Feb 282016
 

This weekend’s Purse Party 2016, especially before I begin five weeks of radiation treatments on Monday, was a welcome treat after almost six weeks of recovery following surgery for endometrial cancer. Purse Party is hosted annually by one of my local quilt shops, Quilter’s Cupboard in Ankeny, Iowa. The newest bag patterns and samples are introduced, along with some old favorites. Bag-sewing tips are shared, and tools to make your bag-sewing easier are recommended. If you’re looking for a list of bag sewing patterns to attempt, scroll down to the bottom of this post, where you’ll find a list of patterns. You can order patterns directly from the friendly folks at Quilter’s Cupboard, or online if you prefer.

Purse Party attendees also receive a designed-by-Quilter’s Cupboard pattern, in this case the Place for Everything Pouch where you can store sewing or needlework notions, cosmetic supplies, jewelry, and even your colored pencils, blending stubs and other drawing tools.

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At a previous Purse Party, Quilter’s Cupboard offered attendees a free Pet Screen Tote pattern. This pattern is now available for purchase. Contact Quilter’s Cupboard directly.

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Patterns by Annie Trunk Show

New this year was a Patterns by Annie Trunk Show featuring bags that punched quite a “wow” factor. Picnic in the Park, for example, is a fabulous padded, pocketed picnic basket layered with fabric and foam that produce a marvelously structured bag. Quilter’s Cupboard owner Cindy Peters points out, however, that most people are making it to carry their sewing projects and notions for quilting retreats, sewing weekends, or a take-your-sewing-with-you vacation.

Picnic in the Park

Another Patterns by Annie pattern, Bon Voyage! Tote, is a generously-sized tote bag that includes outer slip pockets for your keys and phone, three inner slip pockets, and a hanging zipper pocket that is the perfect size for your electronic tablet.

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Also included with the pattern is a see-through Project Tote that would be perfect for keeping supplies for small projects together. Tuck in your pattern, fabric and notions, and you’re ready to go. I can imagine having an entire series of these!

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The Get Out of Town Duffle is a zippered, structured bag with lots of pockets. The bag fits perfectly into an overhead bin for your weekend flight. You’ll want to purchase the pattern, simply to learn how to make an adjustable strap with a shoulder pad.

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Shopping at a local craft fair? You’ll need the To Market, To Market Tote & Tag. Use the roomy zipper tote for purchased goods, and the Name Tag & Essentials Bag for your event I.D., credit card and loose bills. The Name Tag & Essentials Bag can be worn either around your neck or on your shoulder, and is adjustable. Although the pattern is easy to follow, you can watch a series of video tutorials by Patterns by Annie that walk you through the steps of making the Name Tag & Essentials Bag.

To Market, To Market

The Open Wide! Bag is aptly named because it opens up wide and allows easy access to contents. Organize your belongings with the handy mesh pockets. The pattern includes three sizes, perfect for organizing your travel supplies.

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Special Occasions at the Abbey is actually a two-for-one pattern, featuring Lady Sylvia’s Swirl purse and Lady Edith’s Ruffled Rosette purse. Both bags are just big enough to hold your evening essentials. The patterns are inspired by the ladies of Downton Abbey. These tiny bags generated a great deal of excitement at Purse Party.

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Becca Bag Sewing Class

When I visited Quilter’s Cupboard today to take photos for this post, several women were engaged in a sewing class, making Becca Bags from Lazy Girl Designs. What makes these “stow and go” bags extra special is the easy circular One-Zip technique, which involves cutting a zipper apart, removing the pull, and stitching in one side of the zipper tape straight and flat. Bring the ends of the zipper together and slide the zipper pull back on. When you open the bag, the zipper installation allows the bag to open up wide, and the bag stands on its own.

Becca Bags

10 Bag Sewing Tips

One of the most helpful aspects to a Quilter’s Cupboard Purse Party is learning new tips about sewing bags. Here are a few tips I jotted down:

  1. Don’t throw away your Bosal In-R-Form or By Annie’s Soft and Stable foam stabilizer scraps. Instead, use Heat Press Batting Together to fuse the bits together on both the front and back.
  1. When you use a foam stabilizer, the seam layers can become quite bulky, especially if you plan to apply bias binding. Compress them by sewing parallel lines of straight stitching between the seam line and raw edge, or use a zigzag stitch. You can also do a decorative stitch on the outside of the bias binding, which looks nice and does essentially the same thing.
  1. Instead of installing metal purse feet, consider sewing buttons to your bag bottom. Layer large and small buttons together to achieve thickness.
  1. To produce soft-but-strong purse straps, use Dreamy Fleece Fusible from Lazy Girl Designs, or Pellon 987f Fusible Fleece (available at JoAnn Fabrics).
  1. If you are having trouble sewing layers or hard-to-sew spots, try using Fabric Fuse Liquid Adhesive by Therm-o-Web.
  1. To give your bag both softness and structure, layer Dreamy Fleece Fusible (or Pellon 987f Fusible Fleece) and Pellon 809 Decor Bond (a fusible heavyweight woven interfacing, available at Joann Fabrics).
  1. Use 505 Spray and Fix Temporary Fabric Adhesive to make anything fusible that is not fusible. This is a temporary basting spray, so it does wash away, but in most cases you will not throw your finished bag into a washing machine. 505 Spray will not gum up a sewing machine needle.
  1. To add body to a fabric, or to turn a cotton fabric into home decor fabric, iron on Pellon SF 101 Shape-Flex®.
  1. If zipper installation makes you nervous, visit By Annie’s Zippers Are Easy Videos.
  1. To measure, mark and press hems all in one step, use the newest heat-resistant Clover Press Perfect Hot Ruler by Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs. It’s great to use for bag handles, binding hems, rounded corners, and interior and mitered corners. Fold your fabric over the Hot Hemmer, and press your fabric into place with either a dry or steam iron.

Explore These Bags, Organizers and Accessories

Patterns by Annie:

Purses/Tote Bags:

Accessories/Smaller Bags:

In The Hoop Machine Embroidery:

Just for Fun:

© 2016 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Mar 222015
 

You wonder sometimes if opportunities seek you out, or if it’s the other way around.

Once upon a time I thought I would become a teacher, specifically a German language teacher. Although that never happened, at least not officially as I never obtained teacher certification, I discovered many opportunities over the years to provide instruction or training. As you know if you regularly read my blog posts, I love to write tutorials. Beyond that, however, I have had the privilege of providing German language lessons to elementary students as a volunteer, tutoring individuals in German at my kitchen table, and developing lesson plans and then teaching enrichment or extracurricular classes for gifted grade school students in fine arts, science, social studies and literature.

These photos represent the final National History Day projects for elementary students I taught after school.

These photos represent National History Day projects for elementary students I taught.

I spent a dozen years developing and teaching young people and adults about creative problem-solving tools through the Destination Imagination program, which sometimes led to other opportunities for the students. For a couple of summers, I collaborated with the Des Moines Art Center and the Iowa Architectural Foundation, who offered several Destination Imagination teams the opportunity to participate in the Ideal Object Workshop. One summer four teams participated in three workshops as they explored the definition of art, learned how art, architecture and everyday objects can be combined, and were challenged to create “Ideal Objects” matching the spirit of artist Tom Sachs’ exhibition that was on display at the time at the Des Moines Art Center. Students worked as both designer/contractors and clients, creating objects designed to make their lives easier within the kitchen, bathroom, garage and bedroom. Each team built an object for a room in a house that addressed three requests of a client (which just happened to be another team in the workshop). Students were provided with funds and the guidance of an architect and a contractor to help them work toward their Ideal Objects. At the conclusion of the program, the students’ projects were displayed at the Des Moines Art Center and the Adrienne and Charles Herbert Galleries.

Designing the X-treme Clean Machine 2000 for its client, Ames Middle School, “Cakewaves” created an Ideal Object for the kitchen that has the ability to clean, play music and store items.

Designing the X-treme Clean Machine 2000 for its client, Ames Middle School, “Cakewaves,” a team from West Des Moines, created an Ideal Object for the kitchen that has the ability to clean, play music and store items.

Producing a unique bathroom chair for grooming and grooving for its client, “That Team From Grinnell,” Ames Middle School created an Ideal Object that can dry, weigh, play music and includes distinct primping areas for boys and girls.

Producing a unique bathroom chair for grooming and grooving for its client, “That Team From Grinnell,” Ames Middle School created an Ideal Object that can dry, weigh, play music and includes distinct primping areas for boys and girls.

Crafting a workbench for the garage with a ping-pong ball warning system for its client, Ames High School, was “That Team From Grinnell.” Their Ideal Object incorporates a workbench with built-in tools, has additional areas for tool storage, and has a means for stopping a car.

Crafting a workbench for the garage with a ping-pong ball warning system for its client, Ames High School, was “That Team From Grinnell.” Their Ideal Object incorporates a workbench with built-in tools, has additional areas for tool storage, and has a means for stopping a car.

Ames High School team members built a multi-use station for the bedroom for its client, “Cakewaves,” that has the ability to store items, help the client fall asleep and includes a homework station

Ames High School team members built a multi-use station for the bedroom for its client, “Cakewaves,” that has the ability to store items, help the client fall asleep and includes a homework station

Before our son was born, when I was a software support specialist, I even taught adults how to use word processing programs. Let’s face it, with or without the certification, I’m a teacher at heart and in practice.

What has touched me the most personally, however, is the time I have spent with others, sharing my love for handmade crafts. It was wonderful to discover I have a niece who enjoys cross stitch as much as I do, and to discuss techniques with her. I was proud of and gratified by the growth displayed by a former neighbor, now a young lady in her 20s, to whom I taught basic sewing skills when she was a child. She eventually began sewing and selling period dresses. When I managed a Destination Imagination team, I taught six middle school boys how to thread a sewing machine, and stitch straight and curved lines so they could make their own costumes. By the time they were high school freshman, you couldn’t hold back their creativity!

During their freshman year of high school, my team solved a challenge called StranDId involving a team of archaeologists stranded in time, specifically in ancient Egypt.

During their freshman year of high school, my team solved a challenge called StranDId involving a team of archaeologists stranded in time, specifically in ancient Egypt.

With that kind of background, it’s probably no surprise that I enjoy sharing my passion for crochet with friends and family. I taught a left-handed friend to crochet while we sat on her living room couch, taught my mother and husband to crochet, and even our son.

Even though she was a beginning crocheter, my mother decided to tackle thread crochet. She kept herself busy during her bedridden days before she passed away by edging these handkerchiefs. "A lady," she used to say," always carries a hanky in her purse."

Even though she was a beginning crocheter, my mother decided to tackle thread crochet. She kept herself busy during her bedridden days before she passed away by edging these handkerchiefs. “A lady,” she used to say,” always carries a hanky in her purse.” I treasure these last bits of my mother’s handiwork.

Not everyone enjoys the art of hooking to the same extent that I do, so I’m never offended when I discover later that they’ve forgotten how to crochet or that it has been years—perhaps decades—since they flipped a strand of yarn over the hook. The point is that the act of teaching someone to do something you love is simultaneously an act of sharing. You’re sharing your skill, true, but you’re also sharing your passion and your desire to connect on a deeper level. Although I never got a chance to know my German grandmother who crocheted the circular lace table cloth shown below, I’m sure we would have enjoyed each other’s company and our shared interest in needlecraft.

Lace Tablecloth from Oma

I suspect my left-handed friend and our son no longer crochet, but have fond memories of the time we spent exploring the craft together. My husband, however, has become hooked, if you’ll pardon the over-used pun. When he was between jobs decades ago, after he had retired his commission from the U.S. Navy and was interviewing for jobs, finances got a little tight and John went through some nail-biting episodes. One day I suggested that it might help him to relax a bit if he learned how to crochet. At first he was reluctant, but then he agreed and asked me to bring him a ball of yarn and a hook. Although I don’t have a photo of it, his first project (like my own) was a scarf. Since that time, he has become a specialist—he crochets afghans. A side benefit is that he’s my biggest supporter when I need to shop for yarn. A down side, perhaps, is that we both end up shopping and the bill is subsequently higher.

When our son was a baby, John crocheted the afghan draped over our son’s head, shown in the photo below.

David's 1st Smile - 5 weeks

We like to say this was David’s first smile, at five weeks old, as he poses for a portrait wearing the blanket his father crocheted.

Although I haven’t snapped photos of every project John has completed, I’m certain he has crocheted an afghan for every niece and nephew, our parents, and of course our own family, several times over.

John's Afghans

For the last nine years, we have rented a cabin at Backbone State Park in northeastern Iowa. Especially when it rains, out come the yarn stash and crochet hooks.

John crochets at Backbone State Park 2008

I have discovered, over the years, that I am not the only one in the family who seeks opportunities to share her craft. John enjoys small woodworking projects, so when I needed a book press and a sewing frame for my bookbinding, he made them for me from scratch.

Bookbinding Tools

What about our son? He, too, shares his passion for handmade crafts with others. After he graduated from college with dual majors in literature and history, he became a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an organization that specializes in researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. David not only practices period archery and fencing, but has taught basic bow skills to others, marshaled archery events, and taught fencing classes in the use of the rotella (a round concave shield). He fletches arrows by hand (attaches feathers to arrows), tools leather, and has even made his own period war bow—sharing these handmade passions with others through conversations, gifts or commissions. If you’re interested in contacting him, by the way, you can reach him by e-mail at davnolan88@gmail.com.

David's Arrow Fletching and Leatherwork

You’ll want to click on this photo to see the details in the leatherwork and arrow fletching.

Although you can read a book or take a class in person or online to learn a new craft or improve your handmade skills, there is no substitute for a one-on-one demonstration. That demonstration inevitably strikes up a conversation that goes beyond the craft, leading to new friendships, new understandings, and an appreciation for both craft and person. When you share your craft with others, you forge links that cross generational gaps with ease and create memories that will last forever. What craft skill or passion have you shared lately with others?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Feb 262015
 

It’s that time of year again when one of my local quilt shops, Quilter’s Cupboard, holds its annual Purse Party and introduces a parade of purse, tote bag, travel-and-accessories bags, and just-for-fun sewing projects, as well as related sewing notions, hardware and fusible products. This was the fifth year that owner-designer Cindy Peters held this popular event. Today, however, one of her employees, Sandy, had to fill in for her when a medical matter in Cindy’s family took her away from the shop. Sandy spent the better part of the day alone, but a few of her co-workers happened to be shopping in the store. They simply clocked in, rolled up their sleeves, and began doing what needed to be done.

Sandy discussed and passed around various finished bags and other projects, provided sewing tips, and suggested how each item could be used. Naturally, not all of them appeal to everyone, but I’m going to highlight a few that I especially liked, and provide links to where you can find these patterns.

Let’s start with a couple of patterns that Cindy Peters designed. “You can never have enough tote bags,” said Sandy as she shared Cindy’s Purse Party Tote. She explained that the fabric shown in the photo sat on the store shelves for the longest time until it was used for the Purse Party Tote, at which point it completely sold out. You can purchase this pattern by contacting Quilter’s Cupboard, and the store will mail it out to you.

Purse Party Tote

Next is Cindy’s Box It Up Easter Basket, adapted from Box It Up by Stitchin’ Sisters. The Easter basket is made with pet screen vinyl, fabric, and a carpenter’s metal measuring tape. When my husband saw the pattern, he told me to stay away from his workbench.

Box It Up Easter Basket

Along the same line is the inspiration for the above pattern: Box It Up by Cheryl Von Ruden of Stitchin’ Sisters. The pattern includes instructions for all three sizes of these clever catch-all boxes. Because all of the seams are enclosed in fabric, you can turn the boxes inside out, and they look wonderful.

Box It Up

I fell in love with the Diva Frame Wallet, designed by Jessica VanDenBurgh of Sew Many Creations. This super-skinny wallet can be sewn with more formal fabrics or fun prints for a more casual look. It utilizes an eight-inch wallet frame, which is available from Amelia’s Garden.

Diva Frame Wallet

You’ll never find a structured tote bag with as many pockets as Pocket Parade Tote, designed by Penny Sturges of Quilts Illustrated. The sample we admired at the Purse Party featured fabric that was quilted first, then incorporated in the bag.

Pocket Parade Tote

Susan Marsh of Whistlepig Creek designed a Sweet Retreat Weekend Bag that is the largest retreat bag I have ever seen. I can imagine taking this bag to a craft show, filled with purchases if I’m a buyer, but with my own products if I’m selling and doing booth set-up. If you like sewing with charm packs or jelly roll strips, you can incorporate them real well using this pattern.

Sweet Retreat

One of the useful things that was shared at this year’s Purse Party was a list of fusible products that work well with bags, which I find quite helpful, especially because these are products that my quilt shop carries. Often patterns will recommend fusibles that you can find only on the Internet.

Popular Purse InsidesSpeaking of items you can find on the Web, a few years ago I wrote a couple of posts about bag sewing resources that you may find helpful:

Do you enjoy sewing bags? Do you collect patterns and fabrics for this purpose? I suspect I have more of both items than I can ever use personally, but I’ve convinced myself that bags always make great gifts. Ha!

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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