Friday, August 11, 2017

Green with Eco-Awareness

Green is no longer the color of envy, but instead is the color of eco-awareness.  At last Wednesday's meeting of the Sewphisticuts, we explored the concept of up-cycling.  Similar to recycling, where items may be broken down to make something new, up-cycling is the concept of adding something to or changing an otherwise unusable item to increase its value (make it usable again).  As sewists, many of us do this all the time, repairing clothes or using up fabric scraps in quilts or as embellishments on all sorts of things.  We may have been the original recyclers/upcyclers!

During the meeting we looked at pictures from Pinterest and similar sources for ideas and inspiration.  The recent edition of Notions magazine also featured upcycling as the lead article, and led us to look at a Brooklyn-based company Zero Waste Daniel that is making new garments from cutting room scraps gathered from designers and manufacturers.  Their web site features photos of the clothes they offer and it certainly gave us food for thought on ways to reuse our scraps.

Peggy's sweater lengthened with lace trim
 Peggy brought along some items she had upcycled.  One was the sweater shown here.  Too short to look stylish any more, she used an old lace shawl that she no longer wore to furnish lace trim for the bottom edges of the sweater and the sleeves.  Voila!  A sweater long enough to fit again and with a fresh, stylish look.

Mary Ann brought along walker bags that she had made by combining cotton squares left over from various other quilting projects.  The streamlined design only requires 10 or 12 inch squares to make useful pockets for fastening over a walker handle - just the right size to carry a book, water bottle, tissues, glasses, etc.

Her other item, a large tote bag, is made from smaller squares in a patchwork fashion.  Her method is to cut up leftover fabric as she finishes a project and stick it on her felt wall board (a felt-backed tablecloth, using the wrong side).  Once enough are collected there, she sews them up as totes or walker bags.
Mary Ann's tote bag
Mary Ann's walker bags from cotton squares.

We also had some Show and Tell items.  Pat showed us her elegantly simple Christmas ornaments made from a folded circle of fabric.  She also had a mini-purse which was meant to hold sewing notions or similar small items, but all of us immediately adored it as a miniature purse for any little girls in our lives (or for our own inner-child!).  The pattern is available at and has a YouTube video to allow you to sew along to make it.
The mini-purse

Christmas trees from folded circles

The inside of the mini-purse

 Cyndy wore her one-seam pants from a Garment Gals project earlier in the summer.  They coordinated beautifully with the t-shirt she had.
Cyndy's one-seam pants

Judy showed her tunic and skort ensemble made in a flowing rayon.  She also brought along some of the pieces from the Days For Girls project that she had been working on with the American Association of University Women.

Judy's tunic top
Matching cullottes

Days for Girls project that Judy was working on.

Our next meeting (September) is when our Brown Bag Challenge items will be revealed.  We also decided we would share information about favorite blogs, web sites, magazines, and other sources that we use most often for inspiration and/or instruction.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Yum! Layer Cakes, Cupcakes and Jelly Rolls!

The title may make you hungry, but for sewing, not food!  It refers to a series of patterns for quickly making quilt blocks, even if you have little sewing experience.  Sue K presented this information at the recent Sewphisticuts meeting.

Sue shows various fabric pre-cut sizes.
I had seen pre-cut fabric blocks in various sizes advertised in sewing catalogs, along with something called charm packs and jelly rolls.  But I was unaware of the pattern books that use these pre-cut fabrics to let a person churn out quilt blocks so quickly and easily.  Sue brought along samples of the fabric packs as well as the patterns.  So I learned that 10" squares are called layer cakes, 5" squares are called charm packs, and jelly rolls are cut 2.5" x width of fabric.  There are also jolly bars which are 5"x10" rectangles.

Sue prepares to cut along the indicated lines.

So you can use these pre-cut pieces in standard quilt patterns if you like, or you can use "recipe cards", printed patterns sold in a tablet form, which you layer with your fabric and then sew through on the specified lines.  It's somewhat similar to paper-piecing, with numbered sewing lines to indicate sewing order.  And like paper-piecing, after you have sewn on the lines and trimmed on the other lines, you have to tear away the paper to get your finished piece.  The "recipe" gives directions on how to layer the colors and also has suggestions for various layouts of the pieces.  The process is ideal for someone new to sewing and/or quilting, but is also enjoyable for experienced quilters.
A recipe page - arrows and lines show where to sew.

Sue said that the cost of layer cake squares starts around $30.  Recipe books range between $8 and $12 for layer cakes, $6-$8 for cupcakes (patterns using the smaller size pre-cuts).  She shops on-line for hers;  there are various sources.  The main ones are listed here:
  • Missouri Star Quilting
  • Quilt In A Day
  • Fat Quarter Shop
  • Sew Lux
  • Miss Rosie's Quilt Company
I hope this whets your "appetite" to try some sweet quilting patterns.  It sure has made me hungry to try one!

Following are some pictures from show-and-tell from the group.

Kathia's $49 bag - from an embroidery class.

Baby quilt by Kathia

Another baby quilt in progress by Kathia, all embroidered blocks.

Pat's bag from vintage tablecloths.

Same bag pattern, different fabric

Tote by Pat, made from twill

Drawstring pouch bag by Pat

Judy's tee shirt