Back in the Groove

For the past few months, I have been trying different techniques and styles, hoping to one day make an artistic quilt. I have no real idea of what I am doing in this area, and I was becoming overwhelmed by what I “can’t do”. I think I was trying out too many things, instead of just focusing on one. This is my usual attention deficit MO.

As a teacher, I always told my students to feel good about what they “could do”. This would help them get a jump start to move on and learn more. So, I decided to follow my own advice and jump start with something I “can do”. I know I can piece simple quilts, so I decided it was time to make another one. The last one I pieced was back in March.

Donating my fabric stash was a great start. This was followed by a trip to the Mesquite Bean, where I purchased some Moda fat quarters.
I cut and pieced the blocks yesterday.

I started with cutting 6.5″x 21″; and 3.5″ x 21″ strips.

I made three different versions of 9.5″ x 9.5″ blocks.
This afternoon, I plan to arrange the blocks on the design wall. I am thinking of trying to applique something on some of the blocks. The fabric may be too busy for applique of any kind, but I will try some things out to see if I like it.
One big plus from piecing this quilt, is that I now have a new batch of different sized and shape fabric pieces. This new stash has some promise of making an interesting art piece.
Another benefit…it felt good to be back in the groove.

Fresh Start

My sister, Emma, belongs to the Girlustrators, a group of illustrators who share and support each other. I depend on my blogging friends for artistic support. I also heavily depend on Emma. She frequently checks in with me to see how I am doing when it comes to art and creating…and other family things, also. We share our successes, doubts, failures, and thoughts about our art work. Emma intuitively knew that I was going through a bit of a rut, and she called me today to see what was happening. She was not surprised about my decision to empty my bins and donate all of the fabric stash. She agreed that it was a good move for me. She told me that an empty bin is a sign of hope…that it will be filled up again.

It just so happens, when Emma called, I had just returned from a fabric shopping spree with our sister, Adri. I love shopping with Adri. She is always telling me to “go ahead and buy it”! So, I did!
We spent a lot of time at the Mesquite Bean. I walked away with a bag of gorgeous fabric. I have not pieced an entire quilt for a few months now.  I still have a long term goal to make an improv quilt one day, and I will continue to practice improv pieces. But right now, I will reboot by piecing a simple fat quarter quilt.

My new marvelous Moda fabric!
Valley by Sherri and Chelsi

I am happily clearing my table, cleaning my machine, and changing my rotary blade.
Hopefully, I can get a fresh start tomorrow.

Note: I was so eager to get some fabric, that I showed up to the Mesquite Bean before opening time. The store owner let my sister and I in because they saw our faces pressed against the window! The store has a row by row with a three Mariachi applique design. They have decided to include this block into a quilt that reflects San Antonio. They are in the midst of designing the whole quilt, and they had the paper layout on the table.They allowed us to see the paper layout of the San Antonio quilt and I LOVE IT! This is a definite next quilt project for me. They are going to sell it by blocks, and the blocks should all be ready in another month. One of the blocks is a taco!

Patchwork Heart Tote

My stash bin had a remnant from the backing of  the quilt that I made
for my brother.
It was a dark blue with light blue polka dots.
I had enough to make a 20 inch by 20 inch tote bag.

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I used the Moda Bread and Butter Mini Charm pack to design a patchwork heart.
I wished I had purchased two of the same pack.
One pack made one heart.
I used the remaining charms to form a pattern on the back.

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I couldn’t decide if I wanted to add denim or orange polka dot.
I asked my two sisters for input.
They liked both.
I decided to use the blue polka dot remnant for the top and side borders.
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Front                                                                           Back

There are 8 rows.
Each row has 8 squares. (2.5 inch)
The side borders were cut at 2.5 inches wide.
The top and bottom borders were cut at 3 inches.

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I stitched in the ditch, then I outlined the heart and the squares with a whipped running stitch, using orange and yellow embroidery thread.

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Orange and white polka dot fabric for lining (Purchased at Hobby Lobby in Round Rock)

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Two pockets

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Tote Bags

As a teacher, I built up quite a collection of bags to tote books, goodies, and teacher stuff.
But, one can never have enough tote bags!
I found this excellent video from Missouri Star Quilting Company.
The tutorial demonstrates how to make three large tote bags from one jelly roll.
The bag can be made in one day.

I made two tote bags so far.
One is a gift, and a surprise, so I will post that one later.
I had ordered the Just a Speck jellyroll by Moda.
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I used all of the shades of brown, grey, and black to make one bag.
I used the pastel colors with black polka dots to make the other.
The remaining pastel colors with white polka dots will someday be made into two smaller totes of some kind, as soon as I think of a design.
Since I had some black and white jelly roll strips leftover from my chevron quilt, I decided to use them with the black polka dot strips. At first, it reminded me of summer, so I named it Hello Summer.
Then, my sister saw the hibiscus black and white strip and said it reminded her of Hawaii, and she LOVES  Hawaii, so I renamed the tote, Aloha.
IMG_6726 You need 12 strips.
IMG_6727 Sew the entire length of the strips together.
IMG_6730 Add batting, and secure the fabric. I stitched in the ditch, and then also stitched two quarter inches on both sides of each ditch. As the tutorial states, it is your choice.
Trim the batting.
Trim off the selvage.

IMG_6732 You need 11/2 yards fabric for the lining, four 4″ cuts for the two straps, and also for the pockets. I chose to use leftover black fabric for the straps. I used the lining fabric to make pockets for the lining. ( Not mentioned or demonstrated in the tutorial)
IMG_6746  This is the finished tote bag.