Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I’ve been posting images of the project bags/drawstring bags I’ve been making in preparation for holiday season sales on my Textiles & Smiles (textilesandsmiles) Etsy shop.
Here are some of the cuties I’ve made:
And I had a lot more planned…
The bags are super cute in person and they have interfacing throughout the bag so they have a good heft and stand up on their own, I love them so much and I was excited to offer them on my shop (I sold out of the batch I made last year for the shop).
But, alas, that darn grief has taken ahold of me this holiday season/pending Winter again and as I approach the 4th anniversary of the passing of my life partner for 30+ years, Terry the Quilting Husband.
And I am not up to fulfilling orders this holiday season so I am putting my Etsy shop on hold for now.
This widow thing is a curious journey, you never know when you will suddenly be gutted with grief…
Thanks to everyone who has supported my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop since I reopened it last November. Also thanks to those who were enthusiastic about the Project Bags (the photo below = a bedroom closet with some of the completed bags I was going to sell) I’ve been posting on IG that I was getting ready to offer on my Etsy shop this holiday season.
I was taking forever, and it did not make sense, to get the photos of the items and the listings up on Etsy. I finally figured out was was paralyzed with grief and could not bear fulfilling orders, etc. I had a recent sale on Etsy of the spools that John had made (see post Handmade Spools) and it was pretty excruciating to get that order completed.
Who knows why last year during the holiday season I could offer stuff on my shop and fulfill orders but this year I cannot. Grief is a mysterious weird thing.
I think of a wonderful card my friend Wendy sent me awhile back with with a reminder to “give yourself grace”:
I keep this card along with a matching candle I found while thrifting right before the card arrived (!) on my bookshelf to always remind me that sometimes I need to just take a breather…
So giving myself some grace, I’ve put my Etsy shop on hold for now and I am going to work on what is calling my heart – working with recycled materials and creating a new body of work of my art quilts.
Andwhat will become of the existing project bags? I will put the completed ones away for now and then decide whether to just finish up the ones in progress or put them away also…
Before I headed out to a week long quilting retreat with my long time quilting friends at the Missouri Star Quilt Companyin Hamilton Missouri, I made a Juniper Basket to transport some of the projects I was bringing to the quilt retreat.
A group of quilting friends and I’ve been purchasing patterns by s.o.t.a.k. handmade and exchanging fabrics with each other to make her bags. The Juniper Basket was our latest group project:
The pattern has two size options: SMALL – 9” x 7” x 6” or LARGE – 11” x 8 ½” x 7”.
I think I should have made the small version but I made the large version. It was larger than I expected and a little floppier than expected, but there is plenty of room to hold stuff! It has an outside zipper as well as an inside pocket.
Here are the photos of my finished Juniper Basket (my friend Dana gave me the fabric and cord for the bag):
The thing that did not do it for me in this bag/basket were the handles on the end. It would have been more functional if they were in the middle like a tote bag. I wonder if I should try and make the smaller one and see if the side handles make more sense.
If I make another large Juniper Basket I am going to set the handles in the middle.
I was looking at the designer’s Etsy shop – SotakCo, and I see she has this tote bag, which I think I could recreate by just making larger handles and moving them to the center:
I do love her designs and I love that if you purchase her pattern, she licenses you to make items to sell in handmade shop situation such as an Etsy shop or at craft fairs! She really supports the small business handmade community, so I like to support her!
A couple posts ago I shared the craft exchange that @Mildy Granola and I did – drawstring bag for hand knitted socks, in this post The Exchange! .
Well my friend Wendy and I call this “Good Mail“.
Good Mail is when you get something very fun in the mail, like a handmade item or some type of fun treat. Through out the pandemic, Wendy and I have exchanged Good Mail.
THE GOOD MAIL DELIVERED TO MY HOUSE
For this round of Good Mail Wendy sent me an issue of the amazing periodical Curated Quilts and a beautiful Chinese New Year artist postcard for the Year of the Tiger.
What made this issue of Curated Quilts so special is that it featured the story of Wendy’s Quarantine Quilt Collaboration.
If you are just joining us, Wendy did a series of five (5) guest blog posts sharing the amazing story of how deep in the early days of the COVID pandemic quilt she made during quarantine with the four (4) rambunctious boys next door (aka “The Boys”) ages 2 – 8.
Could you imagine (and perhaps you can) being quarantined with your four young children ages 2 – 8 for months on end? Wendy provided an amazing distraction/project for the boys and likely made their parents lives a little saner.
Here are the links to those 5 posts if you’d like to read the full story (or re-read):
In the Curated Quilts (the theme of the issue is “Collaborate”) article Wendy provides a nice summary of the whole experience and shares the best of the photos (including my favorite – the one with the whole family and the finished quilt). It was such an amazing and selfless gift she gave to this family my eyes get a little teary when I think about it.
THE GOOD MAIL DELIVERED TO WENDY’S HOUSE
And what did I send Wendy for her Good Mail? Well she loves cats, and has a couple darling cats at home, so I made her a project bag with this fabric:
It was some cool fabric I found in my stash, I did not know where I got it from. When I posted the bag on Instagram, someone mentioned it is from a Valori Wells fabric line. Since I only had a little more than a fat quarter’s worth of fabric, I must have picked it up from a scrap bag I bought at the Stitchin’ Post when I lived in Central Oregon.
Here is the completed bag:
I included the rest of the fabric for Wendy inside the bag in case she wanted to make something with the fabric, as well as some other goodies (couldn’t just send her an empty bag!)
She has hung her bag with some other previous Good Mail from me (the tote bag I made her):
In the post I linked above, I sort of whined about the challenges of making the backpack with quilting weight fabric when it is supposed to be made with canvas as well as the hours it took me to complete it in time for their family Christmas celebration (a couple all nighters).
Well this morning I received an e-mail from the woman who commissioned the backpack as a surprise for her sister, and any whininess I previously had about the commission evaporated!
Here it is:
I just looked at our correspondence and realized I had been sending email updates to my husband instead of you!! I had emailed immediately when the backpack was finished AND when it came because it was so perfect and beautiful!!!!! I knew it would be amazing but honestly, I was so impressed with the creativity and talent you poured into our special present for her. It literally could not have been more perfect. I kept going over the fabric choices you made for her and all the sweet details and I just feel so thankful for you – you really “got” the heart behind the gift. THANK YOU SO MUCH. This will be one of those gifts that I know she will always treasure. She was SHOCKED and so surprised once she figured out it was made specifically for her. She carried it around with her the rest of our Christmas celebration and then hung a special hook in her sewing room so she could look at it as she works. Thank you. Your craft is beautiful and clearly – you are a beautiful person!
Okay now I’d gladly do another all nighter after receiving that e-mail!
Just wanted to share this as a follow up to me being sort of whiny over late nights and that the time I put in to make the backpack way exceeded what I charged. A heartfelt thank you can be quite the currency!
I now feel well compensated for my time and effort (smile).
Last night I finished the Noodlehead Firefly Tote that I started in early December at a bag making class as Treelotta Fabrics quilt shop.
I made it with the same fabric and gold zipper as the Noodlehead Range Backpack (see post Adventures in Bag Making: Range Backpack DONE! ) I made the month prior. I did add a bit more “pizazz” to the tote bag by adding in some sparkly gold handles.
Here are the photos of the completed Firefly Tote!
And here is it hanging out with it’s coordinating backpack:
If you purchase the pattern, the pattern designer, Noodlehead, allows you to make it to sell on Etsy, etc. (but no commercial production, just small handmade shops) as long as you credit her. I think the tote size and the smaller “project” size bag would sell in my shop but it took so long to make that bag I am not sure at this point.
Speaking of my Etsy shop, I am up to 11 sales since opening in November and I still plan to post about my shop in the future. We had a nice but busy holiday with my partner’s son visiting from out of town and I am rather behind in blogging!
Someone had reached out to me via the Inquiries page on my website in November and asked if I knew anyone who was selling a Tula Pink fabric quilt. They wanted to do a special Christmas gift for their sister who loves Tula Pink fabric. I reached out to a couple quilter connections who’ve also love Tula Pink fabric and have made Tula Pink fabric quilts, but none of them had a quilt to sell or time to take on a commission so close to Christmas.
I did suggest Etsy but the only nice (in my opinion) Tula Pink quilt I saw for sale was like $1000. I am not surprised as it was gorgeous and several of you in the past have shared posts about how much time and money it takes to make a quilt (and have it professionally long arm quilted); and I’ve had the same experience of course.
So (perhaps like an idiot), I offered an alternative – I could make the sister a Range Backpack out of my Tula Pink fabric scraps…how hard could that be I (foolishly) thought?
I was quite ambitious in my design at first trying to use as many small scraps as possible and here is a photo of my design wall that I shared in that previous post I linked above, showing the piecing for the backpack:
Quickly (but not quickly enough), I discovered that if I was to make the backpack this way, I would not have it finished until January.
Because the backpack was designed to be made with canvas, waxed canvas, canvas-linen blend, etc. fabric. If you want to use quilter cotton weight fabric (which my Tula Pink scraps were) then you had to QUILT with batting and canvas backing the fabric,
Why didn’t I read that part of the pattern before I offered to make the backpack?!?!?
So piecing the fabric and then quilting it, was going to take forever. Plus is was getting into December and I was facing of course a challenging anniversary, as well as my own last minute projects for December (and holiday shopping, etc.). Also I was in the process of opening my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop (and will update you on that in a future post).
So I decided I was going to have to break into my Tula Pink yardage (frown) instead of just using scraps. So with that move the backpack became more expensive to make. Then with all the time I spent quilting each section (I still made it scrappy as the person requested that I use a lot of Tula Pink fabrics in the quilt) I am pretty sure if you minus the cost of supplies from what I charged for the commission, I made about 75 cents to 1 dollar an hour for my time – ha!
But it was a lesson and I will rethink commissions in the future. I did finally decide to look at it more as a “labor of love” and feel gratitude that I get to be part of a special gift for a special person. (And I got reimbursed for the cost of the supplies and for a tiny bit of time…).
Hope that does not sound too whiny. I was overjoyed when I finished the piece and could wrap it up nicely for shipping. They were going to celebrate Christmas as a family on 12/21 so with the magic of priority shipping, I was able to get it to them on time.
So here are photos from the creation of to the completion of the backpack (it feels like I lived and breathed this backpack and did a couple all nighters on it):
You can see in the photo above that although I had to quilt larger pieces of fabric to make the sections, I tried to make it more “scrappy” by creating and sewing on “patches” of Tula Pink fabrics.
One thing that I did enjoy while making the backpack was getting to use a bunch of my Aurifil threads I rarely use – very fun colors:
Well it’s all shipped off and per the postal tracking it was delivered. I’ve not heard back from the person who requested the commission and I am not sure I will get feedback on how it went when the sister opened her gift on 12/21, but we will see.
After I shipped it off, I came across this awesome quote by the author Barbara Kingsolver, and I took her advice:
Now I am working on a couple of my personal projects and relaxing and enjoying the holiday season. I am not even working on more stuff for my Etsy shop yet.
I took the class last Thursday but I was determined to have it finished by the time I returned to the quilt shop for my first Open Sew evening on Wednesday (yesterday).
Here it is in my studio in progress:
And here is it COMPLETED:
To say I am pleased to have completed it is an understatement (smile). The instructions were excellent but it was like a zillion little parts and I was surprised that they all went together so perfectly (well almost, I did not properly center. my zipper and had to add some tabs on either side of the zipper to hide my mistake),
It was awesome to be able to show it off at Open Sew yesterday. The teacher I had last week for the class was there and I was able to show her as well as ask some follow up questions so I could make it even better next time (yes I think I might attempt it again…someday…).
I continue with making project/drawstring bags (little obsessed) for my imaginary reopening of my tierneycreates Etsy shop. While making the latest group, I thought I would try something: making them “mass production” style. Okay well small scale mass production style. I would cut all the pieces out, fuse the interfacing, and sew them production style one step at a time.
The first three bags to come out of this experiment was three bags in different sizes (small, medium, large) made from Figo Fabric’s Harmony line, with the word “Harmony” from the selvage stitched onto the bags.
I decided to name this series of three bags – “Three Part Harmony”. Get it? Or perhaps the name is silly but it made me smile. I will sell them as a set on my Etsy shop.
I didn’t have enough of the word “Harmony” in the rest of the fabric’s selvage to continue to stitch it onto the rest of the bags, but I finished them up also “production style”. Here are the rest of the bags in progress:
What I learned from my “mass production” experiment:
And if you’ve ever seen the comedy TV show In Living Color you can hear the inflection in my voice in your mind, ha!
Something about the magic of completing a bag got taken away when I was doing each step production line style on 7 bags.
I guess I just enjoy making one bag at a time and being in the process of completing one bag. I would be very poor if I tried to live off the proceeds of selling on Etsy – ha!
But this is to be a hobby not the way I make a living. Unless I could sell each bag for $1000….ha!
My friend Judy (the one who got me in to quilting in the late 1990s) and her husband came for a long weekend visit this past weekend. We did a little Denver area “quilt shop hopping” during her visit and stopped at Treelotta Fabricswhich I discovered during the Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop. While at this shop we discovered a different take on the drawstring bag that we really liked:
Instead of ribbon or cord, they made the drawstring from the same fabric as the bottom of the bag. Also they added some rick-rack to the seam between the two coordinating fabrics – very creative!
This gives me future ideas for bags. Of course I do need to make other things for my Etsy shop besides bags! (I do actually have a stash of other things I’ve made that I will share in future posts).
I have a fantasy still that I am going to reopen my tierneycreates Etsy shop and I am making stuff for my shop (shhhh don’t mention I’ve said many times in the past I was going to reopen that shop…but this time I might really do it…maybe…)
Here are the bags I’ve made so far and I have 6 more cut out to sew.
Repurposing Words/Label from the Fabric Selvage
A Little Butterfly Bag
Black and White Bag with a Pop of Color Inside
Since finishing that art quilt for the exhibit I mentioned in the post Secret Quilt and Design Wall Struggle, I am enjoying just making drawstring bags. Thank goodness I have a large stash of interfacing as these bags use a lot of interfacing to make them stand up. I
I am sure I will tire of making them eventually and move on to other stuff but right now I am enjoying playing with fabric combinations.
Good Morning and here is part two of my story of the “Drawstring-bagalicious Retreat” I attended August 9 – 12, 2021 with my Washington based friends Judy and Dana. In Part I (A Drawstring-bagalicious Retreat, Part I) I shared that what began as a “bring your own project to work on quilting retreat” turned into a “let’s just make drawstring bags for 3 days obsession”!
We did do other things than make drawstring bags during our stay at the Riptide Retreaton the waterfront/beach in Shelton, Washington.
WE ENJOYED OUR COZY RETREAT CENTER
It was cluttered at times (this is what happens when you get a bunch of crafters together) but here are some scenes from the quilt retreat center (including while creativity was in progress):
In addition to the upstairs and its deck overlooking the water, the retreat center also had a downstairs with a cozy seating area, additional beds, and access to the downstairs deck.
There were only three of us at the retreat so we had plenty of space (the Riptide Retreat is set up for up to 10 attendees). Judy and Dana took the upstairs bedroom and I had the downstairs to myself – I had my own apartment! I would wake up each morning and look out on the water – it was pretty yummylicious (another fake English word like “bagalicious”, ha).
WE ENJOYED GORGEOUS VIEWS
One of the challenges of being at the Riptide Retreat (okay it was the only challenge) was not getting distracted by the gorgeous views. We keep being lured outside to sit on the upper deck and look at the water, instead of working on our drawstring bags.
I sat outside each morning with my tea and when I was not too distracted with the quiet peaceful views I worked on a blog post or two.
WE WENT SHOPPING!
The owners of the Riptide Retreat also own Annie’s Quilt Shoppea very reasonably priced quilt shop in Shelton, Washington. We got a discount on some items because we were staying at their retreat center.
All I can say is we might have visited this shop more than once during the retreat!
During one of our visits to this quilt shop (oops I just gave our secret away) I discovered that there is actually a National Sew A Jelly Roll Day on Sept 18, 2021. So quilters get your jelly rolls ready to participate – ha!
WE HAD YUMMY FOOD
The three of us are pretty laid back when it comes to our food selections and when we eat, so we had whatever/foraging for breakfast each morning among what Judy and Dana brought (I didn’t have to bring any food since I flew to the retreat). For lunches and dinners we either ate out, ate leftovers, or Judy/Dana made a wonderful meal.
We discovered this wonderful sort of “hole in the wall” place in downtown Shelton which was actually an awesome (and super delicious) family run eatery – T’s Cafe. There I discovered the most scrumptious meatball sub on the planet:
We enjoyed dining “al fresco” on the upper deck of the retreat for several meals:
And yes, those are homemade frozen margaritas in our glasses (and I am happy to report all three of us are of legal drinking age, ha!).
WE WALKED ON THE BEACH
From the downstairs deck you can walk down another level to the beach along the water. I had a nice solo walk and with my friends on the beach.
WE DID A LOT OF RELAXING
I think some people consider a quilt retreat (or a drawstring bag retreat, ha) time to get all those projects done you could not get done at home. Well we consider a quilt retreat time to actually “retreat” from the busy world and do some relaxing.
We spent a lot of time on the upper deck reading, blogging, playing iPad games, walks around the neighborhood, catching up with each other, and watching boats go by on the canal.
Sometimes I forget just how beautiful the Pacific NW is (and I lived there for over 20 years between Washington and Oregon) until I visit it again.
Before I get into this post, I just want to clarify for anyone reading this in which English is not your primary language, that “bagalicious” is not a real word – ha!
“Drawstring-bagalicious” was the best way I can describe a small quilt retreat I attended at a beautiful location in Shelton Washington in August 2021 with my friends Judy and Dana where we ended up making drawstring bags for 3 days!
I think for this post I will focus on our drawstring bag making obsession during our retreat and next post share the photos of the beautiful waterfront, the inside of the quilt retreat center, the awesome quilt shop we visited, and the yummy place we ate.
We each brought projects to work on at the retreat, and I brought some pre-cut and pre-fused fabric to make a couple drawstring bags.
Well you know how crafters are when we get together – before you knew it everyone wanted to make drawstring bags and put their planned projects aside.
Judy made several lovely bags (5 or 6 total) but the photo I took of them included some surprises/gifts for mutual friends, so I am not going to post the photo of her bags.
I will just share images of some of the bags Dana and I made.
Here are Dana’s first set of drawstring bags, including some fun photoshoots she did with her completed bags:
Dana started out making one extra large drawstring bag with the Ruby Star/Sarah Watts fabric – Purl (which I now own in several colorways the fabric is so yummy!) and then she became obsessed and made them in every size from on the pattern (we all got the pattern for the drawstring bags by Sotak Handmade)!
I plan to totally copy Dana’s interpretation of the pattern design and make the same drawstring bag. The photos do not do it justice – it was so freakin’ cute!
She went on and made more and along the way we worked out ways to make the drawstring bags faster and more efficiently. We basically had a Drawstring Bag Workshop! I can now make them in my sleep!
Here is an example of a trick to make sure the seams stay flat that Judy came up with and Dana used on one of her bags – press the seams open during early assembly:
Dana also got creative on her drawstring bag design and started added labels made from the fabric selvage:
Another idea I am totally stealing when I make more bags in the future.
Here are more of Dana’s completed bags and her fun photoshoots on the deck against the waterfront:
And here are some of the bags I made and some fun photoshoots I took with the waterfront in the background off the back deck:
If you haven’t figured this out from the photos, part of the fun of making the drawstring bags is not only selecting the external/outside bag fabric but also choosing a coordinating interior fabric. We had fun sharing fabrics and picking up more from the local quilt shop! We also had fun selecting the ribbon/cord for the drawstrings and went on shopping adventure one day just to buy more drawstring materials! Yes we were obsessed!
We even made the same bags when we’d seen another’s completed drawstring bag and want to make it also (any everyone was so generous with sharing their fabric and our dwindling supply of interfacing).
More to come on our retreat to including what we did when we weren’t sitting around making drawstring bags (and photographing them)!
The s.o.t.a.k. handmade drawstring bag patterns gives you directions to make the bags in 4 different sizes. Last night I finished two more bags – another large bag, and a mini bag (and look how gorgeous the fabrics are, provided by my friend Kathy).
Here are some individual photos of the bags and the interior of the bags:
I want to make like 50 more bags in all sort of fabric and color combinations but I need to start working on an art quilt for a show that I’ve been invited.
When I return to drawstring bag making someday, I’ve decided I want to make my own drawstring cord out of braided fabric strings. I’ve been saving strings for years thinking I was going to make a string quilt, but more on that after I experiment.
Earlier this year several quilting friends and I decided to make a different bag each month (well sort of each month, we all fell behind at times) and to do a fabric exchange where we provide the fabric and supplies (like zippers, ribbon, cords, etc) for the bags.
We’ve been purchasing/using patterns by s.o.t.a.k. handmade , we love her wonderful videos on YouTube at her channel – Sotak Handmade. Below is an example of one of her fabulous videos:
Someday I’ll post about my used Juki sewing machine I bought off Craigslist – influenced by watching her sew on her Juki machine.
Last night I finished my first Drawstring Bag and I have two more to finish (I decided to make three at one time, production-line style). My friend Kathy provided me with absolutely beautiful fabric – some purple Moda Grunge and several fabrics by Anna Maria Horner (you should check out her website I’ve linked, the fabrics are SO GORGEOUS).
Here is my first drawstring bag:
I could not decide whether to make the lining the outside and the fabric I used for the outside of the. bag – they were both so gorgeous!
The drawstring bag stands up on its own thanks to interfacing on both sides of the outside and inside/lining fabric. The pattern was quite easy to follow (especially since this is my third time using one of the Sotak patterns and I see concepts are repeated) and except for the prep work (like cutting and ironing on all the interfacing) it did not take long to assemble.
My friends Kathy and Dana posted their completed drawstring bags on Instagram and here are screen shots from their feeds:
I love their bags too and all the fabrics were generously provided by Kathy!
I hope to finish my next two bags today. They are pretty fun to make and I already had like 25 different fabric combination versions in my head for future drawstring bags, ha!
I am not sure where the past month or so has gone. I’ve definitely been overdoing it on making up for lost time on traveling and having visitors post 2020-pandemic and post full vaccination.
Keep meaning to start back on blogging; and catch up on reading my blogging buddies posts, but my continually putting it off until the next day has lead to my current situation of being super behind – ha!
I have lots of stories to share, things I’ve been making, and news even about a major life change (even if possibly temporary).
All those in future posts, but for now: how about some more tote bags?
Now that I can pretty much make these tote bags in my sleep, I’ve been enjoying making themed custom bags for people in my life such as the Wonder Woman (she loves WW) bag I made for my sister to tote around on her recent visit and our train ride to Glenwood Springs, CO (a future blog post); and the card playing bag I made for my partner John for his poker tournament (see post Ready for the Poker Tournament):
Recently I sent my friend Wendy a floral bag I made. I cannot locate my photo but here is her photo from her Instagram post (@wendyquilter):
Okay a couple more themed tote bags to share with you:
My friend Zachary is very eco-conscious and I made him a recycling/save the planet themed tote bag (one of my early drop cloth canvas tote bags):
My friend Michele loves a great craft beer like I do and I made her a craft beer themed tote bag:
I have more themed/custom tote bags in queue for other long-time friends (Marla Jo and Torben: yours are coming!), I am just a little behind on making them right now…
The Irish Pub Tote Bag
Our friends Kathy and Matt came to visit us a couple months ago (Someday a blog post about their visit…I am so behind!) as one of their first “Watch-out-world-I-am-newly-vaccinated” vacation (smile).
Kathy’s family is from Ireland and they’ve spent many a holiday/vacation in the Dublin and lots of time enjoying the wonderful pubs of Dublin and other areas of Ireland (where “everyone knows your name” or at least makes you feel like they do!).
While they visited us, we went to a relatively authentic (at least for Colorado) Irish pub and enjoyed a pint (or two) of properly pouredGuinness:
Matt is a stickler for a properly poured pint of Guinness and he taught us all about the “no foam on the logo” standards!
I had already made his wife Kathy a tote bag before they visited:
I knew Matt needed his own tote bag, so when they returned home to California from their visit with us, I ordered some Irish Pub themed fabric from Spoonflower and made Matt an Irish Pub themed tote bag!
He was quite pleased!
So if I follow your blog, you will see me catching up over the next couple of days (fingers crossed) as best I can (smile).
I’ve got a backlog of ideas for future posts lots of news and updates; and I am committing myself to returning to regular blogging. Plus I am sure Mike the Miniature Schnauzer (Guest Blogger) and the tierneycreates Beastie (Beastie Adventures ) will be providing some updates on their adventures!
I’ll close out this post with an image of a sweet little pouch I picked up somewhere in my adventures that I use to hold my travel hand sewing – what is says it is so true!
My partner John enjoys playing poker (Texas Hold’em) with his friends (and he is pretty good at it); and in addition to their monthly poker nights, once a year they have a huge three-day poker tournament.
For the annual poker three-day tournament in May this year, I decided to make John a special playing card/poker themed tote bag for him to take to the tournament:
It was quite the hit at the tournament and several of his poker buddies wanted to buy one (one lady wanted to order 3 of them!). Unfortunately the fabric is difficult to find and I have to order more online).
The tote bag was so popular that one of the poker league coordinators asked if I could make one as a raffle prize for their upcoming fundraiser poker night for one of their league members who is battling cancer. I am going to work on that this weekend as I was able to find some quick card themed fabric on Spoonflower.
The tote bags I’ve been making are pretty popular (see previous post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags) and here is one I made my friend Kathy a couple months ago that I do not think is on that post:
I found a great deal on drop cloth (used to make the handles, base and lining) on the Home Depot website a couple months ago, and I plan to make a whole bunch of tote bags “production” style. I have some awesome canvas and quilting cotton fabrics picked out to use for the outside of the bags and the pockets.
The weather has turned quite lovely in the Denver metro area (for a while I thought we were becoming the Pacific NW with all the rain we were getting) and we are again enjoying our evening “cocktail” dog walks on the green space behind our home. We started the evening cocktail walks (not always alcoholic beverages!) last summer during the pandemic when everything was closed and you could not go to a pub or restaurant.
Now the pubs and restaurants are all open (at least those that survived the pandemic), seating at full capacity (in most counties), but we discovered we really like this little tradition we started.
Here are a couple photos my partner John took of the sunset the other evening while we walked Mike the Miniature Schnauzer, and had our cocktails in our portable cups:
The pattern comes in three sizes and I made the medium sized one:
The fabric is a printed in Japan canvas which I bought years ago because it had a schnauzer in the print:
However I accidentally cut out the schnauzer while making the bag! (Don’t tell Mike my Miniature Schnauzer, ha!)
Here are my supplies to make the bag (minus the ribbon tape I discovered I needed for the side tabs later while working through the pattern):
Here is her YouTube video on making the pouch:
Here are some photos from my bag making process:
In the first of the images above you will see that I am pressing on a sleeve board, which I recently bought online after seeing the pattern designer Svetlana Sotak use it in several of her YouTube videos she has on bag making. It’s one of those things I never knew I needed until I got it!
Here are images of my completed boxy tool pouch:
It did not come out perfect but I was pretty pleased. At least it was not a “Misadventure in Bag Making” (see post Misadventures in Bag Making).
So what to do with the completed pouch?
Well tierneycreates Beastie changed from her Winter wear of her sweater, hat and scarf:
To her Spring wear of her t-shirt:
So I needed a place to store her clothes as well as her accessories:
And now her accoutrements are easily accessible on my bookshelf in my studio!
Next post the tierneycreates Beastie will guest blogger post and tell you about her latest accommodations in my studio as well as some other changes (“Mr. Woodworker” has been busy!)
So a couple of weeks some “GOOD MAIL” arrived – a bag of zippers in various sizes from Wendy!
So how did Wendy come to have all these zippers in her stash and what had she done with all these zippers in the past? Well she was kind enough send photos and a summary of the story so I could share with you in this post.
“Zipper Mania” by Wendy Hill (edited by tierneycreates)
Around 2007 I wanted to make things with zipper but they too expensive to even buy used at a thrift store considering how many I needed.
So I put out a request for zippers in the Ruralite Magazine (Western USA, Midstate Electric Co-op) and many zippers arrived to my home!
The smallest package I received: 1 zipper
And I received many zippers in the mail which I sorted by color into bags – it looked like a spice bazaar!
I thought of all these zippers as a “material” for my art projects. Here is what I made below.
String piecing using flat zippers
“Autumn Textures” is my favorite. It has been in exhibits.
I did make several quilts with flat zippers between 2008 and 2011)
Coiled Bowls using half zippers
In the photos below are two different bowls- left zip pulls in as decorative elements)
3D Art – Zipper Cones – Sea Anemones
I have more zipper ideas— but I have not followed up on them in a long time.
Thanks to Wendy for sharing her story and art related to her donated zipper collection. And thanks to Wendy for sharing some of her collection with me. I am pretty sure there will be some “GOOD MAIL” in her future when I send her a little something I’ve made with one or two of the zippers she sent me.
Next post I will show you the project I just finished using one of the zippers she sent me – another bag – this time a different pattern by s.o.t.a.k. handmade.
I was not going to give up, zipper foot issues be darned, I re-attempted making the Devon Pouch by s.o.t.a.k. handmade last night, and made a second one this morning.
This time I kept my dastardly zipper foot tucked away and just used my normal sewing foot.
Here is the first pouch redone with different center fabric:
I was so pleased with it, compared to my first attempt, I gave it its own section in my studio!
Sort of an homage to trying again and not giving up (smile).
This morning I decided to make the second one as my friend Dana had sent me enough supplies to make two:
In the third image above you will see there are trains at the bottom of the pouch. I plan to take this pouch with me when I do one of my “Bucket List” items in the future and take the transcontinental train across Canada (someday when they allow us Americans with cooties back into Canada…).
I am so happy with my two pouches! They are not perfect of course but they are MUCH better than my first attempt!
Oh and thanks to everyone who provided kind comments on the post of my first attempt as well as resources for learning how to use a zipper foot.
*Note – Dana is one of those people who can merely look at an image of a handmade item on Pinterest and figure out how to make it from the image…and then make it perfectly!
So when she talked her daughter, me, and our mutual friend Kathy into working on an Instagram based “bag of the month” project to build our bag making skills I was excited. For February the bag was the Devon Pouch by s.o.t.a.k. handmade. You make the pouch and then post the image to Instagram.
If you go to the hashtag #devonpouch on on Instagram you will see some GORGEOUS versions of the pouch:
I was like: “Wow! I want to make this pouch!”. Sure I have not made very many things with zippers but I can follow a pattern; and the designer has a time lapsed YouTube video of her making the bag so you can see all the steps demonstrated in addition to have the pattern.
So I thought I was safe.
Plus Dana was so sweet and sent me cute fabric from her stash and some zippers to make 2 of the pouches. So what could go wrong….?
Excited to get started, this past Saturday I cut out the pattern pieces, applied the interfacing and prepared to make two pouches:
I put on some yummy music (my favorite Denver radio station KUVO which is also a streamable Public Radio Station from kuvo.org), opened my laptop to the video of the designer making the pouch, sat down at my sewing machine and got to work.
In addition to materials to make the pouch, my friend Dana had also sent me scraps from when she made me a quilt (see post Mind Blowing Mail) and I incorporated some of these scraps into the front zipper pocket for my first pouch that I worked on.
I was feeling very clever.
A couple hours later, I was not feeling so clever.
The written pattern stated to change to a “zipper foot” whenever you were working on the two zippers in the pouch. I found the zipper foot to my Bernina, which I’ve only used once before and I think that was in 2006 in a class when I first bough my Bernina sewing machine.
The pattern told me to switch between my regular foot and my zipper foot. Problem: I am very inexperienced using a zipper foot. Wait let’s just say it plainly: I did not know what the heck I was doing.
I will spare you the full saga, but my seams were off and once multiple seams are off in a pattern you know you are in the middle of a serious freaking sewing misadventure!
Here is my quite ugly version of the finished pouch:
Here’s an even better image that might make you suspect I was under the influence of mind altering drugs while sewing (Nope, the bottom of the pouch is NOT supposed to look like that):
Please look away if the image above is too grotesque. My version of the pouch does not appear to even be remotely related to the examples of the beautiful pouches on #devonpouch that I shared earlier in this post.
I did post the completed bag to Instagram and people were very kind but I was quite embarrassed over how lopsided and poorly constructed it was (the photo actually does not do justice to the sewing abomination!)
As a bonus, I accidentally stuck myself with pin (yay, that is always so pleasant) during final construction and bled on the back of the bag. I did not catch the spot of blood of course until I pressed/ironed in the blood (is this pouch doomed or what?):
At first I decided to just keep the pouch and use it to store the fabric scraps Dana sent me:
But finally I decided to un-assemble it and salvage the nice zippers that Dana sent me; and reuse the zippers in my next attempt.
So when I feel up to it, I am going to start over again and make my first pouch again, before moving on to the second one. I am going to stay away from the zipper foot this time as I discovered towards the end I could sew the zipper just fine with a standard foot.
In more successful crafting news, Mr. Woodworker (my partner John) recently finished a remodel of one of our basement closets to become an entertaining supply storage closet with cabinet and coordinating shelves:
This was the first real cabinetry he’s made. He also made a butcher block style counter top of the cabinet!
Oh and John is going to take the advice several of you left in the comment section of the post Handmade Spools, and make more wooden spools for me to sell on either my Etsy shop (if I ever get it reopened) or a craft fair or something.
I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for a couple weeks to temporarily remove any “artificial” obligations in my life in order to have some time to “reset”.
Now feeling “reset”, I thought I would jump back into blogging with a little essay “primary/elementary” school style like the infamous “What I Did on My Summer Vacation“.
By the way I was not hanging out with the fabulous looking women at the beach during my hiatus, like those in the feature photo of this post (photo by Vitae London on Unsplash), I just thought it was a fun beach photo to use in the middle of semi-freezing winter in Denver!
Okay so now it is time to imagine me standing in front of our 4th grade class presenting this essay below (and perhaps my parents helped me make a slide deck for my images/photos)…
Listening to audiobooks and turning the pages of actual physical books, I’ve done a lot of reading during the past several weeks.
I’ve finished the book City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, that I read for my virtual book club with my friend Michele (see post Virtual Book Clubs):
Last Friday Michele and I had another card-making playdate like the one I shared in the post Card Making Playdate from last October and discussed City of Brass. In tomorrow’s post (why yes, I am going to now post frequently…hope you don’t grow tired of me) I will share what we made.
I recently finished the next book in our “Virtual Book Group” (but wait is it “virtual” if we are meeting in person, socially distancing of course, to discuss the book?) and it was quite the awesome page turner – The Guest List by Lucy Foley:
It’s been a long time since I’ve read (actually I listened to the audiobook) the kind of book I absolutely could not put down. If you’d like to read a synopsis of the book – here is the link to the one on Publishers Weekly (no worries, there are no spoilers) – The Guest List.
Currently I am listening to an excellent (so far) Science Fiction/space novel – To Sleep Under a Sea of Stars by Christoper Paolini. I love it so much I’ve already bought the hard copy of the book as my library loan of the audiobook is about to expire and there are a zillion other library patrons waiting in line to listen to it next.
It not just fiction books I’ve been inhaling, I’ve also read several new crafting books I picked up over the past couple of months.
I’ve been obsessed lately with making non-quilt items such as tote bags (see post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags) and pincushions (a future post); and love my new book by Ayumi Takahashi – Patchwork Please which features lots of fun things to make:
I am sort of obsessed with “zakka” and Japanese author craft patterns. I love the aesthetics of their designs as well as the function. Here are many of the books in my home library collection of Japanese author craft patterns:
For a while in the Denver metro area, our restaurants closed down again to inside dining during the pandemic. Finally they opened to 25% capacity and now I think they are starting to reopen to even 50% capacity (or perhaps I am hallucinating at this point as I have complete pandemic fatigue at this point).
While they were closed again, like in the early days of the pandemic, we tried to make fun meals at home and not get home cooking fatigue. Here are a couple photos of the delicious meals my partner John (a very good cook who used to actually cook professionally) and I made.
Delicious Irish Stew and Homemade Biscuits
Salmon Fried Rice
Pizza (with dough made from “scratch”)
Orzo Pasta Salad
Are you hungry yet?
One of my favorites that I could not locate easily locate a photo for was the handmade gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and scallops that John made one night. I thought I was at a high-end restaurant!
Yes, I will not lie, I had packed on a couple “pandemic pounds” from all this good eating, but we do not eat like this every night. We do try and have salads for dinner a couple nights a week.
To combat the effects of all those delicious home cooked meals, I’ve been going on a lot of very long walks. It is always a great way to listening to my audiobooks. Most of the times I take Mike my Miniature Schnauzer with me but many times I just go walking alone (then I do not have to stop for the “frequent signing in on bushes” that Mike loves to do on his walk).
Here are a couple Black & White images I took on a wintry walk, in which someone had left a found glove on a branch for its owner to hopefully someday find. I got a kick out of the “composition” in the stark landscape created by the glove.
If you enjoy B&W images, I do have a series of posts where I feature B&W images – Life in B&W.
In case you are wondering – either the glove blew away or was reunited with its partner by the owner as the next day it was gone.
During my break from blogging, I spent a lot of time reflecting and trying to figure out my life. As many of you know, I am in my second year of widowhood caused by the very sudden and very expected death of my life partner, Terry the Quilting Husband (see post Remembering Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)).
I’d been with Terry since I was in my early 20s and I am now on a journey to “reinvent” myself in my middle years of life as “Tierney minus Terry”, after what seems like a lifetime of “Tierney +Terry”.
In previous posts, I’ve discussed re-opening my tierneycreates Etsy shop and my original plan when I took a hiatus from blogging was to start blogging again in about a month when I was ready to re-open my Etsy shop.
Over the past several months, I’ve made a lot of items in preparation to re-open the shop but still could not move forward with re-opening the shop. I was struggling to figure out what the big block was for me.
Then while looking at some old photos on my Google Photos account which I rarely use, I found an old image of the joint tierneycreates business card Terry and I had together when he was helping me with my Etsy shop. He was listed as a “Maker” on my Etsy shop as he helped me with many of the items I produced by cutting out patterns and doing preliminary sewing, especially on items like Miniature Kimonos, which were very popular on my shop.
I realized that my tierneycreates Etsy shop is just too closely tied to memories of crafting with Terry and I am just not ready.
Part of my “widowhood journey” is trying to figure out what to do with what is basically a lifetime’s worth of memories with someone who is now gone.
After losing your spouse you are expected to go on with your life but what do you do with all those memories (and mementos) of a life previously lived? I think that is the $64,000 Question which I have yet to answer for myself (I’ve done a lot of reading on grief and the answers of other people’s journey but I still have to find my own answer).
But I have figured out that unless it is something critical, not push myself to do anything I am not ready to do, even if it seems like a good thing to do (like re-opening my Etsy shop).
(The above images are of Terry, Sassy, who passed in Dec 2017 a year before Terry, and I vacationing in Cannon Beach, Oregon; and of Terry modeling a quilt he helped me make)
There’s been a whole lot of crafting over the past couple of weeks. I’ve found a lot of peace in making things. I feel very lucky to be a “Maker”.
Many of the items I’ve shared on my tierneycreates Instagram account but many I have not. I am going to save a discussion of what I’ve been working on for future blogs posts but I will share that I’ve been making more tote bags like I discussed in the post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags.
Here are some of my latest tote bags:
I look forward to diving into more about what I’ve been making in my future posts!
WAKE UP, THE ESSAY IS FINALLY OVER!
So that concludes my essay and I can safely assume the whole class is asleep now at their desks!
Oh wait, I see the teacher is also asleep at their desk! Maybe I won’t get a “A” on this presentation…
Just a quick follow up to my post Redesigning my logo. I decided not to change my logo at this time and just figure it out at a later date.
Yes there are a lot of very strange things going on in my country (U.S.) but I am only going to write about making tote bags.
Lots of tote bags…
It began with making a Christmas gift for one of my partner John’s son for Christmas who is very eco-conscious:
Next came a gift for our friends we golf with (in warmer weather) with some golf themed fabric I found in my stash:
Next came a craft beer themed tote bag for another friend for a New Years gift (more novelty fabric from my stash):
Most recently (couple days ago), I decided to experiment with more “artsy” fabric instead of novelty fabric and made this tote bag:
Here is one side of the tote bag:
And here is the other:
I’ve actually made a total of 6 tote bags since I began my tote bag making obsession in early December (2 of them are repeats of ones I shared above).
I am currently taking a break from tote bag making and moved on to other projects but I plan to make a fresh batch of tote bags in a couple weeks, this time for my (to be reopened sometime this winter I think) tierneycreates Etsy shop.
Each tote bag, except the first one I made, is lined with canvas drop cloth (yes the kind you use when painting to protect surfaces) from a home improvement store:
The canvas drop cloth (which I pre-wash before using), gives the tote bag a nice structure and is less expensive than buying canvas fabric from a fabric store.
Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer riding through another home improvement store to pick up supplies for our next home remodeling project and some canvas drop cloth for more tote bags!
Addendum: I just realized from one of the comments, that Mike technically IN A TOTE BAG himself in the images above (smile)! He’s “tote-able”!
I am back to making a massive amount of little wallets inspired by Valori Wells’ pattern (which I modified), just as I discussed in this 2017 post Little Wallet Madness.
Some of you might remember the little wallets being part of my October 2017 and 2018 “Bloganniversary” giveaways. Well it is now October 2019 which means it is my blog’s 6th anniversary.
However, given the major change in my life over the last year, I may or may not do a 6th blog anniversary celebration like I did in the past…we’ll see how I feel later in the month.
It’s not like last year, where for my 5th blog anniversary I posted daily for 30 days and did a series of (what I thought was) awesome giveaways.
Honestly, thoughts of my blog anniversary makes me sad as it makes me think of how Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH), who passed in December 2018, used to help me do the blog anniversary giveaway drawings along with Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer (who passed in December 2017 and used to have her own blog, Schnauzerships) who ensured the integrity of the drawings (see post Announcing the Winners of the tierneycreates Blog’s 4th Anniversary Giveaway).
During previous blog anniversary Octobers, I would share links from favorite previous posts, like a “Best of tierneycreates”, but so many of those posts are loaded with memories of my previous wonderful (darn near perfect) life with TTQH.
But next year is my 7th year of blogging anniversary and my hope is I do a blowout sort of celebration for that one! Time does help ease the pain of loss a little at a time. So bear with me (smile).
Oh but back to little wallets, the original subject of this blog post…
I had a HUGE stash of little wallets after making so many like in this photo from September 2017:
Recently though I got down to only two wallets left:
Oh and if you are new to this blog and are curious what the little wallets look like on the inside, here is a photo:
I have a ridiculous amount of tierneycreates business cards and each little wallet comes with a business card tucked inside.
SIDEBAR: It’s the tierneycreates business card that gave it away when I discovered one of my little wallets in a thrift shop, that obvious someone I had given one to had donated it – see post Found! At the Thrift Shop!. I ended up buying the little wallet for 50 cents from the thrift shop and then regifting it.
So it was time to make another stash of little wallets, so I pulled out a bunch of fat quarters and fabric scraps and got busy designing little wallets:
The images above are just a couple of the combinations I am working on and in a future post I will share the plethora of wallets I made to replenish my little wallet stash!
A quick follow up to the September 27, 2019 post A New Way to Organize My Fabric, I finished refolding my ridiculous fat quarter collection and now have them organized (except for novelty fat quarters) in front of the yardage that I wrapped in the comic boards:
I have to admit sometimes I just walk in the room and smile as this colorful organization makes me happy!
By the way – this is not all the fabric (should I even admit this?) – I do have separate organization for my flannel, canvas, and novelty fabrics that I recently created. Perhaps I will share this in a future post (if I am ready for full disclosure of my ridiculous fabric stash).
Speaking of stuff that makes me happy – two weeks ago my little brother visited me in Denver along with his family. He had a “milestone” birthday and we celebrated by taking him to his first NFL game to see his favorite football team of all time – the Denver Broncos. Here I am below with my brother and my adorable 7 year old nephew who thoroughly enjoyed the game (and danced in the stands during the music breaks!)
Much to the chagrin of my Pacific NW friends, I’ve sort of defected from being a Seattle Seahawks fan to a Denver Broncos fan (though I still root for the Seahawks if they are not playing the Broncos).
As mentioned in recent previous posts, I have been making little wallets from my fabric scraps.
Endless wallets. Cutting out fabric from templates in the evening while watching TV and then engaging in marathon assembling and sewing.
58+ wallets later, I am ready to share photos of the wallets.
First here are 55 of them (two I recently I gave away as gifts and one I kept for myself):
An attempt at closer up photos of the wallets:
I had so much fun rummaging through my boxes of fabric scraps and putting together various combinations. Here are photos of a couple of the insides of the little wallets to demonstrate some of the color and texture combinations I used for the inside pockets:
Here are some of my favorite little wallets from my little wallet assembly madness:
I plan to do a “Little Wallet” giveaway to celebrate the 4th anniversary of my blog in October so stay tuned. They are perfect for business cards, a place to keep punch cards (like frequent customer cards) or to use as a wallet.