Halloween Makes: Lined Drawstring Bags + Economy Block Table Runner

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Note: post contains affiliate links. There’s a lot of reasons I’m excited to be done with college, but one of the biggest is because I actually get to enjoy the fall and Halloween sewing! Fall is my favorite season, especially October, and I never feel like I get to slow down enough to really immerse myself in it.

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Sometimes you just have to set your 20 works in progress aside and make a Lined Drawstring Bag or two. I absolutely adore this pattern, and even though sometimes I may get impatient and try to skip a step, it’s always worth the time to follow it exactly and get beautiful results.

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My favorite is the “everything” size, and I knew I wanted to try a patchwork panel after seeing Heidi Kenney’s a while back. I did a simple log cabin block with my favorite Cotton + Steel “Lil Monsters” prints, plus Kenney’s tiny happy gourds (a fat quarter I’ve been hoarding for just the right project.) When I first started making these bags, I always wanted to skip making the strings and use twill tape, but laziness (I almost never have twill tape) won out and actually now I love choosing an additional fabric for the ties. I’ll always err on the side of getting to pick more fabric. The black and white stripe from C+S’s “Wonderland” is one of my all time faves– I love stripes!

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The mini bag is so adorable, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted the pattern! They definitely take practice– don’t let this size be your first one. But it is SO CUTE. I used another beloved stripe (Tula Pink Tent Stripe) and classic Mini Pearl Bracelets and lined it with C+S XOXO in Ghost White. Naturally.

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Lately, I’ve been completely smitten with economy blocks. I loved Creative Grids’ Pineapple Trim Tool (affiliate link) for making my Lagoon pineapple blocks (post soon here!) and made just two layers for the easiest, most accurate economy blocks out of my favorite Halloween prints.

DSCN3482.jpgOne of the blocks ended up upside down, but in the spirit of Halloween kookiness, I decided to leave it. It’s a small runner– about 12″ by 24″, but adds a cheery splash of color to the kitchen table.

DSCN3487.jpgI machine bound it with that same Rifle Paper Caterpillar Stripe as I used for my bag ties.

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This was my first try at free motion quilting, and I think it turned out ok but definitely not perfect. I wanted spiderwebs, and they turned out, once more, a little kooky.

A Single Girl Quilt for a Mermaid

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There’s nobody easier to make/buy/pick out gifts for than my sister. She has maybe the most well-defined personal taste I’ve ever seen, which can be narrowed down to: Country/Tribal/Western, Non-Preppy Nautical, and Just a Smidge of Emo (black nail polish, tiny Sharpie tattoos.)

Part of the reagiphy (1).gifson I love making gifts so much is it’s fun to experiment with different colors and themes than I would choose for myself, and interpreting that theme in a way I still think looks good. I knew I wanted Christie’s quilt to be this pattern, mermaid/ocean themed, and in her favorite color combo: turquoise and brown.
IMG_8174.JPGDenyse Schmidt’s Single Girl is not a quilt I ever thought I would be drawn to, but something about those busy, colorful “squircle” rings set in a serene solid background just gripped me. It’s so visually fun and interesting, so different than my usual orderly squares, and perfect for using up scraps and small bits of fabric.

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pre quilted Single Girl 

While turquoise and brown might not be my favorite color combination, I love a color challenge and couldn’t be happier with the results. Instead of dark turquoise, it’s aqua; instead of medium brown, it’s rich bittersweet chocolate brown; and shades of coral, navy, teal, cream, and peach round out the palette.

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Aside from the background and backing, I actually didn’t buy much fabric for this quilt– most was scraps I already had, or fat eighths/quarters purchased as needed to complement the prints in my stash (you only need about 2-3 yards total of ring fabric.) The patchwork rings are improv pieced, meaning you get to sew scraps together in an curve more or less mimicking the pattern piece, then you lay the pattern piece over it and cut around to make a clean curved piece. It’s fast, it’s fun, and gives you a lot of freedom in terms of sizes and color layout. After just completing the Adventure Quilt a week or so earlier, this imprecise method was just what I needed. Sewing the curved pieces took a little practice, but if you use pins and go slowly it’s hard to mess up.

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I sent this quilt out to be longarmed because “scale” scallop quilting would be the final  touch to really convey the mermaid theme, and I’m so glad I did. I usually don’t want o to shell out the cash for longarming, but a few of my seams weren’t super flat and the quilting really nailed everything down.

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Even though I don’t usually use quilt patterns, I think Free Wheeling Single Girl is really well made and I’m already planning another for myself!

  • Pattern: “Free Wheeling Single Girl” by Denyse Schmidt
  • Quilt top fabric: scrappy, with an emphasis on aqua, brown, and coral, with mermaids and under the sea motifs. Background is Cotton Supreme Solids in Iceberg.
  • Batting: Hobbs 80/20
  • Backing: Pure Element in Grapefruit, a solid from Art Gallery
  • Binding: Whisper Palette Jewels by Lizzy House
  • Quilting by: Thread Bear Quilting
  • Number/size and type of blocks: 48/12″ (I think?) improv pieced curves
  • Finished size: twin

Finished: An Adventure Quilt

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Note: post contains affiliate link. I was not paid or given anything for free and all opinions are my own. The first Christmas we were together, at the tender ages of 16 and 17, I knit Tyler mittens and a scarf for a gift. For the 6 following Christmases and his early November birthday, I’ve always made him something, usually knit– a better scarf after the first one felted, reversible double knit hat with a Mythosaur skull (double knitting is a beyotch,) another pair of mittens after the first ones felted, a sweater with sleeves that would thrill a Doctor Seuss character, and a small, frayed quilt.
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Having an early November birthday means double gift making in a marathon time frame– as soon as the birthday’s over, it’s a sprint to the next finish line. That means gift making usually starts sometime around September, so the “feel” of the gifts is always fall-oriented. Luckily, that aligns perfectly with his taste, because brown and forest green and neutral colors and  a love for the outdoors is never so strong as in the fall. Last year, I decided that the tiny quilt from five years ago deserved a worthy replacement, and this half-square-triangle-Ron-Swonson-approved-queen-sized-beast was created. I knew for Tyler only two things would really matter in a quilt: size (big enough for his 6+ft frame to burrito himself in) and warmth.
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Design
My initial plan was flying geese blocks, enough for a queen sized quilt, but after reading Jeni Baker’s Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle (affiliate link) I switched gears and decided a “mock” flying geese (2 half square triangle blocks with dark colors together) would be much better. The book enlightened me to the 8 at a time method for making HSTs, and folks it changed my lyfe.
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Fabric
I ordered a fat quarter bundle of “High Adventure” fabric and added in a few favorites– “Sprinkle” from Cotton+Steel in Pickup Truck (the name alone would have made it perfect) and Counting Stars, and canoes from Trail Mix by Rae Ritchie. The neutral off white is Kona in Natural, which has tiny dark brown flecks in the weave that I just love. I wound up needing to order a few more half yards of some of the prints, but the 8 at a time method left very little waste from the fat quarters so I felt no guilt. I love the espresso colored Peppered Cotton from Studio E for backing, and as a special touch, Molly helped me embroider a gorgeous deer motif on a corner of the backing.
Sewing
There’s so much I could say about sewing a quilt this size I’ll save it for a special post, but I will say this– being organized and taking the time to sew where you can get it is crucial. So is good TV for endless hours of cutting, chain piecing, trimming, ironing, chain piecing again, ironing again…
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Quilting
I had my sister and two of my brothers help me stretch, tape, and baste this thing. The internet is also helpful. Then I straight-line quilted it on my new Janome AMH M100 and even though I forgot the extension table, not a single seam twisted or puckered or folded and I think that machine is my best friend.
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Binding
Is it weird that binding is my favorite part of the quilt making process? I hand bound this quilt because I was tired of sitting upstairs alone at my machine and wanted to hand sew next to the Christmas tree in front of Christmas movies. Also, hand binding looks so much better.
Washing
Wool batting has the loft and softness of polyester and warmth like a big, flat oven. I washed the whole quilt on delicate in cold water and it held up like a champ. Warning: it will smell like a dirty sheep when you open the washer machine. Relax, don’t take a deep breath, tumble dry it low and cool then air dry to get the final dampness out.
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After it was done, I felt triumphant and relieved and frolicked with it in the snow to take these photos, thinking about how happy I was it was done and I wasn’t chained to a huge project with a deadline anymore. Then I made a dress (post on that soon,) passed my finals and medicated my stress with wine and tears and cookies.
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He loved it, by the way, and was actually speechless, a feat I don’t take lightly.
Quilt Stats
  • Pattern: Technique for HSTs from Jeni Baker’s book,”Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle”
  • Quilt top fabric: “High Adventure” by Designs by Dani for Riley Blake, supplemented by “Sprinkle” from Cotton+Steel and canoes from Trail Mix by Rae Ritchie; Kona in Natural
  • Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
  • Backing: Peppered Cotton 108″ wide by Studio E
  • Binding: Red buffalo plaid from “High Adventure”
  • Quilting by: me, on my Janome AMH M100
  • Number/size and type of blocks: 256/ 6.5″ half-square triangle blocks
  • Finished size: 96″ x 96″