19 Jan

A Baggy Bag

Echino fabric and an idea

Sometimes a fabric jumps up and says “buy me!” This one wanted to be a bag of some sort. The only thing was, I liked the leaves and flying birds but not the fantasy birds in the center. My design would have to work around that.

baggy bag

This was pretty simple to put together with simple patchwork to replace the birds and a pair of patch pockets on the inside (lined, of course). I made it rectangular because it was easy, but now that it’s finished and I can see the effect of the slouchy handles, I’d make it a more triangular or trapezoidal shape. Figuring that out is part of the process though. More often than not I don’t make things exactly how I imagine them first time out. Things required tweaking, and sometimes starting over, or another try. Refinement. In fact, looking at this photo, I think I’ll turn the casing for the handles to the inside instead of having the lining show like it does now. I’d rather see more blue birds.

All these crafty items I’ve been posting are things that have been waiting around in little piles of fabric. Their specific projects kept getting put off for “more pressing matters” until I felt like I was going to drown in things I really wanted to do. My goal for January has been to finally make all these small projects my priority and clear my mental slate for some big stuff. To date: cute tags for my kids’ storage bins so they can better put away their toys, a skort for my daughter, book bags from fun fabric for both kids, this purse for the fun of it, and annual doctors appointments for everyone — including the cat. Still to be done: a blouse for me, another bag I’m curious about, a logo for hubby’s IBOL site, fabric design for a friend, and minor car maintenance. I may get all that done by the end of the month, but if not, I’m still feeling good about the dent in the list and the weight lifted.

18 Jan

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along!

It’s almost time for me to start a new class at Ho’ae’ae Park in my neighborhood. The last session went great — instead of my usual sampler quilt, I broke many of the skills down into smaller, more manageable projects. This time, everyone had at least two finished items at the end of class, and several went on to make variations and multiples!

The only problem is that we had so much fun in class almost everyone wanted to sign up again and learn to make more things! Now I’ve got to come up with something new. This seemed like a good opportunity to make the Pineapple Log Cabin quilt out of aloha fabrics that I’ve been contemplating.

I’ve decided that we can each bring as many aloha scraps or quarter yards as we have, or wish to buy, and then we can share them all for a wonderfully scrappy look and that sharing spirit of aloha as well.

Each individual will use his or her solid fabric of choice to pull their quilt together. I have only made a few sample blocks, but I mocked up an idea of what the quilts might look like. I bought a bolt of chartreuse solid last year, so that will be the grounding fabric for my quilt.

It looks pretty intense, but we’ll be using paper piecing and we’ve got ten weeks in which to make all the blocks. My mock up is crib or lap sized, but things could change as we go along.

I can think of at least two people who would like to participate in this but classes at the park are not practical. I’m also quite confident that my blog does not compete with my park classes. So here’s my invitation to you. I will post the instructions online as we proceed with the class. You don’t get to share our fabrics, but maybe you can get a friend or two to play along.


I’ll post once a week, most likely after class on Monday, which could easily end up being Tuesday posts. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll also see how the tempo of the class goes. What’s that local saying? “Relax, we’re not on the Mainland anymore.”

Class starts on the 24th. My first post will include a fabric list, some sample blocks and probably a downloadable foundation. I hope you can join us!

15 Jan

Book Bag for my Son

My son is rarely as excited about me making him things as my daughter is. Maybe it’s just that he doesn’t have the desire for stuff like she does. She loves to have bags and containers for all her little things, and enjoys choosing her clothes (not blogged, the skort I made with purple Hello Kitty knit fabric). He wears whatever is on the top of his pile and tosses all his legos into one big box.

I suggested a bowling shirt out of his fabric (imagining a big, pieced rising sun on the back) but he wasn’t interested. He does appreciate a fun fabric though, and once the conversation started around messenger/book bags, he decided that he wanted one too.

Excellent. I did a few things different on this one. On Katja’s I made the lining separate and essentially inserted one complete bag into another, top stitching the edges for structure. On Zavi’s, I constructed each panel and then connected them with bias binding. I like this look better and it may have been easier to make. Certainly, it allows for more options, like quilting the panels (which I did not do on this one)! I used extra wide double fold tape because it’s what I had on hand. Regular width would be better.

When we got to talking about Lunch Money Cuff, the boy got very excited and requested that his be sized to fit his Pokemon cards. Well, that wasn’t exactly practical, so I made him a wristlet instead (note my favorite motifs of that fabric — the surfing ninja and horned ghost with what I’m calling shave ice in a coconut shell, but is probably some Japanese specialty). Like the pyramid purse for my daughter, my son’s wristlet can be snapped onto a strap sewn into the book bag. It also has a wrist strap for when he’s carrying it around separately. I looked at a few wristlet patterns, but the one I had and a few others were all too big for the small cards the boy wanted to carry, and I wasn’t wild about the raw edges in the lining, so I just made something up. The zipper is sewn like in the Pyramid Purse and the main wristlet body is sewn more like the Money Cuff. I don’t know if you can really see it in the photos, but the side panels of this bag are in the white background fabric for a little contrast and excitement.

Speaking of Lunch Money Cuffs, I made one for each of the kids. They seem quite practical. It was also a quick and easy project made with scraps from the book bags.

14 Jan

Book Bag for my Daughter

I don’t know if this fabric is as big in the Mainland US fabric shops as it is in Hawai’i, or if it’s even made it there, but I couldn’t pass it up. It seems like new variations of fighting sushi, space geishas, happy stars, angry Ninjas and all their wacky cohorts are popping up monthly!

Book Bag

I bought a yard each of several different fabrics and brought them home to the kids to see what they’d like made out of these silly fabrics. Katja wanted a messenger bag like her BFF and it needed to be the size of her math textbook. She had also talked me in to buying her a dragon patch on a separate outing and really wanted it on her bag.

Book Bag

I looked around at tutorials on the web and a pattern I already owned but, while close, nothing matched my vision and the construction on all seemed pretty easy, so I figured I’d just wing it and do what I wanted.

Book Bag

I thought a kid might appreciate a zippered pocket inside so things don’t fall out. There’s a (pink) patch pocket on the back of the bag’s outside too.

Book Bag

The cute little pyramid coin purse is a free download from Nicole Mallalieu. I made it clip onto a strap sewn into the book bag so it can be used separately if needed, but can also be attached for security.

My boy decided that he’d like one of these too. I’ll tweak the construction a bit, mostly because I can and I’m curious. We talked about field trip money today too, so I’ll be making Lunch Money Cuffs for both kids with the scraps.

12 Jan

Still Life with Eggplant, Burgundy and Emerald

I almost forgot to follow up on my Twelve by Twelve Eggplant piece. My posts here and here show a bit of my thought process and fabric auditions.

While my version is probably more traditional quilt than cubist still life, I like the way it turned out, and am so pleased that, though it was iffy at times, I managed to keep the light Kaffe Fasset fabric with all the circles. I loved it’s eggplanty background from the get-go and saw the light circles as representative of eggplant slices. For the full story and everyone else’s interpretations of the theme, check out the Twelve by Twelve blog.

09 Jan

Learning to Like Eggplant

Over at Twelve by Twelve, I showed a mosaic of my progress on our most recent challenge (Eggplant, Burgundy and Emerald palette) which upon hindsight, was probably cryptic to everyone but me.

What I wanted to show was a peek into my process of auditioning fabrics. I was trying things out approximating their position in my composition (which is the top one in the photo of my drawings).

In all that moving around of fabrics, I learned a few things. One, I don’t have nearly as much eggplanty fabrics as I thought I did given my nice collection of purples. Two, I wasn’t getting the necessary foreground, middle ground, background distinction that I needed to make the composition work (due primarily to the fabrics I was using). And three, most Baltimore Album blocks, and definitely the ones with Kaffe Fasset fabrics, don’t have a foreground, middle ground, and background.

So, back to the drawing board. The composition on the lower right retains the cornucopia, the other to the left is less Baltimore Album. I was sort of thinking Cubist still life a la Picasso or Braque, but didn’t actually go that for for fear of losing the connection to the traditional quilt. If I were to take this idea into several pieces, I definitely think exploring a cubist-inspired option would be worthwhile. Alas, you can’t cram all your ideas into one piece and I had to prioritize.

Lucky me, my mom sent me some fabrics for Christmas that fit right into the eggplant and emerald them, and I went shopping for a few more. As much as I loved the white fabric with purple sprays of leaves (a great find in my stash), it just wasn’t working. Also, to keep with my “modern” theme I realized I needed some solids, both since they are very in vogue right now, but also to bring in the rich color I wasn’t getting through the print fabrics, and to provide a little rest.

Putting on the finishing touches, I had to use this embroidery floss from my mom. It’s got all our colors (plus a few more) and plays very nicely with my fabrics. I’ve had problems in the past with hand dyed flosses bleeding, but since I won’t be throwing this little piece in the wash, I think it’s the perfect place for the floss and I used it almost all up.

I’ll show one more step and the final piece on the twelfth. And as much as I like the color, and this little quilt, I am still not a fan of the vegetable eggplant.

08 Jan

On Hanging Sleeves

I’ve written about three blog posts since the last one. Only problem is, I was writing them in my head and apparently, imaginary writing and photos in the camera but not downloaded do not an ACTUAL blog post make!

My goal in January is to finish up as many unfinished projects as possible. First, the easy stuff. I had four quilts that needed hanging sleeves and I spent two days at the beginning of the week on those. That’s when I wrote one of those imaginary blog posts. I think it was about appropriate hanging devices for one’s art. Recently I read a heated debate about whether or not hanging sleeves detracted from a quilt’s value as art.

I think that there are many appropriate ways to hang and display textile art. I do like to give my small pieces more presence with framing and/or grouping like the collection in my bedroom that I wrote about here. I’ve been wrapping some pieces on stretcher bars when the piece calls for it, but have found that the larger the piece, the less well it travels, nor can it be hung against a draped partition (saw a small piece on stretchers at Houston and though the artwork was nice, the way it hung was very distracting).

A sleeve allows for a slat or rod to be passed through and support the usually rather floppy nature of textile art, like a tapestry, or something as mundane as the drapes in your living room. For certain types of pieces, a rod with decorative ends that show is appropriate. My favorite though, is a slat shorter than the width of the quilt with a hole at each end, or an eye screw, that you can stick onto two nails in the wall. This type of device supports the quilt, is invisible from the front, and is supremely practical for venues like quilt shows (where I believe the vast majority of art quilts are being shown, and which the most flexible and cost effective way to hang said quilts is from rods hung in front of draped partitions). When my “Impressions of Germany” quilts hung in a gallery, the eye screws did not hang on nails in the wall, but from small hooks suspended on wires from a track at the top of the wall (a flexible system for a place that rotates a lot of work).

I was thinking about this as I sewed sleeves onto one rectangular art quilt for the wall and three pieces of textile art in apron form (for lack of a better description). The first one was easy-peasy. But the aprons required a little compromise. Ideally, I’d like to see them hang from a laundry line about a foot in front of a gallery wall, or displayed on dress forms (or real people at an opening). But this is just not practical when they are a part of a show that premiers at a quilt show and has the potential to travel to more pole and drape venues. So, I sewed basic sleeves to the back of “Home Fires” and “Issues Public and Private.” The latter is pretty heavy and tends to bow in, so I added little rings to the lower corners so that they can be pinned to the “hard” wall they’ll be displayed on. The apron strings will also have to be pinned in an attractive manner, so I will draw up a diagram to include with the quilts when I send them off. I’m OK with a few strategically placed pins in my fabric. Pins and fabric have been coexisting for centuries as long as there’s not too much pulling or moisture. “Hanging on by a Thread” was a little trickier since it is sheer. I asked if I could forego a sleeve and have it pinned to the wall by more rings sewn to the back of the waistband. I also suggested a narrow sleeve that did not extend below the opaque waistband. Both were no-goes. So, I made a standard sleeve, but out of very sheer fabric so that teh bit that extends below the waistband is pretty subtle. I’ll remove the sleeve as soon as the piece returns from the show and I can hang it to my satisfaction. It occurs to me now though, that I could send a photo of the sheer sleeve and with that evidence, ask again for an exception to policy.  I also realize that I need to look less at quilt show type venues and court more gallery type ones if I’m going to be creating pieces with special needs (a long term goal already filed in the recesses of my brain).

“Lava” 2010

By the way, the piece modeling the happy aloha sleeve is another new year finish. When I was working on “Kilauea” for Twelve by Twelve I wanted to incorporate some cool twisty fabric from Mary at Art Spirit. It didn’t work in 12×12 format, but with all my leftover half square triangles, it’s made a nice wall hanging (click on it to see detail photos on Flickr).

02 Jan

2010 in Mosaic Form

In my quest to spend less time on the computer, I wasn’t going to do a New Year’s post. but, looking at so many end of year mosaics (yup, still on the computer) I was curious about exactly what I did do creatively in 2010. My photo file had a ton of travel photos — it was a good year for that! I was pretty busy in the sewing room too; so much so that it seemed easier to group the work in different categories. As I look back on my 2009 mosaic, I see I should have checked it earlier since a few things are in both years, and one got forgotten altogether.

House Mosaic 2010

Apparently the collage in the first box was actually a 2009 project, but I re-photgraphed it in 2010. The house completely forgotten is the cousin to the last two:

Heart House

I’ve really enjoyed making all these rooted houses. As a sort of nomad, the prospect of a house with roots means a lot to me. However, it’s time to move on, and as another deployment year looms, I look forward to exploring my “Army Wife” series.

Apron Mosaic 2010

Three of these have been accepted into SAQA’s Beyond Comfort show which will premier in Birmingham, England at the Festival of Quilts in August. I have a million ideas of where to take this work and hope that I can realize a few in 2011.

Twelve by Twelve continues into our third year! We are half way through a Colorplay series and are anxiously awaiting the release of our book in march 2011!

Twelve by Twelve mini mosaic

The past few years I’ve bemoaned the fact that I am a schizophrenic artist/craftsperson. 2010 was the year I tried to just embrace it and know that although I would never be marketable, at least I’d be having fun doing what I wanted to do no matter what that was. The next mosaic is most of the more crafty stuff I worked on. The tropical fabric designs carried over from 2009 as I was still trying to find a home/use for them at the beginning of the year, and I added a design too.

Crafty Mosaic 2010

Several projects were samples for my beginning patchwork and sewing class which was great fun. My students clamored for more and we’ve got an idea for the next class — which I will mirror in a sew-along here soon.

My textile art is based in quilting for good reason — I love quilts. I made four bed quilts in 2010. Admittedly, I had help with two, but that just makes the whole process better. The Zig Zag quilt was a top I bought from the prolific Wanda at Exuberant Color and quilted myself. My daughter can be found curled up in it all the time! The purple and taupe quilt was a wedding present for my MIL and her new hubby. It was a collaborative effort with my two SILs. I hope it will receive many, many years of use.

Bed Quilt mosaic 2010

So, goodbye 2010, you were a good year, and hello to 2011 — may you be just as creative!