8 pm, everything dryed fast) here’s most of the reults:

Blues and greens. The greens did not turn out as green as I would have liked. I was going for olive, but I think if I want a broader range, I’ll have to invest in more dyes, like a darker blue, a turquoise, and the brighter yellow dye. Not sure I want to get that into it though.
Obligatory pile of folded, dyed fabric

This is my pile of greys. They range from blue grey to yellow grey. I have a cloudy German sky in mind and I think there’s something in here since I plan to piece it out of several fabrics.

Another obligatory pile of fabric

I’m happy with the pattern on this one. It will probably make good clouds.

Blue grey

I really like the texture on this. I think it’s one of the ones where I put the damp fabric in the freezer and then when it was well frozen, I took it out, dumped on the dye, and let it thaw/batch.

Blue, yellow, green

I was trying to go for a rich forest look on this cotton velvet. I think I needed to work the first color or two in a little better because , although I love the patterning, I think there is too much white in here. More variety in the greens would help too.

Velvet Forest

I can’t decide which side of this silver striped one I like better. I think I’ll probably use both.

Overdyed striped fabric

What started this whole thing was my desire to dye shopping bags in the colors of houses here. There’s a particular shade of dirty pink that is very popular. The bags below are NOT it. Definitely too dark, and too purply/brown. The green is good though. I guess I will have to buy at least one more dye color.
Shopping bags

17 Jun

June/July Pincushion Challenge

I was going to let this one sit and percolate for a while as we have two months this time around to make a pincusion with a flower theme. However, at our Guild meeting last Wednesday, I was looking over a friend’s shoulder at a Japanese craft book (she loves everything Japanese and crafty). It may have been Kokoro no Te by Kumiko Sudo, but it was all in Japanese and as neither one of us actually has this book, we can’t actually confirm it. Anyways, as I was telling her that I might make this challenge based on some other Kumiko Sudo folded flowers, we saw a ball covered in colorful yo-yos. “Oooh, ooh,” I said, “I like yo-yos! Ooh, I have 100 red yo-yos at home. I could make red flowers… I could make poppies with black buttons!” She quickly responded with the idea of attaching or surrounding the  buttons with yellow topped pins. It’s a PIN cushion, get it!? We volleyed back and forth about the threads and the flower centers, and in about 10 second had the whole thing designed. I think we turned a few heads too because we were talking so excitedly, but also because I have a thick American accent and she a Ukrainian one.

Friday, I bought a styrofoam ball and tried my yo-yos on for size. TS&WGH dubbed it “Bride of Hellraiser:”

Bride of Hellraiser

I ended up making a few more yo-yos from my scrap bag, just to get a little more color variation. Then I dove into my box of buttons I inherited from one of my grandmothers. Nothing sexy and Bakelite in the box, just good utilitarian buttons with some patina. By Saturday night, the scary Bride had turned into a cheerful summer Mohnfeld:

Poppy Pincushion

17 Jun

On Entering a Quilt Show

This is the year I decided that I would enter some of my quilts into shows. Why not? I actually HAVE quilts this year to show. If any get selected, and possibly even win a prize, that might add value to them for my possible show in January-ish. Mainly, it’s for my own validation. To date, two were selected for Road to California (Seaweed? and Abby), two have been accepted into the Zonta Club’s Quilts for Change show (Seaweed? and Shades of C.R. Mackintosh), and one into the World Quilt Show (Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld). I have plans to enter a smaller show in Aschaffenberg, Germany, and PIQF in California. I thought it might also be interesting to enter the Festival of Quilts in England. Here’s where it gets interesting. “Festival” requires that you pay a non-refundable fee and state your intent to enter a quilt(s); upon reciept of your statement of intent, THEN they will send you an entry form (and they are VERY careful to point out OFTEN that you need to be absolutely sure that you will be sending the stated quilt(s) so as not to confound their planning of the show layout); and THEN after receiving your entry form, they will send labels for you to put on your quilt(s) and you send the quilt to them sight unseen (no slides or digital images). OK, fine, they are valiantly trying to stave off Murphy’s Law. But, I never got my entry form, although I had received an email confirming that I had sent in my intent and deposit. I kinda blew it all off as I thought that they were a little heavy handed in the let’s-have-all-our-ducks-in-a-row category. Finally, I decided that I should at least email the coordinators and see what they had to say. I received a prompt response, an apology for the postal drop of the ball, and PDF versions of the appropriate entry forms. I had missed the entry form deadline, but they were willing to make an exception since it was their fault, and I still had time to send my quilts. Last night I burried my head into the eight pages of forms, instructions and general info and I realized that between my £7 deposit, £10 insurance (for two quilts), £90 return shipping (for two quilts), and the cost of mailing the quilts separately (per their instructions) via German post I was looking at about $200 worth of expenses (yea, the dollar is weak against the euro, and completely sucks rocks against pound sterling)! I had wanted to send Juni im Rhein-Neckar Kreis and Traumwald, but I know that they are not the show-stopper that Omas Weizenfeld is, so I doubt there is much chance of either one winning anything. Compared to the less than $50 I spent on getting Omas Weizenfeld into the World Quilt Show and similar amount spent to get two quilts into Road to California, I decided that these two quilts didn’t really need that kind of validation. (Granted, I did spend a good chunk of money having my quilts photographed, that I didn’t need to do for Festival as they judge the quilts in person, but at least I can amortize the photography costs over several shows, insurance usage and I have them in case I ever have the opportunity to have pics published.) Maybe next year I’ll coordinate a trip to England with the Festival and then i can drop them off in person. I’m still a little curious.

Oh, and when I listed the shows my quilts have been accepted into I really impressed myself. Me go girl! 😉

16 Jun


First off, thank you so much to everyone who congratulated me on my (quilt’s) acceptance into the Word Quilt Competition! I love all your support and can’t wait to see some pics from my quilt show stunt doubles! You guys rock.

On to the business of the morning: I don’t have such emotional ties to red as I do with white, brown or blue. I don’t deny it’s a good color though. I’ve always considered myself a redhead, (although more people call me brown these days) and I’m sure that has had some impact on my development as a person. Red is the only color the American and German flags have in common, so that must be worth something to a family like ours. But it’s almost July and that means one thing in terms of red around here. Flanders poppies. They are along most roadsides and signal that summer is here. The longer I live here, the more I see that everyone else honors these harbingers of summer as well. They are in art, on clothing, on handbags, in window dressings, and even at the bakery in poppy seed cake. They inspired my “Juni im Rhein-Neckar Kreis” quilt. Here’s my salute to summer red:

Red Poppy

15 Jun


I just got an email this evening informing me (and all 17 applicants from Germany) that our quilts have been accepted into the Mancuso World Quilt Show! So, “Am Rand des Oma’s Weizenfeld” is going on the road. First stop is Manchester New Hampshire (Nicole, if you’re reading this, you must grab an arty friend and go be my stunt double). Then it goes to Pennsylvania, then San Francisco (yes, that’s you LaFlammily! Go see the quilt in person) for PIQF, and finally to Chicago. That makes three quilts entered into shows, three quilts accepted. I’m on cloud nine 🙂

Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld

15 Jun

For Robin’s Mom

Being Thursday, we went out for Stammtisch. Technically that’s a group of the same people meeting at a regular time at a regular place. We have a regular time, a mostly regular group, but no regular place (years ago we had a regular place, but we’ve moved twice since then). Tonight may have been Robin and Jaime’s last opportunity to make Stammtisch, so we let them choose. They picked a delicious, traditional restaurant in their town that was VERY kid friendly. We like that! So, for Robin’s mom who I’ve heard lurks on my blog, here’s a photo of me and my daughter (the orange ones) and Robin with two of her kids. Enjoy, mom 🙂

Robin, kids, and I

15 Jun

Suesse Sac Tutorial

You know you need another project on your list, right?! I’m having so much fun making “sweet” little bags like this:

Moulin Rouge Süße Sac

and this:

that I figured I needed to make my first blog tutorial so eveyone else can have a “Süße Sac” too. The pattern is based on a bag I saw in a Japanese craft book, but I have changed the size (theirs was too small, though mine is not large) and added patchwork, plus yo-yo embellishment, so I think I can share this without stepping on anyone’s toes.

The first thing you need to do is make a pattern. I drew mine on some tracing paper, but yours could be on newspaper or a brown paper bag, or whatever you have handy. The following dimensions make a bag with the same proportions as the ones in my pictures. I’m really liking this one where the handles are longer by increasing the entire height by 5″ (making the 12″ section now 17″ and the whole height of the pattern 25″).

Faux Marimekko Brown Süße Sac
Sac pattern

Choose a fabric or two for the interior of your bag and fold over at little more than 7″. Place your pattern piece on the fold and cut out one interior piece. You can make your second piece out of the same fabric, or out of a second, coordinating fabric in the same manner. You need to also cut one piece for the solid half of the exterior of you sac. (I used the same polka dot fabric for the interior and exterior of my Moulin Rouge Sac.)

Here’s two matching interior pieces and one coordinating exterior for the green bag (you probably want to iron yours, unlike me):

Fabric pieces for bag

Now you need to cut out 17 squares of coordinating fabrics for the patchwork side of the bag. They should be 4″ square, although the ones in the top second and third rows can be a little narrower.

squares for patchwork side of sac

Sew the squares together in rows using a 1/4″ seam allowance. You can sew right off the end of one pair and onto the next to save you and your machine the hassle of all those long thread ends from pulling out each finished pair and starting the next from scratch. (This is called chain piecing.)
Chain sewing

Press the seam allowances in each row in the same direction. Press each row in alternating directions.
press seams in alternate directions

Now sew the rows together. Butt the opposing seam allowances together and pin at an angle facing away from the direction you will sew. This will ensure that the corners of your squares will line up nicely and you can sew right up to the seam before you have to take the pin out.

Sewing across butted seams

Here’s what your squares should look like all sewn together and pressed:

finished patchwork

Place one of your interior pieces face down on the patchwork and pin in place. Use the solid piece of fabric as a pattern to cut the same shape out of the patchwork. Keep the pins in place and sew the two pieces together, only along the curved side, using a 1/4″ seam.
pairing patchwork with interior piece

Sew the other interior piece and the solid exterior piece together, also along the curved side.
pairs sewn together at handles

Notch the curves and then turn the pairs right sides out and press smooth.

Open up the pairs and place them right sides together, making sure to match interior fabric with interior fabric and exterior to exterior. Sew the side seams using a 1/4″ seam and pivoting as necessary when you get to the handle seams. You can butt the handle seams here as well to avoid bulk.
Sewing the side seams

Press side seams open. (Note the patchwork seams pressed in opposite directions.)

Pressing side seams open

Match the side seams on the exterior pieces so they are now in the center and right sides are together. If you would like to add fringe to the bottom of your bag, insert it now, with fringe facing inward. Sew the bottom of the bag with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Sewing bottom seam

Match the seams on the interior pieces and sew the bottom interior seam. Be sure to leave an opening a few inches long to turn the bag inside out through. (The arrow points to the completed exerior bottom seam and the circle shows the opening in the bag interior bottom seam.)

sewing interior bottom seam

Opening to turn bag through

Really, the whole purse can be pulled through a small opening (and yes, this is a different purse).

After you have pulled the purse through, hand sew the opening shut.
sew opening shut

Topstitch the bag around the handles and opening. I like to use a sewing machine foot especially made for topstitching, but careful sewing with a normal foot works well too.

Tie the handles together and your purse should look like this! You can stop now, or embellish your Süße Sac with yo-yo flowers. To make yo-yos, cut out circles twice the diameter of the size you want your finished yo-yos to be.
Sac and circles for yo-yos

Fold over about 1/8″ to 1/4″ at the edge of your fabric circle and sew down with a running stitch. This does not have to be perfect, just utilitarian. Fold and sew in one inch or so sections until you have sewn all the way around the circle.

Pull your thread tighly to gather the circle:

Tie your thread off when your yo-yo is sufficiently gathered. I always use a neutral or matching thread because inevitably a little does show. Smooth the yo-yo into a round “patty.”

Cute, huh? And easy. Now make a bunch more. Make a few extra to sew onto a T-shirt, or sew a bunch to make a doily or a bed-cover!

lots of yo-yos

Now Sew your yo-yos onto your bag. Add a few buttons too, if you’d like. I covered buttons with some of the fabrics I used in the bag for the Moulin Rouge Süße Sac. Beads would be pretty too.

Ta Da!

This one went to the “Mad Hatter” in exchange for one of her cute Candy purses (in her Mai archive). I can’t wait to see what I get! Now that she’s gotten her package, I can share this without spoiling her suprise 🙂