Torn Silk

Sometimes I think I should have named this venture Cotton and Linen and Silk since silk is also one of my favourite fabrics. Perhaps even my most favourite although I do not sew with it very often. It’s not really a practical fabric for every day use but that’s what makes it so special when you do use it. Like in today’s project.

My sister celebrated her birthday yesterday and I made her a special gift of a Bohemian Silk Bag. There is some background that you should know about this bag. Some of the silk fabric I used was a multi-coloured dupioni silk remnant from a prom dress of my sisters from many moons ago. I found the piece in my Mother’s stash several years ago and scooped it up knowing that I would someday find a special use for it. The other thing you should know is that we have some Scottish blood in us. We grew up to the sound of the bagpipes and to this day whenever I hear the pipes it brings a tear to my eye in memory of my father, an accomplished piper. For this reason, I chose a “plaid” effect for my pattern.

My inspiration for the bag was born from the book ‘Silk Unraveled’ by Lorna Moffatt. In it, Lorna elaborates on her use of torn silk strips which she transforms into all manner of imaginitive creations. To take a piece of precious dupioni silk and literally rip it into strips takes great courage. Lorna has perfected her courageous craft.

From the bundle of silk you see above I have ripped my pieces in preparation for the bag. At this stage, I only knew that I wanted to make a bag. I had no idea what would emerge as a final ‘pattern’.

I chose a gold dupioni silk as the background to the strips. The gold pieces and the lining are cut approximately 8 ” by 10″. I then began experimenting with the pieces until the ‘plaid’ emerged as the favoured pattern. I also chose to put one horizontal strip along the back near the bottom to add interest.

Pin the strips in place and sew. Fold down and press a 1/2″ on the top of the front and back Pin the zipper between the top and the bottom at the top where you have folded the fabric. Sew the zipper in place.  With right sides together sew the front to the back along the sides and the bottom. Turn the bag right side out through the open zipper. The bag is shown with the zipper in and as yet unlined.

The next step is to sew the lining together front and back right sides together leaving the top open with a 1/2″ turned under at the top similar to the bag. Insert the lining into the bag wrong sides together and hand sew the lining to the top edge on the inside of the bag close to the zipper opening.

I chose a burgundy cording to use for the strap and wanted to add some beads to the bottom of each side of the cord for effect.

The beads are attached to the ends of the knotted cord and hand sewn to the sides of the bag.

And the final product!

I’m happy to say that my sister was pleased with her gift.

Outside the Box

A vessel is a wonderful thing. A special place to hold your treasures or everyday things. I chose this next project from a book called “Pretty Little Patchwork”. It is a compilation of several projects by various contributors. These special little boxes are an excellent way to use bits and pieces from your stash and could easily be modified to a number of sizes.

Start by cutting out 2″ squares from several different fabrics. Then sew them together in pairs and then rectangles (3 sets of squares) or squares (2 sets of squares). I’m sure I could have sped up the process by making strips and then cutting them up but I think by sewing each pair together I was able to get much more variety.

Next I paired up the sets of squares into visually pleasing groups, then sewed them together.

The pattern did not call for any interfacing but I decided to add some to make the boxes slightly more sturdy. I cut the interfacing to fit inside the seams of the lining. Next the box and the lining are sewn together separately. Then the patchwork box is set inside the lining to be sewn together along the top edge. There is a small hole left on one side seam of the lining in order to turn the box right side out. After sewing the box to the lining and turning the box right side out, hand-sew the hole in the lining closed with an invisible seam.

The finishing touch is a hand-sewn blanket stitch all the way around the top.

I have made two tall boxes and one short box, each with a different coloured embroidery thread for the blanket stitching. I have enough patchwork squares left to make two more boxes, one in each size.

But I think it’s time to move on to another project and come back to those boxes another day.

Odds ‘n Ends

The world of fibre art has been intriguing me of late. The use of so many different textiles – cloth, yarn, silk, etc. – are used to create a myriad of artistic results. To expand my knowledge (and begin a stash of various fibres)  I stopped into a beautiful little shop today called Wabi Sabi. Their specialty is a unique blend of knitting, spinning, weaving, felting and fibre. It was a mecca of colour and texture. I made it around the store a full three times and still didn’t see everything they had to offer. Without a specific project in mind I picked up only a few odds and ends to whet my taste with. I know I’ll be back for many more visits and most likely to take some of their interesting class offerings.

On the left is a collection of dyed, uncombed wool. In the middle a bit of this and that – ends from several different balls of yarn. And on the right some delicate silk ribbon. Enough to start my foray into the world of fibre art. Perhaps you’ll see some of the results in the future.


A Girl and Her Shoes

I’ve been working on a special project. This one is special because I had someone near and dear to my heart in mind to receive it. My daughter is en route home at the moment to visit us for the weekend. A quick reprieve from her studies. I have made up a quick shoe bag for her to have something elegant to carry her footwear in.

The fabric is leftover from a tiered skirt we made for her many years ago. The bag is approximately 12″ wide by 17 ” long with a simple drawstring closure. I cut out a shoe appliqué to grace the front, applied it with HeatnBond Lite and zigzagged all around the outside of the shoe.

Here are a few close-ups of the bag.

You could make the bag without a shoe appliqué  and in various sizes and it would be useful for any number of things.  I hope you like the bag. It was simple and quick and makes a great gift.

Pretty Bird


I’ve been busy on a project which I’ll reveal very soon but in the meantime I managed to spend a little more money on some eye candy.

Imagine my delight when I found an online source for current designer fabric in Canada. Now imagine the added bonus that this source is just 15 minutes from my home. I met Pam the owner of MadAboutPatchwork today. We had tea and talked fabric and blogging, then made our way to her “fabric store” in the basement. It was a hard decision what to bring home and what to leave behind.

The selection I chose is part of the Pretty Bird Fabric collection by Michael Miller Fabrics. The designer is Pillow and Maxfield.

I love the beautiful bold colours. I picked up some coordinating Kona Solids to round out the collection. I’m not sure what it will turn into just yet. It will sit on my shelf above the sewing machine tantalizingly until a project reveals itself.

Cozy Cube


The New Sewing Room Colour

Wow, I just realized it’s been almost two weeks since a post. It has been hectic. First the painting had to be finished (that was a longer job than I planned!), then Thanksgiving came and went – it was good to have family and friends around the table, after that the customary “the-big-day-is-done-so-my-body-can-let-down-it’s-guard-and-get-sick” time ensued, and finally I had to do a project to show off. (Just between us we won’t tell my husband that I’ve been calling this the “Sewing Room”. He thinks it’s called “The Lounge”. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right?) The paint colour is called “Bonjour” from C2.

Here’s my latest project!

I chose the “Cozy Cube” from Anna Maria Horner’s “Seams to Me”.

I wanted to use up some of that delectable new fabric I’ve been collecting. I chose some bright colours and made the box in two different prints with a third inside. The pattern called for some heavy, double-sided fusible interfacing. It’s very stiff and does a wonderful job of holding up the sides. The end product was originally supposed to be an 8″ X 8″ cube but I chose to make mine a little smaller. Mine is 5″ X 5″. It got a little fiddly in spots and difficult to iron the interfacing on to a 3-dimensional box but I was quite pleased with the outcome.

In the end there was only one slight problem. In my zealousness to finish the cube the fabric sides ended upside down! A detail I’ll definitely remember for the next time!

On to the next project!

Seeing Yellow


A sneak peek at the colour going up in the new sewing room.

The dropcloths are laid, the painting has begun, but oh, the agony. Do you ever feel like everyone and everything is against you when you all you really want to do is get your teeth into a project? It seems life gets in the way and takes over at every turn. It’s been non-stop interruptions throughout this painting project and the job is only half-done.

To appease my creative soul, however, one of the interruptions was a trip to the fabric store. A lovely little quilt shop I’ve only just discovered. Without a specific project in mind I chose to stock up on as many different kinds of fabrics as I could. I stood in front of the fat quarter wall for a good hour pulling out samples and trying patterns and colours together in different colourways. In the end I left with two series that included some Kaffe Fassett and Philip Jacob prints with two meters of co-ordinating plains. It was a very fruitful trip. Oh, and then I decided I needed a new sketchpad to scribble my ideas into. I think it needs a nice fabric covering, don’t you?

Back to the paintbrush…..

Fall Colours

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of sewing happening just yet. Lots of thinking, dreaming, web-surfing, idea-gathering, and organizing. My new sewing space is taking shape. After many years in boxes my treasured sewing books have emerged and made their way onto the shelves above the sewing machine ready for quick reference or ideas. A few other books that haven’t seen the light of day for quite some time joined them as well. It was like Christmas pulling them all from the boxes. The paint for the room is purchased and ready to go on the walls. And a couple of projects have been half-started. Can you half-start something?

One more step to cleaning out my old stash and making room for new was to pull out some flannel I had purchased for pyjama bottoms for my boys. I couldn’t find a pattern I liked so am using a comfortable used pair as my pattern and tracing them. It wasn’t as easy as it looked and I’m still tweeking the pattern.

I made a slight boo-boo and ran out of tracing paper at the top of the pyjama pants when it came time to include the elastic casing. A simple “cut and paste” was in order.

Tomorrow’s project – Paint!

My New Sewing Room

I have found a new sewing space in my house. You may recall my original sewing room – the messy one – that I showed you a picture of a few posts ago. Well, rather than clean it up I have found a new space to encroach upon.

This requires a bit of background information but I’ll try and keep it brief. About a month ago, we decided to move our two teenage boys into the basement as their sleeping quarters. They were more than ecstatic about this decision and moved furniture and music equipment and computer equipment down to their new space. I like to call it The Pit. They also moved the couch that we used to watch television from upstairs to one of the bedrooms. The TV however did not make it upstairs. They have absconded with it for their video games. I don’t mind. It leaves me more time to read, sew and blog!

We also used to have our office (my husband and I share a home office) in the basement. The boys were kind enough (read ‘excited enough’) to help move all the office equipment up to the second floor as well. So now we have completely taken over the second floor for ourselves. Besides the master bedroom we now have an office and a lounge. It’s very decadent! The rooms are bright and welcoming and I love our new spaces.

Much to my husband’s chagrin, however, I have begun to move some of my sewing paraphernalia up to the lounge a bit at a time. I’m only taking up the closet space so I don’t feel like I’m taking too much of the space for myself but you might get an argument about that out of my husband. Especially in light of the fact that he only just finished constructing the old sewing room out of some storage space in the basement just last winter.

I intend to keep my old sewing room as my main storage area and stash but I love the bright new space I have found to do my actual sewing. There’s still lots to do to pull it all together and some leftovers on the shelves from the boys to get rid of but I’ll be working away at that project daily. The room does need a coat of paint as well. Some colour don’t you think? But I’ll keep the sewing area bright white for a clean palate to showcase my cloth.

Here’s a picture of the old and the new.

The Old Sewing Room

The New Sewing Room


The completed Broadturn Bags

Well, it seems to have taken waaayyy too long to complete these bags but they are done and they’ve already been to the grocery store and back. There were some snags along the way but all in all I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.

Here are the steps involved in making these bags (please bear with me, I have taken more than enough pictures but I don’t profess to be an expert photographer…..yet):

From the beginning:

The pattern was taken from Amanda Blake Soule’s ‘Handmade Home‘. The Broadturn Bag is named after the farm where they purchase their local produce. Amanda originally turned these bags out of old tablecloths, a much better choice than my flimsy cotton. I’ll remember that next time. I made two bags each with an additional coordinating trim/pocket.

I lined the pockets with plain white cotton and sewed them onto the fronts and backs of both bags. The pockets were too wide and floppy so I made three pockets on one side and two on the other of each of the bags by sewing a straight seam from top to bottom of the pocket in the appropriate places.

The next step was to sew the fronts to the backs right sides together down each side.

Now we come to the tricky part. The bottoms had to be pinned and sewn onto the bags. First the lining for the bottoms were sewn to each of the tops wrong sides together. Then the bottom was pinned to the bags right sides together. You can never have too many pins in my world!

Although Amanda suggests clipping the curves after sewing I had to clip the curves before sewing in order to make the bottom fit properly. Afterward all the rough edges were pinked to prevent fraying.

We’re almost done. Just put the straps together and sew them onto the bags. The straps started out 8 inches wide and 34 inches long. They are folded lengthwise into the middle then together again to make the strap 2 inches wide by 34 inches long. Then topstitch all the way around the strap. Here is one strap unfolded so you can see the fold marks. The other is folded completely.

And for the final step the straps are  sewn onto the bags at each side. They are sewn to the inside of the bag with an inch overlap and topstitched in a box pattern.

Have you ever purchased a baguette that because it is so long has toppled out of your bag on the way out the door? Well, with some spare cloth I got inspired and whipped up two long skinny bags to go with each tote specifically shaped and sized to hold a baguette. Now, if my baguette falls to the ground it will be protected by the new baguette bag. It’s actually long enough to fold over the end of the baguette, I just inched it down so you could see the bread inside. Hmm. Maybe some velcro to fold over the top would help too.

The Ta Da Moment!