Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition 2014

In which it takes me far too long to make a simple yoga mat bag, but the sweet bits of Umbrella Prints fabric make it worth it.

I’m pretty sure I screwed up my time zone conversions and am submitting this a few hours late, but OH WELL. I had fun.

The Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition was a surprisingly interesting challenge. The total amount of fabric you receive is pretty slim, so it takes some creativity to figure out how to make the most of it. My goals were:

  1. Do something I hadn’t done before: namely, improv piecing.
  2. Make something I’ll use (almost) every day: a bag for my yoga mat, with pockets so I’m not awkwardly stuffing my jacket pockets full of keys, wallet, phone, and a water bottle.
  3. Showcase the Umbrella Prints fabric as well as I can.

My approach to showing off the (awesome) fabric was to combine the bright yellows and oranges and firey crimsons of the “Earth” packet I chose with a muted blue canvas, so they would really pop. My approach to improv piecing was to just run with it. My approach to making a yoga mat bag was also to just run with it, which turned out to be the hardest part of this whole thing.

So first: the fabric.

Gorgeous, right? The second I saw the Earth packet I knew that’s the one I’d be using.

Once I opened up the packet and ironed out the few wrinkly bits, the improv piecing bit came easily. I found this post by Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation to be helpful in bolstering my courage, and then I pretty much went for it. My goal was to end up with two long strips of randomly assembled bits of fabric.

Next step: throw caution to the wind, ignore the many excellent patterns and tutorials out there, and decide you want to a) use a zipper; b) have that zipper be shorter than the length of your bag; c) draft a pattern entirely from scratch.

The pocket and strap bits went well, as did inserting the strips.

I even managed to insert the zipper without too much fuss!

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition 2014

And then I crashed hard into the brick wall of “yoga mats, once rolled up, aren’t actually that bendy” and “cotton canvas, especially when lined, isn’t actually that stretchy.” In other words: see how the zipper is centered along the length of the bag? I could slide my mat into one end, but in order to slip the other end of the bag up over the mat and zip up the bag, I needed to bend the rules of matter.

Fail. I almost gave up at this point, but Mr. Jones convinced me to spend some quality time on our porch this weekend with my seam ripper and a helpful beverage.

After ripping out the zipper, cutting and sewing in two new additional panels (one for the exterior and one for the lining) to make up for the lost circumference, and resigning myself to the use of a drawstring instead of a zipper, I was back on track.

Bonus: using a drawstring meant I needed sturdy openings for said drawstring, which means I got to sew buttonholes for the very first time! After that, all I had to do was turn down one edge to make the channel for the drawstring and attach the bottom panel and strap.

Voila: bag.

Ganging aft agley

I have a lot (a lot) of projects planned.

So many beautiful plans I’ve made, and so little time I’ve spent working on them. I’m writing this mostly to give myself a firm nudge by publicly committing to making beautiful things, rather than just dreaming about them.

So: work continues on the hat, which at this point looks like a slightly misshapen rectangle (I started with 84 stitches—I swear, I counted them thrice—but found myself working with over 90 the other day. How?) and has barely escaped the clutches of my overly curious cats multiple times over the past few weeks. (My beautifully wound ball of yarn is now an unwound tangle, thanks to them.) I’m nearly at the finish line, I think, and am hoping to be even closer after tackling the last few dozen rows at tomorrow’s office knitting club and again at Saturday’s Crafter’s Brunch at Gather Here (do you go to this? do you want to go? I’m thinking about bringing muffins to help introduce myself and convince people there to be nice to me and teach me how to properly cast off).

knitting progress

Work also continues(-ish) on the peach and gold quilt, which I thought I had blogged about much more but am now realizing I haven’t. To catch you up:

This is the first quilt I ever started making, thanks to the “Start Quilting” class at Cambridge Quilt Shop. It was relegated to the back burner while I rushed through the Quilts for Kids quilt, but I finished the top over a month ago, pieced together the backing without having to buy any new fabric (quite proud of this), and finally sandwiched it together a week or so ago. I’m looking forward to finishing it, which seems like it will mark my transition from someone who made a quilt once to someone who actually makes quilts, plural.

Other upcoming projects: a chenille blanket, another simple four-patch quilt, a Noodlehead Super Tote to protect future knitting projects from inquisitive kitties, a Zippy Top or two from See Kate Sew, and something still TBD for the Umbrella Prints 2014 trimmings competition, which is due May 30 so should probably be bumped nearer to the top of the list.

Typing it all out now is a bit overwhelming, but I suppose that’s all the more reason to start?

2014 Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition

Whatever will I make?

I stumbled across Umbrella Prints a few weeks ago while taking a lazy tour through a bunch of new-to-me sewing blogs. Turns out I discovered the Australian company, which makes beautiful organic printed fabrics, just in time for their 2014 trimmings competition, which challenges artists, seamsters, and crafters of all types to make something awesome out of a packet of leftover bits of fabric. The competition is in its fifth year, and previous winners have included this bright pink fish puppet, a jaunty mask and crown, a gorgeous art book, a matching set of sewing accessories and stationery, and an entire collection of whimsical collages.

This year’s competition is already underway, with entries due on May 30. Six different packets are available on Etsy or directly from the Umbrella Prints shop. And they’re beautiful.

I ended up going with the “Earth” packet on the bottom left, a set of bright reds and yellows and oranges that I am so excited to work with. Now I just have to wait for it to ship from Australia….

(Want to play along? Full rules and information are here.)