Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekender Bag Class

Yesterday, at Pennington Quiltworks, I taught the second class of a two class session series on the Weekender Bag. Almost everyone completed the bag exterior or at least was able to sew one side on. I was very impressed with everyone's accomplishments - some of the students were beginners and tackled the project with great enthusiasm. One student, Gail, sewed the project on her Singer Featherweight which has inspired me to unpack Dorothy's and get stitching!

Weekender Bag Class

Weekender Bag Class

One mother/daughter team even went on-line and found this tutorial for making a zippered pocket in the lining! Their results were impressive:
Weekender Bag inside zipper Pocket

I made a few changes to the pattern for the purposes of the class. First, in the pattern, it is recommended that you cross the cording over on itself at the bottom of the bag for finishing. The problem is that it creates a lot of bulk at the bottom of the bag and makes it very difficult to sew in the final steps of assembling the exterior. Instead, I had the students finish the cording using a method similar to one used in applying continuous binding. I'm not great at written instructions but you can find more details about this method in Amy Butler's Sophia Carry-All pattern.

Also, taking another tip from the Sophia Carry-All, I had the students machine sew the interior lining of the bag to the exterior in the seam allowances. It creates a much more sturdy attachment of the lining and actually enhances the overall interior shape of the bag. Pics of that are below:

Weekender Bag Lining

Weekender Bag Lining insertion

And finally, here are a couple of pics of the bags made by the students. Most of the class made the kit which is like my sample. Three picked out their own fabrics and did a great job! Sorry Joanne that I didn't get a picture of yours!

Janice's Weekender Bag

Barbara's Weekender Bag

Thanks to Gail, Barbara, Judith, Robin, Stefanie, Linda, Janice and Joanne for making my first class a success. I look forward to teaching my next Weekender Bag class in March - you have set a very high bar for them!

And, when I got home, this is what I found:

Helping Daddy

Mitch and Lucy hard at work hanging bathroom accessories, pictures, etc. Lucy told me to go away, that she was helping Daddy. I happily retreated to my sewing room to organize fabric/projects....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

So much to do

Today Lucy didn't have school so I was ready to entertain. The day actually went pretty well. We made whole wheat millet bread using the Tassajara Bread Book, one of my very favorite books of all time! My first batch of bread was made using the book and since then I have never been dissapointed with the results. Each recipe makes two loaves which seems like a lot but it never lasts more than a few days. His method requires four risings including one where you make a sponge. The resulting bread is dense but not heavy - excellent sandwich bread. Great as toast in the morning. In fact, I never really had satisfying toast until I started making my own bread - with homemade jam it's just heavenly.
Whole wheat Millet Bread


I made a quick peasant style soup/stew to go with the bread: I added whatever vegetables I had in the fridge or on the counter to simple homemade chicken stock that was thickened with flour and butter. Lucy actually ate it which made me very happy and really, it was pretty tasty.

Quick Peasantish Meal

Today, Lucy and I also participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The birds were only able to hold Lucy's attention for 30 minutes so that's all we did but it was still fun. After we were finished, we logged into the site to report our data. I'm already looking forward to next year. I know, I've become a geek about birds!

I'm working on this quilt for the shop and though it seemed like it would be easy, I'm finding it to be a bit of a chore. The pattern comes from Valori Wells latest book, Simple Start - Stunning Finish. All this machine applique is overwhelming for me. My circles don't seem to be true circles and well, they just don't look perfect. I'm hoping it will come out ok after it's quilted. I have to get with it in order to get this to the quilter by the end of the month which is in 10 days! Argh!

Circles quilt

My favorite projects of late are the Stitchettes from Wee Wonderfuls. They are sooo much fun to stitch and produce extremely gratifying results. Lucy picks out the colors for each of them (with a little guidance from me, of course) and then I stitch them up for her. I'm not sure what I am going to do with them - maybe display in embroidery hoops? I just ordered the Quilting Bee Stitchettes and can hardly wait to get started on them!!

Toe Tapping Stitchette

Anna Angles Stitchette

Saturday, February 16, 2008

blogging...

There are so many fabulous blogs out there - sometimes I wonder what my goals are for this one. In fact, I've been thinking about that a lot and here's what I've realized: this blog is for me but not just me, Marisa, but me, the world I've created for myself. It's a way for me to document what is going on in my creative life as well as my life with Lucy. I have a space where I can "bookmark" favorite things such as other blogs, websites, books, etc. And it's a way for me to keep others in my life updated on stuff. Does that make sense? It sounds kind of self-centered which I guess it is and well, blogging is kind of a self-centered activity. I'm assuming that others would want to read what I write and see my pictures - how much more self-centered can one be?

That said, I'm far from the only one doing this. I come across new blogs everyday. Many crafters are also professionals so the blogs act as a way to get their ideas out there and also to increase their visibility in the craft world. Many others are just like me, someone who loves what they do and wants to talk about it. We can't all be angry chicken, allsorts, or wee wonderfuls. Those women are amazing and their talents are unbelievabley inspiring!

All in all, I enjoy having this blog. It's like my own personal treehouse. I come here to gather my thoughts and check-in with others who are into the same things that I'm into. I probably won't ever do this sewing/knitting/embroidery stuff as a profession and that's ok. I enjoy the process of those hobbies just like I enjoy the process of this blog.

Lucy is stirring so I have to wrap it up. I promise not to blog about blogging again. Being overly deep and philosphical is not really my thing (those who know me, don't laugh!) much less writing about it. I'll just stick to what I know!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Fresh snow

It finally snowed here this week - unfortunately it didn't last long because it started to rain by midnight but it was still nice to get Lucy all bundled up and go out for a walk in the snow. She loves to walk around in the snow, sticking her tongue out to catch a snowflake. We went around to the back of our house to refill our birdfeeders where we made snow mountains and stood watching the snow collect on the trees.

Playing in the snow


We hung up our birdfeeders in January and since them I have become quite enchanted with our local birdlife. Each morning as I make my tea, I look out the window to see what birds are visiting us. Watching them swoop down to the feeders provides me with a lot of enjoyment. Some birds like our large feeders, others prefer the suet while others prefer to peck around under the feeders for the seeds that fall to the ground. We have nuthatches, chickadees, morning doves, woodpeckers and tufted titmouses (my favorite). The other day a large bluejay appeared - wow was he ever intimidating. The other birds scattered with his arrival and I was totally mesmerized by his appearance. I've seen a cardinal in the tree but he's never come to the feeder.

When Lucy and I arrived in the back, the birds scattered. Slowly, over time, they started to come back to the trees. They were watching us to determine if it was ok to return to the feeders. Eventually they would swoop down to a feeder, grab a nut or seed and go back to the tree. I'm sure if we had stayed there for a while longer, the birds would have become more comfortable with our presence but Lucy was ready to do something new so we walked back around to the front of the house. I peaked around the corner after we were gone and found that the birds had reclaimed their feeders and were happily eating away.

As far as my sewing, it's been difficult to get much done in the last week. Lucy has been sick with croop so she's up most of the night and then exhausted during the day. The Weekender Bag class is going well -I'm very impressed by what the students have been able to accomplish. I will be sure to post pics of their finished projects after the next class in a couple of weeks.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Betty Shopper


Betty Shopper, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I made this bag a few weeks ago and really enjoyed making it and enjoy using it even more. There are two large pockets inside that can hold lots of fabric and patterns. I generally carry this bag to the shop so that I can bring fabric back home without anyone noticing! Ha! Sneaky, right? Not really, Mitch always seems to know when more fabric enters the house - it's like he has a fabric (and yarn) radar....

Lucy and I took the train into the NYC today to visit my brother and sister-in-law. We had a great time walking around Washington Square Park and SoHo. And yes, of course we made a quick stop into Purl Patchwork. I really love going there but I never seem to have enough time or money to fully appreciate the array of fabrics that Joelle has in her shop. She really seems to be going more into the Japanese fabrics and Liberty fabrics these days. She also had quite a few Alexander Henry prints - great colors and motifs. I managed to make it out of the store with a small, but satisfying purchase. Two sets of Clover embroidery iron-ons, 1/2 yard of a darling hedgehog print (for my friend Kate whose middle name means hedgehog - go figure) and a yard of a large floral print by Kokka. Actually, it was the last yard on the bolt so I had to have it, right?

I'm teaching my class on the Weekender Bag this weekend and I'm a bit nervous. I hope I can pass along some sewing pearls to my students! Really, once you make that bag, everything else is a walk in the park.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Skirt and appliqued shirt


Skirt and appliqued shirt, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I have been having trouble with my computer recently - everytime I go to upload pictures, it crashes. Kind of a big problem, huh? So, I've resigned myself to using my husband computer which is sooo much faster but I can't watch Martha Stewart and blog at the same time. Instead I have to sit facing a wall. Oh well.

I made this outfit for Lucy using Butterick B4543. The skirt is super easy and fast to make. For the shirt, I just bought a plain tee from the Gap, cut out one of the flower clusters and used Lite Steam-a-Seam to apply it to the shirt. I still need to sew around the edges to neaten it a bit. I think that I will put some sort of stabilizer on the back since I'm working on knit material. I plan to make another outfit, probably shorts, in the same fabric using green colorway.

Here's Lucy modeling the outfit. I have no idea how she learned to pose like this. Honestly, it was a bit scary - she started posing in different locations all over her room, putting on more accessories as she went. Is this genetic? How did she know to do this???

Lucy modeling her summer outfit