Every March, my students and I would celebrate Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day. The week was filled with fun reading, writing, math, and art activities. I miss my teaching days.
This March, I will be one of the guest readers for my grandson’s class. I am so excited about this. Of course, I think a guest reader should walk in with a Seuss bag full of books and goodies. So, I got busy making a Japanese rice bag.
About four years ago, I bought a charm pack and a jelly roll with the Dr. Seuss characters. My plan was to make a quilt, but the fabric just got packed away. I unpacked them and used four of the charm squares and some jelly roll strips to make a Japanese rice bag. Since the bag will have three books and some favors in it, I made the blocks a bit larger. I framed the 6 inch blocks with 2 inch borders, making a 10 inch block.
I am looking forward to this big reading event!
One of my go-to people for creative ideas is my friend, Nancy. Recently, she introduced me to Japanese rice bags. I found a great tutorial, by Stuart Hillard. I had some fabric that I was going to use to make a pillow, but decided to use it to make the rice bag. The tutorial suggests not making the squares for the bag larger than 10″. I made the first bag with 9.5″ squares. Stuart gave a great tip for turning out strip tubes. It just so happened I had a chop stick to use for this process.
After making the first bag, I thought it might be fun to make bags for the Meemaws. My job is to take the treats for the trip. I have made tote bags and pouches before for previous trip treat bags. I wanted something different for this trip, and the Japanese rice bags are perfect for carrying treats.
I did not want to buy new fabric for these, so I pulled out the scrap bins. I found some leftover panels from a floral pet quilt that I made. The panel remnants measured 8.5″ across and 6″in length. I had just enough to piece these into six 8.5″ blocks. Polka dot fabric remnants were used to make the remaining sides of the bag. Each bag requires 5 blocks for the outer bag, 5 blocks for the lining, and 5 blocks of batting. The linings are made from different fabrics that I had available. The pull strings and loops are made from 2.5 X 40″ strips, and I just happened to have some leftover jellyroll strips that I was able to use for this part of the bag. I made the first bag on Monday. On Tuesday morning, I cut the fabric for three more bags. I also made the loops and pull strings to get that out of the way. This made it possible to complete the bags all in one evening session. The bags are now filled with treats for our trip.
I also found the bling that I had put in a safe place. I added the bling to our Merit Badge Sashes.
My son informed me that my grandson would be celebrating Dr. Seuss all next week. I am trying to sign up to be a guest reader at the school. I thread sketched a Cat in a Hat badge and bookmark for my grandson. I did not take a photo of the finished products, but I do have one of the bookmark in the process of being thread sketched.
Thank you, Nancy, for the idea of making these fun bags.
When I retired five years ago, I joined the retired group of teachers and school personnel that worked at Fox Run Elementary. This group meets for lunch once a month. Three of these retirees and myself started hanging together because of our mutual interests and crazy spirit. We are the 4 Meemaws. We meet quite often to craft, sew, bird watch, travel, zumba,…and just because. Every now and then, we pack our Clown Car and take a trip…which always includes eating pie. Soon, we will be heading towards Rockport to see the whooping cranes.
The Meemaws tend to tell me that my some of my ideas are far off the normal path. A while back, I got into teacher mode and came up with the idea of having merit badges to document the fun stuff we do. I was just kidding, and they just laughed it off as another one of my crazy ideas. Since I have been thread sketching inchies, twinchies, and rinches, I thought these would make great badges. I got the idea of making the merit badges for our upcoming trip. I ordered black satin sashes to showcase our badges. I had also bought some bling to stick on the sashes, but I have misplaced them… so the sashes will be bling-less.
I personalized one of the badges for each of us. The No-Boss is for Marti, who always says she is not the boss and then proceeds to be the boss. The check is for Terri, who keeps us organized and in-check. The peace sign is for Kaye, who is the one who keeps us calm and peaceful. The lightbulb is for my ideas.
I tried sketching a whooping crane as the merit badge for this trip. The crane came out looking more like ostriches…but, oh, well.
The next badge I made was the Japanese symbol for Wabi-Sabi. We meet monthly to work on different projects. I also thread sketched a Clown Car. Of course, I had to make a badge for pie. We have driven out of town just to eat pie.
My sister asked if we would actually wear these on our trip to Rockport. Of course, we will. On our Christmas trip this past December, we went to visit small towns that had parades. We wore Christmas glasses. The frames were shaped like Christmas trees, wreaths, bells, and holly. It’s all just for fun.
So, Rockport, here we come!
For the past nine days, I have been working on a rectangle scrappy quilt designed by Jo Parrott. Originally, the plan was to compile scraps with two of my quilting friends. We are still going to do this at a later date. We are planning our own spring retreat.
The pattern gives an option for using either scraps, or half-yards of 18 different fabrics. I had a bin with some fabric remnants, partial fat quarters, and less than half yard pieces. I thought the colors and designs in this bin would make a nice quilt for my nephew. I finished piecing the quilt top today, and dropped it off with my friend who will longarm it for me. I will post about this quilt when it is quilted. Thanks to Mary, from Zippy Quilts, I was able to be more successful with matching intersections. I read her post when I was about half-way into piecing this scrappy quilt. Her tips really paid off and made the second half of piecing less of an ordeal.
After dropping off the quilt, I started to clean and reorganize my work area. Then, I decided to just have fun instead. I backed some muslin with light fusible interfacing. Then I thread-sketched two birds. I used water color pencils to paint the birds. A textile medium was used to coat the water colored birds. I had a piece of cloudy fabric that I used for the background. This was hand-stitched. I used brown grunge fabric to collage tree limbs. I free motioned the stitches on the tree. After these steps were done, I backed the top with thin batting and a blue fabric. The birds were then quilted onto the block. I couldn’t decide if I wanted buttons or not. My daughter-in-law helped me with that decision.
It was a fun way to spend the afternoon on 02-20-2020. I hope you enjoyed your day also.
Since I am in my last week of being home bound, I have been trying to pass the time by trying out embroidery. My Tia Isidra used to embroider beautiful pieces. I especially liked the table cloths she embroidered for my mother. Her embroidery stitches were perfect, both on the front and the back of the piece. My mom also created some beautiful embroidery pieces.
I am thinking of embroidering and thread sketching small pieces and maybe eventually stitching them into a wall hanging or small art quilt. One of the pieces I stitched was inspired by a card that my daughter-in-law sent me. The card had a vase with dainty flowers. I used fabric to make the vase, and then embroidered the flowers.
The other piece I embroidered was that of a Lesser Goldfinch. My friends and I keep a list of birds that we see on our walks or birding trips. I am thinking of drawing and embroidering the different new birds that I see this year.
The third piece I embroidered was inspired by my mom. This week marks the fourth year of her passing. My siblings and I shared some special memories that day. I drew a Robin and embroidered it. Mom used to sing the song, When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’, so I thought it would be fun to try to make one. I used some of the buttons from mom’s button jar for the flowers.
One of the Meemaws shared a free scrappy rectangle pattern. We are planning to pool our scraps and make one for ourselves. I cut quite a few scraps from my bin, and we will start working on this in the spring. In the meantime, I started working on one of the suggestions provided in the pattern. Instead of using random scraps,this scrappy quilt can be made from 18 different fabrics of at least a half yard of each. I have a bin that has some half yard and fat quarter pieces leftover from other projects. I started cutting (1620 pieces) and piecing a quilt for one of my nephews. The color palette for these pieces is mainly blue, orange, brown, beige, and green. I thought it would be perfect for my nephew. I’ve pieced 8 out of 90 blocks, so I have some work to do.
As of today, I am done with anything ending with -inchie. I had two piles of scraps on my table this morning. One was a pile of the tiniest left overs from the Inchies and Twinchies I made. The other pile was the remnants from cutting the straps on the fabric strip bag project. I read that a Rinchie is a one inch circle, so they can fit into bottle caps or pendants. I chose to make mine two inches. After finishing these Rinchies, I unceremoniously threw away the scraps that were left.
It was fun, but now…enough with the inchies.
Last November, I started piecing a quilt using a free pattern by Kelli Fannin. I appreciate the generous sharing of such a great pattern, design, and instructions. The Minecraft quilt front is made of 12″inch blocks representing the characters in this video game. Fat quarters of the Minecraft colors were used to make the blocks. The blocks and the sashing were fun and easy to make.
The major problem that I had was when it was time to sew the rows of blocks together. I sewed the top three rows together, and then sewed the last two rows as a section. When I went to sew the bottom rows section to the top section, I realized that the bottom section was wider than the top section. I do not know where the mistake was made. I checked and re-checked the sizes of the blocks and the sashing, and all resulted in the correct measurements. It was so frustrating. This was right before the Christmas holidays, so, I packed everything in a box and put it away for a better day.
In mid-January, I pulled everything out and started problem solving. I did not want to rip and redo. A bit of trimming helped to make things more square, but the bottom was still wider than the top. I could not cut anymore without damaging the face on the blocks. I put my Math Hat on and started making calculations for taking in seams without having to rip all of the seams. When I had some numbers with which to work, I took the quilt sections to the Mesquite Bean. I knew I would get some excellent advice. Nancy works at the Mesquite Bean, and she is one of my go-to people. We brainstormed and she showed me how I could take in a bit of each seam from the bottom section to make the blocks and sashing line up correctly. There were also other quilters in the store who gave their two cents of information and ideas. I love the way quilters are so willing to help. I know that Nancy likes chocolate chip cookies, so I made sure she got some the next time I went to visit her at the shop.
After the top was pieced, I started piecing the dragon for the backing. The dragon was made in three sections. The challenge with the dragon was the number of small pieces in different colors. The pieces ranged in sizes from 1.5″ to 7.7″ x 24″. Once the dragon was completed, the next problem was building a backing above, below, and on the sides of the dragon section. Once again, I put on my Math Hat. Then I went to Nancy for her to check my numbers. I also needed some fabric for the binding. I had bought some yardage of a licensed Minecraft Fabric. There was not enough for the whole backing, so I had to piece. Even though this was a quilt filled with challenges, I ended up enjoying making this quilt. I always used to tell my students that it is fun to learn, and I found this quilt to be a fun learning process. Now, I have to sew the binding…not my favorite part. But, I cannot wait to see the faces of the recipients of this quilt.
My sister, Emma, and I were having a conversation about Inchies. We were talking about how satisfying it is to draw, sketch, create, something in a small space. She shared with me that as a university senior art student, she created art in two inch squares. This reminded me of a YouTube tutorial by Carrie Chambless…Inchies and Twinchies. Carrie demonstrates using thread scraps in making Twinchies. I, of course, hoard…I mean, save…thread scraps. I have them in jars. In the past, I have used some of these thread and fabric scraps in making a new fabric piece. I then used these new fabric pieces to make journal covers or signatures. I also find myself using balls of thread scraps like a stress relief ball…weird, I know… but it works. Anyway, today I used some burlap and satin scraps, along with thread scraps, to make some Twinchies. I started by backing the fabric scrap with a light weight fusible. Then I added the thread, tiny fabric shavings (which I also collect). Tulle was used to hold all of the scraps in place. Then, I used the sewing machine to free motion everything in place. Embellishing these little squares with more hand stitching and buttons was very enjoyable. I had all my jars of buttons out and tried different arrangements. It just so happened that I had some brooch pins, so I made some of the Twinchies into brooches for Emma. It was a fun and easy process. And, I just discovered Rinchies! Oh, my! I just love this stuff.
In the cleanup process, I found a new pile of scraps sitting on my table. They are what’s left after I cut the pieces into two inch squares.
When is it Trash or Treasure? I was just about to throw away this latest pile of scraps, when they starting falling into place, making a pretty piece. Trash or Treasure? For now, I am leaving the pile on the table. I will see how I feel about it tomorrow. Maybe the pile will transform into a a stack of Rinchies!
One can never have enough totes or bags. Now that I am doing more sewing handwork, I find I have tools and materials scattered everywhere. Some are in small bags, boxes or bins. Others are just strewn all over my side table by my recliner, where I work. I needed one more tote to hold all of these smaller bags and things.
At the end of January, I had prepared the fabric for making a Bali Bag, using the Auntie Two Patterns. I chose to make my bag more of a beach bag shape. This meant that I had to lean the bag to the left as I sewed the strips. This angle makes the sides flair out. I chose this shape because I thought it could hold more, and be more flexible. When I travel with the Meemaws, the Clown Car gets pretty full. This bag can be squeezed into the pile of junk with which we travel.
Preparing the strips is the tedious part of this process. I used a Moda Jelly Roll. Instead of using Duo-Fuse, I used a roll of batting strips. For the handles, I chose to follow directions by Rob Appell of Man Sewing. He has a tutorial for making a folded strip bag, which I might make later on. I like the way he used four strips to make each handle. I added a batting strip to make the handle.
Now, everything I need for sewing handwork is tucked away in this soft, but sturdy tote.
Enjoy the satisfaction that comes from doing little things well.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been sidelined for a bit. I have one more week of being restricted to staying indoors and off my feet. This is driving me a bit nuts, so I concentrated on doing small things as I rest on my recliner. I have concentrated on hand-stitching, small art, and embroidery. I have cheated a bit, by going to my sewing machine for some thread sketching.
I have been wanting to try Sashiko. A few weeks ago, I found some Sashiko templates. I already had the needles and thimble. After tracing the templates on some denim scraps, I stitched the two different patterns. This is going to take more practice, but I like the process.
Another small project was upcycling a scrappy block that I had in my scrappy bin. I added a black border, then hand-quilted the block. White scraps were used to make a daisy flower that I stitched onto the center.
The 365 Button and Stitch project is still in progress, even though I am still not too happy with it. The other embroidery hoop art project, on which I am working, is more fun. I added a flamingo, elephant, sun, and star to this project. I love the challenge of drawing in a small space with embroidery thread.
The other small project I have become obsessed with is making fabric inchies. Again, the challenge of staying within one inch is so much fun. Today was day two of inchies. I cut two strips of 3″ x 10″ muslin to make a quilt sandwich. I centered and traced a one inch square template onto the muslin. Then I thread sketched birds, faces, and Sponge Bob. After the thread sketching was completed, I added a black backing. Next, I sewed along the sides of the square to make a one inch square. Pinking shears were used to cut the four sides close to the one inch thread border. At first, I was thinking of sewing these inchies onto muslin and making a fabric book. But, from what I read, inchies are used as trading cards or items to share and gift. Mariss
, from Fabrication, suggested a box. I had the perfect box for these. My youngest son is very artistic and good with wood work. He made me a box with a drawer made from a 4″x4″ block of cedar. I had been using it to hold jewelry, but it is perfect for holding the inchies.
I am trying to make the best of this down time. Taking this time to stop and think, has helped me appreciate the small things.