100 Days is a Long Time

Last year I decided to join the 100 Day Project—in which you do something creative everyday for 100 days and post about it each day. I lasted about a week.

This year, just before the challenge began, I heard an interview with the person who formalized and popularized the challenge. I decided to join in again but this time with a plan.

I’ve been fussing around with watercolor and have had some hits and misses as a result. I thought the 100 Day Project would be a good framework to develop my watercolor skills and so I set myself up to create a tiny watercolor each day for 100 days. As of today—day 29—I have a new appreciation for setting a goal sticking with it!

I also got out my favorite fabric and whipped up another shopping tote.

Although I designed this project to be made with two 1/2 yard pieces of fabric, I think it’s successful with pieced fabric as well.

And while wondering what the next garment pattern that I purchase should be I decided to make another Finlayson sweater out of sweatshirt fabric.

So cozy!

And…a bit of a surprise! A photo and project description I submitted to Handwoven magazine many months ago appeared in their newsletter this week. Fun!

Be well, Adam.

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Big Old Place Mat

I created this oversized place mat–or mini quilt–to cover exactly the top of my nightstand.

I used a combination of cotton solids and scraps of some current favorite patterns.

There seemed to be enough color and pattern going on with the fabric choices that for quilting I did simple lines 1/2″ apart.

And while I could have done this freestyle, I decided to take a very exacting approach to get everything just as I envisioned it.

And this project also gave me a chance to practice my machine binding skills.

In between sewing projects, I’ve been spending time working with watercolor paints and pens.

It’s a good opportunity to try out color palettes in a different and very unstructured media. I’ve been taking guidance from @creationsceecee if you want to try for yourself!

December 2020: totes and bags

At the risk of repeating myself, I find that fabric itself can serve as inspiration for me when I’m stumped on what to make.

This vibrant, bold pattern in a black semi-circle with blue accents on white was just the print to get me going for this birthday gift.

I used it to make my own design of a simple shopping tote complete with an inside pocket big enough for a phone or wallet.

Next up was a little something for myself that would feature this fabric with a graph paper pattern.

I love this fabric and want to make so much more with it.

Psst—I’ll let you in on a secret—when I was a kid I was obsessed with office supplies. I know, what a dork! But this fabric warms that part of my heart perfectly.

The whimsy of this botanic pattern is balanced by a neutral palette and works well for this small zippered pouch.

A boxed bottom ensures it stays open and a small looped handle makes it easy to close.

Coordinating fabric in a solid gray and a subtle textured pattern complete the palette for this project.

But back to graph paper… how can I work more of it into my life?

It took me a little while to figure out how I wanted to construct this, but I finally settled on this solution to keep my sketchbook and pens together.

One side has a pocket for the book with a button and loop closure. While the other side has a zipper to keep all the pens and pencils and eraser in place.

The loop for the book also functions to hold the zippered flap open, with a second button, to make the pens easy to access. Sewing a zipper around a curve is a nightmare, but I really like the resulting project and use it every day.

Teach Sewing Learn Weaving

When I was asked by Norris MiniCourses to move my sewing class online and to teach it via Zoom, I wasn’t so sure. There were so many questions: how do the students get a machine to use; how do I teach them to replace a needle if it breaks; will they be able to understand complicated procedures looking at a demonstration on their phone?

Video: How To Sew A Zippered Pouch

I’m happy to share the video with you so you can sew along, too!

Ultimately, we prevailed with a completed project in the end and no broken needles in the process. I was even able to walk them through re-threading their machine (a nail biter indeed). Zippered Pouch Zoom Class complete!

This month I finally finished a weaving project from Handwoven Magazine with inlaid squares and stripes, thanks to the help of Natalie at the Chicago Weaving School.

It’s meant to be a set of dish towels, but I can’t quite bring myself to clean with a textile that I spent months weaving!

This was truly a labor of love and I’m fascinated by the squares and stripes that this design resulted in. Maybe the next time you come to my house you’ll get to dry your hands with it.

Foundation Paper Piecing Simple House

To get away from overlay planned projects, I broke out my paper foundation piecing simple house design and turned it into a quilted pillow.
I start with the house design printed on cheap copy paper and a selection of my favorite quilting cotton.
All the pieces are sewn wrong sides with the paper and the sewing is done along the lines of the design, following each number in sequence.
After the sewing is done, I spray the paper with water and peel off the paper. Any little bits that remain get washed away when the finished project is washed.

The finished block can be added to any sewing project.

I turned mine into a pillow front and quilted it using traditional machine quilting methods.

And there it its . . . a quilted pillow using my favorite fab fabrics!

Raglan Long-sleeve Hoodie T-shirt

Raglan sleeve hoodie t-shirt

Sewing with jersey knit has always been a challenge for me. But I really like the ready to wear hoodie T’s I have in my wardrobe, so I keep coming back to making them on my own.

I found this wild floral pattern on a yellow background and a coordinating gray from Art Gallery Fabrics in jersey knit. Both floral and yellow are outside of my normal palette but I wanted something bright and fun and challenging for me. Besides, the gray keeps it familiar.

I started with the Thread Theory Sayward pattern and added a self-drafted hood.

It always seems to go wrong for me when I try to top stitch the collar… the fabric bunches up and stretches out. And in the process of removing the stitches I ripped the body of the shirt!

Oh well, I worked so hard on the shirt already I decided to stitch up the hole and wear the shirt anyway. It’s very comfy, thanks to the wonderful Art Gallery Fabric, and I enjoy wearing it. I might even add some visible mending to the hole to make a feature out of it!

August Color

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This pillow cover took a while for me to work on, but it was enjoyable the whole time. It’s made from quilting cotton strips that started out as 1.5″ wide by 3.5″ or 5″ or 7″ long. I used shades of teal, blue, gray, and white for the outside and shades of yellow and gold for the inside.

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After completing the top layer, I sandwiched it with cotton batting and another layer of quilting cotton. For the quilting, I chose to echo the long seams by 1/4″. I used a blue thread for the blue/gray areas and a gold thread for the yellow/gold areas. Pillows are such a great project for me because I get a substantial amount of area to design and quilt, but they’re not such big projects that they take too long to hold my interest.

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After finishing my weaving samples at the Chicago Weaving School, our teacher Natalie helped me set up my rigid heddle loom to create a design from Handwoven Magazine. This is supposed to be a set of kitchen towels, but I can’t imagine working this hard on a project just to wipe my wet mitts on it! So, I’m going to turn it into a winter scarf, or a pillow cover. New for me is the experience of working with a very thin weft thread to allow the warp threads to really take center stage. As well, inlaying the rectangles along the right half is a new skill that I’ve enjoyed incorporating into the project. Almost done and I can’t wait to see the final project. You can see the process here @maxandwolf.

See you next month!

One Work in Progress and One Finally Finished Project

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What’s this one going to be? Well, I’m not sure, but I know it’s going to be colorful. The repetitive nature of cutting out fabric all the same size can be soothing.

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It allows for the gentle progression of a project without a ton of hard work. But it could be fairly boring if it was done in all one color.

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I thought this combination of color was very punchy—a soothing palette of blues and grays interrupted by a core of strong yellows. Most likely this will be a pillow…cutting out all those strips might be soothing but I have my limits.

img_8772Finally, after four months, the Chicago Weaving School was able to reopen, although to a much smaller class size. The sampler I had been working on was abandoned on the loom when we all had to shelter in place back in March.

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But it was still there on the four shaft table loom just as I had left it. And I finally got to finish it and bring it home.

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I knew that as a sampler with lots of mismatched designs and colors, I probably wouldn’t want to use it as is. And after wet finishing it in the washing machine, the finished dimensions were just enough for several small projects.

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The first of which is an insulating sleeve for the large glass I drink hot tea from. I layered the wool woven sampler with Soft and Stable batting and a narrow piece of quilting cotton. I joined the two ends with two wide bands of elastic.

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I try to avoid hand-sewing at all costs because I think I hate it. But it turns out that it was much simpler, and faster, to finish the last seam by hand instead of trying to cram it under the sewing machine. I guess I don’t hate hand-sewing.

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And now I get to peak at all the different weaving techniques I learned over several weeks while sipping my black tea every morning. Tomorrow the loom gets warped with a new project and I’m so eager to learn new techniques and start a brand new textile!

School’s Out, Education Continues

I’d like to tell you about what I’ve been sewing, but after I share an invaluable resource directly related to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Evanston Public Library has put together a list of books and other resources for us to deepen our education on racism, antiracism, and what we can do as advocates and allies. The research has been done, the educational material has been created, the facts have been vetted. The only thing left for us to do is learn.

This list is for everyone. Even those who don’t live in Evanston and aren’t library patrons. I challenge you to just pick one resource and watch, listen, or read. And then come back to this list and begin again. Thank you for listening. Thank you to the teachers writers, filmmakers, and artists for providing us with this education. And thank you to the Evanston Public Library for this resource list.

Antiracist Resources


 

I’ve created a new tutorial video on how to sew a fabric wristlet key chain. This is an easy project that takes minimal fabric and can even be made from those scraps you’ve been saving up!

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I think these would even make great gifts…easy to make and way for you to share your creative projects! But maybe more importantly, the technique to make the fabric strap is the same technique for making the handles on a shopping bag, the pull on a zippered tote, or even the drawstring on a backpack.

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The video is about 16 minutes and there’s a printable instruction sheet as well. I hope you’ll make a bunch of these!

How To Sew A Simple Shopping Tote

New this month is an instructional video based on a simple shopping tote design I created.

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The project uses two half-yard pieces of fabric and an optional pocket uses some of the scraps remaining.

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There’s printable PDF instructions and a basic pattern to create the curved edge.

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This is part of my ongoing series of videos that I’m creating for CJE SeniorLife.

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I also spent some time this month creating a very streamlined cross body bag.

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I love getting outside when the weather warms up, but I have to admit that I miss the use of all those pockets on my winter coat (I don’t actually miss the coat itself!).

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I took advantage of the scraps leftover from last months pants project and some straps and buckles I have in my supplies.

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This turned out great because it’s just big enough to hold my phone and wallet and I can put in on my back or chest without taking it off.

Until next month, happy sewing!