Hack that Tote! By Mary Abreu

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It’s no oops, but she did do it again… Mary Abreu has released her third book, Hack that Tote, with Stash Books, a division of C&T Publishing.  Mary is an accomplished seamstress, working on and with projects ranging from a boutique movie production company to a wide range of sewing classes at Intown Quilters, a quilt shop in Atlanta, Georgia.  She has done multiple presentations on everything from pattern hacking to costuming at several pop culture conventions.  Her list of talents is long, and she actually is on her second career.  Her first was as an award-winning print journalist for almost two decades, so it is pretty natural for her to blend her sewing and writing talents.  Actually kind of a “duh” thing, if you think about it!

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Hack that Tote! feels like an extension of one of Mary’s classes.  She does a brilliant job of breaking down the basics of making a simple tote bag, and how knowledge of the parts makes it possible to create your own style of the whole.

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Think of your favorite bags, and maybe even your not-so-favorite bags.  Why do you feel that way about them?  What makes them good?  What makes them not?  Mary explores how to start with a basic shape and then, well, hack it to create the bag your heart truly desires.

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With a particularly helpful discussion on shape, interfacings and hardware, Hack that Tote! can help any maker to up their sewing game.  While the basic tote pattern along with ten tote hacks alone make this book worth having, the descriptions of how to work with the elements of bag making make it worth keeping for a long-term reference guide.

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My favorite of the Hack that Tote! patterns is the Tubular Frame Purse, which Mary will be coming to teach at The Green Apricot Studio on Saturday, January 14, 2017.  I’ve seen this bag in person, and I love the length of the handles, the zipper pocket, and the use of an enclosed tubular purse frame.  After reading through the book, I can easily see how the pattern is based on a simple tote, and it gives me ideas for future projects.  Having said that, I am still excited to have Mary come to teach in the studio.  It always amazes me how much I can learn simply by being with other makers, and I don’t believe we can ever stop learning from each other!

Interested in Mary’s other publications?  Here they are, along with a fabulous photo of Mary herself in one of her amazing costumes…

Piecing with Patty

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Here’s the thing.  There really are rules to follow.  And there really are rules to be broken.

To me, one of the wonderful aspects of any art or craft is taking the wildness of creativity and mixing it with the rules of skill.  Notice I did not say taming it with the rules of skill.

Understanding the medium, the tools used, and the variety of desired outcomes means knowing how to bend all of those to the will of creativity.  One may begin by bending inspiration to skill in the process of learning, but eventually, the goal can be the other way around.

Enter Patty Murphy, author of recently released Piecing Makeover: Simple Tricks to Fine-Tune Your Patchwork from C&T Publishing.  This book is an excellent source for everyone from less experienced quilters to those who have been around the block a few times.  It addresses basic construction as well as how to deal with precision issues.  In other words, it gives all the rules, which in the end, gives all the freedom.

Speaking of freedom, how about a bit of improvisational quilting with Patty?  No, I am not confused.  Yes, I did just talk all about rules and block construction and avoiding issues, and yes, it does lead to improv.

I am really excited to host Patty at The Green Apricot Studio on December 3, 2016 for a workshop on her quilt, “Yes Ma’am!”  We’ll be exploring both improv and precision piecing, and talking about how to have quilt tops that extend into boarders.  We’ll discuss some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them.  And best of all, we’ll bust some of our stash while we are at it.

And we’ll find out the story behind the name of this quilt.  Because I really want to know.

Click here to register for “Yes Ma’am” with Patty Murphy, 12/3/16, 9am- 4pm.

From Piecing Makeover:  “Patty Murphy has been sewing since she was six years old.  The first thing she recalls making is a pink-and-white seersucker pillow with the word Dad crudely embroidered on it as a gift for her father on Father’s Day.  Fortunately for everyone, her sewing and quilting have greatly improved since then, and so has her gift giving.

Patty loves to share her craft with anyone that will listen, and she teaches regularly at Intown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, so she can share her knowledge and support her fabric obsession.  Her work has been featured in several books, on the websites of major fabric manufacturers, on blogs, and in magazines, including an original quilt design for Intown Quilters that was featured on the cover of the Spring 2007 Quilt Sampler magazine.”

Churning Green

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I love quilting books and patterns to the point that it’s almost sick.  Like seriously, the obsession with everything about this industry is real.  I just can never have enough quilts or pictures of quilts or plans of quilts or thoughts of quilts or ideas of quilts.  It’s a bit concerning, really.

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And people like these two like to feed my obsession.  Meet Liz Evans and Elizabeth Evans, and if you are double taking over their names, you should be.  They are sisters-in-law, and cohorts in quilting.  Together they have written The Simple Simon Guide to Patchwork Quilting, and it’s a good thing they did.

I never get tired of a beginning quilting book, even after all these years.  Sure, I’m pretty familiar with most of the basic techniques, but I still love them for a few reasons.  This book is a good example of what I mean.

First, the fabrics and photos are updated.  Doesn’t seem like that’s a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I love that it helps to invite new quilters into “our world.”  Crisp, clear and modern constantly mean something different, and it helps to keep our creative blood flowing.

Second, the techniques do get updated.  A book written 50 years ago wouldn’t have included any information about rotary cutters because, hello, they weren’t invented for quilting yet.

Third, the projects themselves get updated.  I love that in this book they have a great mix of quilts and other projects- everything from a bunting to a bib, from a pouch to a pillow.  Love it!

So, here’s what I made.  It didn’t take me long to make the top, but it did take a while to quilt it.  I love the simplicity of this project as a background for some massive quilting, so that’s what I did.

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Churning Green

I had copious amounts of this fabric in my stash, and it was exactly what I wanted.  If you come to the studio/my husband’s shop, you will see it hanging in the bathroom.  This color combination appeals to me, as it reminds me of a lot that we’ve been seeing from prominent fabric designers over the last few years.  The main print is an older piece by Laura Gunn, and I’ve been hoarding it for a while.

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I started quilting it the day our youngest went off to college.  I wasn’t in the mood for a lot of chatter, and I for sure needed chocolate.  Juan and I worked quietly and diligently, and for the most part, all went well.  However, I did run into some technical issues that eliminates this quilt from being shown anywhere but the bathroom.  Let’s just say I learned a lot, and am grateful for it, but am really sad because this started out as a great quilt and could have done well.  I may have to try again.

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I artfully staged this pic so that the biggest offense is not that visible, but I will tell you that a bit of it is peaking out at the top right corner.  Maybe I will write a post sometime about using a Statler, and some of the things I’ve learned since bringing Juan home a year ago.  It’s been an amazing process.

The irony?  This book was written as a beginning quilting book, and while I may be all “I know how to do that already,” I still ended up getting a lesson in the end.

Pride goeth before a fall.  (Prov 16:18)

Simple Knit Dress Workshop with Chrissy Weeks

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You chose your dress or tunic pattern (some options listed below). And we will make them together. First we will make a sample and adjust your pattern for fit. Then we will make your dress out of your “for real” fabric.

Supplies: Bring your machine and basic sewing supplies. Thread to match your project, polyester is best for apparel. You can sew on a regular machine and / or serger. We will have a couple sergers available for class use, but limited thread color options. Please make sure to pre-wash and dry your fabric. Keep in mind when buying your fabric that natural fiber knit shrinks up to 40% be sure to buy extra if using a cotton or silk knit. Sample fabric needs to be similar weight and stretch to your “for real” fabric. Good quality fabric is easier to sew and will give you a nicer finished garment.

Pattern Suggestions:
Colette Patterns,  https://www.colettepatterns.com  (Monetta, Myrtle)

McCalls Patterns (M7382, M7432, M7407)

Sew Caroline,  http://www.shopsewcaroline.com/ (Out and About Dress)

Any dress pattern similar to these simple shapes is appropriate as long as it is a pattern intended for knits!

Best places to buy knits:
Stores:
Gail K, in-town and Norcross,   http://www.gailkfabricsinc.com/
Fine Fabric, Jimmy Carter Access Road 6218 Dawson Blvd Norcross, (678) 894-2067
Joann’s (has surprisingly decent knits)

On-Line:
Fabric.com
http://www.girlcharlee.com

Thursday, September 29, 2016, 9am- 4pm.  Nonmembers- $36, Members- 6 hours.  Click here to register.

Sputnik!


A couple of months ago I acquired a few new toys from Sizzix and have been having a good time getting to know them. Last month we used the eclips2 to cut contact paper for glass etching as part of the Stuff Your Stocking event.

This month we have two quilt workshops coming up in the studio that use the Big Shot Pro die cut machine.  One of them is Sputnik, a raw edge applique quilt featuring circles cut using the Big Shot Pro.  Click here to see the free pattern from Sizzix, but note that we will only be using the circle die. Bring your fabrics ready to roll, but uncut.  We will fuse, cut and stitch during the workshop.

Juan and I have been talking about some things we want to experiment with, and I thought this quilt provided an opportunity. I wanted to see how Juan would do if I quilted the applique without stitching it down first. So, I put everything in place, then loaded it into Juan’s arms.


I wasn’t really sure how it would work because we have had some trouble with quilting through applique with fusible web. After talking to a few friends and getting a tip or two, we got rolling.


Not too bad. And this quilt was fun because almost all of the fabric, including the backing, was scrap.  The only new piece was the background, which is Kona Silver, and one of my favorites. It came together quickly, and I’m thinking of doing another one to have on hand as a baby gift. Or maybe several for charitable purposes. We shall see.

The other quilt we’ll be using the Big Shot Pro for is the Wave quilt by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I’m planning on making mine this week, but here’s a preview from the free Sizzix pattern-


And how about this American flag version using the same die?  I’m thinking they both are pretty much fantastic.

Well. That was fun. Albeit a bit stinky.

You know how this goes already.  Great idea.  Takes a lot of time.  Get it 75% done.  Move on to the next urgent project, but you’re gonna finish the first one as soon as you’re done.

Almost a year later, after you’ve moved the first project around twenty times, and threatened to finish it, you finally see a window of opportunity, and BAM!

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Letters in “Dont Thread On Me” from Jen Kingwell’s Carnival pattern

(Try to ignore the fact that the word thread is crooked.  I can’t, but maybe you can.)

Last fall we had a few days in The Green Apricot studio making these floor cloths.  We had a great time, and it was much easier to do in the studio space than it would have been to do it at home.  I didn’t finish the three that I began last fall, and when we had Stuff Your Stocking days at the studio last week, it hit me that I wanted to combine one of the projects with one of my unfinished floorcloths.

The whole process is a bit complicated because there are so many steps and a lot of dry time in between each, so I think we’ll do it a little differently next time.  And there will be a next time.

The first time I do a project like this, I follow the directions.  I know, shocking.  I do it with recipes too.  In the process I figure out what I think really works, and what shortcuts I can take.  We used the books Floorquilts! by Ellen Highsmith Silver and Beginner’s Guide to Floorquilts by Carolyn French.  Both are very similar as far as directions and products used.

I won’t go into detail about how exactly to make the floorcloths because I believe in obeying copyright laws, but I will say that after finally finishing the three I started last fall, there are a couple of things I would do differently.

All in all, I would advise following the directions in order to get the longest lasting floorcloth, but the main thing I would change is using a bit of fusible web to make the process easier.  For instance, in “Dont Thread On Me,” it would have been a bit easier to have fused the pieces of the letters together rather than trying to decoupage each part of the letters.  Also, in “United We Sew” I used fusible web (Steam A Seam II) to adhere the states and the outer border to the background.  It was much easier because I could arrange things, stand back and make sure I was pleased, then actually fuse them down.  I feel like I could have prevented the word thread on “Dont Thread On Me” from being crooked if I had been able to do that.

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The map used to make “United We Sew” came from the Flamingo Toes blogspot.

Steam A Seam II is a repositionable fusible web that doesn’t use an iron until you are ready to fuse everything in place.  I did a blog post about fusible webs recently, and you can click here to read The fuss about fusibles.  One of the bad/good things about this product is that the release papers have a tendency to want to release a bit too much, and can come apart easily.  This was perfect for building the border around my floorcloth.  I just peeled back one of the papers, temporarily stuck random fabrics to the exposed fusible, lined it up on my floorcloth, then fused down half of it lengthwise to the top, turned it over, and fused down the other half to the back.

Be sure to use two protective sheets when fusing, whether they be teflon sheets or just regular freezer paper.  Otherwise it is easy to get fusible on the iron or ironing surface.

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There are a number of processes, and stinky chemicals, involved in finishing out the floorcloths in order to make them both durable and safe.  I didn’t take pictures of each step of this, but you get the idea.  Above is one of the last steps- adding a nonslip product to the back to prevent it from sliding on slick floors.  It truly is a messy and smelly process, which actually makes it perfect for the studio.  Nothing to clean up at home because it’s all at The Green Apricot!

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This floorcloth is the perfect accent in an otherwise bland public restroom.

Stuff Your Stocking: Fabric US Map, Fabric Magnets and Button Bookmarks

As one of our daughter’s says on the 4th of July, “Christmas is tomorrow!” Pretty close, anyway. Use the week of July 26-30 to knock out a bit of your Christmas list. Or maybe just a gift list for any time of year. Or maybe just some fun stuff for yourself. Either way, each day is packed with multiple projects, and lots of fun!  Pick which projects you want to do each day, or make one of each- it’s all up to you.  Click here for the full calendar.

On the 4th day of … Friday, July 29- Fabric US Map, Fabric Magnets and Button Bookmarks

I am so obsessed with maps of the US.  I love to travel, and I love to think about all the people that I love that live all over this country.  I’ve been wanting to do a project like this for a while, so let’s do it.  The tutorial is by Flamingo Toes, and is for a map that would be finished in this huge embroidery hoop.  I will probably do mine as a mini.  I might make a couple of them, with an embroidered heart on the state where the receiver is from.  Just an idea.  I wonder about framing it.  Anyway, no sewing on this one, just fabric and fusible web.  As always, I have lots of fusible available for purchase.  15% discount to members.

Now here’s a scrapbuster- fabric covered magnets.  Easy peasy, and a good to have a few on hand for last minute hostess gifts.  Or maybe combine with a metal photo board for a bigger gift.  Check out Andrea’s Notebook for the supply list.  Let me know if you need me to get magnets and cover button kits for you.
 I know, crazy simple, right?  But seriously, a little dedicated time and you’ll have bunches of these to use for anything from dressing up a gifted book to a money clip in a Christmas stocking.  And, you could use scraps and make covered buttons to do the same thing.  I’ll have the glue, as usual, so just bring your paper clips, buttons and whatever else you can find to decorate your bookmarks.  I’m hoping I can find donuts…

Don’t forget all of your goodies- machine, projects, and maybe your favorite snacks and a sack lunch.  (Or we can order out for lunch- no problem!)

Nonmembers- $36, Members- 6 hours (each day) Click here to register for Friday, July 29, 9am- 4pm.