Hoffman Challenge 2012 -

Last January  I made the following statement: "I always wanted to do the Hoffman Challenge during all the years I was making dolls... When I had the time I didn't like the fabric choices and when I liked the fabric choices I didn't have the time... I think 1988 was the last time I really liked the fabric choices... but this year is the year no matter what the fabrics are and I even have a clever CQ idea of what I am going to do....which helps..."

Well the fabric choices have been announced and I do like the fabric...(well it's growing on me)  It certainly is romantic and suits itself to CQ (not dolls) which is what I want to enter.  So to make sure I am committed I ordered a Hoffman Challenge package from the Fat Quarter Shop.  It won't be available until October but I love having something to rattle around in my brain...


Something to Crow About!

I get one thing caught up and am behind on two others... Being nurse to Morris has given me an excuse to stay home and get some things done... like buttons. I was out of chickens, goldfinches, bluebirds, and robins. Therefore I did finally finish up some chickens and goldfinches and added  roosters which I have never done before..and popped them onto estsy.   Remember these are only an 1" in diameter.

Now it's out to the greenhouse to bathe Molly.  Since Morris is confined to the house it was up to her to confront an invading skunk during the night... Stinky Molly!!!!!


Paul Klee's birds...

When I signed up for the artist RR I never expected modern artists...  My tastes are firmly in the art nouveau, art deco, and impressionist periods...  So I found a solution to Mondrian but had been concerned about Paul Klee...

 Everyone knows I end up putting a bird or two in most of my work  so on a wing and a prayer I entered "Paul Klee, birds" into Google and to my surprise he did do some bird paintings.  

Not many, but here are two... Now my creative little brain has been working on doing birds "Klee style" for Hideko..  Still in the thinking stage as too much life interfering with my CQ.... But the thinking part is fun too... helps pass the time in car back and forth to mom's today. But so far I have conjured up  a way to include fancy seams, sequins,button, beads,  lace, and BIRDS!!!


Helina's artist block and Morris

I spent the entire day sitting by Morris the day he came home and finished this artist block for Helina... I was fourth and everyone had worked so nicely together I wanted mine to fit right in...  It was all simple and elegant.. a couple intricate seams and a floral motif...

Simple is not easy for me and I did pretty well except I had to have a little lace and then somehow the spider web crept in also...  Not too far off the mark though and they do all look nice together.

Morris's cruciate surgery on his leg went well...  Now the hard part ...no running, no jumping, no being a dog (those were the vet's words) for TWELVE WEEKS....and he has to be on a leash anytime he is outside.  Now for a farm dog who thought he could fly this is going to be a hard pill to swallow..  In the house there gates everywhere to keep him on the floor and confined all the time... Not happy dog and plus there is the indignity of having his butt shaved naked...

It will be a day or two before I get back to the tutorial...


We interrupt this tutorial to bring you this important message!

There are kits for sale on my esty site with lots of goodies for making one of these bags.  But be aware I will be adding 10 more kits this weekend so waiting a few days will give you a better selection.
But don't wait too long because I have a limited amount of fabric cut...

I really acquired all that fabric thinking one day I would use it all but now realize it isn't even possible for me to live that long...

Remember when DH was giving me a hard time about not letting Susie out of the barn....well here's what she was doing! Sorting through bags and bags of fabric and cutting up the choices pieces suitable for bags. Then going through even more fabric and cutting up squares for coordinating fabric..

And what was I doing while Susie was doing all that work.  I was sorting through the piles of squares she cut and putting it all together with a focal fabric for a kit.  Of course she was slaving over a rotary cutter and I was sitting on a stool with a cup of coffee. Well owning the barn does has it perks...  After she went home then I started cutting gimp, braids, and fringes to finish them off.  And aren't they gorgeous?

Each kit includes a piece of high quality, focal fabric approx. 18 x 30" (unless otherwise stated.)...either tapestry, home decor or brocade plus:

• 9-11 coordinating pieces of high quality fabric large enough for 2-4 patches each and a variety of textures, sheens, colors, and patterns.

• Various lengths of coordinating gimps and cording.

• 4-5 lengths of various fringes suitable for use on pocket or flap might include fringes such as chainette, tasseled, and brush.

• 1 piece of fancy beaded fringe suitable for use on pocket or flap.

• 1 long piece of coordinating fabric suitable for a handle or for extra pieces.

• AND a surprise piece of lace or two as I pack your box.

Answer to Jane's question

Question:  When you use laces like this, do you sew the uneven edge of the lace down too? - perhaps with monopoly thread so it doesn't catch on things? Jane

Answer:  Anytime I put lace on any CQ (not just this bag) I secure it on all sides and if it is wide or a doily I add even more stitching..  I just use a ecru cotton quilting thread...


Input from Susie

Susie sent me these photos today of the steps she took after the patches were fused to the foundation..  Step one: sewing around each patch to secure it.. Step two: adding lace to the sides of the seams.  Step three: adding gimp, braid, etc. to cover the edges of patches and lace.

When I get the tutorial all done these photos will be added...  Susie also added and I quote her:

"The other thing you should add to the tutorial is "Gerry's Rule for Victorian Carpet Bag Design" -- When you think you're done .... add more. It really did work for me. Especially after I decided that fancy stitched seams were difficult and time wasters - just adding laces on BOTH sides of the seams made the fancy stitched seams unnecessary....... adding another color trim or ribbon on top of that, improved the look. I kept her 'rule' in my mind and I think it made my bag better."


"Step 2 - Avoiding Bulky Seams."

These are heavy fabrics and there's no way around extra thickness if you want to use tapestries and  brocades..  Trying to do traditional seams would make for bulkiness difficult to deal with.   So we opted for NO seam allowances at all to deal with...   Being crazy quilters we opted to try something crazy...

I had some of that thin fusible stuff "heat and bond" and Susie brought something similar called Misty Fuse which she had just bought at a quilt show so we tried both... To protect my ironing board I put down a large piece of baking parchment paper which nothing sticks to and then the 16x16" foundation fabric.. On top of the foundation fabric I put a 16x16" piece of Misty Fuse and covered it all with more parchment paper and ironed... Once the parchment paper is peeled off the Misty Fuse is bonded to the foundation fabric but still has enough fusible surface to add more to it...

Then we laid the foundation (fusible side up ) and began cutting patches to put on it.   We used chalk and a straight edge to mark the shape we wanted for a patch...  It was easy to feel the patch underneath so we could put the ruler on the fabric for the next patch....mark with chalk and then cut it out with scissors and lay it in place until we had the foundation covered with patches which abutted against each other..  Since all the seams will be embellished there was a goodly margin for error...

If you look closely you can see the chalk marks on the corner patches as I just about have this side covered.  I'm thinking at this point I need to make the large left tapestry piece smaller by making another patch... gold I think!!  The chalk worked great as we could just brush it off.

Then we carefully moved the foundation covered with patches back to the ironing board....covered it with a sheet of parchment paper and ironed it slowly on the top side until the patches fused to the foundation and for good measure ironed on the back side also...  Now we had a piece covered with patches and perfectly smooth and no bulky seam allowances to deal with.

At this point both Susie and I advise you to take it to your sewing machine and sew along the edges of the patches to make them really secure.... 

 Of course also at this point it would have been an opportune time to stop and tidy up our work area but we were so excited with the way it was shaping up that we stopped for nothing.  Occasionally DH came out to the barn to see if we were still alive and took pictures of us..

Now we could  begin adding ribbon, gimp and lace to all the seams... BUT the next one I make I will use my sewing machine to cover all the seams with ribbons and then I can put gimp or trim on top of the ribbon and just sew by hand to the ribbon without going through all the layers of fabric. Doing the ribbon step would really only take a little extra time and I think the time would be worth it in the long run...

Since this is the side for the pocket I'm not putting a lot of trim in the middle.. The green line marks a very long seam covered with ribbon..  At the upper end I added trim on top of the ribbon and you can see how nice that looks.

This is Susie's pocket.. She chose to use the tapestry for the bag and do a crazy quilt pocket... We both used the same technique of abutting the patches to eliminate bulk.

After all the trim, ribbon, and laces were sewn on each section of the bag...you can see the back on the left... Then I ironed on a piece of Allie's fusible tricot as the last step before assembly. It was still soft enough to feel like a bag but the tricot was just the right thing to give it enough body.  I love that stuff.

Next installment... Step 3 Assembly and other miscellaneous tips...


How I Made My Victorian Sewing Bag Tutorial - Step 1

I'm going to do this in steps and then put it up as a tutorial... If I don't explain something well enough or you feel I have left out a step... please comment as we go along and  with your help it should end up being a useful tutorial...  I'm going to not only tell you how I did it but why I made some of the decisions I did along the way..

First some answers before you even asked the questions...  I thought it a lot before I began and here are the things I felt were important to me.

1.  It had to be practical.  I wanted something I could set on a park bench as well as toss into the car. The embellishments were going to have to be simple enough that they wouldn't be catching or snagging on things.

2. I wanted it to be large enough to carry my supplies and a project but not so large and heavy that I needed a wheeled cart to move it.. My favorite tote is 15"x15" so I chose those dimensions. (16"x16" to allow for seam allowances.

3.  My favorite tote has a pocket on the outside which I love but no pockets on the inside which I wanted...  side ones that would hold my smaller supplies and needle book and a zippered pocket which could hold a wallet when I carried just the sewing bag and not a purse.

4. Flap or no flap?? The deciding factor was travel...  It is just too easy when traveling (or shopping) for a hand to slip into an open tote and extract a wallet. 

5.  It absolute had to be beautiful as well as functional.  I want people to comment on it and ask about crazy quilting.

Since I wanted this to be as simple a construction project as possible I chose to do it in three simple pieces and really didn't need a pattern. 

There were reasons for this choice.  The main consideration was I wanted to do it in sections so the pieces were a  size that could be easily handled for handwork... A 16" square is not all that much larger than a usual CQ block.   Secondly I wanted to avoid bulky seams when possible and doing it in three pieces still  allowed for minimal seams plus workable sizes...  (Later as I move along in the tutorial I will talk about using a pattern.)

For just ease of construction I could have cut it in one piece with the flap attached but then I would have trying to manipulate a section 16 x 38" to do the handwork...  too large to be fun but certainly an option if you are making something on the order of a small handbag.

With these decisions out of the way the next installment will be: "Step 2 -Avoiding Bulky Seams."


Quick post

Gerry is  recovering for a few days from a medical problem and I'm tending her  lovingly.  Monday I  have surgery and hopefully she'll be well enough to tend me lovingly.  We're behind  on posts, emails and all else... Sorry


My magic crazy-quilted Victorian sewing bag is done!!!!

Well my sewing bag is done and when I look at it I don't think BoHo, Bohemian or Hippy....  I just think of Mary Poppins and her magic carpet bag... In fact I think when I carry it I'll have to carry a black umbrella.  Can you just picture me and my new bag.......  It is large... 15" x 15" but is not any heavier than other nice lined totes I have of the same size.

Here I'm lining it with a perky burgundy and beige gingham check and added a lot of pockets inside... In later posts this week I will share what I learned and what might be helpful to you if you decide to make one... I did use a LOT of Pellon's fusible tricot and it worked perfectly... (Thanks Allie)

And here it is.....both sides... The old suede belt makes a marvelous strap and is comfy on the shoulder besides being adjustable.. I must reiterate that the lovely hummingbird needlework on the outer pocket was not done by me... It was stitched by Cathy Labath in a round robin  we were in together.  I plan on toting this bag EVERYWHERE and hopefully get some attention as I plan to make up a 1/2 sheet about crazy quilting to carry and hand out when people comment about the bag...


Buckle Dilemna and YOU CAN VOTE!!!

I have a large collection of buckles that I've garnered at thrift stores.  There are always a lot of them so everyone must think gaudy buckles are in poor taste... but those "everyones" don't have a CQ outlook... I sent Susie home with a couple of my favorites and now I'm reviewing my decision for this bag...

This is the one I've had pinned to it...  I love the old metal, art-deco look but it is a bit large.. It isn't really going to "buckle" into anything...the weight of it will keep the flap in place when closed.

 #1 I initially thought the over the top glitz might work.

#2  This is a real option.  I love the flower shape and I can add any stone to it from the bracelet I bought the other day..

#3 Glitz AND butterfly...  This one is a beauty.

I do like the brass as it fits with some of the trim and this echos the shape of the stone lower and to the left.  I could even paint in the center of  this one..

Finally this one has old metal AND glitz.... Actually I love them all and I need to pick just one... If you have a favorite leave a comment PLEASE...  I'd love to hear some other opinions.  It was so nice to have Susie here to yak about ideas.


Tomorrow is Assembly Day!!!

I was lucky enough today to have some unexpected free time today and finished all the handwork on my Victorian carpetbag to the point I can make a  lining and assemble it.  On the left is the back without the pocket.  All seams are finished and secured... Next to it you can see what it will look like with pocket added... Doesn't Cathy L's hummingbird block look precious...
 On the left is the front without flap... You can see how nicely the rose spray looks and I added a small spiderweb on the lower left.  All the trim is attached to the flap now except the buckle and its strap.  I'm still vacillating between buckles and will make that decision tomorrow when I can lay them all out.

And then there's the strap which I have changed my mind almost hourly today.. Because of joint problems I rarely wear something hanging on my shoulder but it would be nice to have it adjustable if I needed it.  This is a lovely medium-weight suede belt from the thrift store.  It is aged nicely and I love the feel of it... It will be my first option .  I will cut the buckle off and attach it separately to one side and attach the belt separately to the other side...  Who knows this may all change quickly if I run into problems. I don't like to admit to being indecisive...rather very flexible..  Even still I have probably added more beading than I should have.

Keep in mind that from the beginning I never intended this to be a "Sunday best" bag.   It is for my needlework and it will be in and out of the car, to meetings and on planes.  So I have constantly constrained myself on adding anything that might be a problem for snagging or repair. And it must have a flat bottom and sit "proper."  I will get up early and go right out to the barn to work on it and will not answer the phone all day..  Which is a LOL as I hardly ever answer the phone anyway...


A Little Trickery of the Eye.....

I have these two stones  in bezels placed on the bag... Their placement is dictated by their function.... hiding seam junctions.. a 4 seam junction on the left and a 3 seam junction on the right.  They look like 2 fried eggs staring at me...  One needs to be bigger or one needs to be smaller and I like them both...  I cannot change the size of the one on the left as it just barely covered all the adjoining seams... So something should happen to the one on the right.  I could enlarge it with ruching or ruffles or.................... but a little trickery.is called for....

When you want one thing to seem smaller and can't change it, make another thing seem bigger. Since I don't want to actually add to the crocheted medallion I will treat that whole area as a unit  and fill in accordingly.. The medallion on the right becomes part of the crocheted pieces which frame the rose spray which is becoming the focal point.   I will add some small blue flowers and some buttons to it... (See inspiration which is the focal tapestry for the bag... lower left corner) Even now (to me at least) the medallion on the left is less significant.


Another idea for thrift store finds....

Since  I am on a roll with ideas.... here's a couple more.. This photo is some jewelry I bought when Susie and I were on a thrift store run.... First check the stretchy bracelets that are all the rage recently... Because the elastic runs through the underside of the beads, the holes are perfect for  attaching to anything..  The best find was the one in the center ($3) and every stone is different and antique looking and set in a bezel finding...  The small round one with the crackled finished is the perfect size to fit into the round crocheted medallion I am using on my BoHo bag.  I know I will use every one of them..

The little blue one with flowers is really sweet ($2)... nothing in mind for it at the moment but a great addition to my stash... The square one look like little butterflies and would make a great body for a dragonfly and round ones would make great bodies for glitzy spiders or dragonflies...

Finally the brass bracelet and necklace were $1 each and granted they are VERY brassy... But you can buy oxidizing agents at hobby shops  to give brass an antique look...  A friend's husband gave me a small bottle of acid that gives brass a blue/green verde patina.  There's a website that tells how to antique brass and even how to make your own solution....  I recommend you print it off because   "how-to" articles disappear from the net quite often and this is a good one.   It would be great to use on charms and brass jewelry finding...


A book and an idea to share!

When Susie was visiting I was showing her my favorite books... and this is one... Victorian Roses by Jenny Haskins.  It isn't a crazy quilting book but everything in it could be applied to crazy quilting and the color scheme is so inspirational... She does some incredible things with lace...  There are lots of directions for projects from treasure bags to tea cozies.  I recommend this book highly for anyone who loves the Victorian romance look...

One of the bags is called a Victorian Opera Bag and notice how it is ruched around the outer edge... We started talking about how it was done and how we might apply it to our bags and how to use it in general with CQ.  

I remembered seeing fancy pillow shams with ruched inserts and sure enough on our trip to a thrift store I found one and brought it home and took it apart.  The ruching is the weight of a medium-weight silk and is on a foundation which would make it usable for all kinds of applications...  I'm thinking I am going to use this one for a binding on a CQ block and there will be enough left to use in a block to add texture..


It's Official....I'm a Floozie!!!

I've always wanted to be a "button floozie" The list of contributors was limited and full.  I added my name about a year ago to the waiting list and received word today that I'm an official floozie and can contribute to the blog... The blog is changing hands and there will be changes but as of now I am IN!!!!

(And don't I love photo editing when I can remove a chin or two....)

Susie's Progress

 I wanted you to see Susie's blocks at the point she left here.  She was itching to get home and dive into her stash to finish embellishing them and will send me pictures to post...  As I mentioned before I cut up my focal tapestry but Susie left hers intact and is crazy quilting her outside pockets... Her bag will  definitely be a large slouchy tote with a very long handle which she can wear across her body..

Here is her progress on her pockets.  She was anxious to get home and dive into her stash to finishing the embellishing.  She will send me pictures to post.
She brought a squeaky stuffed toy for each dog which they have adored...  Morris has the octopus and keeps it near at all times... Molly has a whale..  If Morris can manage it, he is on top of Molly's whale while he is playing with his octopus.  He went flying in to wake up Susie this morning and not only was Susie gone, so was the bed.  So he is a little blue today...

Morris not so stinky today but we can still smell skunks in the garden and have found where they are trying to dig under the house...  this problem reoccurs every few years. They travel in groups...so you never have just one.


Last Day

I can hardy believe it is day five and Susie is going home today.  We have had so much fun...  Yesterday I did take her on a long drive through the wheat country and then into the Idaho mountains and forest... We had a yummy lunch in Coeur d Alene and then stopped at 3 thrift stores on the way home and found some GREAT CQ bargains...especially jewelry for embellishing.  Then we stitched until late into the night...

Since we stitched all evening  the bags are gradually coming together.  The gimp and laces are mostly still pinned but you can get a feel of where it is headed.

Mine is more tote than handbag as I will use it to take stitching items with me.  It will be 16" square..
The gorgeous metal thing on the flap is a belt buckle...  I have a fairly large collection of them and Susie picked two  for the bags she is making. 

The back has the gimp sewn and now I'm doing the laces.  First thing today there will be some gold cording couched on the pocket...  I'm working on all sections simultaneously to keep things evened out...
Susie has been working out of my stash and is anxious to get into her own stash at home..

Tomorrow I will show pictures of Susie's bag.

(p.s. Morris is still stinky from the skunk  and also hid a pair of Susie's underwear which showed up 3 days later....)


Bag Progress

Since the home deco and tapestry fabrics are heavier  we want to abut the patches rather than have bulky seams...  We used a foundation piece the size we needed and used the cutting board and ruler and chalk to mark the pieces..  It worked so well we were amazed. 

Then we attached Misty Fuse to the foundation and then put the pieces on and sealed it all..  It is flat and stitches beautifully.   You can see Morris is guarding against a skunk invasion.. We had a problem the night before and Morris today is AKA "Stinky"

 Now we're adding gimp and lace to all the seams and then we'll do decorative stitching and beads.. We are each doing a different approach... I am piecing the body of my bag and  have a flap on the front and a smaller outside pocket with Cathy's L. block as the centerpiece...

Susie's bag is entirely the focal tapestry (no flap) and she is piecing two large outside pockets...  We spent pretty much the whole day working on the bags so we would have a good idea of how much accent fabric to include with each focal tapestry piece and also how much gimp and fringe to include when we made the packs..  That is today's agenda..

The bags  are absolutely gorgeous... and we are having so much fun...  Although DH says I should really let Susie out of the barn... I will be be making shrimp risotto today and he BBQed steaks last night so she is eating well.

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