Monday Musings – Creative Inspiration and a New Shawl

Hi my blogger friends!  I have missed you.  I feel like the last few months have been all about work and travel with limited time for creating in between.  Although I’ve had less time to create I’ve certainly had a lot of time to ponder future projects.  My family and I just returned from a trip to the Southern Caribbean island of Bonaire.  It may be an island you have never heard of as it is less developed then the more popular islands and the land itself is pretty arid and desert-like.  Those of us who go there however, go for the water and sea life.  Bonaire never disappoints.  My mind is spinning from all the variations of blue we came across in the sky and sea contrasted with the bright colors over the rest of the island.  No sewing machine meant no quilt or bag making but I did find time to do some hand stitching and I finished a lace shawl that has been in the works for awhile.

Ravelry: Windspiel pattern by Nicole Eitzinger.






The importance of blocking a knit garment is never as obvious as when making lace.  The pre-blocked version is shown below.  Considering the conditions I was knitting in (on the beach surrounded by sea and sand) this knit benefitted from the washing that took place with my blocking as well.



Before signing off I have to share some of the pictures from our trip.  Expect to see a lot of blues, oranges and mustards in my future makings.








Lastly I have to share some amazing local paintings I discovered by the artist Alejandra Riquelme.  Although I don’t think I would make these into quilts (though they are begging to be imagined that way) I would love to interpret some of my own pictures onto quilts in this fashion.  Inspiring!!


9L4A0608Blessings and I hope you have a wonderful week.



In Other News . . .

Was my work post too heavy?  Sorry guys, my life is such an interesting mix of ER, mommy and craft worlds mixed all into one.

In other news. . . my craft room has been bustling of late.  I was the lucky recipient of a suprise package from Texas.  My friend Bianca, knowing my affinity for repurposing leather sent me several thrift store jewels.

Thanks! I made them!.

I about died when I caught a glimpse of the leather orange skirt she sent.   Combined with some white leather remnants picked up from a local upholstery store and some orange circle fabric found on sale (8 yards for $5!!!) a bag design came into focus.  Initially, I was concerned that the leather skirt seams would make my bag idea impossible (the biggest challenge I have found with repurposing leather from coats and skirts is that it is hard to find large pieces without seams).  What a nice surprise to find that the seams compliment rather then detract from the bag.





Isn’t that lining fabric yummy?  I used both U clips for the handle and metal feet on this bag.  Both were new to me and thankfully easy.


I also got ahold of some awesome red leather remnants at the same upholstery store and whipped up this little bag.  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love the Red Cross symbol?  Odd-ball zipper pulls also have me obsessing of late so I used an antique key as one for this bag.  No question, I need to find more of these keys!



Lastly, this Sunday I was surprised to see my quilt “Big Blue” picked as a Flickr pic of the week by Make/Craft Magazine online.  Very Fun!

CRAFT Flickr Pool Weekly Roundup | MAKE: Craft.


There are some more fun quilty things in the works but all must be put on hold for now.   Our family is going on an adventure (one that involves wetsuits and a lot of sunscreen).  Yippee!  Hope you too have a week of fun and adventure.


Monday Musings-Inspiration



One of my ER doctor colleagues sent this out yesterday and it had reminiscing about my ER Residency.  Though I was not at LA County, I was also at an inner city hospital and the images and message resonate even with my current job. The doctors I work with provide me with endless inspiration.  My colleague Claire spent a month last year in Syria working with Doctors Without Borders providing medical support to the besieged civilian population.  Her story of sneaking across the border through a hole in a barbed wire fence is unreal. Hernando, another colleague is the head of Kaiser’s International Relief efforts and was one of the first on the scene with FEMA at the Oklahoma City bombing and at the World Trade Center on 9/11.  My colleagues Manny, Brian and Jeff have all served in Iraq and Afghanistan as doctor reservists over the last several years.  It would takes pages and pages to detail all the community clinics, international medical relief and other amazing work collectively the rest have done in addition to the rigorous day to day demands of our regular job.  So no, this post is not much about crafting (although for me it certainly is a nice counterbalance to my job), these people inspire me every day.

Big Blue Complete

I came home from vacation to a wonderful surprise.  My Big Blue quilt top had been shipped to me from Emily Sessions.  I quilt most of my quilts but when I am looking for something special I have turned to Emily to do custom quilting for me.

emerson quilting | longarm quilt design.

Emily does a wonderful job. You can see her work on another quilt of mine here:

Life in the ER Quilt | Entropy Always Wins.

Loving how this quilt has turned out.  It was heavily inspired by a painting of Alain Bilteryest.

Alain Biltereyst – Minimalist Geometric Paintings / Aqua-Velvet.

I think it looks a little like a flag while one of my friends says it looks like “two sergeants getting married”. That comment had me investigating military badges and medals. . . I may have found a new fount of inspiration.






Happy creating everyone.


Monday Musings-Creative Inspiration . . . Home

Do you have a place you consider “home”?  Even though I have spent most of my life moving from one locale to the next “home” in many regards is my parent’s house on a lake outside of Seattle.  It is the place I finished high school and came for respite during undergrad and medical school.  Because of work and family obligations, my trips here are less frequent then I would like. My beautiful mother has created a home filled to the brim with new and old finds and handmade treasures.  It always stirs my creativity.

For example, how cool is this old steamer trunk and the Singer sewing machines she has made a hobby of refurbishing?



Or this lace she has crocheted and these old family quilts?




When visiting, I also get to see the handmade things I’ve sent my parents over the years.   Some of them are pretty forgettable but others like my DS Addition Hope Valley Quilt shine in the way my mother presents it.


By far the best part of coming “home” is just spending time with my mom and dad and exposing my kids to this beautiful environment. (The picture is of my mother on the far right with my kids, my niece and I hiking in the nearby Federation Forest.)


I hope you too find joy and inspiration in coming “home”.



I’ve had so much fun making up my these simple bags that feature letters and symbols in fancy fonts and recycled leather accents, I thought I would write up a quick tutorial.  These are guidelines on how I have made my bags but I would delight in people taking my idea and modifying to make it their own.  I have used both my industrial Juki machine to sew these up as well as my Janome Memory Craft machine with no problem so I know it can be done either way.  The limiting factor in using a traditional machine for this bag is NOT the leather since the repurposed leather I use from coats and skirts is fairly thin, it is the heavy weight interfacing.  Having said that, using the leather needle, going slow and steady, I broke no needles and had no problem using my traditional machine.  I hope the same may be true for you.





Felted Wool for your Number/Letter/Symbol
Embroidery Thread to match the wool
1 yard linen (for the outside bag body) cut into two rectangles (20″x17″)
1 yard cotton (for the bag lining and the inside handles) cut into two rectangles (20″x18″) and two rectangles (20″x2″)
Repurposed Leather (used for the side stripes of the bag and outside handles) cut into two rectangles
(18″x2″) and two rectangles (20″x2″)
1 1/2 yards of Pellon Heavyweight one sided fusible interfacing (for the bag body and handles) cut into two rectangles
(20″x17″)and two rectangles (19″x2″)
Upholstery weight thread
Leather sewing machine needles if using a traditional machine (I used Schmetz #100/16.)
Clover wonder clips (these help so much with sewing leather to prevent needle holes when holding pieces together)

Note: I used a 1/2 inch seam when sewing and a 1/4 inch topstitching unless otherwise noted. RST=Right Sides Together

Step One: Cut out and Sew on your Special Letter/Number/Symbol onto the Bag Front

I found several fun fonts on the internet and my computer as well as drawing up some designs on my own.  After fusing the front linen pieces(20″x17″) to the Pellon interfacing pieces (20″x17″), I cut out the image I selected in my wool felt and centered it on one of the rectangles allowing an extra 1 1/2 inch at the bottom to account for the bottom fold and top handles.  I pinned it to the front and then hand stitched 1/8-1/4 from the sides using three strands of the embroidery thread and a split stitch sewing through both the linen and interfacing.




Step Two: Make the Outside Bag

Mark a 2″ square at the bottom of both the front fused linen pieces and the inner cotton lining and cut them out.


Using the wonder clips, attach one 18″x2″ leather strips to the side front fused linen piece RST and sew together.


Do this on the other side of the bag and fold the seam toward the leather and topstitch it down after you sew each seam.



Sew the side leather strip to the back so that you have made a bag tube. Turn inside out and topstitch the last leather seam. (This is the hardest part of making this bag as you have to push the other side of the bag tube out of the way while sewing to prevent accidentally sewing the tube together.)


Flip the tube inside out again and sew the bottom seam together.


Next, fold the lines made by cutting out the bottom squares together, matching the center side leather strip to the bottom bag seam and sew these two seams on each side to close the outside bag.


Step Three: Make and Attach the Handles

Fuse the 20″x2″ cotton rectangles to the heavyweight interfacing rectangles 19″x2″ leaving 1/2″ overlap of the cotton on each side.


Set the 20″x2″ leather rectangle on top of the 20″x2″ fused cotton rectangle RST. Hold together with the wonder clips and sew a 1/4″ seam along the two long 20″ sides. Turn the tube inside out. At both ends, turn under the leather and cotton by 1/2″ back into the tube and hold with a wonder clip.


Top stitch along all sides of the handle closing up the ends. Repeat for the other handle. Now you have two handles to attach to your bag front and back.


Measure 4″ from each side and 2 1/2″ down from the top to mark the outside edge of your handles. Topstitch a 1″ square and X at the handle bottoms to secure the handles to the bag.



Step Four: Finish the bag

RST, sew the cotton lining pieces (20″x18″ cotton rectangles) together along the sides and bottom, leaving a 4 inch opening at the center bottom. Then sew the bottom side square openings together as you did on the front piece. Slip the lining RST and attach with wonder clips at the top to the main bag piece making sure to keep the handles out of the way. Sew the main bag and lining together at the top.


Pull the main bag through the opening in the bottom of the bag lining and push the lining into place. Top stitch along the bag at top. Finally sew by hand or machine the bottom opening in the lining together and you are done!



Although I think I’m done with these bags for a bit, I am by no means done with the idea of leather repurposing.  Check out some of the other repurposed leather projects I have completed:

Recycled Leather Clutch | Entropy Always Wins.

A Birthday Present for My Guy | Entropy Always Wins.

A Tote for my Cargo | Entropy Always Wins.

The Bianca Clutch | Entropy Always Wins.

Ok, Just One More . . . | Entropy Always Wins.


I hope you have a wonderful week.  We are off to the Seattle area to visit friends and family.



Monday Musings-Creative Inspiration and Another Bag

It’s official, I’m obsessed with all things text.  Interesting letters and numbers, dynamic fonts and text covered fabric have got me dreaming lately.  Letters have come front and center in my new bag design and I am making up a new quilt with some newspaper print, something new to me.  It may have been our recent visit to the Newseum in Washington DC, a geat museum that focuses on the history and impact of newspapers, television and all other news avenues in our lives.  Bear with me, this obsession could last a bit.  (The picture above is my daughter perusing the museum on our trip.)




By the way, did you know the & symbol is called an ampersand?  I found that out today as I was looking for symbols for my new bag which I ended up drawing myself.  Once again, I used recycled leather for the side stripes and handles, linen for the body, felted wool for the front symbol which I hand sewed on and a favorite Carolyn Friedlander cotton for the lining.  Look for my free pattern/tutorial soon.