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Last week Jen1, Marilyn, and I had a marathon sewing session (Geri's Academy of Sewing - LOL) at Jen's place making Bionic Gear Bags. This bag is an adaptation of the Sew Together Bag.

Jen and Marilyn's 'homework' was to cut, interface, and label all the pieces beforehand. We set to work and sewed all day with a break for lunch - Marilyn's delicious carrot soup.

Jen was a real keener and in addition to prepping all her pieces, she sewed all the pieces and pockets to the zippers ahead of time.

We set up in Jen's dining room. 

Because Jen had a head start, she was able to finish her bag.
I love the 'bee' theme and the lovely, yellow honeycomb fabric in the zipper pockets.
Marilyn did great for a person fairly new to sewing. This is a very ambitious project and she got the bag all finished except for the long zipper. At one point we thought she had sewn some of the pieces in the wrong order as we couldn't get the side pieces to fit. What a bummer! But Jen took a look at it and realized one of the pieces had just been mistakenly rotated 180 degrees. So we unpicked the stitches, rotated the piece into its correct place, and sewed it back up. Yay! It was an easy fix!
Here are our three bags. I had all my sewing tools in mine to transport them to Jen's. Now when I sew, I have it open right beside me with everything within easy reach.
I helped her finish the last zipper on her bag.
I like all the primary colours.
It looks pretty spiffy all zipped up.

There was a lot of pressure on them to forge ahead and keep sewing but they did a fantastic job. I'm so impressed at the improvement in both their sewing skills. What a fun and productive day!

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I have the best luck when I go to the antique market looking for a particular thing. Last time I went in search of a dish with openings around the edge to hold my scissors and found it at the first booth I saw.
Today Skip and I went just to get out of the house and I wanted to find a frog, also to hold my scissors beside my chair when I'm stitching. I lucked out! However it wasn't a frog, it was a candlestick with holes around the edge. There was a candle in it but I took it out.
It's even better than a frog because the holes don't go all the way through so my scissors won't dig into the surface the frog is on.
I'm so pleased I found it.
Then I had the urge to sew. I found a pattern to make a cord keeper to wrap around charging cables. It was free here. I used hook and loop tape (Velcro) on the first one then hauled out my snap tool and put snaps on the other ones I made.

I fussy cut cell phone images from fabric I've had in my stash for a while.
The inside is micro USB and Lightning cable fabric. Then two buttonholes are added to thread one end through so the keeper and the cable stay together when charging.
Then they all roll up and it snaps closed. Easy peasy. So handy for travelling or generally being on the go.
I cranked a few of these out today. One other modification I did was to fuse interfacing to one of the fabrics before sewing them right sides together. I also topstitched all around closing the opening that was left for turning. The original pattern doesn't include either of those steps.
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Last night I was in the mood to sew something small. I've had the pattern for this teabag/card caddy for quite a while and was reminded of it when we went to Georgetown on our road trip a couple of weeks ago.

I raided my stash for fabric. Basically it's a 9 1/2" x 12 1/2" rectangle (including seam allowances) which is sewn with the right sides together and then  the two ends are folded up 1" and sewn down. I added the hair elastic which I would hook onto a button on the outside.

The dollar store has several colours and thicknesses to choose from. I selected the one with many different colours for my sewing stash.
All sewn together.
It was a pretty quick project - perfect for tucking in your favourite kind of tea when you're on the go.



It could also be used as a business or credit card holder.
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For too many years my office/craft room has had too much furniture and stuff crammed into it. For my birthday, Skip got the 'Got Junk' people to haul out the treadmill and sofabed which finally left room for me to get my stuff organized.

I ordered a Billy book shelf and a Gnedby shelving unit online from IKEA to finally restore some semblance of order. We have a local pick up spot so for only a $20 fee, the items were delivered there and I picked them up on Wednesday.

I finally got them all assembled and into place yesterday. Now I need to figure out how I'm going to organize things to make optimum used of the space I have. I also need to get rid of a lot of stuff that I haven't been using for a while.
I'm hoping to house my smaller cuts of fabric on the narrower shelving. I just have a concern about the fabric fading in the sunlight so may, at some point, move it to a spot where the sun doesn't directly shine on it.
I've also almost finished Cinnamon Stars. I only used 'fancy floss' on larger elements of the pattern and DMC on the rest.  I really like how the hand dyed thread looks on the front of the house. It would have just looked flat with DMC.
 The sunflowers are very cute.
I'm going to put a couple of pumpkin buttons where some of the stitched pumpkins should go.
Then I'll finish stitching the rest of the pumpkins and I'll be done!

Just looking at the image, I think I need to outline the star on the front of the house with a dark grey so it will stand out a bit better.
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Yesterday Alexa, Dorota, Donna, and I went to the first annual Sunshine Fibre Festival in Severn at the Orillia Agricultural Fairgrounds. It was a cute, little fibre fest where we saw lots of different vendors from what we customarily see down where we live. After lunch we went to Thimbles & Threads - a lovely quilt shop in the same area.

All I was looking for there was a zipper to match my measuring tape fabric and they had one. Yay! So yesterday evening I started sewing everything together. Nothing was terribly difficult, but with four zipper pockets, it was just a LOT of sewing.  Why the extra long zippers? They can always be trimmed to the desired size. I usually buy 14" or 16" zippers for this reason. Also when they're trimmed down, the metal stoppers get trimmed off so there's no fear of hitting them with the sewing machine needle.
The Sew Together Bag video tutorials were very helpful. Here's the interior with the side pieces basted into place.
And here exterior and the side bindings have been sewn on. This is as far as I got last night.
All that I had to do this morning was attach the long zipper that closes the whole bag.

And finally...TA DA! With directional fabric, things were a bit more fiddly. I had to ensure the word 'Stitch' appeared in the correct orientation
Even on the zipper tabs that are sewn to the bottom binding. I hadn't cut the pieces in the right orientation so I used some creative sewing to make them work.

This thing will hold a LOT of stuff. It's wide enough to accommodate all the tools one could imagine. The tray on the front is handy for grabbing things whilst sewing.
The side view shows how the long zipper is attached.
I'm very happy with how it turned out. I'd love to make another one but maybe not for a while.
 

  • It was very useful to label my pieces with letters and the upward orientation while I was cutting them out.
  • I liked how the quilting on the exterior worked out, however one only needs to use light interfacing on the interior pieces. 
  • If I had used the same colour zipper as the bindings, I wouldn't have had to do as much fiddling to stitch in the ditch when I attached the long zipper binding. 

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I started cutting out my pieces for the Bionic Gear Bag.

I'm labeling each piece with it's letter name and an arrow pointing to the top of the piece as most of the fabrics are directional.
Here they all are cut out, labeled and ready for the interfacing. I'm using the 'Stitch' fabric for the front tray, bindings, zipper tabs,and zipper pocket interiors. I still have a bit left from the 1/2 metre Jen gave me for my birthday. The fabric that looks like random pattern pieces ('F' and 'I' below) has been in my stash for years and is a good colour match for this project. (excuse the bad lighting)
I discovered that some of my interfacing wasn't fusible so I found my Heat N Bond (TM) and made it fusible. It didn't really add much extra bulk to the interfacing.

First thing I did was sew the bottoms of the outer two pieces together as this fabric is directional. I then decided to quilt it, attaching it to some batting.
I used the 60 degree line on my cutting mat as a guide.
I put a pin in the centre of the centre seam then put the pin on the 60 degree line.  Then used masking tape as a guide for the first line. With the first line done, I stitched another quilt line 2" away. Then did the same in the other direction. It takes a while, uses quite a bit of thread, and narrows the piece a bit, but I like the look of it.

After getting all the pieces interfaced, I thought I'd start sewing the pieces together. It was only then I realize my yellow zipper doesn't match the yellow measuring tape fabric at all.
My progress screeched to a halt. But it was already past bedtime and I have a busy day tomorrow so I quit for the night.

Tomorrow Alexa, Dorota, Donna, and I are going up to the Orillia area for the Sunshine Fibre Festival at the Orillia and District Fairgrounds. I had never heard of it and certainly don't need any more fibre, but it sounded like it would be fun. While in the area, I hope to visit the quilt shop up there - Thimbles & Things. I'm hoping they sell zippers and have one that will go with my measuring tape fabric.

On the way home we may stop into Myrtle Station Wool if any of the gals are interested.

The Ultimate Sewing Centre in Oshawa is having their open house tomorrow where they will be revealing all the course projects for the summer but I don't think I'll make it back in time for that. I'll just check out their web page and possibly pop into the store next week and see what all is offered. I think I'm at the point where I can interpret a pattern and get through a project on my own with help from YouTube videos and any online commentary. However, I could be enticed by an interesting class.
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This afternoon I sat down at the ol' Bernina and started sewing the long strips of fabric and batting together. The pattern has very good instructions on how to do this. Once I had all 140ft done, I wound it into a big ball.
then put the ball into a bowl under my sewing table so it wouldn't roll around the room while I was sewing the rug together.
I stitched the whole thing together. I did a pretty good job on the ends, easing the outer strip around the bend but eased too much on the straightaway. The result was a ripply rug which wouldn't lie flat even with a good pressing with Flatter.
So I picked out the last 4 rounds and re-stitched it, still easing the ends but holding the strip quite firm on the straight parts. With a good pressing, it solved the rippling.

It lies nice and flat now.
It was pretty easy. I'd even consider doing another one using batting strips that I've cut myself. I think it's a bit more economical that way. 
The rug is washable on delicate and can be hung to dry. It will need to be pressed flat after that.
The white thread was so neutral, it blended right in. There were times I missed getting the zig-zagging over both strips so simply raised the needle and presser foot and re-stitched. When I was pressing it, I made note of some other gaps and just restitched them. 
Now I have a real urge to do more sewing.
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I got my jelly roll strips sewn end to end - all 40 strips @ 42" each. That's a 140 foot 2 1/2" wide strip of fabric. - 46.7 yd.

I'm using Fabulous Forties "Jolly Spring' fabrics. As much as I hate what rabbits do to my garden, they're really cute on this fabric.

There are also gnomes with ears
and gnomes riding rabbits.
When joining the strips, I lay them right sides together at 90 degrees to each other.
The green masking tape is making a straight line from the needle to the edge of the extender.
That way, I don't need to pin the pieces. I simply put the needle at the top edge where the two fabrics cross and the lower crossing along the tape.
After all the strips were joined, I trimmed the triangles to about 3/8". I started trying to trim with a rotary cutter but all the aligning was fiddly so I just cut the excess and ears with scissors. Then I opened the diagonal seams and pressed them open.

I then folded the strip back and forth onto itself and have it ready to sew with the pre-cut batting which I bought in a 50 yd wheel.  (pictured is a 25yd wheel but they also come in 50yd wheels).

You can also cut your own batting into strips and join them end to end with either batting tape or zig-zag stitches. With 96" wide batting 1.5 yards of batting are required. It's much easier to just use the pre-cut batting. I have noted that the pictured batting wheel is 2 1/2" wide. The 50yd wheel that I have is only 2 1/4" wide. This should make it a bit easier to fold it inside the fabric strip.
to be continued...
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I picked up the Cinnamon Stars project again and started stitching some of the pumpkins and corn stalks, etc.
There's not too much left to stitch on this one.

Today a few of us went over to Jeanette's to stitch and gab. Diane got her first cross-stitch lesson and started in on her "Waiting for Santa" piece. Jeanette got her going on 32ct linen fabric.

Diane was very proud about completing her first sheep.
Knowing Diane, she'll be stitching like a fiend very soon.
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Yesterday 7 of us headed out on a stitching/quilting road trip to celebrate Marilyn's and my April birthdays. This was organized and executed by Jen1 - owner of a 7 passenger/3 row mini-van.

Our first stop was Cindy's Needleart in Richmond Hill. It was a very impressive shop with very expensive needlepoint canvases, threads, and many, many samples.
Most of the patterns are designed by local artists. Anyone who likes canvaswork in addition to needlepoint would love this shop.
We then moved on to The Enchanted Needle in Woodbridge.  There was a wide variety of books, kits, threads, patterns and fabrics.
We then headed to Port Credit to have lunch and go to Gitta's. I've only ever been to this shop's booth at the CreativFestival (back when I used to attend). We spent quite a bit of time looking at all the lovely things. Here, we finally got a shot with Jen1 in it.
Behind me: Marilyn, Sue, Barb, Jen1, heanette and Poppy in the back.
This shop carries almost anything one could want and if they don't have it, they can certainly order it.

Since we were so close, we walked down the street to Linda' Craftique - a yarn shop. The salesperson was very apologetic that the store seemed emptied out because most of their stock was being set up in Toronto for the Knitter's Frolic. However some of us chose to explore the basement for discounted items and (ahem) the restroom. This was another shop whose booth I've only attended at the Frolic. It was here I found a bottle of Flatter smoothing spray that I was looking for in anticipation of making my jelly roll rug. I had purchased and downloaded the .pdf of the pattern the previous evening.
We then piled back into the van and headed northwest to The Hobby Horse Quilt Shoppe -  in a barn north of Georgetown.

There we oohed and aahed over many of the fabrics and patterns. Here, I purchased a bunch of felted wool scraps and a jelly roll for my first jelly roll rug. It's probably a good thing I don't live closer to this place as it could certainly be disastrous to my financial security. I also bought a couple of  fat quarters to go with the lovely fabric Jen1 gave me for my birthday. I'll be using them to make a Bionic Gear Bag in the very near future.

As none of us had any constraints on our time, we decided to go to Len's Mill Store on Orfus Rd behind Yorkdale on the way home. Thanks to Sue's Waze app on her phone, we managed to avoid standing still in Friday rush-hour traffic.

This store had been totally redone and most of the cheap junk has been moved out. Its primary stock now is sewing/quilting/upholstery/drapery fabrics , yarns and accessories. It is spread out more and well organized. Most of us augmented our fabric stash. I bought some evenweave fabric for stitching which I plant to tea and coffee dye, thread for my jelly roll rug, and some discounted fabrics.

We got out of there at about 7:45. By the time we got back to Jen's place it was 8:30 and most of us had been on the road at least 12 hours. What a wonderful way to spend a day - shopping with like-minded crafty friends. So much fun!
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