Friday, November 2, 2012

The Everything Bag: A Finish & A Review

Some months ago, I decided I wanted to make a bag with lots of pockets. The Talkin' Tuesdays crowd suggested Amy Butler's Everything Bag from her book, Little Stitches for Little Ones. It's intended to be a diaper bag, so it's got pockets aplenty.

This is by far the biggest and most complicated bag I've made, so I wanted to share the down and dirty details. I'll give you the good news first.

What I like about the finished bag: 
- It's big!
- Four awesome pleated and elasticized interior pockets.
- It stands on its own thanks to a sturdy double Peltex bottom.
- The double Peltex divider keeps papers flat and gives you the option of putting your computer or iPad on either side without it taking up the bag's whole interior.
- The two exterior pockets on the end panels are great for stashing your phone, kleenex pouches, keys, or small chargers and cables.

Cons about the whole experience:
- Interpreting the pattern was a serious challenge. I literally stared at one section for an hour trying to figure out what pieces I was supposed to be working with next. Unfortunately, this pattern refers to the same pieces of fabric by different names in different sections of the pattern. If they would have been consistent about naming and gone to the trouble of printing the extra words, it would have been much clearer. 
- There were only three illustrations to help explain the assembly, and they didn't do much to enhance the written instructions. It would have been helpful to have an illustration labeling all of the different parts of the bag so you could orient yourself during cutting and assembly.
- Lots of cutting.
- Lots of Pellon SF101 interfacing, Fusible Fleece, and some Peltex. Use your coupons, people. 

What got me through:
- Cutting: I threw my cut fabric up on the design wall as I was cutting it out and labeled all of the pieces. I wish I had cleared off my whole design wall and put all of the interfacing, fleece, and fabric sections together. Straps with straps, pockets with pockets, etc. There was no cutting diagram, so have extra of everything
- Fusing: I kept a spray bottle of water handy. My pressing cloth was an old t-shirt that Mr. Pins was going to toss. I just sprayed the t-shirt with water and parked my steamy iron on top to fuse everything. Having my watch helped so I could tell whether or not I'd waited the whole ten seconds for the glue to melt and bond. Giving it the whole ten seconds definitely helped the fleece fuse better. I'm glad I used the fusible fleece instead of substituting batting, though.
- Input from the web: Lots of bloggers mentioned it was impossible to make the final edge stitching around the top of the bag look nice, because the divider came up to the top of the bag. I boldly cut an inch off of my Peltex divider pieces and an inch off the top of the lining divider pieces. It didn't change the construction, so I figured it would be ok. I'm so glad I did this. Doing the final edge stitching was still hard, but I could go all the way around the bag. 

What I changed:
- Straps: I fused two pieces of SF101 interfacing to the back of the straps, and I made the straps 26" long instead of 18".
- Shortened the center divider by an inch. 
- The fabric I used on the exterior is from the Piccadilly Collection by Sparky & Marie for Quilting Treasures. Alas, it's not licensed for use in items made from it. The fabric is heavier than quilting cotton, but it's pretty light on the home dec scale that the pattern called for. Using a heavier fabric would make for a crazy sturdy bag.
- I used 14" of elastic for my pockets, and I'm glad I did.

Additional changes for the next time around:
- I might add two Peltex dividers sewn into the sides to make an exclusive loose paper section.
- I would cut the strap pieces 5" wide and possibly make them long enough to sew into the seam where the exterior bottom panel meets the exterior main panel so the straps would go all the way down the exterior main panels to the bottom of the bag. This would make the strap components 5"x47.5". You'd have to fold down the top of the exterior 1/2" before sewing the panels to the length of the bag. I thought about this while eyeing a Vera Bradley bag in the airport on the way to Sewing Summit. The great thing about this is that you could then put another pocket in between those two straps =D
- It could be fun to shrink the pattern down a smidge. A more everyday size with all of these pockets would be a dream.
- I think a laminate version would be awesome.
- I wouldn't try to make this bag in one day again. Definitely plan for two full days of work at the least. I wanted to finish it before Sewing Summit, and I stayed up too late. Then I was up late packing the next night. I paid for those shenanigans for days. 
- I'd like to try straight line quilting on the exterior panels to give it some texture.
- I think substituting Pellon 809 for the SF101 would give it more strength and structure without adding much weight.

I took extensive notes while trying to interpret the pattern. If you're trying to make this bag and you get lost, email me. I'd be happy to try to help if you're stuck. In the end, I'm so glad I made this bag. Jeni Baker was sweet to compliment me on it at Sewing Summit, and I had folks ask about it in the airport and at Quilt Market.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October 2012 Recap

This blog post is coming to you live from International Quilt Festival in Houston! I'm starting this month surrounded by everything quilting, and I absolutely love it. Seriously. I've died and gone to quilting heaven. November is going to be out of control, so let me shed a little light onto what happened in October.

New Logo

Holla! My amazing graphic designer sister, Paige, brought Sewing Over Pins to life with her crafty computer ways. She's got the gift of Illustrator and it shows. Feel free to hit her up at paigertyler (at) gmail (dot) com for all of your graphic design needs. I met with her casually twice about what I needed and envisioned, and she zeroed in on exactly what I was hoping for. Amazing! I am thrilled and thankful :-D

Accepted to Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in Austin

On October 8th, I learned I was accepted to the Renegade Craft Fair Austin Holiday Market on Nov 24 & 45. Oh boy! I'm gonna be makin' it rain quilts around here ;-) I'm grateful for the support of my husband and my family going into this adventure. (We're having Thanksgiving in Austin instead of Louisiana to accommodate this undertaking.) I felt less intimidated after reading about Rachel's craft fair experience, so I'll be sure to share my experience as well. If you're in Austin that weekend, do come see me! The fair is on from 11am to 6pm both days.

Amy Butler Everything Bag

I've got a whole post written about my experience making this diaper bag for all my crafty nomad needs at Sewing Summit and beyond. Get pumped! I'll share the changes I made to the pattern and my suggestions for lots more tweaks ;-)

Sewing Summit

Do reference the long post from yesterday about the amazing crafty adventure that was Sewing Summit's second annual conference. It was such great time!

Fall Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival 2012

I drove the 2 hours and forty-five minutes from Austin on Saturday morning, unpacked in my Airbnb digs, and headed straight to my first Quilt Market. Whoa. This is fun. It was great to see so many fabric designers, trim & button vendors, pattern designers, notion distributors, machine and notion manufacturers, and quilters all in one place. Randomly running into fellow Austin Modern Quilt Guild members has been a riot. Seeing friends from the web like Christy, Charlotte, and Bianca, has been mind blowing fun. Mind blowing. The Echino booth was a candy shop of woven delight. Melody Miller's magical mid century booth and Ellen Luckett Baker's booth full of ginko leaf and ladybug prints from her new Stamped line filled me with radiant joy. I'm taking so many classes during Quilt Festival, it's like going to quilt college. It certainly felt that way during an accounting-heavy 8am session during Market on Monday ;-)


My Halloween treat was running the table at The Modern Quilt Guild quilt exhibit at International Quilt Festival last night. I was concerned it was going to be more of a trick than a treat since I was on duty from 5-10 pm after a day of two three-hour classes. I had originally signed up for a 7-10 pm slot, but when no one else could work from 5-7 pm, I agreed to go straight from the end of my class at 5 pm to the table after grabbing some quick food to hold me over. Once I got to the table, it was non-stop fun. I enjoyed having people ask me questions about modern quilting or how to get out of the giant exhibition hall. I tried to help folks find quilts, exhibits, and their missing friends. Christy Fincher from Purple Daisies stopped by to say "Hi." I got to meet two quilt angels, a gal and her 92 year-old mother-in-law who used to quilt. She talked to me about her grandmother making "britches quilts" by holding worn out pants up to the light and cutting squares from sections of fabric that wasn't yet threadbare. Yup, my idea of a good time is talking to a 92 year-old about her grandmother's quilting. I'm wild and crazy.

Let the holiday season begin!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sewing Summit 2012 Recap

I was thrilled to attend the second Sewing Summit conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'd never even been to Utah before, and it was a big trip getting there from Texas. I was excited to travel with two Austin Modern Quilt Guild members, and I was pumped my Mom, Karen, made it to Utah from Louisiana to attend Sewing Summit as well.

I was exhausted on the way up, because I stayed up too late two nights in a row working on my Everything Bag from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones book. Oops. It turned out cute, and it came in handy, but being tired was no fun. I wish I had made it sooner. Look forward to a long post about this bag on Friday!

In addition to my Mom, I was lucky to have a great roomie in Cori from Let's Eat Grandpa. In what crazy awesome world do you reach out for a roommate on a Google group forum and find someone as fun, smart, and talented as amazing Cori? That's just the magic of the quilting community, it seems. Man, we had some goods laughs amidst our sleep-deprived delirium.

Shop hopping with Mom on the bus was a blast. It was kind of like the Magical Mystery Tour with Megan from Canoe Ridge Creations instead of Ringo and fabric instead of spaghetti. We learned how to make fabric flowers at Yellow Bird Fabrics, I won a charm pack at Pine Needles for having a thimble in my purse, and I scored yards of beautiful fabric at Material Girls.

Salt Lake City was charmingly walkable, and the free Trax train came in handy. We did a significant amount of walking between the sprawling lodge room hallways in the Little America hotel and wandering around downtown. There were emergency shoe and bandaid purchases to cope with blisters and lots of barefoot action hoping toes would heal quickly!

It was so. much. fun. meeting people in person! I bumped into Karen Linton, and Bianca from Sweet Diesel Designs spotted me the morning of the shop hop when I was still soooooo tired. I ran into Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter in the hall, and I gushed that I had been following her blog for-EV-err. Ya know, Sandlot style. Ok, forever in quilt blog world for me is summer 2011, but still. I was pumped to meet Michelle from magical Michelle Patterns. Jeni Baker sweetly complemented me on my Everything Bag during the Craftsy happy hour. She's so nice :-) Doesn't that make the late nights of sewing worth it? Super awesome Katie Blakesley from Swim Bike Quilt and her sister sat down next to me to work in one of the sewing rooms on Saturday night, another time when I was completely exhausted. I also met Laura Lochore from Quokka Quilts that night, and we shared our love of Kate Spain's Terrain fabric. You see where I'm going with this. Non-stop greatness seeing the super talented folks whose work you admire and whose words you love to read.

Socializing on zero sleep isn't all you do at Sewing Summit. I also went to awesome classes and lectures in my foggy state. I took a class on the Baby Lock Imagine Sergers and was blown away. I didn't drop $1,500 on one, but I sure wanted to. I battled the Baby Lock Grace machine in Alexia Abegg's super fun Ship Shape Tote class, but the Elizabeth machines were more manageable in Curves Class with Christina from The Sometimes Crafter. The lectures were rocking. I learned so much about how to get better blog photos from Vanessa Hewell, and Melissa Esplin gave me some great pointers on my blog in the website design class, after which I met Emily Herrick from Crazy Old Ladies

I enjoyed hearing Joel Dewberry speaking and chatting with Erin Singleton and other gals in the bar at the Little America. Kudos to her for having any energy at all. 

I definitely confirmed I need to practice my traveling skills. I packed more than I needed, broke out in a rash, woke up with a puffy eye one morning, got a headache from altitude sickness, forgot to cut some fabric before class and ran back to my room to slice and iron. That actually worked out ok since there were only a couple of irons in the sewing room ;-) In any case, please hit me with your sewing trip traveling tips! I need to improve.

If you have any specific questions about Sewing Summit, feel free to ask me! It was such a blur of awesomeness. I will definitely try to go again. Like I tweeted, it was fun turning the Little America Hotel into a giant, crafty dorm. I wish I'd felt better so I could have done some more late night sewing, but I was lacking the endurance at altitude ;-) Anybody want to organize a Sewing Summit closer to sea level? I'll be there!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop

Hooray! It's my day on the blog hop :-D I still haven't fully recovered (or unpacked) after getting back from Sewing Summit on the 14th. I know. It's pathetic.

Salt Lake City was awesome, but I'm glad to be back in Austin, Texas. It seems we'll be having summer here clear through to the holidays, so I thought I'd take inspiration from a spot in this capital city. Among other things, Austin is known for bats which live under the Congress Street bridge in the heart of downtown. For a few months of the year, they emerge by the thousands at dusk to put a dent in the insect population. Thanks bats! There's a beautiful spinning bat statue south of the bridge that brings a smile to my face every time I pass it.

Ok, I'm usually headed home from a fabric store when I pass it, but the point is I'm smiling. I love the brightly colored Pride of Barbados flowers and the various yuccas planted around the base of the statue. I'm a very specific breed of plant and quilt nerd ;-)

You know my EPP Rose Star project is deep into its tenth month with no sign of a plan (or an end) in sight. I figured I would make a block inspired by this photo to add to the pile. I used the gray of the metal bat sculpture, the blue of the sky, the green of the foliage, and the red, orange, and yellow of the Pride of Barbados flowers to inspire this latest Rose Star block.

I don't have a block with so much concentrated red in the mix, yet, so I'm glad to add this one to the pile. If you're interested in learning how to make these blocks, Clare at selfsewn wrote the tutorial that changed my life.

If you've just stumbled into this magical blog hop, take a peek at more Rose Star magic from my pal Lucy at Charm About You. She finished a Rose Star block inspired by her home of Manchester, England. Love it! Tomorrow, the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop will check in with Em at Sewing By Moonlight. If you want to keep following along, Laura's got a list of tour dates on Quokka Quilts.

This post is part of the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop.  From 1st October - 30th November we are hopping all over the world EPP-ing in some fantastic locations.  Check out the full list here and be sure to check out the other participants. On 30th November it's over to you to link up for a chance to win these fabulous prizes! Sponsored by Paperpieces.comFabricwormPink Castle Fabrics  Marmalade Fabrics, the Fat Quarter ShopWantItNeedItQuilt, and Aurifil.
Full details for competition entry can be found here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

September 2012 Recap

Boom goes the dynamite. Apparently it's October.

Well, I guess I better take a break from sewing like a maniac and show you what all I've been up to.

Etsy Shop Open!

Creating an Etsy shop was never my main goal, but everyone was always asking about it. So there ya go: an Etsy shop. The real reason I built up some inventory to open an Etsy shop was to apply for the Renegade Holiday Fair in Austin later this year. They asked for a link to an online shop or portfolio as part of the application process. I don't have a lot of items in the shop, and I may not get selected, but I'm glad I finally have this outlet. 

Pouch Palooza

Taadaa! I'm starting to feel better about zippers. I love making these square-bottomed pouches, but I need to branch out a little bit to some lined flat pouches box pouches and  I'm rather partial to obnoxious colored zippers.

iPad Cases

I made three of these lovelies this month, but somehow one didn't get photographed before it ran away. I found I like closing these better with velcro than with magnetic snaps. Probably better for the iPad anyway. Hand stitching the binding takes a little longer, but it looks so nice on the finished case. It doesn't help for making it a profitable endeavor, but there is one for sale in the Etsy shop.

X Marks the Spot Quilt

I was so happy to finish this first do. Good Stitches quilt for the Cheer circle. I highly recommend this tutorial from SewCraftyJess!

Rose Star Block 15

I'm losing steam on these what with all of the other sewing getting in the way. I have a lot of traveling coming up in the next two months. I need to prepare by cutting out some blocks so I have some hand sewing to take with me :-)

Pink Striped Baby Quilt

I love this Quilt Blocks fabric! This little quilt is up in the Etsy shop.

Gray Striped Baby Quilt

This is the other Quilt Blocks baby quilt up in the Etsy shop. I really love both color ways :-)

Water Everywhere Baby Quilt

Oh, I adored this Salt Air print from the first time I spotted it. I was glad to find it on sale so I could craft up a very affordable quilt to put up in the Etsy shop.

Pressing Board


Phew! Even the recap is wearing me out. I'd love to go into more detail about all of this fun stuff. I look forward to getting some blogging in between now and Sewing Summit. Yay!

Happy October, everyone!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Finished: Pink & Gray Stripe Baby Quilts

After reading about Rachel's experience having a craft fair booth and talking about it with Mr. Pins, I'm going to submit an application for a handmade fair taking place later this fall. That means it's time to stock the Etsy shop with cute, crafted up goods at a variety of price points to see if I can get picked! Cue these two quilts with fabric from Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks line for Moda.

I really LOVE these prints from this line, and I was pleased to find them locally in two colorways while I was test driving some sewing machines. (More on that another day!) The chevrons are completely adorable, and I had fun pairing them with Moda solids. Meanwhile, the other print reminds me of a Double Wedding Ring/Single Girl pattern. What can I say? Throw some squares in a circle, and I'm a happy gal ;-) Let's do a deep dive on these two babies.

Quilty Stats:
Pre-wash dimensions: 58.25" x 43"
Post-wash dimensions: 55.25" x 40.75"
Batting: SewPerfect by Fairfield (Poly-Fil) Cotton Quilt Batting. (100% unbleached cotton needlepunched, no scrim with a 1/8" loft)
Fabrics: Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks line for Moda and a Moda solid
Binding: Scrappy binding made from main fabrics
Quilting: Done with my walking foot on the Bernina 1630.

In the spectrum of sewing, I consider myself primarily quilter, so of course the first thing to go up in the shop has to be a quilt! I haven't been very good at tracking how long it takes to make something, but to price things out, I have to figure in my time. I decided start with something simple and move up from there. This quilt took about five and a half hours to make. Yikes. Once you take materials into account, things get even more expensive. I wanted to see if I could be more efficient by pin basting and quilting less densely. Cue the pink version!

Quilty Stats:
Pre-wash dimensions: 58" x 43"
Post-wash dimensions: 56.5" x 40.5"
Batting: Machine 60/40 Blend by Fairfield (Poly-Fil) 60% cotton, 40% polyester, with scrim, needle punched, maintains its 1/8" loft
Fabrics: Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks line for Moda and a Moda solid
Binding: Scrappy binding made from main fabrics
Quilting: Done with my walking foot on the Bernina 1630.

I was a smidge faster making this quilt. It came together in just over four hours. The pattern and 60/40 batting made it possible work out a larger scale quilting strategy. I really like both of these quilts. The scrappy batting is my favorite! If you need a quick quilt, feel free to shop away ;-) I need to keep getting my sewing on this week, since the application deadline is coming fast. I'll keep you posted, though!

Happy Crafting :-D

The Trouble with Batting

I picked up some new-to-me batting types at Remnants this week. 

As I was digging through my batting stash to make these little baby quilts this week, I was really disappointed with some of the pre-packaged batting I was pulling out. Have you ever pulled out some pre-packaged batting and seen something like this?

Come on. I can fit my head through there. Not that I'm planning on running around town in a batting poncho ;-) I'm just saying it's a ridiculously big hole. How does something like that get past quality control?

I would've graduated to better quality batting sooner, but I stocked up at Jo-Ann's or Hancock's early in my quilting adventures last year. I'm excited to make some baby quilts out of these three sections of batting, though, to see how I like it. Jessica at Remnants was able to tell me which was which, and luckily it's easy to tell them apart. There's a Warm & Natural, Hobbs Heirloom Natural, and a Hobbs Heirloom Bleached.

I'd love to use that 50% Jo-Ann's coupon today to stock up on a fat bolt of queen-sized Warm & Natural for $225 instead of $450, but yowza. That's a lot to shell out at once. It does dollar out nicely at the 50% off price, though. If you get 20 queen-sized quilts out of that roll, then it's only $11.25 for batting for each of those quilts. Sounds good to me :-)

I'd love to hear about your thoughts on batting and deals you've seen.

Happy Crafting!