Friday, May 7, 2021

Squirrels for Safelight

I was relaxing and reading through some blogs a few days ago, as one does, and suddenly a big squirrel popped up in the form of the annual collection of bags for cosmetics and sunglasses (and now, tissues, too) that is happening this month by Carole of From My Carolina Home for Safelight Domestic Violence shelter . In my fogginess of last year, I totally missed it, and it seems that might have happened again this year if not for the blog post. Actually, it was one bold squirrel. Then her shyer, more elegant sister ventured out after I responded to the first one. 

Anyway, here was my project this week. It should have only taken an hour or so, but because I can never make a set of these bags without complicating the process, it took me a few days. 

I had some lovely fabric that I won maybe three years ago in a giveaway through Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon--mmm quilts!. Wonderlust by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex. I had used some of it in other projects, including some bags for Safelight. I still had some of these marbled pieces. I loved the look and luxurious feel of them, but they had never quite fit with other projects, so I knew it was time to use them. I didn't have large enough pieces to just cut and sew, so I decided to do some improv piecing. I had to also piece one of the linings, but it all worked out well. I quilted with free motion flowers, stipples and wiggles using several different colors of threads. Here are the outsides of two of the bags before the final construction. 

And the linings.



Peeky lining

I was pleased with the set and was ready to package it up and send it. But then that shy squirrel whispered, "Why make only one set, when two sets are just as easy to send?" Well, yes, I could do that. I searched through some other fabrics that I had won in a Fenceline Fabrics giveaway through Rachel Hauser last year. There was a lovely fat quarter of leafy fabric with a metallic sheen that I really liked, but also knew that it might never really fit in with the fabrics I usually use in quilts. It needed to shine on its own. It would have been so easy to just pick a lining and sew it up. But I noticed that the design was directional (I probably am the only one who would have noticed this, but I did), so I made some additional cuts  with added seam allowance to shift the fabric so that it would all be facing the same way when folded into a bag. In the same batch of giveaway fabric I found a sweet tiny plus peach fabric that picked up on the copper metallics in the main fabric, and thought to use it as a liner. The only place it would show was on the tissue holder where it would make a piped edge. I thought that was a shame, so I decided to add a strip to both of the other bags. See, this is why these bags take me longer. I just can't stop fiddling. I had to first measure carefully to make sure I had enough fabric in my fat quarter to do this. I did--just barely. I was going to slice and insert the strips, but that would have required lining things up carefully, so after stitching a 1 1/2 inch strip diagonally across main pieces of the bags,

 I folded the strip up to the stitched line, pressed it, 

and then folded it up again and stitched along both edges. 

That looked so much better to me. I think it makes the bags coordinate with each other more. Then I free motion quilted wiggly lines back and forth. 

A little crease-y--I've been folding these a few times.
I fiddled more, sewing the hook-and-loop closures on. I had been using blue thread, but didn't want it to show on the peach strip, so I changed thread colors part way through. Fiddle, fiddle. 

These were a lot of fun to make. Someday I really have to make a set without all the little changes. But I work with the fabric I have on hand, and it tells me what it wants. (Or maybe it's those pesky sweet little squirrels that tell me.) 

These projects are so satisfying (and probably usually really quick). Each set uses two fat quarters with little waste, and are a great way to use up those cut-offs of batting that don't work easily for other projects. Plus, they are a wonderful way to fill the tote bags that Carole puts together for Safelight every year to brighten the lives of people going through a really tough time. If you haven't made any, go check out her site. Yes, I do complain that they take me more time than they should, but they are also a neat way to try something a little creative and to practice quilting motifs. I have to say one thing, though, to quilters who quilt with lots of colors of thread to match their fabric: As a person who usually quilts with one color (mostly off-white), I have extreme admiration for your persistence in thread-changing. It was so time consuming for me to keep changing colors, and I really had to keep on my toes to remember to do it. New appreciation here for people who use multiple colors of threads!

I'm linking up today with Michelle at From Bolt to Beauty and on the last Saturday of this month with Sandra at mmm quilts for DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it). I didn't want to wait to link up because maybe some of you will still want to make some bags this month, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to draw them to your attention. You can get the info you need at Carole's site here. 

Have fun with your squirrels!

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.)  


Linda said...

Those are lovely bags, especially love that blue one. I like the strips you added, and your fussiness paid off! I don't have patience for thread changing. If it's a small project I might, but even then it is not a fun thing to do!

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

Those are so fun with the way you've pieced the pieces you needed! They turned out great. I'm planning to make a set of the cases, too, and need to get started.

QuiltGranma said...


Mari said...

These are lovely Janine, and sure to be appreciated. I love it when the thread blends in to the background, but I agree that changing thread is a pain. You may think that you're fiddling, but what you're really doing is making great art, even on small things. What a great squirrel this was!

Louise said...

These are so lovely! Sure to brighten the day of the women who receive them. Who doesn't love a pretty, useful bag? :)

Kaja said...

Great bags - and it occurs to me that the sunglasses case is just what I need. We don't have the same tradition of making to donate over here, sadly, but I can see that lovely little things like this would really lift the spirits of the recipients.