A Modern Girl’s Easter Basket

Every modern girl deserves an Easter basket right?  Today I got the urge to make a Spring Bag and decided the bronze vinyl fabric remnant from my favorite upholstery store (a steal for $4 mind you) and it’s fancier sparkly Japanese canvas fabric and Robert Kaufman canvas would go well together.  My friend Stephanie (Spontaneous Threads) has been working the metallic threads so beautifully lately  how could I resist trying it all too?

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Inspired by the hexie quilt design and techniques of Nicole Daksiewicz (ModernHandcraft)  I cut up the vinyl in several 1 inch wide diamonds and laid them out in an asymmetrical design.  I then glued them down to the green canvas with Fabri-Tac by Beacon (a permanent fabric glue), let it dry and then started straight line quilting it down to my fave Peltrex 70 Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  Stephanie had advised using a nonmetallic thread for the bobbin which I did and I used a metallic sulky thread for the topstitching.  Stephanie had suggested a top stitching needle as opposed to a metallic needle but I was afraid it would not go through all my thick layers so I used a leather needle which worked well.

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This glue basting thing is the next best thing to sliced bread-no lie!  You guys need to try this!!  It is a life-changing technique (or at least Sew-changing technique) for sure. Next up I quilted the back in the same pattern as the front except without the vinyl diamonds.  I love this pattern so much I think I will use it in future quilts.  And do you see those crosses on the diamonds?  Perfect for Easter, no?  My accidents are my best friends.

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Lastly I sewed them all together in another version of my Mini Museum Bag and added a zip pocket on the inside.

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In quilting news, recycled men’s striped shirts cut at odd angles has been keeping me busy and a Triangle in a Triangle quilt is evolving.

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Happy Spring Break Everyone!

Hillary

Hello Spring!

Hi everyone! Are you feeling the seasons change in your part of the world?  We are definitely in the midst of some major shifts and boy is it nice.

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A couple weekends ago, I took the kids to the Sonoma Valley for some hiking and exploration at the Jack London State Park and on the way there we went to the “Unconventional and Unexpected” exhibit to check out the quilts from the book of the same name.  What a treat this whole trip was.  We loved hiking around Jack London’s estate and seeing his homes.  That man traveled to the far reaches of the world (Alaska, Hawaii and Australia), established a working ranch and wrote several well known books and short stories all before he died at the age of 40-INSPIRING!  Minus the philandering and alcohol/drug abuse, I want to be Jack London when I grow up. 🙂

The quilt exhibit was also fantastic.  Being the only ones there, the person at the front desk kindly gave us our own private tour.  She showed us the quilt backs and even the glass window effect shown on the last pic above (evidently they discovered the pretty effect when showing off the quilts to some local Elementary School students.)  Those bright polyester quilts are dreamy!

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In my own creative world, I have continued to play with the Triangle in a Triangle blocks and have started working on one of my scrubs quilts in earnest.  (One of them is going to be a bias tape quilt which I had alluded to in a previous post.  My wandering mind has veered me in other directions since I last posted but I will come back around to it.)

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I have also been playing with recycled leather and made up some Springy bags.  At some point I need to share my tricks for leather appliqué as I have discovered a few really helpful techniques.  The orange leather by the way is from a skirt donated by Bianca (Thanks! I made them!).  That generous donation has spawned at least 4 different recycled leather projects-AMAZING!

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In my attempt to Spring Clean I have also been tackling my UFO pile and combined two quilt backs to make one quilt.  It is so simple it would almost more qualify as a blanket.  This heavy quilt out of remnant bin red denim and silver corduroy, red linen from my enormous fabric stash and ikea canvas Triangle block pleases me to no end however.  It is HEAVY and the texture is squishy and it is made of non-boutique substrates; a WINNER for me on all counts  This quilt will get used and loved in our house and will fit right in with my crew.

Wishing you some similar sublime weather and creative vigor.

Hillary

Paper Piecing in Rubber and Chihuly Improv

Creativity comes rushing in at least for me in frantic bursts. And ideas are served up best with some great materials to create with. This last week I gathered together a suede coat donated by a friend, some scrap upholstery leather and left over coat leather and a motor cycle inner tube.

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An encounter with a paper piecing pattern I have wanted to try and a desire to use nonstandard materials for this very traditional quilting method collided and a bag front in paper pieced suede and rubber materialized.  Of note I did have to rely on my industrial machine to piece these together and ended up quilting them down to a heavy interfacing to help it all lie flat.  It turns out rubber doesn’t iron very well.

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Encouraged by some instagram friends to make this a girl bag instead of a boy bag and the fact that it was rocking a Joan Jett/The Runaways vibe (thanks Kirsty) set the stage for a “Cherry Bomb” back with reverse appliqué in leather and rubber.

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I used some leftover coat leather for the sides, bottom and handle. If you look closely, you can see a 007 insignia barely visible on the bottom, a remnant of the coat with that marking that was donated for my creative cause.

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It’s already been claimed by an interested friend (to be honest with most projects, I can’t wait to give them away fast enough so as to clear my space and brain). Although not shown, the bag has an inserted zipper pocket inside and a magnetic clasp at the top. The bag design from top to bottom is my own.

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I completed the first blocks for our first Bee Sewcial month this last week as well.  This month’s inspiration was the Chihuly exhibit in the Denver Botanical Gardens. What an interesting exercise this was. I feel a bit like I am in art school watching myself and everyone else make their self portraits.  I find myself surprised how different all our blocks look from each other’s (heck, my three blocks don’t share much similarity).  I wish Stephanie the best in putting them all together into a cohesive creation (no small feat).

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I experimented with curved piecing (which was a tad tricky when trying to make the vertical “glass” overlap) on the first block above.

On the second block influenced by some of the “hard lines” of other pieces in our group, I improv pieced triangles together.  I  inserted some pieced blue orb scraps that were cut from a failed too literal attempt at stacked blue glass balls.

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The last block is probably the most “me” and was inspired by some of Sarah Nishiura’s work. I needed a break from all the red I have been working with so concentrated more on the blue and yellow colors in Chihuly’s work trying to mirror the vertical bursts of blue and yellow glass seen in the garden.

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I have made some more wonderful connections this week, there is more collaborative work coming and I am anxious to start hand quilting my 5/325 quilt.

Happy Monday all,

Hillary

Lightbulb Moment and Trail Tote

While I’m a tad paralyzed with how to move forward with quilt making (I have so many stinking ideas that keep coming up while driving or in yoga, I can’t decide which one to start next) I’ve been distracting myself with some more bag making out of leather.

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I have a friend who lives in Silicon Valley and is the poster child for online innovation having been recruited and moved from Apple to Google and now Youtube all in this last year. (Of interest we met online through a political discussion group organized by a common ex-high school teacher friend.  In response to the gridlock in Washington, she included contacts across the country and world with a wide range of political ideals and we discussed everything from the validity of the “American Dream” to gun control-fascinating stuff!  Nic, this friend brought hilarious much needed levity to the group.)  In any case I wanted to make Nic who appreciated my handmades a manly bag that spoke to him being an “idea man”.  The problem was that after I made it, in my husband’s words it looked a little too “uterus” not lightbulb.  That might be OK for some but I didn’t figure my openly gay friend would be much interested in a female anatomy bag.  🙂  With the help of some Instagram friends I had a “lightbulb moment”.  I added gold metallic pen to the bottom and . . .  So much better, don’t you think?.

Another one of Noodlehead’s bag patterns, the Trail Tote kept me distracted as well ( Trail Tote Free Pattern: Robert Kaufman Fabric Company. ).  I decided to make my tomboy daughter a purse using the pattern for Christmas.

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I adapted the bag pattern to fit my own plans trading out the front zipper for a large suede star and also replacing the  simple inner pocket with a zippered one.  I added an inner strip of leather to match the outer bag on the lining.  I think this concept keeps the lining fabric from peaking out and looks more professional.  This leather was so thick, I also bailed on the side piping. Donated repurposed leather and suede were the stars of these bags and I am very grateful to my crafty friends (Thanks! I made them!. and Spontaneous Threads.) for sending them to me.

Cheers,

Hillary

Call Me a Bag Lady

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I know, I know, more bags.   Playing with bag designs over the last week, I cut up a vintage Bemis feedsack and paired it with some red scrap leather and Japanese linen for a 3/4 size version of my Museum Bag.  This one is even better in person and the size is not too big, not too small . . . just right.  I’m finally converting these paper drawn pieces into plastic form for future use.

The extra red leather scraps also seemed to pair well with my husband’s motorcycle tire tubing that was waiting to be thrown away.  It was the first time I sewed with rubber and was delightfully easy.  That Pirelli insignia was too precious to throw away and I think my guy likes his new “Boy Bag”.  More leather and rubber to come (and undoubtably more bags) . . .

 

Hillary

Experimentation

When is the last time your tried something new or set your goal on a project with no guide map on how to get from beginning to end?  October was full of such scenarios for me and how refreshing to experiment and step outside my comfort zone.

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Looking toward participation in the Bee Sewcial group, I’ve been searching for images and themes to inspire me/us.  In doing so, I came across this awesome poster and knew I needed to reimagine it in fabric form.  After considering several methods for sewing concentric circles, I decided to just go for traditional curved piecing with lots of pinning and needle turn appliquéd the smallest circle.  I stumbled across some amazing wood working tools in my husband’s shop and used this Veritas tool to add 1/4 inch to all the circles.  He has several other tools I think will be surprisingly helpful to me as I try to make this in a larger version.  Who knew this “woodworker’s method” would work so well?

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I’ve also been experimenting with more nontraditional fabrics and making up more bag patterns.  The remnant pile silver corduroy and red denim were begging to be a quilt (top or back-still undecided).

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A friend sent me some beautiful Thai textiles that he had been holding onto forever.  I made up a new bag design and combined them with some black Marcus Organic Cotton and left over red denim and made the bag below.  I’m sending it back to him for his wife with one of my handmade Malas in for good measure.

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I also started cutting and sewing with a log cabin diamond idea that is morphing as I progress.  I look forward to the arrival of more fabric so I can finish this one up.

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Lastly, I hosted my annual Mother/Daughter Craft party and delved into painting (a completely alien art form for me).  Needless to say it was a blast to hang out with these ladies who dressed up as famous female icons and made some beautiful art.

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Our former mayor and her daughter were especially darling and Mrs. President and Vice President.

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Let’s hope the end of the year is full of continued experimentation and creativity.

Hillary

Bohemian Rhapsody

Sometimes a riot of color is a good thing, no? And mixed with flowers and vintage textiles . . . for me it is irresistible!

I got into a bag making frenzy this week and sewed up some vintage Thai textiles.  The first was a clutch I made with the sleeves of a black leather jacket a nurse friend gave me.  Once again I used a tribal tassel repurposed from a belly dancing costume for the zipper pull.

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My last Thai baby carrier became a bag for a girlfriend.  I added an inset zippered pocket to the lining (a first for me and so easy!)

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Lastly, i used more old climbing rope, Marcus organic cotton canvas, some thick vinyl and a pretty Kaffe print to make a bag for my girl.  I added some of my handmade linen and voile flowers and am calling it the Bouquet Bag.
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It’s pretty liberating to make up designs that are floating in my head and equally exciting to see my sewing room floor that is a tad less cluttered after finishing these to-do projects.

Peace out ;),

Hillary

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Hillary

FONT-CY BAG TUTORIAL

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.

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Supplies:

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 WOULD LOVE, LOVE, LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU COME UP WITH IN THIS BAG DESIGN.  IF YOU MAKE UP ONE OF THESE BAGS, SHOOT ME AN EMAIL OR POST IT ON INSTAGRAM AND USE THE HASHTAG #foncy.  (You can find me there @entropyalwayswinsblog.)

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

 

Hillary

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.)

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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.

 

Hillary