Thursday, January 1, 2015

Summer Projects

It's funny that I'm posting about my summer projects on New Year's Day, but I've been sick and stuck in the house for most of the week, so I figured now is as good a time as any for a catch-up.

Growing tired of my ever-increasing fabric stash from three years' worth of projects, I decided to make a beach quilt made solely of fabric scraps around Memorial Day. I don't think I could ever spend money on new fabric knowing that it would fall victim to the great outdoors, but I knew I wouldn't be heartbroken if a scrappy quilt got dirty. The only fabric I purchased was an Ikea sheet, which I used for the middle layer instead of wool/cotton batting, and 108" broadcloth fabric for the backing, since I didn't want to piece together a quilt backing that large.

I ended up with 600-some blocks for the front. I think the squares are 3-4 inches... can't remember! It took ages to piece together -- about a month of working on it whenever I had a spare moment. And, because I am type-A, I had to make sure no two patterns or colors were touching. I made light-dark fabric pairs, then built rows from those.

It wasn't a perfect process, but it came out pretty well, I think. It finished up at a queen size, and the thin middle layer makes it less bulky than other quilts -- perfect for the beach or a picnic! I quilted diagonally, and the binding is a bright purple that failed to make the cut for my brother's LSU quilt.

Here's its beach debut in Labadee, Haiti:

And here it is in the somewhat less exotic locale of Rehoboth, Delaware:

The Rehoboth Beach trip was with my friends Drea and Lynn, and they both had fun picking out the fabrics that were in their quilts. I'm happy I made a good dent in my stash (to make room for more fabric!) and was able to make something useful.

I bought this adorable crab fabric on sale in the spring and knew I wanted to make a beach bag out of it. I searched high and low for a good pattern, but nothing seemed like it would work for me. I wanted it to be large enough to hold the above quilt as well as some towels. I wanted to make the handles out of webbing for increased durability, and it would be great if it could have a pocket or two for things like my wallet, phone, and Nook. I ended up just using what I've learned on my sewing adventures to come up with a pattern myself. And you know what? I'm really glad I did!

I used some leftover quilt batting to make the outside panels -- which are about 22 x 28", I believe -- and give it some shape, quilting straight lines a few inches apart in navy blue. I bought about 5 yards of red webbing. I measured the drop I wanted and cut accordingly. Sewing on the handles was easier than I thought it would be, and I stitched Xs in the corners for reinforcement while allowing for a big pocket on the outside. Then I stitched the panels together facing one another before turning the bag right-side-out, using 1/2 inch seam allowances. (I read that you should use larger seam allowances for bags... can't remember where, but it stuck!) I created a lining out of the crabby fabric and made two small pockets. I slipped the lining in the outside of the bag. Then, I used pre-made binding to finish off the top. It took maybe 4 hours from start to finish.

The only thing I would do differently in the future is to make the binding myself. The store-bought binding was flimsy and didn't play well with all of the fabric layers. But it worked in the end. I've gotten a lot of compliments on the bag as it came out and about with me this summer, and I feel like I've leveled up in making bags!

Up next: Liberty Quilt (finally!), Giants Quilt, and some embroidery projects!