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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Betsy Travel Bag (Blog Hop)


I am really excited to be a part of the Betsy Travel Bag blog hop! When I was first chosen to be one of the pattern testers, I found it so hard to pick out my fabrics... There were so many great places on this bag to stick little coordinating prints without looking cheesy or overwrought.
I finally decided on a Denyse Schmidt print that I kept ordering without ever realizing I'd double and triple ordered it. I figured that I must really love that fabric if I kept on ordering it, accidentally. And then with this fun newsprint as an accent... I started to get really excited.

I got to work on it as soon as I worked out the fabric choices and got my hardware. (On a side note, one of my biggest notes to the pattern company was that "someone should sell hardware kits for the Betsy Travel Bag so sewists don't have to find everything themselves" (that was ALREADY their plan. Lucky for you - you can find them at the Snuggly Monkey Shop www.snugglymonkey.com... I had to order bulk of most of my hardware (not really a problem since I have already made two of these bags with plans for at least 2 more)
Back to the bag.... As I was making it, I had to marvel at all the cool pockets and features I was putting in. I told someone, "it's like a catalogue of all the coolest pocket techniques". One night when the bag was nearly complete, my husband came in and saw it.

The way he looked at it told me that he didn't think this looked like an ordinary quilted duffel bag. He was really impressed with how "professional" it looked - I think it was all the nice hardware, personally.

I began to think... Could I figure out a way to make him a masculine GUY version of the Betsy Travel Bag? How would I go about that?
Valentine's Day was coming up... Could I do it? I had just bought some gorgeous prewashed chambray from a friend who had a bolt...

I went into my local quilt shop, Sew Modern, and there got the advice and idea to accent with Moleskin fabric. I picked a solid charcoal color. Then I added in some of my favorite old fake herringbone tweed cotton that I have yards of here at home and I cranked on this gorgeous bag and presented it to my husband on Valentine's Day.
 

I have to say, it's the nicest thing I have ever sewn for him. His comment.... "Wow. That does not look homemade. It looks like something they would sell at Fred Segal" - kind of a mega-compliment in my book.

I liked his bag so much (more even than my own!) that I used it to travel to Quiltcon. While traveling with it, I learned even more how much I loved this bag. All the pockets! The straps! The style!
And the whole guy factor is such a major bonus for me. I mean, how many quilted items can you really give the men in your life? Only a few. Well, this is one of them.  But then again, I'm feeling like this bag would also look SO GOOD in metallic linen... hmmmm....
 So now it's your turn! You know you want to make one... You can buy the pattern in the Rebel Craft Media shop - www.rebelcraftmedia.com/shop - The pattern is being released in a few days on April 1 and there's even a sew-along on the Rebel Craft blog that starts on April 2. (Pre-order sales for the pattern started March 17th - you can buy it and get the materials list before the pattern is released so that you can assemble your supplies)
Also check out this hashtag - #thebetsytravelbag to see other people's pics of the bag - some of the details are best understood by looking at what the bag looks like finished.
oh - and here are the other bloggers to visit on the Blog Hop - read about their experiences with the fantastic Betsy Travel Bag!

Blog    Hop   Tour:

March 17
Rebel    Craft    Media
Schnitzel    &    Boo
Snuggly    Monkey

March    19: 
• Daisy    &    Jack

March    21:
I’m    A    Ginger    Monkey

March    23: 
Don’t    Call    Me    Betsy

March    25: 
Libby    Dibby   

March    27: 
Euphoria    Jessica

March    29:
Karri    of    Berries

March    31:
Rebel    Craft    Media    (photo    roundup)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Creating with creativity

I'm committing to this idea of not making something that doesn't have my voice in it in some form. Im tired of making things that anyone else could have made. I'm not saying that every single project has to have improvisational piecing... Or curves, or hand quilting or lots of grays and reds... Maybe the only thing that says I made it is the way I put the colors together, but I think I'm tired of making the same stuff as anyone else. I am an artist with a voice that I already know how to express, so why have I not been doing that? These are the thoughts floating around in my head this week...

This little pillow has spring out of that internal conversation. It's an old block I made with scraps... It was sitting in my studio over a year... Just sitting. And with about 3 hours of work, I have finished it and made it something I am proud of.

I feel like I want to ask myself ... What makes this project "Libby" - this one? It's the analogous color scheme... The way I always put colors in families. There's a little bit of improv in the way I put the log cabin together and the hand quilting was very spontaneous in its construction.

I don't really know if anyone is reading these posts, but if you are, I'm curious to know what you would define as YOUR voice in a project.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

New quilts and saying goodby to old habits

Lots of sewing. In the past two days, I've dealt with stuff by sewing. It's the old joke that my sewing machine is the one thing in my life that I feel I can truly control.
So in 48 hours, I've made 3 baby quilt tops.... I've also basted two of those and a twin sized quilt (an old unfinished one that I started in my first months of quilting -it's really boring compared to what I want to be making) ... And now I've quilted two of the baby quilts and this orphan block which is destined to become a pillow....I've even attached bindings too. Tons of really brainless sewing... My new machine has arrived and I have a load of new ideas I want to try out, but I didn't have space to put it in the studio without clearing up some space first... I think I needed the mental space too. I haven't made a quilt in many months and need to get a bit reacquainted with the process.

I've been thinking a lot about my process too. Going to Quiltcon was really good for me this last month because I became more clear on the path I want to take as I move forward in my quilting. For years, I have put off my most creative ideas as I have cranked through fabric that people have given me... For some reason, gifted random fabric has always screamed at me loudest - "use me up! Find a use for me!" Even louder than fabrics that I treasure and bought myself. Perhaps I just wanted to use things before they go to waste. A part of me looks at the challenge and says... "Can you make something good or even beautiful from something you don't like?"
But I'm tired of that process now.
I want to work with things that inspire me now... And I'm getting tired of never using what I love the most... These quilts have been a good exercise for me to realize that just scrapping along isn't doing it for me anymore. My most favorite quilts started with a true idea and even when they were done, I wanted to make them again. So these 4-5 little projects here are a bit of a swan song to my old process. And I like that.

I just need to hold myself to it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Teaching collage as Art Therapy - Camp Ronald McDonald


This past year, just before I was getting too pregnant to leave town comfortably,  I was given the opportunity to teach a collage art therapy workshop for 30 grieving parents. It was in Idylwild at Camp Ronald McDonald and the group I was working with was a very nurturing group for parents who had lost children to brain cancer.  Talk about wanting to be prepared to say and do the right things as I led. I felt like my own (lesser) experiences with grief and loss over these past few years and how art and collage had helped me to work through a lot of it - gave me a place to work from as I instructed these families. I brought in a couple of my own works - specifically ones that showed my healing process over losing baby G and prepared a mix of music to work with that was both thoughtful and cheerful for promoting the creative process.
 It was a very moving and precious afternoon. It was also the largest group I've taught and some of the participants had to be won over to the activity as it wasn't really something that they had specifically paid for or signed up for.  In fact, some of the dads were really skeptical at first and attended a bit begrudgingly, but as the afternoon progressed, they were the ones that got the most out of the experience (at least from what they told me).
 

They loved it and the time went quickly. There were tears and laughter and at the end, I received many hugs and thank yous. If I were able to post the un-cropped versions of these pics, you'd see the huge smiles on their faces. To know I was even a small part of bringing that was really special.
I love sharing art with others and these people deserved those moments of joy so much.
 

I've taught a bunch of collage, art, drawing, and silk painting classes to groups now,  and I have to say that this was definitely the most challenging and rewarding class I have ever taught. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity.






Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vintage Quilt Redux

This past year, I was commissioned to fix a filthy, torn, tattered quilt top and asked to "repair" it. I'm not sure if the owner even knew it was only an unfinished quilt top, and not a finished quilt until I told her. It was in bad shape.
I consulted my friends, quilty experts and contacts, including art restorers, wardrobe experts, people who market professional textile cleaning products. And then I dug in to the mess. I had to hand wash it 4 times in Soak textile wash just to get it clean enough to work on. 

Then I bought vintage feedsack scraps on eBay and made little patches for the really bad holes. 

There was lots of hand sewing to be done and much going back as I'd see more holes, ripped seams and tears, but slowly it began to come together.
I fell in love with the fabrics the more I worked with them, and found little gems and favorite spots throughout the quilt.


The more I worked with it, the more I wished I could speak to the woman who made it... The whole process felt like a conversation I was having with her. There was a distinct primitive beauty about it... I can't help but wonder if this was the only quilt this sewist ever made. So many quilter rules were broken (which reminded me a lot of the natural beauty in the quilts of Gees Bend) and I just loved the innocence of it all. As I finished the quilt, I didn't square it up, I left the edges all wobbly and dealt with the wrinkles that were there as part of the design. I told the customer that these were beautiful and should be preserved as the voice of the original artist.
What a joy it was to finish it. I quilted it really tightly and backed it with Denyse Schmidt's Greenfield Hill line, a vintage inspired line that matched really well.... When it was finally finished, it was strong and safe enough to wash thoroughly with some of my favorite handmade laundry detergent... And what came out of my dryer at the end was gorgeous. It was an absolute delight to work on.













Monday, March 2, 2015

free quilt patterns by Robert Kaufman

Last year, I was privileged to design a few quilt patterns for Robert Kaufman. They gave me some fabric from their lines and asked me to design a pattern that would work with the product.  These are the two I made for them. The process of designing and writing the patterns was really fun for me. Both patterns can be found for free at the Robert Kaufman website and they are not hard to make at all.
HEXIE HELIX PATTERN - click for the link
SPECTRUM CANDY PATTERN - click for the link


HEXIE HELIX


SPECTRUM CANDY




The quilt that made me late to the hospital to give birth

I'm going to be transferring a few of the posts I had made on my Facebook page over here so that they can all be in one place again - to catch up...

Here's a post of the quilt I made up to the last minute as I left for the hospital to have baby Dax.

====================
Here is the last quilt I finished before going into the hospital to give birth... It started off a few years ago as 4 leftover blocks from the quilt I made for our foster baby as he left our home... Then I made it into a small (too small) top.  For years I would pull it out and try different borders onto it to try and make it bigger, but none of them worked.  I finally pulled it out recently and found some fabrics I liked for it. I decided to hand quilt it, since it had been a while since I had hand quilted a project, and then when it was getting close to done, I couldn't imagine parting with it... So it had to be finished before baby came home.
I "may have" actually (read: I DID) delayed our departure to the hospital by 15-20 minutes as I begged Jay to understand that I needed to finish this binding before we left.
In the end, I could have brought it with me and worked on it for the next 24 hours before I finally had my c-section to get this little guy out...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Healthy chocolate chip chia oatmeal cake

I love chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I think they might be my favorite. I also love oatmeal in general, though until now there haven't been very many oatmeal fans in our house. Z has always liked oatmeal... I was sad when he stopped calling it "opee-mo", but Jay and Mimi aren't big fans. Until now.

Since I'm breastfeeding and wanting to keep my milk supply up, I was looking for less tired and time consuming oatmeal recipes online. I stumbled onto a chocolate chip baked oatmeal recipe that seemed good, but it was a bake-for-one thing by a single girl who clearly had more control over her mornings than I do. I need something good and fast.

So I messed with her recipe... Doubling/tripling it, adding things... Cutting out a lot of the sugar... And came up with something so good that I look forward to eating it every morning. And all I have to do is unwrap my little frozen tin foil square and microwave it for 1min 20sec. And my oatmeal hating husband loves it too... And pickiest of all, Mimi, will eat it (though few things tear her from her morning bagel and cream cheese)

The most recent batches have added in chia seeds for health reasons, but I've found they add some nice crunch too. 

Here's the recipe:

LibbyDibby's chocolate chip chia oatmeal breakfast cake

Preheat oven to 400 (I use the convection setting)

1 1/2 c. Milk
3T chia seeds
1 1/2 t vanilla
2T maple syrup

1 1/2 c applesauce
4T margarine

3 c rolled oats
1/2 c chocolate chips (I use mini- semi sweet)
3/4 t salt

Soak chia in milk for five minutes while you combine all of the dry ingredients. Then mix it up really well since the chia tends to clump.
Then mix all the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Pour them into a greased 9x13 pan.
I cook at least 30 minutes in my convection oven until done.

After the oatmeal has cooled (I usually eat one serving while it's hot, because it's so yummy, I can't wait) I usually cut it into little squares wrap it in tinfoil and put them in the freezer then I can pull out one serving of cake for breakfast every morning I usually microwave it for one minute and 20 seconds. I find the recipe makes about 9-12 servings, depending how you slice it  ++UPDATE! - I'M NOW MAKING THIS IN A SILCONE MUFFIN TIN - WAY EASIER TO GET PORTIONS EQUAL AND EASIER TO CLEAN UP. I GET ABOUT 15-16 LITTLE SERVINGS++



Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Little surfer quilt

Many times when I am working on a project, some scraps will fall to the side and will end up becoming random quilt blocks. As I spent my last few months before having the baby, last year, I became driven to use up whatever unfinished blocks and quilts and projects I could find. I came up with the hashtag #crazypregnantladysewing and posted my ridiculously prolific work on there. Insomnia helped with that too... One of those projects was this sweet surf turned quilt ... These four very simple blocks had been sitting neglected after another baby boy quilt was made a year earlier, and so I turned them into a surfy baby quilt for a baby boy born to an old friend of mine. It was backed with the softest brushed cotton and gifted just in time for both of us to have our little guys.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sturdy fabric baskets

I've made a couple different styles of fabric baskets and recently needed a gift so I decided to make another one. But I wanted something that was a little stiffer than the ones I had made before, so I opted this time for a pattern I saw in an Instagram feed... The #sturdyfabricbasket by LillyElla's World - click this link for the pattern (http://lillyella.blogspot.com/2014/12/sturdy-fabric-basket-tutorial.html?m=1)- it was a fast and easy pattern and I had fun filling the end result with goodies for the gifted one and remotes (!) for my practice one... My favorite part is the $2.50 thrifted leather belt that I used for handles...

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