Brushing Up

How awful is it that I haven’t posted a new make in almost six months?! That’s just terrible! Well, in my defense, there was a bit of a sandstorm in my basement sewing room that coated every surface with concrete dust. I’ve gotten half the room cleaned up, but there are still a lot of surfaces that need to be cleaned and fabric that will have to be washed. If you look at the pictures on this page, you’ll get an idea of what happened.

But I needed a mental break and was able to grab an hour (or maybe a little more 😉 ) on three different days to make this Sew Sweetness Vacation Packing Cube for my youngest granddaughter. Tyler, his wife Leslie, and Leslie’s daughter, Caroline, drove down from their new home in Interlochen, MI, at Christmas. The primary impetus for the trip was the 90th birthday of Tyler’s college mentor, Dr. Ron Gould. But while spending three days with me, the kids and I got to spend time with my eldest two grands, Celeste and Cody. We played games, ate, worked on a new jigsaw puzzle, ate, and just generally had a lot of enjoyable bonding time together.

I noticed that Caroline carried her brushes and curling iron loose to the bathroom to do her hair, and I thought she might like a special bag to hold them when she traveled. On the last few trips I’ve taken, I had to search around for something to hold my similar items. I didn’t like the idea of the brushes’ bristles getting caught in my sweaters. I had been thinking of making a similar bag for myself when I found a padded bag in my basement bag stash. I used that on our January cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, but I didn’t love it. It took up too much space.

I made three packing cubes for myself two years ago, and I use them every time I travel. I have a large Eagle Creek soft-sided suitcase that I love and use every time we go on a cruise. Those three packing cubes hold all the clothes I need for a 7-day cruise, and leave just enough room in the suitcase for my shoes and toiletries. It thought that bag would be perfect for Caroline’s hair things. But if I used the mesh panel, it wouldn’t protect anything in the suitcase from the bristles.

I really thought I was being brilliant to think of using vinyl instead of mesh for the zipper panel. Then, when I looked at the Sew Sweetness blog post (above), I realized I was not the first person to think of this modification. Oh, well.

I had a hot pink zipper-by-the-yard with rainbow coils and flower pulls, and thought Caroline would get a kick out of that. Luckily, I had two different coordinating batiks in my stash that went perfectly with the zipper.

I cut the bag pieces an inch wider than the Small size pattern to ensure that the curling iron would fit in. When I tested the size after completion, there’s plenty of room for more brushes or a container of mousse or hairspray or shampoo. Everything in one place. And the bag is soft, so if all she wants to put in it is the curling iron, it will smoosh down to fit in the available space in her suitcase or carry-on bag. 👍

The only other change I made was to quilt the bottom exterior panel to some Insul-Bright Insulating Thermal Lining. This would protect the bag and the surface on which it was placed if Caroline had to put the curling iron away in a rush. I also told her mom about the heat resistant mat I have and suggested Caroline might like to have one. I found mine in Walgreen’s in Traverse City five years ago when I was spending three summer weeks playing for dance classes at Interlochen Arts Camp. The one I have is made by OXO, but they may have discontinued production of these items. Here’s a similar mat on Amazon.

With the combination of the heat resistant mat and the insulated bottom of the bag, Caroline’s belongings will be safe if she has to finish packing and rush out the door while the curling iron is still warm.

The only major error I made in this construction was to cut the exterior back out before deciding to quilt it to the insulation. Quilting any fabric to foam or insulation draws it up so the finished piece is smaller than the dimensions you cut. Ugh. I kept thinking I could work around that smaller back piece, but it was going to make the pieces of this puzzle not fit together properly. So on the last day, I cut another piece of fabric an inch or so larger all the way around, and another piece of insulation, and did the quilting all over again. Once quilted and trimmed to the right dimensions, the bag went together beautifully.

Today I’ll pack it up and ship it to Caroline, and then hope I can find some time in the next three months to make one for myself before we fly to Seattle to cruise to Alaska and explore Denali National Park.

I do love the time I get to spend in my sewing room, even if half of the space is still dust-covered. Maybe before I make a second bag, I should find some time to finish cleaning that room.

Ricky Tims’ Convergence Quilt

Somehow I appear never to have blogged about this wall quilt. The pattern is called “Harmonic Convergence Quilt,” and the designer is a multitalented cool guy named Ricky Tims.

I wanted to show it to a blogger who is making one. I don’t have her email address, and her blog, on the blogger platform, won’t let me paste my photo in the comment field (wisely, I’m sure!), so I thought I’d just drop a picture in here, then tell her on her blog.

I made this little quilt, which I love, back in around 2002 or 2003, but didn’t know what to do with it. So about ten or so years later, having moved from Tucson to Youngstown to be near my grandchildren, I chose a backing fabric and took it to a long arm quilter who lives in Newton Falls, OH, about half an hour away. She’s brilliant. She can look at a quilt top and immediately say, “I think [blah blah] would look nice on that. She suggests the appropriate sandwich of battings, and when I return, a couple of months later, it’s ready for me to bind and add a rod pocket. She chose to run a starburst of lines of quilting from the center out to all corners and sides. I love it.

The moral of the story is “just do it.” You have a quilt top hanging around your space? Ask around, find a longarm quilter, and just get it quilted. You won’t be sorry.


Ricky’s website

Ricky’s Harmonic Convergence quilt pattern

Amazon Shuts Down Fabric.Com

I am astonished at this information. Amazon expects me to buy my fabric directly from them? I don’t want people who don’t understand fabric cutting my yard goods. What about all those Kennesaw, Georgia, residents? Are they now without jobs?! I’m incensed at this action on Amazon’s part. It’s outrageous. There’s no way the decision-makers at Amazon understand people who sew—our likes, our dislikes, our allegiances to fabric manufacturers, our sewing and quilting needs. No. Way.

I learned about this action off a random sewing blog this morning while I was looking for something else. I am extremely disappointed in this poorly thought-out decision on the part of Amazon. I will be seriously rethinking every Amazon purchase from here on out.

The ABC News article.

Two Bags Delivered

The whole time I’ve been testing crossbody bag patterns, I was thinking about the circus fabric my cousin gave me. I knew I wanted to make tote bags out of the elephant fabric, as there was much less of that fabric, and I needed to stretch it to make three bags.

Hmmm, now that I’m looking at these two fabrics again, I don’t even know why I have envisioned it as circus fabric in my head. I don’t even know what to call it, but I sure love those colors!

Anyway, I used the Tourist Tote Bag pattern from Sew Many Creations. To get three bags out of the elephant yardage, the widest any bag could be was 17″. I figured out the ratio of 17″ to the width of the bag in the pattern, and those were the dimensions I used.

This is the first bag I made from this fabric. The base is a cork fabric from SallieTomato. It sews like “buttah”!

The lining was a teal quilting cotton that perfectly matched the teal in the print.

The bag pattern doesn’t call for any pockets, but I can’t stand totes with no pockets, so I added a zippered pocket in the back of the interior.

Honestly, this is such a great pattern. If you’re a beginner sewist and are wanting to learn some bagmaking, you couldn’t go wrong beginning with this pattern. Or if you’re experienced and just need a quick gift for a special occasion, this PDF pattern should be your go-to.

Here’s the second bag. This is made out of a 10 oz. waxed cotton canvas, which is water resistant. I’ve been making waxed canvas bags this summer in an Intermediate Bagmaking Class offered by Ellie Lum of Klumhouse Patterns. That was a 12 oz. Canvas, and stands up beautifully. That’s what I thought this bag would do, but I was wrong. So I used some plastic needlework canvas and made a false bottom to lay into this bag to help it stand up better.

And here’s the lining. You can see the bonus zippered pocket and the false bottom in the bag.

Honestly, I love how these two bags turned out, and can’t wait to start the third one when I get home from vacation.

Here’s the post of the test bag that led to these two.

So Proud of Myself!

Every time we travel, the Jazzman forgets to take along a container (think: plastic grocery bag, shopping bag, cloth tote from car trunk for bagging groceries or one of the hundred or so Jan-crafted bags sitting around my sewing room!) in which to stash his dirty clothes before we head home. Every so often, I think I should make or buy him a bag for his laundry, and then once we’re back home and I’m in practice and performance mode, I forget all about it.

This week I was busy with: 1) my cousin’s bags, making a false bottom for the one that wasn’t standing up the way I envisioned it should so I could ship those two bags to her before leaving for vacation; and 2) making three of my special masks for the trip, one for Jas and two for myself.

Let the record show that by Wednesday noon I had not started packing for our cruise from Boston to Montreal. If you aren’t on Facebook, you wouldn’t know I came down with Covid and had my first Positive test on May 8. I wasn’t sure I was going to get over Covid in time to be allowed to board the ship tomorrow (8/27). I finally tested Negative on 8/18 and again on 8/20, but when I completed the Holland America-required health assessment two days ago, was told I couldn’t travel. I had to call their medical department and hold for three hours! to have a woman tell me I should be okay, but that I would have to test again when we got to the pier on 8/27.

So, anyway, while I was procrastinating packing, lest I burst into tears over missing this cruise I’ve been waiting years for, I had a lightbulb moment that said, “Make a laundry bag for Jas.”

And in the photo above, you see how that turned out.

Happy, happy me!

It’s modeled on an undie laundry bag I got at Nordstrom about ten years ago. I just grabbed some mesh and cut the largest rectangle I could out of that mesh, grabbed a coordinating zipper, and whipped it up in about 30 minutes or less.

Now, I’ll never have to look around for “this oughta do” bags in whatever hotel room we’re living in for a few days.

The dimensions are about 18″ x 20″. The zipper has a dress-zipper-size pull on it, so I found a coordinating zipper pull (that the lovely lady who owns Zip-It Zippers on Etsy sometimes sends along as a gift to her customers) to hook onto that pull. On the other end of the zipper, I made a loop out of the excess zipper tape and hooked a spare shower curtain ring onto that loop. That way, Jas can hang it from a hanger in the ship room closet (Ahem. Actually, we’re in one of the Neptune suites. 😊) and easily tuck his dirty clothes into the bag.

You can bet I’m patting myself on the back over this make!