Karen Bag

Karen’s bag for exercise class

I made this bag in December 2015 from brocade or tapestry fabric because I needed a smallish, strong bag that could safely hold a full bottle of water plus hand weights for an exercise class.  The fabric was a remnant that I bought for $5 at a crafts bazaar.  The lining (not shown) was from a Japanese silk brocade panel that I found in the bottom of my mother’s sewing cabinet.  It must have sat in that cabinet for over 40 years.  It might have been a panel that’s normally used for an obi — a decorative and functional outer belt to hold kimonos closed — although the fabric felt a little more flexible than some obi fabrics that I’ve felt.

The bag is approximately 12″ x 11″ x 5″ with a band or rim stitched to the upper edge into which the handles were sewn.  The lining begins where the rim was stitched to the bag.  I like this construction because you can’t easily see the lining this way.  I adapted a pattern I found on the web at the Pink Penguin blog (http://ayumills.blogspot.com/2010/08/tutorial-lunch-bag.html).  The adaptations I made were to enlarge it and eliminate the drawstring cover.  The really interesting thing about this pattern is that the 5″ depth is created by stitching two rectangles together, folding the stitched corners so that points form, and then stitching across the folded corners.  Quick and easy and strong to hold all the weight!

Colored pencil shading on tangle pattern  Narwal.

Colored pencil shading on tangle pattern Narwal.

This is a card with the tangle pattern Narwal that I tried to shade with Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils. Paper was Canson’s Mix Media 98 lb. Lots of room for improvement here.

Starflower (Side 1): This side was made using traditional quilt-piecing technique with scraps from previous projects.

Starflower (Side 1): This side was made using traditional quilt-piecing technique with scraps from previous projects. Click to enlarge.

A Circle of Geese (Side 2): This was made using a paper-piecing technique with the same fabric scraps from Side 1 plus four additional fabrics.

A Circle of Geese (Side 2): This side was made using paper-piecing technique with the same fabric scraps from Side 1 plus four additional fabrics. Click to enlarge.

This bag was made for our good friend Diana Abraham to hold her personal items when she goes on cruises. Like Gerry’s bag, this one is padded with fusible fleece interfacing for shape and support. Since it’s unlikely anyone would ever see both sides of this bag at the same time, I decided to make different quilt blocks for each side. I let Diana choose the designs she liked. A Circle of Geese (Side 2) forced me to try a quilting technique named paper-piecing that I hadn’t tried before. I found paper-piecing to be more time-consuming than traditional quilt-piecing technique, but I can appreciate that some designs may be easier to produce or easier to reproduce reliably with paper-piecing. Diana’s favorite color is turquoise. Luckily, many colors look great against turquoise, so this gave me a lot of leeway in finding suitable fabric scraps for these designs.

Gerry's bag for cruising paraphernalia

Gerry’s bag for cruising paraphernalia

Gerry asked for a bag to carry her Kindle and other items whenever she goes on cruises. She loves purples and complementary colors, so I made this bag for her birthday present. The quilt blocks are backed with fusible fleece for shape and padding. I also made a removable, stiff insert for the bag’s bottom to hold the bag’s shape while in use. The insert can be removed and packed flat in the collapsed bag when it’s stored.

Sew4Home Makeup Brush Bag

Sew4Home Travel Makeup Brush Bag


Ready to go!

Decided I needed a travel bag to hold makeup brushes. Found a tutorial on the Sew4Home.com site that was almost perfect. I say “almost” because upon completion I felt the bag needed to be about one inch taller to fully accommodate the longest brush I use. So instead of starting with 9″x18″ fabric rectangles, I recommend 10″x18″ rectangles. I had to buy vinyl-laminated fabric ($14.99/yard), but since I needed just 1/3 yard it only cost $5.00. I used leftover fabrics and batting from other projects, so the total cost to me was just $7.00 ($2.00 for the bias tape, although I could have made my own). Plus, I can make two more bags from the leftover vinyl laminate and one more bag from the leftover bias tape.

At long last, a new purse

At long last, a new purse


So it’s been three years since I finished my original Quattro purse. I used it everyday. It’s faded and beat up. I replaced the shredded straps about a year ago, but I love it and still get compliments on it. One of the reasons I didn’t replace it sooner is that I simply could not find fabric combinations that met my criteria that looked nearly as good. I’m not altogether pleased with the fabric combination in the new purse, but desperation drove me to compromise. Sadly, I broke my machine on the final step by sewing too close to the D-ring on the purse strap. I hope my machine’s lateral needle movement can be repaired.

2014 Tomatoes Started

It’s a beautiful day to plant this year’s tomatoes. Like last year there are five different varieties from the Cal Poly Farm Store, but only one that’s a repeat from 2013:

Isis Candy – red with yellow/orange shoulders
Sunrise Bumble Bee – yellow/orange with red shoulders
Sweet Baby Girl – red
Sun Sugar – orange / favorite from 2013
Golden Sweet Cherry – orange / want to compare to Sun Sugar

Near the end of the 2013 season Zoey and Cici started to harass the plants, so this year Gil designed a little fence to protect the pots. Let’s hope the girls can ignore this intrusion in their yard. Let’s also hope the white flies, aphids, fungi, viruses and other pests can ignore the plants too!