Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ponyo, Bag-Making, and Dipping My Toes in the Waters of Embroidery

Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you're enjoying your weekend.

Before I get to any sewing pics, just wanted to share that we took the kids to see "Ponyo" today. What a beautiful, sweet little movie. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and I wasn't sure if it would hold my kids' attention -- we've never seen a Miyazaki movie before, despite all of the good things I've heard -- but they sat through the entire thing! I thoroughly enjoyed it, too ... so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it! Is it weird that I saw great ideas for quilt fabric colors and patterns throughout the entire movie ... ??

Quilt blocks took a bit of a backseat this week to some bags. It all started when my sister-in-law asked me to make her a bag. She is getting ready to start taking golf lessons, and she wanted a pretty, feminine bag to carry her golf shoes in. I said "sure", but wasn't really sure what to make. I haven't attempted zippers yet, so I was looking for something to help me avoid them.

Then I came across the Charming Drawstring Beach Bag tutorial over at the Moda Bake Shop. It seemed perfect! I had a charm pack of Soiree on hand, so I quickly pulled this together:

I think it turned out great! It was super easy to make. And I appreciate the fact that it's machine-washable, since those golf spikes will undoubtedly get a bit muddy from time to time.

I was also inspired recently by Kathy of Pink Chalk Studios' blog post about the "Easiest Accessory Bags Ever" pattern by Fig Tree Quilts. That Kathy is a marketing genius ... it didn't take long for me to have that pattern (and some Aiden Natural Linen to go with it) in my shopping cart.

I had already made a smaller sized bag from the pattern as a thank-you gift for my mom for watching the kids a few weeks back. (Bummer I didn't get a picture of it -- I made it out of "Patisserie" and it was really, really nice ... if I do say so myself!). This time I decided to make the large laundry bag. I found 2 fat quarters of some orange "Summer in the City" prints in my wife's pile of fabrics that she had purchased a while back for her bag-making and decided to put them to good use.

Finally, because I was on such a tear, I decided to make another little Bake Shop bag, but this time I adjusted the pattern a bit. I happened to have 18 charm squares of "Neptune" laying around, and adjusted the dimensions of the bag to make it a bit narrower, a bit shorter, and I used some cuts of linen for the bottom instead of a row of charm squares.

I love how this one came out. It might just become a special carrier for my Doll Quilt Swap quilt!

There wasn't just bag-sewing going on at Casa Quilt Dad this week. Here are two little 5.5" square blocks that I made this week for Sudi-Laura, the winner of this month's "Baggie Bingo" draw over at the Mini Quilt in a Bag swap group:

Gotta love that Deer Valley!

Finally, I mentioned in my last post that I've been experimenting with something new -- embroidery! I've been really inspired by folks who incorporate embroidery into their quilt designs (see this and this and this and -- especially -- this), so I thought it might be a good skill to add to my repertoire!

I thought I'd start out small with a pillow. I asked my daughter what she might like on a pillow, and she said a cat. So I pulled this pattern from the "Sublime Stitching" book and got to work.

Not too shabby for a first-timer, eh? I think I cut the fabric a little too close to the yellow border, but oh well. The funniest part? As soon as I finished, my daughter informed me that she doesn't like cats anymore. Now she wants a unicorn. With 2 daughters, I guess I'd better get used to that. I think there's enough space in between the cat's feet and the yellow border to embroider a little girl's name. Maybe this will become a baby gift ...

(Great free embroidery patterns here, by the way.)

Before I get started on the unicorn, I have to finish this. Yes, I've already started a second embroidery project. No intended recipient in mind yet ... just want to keep practicing. I was TOTALLY inspired by this (and this and this). Free pattern here.

How about you? Been itching to try anything new lately?


  1. i also was enticed by the pink chalk marketing machine and bought the pattern too... now just to make something! I found these chambray/white striped RL sheets I'm going to use for the bottom at a thrift store (while unsucessfully looking for pillowcases!)

    Looking forward to the wonky log cabin QA!

  2. Those are nice bags! When you finish with the unicorns, your daughter will be on to something new. And yes, Deer valley is great.

  3. Had to just tell you John.
    My, Mr just turned 5, was climbing all over me as I was scrolling down your page. He saw the Deer Valley blocks (just got me some, woo hoo) and said 'hey Mum, that looks like a piece of Art'!!! Love those moments.
    Looking forward to the wonky cabins.

  4. Gorgeous bags. I have the same problem when it comes to zippers, and know many quilters do. When I think of all the things I`ve managed to learn, it is strange that I somehow refuse to try and learn zippers.....

  5. Great bags. My daughter is off to college and she needs a laundry bag....I think you have inspired me to make her one. Nice looking embroidery piece you did. I'm sure your daughter's ideas will give you lots of practice.

  6. Great bags! And I love that deer valley fabric. If I keep seeing it on here I finally will have to buy some for my stash, I won't be able to resist. Can't wait to see your elephant!

  7. applique. some serious applique project... but i probably won't do it... I do a little here and there but that's all I can manage right now. good for you for trying something new! I had itchy fingers for a small hand quilting project yesterday so i threw something together just so i had something... I like that kind of gratification! I got your flying geese block! love it!thanks john!

  8. Lovely, every single thing is just lovely! If you like this new embroidery kick you are on and want to see something really fun here is a link to a book you may like...

    My sister-in-law gave it to my daughter and I stole if from her because she is not interested in sewing right now...too busy working to save up money for grad school!:) So I win.

  9. I hope you asked before you scooped up that fabric from Mrs Quilt Dad's stash. Otherwise you might be in some serious trouble.

    I love the Neptune bag.

    My 5 yr old son is the same way. I just finish making him a sweet wool felt spaceship and he informs me that he is now into knights, so I get him some playmobil knights and then he's into superheros . . . sigh. I've given up trying to keep up.

    Sweet cat embroidery.

    I've been considering taking up knitting. The main thing that's stopping me is the idea of starting another stash . . . I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my beading stash.

  10. Here's an idea - just put a horn on that cute kittie........*S*

    Or learn to stitch faster.

    btw...I don't think I ever heard back from you when I sent MY summer project....the log cabin circles. What's up with that?

  11. Great bags, and cute embroidery! You have such great taste in fabric.

  12. Hi, I like the look of your bags and really like the fabric choices. I am about to start a couple of bags but I need to complete a baby quilt for a wee girl who is about to arrive, and I need to sort of the knitting that is just not working....
    Cheers from Scotland. I am new to blogging so pop by if you would like

  13. The bags are way cool. Love the embroidery. The elephant it too cut!

  14. So glad you enjoyed our pattern. Love your bags. Love your blocks.
    Re-inspired to make bags with my own munchkins!

    Happy Sewing,


  15. I highly recommend any of the Miyazaki movies! I've seen most of them, and they all have wonderful stories and lessons. And I totally get that you got inspired to create because of Ponyo. The visuals and colors Miyazaki uses do the same to me.

    As far as trying something new.. My DQS 7 quilt is all new for me: a round top, a fully-self designed paper-piecing border, fusible applique, and some beaded embellishing.

  16. your embroidery looks great! i just did my first embroidery on a pillow too! :)

  17. Love the bags and well done on finally getting the embroidery bug

    Love and hugs Gina xx

  18. Great blog! Nice to find other crafty guys out there. Great taste in fabric too!

    Nice job on the totes. They are fun aren't they? I need to make some up for some gifts (upcoming birthdays, etc.).

    Take care,

  19. Look at you GO!! Love your fearless attitude--your embroidery is great:)
    Really beautiful bags too!

  20. I saw you signed up for the Tea Towel Tour!! me too.

  21. WOW!, I've just stumbled on your blog and am blown away with your talent. I love the colours and the patterns. I especially love those wonky blocks. I'm going to try some of those. I've never known a man who quilts!

  22. I saw Ponyo this weekend, too. I loved all of the underwater shots...I got lots of color inspiration from it too.

    Great job on the embroidery! I love how your elephant is coming along

  23. Your bags are great John!! I've made a few from that Fig Tree pattern too...they are wonderful gifts!

  24. After being offline for 6 months, it was really nice to check out your blog again and see all the cool things you're up to. Love the idea for golf shoe bag. :)

  25. You always make the coolest stuff, seriously you have a good eye for color!

    I have a 7 & 8 year old, they love any movie that Miyazaki makes, we are going to see Ponyo tonight and we are all so excited. You have to get some of his other movies for your kids, they are all wonderful, start with My Neighbor Totoro.

    And the moleskin idea is great, I am copying you :D Embroidery is addicting, you have been warned.

  26. I love all the embroidery you are doing! It is beautiful! I think I need try it out.:)

  27. The bags are great, and addictive to make, I know. But the embroidery...that is something I've been wanting to try and just haven't jumped in and done yet. You inspire me.

  28. Oh my gosh, I'm so thrilled you liked the elephant pattern! You are going to LOVE embroidery - but, like other have said, it is quite addictive so watch out.
    You have absolutely inspired me to try another quilt. It has been about a year since I have tried a quilting project but now I feel like I need to give it a go once again. Thanks!

  29. wow,Amazing bags ..
    i like all the bags and really like the fabric choices....

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  30. Love Miyazaki. Howl's moving castle was great, but also check out Kiki's Delivery Service.

    Love the blocks. They're very fresh!

  31. I have also been inspired by all the embroidery. i have been wanting to try my hand at it. How did you get started? Did you find a tutotial on basic stiches?
    They look great by the way.

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