Monday, May 19, 2014

Okinawa Memory Quilt

If you are looking for the BSBP8 post click here.

So today I'm talking about sewing yet again. This time quilting specifically.
I am the queen of quilt tops. 
Before joining the Pacific Patchwork Guild I would make quilt blocks, but never put them together. Now I make tops, but never quilt them. Hey at least it's progress.

Anyway, back in 2010 when I first moved to Okinawa I read an article in the newspaper about Okinawa Memory Quilt groups. Then I set out to find one. Sure enough a group of ladies from the PTO started one with their friends. Well, we all joined, bought the stuff, our leader sent out great motivational emails, but when it came time for the due date people started jumping ship. So instead of making 30 cherry blossom patches I only had to make 22. (Which honestly I was okay with because I was behind schedule.) When I turned mine in I received one completed patch from each of the other members of the group. They all show things that make Okinawa memorable. Here it is 2014 and I found them prepping for my move. So I thought I'd share the blocks I received in case they are ruined during shipping and to inspire the fabulous woman of the PPG who I wish I had met sooner.
Here we go: 
(click any picture to enlarge)
Cherry Blossom
This was what I made so many of. The text says "cherry flower" or sakura or 
at least that's what the florist on my street told me. 
I even had him show me the order of the strokes and I sewed them the same way. 
There are beads in the center of the cherry blossom too. 
You know I had to get seed beads in there somehow.
Butterfly and Dragonfly
Fruit Bat
Carp Flags
American Village
Kokeshi Doll
Oki car (unfinished)
Okinawa Map
Ryukyu Dancer
This one is my favorite. 
Can you imagine having to do all this hand stitching 22 times?
Roller Slide
My scanner isn't big enough to accommodate these blocks. :(
Can you see all the beads at the end of the guitar?
Taiko Drum
Torii (unfinished)
Tug of War Rope
There is a whole heck of a lot of stitches that give this one great detail.
 Wow...just WOW!
US and Japanese Flags
Considering a whole bunch of these ladies had never sewn even a button I think the work is fantastic. 
We were given an idea and we turned it into little reminders of a great part of our lives.
I wonder if I could get a group to do this at every duty station?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Everything Bag-a rushed tutorial

First if you are looking for the BSBP8 Post scroll down or click HERE.

Okay, I went to a quilting retreat and learned to make this bag.
 It's reversible and so handy.

I learn best by virtually immediately making a second of any project I've been taught.
 Doing it all on my own seems to make the information stick.

Since I had a new charm pack I used pre-cut 5inch squares for the second bag.
Even the handles are pieced charm pack squares cut in half and stitched together.
The inside (reverse) side was made with dull colors while the other side is brights.

So how do you do it?
You need 4 main things: 
1. sewing machine OR tons of patience & time plus hand sewing supplies
2. fabric for handles
3. Two images. Here's the first:
1st useful image
I'll explain this in a bit, but first you need fabric.
4. 32 squares of fabric all the same size. What size? That is totally up to you.
My first two bags are 5in squares, but my last and favorite was made with 8in squares.
For your first one it's best to use 4 different fabrics. You'll need 8 squares of each (four of each for the inside and four of each fabric for the outside. Put the 16 squares for the inside out of the way so you don't accidentally confuse your pieces.
2nd useful image
 Above is the second image you'll need. This is what you are shooting for.
Now, how do you get your squares to look like that?
Sew two together with a 1/4in seam allowance, then iron the seam to one side. Repeat.
 Then sew those two pieces together to make a 4 square block. 
This is what you are shooting for when the first 4 squares are together.
The pins show the direction the seams are ironed.
 This next bit has a tricky part, but I could not get it to show up in a photo 
so hopefully you'll understand the following instructions.
Sew a square to one side of one of these squares. 
(Like one of the light purple ones in the 2nd useful image.)
Which one doesn't matter for this step BUT do not sew it all the way across.
Start at the corner and when you get to the seam from the previous step STOP sewing.
You will need that 1/4in seam allowance to sew the "legs" of your bag together later.
Repeat this till you have all four squares sewn on the edges as shown the 2nd useful image.
The next part is quick and easy.
One at a time take your next four squares and sew one all the way across the top of each of your four squares that stick out. Repeat till you have a fabric monster similar to the one shown in the 2nd useful image. Iron one monster's leg seams down toward the center, then iron the 2 on either side up or away from the center. Can you guess what's left? Yep, iron that last set of seams down.
NOW it's time to explain this image.
You should have something like this (minus the arrows).
I was told to pivot at the Xs and sew the sides together.
That made no sense to me so here's what worked for me. Fold one of the squares marked with a #1 above in half at the Xs. This should put the #2 square sewn to the folded one on top of the #1 square sew to the folded one. This should also have 2 legs laying on top of each other right sides together, but not lining up at the ends. Pin each point where the seams meet. If you don't know how to "nest a seam" check out this video. When you sew this long seam you will think it's wrong because you will have an entire square hanging off the end. That actually how it's suppose to look so don't panic. Just repeat the fold at the Xs, pin at the seams making sure you nest each seam, and sew till you've sewn up all the sides. It will look something like this.
This doesn't have the 4th seam sewn up yet in case you were wondering.
Once they all are sewn you repeat this entire sewing process to make the inner bag. Then you iron them both. Turn one with the fabric right side out and the other with the fabric right side in. Drop the one with the fabric right side in inside the other and fold the triangle bits that hang over inside the bag layers down to the points of the next row of squares. Pin all the way around. 

Now it's time for handles. I literally make this up as I go each time depending on what I want. So choose a width you'd like and double it plus 1/2in for the seam allowance. For the length pick your length and add a good 2in-3 inches so you have something to tuck inside the layers of the bag and sew to secure. Don't forget to double this total length so you have enough for the second handle. So you've taken your length and width measurements and cut 2 really long, thin rectangles. Turn each right sides together and sew a 1/4in seam all the way down the long side of each one. Then take a large safety pin and "sew" (weave the pin part in and out of one side of the fabric tube several times and close) it into one end of the inside out fabric tube I've just created. Then feed the safety pin through the tube to turn your handle right side out. Repeat for the second handle. Iron flat and pin them in between your bag layers. It's best if you do this in the middle of squares to reduce the bulk of sewing the handles near bag seams. Sew all the way around the opening of your bag and you are done. Add decorative stitches if desired.
Whew! I hope that helps. 
If you have any question please ask. I'm still a sewing novice so 
I'm sure there is room for improvement here.

Thanks to Brenda. 
The fun, energetic lady who keeps me motivated to sew. 
Oh and she's the one who taught me this bag.
Brenda you are AMAZING in so many ways!
Thanks Hun.
(Psst...Brenda. Hey, when are we going to make knit dresses?)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

BSBP8 It's Party Time!

Hello and welcome to one of 500+ posts 
on the massive Bead Soup Blog Party.

The amazing brainchild of Lori Anderson
This global project pairs those who love to make jewelry. 
Then those gals (have we had a male participant yet?)
send bead packets to one another and challenge themselves to create
something with the clasp and focal they receive.

Every year my partners challenge me in ways I've never been challenged before.
This years was the toughest. GOLD finish. 
I don't wear and therefore don't have much in my stash to add to this year's mix.
But I gave it a go and made some things I'm rather proud of.
This is a little girl's bracelet. Recently while volunteering at a shop I watched a toddler put on a bracelet and pull it all the way up to her shoulder. I've kinda been on a 5inch bracelet kick ever since. The lemon jade and tiger's eye beads are on powerline with a polymer clay heart focal. I wish for the life of me I could remember where the heart came from, but all I remember is it was a free gift with purchase and the bag read "Thanks! M.E."
UPDATE: Thanks to Becky Pancake I can now tell you that M.E. is Mary Ellen of BeeTree by m.e.
Here's where I used my clasp. Isn't it lovely? Yes, I think so too. I've used the yellow wonder beads and oval turquoise beads I was also sent. Look! I used crimp covers. I next to never do that, and there are gold crimp beads under them. Not that anyone will ever see them, but I felt awfully professional doing that so I had to share. Oh and this is a mom size bracelet. 

Oh and a very Happy Mother's Day to all the other mom's out there. 
No matter how hard it's been you created a person. You are AWESOME!
Okay, these were a challenge.
I wanted these bead caps to make the Korean crystals look like crystal pears. I had to cut the petals of the bead caps because the top of the crystals were so small. That's why some of the petals touch which is more strawberry-esk than pear, but I love the little buggers anyway.
And bless that sweet Carmen.
She sent me some blue and silver, my favorites, so I wouldn't be totally at a loss. 
Though surprisingly the gold pieces were done first. 
Since I couldn't decide which focal to use I put them together with 2 of the largest jump rings I had for antenna and silk cord of the necklace. Then in my OCD way I bent the dragonfly 2-3mm to flatten it and the body separated from the wings. Luckily four types of glue later it seems to be fine, and you can't tell unless you are really, really close. So unless I'm suffocating someone in my decolletage no one will ever see it. 

Alrighty, you've got blogs to visit & I'm late for my monthly quilt meeting so let's wrap this up.
This will be a bracelet when I find the right chain to connect the two. I'd love suggestions.
Lilmummy's BSBP8 class photo
Add these to the first pic of the post and that's what I've left to play with.

If you would take time to visit Carmen's blog Little Maketto we'd both appreciate it.

Want to know more?
and of course...

THANKS Lori and Carmen!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hang On It's Almost Party Time

While I frantically take advantage of the last minutes of our extension,
I know some of you are ready and eagerly waiting for the clock to toll midnight.

For those in the group here's a recap of my participation in Lori's wonderful BSBP.
Still my favorite piece from that hop
Still my husband's favorite from BSBP

Still my most complimented necklace to date

Oh and a great big thanks to all my partners past and present.
You are all so wonderful to me even now.

Next year I'll be in the US. So maybe I'll have an American partner for the first time.
I look forward to getting to know that person, but in the mean time get to know the wonderful ladies I've had the privildege to be partnered with in the past.

And a great big thanks to Lori without whom I wouldn't be a blogger and wouldn't have met these and so many other wonderful jewelry designers, suppliers, etc.
Woman, you are marvelous! THANK YOU!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Well That Could Have Gone Better

I've spent all morning watching a clock.

Yesterday I took the plunge and did something for me. I spent hours researching and planning, and I was on cloud nine. Now I am totally deflated. And it's all the thanks to my that stupid clock! I got up early and canceled one last appointment so that I could have extra time if this thing today took longer than expected. Then I tried to wait. I'd start things, many things actually, but I couldn't focus because I was so excited. Those last 20 minutes trying not to be dork early were a killer. All in vain. I've lived overseas so long I forgot no one actually living in the eastern time zone of the US bothers to distinguish between EST and EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). So I outright missed the thing I was waiting all morning for. I am deflated.

Oh and the large metal component in the middle of my BSBP focal broke as soon as I added the cording to finish the piece. I am deflated.