Producing Produce Bags

I’m currently away on a dog-sitting mission in Dorset, so I couldn’t resist paying a visit to Hansons in Sturminster Newton.  It’s quite the Aladdin’s Cave of crafts!  I didn’t really have anything particular I was looking for (and when has that ever stopped anyone shopping anyway?), but in the back of my mind, I recalled the fund-raiser coffee morning for the Riding for the Disabled Association I’d been invited to by the local sewing group I joined last Monday.  Part of it will involve a tombola with bags as prizes, and when I saw some really great novelty fruit and veg prints, I had a bit of a *ping!* moment.

hansons_2905_1

How cool are these?  Definitely the kind of thing to use as the feature fabric on shopping bags, I thought.  A bit more rummaging and pondering and I came up with four toning solids and an earthy-looking brown blender (Makower’s Spraytime):

This, I felt, could become something.  I added a metre of cotton batting to the pile for good measure and proudly carried my finds home (after getting hopelessly lost in Blandford while looking for the vets).

After playing around a little with the numbers, I cut each of the novelty prints into two 10.5 x 19″ rectangles (the FQs were really generous!), attached them to each end of a rectangle of brown Spraytime, lightly quilted the result with straight lines, sewed up the sides and boxed the corners to make my outer bag.  The solids made very nice coordinating liners, and I finished the raw edges around the top with a binding of more brown and added brown handles.  It didn’t occur to me until I was part-way through bag #2, but the brown really does look like the nicest kind of soil, especially after I quilted it with brown variegated thread!  (No, I have no idea why I own brown variegated thread, but this weekend I was really glad that I did!).

produce_2905_6

For variety, I quilted the print area with perpendicular straight lines – happily again I discovered that I (mostly) had coordinating thread suitable for each colour.  Yay for random purchases!

I think they look really neat as a set:

produce_3005_1

produce_3005_4

In total, 12 FQs, 1.5m of brown Spraytime and 1m of wadding was just enough to make all four bags (it almost wasn’t when I messed up cutting the brown a bit, but luckily I managed to gather enough off-cuts to make binding and handles for all of them in the end). My plan is to donate two of them (probably the lemons and carrots) to the RDA coffee morning and keep the other two.  I’m really proud of how they came out.  🙂  I think I will also write up a tutorial/pattern for them (with slight size adjustments so they’ll be more US FQ friendly).  They’re pretty easy to make and I had a lot of fun with them.

Linking up with Monday Making and Sew Cute Tuesday as and when they go live.  🙂

Building Gotham City

Fabric architecture is where it’s at for me right now.  I’m currently building a Gotham-ish cityscape, complete with bat signal, as a baby quilt.  The design has been sitting on my laptop in Inkscape for a few weeks now, but I’ve only just in the last few days had a chance to implement it.

gotham

This is my approximate design.  Lil bit on the busy side, eh!  From a design point of view, the important features are the buildings.  The HST background is kind of a placeholder – the intention was always to create a “night sky” look with midnight blue/purple/blue gradient, using randomly oriented HSTs to create more movement and texture.  After I’d drawn this, I was rather intimidated and unsure where to start with it.  Part of me wanted to start with the buildings – they’re in the foreground, after all!  But because of all the partial HSTs between the buildings and the fact that several buildings required a degree of foundation piecing, sorting the HSTs out first made more sense.  I had three midnight blue FQs (one solid, two with rather lovely star prints) earmarked for the night sky, and I needed to know how far down I needed bring them to create the look I wanted.

gotham_0905_4

I used two different purples to bridge the gap between the midnight blue and the dark blue that’s mostly around the buildings.  Once I had a good grasp of what colours each row of HSTs consisted of, I started assembling buildings and putting the top together.

gotham_0905_9

A good start!  There’s some serious fiddle in this quilt; quite a few bits finish at only 1/4” wide.  Luckily, the Pfaff is fantastic for this stuff.  I’ve equipped it with the straight-stitch plate to stop smaller pieces from being eaten by the needle hole, and everything is going together really well, barring instances of user error!  More about that later, though.

I started off intending to just use the six grey FQs I bought in Birmingham, but I quickly realised that I wanted a greater variety of greys, so I dug out the left-over Shimmer 2 FQs I used for my sister’s Weekender bag, and picked out the ones I thought would work.  The nice thing about using these is the fact that they add glitter and a sci-fi impression that I would not have got from the prints I started off using.

gotham_1005_1

I’m glad it’s a decision I made early on, before I’d got too far across the quilt.  I’m trying to keep the metallic prints more in the centre, though.  You can see the sky gradation happening here; I’m quite pleased with it, although I think I could have done with one more FQ of midnight blue and nixxed the all-purple row.  I’d say “maybe next time,” but that’s a big maybe!

gotham_1105_3

The problems with making this have been a combination of a lack of time, leading me to rush at it a bit, and the fact that I didn’t really write a proper cutting/piecing guide for myself.  I have a (occasionally hilariously wrong) cutting list and for piecing I have my laptop sat on my sewing table so that I can squint at the .svg in Inkscape and try to figure out what goes where.  It’s not ideal!  So there have been… issues.  More haste less speed and all that.  I’ve demonstrated that adage frequently in the last few days, given my habit of joining things the wrong way around or upside down.  The tall building on the far right in the pic above is a good example; it somehow managed to cause me a lot of hassle because I hadn’t formulated a sensible plan for piecing it, and an extra-special “duh!” moment happened when I thought I’d got the whole thing all done, only to lay it out on the floor, step back and then groan loudly when I realised that I’d managed to join the very top layer on upside down without noticing.  I did briefly consider leaving it, but then I sighed wearily, grabbed the unpicker, carefully excised it, flipped it over and put everything back again.  Ufff.

gotham_1105_4

However, I feel like I’m on the home straight with this now, barring too many more stupid mistakes.  Two more buildings are nearly done and I hope the two remaining ones won’t cause any trouble.  *crosses fingers*  Joining everything together has been interesting too; there’s a lot of partial seams and the HSTs are no help in this regard, although they look so good that I wouldn’t want to lose them.  I am in abject terror of someone asking me for the pattern because I’m not sure I can make sense of how I have gone about putting this together.  Between the foundation piecing, HST craziness, partial seam nightmares and the fiddliness  of some of the buildings, I wouldn’t know where to begin trying to explain it to someone else!

Oh, and my cutting table now looks like this:

gotham_1105_1

This is what 50 Shades of Grey was all about, right?  😀

Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday over at Blossom Heart Quilts and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.  🙂