Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Luggage Tag

Here in the United States, it’s time for spring break. Children have about a week off from school and, if they’re lucky, their parents are able to take some vacation days as well. It’s good timing to make a luggage tag.

Sewn Fabric Luggage Tag

This luggage tag is another kit that was a gift from a local quilt shop during a Quilt Shop Hop years ago. The kit came with a piece of stiff double-sided fusible interfacing, a fabric panel, backing fabric, and a fabric strip for the tie.

Contents of Sewn Fabric Luggage Tag Kit

For the luggage tag itself, I ironed the interfacing to the backing fabric and then the front panel. The entire piece was trimmed to the size of the interfacing, which measures 5 3/4 by 4 1/2 inches (about 14.5 by 11.5 cm). I zigzag-stitched around the outer edges, then cut a small slit at one end.

For the tie, I folded and pressed the two long edges of the fabric strip toward the center then folded the strip in half again to enclose the raw edges. Because I didn’t have any brown thread, I sewed the long edge with the same maroon thread that I used on the luggage tag. The finished tie measures about 22 inches (56 cm) long and a half inch (1.25 cm) wide.

Sewn Fabric Luggage Tag

I tucked the tie through the slit in the tag, and it’s ready to go! The beauty of it is that the tag can be used for anything, not just luggage. For example, it would look nice on a sewing machine case or used as a gift tag.

I haven’t decided whether I will keep this tag or give it away, so I’m going to hold off writing a name on it. In the meantime, I’ll be daydreaming about all of the places my family could go on spring break.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Chromatic 2: The Rainbow Version

Project leftovers can be overwhelming. I tend to refer to them as scraps, but that implies a small amount. Sometimes the leftover amount is too small to repeat a project, yet too great to truly relegate to the category of Scrap.

The photo below is all leftover fingering weight wool yarn. These are no mere scraps. Most of it is from knitting socks, although some of it is commercial or handspun yarn from other projects. They are a mix of solid, variegated, and self-striping yarns that can be difficult to combine into a new project.

Collection of Partial Skeins of Wool Sock Weight Yarn
This photo was taken AFTER I knit my latest project.

I wanted to make something from my leftover sock weight yarn, but after knitting two pairs of socks back-to-back I wasn’t in the mood to knit another pair. It’s too warm here for mittens or gloves, and I have more than enough scarves and hats for the brief period when I can justify wearing them.

I grouped and regrouped colors until I realized I had a rainbow of solids and enough light colors to make another Chromatic. I knit this sweater pattern by Tin Can Knits early last summer and was happy with both the experience and the result. Why not make another?

Folded Rainbow Version of Wool Chromatic Sweater

The yarns I used this time are:
  • Orange, Yellow, BlueCascade Yarns® Cascade 220® Fingering in colorways 7824 Orange, 7827 Goldenrod, and 9573 In The Navy
  • RedMadelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Tart
  • GreenDream in Color Smooshy in Happy Forest
  • PurpleMalabrigo Sock Yarn in 808 Violeta Africana
  • IvoryRed Heart Heart & Sole with Aloe in E745 Ivory
  • Light Beige – I don’t remember what this yarn is. It was once a shawl that met an untimely end in the drier.
  • Beige – Handspun yarn made from 50% camel down and 50% alpaca

The first time around, I was also working with leftover fingering weight wool yarn. I cut it close on yardage with that version based on the colors I chose, so that top is a little smaller than I’d prefer. Once again, I used needles one size larger than the pattern calls for — US-6 (4 mm) and US-4 (3.5 mm) — but this time I knit size L.

Back View of Rainbow Version of Wool Chromatic Sweater
Trying to look casual and avoid touching the pollen-laden rail at the same time.

I added six MC/CC pattern repeats to the length of the body, which increased the length by about three inches (7.6 cm). I also knit the sleeves about two inches (5 cm) longer than called for in the pattern instructions. I’m happy with the sweater sized as it is, although I don’t think that much extra length was absolutely necessary. If I make the sweater again, I think I’ll aim for three additional body repeats and one extra inch (2.5 cm) in the sleeves, then adjust as needed to fit with the color scheme.

Front View of Rainbow Version of Wool Chromatic Sweater
The MC is ivory at the top, light beige in the middle, and beige at the very bottom.

I used up the orange, blue, ivory and beige yarns in this Chromatic, and now I’m trying to figure out what my next fingering weight wool yarn project should be. Sure, I could buy a few skeins to improve my color combination options — but it already seems to be multiplying faster than I can knit it. Dare I run the risk of encouraging it by purposely adding to its numbers?

What are your favorite ways to use up more-than-scrap quantities of leftover yarn?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Round Robin ABCs

It seems that every artist has a default color palette. There are those certain colors that we return to again and again. In my quilting, I’ve found that those preferences extend to prints as well.

Sometimes I don’t understand why I like the fabrics that I do. In my fabric library, for example, I have an extensive collection of fabric covered in chickens or fish. I have no particular affinity for either of those animals, but it’s difficult for me to walk away from those prints.

I also have a full range of alphabet-printed fabric, with the occasional set of numbers thrown in for good measure. (No pun intended, ha!) The colors coordinate surprisingly well — or maybe that’s not such a surprise based on my default color palette.

For the last two months, my quilt guild has offered a round robin sewing afternoon. Each of us brought a set of fabric — mine was the alphabet prints — and a plan for a modern quilt block that could be made in 30 minutes or less. We passed our fabric to the right and made our block with the set of fabric in front of us. We made five blocks from others’ fabrics, and in return ended up with five blocks in our own fabric sewn by others.

We made each block 12 1/2 inches (31.75 cm) square, and incorporated a piece of our own fabric as a “signature.” Some quilters kept their signatures small and unobtrusive, while others made theirs bold and obvious.

One challenge to the round robin was choosing a block pattern that could be made in 30 minutes or less. Ideally, the timing needed to be closer to 20 minutes because we were in a shop rather than at our usual sewing spaces at home. Sometimes we had to wait for time at the cutting table or ironing board, and sometimes we were simply being social.

I ended up with 16 blocks. Ten were made by the other quilters at the round robin. Five were my timed practice blocks. And one I sewed at home after another quilter accidentally cut too many half square triangles from my fabric. A plan for the layout is already in the works.

I enjoyed the round robin. I had a chance to get to know some of the women in my new guild, and I have most of a quilt top ready to go. I was able to pull all of the materials for the quilt from my stash, including thread and batting, so there was no extra expense. And by the time the quilt is done, I’ll have used up most of my alphabet prints. Now, what to do about those chickens and fish?

What colors or prints always catch your eye?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Charming Little Coaster Kit

It can be difficult some weeks to blithely write about making projects. As I’m posting this on Tuesday morning, it’s been a bumpy week already and my latest little sewing project seems incredibly silly.

Yet here we are.

I pulled out another small kit from the bottom of the drawer this week. This one was for a single coaster. I know I received it as a gift from a local shop during a Quilt Shop Hop a few years ago. It’s from a different shop than the mug rugs kit I made earlier this year, and that makes me wonder if they were from the same year — one with a coaster theme.

This kit came with six squares of cotton each measuring five inches (about 2.5 cm). I was to add a batting square of the same size.

Although this is a simple pattern, I had to read through the instructions a few times before I could follow the process. It is much easier to do than to explain.

The first step was to sandwich two of the fabric squares with the batting, right-sides out. Next, I had to fold the remaining four squares in half with wrong-sides together. I wove them into a new five-inch square layer with the raw edges to the outside.

After placing the woven layer on top of the sandwich, I sewed around all four sides with a quarter-inch (0.6 cm) seam allowance. I clipped the corners, then turned the coaster right-side out through the center of the woven block.

And I happen to like topstitched edges for small turned items, so I sewed a quick border as well.

This was a quick and easy project. Although I appreciate that there are a lot of layers for absorbency, I don’t entirely understand why I needed to sandwich the batting between two layers of fabric when one side was going to be covered by the woven block in the end. Perhaps because the woven block can be opened from the middle? Some well-placed quilting would prevent anyone from peeking there.

The charm of this pattern is lost on me. (Get it? Charm blocks are usually five inches square, haha!)

No world problems were solved by making this project. Nor were any small issues, for that matter. But there’s a little more storage space in the bottom of the drawer, and I have a brightly colored coaster on which to set a soothing cup of tea as I ride out life’s bumps.