In The Bag-My Stuff

I Love Making Bags!

M_bag_side 2A_300

Rising to the occasion…there is nothing like an occasion (form of deadline) to get me going!

MMy grand daughter Madeleine is turning 14 soon, wow that is hard to believe! What a sweetie she is. One of her birthday gift requests is a cosmetics bag. Okay! That is an excellent motivator for me.

The first thing that came to mind is to make one that is functional, practical, washable, cute and a good size and shape. My “go to” fabric: bleached denim was the best to use.

I always stumble when it comes to selecting the “perfect” lining; not only which colors, also prints vs. solids. I have collected various fabrics that I consider to be good lining; none the less, I spend way to much time pondering which ones to use; this time was no different. Finally I just picked one and decided to start and see how things develope. This lining is hand dyed silk that has a a texture. I pieced together two pieces and I liked the way the various colors looked when stitched. I used bamboo batting to give the bag stability…not too stiff and not to soft.

After the quilting was done I then had to select the binding fabric. This is also challenging for me. I selected a batik with multi-rainbow colors (reluctantly) because the background was “dirty”; however, in the end this combo was perfect. The “dirty” tone made the rainbow colors connect to the “tan” underlying tones of the bleached denim.

I used this tutorial and followed the directions.  This particular method has a hand stitched zipper. She gives a link for another tutorial that is similar with a machine stitched zipper which is not in English; however, I used a translation. I stitched the zipper by machine because I think (know) this bag will gets lots of use and I want it to hold up.

I think this is an excellent bag design. I have been looking for various methods for lining in a zipper bag. This one is good because the lining is not separate and the seams are finished.

This is a good tutorial; however, as with any tutorial….it can appear easy…until you actually try to follow it. I think the directions are well written and the pictures are clear; however, I did struggle with getting the zipper aligned around the outside properly. Even though I measured and marked the space on the sides the zipper did not end up aligned evenly. But, I did finagle it somehow; that is the only way I can describe it. You just have to have it in your hands and holding the zipper to realize what the pictures are trying to explain.

In addition, the zipper I used has heavy teeth which are wider than standard zipper teeth and require 1/4″ width space. This space came into play and I had figure out how to allow for it.

The pattern can be made as a small change purse and up. I drew two 10″ circles to make the pattern thinking this size would be good for a young girl to hold small size goodies . Now that I have made it, I think the bag is versatile. It would be excellent to make a larger one to use for various purposes such as: Jewelry and other things you might want to keep together. When I travel, I put my jewelry into little individual bags and then in a larger zipper bag that can fit into a safe.

I have referenced to “bleached” denim in several of my blog posts; also referred to as “discharging”.  I plan to explain this process in a future post. It is a simple process using household bleach to remove color from fabric. The fabric is also treated afterwards to remove all of the bleach and halt the action. 

I selected several pieces of bleached black denim to use. The light areas beacon for special features. I started the free motion quilting to see what would develop. I wanted too make the lining fabric “visually connect” to the denim and I hoped the quilting would do this. I chose thread (40 wt) with rainbow colors for the top and solid color (fuchsia) for the bobbin. At first the colors jumped out more than I wanted but I proceeded.

As I was quilting I was thinking about my grand daughter…she is a sweet heart, so I added a heart. I thought about what she might put inside the bag. I stitched flowers to keep it simple and then followed some of the lines that developed from the bleaching process. In one open area I stitched “MY STUFF”. And below that: MMM, her initials. Since I had not made this bag before I did not think about where these details would end up…and, unfortunately the initials ended up on the bottom, and one of the M’s doesn’t show.

M_bag_lining

Lining, in progress.

M_bag_exterior_300

Exterior, in progress.

The most fun…..

Painting the Denim

This is where the painting came in. I decided to fill in the open areas of the quilting motifs with acrylic paint. This was fun and, this made the bag come to life!

Exterior, side 1, before paint

Exterior, side 1, before paint

Exterior, side 1, after paint application

Exterior, side 1, after paint application

Exterior, side 2, after paint application

Exterior, side 2, after paint application

Interior, Lining, after construction

Interior, Lining, after construction

I am very happy with the end result!

The finished size is: 5.5″ high x 9.5″ wide; the bag sits flat the bottom is 4″ wide. The bamboo batting made the bag just firm enough.

I do plan to make some more bags like this and perfect my installation of the zipper.

Future plans include: Instead of fabric..why not up-cycle “failed” quilted projects? Making this bag prompted me to remember a box full of “failed” quilted projects which garnered several good candidates for painting. These will become bags! The quilting is already done. Extra bonus: Paint the lining!

Yes!!

Stay tuned for more bags.  😆

 

 

 

Mixed Media

I have gravitated to mixed media. I love experimenting. Mixed media is all about the adventure. Most of my mixed media has stitching of some sort. I enjoy working on various kinds of paper.

I learned about a technique called STACKED JOURNALING. I discovered this on Judi Hurwitt’s website.

I have on a program on my Ipad (app $6) called Procreate. The program lets you paint or draw with your finger or a stylus pen; I use my finger.  It is fabulous! If I had had something like this as a kid you would have never seen me. I draw all sorts of things. I really like to use it on a long plane ride.

Judi uses it to actually write sentences. I decided to use one or two words and repeat them over and over. I use primarily use the ink pens that have 8 types from technical pen (very fine) to Gesinski Ink (very wide). What I discovered with the words is that each word has a rhythm. I have used the words: Drift Away, Rock and Roll, Relax, Frustration, Physics, Rhythm, Awesome and more.

Here are some examples of my style of stacked journaling.

                       MANIFEST

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Nesting

One looks more like a painting. I used an image of a collage I made and used it as the base layer and drew over it.

 

 

 

 

I also drew my logo. Then I made a stamp with it.003

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love to draw with an eraser.

Eraser_drawing_1_resized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purse

I also play around with elements to sort out a potential composition. If I am out and sitting somewhere and I see something interesting I sketch it. Like purses. Now that I have been making denim bags, I notice the styles of purses

Check out PROCREATE!

Denim Story

The next bag I made from old denim has a story.

I put out the word out to people I know to save their old jeans for me. One day a neighbor that I know casually brought me several pairs. One was made from black denim, from Germany.  I explained to her what I was doing with the denim and this lead to a nice chat. She intimated that she was in a very distressing situation with her adult son. He was in rehab. He was about to be released and she was very worried that he was not ready for the real world. She was right at the doorway of reality. She knew this was the defining moment…she could not cave….she must stay strong; but it was plain to see, she was terrified. She had to believe that what ever happened it was up to HIM, not her.

I could relate as I went through a similar situation not to long ago. This was the first person I had met that I could offer sound advice and encouragement from experience. I was surprised at how confident I sounded…that I could immediately cut through what she was saying and translate; her words and thinking revealed how unsteady her thinking was. My responses were immediate…I knew exactly what to say….the same things others had said to me….that I couldn’t wrap my brain around. Now I could see this clearly and be supportive in a kind way that enabled her see the reality from a new source.

During my struggle last year…I sought counseling.  I went weekly. It was a constant acknowledgement of my pain and deeply troubling. I knew I had to face the truth…that I could not fix it. I was fixated upon impending doom. My counselor stood by me and relentlessly repeated what I had to do. Eventually, it came to a point where she made me aware that I had come far enough, that I knew what I had to do. My counselors parting words were:

If you don’t get out of his way…..he doesn’t stand a CHANCE.

Wow! That hit me smack in the gut. That became my mantra. I am so grateful for the wisdom of my counselor Erin Brower.

Thus, the chat with my neighbor was highly beneficial for both of us; we bonded through crisis.

I proceeded to use the denim jeans she gave me; her black jeans and her husbands well worn blue jeans. I used bleach to remove color using both liquid and a bleach pen. I enjoyed using the bleach pen but it didn’t go far. I wrote words and swirls. The black denim changed dramatically. The end result was a pinkish beige and black areas. How interesting! Now I a multitude of ideas about black denim.

I love it when I see something totally unexpected. This immediately jump starts creative thoughts.

I decided to make a bag for my neighbor with her black jeans.

As I thought about the style of a bag and how it could relate to her….I continued to think about her STORY.  My STORY and hers had connected.

The black denim had wonderful character and I liked the overall effect thus, I decided to use whole chunks rather than cutting up the fabric which reduced the construction time a lot. The black denim was gorgeous but an accent color was needed. The blue denim was the perfect accent. The picture shows pieces of the bleached blue jeans. This doesn’t look like much to work with does it? This is how it starts.

BB_blue_denim

The bag was developed with a front and back side. The front would have a functional pocket and details. The back would be subtle and personal.

I wanted to tell the STORY on the back without it being obvious. This way she could share the  STORY to certain people when it was appropriate. The purpose of the STORY was to define life’s reality and option. The story is brief and to the point.

Your Chance-Your Choice

She could selectively reveal the STORY. It HIS CHANCE for a new start…as well as HERS  and both had a CHOICE.

The construction of the bag went smoothly and as I sewed I continued to think about her, her son and my story. The design is called a knife edge, referring to the seaming of the front and back. This image shows the bag wrong side out with front and back joined and the darts on the corners.

knife_edge

I included a monogram, of the letter B; like Chanel (two C’s). This was free motion stitched. First I stitched a rectangle and then positioned the two B’s back to back. monogram

 

 

 

 

I also made a large initial B out of blue denim.

large_BThe swirls were the perfect spot to write text. I made a stencil from freezer paper for the word CHANCE. I painted this in yellow to stand out. I used a small alphabet stamp set to write the other words.

I spent 30 hours creating the design and constructing the bag plus one week dyeing and planning.

I called her and told her I had something for her. I walked to her house and we chatted and she gave me an update.  In the elapsed time her frame of mind was completely improved. She had managed to stand firm. Her son did leave rehab, he moved into a half way house and had a job. At 45 years old, he now had for the first time in his life a new start….a CHANCE. She beamed with happiness (as well as relief).

Then I knew it was the perfect time to present the bag to her.

She gasped!

She was completely blown away!

She cried and cried…she repeated: I love it…thank you…thank you….thank you.  More tears and more thanks…it was truly the perfect gift. I then explained the process, my reasons and how she could share the story if she wanted to. She immediately said “I do want to share the story”.

We, who have been through something like this, know this is how we heal…through support and encouragement.

Her husband was in complete amazement….he said, “no one has ever done anything for her like this”.

A perfect ending to a perfect story.

bag_finished

P.S. I am proud my son has taken control of his life. He has come along way. I commend my daughter for taking a stand and initiating the recovery for are family. We are grateful this is behind us now. Thank You Erin.

If you would like a bag personally made for you or someone else…please contact me. I love making these bags.

**I ask that you respect my original design. Please do not copy or put any of my images on Pinterest. Thank You.** 

 

 

 

 

Up-Cycle-Just Do It

Nancy Crow is currently in my little town conducting a two week workshop. I attended one two years ago. This experience taught me many good things. One was, how much I dislike strip piecing. Nancy’s assignments are complex and the amount of time for each one is limited. The pressure to produce is intense. The first assignment was to strip piece several units of black and white fabric using precise measurements ranging from very narrow to wider. This took me until about 1 p.m. Then we were to create a composition and stitch it. It was due first thing the next morning.

Pieced units

I tried several layouts.

Layout #1

This was very challenging. Most every layout I did looked the same: busy. I finally decided on this one and sewed it together. This was challenging too as some of the seams were very thin. There were a lot of bumpy seams to sew over.

Stitched composition

Honestly, I thought all the compositions looked alike. Way too many black and white bands, boxes and lines.

We continued to make compositions all week. The last assignment was to make a 4’x8′ composition using the units made with various colors of fabric. This next photo shows my final composition along with the black and white composition and several experiments on the design wall.

crow_b_w_others

I did not like the large composition. When I got home I took it completely apart. I was full of emotions from the workshop. It was nothing like I expected. But, I am glad I took it. It made me do a lot of thinking. So that was two years ago. I have not looked at the work I did since. This week a friend of mine took the current workshop and stayed at my home. I told her I had not looked or worked with my pieces that I sewed in the workshop. That I didn’t know what to do with them. She convinced me there was something worthwhile in the stack. She commented that one person made a grocery bag from the black and white composition. Wow! I loved that idea.

UP-CYCLE

While she was attending the workshop, I proceeded to make a bag from the black and white composition. I was very motivated. I first studied it and concluded it needed something.  I layered it with batting and backing and proceeded to quilt it vertically one inch apart using variegated grey and white thread.  Afterwards, I decided the black and white is so stark that paint would tone it down and unite the pieces. So I decided to stamp it with paint.

I pondered the spaces and saw that the white spaces would be perfect for a specific shape, but what? Then it came to me…CROWS; to commemorate my workshop experience.  I loved this idea! I made two stamps, one of a crow and one of an abstract set of bars. I didn’t have black paint so I used India ink. This worked well as it soaked in and created a nice medium grey. I then applied white paint with the bars. The combination of the greys united the surface and muted the harsh black and white spaces. The white paint dried transparent so in some spots I stamped again changing the position. I loved the results.

b_W_paintedThe bars remind me of telephone poles which crows sit on.

b_W_painted_full viewI was very happy with the results. This piece was looking great. Next came more quilting; this took about four hours. I stitched horizontally with black thread going around the crows. Then I stitched vertically again with the variegated thread.

I love to add text by quilting free hand. I decided to add one of Nancy’s comments in red thread:

JUST DO IT

b_w_quilting

Detailed view

The quilting and the paint made this composition come to life.

Now I had to decide what kind of bag to make. The fabric looked sophisticated now so no grocery bag was in mind. Instead I studied bags online and researched in some of my books. I had to make the size of the bag fit the area I had to work with and I wanted the JUST DO IT on the front. I decided upon a 10×19″ finished bag. Most of the crows that were fully stamped wound up on the back.

I worked the next day for about eight hours and finished the bag all except the handle. The lining is a white and tan linen stripe. The next day I decided to add two pockets on the inside in red fabric. I stamped a crow on each one. The perfect final detail.

bag_completed

I am very proud of this bag. It is functional and beautiful.

This project was satisfying and helped me to think of the positives in the workshop. I am grateful for the advice my friend gave me (thanks Barb!).

I took pictures of the construction process and plan to make a tutorial for this bag. I will put a notice when it is available.