Thursday, April 23, 2015

Late Winter Part 3: The sheep bag

You know I love my sheep.  As wool is my muse, sheep are my special patron saints of sorts.  When I saw this fabric by Ellen Luckett Baker for Kokka (see her great blog here), I knew I had to find a project to use it.  I purchased my yardage on Etsy and bought some of the mustard sheep plus some of the charcoal and mustard scallop coordinating trim fabric.

This bag is the happy result.

The pattern is my own, modified from the size of a bag I dearly love plus some details found on Pinterest.  The strap is actually a recycled belt just threaded through the loops.

The outside of the bag is the linen/cotton blend fabric with fusible fleece attached.  I love the slightly rough texture of the fabric -- not super cotton smooth like regular quilter's cotton.  The fleece adds some heft and stability.  This bag definitely stands on it's own and is not floppy at all.
 I used the trim fabric in a couple of ways.  First, I made the belt loops on the outside using the charcoal scallop fabric plus midweight fusible interfacing.  On the inside, I used the mustard scallops (interfaced) with charcoal pockets.  I always put 2 pockets in my bags.  One for my phone and one for my reading glasses.  Everything else goes down in the bottom of the bag.  Magnetic snap closure keeps everything tidy.
I'm pretty excited about the belt-as-strap concept.  This belt is one of my own and I modified the bag sizing slightly to accommodate the belt.  The original idea was to run strap channels all the way around the bag except where the handle grabs would be.  But, with a buckle to deal with, I changed the idea to belt loops.  This way I could position the buckle on one end so you could actually see it was once a belt.  Very cute.  The black is the perfect accent and keeps the handles from looking dirty.

I am just starting to carry the bag.  The handles might be a little short and I may have to find a larger belt to strand through but that shouldn't be too hard to change.  Another advantage of the design is that to wash the bag I need only remove the belt and I have a leather-free regular bag to throw in the wash.

I still have a fair amount of the fabric and may make some zipper bags or some other little accessory.  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Late winter, Part 2. Sewing group project: Tibetan prayer flag.

Kathy is my closest friend in sewing group.  We met when her middle daughter and my oldest son were in Kindergarten together.  We also sang together in the Community Chorus in our town.  I've known her about 15 years.  At one point we had a business together called "Sacks & the City."  Kathy made fabric bags and I made felted wool bags.  We both tired of that and stopped selling together.  And, we're still friends.

Kathy's oldest daughter graduates college this spring.  So, she presented an idea to the sewing group for each person to make a modified Tibetan prayer flag for Annie.  She plans to put them together in a garland for her graduation.  Annie is a fantastic girl.  A true leader for good.  Always rises to the top of any situation.  I wanted something to represent her strength.  So, I started a Pinterest board with ideas from the Internet and there was one flag titled "Luminous" and was a beautiful embroidered piece with a moon and layers of fabric.   Gorgeous.  I would link to it here but I can't seem to find the exact picture.  Apologies.
 Anyway, taking "luminous" as a starting point, I tried to find a shorter word because I'm not so hot at embroidery and especially weak at precise things like words.  That's when I landed on "glow" and decided that "You Glow, Girl" would be both tongue-in-cheek and appropriate.

The piece is knit, naturally.  1 strand of thin Merino wool in ivory run together with 1 thread of metallic silver and 1 thread of matte silver.  Size 4 needles.  The pattern is just simple lace faggoting -- Row 1:  K2tog, YO, repeat.  Row 2 and 4: Purl.  Row 3:  YO, K2tog, repeat.  Edge stitches are consistent K and P.  You're actually seeing the knitting at a 90 degree angle to the direction it was knit.  At the end, I dropped the first 8-10 stitches and then bound off the rest.  Unraveling the dropped stitches creates the hanging looped fringe.  I also strung a crystal bead at the start of every right side row so each loop of fringe has a small bead on it.  Hard to see unless you look closely.
The disks were a pain.  I found the blanks on Etsy and bought 20, needing only 11 but figuring I'd make some mistakes.  Boy, did I ever!  I had a stamp set from an old Cub Scout project.  Lots of trial and error.  I took the best of each letter and just hoped they wouldn't look too messy.  I filled in each letter with black Sharpie and wiped away the excess to help define the impression.

The whole piece is mounted on some interfaced silk that Kathy provided to help define the color scheme.  I chose a neutral green, of course.

All in all, I'm happy with the result.  I told Kathy to feel free to trim the fringe or remove the "you" and "girl" to just have the single word "Glow" on the piece.  Whatever she wants.  Annie definitely glows.  I'm excited to see what happens in the next chapter of her life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Late Winter Projects, part 1

I have been in finishing mode these last few weeks of winter.  Thanks to baseball, we had a "staycation" for Spring Break which gave me lots of time to finish up some loose ends.  First up:  my stair risers are finished and installed.  I talked about these 2 risers in this post.  The stairway has been a work-in-progress for about 10 years, since we've lived in this great old house.  Techniques include knitting (of course), crochet, rug hooking, and wool appliqué.  Now I only have 1 more to do.  I'm thinking of doing a wool crazy quilt design.  Nothing too elaborate since the stair is on the very bottom and won't be seen in great detail or great light.

Here is the whole set.  Bottom to top they are:
Street scape of Hudson, OH
Orange tree as an homage to my hometown of Redlands, CA
Crochet hexagons
Proddy and rug hooking
Penny rug
Needle-felt and embroidery
Rug hooking picture of an old farm house
Knitted lace
Rug hooked log cabin design
Wool appliqué sheep parade
Wool appliqué and embroidery Fraktur-inspired tulips

All are my own design start to finish.  My favorites are usually the most recent ones to be installed but I am partial to the knit lace and the sheep parade.  And, of course, I'm already plotting to modify the log cabin one.  It's a little floppy and may need to be re-constructed.  The hooked rug panels present a challenge because they are heavier.  They tend to sag a bit.

 Here's one of the new panels installed at the very top.  I love the blue in contrast with the orange of the panel below.  And, there's a bit of orange in the tulip itself so they tie together very well.

Below is the street scape completed.  Our beloved clock tower has a spot of honor.  To be honest, the little store fronts got a little boring.  I was trying to duplicate the actual colors of the real buildings.  All those little rectangles...oy.

 Close up of the clock tower.  The 2 buildings behind the tower are also red brick so I used 3 different red wools to delineate.

The background is a great black and white houndstooth from a skirt.  I love finding big pleated skirts at the thrift store.  So much yardage once you cut the pleats free!

I'm very proud of the set.  I think it represents me and all my little hobbies and loves.  I hope you enjoy.