Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools


Entries in bags (2)



Today, I joined in a Facebook discussion about what term those of us who sew like to be called: sewist, seamstress, sewer, etc.  I have adopted the term Maker (from Natalie Chanin) as I think it best describes what I do.  I make things.  These things might come from my sewing studio (which I have not set foot in for weeks) or my kitchen, workshop, garden, computer, camera, the list goes on.  (I love how Southerners say, "make a picture" for taking a photo). 

So, while I haven't been sewing much, I have been making.  I made cupcakes for a friend's birthday (using my favorite icing recipe).  I made an attempt to organize my garage.  But mostly I have been making my garden.

I started with a greens garden in a spot where there used to be lovely flowering perennials.  Unfortunately, they were also tasty to our resident deer, and I decided that if I had to have an ugly fence to protect them, it somwhat defeted the purpose of the flowers. So instead, I planted all sorts of early spring greens along with other early vegetables and annual herbs.

Next I tackled the beds in the front of my house which contain mostly perennial herbs and deer-resistant plants.

That holly bush next to the front door houses this little home at the moment:

My apologies to mama cardinal who feels the need to retreat everytime I open the front door.

I also planted mint in an existing bed of irises

but most of the work has been going on in our new vegetable garden.  To get there, you have to meander down a woodland path

across the bridge

to the garden on the other side of the creek.

My husband has been busy making, too.  Those raised beds, made from white oak lumber, are his handiwork.

The beds have short pieces of PVC pipe attached to the inside which allows me to place long, arching sections of flexible pipe in them.  These can then be covered with protection for the plants (against bugs or weather) or to create an arbor of sorts.  I used cable ties to attach a length of fencing to the pipes.

These are summer squash plants that will grow up and over the arbor, allowing me to use less space and also improving air circulation around the plants and keeping the fruit off the ground.  Underneath the arbor I have planted carrots which can tolerate some shade.  I tried a nifty little technique to make my own seed "tape" to plant my carrots.

I started with a paper napkin, unfolded and reduced to a single ply.  I drew a 3" grid on the napkin with pencil.  Using a flour/water paste, I "glued down" 1-2 carrot seeds at the intersection of each grid line (16 spots on each napkin.)  I labeled the napkin with the variety of the carrot and let the paste dry.

Planting my seeds was as easy as laying out the napkins over the soil

and covering them with additional soil.  This ensures that the plants are optimally spaced and very little, if any, thinning will be needed.

This past weekend my husband and I really got into the making spirit and put together these bean trellises.

These were built from stock lumber and took three times as long to paint as to build.  I found the directions at this site

I did have the chance to do a little sewing a few weeks ago when I joined my sister near Surrey, Virginia for "sewing camp".  I enjoyed the company of many nice women, some fine cooking and a chance to relax in a beautiful setting.  I completed a couple of projects, a pair of pajamas which you will see soon (I'm working on a tutorial to accompany that post) and some much-needed storage for the plastic bags that seem to accummulate at my house.

These are nothing more than fabric tubes with elastic at one end and a ribbon for hanging at the other.  Plastic grocery bags are stored inside until needed, and then can be easily removed through the elastic opening.

I'm still going to be making my garden for a few more weeks, and I'm sure I'll share some pictures once it is in all its glory.  And that treehouse really needs a special flag, don't you think?  What are you making?


Purses, Bags & More Blog Tour

Hello to everyone today, and a special greeting to those who are joining me for the Purses, Bags & More Blog Tour sponsored by Clotilde.    When I was approached a couple of weeks ago about participating in this event I jumped at the chance.  The opportunity to make and review a bag would have fit right in with last year’s recurring post on my blog, “Bag of the Week”

Purses, Bags and More is a fantastic new book, with designs by Pearl Louise Krush and published by House of White Birches for Clotilde.  I was sent an advance copy of the book, asked to look it over and write a review of the book as well as one of the included ten projects which was assigned to me.  Pearl Louise, whose motto is “Happiness is homemade” is the owner of The Thimble Cottage Quilt Shop in Rapid City, SD.  She has come up with ten beautiful and unique bag designs using cotton quilting fabrics.  The 48-page book is filled with bright, full-color photos and clear, well written and illustrated instructions.   

I was assigned the Ragtime Blues bag to evaluate.  I read over all of the instructions which were very clear and easy to understand.  I decided the best way for me to truly test the pattern was to make it up.  Here’s a picture of my own version of the bag:

Instead of the quilting cotton called for by the pattern, I substituted some denim left over from a previous project.  This worked well and created luscious, fluffy fringing with the exception of the light blue piece which, it turns out, contains some lycra which prevented the fabric from fraying.  So stick with 100% cotton fabrics as instructed.

The pattern calls for pairing two squares of fabric, sandwiching a piece of cotton batting between, and free-motion quilting them together.  I am a self-proclaimed lousy free-motion quilter so instead I used a simple machine embroidery design to quilt the pieces together.  I absolutely love the technique described for cording the top edge of the bag for stability and can’t wait to try in on another bag.  But, given the extra weight of the fabric I used I chose to skip the cording on my version.  Lastly, I confess I am not a fan of braided handles so I substituted a corded tube (love my FasTurn!)

I found the bag very simple to construct and a fun project to complete.  This is a very forgiving pattern;  because of the way that it is constructed, precision is not critical (any uneven seam allowances are hidden in the rag fringe layers) which makes this a good choice for either a beginner or for experienced sewers who want to take a break from the demands of garment sewing or quilting. 

An additional project in the book is for a removable organizer that fits this purse.  You can fill the many pockets and change purses by simply removing the insert and placing it in a different bag.

I am already eyeing several other projects in this book for the future.  If you would like to see more projects from this book you can read the other participants on the blog tour who have each reviewed a different bag.  Here is a list of links to those posts:

Monday, March 21 -- Tara of Tinkerfrog
Tuesday, March 22 -- Cindy of Sew Blessed
Wednesday, March 23 -- Stephanie of Unfinished Project Party
Thursday, March 24 -- Ruth of Sew Chic 

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for your very own, please use this link to connect with the Clotilde website where it is available in print or as an electronic download (both for $9.95, a steal!).  I think you will be happy to add this book to your sewing library.  Please feel free to browse the rest of my blog while you are visiting.  I’ve just posted a new tutorial for an Accordion-Fold Photo Album that will appeal to quilters, machine embroiderers, crafters and just about everybody else.  Happy sewing, everyone!