Monday, January 24, 2011

Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge: January

As I mentioned in this post earlier in the month, my Mom and I have taken on Jemellia's Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge! We're off to a slower start than we had hoped, but we are not behind - my January bag is finished! (Mom's January bag is still in the works.) I'll give my overall thoughts on the pattern and bag at the end of this post. 

We purchased the book and fabric from Fat Quarter Shop (one of our favorite online fabric resources!), and the snow storm and winter weather here in the south delayed all activities - including UPS deliveries - for over a week. So I was thrilled when I finally had the book and fabrics in my hands! Seeing the fabrics in person was great, and I love them (and love them even more as a bag). 

I went up to Mom's house Saturday morning, and we started sewing around 1:30pm. And by "started sewing," I mean started two hours of cutting and fusing interfacing. We might be really slow, we might have been distracted a few times - but it took us right around two hours to cut out the fabric and interfacing for one bag. We sewed for another hour or so, took a break, then came back for another hour and a half. I spent Sunday morning sewing alone, and completed the exterior of the bag at this point.

sunday morning sewing
With another four or so hours of sewing, my cosmo bag was finished. That's a total of almost 8 hours - with two of us working together (one of us would press while the other started the next part). Like I said, we might be really slow sewers - but I'm not sure. Regardless, onto the pictures! 

cosmo bag! 

exterior (you can see the exterior side pocket)

interior view

This was definitely the most complicated bag I've ever made, and it was totally worth it. As my friends and family know, I am a big-bag kind of girl. So this bag is perfect for me! I don't know exactly what I want to use it for, but am trying it out in some different capacities. This week it's a "project bag" and will be going to my modern quilt guild class on Sunday. Next week it might be a school bag. We will see what fits! 

Now, my thoughts on the pattern. Like I said, this is the most complicated bag I've made (yet!). My mom is a far more experienced seamstress than I am, and between the two of us we had to read and reread several parts of the directions. Luckily, thanks to all this reading and rereading, we only had to use the seam ripper one or two times. (But, my motto is that it's not a real sewing project until I've gotten out the seam ripper.) I will go ahead and say that a few more diagrams wouldn't have hurt, and there were a few moments when I asked (invisible) Amy Butler what on earth she meant. If I was to make the bag again I would modify the interior pockets. They're big and flop open when you put things in them, so either a snap or zipper to close the pockets would be helpful. You could also modify and make smaller pockets, but I didn't feel up to tackling that and kept everything as-is in the pattern. 

I learned several new things, and loved having the glossary to flip to in the back of the book. New skills and terms for this project were gathering stitch and stay stitch. I do think that's one thing I'm really looking forward to as we move forward with this project. 

So, moving forward! Mom is going to tackle her bag this week (and hopefully I'll get up there to help her like she helped me!). We were at our local quilt shop last week and were able to purchase the fabric for February's bag (home dec weight) on sale. Brilliant of us to plan ahead like that. Feels good to have this awesome bag under my belt! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Inspiration

Because I'm only just now getting my sewing area (aka our kitchen table) set back up for sewing, and because I don't have any work-in-progress photos to share, I thought I'd share some of my current favorites and inspirations from the flickr world! 

January Inspiration

I promise I am getting ready to start some big projects, and will have lots to share in the coming days! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Gift Received

After talking about and showing the gifts I made this year, I thought I could share one handmade gift that we received. (Then, I swear, I'll be moving on from holiday-related posts!) Jim and I were the lucky recipients of a wonderful gift this year - a christmas quilt, made by my mother.

I was shocked and surprised when we opened this present Christmas afternoon, because I had seen this quilt before! On a summer trip to A Scarlet Thread in McDonough, Georgia with my mom I saw the most fabulous Christmas quilt kit - it was everything I wanted in a holiday quilt! Reds and greens in bright, modern fabrics with splashes of non-christmas colors too (pink and lime green). And the pattern is bold and yet simple enough for the fabrics to breathe on their own. Mom quickly convinced me I didn't have the time or money to buy and make this quilt kit, and I left it where it was. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened it up this christmas! I had no idea she had sneakily purchased the kit on that shopping trip. The family friend who was shopping with us that day did such a good job distracting me I didn't even notice Mom was being sneaky! She deserves an oscar for that distraction-performance.

So that's how this exceptional quilt came to live on our couch! And such good timing - with the winter "Snowpocalypse" here in Atlanta, we've needed all the quilts we've got on the couch and bed.

And without further ado, here is the beloved Christmas quilt.

Here we are opening on Christmas morning

close-up of the front and backing
This quilt is BIG - perfect for both of us on the couch of for laying on our (queen-sized) bed. The backing is a beautiful red and white fabric with a holly leaf / poinsettia print, and the quilting is a beautiful pattern of the same theme - holly leaves and berries - very intricate and perfect for this quilt.

I am so thrilled to have this quilt, I can't even tell you. It holds a special place in my heart, and I can promise I won't be putting it away with the Christmas decorations just yet.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gift #2

The second of my handmade gifts was for another dear friend who now lives out of state. I get to see her so rarely, and I wanted to make a special gift! I decided to make a "Church Lady Apron" using a pattern of my mom's, and it turned out adorable. It's reversible, made with coordinating fabrics, and I love the pockets and wavy bottom.

Here's Elizabeth modeling both sides of the apron:

side 1

side 2
Pretty cute, right? I packed this up with a cookbook and cupcake kit, and it turned into a themed gift! After visiting our apartment and seeing my mug rugs she decided she definitely needed one for the office. I was happy to oblige, using the leftover fabrics from the apron for the first and scraps for the second.

mug rug from apron leftovers

orange scraps mug rug

Another gift that I was proud to give this holiday season! I hope that by planning (and working) ahead I can give more handmade gifts for birthdays, celebrations and the holidays in 2011. I loved giving these gifts and am always so happy when the recipients love receiving them. Giving a gift that I made feels very special, so I want to do it more!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge

My mom and I are very excited to be joining Jemellia over at JemJam! in her Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge. We're going to be using Amy Butler's book Style Stitches to make 17 bags during 2011. What a great way to keep learning new skills and trying new things throughout the year! 

The first bag is the lovely and large Cosmo Bag, and I couldn't be more excited. Everyone who knows me knows that I love a giant bag! Mom and I quickly spent some time obsessing and deciding on our fabric and ordered from Fat Quarter Shop. This is a big bag that requires big cuts of fabric and even larger amounts of interfacing! 

For my bag I chose fabrics from the Whimsy by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics collection. I fell in love with the colors and large scale print for the exterior of my bag.

From left to right: exterior, interior, coordinating (handles, etc.)

Mom chose her fabrics from the Sanibel by Heather Mulder Peterson and Deb Mulder for Henry Glass Fabrics. She's envisioning a big bag for the beach and wanted the colors to reflect that. 

From left to right: exterior, interior, coordinating (handles, etc.)
I'll be adding our pictures to the challenge's flickr group and sharing them here as we go! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Speaking of the holidays...

So, speaking of the holidays. I didn't give many handmade gifts (I completed two to be exact), but wish I had planned and executed more. No time like now to start planning for 2011's birthdays and holidays!

I was lucky enough to receive many of the things on my wish list this christmas. I now have four brand new sewing books to read and drool over, plus new fabric scissors (finally! I've desperately needed them) and the most wonderful hexagon kit from my sister-in-law (made by her modern quilt guild in Dallas). I can't wait to get started exploring with all these new goodies.

gifts received
One of the gifts I made was a simple table runner and bonus mug rug (from extra fabric) for my dear friend Laura. I've had a botany charm pack in my stash for quite a while, but hadn't come across the right project. When contemplating a gift for Laura, I knew she was the perfect person for these lovely fabrics. I am very happy with how the project turned out (though my binding edges aren't quite as straight as I'd like).

table runner + mug rug

table runner front

table runner back

I used one of the free patterns from Moda, City Windows Table Runner, that used one charm pack plus 1/2 yard for background and binding. It went together in one afternoon, and I was really happy with how it turned out. Laura loved it - a successful gift!

More on my other handmade gift tomorrow.