Thursday, December 12, 2019

Last Minute Maker

Are you a last-minute-maker?  I am!!
It's funny how old habits die hard.  For the 26 years I owned a quilt shop, I always did 75% of my Christmas gift making during the month of December.  It was a slow retail month for me and I just relaxed and did lots of stitching at the shop to fill the quiet time.
(I say 75% because it was rare that everything was finished so the other 25% happened after Christmas.)

Here I am, 15 years later in full retirement and I still wait until December to swing into full production.  I make most of the gifts I give -- I like sharing my skills with my family and friends (plus after so many years working retail, I don't enjoy shopping very much).
Now that many of my friends and family read my blog (thank you for your support) and follow me on Instagram, I have to keep lots of things under wrap.
So I've been quiet for several weeks.

There's lots of this going on -- socks of every size and color!
Yesterday I gifted these pouches and so now I can share them.
 I'm delighted with the results and I've used up a handful of little orphan blocks!!
During one of my studio tidy ups this year, I designated a basket to store all the little piecing samples from my teaching days -- one of this and two of that -- pieces I couldn't throw away but didn't want to use for a big involved project (I have enough of those!).

When I decided to make zip-pouches for the gals who loyally join me several times a month to turn cast-off projects into finished quilts which we donate to various groups, the first place I looked for inspiration was the orphan basket!  

These are the pieces I pulled -- an assortment of teaching samples and fails.
This is the pattern I used -- it includes four sizes and I've found the small one is a perfect "notions pouch" for my knitting and stitching tools so they don't get lost in the bottom of large totes.
It's a downloadable PDF pattern with excellent instructions and I've used it many times.
I will admit this isn't my favorite type of sewing so doing a batch is a good strategy.
I break down the production into daily goals to prevent boredom and frustration.
Gathering up all the supplies before I start is important, too!

Over a period of three days, I picked out coordinating fabrics and zippers and did all the cutting needed for the pouches.  I sometimes buy a bulk assortment of zippers on Etsy -- check out these possibilities -- so after I sift through those I fill in the colors and sizes I need locally.
I have also learned to keep a stock of several fusible interfacings and fusible fleece.  Many pouch/tote designers mention specific products for these in their patterns -- something that saves lots of time when shopping and also gives better results than sorting it out myself and I appreciate that!!

When these little clips first came out, I thought -- seriously???
Cute, but necessary? 
Now I'm saying, where have these been for the past 50 years???
I love working with them and find them so much easier to use for steps like inserting zippers!
One of the cool tricks designers use are these tabs on the end of zippers.
I like them as a design feature but I have also learned I can use them to adapt a shorter zipper to a space -- just have to remember to modify the designer's cutting specifications. 
One of the advantages of making several of something at the same time is that after the first one is finished, I can "chain-piece" through some of the steps and speed up the process as below -- adding zipper tabs and stitching the inner pocket to the lining.
As I've used my own pouches, I've discovered that a strong contrast of color between the lining and the pocket makes it so much easier to see what's inside a pouch and keep things organized.
Plus it makes me smile to look down in there! 
This is the "front" of the pouches -- you can see I had fun choosing the fabrics and zipper colors but where are all those orphan blocks??
Always thrilled to #sewmystash !!!
The fun is on the "back"!
These pentagon EPP flowers were for a class that didn't happen.
I often see these flowers appliqued to borders of quilts and it always looks like so much fun to create!  Question now is "have I worked this impulse out of my system"? 
Or is there a quilt in my future with a border of appliqued pentagon flowers?
This mini-Dresden plate is a sample to show how small (and easy) it is to create this tiny gem with Marti Michell's Mini Dresden set (I was an educator for Marti).
The six-point star was too small so it didn't work with the other 25 blocks I made in a follow along a couple years ago.   I remade the block in the same fabrics and the right size, but couldn't just pitch this one.  Now it's in a happy home! 
These three were fabric palette samples I made to use when teaching and selling my Mississippi Mud pattern back in my show vending days!  I sized them way down from the pattern measurements and while I don't need them anymore, throwing them away was impossible! 
There's still one more pouch cut out and ready to stitch up but I don't need it until next week.
In the meantime - I've been whipping out these little Bridget's Bagettes (Atkinson Designs).
They make cute little gift card holders which can be re-purposed as a happy little pouch.
Once again, I cut several at a time and have them stacked next to my machine for an easy 20 minute stitching break from whatever I don't want to do!?!
The stitching continues -- this week it's Christmas stockings for this crew!!
Fun, fun, fun!!
Back to the knitting needles -- still have 3 socks to make!!


  1. I have a box full of odd blocks, I'm going to make bags with them! Thanks for the lovely idea. Triplets, what a treasure. Happy Stitching!

  2. Love all of those pouches. They aren’t my kind of stitching either, but I am always pleased and surprised when I actually produce something out of my comfort zone. What a great way to use up UFO blocks.

  3. They are darling pouches. I am a last minute maker as well. Thank you for the great ideas to use up scraps and orphan blocks.

  4. Great gift ideas! You have an adorable crew there.

  5. These are all wonderful projects, love all of the pouches, especially the mini dresden!