In The Bag-My Stuff

I Love Making Bags!

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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.

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Lining, in progress.

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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.  😆

 

 

 

Mixing Up Media-Course Online

Mixing Up Media-My new course online at the Academy of Quilting

Start date: March 6th, 2015

Five Lessons $50

Sign Up now

MM_mini_finishedI am very happy to have this course ready to go. Many hours go into composing, making art, photographing, editing and more to put a course together.  Visit my profile page too.

You are invited: Go behind the scenes to experience some of my favorite methods and materials I use to create authentic art. Mixed Media: the fascinating realm of endless possibilities. Learn to: Transform various materials and unleash your creativity; observe amazing results from the get go.

 

Mixed Media-Take a Look and Make your LOOK

What is mixed media?
Basically, it is a playground filled with various types of art materials. All you have to do is take a look and then give yourself the freedom to play and have fun. It is impossible to go wrong, you will see.

For example, what if I told you that it is possible to make a painted surface look unpainted? No problem, I will show you just how to this and more. Working with mixed media offers unlimited options and endless possibilities. Once you experience this fascinating world you will soon realize this. Now, the best way to begin is with a focus otherwise the options are overwhelming.

The focus of this workshop is: To experience selected products and materials that produce amazing results. I invite you to realize the vast range of possibilities and gradually unleash your creativity. In addition, you will get to peak at my methods that I have used successfully for many years. I will share my journey with mixed media. I love stories, do you?

Create a LOOK-Three looks set the stage for exploration:

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1. Historic Look-inspired by authentic botanical illustrations

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2. Current Look-Updated style inspired by the Historic look

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3. Abstract Look-Pushed onward and into the future

Layouts are provided with various options that will guide you through practice and application. The design is based on a botanical illustration; a single flower is the featured specimen and focal point. You have options: work within your style whether you prefer to work loosely or refined with precise detail.

Either way, the objective is to create authentic art while at the same time experiencing some of my favorite and unique mixed media methods and (unconventional) materials including: interfacing, tissue paper, silk organza as well as cloth. These materials will be saturated with luscious colors and developed into dynamic textured surfaces using color wash dye paints; spritz, spray and drip dye paint. No need for prior painting experience…this is super easy, fast and super fun.

Techniques

The information I will provide comes straight from my coveted collection of tried and true methods and tools. For example, you will learn how to make and utilize a highly effective tool that I developed and use exclusively for appliqué.
Embellishment tags

CL_emb_200Make it yours-Refine your look with handmade accents-Descriptive text that is found on botanical illustrations will engage the viewer. Attach these with flare using hand and/or machine stitching, free style or uniform; unique beads, buttons or any personal findings; various sewing methods are suggested and demonstrated including quilting considerations.

Have more fun making your very own stamps and stencils to mix together and play around with; use them on tags as well as the surfaces.Stencil_200

MM_L5_hl_binding_strip_3Complete your look with my favorite (and easy peasy) binding method with silk organza along with a sleeve to hang your prize piece and show it off.

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.

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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.

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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.** 

 

 

 

 

Website Redesign in Progress-Denim Bags

I finally gave in and decided to have this website redesigned. Anyone who uses WordPress for their website knows how often the updates are issued. This eventually becomes problematic. I have hired Holly Knott to do this work. She is very talented and also makes art quilts. I am very excited about this change. I estimate the new site to be up by mid-March.

In the meantime, I have continued my focus on sewing with old denim. I love the feel. I love the comfort of it. I made a bag for all three of my grandchildren for Christmas. The first two are conservative and practical, for the boys. The third, for my granddaughter, took a completely different direction.. What fun this was! This bag took a lot longer and I almost didn’t finish it by Christmas day. I was still hand sewing the edges as we drove to their home. All three kids love their bags. I wrote sentiments on the inside and the date.

I am optimistic that these bags will connect me with specific people who will embrace them for art as well as a functional bag.

Major concern:

To be copied or added to Pinterest. I admit, I truly don’t think anyone could actually copy me, but, rather take the concept. Thus, I will only show sections of the bag here

The denim used for this bag was prepared by a process to remove some of the indigo dye. I used shibori techniques and loved the results. Each type of denim produced a unique coloration. This truly amazed me and prompted me to think about a completely different look.

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I used original stamps and cut stencils to apply various colors of paint. Her favorite color is purple so that is the main color. The body of the bag is constructed with sections of jeans mixed together. Any pockets are left open and usable. This is challenging. Some motifs are outlined with hand stitching.

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Yo-Yo’s, lace and buttons as embellishments.

More to come about denim bags in my next post.