Friday, September 30, 2011

Sewing for modern men (with free pattern)

The Fall issue of Stitch sought projects for men, so as a member of the male species, it seemed me duty to contribute a few—but what? Handcrafting gifts for men is a perennial challenge. You want people to ask the guy, “Hey, where’d you get that cool sweater?” instead of “[snigger snigger] Did your mom make you that lame sweater?” Earth tones and sports themes typify much of the sewing world’s attempts at “masculine,” but I tried to think what the boyfriends and husbands of the average Stitch reader would be interested in—guys who are more likely to shoot zombies in a video game than shoot deer on the first day of hunting season.

Gadget Messenger Bag

Gadget Messenger BagI’d been toying with the basic idea of my Gadget Messenger Bag for a while: a built-in USB hub gives a place to stow flash drives and receiver dongles, then its concealed cord plugs everything into a laptop at once. It makes the bag a little more “techy” to excite a gadget freak, and it’s a little something extra to differentiate the bag from an off-the-shelf version—if you’re going to the trouble of sewing something, I figure there should be something to take it beyond what you could just go out and buy. The USB appliqué motif on the flap is another bit of geekery.

Circuit Scarf

Staying with the computer-geek theme, I designed a scarf loosely inspired by circuit boards. As with the USB flap appliqué on the bag, I limited the color pop to a single shade on a neutral background—I think most guys these days appreciate some color but don’t want to be too flashy. The couched yarn lines hint at classic pinstriping. I don’t know about other guys, but the Other and I would be fighting over the Circuit Scarf if we lived in a place where current temperatures were dipping below 75°F. Poor us, right?

Road Warrior Organizer (closed)

Road Warrior Organizer (open)I’m not much of a car guy, but I know lots of guys have near-symbiotic relationships with their cars, so I also wanted to come up with a good gift for car lovers. A look at the wad of papers in my glove compartment was all it took to inspire the Road Warrior Organizer as a place to corral registration and insurance papers along with the vehicle owner’s manual. And you can download the pattern free from the Stitch website! For the messenger bag and scarf patterns, you’ll have to check out the magazine.

On a somewhat related note, may I just say that finding hardware for these projects was the hardest part? Square rings for the bag strap were impossible to locate (I ended up using key rings from the hardware store). And I had to jury-rig a way to install the snap on the organizer since none of the fabric stores in the area carried the actual installation hardware for the type of snap they’d sold me. If you’re making any of the projects, I wish you better hardware luck!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stitch, Fall 2011: Paper Shredder Quilt

Paper Shredder Quilt, with beasts

Stitch, Fall 2011The Fall issue of Stitch has been out for a while, but somehow I never got a chance to show any of my projects in it round these parts. No sooner had I spread my Paper Shredder Quilt out on the sofa than it was occupied by not one, but two of the local quadrupeds, eager to coat a new quilt with their abundant fur. I swear, they weren’t posed. Is it just me, or do they seem to be telling the photographer to back the eff off? Bloody ingrates.

Paper Shredder Quilt

I wanted the quilt to look like strips of paper falling from a paper shredder and gathering in a pile, and of course I love text-print fabric. I had a lot of fun making the quilt, and I think it’s one of my favorites of the projects I’ve designed for Stitch. It’s also about as close to improvisational piecing as I get—the blocks are cut apart pretty casually to insert the strips of typographic prints, but there’s still a bit of planning necessary to keep the strips lined up. There’s a method to the cultivated madness.

Quilting it was fun too, using straight lines at random angles to enhance the cut-paper effect. Some details of the quilting process are discussed on the Stitch blog, and of course the full pattern is available in the Fall issue of the magazine.

Paper Shredder Quilt, with sleeping beasts

Maybe the animals weren’t mad at me so much as concerned that I’d removed their stairs to get a cleaner shot—poor Princess Fluffinstuff is stranded on the sofa without her doggy steps. Here the steps have been returned to the relief of all creatures.

Monday, September 05, 2011

AccuQuilt giveaway winner!

The votes are in, and your favorite block was the one designed by

Belinda K.
Blue Ribbon Designs


The seasonally appropriate block combines appliqué using shapes from the 55041 Fall Medley and 55331 Stems and Leaves dies with a pieced nine-patch background (55021 Value Die), plus a couple details from the 55012 Circles die. Lots of possibilities for fabric choices and quilting/threadplay here…

I’ve e-mailed Belinda to claim her prize—an AccuQuilt Go Baby fabric cutter and her choice of three compatible dies. Congratulations Belinda! (Check out her blog to see some lovely pincushions she made using my tutorial.) Thanks again to those who entered other fantastic block designs, and to all of you who voted. And of course, thanks to AccuQuilt for sponsoring the giveaway!