Patchwork Bags from Leftover Fabrics

fabric stack

On my last post, I wrote about my first attempt at a large-scale quilt and shared my excitement for the Color Wheel Quilt pattern and the fabric bundle I purchased that is cut specifically for the project from Purl Soho. (Check out these beautiful, mouth-watering photos of the shop, from a blog, Diary of a Quilter by Amy Smart.)

In addition to the wonderful variety of colors and designs included in the bundle, I was blown away by how generous these fabrics were cut (they are in fat quarter measurements at 9″ x 22″). Each piece is large enough to make at least two color wheel wedges, with at last 8″ x 8″ of leftover fabrics that can be used for smaller (or as part of a larger) projects.

leftover

While cutting the Color Wheel wedges, I cut an extra set, with a plan to maybe make a second quilt. But I had an idea to turn these fabrics into patchwork bags that I often encounter on the blogosphere.

These crescent-shaped bags seem to be a staple in the crafting community (a similar pattern is available in a Japanese book, 「ミシンだから楽しいの。」(“Mishin Dakara Tanoshiino”), now translated into English, Patchwork Style) and I’ve been dying to make them myself for years. These wedges were perfect!

I had 52 wedges and each bag panel requires eight, so I was able to make six panels (total three bags) and use up 48 of the 52 panels!  Here are the bags I made!

Bag #1: Pink and Blue

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This is my favorite among the three bags I made. I wasn’t 100% sure about combining pink and blue fabrics at first, without adding some greens or yellows to balance them out, but I really like how it came out. I think the dark polka dots and the hummingbird designs helped marry the colors together.

I made several bag straps but settled on this brown polka dots fabric by Echino (one of my favorites). The other ones came out a bit frumpy but this one is sturdy and makes the bag look a little more refined.

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I wanted to keep with the theme and incorporate pink and blue hues on the back as well.  You can’t see here but each bag has a lining with a coordinating fabric, small pocket to hold keys and little knick knacks, and a magnetic closure to snap the bags closed. For this bag, I used a gray linen by Robert Kaufman for the lining and I love it!

Bag #2: Christmas in August

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This bag is so not me, but in a wonderful way. Red is my least favorite color in the color spectrum but I loved the designs of these fabrics so much that I had to not only use them up but showcase them in a bold way. I even surprised myself with the selection of a moss green fabric for the strap. I wasn’t sure what to think of this panel at first, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Strange, I know! Red and green – maybe I already have Christmas on my mind, in the middle of hot August.

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I played it safe and used green and yellow fabrics for the back panel. I used Amy Butler Lotus Geisha Fan Clay cotton for the lining, and Echino for the straps.

Bag #3: Sweet Pastel

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I really like this pastel blue and yellow combination!  (I didn’t even finish top-stitching the bag but had to take pictures before it got too dark!  redface)  I wish I had a list of all the fabric designers and names so I can get more of them.

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The back panel is orange and yellow combination.  The lining is Amy Butler Coriander in pink, and the straps are Echino.

I’m thinking about posting these bags on Etsy in the next days or so.  Please stay tuned!

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In Progress: Color Wheel Quilt

My current obsession: Patchwork quilts!

I spent an afternoon at my parent’s house over the weekend and got inspired by seeing and touching the lovely patchwork quilts my mother has made over the years. I think she has more than 30 completed large scale projects, some hung proudly on the living room walls while many slept in her closet.

I had no interest in anything needles and fabrics while living under my parent’s roof but I have a deeper appreciation for her mad skills, now that my sewing and patchwork antennas are way, way up.  It took me thirty-some years but I’ve finally arrived at the door of the quilting world, and I’m now ready to open up the door and walk right in!

(I hope the world will be kind to this newbie.)

fabric stack 2

After looking through patchwork books and blogs for inspiration, I decided on the Color-Wheel Quilt from the book, Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Purl Soho’s Joelle Hoverson to be my first project. It was a perfect time to give the fabric bundle that I picked up from my favorite yarn / fabric store in New York City a go after a few years of being completely ignored and forgotten.

I was incredibly pleased to find that putting the color wheel together was a piece of rainbow-colored cake. I think the most time-consuming part was actually washing, drying, and ironing each of the 52 fabric pieces! I was able to cut and sew together all the pieces in just a few of hours. I think the more difficult part will come in a little later when I put the whole thing together (which I’ll do, as soon as I order a white fabric and a batting) but until then, I’m going to enjoy the fact that my first quilt project is finally in the works.

color wheel photoshop copy

By the way, the fabric bundle cut specifically for this project is a real steal! Each fabric piece is large enough to make at least two of the color wheel wedges, and still have a plenty of stash left for other smaller projects. I cut out an extra set of wedges and am currently using them to make patchwork bags. I’ll post some pictures once they’re done!

I’m so happy that tomorrow is Fridaaaaay!

Another Baby Blanket

I finally got around to weaving in the ends and blocking the baby blanket I knit for our little Pon Pon this week! The blanket sat on the back of the dining chair for many weeks, because I just couldn’t get myself to sew in the loose yarn, wash the blanket, and pin it on the blocking board. In the knitting process, they are three of my least favorite things to do. I don’t know why but I just dread them sometimes.

But I’m happy that it’s all done now and I can cross this off the baby project checklist. I really love this blanket. I’ve made two of the same ones (with different color combinations, and this time, I used a worsted cotton yarn instead of wool) for two of our friends (here and here) and I knew that I was going to make one for our own someday.

All my life, I could only imagine having a girl, if I were blessed with a baby. I just couldn’t think of growing a tiny wee wee inside me and begging him to please take a shower when he became a teenager! But when Kevin and I learned about the pregnancy, we somehow thought the little bun in the oven would be a boy. I have no idea where that came from, but we were pretty convinced. So, when I first started picking out the yarns for the blanket, all I could select were blue, green, and other boy colors! I put in white and yellow, just in case, but there was definitely no pink in the picture.

Halfway through the project, we learned that we are expecting a girl. lol It was too late to add another color (the blanket was already long) so I just continued on with the original combination … and to my surprise, I loved how it turned out. There are no pink and other girlie colors, but I think it came out pretty gender neutral. I remember that my favorite blanket grown up was yellow so I hope Pon Pon will like these colors as well.

This blanket was inspired by Purl Soho’s The Super Easy Baby Blanket and Chevron Baby Blanket. I was actually pretty set on making the latter when I first picked up the knitting needle but changed my mind and decided to make it simpler. The colors were definitely inspired by the Chevron Baby Blanket. From the moment I saw the photo, I was in love.

All yarns are Blue Sky Worsted Cotton ($14.10 each) and purchased at PurlSoHo.com.

  • 607 Lemongrass
  • 608 Lemonade
  • 80 Bone
  • 635 Sleet
  • 628 Azul
  • 634 Periwinkle

Not a Torture Device: Yarn Swifter and Ball Winder

I’m not much of a “gadget” person. I can’t get myself to purchase anything that is only good for one function, like a Panini press or Ebelskiver pan, for example, although I want both of those things terribly. Items that I welcome into my home must be able to perform at least two functions, if not more. Otherwise, I have trouble justifying spending my money on them.

Except, of course, when you’re talking about a knitting yarn swift and a ball winder! For non-knitters, the names may suggest that they’re some kind of medieval torture devices (or worse, some sketchy “toys” eek) but they are absolute essentials for handspun- and / or hand dyed yarn-loving knitters who need to turn a hank of yarn into a knittable ball. Their sole purpose of existence is to roll the yarn into a ball, but without doing so, a knitter will end up spending many, many frustrating hours trying to untangle a string of yarn. They’re absolutely worth every penny. (Check out these videos to find out how yarn swifter and ball winder work.)

I purchased my swifter and ball winder in the summer, right after I brought back a bag full of wonderful hanks of yarn during my last visit to New York’s Purl Soho in July.

I am currently knitting another, slightly-modified version of Super Easy Baby Blanket using those yarns for a lovely couple who’s expecting their first baby boy in December or January. The fun part about this project is selecting the color scheme. It took me a while to figure out the order of colors, and I was a little unsure of my decision at first. But I started to like it more and more after each block, and now I’m absolutely in love! I’m using the Alchemy Temple again for this blanket and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling every time I knit a stitch.

My first class at Knitting University at my LYS starts this weekend.  I’m so excited to finally learn the basics of knitting, which I completely lack at the moment.  Wish me luck!

Update (October 29, 2011): The baby blanket is complete! I couldn’t think of the best way to photograph the finished project so I draped it over the form. I was surprised to see that it can actually double as a wrap … hmmm … I’m getting some ideas now!

“Super Easy Baby Blanket” For a Baby Girl

Despite the rising temperature outside, I really enjoyed knitting this baby blanket inspired by Purl Bee’s Super Easy Baby Blanket. The original blanket is knit entirely in garter stitch but since I’m not a big fan of the stitch (I really don’t like the way it looks), I changed it up a bit. I’m not sure what the proper name of the stitch is called but I Knit 1 and Purl 1 all the way across the first row, knit all the way across the second row, and repeated these two stiches until I finished seven skeins. I knit this on and off at night, about half skein a night, and took me about three weeks to complete it. The pattern is very simple with on real counting involved, so it’s perfect while watching a DVD or listening to the radio.

I went outside my color box and selected a hue combination that I usually don’t pick. Knowing that this was going to be a gift for a baby girl, I wanted something bright and fun, without being overly girly. I alternated the green / gray / pink combination twice. I used Green Plum, Fieldstone, Ruby, Sour Grass, Silver, Hush, and Tea Leaf (not pictured), in that order. You can always rely on the expert eyes of Purl Soho and Alchemy staffs, and use their color ideas.

The Alchemy Temple 100% superfine marino yarns that I purchased at Purl Soho were great to knit with. I wasn’t sure about the texture at first, but after I hand washed it and let it air dry, the softness came to life. The blanket is so soft and feels amazing on a skin – perfect for a baby. I think the garter stich will give a softer and cozier feel, but I really like how mine came out too. Just make sure to wash the blanket before gifting since the color runs like crazy. I ended up washing it in a sink like 10 times with all-natural detergent, and added few tablespoons of vinegar several times while rinsing to set the color.

I hope the bundle of joy will enjoy her blanket! I’m hoping to wrap it up and give this to the proud parents next week. 🙂

Springtime in Manhattan

A breathtaking lavender garden in Washington Square Park

People aren’t kidding when they say that there is nothing like New York in the springtime. Even for someone like me who’s been incredibly spoiled with the year-round Southern California weather, the spring in the city is truly something else!

After spending the first few days in cold rain and unfriendly wind, we were finally welcomed by the sun and its beautiful 75-degree ray, as if it were urging me and my colleague / friend H to get out of the office and take in the warmth on the lovely Friday afternoon. Never the ones to decline such tempting invitation from mother nature, we wrapped our day’s work a little early and headed over to Manhattan for a late lunch and a well-earned break!


The front of Purl SoHo on Broome Street

We took the C train from Brooklyn to Canal Street, a mere 10-minute ride, which landed us in the neighborhood of  SoHo. The primary mission today for me was to visit a lovely yarn and fabric store, Purl Soho, owned by Joelle Hoverson, the author of my favorite craft books, Last Minute Knitted Gifts and Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts. I had been dying to check this lovely store out, which recently moved to the new, larger location on Broome Street. While most people list famous landmarks like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Broadway shows as the must-sees in New York, I have Jacques Torres Chocolates in Brooklyn, Ronnybook Milk Bar in Chelsea Market (for the best yogurt in the world), and yes, Purl Soho, on my priority list. 😆

I actually visited Purl Soho already the day before. I made a beeline to the store right after work last night and spent an easy two hours browsing and salivating over colorful fabrics and luscious yarns from its robust collection. Although I came back to the hotel that night with a good sampling of fabrics, including a floral print from Liberty of London, I couldn’t stop thinking about the rest of the designs that I passed up. I was determined to return to the store to pick up a few items that I could not leave NY without having them in my possession! So there I was, back in this crafter’s dream, nearly passing out from the cuteness overload once again. Hoverson’s tastes in yarn and fabric selections are simply impeccable. She is the epitome of chic style, and I am so inspired by the vision and creativity she exudes in everything she does. I wish I can pluck this heavenly store and bring it back to Los Angeles.


The Color Wheel Quilt Bundle, 50+ different fabrics for the quilted color wheel featured in her patchwork book


The amazing Liberty print … it is so dreamy!

After I satisfied my textile needs, H and I walked over to the Greenwich Village and walked through NYU. We relaxed a little in Washington Square Park, which was lively with people enjoying the music and the sun, before heading over to Carrie’s Stoop (I wanted to show H the place since she’s also a fan of Sex and the City) and enjoyed Magnolia‘s cupcakes and an ice-cold drink at the park across the street (it looks like this is becoming my ritual when vising NY). What a perfect day to be outside!


The magnificent Washington Square Arch


The Central Fountain


The peek of the Empire State Building from the Arch


Carrie’s Stoop on Perry Street

If I lived in Manhattan, I might want to live in the Village or Soho.  These places are alive with such great energy and make me want to enjoy being in the present.  There were so many hidden gems in the neighborhood, including shops like Sabon and Soapology, which specialize in bath goods and offer natural handmade soaps.  I love that they cut a piece of soap for you at the store upon request. Needless to say, I came home with bag full of soaps to add to my soap collection at home!


Soapology in the Meatpacking District


Soapology soaps from top: Rose (pink), Lily of the Valley (white), Seaweed (green), Honeysuckle (light blue), Cucumber (dark blue)


Sabon in Greenwich Village — there are other locations all over New York, as well as Boston and Chicago


Sabon soaps: Lemon Mint, Rosemary, and Rose

The forecast tells us to expect rain over the weekend but that will definitely not stop me from exploring the city even more! It’s been a long and tiring week at work but an afternoon like this in the city makes all the hard work worth it.

I heart New York.  Oh, and my hotel room smells incredible now from all the soaps!  🙂