It’s in the Bag

This weekend at retreat brought the completion of not one, but three UFOs! Here’s the second one, my Miranda Bag, started in November 2008, and first blogged about here..
I made this smaller than the original Lazy Girl pattern size, it measures 11.25″ wide and 8.25″ tall (excluding the handles). I put the finishing touches on Monday night and loaded it full of my loot!
The quilting is kind of fun, just following the pattern in the print…
The fabric is from Marcus, a line by Michelle D’AMore, “Rio”, I believe. The stripe is my favorite! And it’s loaded full of pockets–yeah! A bag with lots o’ pockets is a must.
If you’ve never used a Lazy Girl pattern, they are quite easy to follow, very well organized and accurate. I think even a beginner to bag-making could create with her patterns with very little trouble.

It feels so good to finish things. I should try it more often. ;->

Miranda Bag for Molly

This is the Miranda Bag (Lazy Girl Designs) that I finished this weekend for Molly. I love the colors, teals, turquoise, brown and lime greens. Molly seems to like darks, so this is going to be a color infusion for her…I hope she likes it. The handle is one continuous loop (not part of this pattern), so it can be carried like this with two shorter handles by the hand or over the elbow, or pulled all the way through to make a shoulder strap.
I put a handbag magnetic snap closure on the flap instead of using velcro as the pattern called for. The interior is full of pockets for everything, and a fun color to boot!
I turned away for literally about eight seconds while photographing, and turned back to this:
Maggy tries out all new quilts first, so why not the handbags, too? She refused to look at the camera. I’m sure she knew this was a no-no. Defiant, little….

I have to go clean the cat hair out of Molly’s bag, now.

Quilt Retreat Review

It’s no secret I love a weekend of sewing. And especially a weekend of sewing with quilty gals. This past weekend was certainly no exception. We talked. We laughed. We ate. We sewed. We ripped. We cut. We ate. We napped. We shared. We ate some more. Maida, our chef for the weekend did a great job of keeping the hunger pangs away. I’m doing extra workouts this week to make up for it.

Our retreat takes place in the cafeteria of an elementary school. Here is my table of quilters:That is my Pfabulous Pfaff to the right of center, there. It worked like a champ this weekend after visiting the doctor two weeks ago. I made two more Nearly Insane (UFQ #20) blocks (remember, my goal is two per month)–Thirty blocks for the Girlish Charm Quilt (UFQ #7)
A new ironing board cover (I’ll post more on this later this week)–
Worked on my Liberty Garden (a WIP since June 2008)
Made this for my friend Molly who has been patiently waiting all summer (UFP #8)
And I made a gift for a little guy, but I can’t post pics yet because it hasn’t been gifted yet…

There is always show-n-tell at a retreat, everyone gathers around and oohs and ahhs and takes pictures and asks questions. This is Ann’s “tumbling blocks variation”:
Mom’s Blooms for Annabelle quilt, which will have hand applique in the background spaces and extra borders to make it bigger, but after ripping it apart A LOT, the main center is finally done. Note the smile.Cathy’s scrappy stars for a kindergarten classroom board, made from all donated blocks and fabric scraps:
Dawn’s hexagon strip quilt:And occasionally, a rest is needed after all that sewing, quilting, ripping, eating, laughing, and talking. Here is Lynn taking a nap under one of her creations :I’m going to have to get one of those chairs to take along next time…

Beating the Heat…

Des Moines is a great place to be in the summer months, there is something going on every weekend, we have farmer’s markets on almost every night of the week, including a mega-massive downtown market every Saturday morning. We have an amusement park, great arts festivals, one of the (if not, THE) top-rated state fairs (that even inspired a musical), a great zoo, and beautiful botanical center…the list goes on and on. The only trouble is–the heat. Well, the humidity, really. The percentage of humidity in our air this time of year is typically in the high 80% and 90%’s. Which means when the actual temperature might be only 91 degrees, you often have a heat index of 96 to 98 degrees (what the temp actually feels like). It also means that every time you move faster than a turtle, you immediately start to ooze and exude moisture from every pore. Not pretty. God bless the person(s) who invented air conditioning.

There are somethings I refuse to pass up, though, even if it does mean sweating it out among the masses of cranky hot citizens. (Yes, we get cranky. Very cranky when it’s that humid.) One of them is the art festivals…

Last weekend we went to Art-A-Fair at Hoyt Sherman Place. It’s a small arts festival held on the front lawn of a 1877 mansion that now serves as home to the Des Moines Woman’s Club and many shows and performances in its 1923 theater. There is just something about strolling from tent to tent admiring the creativity and creations of other craftspeople and artists that just makes me giddy. I love it. I never tire of it. I would attend one of these every weekend if I could.

It was miserably sweltering in the sun, but thankfully, there was a lot of shade. There was also an awesome jazz trio playing music that just added to the ambiance of the day.

One of my favorite finds were these limestone wall sculptures of veggies and critters with human characteristics and expressions:

I don’t know how well you can see the picture, but those peas, asparagus and carrots are way too cool not to be found hanging in my kitchen or dining room one day. The little fish at the top is probably the cutest thing ever. I should have taken more than just this one photo. They are in the process of setting up a website, I’ll post about it again once I know the site is live.

The Hoyt Sherman Place is a site to see in itself. Hoyt Sherman was a relative (cousin, I believe) of the General Sherman that marched across the South and burned Atlanta (a little over a decade before this was built). Here is the 1877 cornerstone:

The front of the mansion:

The theater that was added in 1923:

with some amazing architectural details on the interior (this is the ceiling in the audtorium):

And a detail of one of the windows:

I only took one item home with me from the festival. This awesome little bag is made of upholstery weight fabric with a beautiful vintage brooch embellishing it. These bags are made by two sisters of retirement age who are just having a ball sewing together and starting up their own business.

Isn’t that brooch awesome?!? Yesterday, one of my favorite bands, Hello Dave (from Chicago) came and performed a free concert outside of one of our malls. This mall is only four years old this summer, they built a terraced amphitheater for these summer concerts, but without the forthought of providing shade for the poor performers on 101 degree days with heat indeces of 106 degrees. I seriously felt for these guys.

They are a pretty energetic quintet, though, and the show didn’t suffer as a result of their suffering. Here they are doing the fight song for their bass player, whose bass literally overheated about 2/3 of the way into the show. You might notice the people in lawn chairs across the lake there. Yeah, they’d be the smart ones.

If you’re wondering what got in my way at the top of this photo, that would be the broken umbrella that I grabbed as I got out of the car to protect my friend and I from the sun. You see, the developers also didn’t take into account the fact that these evening concerts are taking place in an amphitheater that has this great terraced arena that faces due West. That’s right, listening to the music as the sun goes down, down, down directly into your EYES! It’s gets a little hard to see the performers after a while, but my trusty broken umbrella that probably should have seen the inside of a trash can a year ago, performed like a champ. It’s not pretty, there is a metal spoke that pokes through the top, another metal spoke that no longer has an fabric covering it…it wouldn’t keep you dry in a downpour, but it will keep you cool in the sun. Oh, brelly, how can I ever throw you away now?

One thing that is enjoying this humidity? The green stuff! My flowers are taking over my porch. This is a huge pot that houses these plants, and you can’t even see it anymore. I don’t water as often as I should. But no matter, the moisture in the air is taking care of them just fine…

I hope you are beating the heat, wherever you live, and taking advantage of all the great summer events and activities your town has to offer. Just remember the sunscreen. (It’s 70 SPF for me).

And the winner is…

My quilty friend , Toni , and I decided to try some quilt contests this year, and actually finish and enter them. I made the quilt for the Piece, Love and Quilts contest on my own. Together we decided to buy fabric and enter the quarterly contests through American Patchwork and Quilting and

The first was the Twist and Turn Pillow:

Toni loves red and I love green, we wanted to change the pattern up a bit…’cause y’know…I don’t follow rules (or at least patterns) well. We were in the top ten, but not the winner. It was fun making them together, so winning doesn’t really matter. Right?!?

The next one was the pincushions…a crazy small (?!) pic, again, Toni’s is the red one, mine is the green one. We added wool roving as stuffing to act as a pin and needle sharpener. These also made it into the top ten, but didn’t win.

There was some pretty cute competition…so I can see why.

This week we completed the Grab Bags for the 3rd Quarter, complete with red-and-green-and-white-rick-rack-goodness!

Here’s a close up of the embellishments:

I’m sorta jealous, ’cause this time I really like the red one better! Maybe we can work out a trade?!?

To vote for us, or your favorite (even if it is not us) go here, and follow the orange arrow… Perhaps this time…we will be the winner…

"huhhh—chili peppas…", and UFQ #8 & #9

I wrote last week about my brother’s birthday, which is exactly one week before mine. I’m trying to do more handmade “gifts from the heart” this year for special occasions and the holidays. Little Brother enjoys cooking, and he’s a talented cook–I can attest to that–he’s a good experimenter, and he enjoys grilling and growing veggies along with my S-I-L. The last few years, they’ve planted different varieties of peppers, canned some awesome sauces and made salsas, and whipped up some great meals. So when I saw this Alexander Henry pepper fabric, I could not resist. It practically screamed his name.
Then I found the great “sliced green pepper” Patrick Lose fabric to go with it, so I made it reversible:

Here’s my special “handmade” label…

And Little Brother proudly modeling it for me. His wife was saying at this moment, “smile, you’ll probably end up on a blog”…(she’s a regular reader–and got me into blogging in the first place) ;-> “hi, les!”

I’ve promised to make one for his little three-year old son, so Daddy and Son can wear them to “whip up some eggs”.

Now, back to the UFQ’s. These are actually USP’s (unstarted projects), the first, USP #8, is a sort of “commissioned project”, a bag for Little Brother’s S-I-L. I’m making a combo Miranda/Bridget bag from these two patterns and these fabrics…

It’s for a gal that usually goes for all black, so this will be a color infusion for her. Then, I have fabric for USP #9 to make myself a Miranda Bag…

The main part of the bag will be that awesome squares fabric, the lining will probably be the stripe and the bottom of the bag the tone-on-tone teal. I LOVE these, and can’t wait to work on this project!

Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to work on USP #8 this weekend…she’s waiting patiently…