241 Tote

A few months ago, my friend Kelly asked me to make her wife Aivanett something for her birthday. She wanted an accessory of some kind, and after looking at some patterns, we settled on the 241 Tote from one of my favorite designers, Anna Graham of Noodlehead. I was really excited to make it; I’d had the pattern for a few months but had been too busy to make one, so this was a perfect excuse – and this pattern did not disappoint! Here’s how my version turned out:Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

Kelly picked the main fabric with the cute kitchen stuff (Mix Things Up from Robert Kaufman), and then I matched coordinating colors for the pockets. I took a chance on the red with white polka dots, as I was ordering online (from Hawthorne Threads, my very, very, very favorite online retailer), and I got really lucky that it looked great with the aqua. I had the gray (RJR Cotton Supreme in Gray Stone) in my stash already – it’s my preferred neutral, and I thought the bag needed a calmer color/pattern to balance out the two brighter fabrics. I lined the inside with some Letterpress by Michael Miller – yes, I still have this in my stash and yes, I will continue to use it on everything!

Inside of 241 Tote with letterpress by Michael Miller fabric

I opted to do just one front pocket on each side, as I didn’t want the zippers to overwhelm the pattern, and I lined each of those pockets with more polka dots:

Showing red and white polka dot fabric lining the pocket of a 241 Tote

I love those pockets – they’re just the right size for a phone or some keys, or even a small wallet, and having them on the outside saves you from having to dig around for small stuff. The only significant change I made was to extend the strap to make it crosswise rather than a shoulder strap, which I did by cutting two strap pieces rather than one; one in the gray fabric, which I then cut in half, and one in the aqua fabric. I then sewed a gray piece onto each end of the aqua and continued with the instructions as written, just with a strap twice as long.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

The external pieces are lined with fusible fleece, which I really liked – the bag came out fairly sturdy without being too bulky, and it made the shoulder strap pretty padded and (hopefully) more comfortable.

The pattern itself is, like all of Anna’s patterns, very clear and easy to follow, and the size was great for an every day bag. Each piece fit together perfectly, which can sometimes be a problem with patterns that have a lining, and I think it would be fairly easy for a beginner to follow. It took about a day and a half altogether from start to finish, which isn’t bad in my experience. I liked it enough that I’m still planning on making one for me, but I think I might enlarge it just a little, as I’m most often carrying a project to work on and might need a little more space.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

And now, a little shop news! If you haven’t visited in a while, I’ve got some pretty cute yarn bowls in there, along with a few other baskets:

Pink yarn bowl, rope basket

And, both the Kaleidoscope wall hanging

Kaleidescope rainbow quilted wall hanging using apple core EPP

and the Kisses wall hanging

Wall hanging quilt with lips on it, andy warhol inspired

are up for sale! There’s a bunch of other new stuff too, so head over to Etsy to check it out, and have a great Thursday!

The Kisses Quilt of Doom

Up until a few months ago, I had been fairly lucky in my quilting life. Some frustrating moments, but no huge failures.

Until the Kisses Quilt of Doom.

It didn’t start out as a quilt of doom. It started out as me consuming entirely too much modern art (I spend a lot of time on google images), combined with a new challenge from the Modern Quilt Guild and Michael Miller for the new Petal Pinwheels line of fabric. I’m a big fan of both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and have been wanting to try a pop art inspired quilt for a while, so I decided this was my opportunity. It started out well; I came up with a plan to cut one inch circles out of the fat quarters provided, after fusing them to some Heat ‘n Bond.

Pile of fabric polka dots

I cut three lips outlines from some white fabric (again backed by Heat’n Bond) fused the little circles to those, then ironed the lips onto a larger piece of fabric. All was well, things were looking great!

Unfinished, Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with lips and polka dots

And then…well, things went to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. Turns out that all that Heat’n Bond made my fabric really, really thick, and I broke 4 needles just trying to get those things quilted. Not taking the hint, I decided to quilt diagonal lines a quarter inch apart…which halfway through I realized were bowing and turning more into half moons than straight lines.

This is where things really took a turn for the worse. I unpicked all those stitches and then, like a good quilter, marked my lines so I could sew them straight. Only, I failed to realize that I had grabbed my grease pencil meant for marking templates, and not my washable quilting pencil. So, see these nice black lines? Can you guess what didn’t happen when I washed it?

Unfinished, Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with lips and polka dots

Yep. They didn’t come out. At all. I tried everything I could think of, and everything the internet suggested, but I still had a beautiful quilt with ugly grease marks on it.

I still had a week until the challenge due date, so I cried a little, then sucked it up and started over (and I got my Letterpress dress out of the dismantling process, so it wasn’t all bad). This time I just appliquéd the lips, so the only part that had Heat’n Bond was the little dots. I marked the lines again, but this time with tailor’s chalk, which I had tested on the fabric and had washed out great. Quilting went quickly and smoothly, and I was so happy to get it done with a few days to spare.

Well. I don’t know what happened between the testing and finishing the quilting, but it happened again. The blue lines of the tailor’s chalk had somehow soaked in to the fabric, and it didn’t come off all the way when I washed it. I was left with another quilt, this one with faint blue lines. At this point I was really ready to just throw in the towel, but I can be just a little stubborn sometimes, and I was determined to finish this thing, somehow. I ended up using some light blue thread and a decorative stitch, and went back over the marks, to make it look like I did it on purpose. Once I started adding the blue, it didn’t look like the wall hanging I’d been intending, and more of a cute baby quilt, so I cut it down to just two lips. Here’s how it ended up:

Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein wall hanging quilt with lips and polka dots

I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out, though I still get pretty frustrated when I look at it. I do think the blue adds an interesting texture and I still like my original idea, so I may try it again at some point (some point that is far, far in the future). I do love how cutting up the fabric made really interesting geometric patterns, and I like the bold colors.

Close up of Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with lips and polka dots

I outlined the lips with an orange zig zag stitch, and the back is really cute:

Back of Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with outlined lips

I might like it more than the front, although I suspect that’s more my irritation talking than anything.

Close up of back of Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with orange outlined lips

So there you have it: my first total quilting failure. I didn’t win the contest, but I’m still proud of myself for finishing, and she’s heading to be shown at our guild’s exhibit at the Northwest Quilting Expo…where I hope no one will be able to tell how many mistakes are in this one!


Finished Project – Binary Rain Wall Hanging

I finished my wall hanging just in time, and I have to say, I’m incredibly proud of this one. I thought I’d start with the long view, since this one is meant to hang on a wall and it’ll be seen from a distance most of the time.


But here’s a closer look:


I ended up quilting it in lines that were about a quarter inch apart; I knew that I wanted it the background to be fairly closely quilted so that the rain drops would stand out. Let me tell you, I was glad this one was comparatively pretty tiny when I was an hour in and not even halfway through the quilting, but it it was so worth it! The thread is a gray Mettler Silk Finish Cotton, and I was really pleased with how smoothly it quilted.


After it was quilted, I bound it in some more gray scraps so that I’d be able to place the drops in the right place, and then I whip stitched those into place. There was a lot more hand sewing in this one than I usually do, and I really enjoyed it.



I love the contrast between the rain drops and the background; they pop out in just the way I was going for. The only thing left to do was sign the back, which I did in pink, of course.


One of the things that I love most is that this quilt was made entirely of scraps; I didn’t buy any materials for it and improvised when I had to (0f course, it helps when you have a somewhat extensive scrap/fabric collection, as my husband pointed out :P). After a sleeve and label were added, it’s was on it’s way to Island Quilter on Vashon Island, where it will hang along with the rest of the guild’s fabulous creations starting in January. If you’re in the Seattle area next month, go check it out!

Binary Rain Wall Hanging

A little while ago, I joined the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild and signed up for a couple of challenges. One of them is nation wide (the Riley Blake Basics Challenge, which I will have more on later) and the second is just for our guild. It’s called the Binary Quilt Challenge, and the rules are pretty basic. The quilt has to be only be two colors, but you can use any value of each color, and one of the colors must be predominantly prints (the prints must “read” as that specific color).

From the very beginning, I had an idea to use all the scraps that I had leftover from the grays on the Hexie quilt. I have a lot of scraps from that one, most of them long strings a half inch to about two inches across. I started sewing strings of grays together and eventually had a nice big piece of grayscale.


This part of the project was super easy and almost meditative; it was just straight sewing without having to worry about even points or piecing. Each string was uneven to begin with, so I knew going in that the blocks would be a bit crooked (in a good way, though!). Then, I cut the sewn strings into six inch blocks and pieced those with some gray solids I had laying around.


Now, when I put these together, I kind of forgot about needing to make most of them prints, so I may need to redo this part (maybe any MQG buddies I have can weigh in on whether or not I need to change it?). I do like the contrast between dark and light, though, so if I end up needing to replace it with a print, I think I’ll still keep it dark. You might be wondering if I also forgot that it needs to be two colors, but I didn’t, I promise. The second color I chose is blue, and it’s coming into the quilt in the form of some raindrops.


These will be appliquéd on after I quilt the gray, and I think I’m going to leave them unquilted for more contrast. I made them by stitching some interfacing onto the blue fabric, then cutting the interfacing and turning them inside out, like so (this is a good article if you’re interested in appliqué techniques):


I haven’t decided on the final layout of the rain drops (I also haven’t made them all…), but I think it’ll look something like this:


This is my first quilt just for the sake of art; all my other ones have been functional, so I’m excited to finally hang it up and hear people’s thoughts!