Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Zippered Pouches - So Many Uses

Two years ago, I think, I started making zippered pouches. With my own internal quality standard, I wanted a pouch that did not have raw edges. Erin Gilbey's Neat 'n' Tidy Zipper Pouch tutorial fit my standard.

Many independent pattern designers offer free tutorials to give you a sense of their style of writing and illustrations. Erin's instructions were clear and well documented. I also like that I can easily see how I can make modifications and still stay "true" to the pattern directions and be successful. All of her patterns are well written and she provides quick response time when asking questions. There's also an active Facebook Group for lovers of her patterns.

Erin's basic shape uses two fabrics - scraps really. Who doesn't have scraps? And some batting or flannel or not for the inside. And, as a person who quilts too,  I have batting.

These zipper pouches are great for holding change, keys, various small chargers, store customer cards or other small notions or office supplies. The zipper pouch could easily be a gift bag for a debit card.

If you do not want to make your own, I have some of these in my shop:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Let's Make Dumplings (Bags)

I love to make dumpling bags. Probably through Pinterest, I found a free tutorial about making dumpling bags (see These little zipper pouches open WIDE. They are great for earbuds, match cars, crayons, medicine, whatever. I do not recommend it as a coin purse as they open wide.

As a quilter and fiber artist, I generate a lot of scraps so I am always on the lookout for ideas about using up my scraps. A great use for scraps is in English paper piecing so that I am assembling larger shapes out of the smaller scraps. The particular advantage that I have with English paper piecing is that it is portable. I'll work up some shapes while monitoring the kiddo's homework progress, or attending his practice, or sitting in a meeting. I was recently at a three day conference and on the third day I found I just had to keep my hands occupied to keep my brain alert.

The Paper Pieces company sells lots of different shapes and sizes of computer precision cut paper templates. No need to trace and cut your own shapes out of index cards or newspaper (or the Sears catalogue if you have heard stories about that or done that yourself). I use my paper pieces multiple times before recycling them.

Putting dumplings and paper piecing together, I make two "flowers" and then fill the area around them with a background fabric. Then, remove all the paper, use the pattern shape to cut to the appropriate size and follow Michelle's directions to complete them.

A suggestion or hint for when basting the zipper, do the first side with the zipper unzipped (just easier to handle). Given the fact that there are lots of bias edges, do the second side with the zipper zipped. Too many times, if I do the two sides of the zip separately, I end up being "off" and the pouch doesn't close as neatly as I would like.

Given the labor time in making the English paper pieced dumplings, I give them as gifts, I don't sell them. I do sell the dumpling bags when I have used just one fabric for the outside.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Time for a Change

Over the past few years, I've been doing less quilts and more usable fiber art items. Maybe this is because I do not have more wall space. Maybe it is because being a parent leaves less time for detailed work processes. Maybe I just wanted more quick gratification and my quilts did not fit that equation.

I confess, though, that I can end up spending a number of days working on the fabric choices for one bag - much in the same way that selecting fabrics for a quilt involves. Some of the construction techniques can be just as involved as an inset seam or a detailed applique.

I liked making the Time for a Change purse / diaper bag. But, this was not a quick sewing process. Time for a Change is a pattern from DogUnderMyDesk, a great independent pattern designer. I like the water bottle pockets. I like the zippered pockets. I am not certain I like the way the straps are installed. I added a key minder to bag.

The issue for all fiber work is how to recover the time in the cost of the good. Living where I do, the cost of living is high. I can recover my material costs. I just do not think I can recover my time. So, while I like the pattern, I don't think it will show up in my Etsy shop, unless maybe it is a custom order item.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Descansos - Others that came from that series

As I had mentioned some time ago, the Descansos series was compelling for me. The simple beauty of claiming a space as important and marking it for memory is an act of simple faith, a recognition that our lives matter, at least to some, and an invitation to reflect. My MIL passed away over the holidays. While my relationship with her was not always easy, she did value my fiber art. So, as I reflect back, here are two pieces that were also part of that Descansos series.


Detail from Descansos - hand beaded, mixed content fabric, quilted

Detail from Descansos - hand beaded, pieced, appliqued, quilted

Lilies for Descansos

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Back for a While (or Not)

Outta Time Tote - for Oslin to hold his watercolor art
 After a long hiatus, a life that got too full, and some time to reflect, I am back at the sewing machine. I don't know that I am ready fully for the big creative pieces: commissions for various people and organizations, but I have been able to enjoy using up a number of fabric scraps. Mostly been doing purses. So, here are three recently completed. The Mt. Fuji is on the front and back of the tote, the pockets have a mottled green, and the inside of the bag is sort of a twig fabric. I made the bag from the pattern by Dog Under My Desk, modified so that it is reversible.
Showing the inside of the front pocket

Inside of Bag and Inside Pocket

Back - Outta Time Tote
 This is the same bag pattern (Outta Time Tote) and is reversible as well, but this one is meant as a teacher gift. His teacher is into mustaches
Outta Time Tote

Inside of the Bag - Pencil fabric and orange batik pockets

And, then, last but not least, a dear friend, in her desire to purge, gave me a number of pieces of fabric. This one has some sentimental value to her and I hope to surprise her with this purse tomorrow. When life is a gift and I have been gifted, somehow it seems right to keep on going. The pattern for the bag is the Zip and Go from Dog Under My Desk. 
Zip and Go Bag - using Kona Japanese cotton

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Descansos - overall image and series

So, it should not come as a surprise that one piece can turn into a sort of series. With Descansos, I had enough leftover materials and still enough interest in the design pieces to do a few more works that are related.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Over the past 2 years at least, I have been working on a large wall size piece that began with an interesting approach to make circles and background strips and cut and resew. The technique was in the American Quilter (from AQS). My pieces ended up looking like crosses and the colors were very southwestern. Two details from the piece are shown. But, as I was trying to figure out a name for the piece, I ended up on a journey of research on Descansos. Those are the crosses that are along the roadside marking the place were someone died. The origin of descansos is in the southwest and marks resting places between the church and the graveyard. Since the person who has already expressed intent to buy this fiber art piece plans to use it in her meditation space, the thought that these crosses on the quilt are resting places for focus and reflection and meditation seemed appropriate. For some really nice written text and black and white images of descansos, see