Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just When I Thought it Was Safe ...

to try and get my work space organized, I (literally) stumbled upon this madding crowd

As you can see, the lights are back on, but my territory has been invaded! I took one kid to cub scouts, and when I came back this scene (which is a very common one here at chez OOhPC!) had appeared. In a way I'm quite happy about this. I was concerned that once I moved my sewing machine back to the basement, the kids wouldn't hang out down there. Obviously - not a problem now that there's light! Though there have definitely been down sides to sewing in the main living area, I really loved being in the middle of everything and being available at a moment's notice. It looks like I won't be lonely in the basement either.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hello World!

Well, a *very* big welcome to all of you stopping by due to the link on Thanks for checking out the tutorial! I hope you enjoy your visit. If you're also interested in quilts please be sure to check out my website, Also, many thanks to Mama-E (Erin) for providing the link to Craft! (You should definitely check out Mama-E's warehouse - she dyes very beautiful yarn and fiber.)

Minty has been over here lately, and she's always so nice about my nature photos, so I thought I'd post a few just for her. We had an ice storm this week, and I very briefly ran out and took a few photos before the rain washed all the ice away.

The ice was coating this bush.

To my amazement, this ice casting was formed.

I placed it on our broken sundial.

On another happy note, the lights in my work space are back on, so I can get back to organizing my own space - yeah!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Well, I guess I jinxed myself with that last post. As I was typing it, my new lights in the basement stopped working! The electrician can't come out until tomorrow, so we've returned to cave like conditions in my work space.

I have a new quilt in the works, but I'm waiting for various supplies I've ordered to arrive. Believe it or not we need to add some extra memory to the computer in order for me to finish designing it! I tend to keep lots of files with intermediate design steps in them, and if I'm using many layers the memory sure does add up.

In a surprise move, I've already received several Valentine's from my guys.

Lovely flowers from my husband

Part of a "bouquet" of hearts from my preschooler. He made a heart for each family member saying why he loves them.

OK, I had to make this picture bigger so you could read it. He likes my quilts! I didn't even know that he'd noticed them - I was very touched.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

P.S. I invite any of you who are interested in paper crafting to visit my new blog, Paper Playground. I haven't been able to sew for various reasons for the last month, so I've indulged myself in making some cards. It's been a fun creative exercise while I haven't been able to get the quilting done that I'd planned.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Buried Treasure

I've finally convalesced enough that I was able to make a little headway on getting my studio set up. The electrician came a little over a week ago and the results are simply astounding! He noted that he thought it would be much better than essentially sewing by candlelight - ha!

Yesterday I went through and got rid of (or at least sorted out) seven very large boxes of, well, stuff. I found some clothes I sewed between 15 and 30 years ago, and I can't believe how neatly I used to finish my clothes that long ago. Too bad I'll never fit them again.

Here's some of the booty I found:

Lobster Napkins, believed to have been appliqued by my mother back in the crafty 70's.
Keepers - they rock!

My very first applique project, also a relic of the 70's. If Wonder Under and stabilizers existed then I certainly wasn't aware of them!

Hand embroidered linens given to me by one of my mom's many super crafty friends.

Not pictured: My perfect pleater! (WHY did I buy that?) , sketches and stitch samples I made while designing And They Danced ... , the handouts from an applique class I taught in League City, TX back in about 1990, and *lots* of odds and ends of fusible interfacing. Absence did not make my heart grow fonder for most of the items, making it much easier to just get rid of them.

My big question - what suggestions do you guys have for dealing with fabric you know you'll never use? Some of it I"m willing to give away, there's a senior center nearby and of course elementary schools who might be able to use some, but there's plenty more than that. Is ebay the way to go? There's quite a bit that's high quality, like Hoffman fabrics and various batiks. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Esther's Tote Tutorial

I've learned so much from other blogs and websites, I thought after two years of blogging I'd give back a little with a detailed tutorial. This is a quick, cute tote bag I've made as a gift for both little girls and ladies. I hope you enjoy using it, and let me know where I can check out a picture if you make one! I think you'll especially enjoy the method I used to miter the bottom and attach the lining to the outer bag.

I'm thrilled for you to make as many bags as you want for personal, noncommercial use, but please respect my copyright and don't distribute copies of the pattern or sell bags you've made from it. I'd also appreciate a link back to me if you use the pattern. Thanks!

2/16/08 Edited to add: Several readers have listed some great tips in the comments for alternate construction techniques and I encourage you to read them. I deliberately chose the methods demonstrated here to provide a very finished, professional interior of the bag, with the lining and outer bag attached so that the lining doesn't creep up when the bag is in use. I've never liked turning linings and bags right side out through small openings and then having to close the opening, so I chose the construction techniques shown here. The method of attaching the band and handles reinforces where the handles are attached for a sturdier finished product. However, if you make it - it's your bag! Take what works for you, have fun, and run with it! I look forward to seeing your creations.

10/22/11 Edited to Add: If you've made a bag from the pattern I'd *love* to see a picture. Thanks!
Esther’s Tote
©2008 Diane R. Doran

1 yard Shirtailor Interfacing
½ yard outer fabric
½ yard lining fabric
¼ yard fabric for band
1/4 yard fabric for handles
(Note: if you use heavy decorator weight fabric you can skip the interfacing.)
Cut Shirtailor in the following order:
2 - 3”x22” strips for handles (from one short end of the yard)
1 - 6”x30” strip for band
1 - 15”x30” rectangle for outer bag
Interface all fabric pieces except lining and bias. Tip: Apply interfacing to fabric, then cut out fabric pieces. (The band and handles won’t be completely interfaced.) The extra ½” on the band makes it easy to turn the raw edge up to finish that edge.
Cut Fabric as follows:
Outer bag – 15”x30”
Lining - 15”x30”
Band - 6½”x30” (leave ½” on a long side without interfacing)
Handles – 5”x22” (apply interfacing to center of fabric strip)
Fold handles in half lengthwise wrong sides together, iron folded edge. Open, then fold raw edges in to center. Fold together so that raw edges are enclosed. Press. Top stitch close to long edges.

Press up ½” on one long edge of band. Open out this pressed edge. Fold band into a rectangle 6.5”x15” right sides together. Sew along raw 6½” edge. Press seam open. Note: the seam allowance for the bag band, lining side seam, and outer bag side seam needs to be consistent, but you can make it whatever you want.
For both Outer fabric and Lining Fabric:
Fold in half right sides together to make a 15”x15” rectangle. Sew raw edge that is opposite the fold. Press seam flat, then open. Sew one other raw edge with right sides still together. Press. Cut a 2” square of fabric out of the corner where the two seams meet. Use it as a guide to cut a square out of the opposite corner. Tip: use the same guide square for both the outer bag and the lining. Be sure to cut from the seam line in.

Now for the fun part! You will now join the lining and outer bag, and miter the bottom corners of the bag at the same time. Open up bottom corner of outer bag, and bring bottom seam allowance up to meet the side seam allowance.
Pin. Do the same with the lining bottom. Pin the lining and outer bag together with the bottom seams together.
The lining and outer bag should be “bottom to bottom”. Both the lining and outer bag are still wrong sides out. Sew from one end of your pinned miter to the other.
Repeat this step with the other lining and outer bag corner.
The lining and outer bag are now attached at both bottom corners, still inside out. Pull the outer bag up over the lining so that the outer bag is right side out.

Baste upper edge. Center handles on front and back of bag with 4.5” space between handles and machine baste.
(I switched bags here to show better contrast between the bag and handles)
Place outer band over outer bag, right sides together, matching raw edges of unfolded edge to raw edges of bag and lining.
Stitch all layers together with a 3/8” seam. Press seam and band up towards top of bag.
Pull up outer band and bring down folded edge to interior to cover seam and all raw edges. If necessary trim raw edges.
Top stitch on outside of bag in the ditch, catching the folded edge of the band (inside the bag) in the seam to cover interior raw edges.